Sunday, February 27, 2011

Prayer to end Human Trafficking



            Last night before going to bed, I already had a sense of purposefulness for this morning’s quiet time.   Rather than my usual reading and journaling, I asked God to reveal His desire through specific Scripture—though I had no idea where in the Bible such scripture might be.  With some apprehension—not in His words, rather in my ability to discern His speaking to me—I opened my Bible and landed on Psalm 70 – 72.

            The crime of human trafficking—in particular of women and children—has been weighing heavier and heavier on me.  While I sip my hot coffee, preparing for the battles of my day-- piled up laundry, cranky children, squeezing in my next run—a child is being sold for sex.  Another child is exploited by his or her own parents, who out of desperation, exchange their child for next month’s bread; dooming that child to slave labor or the black market side of adoption.
            This morning, the words found within Psalms 70-72 spoke directly as intercession for those caught in human trafficking.  The prayer that follows is almost completely Scripture filled.  It is what covered three pages of my journal entry for the morning—something I rarely share:

           
            Hasten, O God to save them!  O Lord, come quickly to help those caught in human trafficking. 
            Put to shame evil people who would commit such violence—confuse their ways. 
            May they be turned back in ruin and disgrace, may those who capture and sell children—who say, “Aha!”  “Aha!” be turned back—caught and trapped by their own crimes.
            But, may those who are targeted be rescued and give You praise!
            May they be glad in You!  Let them sing continually of Your praises,
            “Let God be exalted!”

            Those trapped in this human violence are poor and needy—come quickly to them, O God!
            Be their Help and their Deliverer;
            Let them take refuge in You, do not let them be put to shame.
            Rescue and deliver them in Your righteousness, turn Your ear to their cries and save them;
            Deliver them from the hands of wickedness—from the grasp of evil and cruel men.
           
Father, be their Hope!  Do not forget them!
For You brought them forth from their mother’s womb, You know the very hairs on their heads and You have a purpose and a plan for them.
O Lord, come quickly!  Be not far from them.  Raise up workers to be Your hands and feet;
Those who will shine Your light in the darkness and expose the horrendous nature of human trafficking and those evil enough to engage in it!

Though the women and children being trafficked are seeing trouble too deep to imagine,
Father, I ask and trust You to restore their lives.
From the depths of the earth, bring them up, increase their honor, comfort and heal them of their woundedness. 
You are Redeemer, Healer God and I trust fully in your power to fully restore what has been lost.

Thank you, Father, for faithful men and women who answer the call to expose and eradicate human trafficking;
Putting to shame and confusion those who pursue such violence;
While offering Your hope and  future to those rescued from it. 

Strengthen and support such workers.  Lead them in the specific way they need to go. 
Direct their paths—guide them through the darkest of dark holes on this earth, protecting them from harm.

Raise up a war cry among your people, O God!  Cause deep, moving outrage. 
Overthrow tyrannical governments, who turn a deaf ear to the cries of trafficked children!  Replace such rulers with Godly governments which honor and uphold all human life as precious.  Endow kings with justice and those in power with righteousness. 

You promise to defend the afflicted among the people—save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor,
You promise to rescue them from oppression and violence, for their blood is precious to You!

May we, Your people, go when You call, move to where You lead and do what You have purposed each one to do.
                       
            For all You have done and all You will do—I praise You! 
            I praise You with song and dancing
            I praise You for Your faithfulness; my lips shout for joy—even in the midst of sadness.
            For You are Redeemer God!  You have rescued and restored thousands of victims of human trafficking,
            And I look to the day when it is wiped out completely!

            By the power of Christ, I pray,  
Amen

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Words Bleeding Me—Responsibility



“Isaac, son.  This is ridiculous.  Why do you not spend the five minutes required to put your clothes away?  This is not my expectation.  Meanwhile, your dirty clothes stink up my carpet and your section of the room is a general mess.  This really frustrates me, and it isn’t the first time I’ve caught this laziness from you.   Now I see that I can’t trust you when you say your chores are done.  Now I have to come behind you and double check.  I shouldn’t have to do that!  You are quite old enough to know better and I expect better.  You are acting as a bad example to your younger brothers, and if this is how you expect me to recognize maturity in you and gift you with more privileges, you’re sadly mistaken.  In fact, there will be no more afternoon friends until I have double-checked your chores, and since I am never just sitting around waiting to check people’s chores, then you will just have to wait on ME to have TIME to check you off and if that means you miss afternoon friend time—well then so be it.”

And all Isaac heard?  “wonk, wonk, wonk, wonk.”

