Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What do you think?

Good Afternoon Everyone~

When I came in from lunch today, Deanne encouraged me to check out the Family Life Services Facebook page where she posted a great question. 

What language do you feel is acceptable in referring to parents who are considering placing a child through adoption - birth parent, expectant parent, prospective birth parent etc.?

Already, it has sparked great feedback.... feedback that has made me reconsider what I feel is acceptable.  I thought you may want to check it out and leave your thoughts as well! 

I hope you are having a great Tuesday.

PS. Pictures have been posted on Deanne's Blog of our last placement.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Adoption Day, Antoine!

Tuesday was an exciting day at Family Life Services as we witnessed the placement of Antoine and a family being brought together in God's perfect timing.

I love to watch the faces of the new parents as they see the baby for the first time.  Both faces were filled with joy and compassion as Brittany lovingly placed Antoine in Teena's arms.  To catch a glimpse of the special event, please visit Deanne's blog to see pictures and read more details.

Have a wonderful day!

Love Without Measure... Gretchen's Journey Continues

The Journey Continues....If you haven't been to the blog in a few days, please start at the beginning of this powerful story and read Part 1, 2 and 3.

Now, a year later, I can say that time has eased some of the pain. But the most significant thing that has comforted me has been the love without measure that God has poured out to me over the last year. There were many dark times, and many more questions, but around each corner that I turned; I found grace and love packaged in special ways to help ease my pain.

There were many days that I tried to “be strong” and “brave”, but I found that did not work any better following Derek’s death than it did when he was born. This journey was one I entered alone, and although many kind people have traveled with me on my adoption journey, much of this travel had to be done alone, in my heart. As I have let myself feel the pain, and experience the grief, I have been blessed with love, without measure, poured on me from God alone.

Through this year I have found a special healing balm in the words of Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

This summer, as I sit in my living room, I remember the feelings I once had at the beginning of this journey, and am thankful that today I am surrounded by hope, love and grace:

• Hope that one day I will meet my Savior face-to-face, and will experience “reunion day” with Derek, as we worship the Lord together with many other loved ones.

• God’s love that is poured on me no matter what mistakes I’ve made, or how much I’ve disappointed Him….His love is more abundant than my sin.

• Grace that is given freely… grace to cover my wrong, and grace to carry me through the journey of life.

• Hope, that through sharing this journey with you, someone else will find encouragement for their journey.

Gretchen and her family reside in Kansas where she is the Administrator for a Parkside Homes, a retirement health care facility. She and her husband, Doug, are busy with their two children, Leighton (12) and Lanna (11). The kids are active in community theater, band, and church activities. Gretchen worked as an adoption caseworker for Family Life Services from 1998-2001. Her love for the people and ministry of FLS has continued in spite of the miles between.

Feel free to leave any comments for Gretchen as I know she would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gretchen's Journey...Part 3.. Love Without Measure...

With every journey, we travel over are twist, turns and sometimes our direction goes in ways we never anticipated.  Below is the 3rd part of this story... if you missed Part 1 or 2, go back and start from the beginning!

Love Without Measure~
(part 3)

It was the beginning of summer 2009 when I learned news that would change my life again. I got home from work, to find my husband waiting for me, and I knew right away that something was wrong. Gently, he held me and told me that Derek had been in a car accident and did not make it. He told me Derek’s parents wanted to talk to me. What? Why, God? How could this be? The questions flooded my heart and mind. The pain I felt was so intense I didn’t know what to do, but I did what I knew to do and tried to figure out a way to “be strong”. I felt the arms of my husband holding me, but nothing could ease the sting of this pain. There were no answers, only more questions. I knew in my head that God’s love was still there, but I couldn’t feel it. I just felt brokenhearted and alone.

