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Caring for orphans… {we can do something}

We were driving home from the beach on Saturday–way too late in hopes that our youngest who doesn’t travel so well would sleep. Our little plan worked (beautifully for Isaac and the other children that bypassed the screaming that is), and I got on Facebook via my iphone to read fun friend status’s aloud to help keep my husband alert while making the 6 hour trek. I came across a shared article about the LRA in the Sudan–and nothing could have alerted my husband and I more than what we were about to read.

We read a HORRIFIC article about the REALITY of many children in the Sudan. Many are left as orphans as their parents are killed (often the children being forced to kill their parents themselves)–left not only as orphans but forced to also become soldiers in the LRA. Some escape–others never do. While we were jumping the waves in Hilton Head with our sweet precious ones–one of whom our doctors say wouldn’t be on this Earth had we not gotten him home when we did–children in the Sudan were being brutally traumatized…their futures forever changed.

I had so many feelings as Rich and I talked about these truths…WHAT could we do? Could WE do anything at all? Sure–we can PRAY for them…but we felt such hopelessness as we talked about Sudan. I wanted to FORGET what I read–to pretend it wasn’t REALLY happening…and go back to “fairy land” in my cute little town in north Georgia.

I do NOT want my life to be merely vacation…or what the next retreat our family can go on…OR what the latest and greatest things our kids can have or get lost in. I don’t want to raise our kids to go with the flow of the world either…to have to do or have what other typical American kiddos might have or do their age–and I do not want to raise them in ignorance not KNOWING what the rest of the world is REALLY like (more than half the world lives on $2.50 a day)…or for us to live for OURSELVES.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

We can’t do everything. We can’t save everyone. BUT we can do something.

Richard began to get tired as he drove, but I was far too awake. We traded spots, and I finished the journey–chomping on sun flower seeds (Richard reminding me I sounded like I might break a tooth!), my mind racing and thinking, “What can we do? What can we do? We have to do something!!!”

We got home at 4am. Put the children sweetly and safely in their beds.

They are safe. They are protected. They are blessed.

5am–Isaac woke…screaming. Scared. This always happens when we travel…he wakes and wonders where he is. I calmed him. Richard came in. And we stood there together embracing our son–singing softly to him…reminding him that he is safe and everything is okay. EVERY CHILD DESERVES TO BE PROTECTED. TO BE LOVED.

A few hours later, Richard and I raced out the door while Gigi stayed with the children. We were heading out to a high noon wedding downtown to see his boss’s son marry his sweet and beautiful bride-to-be. We were in our best (although my dress was squeezed into as it was purchased 7 years ago as this momma rarely dresses up.)

I looked at Richard, “Honey, I can’t stop thinking about the children. It’s just…not fair.”

And with the word fair…my voice cracked.

I turned to look out the window as to not mess up my mascara before the wedding. Good grief, I never wear mascara–and it was about to be smeared all over my face. I thought about orphans all over–children made orphans through murder, disease, abandonment…THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE. LORD, HELP ME THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE…

A vision of my time in Thailand came in my mind…

It was something else alright.

I was having my quite time in Starbucks that morning…

They sat at the table next to me–and having a terrible weakness for people watching–this scenerio took me all too little of time to figure out. After 10 minutes of this beautiful Thai girl and American man not speaking a word to one another…it was quickly obvious what their relationship consisted of. He didn’t know Thai. She didn’t know English. Yet at 7am, they sat having breakfast together. This girl who looked to be just 16 with this man in his 40’s. A ring on his finger…a vow made to a wife across the world…while she stayed home with their children. He sat with her–buying her a coffee and a bagle the morning after. And this was chivalry? At least he took her out for morning coffee and a bagle, right? At least he kept his ring on his finger too?

I wish I could say this was an unusal scene in Thailand–but not so much. Quite often–and it’s a wonder the American men at those tables always avoided making eye contact with me. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what the relationship consisted of…

Correct me if I’m wrong–BUT this is NOT what the Bible means when it commands us to look after orphans in their distress. Yet–there she sat, not saying a word and eating her bagle. How beautiful she was…someone’s once daughter…now an orphan and probably not much older than his own daughter at home.

I would never forget those mornings…or the look in the eyes of those beautiful girls who sat there eating their bagle with coffee–looking away…so lonely and sad.

“We can do something…and we ARE,” I thought.

I realized I never told this story to Richard. I threw him off sharing one of these stories just after gaining composure after talking about the children in Sudan. I realized I might not can save those children in the Sudan…but we ARE all called (those of us who are believers) to do SOMETHING.

I realized driving to that wedding…that our next SOMETHING will involve, Lord willing, one day driving to another wedding in some 20 years…but a wedding for our Chinese daughter.

She will NOT age out of the system. She will NOT be an orphan any more. She will NOT have the streets as her option when she ages out. She will not let her disability define her. And she surely will NOT sit with an American businessman at a Starbucks eating a bagle. Not my daughter…she is ours…we will fight for her…and at all costs we will bring her home. Though she might not know her value right now–she is soon to know that she is LOVED. She is VALUED. She is OURS…and most importantly–SHE IS HIS.

When she cries out at night–she’ll have a momma and a daddy rushing in to hold her…to sing to her…to remind her she is safe. She is home.

It’s so easy to get disheartened as we see the sin of our world. To feel like when we see horid things occur that making a difference seems hopeless. But as believers we MUST instead stay ever close to Jesus LISTENING TO AND SEEKING HIS WAY FOR OUR LIVES and not go with the flow of the world. To be complacent and do nothing…to turn our eyes away and focus on WHERE WE ARE GOING OR WOULD LIKE TO GO INSTEAD…is to potentially miss out on not only changing the world of another–but also potentially miss out on His best for our lives.


