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The Sacred and Healing Work of Touch

February 23, 2018 0 Comments

Sometimes I just can’t get much right as a parent.

Sometimes my words fail.

Sometimes my methods don’t work.

Sometimes my bag of tricks is empty. 

Sometimes I am high on frustration and low on forgiveness. 

Sometimes my kids are grumpy, and I move to the opposite end of the house.

Sometimes trauma triggers a child’s sabotage of trips, outings or holidays, and I resent it. 

So often my kids have questions about birth parents, relationship hurts or scary news, and I can’t muster a response.



There are books, articles, and advice I can turn to for every parenting dilemma, but I am learning to look first to the ways of Jesus.

I crack open the pages of His book looking for a twelve-step healing method for my child’s hurt, scripted words to explain abandonment, or ingredients for a grace enhancing concoction. Instead, I find stories of how a village carpenter interacted with people in the Middle East, thousands of years ago.

Yet, somehow, I find His ways relevant. I find uncomplicated answers.

“The Gospels use the words “hands,” “fingers,” and “touch” nearly two hundred times, and the words often refer to Jesus: “Jesus put out His hand and touched him… So He touched her hand… He went in and took her by the hand… Then He touched their eyes… Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand… Jesus came and touched them… Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray…”
– Dr. David Jeremiah

Touch was Kingdom work.

Touch was valuable enough for Jesus’ time, and part of how He healed.

Touch was worth mentioning in the storytelling of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.



When my child is fussing, sabotaging, or yelling, my comfort-seeking self wants to move away.

My head says I have every right to be bitter. My bruised ego says I need to self-protect. Nothing says to touch tenderly.

But Jesus. His ways were upside down, crazy opposite our ways.

He didn’t turn His back when rebuked. He didn’t get mad when a woman grabbed at His robe without asking. He didn’t hesitate to touch the contagious leper. He washed the filthy feet of friends He knew would hurt Him. He “gripped the hand” of a 12-year-old girl that everyone deemed hopeless. He didn’t heal the deaf man with words shouted from safely across the Galilee. He didn’t speak a blanket healing for all. He moved toward individual souls. He often healed with a touch.

Oh, to be like Jesus.



Maybe I can try.

Maybe He can use my hands for healing. 

Maybe I can move toward, rather than away, when kids are hurting. 

Maybe I can pat a back, open my arms wide, or lean in forehead to forehead.

Maybe I can see the mundane, challenging parenting moments as sacred invitations into an upside down kingdom.

Maybe touch is a more powerful tool than I thought.

///

As parents, the work of our hands is Kingdom work…

Sitting shoulder to shoulder by the eight your old with his answerless questions.

Coming home work weary, yet still bending low to hold the almond-eyed girl in pigtails.

Feeling feverish foreheads.

Writing a note for the trying-to-make-sense-of-the-world teenaged girl.

Conjuring up dishes for the son’s feeding issues.

Holding that new toddler, skin to skin, begging God for bonding.

Being ready with a hug for the unhuggable child.



Sitting knee to knee with the newly adopted, not-ready-to-be-held toddler. 


///

It’s worth a shot, I think, this imitation of Jesus. This decision to move toward the hurting right inside our homes. This effort to touch.

Moms and dads in the trenches, don’t lose heart. These work-of-our hand encounters can feel unseen, hidden, unimportant. These hand in hand moments can feel like one in a zillion as parent and child. This skin to skin parenting work can feel ineffective.

But Jesus demonstrated otherwise. It’s God’s healing, assuring, loving work through us. It’s upside down, Kingdom work. Every last touch. Every last day.

So when you feel stuck and helpless, Mom and Dad, start with a prayer and a look down at your hands. The answer will come.

*special thanks to Tish Goff for the image




Waiting Child: Sharon

February 22, 2018 1 Comments

Seven year old Sharon has had a sad start to her life but we are hoping to find her the happy ending of a family of her own. She is a Special Focus (SF) child on Agape Adoptions’ individual list and is living in an orphanage.



