What would the world be like if we all saw things through the eyes of a child?
My daughter and I went on a LONG walk through the city. The weather was wonderful so I thought we should take advantage of the days while they last. As we walked I began to look at our city and think to myself "What a horrible place. It's dirty, the people are rude, there are stray dogs everywhere, cars honking and people shouting."
But then I began to watch my daughter and the way she saw things.
When I saw trash, she saw beautiful, colorful things reflecting in the sun. The dirty, barking stray dogs were wonderful and interesting creatures to wave, point and smile at. Annoying loud music blaring in the cars as they sped by were just a great reason to dance and clap.
Often times we get stuck on only seeing and focusing on the negative side of things. Our culture thrives on things to complain about. The media is filled with everything that is wrong with the world. If we could all step back for a few moments and see things as a child, it might just add a little more joy to our day.
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
One of the things I didn’t plan for was Maryann, Bryce’s precious birth mom. We met with her right before we went up to the hospital to see Bryce for the first time. I remember she was wearing a long purple dress and looked so beautiful. She started sharing her story with us and all of the things she wanted for her son. I was in complete awe as she shared her journey from Cameroon, Africa to the states to pursue her education. She had drive and determination like no one I had ever met before or have met since. I was a blubbering mess and she was completely composed and confident in her decision. I fell in love with her that day and decided that she must be involved in Bryce’s life as much as possible.
Six years later and we are like family.. actually, we ARE family! She is such an intricate and important part of our family and I am so thankful that we have the privilege of having her in our lives. Adopting Bryce not only grew our family with another son, but an entire family of Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and Aunts and Uncles. Relatives from the hills of Kentucky, crazy Cajuns from the south, and some amazing African’s with culture and experiences and wisdom to teach him things I never could. One simple decision to say yes to God all those years ago has blessed my life more than I will ever be able to put into words.
It’s not all unicorns and cupcakes. Adoption can be a roller coaster of emotions. Right after bringing Bryce home I struggled with bonding. He was a strong little man with a fierce eyebrow that had a tendency of bringing out all of my insecurities. I would rock him and sing to him and he would just wrestle and fight me. For months I cried in silence because I didn’t think that anyone would understand. I didn’t know of anyone who had adopted and all of my friends and family were just so happy for us that I felt the need to make adoption ‘look good’. Eventually we found some wonderful adoptive families that made such a big difference. I finally had someone who understood what I was thinking with practical advice on what to do and how to give it to God.
We decided before adoption that we must be committed to being willing to learn and listen and grow in order to do what is best for Bryce. I’ve heard a lot of people say that love is all you need, and while it’s a great big part of it and your actions should always be driven by love, it is not enough. There are experiences and lessons I cannot teach Bryce because I’ve never been a black man before. Right now we are trying to teach him how to love his curly hair and beautiful dark brown skin, but in a few years it will be something totally different. Surrounding our family with diversity and wisdom is one of my biggest goals. I am constantly looking for ways to highlight and celebrate the differences and similarities in the world around us. With that being said, I welcome any advice, books, articles, conversations, whatever as we navigate the road ahead. It really does take a village.
I can’t put into words what adoption means to me. Bryce has brought so much joy and laughter and life and love to our family! Watching these crazy brothers love each other absolutely melts my heart. Don’t get me wrong, they still fight and argue and fart on each other, but they also take care of each other and will always have each other’s backs. I am absolutely honored to be queen bee of this wild crew!
Thanks so much for following our adoption journey over the past few days. Your love and support and advice and kind words have been so encouraging! ♥️ If you have ever felt God leading you to grow your family through adoption, I ask you to pray, pray, pray and obey!
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It is national adoption month so throughout the month of November I’d like to share a few posts about our adoption journey so far. I’m hoping to open up some honest conversations and maybe answer some questions you might have about adoption. Some believe it’s all beautiful and wonderful, while others think it’s just too messy and risky to get involved. God’s word tells us that all believers are called to be involved in some way or another and hopefully these conversations will get you thinking about what that might look like for you.
