Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It could have been me. Reece's Rainbow Waiting Child

Benjamin, Mason, and I meet Cinderella!

Dear Readers,
  Today was a wonderful day for us and I hope it was for you, too! It was so wonderful to be together again. We had fun sending out Christmas cards and sewing! Thank you for your prayers for Benjamin....we truly appreciate them. He is doing well! 
    I was all set to write a Christmas post, but God had other plans...

Rebekah, a precious child listed
on Reece's Rainbow
Meet Rebekah. Isn't she just precious? I was scrolling through Reece's Rainbow this afternoon in search of a child to feature on an advocacy blog that I'm blessed to write for, Still We Wait. I fell in love with her and decided to post about her. As I pulled up the short segment Reece's Rainbow has on her, I read a sentence that hit me in the chest. See if you notice anything about this sentence: "Rebekah was born premature at 27 weeks and has quadriplegic CP.
    Born early at 27 weeks. Benjamin, Mason, and I were born at 28 weeks. Oh. My. Goodness. 
  I suddenly was filled with the desire to go hug her now, to hold her and squeeze her and never to let her go. She has Quadriplegic CP just like Benjamin. She was born at 28 weeks. And she is darling. 
    "Okay, Claire, we get it, y'all were all born early! What's the big deal? Most of the kids listed on RR were born early!" I know. I know, I know, I know. 

   But the reason her story so broke my heart was because I know that could have been me. Or Benjamin. Or Mason. We could very well have been the child listed on a waiting children site. 
   But the difference between Rebekah and Benjamin, Mason, and I is our mothers. My mother chose life for us, because she loved us with or without disabilities. She loved us through the long, tiring days at the NICU...loved us through hard days of therapy....loved us through times where I felt alone because I didn't have CP...loved us through surgeries...tears....and days of joy and triumph. Rebekah's Mommy said she couldn't do it. She said she couldn't handle a baby born premature, couldn't handle CP. 
   I'm not going to lie. This makes me mad. So, so, nailbiting mad. How anyone could look at that face and not be willing to give her the world is unthinkable to me. 

I'm angry that all mothers aren't like my Mom. I'm angry that Rebekah's Mom was unwilling to care for her daughter, despite the sacrifices. I'm angry that she has to suffer while I was blessed with so much. I'm angry that she has waited for six years. I'm angry that no one has snatched up this beautiful little girl! How could you not?? 
  But maybe you are feeling like Rebekah's birth mom did. Maybe you feel called to adopt, but unable to care for a child with a disability. Let me tell you this: You yourself are unable to handle caring for Rebekah. It's true. You can't do it. But God can. God is able to care for her and the millions of other inhabitants of the earth. In fact, He does it everyday! He is caring for her as we speak. He is caring for you, and me, and my family and yours, too. He will carry you as you carry Rebekah out of that orphanage. His GRACE is sufficient for you in all that you do. Adoption included.

   My sweet little angel Marcia is no longer listed on Reece's Rainbow as being available for adoption. She may never know the love of a family, may never feel the arms of her mother around her. She might not know how it feels to be loved until she reaches Heaven. She waited for five years and now it is too late.
    But it is not yet too late for Rebekah! She still has a chance! She is filled with so much joy, despite her suffering. She would be the biggest blessing you have ever received, I can assure you of that. She needs you. Please step up and save her before it is too late. 

Give her the world like my Mom gave me. 

Thank you, Mom, for all you have done for us and continue
to do! You are the biggest blessing
God has ever given me!
 Te amo!

There is HOPE for Rebekah and many other children around the world! Please remember them in your prayers as we celebrate the One who gave us blessed hope. Your Blogger,


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our God is in Control

You could plant me like a tree beside a river
You could tangle me in soil and let my roots run wild
And I would blossom like a flower in the desert
But for now just let me cry

You could raise me like a banner in the battle
Put victory like fire behind my shining eyes
And I would drift like falling snow over the embers
But for now just let me lie

Set me like a star before the morning
Like a sun that steals the darkness from a world asleep
And I'll illuminate the path You've laid before me
But for now just let me be

So let me go like a leaf upon the water
Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea
And I will disappear into a deeper beauty
But for now just stay with me
God, for now just stay with me

