The Family

The Family

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

To all those men and women who have served our country so bravely.....
To all the mothers and fathers who waited at home praying their babies would come back safe......
To all those who continue to serve both at home and abroad.......
We say THANK YOU! Your service and dedication do not go unrecognized.

It is easier now for me to see and appreciate all the things our country has to offer after having traveled outside the US last year. Our freedoms, our government, our luxuries. We have much to be grateful for today and every day. Very thankful that our 5 children from other lands get to experience what it means to be an American.

God Bless America.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Being Radical

Well we surely have had a ton of stuff going on around here the past month or so, and you know what? It just occurred to me that most of it was centered around something having to do with orphans.  I traveled back to Ukraine for a week to be with a friend as she was in the middle of her adoption, our family traveled to Atlanta for the Sacred Selections fundraiser to help raise money for a family's adoption......

Dana Carrozza from Sacred Selections with Charlotte
Bronwyn and Atticus

Such a wonderful night with thousands raised to help bring a child into a loving home!!
The Carrozzas and our five Sacred Selections children!!

and then I had the extreme privilege of attending Summit 9 in Nashville - a two day event dedicated to encouraging and educating people who want to help the orphans of this world - and got to hear some extraordinary speakers while there.

Over 2000 people at Summit 9 this year!

The Chapmans

Some amazing families and bloggers including Adeye Salem from No Greater Joy Mom blog and the Twietmeyers of Project Hopeful

David Platt speaking
In addition to that I have been helping Tim prepare and fundraise for a mission trip he and Evan are taking to Ukraine this summer to repair a home for aged out boys and teach them some life skills as well. 

And if that weren't enough, here in our own family we celebrated the one year anniversary of Charlotte and Atticus's arrival home, as well as Leo becoming an official US Citizen on the same day- May 17th!!

Whew! Yes it has been a super busy month and a half, but it has been busy with some of the things we enjoy most in this world. The plight of the orphan has really begun to take center stage in our lives. We are focusing more and more on what we can do regarding this issue- How can we educate? Encourage? Facilitate more adoptions? Help with hosting? Minister to those children still left behind?

Some might say, and have said, "But goodness haven't you done enough? I mean you HAVE adopted 6 children......"  To which I ask, what is enough exactly?  Enough according to our worldly view or enough according to Christ's view?

I was encouraged to think about this question this morning during church services when our preacher spoke on decipleship. What does it mean, what does it entail to truly be a deciple of Jesus?  Well as he pointed out, Matthew 7:19 says "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (New American Standard) So clearly, resting in our laurels is not an option. We need to always be striving to do what Jesus would have us to do, bear fruit.

While I was at Summit I had the opportunity to hear David Platt speak. His message of course was geared toward the plight of the orphan and how we, as Christians, need to be stepping up to the call to care for these children, not leaving it as someone else's problem. I had wanted to read his book Radical for a long time after hearing so many good things about it, and used this chance to buy myself a copy. As it happens, our family did a Bible study together tonight- something we instituted a few weeks ago. We usually have it on Tuesdays but since we missed this past Tuesday I figured, why not tonight? We had already completed the topic we'd been studying previously so I thought doing a chapter from Platt's book each week might be a good idea. 

His book doesn't focus on orphans but rather about Christianity in general. He challenges us to look at our faith and our actions, and see if it lines up with the Christianity of the Bible. Or does it look more like a Christianity we have defined for ourselves? One that is more comfortable, fits in with our cultural norms better? One that is less radical.

You see, I really have come to understand that this word has taken on such a negative connotation, when really it should be quite the opposite. People are considered, within the realms of Christianity, to be radical if they veer even ever so slightly away from that comfortable norm I was just speaking of.  You want to go start up a church? You are radical. You want to go do mission work for a year? How radical. You want to move to a foreign country and help orphans? That is radical. You are going to sell your home, cash in your savings and go work with the poor? Radical. 

But the question Platt tries to get us to affirm and then answer is WHY??

Why is it radical for us to want to do these things and then to go do them??

Isn't this the sort of thing Jesus lays out for us in the Bible, and if so then why is actually going and doing it so different??  So extreme??  Quite simply, it shouldn't be.  For Christians, it should be the norm.

"The satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus"~ Platt

Platt tells us about Luke 9, of the men who desired to follow Jesus and Jesus told them what they had to do...... Be willing to essentially be homeless. Don't return home to bury your loved ones, if you are to follow Me you can not look back. You can't even say goodbye to your family.  How radical.  

But that is JUST the point!  Jesus WAS radical. What He taught was radical. What we as Christians following His example are called to be is radical. We are supposed to be different. Set apart from the rest of the world. Are we doing that??

"I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves."~ Platt

You have to decide, did Jesus really mean what He said? All those things in the Bible, does God really mean them? You know, about caring for the widow and the orphan? Or when He told the rich man to sell all his possessions and come follow Him? Or when that woman who gave the very last that she had is used as an example for us....... Does He mean it?  Can we really be expected to sacrifice? To give more? To do more?

When I read these examples in the Bible and then read real life examples, I think so. Books like Francis Chan's Crazy Love or Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis. These radicals, putting it all on the line for Christ. 

But as Platt states,we try to rationalize all the Bible passages about sacrifice away. We are afraid of what it will mean for us. We are more content with our version of what we think He meant.

"And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist Him in to a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.  A nice, middle class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and would never ask us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our close relationships so that He receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger all together. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream."~ Platt

So as I told my kids tonight, we haven't been called to be comfortable. We have been called to live for Him. If that means stepping out of your comfort zone and doing things others consider radical, then so be it. And this means different things for every person.

But as my children grow, I want one thing to be certain, that they are always putting Him first. This is especially important for me to ingrain in them as I see my oldest getting ready to leave for college in about a year from now. What will he prioritize in his life?  Money? Prestige? Fame? Possessions?  Or living the kind of life Jesus has called us to.... Service, sacrifice, humility, abandonment to self.  

It is a hard pill to swallow for sure, and definitely one I am still not completely comfortable with. I still love nice things, love the frivolous, the luxuries that come along with a middle class American life. And I am sorry if this post sounds a bit preachy, it is way more to myself then anyone else. I have a long way to go.  But everything over the course of this past month, now culminating with the reading of this book, has really called us to re-evaluate our priorities as a family and ask "How do we really want to live this one and only life we have been given? Where do our priorities lie? What differences do we want to make before we leave this world? And what or who is driving us more, God or man?" And finally, "What kind of example do I want to be setting for my children? Do they see in me a Christ centered individual?"

Ultimately, I want Jesus to see that I was focused on Him. Being more like Him, in whatever ways I can, that is the goal.

So if our family seems a little radical to you, a little different or out there, I say good! I want us to be different, in a good way, in a Christian way. I want us to live a life that is RADICAL.