Wednesday, March 23, 2016

World Vision Global 6K For Water

World Vision
Global 6K For Water







Last Saturday, March 19, 2016, the World Vision Global 6K For Water rocked 203 host sites in the United States & 8 other countries around the world to provide clean water for 8000 people in Africa!!  8000 people, whom on average walk 6K to retrieve water from a dirty water hole every day for their families.  A water hole that likely is shared with animals, parasites, and the sewage of human waste.  Many of which are children that forfeit their education for the necessity of survival, only to die from the disease infesting the water they labor to retrieve.  Having 2 sons from Ethiopia, this reality cuts deep to the heart. 

My son, Aiden,& I had the great privilege of running alongside some wonderful people in 25 degree temps!  I am by no means a natural runner - I am slow, but steady and my left knee acts as an internal GPS that sets off an alarm for my screaming pain receptors around the 2 mile mark of every race.  So...why do I sign up for races?  I LOVE a good race, especially for a good cause - they make me cry...Every. Single. Time. (& not just b/c of my knee pain!).  I love the sight of people celebrating the gift of health & the ability to keep moving forward, keep pressing on, keep working toward the goal until the finish line is crossed.  At this race, it was the sight of hundreds of people (paying a nominal fee in our lavish country) and joyfully carrying their friend in Africa across the finish line.  The finish line signifying the end of dirty water, disease and laborious walks to retrieve water.  Instead of the race bibs displaying a number, they showed the beautiful faces & names of our soul brothers/sisters that would be gifted with clean, life-giving water.  How do we possibly make a difference in the plight of poverty, disease & injustice?  Sometimes we run...and when we run, we allow ourselves to fall in love with the people we are running for.  And when we fall in love with them, we carry them to our Savior in prayer.  

At the start of the race, I reached for my earbuds & my 'running mix tunes', but I felt the Lord whisper to my heart, "not this time...I want you to hear my people".  So instead of listening to music, I heard the dialogue of my Savior commentating the 6K of the race through His people.  I heard the heavy, rugged breath of runners forcing 25 degree air through their lungs at the start. The sound of footsteps on pavement - some light & graceful, some heavy and labored.  I heard the sound of children joyfully walking alongside their parents, soaking in their encouraging words.  Be still my therapist heart, I was blessed to run alongside a man with cerebral palsy, who ran...RAN the race in a methodical step..limp...step..limp...(trip, catch himself)...step..limp.  And when his shoes would not stay tied, I watched God's people bend down to tie them for him.  I watched men & women carry 5 gallon Jerry Can's of water for the entire race to honor the true labor of our African friends.  I heard the Creator in the wind that rustled the barren trees reminding us that His breath flows through our lungs & sustains us.  I heard strangers shout encouraging words to one another as the brotherhood of runners united by their purpose resounded "great job!", "you can do it!", "6K for us, no more for them!"  I passed my Aiden, who was born with bilateral club feet & currently has a benign bony tumor (myositis ossificans) in his quadricep muscle that causes him pain when he runs.  He was killin' it - running as fast as his legs could carry him and I shouted to him 
"Hey! There's my boy - how's it going buddy?" 
He responded with a wincing smile, "My leg is killing me, but I'm almost there, I'm not stopping now!"  
With tears in my eyes & a heart filled with pride, I yelled, "You are a Rockstar, wait for me at the finish line!" 
Isn't that the whole purpose of this life?  Refusing to stop running until we arrive at the finish line? Listening to sound of our Savior's voice when He whispers, "hey, I have something to say...be still so you can hear me"?  Stepping out of our comfort zone, into our weakness, so His strength can be glorified in us?  While it is my great privilege to run & praise God for the healthy body to participate, I will never win first place in a race.  I did, however, win the prize last Saturday when my Jesus ran alongside me. I was reminded that physical activity is a form of worship to our Creator, especially when we do it unto others.  
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it."  1 Corinthians 9:24

