Summer Hellos!

Greetings to each of you!  Please know in these busy days we haven’t forgotten those of you who have prayed and are praying for us!  Please continue!  It is just that some days it is hard to find time to blog!

I recently read the story of Peter attempting to walk on water after he watched Jesus do this.  For some reason, I found greater comfort in his failure to complete this task than if he had accomplished it.  Apparently only a single great picture has been painted of this scene, one by Conrad Witz in 1944.  Some suppose it is that we don’t want to associate our great leaders with failure.  Peter had been called upon by Jesus to be the rock on which he will build his church.  Furthermore he denies Jesus three times.  Isn’t that interesting, the rock, something immovable is what he calls Peter.  Perhaps it is our failures He uses best. Failures and brokenness help destroy pride, which is one of the most difficult sins to root out.  

To be able to recognize the storms of life as God’s greatest gifts takes reframing them; to be able to find in brokenness a new dependence on the Father which yields a spirit unattainable by self sufficiency.  Not that I would wish to stay in the state I was in for the first few months after the boys came home;  I wouldn’t wish feeling depressed, overwhelmed and in the storm with no shalom in sight.  But when the peace comes, it comes with an understanding that it is only from Him. To be obedient to His call sometimes will mean storms that would not have come had you stayed safely on shore.  NT Wright says in his comments following this passage, “There are many times when Jesus asks us to do what seems impossible.  How can we even begin to do the task he’s called us to?”  Surely we cannot look at the waves of the storm.  We must fix our eyes on Him.  This is the only way to make it through the storm.

    I wish I could say that all my doubts, fears and concerns are gone.  They are daily resurfacing, but each day seems to bring a greater sense of normalcy.  It is feeling more normal to have the boys here than to not.  Our bio children are interacting well with them and there are less issues overall.  In fact, our bio children seem to love them here, there is always someone to play with: backyard soccer, swimming, bike rides, checker games, swinging, and just general fun all around now that summer has arrived.  

   It is interesting how the Lord answers prayers.  One of the things I have struggled with in having a big family, and since adding the boys especially, is the fact that sometimes it seems we cannot focus on each child like the world around us seems too.  I came across this book called “The Danish Way of Parenting” which is conveying some of the secrets these people have in being titled the “happiest people in the world.”

The American way is often one of do-it-yourself individualism.   We don’t even realize how often our culture affects our choices for ourselves and for our children.  What is held up as most important in our culture?  What is highly valued?  The book states, “The idea of togetherness, if you think about it, is quite different from the individualistic nature that forms a large piece of the American identity. The United States was built on self reliance. We don’t really need others if we are strong enough to succeed on our own.  Why should we have to depend on support if we can do it ourselves.  We glorify individual achievement and self fulfillment with terms such as ”the self-made man” and idolize the individual hero in all walks of life from political to social to sports.  If you listen to sports, it is rarely about the team effort; rather, it’s the individual who stands out; the famous quarterback or pitcher. It’s the star who shines out from the rest. The people who help support that star often become blurred background noise. It’s the hard work and the survival of the fittest we admire most.  We are then raised to strive to be that star, that winner.  Geert Hofstede,  world-renowned cultural psychologist, concluded in a very famous study about cultural differences that the US has the highest level of individualism in the world.  That is pretty incredible.  We are so programmed to think about “I” that we probably don’t even realize it.”   I share this to say that we are even as Christians so self focused, often missing others along the way.  The others Jesus has placed in our lives, in our attempt to be the best whatever we can be.  I was really challenged in the book when she said “ Moreover, it’s fair to say that most of us would enjoy being  a “winner.” We would like our kids to be winners or at the very least to be the best at something and stand out. This is pretty normal.  Who wouldn’t want that.” She goes on to give examples of various awards and trophies that might be awarded to our children.  But then she asks this question, “How many of us would naturally consider giving the winning trophy for “harmony of the group”? How many of us would gauge our child’s success not on how well he played, but on how well he helped others play or how well the children played together?” Think of this in light of a sporting event.  Wow! How different our perspective if we look at sports in this way instead of tallying our children’s points scored!  So in this the Lord has shown me that some of the things that we are limited by in our family size are also gifts. The gift of being other centered vs. self centered.  The gift of remembering the least of these coming before your own comfort.  The book talks of the concept of togetherness as a family and a word they call “hygge” which essentially is:  putting yourself aside for the benefit of the whole.  So, in this I have found peace, that in obedience to God’s call, He is also working out what is best for all of our children.  

About two months after the boys came home my prayer was, “Lord, I pray that one day I can encourage someone to adopt.” Meaning at that point I was not sure if I could recommend it to anyone.  The years of waiting, the cost and the very difficult part of leaving my nursing toddler three times were hard enough.  Now, to have so much of the aspect of bringing them home be so different than I thought.  I so longed for things to somehow feel normal.  It seemed that much like Peter, I could not walk on the water.  What’s more, it felt like I was drowning.  I am thankful to say that after counseling, spending time with the Lord and Ron’s steadfastness in my life I am doing better.  But, honestly, I must say that my life will never “be the same.”  In saying that, I know that this is the cost.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

He can not live in us unless we die first.  Dying to ourselves is not a once and for all process.  It is one that must be redone each day.  

In what way is Jesus asking you to walk out on the water today?  Does it feel impossible?  Does it feel out of your abilities?  Well, that could be a good sign.  He often will use the things that we could not possibly do on our own, to easily remind us that there is no way it has been done on our own.