Sunday, July 15, 2018

Beauty from Ashes

Today we had Together Sunday.  This was our first joint service with both of our church campuses together.   Following the service, we had baptism, a meal, and family fun activities.   The best part of the day was seeing three very special kids choose to be baptized.   

We are incredibly blessed to be in a church that embraces the call to care for orphans.   Foster care and adoption are part of the DNA of our church.   On any given week you will see multiple minibusses and 12 passenger vans in our parking lot.   You'll see a rainbow of littles in our kid's department, and you'll see families that look more like It's A Small World than the generic picture frame family.   

Recently,  I had a conversation with a family that adopted a sibling group of four that added some diversity to their family.   I asked about their family's story and how they ended up at our church.   The dad said what sold them was the day that a person at the church asked if the kids were adopted.   He said yes and the response was, just a matter of fact, "that's cool. "  There was no praise of how awesome it is that they took them in.   The was no talk of what a blessing they must be to the children.   There was none of the typical, "I could never do that."  His kids weren't put on display as "those poor children" that he and his wife swooped in and saved.   

The culture of our church is such that it seems odder to not have a connection to foster care and/or adoption than to have one.   Our people are people that see these kids as kids with a story that need a savior just like every other kid.  They are kids that deserve for us to be uncomfortable to love them the way Jesus loves them.   They deserve for us to put ourselves and our selfish worries aside to see to it that they experience the love of Christ in real and practical ways.  They deserve to not only know the love of Jesus but to know the love of a family. 

That culture is what made today so special.  I watched three precious children, loved by Jesus, loved by their foster and adoptive families, and loved by our church take the next step in their faith.   Bryan baptized a brother and sister who found their forever home with an incredible family in our church.   I watched a foster dad baptize his foster son.   (The foster son that he had the privilege of leading to Christ.)  Yes, there were tears, lots of them.   (The foster family & friends, our staff, and even me. )  

I kept thinking about the scripture in Isaiah that talks about giving the people of Jerusalem a crown of beauty to replace their ashes.   What a beautiful picture of redemption!  These kids, through no fault of their own, have been put through the fire.  They have been through things no one should ever face because of the careless choices of others.   Their lives are forever changed but praise God, their ashes have been traded for crowns of beauty.   All because these families were willing to be uncomfortable and get their hands dirty.




Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Here's To A New Year!

While taking Brinkley to school this morning I heard a clip from Tony Evans and wanted to share the story.  You can find it in several of his books.  I am quoting this from his book Tony Evan's Book of Illustrations. 

My son came to me one day and asked me to accompany him to the gym.  He told me that he wanted to show me something.  He was about 11 years old and barely five feet tall.  He wanted to show me that he could dunk!  I had to see this!

I took him over to the gym and he bounced the ball, approached the goal, and cupped the ball under his hand in preparation.  My eleven-year-old son, barely even five feet tall went up and dunked the basketball.  It was an amazing sight... until I realized how he did it.  

Before we went to the gym, he called and asked the maintenance man to lower the goal.  The standard had been lowered.  I had the guy raise the standard back to its correct height.  I explained to my son that the goal should not be lowered so that he can meet it, but that he continue to work hard to meet the standard.


Wow!  How many times do we lower the standard for momentary satisfaction rather than continuing to work hard to meet the ultimate standard?  This along with a quote recently posted on Instagram by David Crowder have become my motivation for 2018.  

Here's to a year of influencing the world by not settling for the lower standard!  




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Day 5: 5 Days of Brinkley

Year 4 has was full of surprises as he grew and matured in so many ways.  He headed back to preschool for the second year and first official full year of 3K.  The highlight of the year was our very first family trip to Disney World!  The Toy Story ride was his favorite.  Llama Llama Red Pajama was a hit for Halloween.  Brinkley on the shelf made his return.  The new year brought some challenges as we unexpectedly faced surgery to replace his damaged pacemaker.  He took it like a champ and rocked that surgery with a short hospital stay.  We enjoyed a couple of stays at the beach where he found his happy place with his toes in the sand.  His personality started coming out in big ways and he proved he is the king of mischief in this house! If you are keeping score the hospital count is now 36 weeks and 9 surgeries.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Day 4: 5 Days of Brinkley



Year 3 Brinkley learned to walk on his own (without his walker) and started preschool for the first time. We had the privilege of becoming a "miracle family" for Children's Hospital and representing the hospital all over the region. We met some wonderful folks including the Furman Men's Lacrosse team who quickly became his buddies and lead him to love all things Furman. We made our first trip to NYC to see him featured on the screen in Time Square and walk in the NYC Buddy Walk. (The subway and meeting his friend Freddie were his favorite parts.) Brinkley on the shelf made his first appearance.  Dr. Brinkley had his g-tube closed and one other surgery. We added a few more weeks of hospital stay to the count. The doctor appointments began to slow down a bit and therapy kept going strong.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Day 3: 5 Days of Brinkley


Year two came with fewer hospital stays (4-6 weeks), lots of progress in therapy, learning to sit and stand on his own, finally eating baby food, and tons more love and snuggles. He graduated from in-home nursing care and we started using aid services. We still had far more doctor and therapy appointments than I care to count but we spent the majority of our time out of the hospital and had only 2 minor surgeries.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Day 2: 5 Days of Brinkley



Year one included 26 weeks of hospital stay, 2 emergency open heart surgeries, 2 other surgeries, numerous ambulance rides, 2 medical flights, hundreds of doctors appointments (honestly I can't count them all), nearly 100 therapy sessions, more ER visits than I care to count, millions of snuggles & hugs, prayers from all over the world (literally), building an incredible care team, and watching our faith grow. It's not the first year stats that I would have wished for, but it's what the Lord BLESSED us with.

Yes, it was a blessing! We learned the trust the Lord, lean on each other, and to embrace and celebrate every small victory. I learned to see the Lord in the small things and to trust the instincts that He placed inside me. I learned to seek wisdom in ways I never would have otherwise. We built an incredible care team that loves this little guy almost as much as we do. I met some amazing people and have had the privilege to walk alongside them in their journey with their children. I have met wonderful medical professionals whom I have been able to pray with and for and to encourage and love on as they have loved us.

Though it is not what I would have planned or wished for, when we embraced the situation that we were in and asked the Lord to use it, He did! He has been faithful to make this very difficult journey one that is filled with joy. I praise Him for the victories and the lessons learned.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Day 1: 5 Days of Brinkley


Brinkley turns 5 in 5 days so here's to 5 days of Brinkley. Day 1: we welcomed our 3 lb wonder into the world with the help of a team of 10+ people. He was six weeks early due to complications and we had the NICU team ready to help breathe life into a baby they expected to be blue and lifeless. As is his style, he surprised us all and came out loud and proud with no assistance needed. He was quickly whisked away to see cardiology and the team of NICU doctors. I was finally able to see and hold him the next day. He was so tiny! That's half of a cloth diaper covering his entire body.