Sunday, February 27, 2011

The First Grant

I heard an answered prayer today. Our church's adoption ministry, A Child's Soul, gave its first grant. I've been praying specifically for A Child's Soul to give it's first grant in 2011, so I am thrilled to see God working in this area. And only two months into 2011 too! This inaugural grant will be used bringing little boy in Ethiopia home to his forever family in Memphis.
I would love to see A Child's Soul grow and be a blessing to many other families seeking to honor God in adoption. Nick and Jennifer Moore, the couple that started A Child's Soul, have taught us so much about the needs of orphans, the picture of the gospel in adoption, and the beauty of a family made by adoption. After adopting two precious little boys, God laid it on their heart to help other families adopt. They started A Child's Soul, and began fundraising in the worst economic times our generation's ever seen. They sold purses, tshirts, beaded necklaces, baked goods, and gave every family in the congregation a baby bottle to fill with spare change. When the bottles are full, members bring them to church and empty them in a box designated for A Child's Soul Ministry. Jennifer said the bottles had been their biggest source of funds. This was a shock to me, because we're a tiny church, and don't have that much spare change! But God delights to use the humble things of the world to exhalt Jesus.
Nick and Jennifer work hard to advocate for the cause of orphans and adoption. God bless their diligence!

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
 to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, 
and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
James 1:27

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting Closer!!!

We finshed our statements of faith today. Mine was one and a half pages. Nate's was nine. You know his was a systematic theology, not a statement! :o)
I was skipping around with joy and emailed them to our socical worker. I asked her if she had any idea when we might be able to schedule a home visit. That will be the last thing needed before we can have an approved homestudy. She said all paperwork was in order, except she needed proof of Nate's employment and wages at Precision Assembly. Ahem, NICKY.
Anyway, there was some really good news! She has a family north-east of Jackson that she's going to do a home visit for soon, and it would be better for her to do ours the same day, since it's such a long drive for her! YAY! I thought we'd have to wait a long time, but it turns out living so far from Memphis is working in our favor.
Debbie (the social worker) said if we were flexible with that, she'd get back to us on the day and time. I'm SO EXCITED!

Feeling Poetic

I can feel that spring is close! Today I looked up poems about flowers, and I discovered this one. Hope you like it as much as I do. If you don't, don't let me know. It would crush the image I have of you as a sensitive soul. :o)

I Watched a Rosebud

I watched a rosebud very long
Brought on by dew and sun and shower,
Waiting to see the perfect flower:
Then, when I thought it should be strong,
It opened at the matin hour
And fell at evensong.
I watched a nest from day to day,
A green nest full of pleasant shade,
Wherein three speckled eggs were laid:
But when they should have hatched in May,
The two old birds had grown afraid
Or tired, and flew away.
Then in my wrath I broke the bough
That I had tended so with care,
Hoping its scent should fill the air;
I crushed the eggs, not heeding how
Their ancient promise had been fair:
I would have vengeance now.
But the dead branch spoke from the sod,
And the eggs answered me again:
Because we failed dost thou complain?
Is thy wrath just? And what if God,
Who waiteth for thy fruits in vain,
Should also take the rod?
From: Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems.
Christina Rosetti. London: Macmillan 1879.
- Christina Rossetti


