Monday, April 25, 2016

DOUBLE EXPOSURE: The Passover Story and a Revelation of Messiah.

   Last September I wrote in our blog about the Jewish Feasts and why they have taken on a special meaning in our family.  You can read that blog at Why Do We Care?: Why the Jewish Holidays and Feasts are Relevant to Christians.  Today, I want to follow up a little on those feasts and what they mean to our family as well as believers throughout the world.

            Before I talk a little about the Jewish holidays and feasts, I want to say a little bit about God.  Everybody has their ideas of God and who He is and what He is about.  I guess I’m no different.  My experience of God throughout my years is that He is the most loving, patient and concerned being that I have ever met.  In my worst moments in life, those moments when I bowed up my back in rebellion and decided that I knew better than He how to run my life (big mistake BTW), He did not waver from His commitment to me, His love for me and His hand upon me.  That’s how I’ve come to know Him.  That’s why when I pray about decisions now and I don’t get what I want, its okay.  I understand God to have my best interest at heart and accepting that truth is much easier than in my younger days. 

            That said, the ways in which God has spoken to me through the years have been many and as I’m sure it has been for you.  I am convinced that God has gone to great lengths to provide us with snap shots of Himself and there are places in life where these snap shots are like double exposures.  Let me explain.

            I know this is the digital age and I get that we don’t have the problem of double exposure very often.  Some may not even know what I’m talking about.  But back in the day we used to take pictures, rush down to the drug store where the film would be processed and then an hour later we would return to retrieve our pictures.  It was not unusual to flip through the pictures and find some of the film was what was called “double exposed”.  Basically Double Exposure occurred when 2 separate pictures became superimposed on one another telling two stories simultaneously.  In most cases, one picture was more prominent and made its way to the forefront of perception while the other picture was somehow relegated to the background.  Like these pics that were double exposed, the Jewish Feasts and Holidays are God’s double exposure.  In the foreground, we have the Jewish story and tradition running.  In the background, a second picture tells of the Messiah and the Heavenly Father (remember Jesus said if you’ve seen him you’ve seen the Father)!  

            One of the most spectacular double exposure pictures occurs in the Passover story.  The Passover story is about the Hebrew nation being set free from 400 years of slavery and suffering.  But emancipation from slavery is not the only story here.  It is a story of rejection and broken relationship that includes a plan for God to repair and restore the relationship. The plan was the quintessential Father’s heart in action.  God and Abraham entered into a covenant whereby God promised this old man that he would be the father of a great nation.  Abraham wouldn’t see it on earth but he saw it in his spirit and he believed God.  The story proceeds to tell of a famine that forced Abraham’s offspring, later renamed Israel, to live in Egypt whereby they could be fed.  Israel became overrun with blessing and multiplied to the point that the Pharoah’s power base was threatened so he ordered them into slavery. 

            Fast forward 400 years.  So much oppression, intense labor, denigration of the Jews and suffering have become the modus operandi.  The prayers and cries of the Jewish people have mounted and God finally intervenes with a “savior”.  His name is Moses and 10 awful plagues later the children of Israel, the progenies of Abraham, are summoned in the middle of the night and walk out of Egypt as free men, women and children.  A miracle of God and one incredible story that has been told for centuries!

            Now look again.  If you look closely enough, you’ll see a second photo pasted in the background.  Yes, Passover is the celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from tyranny and slavery.  It is also the story of God guiding this incredible nation into a land that He reserved for them.  Passover remembers the tears of heartache (the salt water), the bitterness of slavery and suffering (the bitter herbs) and the intense labor inflicted in slavery (the cheroset apples, walnuts and red wine).  But it is also a revelation of God’s motivation to restore a broken relationship with all mankind and His plan to send a Messiah, through the seed of Abraham, that all might live free throughout eternity. 

            The story of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), like the background photo in a double exposure film, runs constantly throughout Passover.  Here are some of those images:

·       FOREGROUND: The promise of timeless covenant with Abraham
            BACKGROUND: The promise to create a people unto Himself for all eternity
·       FOREGROUND: The fall of nation into slavery
            BACKGROUND:  The fall of man into the suffering of life without God
·       FOREGROUND: The emergence of a deliverer – Moses
            BACKGROUND:  The emergence of a deliverer – Jesus the Messiah
·       FOREGROUND: The sacrificial blood of a lamb applied to the doorpost that causes judgment to pass over
            BACKGROUND:  The sacrificial blood of the Lamb applied by faith to the heart, Jesus that allows judgment to be lifted from our lives
·       FOREGROUND: The journey to Israel was led by God
            BACKGROUND:The journey to heaven is led by God through His Spirit
·       FOREGROUND: The Promised Land to the Jews, that is the land of Israel (hasn’t changed by the way!)
            BACKGROUND: The promised land to whosoever would believe, that is heaven.