That night I picked up the phone, and dialed the number to Derek’s parent’s house. It felt so strange. I wasn’t supposed to have that number, or be able to talk to them. This wasn’t the way I wanted to “meet” them. Maybe this was all just a bad dream. But no, it wasn’t a dream. As I held the phone, being as brave as I could be, I heard a man’s voice. It hadn’t changed a bit since the day I heard it when I told them that they would be receiving a baby. But today, there was no joy, only sadness. He told me about the car accident, and asked me to pray for them, and commented that maybe I shouldn’t have chosen them after all. I tried to stay strong for them, but inside I was dying. I knew that if my pain was this deep, they had to be hurting even more.

The days that followed seemed like years. I tried to pull myself together enough to go to work, and continue on, but I couldn’t. Once again, the staff at the adoption agency began to pour out God’s love to me without measure. They supported me as I chose to go to Derek’s funeral as well as in the months ahead. Numbed by the reality that my son was dead, and I would never hug him again in this life, I needed to know answers to my questions. Was he a Christian? Would I see him again in eternity? What was he like?

Nuggets of truth became gifts of love from the Lord along the journey to Derek’s funeral. He was 16 when he died, and I remember thinking that the Lord may have spared him from the heartache associated with lessons teenagers learn. I remembered how proud Derek was of the Firebird that he was driving when he went off the road. He told me about it for the first time when he was 8. I was comforted by the words at the top of his list of things he was thankful for… “I’m thankful for my birthmother”. And I was anxious to see the town that he grew up in, yet hoped that I could remain anonymous for the adoptive family’s sake.

At the funeral, I sat in the back with my mother, who traveled with me. I was glad she was there with me, but it was very strange all the same. We watched and listened, and tried to blend in. I was scared that I would cry too hard, but I had cried so many tears, that I think there weren’t any left for that hour. We watched as students, friends, and family gathered to honor Derek’s life. We listened to the testimony that was shared by his pastors, assuring me that he had a real relationship with Christ, and that one day I would see him again. I saw the pain in his parent’s eyes, and shared their pain in my own heart.

Again, in the middle of my pain, the Lord met me with comfort from His Word. The pastor at the funeral reminded us that it was because of God’s grace that we could have salvation and eternal joy and hope. Over the next several weeks, the Lord brought me back to that truth over and over. In Ephesians 2, I was reminded of God’s love that is given freely without measure. I treasured the verses I read, as they brought comfort….real comfort. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” vs 4; I knew those words were true, but they began to take on more meaning. Now I knew what “great love” was, love without measure. I read on to verse five, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”. This verse had much different meaning to me now… because of Christ who gave love, grace and salvation… I would one day be alive together again in eternity with my son and others who had passed into eternity.

I counted many blessings as I heard the stories about Derek’s life. How he brought joy to those around him, and how he always smiled. It made me smile inside when they described his laughter and energy, because I knew that was something that came from me. One of his teachers sat behind me, and commented about what a “good boy” Derek was, and how he always did a great job, even if he was having fun while he was doing it. I was proud of him.

Before we left that little town, we stopped by Derek’s grave. The questions had been answered… It was not a dream. He was really dead. He was a Christian. I would see him again, someday. As we walked up to his grave, the grave digger was there, and asked how we knew Derek. “Friends of the family”, I said, hoping he would not ask questions I could not answer without giving out information that I was not supposed to. “Well, he was a really great boy”, he said, “we’ll all miss him”. As I took a flower from the grave to put in my Bible,  I turned to get back in the car and return to my husband and children who were waiting for me at home. I knew that somehow, I had to find the strength to continue on as a wife and mom to these people, in spite of the loss I felt. I wondered if time would ease the pain.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gretchen's Journey... Part 2

I hope you enjoyed yesterdays blog... read on to hear the next part of her story....

Love Without Measure~
(part 2)

As I waited for him to be able to go home with his adoptive parents, the Lord poured out His love to me, healing my heart that was breaking. My love for my son gave me the ability to be strong in the face of temptation to go back and get him before it was “too late”. I learned through those weeks, what it meant to love sacrificially, and how that type of love held a precious treasure of joy in the middle of deep pain. Through this season, some new verses began to become intensely meaningful. I did not know it then, but these verses (Job 23:6-12), would become my life verses. They would be the words that would hold me when all else around me felt like it was crumbling.

