Protecting the innocent

God's loveA 6 month old little boy died this week. I saw it on the news last night. His mom’s loser boyfriend neglected him and he died…

Another news story came on right after that one: A mom left her 4 children home alone and the house burned to the ground. Thankfully, all of the children escaped and are now in protective custody. At least they have a chance at a good life now.

I will never understand neglect and abandonment.

How could anyone harm an innocent child?

Children are an inheritance from the Lord. They are precious gifts! The most important thing someone can do is be a parent. When I think of the number of children who are suffering because of negligence and abandonment, my heart breaks.

I remember what it was like to grow up without parents. I had so many unanswered questions and I didn’t even know how to express them.

  • Why wasn’t I good enough for them to stick around?
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • Do they even love me at all?

I wrestled with these questions for years. It wasn’t until I became an adult and allowed God to mend my heart that I finally understood the truth:

  • It was never my fault.
  • There is nothing wrong with me.
  • I am loved deeply by my Heavenly Father.

One of the strongest desires of my heart is to share this truth with children who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected.

These children are not damaged goods. They just need to be told the truth and given some hope.

Psalm 68:5-6 says:

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families.

I strongly believe that it is up to Christians to provide love and support for hurting children. Mentorship, foster care, and adoption are three great options that can forever change a child’s life.

 

 

 

 

When everyday is an adventure

  My dad comes home tomorrow!

We’re all so excited to see him and hear about his adventures in Mexico. 

My dad’s taught me a lot about the spirit of adventure. He’s the kind of man who sees life as the greatest adventure of all. 

And this attitude goes beyond the mission field:

  • Running errands with him becomes completing a top secret mission. 
  • Working in the yard is like hacking through the bush. 

His ability to make mundane tasks fun is the reason big projects aren’t a chore. 

I’m trying to be more like him in this area. My “hurry up and mark things off the list” mentality can keep me from enjoying my work in the process. 

My dad’s company–even when he’s not directly helping me–brightens my mood while I work. 

There are many reasons I miss my dad, but his fun loving attitude about everyday tasks is one of them. 

Hurry up and get home, Dad! Nothing’s the same when you’re not around. 

Heart language matters

I saw the importance of communication today.

For many years, Mr. and Mrs. Lee have rented a storage unit whenever they move.

Mrs. Lee is deaf.

I remember the first time I met them, which was the first month I started working at Storage Depot (before I started learning sign language). My boss had to write back and forth with Mrs. Lee about pricing and unit sizes.

heart languageFast forward to now, 11 months into my learning sign language. I was able to interpret for Mrs. Lee and she came to life! She talked and talked! It was so cool to see the power of communication in action.

Knowing someone’s heart language is important, especially when you’re on the mission field.

Each of us was born with an innate desire to be known and understood. Language barriers are the biggest deterrents to connection.

I’ve received a TON of help from the deaf community because week after week I show up and try. Even when I completely mess up, my friends kindly and gently encourage me and teach me the right way. Who could guess that my bumbling efforts would be so well received? I certainly didn’t expect it!

For many of my deaf friends, though, their own parents never made an effort to learn sign language. One of my friend’s mom started learning sign once my friend was grown. As my friend shared the story with me, there were tears in her eyes.

“This is what I’ve always wanted.”

Heart language matters. If you want to make an impact learn a culture’s heart language.

And this is true of any culture–not just deaf culture.

So, for all of my friends who feel drawn to a certain country or culture, take this advice from someone who has seen the difference: Language is key.

All the love you need

God’s love for us is big.

He has children, the chosen nation of Israel, but then He reached out to us Gentiles and offered to adopt anyone who would accept the way of salvation.

God the Father is the first adoptive parent. Adoption is a central theme of the Christian faith.

What makes all of this possible?

Love.

At least, that’s what we tell people.

God’s big love is for you.

His love transcends all other love.

Open your heart to His love.


I now want to shift our attention to the millions of children who need a home.

It’s cool to hear the adoption stories of fellow Christians, but they all have one element that bothers me:

“You know, it took us awhile to accept the idea of adoption because we just didn’t know if we could love a child that wasn’t ours.”

Wait a minute.

All Christians were once orphans, but we have to think about loving a child who’s not ours?

I have a problem with this statement.

How can I not love a child?

There’s no denying the beautiful connection between a parent and a child.  To say, though, that my love can only be limited to those who came from me is selfish.

Ask yourself: What if God had excluded Gentiles?