These are just a few of the double exposed images.  The more you look at the details, the clearer the double exposure becomes.  The Passover was a dress rehearsal of sorts.  It was revealing what was and is to come.  It was speaking not just of a nation being set free from tyrannical rule but an entire kingdom of people being set free from oppression to live in freedom and to do that throughout all eternity. 

This is why we get excited about the Jewish holidays.  Its like your spouse leaving notes around the house reminding you of their love and commitment to you: the double exposures found in the Jewish feasts and holidays are like God’s love notes reminding us of how much He loves us!

Its not just Passover.  On June 12th, 50 days after Passover, we will celebrate Pentecost.  Be looking for my next blog post around then as I discuss the Double Exposure of Pentecost. 

M. Russell Thomas, PhD

Friday, January 1, 2016


I wanted to share a few thoughts as we shut the books on 2015.  I have heard many of us (both in the family and our friends) say that 2015 was a rough year and they are glad to get through it.  I have to admit, I have had similar feelings.  2015 will go down in the annals of odd.  Words like excitement, disappointment, faith, doubt, loving embrace, emptiness…I could go on but all these words describe 2015.  We've noticed several people posting to their facebook pages in recent days how that 2015 was a difficult year.  It was not all bad. Rather, the good somehow seemed to be constantly followed by the bad.  

It was a real paradox and particularly so for those of us who live by faith.  After getting excited about adding 2 little ones to our clan this year it all came to a grinding halt in February and it didn't happen.  Some would say it was for the best but our emotions didn't necessarily agree.  Excitement followed by disappointment.  We continue to wonder about that one.  

We made 2 wonderful additions to our family this year via marriage.  Karen & I labored to prepare for the March wedding only to have a complete gully washer of a day.  I was bent out of shape and disappointed.  Everyone else just seemed to just go with it and that helped me temper my emotions.  And of course, 2015 made us all say goodbye to someone special and whom we miss terribly.  I was 100% convinced, as many of you were, that we wouldn't see that day.  It still makes no sense and can't be explained to satisfaction. Excitement followed by extreme disappointment.  

In 2015 questions have been followed not with answers but invitation.  "Will you trust?" are the words that continuously pound in the deep places within.  Trust, did you say?  It's too risky and the safer way is to look after your own well-being.  But trust is not an attribute, its a choice.  And this isn't some mega church preacher begging for money.  Its not give and you'll get.  Its a personal invitation, issued by a personal God followed by a personal choice.  Its a question whispered quietly in your heart but somehow cuts through all the noise of life and those hyper drive emotions that scream when life is unexplained.

And looking outside of our own little worlds it doesn’t get any better.  "Where are you Lord?" is the tempting prayer of the day.  "Why are your children, literally children, being beheaded, stabbed and raped?"  I read this morning in Revelation 6 the same question.  After the Lamb breaks open the fifth seal and there are those underneath the altar who have been martyred for their faith their question was the same...“How long [i.e., where are you?, i.e., why?]?”  It is our question too.  “How long, Oh, Lord?”  How long will it be until life settles down?  How long will it be before people can just get along?  How long before You fix all this stuff and life stabilizes?  How long will it be before my wounded heart heals and life feels right again?"  

I hate to say it, but the answer is one I don't like:  "they were told to wait a little longer..." So that was 2015!  Wait a little while longer and it will make sense, feel better, and the blessing will flow again.  In the meantime, the times demand a faith, that just like the scripture says, goes well beyond our sight and even our ability to understand.  It is a faith that tries to take it all in but when the dust clears invites us to believe without understanding the full picture.  You can call it good or you can call it bad…and you’d be right!  But in the end, the question doesn’t change.  "Will we trust?" 

I thank God everyday for each and everyone of you.  I pray for each of you often that you'd be blessed beyond your wildest dreams.  Say what you will, but 2015 brought us all closer to each other and that goes a long way to calming the inward parts that are uncertain.  My prayer is that we will continue to draw from one another's strengths and press on to those things that God has placed in our hearts to do.  Our strength is in our unity and our ability to encourage one another.  And lest I be accused of preaching now, I will stop there and say goodbye to 2015 and we look forward to great things in 2016!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why Do We Care?: Why the Jewish Holidays and Feasts are Relevant to Christians.

