Jack

It has been just shy of three weeks since I landed in New Zealand. It has been a wonderful and challenging experience to return to the country that shaped my childhood. I knew that both I and my birth country had changed, but to see it all first hand and to experience the feelings of homecoming and homesickness (for Canada) was overwhelming to say the least. However, I wouldn’t change my decision to come back, if only for a while.

I am in the unique place, along with many others around the globe, of having two countries shape my childhood and teenage years. It has proved a challenge for the formation of my identity and if I’m honest it continues to do so. That said, I am glad for the challenges and joys that comes from having two countries be central to my national identity.

Internationally adopted children have the same challenge, although to a higher degree due to the added question of family identity; they must struggle with the question of their national identity.

As I prayed and looked through Reece’s Rainbow this morning I was pleased to note that 143 children who were listed on the site arrived in their new homes in 2018. I hope that over the course of this year more children will find families who will love them, support them, and help them through their own challenges of identity.

jack-august-2016-400x600-200x300@2xOne of the many children that I hope will have a family this year is Jack.

I think what stuck me so much about this little boy is that he will be turning ten at some point this year. The reason it hit me more than it might otherwise is that my own brother turned ten shortly before he was adopted into my family.

Ten is an important and special age (as my youngest brother who turns ten this year would tell you). It marks a milestone in any kid’s life. Wouldn’t it be amazing if this year was also the year that Jack found himself in the arms of a loving family?

Jack is described as being charismatic, funny, loving, bright, and smart. He can walk, run, jump and navigate stairs independently. Those simple tasks are a big deal for a little boy who has had surgical removal of cataracts and who has low vision!

Due to having spent some time in a small foster home for vision impaired children, Jack has learnt English (what a blessing that will be if he moves to an English-speaking country). One more interesting thing about Jack, other than his desire to have a family, is that he loves dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t want to play with some toy dinos and read books about dinosaurs with this little guy?

Please pray for Jack with me,

Dear Lord,

You place passions inside of us for a reason. I pray that you will continue to grow passions for learning and adventure inside of Jack. May you be glorified through all that he will achieve.

I pray that he will receive a family soon who will support him and help him to grow his interests. I pray that they will love him through the tough times and the good times.

Please strengthen this family and provide in them a heart for others. May their journey be an example to others. May they be a blessing to Jack as he will be a blessing to them.

Thank you for those that have cared for Jack gray and blue dinosaure ffigurinesand the others in his orphanage. I pray that you will provide them with a sense of peace and the knowledge that what they say and do has an impact on these kids. May their impact be positive, and may they come to know you.

In your name I pray,

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Messy Love

I’d blame my upcoming international move for my lack of writing over the last month but honestly, I’ve been working through what family means when it gets messy. What does it mean to love when you’ve been hurt or when those you love have been hurt and have the scars to show it? Years ago, when I was younger, I had to wrestle through these sorts of questions but now that I’m older and the dynamics of a new situation have arisen I’ve had to revisit how I view family and what it means to love.

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Today’s sermon given by my pastor was helpful in orientating my thoughts in regard to love. This Sunday, the fourth in the advent series, is perfect for a discussion on love. In lighting the ‘love candle’ and reminding ourselves of the love that God has shown through Christ the environment is perfect for expanding on the concept of love. What hit me the most in today’s service was when love was spoken as an overflow of character.

What is my character? Is it marked by a godly love? Do my actions, words, and thoughts show and reflect the love of God towards others, creation, and myself? Do I act in love towards God in respect and obedience to His commands (yet another question of love)?

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Christmas is the perfect time to speak on love. There is the horizontal love that we show each other and the vertical love that began this season all those years ago. The love of Christmas was a messy love. The love that we are to embrace today is not something that is marked by a lack of hardship. Our love is to be a messy and beautiful love just as the love of the first Christmas was.

It would be my greatest desire if the love and peace that so often marks this time of year (in hope if not in practice) becomes tangible and spreads throughout the rest of the year. That sort of love can only be brought and established by the One who is the source of love. The One whose character is marked by love.

He has shown such great love towards His children and even now His grace sustains us and all of creation. He gives us hope for tomorrow. I hope and pray that your tomorrow and the days that follow will be marked by divine love and that that love will strengthen and equip you in the transformation of your character.

