Friday, December 28, 2012

Russian Ban on U.S. Adoptions: Pray for these Children

Why do children pay for the idiocy of adults?

Today Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that bans adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens. This ban was reportedly developed in retaliation for a US law punishing Russians accused of violating human rights.

As the mama of an eleven-year-old boy adopted from Russia in 2003, my heart breaks for the children that will never be adopted due to this new law. According to UNICEF there are approximately 740,000 children without parental care in Russia.

"Alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential, including permanent foster care, domestic adoption and inter-country adoption," said Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF. "All children deserve an environment that promotes their protection and well-being. Russian children -- indeed all children -- need to be in protective and loving families..."

Amen, Director Lake.

Why has it become so hard for adults to get along? Why are politicians around the world (including our own) fighting like children? And why do the real children have to suffer for their bickering?

I've seen some of these precious orphans during my time in Moscow, Russia. My eyes tear up as I recall their smudged, smiling faces when we drove away from the orphanage with one of their friends.

They were too young to understand their predicament. They were too young to understand the word orphan. They were too young to memorize the statistics for occurrences of homelessness and crime for children that age out of Russian orphanages.

They were beautiful children -- children that deserve a chance at one day having a family of their own. Even if that family happens to live clear across the waters in a strange country called the United States of America.

Will you pray with me for the heart of President Putin?

Will you pray with me for his fellow leaders and advisors?

Will you pray with me for 740,000 Russian orphans?



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Jesus: Don't Leave Him in the Manger

Okay, I'll admit it. I can't say I loved the movie Talladega Nights, but quite of few of the lines made me chuckle.

As a matter of fact, the main character Ricky's prayer over the family meal actually has me in stitches every time I think of it. Here's a sampling:

"Dear Lord Baby Jesus... Dear Baby Jesus, we also thank you for my wife's father, Chip. We hope that you can use your Baby Jesus powers to heal him and his horrible leg... Dear Tiny Infant Jesus..."

In the middle of his prayer, Ricky's wife Carley interrupts. "Hey, um... you know, sweetie, Jesus did grow up. You don't always have to call him baby. It's a bit odd and off puttin' to pray to a baby."

Ricky, frustrated with his wife's assertion says, "Well, look, I like the Christmas Jesus best when I'm sayin' grace. When you say grace, you can say it to Grown-up Jesus, or Teenage Jesus, or Bearded Jesus or whoever you want."

He later continues, "Dear Tiny Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers with your tiny, little fat balled up fists..."

The funniest thing about this prayer to me is the truth in it. The first time I saw it, I thought "now that could preach."

You see, most people are most comfortable with the "Christmas Jesus" laying in a manger, cooing adorably. That Jesus is heart-warming and sweet.

Few people like to envision Jesus as the God-man who overturned market tables, furious that His temple had been converted into a marketplace of thieves. They don't like the thought of a bloody and beaten Jesus hanging on the cross. And the image of Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father, with immeasurable power and authority doesn't necessarily invoke warm and fuzzy feelings.

But if we're going to pray to Jesus, walk with Jesus, live for Jesus, we've got to embrace not only the baby Jesus in a manger in golden fleece diapers, but the grown-up Jesus in all His glory and majesty.

This Christmas, don't leave Jesus in the manger. Please, friends, remember that dear Baby Jesus grew up.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Connecticut School Shooting: What Can You and I Do?

Most of you have heard the news already.

A young man of about 24 entered an elementary school in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut and killed 26 people. I've heard that twenty of those people were mere children.

As the news drones on and on and the facts stack up about this heinous crime, many of us are dumbfounded. How could someone enter a school and randomly kill so many young, innocent children? Why didn't someone see this coming? And what can we do to prevent another massacre like this one?

Well, I don't have any answers to these questions. But I do want to share what I plan to do in the midst of this national tragedy.

Look Up

At times like this, no one has any real answers. We debate about gun control and the government setting the example for the rest of the world by getting along. We stress that we've got to be more vigilant about stressing mental healthcare for our family and friends.

But really there are no answers.

So, at this time I'm looking up. Looking up to the One that's omniscient (all-knowing) and has all the answers -- even the answers He chooses not to share with me. Even in times like this, He gives me comfort and assurance. He's still the King of Kings. He's still sovereign. And He's still in control.

Look Out

In this time of tragedy, I find myself focusing a lot less on myself and my life. My problems seem ridiculously miniscule compared to what others have suffered today. Compassion and empathy rule my heart. I think of how the mothers of those sweet children that passed away must feel. And it brings me to tears.

Looking out also brings me to my knees in prayer -- prayer for the victims' loved ones, prayer for New Town, Connecticut, prayer for this country. And in prayer I thank God for a day when there will be no more death, no more pain, no more suffering. I thank God for heaven, where little children won't be in danger of being shot down by an evil gunman.

I thank God that faith in Christ can give me this hope for a better day.

Have you found this hope in the Son?

Look In

Today, I've remembered to look into the faces of my own children and be grateful. I'm so thankful for my children with their rambunctious, imperfect selves. I'm thankful that three of them went to school today and returned home -- safe and unharmed. I am thankful for my husband, a great provider and protector and lover of God.

I look within my own home, and instead of scorning or correcting every flaw I see, I am simply grateful.