Tag Archives: orphans

Love Notes – A Family Tradition – Started by Our Mom

IMAG2718 (2)

From the Archives

[On the eve of what would have been my Mom’s 89th birthday, I want to look back a bit to one of the sweetest customs she had – leaving love notes hidden to encourage us in her absence. She still encourages us…even in her absence. Love you, Mom.]Blog - Mom

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11

Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.Hebrews 3:13

Our family has never lived close to the grandparents. This was never easy…for any of us. Before I married, I did live close to home, and my mom was my best friend. She died several years ago, and I often say to people who knew her that “when I grow up, I want to be just like her.” Still working on that.

Mom and I shared a weakness for words…they are probably excessively important to us, delivering both positive and (sometimes) negative weight. She was an amazing encourager. She rarely missed an opportunity to lift another’s spirit or to speak loving truth to someone desperate for God’s touch.

When I moved away to take a teaching job, she and my dad helped me move. New Haven, Connecticut was a 2-day drive from Georgia. It’s the farthest I had ever wandered from home. She stayed a week to help me settle in.  While there, she was such great company. We explored the city together and laughed over a new culture and cried at the missing that was ahead for us.

She filled my freezer with her baking, and, while I was at work, she wrote notes. Then she hid them everywhere. After she flew home, I began finding them. In my coffee mug. Under my pillow. In the pocket of my coat. Among my reference books. Behind my music on the piano. She was with me in the love notes she left, and it made the distance between us…less.

IMAG2720 (2)

My mom and I also had a weakness for bits of paper. I kept every one of her notes. These from that move over 30 years ago are fading…red ink on pink paper. There are a lifetime of notes between my mom and me. The tradition she started on that first move has become a life-long tradition for our family. Our visits back and forth, across the US and then the globe, have been papered by these little notes.

Our children, from the time they could write, entered into this tradition much to the joy of their grandparents. Before we would leave again, these three young ones would write of their affection for their grandparents and hide them all over their houses. I delighted in their cooperation in this conspiracy of love.

Mom always wrote notes…not just to us but to so many. She and her Sunday School Class ladies would send cards every week to the sick ones or the sad ones. She had a special burden for the elderly, for widows (including functional widows, deserted by husbands) and for fatherless children (again including those “orphaned” by still-living fathers). She inspired me by her humble ambition .

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27

I am so thankful for my mom’s bits of paper…for her love…and for her perseverance in encouraging and serving others. Her generation is aging, and it is for us to pick up these traditions and pass them on somehow to the next generations…Maybe there won’t be bits of paper or love notes like in the past. I do hope we still take the time to write. Definitely, the call to serve and to encourage is as current as today. My life continues to be rich with those, young and old, who reach out to those around them with words of affirmation and kindness. Written or not, they are love notes to my heart.

Thanks, Mom. Thank God for you.

Mom pictures for website 012

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

Blog - Mom and nathan

Love Your Neighbor – Foster Parenting & Adoption – Every Child in a Safe and Loving Home

Blog - Foster - fatherlessPhoto Credit: The Forgotten Initiative

“I’m naive. I will admit it. Before I became a social worker I thought every kid had a birthday party. I thought every kid had someone cheering them on in the bleachers. I thought every kid was taken care of when he or she was sick. I thought every kid was read to at night before bedtime. I thought every kid lived in a safe environment. Now? Now I know that thousands of kids live in fear. Thousands of kids struggle with low self-esteem. Thousands of kids are abused. Thousands of kids witness domestic violence. Thousands of kids are in need of a family. Who will care for the orphans?” – a friend who works in foster care

“Who will care for the orphans?”

Did you know that in your city, at the end of any day, there are children needing placement in a safe home? Maybe just for one night, or maybe long-term. Is it possible that your home is just the place for that infant to begin to experience love or for healing to begin for that child or teenager?

There are two types of foster care – traditional and therapeutic. You can learn all you need to know about traditional foster care by going to the Department of Social Services website of your city or state. Foster parents are in high demand and these agencies make it as easy as possible for you to learn what you need to know to become that parent.

Therapeutic foster care involves finding homes and parents for children who have special needs – either medical, emotional, or behavioral issues. These are children who may have suffered violence or who have endured terrible losses. These could be pregnant teens or runaways. These are children that need love the same as any others. Therapeutic foster care involves many more support people than just the foster parents and case workers. If you sense that you could reach out to such children who need more “hands on” care, there are agencies who need parents like you. 

