Pray, so we do not become Prey

Have you ever seen Mirror Mirror, the snow white movie with Julia Roberts? At the end, we are introduced to the previously unseen serpent who slithers through the woods terrorizing the passersby. He is shifty and horrifying, with a long tail to catch them off guard from behind.


Some days it feels like Satan enters our home like this creature, quickly stinging each of us before we have a chance to defend ourselves or fight back.

One of those days recently got me to pondering about Satan and how he is described as our “enemy the devil [who] prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8) I thought about why Satan especially seems to pick on vulnerable people and families such as ours and others I am particularly praying for these days. As I thought about lions, I realized that we rarely see a picture of a lion running or even fighting. They are usually seen lounging and licking their chops. In my opinion, that seems a little lazy for an animal who has claimed the title, “King of the Beasts.”

So I did a little Googling.

I found out a lion actually is somewhat lazy. For his prey, the male prefers to scavenge rather than fight. He gets more than half of his food by watching for circling vultures and then eating what has already been killed by hyenas and other beasts. Being at the top of the food chain, he often lets other animals do the hard work of the kill, and then he comes in and roars ferociously to scare the others away so he can have the first pick of the meat.

Now the verse in which the “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn 10:10) makes much more sense.

When lions do hunt, they don’t have the stamina of other big cats, so they target the more defenseless of the group (smaller or injured or alone). They lie in wait and hide, and often in the dark of night. Doesn’t that sound just like Satan? If you have ever felt like you have been attacked by Satan, you would probably agree that he targets us when we are most vulnerable.

Consider Psalm 10 about the “wicked man”:

His mouth is full of lies and threats;
    trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
    from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
    like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
    he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
His victims are crushed, they collapse;
    they fall under his strength.
He says to himself, “God will never notice;
    he covers his face and never sees.” (10:7-11)

Among the many families who are particularly vulnerable to the lion’s attacks are adoptive families. It may seem from the outside like we are healthy and secure, that everything is running smoothly. And for the most part we are doing fine, trying our best to implement our Empowered to Connect skills (parenting kids from “hard places”), and thankful for God’s grace as we try and fail and try again.

But as they say, “there is no adoption without loss.” Some kids have a few, others have many traumas. But there is always loss. And they are particularly vulnerable to Satan who preys on the lost, alone, and frightened. Satan whispers to them that they will always be lost, alone, and should fear rather than trust anyone.

God does not agree with Satan’s lies, though. In fact, just the opposite–the fatherless are at the center of His heart. Continue reading Psalm 10:

Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
    Do not forget the helpless.
Why does the wicked man revile God?
    Why does he say to himself,
    “He won’t call me to account”?
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
    call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
    that would not otherwise be found out.

The Lord is King for ever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror. (10:12-18)

God so cares for the vulnerable that He has chosen to define himself as the “helper of the fatherless” and the “father to the fatherless.” And in the middle of a chapter in Isaiah about all the wrong things his people are doing, he calls them to true worship:

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow. (Isa 1:17)

There are so many ways that we, His people, can do justice and help the vulnerable.  But my plea to you today is to pray for us.

Pray against the lion, so that we will not become his Prey.

We NEED you. Yes, we need toilet paper and milk and meals on occasion. Those things are so helpful and kind and such a blessing. But if you don’t feel you can do that, remember you can always PRAY. Not just for our family, but for any family that God brings to your minds. I have a couple families written down on a notecard in my Bible so I can remember them daily.

When the people of God pray in the Name of Jesus, Satan has to stand down. Pray with the authority of being an heir with Christ. That power is undeniable, even by Satan. And in doing so, you will put up a fortress of protection around our home that we desperately need.

Look at the hope we can have when we take refuge in Him:

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.” (Ps 91:11-16)

God promises to rescue us when we call on Him. But we need you, our extended family, to call on Him on our behalf as well.

Thank you for praying for us. There is strength in numbers and power in prayer, and we no longer want to be the lion’s prey.

Is God Angry With Us?

Because of an interview this past weekend, I was reflecting on my personal discovery of Isaiah, back in the spring of 2010. I remember with fondness a short season I had with all the kids in school (before the new ones came), chores caught up at home, and available time to spend hours in the Word. It was a season where I eagerly and purposefully pleaded, “Lord, please reveal to me your heart, so I can be more like you.” I will honestly admit that this is often not how I come to Scripture, but it truly was during that season.

