Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Be still and know that I am God..

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What does it mean to be truly still? I have never been very good at calming down and sitting still. Even as a child, I never wanted to sit still in fear that I may miss something important. Now that I'm an adult, even in my busiest times when all I want is a break, I don't know how to stop. I feel like there's always something to do: an email to send, a phone call to make, a dinner to prepare, a load of laundry to be done, or a bill to pay. Even the times when I think I'm resting, my mind is still going a million thoughts per second. I know being still doesn't just mean physically. It is so much deeper than that. It means resting in who God is. When we realize who God is it changes our whole perspective. When we are truly still, God speaks. When we are truly still, God moves. When we are truly still, powerful things happen because it is in that stillness that we realize, God is God and we are not.

He is calling us to Himself. Rest in who He is today.

Lyndsey Williams, Kentucky Case Worker

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Summit VIII


Lifeline will be sending several members of our staff to the eighth annual Summit conference in just a couple of months!  This is a wonderful orphan care conference and we are honored to be apart once again.  It is an incredible opportunity to gather together with others who are passionate about bringing hope to orphans and also love our great God.  Summit: inspires, equips and connects for adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry.

This year's conference is held on May 3-4 at Saddleback Church in Southern California. For more information on how to attend and what Summit is all about, visit the Summit Website. Participation is open to anyone who hears God's calling to care for the orphan.  We hope to see you there!

Monday, March 26, 2012

What I Have Learned

My sweet friend Tera Melber, who is a friend of Lifeline, wrote this blog post on  the airplane on her way home from Ethiopia with their new precious son.  I wanted to share it with you!  May her words speak to you as they did to me.  

Lesley Scott, Kentucky State Director

"What I Have Learned":

This is what I have learned, not what I have mastered. I am utterly helpless. I could not blink without God causing me to blink. I couldn't take one breath of air without Him opening my lungs and filling them with the oxygen that He has provided. I am utterly unworthy. I am not worhty of being born in America to parents who love me. Not worthy of being introduced at a young age to the Gospel. Not worthy to be married to a strong, faithful, God-fearing man who loves me and cares for me. Not worthy of being a mom to six incredible kids; all who are so different with such different stories, hopes, and dreams. Right now, I sing in my heart, the old hymn....I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder why He would love me, a sinner, condemned, marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever sing, is my Savior's love for me.

This week we have watched God's hand guide every aspect of our journey. Lots of travel troubles, UGH. Through it all, when I would feel anxiety welling up in my heart, I would hear Him asking me, Do you trust me? Do you really mean all the things you say to everyone else? Do you trust me to work out circumstances according to My plan, not yours? Do you recognize that you are not in control? Over and over, I know that He was and is telling me that in good or bad I must choose to trust that this journey is HIS. This journey of the life that He has planned and intended. I don't always react the ways I should to difficulties.  I still get very anxious, want to control situations and people, but honestly....deep within my soul, I do trust Him. I may not like the plan, but I trust that He has ALL worked out. I'm on a plane right now on our last leg home from bringing home our boy. We are surprising the other 5 kids with an early flight home. Soon we will be the eight of us. Our boy is sleeping peacefully. He fully trusts us as his parents. We know where he is going. We know what is in store of the other end of this plane ride. We had a plan to bring him home. Everywhere we've led him, he has willingly gone with a smile on his face, hand held out to take ours. Fully trusting. May I be the same with my Heavenly Father who has the plan."

Psalm 34:8-11
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Tera Melber

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Climate of Endless Possibilities

Having joined Lifeline just months ago, I was ushered into a place that held many unknowns for me. Though my husband and I walked through his adoption of our two oldest daughters, and my heart has always desired to adopt a sibling group into our family, what I’ve experienced in the adoption world in comparison to Lifeline’s range of outreach is only the tip of the iceberg.
I would expect to become moved– as I have – by the many ways that Lifeline has reached out to the needs of the orphan, provided safety and rescue to those involved in human trafficking. I would expect to become thankful that such an organization makes it their ministry to continue to provide education for individuals to make a better life for themselves and their children. I would expect to be amazed at the dedication of the staff as they have reached out to birthmothers who long to place their baby into a loving adoptive family, meeting the heart cry of adoptive parents all over the United States. 
What I didn’t expect was the way that the small things that seemingly slip “under the radar” so to speak, have made the most profound influence on my life and have become HUGE in the grand scheme of a day.  Small things become huge very quickly, such as a simple blog about a family who has held their long awaited child in their arms for the first time.  Small things – a simple prayer in the morning becomes an outpouring of love by staff members for a family in need.  Small things – the way detailed communication can embrace an otherwise frustrated situation and bring a peace and hope that have never been known before. Small things – the way that the tedious things we do each day can be used to create amazing, redemptive stories and meet big dreams with hope, love, and the gift of a new start for so many.
Lifeline, from the ground up, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, is striving to bring hope and the light of God’s provision to the orphan, the poverty stricken, the abused and neglected, the uneducated, and those who feel they have no hope and no future.  This ministry fulfills on a daily basis Christ’s desire to meet the needs of those in need everywhere with compassion, hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us the hope that God has for us… "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future  New Living Translation (©2007). Lifeline’s willingness to minister and meet the needs of those less fortunate, brings a climate of endless possibilities and allows us to reach out all over the world to people of all ages.
Ursula Wright, Georgia Case Worker and Birth Mother Counselor

Monday, March 19, 2012

You are the defender of orphans..

