Pamilya Ko

Pamilya Ko

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Real, Alright

Ephesians 6

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Yesterday.    It was an awesome and a terrible day all rolled into one.  If I ever doubted for even a moment that spiritual warfare is
a real "thing",  I'm a full-fledged Believer now.

Yesterday made this theologically reformed, not-exactly-Pentecostal Believer want to start binding and rebuking everything in my path.

The morning started off hard and painful as I woke up at 5:30 am to find out a man our family has known and loved for fourteen years passed away after a battle with melanoma.  It was a blow. He's a husband and a father. 
Just  a few hours after this tough news arrived, my social worker came bouncing in, smiling, and informed us that our license to operate fully as a shelter/orphanage was complete and we could pick it up the next day!! We have been waiting for this license for quite some time. It allows us to admit EVERY CHILD on our waiting list right now!!!  The sun began to peek through the clouds of loss that had settled over us that morning. I considered this news quite a gift in lieu of what the morning brought.
We began to make plans for the admissions and call the referring agencies to get the documents prepared.
And then, we had to discipline one of our older sons and he decided to positively over react and try to pack a bag to "leave".  
So after more than an hour of talking, crying, praying and discussing with him and another person involved in the problem, he settled down and began to think straight. He stayed.
Meanwhile, a younger child of ours who is almost always kind to everyone was caught being downright mean to someone younger.  We have not seen this side of said child. It did not bode well for him.  The hammer fell . . . AGAIN. 
Thereafter, our social worker decided to type a form and her typewriter began to smoke and then, with a POP and a flash of light, simply blew up.
I did the only thing any normal woman would do in the face of such blatant "murphy's law" situations. 
I took a long, hot shower.
And I thought about the events of the day.   And I began to have such significant doubts about EVERYTHING that I scared
I wrestled with this calling.  If my own children are going to act like absolute goobers at the drop of a hat, what business did I have bringing even MORE kids into the mix?  Who do I think I am?  Superwoman?  If I can't "manage" the five in my direct care right now . . . . Oh, so THIS is why certain denominations don't endorse missionaries with teenagers.  Yeah. I get it now. . . It's all been one grand delusion designed to copy some of my favorite heroes of the Christian faith but I am NO Amy Carmichael and my husband is no
David Platt. . . so what ARE we doing out here while the whole thing falls down around our ears?  Amateurs!  And the gall to bring my sons  BACK to their country or origin AND try to raise them in an orphanage?  I've cheated the very children I vowed to help heal.  
So in that vein, the internal battle raged
My tears mixed with the  water that we can shower in but dare not drink.  I had to cry as quietly as possible because there is absolutely no privacy in this echo-chamber of a home.   
Just when I had imagined   what our NEW life would look like back in America, close to my biological children once more,  I was reminded of Ephesians 6: 12-13.   
It's real.
It's hard.
I don't particularly care for it
But I know what to DO about it.  Two things are commanded in Ephesians 6.  I am to stand firm and I am to put on the whole armor of God.     If I had a dollar for every sermon I've heard on the "Whole Armor of God",  I'd be building us a new orphanage tomorrow.
And oh, how THANKFUL I am for that litany of sermons.   What I heard while sitting comfortably in my seat at church, probably holding a cup of coffee and scrolling through my Bible app, came in pretty darn handy in my shower in this developing country with my little gaggle of orphans walking home from school at any minute.
So it was then and there I knew.   We're standing firm.  We're staying.  I am not going to let my mind play around with leaving The Philippines everytime we have a hard day.  That's not fair to anyoneLeast of all, the kids in our care.   That's like getting married but keeping the divorce papers signed and in the top drawer "just in case . .. ".      
As far as putting on the whole armor,  I decided to start with the Sword of the Spirit.  I went to the Word. I read about the life of David.  Spent some time in prayer.  Asked for wisdom.  Poured out my heart.   And He really is so faithful and an ever-present help in times of trouble. He is everything His word says He is. 
Do any of you remember that gospel group from years ago called "Cloud Eight"?  They had a song called "If I Know God"
I  am such a music lover but of all songs to come to mind, this one is most obscure.  I haven't heard it or thought about it since the 90s, I'll bet.  It doesn't even have the most pristine theology, truth be told.   But the chorus says:
If I know God, He'll find a way to bless me
It's just like Him to turn things around.
He'll take a bad situation and work it for my good.
That's how life goes, if I know God.
And those words, coupled with  the sweetness of the scripture I had been reading and the communion of just talking to Him created such peace and clarity in me, that  any  doubts I had, ceased.   Especially any doubt I may have been harboring about the reality of spiritual warfare and the need to recognize it and do what the Bible says to do in the face  of it.
The temptation to run to facebook
                                      or the phone
                                      or my journal
                                      or even my husband
                                                       was overwhelming.   But God asked us to stand firm and to come to Him in the face of such battles. 
I am SO GLAD I did this time.   Spiritual warfare is so real, my friends.  But so is the one who can win every battle for us.    He warned us it was coming and He taught us how to confront it.  What a good and loving Father He is.
p.s. our orphanage/shelter  "Mercy House" has been nominated to win a $10,000 grant from a company called Kind Snacks. Please consider copying the link below to vote for us. It's free and winning would be a HUGE blessing to the kids in our care.
Thank you!!! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Mother Like That

I have a dilemma. It has come unexpectedly although should have been anticipated from the inception of our residential care ministry to
street children here, in The Philippines.

