Tuesday, September 3, 2013

James 1:27 In Their Distress

 James 1:27 
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

This is verse often used in ministries to orphans, adoption, foster care, widow, the poor who need help not to become an orphan or widow, etc.  AND I believe this verse to include every Christian!   
 It wasn't until Jason and I headed to the Train the Trainer course with Empowered To Connect that Michael Monroe pointed out a part of the verse I had overlooked that made me ponder it since then- several weeks ago now. 

You see many of us have seen the religion that God accepts.....to look after orphans and widows part.  BUT how many of us have looked at the IN THEIR DISTRESS part?  I know I haven't. 
 I mean when we first started fostering (honesty here) we were doing it to eventually have children.  It's true.  It wasn't that we didn't care about the children in foster care and what they faced.  It was the opposite completely.  We cared very much and wanted to make a difference.  Truth be told we didn't realize the depths of the commitment until years later! 
 You see we have children that struggle and I am not talking about typical children growing up and hormones changing or anything like that.  I am talking struggle with their stories, with the day to day life, etc.  Years before I became a blogger mom I thought I must be crazy.  Check that - I knew I was crazy, but I thought I was imagining the fact that my children struggled in a different way than most. 
 I literally thought I was "making it up" or maybe played it off as normal kids growing up stuff because we had no biological children.  So we persevered the same ol' same ol'........but big surprise......it didn't help my children.  It sure didn't help me either (or my hubby - we obviously parent together)! 
 Looking closer at the verse and hearing Michael say it out loud caught my attention- IN THEIR DISTRESS!  What does that look like?  What are the factors?  How can I understand it better?  Where can I go to get help?  How can I help my family understand? 
 It struck me that these are questions that I have found through blogging friends, and articles, and books, but most recently through Empowered To Connect!  You see I have 9 adopted children.  Everyone of them have different "stories", everyone has different personalities, everyone has different ways they handle stress and fears, everyone is completely unique in so many ways. 
 IN THEIR DISTRESS means that we as parents to adopted children have to learn how to serve our children in a whole new way.  In a way that helps them heal and gives them the ability to grow spiritually, physically, and mentally.  IN THEIR DISTRESS means that we have to lay down our lives in a whole new way in order to help our children.  It means that we have to seek God and the Scriptures to find out HOW.   
 Now some people ask- WHY?  I mean is parenting a child who is in foster care or adopted that much different?  Yes and no.  Yes it is different because some (not all) children struggle to a much bigger degree than biological children.  When trauma of losing your first family- even if you were there in the room when they were born- hurts, when the drugs or alcohol in their system makes it hard for them to think in the same way, when the trauma of abuse, neglect, etc. takes over their ability to think things through in the same way then YES! 
 Sometimes it seems as if the reactions of our children catch us off guard and we are just lost- I mean at a complete loss as to what to do.  We may not always understand, but we can help them!  There is a lot of hope and it is for the most precious gift that God blesses you with-your children. 
 I will be talking more about what that looks like, and following up on some of the other questions I listed above, but make no mistake the IN THEIR DISTRESS part is HUGE!  Don't try to overlook it, or play it off.  Don't think it is just you, and no one gets it.  That puts you on an island by yourself.  The struggle is real.  Why else would God mention it? 
 No instead I think it is about time that we ban together as Christians and help uplift each other as we all continue to care for the widow and the orphan IN THEIR DISTRESS
 ***Side notes today's pictures are brought to you by Uskichitto Retreat Center- vacation time.  We used to be the directors at this Christian Camp in Louisiana.  So we went back to visit for a couple of weeks of fun and relaxation! 
 No, I did not go rock climbing this time.  I have in the past, but spent the time chillin' watching my kids, and talking with the David and Martha Mire (and their cute patoot daughter- Rebekah), and Sarah Moore.  Both David and Sarah worked with us while we were there.  Sarah still works for the camp as the assistant, and David is at First United Methodist Church in Alexandria. 
 I have some really gorgeous children! 
 Who happen to have a lot of character and spunk! 
I mean look at this cutie!  Makes helping my children IN THEIR DISTRESS- a wee bit easier ;).