"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
November 28, 2018
This week I want to share a love story with you. It's not a romantic story of a man and woman meeting and marrying; but rather, it's a story of a couple falling in love with a baby girl.
I'm sharing this story with their permission, but am changing names for the sake of this being published online. Although the names are fictional, the story is true.
Nathan and Chloe were happily married and had two biological children of their own, both school age, but they decided that they would like to adopt a child. They did all the paperwork and were approved, but it was a year before they received a call that a newborn was available, if they were willing to take her.
The biological mother had spent her nine months of pregnancy drinking alcohol, using meth, as well as using several other harsh drugs; which meant that those things were being put into the fetus and into her baby. Due to the drugs and alcohol being put into the babies system for nine months, there was really no way of knowing what type of damage it had on her. The list was lengthy on possible birth defects and negative health issues this baby girl could have; some not showing up until she was 1-2 years old.
Baby girl weighed under 5 pounds and was born with drugs and alcohol in her system. That meant that she would have to stay in NICU until she was weaned completely off the drugs. They couldn't just take her off cold turkey. She had withdrawals and they had to slowly take her off.
Nathan and Chloe made the choice that they would take this baby as their own, not knowing what the future might hold for her or what health issues she may have that they would have to deal with; perhaps long term or even for life. Their attitude and response was, "It's not her fault that her biological mother made horrible choices during pregnancy."
They first saw her when she was 2 days old, and fell in love. For the next several days, until they were able to take her home, they took turns staying at the hospital with her from early morning until late at night. She did better with the withdrawals if she was being held. They made sure that they were home with their other two children for lunch and dinner, and they slept at home; but other than that, they would take shifts so that one of them was at the hospital holding and feeding her. That's love!
I'm happy to report that baby girl is 3 months old now and is exceeding expectations. When Chloe took her to one of her first doctor appointments, she was told, "This one has lots of issues! You're going to have your hands full with her."
But baby girl has had tests and scans and an MRI done for various things, and each time they have come back negative. She is amazing the doctors and therapists. She is right on target doing things for her age, and even is above average in some areas. She's a miracle baby! I believe that she is going to continue to amaze everyone as she grows with how heathy and smart she is!
Nathan and Chloe's thoughts are, "We aren't doing anything special that anyone else wouldn't do." But the truth is, their love for this baby is special. They didn't have a wait and see attitude. "If she's healthy, then we'll adopt her as our own." "If her issues aren't too much to handle, then we'll love her." "If she's cute, we'll accept her as our daughter." "We need to see what all we are possibly dealing with, before making up our mind about taking her into our family." No! They made a choice from the very beginning that they were going to take her into their family, as their daughter, and love her unconditionally. Their kids love and adore her. Nathan and Chloe consider this baby girl their very own, just as much as they do their two biological children.
As I've been shopping and decorating for Christmas, this true love story has been on my mind. It's a story of unconditional love.
There are so many different directions that I could go with this story, and hopefully, you will read it and it will make you think of how you can relate it to your own life.
For me, this is a picture of how greatly, and unconditionally, our Father loves us.
Sometimes there are things from our past, that we had absolutely no control over, that affected our lives. It's not our fault, and we don't deserve what has happened or is happening, yet we have to live with the implications of the actions and choices of others. It's not fair. There are things that take place and choices made that are not God's will; yet they affect us.
But God, with a tender heart and great compassion and overwhelming love, says to us, "You're right! It's not your fault and it should have never happened to you. That wasn't my desire for you. Yet I love you and will never stop loving you. You are my son, my daughter, and I will nourish you and protect you and care for you! You are my very own!"
Romans 5:8 says, "But God showed (proved, demonstrated) His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us, while we were still sinners."
Jesus humbled himself by coming to earth in human form, as a newborn baby. He left his throne in heaven, to come to earth and die so that we could receive salvation. There is nothing that we can do to deserve this gift. We can't be good enough, work hard enough, or be perfect enough to earn His love. But He choses to give it to us anyway.
Nathan and Chloe's baby girl was born a drug addict. She didn't have the strength or know-how or ability or wisdom to clean herself up and earn the love of a good family. But they chose to love her anyway. They chose to make her their own anyway. They did for her, what she had no power to do within herself.
