Joy and Sorrow

It’s my first day alone…in so long. I had four kids all summer. I love and delight in all of them but it was hard work negotiating the appointments of two new foster placements (back to back) and daily life with 4 kids. School started this week and I have so much work to catch up on. But I find myself scrolling through facebook and my mind wandering. My brain hasn’t had time to process for the past several months, it’s going crazy with all the silence in my house.

This week is a mix of emotions. Saturday night a teenage boy in St. Louis was shot by a cop. The details of what happened are contradictory. One side says the boy attacked the cop. The other side says the cop harassed the boy and shot him repeatedly as he tried to run away. I don’t know the truth, I wasn’t there to see it.

But what I see on the news is heartbreaking. The racial divide is so obvious. The boy was black, the cop was white. The cops saying the boy was in the wrong are white. The witness saying the cop was in the wrong is a young black man.

As these racial tensions are high in my city, my kids started school. We dropped of our two white kids and one brown kid at The Freedom School. I sat on the floor with my brown skinned 3 year old, D, helping him feel safe in this new environment. Beside me sat a young black man with his 4 year old brown-skinned son. As I left my crying little guy I looked back to see this other dad reaching out his hand to comfort D and invite him to come and play with him and his son.

I think about conversations we will have to have 10 years down the road with our sons. With Sam, my white son, we can talk about following traffic laws and the conversation can end there. Obey the law and you won’t get into trouble. What if D stays with us permanently, in 10 years we have to have a conversation with him about obeying traffic laws. But then we have to talk about making sure you don’t do anything than makes you look guilty. Keep your hands out of your pockets when approached by a cop. Make sure you are completely respectful to those in authority. Don’t run, keep your hands visible so it’s obvious that you aren’t armed.

According to some, the boy who was just shot was shot as he ran from the cop, hands in the air, stating that he was unarmed. How to I prepare by brown-skinned babies for this?

I have joy as I see my kids growing up in an environment where they are building friendships with people of other colors than themselves. I have hope that God’s kingdom is coming and that one day we will be able to live in peace with each other. I have joy in the little glimpses we get to have of that in our life here in St. Louis and at our school and church. I have sorrow that this world is so broken.

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Vicious Cycle

I feel like we are stuck in a vicious cycle. There are several things that we feel committed to as a family but at times these things seem to be in conflict with each other. Lately this has become most apparent in our desire to grow our family through adoption.

Commitment: Kirk’s job at New City Fellowship. We know this is where God has placed our family. Kirk is good at his job and enjoys it. God is using him to show love to the nations by pursuing multicultural music. Our church also believes in walking with the poor. They pay Kirk enough to support his family but not too much to make him unable to sympathize with those around us who are poor. This has been a good thing in our life as we humbly are able to understand what it is like to live paycheck-to-paycheck, almost. New City Fellowship is a good thing God has put in our life.

Commitment: Sarah’s job as a stay-at-home mom. I believe that the best thing I can do for my kids is be a stay-at-home mom for them during the first few years of their life. This gives them the chance to have a stable foundation as they go on into the world. It is hard to be a full-time mommy but also so rewarding. I have loved being able to fully invest myself in my kids, my household, and BAKING! Being at home full time also make me able to spend the time needed to work with a newly adopted child as they mourn for the loss of their first family and attach to ours.

Commitment: Living in the inner city. We moved into our house three and a half years ago. We wanted to live near the church office. God has blessed us with a wonderful block full of wonderful people. We happen to be the only non-African American family on the block. I love it! I love the environment for my kids. I love that I am pushed to step our of my comfort zone to go the the grocery store where I will be the only white face. I love the connections I have made and the acceptance I have received from those around us. I am glad that our AA adopted children will have people around them with the same skin color. And that I am having the opportunity to taste what it is like to be in the minority.

Commitment: Love and compassion for the orphan, the widow, and the refugee. Jesus’ kingdom. This is what has drawn us to pursue adoption rather than having more biological children. We have the space, love, and community that make us good candidates for adoption. Our compassion does not end with children who need a family, we also feel deeply for mom’s who are facing crisis pregnancies. Our desire for a child is balanced with a desire for moms to be able to raise their children. We are also committed to trans-racial adoption. We believe that God has equipped us to be a good option for an African American child because we will be able to raise him/her in an environment where they will be involved with other trans-racial families and have positive African American role models in their life through our neighborhood, church, and school.

Lately I have been frustrated with how our commitment to transracial adoption is being blocked by our financial commitment to being in our church which makes us a good option for a transracial adoption. Arg!

The best way to learn to trust my Heavenly Father is to be forced to trust him. I’m learning this, slowly.

Please pass around our adoption profile to anyone and everyone: KirkSarahAdoptionProfile.wordpress.com.

Eventful Friday

Yesterday was an interesting day with lots to think about. Kirk was off work so the morning was spent relaxing together, eating cinnamon rolls, chillin’ in the back yard.

Next came our meeting with our adoption specialist where we discussed a potential child and some crazy new developments…no case is typical we learned in class and now we get to learn it on a practical level. But God is faithfully keeping my emotions in tact and continues to encourage me that He knows what kid we are right for and will bring him/her at the right time. Sorry, no further details in this public of a venue. 🙂

Then our friend and neighbor dropped by while he waited for his wife, who had the house key, to get home. Kirk had a wonderful conversation with him about adoption, city living, and the grace of Jesus. He is a believer who is feeling dissatisfied with his church where so much emphasis is placed on what separates them from others that they can’t just love people and see similarities. And also his desire for ministries of mercy. Kirk had a great opportunity to talk about New City and our core values of grace and justice.

