Archive for October, 2009

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Orphan Sunday, 11/8: Lord, change one heart, and let it be HIS.

(Orphan Sunday, 11/8, makes me think of our adoption story.)

Part 1: Being pro-life led me toward adoption.

Part 2

Before we were married, we had our family all planned out–2 boys, 2 girls–2 born to us and 2 adopted. Then we married, time passed, and reality happened. One after another our 4 blond, round boys were born–the cookie cutter kids, Johnny called them.

And anyway, as we understood it, adoption wasn’t really possible, and so therefore probably wasn’t needed. All we heard about were the long waiting times to adopt. And so adoption faded from our minds. What we didn’t realize was that those facts were true only about white, healthy infants.

Our assumptions were shaken when our friends adopted Micah and began to tell us and anyone who’d listen about the need for adoptive families for minority children. My dreams of adopting came alive again.

Over the next few years, periodically I’d bring up the topic to let Johnny know I was thinking about adoption. The conversations helped each of us to know the heart of the other, but in the end each talk drifted off without a decision.

Our conversations went many directions as we explored the what-ifs. One seeming obstacle was this: Johnny was concerned about our age. He imagined us white-haired and near retirement as we guided another child through the teens. How would he or she feel about such old parents, and would we have the energy for the adolescent years again? Besides, weren’t we on the verge of a new chapter of life and ministry now, free from the afternoons of being soccer dad and carpool mom?

But to me, our age never seemed an issue. Yes, we’d be older and probably less energetic. But perhaps in our years of parenting so far we’d gained some wisdom that might help. Besides at the time of these talks, I was still younger than my mother had been when she bore her last child, and I had not yet passed out of the years of childbearing possibility.

During the months between those conversations, I prayed that God would change the mind of one of us, the heart of one, so we could come together to a definite yes or no. Of course, to be honest, that wasn’t all I asked. I wanted the change of heart to be Johnny’s.

(to be continued)

Part 3

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Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Something that involves my life

[Originally, this was posted as we prepared for Orphan Sunday one year. Thinking about this sent me into my memories of adopting Talitha.]


Our family was heavily involved in the pro-life movement through the years when rescues were a main public way of protesting abortion. Johnny spent one weekend in the county workhouse after being arrested while sitting in front of an abortion clinic. Another time we had to pick up our son, Benjamin, from the police department and go to court with him. He and some friends had been hauled in for chaining themselves to a clinic door to block it. Our younger children and I had spent many hours walking silently and praying.

As important as those things were, I began to dream of doing something pro-life that involved more of my life. When friends with teenagers adopted a baby boy, that spoke to my heart.

One day that adoptive father told me about a baby boy who was waiting for placement. I told Johnny about it right away, sure that he would feel just as strongly as I did that we should bring that baby into our home. He didn’t.

I didn’t take into account that I’d been thinking about this a lot, but it was a new idea to him.

(to be continued)

Part 2

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Friday, October 30th, 2009

We’d never do that

“We’d never do something like that at my regular Curves.” I was looking at the “Prayer Requests” white board on the wall at the Curves I visited in Georgia this summer.

The Curves employee was astounded. “Why not?” Standing there in small-town Bible Belt America, I found it hard to explain Minneapolis political/spiritual correctness.

Today, though, I had two reasons to rethink my certainty that “we would never do something like that.”

1. When I arrived at Curves this morning, I was the only one there so far to workout. When the attendant saw me coming, she changed the music (which is never offensive anyway) to worship music with a beat.

2. After I’d finished my workout and was getting ready to leave, she asked if I could wait 30 seconds. She copied a page from a book, highlighted a couple of lines and handed it to me.

The book was the Bible, and the lines were: “I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. My people will never be ashamed again.” (Joel 2:27)

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Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Dad, be the Lead Failure in your family

Bob and Mary Horning and their family have become friends of mine since they came to our church quite a few years ago. Bob has been the leader extraordinaire of both of the wheelchair missions to Cameroon.

A few days ago there was a gathering of fathers of children with disabilities. Bob encouraged the men by recognizing that he and all of them are failures. So is every member of their families. So the men should be the lead failures for their wives and children.

John Knight was one of those fathers, and he has posted links at his blog to the audio and video of that message by Bob Horning.

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Talitha’s birthday

Here’s a video of Talitha’s birthday that spread into 2 weeks, 3 countries, and 4 cities.

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Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Once upon a time . . .

I’m sitting again in my own kitchen. Saturday–just yesterday!–seems like another world, another time. May be just jet lag. Saturday was in Germany, Sunday night is in Minneapolis.