  Those are the lyrics to a song called "Show Me" by Audrey Assad. I had trouble making sense of it at first, but a couple of nights ago its meaning hit me. Or at least my interpretation of it, any way. God used it to speak to my heart! 
This is my take on this song:
God can use us in so many different ways, as the song says. (Blossom like a flower...banner in the battle...star before the morning...) But sometimes we just need to be still and and be in Him. (but for now just let me be...God, just stay with me) Sometimes our hearts are just craving Him--so we need to slow down and give in! Sometimes we can't  just run around serving...because we need to drink in His love first. Yes, during the hour you spend reading your Bible, He could be using you to serve...but in that moment you need to rest and learn. Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything...a time to be silent and a time to speak...a time to weep and a time to laugh...
    This song and verse spoke to me on so many different levels. Sometimes I don't want to joke around with anyone, I just need to be alone and cry.  Other times I don't want anyone to ask me about these surgeries...I just want to laugh and forget about it. But this verse says there is a time for  everything--laughing and crying, joy and fear. I'm so thankful that there is. Because sometimes you just need to cry out to God. And sometimes you just need to goof off!
I took this month off from volunteering due to Benjamin's surgery. And so as I listened to this song the other night I realized how I have needed to spend time just focusing on Him. I needed to stop serving for a little while and confront my own fears and emotions and let God take them. I like to shove all of my problems way down deep and turn all of my attentions to the orphans or volunteering or whatever He's recently placed on my heart. It has been good for me to just lay down and drink Him in. 

       I'm trying to be with God, figuring out that He really is faithful in everything. That is a really good place to be in, y'all.

   I won't lie. I kind of want to lock the doors to our house and not let anyone in sometimes.  But we can't do that. And, honestly, we would miss out if we did. Sometimes my inner-hermit comes out though, especially during surgeries. :)
  A friend of mine had some hard medical news this week. She called to give us an update, and despite all that she was going through at that moment, she took the time to pray for ME and MY family. She ministered to my on-the-verge-of-tears heart even though her own was sad. Even though surgeries make me never want to talk to anyone...I know I can't do that. Because God's plan IS to raise me up. 
    He has a lot of people needing to hear of His Love...and we are called to show His Love. We can't just spend all of our time "Drinking in" and none "giving out". And if we lock the doors to our house, just us and the Bible, then we will be the only people profiting from it! 
    James 2:14-17 says this: "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

Dead. Faith without works is dead. I don't want to hold all of this goodness in to myself! That would be worse that baking Amish friendship bread without giving it to your neighbors! I want to drink in and be filled...only to go give it all out again. 
   So I am going to be with God right now...I am going to try to savor these moments where He grows me and stretches me by hard things. But I am also going to go out and feed His sheep. 
   What about you? I encourage you to go encourage someone else this week, no matter if you yourself are going through a hard time. 

Your Blogger,

P.S.--my parents and Benjamin are currently on the plane to the Frozen Tundra, aka Minnesota. He has surgery tomorrow...and we so appreciate your prayers!! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On my soapbox..

*Know if you are taking the time to read this, I am grateful for you! I apologize if our views do not align about this treaty, but even if they don't, I'm still thankful you stopped by!!

Dear Readers,
  You may not know about it, or even care about it. But the U.N.'s Treaty for Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities was defeated.
   The saddest part, to me, is that so many of the organizations my family and I support were vehemently opposed to this treaty. The treaty was going to require that churches have x amount of parking spaces for people in wheelchairs. It was going to mean that buildings had to be accessible. And oh my goodness, a lot of people were opposed to that! I mean, why would we want people in wheelchairs to have access to church?!? This greatly upset many!
   The treaty was also going to impact education for children with disabilities. These were the main things the homeschool organizations we supported were opposed to. They did not want the U.N. telling them what to do in their churches, because that might mean that religious freedom comes next. They don't want people taking their children away from them because they choose to home school.

  I, too,  do not want my religious freedom touched. I do not want the government telling me what education option to choose for MY child. But from what I understand,  this treaty was not going to touch that.

    This treaty was, however, going to make churches accessible. And this was the real kicker for me. Because, really, guys-- Why aren't our churches already accessible?! 
If we, as a church, claim to love the least of these, then why aren't we filled to the brim with wheelchair accessible parking spots?  Why doesn't every church have a special needs ministry? Why do we have to be forced by the government to make room for  people in wheelchairs in our churches?! I am embarrassed that anyone even had to write this treaty. Because the Church should be setting the standard for how people with disabilities are treated; not the United Nations. How sad. How truly, truly sad. There are so many children and adults in the United States who have a disability. With this disability comes so many struggles that the church could help them through!! Families with a newly diagnosed child are hurting...in fact, many families with special needs children are divorced. It's estimated that about 85% of families who have a child with Autism get a divorce. Might this rate go down if churches made more of an effort to reach out to these families?

