Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Orphan

November is Adoption Month. This month brings awareness not only to the blessings of adoption but also to the millions of orphans in the world and yes that also means here in America. For those who know me this is my heart. From the moment we began the adoption process for our first daughter I knew God was calling me to be an advocate not only for adoption but for the orphan. The sad reality is that most orphans will not be adopted. Here are just a few of the reasons.
  • The child was older when they went to the orphanage...everyone desires to adopt the younger ones.
  • The child may have a special need.
  • They are a sibling group
  • People are afraid they can't afford adoption
  • Can't deal with all the paperwork
  • People like the way things are at home and don't want to rock the boat.
  • People are afraid of the "unknown."
  • People think they are to old to become parents
Here are some orphan statistics:
It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide
The current population of the United States is just a little over 300 million… to give you an idea of the enormity of the numbers… (The current population of Russia is 141 million)
Every day 5,760 more children become orphans
2,102,400 more children become orphans every year in Africa alone 
Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan
There are an estimated 14 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa (a number higher than the total of every under-eighteen year old in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland combined)
This figure is estimated to reach 18 million orphans in Africa alone by 2010 (only two and a half years away)
8 out of 10 children orphaned by AIDS lives in sub-Sahara Africa
Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but… 
Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen
Each day 38,493 orphans age out
Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home
In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen
These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals 
Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years
In America there are an estimated 423, 773 in foster care
Almost a quarter (24 percent) were in relative homes, and nearly half (47 percent) were in nonrelative foster family homes.
Almost half (49 percent) had a case goal of reunification with their families.
The majority of children left the system to be reunited with their families (52 percent).
Close to half of the children (46 percent) who left foster care in FY 2008 were in care for less than 1 year.

This little guy hung around the church we visited. The 3 days I saw him all he had to play with was a small plastic lid.

I always tell people that not everyone is called to adopt but as believers we are all called to help. Here is a list of suggestions for those who feel called to adopt and those who feel called to help.

 Called to Adopt
  • If you feel God is calling you to adopt trust Him and step out in faith! He will meet your needs.
  • Surround yourself with believers to pray for you and your future child.
  • Adoption is a roller coaster ride with your emotions! This too shall pass.
  • Look for ways to raise money. Get the word out.
Called to help
  • Encourage families adopting
  • Pray for families adopting
  • Donate to their adoption fund
  • Help with their fundraisers
You can make a difference in the life of a child through a sponsorship program. There are many to choose from. We founded the Hug Away Foundation. For $30 a month a child will receive a education, food and have minor medical needs met. These kids are so grateful and you are making a difference in their lives.

 God builds families in many ways. Adoption is one of them. This month please pray for the orphans of the world. Pray for birth mothers who choose life and make an adoption plan and pray for families who choose to adopt.

 We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life.
But those who make their journey home across time & miles,
growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,
are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us
by God's very own hands.
--- Kristi Larson

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ethiopia cont'd & jet lag....

I confess, jet lag is not my friend. On top of jet lag I have picked up what I am sure is a air born illness from the puky plane air. But this to shall pass.
I promise I will not share my 1,000 or so pics with you! In order to limit the amount of pics I will post on here I have sat and pondered on what memories grabbed my heart. One that really stands out  was one of those moments when you sit and have to pinch yourself because you can't believe you are really experiencing this blessing.
My friend Kay and her husband John were missionaries in Ethiopia for several years. Their hearts are still there so they do a lot of independent work. One of these projects is called the "Well House." It is a Prayer and Counseling Center for destitute women and their children. They are building a new one but for now they have a temporary place where for the past year two women and one of womens daughter has been staying. The women are provided spiritual and emotional healing and they attend school to learn a trade so when they go home they will have a way to provide for themselves.
This day we drive about 2 hour drive to their villages. I had one of my infamous "esophogus spasms" and tought I was going to die but we will save that story for another day. Moving on. We were also going to meet some christian women in one of the villages and hear their testimonies about the "Cow Project." A cow is bought for them and after they do whatever you do to cows they sale them. They keep half of the money and put the other in the projects savings plan. So here we sit in a small church with I think a dirt floor it was kind of dark,  in a country far from our homes and these women come in and sit around us and begin sharing. Some were old and some were young and I believe most were Christians. As they spoke I looked around the room at these women. All so beautiful in their own way ( in Gods eyes we are all 10's!) and for the most part raised to submit to men because they are women and were not valued. I know each of them had a story, we all do and I would have loved to hear all of them. The common ground they all had is that they were women who made the choice to make a difference in not the best circumstances and succeeded! We could all learn from them. I journaled everyday I was in Ethiopia and each day asked God to reveal a verse to me that would coincide with that days events. That night as I wrote and the faces of those amazing women went through my mind and what they had to endure in a oppressive society God led me to Psalms 129: 2-4
They have greatly oppressed me from my youth. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.
 Here in America we take so much for granted. If we could walk one day in one of these ladies shoes (if they have any) we would realize how very blessed we are. I wish all Christians could at least once have this experience. Stepping out of our safe little box is one of the greatest  ways to show God our faith in Him.
It changes you for the better and humbles you in ways you could never imagine.
Betty taking our picture! She is the daughter of one of the ladies we took back to her village.

