“We died before we came here”

I read this story the other day:

When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”

And now I’m asking myself, How do I live that way? How do I live with such abandon that the cost doesn’t matter? How can I make that translate to my every day life? I don’t think God has called us to live in another country, but I want that sort of perspective where God has planted me here.

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

The Apostle Paul
(Acts 20:24)


James 1:27 and the Box

Living James 1:27 out has turned my world upside-down. Even before we adopted, James 1:27 threatened my normal American life. It wasn’t convenient to give up vacation and time with my husband to spend two weeks in Africa visiting and caring for orphans. My friends and family thought I had lost my mind to voluntarily go to Africa. It wasn’t easy to see abject poverty and not be able to change the way the world works so these kids will have a chance. It wasn’t fun to know that many of these children will never have a family. It was intimidating to think about what James 1:27 (or any of the other verses about caring for the widows and orphans) could mean to my nice, clean idea of my faith.


But that’s when I engaged my faith in a way that I think made me really “get it.” That’s when I really saw Jesus – in the eyes of beautiful children who happen to be fatherless. That’s when I felt His heartbeat. That’s when I learned that caring for orphans and vulnerable children with a $35 check each month wasn’t enough. That’s when I learned the power of holding hands and giving hugs to children who will not get them otherwise. That’s when faith wasn’t about going to church every week and meeting my “obligations,” but really living the eternal life that Christ died for (because, yes, you don’t have to wait for that to begin when you die…).

And adoption? Adoption has taken my faith to a whole other level. I now see God as a loving Father. I now know mercy and grace in a way I never would have experienced it before. I now look in my son’s dark eyes and see a future and a hope, not fear. I hold my son and know what an amazing miracle was done in his little heart and body for him to be here with us. I believe with all my heart that he would have died without a family who prayed for him for the eight months we waited for him.

So when I hear of someone tell people of his faith tradition not to adopt, to deny what I feel is a key part of our scriptural mandate(yeah, I don’t think it’s an optional part of our faith tradition) to care for the widows and orphans up close and personal and, for some of us, to adopt them to be part of our families, I am angry that people think that this little person represents my faith. I want that person to know that I pity his small version of Jesus. I think that sort of view of Christ cuts out 99% of the Gospels I read. I pity him for not wanting families to be representative of the family of God. I am annoyed at his underlying racism. And I am sad for him because he simply doesn’t “get it.” I am sad that God’s grace is limited to what is convenient to him. His version of God is confined to a nice neat American box.

I don’t think God lives in that box, Mr. Robertson.

(Thanks to my friend Kelly for sharing this video with me!)

One for the widow. One for the orphan

To be honest, I thought I knew what James 1:27 meant. I really did. I visited orphans in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya. I mean, I thought I got it.

But then April 28 came. April 28 was our Both Hands project. We had a team of 35 volunteers to help us serve a local widow and fundraise for our adoption. We spent 7 hours working on a yard desperately in need of some TLC and painting a bedroom for a very special woman, still trying to reorient her life after losing her husband of 52 years. On April 28, suddenly, I really “got it.”

Because James 1:27 is about both the widow and the orphan. God’s heart is right there. He is with them, even when the rest of the world has forgotten the widow and the orphan.

But April 28? April 28 was a day that we celebrated and remembered two individuals to whom James 1:27 belongs – Joyce Blizzard and our son.

Even as we drove home, tears filled my eyes. This whole adoption journey has been incredible. Simply amazing. But no part of our son’s story has been quite as beautiful. We get to tell him about this very special woman and 35 amazing volunteers who came together for Both Hands – one for the widow, one for the orphan.

So for those of you who have followed along our adoption journey, we want to share this day with you. Check out the video about our project. Thanks for your support as we live out James 1:27. We hope you will be inspired to make a difference in whatever corner of the world you reside.


If you would like to sponsor this project and help us bring our son home, you can find more information about how to donate here: http://bothhandsfoundation.org/evan-and-carla-shows.aspx.

His Heart for Children

A little one from Haven of Hope in Nakuru, Kenya

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:13-14)

I have never been so convinced of God’s heart for orphans and children as I have through this adoption. He sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68), even when there doesn’t appear to be a way. If we would just open our hearts, God can use us as part of His work.