Galatians 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Galatians 3:29.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.                                              

Sometimes when you receive a blessing, particularly when it excites you in the deeper parts of your being, you want to share it with others...think the dude in Acts 3 who had never walked and then received the gift of ambulation.  The guy was pretty excited to share that with others as he went "walking and leaping" all about the church building!  A few years ago Karen & I began to feel something.  It was a nudge our hearts and an interest in our minds that began to connect the dots between what we knew as Christians and the foundation of our faith, and Judaism.  Along our journey and as we have attempted to express what we were learning, others have perhaps thought us either crazy or coming under the legalism of the Old Testament law. While I won't argue the crazy part, we do take exception to the legalism and we'll try to explain why.  Admittedly we have probably been guilty at times of letting our zeal outweigh our knowledge with the end result being obnoxious but the time has come to share the wonderful blessings that are found in understanding our Jewish roots.  The blessing lies in understanding that everything that we've been taught through the years within our Christian heritage comes into a much greater focus and takes on a new life and enthusiasm as we understand that everything we've done and taught as Christians has its prophetic underpinnings in Jewish tradition and practice.  

To begin to understand the connection between Judaism and our Christian faith one only needs to understand one thing:  Jesus was a Jew.  He lived as a Jew, practiced Jewish law and custom and even said that He had no intention or purpose to abolish the law (Matt 5:17).  One of the most unfortunate teachings that ever came into this world is that of "Replacement Theology".  That is, that Jesus did away with the idea of a Jewish nation unto Himself and that this nation was replaced by the New Testament church.  This is a dangerous teaching and totally ignores almost all prophetic words about the times in which we now live, i.e., getting closer to the coming of the Messiah.  

It is dangerous because it is backwards.  Paul talks about this in Galatians 3  when he speaks of  the promises of Abraham, that promise being that his offspring would be as many as the stars in the heavens and the sands of the sea and share in the blessings of God.  Lest we stop there and conclude that Paul is referring to those who are born again, consider what he said in Romans 11:  "Did God reject His people? [the offspring of Abraham].  By no means!"  What am I trying to say here?  God in no way, shape or form has rejected His people, that is, the literal offspring of Abraham which is Israel.  No, no, no! Quite the opposition!  God grafted us [Gentiles] into that deal not the other way around!  As Jesus stated, He didn't come to do away with it but to complete it.  Let me explain a little further exactly what God did for us [Gentiles].

I don't think that Karen and I ever fully understood this truth and exactly what God did when we got saved until we adopted.  In 2010 when we adopted, we already shared 6 wonderful children.  They carried our blood in their DNA.  They were ours and legally, everything that was ours is available to them  inheritance.  Our children were heirs to our stuff!  That included our estate but it also included our heritage.  They would not escape the Phillips disease (i.e., laughing uncontrollably about rather trite and trivial things), admonitions to "don't speak oppression [things that aren't consistent with God's word]", "swallow the frog [when dining in another home and you don't like what they serve!]", communion and yes, now family dinners on the farm.  Our children inherited all this stuff for better or worse.

But what about our adopted children?  Prior to 2010 they weren't part of the deal.  They wouldn't inherit a dime of ours, knew nothing about Phillips disease, never knew about swallowing a frog (at least as far as we taught it!), communion, family values, or family dinners on the farm.  They were outsiders drifting to their own winds [or in their case, DSS winds].  But then one day we found them and they were grafted in.  We initiated their grafting and we made it possible (just like God did for us through Jesus).  All of a sudden, they became of legal, equal status with our other children, i.e., they became heirs  through Russell & Karen Thomas, to everything that was ours to give them!  They became participants in our family and began to inherit all that our family has.  But what about our biological children?  Did we replace our other children who came through our loins with these new, grafted children?  Absolutely not!  Did our other children somehow loose their place in our family, life and "kingdom"?  To quote Paul, "By no means!"  They all share in our heritage now and they all receive the benefits of our "kingdom" and they all will share in things to come in our family.