That's what God does for us! We don't have the strength or know-how or ability or wisdom to clean ourself up and earn the love of a King -- of the God of the universe -- of a holy God. But He says, "You don't have to do that. Just let me be your Daddy! Let me love you, protect you, care for you, and teach you. Let me care for you, until you are mature enough to learn how to care for yourself. But even then, I will always be your Father."
There is something special about biological children. To think that God forms and shapes that baby in the womb of the mother and gifts the parents with a child with their DNA; someone to carry the family blood line and carry the family name.
But there is something truly wondrous about adoption. Parents choose a child, that was born from another woman's womb, and bring them into their family and say, "You're mine! I choose you to be my son or daughter! I'll always be your father and mother, and you will always be my child."
Jon has a cousin that was adopted as a young child; I have great-nieces that have been adopted into our family; we are members of a small church, but there are many families within the church who have adopted. There is something special when someone says, "I choose to love you unconditional, as my very own, and you are as much my child as any I may have birthed."
Romans 8:14-17 says, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, 'Abba, Father.' For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm (or testify) that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs to God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering."
We all have the opportunity to be adopted into the family of God. We don't have to remain orphans, but can become sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.
How sad would it be if a child that was either homeless or didn't have a good loving home was asked, "Would you like to come live in our home and become our child? You will have the very same benefits and privileges of our own children. We will care for you, provide for you, love you, feed you, and you will be our very own son/daughter. We desperately love you and want you;" yet that child would say, "No thanks!" They may have their own excuses and agenda, but you know in your heart that they are making unwise decisions and that they need you as much as you need them.
That's how God feels when He is rejected as Father. Not only does He promise to be with us here on earth, but He has promised us eternal life. He loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him forever and ever, and never be separated.
He loves us so much that He was willing to give His only Son to die for our sins.
I don't have children of my own, but I cannot imagine doing that! I love my sisters' kids and grandkids so very much and I would fight for them and cannot even comprehend one of them giving their life for someone who doesn't deserve it. I sure can't imagine them giving their life to save someone else, only for that person to reject their gift. How crushing and heart-breaking that would be!
Yet millions of people do that every day with God. They reject the gift of His Son. Many have their reasons, but the bottom line is, they are rejecting God's love. It's not enough to believe that there is a God, but we have to believe in God. We have to believe in Jesus and be willing to accept His love.
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son. That whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life."
I encourage you throughout this next month to take time to consider the gift of God's Son, Jesus. Think about why He came; and if need be, recommit your heart to Him.
Just as this precious baby girl in the story I told is so greatly loved and cherished by her new family, God wants us to feel loved and cherished as His sons and daughters. He wants us to thrive. Our Father wants us to feel His love, protection, and care each and every day. He adores us!
Sometimes discussion of adoption reminds me of an old movie, "Little Orphan Annie". Annie got her happy, loving home. It was great that her adoptive father was rich, but that really wasn't important. The important part was that he loved her as a father should.
Our Heavenly Father is not only rich, but He is omnipotent, and knows our deepest heart's desire. But that isn't as important as how deeply He loves us.
Slow Cooker Fajita Chicken Soup
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
2 cups frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Add chicken to the bottom of the slow cooker. In a medium sized bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, salsa, corn, black beans, water, cumin, and cilantro. Pour over the top of the chicken.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Place bak into the slow cooker and add shredded cheese. Continue cooking until cheese has melted, about 15 minutes.
Serve with your favorite toppings. Optional toppings: sour cream, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, shredded lettuce, diced avocado, tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips
During this next month leading up to Christmas, I encourage you to find someone who may be struggling during this holiday season and do something to help and encourage them. Perhaps they've lost a spouse, or there has been a recent death in their family, or they are struggling financially, or they are going through a divorce, or are dealing with rebellious children, or are making life changes......whatever it may be.... do something to let them know that you see that they are going through a difficult time, and that you care.
If you want to understand someone walk a mile in their shoes.
You still won't understand them, but at least you will have their shoes! (smile) -- Kris Vallotton
We love you!
Loretta & Jon