Oh, the Waiting


Oh, the Waiting #adoption #orphancare

 Well they say that absence makes

The heart grow fonder every day

Sweet child, it’s true

In every way

.

So I will hold you in my heart

While I can’t hold you in my arms

Oh, the waiting

It’s so hard

 .

When you look up at the moon

Just remember that I’m looking too

Oh, the longing

If you only knew

I keep finding things ’round here

That remind me of our time with you

Oh, the memories

They bring fresh tears

 .

I can hear your clear sweet voice

Your “good morning”, ‘”night” and “love you too”

Oh, the joy

That you bring

 .

So tonight I’m sending love

And hugs and kisses and a prayer to you

O my Dearest

You’ll be home soon

.

Missing our sweet little one in Ukraine tonight,  Justina Dee

The Deep Well of a Mother’s Love {A glimpse into the life of an adoptive family}

Mother and her family

 

“No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love.  It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.” ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin

(Is there someone from your childhood whom you haven’t seen for a very long time, but your heart still glows with love every time you think of them? My daughter, niece and I visited one of those people this weekend, and her life experiences over these past years is too beautiful and inspiring to keep to myself. On Friday afternoon we took a little road-trip under the hot Texas sun, through a few beautiful little towns, down a country road, up a long gravel lane, and finally arrived at our destination. We parked by the fenced pasture and were greeted by the family dogs.)

As we made our way to the house, the front door opened, and out walked one of the most beautiful families I’ve ever seen. First came my childhood friend (now a mother), followed by twelve of her and her husband’s thirteen children.

We embraced, then my eyes brimmed with tears at what followed. My friend’s intense love for each child was evident on her face (and even in her mannerisms and gestures) as she introduced me to every one of her blessings. Eight biological and five adoptive children (from Cambodia, Guatemala and Ukraine.) With each introduction of her precious ones, I was given another glimpse of their mother’s deep, deep love for them.

We sat down around the table in the farm-style kitchen and enjoyed a scrumptious family style meal, followed by a three-layered cake lovingly and beautifully baked by two of the girls. Sharing time with this family was an extraordinary experience. I sat across from a long bench of beautiful little ones, who sat in front of a large window through which you could see the great outdoors. The respect and courtesy these children demonstrated to us their guests, as well as to each other was a complete delight to behold (and experience).

Dinner was full of reminisce, stories and laughter. Love emanated from my friend and in turn, from each of her children. As the matter of fact, there is no denying the fact that this home is built on the strong and firm foundation of God’s love, as every square inch is filled with its grace and beauty. The picture of these children together, in their little corner of the world is such a picture of redemption that I have no words to describe it. What can one woman do to change the world? I need look no further than my friend’s kitchen table in Texas. The respect, admiration and adoration these children have for their mother is precious to behold. After all, she is a picture of Jesus to them.

Playground

After supper, everyone helped clean the kitchen, and we headed outside where twilight was just setting in. The children played, (all the older ones helping the littles), while us mommies caught up on the years that have passed by. It’s hard to believe there were fourteen children (including the two I contributed to the group) playing around us, they were so well-mannered. Such kindness and joy flowed from every member of this family! My daughter and niece had an amazing time playing, meeting the children’s animals, and then riding horseback.

Family Playground 2

As dusk set in, we took all took a walk together. It was magical. My friend shared the stories of each of her children. All I could think of is how DEEP this mother’s love is! It is like a well. Because her love is an extension of GOD’s love, it never runs dry.

Country WalkWalking along their country lane, we shared the joys and heartaches, the mountaintops and the valleys of our mothering experiences. I heard how one of her daughters was found at the orphanage doorstep, wrapped in rags. She told me about the unlikely path (full of intense sadness and ultimate joy) which led to the homecoming of two sisters from Ukraine. We talked about babies being born after their due-date. We shared struggles, current battles and the reality of living a life that looks different from those expectations we had as young women what seems so long ago.

My beautiful friend

I didn’t want this evening to end. We finished our visit with some time around the piano. (Which my friend’s children can play, as well as the violin!) As we sang “Amazing Grace” together, and the children’s clear, sweet voices rose up around me at the piano bench, I was completely overcome with emotion. These little ones understood these words far better than most of us could ever begin to do.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come;

‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far

And grace will lead me HOME” ~ John Newton

Amazing Grace

Incredibly inspired. Massively challenged. And undeniably encouraged am I, by this dear woman’s deep well of Love. May we all die to self. Live to love others, and make an eternal difference in our world in such a way as this.