In this transformation, I pray that love will be at the center and that it will overflow out of you unto all people and all creation. I also pray that this overflowing of love will encompass and embrace the least of society. May they not remain forgotten, unheard, and unloved. May the love of God cradle them close to Himself and may we be His agents in thought, word, and deed as we engage them in love.

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Please pray with me,

Dear Lord,

You give us many opportunities every day to show the love that you have shown us first. Please strengthen us and equip us to show love to those around us that we both see and do not see.

I pray that you will also guide us in loving and caring for the resources that you have blessed us with. May our care for your creation be marked by our love of our Creator.

Please help us to care for, respect, and love ourselves. Help us to see ourselves as you see us through Christ. May this love and respect flow out as love and respect for all people no matter their circumstance.

Lord, help us not to forget or ignore those who society has downtrodden and forgotten. May we not forget the children who wait for families. Help us to express and embody love for them as we welcome them into our families and communities.

Rise up a desire for justice for these children within us. May this prompt an outpouring of love towards them just as your desire for justice against the corruption of sin can be seen in the great love that you showed us in the coming of our hope and life, your Son, Jesus.

To you be the glory I pray,

Amen.

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A Question of Identity

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One of the greatest questions that people must wrestle through is the question of who they are. The question of identity plagues the hearts and minds of people of all ages, perhaps none more than those who have experienced a great uprooting in their young lives.

Having moved internationally at fifteen I have struggled with knowing and maintaining my national identity. I have loved and continue to love my birth country. However, I have also grown to love my adoptive country. I recently became a citizen of my new country (I’m now a dual citizen) but this has only increased the confusion and conflict that I have felt internally.

There is this feeling of not fitting in, of remaining an outsider, especially in such a deep-rooted coastal area. However, I know that in returning to the country of my childhood there will also be a disconnect. I have grown and changed and the country has changed since I left.

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Despite the challenges that I have faced in understanding my national identity my heart goes out to children who have been adopted internationally. Unlike me, with the support of my family, they do not have a developed sense of family identity that can soothe the confusion of discovering who one is.

I cannot begin to imagine how challenging it is going to be for my siblings as they continue to grow and seek to understand their national identity. Will they feel closest to their birth country? The birth country of their adoptive parents? Or their adoptive country?

This is a significant question that confronts many people (not just adoptive kiddos) and it needs to be taken seriously. I think that it is vital that we emphasize that it is O.K. to love more than one country. It is also important that we show and understand that we are all connected to humanity no matter our national identity. Additionally, we are all unique and having a unique and varied background is good and O.K. Finally, it is O.K. to explore aspects of our identity as long as we hold onto an aspect of ourselves that remain with us despite the changes and differences in our lives. For me, that is my identity as a child of God.

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Would you pray with me for those around the world who are wrestling with the question of their identity?

Dear Lord,

Thank you for making us unique.

Thank you that we have our own story, our own loves, and our own hopes and dreams.

I pray that as we seek to determine who and what they are that you will comfort us. Please grant us peace and assurance that you will stand with us no matter the country that we find ourselves.

Please guide us into the knowledge of who we are, what we can do, and the difference that we can make in the lives of others.

In your name, I pray,

Amen

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Running

DSC_0789 (2)This week has been a challenge for my family. My brother ran away in a heat warning with only a pair of shorts on and my Aunt died. While my Aunt isn’t going to come back I am relieved to say that my brother did come home. We had to call the police and thankfully he came home before search and rescue came.

It was stressful not just for us and our friends as we looked for him but also for my youngest siblings. They have a fear of the police due to being removed from their home by the police in their birth country. My youngest sister burst into tears just at the mention of them coming. However, when they did come, the kids were very brave and I am so proud of them.

Despite the struggles that this week has brought it has reminded me of the importance of family and the reality of running away. Don’t we all run from something? We run from our fears and from uncertainty. We run to escape and sometimes in hope of finding something new.

Running away is not just running in the sense of hitting the pavement, it might be, but more often we run in other ways. We might run by pushing ourselves into our work or losing ourselves in books, tv, or video games. Running is not just about running or losing ourselves in harmful substances.

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I wonder what or who we are running towards. When we run do we have someone to run towards? I’m ever thankful that my brother came back. Though he left in anger and a whirlwind of emotions he knew he could come back. He knew where he was loved and would be safe. He knew where he could run to. Sometimes we run from the very places that we should be running to. I wonder how many times I’ve run from God only to realize that he is the very place I need to be running towards.