I’m thinking it was somewhat overkill.  If the glazed over look in Isaac’s eyes was any indication to my ranting’s effectiveness, I would have to give it two thumb’s down. 

Oh, but it felt good to rant.  All that pent up anxiety, just gushing forth with such self-righteous bravado and mock concern for Isaac’s future ability as a responsible member of his own home someday, I mean, the boy won’t even put his clothes away-- WHICH I FOLD FOR HIM (what a slap in my face!)-- how will he ever be able to manage to hold down a job?!  

In my life, rants are directly and positively correlated with the perceived heaviness of my responsibilities.   I am an extremely responsible person.  In fact, I am so responsible that I become irresponsible.  Abandoning that which I am actually able to control, I fret over that which will never be mine to manipulate or turn the way I see it should go. 

Example:  I recognize a character issue in one of my children.  Within my power and responsibility are:  1st—continual, effective prayer for my child, and 2nd-- creating an environment which makes it painful for such a negative character trait to persist, at the same time rewarding the development of positive character traits.  Outside of my power is the actual changing of the child’s heart.   What do I typically do?  Well, it depends.  But, I have been known to act on that which is not within my power, causing more drama, fearfulness in them and a general lack of peace; rather than create a fertile environment where positive change can sprout, establish itself, flourish and grow.  I can provide a painful environment, all right—painful… and then some. 

Naturally, I am excellent at carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.  There is the very popular Christian book called Boundaries.  I’m sure it was written for me… though I only read the one for marriage.   And then, of course, there are all the parenting books.  I’ve read plenty of them, more to my detriment—or should I say to my children’s detriment, rather than my own.  What happens when I read such books?   My responsibility baggage only grows larger.  I stuff in more things for which I think I am responsible.   I learn some parenting technique crucial to the first five years of their lives—which now that they’re all six years and up, it must be too late and all that’s left is suffering through the consequences of my ignorance.  Shoot.

I would say that responsibility has also played a part in the process of attaching to my adopted children.  In last week’s post, I wrote of the materials making up attachment—materials I couldn’t recognize until after we came home and I was experiencing them.  If parenting brings with it a new, deep sense of being responsible for another human life, then I think adoptive parents could, quite possibly feel the weight of such responsibility two and three-fold.  Add to that extra layers:  adopting older children (who’ve already past those 1st five years of life, let’s just say), adopting after already having several children in your home who you are also responsible for (perhaps—we’ll just pretend—three boys who will now have to share everything and everyone in their life, and one who will have to share birth order to the degree of being what adoption circles call “artificially twinned”), and adopting children whom you think are one age (well under five), but turn out to be another age (almost 6). 

I can only speak for myself.  Maybe I’m the only crazy adoptive mother who has to battle constantly to keep responsibility in its rightful place.  Logically, I understand I have no control over what happened to my children pre-me.  But there are days when my eyes aren’t well focused and my mind crammed full of my to-do list, that I blur the lines of responsibility.   “What if….”, haunts me.  Fear of rejection teases me.  Responsibility for their woundedness, attitudes, relationships and future lives, piles up like my dirty laundry, emitting the odors of life’s stink and always being added to faster than I can deplete it.   All of it blocks deep binding love from taking root.

I have circled all the “I will”, “He will” and “The Lord will” passages of Scripture:
  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Ps 32)
 “He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways,”
“I will rescue him, I will protect him for he acknowledges my name,
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. 90)
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge” (Ps 90)
“My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.  I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.”  (Jer. 24)

There are hundreds more.  Interestingly, no where have I found a passage of Scripture which commands me to do any changing of my children’s hearts, nor have I discovered where it is within my power to heal their woundedness, remove their fears or restore their hearts.  None of these things, which I find myself wringing my hands over, are within my responsibility, or ability to affect.

What is within my responsibility circle is prayer and creating an environment which makes ripe the work of the Lord.  Praying in all seasons over all things, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus (which, coincidentally keeps my eyes off all my perceived responsibilities) and offering myself continually to God as a living sacrifice—allowing Him to do transforming work in me as well.

I’m still looking for the passage that says ranting is one of my responsibilities.  It promises to be a long search.

Grace and Peace,
Shari

Monday, February 21, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Words Bleeding Me—Compassion




            There never has been an emotion so disturbing to me as a mother, as feeling no compassion toward my own children.   Before adopting our two Ethiopian children I had read of families who struggled to attach and much ado is made of attaching and bonding in adopted children.   I have even had a friend or two who struggled with attaching to their biological children for several months after giving birth.  But the substance of non-attachment was one I could not grasp.  I had no frame of reference.  No emotions to give it shape.  Like being told to make a paper-mache doll with only a form and no physical materials, nor instructions for applying these missing materials and actually create something— this is what I held in regards to attachment; an idea I saw straight through with no meaning.