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Passion


Per the Urban Dictionary, "passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible."
I believe passion is what fuels a world changer.  It is what defies the odds.  It is the very force that cannot be explained away or rationalized into predictable outcomes.  I believe passion is the strength, the courage and the determination of the human soul - fueled by the very breath of God, who gives life to humankind.  It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  
It is what drives a teenager to sleep with his baseball glove at night or dribble a soccer ball so incessantly that the toes of his shoes always wear out before the sole.  This is where we find passion in the formative hearts of our teenage boys. This is where they begin to learn to tap into passion - a precious and powerful gift of the Holy Spirit.  This is where they learn that hard work, "more than is required to do" reaps great rewards for them on & off the field.  
Statistics and logical reasoning have a way of challenging the power of passion in our world today.  Instead of teaching our children to aspire to challenge societal norms to impact our world, culture tends to encourage them to be 'realistic' with their goals. Based on the state of our world today, I refuse to be a realist (yes, I said that!) to my children in a world that no longer values the profound miracle of the human race - unique, intelligent, gifted & amazing! They will hear me say, "You want something, go after it!" "Yes you can reach that goal!" "You can make a difference!"  "You will leave your mark!" "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23  
The same passion that drives them to sleep with their baseball glove at night as a teenager will one day soon drive them to fight for their marriage, act as a warrior battling for their children's souls, defend our country, set a standard of excellence for themselves in their career & live to make an impact on a world that finds safety in statistics instead of wonder in miracles. Where my children find passion now - it is my great privilege to allow them to taste it so they can harness it's strength as future warriors.   




Sunday, February 2, 2014

Crushing Victories














Bereket earned 'rainbow' on his stop light behavior system at school Friday, which he described with a sweet victorious smirk on his face "is so much gooder than green!"  While 'rainbow' is a cute description for a great day at school, this rainbow and the pure joy for which he expressed his accomplishment screamed to me "promises kept!  God will set a rainbow in the sky as a reminder that He keeps His promises."
Tonight as he climbed into my lap with what I would consider reckless abandon for his often guarded heart and snuggled in for some sweet mommy time, my heart was singing praises to God for promises kept.  "God sets the lonely in families" Psalm 68:6 "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten" Joel 2:25
Another image flooded my mind during this precious moment tonight of all the beautiful women in my life that have petitioned the Lord for my children, my fellow Warrior Mamas.  In my mind they fit the image of the fiercest warrior - strong in battle and relentless in pursuit of the enemy that wars for my children's souls. They have responded to texts & emails asking them to pray over my baby during fits of rage & anxious anticipation for doctor visits and medical procedures..they have been found standing in a circle holding hands, quietly praying over him (& I) as we worked through screaming fits of RAD rage...they have picked up overturned trash cans...they have laid healing hands on him at the altar of the Lord...they have closed restaurants with me as we share stories of joyful mountains and dark valleys of parenting...they have been on their knees with me in prayer on behalf of our children...they have mourned with me over the wounds in my children I wish to erase and celebrated with me over glorious redemptive victories...they have loved him unconditionally amidst behavior that is difficult to understand...they have shed tears of joy over his victories...they are part of his redemption story & the only thing better than sharing this journey with them is knowing we will share eternity together.
Every time the Lord gives us a victory, I picture the scene from the Passion of Christ when Jesus is praying to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood over the anguish He feels for the sacrifice He is about to make on the cross. The only man able to take away the sins of the world & claim victory over Satan, the prince of this world.  Satan is in the garden and says to Jesus, "Saving their souls is too costly" to which Jesus replies, "Father you can do all things...let your will be done" - the scene ends with Jesus standing up and literally crushing the head of the serpent Satan in final victory.   Every time a fellow Warrior Mama prays for my children, I feel as if they are crushing Satan's head alongside me - victory in Jesus, our Savior forever.    

