Are you doing what you wanted to do when you grew up?

Baseball_kidToday I have been thinking about what people’s lives are compared to what they wanted it to be as children.

When we are kids, we are always asked that question.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  If you listen to children, you will usually hear things like cowboy, astronaut, doctor, sports athlete, or fireman.  Those are all wonderful career choices.  As children grow, however, those choices change.  Our likes and dislikes, as well as our aptitude in different skills dictate what we eventually do when we grow.  Even more than that, are the life circumstances during our early years that often decide what we eventually choose to do with our lives.

 

But the most important decision maker in my mind is God’s plan for our life, combined with our free will to choose or not choose that plan.

I started out wanting to be a professional baseball player.  I was an avid fan as a child.  I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could grab my glove and ball and go outside to play.  I knew all of the stats for my favorite players.  Being a Yankee fan, I knew every player on the team, the lineup, pitching rotation, and pretty much everything else that mattered about the team.  I just knew that eventually, I would be a Yankee too.

But life changed.

As I grew older, I realized that my skill level just wasn’t there.  Sure I could keep up with my team members in the league I played in.  And I was generally better than the average neighborhood kid.  But once I got to high school, I realized that my dreams of playing in the big leagues was just that – a dream.

So my interests changed.  They changed several times.  Eventually I ended up in my current career.  It is a career I absolutely love.  I am one of those people that love what they do.  I enjoy working.  And I believe it was God’s plan that I end up doing what I do.  I believe that throughout my life, he was shaping me, molding me, and making me into the man I am today.

But what about those people in the world that have fallen?

What about my little one’s mom?  I cannot imagine that when she was young, she wanted to grow up and have her children turned over to the state.  I am sure that as an innocent child, she wanted for herself a wonderful life, a wonderful upbringing, a wonderful career.  I am also convinced that God also wanted that for her.  I am even more convinced that God’s love has not changed, and that He continues to want that for her.

So today I wonder if it is God’s plan all along for some to fall?  Did God want my little one to be taken from her mom all along? No I don’t believe so.  I believe God want us to bear children, then protect them and keep them safe, raising them to honor Him.  I think it is our free will and the human race’s fall from grace that causes us to do things that do not honor Him.  We live in a fallen world, a world that contain great good, and also great evil. Because of the grace of God, my wife and I went one way, and my little one’s bio family another.

As our little one grows into a woman, I pray that her dream about what she wants to do when she grows up, combined with her free will, and God’s plan for her life, results in a positive and enriching life that honors God always.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

What are you doing now?

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Mommy and Daddy…

daddy's_hand

 

So as foster parents there is the inevitable dilemma.

What should our foster child call us?

Mommy and Daddy?

Should they call us by our names?

Is it even up to us?

 

Our little one has called us mommy and daddy since she got here.  Honestly we have not discouraged her, as doing so I think would cause even more confusion.  She is not old enough to understand why we would be discouraging her.  But I have to tell you at first it seemed odd.  Obviously not odd to this little innocent child.  Odd to the adults who know the circumstances.  I mean, how will the bio mom feel about that?  How will our little one react when she sees her bio mom again?

Just last night at dinner, we were sitting around at the table, and our little one pointed at me, and told my wife “That’s daddy!”.  I pointed at my wife and asked “Who’s that?” to which she answered “Mommy!”

After some thought, I realized the sense of comfort and safety those words must mean for her.  She is with mommy and daddy.  Mommy and daddy represent family to her.  They represent normalcy.  They represent love.  Isn’t that, in the end, what we are called to do for this little girl?  Aren’t we charged with bringing the joy and love of Christ to one who needs it the most?

Of course the answer is yes.  So for now, we will be her mommy and daddy.  One day, when she is older, she will understand the difference between our kind of mommy and daddy, and the bio mommy and daddy.  But this child has already experienced a trauma in her life  no child should ever experience.  Adding more trauma by trying to take away the only mommy and daddy she knows right now would not be in her best interests.

Besides, I can’t tell you it doesn’t feel good to be called daddy.  Sure, I know one day, she will be mad at me, and as most do, she will angrily take that title away from me as revenge.  It is part of growing up and for foster kids part of dealing with their circumstances.  And I will have to understand.

But right now, I am daddy.

And as George Strait says in his song, a dad’s love is “A love without end, Amen!”

Two Children, same result…

slide

Yesterday was our first “play date” with my wife’s friend and her son.

So we had an outing at Chik-fi-la, which has a playground.   Our little one apparently had never been to Chik-fi-la.  She was a little shy at first.  She ate all of her chicken, most of her fries, and about a quarter of a chocolate chip cookie.  She ate more than her play date partner, who was more interested in going to the playground.  Our child was not really aware yet there was such a thing waiting for her.

When we got to the playground, again there was some hesitation.  However, her new found friend was eager to “help”.

“C’mon!  Let’s climb up!”

It took all of two minutes for both children to be in playground heaven.  I loved watching their pure joy as they climbed up, then down the slide over and over.