It was June 16, 2012 and we had just driven down to Florida the night before to spend a week at the beach. My phone rang and something in my heart just knew this was it.. a baby boy had just been delivered and the birth mother was looking for a family. My heart was pounding out of my chest. Is this really it! All the months of paperwork and planning and praying and more paperwork and home studies and finger prints and background checks and more paperwork had led up to this very moment. I was told that so much needed to be done before we could go meet our son, so why don’t you just relax and enjoy the beach. Seriously.. relax? I was hundreds of miles away and there was absolutely nothing I could do. We went down to the beach one night, just the two of us, and just prayed and cried out to God. If this is your plan we want to be obedient, but if not Lord please just shut it all down. The last thing we wanted to do was make something happen just because we wanted it or thought it was right. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to force my plans on the Lord and just hope that He blesses them. Do you struggle with asking God what He wants before making a decision?
After what felt like the longest beach vacation ever, we got the car all packed up and were ready to head home to meet our new son! We got about 10 minutes down the road when Brandon started throwing up.. in. a. sand bucket. My mind was racing, you can’t be sick right now! We are going home to a premie newborn and I need your help, what are you thinking!!! Right about that time Kade starts crying because dad is puking in HIS sand bucket.. then Jaxon starts crying because he can’t hear the movie over all the crying and puking.. and I just sat there with hot silent tears rolling down my face. What in the world are we doing? Who do you think you are bringing an innocent child into this crazy mess? Then God, in all His glory, whispered right to my heart, Megan when did I call you to this? I started doing the math and my mouth dropped open and even more tears started coming. The week we felt God leading us to adoption was the very same week our son was conceived. God said, this is not about you!!! Whether you feel qualified, or prepared, or even good enough.. I’ve had a plan in place all this time. You just need to have faith in me and be obedient. What is God calling you to do? If you are having a hard time trusting, just start praying for the faith you need to be obedient? I promise you He has a plan!
The doctor met us in the hall and started explaining all the rules of the NICU. My heart was racing but not near as fast as my mind! All the thoughts running wild and I couldn’t hold on to even one of them for longer than a second. We walked into the room and then I heard it, “meet your son” and it all just.. stopped. My thoughts, my heart, everything! The doctor put him in my arms and I just lost it.
I’d never held a baby so tiny before. I had been used to big fat chunky babies, so this was completely new to me. He was small, but he was strong. Long skinny arms and legs and the cutest little old man face complete with two big beautiful dimples. That night on the way home we stopped for ice cream at sonic and realized he needed a name. His birth mom gave him Wyatt so we decided to name him Bryce Wyatt. I had to write it on a napkin a few times before it was completely official, but we were now a family of five!
I went back up the next day to feed him and spend some time bonding and the doctor came in and said “He’s ready to go home now.” Shock and panic kinda just took over my body at that point. Go home? Just the day before we were told that he would need to stay in the NICU for a few more weeks! I called my mom who immediately dropped everything, jumped in the car, and drove up. We went to Target and bought all the things and cleaned the house and washed all the wet beach clothes. The next day we went back to the hospital to bring him home and I swear I didn’t hear a single word the discharge nurse was saying. She literally sounded like Charlie Brown’s mom and I must have looked like a deer in headlights, because she asked me several times if I was ok and I just kinda nodded my head. I mean, this wasn’t my first rodeo, I’d brought two boys home from the hospital before but this was just different. It was all moving so fast and my mind just hadn’t caught up to speed with everything that was happening in real time. We were actually doing this. It was real. This is our son. Like, I am completely responsible for this tiny human for the rest of his life. Don’t get me wrong, I was overjoyed to finally have the sweet baby boy that we had been praying for months for, but I just felt completely overwhelmed by all of the emotions! Has this ever happened to you before? How did you handle all of the emotions all at once?
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I recently attended a conference where the majority of speakers spoke about reaching the heart of a child. God began to speak to me about the two little lives he had entrusted me with. I thought, “how much time and deliberate effort have I been putting in to the calling to reach their hearts?” My mind also went to the thirteen souls that sat in my classroom all year as I taught them in third grade. How much more could I have said and done to direct their lives? Or, even still, the faithful group of kids in my Sunday School class.
