Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

This journey through life is never boring......

Month: March 2014 (page 1 of 7)

The Things I Learned on Saturday

So, Saturday, I spent the afternoon with approximately 100 of my close friends.    What makes them close friends?   Well, besides for the fact that they are all awesome people, the fact that they all have Haitian kids and a heart for Haiti make them close friends.

I learned (or relearned) a number of things on Saturday.    Let me share a few of them…….

  • 100 people can eat a LOT of pizza.    We ordered 14 extra large pizzas and there were 6 pieces left.   Of course my son ate 5 pieces.   Smile
  • Haitian kids are not quiet kids.   Enough said?
  • Even the kids get it.    The appreciation of the opportunity to be with other transracial families and other kids where the kids and the parents aren’t all the same color is important to everyone.
  • While the parents don’t “get it” they are willing to do it.    I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of adoptive parents who are just starting the process.    One of them said,  “I know that I don’t know what I’m getting into.   I know that I have no idea the challenges that I’ll face and I’m doing my best to prepare for that.   But I  know Who told me to do it and so we’re jumping in.”   That, my friends, is a rock star of faith and challenge.
  • We’re all the opposite of the Simon and Garfunkel song,  “I am a Rock.”    We aren’t rocks, we aren’t islands and we benefit from being supported by others who are walking the same path.
  • Two of the Haitian kids who were at the gathering were part of the group that was evacuated after the earthquake.    There were more of that group there, but these two were extra special.    Rose and Elli – if God hadn’t brought you to Miami and then to the Midwest when He did, you wouldn’t be here today.   Every time I get to play with, tease, tickle or just watch either of them I’m reminded of the goodness of God – even in times of pain and struggle.

Was it fun?    Yes it was.    Was it a learning experience?    Absolutely.    I’m better off and significantly richer for the  time spent…….

God is good (all the time)

All the time (God is good)

Tom

Tomorrow–a Day for Relationships

There’s something special happening tomorrow.   It’s not just a day for basketball games (though that does happen).  

Tomorrow, there’s a gathering of sorts happening in Hudsonville, Michigan.  Over 100 people will be coming to the gathering.

To eat pizza.

To eat other food.

To play games.

And why are we coming together?   Because we all have a connection.

We’re from Haiti.

We’ve adopted part of our family from Haiti.

We have worked in or for organizations in Haiti.

It’s a day of connections.   It’s an opportunity to relate to people who are walking the same path that you are.   An opportunity to hang out with people who don’t look like the stereotypical Caucasian family (just like we don’t.)

An opportunity to talk about where we’ve been – and where we are going.  

An opportunity to shine a light on the path for those who are following us.

Tomorrow  will be a day rich with memories and rich with opportunities.

As one adoptive dad said to me at one of these previously, “Thank you for helping us not feel so alone.”

God has called us all on a journey.   Tomorrow we are blessed by the opportunity to share it with people who are on that journey too.

God is good!   (All the time)

All the time!  (God is good)

Thoughts On Afflicting the Comfortable (Part #3)

“I believe pastors are called to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  Mark Batterson, Catalyst

I have a confession to make.    I’m a member of a secret group on Facebook.   No it’s not a cult, it’s not anything evil.   I describe this group as a group of people who aren’t satisfied with the status quo.    They believe that things can be better.    They believe that in whatever area of life they are passionate about, things can be done better.

We are against the status quo.    Whether it’s building a better advertising agency, being a better mom, writing with a purpose, getting in better physical shape, being a better minister, going on a mission trip, whatever it is, we believe things can be and be done better.

What does that have to do with afflicting the comfortable?

There have been many many times when every single person in the group has stepped out of our comfort zones and have been uncomfortable.    There have been many many times when this group has challenged and stretched me and my thinking.    There have been many many times when people in the group have shared very vulnerable things – things that have motivated and encouraged me and many others as well.

Comfort the afflicted – there are many ways and areas and people who need comforting – don’t just stand there, do something.

Afflict the comfortable – make us all more aware that with privilege comes responsibility.

Responsibility to be Jesus hands and feet to the vulnerable  of the world.

A responsibility to be faithful to God’s calling to care for “The least of these,” even when it makes you uncomfortable.