(A Gentile, by the way, is anyone who is not a Jew.)

Thank goodness His love is bigger than ours or we’d all be in trouble.

Please hear me: I’m happy families are adopting.

That’s awesome!

Is there anything wrong with looking at a situation and saying, “Can we do this?”

No.

Seek wisdom in making the decision because it is a big decision.

Our ability to love, however, should never be a factor. We received our love–and the power to love–from God.

Internet 101: Learn what’s appropriate

I don’t have any kids of my own, but I strongly disagree with shame based parenting.

If your kid does something wrong, I agree there needs to be consequences.

You can discipline your kid, though, without humiliating them.

I read a story about a young girl who allegedly committed suicide after a video was posted online of her father cutting off her long hair. She was being punished for “getting messed up” which I think refers to drinking or doing drugs…not really sure.

Either way, I don’t know how cutting off her hair would help anything.

To be fair to the stories I read, the police are not connecting the suicide with the punishment. It does, however, bring up the conversation of shame based parenting.

Here’s some of the videos floating around YouTube this year:

  • A parent encouraging a child to beat up a sibling
  • Children standing at intersections holding up embarrassing signs
  • Parents berating their children

I know we’ve talked about this before, but not everything has to be posted online!

Videoing someone on his or her death bed is inappropriate.

Live tweeting a funeral is inappropriate.

Videoing discipline is inappropriate.

Once again, not everything has to be posted online!

The fact that someone has to say “This, this, and this should be kept offline” is absurd.

Being vulnerable in today’s world is hard enough without the threat of your most intimate, sometimes heartbreaking moments being posted online for all the world to see.

And how would you feel knowing that the people who are supposed to love you the most–your parents–are trying to humiliate you?

ALWAYS think before you post.

  1. Will this content cause another to suffer?
  2. Why do I want to share this with others?
  3. What if it was me?

More reading:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/shame-parenting-expert-article-1.2347317

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3111907/Girl-13-commits-suicide-jumping-bridge-video-dad-cutting-hair-punishment-posted-online.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sherrie-campbell-phd/inspire-healthy-self-este_b_6437472.html

A little back story required

You may already know this, but I met my dad for the first time five years ago. I don’t talk about it much here because I write exclusively about it on my family’s website (link below).

I spent the summer after my junior year of college in British Colombia, Canada so I could get to know my newfound family better.

It was a wild ride, for sure.

My feelings were all over the map and I didn’t know if I had made the right decision by agreeing to come for the summer or even by agreeing to give my dad a chance.

Latest family photo by our friend Derek Crosby of Greater Image Photography

Latest family photo by our friend Derek Crosby of Greater Image Photography

It was my first time to get a passport, to fly, to leave the country, to meet my stepmom and siblings.

So many firsts…..

And I was already feeling like a social pariah.

It’s not like you can explain away how you are the daughter no one knew about.

“I’m a really nice person—not an axe murderer or a tax evader. Seriously, I was just as surprised as you are when I found out the whole story. None of this is my fault.”

See how much I ramble when I’m nervous?

Well, the summer went okay. There were some bumps along the way, but it was a good start to our adventure towards restoration. It was a summer of wrapping our thinking around this new reality.

I’m sharing all of this to give you the back story of my new logo.

My next post will explain the dream that helped our family cope throughout this crazy time. (And, no, it was not a dream caused by licking the caps of poisonous mushrooms.)

You’ll understand more tomorrow.

Until then, check out my family’s website: http://www.thehollimans.com/

Family Dynamic

One thing that’s taken some adjustment since moving to the Pacific Northwest is the lack of privacy. Someone’s always coming around the corner or knocking on the door. I grew up with lots of privacy and mega doses of alone time.

There’s nothing wrong with needing a little space, but my worldview is slowly shifting on the topic of “me time.”

The Bible says that we should train up our children throughout the day. This means that our actions and words are being observed every minute, especially if you’re in a large family.

 I cannot expect my siblings to learn if I constantly need space and refuse to let them participate in my daily routine. They all love to run errands with me or help me with my chores.I get asked a lot of questions about how to do things or why I do something a certain way.

Thats why I’m really having to get past my need for more privacy.

I want my siblings to spend as much time with me as possible. Sometimes I don’t want to bring a kiddo to the store or have them help me with the dishes. It would be a lot easier and faster if I could do it alone.

 However, they always thank me for allowing them to go or participate in whatever I’m doing.

Talk about feeling convicted about your selfishness!

