Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So Where's the Magic?

I remember as a child when missionaries came and shared at church their lives seemed so exciting. What a life! To be a first hand witness to the work of God in people's life -- to witness the magic!

But real life on the mission field isn't like that. It can often be surprisingly similar to life in the states in many ways. Sometimes the mundane activities of our regular schedule grind into monotony and it is easy to lose sight of what is really happening all around us. Between taking the kids to school, baseball practice, and Bible studies, the hustle and bustle of daily life leaves us struggling to keep our heads above water. But just because we do not see it, don't think for a minute that magic is not there. God has designed life so that we are continually thrown into the lives of others. And as long as we allow ourselves to be involved in people's lives in His name, then there is magic.

It is not the sparkle of pixie dust or the wave of the glimmering wand, but rather the sparkle in a child's eye or the glimmer of his smile. And whether one lives in Hungary, Houston or HongKong, God has granted us the privilege of being a part of His magic in this suffering world. My good friend MacKenzie Rollins caught some of that magic last week when she photographed some of those who have become dear to us in our lives and ministry here in Hungary.
So take a look at these photos and maybe they will help you to see the magic again in the work of God all around you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No Longer Orphans

A small child wailed at the top of his lungs in the doctor's office waiting room. To tell you the truth I had hardly noticed it in the hustle and bustle of getting two kids and a husband ready for check ups. But then Niki, our seven year old whom we adopted from an orphanage in Miskolc, Hungary last year, brought it to my attention. "Mommy, I cried like that," she said as her big blue innocent eyes looked up at me. "I cried like that when my foster family left me in the orphanage."
Niki's foster family was the only family she ever knew. She lived with them from age 14 months to 4 years. She loved them and from all appearances they seem to have loved her too. But a series of circumstances made them unable to continue to care for the child and Niki ended up in the orphanage. That was perhaps the first moment Niki realized she was really an orphan.
Adoption is a miraculous thing -- how God can take a child not of your blood and graft them into your family so deeply that you cannot imagine your family ever existed without them. It is a beautiful thing, but the true beauty hides in the deepest places where sacrifice and commitment serve as foundation.
Before we adopted, I did my research and discovered that adoption is tough road to travel. I had witnessed the struggles of friends who had adopted and read lots about attachment disorders -- some of which have very violent natures.
Adoption, as much as it is miraculous and beautiful, is also terrifying. I learned of uncontrollable, manipulative children, some of whom would hurt others, start fires, physically harm themselves. And I often asked God, can I really do this?
It was then that I awakened to what it really means to be adopted into God's family. It is not just the superficial "happily ever after" story. God looked as us with all our reactive attachment disorders, and said "yes, I want them to be my children."
Sin has left all of us as orphans. And like Niki we've cried in the night at the injustice of what the sinful world has done to us. But our heavenly Father was waiting in the wings to adopt us with all our dysfunctions. Still we find ourselves reverting to orphanage behaviors, trying to manipulate others, or even manipulate God. Our attachment disorders lead us to cling to those who are not our true parents; we are ready to walk off with anyone and leave our loving Father behind. We make choices that harm his other children. Sometimes we are determined to ignore our Father's direction and bring destruction on ourselves.
And yet, He remains with us. He is not scared off by the ways we lash out and hurt Him. He is not ready to abandon us when we consciously choose to hurt his other children. He is a loving adoptive father who disciplines us in order to shepherd us into his Righteous Ways.
On November 15, we will celebrate one year with Niki. And it is my earnest prayer, that we can respond to all her hurts and dysfunctions with attitudes and correction that reflect the Heavenly Father's love.