Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts on a broken world

So my "weekly" blog for the past few weeks has been hijacked by life. The process of preparing for Christmas robbed me of Christmas. I have been busy. (B.U.S.Y.–being under Satan's yolk.)

 We Americans anticipate Christmas long before it comes, starting earlier every year as we try to spend our way out of a recession. Whose birthday is it, anyway? When all that remains of Christmas is budget-busting bills and strewn boxes and torn colored paper under the once proud tree, we are a little depressed, yet relieved, that all the excitement is over. The “miracle” of Christmas is thrown out with the boundless recycling, and we are done for another year.

Who has time to notice that a great Light has come into the world.

God visited earth as a baby to show us the way, to save us. We treat Christmas and it's profound implication as pretty routine stuff.  But if, in reality, it is reality, our reaction should be one of breath-catching awe. 
But instead, my reaction to Christmas 2012 has been heart-sick bewilderment over the extreme brokenness of the world we call home. 

This brokenness manifests itself in ways that breaks my heart. Imagine what it does to God's heart!

Introducing Christmas 2012, a troubled 22-year-old marches  into an elementary school to gun down innocent six-year-olds,  and society screams for gun control instead demanding culture reform. Why do we continue providing a mega-market for violent video games for our children?

A week before Christmas, our  friends buried their beautiful 22-year son, a tragedy made even more poignant by the fact that he finally seemed to be finding his way out of the darkness.

My own 23-year-old is still trying to find his way out of his darkness.

Sickness ravaged our household during Christmas week. One by one, the flu picked us off, having no mercy on  the small, frail bodies of my two-, four- and five-year-old grandchildren.  An even more acute reminder of the fragility of life is watching my father-in-law cling with tight fists to a life that hardly appears worthy of his efforts. Does he not understand the Promise?

I got a new computer for Christmas and I am mourning the loss of the old, familiar one, even though it was slower than a carrier pigeon. Where is my gratitude?

Politicians use helpless Russian orphans awaiting homes with American families as pawn to punish perceived insults.  What leader in his right mind intimidates his enemies by devastating his country's own children? None!

My 18-year-old would rather lie to get out of a sticky situation than confess or explain.

Our schools teach philosophies that protect trees, water, and babies of every species except unborn humans.

We are broken to our very cores. And we need help. We cannot help ourselves.
We live in a broken world. Yet, I have heard rumors of another world. And the Good News of a Savior!

Come, Lord Jesus, come. 

May we be the change in 2013 that we seek.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fifty shades of red

As I wade into the muddy waters of marketing and promoting my infant book, But the Greatest of These is Love (The Greatest), I look to popular best sellers to provide a model plan. My search takes me to the best selling paperback of all time, the blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades.)

It might be safe to assume that if you are a big fan of Fifty Shades, you just might find my sweet little narrative a bit too tame. However, the two do have some things in common:  first, they are both books, and, second, Fifty Shades has a character named “Christian,” and my book has a theme that is “Christian.” Beyond that, the plots deviate, Fifty Shades, more so than The Greatest

While investigating the success of Fifty Shades, I read parts, blushing all the while, shielding my book from the XXX-rated theme. On closer examination, I discovered maybe another similarity: they both examine human nature and free will.

I am not bashing Fifty Shades, nor am I advocating book banning or preaching against the evils of lust in literature. Frankly, I am a bit jealous.  While I am holding my new-born book gingerly and carefully navigating unknown waters of social media networks, I watch out of the corner of my eye the giant seductress rack up worldwide sales of over 60 million, and growing, out pacing even the Harry Potter series.  Most of the major production companies were competing for a deal for the film version, expected in 2013. Sign me up for that!

Short of throwing in a few scenes of gratuitous sadomasochistic sex, there probably isn't any hope of competing with the record-blasting erotic sensation that is Fifty Shades.  We humans derive a dark pleasure in having our own way, to do what is right in our own mind. As a character in The Greatest, I am no different.

