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Archive for July, 2009

What’s In A Name?

Fields of Grace. That’s the name we gave our ministry three years ago. What does it have to do with adoption and orphan care, really? Sometimes I wonder if people even know the significance of the name.

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As you read the Bible, you can’t help but notice three groups of people that come up again and again. God continually draws our attention to the orphans, the widows, and aliens (strangers). “What these people have in common is their desperate need of provision and protection. They are the weak, the under-privileged, and the needy among us.”  (Fields of  the Fatherless, C. Thomas Moore)  More than 60 times, scripture draws our attention to the need for caring for these individuals and include His promises to them–a father to the fatherless, their defender, promise to ensure justice, to bless them. Many passages in both the Old and New Testaments confirm God’s commitment to these special groups.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me stop and wonder.  What am I doing for any or all of these, the least of these?

“The Bible reveals that God commanded His people, the church, to set aside a portion of their fields, their provisions, for the sole purpose of providing for these groups. The line that designated this special area was called the ‘ancient boundary.’ It created a field, figuratively and literally, in which the fatherless, orphan, or widow could find the provision necessary to survive.”  (Fields of the Fatherless. C. Thomas Davis)  There was nothing they had to do to earn this provision, hence, the Fields of Grace.

Deuteronomy 24:19-21 records God’s directives:
When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.

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And so I wonder, what am I doing for “the least of these?” What are you doing for “the least of these?” What is our church doing for “the least of these?”

What is your field of grace? Do you have enough margin in your life or your budget that you can “let it lie”, you don’t have to go back and glean it afterward and pick up every last bit for yourself?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, if you’ve had moments alone with God where He has revealed things to you about His call to care for “the least of these,” — the orphan, the widows, the aliens.” It doesn’t mean every one of us has to adopt children into our homes or become licensed foster families. While it does mean that for some, or others it calls us to enable those who are called to do those things to support them, financially, with meals, with respite.

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David and Nancy Redding are members of Hill Country Bible Church and just a few years ago had no plans to adopt. But God worked in the collective heart of their family and they recently brought home two little boys from Ethiopia.

David’s most recent post on their blog is so powerful. Here’s the first graph from that post:

“I’ve taken a bit of a break from the blog and my lovely wife has done a wonderful job of posting, don’t you think?  Let me start by saying that I did not think it would be possible for me to love to children that are not biologically my own as much as I love these two boys.  It is a trip to think that I didn’t even know them 9 weeks ago and now I can’t imagine life without them.  It is truly a picture of the love that God has for us and how he can love us even more as adopted sons and daughters.  Cool stuff.”

Thank you, David and Nancy, for sharing your adoption experience with us.

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Recently, my family and I traveled back to the Midwest to visit family and we had the opportunity to see some old friends I had grown up with. The last time I had seen these people was perhaps high school so I introduced them to my wife, my son and my daughter. As is so common, the person said, “Your son looks just like you.” And he does. He has a similar facial structure, similar hair color as when I was his age, a similar physical build.

Our daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t look like me. She doesn’t look like my wife. She doesn’t look like her cousins, her aunts or uncles, or her grandparents (see photo at right).

You see, our daughter is Chinese. My FamilyGod knit our family together before time began and of all the children available for adoption, He knew her future and brought her into our family while she was just a baby. While she’s now only six, she is already quite proud of her Chinese heritage but she has commented that her nose looks different that my wife’s nose. She very much has noticed that she looks different from us. And she immediately notices other Chinese people when we are out in the community.

I had another situation this week where this issue became apparent. My son recently purchased a Nintendo DSi gaming system. There is a feature on it where you can take a photo of two people and the system tells you if you’re a “relative” or not. That’s amazing, I thought. How does this system know that my son is my son, that my daughter is my daughter? Does it track back through court documents to see when our daughter was adopted into our family or the hospital records to see where my son was born into our family? I jest – it is simply comparing facial features to see how similar or dissimilar two people look.

As an adoptive parent of a child of a different nationality, it’s not fair for us to get bent out of shape when people harmlessly ask these things or our society generally views “sonship” or “daughtership” somehow connected to our looks or personalities. And yet, as an adoptive parent it really makes we wonder what impact these things have or will have on my daughter.

She wasn’t even within earshot of the statement but there will come a day when she will hear these statements. We have Caucasian friends who have adopted Caucasian children who very much look like their parents. When they hear the statement “your son looks just like their dad,” I wonder: is it easier for them to handle, more difficult, no different? We have Caucasian friends who have adopted children from Ethiopia and there’s no question their children are adopted. They invariably will face some of the same challenges as we do with our daughter.

So, I wonder — does our daughter look like her birth mother? Does she have brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, even grandparents that would say that about her?

