Thursday, November 22, 2012

Adoption - The Rest of My Brother Story

As usual, when I write a post in which I feel I am completely undressing my heart publicly, I get an overwhelming response.  And I am undone.  Again and again.  His grace and His glory shine in the  vulnerable places...

Some of you would like to know more of the adoption story because you're on your own journey of Big Questions.  I will gladly share more of mine!

This little-brother-by-choice went off on his own.  He sought and found his birth mother, but that didn't work out in a way that anyone desired.  Understandably.  I grieved that she would feel she had failed her son twice.  I wish I could find her and tell her about grace.

We rarely knew where he was.  The nature of his disability is that it's very hard for him to hold down a job or function as a normal adult so he lives a transient life.  Because he's quite childlike, he's easily led.  This got him into trouble before and was the thing I dreaded most--that and the possibility he might be preyed upon by perverts.

Many nights I would lie awake and wonder where he was.  Alive or dead?  Hungry?  Safe?  I remember one night in particular...I could not sleep and tried to lift all my anxious thoughts in prayer.  I imagine that it reached the Father's ears in a cacophony of anxiety and fear mixed with genuine love.  I'm so grateful that He blows away the chaff of unbelief and gets to the heart of the longing.

The next day I got a phone call from my brother.  He was so excited to tell me how he'd been hitch-hiking in the middle of the night (that didn't calm my anxiety one bit!) and how the soles of his boots had fallen off and he was walking barefoot.  A trucker stopped to pick him up (my unbelieving heart leaped in fear again).  This trucker took him to a store (in the middle of the night?) and bought him new boots and a warm jacket.  Then he took him to KFC for a hot meal.  According to my brother, this man then "disappeared".  He was so excited about his new coat and boots--he hadn't a second thought for the mystery.  I could barely breathe and I certainly couldn't contain the flow of tears.  Man or angel, I know not.  This I do know:  my Father heard my prayers and He really, really wanted me to know that my love is but a drop in the ocean of His compassion!  I can trust Him to care for and watch over my broken brother.

I had a lot more peace about him after this.  My prayers held more faith and less fear.  I'm also very grateful that he calls from time-to-time.  Someone lets him use their phone to call and I get to hear his voice and have a general idea of his location.

In the summer of 2008 we were holidaying in the area where he was living.  I knew he had a job as a dishwasher in a road house.  I prayed he would call and he did so we made a plan to connect.  I wasn't absolutely sure he'd be there, but as we pulled into a dusty parking lot by a derelict road house, I saw a fellow that must be my brother.  He ran sobbing into my arms.  The emaciated, toothless, unwashed body held the heart of my little-boy brother seeking comfort.  Our tears mingled and that dusty corner became holy ground while my kids looked on in wonder.

We broke bread together in the road house.  A surreal experience.  It was a place unlike any other in which I'd ever eaten--I felt as though we were literally glowing in the dark.  I tried to absorb the fact that this man was the brother I hadn't seen for eighteen years.  All the while being mother to three kids who were trying to sort out this experience.  Was this man who looked unlike any they'd ever met really their uncle?  Why didn't he have teeth?  They tried to be polite and look away when he laughed in all the wrong places and talked way too loudly, but mostly they stared.  And he was delighted!  Delighted to be hosting his family.  He wanted to tell everyone I was his sister and he was an uncle and...and my heart ached because we all need to belong to somebody.

He was especially proud to introduce me to one of the waitresses.  Her face and her eyes were far older than her years.  She was tough, yet when she looked at my brother there was a motherly tenderness.  As she refilled my coffee cup, she rasped into my ear that she was happy to meet me and that I shouldn't worry as she was looking out for him.  I stopped to hug her long and hard when I left.

I could hardly stand to leave.  I longed to fatten him, put him in a shower, give him clean clothes...but he'd refused that kind of help.  I had to let go, recognize that I am not his rescuer.  Place him in the hands of my Father.  Trust.  And give thanks for mysterious truck drivers, crusty waitresses, "some guy" who's letting him stay in a cabin, for the knack he has with small engines, for a welfare system that does help those who simply cannot, for random phone calls, and most of all for a Father who never abandons the helpless.