There is one more question to answer in regards to this adoptive process:   Did we, Russell & Karen, throw away all the family roots and foundations that we had built through the years with our "natural" children at the point in which we adopted the new children?  Of course not!  We still pray with them, laugh with them, hug them, correct them, have cookouts at the fire pit and do all the foundational things that we have valued and practiced in order to build a strong family.  So here's the clincher:  why would we think that when we Gentiles got saved, i.e., grafted into the Kingdom of God with the blessings and promises that He made to Abraham and that materialized in Jesus, that God would throw away all those foundational things that He had built His family on for centuries?  The answer:   HE DIDN"T!  Again, consider Matthew 5.   He came to fulfill not abolish [put an end it, annul, make void] the law!  It was never Jesus' intention to make the law go away!

So there's the foundation for observing the fundamental elements of our faith found in Jewish law, custom, holidays and feasts.  They are the foundational truths and practices of the family so to speak.  Jesus certainly altered the deal and gave a new perspective to the law.  Why didn't He just say, 

"Ok, guys.  Here's the deal.  The old stuff, well, it wasn't working too good.  You guys just can't get it right and well, quite frankly the Father would have to send the whole bunch of ya to hell if we go by that stuff.  So we worked out a new deal.  Just forget all that stuff.  Here's the new deal".  

The reason lies in the mystery.  Paul talked about Romans 11:25 when he said,

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.              

and again in Ephesians 3:6

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.     

Debate as we will, but I don't see anything here that says God did away with anything.  No, the idea is much more along the adoption lines (also see Romans 8:16) and that now all of us kids, Jews & Gentiles, share in the promised blessings of Abraham!

So by now your seeing the connection and the truth that we are in this thing with the Jews not instead of the Jews, but why celebrate the Jewish feasts and holidays?  Isn't that legalism and the law that nobody can live by?  The answer:  it depends.  If one is holding the feasts and holidays thinking that they will somehow save them or even somehow position them in greater favor with God, then the answer is yes, that's legalism.  However, if you understand that God, in all His wisdom, set up this entire deal as a way to commune and promote healthy relationship with His creation, then the feasts and holiday celebrations take on a different meaning.  That meaning being, that they become events that remove us from the usual cares and concerns of everyday life and place us in an environment with God where we can enjoy His presence.  If you've ever done anything with your family, like 4th of July cookout, a Birthday dinner, or even attend church, then you understand this principle.  It is a time to be together, share life and in some cases, learn what the patriarchs are planning in the future....think, When are we doing reunion next yearWhen are we drawing names for Christmas? or on another level, I need to let you guys know what will happen should the Lord take me home".  The feasts are simply a revelation of Jesus and a reflection of the mystery.  They are the foundations of the family and to not participate in them is to miss an opportunity to understand what's going on in the family.

There you have it.  Long-winded I know and I apologize for that.  But that's why we observe the feasts each year.  I look forward more and more to these special times.  For those who might be reading this and wonder what the feasts are and when they happen, I will posting again in the next few days specifically about the spring feasts and the fall feasts.  In the meantime, L'Shanah Tovah Tekatevu...May you be inscribed for a good year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Since Karen & I adopted our boys in 2010, we have become keenly aware of the core of God's heart and love that He expresses through adoption.  After all, when it comes to the Kingdom of Heaven, we all got grafted in! (see Romans 8).   So many times now as I read scripture, I see the miracle of adoption playing out.  Today, I noticed something.  In Matthew 21, The Complete Jewish Bible uses the word trust where all my life I have heard the word faith...if you have faith you can ask what you will vs. you can ask what you will provided you have trust (vs 21).  This seems to put a slightly different slant on the deal.  It moves it from a much broader concept of faith to a much more relational idea of trust.  I can't always wrap my cerebral processes around the notion of faith but now trust is a different story.  We are confronted with this issue virtually every day.  Who can be trusted?  Can we trust what our clients are telling us or what the preacher is saying or the government or the media?  Recently, while watching a post-game interview with a well-known college basketball coach, I was surprised when the commentator asked him what was the most important thing to instill in his players.  Without hesitation he replied, "Trust!"  The issue of trust is all around us and it is a relationship issue.
In Matthew 21, Jesus' words challenge a man or woman with a somewhat camouflaged message, “Do you trust me?”  Its a question that takes me to the single most important issue with of our adopted children.  We have asked the question constantly for the past 4 years:  will you trust us?  Unfortunately, our children came to us trusting no one but themselves.  If you've ever adopted my guess is the light bulb just came on and I've caught your attention.  You know what I'm talking about and you're near-desperate to see if I have any answers.  It is amazing how quickly a child learns that the world is not worthy of their trust.  It is equally amazing how deeply this belief resides within the thought processes and behavior of these children. 
“I must take care of myself” is more than an idea, it is a mandate that is seared into the mind and heart designed to insulate against all meaningful attachments to others.  And by meaningful I mean “in any type of trusting way”.  Positive attachment is built on trust and without it relationships are simply a way to get what I want in this world.  Never mind consequences because after all, relationships only exist to give me what I want. 
But trust is a much bigger problem that strikes at the very essence of relationships including our relationship with God.  To not trust sends us on our way to do our own thing… “misbehave” if you will.  It leads to sin which is, in essence, man’s way of saying “I’ll do it my way”.  The process reminds me of our experience with our grafted children and many stories that I have read about others who have adopted.  Jesus understood this dynamic well.  His teaching in Matthew 21 is easily misunderstood as an invitation to make out your "Christmas list", give it to the Man Upstairs and presto, you got the instant gratification!  But when it doesn’t happen as we thought it should, we conclude that God is not listening and even worse, cannot be trusted.  A second look at Jesus’ words here suggests that it’s the other way around…the trust comes first!  Ohhhhhhhh! ...
  • I’ve got to trust before I ask?  
  • I've got to trust before I attach!  
  • I've got to trust before I receive!  
Jesus offers these words as an invitation to ask but that was only a smoke screen for the real issue:  Will you trust?  Make no mistake about it, Jesus caught our attention with the "and you will receive everything you ask" part.  But then, attention isn’t really what he was looking for …Will you trust when you ask?  