Once home, it didn’t take long for all that substance to surface.  And surface it did—like a wounded soldier pouring his blood over the battlefield, frantically ripping clothes to stop the bleeding.  The materials of non-attachment were overwhelming me—anger, resentment, regret, loss, physical discomfort and lack of compassion.  No compassion.   Still, my chest is tightens as I write it.   Horrified that I could experience such ugly sentiments towards children, let alone children I had chosen to mother. 

His crying didn’t move me.  Her protruding belly from malnutrition only frustrated me.  Their mood swings and ugliness towards my three biological boys angered me.   The clinging to my husband, the laughing in my face taunting, “No love Mommy.  Only love Daddy!”  Running to any other parent for attention, affection and acceptance.   The outlandish tales of a rosy existence in Ethiopia.  The refusal to eat—or the hoarding at every meal.   Touching them, holding them and comforting them made me desperately uncomfortable.  I could have been hugging one of my mother-in-law’s cactus plants with more ease.

            No compassion. 

            Oh, what a horrible mirror it is which reveals a shallow love! 

 Of course, that is not true.  Such a mirror is the best kind, but at the moment of revealing, it may as well be shattered glass broken over one’s head.   All those years of loving my children, I took for granted.  I assumed I knew what love was.  I assumed I had a heart of sacrifice.    I remember looking into each one of my son’s eyes the day in which they were born, knowing that if I had to die in that moment so they might live…. I would plunge the knife myself.

The first time I looked into the eyes of my Ethiopian children…they were empty.  Empty, pathetic eyes which looked right through me.  But by the power of God Almighty, the many witnesses and my signature on the dotted line…I could have driven away and never come back. 

No compassion. 

For a time, I held it in, terrified to confess my horrible secret.  Finally when I did reveal my ugly truth, not many knew what to do with it.  “I think you show great compassion by not letting them continue to live in their woundedness,” one friend encouraged, after an exhausting day of feeling like all I did was discipline them.  Others just listened—sometimes crying with me, sometimes admitting this is why they would never adopt themselves. 

Maybe it was the last statement which sparked just enough indignant emotion to dare believe compassion would come.  Who am I to deny these two a full, loving home, opportunity to truly live and experience all God has for them, all because of my insecurities?  Is God not big enough to change me?  Did He not know me and all my below-the-surface shallowness before we ever walked through adoption’s door?  Wasn’t He the one who gave me a compassion for the widow and the orphan in the first place—a compassion which bled enough to act? Though it was still struggling for position with fear and guilt, compassion began pulling forward.  I started praying for compassion to take hold.

Somehow I believed that I would wake up one day and just “feel” deep, overwhelming compassion and once I did, it would stay.  I would always “feel” like their mom, and there would be no more of this shallow love nonsense.   Apparently the mirror still shatters easily over my head.  Compassion is in constant competition with residual guilt and fear.    But it knows its proper ground and the battle is well fought.

I recently read a passage from Psalms 103:

Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I have not traveled the roads of post-adoption very well.  But after 19 months, I am encouraged.  I see that I am “crowned with love and compassion”.  I didn’t crown me, God Almighty did.  He forgives my insecurities, He heals my shallowness of heart.  He redeems my life and I wear a most glittering crown of precious jewels.  I am satisfied with His goodness and thankful for the bleeding time, which has brought forth compassion-- whether I feel it always resting on my head or not.

….Now, if only the frown line on my forehead would be erased as my youthful energy is being renewed like the eagle’s.  Oh well, that’s what bangs are for, right?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Uh-oh... Make mine a Tuesday??

Okay, I knew I would drop off my "Monday" ball sooner rather than later.  Oh well.  Tuesdays can be just as good as any for proving my loyal readers with something funny, uplifting or just plain weird to laugh about.   Besides, I have a good excuse-- I was designing my husband's homemade Valentine's Day card; dutifully painting in the lines and conjuring up a poem to fill the inside blankness.  So there :)

In honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to share how my husband and I first met-- or at least first began dating.  If you already know the story... forgive me.  I won't keep telling it after this-- or maybe I will.

  We grew up in the same "blink-and-miss-it" town and so had known OF each other all our lives.  I never really thought much about him, and figured the feeling was mutual.  However, one night while celebrating our high school's latest football victory-- which of course, he was one of the super-stars-- I learned the depth of his affections for me.  The entire high school (so it seemed) was out a road party... yes, I said road party-- that would be a party, complete with bonfire, on a road... and just about the time I was leaving with my friends, waiting for them beside their car, Tony comes strolling up, full of his football greatness and ready to score again.  He somewhat arrogantly leaned against the car, arms across his chest, looked me in the eye-- I think (it was dark)-- and blurted out:

"Hey.  You know, you're hot."

