Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Sea of Orphans

My girlfriend Jodi came back from Haiti this weekend. And like many of my friends who are getting their hands dirty in the fields of the fatherless, I know she will never be the same. I know Carolyn, Kellee, Linda, Eileen, Carla, Elaine, Rose, Lisa and all of my sisters and brothers in Christ who have adopted or advocated for the orphan will also never be the same. Today I wrote another parable. I tend to gravitate toward writing that way when I am feeling deep emotions that I can't quite articulate in the real world. I am dedicating this to all of my sisters and brothers in Christ who are forever transformed after experiencing contact with one or more orphans. But while this is dedicated to all of you and I have written it identifying with my own experience with my 4 adopted children. I want to dedicate this to Jodi Tucker who has had an obvious transformation from her experience with HORT (Haiti Orphan Relief Team). I pray for supernatural processing and guidance for her and all of us because there are more drops in this ocean to save...ENJOY MY PARABLE

The Sea of Orphans (by Deanna Jones)

Everything was fine. The only problem was that in spite of the fact that everything was running smoothly in her life, she knew that something or someone was missing. One day she couldn’t resist the call to stand at the shore of a vast ocean. She knew that there were at least 147 million droplets in that sea, crying out to be freed from drowning as the waves of isolation, tragedy, calamities and diseases would violently crash into them. They were merely floating out there without a life jacket or branch to hold onto, hoping to avoid the waves. So, she stood there at the shore. There were other curious onlookers standing there on the shore. They watched as a mother standing on the shore swam out to offer hope and a home to a few droplets. The mother swam back in, exhausted yet transformed in a way that she would never be able to explain. The onlookers could see on her face that while she was pleased to have saved a few small drops, she couldn’t help but remember the ones still out there waiting for a brave swimmer. The sun then would set and most people would go home, forgetting about the millions still fighting to survive. But the woman who had a fine life stood at the shore longing to find a life that was better than ‘fine.’ She suspected taking a dive into that sea would transform her, yet she heard warnings from others. “You have a fine life. Don’t mess with it. Those droplets you bring into your life will ruin you.” She wanted to go deeper but noticed that in the hours she spent watching at the shore, very few of the thousands of onlookers ventured in. She closed her eyes. She heard a voice that sounded like an angel, “Go, save my children!” She knew that diving in would mean she would be the center of attention to those looking. She knew that people would talk about the woman with the fine life who took a dive to change everything. They would whisper “How could she be so crazy to try to ruin everything that is acceptable in her fine life.” Most of the onlookers believed that ‘acceptable’ was the best way to live their lives. The woman with the fine life didn’t think it was acceptable to just stand by and watch as the 147 million innocent droplets were destroyed by the pending waves. So, she dove in. Something heavy washed over her. It was a powerful wave of fear and doubt but as she swam over those waves she eventually swam like an expert surfer or life guard. She grew stronger with each stroke, persevering through the pressure of the pending waves. She passed by many droplets drenched in tears but kept swimming to move into the place that called out to her. Then when she arrived to that calm place drops of rain fell into the ocean and poured over her already drenched body. She floated. She allowed the cool healing rain to pour onto her. Then she took a breath and took a dive into a deep deep place. She met with an Angel of the Lord who handed her 4 precious droplets safely encased inside a beautiful treasure box from the sea. The Angel reached out his hand and said, “God is pleased! Now swim back and take care of these 4 precious droplets.” The Angel of the Lord then told the woman to swim back fast as there were more pending disastrous waves coming to engulf the 146 million, 999 thousand, 996 droplets that were still there in that ocean. The woman with the fine life pleaded with the Angel saying, “But let me take more! Please let me save them all.” The Angel said to her, “Take your 4 and love them. God will take care of the rest!” The woman with the fine life swam back to shore memorizing the way that each of the droplets that were left behind looked as she passed them. She came out of the ocean with her treasures, happy to have them but eternally ruined!!! Her ‘fine life’ was ruined. But now her new life was better than she could ever have imagined…She took care of the little droplets. She watched as they turned into children and then adults with great lives who longed to swim in that sea and carry back droplets just like their mother did. Nothing was the same in their mother’s life after she took that swim and saved those 4 drops. She now lived a life that was no longer ‘fine’. That life was ruined. But as the old life was destroyed a new life was created with more depth, more meaning, more significance than she could even imagine. She now lived a great life and never ever regretted taking a dive into that ocean. She still runs into some of those people that stand on the shore and stare into the waves wondering and waiting to watch as another woman with a fine life decides to take a swim. But they are rarely seen swimming even though every year more droplets fall into that ocean.

