Outrageous

On May 28th, a 4-year-old boy crossed the barrier and fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. The gorilla was violently dragging and throwing the child. The Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team made the difficult decision to put the gorilla down to save the child. I’m sure you’ve heard the outcry. Obviously it was a terribly unfortunate and sad event, but the actual event is not the purpose of my post.

The outrage directed at both the boy and his mother is stunning, and I will not remain silent. This is not acceptable.

In an age of technology where “once you’ve posted, you can’t take it back”, I’m shocked by countless posts and comments that have the potential to follow and harass this family forever. There are many people saying that the mother deserved to die. There are other posts suggesting that the child should’ve battled it out in a “survival of the fittest” showdown with the gorilla. Anger is everywhere, and it’s outrageous. Everyone knows “this”. People at the grocery store where this family shops know this, neighbors know this, people on the other side of the world know this—everyone knows.

Can you imagine the kind of thoughts racing through the mother’s mind as her son starts kindergarten in the days ahead? Forget the typical nervousness. She’ll wonder if the classmates’ parents are the ones who thought she deserved death, or worse yet, if they felt like her son deserved to die.

It doesn’t stop there. Think about this boy. Imagine that 5 years from now attends a classmate’s jungle-themed birthday party. One of the other partygoers has heard his parents talk at home. He makes a comment that this child can’t wear the gorilla party hat because he’s a “gorilla killer”.

What about 10 years from now when this boy is working on a research paper for school and stumbles across the sensationalism of this story. It hits him in a fresh way because he’s older and he can grasp the reality that everyone, everywhere knows, and that they hated him. You’ve told him that his mother is an “unfit parent” and you hated her too. Why is that ok?

He’s going to read your comments. They’re going to take up residence in his heart and mind. You have the ability to impact his future. And you’re telling him that his life is worth less than that of a gorilla.

I hope you never have to understand what it’s like to have your child text you from school to say that they can’t go to class, they are in the bathroom crying, completely destroyed by a social media post from a classmate about the event that happened in their life 10 years before. As you read their text you can barely breathe. Your heart breaks into a million little pieces. You want to run straight to that bathroom and bring them home and never send them back into the “real world”. But you can’t do that. You work through the aftermath of this situation. But it’s changed you, and it’s changed your child.

IMG_8278Your words carry weight. Your words shape lives—they have the power to uplift or to destroy. Choose wisely.

I am not going to be an Israelite today.

We all have those moments. We all have those days that seem to push us over the edge of what we feel is “humanly possible”. Maybe it’s that one appointment I almost missed, or trying to squeeze one more end of the year activity into an already full calendar.

Don’t get me wrong, this life (all of it), is a gift. But sometimes I forget that, especially this time of year.

And then my mental stamina takes a nose-dive, and my thoughts follow along that downward spiral. My head fills up with all the stuff I’m not doing enough of, the extra time I do not have, and all the ways I’m failing. And you know where that goes. I become a miserable Israelite, wandering in the wilderness, full of complaints.

But I have a choice. I can choose to regain perspective.  I can choose to realign my “to-do list” with God’s call upon this season. I can choose to look for the things that may seem good, but are not good choices right now.

And then I can take a deep breath, and pray, and start over. I can begin again with a faith-filled focus on God’s amazing grace and his ability to give me more than enough.   “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  I accept His invitation.  IMG_7232

What God Does With Death

It’s Easter week. My heart’s focus is redemption. More than any other time of year, this week calls to me, it grabs my attention and makes me take a long look at life. And in this process of discovery, there are truths that I don’t want to forget. One of the main truths I see is what God does with death.

I’m not just talking about physical death. I’m talking about the death of hopes and dreams, death of desires and passions: the death of the heart. Let’s be honest with each other—sometimes externally we’re entirely alive but inside we are absolutely dead.

And there’s probably a very understandable reason (or perhaps a whole list) that explains why we are dead. While important to our condition, the reasons are not the focus of what happens next.

Think about the whole focus of Easter and ask yourself this question, “What does God do with death?” And hear the answer, full of love and tenderness, “He brings life.”

Jesus chose death.

His family, his friends, his followers, and even his enemies all thought it was over.  But God wasn’t finished, because he does something incredible with death.

He brings life.

And that gives me hope. Because I know death. I know human death and I know the kind of death that tries to creep in and suffocate. If we’re honest, we all know the kind of death that tries to steal our hopes and dreams. The “death” that wants us to give up. But I’m telling you that you have a choice. Don’t give up! Hang firm on this belief: death is not the end—it’s a new beginning.

Jesus didn’t stay dead. God had this incredible redemption plan for Jesus and he has one for us too. Resurrected life. Jesus lay in the tomb 3 days. To those on the outside it looked like everything was over. But, deep inside that tomb, there was something remarkable happening.

And that very same remarkable thing happens in our lives.

Jesus rested in the Father’s hands for 3 days. And then came the RESURRECTION! He came out of the tomb and was practically unrecognizable. He had to prove who he was by his scars.

And I promise you this: God still has the same plan. The answer to death is always life. When some piece of our life dies, God asks us to place ourselves in his hands and rest. In that place of rest he breathes life over us. He restores our soul, he renews our mind and he revives our heart. But that won’t happen unless we let go and rest.