For the past 4 years Karen & I have been asking our children the same question.  They came to us with this not-so-little voice screaming in their heads...
“No!  I will not!  Adults, parents, people are not to be trusted!  I am in this thing for myself!”  
Oh, they don't say it with their words.  They say it when they don't follow house rules that we've gone over with them 40 gazillion times.  They say it when they destroy their toys or property and just like relationships, it doesn't really matter because, well, we'll simply move on to the next one.  They say it when they obsess about, hoard and gorge their food as if they will never be fed again.  Make no mistake about it, Karen and I constantly work to win and establish one simple thing with our grafted children:  trust!  Just like the crowd that was in ear shot of Jesus’ words that day, our younger children are focused on the you will receive everything while missing the "but you must trust" part.  On the surface, its aggravating to feel like you're offering something good over and over and over only to be ignored.  The rejection stings.  But then sometimes it runs through my mind:  I wonder what happened in those days before we got them that generated this level of inability to attach and trust?  Surely therein lies the answer to understanding their overriding skepticism towards everyone in their world.  At other times I retreat to a quiet place where I hear my Heavenly Father whisper in my ear...."I know how you feel, son!"  

Somehow I am strengthened when I realize He was talking about me!  

Until we talk again, I will leave you with this...  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Nation of Good News?

Today we wake up to bad news in this nation.  Its a common thing if you make it a habit to tune into the mainstream news.  One day its Washington politics, another day its the economy.  Seems like somebody is always mad about something.  Today, its Ferguson, Missouri.  But its not just Ferguson.  Its everything that reminds us of our nation's wounds that run so deep and so poignant that it threatens to split this country wide open like a pumpkin dropped off the end of a pickup truck!  People are choosing up sides like a playground pickup game.  It seems that this great nation finds itself with bad news upon bad news.  

But today, I read something that inspired me.  A read about a nation defined not by the latest political scandal or riot or body count or an illness that drives us to the Internet to purchase hazmat suits.  But rather, talk about a nation bearing  "Good News and  healing".  Hey, we need some of that!  I'm in!  I'm tired of all this bickering, finger pointing and chaos.  

So what is this nation of Good News?  Well, here's what I know.  This nation once sent its best representative to us sometime about this time of year. Every once in a while you still see signs and decorations commemorating this representative.  But what about this nation is so good?  Well how about this?  It starts with the fact that everyone is welcome.  Seriously?  Yeah, this nation boasts that "all who will come are welcome".  Its arms are wide open to everyone!  There is no distinction between race, gender, socio-economic status or any other label that keeps us locked into our prides and prejudices and all the anger, malice and angst that go with it.  It is a nation where a man will take a beating before knowingly wronging another and even give up his life if it means that another will live free of tyranny and oppression.  This nation is a place where everything you ever did that was wrong can be forgiven and wiped away.  No more more condemnation.  Its like all those heavy emotional bags that we humans lug around simply fad into obscurity!  It’s a nation whose citizens are loved, cared for and even blessed.  A nation that has its own economy where interest and dividends are guaranteed in direct proportion not to your gathering, but to your giving!  Law and order are its guiding principles while at the same time all citizens of this nation are soaked in grace.  It’s a nation where healing is available and health is promised.  A powerful lion fiercely guards the nation and stands ready to drive back any and all foes who threaten its citizens.   But at the same time it’s a nation so gentle, so kind, so imbued with peace that a lion and a lamb can be found napping together.  Abundance flows in its valleys and fruitful herds roam its countryside.  Wow!  Now that is Good News!  

