It’s Not About My Friend Todd……

Hi, my name is Tom and I have a friend who is a Realtor……

His name is Todd.

Seriously he is and unfortunately he doesn’t live near me – because he’s really good at what he does.

But this is not about my friend Todd.   And he’d be the first to tell you that.

But he can’t because I don’t believe he can read this right now.

See, besides for being a good friend, and a kindred spirit on many things that matter, Todd is also married to a nurse like I am.   Just another reason he’s a good guy.

But this isn’t about Todd.

Though he posted a picture on Facebook this morning that prompted this post.   See, Todd is not in Ann Arbor right now.

He’s not even in the United States.

He’s not even in North America.

Todd and his wife are part of a medical/surgical team that is in Africa right now.   They are providing surgical care that is unavailable to patients there without them – and training the local medical staff while they are there.

The picture – he’s in what is obviously a surgery room, wearing scrubs, looks like he hasn’t shaved and probably showered in a while and the look on his face is not quite sheer panic but close to it…….

The caption –  “So far outside my comfort zone……”

That got me thinking – imagine what would happen if all of us stepped outside our comfort zone.

Imagine what would happen if the church in the first world wasn’t happy with the status quo and wanted to step outside our comfort zone and do more and be more of what God is??

Do you think God is happy with comfortable?

I don’t.

Do you think God likes it when people step way outside of their comfort zone and put themselves in positions where they have no choice but to rely on Him?

I do.

And that’s where my friend Todd is this week.

And that’s where we all should be – not necessarily in Africa, but outside our comfort zones……

Thanks, Todd.

Me

Instructions to Build the Temple? So What?

In my “read through the Bible in a year plan” that won’t get done in a year (but it will get done), part of what I’m reading is in Exodus where it lays out how they built the chest, the table, the priests robes and all of the rest of the “stuff” needed for the temple.

Boring and frankly so what?

But then I came across Exodus 39:42-43 (from the Message):

The Israelites completed all the work, just as God had commanded. Moses saw that they had done all the work and done it exactly as God had commanded. Moses blessed them.

They did all of the work.    All of it.   They did it just as God had commanded them.   They did it EXACTLY as God had commanded them.   And God’s leader – the man in charge, the only one who actually talked WITH God (think how awesome and scary that would be!) blessed them.

Can I say that?

Can you say that?

Are we really doing what God has commanded us and doing it just as God has commanded us?

Hmmmmm……..

 

Psalm 23

I recently listened to a minister (love that I can do that, not only at church on Sunday, but also from churches a long ways away from home via podcasts) who challenged his congregation to read Psalm 23 every day for 6 weeks. He’s preaching a series on it.

I’m trying it. And when I can, I’ll share some of what strikes me as important in that Psalm. The more you read it, I’m finding, the more you realize that there is a LOT in those 6 verses.

Today – in verse three, I read:

True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

God is true to his word. What he says will happen. What he says, he will do. Maybe not according to our timing, quite often not according to our timing, but that’s not as important.

God lets us catch our breath. But here’s the tough part – we have to want to. We often are so busy racing from one thing to another to truly take the time to catch our breath. We feel that being busy = being good. God wants us to catch our breath. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

God sends us in the right direction. Is the “right” direction always easy to see? Hah. Not a chance. It’s usually hard to see, hard to find and hard to follow. But if we seek out God, we’ll find him leading us in the right direction.

More to come later, for now, catch your breath and seek God’s direction.

It isn’t easy but it’s worth it.

TJV

Two Fish–Part Two–It’s Really About Kids

Okay, let’s be honest.   The story I told you yesterday – the one about fish?

It wasn’t really a fish story.

Yeah, you thought there was something “fishy” about it.

That story was my attempt to illustrate how orphan care is very complex and very difficult.    Let me attempt to explain.

The Niagara Falls – that’s the period of time in a child’s life where they are relinquished by their biological family, spend time in a tough situation, in an unknown situation and are going through difficult times.   Many challenges, many uncertainties, almost always not enough – not enough good, not enough love, not enough food.

The fish – those are the children.

  • Some of them stay with their “leaders” (parents) and live a relatively ordinary life.
  • Some become separated from their leader and their family, go through the tough times (the Falls) and rebound from it rather well and go on to live relatively normal lives.
  • Some become separated from their leader (their biological family) and go through tough times (the Falls) and rebound – but they always bear scars from their trip over the falls but it’s something that they heal from – but it’s never totally gone.
  • Some become separated from their family, go through tough times and the damage, the abuse, the struggles they had leave them unable to heal and unable to cope and live a relatively normal and productive life.   The scars are just too deep for them to be able to function in a family setting.

There are basically three main roles in orphan care:

  • There are the people and organizations who bridge the gap when parents are going through rough times.    They help provide medical care, they provide job training, they provide support and assistance to someone who wants to keep their child(ren).   Go read “She said Yes” for one story about an organization that is doing that.
  • There are people who help the children who are “going over the falls.”   They are in that tough time, that difficult fall and they help them, help them heal, help them live, give them love.   Examples of these would be those who work in foster care, those who work in organizations that help get kids off the street and into a temporary home, adoption agencies and more.
  • There are people who help after the Falls.   The child(ren) have come through the transition and the tough times.   They, in many cases, are healing fine.   In many cases, they need substantial care to have a chance to heal well and live normal lives.  Examples of these would be adoptive families, therapists, counselors, teachers and those who help and support the families who have brought these kids into their families.

I want to make a couple of points very clear:

  • There are way too many kids in this world who are going “over the Falls.”   There are way too many kids in this world who are separated from their families and they would not have needed to be – if their family had had some help during a rough time in their lives.    The need is way greater than the resources on this part of orphan care.
  • Unfortunately, there will always be children who, through no fault of their own, go through those tough transitions and “go over the falls.”   While there must be guidelines and restrictions to make sure that the children who do weren’t “pushed” (aka trafficked) over the edge, the system could be much better at making sure, once we know that they weren’t pushed, that they get into a good situation as soon as possible.
  • Because there will always be children who lose their parents – for a variety of reasons – I am and will  always be an advocate for adoption.   There should never be a child without a family and there wouldn’t be if this was a perfect world.
  • If you look at the scenarios above for children, of the ones who end up separated from their biological family, a lot of them have substantial scars from that.   Our communities, our churches, our schools and organizations that are “supposed” to be caring for children don’t do nearly as good of a job with that as they should.

Is the answer to the orphan crisis “everyone should adopt?”   ABSOLUTELY NOT.   

Is the answer to the orphan crisis simple?

NO

Is the answer to the orphan crisis one particular thing?   Nope.

So what is the answer?

If everyone did something, if everyone looked at the various parts of the orphan care challenge and said, “I can help here.”

If everyone did actually help wherever their “here” is.

Then we can make a concerted “dent” in the problem.

I am.

and I will.    More on that later.

Will you?

Tom