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We are the Asperger 8

Our 8 year old daughter recently asked me if she could take the 'Asperger' label off her electronic device she was taking to school because she was being teased at school for her last name.  No surprise - we have heard it a million times - add an extra 's' and a 'burger' and there you have an easy target for some snickering.  This time, though, I was actually offended by the fact that my daughter, instead of being proud of her last name, felt like she wanted to hide it from others.  Insert Holy Spirit (so thankful He shows up at a moment's notice to bail me out!) and here is how our conversation proceeded.
Eliana, you should be very proud of your last name, because it is your daddy's name and he gave it to you because he chose you and loves you.  When I married your daddy, he gave me his last name as a special gift so that everyone would know that I am his wife. I love to be Angie Asperger because I love to be daddy's wife and I am proud that others know he is my husband just by calling my name.  Daddy is a man of integrity, who pours out his life to love and care for us, and it is an honor to share his last name and be identified with him.  The bible says in Genesis 2 that when a man & woman marry each other, "they two shall become one flesh" and sharing a last name shows that commitment.  Some day, you will marry a man of integrity, and he will you give you his last name and you will be proud to be his wife.
At this point, I notice that this spur of the moment conversation, which started out with an audience of 1 has now grown to an audience of all 6 six kids intently listening.  Thank you Jesus for directing the attention of our five handsome Asperger boys to the conversation.  Conversation proceeds with...and some day all 5 of your brothers will give their last name to a wife and they need to work hard to protect the integrity of their last name by choosing to honor Christ with their actions as well.  Their wives will be proud to be Asperger women, because it will be given to them as a pure and precious gift.
I pray that we can always be proud of our last name as it is identified with love, commitment, respect, family and honor.  Thank you Joe for giving us such a precious gift - may we always depend on the work of the Spirit within us to remain proudly identified as the Asperger 8

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Healing & Modalities


As the mother of 6 kiddos, I have met many a screaming children running into the house, dripping blood and sure they are headed to the ER as a reward for their fearless adventures.  Having a 5:6 ratio of boys to girls certainly tips the scales in this category :o)
They have learned that they are sure to receive 3 types of band aids from me:  
1 - 'Regular band aid'  (to stop the dripping and save the flooring) 
2 - 'Mommy band aid' (kiss)
3 - 'Jesus band aid' (prayer)

What a joy when the tears stop and they bound off to their next adventure, fully satisfied that they have received full healing from their tragedy and ready to take on the next challenge!  

But what about the wounds that the rest of the world doesn't see?  What about the ones that can't be stopped with a 'regular band aid' and that at times resist the love from a 'mommy band aid' & that are exhaustively covered with a 'Jesus band aid'....& they are still there?  

What about the sensory disorganized child that laughs and begs for help one second and cries and refuses it the next?  What about the child that moderates their environment through manipulation and although they love positive attention, it is not enough and they strangely crave the negative attention even more?  What about the child that is rolling around on the floor, shrieking, "Why won't you help me?!" & when the 'Mommy kiss' reaches down to help, they shriek, "No! Don't pick me up!"?  What about the child that struggles academically & try as they might, processing & attention difficulties stand between them & academic success?  What about the child whose frame of reference was altered at such an early age that their sense of reality is often overshadowed with unrealistic expectations and confusion of emotions? And what about the child born with club feet, that are fully corrected, but is beginning to realize the challenges of feet that do not fit into shoes & ski boots without causing skin lesions?  

I believe that The Great Physician is fully capable of healing every one of my children of every scrape, wound, challenge & illness without any help.  "God's got this!" is the cry of my heart that is filled to bursting with faith in Jesus' healing power.  However, in a world that is perfect no longer, we have chosen to become parents that embrace the delicate balance of Jesus' healing & modern medicine modalities.  The modalities currently embraced at our home include: medication, neurofeedback training, biolite therapy, melatonin & time-ins (versus outs), just to name a few :o).  Not to mention the highly individualized teaching techniques utilized for the auditory & otherwise processing challenged & attention deficit issues in our home.

Why share this information?  Because we are not alone in this beautiful journey & it is lived more fully when we are real with others. Embracing the journey with zeal for every challenge and rejoicing for every victory is only made possible when we are real with our community of support.  The 'modality' that is the most powerful and effective in our lives is the intense power of a million fellow prayer warriors that fall to their knees for one another daily.    When we are weak, He is strong and when the names of our children leave the lips of our fellow warriors in sincere petition on their behalf - mountains move. 