I am a mother. It's my calling and my joy.

Our ministry center is a nice-sized family home with four large bedrooms. Staff quarters is downstairs (a 2-room master shared by me, my husband and our two youngest children) and two big bedrooms upstairs. One is for the girls and one is for the boys.
We have always conceived that our ministry would run as a family home. We dreamed of these disenfranchised street children getting the experience a "regular, nuclear family".    And they do.  With one exception.

I am a mother. I am not good at drawing boundary lines between who is "mine" and who is not.

I love the children in our care.  Some more than others because I am human. There is one I would love to keep forever. For no other reason than "I just want to".  He's not particularly well behaved. He has done nothing to earn the favoritism. He's just a beautiful boy with a shattered family unit.

My missionary  heart is helping him to be prepared for an adoptive family someday.   My mother's heart wants to "lose" his documents and keep him.

I have been warned by my husband that the love I shower on this child might make it harder for him to bond with his new family when that time comes.  And he's probably right.  But something in my heart of hearts just simply can not keep this child at arm's length. He has never ever EVER had a mom of his own.  He is ravenous for mother love.  He fakes illnesses or injuries and steals glances at me to see if I'm coming to his aid.   He draws piles of pictures of his "family" (which always includes me, my husband and our youngest child) and puts himself right in the center. He copies our youngest child (using sign language even though he can talk, folding his arms and shaking his head "no" when he doesn't want something) and it is not in a mean way.  It is a blatant attempt just to be like him. Maybe to learn the trick to being utterly adored?   

And he knows the facts.  He has been counseled, more than once, that Mercy House is not his "forever home" - that we are all in prayer  that God will bring him his OWN parents and his OWN forever family.  He always says "no.  I'm staying here with you" and points to me.

This is hard and has probably gone on longer than I should have allowed. 

  As "nature took it's course", there was not a thought in my mind that pouring into this little boy could have these consequences.  I could only see the hole and fill it.   I felt like a stand-in or a substitute.  And, that IS what I am.

But I am also a mother. So imperfect but a little perceptive, too.

I know real from fake.  It's not the "image" of a mother that this little boy is after. It's an actual mother. Right now, it's me.

I dare to think  none of my other friends in child-caring  ministries have been so stupid as I.  They probably all decided from day one to stand back and let the paid caregivers do their jobs.   They probably predicted that bonding with a child who is not their own could be a mixed blessing for that kid.    Some people only have to be told that it hurts to be hit by a bus, others have to actually be hit by it to believe. I suppose I'm a member of group #2.

To top it all off, I am not convinced I am doing wrong.  I know this child will move on to a permanent home.  He knows and I know.
In the meantime, I  want to be a model for him of what a good mother will be and will do.  My earnest prayer is that the lessons and the sense of safety and unconditional acceptance will be transferred to his NEW mom and dad when that time comes.

Why do I not feel this way about every child in our center? I have wondered that many times. I never set out to single one child out or to show favoritism. I am conscious of the jealousy that can arise between the children.  But of all the children in our care, THIS is the one who will likely go the longest without a family. Some of the others have family. One of our boys has a loving mother, step dad and siblings. They will be together again soon. The family just needs time to get stable.  Our girls . . . well, they are girls. Everyone seems to love orphaned girls. They are sweet and girly. They draw the eye of every visitor. Who wouldn't love them?

But THIS child is a boy. Older. From the streets. Formerly a glue-sniffing, thieving, trouble-making BOY.  The line for a child like him is short.  His teacher at school recently told us he is the poorest behaved child in her class. Maybe that's why he grabbed my heart so quickly.  The most hidden of hidden treasures . . . but I can see it.  

And I pray, above all else, he understands when THAT time comes. That he is not hurt but is thankful.
This is a risky, muddled business and as a flawed human, it is sometimes hard to separate what God has commanded from what I simply want.

I want what is best for this beautiful boy.  I want him to be found by his forever family.  I want him to slowly grow into a deep love for them that trumps anything he has experienced here, in his first family love.  I want him to stay off the streets and develop a love for his Creator that spurs him on to choose right.  I want him to know what it feels like to be highly valued.    I believe every one of those things is possible.

So I have begun to pray daily. For all of those.  I take special care to pray for his new mother. I pray that she is patient. I pray she looks at him and feels so lucky and blessed every day.  I pray she is sympathetic to the fact that he has suffered a lot of rejection and will likely try to act "tough" for a long time.  I pray that she adores even the scars.  That she understands that he would never have been hers if he had not first been down the road of abandonment.  I pray she only speaks well of his birth family, even after she learns about the things some of them have done.  I pray that she won't resent me for being so close to him.  It was before we knew who she was. It was at the lowest time of a child's life when he is having all his life decisions made for him with very little respect to what he might want. It was at a time when there was nobody else.

Because THAT is who this little boy needs most. He needs her.  A mother like that . . .