~ Justina Dee 

Our Adoption Story {Part 1}

Adoption ::: Our Story

 

We were young and in love. The bleak truth staring both of us in the face was that we may never have biological children. As the oldest of six children in a loving family, this reality crippled my joy. How would the dreams and expectations I had for our future together ever come to be?

You see, since I was a little girl, all I ever really wanted was to have, and hold, and raise my babies. I had names. I had plans. I had a picture of our beautiful “brood” in my mind. The white picket fence with our children laughing and playing inside of it. The dining room table with all my “littles” seated ’round it. Story time. Music time. Teaching them all about Jesus. Wiping away their tears and cleaning their snotty noses. And none of it seemed possible, thanks to my irksome endocrine system.

While I was devastated, my strong husband was very much at peace with the whole “problem”. Before marriage we had talked for many hours about the fact that adopting children was something with which we were in complete agreement. We believed that together, we were made and created to bring orphans to their forever home with us. We heartily determined that we would act on it someday.

After six years of marriage, many visits to various OB/Gyn’s, Endocrinologists and specialists, I was finally diagnosed with a severe case of endometriosis. Upon healing from outpatient surgery, I was overjoyed to live my life and go about daily activities free from the pain that had plagued me for so long. We were told that the best chance of conceiving was within a year of the procedure.

A year came and went. Another year went by. And still, I was not pregnant. We began our plans of adoption – only to find out we finally WERE pregnant and expecting our miracle daughter! (More to come on that incredible story of God’s faithfulness later).

When our beautiful daughter was two years old, we started up the adoption process again. And then, the unthinkable: our plans fell through. The nursery was ready. Our family was ready. But the timing wasn’t right. After coming so close to having and holding child number two, I was heartsick. I went through all the grief and emotions of miscarriage, which I had (on several occasions), previously experienced.

Then early one morning during my quiet time, I saw a picture in my mind of a little girl. I knew she was the daughter we had to find and bring home. (I look forward to sharing all the details about that unforgettable and pivotal moment in time, in a future post). We began to pray faithfully as a family, for this daughter and sister of ours. That was eight years ago. Fast forward to today, and we are in the process of adopting an eight-year old daughter from Ukraine. Coincidence? I think not!

An adoption conference, countless hours in prayer, much counsel and conversation, many books, articles, blog posts, videos and copious volumes of research along with an outpouring of support from friends and family later, we’ve finally reached the point in our journey where we are only months away from our daughter finally coming home.

We are older. And even more in love. And finally, the beginning stage of adoption is part of our story. God has given me joy, excitement and contentment with HIS plan for our family. We have a photo. We have a name. And we are getting everything ready and in place for our daughter and sister to finally be with us.

To be continued…

~ Justina Dee

The Frontlines of Motherdom

Portrait by E. Dubufe

Portrait by E. Dubufe

 

The mother stood immovable at the door of her family’s home built on a great Rock, and she boldly faced the world outside. A storm was raging in the night all around her. She held a lantern high in one hand and wielded a sword in the other. The light and warmth from her lamp shined a clear, unapologetic beacon outward, and she peered valiantly into the obscure and cold darkness. An exquisite scarlet curtain hung over the door, marking her humble home with royal Grace and Beauty. The little house on the hill shone brightly behind her, and her family slept safe and warm in their peaceful beds.

As she surveyed the dangerous scene around their home, she saw ferocious enemies taking cover in the darkness. This mother knew there was a battle raging around her, for the very hearts, souls, minds and strength of her precious children. Some mothers who could not see the enemy scoffed at her for the extreme actions she took to protect her little lambs, but nothing could dissuade her from the important mission she was carrying out. She was keenly aware of the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers that lurched in the shadows. But this mother had no fear, because she was armed for battle, and knew not only how to stand her ground, but how to send the enemy away in defeat.

There were days the adversary was evident. He brazenly stalked the children like a lion. His dark shadow caused terror to fall upon those around him because of the sheer evil emanating from it.  Other times he was much less visible, as he crept in through open doors and unguarded gates & passages.  Sometimes he would even disguise himself, and appear as an angel of light, walking into the midst of her undiscerning neighbors and destroying everything around him.