On Mother’s Day, Derek was united with his Mother & Father. That day brought me great joy, knowing that I had followed the Lord’s guidance in my life no matter what the cost. It also brought deep pain, as I knew that I would not be able to see him again for at least 18 years. I didn’t know how I would ever be able to wait that long (patience was not my thing), but I knew that the Lord would carry me through this too.

Through the years, I watched and waited with anticipation for each envelope full of pictures that would come in the mail. I was so glad that I got to see how Derek was growing and developing. When the letters came, I rushed to open them and read them over and over making sure I didn’t miss any of the details. I shared them with the people I knew who understood, and was so proud of my little boy. I dreamed of the day I would get to see him again, and give him the hugs I wanted to all along the way.

One very special day, I opened the package in the mail, and was so surprised to find a letter from Derek! This was an extra special day. I always loved the letters from his parents, but this was in his handwriting and it was addressed to me. I was so happy that he knew about me, and that he wanted to share things about his life with me. I began to pray differently, as I learned to know some of the challenges he faced as he was growing up. These letters continued for years. The blessings that came through those letters were indescribable. Occasionally, like any mom, I would worry about the wrong things influencing him, and then I would pray.

The years went by faster, as we shared letters and pictures. Before long, I realized that we were getting closer to the day that we would be able to meet again. That was a day I waited for since Derek was born, and I left the hospital. Now, it was only a few years before he could legally search for me. The questions began…. Would he look for me? Would his parents let him? What would it be like if he found me? What would I do if he didn’t want to find me? Little by little, I handed these questions over to the Lord. The answers weren’t available, but God’s love without measure was! That was what I needed to carry me through.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Love without measure…Gretchen's Journey

A few weeks ago, I emailed my friend with the request to share her adoption story with the readers of my blog.  Her journey is a precious one... one that we can all learn from.  Please come back daily as I will be posting the next "chapters" over the next few days.  I hope her journey is a blessing to yours.

Love Without Measure....   

Nearly 18 years ago I began a journey of love that would change the course of my life, and teach me to understand love in a much deeper way that I knew was possible. In the summer of 1992, I found myself forced to face the fact that I was not nearly as invincible as I thought I was. Through the events I was about to experience, I would discover the love of the Lord without measure.

That summer, I found myself sitting in my living room trying to put the pieces of my life together. I had completed the last of several pregnancy tests, wishing that they were wrong, and realizing that there was no way they could all be wrong. Now what? I always thought this happened to the “bad girls”. Was that me? What now? Why me?

My heart was drawn to look at the Bible sitting on my end table, which I had not read for several months. As l began reading it, with tears flooding my face I was reminded of the scripture my mother shared with me many times as she prayed for me while I was running from the Truth I knew in God. That verse was Philippians 1: 6, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I wasn’t sure what that meant to me yet. But I knew that it meant God would not give up on me, and somehow, neither would my mother.

The questions came much faster than the answers. I found myself doing what I knew to do, and working out a plan to survive. I figured out everything the best I could, but it was all lacking so much. This is NOT what I wanted for my life. I had goals, dreams, and plans for my future. But now, all I could do was figure out how to get what I needed to take care of this baby growing inside me. All my dreams were gone, at least for now.

Several months later, with the nursery ready, and my stomach growing, I met a lady who shared with me about Liberty Godparent Home (LGH), and the blessing she received through them in her daughter. I was hesitant to say the least, but went to visit. Somehow, I thought I didn’t deserve to be in a place that beautiful or have help for myself. I thought I needed to “pay the price” for my sinful living that had gotten me into this mess. I had heard so many people comment that “you made your bed, now you’ll have to lay in it” that I actually believed them. I was so far from knowing the depth of God’s love and grace.