Father to the fatherless,
defender of widows--
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Psalm 68:5-6

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I was five when a baby boy was delivered to our door and I became big sister again.  I remember that day--so much excitement for a little girl.  I'd enjoyed our visits with the social worker and tried hard to appear the kind of girl that would make a good big sister.  Apparently, I had succeeded and now this squalling bundle was ours.  To keep!  He was ours and we were his.

Squall, he did!  A lot. There were some nasty marks on his little body too, not placed by love.  Everything about him called my fledgling feminine heart to nurture.  I loved him fiercely.  Surely enough loving nurture would heal it all.  That's what they told families in the early '70s.  Treat him like you treat your own and all will be well.

Of course, it became obvious before too long that this wasn't quite true--what could you do but keep on trying?   It was almost twenty years before adoption records were opened, testing done, and we learned new words like "fetal alcohol syndrome".  Too late for much intervention; small comfort that there was an explanation.

Now this boy was a man though his body contained a mind that had not properly developed to adulthood.  He carried our family name--a rare and unusual name in Canada--out into the world...and into the news.  The day I received the news was the only time in my life that I have literally wailed in anguish of heart.  I could not hold it in though others tried desperately to shush me.  All the years of trying.  All the grief over a child who didn't choose, but had a teen barely old enough to manage her own life devastate his with drug use. The pain had multiplied, reaching out to ravage others.

I was also ashamed.  That name in the news?  It was my name.  I was ashamed and at the same time ashamed of being ashamed.  My brave parents had bestowed their good name on a child in an act of love and it had been tarnished.  Rather publicly.  

I never think of this without thinking of the Good Name I've been given.  The Name that is above all names, granted to me with reckless abandon, without hesitation, with a furious love.  He adopted me, He chose me, and made me His own.  I am a child of God and I wear the name Christian.

This too has been awkward, as it associates me with those who claim the same name, but have used it to wreak war, havoc, and judgement.  I've barely done the name justice...  If He was unafraid to share His good name with the likes of me, what shall I do with it?  

Boldly declare that He is a God of fantastic love that embraces the weak and imperfect...  

Humbly extend the grace of His love that can never be earned, but is generously given...

Pray for those wounded by lies about His beautiful character...  

Seek opportunities to repair the breach. .. 

Be consumed by that Love.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. 
Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. 
Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1

I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Joyful Liberator

It's the Day for Remembering...our annual pause to seriously focus on honouring those who have given their lives for our freedom.  

Once again I tell my favourite story of the day my father's village was liberated, of handsome Canadian soldiers, and joyful freedom dancing in the streets.  I want my kids to know.  It's their story.  I want them to pass it on to their kids.  They need to know that at one time their ancestors were captives and that others paid the ultimate sacrifice to bring freedom.  The life they enjoy today was purchased at great cost by others.  

The story segues easily into the ultimate liberation story.  We who were once captives have had our freedom purchased by One who lived in perfect glory but willingly gave up paradise to live among us and ultimately die so that we can live.

He did so willing.  "Because of the joy awaiting Him."  

I used to think this "joy awaiting" was the privilege of being seated at the right hand of the Father.  But He'd already been with the Father.  He didn't need to endure the cross to gain that. 

I think the joy awaiting Him was the joy of seeing you and I set free!  His death on the cross purchased healing for the broken hearted...liberty for captives...prisoners set for those who for ashes...  

Anticipation of all that redemption was enough to make him "disregard the shame of the cross."  It was nothing to Him in comparison to the joy of seeing you and I set free from the chains that bind us.

He loves you so much!  He wants to you be free from anxiety, shame, the weariness of carrying overwhelming burdens.  He is your joyful liberator.  Your freedom is worth everything to much that a hideous death was nothing in comparison.  

Reach for it.  Receive it.  Savour the freedom.  Worship.

 But now, by giving himself completely at the cross, 
actually dying for you, 
Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, 
whole and holy in his presence.
Colossians 1:22 MSG

Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah  61:1-3