Then it came.

It was time to go.

First our play date partner’s turn.

“C”mon, just once more!”, mommy ordered.

“No mommy, two more!”

He got his two more, then the bad news  that it was time to go, and the tears started.  He was devastated, and mommy was there to console him. Our bundle of joy saw what was coming, and quickly escaped to climb some more.  Daddy was going to have to be smart about this one. I waited for her to go down the slide again, and was waiting to pick her up at the bottom.  This was not going to be pretty, and sure enough, the complaints came.  With tears running down her face, she yelled “NO!!!!!!!” Our mistake was to not have a sippy cup of milk for the ride home, which would have eased the heartache and suffering.

We learned some things about this adventure.  First, our little one needs more play dates.  She needs to continue to learn to associate with others her age.  We also learned that her behavior closely resembles however her play date partner is behaving.  When he was ok, she was ok.  When he blew up, she did too. The most interesting thing was learned was this.  Here we had two children with completely different backgrounds, life experiences, family lives, but in the end – the same result.

In the end, they are kids, and will behave as such.

Afternoon Traditions

 

This song is becoming somewhat of a new tradition on afternoons after daycare.

I don’t announce it per se.  I just start playing it.  Our little one now knows the song, so when it starts, she will get a big smile on her face, turn towards me, and starts to slowly move her shoulders.  Before you know it, we are dancing in the living room again.

Yes I think this will become a new tradition in our household.

 

Holding Hands

image

Over the last few days I have been noticing things.

As a foster parent there are quite a few unknowns for us.  Right now we have no idea what our little one’s life was like before God placed her in our care.

Was she hugged often?  Was she yelled at, abused?  I will find out soon enough but right now these and other things are mysteries.

What I do know is this.  The first few days, holding her hands was a problem.  She didn’t like it.  Every time I tried she pulled away.  Sometimes her facial expression would change but other times she would just pull her hand away.  It was as if to say that type of touch is reserved for someone else and you are not him. Or maybe holding her hand triggered a memory.  No way to know right now.

So last night I was sitting next to her as she went to bed. At this point she still needs someone with her until she falls asleep.  She was a little restless so I tucked her in for the fourth or fifth time and told her to go to sleep.

Then I did it.

I held her hand.

No resistance.

After a few minutes I removed my hand.
She found it.

Don’t know if this is a breakthrough or what.

But hand holding at bed time is now ok.

What is a Christian Marriage Anyway?

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
–Ephesians 5:22-33

Today I would like to tackle an area of the Bible that many don’t like to talk about.  The reason it  is avoided is not valid. In the passage above, we have Paul writing to the Ephesian church, and discussing how husbands and wives should treat each other. Unfortunately, because of a distortion of the meaning of this passage, many even within the church tend to pretend that this passage does not exist.  Yet we will see that if we study it in the correct context, that it is truly a beautiful passage, and does not in any way demean women, but rather, lifts them up.

The main concern for many in our society is the first two verses.  Suggesting that women submit to their husbands is something that some find objectionable.  Further, the second verse – that the husband is to be the head of the wife – ranks right up there for some as one of the most difficult parts of the Bible.  But is it really?  Is it really wrong to say that the husband should be the head of the household?  Is it wrong to say that wives should submit to their husbands?

Before we get to those verses, I will take this passage in reverse order.  Let’s look at the last one first.

“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Notice that this verse joins two statements with the word “and”.  First, it says that husbands should love their wives as they love themselves, then goes on to say that wives should reverence – or respect – her husband.  The word “and” means that both points are equally important, and both are demanded of us as husbands and wives.  I don’t know too many people that would have issue with this verse.  Understand, that the Bible is telling us that a husband’s love for his wife should be no different than the love he has for himself.  That is a pretty bold statement, don’t you think?  He is telling us that as husbands, we should be willing to do for our wives anything that we are willing to do for ourselves.  In turn, women should have great respect for their husband. So far so good?

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”

This is the bulk of the passage.  Notice that this entire section deals not with the wife but the husband.  I will draw your attention first to the part that states husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church, giving himself for it.  Let’s explore that a minute here.  Do we all remember what Christ did for us?  You remember that whole dying on the cross thing that saved us from our sins, granting us eternal life if we just believe and trust in Him?  Yup, that is what He is expecting of husbands in their behavior towards their wives.  Quite a responsibility here isn’t it?  The rest of the passage explains how husbands should present their wives as unblemished, holy.  As husbands, we are to be willing to lay down our lives for our wives, loving them as we love ourselves.  Then the final verse says it all.  We are to leave our father and mother and be joined to our wives, and we shall become one flesh.  What a great responsibility husbands have, that we are to be Christ-like in our dealings with our “other half”, the other part of our flesh.  Do you believe this is worthy of respect?

