The Wednesday Before Thanksgiving – Another First

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I was at work and it was about 1:00. Suddenly it started snowing hard – big fluffy lake effect snow. The type that comes down at a couple of inches an hour.

My wife called me, “The kids were down for their naps before the snow started, but I think you might want to be home when they get up and see the snow for the first time.”

So I did.

They came downstairs from their naps and looked outside. Their initial reaction was that the sky was falling. This big white stuff falling out of the sky – kind of scared them.

But then we all put boots and coats on and went out and played in it. Then they realized that it was okay and actually kind of fun.

9 years later, they are typical Michiganders and think that it snows too much and for too long…….

But the first time was precious…….

Calling–Not by Phone

I’ve talked to many people over the years who have asked us the question, “Why did you adopt and why did you adopt from Haiti?”   My short answer is, “God called us to.”

I read an article recently on Catalyst that touched on some very important thoughts about being called.   Whether it’s called to the ministry, called to minister to others without being a full time occupational minister or called to other things, the article has 8 very important points.   I’m going to share one point a day – but you can read the entire article here.

Live for the Applause of Nail-Scarred Hands.   How does the saying go,  “you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”    So, live for the applause of Nail Scarred Hands.   Live your life and your calling to do what Jesus would want you to.

That means that you don’t need to be concerned about what other people think.    Do what God want you to and the rest will take care of itself. 

That means that you need to spend more time making sure that what you are doing aligns with God’s Word and less time making sure that it keeps people happy.

That means that whatever you do needs to have a heaven –based perspective in it.   You’re doing whatever God has called you to in order to make a heaven bound difference, not a superficial earthly difference.

I believe Building 429 says it well…….

I Have a Dream

I have a dream.    Actually I have a lot of dreams – but none of them are quite as broad and visionary as Dr. King’s goal was.

But I see a lot of pain in this world and I have a dream of doing something about it.   Actually I see a lot of possibilities of doing something about it.

One of the “somethings” that we’re doing is this coming Saturday, March 29 from 12:00 to 4:00 PM.    What is it? 

It’s our “semi annual” (but not always) Haitian adoption gathering.    It’s an opportunity for those of us who have adopted from Haiti, have worked in Haiti, have thought about Haiti to come hang out and play and talk and eat.

No set agenda, just an ability to be friends, to renew friendships, to get caught up on ideas, kids, stories and more.

So, what’s my dream?   Being an adoptive parent can very often be a lonely endeavor.    Very few of our “local” friends and family understand the unique challenges that parenting adopted kids can be.   I want to do things and create things that will help adoptive families feel more connected and more supported.

It’s a step in the right direction, if you know anyone who is located within a reasonable distance to the Grand Rapids Michigan area, tell them about it.    We’d love to have more people show up and connect with others with connections to Haiti.

Questions?   Call me at (616) 292-7559 or e-mail me at thomas.vanderwell@gmail.com.

Hope to see a lot of you there on Saturday!

Tom

Pet Peeve About Church

Yeah, I have to admit, I have a pet peeve about church.   And the older I get, the more I see, the bigger that pet peeve gets.

I don’t like it.

It makes it hard to go to church.

It makes life lonely.

It makes it difficult for church to be attractive to those who are searching.

It is one of the main tools that the devil uses to get in the way of the church in the 1st World.

What is the pet peeve?   It’s the failure to be real.  

It’s the failure to admit that we live in a fallen world.

It’s the failure to acknowledge that life is full of pain.

It’s the failure to be able to reach out and help those who are struggling.

It’s the unwillingness to welcome other people’s pain into your life and to walk alongside them “in it.” 

I firmly believe that God designed the church, not as a support network for people who have everything together.   Jesus came to be with the sinners, the IRS guys, the crooks, the prostitutes, those who are suffering.

So, if we’re going to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we need to be able to and willing to get our hands dirty, to share the pain of our friends, our church members, to be real and to share our own pain and struggles and welcome the support of others.

That’s when we will see God truly at work and that’s when we’ll see the church become alive and really make a difference.

So, take your tie off, relax and the next time you ask someone, “How’re you doing?”  Be prepared to tell them the truth and when someone answers that question with “fine,” I dare you ask them, “Really?”

God can use the pain and suffering – but only if we open up and share our lives with others and welcome them to share their lives with us.

God can turn pain into grace and glory but only if we will admit it and allow others to help us work through it.

*steps down from the soap box*