Month: November 2018

I Can Do THIS

“We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.”
Calvin Coolidge

I remember years ago being at a Women of Faith conference, and listening to—I believe it was Sheila Walsh. The conference always partnered with Compassion International (or maybe it was World Vision, it’s always so hard to remember). Anyway, it was Sheila’s turn to tell us about the organization, and the child packets that were available for sponsorship at various tables on the concourse. She talked about how she had been blessed throughout the years to sponsor many children. Then she held up a packet, one that was apparently handed to at random, and began sharing about a little girl. Basic statistics, but one clearly caught her attention. I think it was the girl’s name or maybe her birthday. Because as she was talking about how great the need is and how many people feel paralyzed by the greatness of the need and the fact that we can’t do everything for everyone, she began to say that, yes, it was true that, “I can’t do everything”—and then there was a long pause of reflection, after which she closed, “but you know what, I can do this.” Normally, she would have invited someone to come up and take that packet from her and back to the sponsorship table. But this time, she tucked it under her arm and walked off stage, as if to say, “This one is mine, you’ll have to go pick out your own.”

Her words have stuck with me for years: “I can do THIS.”

I’ve had to apply them over and over ever since, because for some reason that is far beyond my comprehension, God has given me dreams and callings and passions that He has (at least thus far) not allowed me to fully pursue. But in the meantime, He has allowed me small and sometimes seemingly insignificant ways of being involved in those larger scale dreams. Here are a few examples from MY life.

  • I can’t adopt a child from a far-away country, but I CAN sponsor a child through Compassion International.
  • I can’t adopt a child domestically, but I CAN help others to do so.
  • I can’t be a foster parent, but I CAN be a certified babysitter for others’ foster children.
  • I can’t always care for the orphans, but I CAN minister to widows God has placed in my life.
  • I can’t mentor a young child, but perhaps I CAN mentor a young adult (Lord willing).
  • I can’t always DO the things God has placed on my heart, but I CAN always pray for those who can.

I don’t know what your cause is—if you’re anything like me, you probably have more than one. Maybe for you, it’s poverty, or homelessness, or human trafficking, or ________________. Whatever it is, it is most likely too big for you to accomplish on your own. But I hope and pray that, whatever it is and however God invites you to join Him, you will not focus on those things that you can’t do, but rather on those things that you can. It may take reminder after reminder, but know that you CAN do THIS.

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An Adoption of the Heart: Compassion International

I am often eager to talk about my kids and share their photos with anyone who will listen! I have watched them grow, seen them develop spiritually, prayed for them during hard times, and celebrated triumphant moments with them. But as much as I love these children, they don’t actually live in my home because they have families of their own in countries around the world. I sponsor them through a Christian organization called Compassion International which works with local churches to provide food, medical care, school supplies, mentoring, and an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

Sponsorship is an adoption of the heart. Each child only has one sponsor so the relationship that you build and the mentoring you provide through letters is just as important, if not more so, than the financial commitment. If you didn’t get to see the movie “Beautifully Broken” when it was in theaters, I encourage you to rent it to see the dramatic impact that sponsorship can make not only on that one child, but on you and other people that God connects along your journey. In this true story, two families on opposite sides of the war in Rwanda were able to experience forgiveness and transformation through a mutual connection with one a family in America who sponsored the child from one of the families and began serving alongside the other family who had traveled to the United States as refugees.