So where did I find this inspiration this morning?  It was in the Bible in the book of Matthew (4:23).  Jesus is that representative who came not only to tell us about this Good News but to show us this Good News with His very life. He walked about healing the sick, letting the oppressed go free, and declaring innocence to those who were guilty as sin.  Everything He touched found new life and everything He taught inspired others to live the life.  And if that wasn't enough He did something unheard-of-crazy!  Remember that part about the nation where one would even die for the freedoms of another?  Well He did it!.  Jesus offered up His very life in order that each citizen of this nation may flourish.  And in doing so, He made a way that all who chose to believe may have citizenship with all its benefits!

So today, as you read about all that's wrong in this world, remind yourself that there is something left that is Good!  Until we talk again...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One of Those Moments

I've always been drawn to the passage of scripture where Jesus went to the garden to pray the night before "the plan" was to unfold.  Obviously He knew the time and He knew the incredible importance of the moment.  It was a process in full motion that intensified the moment He entered the garden.

There are many aspects of this moment in the garden that speak to me.  But for just a minute, let me focus on a few words He uttered:  "
Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me" (Luke 22:42 Complete Jewish Bible).  Willing?  Why did Jesus say this?  You can't really say that He thought the Father would take Him up on this one.  After all, it was their plan.  No, I think this is a moment that Jesus was having in the process.  Its a process that had become so arduous, so intense, that the soul is exposed and for a brief moment purpose is lost in a forest of overwhelming emotion.  It was a moment, a brief, fleeting moment, where something rose up in Jesus that wished that the whole deal didn't have to be this way.  It is one of the moments that reassures us that Jesus was, in fact, fully man as He carried out His divine mission.

I identify with this type of moment.  Karen & I have had many of them over the past few months.  You've had them too.  Those moments when it just seems overwhelming and something slips out of your soul that wishes for it to all go away.  We have met our "moments" in our current process of adoption.  We have not written much over the past few weeks partly because of technological challenges while in the mid-west and partly because, well, we've had our share of "moments".  But by way of update, I'm going to take a brief minute to let everyone know where we are these days. I supposed all adoptions have their struggles. Ours mostly come in dealing with the system.

Two weeks ago we returned from the mid-west with the 2 new children.  We had to leave a couple of days early after receiving word that Karen's grandmother was struggling to live and may not make it through the night.  After leaving the mid-west we realized that the new children did not know what they were doing with us.  They had not been prepared for who we were and what we were doing in their small town (i.e., they did not know we were there to welcome them into our family and that our plan was to adopt them).  As we got closer to NC it became more apparent that this was a significant issue as the 4 year girl cried herself to sleep each night.  Sometimes this has been better and sometimes worse. 

To give some background, our children have been in the same foster home for 3 years.  We thought this would make their little lives better than children who are moved around from home to home while awaiting adoption.  And while this may be true in some regards, it does not translate into smooth transition for the children. They have only known one "mom" and when that "mom" has told them she will always be their mom the idea of moving on to their permanent family must feel a little more like kidnapping than the love and security of a forever family.  But the truth remains, she chose not to adopt them and for whatever reasons did not  prepare them for being grafted into our family. I could write a book on the things we experienced in dealing with the foster mom but I will save that for another time.

To add to the drama of the transition, no more had we arrived home that we learned that Karen's grandmother had, in fact, passed away.  We returned to the western part of NC to attend the funeral and by the time we did so, 6 of the 8 of us had acquired either cold or flu-like symptoms.  It has not been until the past 3-4 days that we have actually settled into any type of routine.  The routine has been fruitful.  The new children are enjoying themselves and seem to be feeling safe and comfortable here. We have not had tears at night and we have had lots of laughter during the day.