copyright 2010 DJO PUBLISHING. If you would like to reprint this parable please include following credit. Copyright 2010 DJO Publishing. Parable by Deanna Jones author of #1 Amazon best selling adoption book TO BE A MOTHER...For permissions please inquire at Reprint by permission only...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Never Homeless with the Lord!

I have been a really bad blogger recently. I am so sorry. But to be honest with you I am just processing so much in my life. We have our house on the market now. It is stressful. But all in all, I am reminding myself of perspective. I live in a huge, gorgeous house that we worked really hard for. It is almost 6800 square feet. Our business slowed down and now we have to downsize. When I put the ‘for sale’ sign up one of my neighbors called me. I have had only 2 conversations with this woman in the two years we have lived here. She said “Deanna this is really disturbing!” I have to say that I acknowledge that for those people who live in the type of suburbia that our NC town offers, well she may consider a neighbor with a large house selling…’disturbing’. But in all honesty with this economy the way it is, it is really the norm. And it is more disturbing to me to know of all of the homeless people in Haiti without water or a toilet or food or parents. So, I tell my kids that we have to count our blessings. We will still have blankets, food, water and a roof that doesn’t leak even after we sell. It is interesting though talking to my kids about moving. When children have lost parents and watched them die, been uprooted tragically, moving means something different. So, everyday I have to remind them that the move doesn’t mean that we will not be a family anymore or that someone won’t be coming with them. I tell them that it is just a house. Still, Grace cried today thinking about how much she misses her brothers in Ethiopia. I can’t help but think that this move has fed into her insecurities and fears of losing a loved one or disconnecting from family. So, how do we get through a move with children previously orphaned? We pray and daily focus on the positive. Still, there is a grieving process for all of us. We thought we would be here forever….still God is on His throne . We feel Him more, perceive Him more and are hearing Him more than we did when we first laid out the blue print for this house. I have written a song that I spontaneously sing around the house.

This is my home,
And its where I wanna be,
Living in your presence,
With your grace upholding me….

This is my life,
And the only thing I own,
Is faith you’ll walk beside me,
No matter where I go,

There are many mansions,
In my Father’s place,
There is always room,
There’s always space…

This is the world,
And when it all just disappears,
I will not be homeless,
For my Father holds me near,
I will not be homeless,
For my Father holds me near….

The house is irrelevant. All of my professional life, I have been longing for a deeper perception of the Lord. During those times, I had no money problems, no struggles and could buy whatever I wanted…but I also lacked the intimacy I now have with the Lord. “Living in His presence” is what I am striving for at this point in my life. And none of the mortgages, or room colors or square footage matters. In the Heavenly places that God resides in, my earthly house means nothing. I long to live my life while I am here so that I can hopefully, be allowed to live eternally in a place where there are many mansions and lots of beautiful sunshine and music. So, I choose to invest in His plans for me whether that means to be living in an apartment, in a mansion, in a bungalow or a hut or out in the open air….all that matters is that I am enveloped by His love and basking in the shelter of His arms. I am okay with that and know that there is nothing disturbing about residing in the presence of God….Praise Him for this amazing time that we are living in!!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Adopted Kids in The Dollar Tree learning about ToiletTREES....


Friday, February 19, 2010

Shadowing the Unplanned Pregnancy


When I met Carol on 1/22 I had no idea what to expect in helping her to traverse the difficulties of basically being alone in the world through this unplanned pregnancy. When we volunteer to help someone in need we really need to understand that we are making a commitment that we can’t back away from. These days things are really hard for my family financially. We are now in ministry, working to truly delve into bringing awareness to issues of Motherhood etc. But because of that we also are struggling with mortgages etc, while also being the financial lifeline to friends in need , like Carol who is now 16 weeks pregnant.