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I was reminded of these truths when reading in Psalm 10 recently:  You are the defender/helper of orphans” and “You will bring justice to the orphans”.

What a comforting reminder!  I have seen His faithfulness to this promise, and yet, how easy it is to forget when faced with a challenging or discouraging situation.  How easy it is to stress and fret instead of trusting in the Lord’s promises.  HE is the defender and the helper of orphans.  HE is the one who brings them justice.   All we have to do is be faithful to follow the Lord’s leadings and guidance, and then it is our responsibility to surrender the rest into His faithful hands and receive His peace.  We are called to trust Him to keep His promises and to fulfill them in the way that He knows is best.  His ways are higher than our ways, and His timing is quite often not our timing.  But He is always good.  He is always in control.  He is always faithful. 

Michelle Joy O'Malley, Georgia Social Worker

Friday, March 16, 2012

An Unexpected Gift

I am sometimes caught off guard by the grace extended to me by my own children.  Recently, when I realized I had been a bit harsh with my eleven year-old over some minor offense, I returned to her room to ask for her forgiveness.  Her response was unexpectedly gracious and convicting.  After I issued my apology, she, without hesitating, said “Of course I forgive you.  There’s no way that I won’t forgive you after Jesus forgave me!”   To put this into perspective, this came from the same little girl who, almost nine years ago, entered our lives through the foster care system.  At that time, I suppose there was a part of me that believed we were a gift to her.  However, watching God shape her heart and character has been the true gift of her adoption. 

Traci Newell, Education Coordinator

Thursday, March 15, 2012

He Shares Our Burdens

With a heavy heart I sit to write this.  I have tried to think about something else that I could write yet my mind has been consumed by a few very specific thoughts, so please bear with me as I share from my heart.  Last week, one of my husband’s very best friends took his own life.  This was extraordinarily unexpected and has been the most significant loss my husband has ever dealt with.  His friend had an infectious personality that everyone instantly loved; he was a phenomenal musician, an avid fisherman, a talented photographer, and worked as a videographer for the discovery channel.  A very gifted and talented creation by God who, unbeknownst to even his closet friends, was apparently hurting deeply (As a side note from the counselor in me, depression is a very real and scary thing where Satan can captivate your every thought and lie to your innermost being.  Please, I beg you, seek help if this is a personal struggle of yours or if you know someone who is struggling!  Satan wants to rob you of your joy.).

            Over the past few days, I have thought a lot about how God created us to be relational beings.  God designed us all to have a deep connection with Him and to have a deep connection with others.  God designed us to walk through this life with other people, to share the ups and downs of life together.  Since I got married almost 4 years ago, there have not been many real “downs” that we have encountered as a couple.  The death of this friend has been the largest challenge thus far, but it allowed me to love and support my husband on a different level than I ever had before.  This was the kind of love where I took on his burden with him.  I wept with him, I wept for him (unfortunately at work one day), I hurt because he was hurting, my heart broke because of the pain he was experiencing from losing such a dear person to him.  My whole self ached on his behalf.  This is the kind of closeness, the kind of connection and relationship that God grants to us, and we serve a Lord who shares our burdens and shares in our suffering too. 

            It seems to me that our deepest joy, as well as, our deepest pain in life comes within the context of relationships.  We are designed to have lasting relationships with people and to not be isolated, so what about the orphans around the world?  Those who lack the relational depth that so many of us take for granted.  Satan and the world lie to them, telling them that they are isolated and that they are not loved.  God commands us to care for these children, to bring them into our families, not just through adoption but to bring them into the family of God, which supersedes any blood relation.  In the midst of tragedy there is still hope, hope that one day death will not have power over us, and children will no longer be orphaned, pain and suffering will be no more, and we as followers of Christ will stand as one large family worshiping the Lord forever. But until then, let’s love deeply, as if every day were our last—and let’s live life together in community, without regrets, and sharing fully the struggles and joys of our hearts.

Whitney White, International Education Counselor

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't Forget Who I Am

{The Hord Family}
We have not been one of those couples who had to have their arm twisted by the Lord to get us to adopt.  It is something that we always wanted to do, something that we have delighted to do.  Growing up with three adopted siblings made adoption seem beautifully normal to me.   When our oldest son came home through adoption several years ago, it did not fulfill our call to adopt but only deepened it.  My husband and I anxiously waited for the time when we would be old enough to adopt from China.  