I am reminded of the classic cartoons where a red, pitchfork-laden devil is perched on one shoulder, a winged angel on the other. Stuck uncomfortably in the middle, hearing both voices, is man, better known as you and me. We are faced with two main options: to indulge one’s Self, or to do battle against the overwhelming desire to indulge one’s Self.

In both books, we characters want our own way. It is a theme woven throughout both stories. In the end, do we “win”? 

Or will there be a Greater outcome, the paradox of losing one's life to save one's life? 

Sign me up for that!

Monday, December 3, 2012

consider it all joy

Over the past ten years when I have told people our youngest son was adopted from Russia at the age of seven, their eyebrows go up. People seem intrigued by this information, and they have questions: What made us consider adoption, and why did we adopt an older boy from Russia? Did we consider the numerous candidates in the foster system?

When I respond that I didn’t choose an older boy from Russia, God chose him for me, the eyebrows go up again, but the eyes look anywhere except at me. I am thankful that I do not have to squirm under the scrutinizing gaze of cynicism coming at me from Cyberspace. I know how crazy it sounds! I am learning to answer the disembodied words from strangers. And what I am learning is that we were not the only ones who have had this mystical experience of feeling like God was drawing us toward adoption, that God was the Ultimate matchmaker, lining our family up with a perfect fit for a child who was without a family,  that adopting was something we were "supposed to do."

There are the skeptics, of course, but strangers have messaged me to say that they too are members of the "secret society of 'called' adoptive moms," a label I use in the book to describe how it felt. First against my knowledge, and later against my will, I felt God was selecting me to be the mother of one of His lost and forgotten children. So why did God chose Russia and Roma? Of course I do not know the full answer, but I suspect part of it is because Roma fits so well into our family. He kids like us, his personality is so  similar to ours, we understand each other on a higher level, and I am a strong-willed mother to a hard-headed boy! My older son said, when Roma came, that, until he could think of Roma as a brother, he would consider him an “exchange student from God.” Rearing a child sent from God is a duty not to be taken lightly! Another reason, perhaps more important in God's economy, is that during this experience, we have learned to trust that God knows what we need better than we do. God wants total surrender and obedience.

The reward for our obedience, albeit reluctant and whiny on my part, included cup-running-over joy and blessings!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Embracing God's invitation

Welcome to my inaugural blog. Everyone has a story. This blog is about mine.

Moments when you believe, or know, that you have heard a word from God are difficult to describe. My moment hit me with the force of a lightning bolt. I didn't see it coming, nor did have time to take cover. Never before had I encountered the God who is not silent! I was left singed and smoking. God had stricken me with one enduring, unthinkable directive: Adopt an older boy from Russia.

I was not eager to embrace God's invitation.  Hadn't He noticed that I already had three children? Two were teenage girls, for God's sake! And my precious eleven-year-old son had been the baby too long to     relinquish that coveted role willingly.

I limped along for months, licking my wounds, blind at first to the reality that the lightning bolt had ignited a shallow faith and was transforming it into one that was electrified! During the months I spent in self pity and deep despair, the God of the universe was at work, reordering my life. What are humans that He is mindful of us? I have no idea! My human brain doesn't stretch enough to comprehend that immense, overriding Love for selfish creatures like myself.

I started writing But the Greatest of These is Love while I was on the runway preparing to depart for Russia, still seeking an escape route. That tense experience became my first chapter.

I have been a lifelong writer, as well as a visual artist. Writing is like painting with words. As a kid, my journals were engrossing and therapeutic.  My notebooks of letters-never-intended-to-be-sent let me resolve issues and achieve perspective. Writing this story was no different. In the process, I saw God in places I had missed with just my visual sense. Sometimes sentences and paragraphs seemed to write themselves, exposing more of this personal God with whom I was becoming acquainted and learning to trust.

My desire for readers of But the Greatest of These is Love, and this blog is that they will trust that God’s Divine plan for us is infinitely richer than the confortable little lives we can plan for ourselves. God has been here all along. My motivation for writing this book is to make Him visible.

“If the journey did not include a few unexpected detours, we would hardly need faith,” Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God