I have learned so much through her. We get along very well, but I am struggling with boundaries and priorities. When you have several kids of your own and yet have made a commitment to HELP someone, you have to learn quickly how to balance the needs of your family and the very important needs of your new friend.

Carol is very resourceful, beautiful, bright and inspiring. Still, I am learning that being in ministry such as this is sort of like being a contestant on the BIGGEST LOSER….Actually, I think there is a good argument that ministry itself is like being on the Biggest Loser. Each day you are challenged with pushing yourself to places that may be uncomfortable. Each day you are asked to persevere. Each day you are asked to give up things of this world in order to find your way to the ultimate prize. So, it can feel grueling and hard to trade your previous life and habits for a more uncomfortable life that ultimately leads to big rewards…..but the sacrifice is real, it hurts, you sweat, you crave comfort and you have to find it in the depths of your soul to push through another mile on the treadmill….For me, this means, fighting the desire to go back to my very comfortable life of working to get more gigs that pay well but that don’t really make a huge difference to the Kingdom of God. But I long for the comfort of days passed…but I am so well aware that today with Carol, with Mother the World, I have the opportunity to run toward a prize that resides in the Kingdom of Heaven….Yes,,,it feels better to go back to the relaxed secure stage at the PLAZA HOTEL and strut around singing in my sequins and rhinestones (and we will take as much work that comes our way), but ultimately the choices I make today to step into the stress of ministry will be more valuable in the long run. I don’t recall saving a life while singing the song “I WILL SURVIVE’ or “BOOGIE OOGIE”. But in the past year and a half have witnessed several lives saved through this ministry. Yes, we invested some of our ‘band’ money in adoption….but this is a new day. Life should be an adventure and we should aspire to answer the calls when they come to us. In regards to Carol, the call literally came during dinner one night. The call to MOTHER THE WORLD is one that on face value looks as if it is all about simply featuring mothers talking about their kids, adoption, child advocacy…but at the root and heart of it is MY WOUND….Mother the World exists because of a deep desire in my heart to help to develop a pride of Motherhood that will resonate to the next generation, so that if girls are faced with an unplanned pregnancy they will instead first think only of life and working toward being a mother. So, in shadowing Carol through her unplanned pregnancy, I hope that I can learn and gain a perspective and practical information as to how to advise other women like myself who may want to step into the role of ADOPTING A MOM….I think women who keep their babies in the midst of potential homelessness, lack of food, job loss are really courageous. I implore more women to somehow make themselves available to help other women through this sometimes very isolating experience. Shadowing the mother or ADOPTING A MOM can be so helpful in making the woman feel no longer isolated but ‘hopeful.’

This week I stayed with Carol as we went to the Department of Health where I saw many isolated mothers struggling to fill prenatal vitamin prescriptions, get Medicaid approval for prenatal visits and maternity care. I learned about the ins and outs of ‘food stamps’. I was thrust into a world that I had only heard of. These are real people simply trying to embrace LIFE (their own and their children’s). I am seriously prolife…but I would be a hypocrite if I said that it is easy to walk through an unplanned pregnancy. It isn’t. Still, I push through as I learn and am blessed by Carol. I feel like there are these invisible angels cheering me on. I think of the trainer on biggest loser yelling “keep moving’….Sometimes I feel like I weigh a thousand pounds….but in the end, I believe both Carol and I will come out of this feeling more fit and more beautiful in the end…even without my ‘chick singer’ rhinestones and sequin gown. Life is getting interesting,,,even more interesting, hard yes…but ‘deliciously sweet in the unexpected, unplanned moments that the Lord is putting in our paths…it is all good…tomorrow a new adventure awaits us!!!!

Was Star Wars based on the Book of Luke?,jedi,jesus,light,saber,luke,skywalker,saber,skywalker,star,wars-30374bc2f8c9c8a07cfd048003061c32_m.jpg

Our dear Ethiopian son Jared is now seven years old. As I write this book, I can say that after 2 years of being with us in America and learning English, he is starting to understand the language better. But he still has a ways to go.  One wish we have for all of our kids is for them to grasp whom Jesus is.  So when our Amharic speaking kids first came to America, we had our Ethiopian friends speak to them in Amharic about Jesus. I watched with tears in my eyes not understanding a word as Yemi and Ban, knelt down and told Jesus stories in a language that I didn’t understand (with the exception of ‘shintabet’ and ‘zimbaloo’ – which mean ‘potty’ and ‘quiet’). We have been going to church every Sunday with them for 2 years. We have Bible studies in our home. We go to church and watch as Jared and the other kids go to Sunday school.   We lead worship, play Christian music and I have a confidence that my husband and I are doing an excellent job exposing our kids to Christ and Christian principles.