Blog - Foster Care - childrensaidsociety org (2)Photo Credit: Childrensaidsociety.org

 Foster children may need to be placed in a home for short-term or long-term stays, but they may also need emergency placement with very little notice to the foster parents. Their ages and situations vary widely. These kids need love, care and a safe place to call home.

Blog - Foster LetterPhoto Credit: Ashleyannphotography.com

3 goals of foster care are:

  1. Reunification with the parents – this can happen when the parents of the foster child comply with whatever stipulations are applied by the Department of Social Services.
  2. Placement of child with someone in the extended family (biological relatives) – Again, this is approved by DSS, when the home/family situation is such that the child would be safely and therapeutically returned to a family member.
  3. Adoption or Permanent Foster Care – adoption of a teen is rare. Teens in foster care actually “age out” at 18y/o or when he or she finishes high school. Younger children can be adopted when it’s clear that a return to their biological parents or family won’t be happening. [See profiles here of children and teens available for adoption right now.]

Blog - Foster Care - BPNews.netPhoto Credit: BPNews.net

Is this something we could do as empty-nesters? Early in our marriage, we cared for a teenaged girl from our church for several weeks. She was estranged from her parents and both she and her parents needed time to heal. Just those few weeks, her with us, gave them all time to decompress. The problems didn’t vanish but the family was emotionally prepared to try again with each other. I will never forget that experience and realized then how valuable it is for families in crisis to know they are not alone. It was an experience that changed us, too, and created a life-long bond with us, both with the parents and their daughter.

The church has a mandate from God to care for the fatherless.

“If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless has not eaten of it (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow)…then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from its socket.” – Job 31:16-18, 22

Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. – Isaiah 1:17

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.James 1:27

Chris Campbell, a social worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is the executive director of an initiative called 111 Tulsa. He and his team are working in the community and with the churches of Tulsa (across denominations) to raise up foster parents across the city – such that every child can have a safe and loving home for as long as he or she needs it. This could be an emergency placement of a few hours, or for a short time, or for long-term (maybe even leading to adoption).

We could do this in our own city.

Where do we start? We pray. Then we call one of these agencies and ask how we can help. Even if it’s just taking the foster parenting classes, so we’ll be prepared such God lead in this way. We can also help with non-funded needs the children might have – a birthday present, baby supplies for that pregnant teen, and even prom expenses. Then we get our churches involved.

There are many ways that we can love these neighbors – these kids in crisis. The most critical need is for foster parents. We could be those parents. I would love to hear your story. Let’s do what we can for these children to have their own story of love and family.

Blog - Foster Care adoptionPhoto Credit: BPNews.net

Drew and Nancy McDowell – Blessed with Children – 41 Times

Adoption: a Kaleidoscope Reflecting Light – a Tennessee Family’s Journey Through Infertility and Adoption

ADOPTION: Couple Promotes Adoption in Words & Deed

The Forgotten Initiative

A Turning Point

111 Tulsa – 1 Church, 1 Family, 1 Purpose

Foster Care – Becoming a Foster Parent – Virginia Department of Social Services

Virginia Department of Social Services

First Home Care – Therapeutic Foster Care

Love Notes – A Family Tradition – Started by Our Mom

IMAG2718 (2)

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13

Our family has never lived close to the grandparents. This was never easy…for any of us. Before I married, I did live close to home, and my mom was my best friend. She died several years ago, and I often say to people who knew her that “when I grow up, I want to be just like her.” Still working on that.

Mom and I shared a weakness for words…they are probably excessively important to us, delivering both positive and (sometimes) negative weight. She was an amazing encourager. She rarely missed an opportunity to lift another’s spirit or to speak loving truth to someone desperate for God’s touch.

When I moved away to take a teaching job, she and my dad helped me move. New Haven, Connecticut was a 2-day drive from Georgia. It’s the farthest I had ever wandered from home. She stayed a week to help me settle in.  While there, she was such great company. We explored the city together and laughed over a new culture and cried at the missing that was ahead for us.

She filled my freezer with her baking, and, while I was at work, she wrote notes. Then she hid them everywhere. After she flew home, I began finding them. In my coffee mug. Under my pillow. In the pocket of my coat. Among my reference books. Behind my music on the piano. She was with me in the love notes she left, and it made the distance between us…less.IMAG2720 (2)

My mom and I also had a weakness for bits of paper. I kept every one of her notes. These from that move over 30 years ago are fading…red ink on pink paper. There are a lifetime of notes between my mom and me. The tradition she started on that first move has become a life-long tradition for our family. Our visits back and forth, across the US and then the globe, have been papered by these little notes.