Betty taking a picture of me taking a picture of her!

The church and the cows.

The beautiful and amazing women.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Forgivness & Ethiopia

I made it back and I thank God for watching over everyone that traveled. We were blessed on this trip and had no major ilnesses. Before I left for Ethiopia not only were my motives for going to Ethiopia attacked but who I am and why I blog was attacked. Since they were so bold to be so "blunt" as they put it with me I was "blunt" with also. As usual those who can dish it out can't take it. They are always going to be right and you are wrong.  I was shocked and hurt but after seeking wise council and much prayer I realized that I  had to let it go and forgive. If they choose to hate me for what I do that is their problem not mine and I will not allow their hate to stop me from doing what God has called me to do. My point? When God has called you to do something people for whatever reason are going to attack you so don't let them have the pleasure of seeing you stumble in your walk or you will miss out on an amazing blessings!
Ethiopia was amazing! The country and it's people will tug at every emotion you have
  • Sad for the extreme poverty.
  • Anger that for the most part women and young girls are not valued at all
  • Joy that they are beautiful people and that they are proud and that they love.
  • Happinesss that they smile through their hardships.
  • Mad that you can't do more
  • Hopeful that you because you serve a Big God that He will give you a way to make a difference.
I went there hoping to make a difference and I hope we did. But this experience made a difference in me. How humbling when you hand a child a brand new sharpened pencil and they hand it back because they already have one... a very short, stubby one but in their world they have one and their need is met for the moment. Or you give a young girl a plate of food and you see her put her 3 year old sister on her lap and give her the first bite. You give a mother on the street some food and the eyes of her 3 year old son that she carries on her back lights up and he motions you to them and thanks you with a kiss on the cheek. And as they take the food and run to the corner and sit down and eat you realize that you will never be the same.
I will be sharing stories like this for the next few to bring awareness to these children and how you can help.
I took like a thousand pictures and of course I am going to share my favorites!

I want to thank family and friends who support what God has called me to do. Your love, prayers and support mean everything to me.

Giving Adanech founder of the school a laptop donated by my friends Todd and Dayna! She was so happy.

My sisters sponsor child next to me and my sponsor child is on the left. Her sister is on the right.

Attempting to teach english.

This little girl has lost both of her parents to aids. She lives with her grandmother.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Walking the Walk

So here's the deal, I have a friend who founded the Hospitality House of Tulsa. This amazing ministry provides a place for families who live 30 miles or further from Tulsa to stay while their love one is in the hospital. I believe they provide for 14 hospitals in Tulsa and surronding area. This isn't just a room they are small apartments quarters. Meals are provided in the main kitchen. Not only do they provide a place and a meal but they provide support, prayers, care bags for the families while they are wating in the waiting room, and counseling. This is a home away from home. The care and concern doesn't stop when they leave. Staff or volunteers will call a church in the area where the family is from to make them aware of when the family is coming home and ask the church to provide things like mowing the lawn, taking them meals, rides or just checking in to make sure everyone is ok.
My friend shared with our Lifegroup that they did a survey (how they did this was a very cool story but I will share that another time) and every question they asked received high marks except the question asking about follow up from the home church. Bad marks, X,  0, a big red F! It didn't happen. Ditto. Nada. Zip. Not even a phone call.
The staff at the Hospitality takes the time to call and inform someone at the church what is going on and the needs the family will have and that someone agrees that the church will do this. This isn't a case of a letter that got lost in a stack somewhere. Someone the Pastor, secretary whoever verbally made a commitment, said that this would be done and it wasn't.
I was shocked and so was the rest of the class. There is no excuse for this....none. The ramifications from this could be devestating. If the family doesn't attend church and are not Christians what kind of impression do you think this would leave? Not a good one that's for sure!
People will watch our walk with Christ more than our talk about Him. Christians are suppose to be Christ like. I don't think He would be to thrilled with these churches right now. If I know my friend she will make these churches aware of what is "not" going on. Good! They need to be held accountable.

Matthew 5:33-37
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.