Being a typical boy, Jared adores superheroes. When he first came home from Ethiopia, he would run around the house with a blanket tied around his neck like a cape, shouting “goola-lantay, goola-lantay!!” At first, we both thought that he was saying something heroic in his native Amharic. We eventually realized he was trying to say “GREEN LANTERN!!”  Well last night we were sitting at the kitchen table, and we were talking about the crucifixion.  Then my older son Andrew said, “I don’t think Jared really understands who Jesus is.” I said, “Of course he understands. Jared, how did Jesus die?” He said, “On a cross!” I looked at my son Andrew and said, “See, he knows.” Andrew said, “Mom, ask him more questions.” I said, “Jared why did He die on the cross?” Jared looked at me with complete certainty and said, “The “Joyce” follow Him with white green lasers and shoot Him. Then the “Joyce” capture Him and put him on the cross.” I said, “the ‘Joyce’? The ‘Joyce’? What is the ‘Joyce’?” Then with a sudden trepidation, it finally dawned on me that he was saying “DROIDS”.  Jared said, “yeah mom, the ‘Joyce’ (droids) shoot Jesus.” That was when I really felt like an awful Christian mom. I came to the shocking realization that our adorable but confused son Jared had somehow merged the story of Jesus’ real life with the story of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies! I don’t know if the bible’s Book of Luke inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars; it’s possible, but you’d have to ask George Lucas.  I am just a confused Christian and really don’t know. But I do know that our son Jared believes that Roman soldiers and Droids are one and the same. When he hears, “I am your Father” he thinks that Darth Vader is God.  He believes that Jesus looks like Mark Hamill.  I am Princess Leia with two cheese Danish stuck to the side of my head thinking “I AM AN AWFUL CHRISTIAN MOTHER!!!!!”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grace's Spotlight on Student Award!

The first time I saw a pic of my three Ethiopian kids I couldn't get over how sad and simultaneously poised they looked. I was specifically struck by laying eyes on Ejigayehu who we later gave the American first name of Grace because she looked so poised. We had later found out that the day the pictures were taken were also the same day that she had been left at the orphanage by her Grandmother who loved her dearly but could no longer care for them. Grace's eyes were clearly bloodshot from crying.

When Grace left the orphanage I couldn't believe how beautiful and excited she was to approach her future in America. She just exudes poise, finesse and 'grace'. She has impressed us with her focus on her studies, always with a positive attitude.

Things are rough these days. We have just put our house up on the market with hopes that we can simultaneously get our bank to agree to some form of loan modification. Business is slower than usual and in all honesty from a worldly perspective things are tough.

Still, we feel the Lord more than ever and are watching as our ministry is being birthed. Tonight we were pleased to watch as Grace won a SPOTLIGHT ON STUDENT award by the Wake County Board of Ed. This means that the staff at her school nominated and chose her to be honored due to her hard work and success at persevering through adversity. As we stood there watching, Mark would remind me that although things are tough, watching her is  all worth it.  Knowing the path we have all taken be a family in the way that God has willed for us is miraculous.  There are no regrets and that is something not everyone can say.  My real estate investment may not currently be in the best shape but the most incredibly secure investments we have made are in our children. Each one of them are miraculous. I couldn't help thinking of what a privilege it was tonight to be able to witness something Grace's biological mother would never get to see. I kept thinking of ways for us to get pictures of this night to a far off village in Ethiopia to show her Grandmother who left her at the orphanage in 2006 in hopes of offering her a better life. I would like to say to Grandma Atalay that she was and remains an excellent mother and grandmother to our kids. We wish she would have been there with us tonight.

The spotlight was on Grace tonight but somehow I believe God wanted us to be reminded of the blessings and gifts he showers on us even when we have a For Sale sign on the front lawn...God is good and our children are thriving....Thank you God for everything....