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Beloved Mother-In-Law

A mother-in-law is a powerful person. She (hopefully) is not the one calling the shots in a marriage, but it is within her power to bless it or to burden it. She can bless it by being supportive, loving, discrete, and wise. She can also burden it by being a source of contention between husband and wife.
“You hate my mother!”
“Only because she’s detestable!”
The above exchange never took place in my home. My mother-in-law was a jewel, a rarity in the species. The biblical book of Proverbs says of a godly woman, “her children rise up and bless her.” I think her children-in-law rise up to bless her as well!
I remember Jan sitting with me and teaching me to sew on her old sewing machine. In one whirlwind weekend session she taught me how to read a pattern, to mark it, to cut it, to piece and pin and sew, to stay-stitch and insert zippers. I was a newly-wed. It was only my third time to see her. I was a bit nervous, but Jan was very talented at putting people at ease, even brand-new daughters-in-law. Neither of us realized that weekend that another lesson was taking place – a course in how to be a mother-in-law. Jan may have been picking it up on the fly, but over the years she taught me by example how to be a good mother-in-law.
Only weeks into our marriage, Nate and I had a disagreement over ground beef. I had a five pound package of it that I believed was spoiled. I was going to throw it out, but the frugal Scottish part of Nate’s being was appalled. We argued. Since it was our first argument, my emotions were running high – way too high. It wasn’t about the meat for me, it was about how Nate saw me. Did he think I was wasteful or unintelligent? Incapable of managing a home? Unknowing of my thoughts, Nate committed one of the biggest no-no’s a husband can do in a fight. He called his mom. A rookie mistake!
He described the meat to his mom and asked her opinion. As he talked, Jan gathered that we had different opinions, and Nate was hoping for her to settle it. She asked to talk to me. I went to the phone with a faint heart. Was this going to be a pattern in my life now? Would Nate call his mom every time we disagreed? Would the two of them always be a team against me? I will never forget what Jan said to me, and the sweet tones she said it in. “I’m sure you know best, dear.” With that she both graciously bowed out of the situation, and cemented my affection for her. She later told Nate he wasn’t to call her in such situations, but we needed to work it out ourselves. It was a lesson we both took to heart. Now, no matter what silly disagreements we have, we are a team. Even if it’s the two of us against the world!
Jan took that occasion to be a blessing to me personally, and to us as a couple. She could have, if she was a bad mother-in-law, sowed seeds of further discord. She could have taken a trivial disagreement and made it into a traumatic incident. She could have berated me or have spoken of me to Nate in a disparaging way. She could have swam right in and taken charge, barking orders like a marine. Any of those would have had a negative impact on my relationship with Nate, and with my relationship with Jan, which would then have further negative impact on my relationship with Nate! She was very wise. Proverbs 31:26 “She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
It’s a silly little thing to make a big deal over– a blob of greenish ground beef in a tiny apartment sink. But think of the damage that would have occurred if Jan had been of the bad variety of mother-in-law who immediately sided with her son over the interloper who married her darling. No doubt (since I wasn’t any wiser or more mature than Nate) I’d have called my mom (probably crying) to even up the sides. And that, my friends, would have resulted in a war of attrition, with me and my mom against him and his mom, lasting for years. Such a situation would have seriously impaired Nate and me from “leaving and cleaving.” I can’t say if Jan knew all this at the moment, but her simple affirmation meant the world to me.
I lost this precious mother-in-law on July 18, 2010. It was a deep loss for our family. Since then, Nate and I have busied ourselves with raising her legacy. Suzy will surely carry Jan into the next generation. She has her big luminous eyes, and like her grandmother she is quick to tears and laughter - the result of a tender heart, close to the surface. They lack a shell, both of shyness and cynicism. We are diligent to tell Suzy stories of Jan, to show her pictures, to talk about her memories of her Mimi. We've noticed Suzy has a much better memory than we supposed. It's so sweet when she shares a memory of her Mimi, and so sad when her grief wells up.
Jan blessed Suzy for four and a half years. Many of these blessings Suzy is aware of right now. She remembers well how Mimi showered her with love and joy, how Mimi delighted to see her, and the many giddy phone conversations they shared (though I know Jan didn't always understand what baby Suzy was talking about, she never let on.) Jan blessed Suzy in many of the characteristics she has passed on to her - her joie de vivre, her intelligence, her affinity for books, her sociability, her compassionate nature.
One blessing Suzy is too young to appreciate now, but will value in it's time, is that Mimi modeled how to be a godly mother-in-law to me. Her lessons have not been forgotten. I hope to put this knowledge into use one day when a newly-wed Suzannah calls me after (or during!) her first marital argument. Jan, I rise and call you blessed!