The French Connection and 2 Years Home…

Two years ago today, we woke up for the first time as a family of seven on American soil.

The day we physically got to hold our kids for the first time was August 3, 2012. We were declared a family in the eyes of the Colombian government September 10, 2012. We came to the United States on September 20, 2012.

We don’t know what date is most important, but they are all special to us. In some ways, it feels like an eternity, but in other ways, it feels like just yesterday. We still fight some adoptive-specific battles here and there, but today 99% of the stuff we deal with is normal kid stuff.

We look back from time to time and remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. Two naive parents that didn’t have a clue what to do and five kids who’s entire life and culture were about to change… With a lot of on-the-job training and the grace of God, we are where we are today.

In looking back, a film crew from France was doing a documentary on adoptive children in Colombia on the day we met our kids, August 3, 2012. Because of that, we have those first few moments of seven strangers becoming a family captured on video (with French overdubs). Feel free to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmK8-nmPTR0&feature=youtu.be

As you can see, the baby was not certain about the whole idea of a new family. To be honest, none of us were, but it is amazing to see how the strangers in this movie would become the most important people in each others’ lives.

Thank you to all and thank you to God for making that moment the start of the hardest, most fun, scariest, most worthwhile, happiest journey of our lives.

At the dinnermesa,

Ty

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Plaque buildup…

Everything I say here, I say out of love. Please read as such…

We live in Midlothian, TX, and even though it’s a sleepy little town, we find ourselves at the epicenter of a national debate.

Two of our elementary schools, Mountain Peak and Longbranch (neither our kids go to), have dedication plaques in front of them that say the following thing:

“Dedicated in the year of our Lord, 1997, to the education of God’s children and to their faithful teachers in the name of the Holy Christian Church. Soli Deo Gloria.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation does not like them because it specifically promotes the “Holy Christian Church”. So to avoid further controversy and negative press, the school district is removing the plaques and replacing them with less offensive, more politically correct plaques.

First let me say, I’m amazed that, as late as 1997, some people here in our town had the guts to put such a religious message on the side of a public building. Now we think twice before we mention the name of the football team that plays in our nation’s capital, so I would have thought that the offendables were already out in full force just 17 years ago.

Second, I applaud the efforts by our local Christians for lobbying to keep the plaques up. They will probably lose, but I am glad they stand behind these public displays of faith. When Madison, Jefferson, and others wrote the Bill of Rights, I personally think their mindset on the First Amendment was less of a concern over church interfering with state and more over the state interfering with the church. They probably remembered when Henry VIII set up a new church with himself as the head so he could divorce women that didn’t bear him male heirs or when the Puritans came to this country because they didn’t agree with the official faith of the state. I will always vote for men who share my Christian views because I want them to influence this country in a positive direction. I’m assuming others are doing this too. For this reason, the fingerprints of faith should be all over government, federal, state, and local. Can you imagine UT taking down every image of a longhorn because it offends the “faithful” Texas A&M people and vice versa (bear in mind, these are public schools too)?

Now, let me share something that may hurt feelings:

The plaques are symbols. They represent something, and the removal of them represents something else. It represents where we were and where we are.

Whenever one of the symbols of our faith is attacked, we have a tangible asset to defend and a handy battle-cry to rally our Christian soldiers. I see the Christians standing firm and fighting with so much passion, and I am inspired. However the symbol itself is nothing, whether it be a twisted cross that happenstance gave after the 9-11 bombings or a plaque on a school. We should fight to keep these things, BUT we need to recognize that the removal of the plaques is a symptom, not the problem.

The plaques are being removed because the people that want them down are more vocal and/or more numerous than the people that want them up. Why is that?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

While we protest over these plaques, I would ask where are the protests when a kid from a broken home grows up making the same mistakes? Where are the desperate phone calls urging a man and wife to work on their marriage instead of giving up? Where are the rallies when we see less than 20% of a city’s population in church on Sunday? Where are the MEN of faith when a single mom needs her car fixed or her yard mowed? Where are the cry’s of desperation to the Father when someone walks out of church for the last time?

What scares me is, there are so many people out there that need Jesus, and we don’t even care! As long as we are entertained inside our big comfortable houses, we’re perfectly OK with a lost and dying world going to hell. Yes. I said it. I know we will never say that out loud, but we say it every day with our actions, and the apathy is deafening! The battle that matters is not being fought! Further, that same lost and dying world is questioning why they should consider our point-of-view when our level of commitment to it is only commensurate with out level of guilt.

May I also say, woe is me, for among sinners, I am chief!

We live in a culture where more and more people are turning their back on Christ every day, and we do nothing. We go to church, hear about the masses that need Christ’s love, wring our hands in pious concern, wear our catchy Christian T-shirt, but we don’t do anything for them. As a matter of fact, we try to isolate ourselves, as much as we can. “If I can just keep my family safe and sheltered…” We go out of our way to not engage.

To quote Michael Savage, “Wake up SHEEPLE!”

They will know us by our plaque?

They will know us by our clever T-shirt?

They will know us by the fish on our car?

THEY WILL KNOW US BY OUR LOVE.

Why would we rather fight for all the other things? My guess is because it is so much easier to do the other things. We can’t go out naked, so we might as well put on a Christian T-shirt. That way, we can check the box of “be a witness” for the day without having to get involved in anyone’s life. Same with the fish. We can stand in solidarity in front of a school one time with a poster, and feel good about “defending our faith” until the next crisis comes along. Please know, that none of these things are bad, and I would encourage all (I have done all!). However, if we are being honest with ourselves, they are easy and yield about as much as we put into them. They should echo our love and faith that we practice daily, not be the only representation of it.

On the other hand, true unconditional love is hard. It takes effort AND commitment. We can’t just jump into someone’s life one afternoon and expect it to be good by that evening. Love takes years. Love isn’t formulaic. Love means things may get messy. Love means you might get hurt (maybe even physically). Love takes courage. Love means your comfort, your time, your money, and your priorities take a back seat to someone else’s needs. Love means you act on faith and let God take control of your life. Love means telling someone what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Love is genuine. Love means you mean it!

2,000 years ago, a handful of disciples were so serious about their faith and their love for others that they changed the world. I have no doubt that we can change the world again if we have the courage to not be apathetic and to sell our lives for something far more important than our own self-indulgence.

I promise, if we got serious about lost people (problem), the plaque thing (symptom) will take care of itself.

At the dinnermesa,

Ty