My journey began with Isaiah 1, where I was blown away. I had never seen language like this to describe God.

God is ANGRY with his people! He calls them “a brood of evildoers.” They have rebelled against him so much that their whole bodies are beat up, from the bottoms of their feet to the tops of their heads. They are covered in welts and nasty unbandaged open sores because foreigners have come and desolated their people and their land. If God had not saved a remnant, they would have been totally demolished like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Even more than their land and their bodies, their hearts are as far away from God as they could possibly be. So much so that God says, “What are your sacrifices to me?” When they come to their place of worship, he tells them to “Stop bringing meaningless offerings!” They are “trampling his courts.”  He “cannot bear their worthless assemblies.” Their prescribed festivals “I hate with all my being!” God is so tired and “weary of bearing them.” When they lift up their hands in prayer, he “hides his eyes” from them. He says, “I am not listening”–those hands are “full of blood!” Their incense is “detestable” to Him! He even goes on to say that the “faithful city has become a prostitute!”

My heart is racing even now as I read those words in Isaiah. Have you ever heard words like these from God??

Now, before you want to jump to conclusions like: “Well, that was the Old Testament God… He was authoritarian and domineering and far away from His creation… That was before Jesus”– look back at the beginning of the chapter.

Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
    For the Lord has spoken:
I reared children and brought them up,
    but they have rebelled against me.

This Old Testament God calls his people his “children” and he raised them and cared for their needs as any loving father would. But he is so sad that they have rebelled against him anyway. He says that even the donkey and ox know their master and their home, but his own children are far from him. They do not know or understand him at all.

This makes me want to cry. I think any mom or dad would want to cry after their beloved children have turned their backs on the ones who love them the most.

So here is the clincher in verses 16-17. The part that stopped me in my tracks. God tells them to clean themselves up. “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right.” This is the part where I expected to read about how God wants us to worship the right way. Change our hearts when we go to the house of worship. Pray more. Do our sacrifices better. Don’t do things for show. But this is where I was blown away.

Here is the equation. How do we “learn to do right”?

Seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

What?!? This doesn’t sound like worship? What about church? What about Bible studies? What about my quiet time??

What God wants from us in worship is much more practical and doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning: Take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. Look after the most vulnerable, the ones who are taken advantage of by others, the ones most avoided and forgotten by the rest of the world. THIS is what “religion” is supposed to be. This is true “worship!”

Sound familiar? We have read it so many times in the New Testament it has become old news. But read the equation again:

 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. (James 1: 27)

Our New Testament God and our Old Testament God are one and the same. His love for us is the same, and the worship he expects back from us is the same. He is the same loving and intimate Father.

Similarly, in Hosea 11 (another prophet like Isaiah who is called to preach repentance to a rebellious people), God talks about his love for his children, how he “taught them to walk.”

I led them with cords of human kindness,
    with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
    a little child to the cheek,
    and I bent down to feed them.

Does that sound like a harsh, overbearing, distant father? No, this is a beautiful picture of a Daddy bending down to scoop up his beloved child and swing her around like a princess!

Many times in the Old Testament, God is shown to have an intimate relationship with his children. And he yearns for relationship with them.

I long to redeem them (Hos 7:13)

So here is the answer to my question when I asked God to show me his heart: Take care of the vulnerable, those without someone to provide for and protect them. Period.

We all can relate because that is what we all were before He adopted us into his family. We were fatherless, far from our Heavenly Father. Since we understand what it means to be redeemed, to be a part of a family, shouldn’t we do everything we can to help others have that kind of relationship, to not be alone and destitute? God even calls himself the “Father to the fatherless” in Psalms 68:5. Should we not do the same, in whatever way He has called us?

Or is God angry with us? Are we doing all the “church things,” and avoiding the mess and inconvenience of taking care of others? I want to ask myself this question every day. Is my worship selfish, for me to feel good? Or does it honor God, and in doing so sometimes not “feel good” at all? Is my life a sweet incense to the Creator, or do I just stink?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Rom 12:1)

Three weeks post-surgery for Kieran

So, three weeks after Kieran’s surgery…. how are we doing? Well, it is hard, to say the least. The therapy and walking on his leg is very painful. And when we tell him that both are what it will take to get better, and that the more he pushes himself, the faster he will get better and out of this contraption…. well, this all goes against everything he has learned to believe. Why would he choose pain? Why in the world would pain actually be good for you?? It wasn’t good when he first broke his leg—several times—why would it be good now?