But even with all the excitement, experience and knowledge that this is what God had for our lives, there have still been times of relentless fear.   I did not expect this process to be such a time of emotional storm. 
I love to read the Jesus Story book Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones to my children.  I often think I get as much out of it as they do.  Close to the beginning of this adoption process, I read the story of Jesus calming the storm.  He does this simply by His word.  He speaks, and the storm obeys.  When the sea has settled back down, Jesus turns to his anxious disciples and asks, “Why were you scared?  Did you forget who I Am?  Did you believe your fears instead of me?” 
Filling out the special needs check list proved to be a much more daunting task than I had anticipated.  I found myself crippled with fear and anxiety over what the Lord might call us to do.   How would our life change?  What if God called us to love a very sick child?  What heartbreak might we have to face? 
When we found out who our little girl would be, all fears instantly vanished over how our life might change when we brought her home.  She was our daughter and we would do whatever it took.  But it is a hard thing to be in love with a child who is so far away from your aching arms.  I can find myself obsessively worrying about her precious little life.  Is she safe? Is she healthy?   Is she getting enough food?  Is anyone kissing her goodnight before she goes to sleep? 
{The Hord's waiting daughter in China}

And, then there has been the plight of the orphan at large, which has burdened me more than it ever has before.  I mean, I have always thought about orphans, but to know that I have a child out there who is being counted among them has been a hard thought to gnaw on.  It has made the countless faces come alive, the ones that I encounter day after day who are still waiting to be claimed by a loving family. Whenever I am in a crowd, I find myself estimating how many people are in the room.  As I sit in church on any given Sunday, the sanctuary feels full with around 300 people inside.  And while this feels like quite a few, there are comparatively over 147 million orphans in the world!  Why do there have to be so many?   How can we ever do enough to help make a difference in their lives?  What can I do with this burden besides feel overwhelmed?   Why do I often forget that these precious children weigh much more heavily on His heart than my own? 
All of these fearful questions have been hard to wrestle with.  I have found myself  ready to just be done with this process so I can get back to life as usual-  easy and comfortable, just thinking about myself and those closest to me.  Consequently, this process has brought to the surface more sin in my life than I ever dreamed it would.  Selfishness, jealousy, anxiety, doubt and impatience and that is just to name a few!  I have spent many days feeling like a spoiled brat who is pouting because I am not getting my way.  How in the world could God love a sinner like me?  How could he not treat me as my sins deserve?   Why is it so hard for me to simply rest in His goodness when He has shown Himself to be so very faithful? 
And so this simple story has replayed over and over again in mind as I have battled against my fear and doubt. Regretfully, I have found myself believing my fears instead of Him.   “Don’t forget who I Am” He whispers:   A great Redeemer (Gal 3:13).  The supplier of our needs (Philippians 4;19).  Our strength and refuge (Psalm 46:1)  Faithful when we are faithless (1 Timothy2:13)   The Bearer of our burdens  (Psalm 68:19) Father to the Fatherless (Psalm 68:5)
And by His Word, He alone can calm the storm.
Jenny Hord, Lifeline Family

Friday, March 9, 2012

Seeking Him

“The desire of the righteous ends only in good…” Proverbs 11:23

We can rest in His presence, knowing that He is in control.  He wants us to seek Him first, and things that matter for His kingdom, and He will make life so fulfilling for us.  We don’t have to chase and wait and pine over things to fulfill us, if we make our life about God, He will fulfill us so much more than ANYTHING we could have EVER attained in our own doing.
He loves giving us good gifts, but desires that nothing come in front of Him.  Let us be reminded today that seeking Him and His way is the most peaceful and rewarding place to be.  Thank you Jesus that You’ve got it!

Sommer Bradshaw, Reunion Couselor

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Come to Me

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16

Last Saturday, my husband and I were in our kitchen and suddenly we heard a loud scream.    We looked outside and a young girl, maybe 12 or 13 was on the ground screaming in pain.  My husband went over and I followed.  She had fallen off a golf cart and hit her head pretty hard on the asphalt.  I sat down next to her and held her hand.  She was saying things like "my head hurts so bad" and "why is this happening?"  I told her to look into my eyes and I looked deeply into her eyes and told her "You're gonna be okay."  When she would acknowledge the pain, I would tell her to squeeze my hand.  She then put her hand back to feel the knot and the surprise of how big it was she began to cry again.  I quickly reassured her by getting her to look into my eyes and telling her again "It's gonna be okay."  She again asked "why is this happening?"  I told her accidents happen and she was gonna be okay.   They lady that she was staying with came and got her and then we went back to our house, but I still haven't gotten this young girl off my mind. 

As I thought of this whole situation, I couldn't help notice the symbolism of Christ to us.  How many times have we had situations where we're screaming to God "why is this happening"  and "it hurts SO bad."  And oh how he gently takes our hand and reminds us that we're going to be okay.  "In this world you will have troubles, but take heart I have overcome the world" John 16:33 He gets us to look into his eyes of perfection and realize that we're okay as long as we're focused on him.  He has us transfer the weight of our pain onto him just as I had that young girl to squeeze my hand.  He also reassures us when we don't know why we're experiencing the pain in our lives.  Something about being the one comforting made me feel a little of what God must feel towards us.  I knew strongly that she was going to be okay and so when I looked in her eyes, I had so much compassion for her as I knew that it hurt so bad and was so scary.  God is there for us, to hold our hand and to reassure us.  He is our refuge in times of trouble and helps us get through the hard times with His compassion and understanding.

Melinda Crouch, Central Alabama Case Worker