So many lives and so much God-given opportunity had been wasted. Here I am, a teacher and a mother, and the thought of reaching my child’s heart was not really at the forefront of my daily activities. In my ignorance I thought that stern discipline followed by a change in behavior was enough. I speak, they obey. Great! All is well.. Right?
…there is a greater task than just raising kids that will obey
The more I pray, read and study, the more I understand that there is a greater task than just raising kids that will obey. Obedience is great, but what about their heart? Are they still jealous, angry, selfish, and disrespectful? The root of all of their disobedience is sin. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all just as sinful as our little ones.
Our children have been entrusted to us by God for a very brief time. It is our responsibility to see them grow up to be the next generation of believers, disciples, leaders, pastors, missionaries and world-changers. I fear that we are only trying to survive and make it to another day by thinking we can manage the chaos around us. We occupy, bribe, threaten, and entertain them long enough to keep our sanity. Is that really enough? Is that really what God intended successful parenting to look like?
I encourage you.
Be mindful of your daily interactions with these little souls. They understand more than you think they do. Take the time and effort to get to the root of your daily struggles with them. Don’t rule them by intimidation or threats. What happens when they no longer fear you? Don’t manipulate them with bribes and rewards. What happens when they are no longer appealing? Don’t shame them into submission. What happens when they no longer care what you think?
Please, let’s use our time with them wisely. Every day we have with them is a precious gift from God. Use each conversation as an opportunity to pour out God’s love into them. You can never talk about God too much. Let them understand His love and forgiveness for them even when they are little, that when they grow old they will not depart from it. Take this calling seriously, and be intentional. Don’t let the days pass by only to be haunted by regrets that you had done things differently. They are little now. Mold them, shape them, and then release them to be the Lord’s arrows into the world.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6
Once again, we have found ourselves on a road trip across America’s heartland on the way to our Bible Conference in Chandler, AZ. This morning, we drove through the bustling capital of the music industry, Nashville, TN. I couldn’t help but be transported in my mind to almost exactly one year ago, when we experienced one of the greatest miracles of God’s provision. I decided to share it with you today as a testimony of God’s awesome power. Check this out:
At that time, we were traveling with a group of about twenty people in our ”legacy” church bus. About twelve hours into the trip, we had almost made it through Nashville at around 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning. Suddenly, we were all awakened by a loud bang, followed by a clang, clang, clang. When we were able to safely pull over to the shoulder, one look under the bus confirmed our fears; the drive shaft had sheared off and was scraping on the pavement. I had a group of faithful church people counting on me to get them to Chandler in time for a Bible Conference! What was I going to do?
WHAT APPEARED TO BE A MAJOR SETBACK AND DISAPPOINTMENT, WAS ACTUALLY A FANTASTIC SET UP FOR GOD TO PROVE HIMSELF FAITHFUL.
Here are all the miracles that occurred next:
Be encouraged today: when you think it's all falling apart, God will show Himself faithful.
From 2005 until 2010, my husband and I served as missionaries in Bulgaria, which is a formerly communist country in Eastern Europe. Everything I had been graciously taught in my mere twenty-four years of life was not nearly enough to prepare me for what God was calling us to do. It was far beyond reach of my own human capabilities, and took me to a place of absolute surrender, and sincere faith in God. I thought I was surrendered to God. I thought I had faith. What I had was nothing in comparison to what I so desperately needed.
It was December 19th, 2005. The day had finally arrived. Everything we owned was being awkwardly lugged in three royal blue suitcases, and eight bulky cardboard boxes. We sobbed our tearful farewells and boarded the plane for this foreign destination. It was nine hours and fifty minutes from Phoenix to London, seemingly a lifetime. My mind was a stormy sea of questions, and a wave of emotions. After a four-hour layover and another three-hour flight from London to Sofia, we had arrived.
The airport was small, dirty, and crowded. We were met with quizzical glares as we shuffled into the building. As we stood for what seemed like hours, we waited for all of our earthly possessions to come join us on this new adventure. With all eight boxes and three suitcases stacked up high, we franticly searched for a way to transport them.