Compassion gives sponsors a path to go beyond letters and prayers in the form of mission trips which include a visit with your child. My first trip was a life-changing experience for me when I got to meet Lucson after many years of sponsorship (pictured below). When I told my mom that I was going “over-seas” to Haiti, she very sweetly informed me that Haiti wasn’t overseas – it was below Florida! So, as you can tell, I had a lot to learn. The week that I spent there was very eye-opening and humbling. The families, who had so little in terms of material possessions, were so full of hope. My group arrived on Easter Sunday in time to celebrate with a local church. Later, Compassion brought all the children to a central, old resort and as we stood waiting for our names to be called, I already spotted Lucson and he started waiving to me! It was an incredible day that I won’t forget. Lucson brought me a gift which was home-made peanut butter, and I treasured it. I asked him what he wanted to do first and he wanted to swim … I said ok as I was secretly reminding myself that I only knew the “dog paddle” and we were in the ocean! He and several other kids said they had never seen the beach – even though they live on an island.  My trip to Haiti took place right around the time digital cameras were becoming available so most of the people in my group had one and the kids loved to have a photo taken and then run around behind us and see it.  You can probably imagine our dilemma when a couple of people took photos with film cameras instead and did not have a preview screen for the kids to see! I had sent Lucson birthday money in years past and he had written me to say he bought a goat, and then a second goat, and a third. Well, as I said – I had a lot to learn because I thought he was adopting pets and was a little unsure why he needed extra mouths to feed. So, when we met, I asked him about the goats.  He told me that he was very happy to have them and that he was still taking good care of them like I had told him to do. And then he said something that I honestly did not realize, but you can probably guess – he got the goats not for pets, but so that he could have milk to sell in the market to help his family.  Lucson has now graduated, but he is still a big part of my family and we even exchange an occasional email.

I returned home from that first trip with a deep desire to help other children and to spread the word about Compassion. I became an Advocate and started speaking at churches along with volunteering at concerts and other events. And my family grew! Since then I have sponsored more children and have been blessed to meet five more of them. Each Compassion trip has been a unique adventure. In Kenya, I met Pirante and went on a safari, which was a dream come true.  I learned about the Maasai tribe and saw the contrasts in that beautiful country between the rural landscape that we all picture and the crowded slums in the city where most of the kids live in poverty. In the Dominican Republic, I experienced heartbreak with the family of a little girl I had sponsored named Nancy (pictured below).  I had registered for the trip and a couple of weeks before it began, I received a call from Compassion. They told me that little Nancy had died in a house fire along with two of her siblings when a kerosene lamp fell. I decided to sponsor another child, Romeilyn, and go on the trip anyway, where I met her before we had even exchanged a letter. But when I got there, the leaders told me that they wanted to take me to see Nancy’s parents. At first, I didn’t want to go because I thought it would be such an imposition on a family that just buried three children, but I was told they were the ones who asked for me to visit so I did. We sat and prayed together, and I found out that both parents and an older child had accepted Christ a few days earlier despite the tragedy because of the way Nancy’s church had supported them and shared the Gospel with them. Even as they grieved, they wanted me to know that I was part of their family and that really had a profound effect on me. Other trips have been filled with laughter and lots of hugs including ones to meet my three artists: Edward in Bolivia (pictured below), Josue in Ecuador, and Pedro in Brazil!

So if you aren’t in a position to have a child live in your home either permanently through adoption or temporarily through fostering, would you consider inviting one to live in your heart? You can make such a difference and I think you will find that ultimately you are the one that receives the greatest blessing. Just remember the 4Cs of Compassion – Christ Centered, Child Focused, Church Based, and Committed to Integrity. And if you already have a child, I want to encourage you to write letters – they mean so much! If you have any questions or want to see/hear more, my email is:  drbeckysue@gmail.com. Sponsorship costs $38/month and you can select a child at www.compassion.com/beckysueparton.

Adoption: A Portrait of Grace

Y’all, it’s November! This is one of my favorite months because it is Adoption Awareness Month. And I LOVE sharing not only my own heart for adoption, but also the stories and experiences of others whose lives have been touched by this beautiful gift. Today, I want to kick off Adoption Awareness Month with a guest entry from a long-time friend, Ashley M. Wolfe. As you will see, adoption is a HUGE part of her story. I hope you enjoy!

What is adoption? In Latin, the translation literally means “to choose.” However, my favorite definition depicts adoption as: “the act of taking something on as your own.” Both of these definitions perfectly portray the experience that I have had with adoption.  When people ask me about the factors that have shaped my spiritual walk, two things always come to mind—grace and adoption. These two factors work hand in hand, even more so than I initially realized.