Add that guilt to hearing your three year old sister, who calls you her best buddy, say, “Thank you, Audra for bring me to the store.”

It will make you repent fast!

The bottom line is that I am blessed by their eager hearts and hands. It’s such a privilege and honor for me to know that my siblings want to be with me.

This kind of family dynamic is one that I want to cultivate in my own home some day.   

Manners Matter

Yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir—These phrases have always been a part of my daily vocabulary as have the usual pleasantries of please and thank you. I was also taught that you put Ms. or Mr. In front of an adult’s name.

As a child, I cannot remember calling any adult by their first name only.

No one asked me if I wanted to be polite and respectful. It was demanded of me.

My me-maw taught me that adults, especially older adults, were to be treated with the highest level of respect. Not answering properly was an offence equal to interrupting a conversation. (And my family didn’t view corporal punishment as wrong either, so being rude meant some discomfort was coming my way.)

 Over the years, my use of yes ma’am and the like have made quite a few people uncomfortable.

“I’m not that old,” some would say, or “You don’t have to call me Mr. Bob. Just call me Bob.”

That’s where it got a little awkward. Who do I obey? That person? My parents? No wonder kids have been so confused over the years.

Adults demand to be treated as adults, for their commands to be instantly obeyed without question. Then they reprimand children for assigning honor to their role.

 Consequently, you have children who show no respect for authority and who believe they can call all the shots.

Who needs to listen and yield to those who are older when many parents are busy trying to wear skinny jeans and borrowing blouses from their teenaged daughter’s closet? (No one wants to admit they’re getting older.)

Once again, I’ve gone to the extreme in my use of examples. But I cannot understand how anyone who claims to be “all grown up” would take offence to being shown respect.  

Who’s Watching You?

I’m getting a baby brother in September! Isn’t that awesome?

My day gets a little brighter each time I think of this precious, perfect little person who is a part of my family. Every human life is important and full of potential. There’s just something about babies though. Can you think of anything more innocent than a baby? Untouched by the evils of the world, seeing only opportunity, full of trust—babies are the purest of vessels.

I’m sounding like the narrator of a documentary…moving on.

So I’m getting a new baby brother and it has me thinking: What role do I play in his life? Because I don’t believe that the normal, stereotypical roles of big and little siblings are okay.

There’s a big age difference between us—twenty-three years—but that doesn’t matter. We can still have a good relationship.

In an attempt to mimic self-help gurus, I’ve come up with an acronym of sibling to describe the role I hope to play in my little brother’s life (don’t all barf at once):

Supportive at all times
Interested in his life and hobbies
Believer in his dreams
Loving through the good and bad
Invested in his future
Nonstop encourager
Gracious to forgive his mistakes

Maybe you’re an awesome role model and need few reminders to stay on track. But I find myself needing to be reminded of all the little eyes who are watching me. It’s often the people in our inner circles who suffer the most when we struggle.

This conversation is not meant to be a reprimand but an encouragement.

Think about where you’re falling short and make some improvements. Think about where you’re excelling and take notes.  Because someone is following in your footsteps.

My question for you today is simple.

Who’s watching you?

Training Future Generations

I read an article this week on the subject of children and independence. The author talked in-depth about her study of children from various tribes across the globe.

Apparently, their children have tons of freedom to explore and learn without constant adult supervision.

These native kids know survival skills such as hunting, fishing, and fire building by the age of five or six.

 The children of Western culture are way behind.

The author gives three problems as to why: They have too many planned activities, most adults consider them a nuisance, and they are woefully unhappy because of poor parenting practices.

For the most part, I agree with the author. It’s sad when parents scream at their children for making noise, when neighborhoods are not kid-friendly.

 I am so thank that my grandparents allowed me to be a kid. I was free to play outside, to explore my surroundings, and to make mistakes.

I could run, laugh, and be silly with little to no chastisement.

Don’t get me wrong. If I got out of line, there were consequences, but I felt safe within the confines of clear boundaries.

By no means was I killing bobcats with my bare hands or wielding knives to take down crocodiles. (That would’ve been awesome though!) At least I knew how to complete my chores. I was also capable of feeding and clothing myself.

 In today’s times, children are not treated with importance. Training and attention is needed to mold them into a future generation ready to take their place.

I am not a parent, but I have eyes.

It doesn’t take long to notice that children are crying out for attention, for someone to expect more out of them.

What’s the future going to look like if we continue to neglect the children in our care?