Undone

UnWasted - Title

Have you ever had an experience that rocked your world so violently that you were never the same? Those moments, tragedies, horrors that you can’t shake and make you rethink everything you are?

I witnessed a life shattering event recently and I’ll never be the same again. At least I hope I never will.

You’ve seen it, you’ve probably lived it. You’re going about your business, living life, doing good – not casually or passively – you’re truly laying it all down serving God. Then the walls crumble as disaster strikes, your life tilts and everything is left in shambles. When you come up for air you begin to wonder – God, if I’m serving you, following you, trusting you – how did I end up here? God, how can the world be so messed up that evil seeps in even here?

My heart has been heavy watching these events unfold. My heart has been broken watching lives unravel. God has been there, don’t get me wrong, I still stand firmly in the faithfulness and sovereignty of God. None of that has changed, but there’s a phrase going through my mind that’s putting me in check and altering my days.

It goes like this:

Life is short, hell is hot, evil is lurking and there’s work to do.

This phrase is drawing me to my knees in prayer. Pleading prayer for my family, friends and this world in desperate need. This phrase is putting me in check when I consider frivolous pursuits. We all love Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, no one loves Twitter, but we all love the rest and there is GOOD WORK being done in those forums. I think the problem lies in the balance of it all. There’s good work and then there’s wasted time. There are orphan advocacy videos and there are pork taco videos, side by side. The line, the space, the time, it’s all conglomerated. I’m not promoting withdrawal, I’m promoting contemplation.

If,

Life is short, hell is hot, evil is lurking and there’s work to do.

Then,

I must ask myself, what will my days look like? How will I spend my time? Where will I draw the line between entertainment and leisure and seeking after God and His will? There’s only so much life to live, how will I spend these days? Will I take time to look my kids in the eye and impart truth and love to them? Will I spend my time and energy pleading for the cause of the orphan and widow? Will I spend time in prayer for the many things that are way beyond me?

Or,

Will I scroll and click and like. Will I sit and stare into oblivion until I get to the end of my days with – Nothing.

Life will still be beautiful, sin will still be ugly, the question is, How am I going to engage and battle for each? I want to be in that battle, not watching on the sidelines. It’s time to get to work.

“It was becoming clearer and clearer that if I wanted to come to the end of my life and not say, “I’ve wasted it!” then I would need to press all the way in, and all the way up, to the ultimate purpose of God and join him in it. If my life was to have a single, all-satisfying, unifying passion, it would have to be God’s passion.”
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The Dark Side of Adoption

dis·rup·tion
disˈrəpSH(ə)n/
noun
disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process.

I don’t know where to begin with this post. I don’t want to offend those walking through something I’m not walking through, but at the same time, the cost is so great that I must speak. The cost to the children left behind, those with no voice, the cost for them is extreme and I will speak with whatever voice I can on their behalf.

I’m talking about children that are disrupted. I’m talking about children that are not only disrupted, but disrupted on the brink of aging out. How can these things be so?

There’s a lot of debate about this issue, a lot of anger and hurt, pointing fingers; taking sides. In the wake of this disaster are children. These children are left devastated, wounded, and traumatized. These children experience a piercing stab upon the wounds they already carry. Grief. Pain. Anguish. Distress. Agony. The families experience this too. The families go home to America and try to heal. The families go HOME. They heal. How does a child left behind recover from an assault so personal?

I’m being too harsh. I want to turn back from writing this. Close this post, walk away.

The children.

My children. They could be my children. Where does it start? Does it start with a firm commitment and resolve to a child –no matter what– before you take the first step? Is that it? Or is it that we need more education about grief, the experience in country and what it really means to cross oceans for a child.

So, there we were in country with a child who was in the hospital. There we were with a child who had a sudden onset of nephrotic syndrome and what we believed (and later proved to be true) was epilepsy. This is not at all what we signed up for. Mental delay (which proved to be fairly severe) was the only things listed in her file. She struggled to walk, yes, but she wasn’t medically fragile. Over and over our guide looked us right in the eye, “Are you sure you want to do this?” “Do you accept these issues, I know you weren’t expecting her to be sick.” No. We were not expecting this. This was a whirlwind jump on a plane and get her home and straight to the hospital. It’s been a series of medication and specialist after specialist since. In all of the uncertainty, there was one thing that was fixed.

She was ours.

From the first moment we saw her picture, she was ours. For better or worse. It’s been hard, attachment has been difficult, but, She. Is. Ours.

Fast forward a couple of months.

He was aging out. We took a leap, made a decision. He was ours.