A greater concern for me at this moment is the thought of those kids who don’t have a place they can run towards. They don’t have the arms of someone who loves them that they know they can return to, who can hold them tight and safe. Someone they know that they can run towards.

It’s not just adoptive parents who can be this place of refuge for kids who used to have no one. We can all be a place that someone can run towards. That might just be a kind word or a helping hand or it might be something much bigger. Whatever the case might be, we can mirror the acceptance, hope, and love that we find in Christ. We now have a place of safety in the presence of our Father.

IMG_1309There is a little boy that I have talked about before – Zaki (https://reecesrainbow.org/76448/zaki). I’m writing about him again at the request of my youngest brother. It has been more than two years since I told him about Zaki and he still prays for him every night. The two boys were born in the same year (2009) and though being born in different countries (Eastern Europe and The People’s Republic of China) my brother feels a connection.

My brother periodically asks me if Zaki has been adopted yet, he’s worried that Zaki will not get adopted and will die. He remembers the time when he was still in the orphanage and was very sick, a far cry from today where he is healthy and flourishing. He fears that his future as it stood without a family will be Zaki’s future. A future that has changed and opened up to encompass many possibilities.

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My brother has even promised to go to China and adopt Zaki himself if he doesn’t get a family. Though this is not a possibility it shows the dedication that he has to this other little boy. Would you pray with me that Zaki will get a family soon? That he will have a safe place to run to? That there would be good news to give to two boys who are on either side of the planet?

Dear Lord,

Thank you that you are a place of safety and refuge. Thank you that we can run to you even if we were first running from you. Please help us to model you and also be a place of safety and refuge for others.

Lord, I pray for Zaki. He has been listed for more than four years and has yet to have a family come forward to call him their own. Please bring a family forward for him. A family that can love and support him. A family that can provide a place of refuge for him.

You know that my own brother has loved him and petitioned you for the life and future of Zaki. May his prayers be answered and a joyous sound be heard around the planet.

In your name, I pray,

Amen

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A Father’s love

Last Sunday was father’s day.

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This week I have been thinking on who my father is and all that he has done for me over my life. I think of the early morning drives to practice at 5 am and of the weekends he gave up so that I could go to meets. I think of the decisions and sacrifices that he made so that I could get a unique and lasting education, one that prepared me academically and spiritually for the wide range of information and circumstances that are out there in the world. I think of the dedication that he has shown me through example and the God centered choices he has made despite the challenges these decisions have made. I know that I wouldn’t be me without who Dad has been in my life.

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Reflecting on who my Dad is and the influence that he has on me caused me to think on the responsibilities that we have and the influences that we have on others. In this regard, all of us have a responsibility to those around us. To show others, especially those who are younger and look up to us, what it means to be a child of God. To be steadfast in our faith, to be kind and wise, to be strong and gentle, and to show love to all. We have a great responsibility as daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, mentors, coaches, and friends. It is my hope that those who do not yet have a family to call their own will soon find themselves among a family that examples to them what it means to be a child of God.

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Please pray with me,

Dear Lord,

Thank you for my Dad. Thank you for the dads and dad figures around the world who give an example of what it means to walk in accordance to your will. The dads who show us how to love and care for others, to be strong and gentle, and to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

Lord, I pray that there will be many birth-dads, adoptive-dads, foster-dads, and dad-figures that will step up and show girls what a man should be like, kind, respectful, strong, encouraging, God-fearing etc. I pray that they will also an example to boys in what they should strive to be like as they grow older and into men of God.

For those that have yet to have a positive father-figure or a family I pray that they will soon have a man in their lives who will support and encourage them. Who will show them love and will have their backs as they navigate life.

Lord, I pray most of all that we will recognize you as our Father. Our perfect Father who has shown us great love and who will never abandon us nor forsake us. Though we may fight you and push away from your love you stand steadfast in your promises and care for us in a way that no earthly father can. I pray that we will always look to you for the ultimate example and to Jesus Christ your Son.

In your name I pray,

Amen

 

A busy week and a fuller heart

Commissioning

 

This last week has proved to be busy but also gratifying. It started off with Commissioning for the graduating students within the faculty of Theology. I was privileged to be one of those reading the Scripture. It was especially meaningful as I was one of the students who were graduating.

This brings me to the next exciting thing that happened. Graduation!

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I almost can’t believe that I made it. I am truly indebted to my family, friends, and professors.

