The Legacy of Adoption

Author: Kimberley Mulder

My daughter was born and abandoned. This is a fact I cannot change. It deeply affects her sense of the world and herself. She, nor I, can separate ourselves from this legacy—as painful as it is. In fact, disowning or denying it equates to putting a rock in a crack to create a path, only to find that the rock pushes the sides apart. Then we are left with a greater divide.

I too was born into a broken legacy. Adam and Eve brought forth this terrible break from the Provider of our needs, both physical and spiritual. We cannot separate ourselves from that which our forbearers passed on, nor can we change it, nor prevent continuing it, for that is a fact of the world until God’s kingdom comes fully.

Care and ConnectionWe are sure to leave a legacy of need. Even beyond our physical, cellular level which clamors for touch, food, water, and shelter, our spirits are born with a screaming cry for care and connection.

God sees. God foresees. God made a way to rescue us from our old legacy not by removing our needs, but by meeting them.  God changed our legacy by adopting us, giving us Himself, all His loving care, and all His delight.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” -Psalm 33:12

So Jesus came within our legacy of need and brokenness. Fully human and fully God, He experienced His spirit’s cry for connection. Each of his prayers a cord stretching across the gap connecting God and man. Each healing another cord of love drawing God and man together. Each teaching another cord of revelation of God’s heart to man. Then God wrenched those cords tight, drawing the sides together, closing the gap humanity’s fall had created. With the might of his self surrender and self sacrifice on the cross Jesus met our greatest need. The temple curtain ripped, the day turned to night, and God suffered so that we no longer had to. He gave us a new legacy.

Adoption LegacyTo live into our new legacy we must still walk honestly through the old legacy—with Jesus. The more I bring my needs to God, or allow him to excavate them in order to meet them, the more I am able to say with words and actions to my adopted daughter: “I see you. I want to meet your needs so that you can feel safe and worthy, to be with you in the legacy you find yourself.” As I do so, I am entering the legacy of Jesus—the legacy of love, healing, and connection, and I am, with every prayer and participation in every healing, drawing the cords of loving kindness across the crevice in my daughter’s heart so that she too can grab hold of the legacy Jesus holds out to her.


Readers, How has your legacy been redeemed? Tell us in the comments.

2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Deep Renewal

I sat at work in the local homeless shelter, and heard a measure of disbelief present in the voices of two women recounting their experience as “new” members of a Sunday school class at a local church.

I was nervous, but felt so welcome. They bought us lunch. They all seem to have it together, yet they didn’t bat an eye when we told them we are in the recovery program and living in a homeless shelter. I feel out of place in a  group of people who obviously don’t struggle in the way I do, but I guess I can keep going.

Their relationships continued to deepen, and one of the women was astonished by what she soon discovered. One of the “perfect” church ladies had revealed that 30 years before, she was in a similar place. Addiction had run her life and threatened to ruin her hope for the future. But she was transformed as she followed Jesus. Once she sought His ways instead of her own, it had been so life-altering that over the course of 30 years, it was impossible to imagine that the life she described as her past had ever existed. Had she not chosen humility and vulnerability, my friends who were fighting the same battle would never have known they were not alone. They were encouraged, reminded that they had not strayed so far that they could not be renewed.

renewal-holly-grassThere is hope in seeing the transformation that God works out over a lifetime. That healing begins the moment we first place our trust in Jesus. That 2 Corinthians 5:17 is true not only for the women in the shelter but for the woman crying in the corner at the Ritz. It reminds us all that our old life, whatever it might be, can be swept away so that new hopes may spring.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The broken redeemed are living proof, because of Jesus everything, down to the deepest level, is different.

As for me, instead of the prodigal, who tried everything and ran as far as possible, I identify closely with the pharisee. I was one of those religious people who thought their actions and ability to do the right thing would make God happy.

Happy I was not, instead I was stressed out. I frantically went about trying to manage my personal growth. I grew up in church, and thought I trusted Jesus as my savior early in life, I somehow obtained an unspoken underlying idea that all those people in the Bible were REALLY good, and I should try to be like them.

I believed in God, and wanted to do things his way, but was confused about what that actually looked like. I approached  prayer and time reading the Bible in a results-driven manor. What had I learned? What did I need to apply to life right now? I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I unconsciously tried to be. The pressure was heavy.

At 13, I read the Bible on my own for the first time. Instead of perfect people, I encountered God-breathed accounts of real people with big issues. I didn’t know what to do. When I read more than the one verse attached to the teen devotional, I was confused. Where were all those great people?

Had I just never been taught the failings of Bible heroes like David and Abraham? How had I missed that they too were in need of grace? Most likely, because their failings weren’t exactly child-appropriate and more like something from an episode of Scandal. However, this didn’t put a stop to the part of me that thought I could muscle out goodness to please not only God but His people.