We arrived in country, we gathered him in our arms… and then the flailing began. I can’t even describe what our in country experience was like. We have 8 kids and that was our WORST parenting experience – ever.

Nearly 14 years old, emotionally much like a 6 year old. Screaming, punching, biting, hitting… telling people that we were mistreating him, trying to climb out of a taxi, the hotel staff having to come and CARRY him to our room, causing several extreme and frightening scenes in public. There were many times I thought they would alert the police when we were in public. Telling us he did not want a mommy and a daddy, telling us he did not want to leave China. Telling taxi drivers that he did not like us.

The question in our hearts and minds was, will he say yes when the US Embassy asks him if he wants to go with us to the US. The question was never, will we take him home with us. Not because it was easy or dreamy, but because he was ours. OURS. Our son and we weren’t letting go no matter how hard he fought. We were his parents and we were making the best decision in HIS best interest for his future.

He said yes.

After that, it was HARD. Still hard.

Then, we landed in the US and it was so much easier.

Then, time passed and he worked through so much of his grief.

Now, it’s easy for him. He tells me about his past, about the horrible things that happened to him and then he tells me, “I have a family, now I’m safe.” “You are my mommy forever.” He’s doing great in school, he loves to participate in family night; sharing his victories with his family. He has a place that is own, he has something very special – family.

Today we celebrated his first Easter. Today he took communion by himself, with my mom and I leaning in close to hear his prayer. “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross so that I could go to heaven.” He told me later in the day, “Mommy this was my first Easter. This was a happy day.”

Had I run, had I succumbed to fear and uncertainty, had we wavered in our decision, all these days lived, all these joys experienced, all this growth in our character, in our parenting ability, all that would have been lost. We would have been ok. We would have healed.

For my boy, oh, for my boy. The loss would have been extravagant. To be left behind, to be abandoned with no hope for family. To be blind in a country with few resources for the blind, to age out of a system with no guarantee of a safety net. The healing from a difficult lifetime that has happened in the last 10 months, would have never happened and we would have taken a knife, cut open his wounds and poured salt into them.

We have to stop these violent acts. We have to stop wounding children. There is so much GOOD coming out the adoption community, so much health, love and happiness. There are difficulties and hurt, but also so much success. We are strong, we are united, we HAVE TO FIND A WAY to support, educate, encourage, and explain that when you cross oceans for a child it isn’t unicorns and rainbows, but it is so very worth it. We must stand strong together, for the children’s sake, we must.

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She Had a Dream. Or Was it a Nightmare?

It was an upscale venue, there were plush chairs lining the walls. The banquet table entertained and sustained a gathering of men and women laughing without a care in the world. These couples had their well dressed children nearby as they enjoyed family time with friends. There were other children too, children from China. These host children, specific individual souls, were gathered in the middle of the room where these families were engaging. What a brilliant and wonderful event to have families and orphans together for a meet and greet!

In the midst of this, at the heart of it, there was a problem. A dark, brooding problem.

They wouldn’t touch them.

This happy scene wasn’t happy at all, the families were along the outskirts of the room, the host children were separated from them. The families wouldn’t talk to, touch, or even look at the children. Mothers, previously laughing and eating, sternly yanked their children away. “No, no. We don’t talk to them.”

What a nightmare.

I haven’t always been all about orphan care, but I have always been about the care and keeping of children. I’ve always been about motherhood. While in highschool I set my heart and my life in order, lined up – for motherhood, for the care of children.

Sometimes, I’ll be walking by a child of mine and think – what if they were alone? This little human, one I know so well, one I love, WHAT IF they had NO ONE? I wonder if mine have what it takes, if they have enough fire and spunk in them to survive. I praise God they’ve never had to; they’ve always been known, always been loved.

There’s one thing I know, that I’m confident of: I am not special. My children are not special. My country is not special. There is nothing in me, my children or my country that are not completely and utterly undeserving of everything we’ve been blessed with. Family. Love. Care. We deserve, have a right to, have earned – NONE of this.

So, who am I to think that my child deserves a happy summer filled with laughter, swimming, popsicles, and FAMILY LOVE – more than these little faces before me? What inconvenience will it require from me that I am ABOVE? What small spark of hope might be planted in the heart of a child?

When I see my son walk around with the photo of another boy pasted onto his shirt in a plea to host him, when my daughter shares her dreams, when I see all my 7 rally around in a large campaign to explain how perfectly easy it would be for us to take in another child, or another several children… I’m in awe. These who do the extra work, who give things up – their things – to make another child comfortable… these kids, being the hands and feet of Jesus. These kids, who have seen it’s not so difficult or scary after all, that lending a hand – or a pair of socks – is not so difficult.

