Friday, December 7, 2012

God's Gift

In this season of so many wonderful gifts, I keep thinking about our son Nathan.  All of my children are unique gifts.  In fact, every one of my children would not be mine if it were not for the incredible love and sacrificial giving of many people, some strangers to me.  None of my children came to me through the usual means...each one is a unique gift from a unique place.

When we learned we had an future son named Nathan, I was so full of joy.  I had never had a son, and I felt this was a special gift from God to me.  His name means "gift from God" perfect could that be?

Here is the first picture I ever took of my son on the day I met him at the orphanage.  He didn't say much that day, but his smile and eyes had me swooning.

But now that I have had the incredible privilege of raising Nathan for the last two years, I realize that I was thinking much too small in assuming he is God's gift to me.  Because, no one I know loves God more than Nathan.  From his first sentences in English, to this day, Nathan has talked to us each and every day about how much he loves God and wants to follow Him.  He prays every day, he reads his Bible intently, he talks to his friends about Jesus and he wants to see angels.  If you are in need of deep theological conversation, just stop over and strike up a conversation with our son about God.  You will be astonished at the things he has pondered.

One of the joys of this year was watching Nathan being baptized.  He asked our pastor to baptize him and our pastor kindly obliged.  The satisfied smile on his face tells the whole story.

Nathan made this act with great intention, and even chose two worship songs for the occasion.  The first you probably know, "I Will Follow You" by Chris Tomlin.  The second we did not know, but you will enjoy finding it on YouTube: "Jesus, You are My Superhero."  Yes, that is right. Nathan had us all singing "You are better than Batman, you are better than Superman"...the kid always keeps us smiling.

Speaking of smiling, he seems to make everyone else around him smile as well, not only his blessed family.  He is greatly loved by his teachers, coaches and friends.  Our neighbor calls him "Mr. Happy Legs" in recognition of his truly incredible athletic ability and seemingly endless energy.  He is the first one up in our house seven days a week, and he never wears out of enthusiasm.  Eventually, we force him to go to bed, but he won't rest before saying his nightly prayers, which include a sweet prayer from Uganda that he says every day:

Look at me, Oh God
As my heart all,

To you all I turn

For the sins I have committed

I pray to be forgiven
In all that I have been good

I pray to be encouraged
For under your guidance Oh God

Where all is peace I'll be led
Not to sob but to rejoice,

As my hand in yours lies.

I realize now that this little boy is much more than a gift to me.  He is a gift to all who know him.  And, he is a gift from God unto Himself.  Nathan wants to be a pastor one day, and I know his love and charisma will bring many to the joy of the Lord.  He has already started writing a "book about God", which essentially is a treatise (in 9-year-old prose) on why God loves you and why you should love Him in return.  Here's an excerpt:  

"Jesus is your God and the Holy Ghost is your father.  He will always be there for you even when you are alone.  God promises that he will never ever forget you.  When you see a rainbow, it reminds you that God will never leave you. God has the power to defeat Satan and you do too."

Yes, these are the writings of my tiny son. (He also sings, dances, flips, scores, sweeps, folds, builds and name a few).

I can't even imagine my life now without this funny, smart, kind, honest, compassionate, talented, annointed little man.  I can never thank God enough for this gift of all gifts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Princess Nalu

We call her Princess Nalu.  Nalubega Ruth is her Ugandan name, and she is the princess of our family.  It's hard to explain over this two dimensional page the miraculous transformation that has taken place in this child since she came to into our family two years ago.  You would have to see it to believe it.

Ruth has experienced more loss and trauma in her short life than many of us ever know.  Besides watching her father die and being abandoned to the orphanage by her mother, Ruth was run over in the village as a small child.  When I met Ruth, she barely spoke, did not make eye contact, and dragged her leg painfully.  She wouldn't look at me because she was sure I would not want her.

She never received medical treatment after the accident, and she confided to us later that she just lay in the village, could not even sit up, and eventually taught herself to walk again using sticks.  She lived in chronic pain.

A few days after she came to America, this is what we learned.

Ruth had been walking around for seven years with her skeleton badly misaligned from the trauma, causing constant pain and an inability to run, sit on the floor or do anything but walk awkwardly.  Her dream was to swim one day.

Enter into the story one of her ANGELS.  While still in Uganda, I was praying for wisdom about how to help Ruth with her physical limitations, and God spoke to me two words, the name of this woman.  She has been treating Ruth weekly for the last two years, and NEVER CHARGED US ONE PENNY.

Now my beautiful Ruthie can run, swim and dance!  Bye bye pain, hello happiness. 
(here she is about a year ago trying her first ever run with a little help from her big sister.)

Oh, and she would want me to mention that after considerable practice, she can also do the ultimate tween move...the split.

But, missing so much school as a result of her accident put her far behind other kids her age.  The orphanage director told me to keep her back in school, that she had no confidence and her grades were very poor.

Enter ANGEL NUMBER 2.  My husband's boss retired right around the time our kids were adopted.  She wanted to do something meaningful with her life, and as a former teacher, asked if it would "be alright" if she tutored Ruth.  Oh, and yea, she has NEVER CHARGED US ONE PENNY.  Hello A/B Honor Roll! 

