A Graduation Testimony

May 28, 2019

My youngest son graduates from high school this week. Honestly, there were times I wasn’t sure he’d make it. But, he struggled and pushed and refused to give up. He stayed resilient and tough in tremendous trials.

The semicolon tattoo has gained popularity in recent years as a symbol of mental health awareness.
Adoption date

He made it. He’s ready to try the world out on his own. Yet, he also knows he’s never really alone, never really on his own.

Check out this post for a description of this tattoo.
He came. He died. He rose. He ascended. He’s coming again.

My son will always have these reminders tattooed on his skin. They’re more than that, though. They’re his testimony too.


May 22, 2018

RememberIs Remembering Enough?

From holidays to monuments, memorials commemorate and preserve a significant person, place or event. Think of memorials as direction markers in history showing the people and events that shaped cultures. Consider the following examples:

Memorial Day honors all US military personnel who have perished during all wars and military actions in which the United States has been involved.

Labor Day celebrates the American labor movement and commemorates the social and economic achievements of workers.

Veterans’ Day honors people who served in the US Armed Forces. It coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day celebrated in other countries. All of these mark the anniversary of the end of WWI.

Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 when the United States declared independence from Great Britain.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France in 1886, is a worldwide symbol of freedom & democracy.

Castle Clinton, the most visited national monument in the United States, sits on the bottom of Manhattan Island and was originally built to protect New York from British invasion during the War of 1812.

Memorials aid our memory and help us preserve what we cherish most as a culture. We have many types of memorials throughout history such as stones, prehistoric drawings on cave walls, grave markers, tombs, pyramids, obelisks and statues.

Memorials also exist on a more personal level. We have special days like birthdays and anniversaries to commemorate the most important people in our lives. We have objects like wedding rings and photographs to help that remembrance to go beyond just a single day a year.

While remembering certainly exists on a variety of levels in our lives, is simply remembering enough? Is just bringing to mind people and places and events enough to serve the purpose for which these memorials exist?

Active Remembering

To help answer these questions, consider the theme of “remembering” that runs heavily throughout the Bible. Looking in depth at the word used for remembering can help us understand how we are called beyond simply recalling or remembering.

Azakarah (n) “memorial” = a sacrificial term describing the act “which brings the offerer into remembrance before God, or which brings God into honorable remembrance with the offerer.”

Zakhar (v) “to prick,” “pierce,” “penetrate”

These definitions help us see that the idea of “remembering” in Scripture goes well beyond just recollection. Action and sacrifice are also significant aspects of remembering.

Remembering or recalling by itself isn’t enough. Without action, we just have a day off work or a reason to eat or spend too much. When a call to action accompanies our remembering — which it does throughout Scripture — we find ourselves changed, hopefully for the better, as a result of that active remembering.

Along with this post, several more help explore this idea of active remembering:

The goal of studying “remembering” in this way is to discover the true purpose remembering should have in our lives. With that purpose, we can see the results that active remembering can bring to the life of a Christian.

 First, let me say Happy Birthday to my youngest son, Richard, who I have been blessed to have as a son for 3 years now.

Tomorrow not only marks my youngest son’s 12th birthday but also the 2nd anniversary of his official adoption. Before 3 years ago (he lived with us a year before being legally adopted), I already knew that parenting taught a person more than almost any other experience in life, and I already knew that being a parent helped create a fuller understanding of how God feels about His children.

But not until we adopted our son two years ago did I begin to grasp the idea of what adoption really means. You can read more about this in How to… Celebrate Adoption.

Adopting and raising an older child has also taught me many life lessons, and that is where we focus for today’s post. With that, the following 6 lessons stand out from the past 3 years.

  1. There will always be baggage. Even after forgiveness, consequences can linger. Communication is necessary for working through and managing the impact of these consequences.
  2. Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. One caseworker after another kept telling me to be consistent, and they were right on the money. Consistency helped my son heal from his past and embrace his future.
  3. Baggage often needs repacked. At various stages of growth, we need to address our son’s past and help him to understand it as much as is possible. This often means re-explaining something to fit his social, mental and spiritual maturity.
  4. Love really is a choice. Loving my oldest son comes naturally because I gave birth to him. Loving my youngest son, while just as strong, comes through choosing to do so no matter what. Before we even met him, we committed to loving him as if he was our biological son. God gives us grace abundantly to help us do just that each and every day.
  5. Patterns provide clues. When he first came to live with us, patterns of lying and stealing were cries for help. They were clues telling us that he needed security and consistency. These and other clues still pop up from time to time, and we talk about them and help create self-awareness. We try to always consider and deal with the root cause when this happens.
  6. Your child needs you to be an advocate. This doesn’t mean agreeing with bad behavior and poor choices. It means making sure your child receives the best chance at a successful future. For our youngest son, this requires regular contact with teachers and other authority as well as addressing any problem areas before they get out of control. Being an advocate means giving extra help where necessary and realizing that you know your child better than anyone, and you need to fight for what he needs to grow and mature in a positive way.

With each of these lessons, not only has my relationship with my son grown, but my relationship with God has as well. God has used this process to stretch and refine me in profound ways, and I would never trade it for the world even though it’s also one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

I realize that challenges lie ahead in the teenage years, but I also am confident that God will guard and keep my son in Christ Jesus. So, I have faith and release my son to God, but I also stand guard. Just as Jesus continues to pray and advocate for me, I will continue to do so for my son as well.

DISCUSSION: How has God used parenting to show you more about Him?

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How to… Celebrate Adoption

November 19, 2012

If the opportunity arises to attend an adoption proceeding, please do so. November is National Adoption Month, and each state usually has a specific day each year it declares “Adoption Day.” On this day, multiple families adopt one or more children. The families and children are all ages and races, and the families all look very different from one another. But what isn’t different is the look of “finally” on each family’s face as the day they’ve waited for (usually anywhere from 1-3 years) has finally arrived. The road each family took to arrive at this day is as different as the people who traveled it, but the focus and goal unites them all. On this day, the family becomes the child’s “forever family,” and the goal of “permanency” has been achieved.

“Adoption Day” for our youngest son.

The Michigan Department of Human Services posted that in 2009, more than 2,700 children were awaiting adoption in Michigan. Today, there are just under 3,900 children in the foster care system awaiting adoption. The statistics don’t change much from year to year, unfortunately, and so many children continue to await permanency with their “forever family.”

If adoption is a part of your family history in any way, you understand the feeling that the words “forever family” evokes. You know that it means you have someone who promises to never leave you, a feeling with which you may be all too familiar. The idea that adoption can bring a sense of belonging and can give a child an identity for which he/she is proud is one of the drivers behind “Adoption Day.”

While not every person reading this will have been adopted or even have an adoption in the family, every person can know what being adopted into a “forever family” means by making Jesus Christ Lord of their life.Every Christian should already know the feeling of permanency that being a child of the living God provides. This is open to every person. Unlike the 3,900 or so children awaiting a permanent family in Michigan, no person has to wait to become a permanent member of the family of God. No person has to wait to know what belong to the “forever family” of God is like, because adoption into God’s family can happen today.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him may never die but shall have everlasting life.” Admitting the need for a Savior, believing on the saving name of Jesus and confessing that you are a sinner is all that needs to happen in order to join God’s “forever family.”

No one has to wait for a declared “Adoption Day,” and no one has to wait for a family to be willing to adopt you. A family – God’s family – is ready and waiting, and the Father is always standing ready to welcome anyone with open arms!

DISCUSSION: What does being a part of God’s “forever family” mean to you? How do you celebrate it?

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