My daughter spoke of her dream in animated words until she faltered to a stop, “They wouldn’t touch them.” She continued her story in hushed tones, the weight of her words not lost on either of us. The question on her heart is my question too: how to reach the hearts of others, how to make them see? How to live it out before others in a way that will inspire action?

The stark reality is this: My daughter woke up from her nightmare; the kids she dreams about – don’t.

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Nightlight is searching for families in Kentucky and So. California to host these children for 3 weeks. They are awesome adoptable kids – watch the video to see for yourself! To receive a Hosting Packet with detailed info about the program, email your request to dana@nightlight.org.

Meet Jay

I’d like you to meet a boy that is very dear to me and to our family. I’d like you to meet Jay.

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Oh, how I miss this dear boy. Jay stayed with us for 2 weeks during the summer and captured our hearts while he was here. Jay is in foster care in Taiwan and is available for adoption.  Our family considered and prayed about having him in our family, but it didn’t work out for us. Taiwan has a two child at home already rule that we certainly don’t meet the criteria for! Nevertheless, we love him and talk about him all the time at our house. We’re committed to advocating for him, this great guy needs a family!

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When he first arrived at our house he was sooo sleepy! Working through jet lag was a funny process as we tried to wake him up and he tried to stay asleep. His personality came out even in his sleepiness, we would call “Xǐng lái” “wake up” to him and he would yell “no!” back to us. This became a funny game between all of us.  One day we were in a Starbucks drive through and I was tired so I breifly laid  my head on the steering wheel as we sat waiting. He began laughing and yelling to me “Xǐng lái!” 🙂

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Jay loves spicy noodles, loves to cook fried eggs and to help out in the kitchen. Coming to help cook a meal or make a piece of toast for someone was one of his favorite things to do. He would make something, present it to a kid and say “ummm, so good!” in his adorable accent. He doesn’t like salad or soda and sandwiches took a while to grow on him, but he really loves pizza! He told us American pizza tasted much better than pizza in Taiwan. 🙂

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That first night when he was wide awake we sat up eating noodles and watching  TV with him at midnight. This will always be a treasured memory for us.

I have many, many stories to tell, but I’ll continue them later.  Please help Jay find his family, he’s a sweet and smart 8 year old boy who would thrive in a family. We love him!

For more information about this wonderful boy,  please contact Kathy Junk at: kathy@wiaa.org

– Julee

 

 

 

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Finding Hope in the Expanse of Alaska – One Little Flower

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In the darkness of 5 am I woke with a start to the beeping of my alarm clock. My weary eyes looked about the dim room. Another day had begun. Groaning, I emerged from my blankets and fumbled around my room to reach my suitcase. I sat down as my fingers fumbled for the zipper. I had a long day ahead of me. I stretched my neck and decided to pause and say some morning prayers.

“Lord,” I started out.

I couldn’t find the words; couldn’t find the thankfulness. I sighed heavily. What use was it pretending? I started again, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” I quoted Psalms. “My God, my God! Why have you left me here?” I cried. “I am here where I have longed to be. I am surrounded, oh God, surrounded with people. I tried to leave my emotions back home, but I just can’t escape. I tried, but still I cannot understand it. I am not alone, Oh god. I cannot be! But why do I feel so lonely while I am not alone?”

Trudging through the woods later that day, my heart still bore the weight of that morning. “Why, why am I lonely?” I sighed and continued walking. I hiked and I hiked, fully knowing this could be the last time I’d see such amazing wildlife and still I ignored it. I ran ahead, attempting to escape the crowd of people; escape my interrupted thoughts. As I zoomed past the trees, a small white flash caught my eye. I stopped, back-tracked, and searched for the white flash that captivated me.

Before long, I found myself before the source of my curiosity. In a shining patch of light, amid green trees, bushes, and browning shrubs, stood one single white flower.

I think my heart skipped a beat when I saw that flower.

I stood staring at it until a member of the group called out and woke me from my trance. I shook my head and realized I’d been holding my breath. I took a deep breath and started to walk again. That deep breath was so refreshing. A burst of freshness; a burst of purity.

Just one little flower.

All alone, yet, surrounded still.