One thing I do know is that our daughter DOES look like her Heavenly Father. She does bear the image of Jesus Christ and is His creation. She was created to do great things in His name and I trust that as her stewards for this period of time, we’re bringing her up and equipping her to be her very best in whatever vocation she chooses.

What about you? What does your family look like? Have you experienced comments from people about your children? I certainly don’t have all the answers on how to handle these issues but together, through prayer, sharing of ideas and learning through each other’s experiences, I believe that we can all live up to God’s call to us to care of our children while in our homes.

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The KidSave Summer Miracles program brings orphaned children from foreign countries to the United States to enjoy a five week summer visit with a family. These are older children, ages 8 through 13, who have little or no chance of finding adoptive parents in their own country.

Austin is currently hosting seven children (five girls and two boys) from Columbia. Click here to read more about these children. The Austin KidSave blog gives up-to-date information on their summer visit so far. While the boys are already in the process of being adopted, the girls have not yet found families. Listed below are several upcoming events that give prospective families an opportunity to interact with the children. For more information please contact Stephanie Karasick at stephaniekarasick@sbcglobal.net.

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Saturday, July 18, 11 am – 3 pm
Westlake Beach on Lake Austin   
Kidsave 10th Anniversary  Celebration – We especially hope previous host families and Kidsave invloved families can join us for this celebration
www.WestLakeBeach.com
This will be a bring-your-own meal and beverages event. Admission fee will be $8 for adults age 12 on up and $5 for children age 1 to 11.

Sunday, July 26, 2 pm – 4 pm
Bowling Event, Dart Bowl, 5700 Grover Avenue (512) 452-2518 (west of Lamar Blvd and just south of 2222).
Please RSVP to make sure we have enough lanes! Shoe rental donated by Dart Bowl and reduced Kidsave event rates of $7.50 per person for 2 hours of bowling.

Sunday, August 2, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Austin ‘s Park and Pizza, 16231 North IH-35 (Grand Avenue Parkway exit, near Pflugerville)
Video arcade games, miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, tea cups, Rio Grande train, laser tag, batting cages, indoor and outdoor climbing walls, pizza, pasta, salad, and soft drinks.

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Adoption and Schools Seminar

The local chapter of Families with Children from China (FCC) is hosting a seminar in August “Adoption and Schools”.

The details are…

Date: Friday, August 21, 2009

When: 7pm – 9pm

Where: Asian-American Cultural Center
11713 Jollyville Rd. Austin
www.asianamericancc.com

Cost at Door: $7/person

Registration: email bjh0902@aol.com to reserve your seat.

Presenters: Deanne Brown and Becky Harding

Description:
Join FCC members and teachers Deanne Brown and Becky Harding for an evening of information and discussion about parental navigation of the educational system. As former teachers, the presenters will bring their unique perspectives to the conversation. Topics will include but are not limited to:

  • what the ideal school environment should look and feel like to parents and students
  • how to build a relationship with your child’s teacher
  • how to give your child the tools s/he needs to address possible adoption issues
  • how to be a positive advocate for social change

Presenters:

Deanne Brown taught English in grades 10, 11, and 12 in Virginia for 5 years, then spent several years in youth ministry with high school and middle school aged kids. Later she returned to teaching in Austin, teaching 5th grade at Pease Elementary for 7 years while preparing to adopt her two daughters, Grace, and Sarah. Since summer 2004, she has been a stay-at-home mom for Russ, the girls, and several cats.

Becky Harding taught high school theatre, speech, debate and English in Ohio for ten years. She then spent three years teaching in New York and south Florida before beginning a career as a middle school theatre arts educator at Covington and Clint Small middle school’s. She is a former Austin ISD Teacher of the Year retiring in 2002 to be stay at home parent to her two daughters from China. She currently serves as president of FCC Austin.

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We’re home!

go monterrey 09 570 We arrived at HCBC NW around 4pm. We were so blessed by this trip. As God was building the team we kept praying for more men to sign up to come. We had 2 men, one teen boy, and one 10 year old boy. The other 8 team members were 7 women and a 10 year old girl. After arriving we learned that the large team from Ohio had an agenda that slowed the construction and physical labor projects down so that the the man power and resources could be utilized by the soccer camps this week. God knew that our team did not need a ton of strong men. He knew that we needed to be a smaller group, too. It would have been harder logistically if we were a larger team. Also, we were able to focus on loving and blessing the staff at B2B. Many times we were told that our team was a breath of fresh air in the middle of a hard summer. Praise God that He used us!
On our last morning people shared their "picture of the week" and I saw that God used this trip to personally touch each team member. I believe it was the starting point of change in many people’s hearts. They all mentioned the desire to seek what God’s next step would be for them. I look forward to seeing what God will do in the coming months with what we experienced in Monterrey.

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog. 

~Heather

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A few great pictures…

 

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