Our children, from the time they could write, entered into this tradition much to the joy of their grandparents. Before we would leave again, these three young ones would write of their affection for their grandparents and hide them all over their houses. I delighted in their cooperation in this conspiracy of love.

Mom always wrote notes…not just to us but to so many. She and her Sunday School Class ladies would send cards every week to the sick ones or the sad ones. She had a special burden for the elderly, for widows (including functional widows, deserted by husbands) and for fatherless children (again including those “orphaned” by still-living fathers). She inspired me by her humble ambition .

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27

I am so thankful for my mom’s bits of paper…for her love…and for her perseverance in encouraging and serving others. Her generation is aging, and it is for us to pick up these traditions and pass them on somehow to the next generations…Maybe there won’t be bits of paper or love notes like in the past. I do hope we still take the time to write. Definitely, the call to serve and to encourage is as current as today. My life continues to be rich with those, young and old, who reach out to those around them with words of affirmation and kindness. Written or not, they are love notes to my heart.

Thanks, Mom. Thank God for you.

Mom pictures for website 012

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

Am I My Brother’s Keeper? – On Neglect – Part 2

Blog - Neglect - Orphan Girls in India

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. – Isaiah 1:17

Neglect – the word makes us cringe. If not, then it might do us well to examine our lives once again in the reflection of God’s Word. He is so clear in His teaching of how we are to live. I am so thankful for that because my tendency is to be fuzzy-boundaried – spreading myself too thin, giving precious little to anyone, and then retreating exhausted into the comfy fortress of my home sweet home.

Would you walk with me through this quick journey of sorting out what it is to NOT be neglectful? The one area I don’t intend to focus on is neglect of self – either body or soul. My sense is that when we lean into the urging of God’s Spirit in ministering to others, our own lives are so altered that we are the ones most benefitted by Him (Luke 6:38).

To not be neglectful is to incline ourselves, to lean in, to carry through, to attend, to be intentional, to purpose to:

1) Love* the Lord our God with all our heart. – The Great Commandment

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38

When our lives are infused by our love for God, we begin our day with Him and end our day with Him. As He speaks to us through His Word, the Spirit, the church, and our circumstances, we become more and more in tune with Who He is and how He is working in us and around us. It’s not ordering our lives as “God, then, family, then job” – it is all God – at the center and permeating all of life. Let’s savor that a moment…all God.

2) Love* your neighbor as yourself. – 2nd Part of the Great Commandment

“And the second [great commandment] is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:39-40

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” “Who is my brother?” “Who is my neighbor?” – these questions take us to the heart of NOT being neglectful. We want to choose who this neighbor is. We want to be done when we’ve taken care of “our responsibilities” – our family, our school debt, our house payment. How does that make a Christ-follower any different than a decent law-abiding atheist? God doesn’t define “neighbor” for us because He holds onto the right (as righteous, holy, loving God ) of directing our attention to those for whom He will intervene through us…through us. It could be our own parents or children or it could be that friend who continues to struggle with addiction. Or it could be Bonno, the soon-to-be-orphan son of a beautiful South African mother dying of AIDS.

HIV/AIDS

Blog - Neglect-Orphans

We, as God’s children, are to give God the freedom to love our neighbors through us, in whatever way He chooses… Why this is uncomfortable and convicting is a testament to our journey of being transformed into the image of Christ. What joy He means us to have in being His instruments of peace and redemption. [I am all kinds of prickly over this, myself. Praying for my own undoneness in this.]

3) Love* the Church

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:23-25

The church is flawed because it’s peopled by folks like us. Does it mean we get to desert it? Don’t need an answer for what the Word already states definitively. We’ve all heard the lament “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.” What better place for us (hypocrites) to be?! It saddens my heart at how people have been hurt by “church folks”. I have had that experience myself. Church folks do not a church make. Church is the Body of Christ – the people of God – we’re His and on His mission until He takes us Home. If we are followers of Christ we don’t get to step away from His church. We need each other in very real, concrete, daily ways. There are no spectators in the Body of Christ, no second-string Christians, no one on the bench. God means us to be all-in, not just on Sunday, but every day – life on life, living Christ with each other and in our circles of influence. It’s messy, and uncomfortable, and other-worldly beautiful…when we wholly follow Christ together.