I smiled to myself, “I know that flower, I love that flower.” While I cry out, “God, why have you forsaken me?” He whispers to my heart, “I haven’t.” In this I find my security, in this I find my hope. God loves me, He’s chosen me, and He will never let me go, this is the most comforting thing to get me through life. While the waves of life toss me around and I crash against the rocks – I feel lonely. Even while I am surrounded by people, I feel lonely. While I feel lonely, the little flower comes back to me and reminds me of the truth: Even when I’m lonely, He hasn’t forsaken me. Even when I feel lonely, I am never alone.

One Little Flower

In the middle of everything,
In the midst of nothing.
Where life is not fair,
And trust is everything.
Just one little flower.

All alone,
Yet surrounded still.
Through the great unknown,
And winter chill.
Just one little flower.

In the grim reality,
Of this life.
The sense of fatality,
The constant strife.
Just one little flower.

One little flower,
Don’t you cry.
Evil can only devour,
If we don’t try.

One little flower,
Oh, so lonely.
Don’t be so dour,
Remember Him only.

When your spirit is heartless,
And the sky looks dim.
Don’t lose focus,
Lean on Him. 

There is light in this darkness,
Strength in the sorrow.
Hope for the hopeless,
The promise of tomorrow.

The one little flower,
There always is and will be,
One hidden in the clover,
Where no one can see.

Forever loved,
But feels unknown.
May feel lonely
But never truly alone.

Just one little flower.

– Katie Ann Huy

Looking for Sparkles

She calls them sparkles. When they fall off your finger, they go to find a family.  So she says.

The dryer yields more of these sparkles with each load, the dress they abandoned now sparkless. So the search for sparkles and search for family continues, as the laundry cycles on.

Moving twice in 11 months, leaving behind everything known, planting and replanting – the tumbling, spinning cycle of life leaves me dizzy. Stepping out of comfort zones, saying yes to God, walking in weakness to discover Him strong – it’s exhilarating and exhausting.

This family, these kids, they’ve persevered long and given much. It’s time. Time to rebuild, time to nourish and replenish.When the walls are worn thin and there’s windy weather on the horizon, it’s time to fortify.

There are changes, just around this corner.

Another sparkle is found, she takes it to her drawer, adds it to the other sparkles. “So they can be a family.”

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In an instant, in a distant city in China, our lives will change forever. It’s going to be beautiful, miraculous, and life changing. Life altering in a million amazing and beautiful ways. Life altering in a million difficult, painful, sacrificial and still beautiful ways.

As we wait, we rebuild.

It isn’t popular to withdraw, decline invitations, pass on commitments and position, but rebuilding is a work that requires full focused effort.  The changes are difficult, but the results are tremendous. There is laughter, stories, parents hanging out with kids, kids playing together…

There is time.

Sweet, beautiful, time.

There are bibles and memory verses, routines, reading, playing, laughing, did I mention laughing. There are old ones spending time with young ones; siblings choosing to be together.

We ache for Melody Joy to come, we see her in her siblings faces (how can this be?), talk about her, pray about her, prepare for her. As we wait, we fortify. Just like a baby in the womb, we prepare to bring her home.

She opens the door, the light from the dryer illuminates the glimmer of each glorious sparkle.  With great excitement she exclaims,

“They’re all in here together, they found their family!”

The Gift of Time

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There is a certain safety, a quiet comfort that comes with time. Lately, there’s been a quiet contentment settling in my heart each time I spend time with him. I can’t explain why this is different than the awe and marvelling that we’ve done all our married days at how easy this comes for us, and maybe that’s it, it doesn’t always come easy anymore.

This man knows me more intimately than anyone has ever known me. I carried his children in my body. He was there as I delivered each of our 6 children, stayed by my side, strong and steady. He’s seen me in my most vulnerable state and been a pillar of strength to draw from in it all. We’ve only been at this for 15 and a half years and I am starting to sense this steady comfort that grows with having a protector of my life, my body, and my heart . A man who fears God and leads me to Him again and again.

I was merely a girl when we married, 18 years old, insecure and unsure of who I was. As I discovered who God was making me to be, he was always there to cheer me on, push me a little; support me a lot. There’s been a new transition as I’ve turned thirty and discovered my voice, my opinion that doesn’t always match his; as I learn to assert myself with respect and love. This dance becomes more complicated as our days go on, our life together is more detailed, intricate, complex and full. But, dance we do, stepping on toes and reorienting ourselves to dance in sync.

There’s something unique and special in being blessed with time, extended time, with the same person. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience, and I’m not promised length of days, but I’m thankful for the days I’ve been given. I’ve truly seen the goodness of God in the land of the living; I rejoice.

I’m thankful for you, Anthony Huy.