Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Art on the Prowl

Fritz's attention to detail and many hours of stippling with a black Sharpie led to an awesome end result.  He drew a lion on the prowl.  His art was chosen by his teacher to be on display at the school for a month.

His whiskers make him one cool cat.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Older Child Adoption is like Pointillism

Seurat never knew that he painted pictures of older child adoption when he painted picnickers by the river. It is only through our own adoption experience that I think Seurat painted with more realism than Reubens.  Indeed, his images are grainy with undetermined borders when viewed up close, but there is a complex working out of a deeper story.  There is a deliberate dot of color here and one over there.  Over a year home with my son fast approaching nine, I reflect that God's pointillism builds trust.

#1 When you adopt an older child, you may have fallen in love with a grainy photo emailed to you and find the reality less endearing.  Take heart.   Adoption is a painting in progress.  We don't have to have an inkling on the finished work, when we know God is the Painter.  He can be trusted.

#2 When you adopt an older child, you don't know what personality, preferences or hang-ups your child will have.  To flourish in the new relationship, your commitment has to be more intentional. A dot gets painted where you don't expect it, and a heart begins to beat on a canvas chest. 

And that begs the question, When will my child be able to reciprocate love?

There is no guarantees your child will like you, appreciate you or even feel gratitude for filling out a thousand forms and flying across the world to bring them into a family.  Focus on your own responses and willingness to love like Jesus...unconditionally. 

#3   When you adopt an older child, you may find it hard to determine past shadows of institutional living from current fears and current fears from "certain" futures. If the dots get blurred when you are living in the now, be assured, the Painter's brush is in control.  God makes families.  His love is unfailing and his provision is sufficient for the need.   He is an artist that can paint outside our perfect little lines and make something more beautiful and redemptive than what we could ever dream up on our own.

#4 When you adopt an older child,  remember that the world is watching.  You chose an uncommon path. Thus, there will always be more curious onlookers, gawkers and criticism.  In the heat of the colors, you can choose to focus on the serene patches of blue.  There will be times to teach others what adoption really means, and it will surprise your listeners and perhaps inspire.  There will be times to remove yourself from the public forum.  There will be times to swipe the paintbrushes out of the naysayers' hands that would paint adoption as an evil uprooting.  With so much input, you'll have to let God be the decider of motives, successes and areas to improve. 

#5 When you adopt an older child, you are going to see pointillism to the Holy.  I discovered the joy of meditating on Scripture, singing praises to God in the car, and thanking Jesus for the eye-opener adoption is into His great pursuit of me.  You can let every blip of pigment and dot of life point you back to Christ.  Even when the paint seems smudged and the big picture fathomless, you can pray to see God's vision cast over your child. 

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."   Ecclesiastes 3:11

#6 When you adopt an older child, if you understand that you are no different than your child, you will find empathy, compassion and hope.   Those growing specks of crushed color are telling a rich story.  God is at work in the marrying of our children to our family and the marrying of us to Him.  Indeed, I am the adopted older child of the Lord's beautiful commitment.  I guess that means, Seurat, you depicted me.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Flocks of Sheep in Texas Trees

In true Texas fashion, the trees are looking like tall tales around here.  There are white sheep stuck in the branches.  If you hold your ear near your monitor, you may even hear them baa. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mystery Man

Who is it? 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Ridiculously Wasteful God

I am one of those frugal people that had to personally encounter the God who scared me.  It took a crazy house situation to pry open my clenched fists.  After all, we were the wise money managers.  We bought a house for an five year time period without notion that the house would steal more than it gave.  Ben's residency was over and we were relocating over a thousand miles away.  It was time to sell our "investment".  

Initially optimistic we had contracts coming in every other month.  We felt like the house would sell, but what we did not anticipate was that in a heavily foreclosed market with a surplus of cheap, nice homes each potential buyer chose to walk away.  On contract five, the house mysteriously flooded from the second floor bathroom all the way down to the basement.  Buyer five saw it as an opportunity to choose personal finishes and waited out a portion of the seven extended months of renovation.  Then after choosing bathroom tiles and paint colors, number five also walked.  By the time we sold the completely renovated house to contract number six, we paid fifty percent of the purchase price of the home to actually unload it.   I scolded God and told him he should have been less wasteful.  That three year experience led to anger and distrust of God.  Where was He when I prayed earnestly to him?  Why did He not answer?  Why did the one who controlled the casting of lots not allow the first or second contract to roll in our favor?

My emotions were in such disorder at the time that I couldn't watch any of the shows I previously enjoyed like House Hunters or Designed to Sell without my stomach lurching and feeling nauseous with fear.  It truly was paralyzing.  Only years later can I really talk about the whole incident with some emotional distance.   Why do I share this now?

Reason 1: Those three years were essential to break down my expectations that God is not "wasteful."  If you are a human, let me tell you, God is ridiculously wasteful. He loves wastefully.  He gives himself wastefully.  Jesus died in his prime for an unresponsive and ungrateful me.  

Reason 2: In a roundabout way, a house not selling in Michigan led us to adopt a boy in Bengbu, China.  If we hadn't lost so much money trying to be good stewards, we would have never willingly taken on the excessive financial expense of adoption.  We were freed to a new standard of wastefulness.  Yes, you can sponsor hundreds of children for the cost of adopting one.  However, the very God who allowed his body to be anointed with a year's wages that could have been dispersed to the poor is strangely wasteful.

Reason 3: Without that huge scar of anger, betrayal and disappointment, we wouldn't have stepped into a different church situation.  We were searching for substance and answers.  In only ways God can do, he took all the pain of those wasteful years and ignited them with a deep-seated trust of Him.  It is no surprise to me that the church God used mightily in our lives was also overcome with the wasteful love of our Saviour.   That precious church sent out year-end thank you letters, individually addressed, to a ten-year-old and a seven-year-old with twenty-three cents and fifteen cents less in their respective piggy banks.  When the postage of the envelopes cost more than the gifts that is God-like waste.  

Reason 4: God's a Spender, but he never goes into debt.  He has the resources to out-spend you.  You can trust that through unexplained and senseless waste in your life,  He loves you more deeply than your despondency and fears.  His plans for you are abundant and full of life.  

I could have referred to Jesus' gift as costly, but somehow costly seems too calculated, too humanly sensible.  Waste gets our knees knocking, because our resources are limited and finite, but wastefulness means nothing to God who owns the universe and the galaxies beyond.   I was healed from viewing God as a tightwad by experiencing the most wasteful gift of all, Christ's lavish love for me.     

 "A new command I give you:  Love one another.   As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." 
John 13:34, 35

Sunday, March 01, 2015