Sharon has been diagnosed with disabled bilateral lower limbs and must walk with a walker. This sweet girl was abandoned at four years old. We are told that she was found low spirited, unable to walk and would not respond to questions. When she was first brought to the orphanage she was afraid and cried a lot. Over time she started to adjust to life in the orphanage and her caretakers say that she “began to open her heart to others.” She started talking and singing. Sharon worked hard to learn how to best communicate with her peers and caretakers and how to take care of herself despite her disability. As she grew she became more and more cheerful and optimistic. She is loved by her caretakers and other children in the orphanage- we are told that she is “Big Sister” to many and helps take care of the little ones. She now walks with a walker and has good self-care skills. Sharon is described as happy, talkative, active, extroverted, energetic and quick to smile. She loves singing and listening to music.



We know that this loving, helpful girl needs the safety and care that comes from a family of her own. Could that family be yours? Contact Agape Adoptions by email today or at 253-987-5804 to learn more about Sharon.

Dipping Our Toes in the Water: Beginning the Journey of Connections

February 21, 2018 0 Comments

I cannot express how excited I was to see the “Honoring China in the Everyday” focus that No Hands But Ours had planned for this month. Not because we as a family have even begun to “arrive” in this department, but because our hearts yearn to raise citizens of the world who appreciate and revel in the rich diversity of cultures that surround us. And in bringing our precious Asher Ren into our family, we have an intense interest in having him grow up influenced by and loving his birth culture as much as possible.

We are fully aware that loving Chinese culture and incorporating it into our home is so much more than the “outer trappings,” as wonderful and colorful as they are. We are on a journey to make those profound connections that our fellow adoptive families pursue.

When we brought our sweet Asher Ren home in late summer of 2016, he was not yet two years old. From the moment his little eyes caught sight of the wealth of culinary choices at the breakfast buffet in our Guangzhou hotel, he was smitten. I tried to feed him congee in China to give him that warm, comfortable and hopefully familiar eating experience, but he would have none of it. He wanted the scrambled eggs, donuts, and pancakes.

Asher Ren’s assimilation into his new American life has been similar to that breakfast buffet, much to our surprise. So our experience with adopting a young child has been that our incorporation of Chinese culture has had to be initiated by us, as opposed to fulfilling the immediate needs of a child suffering from intense culture shock. We earnestly hope that as he matures, he will have friendships, eat food, go to events, read books, see artwork, love music and celebrate festivals that connect him to his heritage.

Reading is incredibly important to our family. If you’ve ever seen the book, Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin, you know the book’s motto is “Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time.” Our family resonates with this theme. In the years before we brought Asher Ren home, we began reading not just about adoption, but about Eastern culture, and more specifically Chinese culture. At the time, I was teaching in a liberal arts university and was even able to take a Chinese sociology class.



Now that Asher Ren is home, we focus on adding children’s books on Chinese themes to our collection, and also make it a point to constantly check out similar books from the local library. With younger children in the home, we’ve learned to love the Grace Lin board books and novels. (By the way, Give Your Child the World has a good basic list of practical ways to incorporate diverse cultures into your home as well as a chapter with recommended books for children of all ages from various Asian cultures and countries. It’s a great place to start for families pursuing adoption.)

Establishing diverse friendships is one of the main ways we’re choosing to make the deeper connections with Asher Ren’s heritage for which our family longs. Celebrating Asher Ren’s Gotcha Day, birthday and Chinese festivals with Chinese friends is a big part of integrating his birth culture into our family’s unique fabric. We’ve had to be intentional in this area, as we have not always had a lot of Chinese or adoptive family friends. This past fall we found a local Chinese restaurant who reached out to adoptive families in our area. They hosted an Autumn festival celebration with moon cakes and other traditional desserts. It was very special for my kids to experience not only these new tastes, but also to meet more families who look like ours, and with whom Asher Ren can relate as he matures.



When I went to China to bring Asher Ren home, it was roughly a month before the Autumn festival, and I have so many memories of the hundreds of people who kept streaming into my hotel’s lobby to purchase gorgeous flowered boxes of mooncakes. It was very special to me that my husband and other children who were not able to travel to China could experience these tastes with us this fall.

One of the things that drew us to our church is its cultural diversity. We love that Asher goes to his little church class each week with other young Chinese boys and girls. These friendships are deeply precious to us. Our church is near a university with a large Chinese graduate student population, so one of our most special outreaches each year is a big Chinese New Year celebration. Our church’s international group travels to Atlanta to shop at Asian markets in preparation. We decorate our church fellowship area in red and gold and serve Chinese traditional dishes. Last year one of the Chinese men in our church made over seven hundred homemade jiaozi!