So, 'modality band aid' has now made it onto my list of band aids.  Thankful that band aids are temporary & heaven is eternal.  Until then, may we embrace every possible option to inch us closer to emotional, spiritual & physical wholeness knowing that the Great Physician's hand is ever present when we call upon His great name.  



Saturday, February 9, 2013

The 'Un-Routine'

The 'Un-Routine' 
As an adoptive parent, it is the 'routine' events in life that grieve my heart the most.  They are the promises that  we will experience the 'un-routine' as our children's worldview and frame of reference are forever altered to be challenged by the 'routine'.  The extreme happy, scary and sad times have proved over the past 7 years of this beautiful journey to ride the highest of highs and lowest of lows (sometimes within the same few minutes, over and over again).  
Points taken:
This week, we had a 'routine' well visit (a.k.a. shots) for Bereket and Joey.  Joey sits in the waiting room happy and joyful (as usual) - enjoying the extra 2 on 1 attention of mommy in the moment (as the other 4 children were at home).  Bereket, on the other hand, is pacing the waiting room.  "Mommy, my stomach hurts - I don't like to come here."  His frame of reference screams to his soul - 'be scared of this experience as you know it is lonely and painful'.  The nurse calls their names and they bound, skip, jump (literally) down the hallway in typical boy fashion to the scales.  The nurse is immediately irritated by their 'energy' and my heart sinks as she speaks firmly to my boys.  Bereket is fidgeting all over the scales, touching every possible item and speaking in his typically loud and nervous fashion.  His frame of reference, since the moment he was abandoned, had bacterial meningitis and 3 long term hospitalizations in Ethiopia with noone to hold him in their arms, sing sweet lullabies of God's promises, and be willing to sacrifice all of their earthly energy to show their precious child he is loved (in the fashion that we, as parents, have had the privilege of lavishing on our biological children)  ....is to fear...and shut down to avoid the pain that is too deep to bear of being alone.  
We make it through the doctor portion pf the visit (barely).  For any of you that parent the wonderful challenge of energetic boys - you know the picture (volume, pitch, activity, redirection, exhausting every bit of energy to find productive ways to entertain in the wait...all a privilege and season the Lord Himself has called us to and equipped us through).  Then come the shots...
The nurse walks back into the room...already exasperated by the thought of this experience.  She is unaware that I have been praying for her since the moment she called my boys names and made the comment, "boy, they sure are excited." while walking back to the scales.  I initial the 5 vaccinations that each boy needs and we proceed.  Time always stands still for me in these moments of trauma for my sweet children.  Why?  I do not know the answer, but I believe the Lord has given me this gift of pain & suffering so that I can catch a tiny glimpse of the pain that my adoptive children experience - so that my heart can grow to a size that is difficult to bear so I can be equipped for the challenge of loving them through the ridiculous that we often experience.  It is ridiculous to the world's eyes as they see it as 'behavior' - it is ridiculous to me as I now see it as unacceptable that any child should have to suffer such trauma because their frame of reference as been altered by the devastating reality of sin in this world.  Immediately, Bereket goes into panic mode.  Screaming, crying, refusing to be consoled.  His eyes literally change shape and gloss over as he no longer sees me as mom.  He is begging, literally, to be pardoned from this deep pain that is resonating with his soul and it has nothing...nothing to do with the shots he is about to be given.  His pitiful panicked voice screams, "no...don't hold me!  let me sit up...don't hold me!"  The nurse is losing patience and she begins to raise her voice and sternly says to him, "you have to stop!"  This is my breaking point.  I don't expect everyone to understand,  but I have learned over the past 4 years that it is my duty, as his mother, to educate the ignorant  (not necessarily intentionally, but ignorant none the less) in the immediate to protect his soul.  As I am physically struggling with my panicked (in every way) 5 year old, my eyes meet hers and say, "He is NOT going to settle down.  You MUST be patient and DO YOUR JOB right NOW!"  When she is finished, I scoop my sweet, BROKEN (again) precious boy into my arms and attempt to console him.  He wants me, but is unable to allow himself to melt into me.  I hold his stiff little body against mine until he is able to submit while I whisper all the assurances the Lord gives me to tell him.  I am making her wait for me to finish loving on him (as Joey is still waiting for his vaccines) and she is speechless.  I am unsure if she understands the gravity of the situation, but I pray that the Father of the fatherless is softening her heart as she observes.  
Next it is Joey's turn and he clings to me (not resists) as if his life depends on it.  When his shots are done, he melts into my arms and KNOWS that he is safe.
It is the 'routine' that I carry the most grief for.  I pray, like my very depends on it (because I know that my adoptive children's lives do depend on it), that with each 'un-routine' event in their lives...it becomes more 'routine' as the Healer tirelessly works to bring redemption to their broken beginnings.
This journey of redemption for my children is beautiful...and painful....and I love it, even though it is difficult  to bear for I would not understand the love of my Father in such depth if He hadn't chosen me to be their mommy...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I am a soldier