You know how sometimes people will say: "How can you afford to have so many kids?" I just have to laugh.  The blessings that will rain down on you if you step out in faith just defy explanation.
As a result of these TRUE ANGELS ON EARTH, my frightened, broken, silent little girl has blossomed like an amazing butterfly.  She beams, she glows, she is stunning.  It's hard to even explain how much we love her.  She is truly our little princess.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Awesome Agnes

We call her Awesome Aggie because she is so amazing in so many ways.  I can't imagine my life without the wonderful relationship I have with this gifted child.  She is just all, love, love.  She gives it freely and lavishly, and she receives it just as graciously.  There is nothing that can pick up my day like an Agnes hug...they are world-class.

Oh, and I have to confess, as her mama, I am thoroughly and completely obsessed with her cheeks.

Have you ever seen such lovely apple cheeks in all your life?  This is not make-up...that is how they really look!  It's probably a good thing I did not have her as a baby because I surely would have kissed those cheeks raw.

Here is how she looked the day I met her.  I will never forget how she greeted me...with the strength and courage of a woman at the tender age of 13. 

Her hands and feet were calloused from years of hard labor in the orphanage...her chore was to help the matrons do the laundry for the over 500 children who lived with her.  Her strong back and strong spirit saved her from many of the trials she endured.  Loneliness, hunger, rejection and disappointment did not break her spirit.  She dreamed of a family and she dreamed of being a doctor. 

Her gifts of mercy and compassion are like none I have seen.  She loves anything and anyone that is vulnerable:  animals, babies, old people.  These gifts were honed while caring for her invalid grandmother and years and years of hundreds of children.  She was one of the first children to live at the orphanage, when there were only a few children, and there was only tea for food.

But God was working in those many years, preparing her for her future dream of becoming a doctor.  Agnes plans to become a Family Practicioner.  We are so fortunate that she is able to attend a special high school where she is already learning medicine.  She meets the bus early each morning, ready in her scrubs for the long ride.  (again with the cheeks...)
She talks of returning to Uganda, building a hospital, and saving many lives.  Is it any wonder that God brought her into our family so she could be on this path of healing and mercy?  She is a joy to all who know her, especially her blessed family. 

 I often look forward to that day when her dad and I will sit at her medical school graduation (how old will we be by then?)  What an awesome day that will be...knowing where she came from, and also where she is going and how God will use her.
Read more about Agnes, her writings and her story at her very own web site:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What a Difference a Decade Makes!

As today is my 50th birthday, I can't help but reflect on what a difference a decade makes!  Looking back over the first half of my life, it seems I can measure it decade by decade with each milestone birthday.

Here I am on my 30th birthday (receiving a gift from my sweet niece, Caitlyn, who is now soon to be married!). 

This was perhaps one of the happiest day of my life.  I had been released from the hospital that morning and was technically on bedrest (aka "stay-seated-at-the-party") as I was pregnant with my amazing Mackenzie and having complications.  After three years of infertility treatments and then life-threatening pregnancy complications, I had feared I would never be a Mom.  But on this day, January 31, 1992, I somehow knew my baby would be born and that everything was going to be ok. 

Looking back now on how many tears I cried thinking I was "barren", it tickles me to realize what God had already planned for my nest...

My thirties were happy, idyllic, and very, very hard.  I found myself a single parent, and I made so, so many mistakes.  I chased after the wrong things and the wrong people.  I wanted to do good in the world, but my flesh always got in the way.  I kept looking for some person to rescue me, when all the time God was the one who kept pulling me out of the mire.  I searched for "religion" but never found a relationship with my Creator. 
Finally, my 40th birthday rolled around...

Although I had many friends, a good job, 2 beautiful kids, a nice house and a "boyfriend", I didn't have what I needed most.  God.  And it was on this day that I decided to give it ALL to Him.  I am not sure how I really got to that decision except that I just got totally fed up with chasing after status and appearances.  I had no peace.  I needed peace above anything else.  I realized nothing of this world was going to make me happy and I was finally able to STOP and give it all to HIM. 

And since I made that decision, God has opened up my life in ways I NEVER could have imagined.  First of all, He sent the right guy to my front door...I didn't even have to go looking for him!

Next, he brought me to a fellowship of believers where I met Christ in a whole new way, and He filled me with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

At age 45, I asked to be baptized by immersion, telling God He could have the whole second half of my life...

Then, He called me to Africa.  How could I have ever known EVERYTHING He had for me there.  In that place, He broke my heart for the orphan, and I have never been the same.

(Yes, I am holding a live chicken.  If you have ever been a missionary to Africa, you have been blessed with a chicken.)

And shortly after that, He called me to be the director for Orphan Sunday...a movement that would touch orphans ALL OVER THE WORLD by God's grace!

And then, He led me to my three amazing Ugandan kids.  WOW. 

And through all of this, I have witnessed miracle after miracle.  So many that I already know the title of my next book: "My Life In Miracles".  There is not enough room on the internet for me to express the Goodness, the Richness, the Beauty of God's love for me and all He has allowed me to experience in the last decade. 
Some of these miracles are documented on this blog...more will have to wait to be written.

If you are asking God for a miracle in your life, try giving it ALL to Him.  I hope you don't have to get to the crummy place that I was at 40 to force you to make that decision.  I hope you don't have to get anywhere near that place!  Just give it ALL to's all His anyway.

And just watch the miracles unfold.