Kieran really didn’t choose to have all these things happen to him and to have such pain. However, I’m praying on the other side of this that Kieran will understand Jesus’ love to a much greater degree, knowing that He chose to undergo all that pain on the Cross, for us! And to a much lesser degree, Mom and Dad chose to take his pain and troubles upon ourselves. We chose to help bear his burden, even though it may seem to him right now that we want him to experience pain on purpose.

I’ve heard this song “Blessings” by Laura Story hundreds of times, but now it has taken on new meaning for our family:

“We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

But all the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”

Two things I trust to be true about suffering:

1) Suffering isn’t always bad, though of course we believe it is when we are in the middle of it. In fact, when we put our trust in God, suffering actually makes us stronger.

“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom 5:3-4)

“Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:10-11)

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pet 4:12-13)

I know that God wants to grow Kieran because He wants to be glorified through him. But we all can attest to the fact that true growth never happens easily, and we rarely welcome it.

2) God promises that He is always right beside us to walk with us in our sufferings.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [ ____ ], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut 31:6)

I believe with all my heart that God is walking right beside all of us in this trial. I do admit I doubt, some days, whether we will come out smiling, but I never doubt that our Father constantly stands faithfully beside His children.


Kieran’s surgery update

Kieran’s surgery went well today. It took 6 hours, an hour longer than anticipated, and then another hour before he was awake enough for me to come into the recovery room with him. For a while, he was a pitiful sight—low moaning and talking about the pain when he would come in and out of his doze. But now, 5 hours later, he is more lucid, and the pain is a little more controlled. His eyes are not fully working yet, so he keeps asking if his leg is longer and trying to see it.

Remarkably, it is!


Today as I read my Bible, listened to my ipod, and perused Facebook and email, several Words of encouragement stuck out to me about Kieran’s surgery and our lives together. I am recording them here for my own sake, but feel free to reflect on the Word with me.

“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy…. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (Jn 16:20, 22)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9)

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:2-3)

Satan tried to keep this boy down even before he was born. There are so many ways he tried to stop Kieran from glorifying God in his life, but it’s not working. Just the opposite!


Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6)

From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand…. Here in the power of Christ I stand! (worship song “In Christ Alone” sung by Keith & Kristyn Getty)

“You’re restoring every heartache and failure, every broken dream, you’re the God who sees, the God who rescued me, this is my story…. You’ve been walking with me all this time. (song “All This Time” by Britt Nicole)

Your glory speaks in every language across the sky to every nation. You are beauty unimagined…. Lift it up, endless praises to our God! Full of grace, full of love, that is reigning over us! You are faithful! You are worthy, God! This is who you are… You hear the cry of every broken heart… You hold the orphan in your loving arms. This is who you are! (worship song “Who You Are” sung by Kristian Stanfill)

This is just the beginning. Though it will be painful, for the first time in six years tomorrow he will walk on two legs. I have always believed God has special plans for this boy.

I wonder where his legs will take him….

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:11)

My (Suzanne’s) favorite Christmas song

Michael recently posted some of his favorite Christmas songs, and I would like to share with you the one that has ranked number one for me the last couple years.  Even in the off-season it makes me cry every time.  Though Michael’s taste in music is much more “high brow” than mine (translation: I have a hard time understanding the lyrics of his favorites), we both appreciate, as Michael says, “songs that speak to the mystery and wonder of God Incarnate.”

My favorite Christmas song is “Be Born in Me (Mary)” by Francesca Battistelli.  Here is the verse that really gets me:

All this time we’ve waited for the promise
All this time you’ve waited for my arms.
Did you wrap yourself inside the unexpected,
So we might know that love would go that far?

Can you imagine being Mary?  The Jews had waited SO LONG for a Savior.  They had the Law which helped them know better how to have relationship with God, but there was always that deep down awareness that they were never able to fully keep the Law, continually reminded that they were breaking relationship with Yahweh every time they sinned.  They longed for a time when the sacrificial system was no longer needed.  When they could be truly freed from the burden of their sin.  The whole of all Jewish history was focused on waiting for the Promise of a Savior.

