Saturday, July 21, 2012

"...the angel Gabriel was sent from God..." (Judy)

I may have mentioned my son and his family, who have lived in China for the last 10 years. Josh and his wife Cleo have 3 birth children, ages 10, 7 and 5. Over the years, they became very interested and involved in an organization called Baobei. The name means “a precious or priceless treasure,” and it is apt. They identify Chinese orphans who require lifesaving surgery, and then work to bring them to Shanghai, provide them with the surgeries, and arrange for their care in local homes as they recover. Often, with the life-threatening condition ameliorated, the sweet babies are adopted. Baobei is a true partnership among doctors, orphanages, businesses who help to fund this process and many families in the expatriate community.

Over the years, Josh and Cleo – and their children - have supported Baobei financially, and even more, by offering a loving, caring home as the babies recover. Each orphan took away a small part of their hearts, until finally one took their hearts completely, and they began the tortuous path toward adoption. The little boy, originally called David by Baobei, but named Gabriel by Josh and his family, is now around 21 months old, is only a month or two from the completion of the formal adoption process, and is about to undergo a very serious, but potentially life-changing surgery at Children’s Hospital in Boston the day after tomorrow.

This past week little Gabriel had to endure the indignity and discomfort that is associated with pre-op testing – a series of MRIs, x-rays, injections, proddings and pokings – all positive and essential, but impossible for a frightened little boy to understand. The only solution much of the time was for Josh to hold him tight, and allow the doctors to proceed, while Gabriel wailed. One evening, Josh told us by phone that it was a terribly hard thing, to hold his little son down while pain was inflicted.

I was so moved that I could hardly continue the conversation. Here is a young man with 3 children of his own, a loving wife, a business across the world, an overwhelming number of events swirling around in his life – but completely focused on the pain of a child, not yet completely adopted, whom he called “his son.” The parallels with the story of God and his children made me want to weep myself. When we believe, we become a part of God’s family, with all the privileges and responsibilities. God wraps his arms around us, and tells us of his love for us. Like little Gabriel, we do nothing to earn such a gracious gift. It is freely bestowed, but at a great cost, and with beautiful, amazing, love-filled blessings.

Today I hold Gabriel, his family, and the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital to the Light. And I offer thanksgiving for the process of adoption!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Roses Are Red by Carolyn

"Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Color is God's gift,
and looks so good on you!"

Most of you have seen the Wizard of Oz.  I'm sure you remember that it begins in black and white.  It is a most wonderful beginning, filled with the optimism of the great relationships Dorothy has with her family and friends on the farm.  Then there's the scary lady down the street who looks like a witch, acts like a witch and hates Dorothy's beloved, precious, little dog Toto.  At the start, the film is filled with good cheer and hope for a future, but it's also fraught with fear and concern for the future.

We see the snake oil salesman, good-natured and friendly, yet providing people with something that did them absolutely no good.  They jumped at it anyway.  People are easily deceived and persuaded to spend money chasing after cures that don't exist, particularly if it doesn't cost them much. 

Then the storm clouds gather quickly, the wind kicks up and suddenly Dorothy is swept away and lands in a new world filled with color!  At the time the movie was made audiences were just beginning to see films in color, so for them it must have been an amazing experience.  It is still amazing to us because of the stark contrast between black and white and color.

Color is a most amazing gift from God.  Most amazing!  Imagine if the world were only and exclusively black and white.  What if there were no vibrant colors?  No red, or blue, yellow, green, or orange, or none of the amazing hues in between the primary colors.  Nothing.  Just black and white.  Sometimes in the winter, looking out at the landscape there is only the white covered ground and the black, gray, brown trees and branches, but little else.  Color evokes emotional response too. Red indicates passion and blue sadness or melancholy.  Purple leaves us somewhere in between.

Life is a lot like color.  There are days when we are filled with the happy colors of good cheer and fun.  We are alive with hope, following the yellow brick road to success, love and joy.  There are days when our hopes are dashed and the world suddenly looks bleak, colorless and gray. 

Yet, isn't that the pallette of life?  Take the colors, all of them, including black and white, and separate them out, enjoy each for what it is itself; run them together, one with the other, a little of this and a little of that, the pastels contrasting with the primaries, while maintaining the integrity and beauty of basics and the beauty of black and white.

"Roses are red,
Pastures are green
Is it really the green
That makes the pasture serene?"

Fanny Crosby was blind.  Yet her spiritual insight was amazingly keen.  Color is a God-given gift, emotions are too, but the most important gift God give us is Himself.  He is free. We don't have to pay a dime, or do a thing.  Jesus paid for us.  He paid in full for all the sin and injustices in the world, ours and others.  He paid it all.  Our God paid the wages for our sin.  Salvation and eternity with our loving God and Father is 100% free and I'm guessing....very, very colorful!