A responsibility to not be satisfied with the comfortable.

But to know that God has called you.

And God has called me.

To be uncomfortable.

To m

Your Vision of Yourself

It’s something that most of us wrestle with.   It’s frankly something that all of us should wrestle with.   There are a few who think too highly of themselves.  But most people have a vision of themselves that is less than it should be.

I’m not strong enough.

I’m not quick enough.

I’m not that good looking.

What, I’m not a good writer!!?!?

I can’t speak in front of a large crowd.

Look at Moses – he obviously didn’t think much of himself.    But look what God did with him.

Look at how God took a lowly shepherd boy and made him the king of Israel.

Look how God has taken every single one of us who believes in Him and said, “You are my child, your sins are forgiven, you are free.   Go be the person that I want you to be.”

That means we are strong enough.

We are quick enough.

We can make it happen.

God doesn’t call the equipped.   He equips the called.

So what has He called you to do?    And how is He giving you the strength to do it?

You are a child of God, so let that impact your view of yourself.

And let it also impact what you can accomplish to make this world a better place……

Your Mileage May Vary

One of the things I have to say at the start of this section is that this will vary for everyone. Every situation is different and every child’s needs are different. I read a book called, “In Their Own Voices” – I highly recommend it. It’s a collection of stories and interviews of adults who were adopted transracially when they were kids. It might be an Asian adopted by a white family, or an African American adopted by a white family or any other sort of “mix” of races where the common denominator was that there was no way that the parents could look like or pretend they looked like their children. There is no way that you can even come close to thinking that my 12 year olds could be my biological children, they are way too dark.

Probably the most interesting thing that I took from that book was, well actually two things:

1.) Everyone wrestles with issues at different times. There were stories of kids who wrestled with their heritage when they were younger, there were kids who wrestled with their heritage (how can I live in a white world as a Haitian American?) in their teen years and there were kids who attempted to put those feelings down and didn’t wrestle with them until they were well into their adult years.

2.) Every one of the people interviewed said that eventually they were glad that their adoptive parents kept a connection to their home country (the country of their birth) and even if they didn’t appreciate it at first, they did eventually.

Internationally adopted kids need to feel like you value their “home country” because valuing that is valuing part of who they are. If you don’ care about Haiti but you have a child from Haiti, what message does that send to your child about how much (or how little) you value an important part of who they are?

Not everyone needs it at the same time and to the same amount and some will appreciate it when you do it, some will appreciate it much much later, but they will all, at some point, realize that by being involved in some way with their home country, you are valuing part of who they are.

What are some ways that you can give back? What are some ways that you can support the country your children were born in? What are some ways that you can give back to the country that your children are from? Let me throw out some things that we’ve done and other ideas that people have suggested but we haven’t done…..

Artwork – this is a very easy one. Have artwork from your kids home country in your house. Pictures, drawings, statues and other things that are from Haiti and show that to you, it’s important to show “off” some of the best parts of Haiti.

Food – find a restaurant nearby that serves the food of their home country – visit it frequently. We have one about 20 minutes away and the owner loves getting to see our kids and our kids love going out to eat for Haitian food.

Sponsorship – Whether it’s a school sponsorship or an orphan sponsorship, a consistent, even if relatively small donation that your kids can see as a way of supporting someone else in their country is important to them.

Prayer – pray for people who matter to them in Haiti – pray for Molly, Joyce, Dixie and the rest. Pray for their family in Haiti, pray for the child or children that you sponsor. Show your kids, by example, that it is important to support the people in Haiti by praying for them.

Mission trips – every kid is different and every one of them will be ready to visit their home country at different time frames, but even if they are too young, it’s important for them to see you helping out. So, if you can go back to Haiti and make a difference, it will make a difference in you and in them.   But make sure it’s a trip that will help and not make matters worse.

Be an adoption/orphan advocate. Let your kids see that you care not only about them but about other kids who need families.

Pay it forward – if there are people in your church, community who adopt/foster or are thinking about it, come along side them and encourage them in a realistic/been there done that type of manner.

Like I said, your mileage may vary but these are thoughts that we’ve found from our journey……..

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