Next big event was playing outside with the girls from next door. I won’t go into my conversation with one of the girls about how the Most High said that we’re supposed to wear skirts, not pants. As Bethany and I sat out there chatting we noticed some “suspicious” activity down the block. She’d walked down there earlier and seen guys in a car with a whole bunch of money…and guys hanging out in front of houses that are not occupied. So I finally got up the gumption to make my first call to the police to report it. This was a big step for me! A bit later two cop cars drove by, pulled over, chatted with the guys. And then sure enough handcuffed a man and a woman and spent quite awhile out there. Not sure what else happened but hopefully it’s a start to a safer block. It makes me think about the woman arrested…was it for prostitution? has she fallen into prostitution because she’s addicted to drugs? does she have children? will they go into state custody? will she be able to get over her addictions so that she can be a good mommy?

Lest you begin to think that city life is all crime and cops…this is the occurance at one end of the block while the rest of the block is made up of wonderful, neighborly people.

My Summer So Far

Time is changing and I feel like my life is in waiting. This summer has been full of social activity and fun. Running in the early morning with friends. Weekly get-togethers with fellow Christian sisters. Crocheting and embroidering.  Weeding and planting in the garden. Sweating outside so we can play with neighbor friends and host a Bible Club. Frustration, anger, joy, and laughter with the kids. And waiting…waiting for God to make me like Him…waiting for a call from our adoption specialist…waiting for the heat to pass…waiting for the house to be clean. God please help me to be satisfied!

A Little Reminder

For those who don’t know it, I grew up in Kenya as a missionary kid.  When I was one year old my parents moved to Kenya and we lived in a rural setting.  My life today is very different and my children are growing up in a VERY different setting.  However, there are some similarities.

1. God loves variety.  I grew up in a white, American family with black Africans around me.  The school I attended in Nairobi, though mostly white was still very diverse.  My kids get to experience God’s blessing of diversity in our neighborhood and in our church.

2.  Bare feet!  I grew up running around barefoot and playing soccer barefoot.  Though I don’t let my kids play out front in barefeet (too much broken glass), they are always barefoot out back (still some broken glass but not as much).  When it rains they go through several sets of clothes from jumping in puddles and playing in mud.  I hate the laundry but love the experience they are getting.

3.  Wildlife!  Sure, we don’t see giraffe and zebra when we go out for a drive or on a trip through the country.  But we have cats and we’ve seen some possum and even a bunny and birds at our bird feeder.  This new little friend has made his home on our sunflower.  As a child there was a praying mantis who made his home in our kitchen.  This little guy reminds me of my home in Muruu (and here are some other pictures of our garden).

Summer Company

This summer an old (as is for many years, not many years old herself) family friend is staying with us.  Our family’s friendship goes all the way back to Kenya where our parents were missionaries.  She is doing an internship at the St Louis Post Dispatch.  She’s been a wonderful breath of fresh air to our life so far and a joy for our kids and the kids in the neighborhood.  Here’s a little video she made of a couple of the boys on our block.

Romans 12 Challenge

This past Sunday our pastor challenged us to read Romans 12 every day this week and pray over it and ask God to show us how we can offer our bodies as “living sacrifices.”  No, I didn’t read it every day but I do plan to try to read it more this week and pray through it.  A few thoughts I already have, some are my own some are my pastor’s.

* v.1 talks about all of this is in light of the mercy of God.  What an awesome God we serve that in our sinful, rebellious state he would send his very own son to suffer and die on the cross so that we would have the opportunity to be in relationship with a holy and perfect God.  Without the death of Christ we have nothing to bring to God.  WOW!

* v.2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of you mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  A lot of people want to know some sort of specific will that God has for their individual life.  Barry, my pastor, said, “This chapter is God’s will for your life.  Whatever your place in life is isn’t the main issue, it’s whether you are living and serving God as it’s laid out in this chapter and in the rest of the Bible.”  I’ve realized a lot lately how sometimes our whole mind-frame has to be adjusted.  Some things in the Bible are so radical that to be able to follow Jesus really means doing the opposite we’d naturally do.  Love your enemy.  If someone takes your cloak, give them your tunic too.  If you have extra food/money/shelter, give it to someone in need.  In v. 16 Paul says, “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly (my Bible notes say ‘…give yourselves to humble tasks’).”  That’s some CRAZY stuff!

* So often I want to know God’s will…should I marry this man…should we move to St. Louis…should we buy this house…should we adopt, if so, what age, what level of difficulty, private, domestic, international, through the state…etc.  But really, to change my point of view and ask, “Am I serving God, will moving in a specific direction lead me to more serving, more using of my gifts. ”  If that is my main question all of the other questions will be more naturally answered.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the fear of making a wrong decision that we’re paralyzed and end up just sitting there consumed with ourselves and doing nothing for the kingdom of God.  And in so, we miss out on the joy of loving others and following Christ.

Well, my kids rest time is over and I have to “release” them and make some bread.  Thanks for listening to my rambling and helping me to process.  I hope to process more on here later this week.  Here’s a picture from this morning for fun.  My cat Paka found this poor bunny in the lot next door.  Yes, I did rescue it.