Now is where it gets dicey.  The social workers devised a plan whereby the children would stay with us for a couple of weeks before returning to their previous foster home for a few weeks before coming back to us for a few weeks before returning to their foster home for a few weeks before coming to our home permanently!  Yes, read that last sentence several times.  It says it all!  Just reading the plan will make your head spin!  But that is the plan under which we currently operate.  We've pleaded with the social worker to simply leave them with us but so far to no avail.  Karen & I are sweating great drops of our own, feeling like this plan is a setup for failure and ultimately will lead to incredible mistrust, insecurity and confusion in the children.  After all, broken attachments are tough to heal in a child and we're just going to keep ripping them apart over the next few months?  We really don't have to speculate about the impact of this plan as it has already generated significant confusion, anxiety and frustration in the new children as well as our other children.

But rules are rules, right?  At least that's what we're told.  Forget whether they make sense for the children or not, the paperwork has to be done.  And to some extent I get it but when bureaucracy trumps common sense it doesn't set to well with me and I promise you somebody looses.  In this case, its the children.

So where are we?  Honestly, we're not sure.  We've got at least one child who is lost and confused right now, a system that seems dead set on stamping in insecurity and stacking the deck against successful transition all in the name of paperwork, and hearts that hurting.  We've passed Phase I which is simply to meet them but it sure seems like we are walking through a field full of emotional landmines that could detonate at any moment and send this entire adoption into oblivion.

Oh that this cup would pass!

I could write much more but perhaps I should stop at this point.  We will try to post a few times this week to update our situation.  Karen & I wish to thank all of you who have been such a wonderful support over the past few months.  You have truly been a blessing to us.  If you have adopted and have a story to tell, we would love to hear it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Today's blog focuses on reflection.  I'm not talking about reflection as in looking back at your life and gleaning some insight about why you are what you are and why you behave as you do.  No, I'm talking about reflection as in what you see when you look into a mirror.  I am a firm believer that everything we see here in this world is a reflection of something in another world.  That other world is a spiritual dimension where something beautiful radiates its goodness, light and divine plan into this world.  I often refer to this phenomenon as a "parallel process" between heaven and earth.  It is what drives Karen & I in adoption.

Let me explain.  Recently I was looking out the kitchen window and saw something reflecting off the windshield of my van.  The reflection sparked my attention and I began to look for what was reflecting.  Did I continue to examine the windshield of the van?  Of course not.  I was looking around the sky, the positioning of the street lights and anything but the windshield.  You don't look at the conduit, you look for the source!

Adoption works in a similar way.  When you look into the eyes of a child, especially those who have no parents, there's a flash.  Even in the most obnoxious (just being honest!), unruly, provocative child its there.  That flash.  Sometimes its quick, sometimes you have to be really attentive, but its there.  But what is it?  Its a reflection and like the windshield you don't search for it in the conduit, but rather you look for it in the source!  And its a beautiful thing when you realize that the source is something so loving, so kind, so pure and so innocent that it captivates your senses and melts your tendencies to think only of yourself in this world.

I have heard people say they wanted to see God or have a visitation from Jesus and I understand this desire.  But until we behold Him face to face, perhaps He gives us "flashes" of Himself.  Its a flash in the eyes of a young girl, or the smile on a little boy's face or maybe its the toddler's deep sense of security as they flourish in the safety of a home that is committed to their welfare.

Karen & I saw "the flash" 4 years ago when our children came bursting through the doors of the social workers office.  They were wild as a spring calf kicking up its heels but it was there in their eyes.  It reflected a divine being that overcame any of our fears of trying to parent these children.  We saw it again in the eyes of 2 children who got off to such a rough start in life and wondered if anyone would ever welcome them into their home and heart forever.  When you find the source you find the words "if anyone opens the door, I'll come in".  Its the source, not the conduit, where you plug in your heart.  Its the source that drives you, not the need.  When you tune into that source something magical begins to happen.  It is as if all of heaven pours out into your soul and you want more.

I hope this speaks to the hearts of many readers.  Do you hear what I'm saying?  Yes, Karen & I might be crazy and we've got the video to document it.  But there's a flash.  Can you see it?  Its in the eyes of  the child.  Its in your spouse's embrace.  Its in your prayer closet.  But don't get stuck on the flash.  Let it drive you to seek the Source!

And by the way, thanks to the kindness and prayers of many it looks like we are finally going to meet our new children  in the very, very near future.

Until we talk again....