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Now we come to the verses that some have an issue with.  Wives are to “submit” to their husbands.  Husbands are to be the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.  What does this really mean anyway?  Well, let’s take the relationship between Christ and the church.  Do we as the body of Christ have a problem submitting to Christ?  Of course not.  Why?  Well, the answer is obvious.  He is the Messiah.  He is our Savior. He is God in the form of the son.  We submit to Him, not because we are forced,  but we do so willingly.  We rejoice and sing about our submission to our Savior.  Obviously, it is in our best interests to do so.

So, with respect to wives submitting to their husband, why is there such objection to it?  We have already read how husbands should treat the wives, correct?  We know that a husband is to be Christ-like, willing to die for his wife, striving to treat his wife as holy, keeping her unblemished.  He is to love her as himself.  With this great responsibility that has been place on husbands by God to love and protect their wives, is it so difficult to believe that their wives should submit to this?  In reality, is not submission to a good, Christian husband who treats his wife the same way that Christ treats the church not one of the most beautiful things a woman could do?  Is it not a reflection of her submission to Christ? Is not in her best interests to submit to the one who will love and protect her in the same manner that Christ does for her?

Let me be clear.  I am not for one moment suggesting that wives are to submit to their husbands as some take that verse – out of context.  I have heard and read many compare this verse to some form of slavery.  Nor am I suggesting that wives need to do everything their husbands tell them, even if their husbands are abusive or not acting in the best interests of the family.  What I am suggesting is submission of a wife to her husband – in the context of the entire passage – is one of the most beautiful and holy things we could ever witness.  A husband who loves his wife so much he is willing to die for her like Christ did for us, and a woman who respects her husband so much she will walk hand in hand with him through any trial or tribulation is something to be cherished, not shunned.

In a world where the family unit seems to be in constant danger of collapsing, I submit to you that if more people would study and follow this passage of the Bible, we would be in much better shape as a society.  It is a proven fact that how we are treated as babies have an enormous affect on the rest of our lives.  How great it would be for every baby in this world to be loved and nurtured by parents that are following the passage above?  A husband that loves his wife like himself, and a woman that respects her husband and submits to him like she submits to Christ.  Would it solve every issue?

Probably not.

But it would be a great start.

What Happened To You, Caylee Anthony?

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
–Matthew 18:10

I am angry.

Even though I have my opinions about the case, the fact is I was not there. I don’t have all of the facts. I was not a juror, having to decide the fate of this mother. Yet the truth is that I have serious doubts as to Casey Anthony’s innocence. I also have serious doubts as to the innocence of the entire family. I cannot believe that no one in the Anthony family knows what happened to Caylee. They know, and one day, mark my words, those responsible will have to stand before God and explain their actions.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
–Jeremiah 29:11

I know where Caylee is. She is in Heaven. She is sitting next to our Savior. Whether she is aware of what is going on down here I don’t know. But she is no longer in pain. She no longer has duct tape wrapped tightly around her mouth and nose, cutting off her breath. She is no longer lying in the back of a car trunk. She is no longer discarded in a field, being rained on, open to the elements. She is flying high, safe and sound, in the arms of a family that has much more concern for her than she ever received on earth. No longer will she wait for her mother while she parties all night. No longer will she be neglected, set aside while the adults in her life find other pursuits to entertain them. She is now receiving the love she was denied on earth.

This case makes me angry.  I am angry because the trial, and its verdict, reminds me that a family in Orlando cared so little for the welfare of this child, that they allowed her to be killed, stuffed in a car, then discarded in a field.

What really happened to Caylee?

The trial did not answer the question, and we may never know.  The Anthony family knows the answer, though.  They were entrusted with the care of this child. The child was NOT their possession, to do with as they please. That child belongs to God, and they chose to destroy her earthly body, either by their actions, or by their neglect. They will answer for it. God is not only a God of love, but one of justice. They will never be able to hide from Him.

The ones responsible for Caylee’s death may have escaped justice in this world, but God’s justice will come.

In a few weeks, the media will slowly stop covering this case. People will go about their daily lives. Some will forget the names, the facts surrounding the case, and the faces will fade from their memory. Caylee will become one of the many children our society mourns for a time, then discards much like the way she was discarded by those she trusted. I hope this does not happen in this case, but I know for many it will. We are a fickle society. We have been de-sensitized to these stories, because, unfortunately, they happen often enough that they no longer shock us as they should.

But folks, this is a human being, a child. She did not deserve this. My hope is that everyone who reads this blog will look at the photo of Caylee, really look at it. She is your daughter. She is your sister. She is your friend. She deserved much better. She deserved to live a full life. We need to cry over her death. We need to mourn her. We need to be angry. We need to pray – really hard – that God does a work on the hearts of the mothers and fathers in our society. We need to pray that parents place a higher priority on the health and well being of their children than they do on going to a party, getting a tattoo, and drinking themselves into oblivion.

Today, I mourn the death of a little girl taken too soon, but I rejoice in knowing she is safe in our Savior’s arms.

America, look at that photo, and see that you do not forget that little girl.

I will never forget you,  Caylee Anthony.