But this mother was qualified, equipped and prepared for the battle at hand. The experiences in her life had readied her for this time of motherhood. She remembered the combat from her past. There was the time when an evil dragon sat looming as large as a tree outside her home. She prayed and spoke the Words of the Eternal One into the atmosphere, until he soared away, never to return. Once when she was walking along an obscure path, a cougar who was stalking her jumped from above. She drew her sword, and it fled in defeat. She remembered her dream warning of evil men with intention to annihilate a friend. She joined with others who warred, and together they prayed till the danger of murderous evil had passed. She thought about the times she saw glimpses of messengers and warriors of Light, who were sent by the King to guard her, and battle the evil forces. They resolutely guarded the paths all around their house, went up and down the stairs and walked the rooms throughout their home, guarding the family while they slept at night.

After she became a mother, she grew in discernment and wisdom. There was a time when she learned that the enemy was scheming to take her children away into the darkness. She gathered her darlings and hid them in the safe place she had prepared ahead of time, until the danger passed.

She knew her children had a great purpose and many things to accomplish during their time on earth, and so she fearlessly and earnestly guarded each of them. She knew they would be brave rulers and fearless prophets. She recognized they would serve the world with love, and they would bear mercy to the nations. She understood they would be world-changing exhorters, beloved teachers, and generous givers. She was utterly mindful of the significance of each child’s life, and the influence they would have on history itself.

She believed the Creator himself knit each of her children together in the womb, and she was determined to equip her children to carry out their lifework. From the time she nursed and carried her infants, she taught them to love the precepts and beauty of Noble things, and through the actions of her life, she modeled to them what trust in the Eternal One looked like. When her babies woke with screams in the darkness of the night and wee hours of the morning, she held them close to her heart. She rose above her weariness, and soothed them with songs and quiet words for hours on end – and she cherished every moment with them.

At times other adults who were fighting battles with her wanted to send the children away, as they thought they were too young to understand kingdom matters, but this brave mother wouldn’t hear of it. Even while the menacing enemy lurked and growled nearby, she roused her children around her and led them to sing songs of victory, with shouts of joy, laughter and delight. The ordained praise from their lips silenced the avenger, and he and his minions cowered away in defeat.

She was intent on guarding and nurturing the important calling of each child’s life. She said she would rather be drowned at the bottom of the ocean than to harm the hearts and purposes of her children in any way.

Sometimes there were battles that raged on for days around their little home on the hill. Thousands of people fell on all sides, but her family’s dwelling was covered by an Almighty Hand, and there was nothing in heaven or on earth that could harm them. There were times when the mother guided her children through dark valleys filled with fearful shadows, and the journey was long and hard. There were seasons when she was too weary to take another step. It was then, that she felt strong and gentle Arms lifting her, then carrying her and her little ones away from all danger, to a safe haven of rest.

This mother trusted her children to the Great Protector and knew that one day they would have to leave the refuge of their home, and go out into the world without her, to carry out the mission for which they were created.  So she tirelessly taught them how to use their armor, about the companions they should choose, and how to fight and defeat the enemy. She told them that as they left their home and the people they loved, to do the business of the Kingdom, they would be blessed one-hudredfold.

She had no want of confidence as her children grew and went on their way, for their Creator himself had placed love like crowns on their heads and wisdom like bracelets on their wrists. There was a seal on their arms; stronger than death itself. This mother had blessed her children with the gift of faith. They knew that they would be strangers and foreigners in this land, but in the distance they could see the promise of a heavenly country. She knew her children understood that even though the battle was very real, their world was only a shadow, and they were pressing onward to a better city which was being prepared for them – where there was no more darkness, heartache or pain. Never again would there be danger from the evil enemy, because of the great and eternal love of the Victorious One who came to rescue all who believed in Him.

