Monday, January 27, 2014

In God, I Trust

At the beginning of the month, around the new year, I saw some people deciding on a word for the year. An area they wanted to grow in or work on, or a reminder to focus on throughout the next twelve months. At the time, I only vaguely wondered if I had a "word" for this year, 2014, but couldn't really think of one. Almost a month in, though, I think I am starting to find an area - and a word - that might just be my one little word for the year.

It didn't come about intentionally; I didn't go casting through words to see if one felt right. But in the past few weeks, in prayer, in praise and worship, in smaller group discussions, I began to notice a recurring theme of something that I know I need to work on.


I need to grow in my trust in God.

I am, by nature, the sort of person who likes things very planned and concrete with all the details lined up. I plan my classes for the next several semesters out. I have comprehensive lists of every task I need to get done for the day, the weekend, the month. When I'm studying a difficult concept in school, I have to find a way to wrap my mind around it, break it down into understandable terms, or I can't master it - rote memorization of steps just doesn't work for me. I need the details.

That sounds so great on paper. But put into practice...not so much. I've already, in two semesters, changed my class plan countless times. Things get left off my list or come up last minute or take far longer than I thought they would. Sometimes I just have to suck it up and memorize the steps and equations because comprehension of why and how is beyond my level.

The rest of life is just the same. No matter how much I plan and want to figure out every little detail of my life for the next years or months or weeks...I can't. It just plain doesn't work. That's hard for my logical, concrete mindset to accept. I want everything clear cut. I want to be able to figure everything about with schedules and lists and thinking things over. And when it just doesn't happen that way I get disconcerted and uncomfortable.

But I am beginning to realize that my problem doesn't just lie in not being able to predict the future. It lies in not trusting God. Because He holds my future - not me. He already knows what it will hold. And He is a good God, and He loves me. Instead of being afraid of what lies ahead, of all the unknowns and questions and all I have yet to figure out, I need to trust that He's already got it covered.

And truth be told, things won't be easy, just because He's looking out for me. He never says it will, and life never is. But good? Blessed? His Will for me? Yes, it will be all of those things. Oh, it is so hard for us humans to concede the control we foolishly think we have over to Him. We are silly folks. We already cannot control every twist and turn our lives will take us on, and He already does.

And so for this year, that is what I will work on - trust. From figuring out where my academic career will lead me to my personal life, I am resolved to working on trusting my God more and more that He has a perfect plan. He has never, will never fail me. And in Him I trust.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

For Them, I Cry

For years, many, many years, I have spent a large portion of my time reading blogs of women, moms, who have adopted. I read about the paperwork process in different countries, and in the US. The wait to bring the child home. The emotions and difficulties and joy and hard work and heart break of bringing a child into a home. I see pictures and hear stories of other children - those still waiting. In many cases, with few prospects to lead a "successful" life once they age out. Some with medical conditions that are not getting the treatment they need.

And I want to give every single one of those children a home. As barely more than a child myself, I can't. Right now, my place in life is not to adopt, but to help in whatever other ways I can, and I try to do that. And yet...I still cry.

When I read a bio about a little boy with an adorable grin, hoping for a family of his own, but knowing that he may never feel a parent's love, I cry.

When I see a picture of a girl with hurt in her eyes, who has waited for years and years and years, and knows she probably won't get a family before she ages out of the orphanage system and onto the streets, I cry.

When I scroll through lists and lists of little ones being advocated for, in hopes that someone will find them and realize that the child in the picture is meant to be their son or daughter, I cry.

Because there are so many. Millions. Hundreds of millions of orphans in need of a home.

But there are far more homes and families who might be missing a child and not even know it. And if the world stepped up, if the families of the world reached out and took a chance and opened their hearts and homes to a little boy or girl...there would be no more orphans.

Yet that is not happening. So many men and women turn away. Say, "It isn't for me" or "It's too expensive" or "What if..."

What if.

What if that child is the right fit for your family?

What if the hard work is worth it?

What if you realized there is room for one more spot at the dinner table?

What if there is enough love in your heart for one more?

What is that child needs you?

What if you trusted God that He would lead you beside the still waters and in paths of righteousness?

What if...?

Now, it is not for everyone to adopt. Some people are simply not meant to help the orphans in that way. For others, such as myself, now is just not the season for that.

But caring for the orphaned and oppressed is unquestionably God's will for every individual who can. The Bible says over and over again to care for those who need caring for, and specifically mentions the orphan, the fatherless.

So central is this principle that James 1:27 states, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

It does not say "to pray all the time" or "to never make mistakes" or "to be good." It says to care for the orphans and the widows.

Yet this is not one of those verses that the church has latched onto. There are those verses that are repeated over and over, printed on countless shirts and bumper stickers. There are others that are preached in churches so many times as to become almost cliché. But there are those that are inconvenient, and thus overlooked. Like caring for the orphans.

And so dozens and hundreds and thousands and millions of girls and boys all over the world are alone. This world is brutally imperfect, and it plainly sucks that children are orphaned or abandoned in the first place. But that is the truth, that is how the world is, and it is up to me and you (you - not the general plural "you," but the singular "you" reading this right now) to do something about it.

Whether your role is to adopt or to sponsor a child or help another family adopt or donate to an organization that cares for orphans around the world, that is between you and God. So please, I urge you to open your mind and heart to the possibility that maybe just sitting back and letting the anonymous "someone else" help is not what we are called to do after all.


To those interested in helping in some way, or learning more, here are a few different ways that you can get involved:

No Hands But Ours: A website that advocates for children currently waiting in China to be adopted, has adoptive families shares their stories, and has resources for those looking to adopt.

Love Without Boundaries: An organization that helps orphans in China receive the medical care they need. This is a great way to help if adoption is not for you by sponsoring a child and an organization that I have worked with and given to numerous times, and will continue to support.

Texas CASA: This is a way to help children within the US, in your own state, by standing in as an advocate for a child who likely has no one else to speak up for them. Although this organization specifically works with children in Texas, it only takes a quick search to find one in your own state.

Whether you feel called to care for the orphan through opening your home, with financial support of others who are already helping, or by being the voice for the voiceless in your area, hopefully these links help you get started. Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about other ways to help.