So maybe this Easter week you find yourself in this very place. You’re broken, beaten and the weight of life is crushing you.  Maybe you’ve come here unexpectedly or perhaps you saw it coming. How you arrived doesn’t matter. Why you’re dead inside doesn’t matter. What matters is that death is not the end and this IS your time for life.

If that’s you, then I’m asking you to be intentional to the place of surrender. Lay aside the deadness and your perception of personal responsibility and circumstantial disappointment. Simply rest in your Father’s embrace. Allow him to renew you from the inside out, and stay as long as it takes.

His plan for you is LIFE, and it’s going to be glorious! When you come out of this tomb, you (and probably others) will only recognize the “you that used to be” because you still have the scars. The scars are a reminder of what was, but now life takes center stage in the radiance of hope restored and dreams revived. RESURRECTION! Faith and passion become focused determination to live this “redemption story”.

But you have to make the choice to believe that death is not the end. It’s a choice to embrace surrender. And yes, this choice costs something, but the blessings far outweigh the cost.

Life is captivating, and it’s coming for you. Love. God’s love. It’s coming for you. Open your heart and get ready. It’s time for resurrection.

God is real, he is alive, and his love brings us to life!

 

 

A Day for Celebration

Everyday.  To me, celebration is necessary.  It is relevant, and it inspires.  When I’m looking for a reason to celebrate, then I will surely find one.  Some days the celebrations are obvious, some days they are hidden.  Regardless, there is something worth celebrating every single day.

Look for it.  Seek it out.  On the gray days, dig deep, keep your eyes wide, and refuse to believe that celebration is not meant for you.

Why?

Maybe you’re in the midst of a struggle and can’t find it.  But Jesus is celebrating you. He’s cheering you on.  He rallies to your side.  He sees your struggle and your fierce determination.  You haven’t given up. You are loved.   And that’s reason to celebrate.

I think about all the people I’ve lost and what I miss the most are not the huge “party type” moments.  No, it’s the little ones.  I miss the moments that seemed insignificant- the moments that I wouldn’t have thought I’d remember years later.  But I do.  I miss the quiet celebration in my heart over 5 minute phone calls with my dad about nothing.  We simply talked about the day. And simplicity didn’t seem significant then, but it does now.

So I will celebrate- with good food, hard work, and satisfying rest.  I will celebrate with laughter over funny youtube videos and “minion speak” with my kids.  I will celebrate with 5 minute conversations and holding hands.

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And in that place of celebration, my heart is satisfied.

 

Suffering is not a competition, and neither is your response.

Everyone has an opinion on the crises throughout our world. Here’s my 2 cents. Suffering is not a competition. It’s not an “us vs. them” or a “me vs. you” scenario. Pain is pain. Period. Here’s what I know- we all face pain. Our circumstances are different but we feel the same way inside. And if we allow it, pain changes our perspective. Pain has the ability to give us eyes to see and a heart that beats with passion and purpose.  I don’t have to experience your exact circumstances to feel motivated to do something to help you.

But here’s the kicker—I can’t just feel the motivation and let it fizzle away. I must choose to embrace the compassion in my heart and do something for you. From experience, when I let the compassion fizzle, it dulls my sensitivity. The more often I’m moved but do nothing, the less compassion I will feel in the future.

You can say that the refugee crisis is a religious thing, and you can quote verses to back yourself up—either for or against. I’ve seen it go both ways. But I’m telling you that it’s not a religious thing. It’s a cry from the depths of humanity to live and breathe. And that’s a hard thing to fully understand from the comfort of an American lifestyle. But I can’t close my eyes to their struggle and I can’t silence my ears to their cry.

No, America isn’t perfect. Yes, there are many other groups of people who need our help. But it’s not a competition. If you feel compassion for veterans, then help them! If you feel mercy for the homeless, then help them! If you feel tenderness towards at-risk youth, then help them! And if you are concerned about the refugees, then help them!

But don’t feel compassion and let it fizzle. If we decide not to help the refugees it means that fear has won—the terrorists have won, and they have terrorized us to the point of their control.

Let love win. We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we must do something!

Our Adoption Journey!

November is National Adoption Awareness month (#NAM), and you can follow along on my Facebook page for a month long look at our adoption!  I’m sharing our story and would love to have you follow along.  Find me here.

-Marie

Adopt the older child.

According to a 2015 UNICEF report, of the 132 million orphans worldwide, 95% are over the age of 5.

Over 125 million orphans are 5 or older.

What are you going to do about it?

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This is my son Lungelo.  Many say that he is blessed to be a part of our family.  But they’ve got it all wrong.  We are the ones who are blessed.  I am blessed.

I’m blessed- he calls me “mom”.

I’m blessed- he gives never-ending hugs.

I’m blessed- his smile lights up my life.

I’m blessed- he says “I love you.”

I’m blessed- he falls asleep in my arms.

I’m blessed- he laughs, he’s loud, he’s full of life.

Is adoption easy?  No.

Is parenting easy?  Never.

But the beauty of all I’ve received far outweighs my “sacrifice”.

There are 125 million kids just like him all across the world.  And they’re waiting for someone like you to open your heart and let them in.

Adopt the older child.

-Lungelo’s mom

PS- If your heart is stirred (and I hope it is) message me for info!

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