The End.

PS.  And... our first date was to McDonald's. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Make Mine a Monday: Happy Birthday Wyatt!

Twelve years ago today, I woke to sharp pains in my very pregnant belly.  Within 10 minutes of the first contraction, I had two more contractions and my water broke all over our bed.  I shook Tony awake-- no small feat-- and with much fearful excitement, explained the situation.  He stared at me sorta confused, then asked,

     "Are you sure you didn't just pee yourself?"

It reminds me of a recent country song's main chorus line... hmmm, how does it go?  Oh yeah,  "Stupid Boy".

Happy 12th Birthday, Wyatt!!!!  We LOVE YOU!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Freedom is in the eyes

I know very little of the similarities and differences between Egypt and Ethiopia—political, social, economic or otherwise.  I understand a scant history of Ethiopia’s political system and nothing of Egypt’s—other than the ancient days of pyramids and pharaohs.  But, I recognize the ‘look’.  An oppressed place filled with an oppressed people, not free to make their own way.  I brought that ‘look’ home with me in the eyes of my Ethiopian children.  I’ve lived the past year and a half working to erase the chicanery of a government which leaves it’s people staring through hopeless eyes, destined to live out some level of victimization.  It makes me cussing angry.
 
The images of Egypt remind me of a place I once visited.   Not the mobs of people throwing rocks, hanging off tanks or being run through by government vehicles—well, maybe the last one is similar, as far as chaotic traffic goes.   It’s the streets.  Dirty, confused, seemingly random.  It’s the buildings.  Either crumbling, concrete or dated to the ‘70’s with wires strung haphazardly, leaving me to wonder of the percentage of electrical accidents per year.  It’s the age of the people.  Young.  Where are the elderly-- those with the wisdom to impart to the younger generations, guiding them in the way they should go? 


But, in Egypt, people refuse to be oppressed by a corrupt government any longer.  They know of freedom; it bubbles to the surface despite all efforts against it.  However, I wonder, how will they get there?  All this talk of revolution, but what about reform?  What is the plan?  Who holds the keys to securing a system of government which bends to the will of the people, rather than the people bending to the will of the government? 
Why do I care so much?

Barely two countries to the south is the land I visited.  A land so filled with potential, fruitfulness and beautiful people.  And I walked out of that land with two of its children because somehow the richness of the land isn’t fully available to it’s own citizens to flourish and prosper.  Yes, Ethiopia has suffered drought and disease.  But, what of the government, which holds its people by marionette strings, manipulating their moves, under the guise of compassion and benevolence, not allowing them to rise up from such hardships as free individuals collectively seeking a better way?

While in Ethiopia, our group happened to cross paths with the ET president.  He was leaving the same restaurant we were about to enter.  It was almost bizarre; one of our guides said, “Oh look, that’s our president.”  Whose president? I questioned.  The president of your company?  The president of this region?  Surely not the president of the country!  “Yes.  That’s the one.”  He was leaving the restaurant, surrounded by men in suits, smiling happily at us and waving.   He had a gentle face.  A paternal smile.  And I wondered,  ‘Do you see us with your children?  Do you understand what is happening here?  We’re not tourists, you know.’ 

“In a state-run society the government promises you security.  But it's a false promise predicated on the idea that the opposite of security is risk.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The opposite of security is insecurity, and the only way to overcome insecurity is to take risks.  The gentle government that promises to hold your hand as you cross the street refuses to let go on the other side.”  ~Theodore Forstmann

Earlier this week, my son told me of the Chinese working the diggers in Ethiopia and how they didn’t look out for the children.  “They should’ve looked out for us!” he lamented.  “Well Buddy, that’s not what they are there to do.  The Chinese are there to build roads.”  It was a feeble excuse.  What was I going to say-- Well, how could they possibly be looking out for you?  Didn’t you notice how MANY of you there are just running freely in the streets?  I saw the diggers, holes and road crews intersecting freely with the people.  There were no barricades or safety measures taken that I can remember.  “They just should have watched out.  One boy was killed”, he continued.  My breath caught.  Just add it to many frozen moments these past 18 months of my chest tightening and head spinning with the grimness of his life before us.   There isn’t even hand holding in Ethiopia.

I want Egyptians to succeed because I want Ethiopians to succeed.  Those vacant, hopeless, victimized eyes aren’t fitting of a people with such splendid stature.