I am a soldier...

What is a soldier?  One source tells me that "a soldier is someone trained for the government to use heavy weaponry in a war or attack on a group of people.  A soldier is very brave and will kill the enemy if necessary for his/her survival."  This speaks volumes to me as I seek to arm myself to conquer the enemy of my children’s souls.  I am being trained by the King of Kings (Isaiah 9:6 “and the government will be on His shoulders) to attack the enemy – the deceiver.  I have been given heavy weaponry (Ephesians 6:10-18 “put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”) and I will fight the enemy unto death (Revelation 20:10 “and the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of fire…and will be tormented day and night forever”).  I am a soldier…

I have 6 beautiful children whom I love to the very core of my being.  I have always recognized the battle against the enemy that we must engage in for our children’s souls.  It is easy to relate to as the enemy fights tirelessly for my soul in much the same ways each day.  My oldest children are only 11 and I have often had the luxury of picturing this battle in my mind as a nerf sword fight…”use kind words” (thump, thump goes the nerf sword)…”say please & thank you” (thump, thump..)…”love Jesus with all your heart” (thump, thump…)…”hands are for helping & holding, not hurting” (thump, thump sounds the nerf sword). I am even able to picture myself with a nice outfit on, cute heeled shoes and lipstick – still able to gain victory over these battles. Now, don’t get me wrong, those are all battle-worthy causes that I continue to fight daily, but I have been called to a higher battleground.
 
I am a soldier and I have entered a new battlefield.  It is the battlefield of abandonment, RAD, PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, fear, doubt, and rage.  I had to lay down my nerf sword and choose a new weapon, for the battle set before me is fierce, violent, raging and real.  The battle set before me will end in death and the cost is high; for my children’s souls will not fall victim to the ‘devil’s schemes’.  The bible reminds me to “Be self controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8.  The enemy rejoiced when my children were abandoned, figuring it would be an easy win for their souls; until the Lord, in all His Mighty Splendor, crushed the enemy’s head as He reached down, gathered them into His arms and whispered to their broken spirits, “you are mine dear child and I am taking you on a redemption journey.  I have chosen soldiers to battle for your soul and they will not stop fighting until we win the war”.  I am a soldier – I was chosen by the King of Kings for battle & I refuse to lose.

Satan has known no fury greater than that of a parent waging war for their beloved children for it is the same fury that my Father in Heaven battles for my soul & reigns victorious each day.  When I rise each morning, I bask in the promise of Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Then, I reach for my armor which is heavy, strong and made of the finest materials.  It fits perfectly as it was crafted by the Creator of the universe just for me.  I can hear the clang of the metal as I cover my chest and the snap of the buckles against the metal as I fasten each piece, but the part of this morning routine that resonates with my soul is when I slowly and with great intention pull my sword from its sheath.  It is very sharp and the sound of metal on metal, “shiiiiiiiiiiing!” as it is invited to go before me into battle humbly reminds me, that I am a soldier...  I have been given the ‘sword of the spirit’ as my weapon of choice and I will fight to win the victory until death & redemption prevail…