And here was Mary, recognizing in wonderment that The Promise was laying right there in her arms.  She was His Mommy!  And even more, that the Almighty God waited thousands of years for her arms!  Maybe it’s just me, but I step inside Mary’s sandals, and it gets me every time.  “Father, you are trusting me with Your Son???”

Here is the other part of the song that resonates with me:

I am not brave, I’ll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I’m just a girl, nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

I especially felt this way during our adoption of Kieran.  Before we even knew who our son would be, we knew we were supposed to adopt an older boy who was about to age out of the system.  Who brings a teenage boy, with most likely unknown issues, into their family with 5 young vulnerable children at home??  From the outside, that doesn’t sound like a very wise decision.  Yet, I knew, without a doubt, that is what God was calling us to do, so we had to move forward in faith.  And even though God called us to pursue this, it didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be any problems, but we had to keep trusting in Him to walk with us step by step.  I am not brave.  I am just trying my hardest to be obedient and thanking God for His grace when I fail along the way.

I know where I have been.  How I grew up very insecure with a lot of baggage.  I, like Mary, wasn’t anyone special.  Just a girl.  But I sit in wonderment of how God would take a little girl and speak to her and use her for His service.  But that is the God we serve, the One who takes nobodies and shines through them so that HE is glorified.  His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.  And I have plenty of them for Him to work with. 🙂

What Do You Remember?

Note: I gave this communion meditation at church this morning. Thought you might appreciate it.

Have you ever wondered why you remember what you do? How does that work?

Socials scientists and the people who study these things have a number of theories and have identified several factors that influence memory. One of those is surprise. When something unexpected happens, we tend to remember it. Surprise gets our attention because it lifts us out of our routines, takes us out of the ordinary. Let me give you an example.

Many, many Christmases ago, when my brother, Marc, and I were probably 3 and 4, we were very eager to open our Christmas presents. My parents knew this and suspected that we might get up before everyone else to get a head start on the gift opening, so they posted my grandfather as a guard in the living room. We got up out of bed, Marc and I, at one point and Gramps chased us back to bed, presents safe, mission accomplished.

But then we got up again. And Gramps was sleeping on the sofa. And we got into the living room. And Gramps didn’t wake up.

So we started to open presents. Only, we couldn’t read the nametags so we didn’t know which presents were ours. So we just unwrapped all of them.

Every. Single. One.

And my grandfather slept through the whole thing.

Now, why is that memorable?

In part, because it’s unexpected. We all have holiday traditions and, though they might vary somewhat, they probably go like this: get up, have breakfast, open gifts, play, eat lunch, go to grandmas house, watch football, play a game–you get the idea. On that particular Christmas, though, Marc and I broke the pattern. We did something surprising, something unexpected, and that’s what makes it memorable.

You’re probably thinking of some holiday yourself–a Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday–where something didn’t go as planned, either good or bad, and you remember it.

Now, before you get lost in that thought, listen to this: Jesus, at the last supper with his disciples, did something surprising as well.

For hundreds of years, God’s people had celebrated the Passover. They shared a meal together as a way to remember how God led them out of slavery in Egypt. When Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples that last time, he took the bread that would represent his broken body and said, “This is my body. Do this in remembrance of me.” He did the same with the cup, a cup that represented God’s promise of redemption. “Do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus was identifying himself as both the Passover sacrifice and the fulfillment of God’s saving promise. No one else could or would have done that.

He broke the pattern, did something unexpected, something surprising at that last Passover. Because he was going to do something even more surprising than that: break the pattern of sin and death that had enslaved us all and give us new life and new hope.

Giving Thanks

As we prepared for the Thanksgiving holiday two years ago, we decided to have No Complaining Week. We wore green ribbons on our wrists to remind us to be grateful, to not complain. If someone did complain, however, he had to wear the Cone of Shame (modeled above by Maura) and could not speak for two minutes. You can read about our experiment and see photos here, here, and here.

While we’re not doing that again this year, I’m ever mindful that we have much for which to be thankful–and that I often fail appreciate it. I’m more sensitive to this now since our family has changed so much in the past two years.

This morning I read from Paul’s letter to the Romans. The opening verses of chapter 12 make an appropriate preface to Thanksgiving.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

You Know What Your Problem Is? I’ll Tell You.

Have you ever heard (or said), “You know what your problem is? I’ll tell you…”

When a conversation (or monologue) starts like this, it’s not good news.

