Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Mercy of Perspective

There hasn't been much time to blog around here...or time to think, for that matter! I feel a little like we are floating through the "post-Christmas blues". It goes something like this...

"There's nothing to do."  


"I don't have anything to play with."

It's when the newness of what's new wears off, and you experience the let-down of no more new, and now, it's just old and not near as much fun.

It happens to all of us. I know firsthand. Post-partum blues. Post-adoption blues. And if you combine the two, it's just The Blues.

Really, boys??? Take a look around. I have to bite my tongue to not give them the speech that they've heard 1000 times. You know the one. Starving kids in Africa...

Boys, there are kids all over the world who would give anything to have just ONE of your toys. They have nothing. No house, no Momma, no Daddy, and definitely, no playroom so full of toys that you can barely walk through without stepping on something.

They know the speech. And they know the truth. Because, now, one of those little ones is their very own sister. A little girl, who without someone to teach her, would pick up one of those blocks that cover our floor and would drop it (or tap it or flick it or mouth it) over and over and over again again. Why? Because she's never had a block to play with, or never had anyone to teach her that blocks are made for stacking. She never had a toy to call her very own. For 6 years, she never had anything. Yet, you have the audacity to say you have nothing to play with.

There are so many others like S, so many still not chosen, and it makes me mad how quickly we forget! It makes me mad at ingratitude and how miserable it can make us. It makes me mad how it can sneak in and steal our joy and distract us from our purpose.

The statistics say that there are more than 143,000,000 orphans across the world. The memory of S's orphanage is still fresh on my mind. The faces of the other little children, the barbed wire fence surrounding her little playground, the beds lined up in rows, paint chipping off, and the bathroom that was simply a hole in the floor...I want to forget, but I can't. The mess of it all makes my heart hurt. 

Or is it just the mess of their room that I can't stop thinking about? Which of the two is it? A broken and hurting world or a room covered in Legos? And as I wade through the 143,000,000 pieces of "I have nothing to do", I know that what they really need, what I really need, is a good dose of perspective. 

We have a merciful Father. His mercies are new every morning, and He never ceases to give. Just last week He gave me some fresh perspective. It showed up in my mailbox. A mercy...

It seemed that the boys weren't the only ones with discontented hearts! The day had been hard and the night before was long and I was tired and the big boys were fussing and Barrett is two and needed a spanking and Evie is teething and S had been refusing to drink her milk and I had already changed 10 diapers and thrown out 3 pair of undies and it was only lunchtime. Multiple times throughout the morning I had silently whispered to myself how miserable this was. Will she ever get it? Will it ever get easier? Will it always feel this hard? And I spent the morning counting my complaints, listing them in my mind, one by one. 

~Smeared toothpaste on the clean countertop
~Unflushed potties (WHEN will they ever learn?)
~Tee-tee on the floor again (WHO keeps mis-aiming?)
~Toys scattered all over the floor (Do you know what it feels like to step on Legos with bare feet?)
~Piles of laundry (It turns out the boys aren't the only messy ones in this house!!!)

~Spilled Milk (Why does he always spill it right after I mop?)
~It had been over a week since I left the house. (Can I add that to the list?)
~ I couldn't remember the last time I had a full night's sleep. (Really, I can't remember!)
~Or the last time I had a date night with my husband (unless you count the 4 hours we spent together in the ER with a certain, blond-headed 2 year old with a broken collar bone).

My list was long and growing, and I guess you get the picture of the kind of list I had been making. I wouldn't quite categorize it as Counting Mercies.
Counting my Miseries. I'm right there with my boys in my struggle with ingratitude, not to mention, defeat, discouragement, and cynicism. So, when I opened the mailbox and saw the monthly newsletter from Voice of the Martyrs, Mercy met me. Mercy reminded me how much I have to be thankful for.

The mercy of perspective...

On the cover of this particular issue there was a picture of a little girl with a bandaged-up arm. The boys saw me looking at it and asked me what it was, and I sat there speechless for a second. How do I explain to my middle son, the one that just minutes before was slugging his brother over a single Lego, that the little girl in the picture, the one with brown skin and black eyes and no arm, is five years old just like him. How do I tell Hank that this little girl, with a bandage where her arm used to be, watched mean and angry men storm her house and use a machete to kill her parents and sisters. That she survived, but lost her arm and her whole family. That this atrocity happened because they loved Jesus, and it happens all over the world, all the time. How do I explain this?

Then I turn the page, and we see a picture of another family. The Daddy is missing from the picture, and the older 2 boys ask me what happened to him. Do I tell them that, because this Daddy boldly printed copies of the Bible in a country that says it's illegal to even own a Bible, that he was arrested and thrown in a prison. The torture he endured and the conditions he faced made me wish I had never once fussed at them about their stinky bathroom. They  wanted me to tell them more, and, so I read it to them, cover to cover, a slightly edited version, but nonetheless, the truth. The reality of what so many people, so many children even, around the world experience was hard to hear. I know it left an imprint on their little hearts. It was 
the perspective we needed, the mercy that showed up in our mailbox!

A few days later, another packet from Voice of the Martyrs arrived. This one had a big map of the entire world and identified countries that were hostile to Christians. It also had a letter-writing kit, giving us the opportunity to write letters to people who are in prison because of their faith. The boys were excited about this, and it was a great assignment for Bible class this past week in school! We've also pulled off the shelf one of our favorite books, Window on the World, which is part of Operation World and helps us know how to pray for people groups and missionaries around the world. The Lord used this ministry not that long ago when He stirred our hearts and opened our eyes to the plight of so many orphans. (You can read the beginning of S's story here.)

Generous in love - God, give grace! Huge in mercy...
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life....
Put fresh wind in my sails...
Psalm 51

Counting Miseries has turned back into Counting Mercies! Perspective made all the difference!!! Just this weekend, I added a new mercy to my list. What started as a beautiful afternoon in the country ended up as a long and scary night in the Emergency Room. I already mentioned that Barrett broke his collar bone, but I didn't tell you that he fell more than 6 feet from the platform of the tree house the boys and Will have been building. As I saw him laying on the ground, I realized how just one second can change everything. The mercy of perspective.

How incredibly thankful I am that his angels were watching over him, that he didn't hurt himself worse. Oh, the outcome could have been so very different, and a broken collar bone is one mercy I won't ever forget!

I wish I had time to tell you more! The Lord is working, and even when it feels hard, I know that He is here. He is healing and helping and I am thankful

There are so many prayers being offered up for this little girl. I am humbled by the number of people who continue to pray for S and for our family. She is learning more and more and just this week has started making new sounds! I can't wait to tell you about my favorite one! I'll give you a hint. It starts with the letter M!

We also get to make another visit to the hospital this week. Tomorrow morning S will undergo a much-needed surgery on her mouth! Her little teeth are in such bad shape, and I will be so glad to get this behind us! We're expecting multiple root canals, extractions, and crowns, and, unfortunately, we're not expecting our insurance to cover much of the cost. But the Lord has faithfully provided every step of the way, and I know that we can continue to rest in His perfect provision! He took us from a houseful of 4 wild and crazy little boys this time last year...

...and in His mercy He added 2 sweet little girls to our family! What an adventure this year has been! 

Even when we got off track along the way, the Lord just kept the mercies coming! I might stop counting, but He never stops sending! One blessing after another!

You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
Psalm 23:5


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