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This week has also been marked by traveling with family (my Aunt and Uncle came for a visit and for graduation from New Zealand) and finally by celebrating Family Day.

Family Day is the day that my family celebrates the day my youngest four siblings legally became apart of the family. Family Day is usually marked with ice cream, a visit to the beach, and mixed feelings. There is excitement at another year together and thankfulness at being together but there is also some sorrow and anger at what once was and what could have been.

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Despite the mixed feelings it was a great day. I got to spend time with my family and celebrate that we don’t have to be biologically connected in order to be connected in the best of senses. It is about sharing and being with one another through good times and bad. I think families with adopted children see this reality regularly. There needs to be an acceptance of differences and a celebration of our uniqueness that comes together to make a wonderful whole.

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Dear Lord,

Thank you for families. Thank you for the ones who stand beside us. Thank you for the ones who support us and are there when times get tough. Thank you for the people who love us and care for us. Thank you for the ones that we can laugh with and and be silly with. Thank you for the ones that we can be ourselves with.

Lord, I pray that the children around the world who wait for families will not have to wait much longer. I pray that they will know what it means to be apart of a family that loves, laughs, and lives together.

In your name and for your glory I pray,

Amen.

May we show others what it means to be in a family and to care for one another whether or not blood connects us.

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Siblings

media-share-0-02-06-64ecf59403b5d5a6f4c11aa7cfa51a628c7082cd2b3e5caf1588e4d20c8b8b9e-f7cd31a4-cbea-40af-b51e-82bc520a895a (2).jpgI was reflecting on my family this week. It is an easy thing to do when your Dad is out of the country for work and you have finished your studies. I have been able to put more focus into helping my mum and my siblings.

They are amazing kids and I love them all so much. This time while Dad has been away it has been very hard for my youngest sister. Dad’s traveling is not an odd experience but this trip has been especially hard for her. While the others also find it tough they have been doing well.

As I was saying, my youngest sister has been struggling. Seeing how the others interact with her has shown me how much they have grown. It used to be that they didn’t understand why she would act differently or be “naughty” but they are starting to understand that she isn’t feeling well. They are also starting to understand what it looks like when she isn’t feeling well.

My youngest brother went up to her the other day and put his hand on her arm and told her that it was going to be OK. He had recognized that she was struggling and was choosing to share in her struggle. This is a big step for him as he is three years her junior and has to work through what it means to pass her developmentally.

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Additionally, my other sister, who is only a year older than her, has exhibited remarkable patience. She used to struggle with showing our youngest sister patience and forbearance. She would snap or loose her temper. Watching her over the last few weeks I have noticed a change in her. She will talk calmly when our sister is struggling and help my mother and I as we navigate different struggles and triggers.

In reflecting on my family I thought of sibling groups that are waiting for families. As I looked through the sibling groups on Reece’s Rainbow (https://reecesrainbow.org/category/waiting-children/siblings) I was shocked to see Hadden and Hadley. https://reecesrainbow.org/82877/hadden-and-hadley

boys1I remember seeing their faces on the site a few years ago and I was sure that they would have a family quickly. It broke my heart to see that they were still listed. These twin boys were listed in 2014!!! Their pictures are old. The only information that is given is that they were born in 2009 and that they have a hearing impairment. It is my hope that they will NOT have to wait much longer for a family. Will you pray with me for a family to open up their hearts and lives to them?

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for families. Thank you for siblings. Thank you that we can have someone who is there for us and that we can be there for them when they need it. Please help us to be better siblings not only to our biological, adoptive, and foster siblings but also to our siblings in Christ. May our Church family be marked by the love, concern, and care of close siblings.

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I pray that Hadden and Hadley will be able to stay with each other. Many siblings are ripped apart in order to try and find them a family who will adopt them, please bring a family forward to love and care for them that will welcome both boys into their home.

I pray that the boys’ connection with one another will develop and strengthen. I pray that they will be able to rely on each other. I also pray that they will learn to trust and love the family that you have for them.

May you be glorified through our relationships and the decisions that we make. May you be the one we turn to when the going gets tough and when there is reason to celebrate.

Thank you for the lives of these young boys. May they be enveloped by the love of a family who will support them and care for them. May they get the help that they need to succeed. Please grant them a family soon so that they do not have to wait any longer. They have waited long enough. May the tide change and a family come.

Thank you,

Amen.