It will look different for each of us…but we each can do something.

For us, it is to bring home another little girl. This might seem small to the world–but it will be big for us, for our family and for her future. It will not be easy…and the world may look at us like we are crazy…again.

Your calling will most likely not be easy either…as ours for us–seems overwhelming at times too. But Mother Teresa said it best when she spoke about giving–that we must give until it hurts

…and when we give until it hurts we see a miracle take place…in our sacrifice LOVE is replaced–our cups begin to OVERFLOW as He carries us through.

I forgot all about my mascara and just had to tell him, “Just think–in twenty years, you and I could be on our way to another wedding…to HER wedding…”

Tears streaming down my face now…thinking of her–and the wedding that my heart is already dreaming of and the deep meaning it will have…

I kept going, “And when things feel hard like there is just no way I can take on more–when I think about the children in the Sudan or that young girl with her bagel–I’m never more sure of our calling…to bring our little girl home…to give her a family…and to eventually give her the best wedding a girl could want and any princess deserves…so she can have a family and future…”

He looked at me and smiled…and that said it all. I unsuccessfully tried to clear the smeared mascara from under my eyes. And we both were reminded of our purpose and calling…and that our little something just might be everything for another.

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” May you each find that something He is calling you to…and may you be filled with His strength as you persue His will at all costs. Do not lose heart or give up on what He has called you to! We run this race together…and I am so encouraged by so many of you!



Courtney - June 6, 2011 - 4:15 pm

I too saw many a young girls in Thailand in the situation that you saw at that starbucks. Broke my heart and still does. I sometimes get hopeless thinking about children being sold into slavery, the LRA, and countless other heart-breaking situations. I have to remind myself that the Lord is sovereign and that I need to be obedient to what He calls little-old-me to do and that is in fact doing something! Thanks for the post!

Amy - June 6, 2011 - 5:00 pm

I love this reminder and the Mother Theresa quote to give until it hurts. I know that looks different for everyone, but it is still a great reminder. Especially knowing that we have it so good and are so sooo rich and I believe God is going to expect us TO give until it hurts! My heart is so broken right now with so many different stories of children in need and hurting.

Lara - June 6, 2011 - 5:04 pm

Sweet Andrea, I’ve been mulling over this same concept a lot lately. How do we live here after experiencing life there? I found myself in a place where I had unintentionally alienated friends because they just didn’t understand why I couldn’t go on with life as usual. SAve up for the next vacation or new car or house. God has opened some wonderful doors beyond adoption for us to do our “something” and for that I’m so grateful. Love ya girl!

Alison - June 6, 2011 - 6:05 pm

I really like what you said, “To be complacent and do nothing…to turn our eyes away and focus on WHERE WE ARE GOING OR WOULD LIKE TO GO INSTEAD…is to potentially miss out on not only changing the world of another–but also potentially miss out on His best for our lives.” Been thinking about that a lot lately! Thank you for the encouragement!

Makenzie - June 6, 2011 - 7:39 pm

I have been thinking about that article since you posted it. I cannot get the children out of my head, and while it is horrific, I don’t want to get them out of my head. Horrible stuff like this makes me remember why we do the things we do- and how much more we could be doing in our own little way. Thanks for the encouragement!

Dawn - June 6, 2011 - 9:43 pm

Heart ripped open for HIM.

Our callings are soo very important….to listen to HIS voice…to do what HE says…..whatever that is. But to never ever forget His People to look after.

Mama Mimi - June 6, 2011 - 10:53 pm

And now you have the rest of us in tears – that was beautiful Andrea! Every time I get weary about the ways of our world, my husband reminds me that we ARE doing SOMETHING. And I always replay in my head the words Almaz said to YOU when you left HH with your Isaac (don’t remember HOW long ago it was you shared that ;).

Cheri Rogers - June 7, 2011 - 12:35 am

What a wonderful post Andrea. I love your gentle encouragement, timely reminders and words of wisdom. You are a treasure, and I am so thankful for you.

Rory Cookman - June 7, 2011 - 12:20 pm

Andrea, I just love your heart. I started reading Kimberly’s book Passport Through Darkness last night. Oh. my. word. I read through the night and could not put it down. Thank you for your words, your heart, your life. We’ll all keep doing what we can. One life at a time, one step at a time…but God help us if we ever become complacent about it.

Stacy - June 7, 2011 - 2:19 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this. We are right in the middle of the home study / dossier part of our own adoption, and sometimes with 3 little ones already, it all seems a little overwhelming. Thanks for the reminder that God’s call is always WORTH being obedient!!!

rebekah wright - June 7, 2011 - 4:02 pm

THANK YOU for sharing. It is always good for us to be more aware of needs, more aware of what people around the world are going through. You are right, there is ALWAYS something we can do no matter our age, financial situation or abilities…EVERYONE can do SOMETHING…pray, visit, adopt, encourage, give…the list goes on and on. Thank you for being so faithful to share your heart, to point us back to the gospel…we can love no matter the cost because we are LOVED beyond our wildest dreams!!!

Niki - June 7, 2011 - 7:32 pm

I read the article. Ive have never been SO affected by reading about a situation. I dont know if its more personal to me after bringing my son home…I cant breathe, I cant stop crying. If my emotions are limited by being human, how does God not explode in dispair? Sheer strength? So much bigger is His love is for these children. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Dennis Neal - June 7, 2011 - 9:49 pm

That is a touching story and as I have said before you have a wonderful way with words to express yourself. Many times since we have started the adoption process I have had the book of James1:27 quoted or stated to me, and it does stand out however in James 1:25 it says”But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” Thats what we all need to strive for is to be a doer of Christs work.