      I have been blessed with a wonderful family who recognizes that Arizona's public education system is not the answer for us. They have taken the initiative and have provided us with an amazing blessing: the ability to home school. Not all families, however, are able to do this, and I realize that.
    There are children all around the world with disabilities who stay home from school because their parents don't know about services for the disabled (or there isn't such a thing in their country). These children are called a "burden to society"...but they have so much to contribute if only given the chance! I am sure this treaty is not perfect, because government is not perfect. It may not do much for these children...

But what if it did?
What if this treaty made sure that all Deaf children had access to sign language, and all children with disabilities were able to go to school? What if this made a difference in the lives of the millions of Disabled children and adults in the world? What if....

  But that "what if" can't happen, because this treaty was defeated. That hope that I held in my heart was stomped out by the very organizations I supported. Generation Joshua, The Home School Legal Defense, The Busy Home School Mom...they all followed their political party so strictly that they forget to follow our true leader, Jesus. Jesus didn't tell the paralytic's friends to stop lowering him down from that mat...he honored their efforts by blessing their friend. 

I pray that soon we will all be able to see through God's eyes--eyes of compassion and love first for others, with ourselves merely as an afterthought, if we have to be a thought at all. 
But until then, I am thankful that even when we make mistakes and forget to love first, God is just as loving and full of forgiveness.

If you have already made up your mind to be against this treaty, I ask that you look at it from someone else's eyes. It's too late to get it passed, I know, but it isn't too late for you to decide you are going to start LOVING before you blindly follow. 

Your Blogger,

P.S.--I'm blessed to attend a church that has a wonderful special needs ministry. If you are interested in learning more about Disability ministry, please visit: http://scottsdalebible.com/ministries/special-ministries and Joniandfriends.org 

Monday, December 3, 2012

My ramblings...

Dear Readers,
 Well, hello there! I apologize for not having blogged in...forever! I keep writing blog posts in my head but just haven't had time to sit down and write them out. Actually, I don't have time right now! But I'm going to write one any way because it's rather cathartic and I need to. So there. (And I wonder why I don't have good time management..hhmm...)
    December is upon us! Our Christmas trees are up and decorated, the radio is playing Christmas music, and we had hot chocolate last night.  I love this month! I especially love remembering Christmases past...so many laughs!! 

 But three of our family will leave later this month for surgery. That kind of puts a damper on the mood, huh? Actually, it does a lot more than that. I hate surgeries with a passion, and the fact that there are two in the very-near future stinks. Some days we can sing Christmas carols in the car at the top of our lungs and forget about it...but some days we can't. And I hate it when I can't just stick my head in the sand and forget about it, because surgeries are just plain depressing. ha
 I so appreciate your prayers for my family during this season!!

With all of this upcoming surgery, I can't help but wonder about the people around the world who need this same surgery that Benjamin is having this summer, but don't have access to medical care.  What about the children with Cerebral Palsy in Africa? What do they do? Although I hate that Benjamin has to have this surgery, I am ultimately grateful that my family has access to medical care for it. Please be praying for those people around the world who desperately need surgery but are unable to get it. 

    I also can't help but think of those who are in nursing homes, hospitals, institutions, and prisons this Christmas. As we drove through our neighborhood the other night, admiring the decorations and laughing as a family, I started thinking about the children all over the world whose families have abandoned them. In that moment I just wanted them all in the car with us, laughing, too! I wish no child ever had to watch a birthday or a Christmas pass without a family to love on them and tell them they are special and valued.  As hard as finding joy can be sometimes, I know it must be even harder when you are in a prison, hospital,  or nursing home. 

 Two years ago (okay..I think it was two years ago! I'm really not sure haha!)   I had the privilege of getting to sign some carols  at an Alzheimer's Home around Christmastime. This year I keep thinking of the residents, remembering how they kept asking my Mom to take them home. The staff did a wonderful job making this place home-like and cheerful, but there was a big difference between that and a HOME with your own family. 

    As you celebrate this Christmas with your dear ones, please remember those people who don't have family near to hug and hold! 
    But as you keep them near in your thoughts and prayers, take this time to thank the God who is with them and you for the great gift He has bestowed us with: His Son. 

Your Blogger

P.S.-- "Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast." ~Psalm 139:7-10

Isn't this a beautiful reminder that God is with us, around our Christmas tree, but also in those prisons, nursing homes, and institutions around the world? Thank you, Lord!