4) Love* the Nations – Fulfilling the Great Commission

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:16-20

The nations have come to us. Still, there are peoples who will never be near enough to the Gospel message unless someone takes it to them. Through both demonstration and proclamation. We can’t leave this only to some elite group of trained vocational Christians. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission. Every one of us is commanded to go to our neighbors and to the nations. How does that work? By a daily personal surrender and a Holy Spirit-driven intentionality believing that He will open doors as we step up and grip the handles. By truly loving – in word and deed – neighbors and nations. Here in this post-Christian era we find ourselves, more and more of the church are taking seriously our role in fulfilling the vision Christ gave us in His command: “a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ” (Revelation 7:9). The Great Commission is not just for pastors or overseas Christian workers – it’s meant for all of us – health care workers, engineers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, store clerks, technicians, students, and retirees…in the marketplace, wherever we are.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus doesn’t call us to save the world…He calls us to respond to Him in obedience, one moment at a time, one life at a time…as we take Him at His word, He saves a world.

Blog - Neglect #2 - Refugees

*Love – used in the fullest sense of that word – the Jesus sense of that word – not in the colloquial sense of that word – “Of course, I love my church, addict brother-in-law, controlling boss, lazy co-worker, Muslim neighbor…but…”

Family First! – Not a Biblical Viewpoint

Embracing the Biblical Tension Between Family and Church Ministry

What Does the Bible Say About Family?

World Hunger – Baptist Global Response

Overcoming Compassion Fatigue

What Does the Bible Say About Poverty?

A Neglected Grace – Family Worship – May I add Household Worship for Friends Who Share Housing?

Worship Wednesday – Do Something by Matthew West

Blog - Do Something

Let’s start right here. Worship with me to Matthew West‘s Do Something:

Do Something by Matthew West

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something
I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
I’m gonna do something”
We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still

Lyrics     Writer: Matthew West (Into the Light album) 2014

Publishing: Songs of Southside Independent Music Publishing / External Combustion Music / Songs for Delaney (ASCAP)
 

1) Be informed. Every day we are slammed with bad news by the media. We are not immune to compassion fatigue and, in fact, can just let the news wash over us, suspicious of what’s true or not. As believers, we must not turn a deaf ear. We must weigh, every day, what is happening in the world, what grieves the heart of God, and what is ours to do about it. So what, if we don’t always get it right? I posted an amazing piece on Monday about the plight of Christian families in Northern Iraq. Then yesterday another piece came out about maybe it’s “not as bad” as we may have heard. Praise God if that is also true. However, we must take the news and op-eds and sift not just the information, but what we are to do as His people. I so appreciate what I gleaned from both pieces, and especially the step-by-step guidance given in the first.

2) Refuse to be silent. – If we are silent, we align ourselves with the persecutors. However, there is a way for Kingdom people to be the voice of the persecuted and oppressed. Language of hate and blame will not glorify God. Will not. Read Nik Ripken’s Insanity of Obedience.

3) Pray. Unbelief has to be the worst sin of all. We as Christ-followers must not fall to that temptation, especially in a world so racked with cynicism and lethargy and self-centeredness. So pray, believing, dear ones. Every day. Together and alone. Pray.

4) Give. There is so much in the Word of God about giving. Again, the world’s thinking creeps into our decision-making when we don’t give (either through our churches or to relief organizations) because we’re just not sure where the money goes. “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” – 1 John 3:17  We give to BGR. This relief and disaster response agency is constantly monitoring and acting on the disasters that we read about (earthquake in China last week, escalating emergency situations in Middle East, etc.). By giving to BGR, I can do something.

5) Go. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20 When Jesus gave this Great Commission, He wasn’t just speaking to those within His immediate hearing. He was speaking to the Church through the ages. He means for us to go, in obedience – to our neighbor, our co-worker, our friend. He may also mean for us to go short-term (2 weeks or 2 years) to another part of the world. He may mean for us to take a job with our company or another organization and spend much of our life among the nations. He definitely means for us to go next door…and to those most marginalized in our cities, towns, counties. In obedience. For the lives of the people. For the glory of God.

“We ought always be ready to meet our Maker. Live this day as if it were your last. Resist sin. Extend grace. Share the Gospel. Look for Christ. – @pastorjgkell Garrett Kell – on my Twitter feed this morning.

Blog - Do Something Andrea

Andrea Pauline Kazindra, Co-Founder of Musana

Baptist Global Response

Youtube video of Story Behind Song Do Something

Youtube video of Matthew West’s song Do Something

 

Matthew West’s & his dad Pastor Joe West’s popwe.org – reaching beyond entertainment – Craft. Share. Live.