My husband discovered a luggage cart hidden in the corner of the airport and rushed to grab it. It only had three wheels and was followed by an old man who was shouting. What he was shouting, we had no idea, but we managed to load this broken cart. He pushed the cart, and I held on to the bags as they attempted to escape at every bump and turn. We were pushing our belongings into a new outside world; a very cold world. No… a freezing world! The sky was gray. The ground was covered in a brown slushy mixture of snow and ice. After a nearly four-hour drive from the airport, we were “home”.
Unable to communicate or navigate the icy streets, I stayed home. We lived on the sixth floor of an old communist-style block apartment and it had no elevator. Attempting to go anywhere proved more difficult than staying in.
We found a small market around the corner on the bottom floor of our building. Everything was placed behind the counter and we had to ask for the things we wanted to purchase. I think I learned most of my Bulgarian words from that little old saleswoman. One of the first things she taught me to say was toilet paper, which is an amazingly important word when in need of it.
Our nearly daily trips to the corner market always proved entertaining, well to all the onlookers anyway. We would point at things, she would mutter something, and then we would shake our heads yes or no until we got what we needed. Most of the items were unidentifiable to us. Our entire life was a long sequence of trial and error, mostly error.
Two years passed, and the time approached for our furlough in Chandler, Arizona. I was so excited to go home. I wanted to eat American food: sweet, salty, greasy, and fattening. Oh America, how we missed you, how we love you! There were so many things about America that I missed, and I was so happy to be going back.
We had landed in Atlanta, Georgia and had to go through customs. I looked around at all my fellow Americans. We were big and well fed. At the time, smartphones were new and we marveled at how many people had one in their hand. The guy behind us complained about his flight. The woman in front of us said the airport was too hot. They joked about the security not knowing how to do their job. We were home.
I was home, but everything was different; the people were different, the relationships were different, the places I used to go were different. Church was different, or maybe I was different. We entered into that first night of conference and heard a sermon on surrender. I thought, “God, I don’t know how much more I can surrender.” We heard sermons on giving all, and I said, “God I am!”, and I meant it with all sincerity. I looked around at almost a thousand other people in that place and thought to myself, “What about them?”
I honestly left conference that year feeling more discouraged than encouraged. Why had God chosen me? Why did I have to return back to my communist block? All the while, my friends and family were living so comfortably in their four-bedroom houses with swimming pools and two-car garages. It didn’t seem fair.
As the weather began to get warmer, so did my heart. I was learning more words everyday and finally able to interact with people, sort of. You could see the difficulties of life written on their faces, an almost constant frown; even on the faces of children. This was a hard life. Jobs were scarce, and those fortunate enough to work would do so for at least ten hours a day, for six days a week. They walked long distances no matter the weather. The salaries were only enough for survival. I would offer a smile and a “hello” in passing, but it was rarely returned.
As I saw the hardships of those around me, God began to show me how blessed I am. Every complaint I could ever make was really nothing compared to what the majority of the world faces. I realized all the things my life had been sheltered from and all the things I had taken for granted. For the first time I truly understood these things and was grateful to be born in America.
While there in Europe, we went to Turkey where proclaiming Christianity can put you and your family in danger. We walked the streets of Ephesus, where Paul once stood preaching the Gospel. We visited Rome, and saw the Colosseum, a place where many christians were killed “damnatio ad bestia” (meaning thrown to wild beasts) while people watched for entertainment. We stood in St. Peter’s square where Peter was crucified upside-down for his faith.
There are many people in the history of Christianity that long for the freedoms we have to worship. Those freedoms have been fought for and many have lost their lives to experience what we have today. We so easily get caught up in our daily routines and rituals that we forget how blessed we are.
I wonder how many in our armed forces feel like they are coming home to an ungrateful nation. They go out and fight for the very freedoms we take for granted: We have the freedom of speech and we use it to slander and complain. We are able to vote but very few of us do. We are free to worship in the House of God, but we choose to isolate ourselves in comfort and entertainment.
For me, I had to leave America to see how truly blessed I am. We have so much more than we deserve. On this Memorial Day, let us remember those who have gone before us to make the nation what it is today. Let us also honor those who died standing in the name of Jesus. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can truly be free. Let us remember and be thankful.