But, honestly, you have a problem. And I’m going to tell you what it is.

Or, rather, I’m going to let Andrew Osenga tell you what your problem is.

Andrew is a Nashville-based musician and he’s recently released a remarkable album: Leonard, the Lonely Astronaut. The record chronicles the emotional excursion of Leonard Belle, a man who lives 300 years in the future. Leonard, you see, was in the middle of a messy divorce when his wife died suddenly. Filled with regret, Leonard takes a job as a space trucker for a year and decides to work through his pain by writing a record in the cold, emptiness of space.

Leonard, The Lonely Astronaut by Andrew Osenga

Sounds like a crazy idea for a record? Yes, and it’s even more crazy. Andrew created a Kickstarter project so he could build the set of a spaceship, get inside Leonard’s head (and space suit), and record the album on the set.

That’s what he did, and the result is one of the best albums I’ve heard in years.

Andrew sings and plays almost everything on the record by himself (since, after all, Leonard wouldn’t have had anyone to help him make the record). The musicianship is stellar and the songwriting heart-rending, true to the theme. On his journey through the depths of space, Leonard also journeys through the depths of his soul. He reflects on his childhood, his love and loss, his shortcomings, the bad choices that pushed his wife away.

Which leads me back to the point of this post: your problem.

In the song “We Never Said Goodbye,” Leonard achingly laments

I told you we’d never be apart
and I’d never break your heart
but it was mine I kept choosing

There’s your problem.

It’s yours and Leonard’s and mine: the selfish (sometimes destructive) choices we make for ourselves over the good of others. The accumulation of these choices is what led Leonard’s wife to leave him. Fill in the blanks for your own story.

Mercifully, that’s not how the story has to end.

In Leonard’s case, the album takes a redemptive turn at the end. Your story—my story—can also take that turn.

Whose heart will you choose?


Two last things:

Here’s a video from one of the Leonard songs, “Out of Time.” Gives you a sense for the whole spaceship thing.

And if you’d like to pick up the album, get it here. Check the reviews: they’re all great.

Update on Kieran’s physical condition….and prayer

Many are asking about how Kieran’s appointment went on Monday.  Thank you so much for your faithfulness in prayer and for your concern.  I’m sorry it’s taken this long to give a report.

Long story short—we don’t know much yet.

That was to be expected.  But Kieran was visibly disappointed when he realized that we weren’t going to schedule surgery now and fix his leg.  He said he knew about all the other issues, but I think he was holding on to a thread of hope that it could all be magically fixed in America.  Who wouldn’t?

We spent a lot of time taking x-rays.  His bones are all very soft and there are signs of multiple other fractures because of this fact.  His spine is curved in every which way.  At this point, there is no way we could do leg surgery and put pins, etc. into the bones—it would be like screwing into very soft pine.

So the direction we are taking is to load him up on Vitamin D and Calcium, do more blood tests, and wait for an appointment in Champaign, IL with a geneticist.  When we determine the cause of the bone degeneration, then we will proceed….whatever that means.  The orthopedist believes the cause was one of 3 things: malnutrition, body’s inability to absorb Vit D and other nutrients, or a congenital issue like osteogenesis imperfecta—or some combination of the three.  Do we think any of this is reversible?  I have no idea and I’m not sure the doctors know either.

It all sounds a little hopeless, but here is the part where God is stepping in.  I have a good friend in Springfield who is also an adoptive mom of a girl from Ethiopia.  She has hooked us up with an adult Ethiopian friend of theirs and Kieran, Eva, and I went to her apartment after Kieran’s first pediatrician appointment two weeks ago.  The purpose was to do some translation so we could check on Kieran’s emotional and physical feelings, and to have some comfort food as she showed me how to make “easy” Ethiopian food and “fake injera.” 🙂  She had an Ethiopian dance DVD playing when we came in and we all had a lovely time.

But come to find out, she is from the exact region that Kieran is from.  It’s not that they know the same people, but she knows the same foods and customs and was able to explain a lot to me, as well as send home a big bag of the regional spice.  In part of our conversation, she was determining that she thinks that Kieran is lactose intolerant.  In more conversation we had after the orthopedic appointment, we are realizing that Kieran was pretty deprived of Vitamin D during his youth.  Some important parts of the story came to light, and they would not have if she had not been from his region.