But part of the reason may be that yesterday we were at Neuschwanstein, which was born in the mind of Ludwig II, King of Bavaria. His name is usually paired with the word mad, as in Mad King Ludwig–though one tour guide tried to persuade us he was just eccentric.

To top it off, we went during what turned out to be the first snowfall of the season in the Bavarian Alps. We thought the trip would be memorable for colorful fall leaves, but they were all white. You can see a few pictures, if you’d like.

This castle seems like a representation of so much of Ecclesiastes–vanity of vanities. Years of labor and Bavaria’s coffers drained in order for Ludwig to have this fairy tale dream built as his own personal hideaway, just for him alone. He lived in it only 170 days before he died.

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Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Being young, not acting young

When we were at Dachau, there were several busloads of school groups–teenagers. Throughout our visit, the most obvious students were the ones who were moving as a herd and acting normal–laughing, making jokes, talking about clothes and football.

They were obvious because Dachau is not a normal place. It is a place where everyday emotions and conversations are engulfed with the memories of grief and loss that fill the air.

I prayed that these young people would visit again in a few years, or simply remember, and that God would grant them the eyes and heart to feel with those who lived and died in the camp at Dachau.

This made me all the more grateful for Grace‘s response to my Dachau post:

hey. my name is Grace. thank you for your thoughts. They meant so much. I am a junior in high school living over seas. I studied the Holocaust last year, and i cannot shake it out of my memories. There are things that i cannot even smell anymore because i was around them during the study I did. So, the Holocaust is a very hard topic for me. Thank you for sharing your heart.
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Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Tomorrow — Ready or not

Usually when I’m traveling for a couple of weeks, I throw myself into the activities and ministry for most of the time. Then during the last day or two, my mind turns toward home and I’m ready to return.

This time I feel ready to return, but also wish I could stay longer. I think it’s largely because I can understand so much of what’s being spoken around me. Also, more and more I can speak understandably again in German. That makes me want to have more time to hear and speak better.

But tonight, at the end of a long day of travel to and from Neuschwanstein, we ate at Pizza Hut. So I guess we have indeed turned our faces toward home.

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Friday, October 16th, 2009

Remember, remember–Do not forget

It’s been 2 days since we were at the former concentration camp outside the town of Dachau. I haven’t written about it yet, because–even though it is not my first time there–is such a whole experience that it is hard to pick out one thought, one fact, one reality to recount.

Dachau Camp now is a peaceful place, even when there are many visitors. I felt almost as if I were alone with the memories and grief of the place. Here is the overwhelming thing that remains: Through the creation of the memorial, those who survived plead, “Remember those who died. Do not forget that such a thing happened. Do not let it happen again.”

To hear one survivor’s story reminds me of millions of others whose stories were the same and yet not the same. Each one who died was a person, whose story was written by God. That is what sits heavy on my heart as I remember–so many people, so many created by God in his image.

Each had a mother, a father, friends, neighbors, coworkers, maybe a wife or husband, maybe children. Each has lost the ones he loved. The loved ones have lost him.

Each had a certain laugh, particular gifts, favorite songs. All of us have lost those.

I will remember what I can remember. I am thankful that God forgets nothing. He knows every single one of those who died.

Perhaps some photos of our visit to Dachau will help you remember.

To the dead, honor.

To the living, admonition.

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Friday, October 16th, 2009

Photos of our old neighborhood

If you’d like, you can see photos of our walk around our old neighborhood.

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Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Old home place

Yesterday morning we walked around the neighborhood where we lived from 1971-74. Here’s the entry way to our apartment building. (It was plain gray then.)

The highest balcony was ours, where we looked out over a sea of roofs that reminded me of the chimney sweep scene in Mary Poppins, especially because it was not uncommon to see chimney sweeps around town.
A block away on Steinstrasse, we visited the bakery where we used to buy some of the best bread in the world–weissbrot or vollkornbrot or our favorite, a light roggenbrot. The bakery now has been in the Paul Schmidt family for 4 generations and has branched out beyond bread to many tempting sweet pastries.
I wish I’d counted how many pounds of bananas I bought, especially for our little Karsten, at this fruit market during those years.

Before we left the old neighborhood, we prayed for the people we knew then and for the people who live there now. We pray that they will be satisfied by the Bread of life and be filled with the fruits of the Spirit.

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Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Samara Photos

Our internet connections here are slow, so uploading photos takes a loooooong time.

So, here’s a bit of catching up — photos from Samara earlier this week.

It was a pleasure to be in a new place where God is, meeting God’s people in that place, and learning some about what he’s doing there.

Thanks for praying.

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