By God’s grace, He brought me to the home where I found people who were ready to love me and not condemn me. They were warm and friendly, yet firm and direct. They gave me hope again. I was able to begin to see that God was extending His grace and love to me without measure. It was like a cup of water that was waiting for me, and when I was not strong enough to pick it up and take it, He began to flood my life with the living water of grace and love so that even though I couldn’t pick up the cup, the flood waters would eventually cover me with His love without measure.

As I spent time thinking, resting, reading, and listening to Scripture, I began to love a new passage. Psalm 19: 12-14 (NLT) became comfort to me and assurance that I could be something different.

“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?  Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.  Then I will be free of guiltand innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

During my time at LGH, I decided to place my baby with a family who the Lord led me to. I didn’t have any idea how I would ever be able to go through with that plan, because I had grown to love my baby more than anything. But, I also knew that there was an inner strength growing inside of me. I was used to people saying that I was a “strong lady” and that I could do anything I put my mind to, but if only they knew how weak I really felt. The strength that was growing in my heart was a different kind of strength. It wasn’t tenacity or “grin-and-bear it” strength. It was different. It was peace, joy, and love.

I began to feel the truth of II Thessalonians 2: 16-17 which says, “And may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and has graciously given us eternal comfort and well-founded hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” Day by day, I understood more that it was not about my own personal fortitude, but the strength and grace that Christ could produce in me.

On March 3, 1993, my precious son was born. I felt love like I had never felt before. I knew our time together would be short, but there would always be room for him in my heart. The most loving thing I could give him was a family and a home that I wasn’t prepared to provide yet. It was through the next few weeks that I would experience the joy of giving love without measure.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

FLS is on Facebook!

After starting two adoption blogs and joining the world of Twitter, we figured it was time to round out our technology revolution and start a Facebook page for Family Life Services!

For all of you who are addicted to Facebook (whether you admit it or not), we have something for you that will keep you updated on ministry news, placement pictures, blog entries, adoption events, and related articles and news.

Note our disclaimer: Due to the nature of social networking and Facebook, Family Life Services cannot guarantee confidentiality of anything posted on the Facebook page or take responsibility for anything posted by other users. Joining the page is an acknowledgement of this disclaimer.

The Liberty Godparent Foundation, which is the umbrella organization over FLS, also has a page that will have information on how to get involved in supporting the ministry and participate in special fundraising events. There are great ways to get your family or business involved.

See you on Facebook!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Praying for Rachel...

For the next three weeks, Family Life Services will be missing one of our caseworkers.  Please join us as we pray for Rachel Curley and the group that she will be traveling with over the next few weeks.  We are praying for safety and that the Holy Spirit reveals Himself in magnificent ways!
~ Janelle

I’m taking a trip home! Or at least that’s how it feels. You see, Thailand was my home for six years, my first after college, and while I was living there I fell in love with the country, with its people, its children, with the culture. There is something about that place-the food, the smiles, the smells, the mountains up north and the ocean down south. I love it there!

What I don’t love, is the statistic that less than 1% of the 67 million people that live in this country know Jesus. There are so many who are missing out on the most meaningful relationship in the world. And so, in less than a week’s time my husband and I will board a plane along with a dozen high school and college students and we will spend the next two weeks teaching English to Thai students, building relationships, volunteering at a local orphanage, and hoping to spread, everywhere we go, the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).

This is a short term mission’s project. Can lives be changed in a few short weeks? Our prayer is that they can. We know that some of the biggest changes will take place in us, we will learn to love people more, to think about other people more, and hopefully the students on our trip, some of them leaving the U.S. for the very first time, will see that the world is a much bigger place than they may have thought. They will see that not everyone lives like they do, eats what they do (I can hardly wait to see who try fried cockroaches!), or worships Who they do. Check back in a few weeks to hear how it all went and maybe even see a picture or two!


But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)