In closing; there are mothers who have one child, and mothers who are blessed with many sons and daughters. There are mothers who rescue orphans and bring them into their arms, adopting them as their own blood. Sometimes caring for these precious ones for brief weeks, and other times they are able adopt them into their homes forever. But no matter how short or long the time, these mothers never stop fighting and praying for the little ones they love. There are precious mothers who bear the sorrow of losing children they loved and protected in their womb, whose feet never walked on the earth beside them. The spirits of their beloved babies went straight to the Beautiful Place, where the battle over death is forever won. Then there are those beautiful women who never carried babies in their own womb, or in their own home, but are nevertheless mothers, nurturers, teachers, and defenders of children in their village and everywhere they walk. Their magnetic love draws children close to their protecting spirits wherever they go, and the lives many children are forever impacted by their love and prayers. There are other mothers whose children were now grown, who come alongside younger women, giving wisdom and encouragement. Together all of these radiant and brave women blaze trails, go to battle, and raise generations of faithful men and women who carry eternal Light and Hope to countless multitudes.

Dedicated with love to Jocelyn; one of the bravest mothers I know.

~ Justina Dee

 

Scriptures referenced in this story:

Ephesians 6:11-13

2 Timothy 1:5

1 Peter 5:8 

Moses’ Mother

The story of Jehoshabeath

Hezekiah’s Mother

Psalm 139:12-14

Samual’s mother Hannah, Mary the mother of Jesus & Elizabeth the mother of John– who understood the plans God had for their babies

Psalm 22:8-10

Isaiah 49:1

1 Thessalonians 2:7

Psalm 8:2

Matthew 19:14

Luke 17:2

Psalm 91

Isaiah 40:11

Psalm 131:1-3

Isaiah 66:13

Proverbs 1:8

Proverbs 31:1

Song of Solomon 3:10-11

Song of Solomon 8:2

Judges 4-5 (Deborah & Jael)

2 Chronicles 29:1-3

Psalm 113:7

Psalm 27:9-11

Isaiah 66:13

Matthew 10:37

Matthew 19:29

Hebrews 11

 

Why We Choose to Homeschool Our Children

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Disclaimer: First (with a big smile on my face), let me say that I am a Christian; so this post was written though a “Biblical” lens and is therefore religious in nature.  Second please hear me when I say; I do not believe people who send their children to school are bad parents! I DO however suggest that every parent is obligated to do everything in their ability to provide their child with the best education possible. Homeschooling is not for everyone. My desire is simply to share our fundamental reasons for educating our child (and our future children) at home.

Why do we homeschool? Simply put: My husband and I believe it is our God-given responsibility to equip our children for the life He has designed for them. We want to be the adults who mold their worldview. We are convinced it is the optimal way to identify and nurture our children’s God-given gifts. And we believe that (for our family) it is the best choice for academic excellence.

In future posts, I’ll be addressing the most common questions I’ve heard for most of my life, as a homeschool student & graduate, and now homeschooling parent. Critical or skeptical parties typically ask the following questions; so please allow me first highlight the massive, wrinkly elephant in the room:

1) How will  your homeschooled child develop the social skills they need for life?

2) What about sports?

3) How can you possibly ask your child to miss out on experiences like homecoming and prom?

4) How can they get into college, and how will they be able to handle their classes?

5) I once knew a homeschooling family who was very weird. How will you make sure your child isn’t awkward and strange?

I’ll address all these questions at another time. There are tremendous answers for all of them! But in the meantime: After reading what God’s word tells us about parenting, we feel convicted to do whatever is possible within our means as parents, to bring up our children under the authority and lens of the Gospel. In that light, I find it interesting that Christian parents aren’t FIRST asking THESE questions about their child’s education, as they’re the questions around which my husband and I are shaping the education of our children.

1) How can we best equip our children to know, love and worship Jesus, serve the body of Christ and the world, and answer the specific call God has placed on their life?

2) How can we provide our children with the foundation of a Biblical worldview and an eternal, kingdom mindset?

3) How can we best develop our children’s character and cultivate their God-given gifts and talents?

4) Taking into consideration the lifestyle, responsibilities and personality of our unique family, how can we give our children the best possible education, while looking at each child’s learning style, passions, gifts, strengths and weaknesses?

5) And last; in light of all these questions, where is the best place to educate our children: Public, Private or Homeschool?

Equipping for life. Laying the foundation of a Biblical Worldview. Cultivating God-given gifts and talents. Academic excellence. A beautiful relationship with our children. Homeschooling is the unrivaled choice for our family to achieve all these treasures, and so many more.

I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions. Click here to open my Homeschool Resource page. I’ll be adding more content on a regular basis!