Education is another area in which we desire for our family to experience “China in the Everyday.” For now, three-year-old Asher Ren is busy learning to speak English, which is a bit of a challenge due to a delay in his cleft palate repair. But after a lot of searching, we recently found a tutor and began weekly Chinese lessons with our five-year-old and seven-year-old. When they sang “Happy Birthday” to me in Chinese this past January, I thought my heart would burst!

One of the most exciting things for our family was to find out that a Chinese Immersion charter school is opening in our city this coming fall, just five minutes down the road. We are so excited that when he is old enough, Asher Ren will be able to study Mandarin every day in school! Until then, Little Pim videos help in keeping those familiar sounds in his ears. I also followed another adoptive mom’s recommendation, and we play recordings of Chinese children’s songs in our home. Asher Ren’s favorite is “Ni Wa Wa,” a song about a little clay doll.

Even though there are some challenges to cultural diversity in the south, we live near several universities, and we find that there are still a variety of Chinese cultural experiences that we can search out for our family. While Asher Ren isn’t quite ready to be a respectful audience member, I recently took my daughter to a Chinese music recital and calligraphy demonstration at a local university. We were so excited to be able to see and hear the Erhu and Guzheng beautifully played by visiting Chinese scholars. In the past I wouldn’t have always been so eager to search out these type of experiences, but bringing Asher Ren into our home makes us go looking, not just for him, but to honor his culture in all of our hearts.



I am so thankful for the eagerness of my family to embrace Chinese culture. I feel like we are in the toddler stages of this; just dipping our toes in the water. We’ve learned that we really have to be intentional in this pursuit. Our default choices of music, décor, reading, entertainment, food, and friends have had to be reexamined and adjusted. But the result has been enriching and joy-filled. Whether it be through my daughter performing “The Bamboo Forest” for her upcoming piano festival, my five-year-old watching a documentary on Chinese wildlife, Asher Ren eating dumplings and reading a Grace Lin board book or me ordering a sewing pattern to begin making our own Cheongsams, we all are a part of this journey to honor “China in the Everyday.”

– guest post by Anne

A Thousand Prayers

February 19, 2018 2 Comments

Time hop on FaceBook is making me emo. Today it reminds me that four years ago today, we were separated from our baby girl by 7,000 miles and several months. That she was celebrating her birthday without us, again, and that, apparently, I thought Matilda was the perfect name for her teeny self. All these …Read More

Honoring China in the Everyday: Books

February 18, 2018 0 Comments

With the Lunar New Year holiday in full swing, it’s a terrific time to add a few titles to our China library! Especially given that we were just studying a little bit of Chinese history during the Middle Ages, these new titles are perfectly timed. We read through all but the last of these books …Read More

The Birth Day Surprise

February 17, 2018 14 Comments

As the doctor performed an emergency C-section and delivered our sub-four pound premie son, I heard her whisper to the nurse, “Did they know he would have a bi-lateral cleft lip and palate?” Without pausing to let that birthday surprise sink in, I responded, “That’s ok! So does my three year old sister!” “So this …Read More

Guo Nian: Passing a Year

February 16, 2018 0 Comments

“Nian (Year) was a ferocious beast who would come out once every twelve moons, cause destruction and kill everything that crossed its path. However, Nian was afraid of the color red. So people put red strips of paper around their door frames so the destructive beast would pass over their house when it saw red …Read More

Meet Jagger!

February 16, 2018 0 Comments

Jagger! We’d like to introduce this handsome 7-year-old boy to you! Jagger is sometimes introverted and reserved around strangers and enjoys playing with toys and his favorite includes watching TV. He has a good appetite but can be picky about food. He loves KFC, roasted chicken wings, buns stuffed with meat, and chocolate – but …Read More

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Fun Learning Activities

February 15, 2018 0 Comments

Tomorrow begins Chinese New Year! We are from Singapore and currently living in California now. Being so far away from home, it is so important for me to try to cultivate the love for Chinese culture and language in my children through these celebrations. To learn more about this important Chinese festival, I set up …Read More

Honoring China in the Everyday: When Simple is Just Right

February 15, 2018 0 Comments

I had an uh-oh moment last week when I realized that Chinese New Year was just over a week away and we still hadn’t made any plans to celebrate. It didn’t sneak up on me. In fact, China’s biggest holiday has been marked on the calendar since before the new year. But truthfully, this has …Read More

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