So it may very well have been his lack of nutrition that caused his bone issues.  There is still much to determine.  But it seems clear to me that God is putting pieces of the puzzle together and handing it to us when we would have no other way of determining what the pieces were.  That (among many other things) shows me that God is working on this and that we should not give up hope.

I am currently near the end of Beth Moore’s James Bible study, and this morning I read her daughter’s story about how God healed her unexplained chronic illnesses after she decided to take James 5:14-15 at its word:

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.

She said she normally didn’t have a lot of room in her theology for this kind of thing, but she did it.  She also says she was unexplainably healed.  I am thinking we should pursue this for Kieran as well.  I believe this also may be part of the story that God is writing in Kieran’s life.  I have discussed with Kieran that even if nothing changes physically, he can still go to school, have a job some day, have a family—all things he wasn’t able to do in Ethiopia.  (When the injury happened to his leg at about age 10, he had to stop going to school because of paths to get there were no longer possible for him.  No school means manual labor jobs, which isn’t possible for him either.)  So that alone is part of God’s redemptive plan in his life to show the world.  But what if there is even more if we just tapped into God’s power and trusted that He truly still heals and makes the lame man walk…..???

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

So please keep praying for us.  Pray for healing like you’ve never believed before.  Pray for wisdom for us and the doctors and even more Words from our Heavenly Father to guide us.  And pray for Kieran’s heart to have peace and patience and trust in our God, no matter the outcome.

If you have made it this far in my post, then you are a righteous person and your prayers are powerful and effective.  Let’s believe that verse together.  Our prayers do make a difference.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

So, I was reading in Lamentations the other day….. (what—you too??) and since I am in the middle of having just brought home a 15 year old boy with much loss, I have been wondering what is going on in his mind, what he is lamenting.  I know the contexts of the two are totally different: Jeremiah was writing about the Israelites’ suffering and desperation in the midst of God’s punishment for their deep ongoing sin, while Kieran has done nothing to deserve his difficult place in life.  Yet in the middle of this depressing book and in the midst of His anger, our gracious God, once again, offers hope:

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For men are not cast off
    by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to the children of men.  (Lam 3:19-33)

Kieran is often found sitting alone in silence.  It is not because he is depressed (though I know he has sorrow)—I am pretty confident that he is praying a good bit of that time.  But he is bearing quite a yoke while he is still young.  He is grieving the loss of his childhood, his schooling, his family, his culture—all because of the loss of the use of his legs.  However, I see hope in his eyes.  His life may be a little like Job’s, but he is not giving up on his faithful God.

Recently, I read a post by my good friend and adoptive mama Monica that inspired me.  She said in long car trips when she is alone with her newly adopted teenage daughter, she takes the opportunity to pour into her love and the knowledge of her importance to God and to this life.  So that day, on the way home from our pediatrician appointment, I tried to do the same in the best way I could with Kieran’s limited understanding of English.

I reminded him how much God loves him and has not forgotten him.  I told him again that God so specifically called us to go get him, that I know He has great plans for him.  I tried to explain redemption to him in easy English like this: “I know some things are bad.  Your leg, that is bad.  But God is so good at changing bad to good!  He makes beautiful things out of ugly things.  Often, He even makes them more beautiful than before!”  And I told him that God is writing an amazing story (with a big pen sweep of my hand) with his life and I am SO EXCITED to see what He does with it!  And this God wants him to tell God’s redemptive story to the world!

Later today (Monday) is Kieran’s appointment with the pediatric orthopedic surgeon.  This is the appointment that he has probably been waiting on for 5 years.  This is a good bit of the reason he left everything he knew to come to America.  There may be a lot we still do not know after this appointment, but it is the beginning of something.  And there is always the possibility that they will tell us there is nothing they can do for him.

Please pray for wisdom for the doctor and a creative mind to think outside of the norm.  (I am thankful that he goes to Cambodia yearly which will undoubtedly give him a different kind of experience.)  And please pray for Kieran’s heart to accept and trust God even if the news is not what he wanted to hear.  With disabilities, he can still attend school (which he has not been able to do since his accident–there is no way to walk a long way in Ethiopia with crutches, nor push a wheelchair through the ruts in the dirt).  He can still get a job and have a family here.  There is still hope, even in the midst of his grief.

I wanted to make sure I wrote this post before our appointment today.  Whatever the outcome, God is faithful!  God is still on the throne and will use Kieran to glorify Himself!