Rather than simply a huge outward shift, I too needed a renewed heart. I underlined verses that pointed out what truly saved, in bright green gel pen in my teen study Bible:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

Slowly, I started to base my idea of whether or not God approved of me by who He said I was rather than my performance that day. I discovered that God is in it with us for the long game. As I read Romans chapter 12 one day more than ten years ago, I was struck by something new.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

renewal-hollyTransformation doesn’t happen overnight. Trying harder and checking boxes just doesn’t cut it. Renewing the mind isn’t linear, or easily measured. Just like watching grass grow or planting a tree, change sometimes happens gradually in the Christian life. It is more clearly seen in comparison to last month, last year, last decade. My decision making and sense of what God had called me to do couldn’t be based on sitting down one day with my Bible and a question I needed answered ASAP. Instead, over a long walk with God and consistently hearing from him through his word, it all would be sorted out. Revealed in due time as He renewed my mind, and I slowly became more like my savior. One day, I too, will look back at life and see motivations and desires steadily renewed and transformed.

I am living proof, because of Jesus everything, down to the deepest level, is different.
It’s a process. Be patient. Remember, God loved us before we wanted him, and he doesn’t leave us alone on this journey.


Readers, You cannot be good enough to reach the perfection being in the presence of a Holy God demands, nor can you be so far that His grace will not reach you if you call to Him. Let those truths offer freedom to your soul and peace to your busy mind. When you look back how do you see that God was working?

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Enough Renewal for Today

When I consider the word “renewal,” it suggests to me the freshness of each new day. I do love the promise hidden in the hope of a new year, but lately I find myself needing to take things one day at a time. One step, when finances are tight and I literally have no idea where we will find the money.  One moment, when life’s uncertainties crowd my mind and heart. One breath, when my body is weary and my spirit feels weak.

I am encouraged when I think about my strength for the day as the manna God sent the Israelites while they wandered in the desert. Manna, a special wafer that tasted of honey, would only last one day before it rotted and then God renewed the supply with fresh manna in the morning.renewal-for-today

If renewal can represent “freshness” then it’s antithesis would seem to be “stale.” Stalehow I feel when evening comes around. I’ve spent the day wiping snotty noses, convincing my children to eat their meals, on the phone with insurance sorting things out, scheduling bills online, looking at financial projects, and I feel stale. Tired. Sometimes I even feel a little hopeless. But God has given me enough grace for today, and just enough hope to make it into the tomorrow that awaits. Then in the morning there will be new manna, and  restored hope.

I find comfort in this verse:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ ” Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

todays-renewalI’m not a morning person, but I do find problems are easier to face after a good night’s rest, in the daylight, and after a hearty breakfast. Last night’s problems often seem smaller in the light of the morning. If I stretch my mind too far into the future, I start trying to control my circumstances and forget to accept the daily manna God is giving me with thankfulness.

There’s a good reason God commanded us not to worry in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

As a pretty solid type A personality and a planner by nature, it’s hard for me to accept daily renewal. I want the renewal to last longer! I wish to make plans far into the future and have things fit into nice little boxes. However, it would be foolish to not listen to the wisdom God has been showing me. I’ve been learning that leaning on my own strength leads to bouts of severe anxiety, and then I fret about things I have no control over. So I lift my eyes from my own power and thankfully accept God’s daily renewal as I trust him for all the days of 2017.


Readers, Do you trust God for strength or are you striving to muscle it out on your own? What is one step you could make today that would help you trust in God’s provision for you?

sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

 

Hope at the Strip Club

Author: Amy Wallace

I was asked to write this months ago but couldn’t figure out what to share, or even where to start. Hope in strip clubs? Come on, this is the enemies play ground.

For the last 5 years, I have been involved with the ministry POLE Gems.  We venture into strip clubs and hand out gifts to the ladies and some of the gentlemen that work there. It sounds scandalous and is sometimes a little crazy. However, I have come to understand that following Jesus sometimes includes going to places you never thought you would go, and every once and awhile places others think you shouldn’t go.

When Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee, He took the road through Samaria. A road Orthodox Jews avoided, when two others were avalible. But He had  a specific purpose in mind. He wanted to reach those the religious zealots wouldn’t reach out to and invite them to true life. He sat at a well and spoke to a women familiar with disgrace and asked for a drink. As she served Him, He spoke to her hope. He saw her, He loved her, He promised her she would never thirst again, because he is the living water.

On my last outreach I walked into a local strip club, as I have many times before, not really expecting anything. I started handing out these cute plastic Christmas tumblers. I approached one girl who looked at the gift, gave a huge smile and asked me, ” why did you give this to me you don’t even know me?”  I smiled at her and said because you are special. With tears in her eyes she again asked, “Why?”

This is the hope.

Jesus came for her; He loves her; I get to tell her.

I gave her another hug and said, “because Jesus says you are beautiful and worth it.” She looked at one of the other girls and jokingly said, “I’m only worth $40 tonight.” My heart sank as I put my hand on her shoulder and said “No honey, you are worth far more than that.”

I don’t know if I will see her again, but at least I know a little bit of hope was shared that night. My prayer for her is that every time she uses that cup, she remembers being seen. Not for what she could give, but for who God created her to be. The cups in my home don’t always represent hope, but I pray that as that jolly tumbler sits on her counter it will somehow remind her that she need not thirst for empty hope when the greatest love awaits her through Christ.

 

Interested in helping with POLE Gems? Email Amy at amy.marie.spivey@gmail.com