The first time I saw God’s providence in the form of adoption, was in the love that my dad had for me. Bryan, who I refer to as Dad, is not my biological father. He legally adopted me on my 10th birthday. I remember the hurt I felt when my own biological father willingly gave up his rights to me. I was his daughter, the only blood child he had left, after the accident my older sister, Ally, and I were in. An accident that left me scared and confused. And yet, reflecting on my pain and thinking of the things that followed, I hear Romans 8:28 come to mind. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”

I remember worrying that people in school would think I was weird for changing my name, because I had always been known as “Ashley Bridwell” and now I was going to be “Ashley Wolfe.” My grandmother eased my nerves about what my peers might think by telling me, “You’ve always been a Wolfe, we’re just making it official.” Reflecting now, the significance of my own personal story of adoption holds such great meaning, because now I can appreciate that my biological father signed away his rights to me. Bryan Wolfe did not stumble upon us by accident. Bryan has been my father, and so much more. I cannot think of a better man that a woman could possibly search for. And the grace in all of it is- God saw my mother as being recently divorced, alone with two children, and he not only gave her an amazing husband but also gave Ally and me a father. The special thing about my dad and grandparents that makes them unique to others in similar situations is that they always loved us as their own. They never for a second considered the technicalities of me being half, step, or anything like that. To Bryan, I was his from the second he saw me, and that is something so precious and rare.

The next time I saw divine intervention in the form of adoption is with my brother, Andrew. Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach is responsible for my 3 siblings who were adopted. The distinctive thing about APO is the birth mom is the one to select the family that she wants her child to be placed with by looking through “lifebooks” or scrapbooks of the families who are applying to adopt. Drew was our first adopted child that I was there for. I remember taking him home, and wondering if I would ever really feel like this was my brother. Little did I know that boy would have us all wrapped around his finger. And just like any of my other siblings, I always find myself in a rage if someone ever hurt his feelings, or even if he falls down and scrapes his knee. Drew is 100% our baby. I enjoy watching people’s faces when they see Drew walk in somewhere with us. Most of my siblings are blonde hair blue eyes, and Drew is mixed. They look so genuinely confused, which always makes me laugh because to outsiders he looks out of place, but in reality there is no place more fitting. Something amazing about Drew Wolfe is how perfect he is. I know that I’m biased, but he is incredibly handsome, smart, sweet, and a goofball. From a young age, my parents told Drew he was adopted and we have a spectacular relationship with his birth parents. Even when we see them, and are all together it makes my heart full seeing him recognize who they are, and what they have done for him, and still calling my parents “Mom and Dad.” Andrew literally means “manly and strong,” and what a name for this boy. He is always looking to help, to learn something new, or eager to do acts of kindness. Not only is he strong, but his 7 year old self has blessed my family and strengthened our bond since the day we brought him home.

As of recently, we have two new additions to our family. They have lived with us for the past couple months, and we are finalizing their adoption this month. My siblings and I were shocked to hear we would be adopting not one new sibling, but two. My parents delayed telling us because they hadn’t thought we would be selected to adopt them. Again, I felt that old fear creep up on me—that fear that our family wouldn’t be the same or that we wouldn’t get used to being all together, or that Drew would feel forgotten because these new children needed extra care getting adjusted. Fortunately for me, God reined me in. He reminded me of the purpose that adoption serves. He reminded me how I had felt when we adopted Drew and how I feel about him now. Finally, he reminded me that he is sufficient and that our parents would never risk shorting us in any way. They were adopting because it was God’s will, and because we were able and called to do so. In hindsight, this fear was so foolish—these children strengthen our family, and are absolutely precious. Just as Drew did, they already have everyone wrapped around their fingers. These two just happened to have names starting with A— a tradition among us siblings. They are also the same age difference as Ally and I were, and Anna and Alayna are. This is the grace of God, not only that we were chosen by their grandparents but because they had each other and we were able to adopt them together.

But the biggest way I’ve seen grace in the form of adoption is the one that relates to all of us. God has given us grace, and the ability to have a relationship with him and by that same token when we accept him he adopts us into his family, and our old body and soul is gone replaced with one that will strive to live our life for HIM. Adoption is so closely correlated with the grace of God that there is a verse in Galatians 4:4-5 that says, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” This is not only my personal adoption story, and those of my family, but as children of the Lord, it is the story of faith and providence for all of us. What greater correlation to adoption is there, than the God of the universe taking us as his own?

Wolfe Family Photo