For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up. (Psalm 27:10)

Losing My Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to “lose my life.” Jesus calls us to it in Mark 3:24-26:

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

There Jesus goes again. Upside-down living. Saving a life by losing it?

I used to think that Jesus was calling us all to be literal martyrs in that passage. Like, you know. Go into the Amazon or the Bush and be prepared to die (literally lose your life) for His cause. I don’t think that’s not in there. Many of His disciples have been called to lay down their lives for His sake. Many people still lose everything to call themselves followers of Christ.

But in a country with religious freedom, I don’t think “losing one’s life for His sake” necessarily looks like physical death in the U.S. Honestly, I know I can go to church in my country and am not at risk of persecution by my government or another religion in my country. I can talk freely about my beliefs in public. I’m afforded this right in my country.

So what does it cost to be a believer here?

I think it’s a cultural death of sorts.

It’s living His priorities. It’s hanging out with the poor, the outcasts, the unlovable. It’s seeing everyone as our neighbor. It’s caring for the orphan and the widow. It’s faith with deeds. It’s not loving the things of this world. It’s loving our enemies, walking the extra mile, and turning the other cheek. It’s not living a materialistic, money-based life or worrying about what might come tomorrow. It’s not judging.

It’s a life on a narrow road.

This sort of life draws ridicule from our culture.

I know. I’ve recently heard the whispers behind my back.

As God has called me to see and value the things that He sees and values, I have started to lose my life. Instead of spending my two weeks off from work at home or on a glamorous vacation, I went to Africa to hang out with orphans. Twice. It’s meant adopting. Obedience in starting our family has taking us down a very unorthodox path. We don’t strive for big things that would define our success in our culture. “Comfortable living” has taken a new meaning.

So in Matthew 10:39, Jesus tells his followers this:

He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

I used to think I was alive before. I used to think striving for titles and success was life. Comfort and things. Now, I see that’s not it at all.

I’m laying down my life. My priorities. My preconceptions of success. My ideas of comfort. My ways. My pride. My popularity.

I want my life to be His.

Whatever the cost here in the U.S.

Audacious obedience

Sometimes God calls us to walk easy paths. Sometimes He asks us to do something that’s really in the realm of our abilities or experiences. He allows us to stay in our comfort zone or to pursue something that isn’t necessarily a challenge for us.

And then, there are all the other times.

The times that require us to walk a narrow path. The times that He asks us to trust Him just because of Who He is. The times that He asks us to build a boat but doesn’t bring the flood for 100 years (@NoahsArk: #ThatAwkwardMomentWhen God calls you to do something audacious). The times that He says I’m going to make you a great nation but the timing is, again, a little slow. The times that He calls us out onto the water. The times that He gives us just enough instruction for today.

Those times require audacious obedience.

They require that we look ourselves in the eye and choose to be obedient despite the fact that our brains are telling us to run the other way. They require that we move beyond our comfort, our abilities, our experiences, and our who idea of Who He is to “I AM”. Those times ask us to endure ridicule or questioning glances or opinions about what’s “right” and “wrong” with our decisions.

In our culture, it’s “easy” to be a Christ follower. We don’t face persecution as many believers in other countries do. We don’t have to choose between Christ and our families in many instances. There is not a huge monumental sacrifice that we have to make to call ourselves Christ followers.

But it’s not really that simple right? Because there aren’t too many people who really walk in Christ’s teachings. I mean, what about that part where Christ tells the rich man to sell his belongings and give his money to the poor? Who wants to do that? Or Beautitudes? What is up with blessing the losers? How about challenging our concepts of who “finishes” on top? Or the idea of what constitutes pure religion? I am satisfied with the “name only” portion of my faith most days.

Because as I read those texts, I think Christ is calling us to a huge sacrifices in our culture. Our lives aren’t often threatened, but He longs for the sacrifice of our comfortable American lifestyle. I think He’s calling us away from our culture of consumption and comfort and calling us to love the poor, to comfort those in need, to love our enemies, and pray for those who will ridicule us for it. I’m not exactly sure what this looks like, but I want to live it.

If Christ has called us, isn’t it our responsibility to be living the Red Letters? This has been in the back of my mind as I feel out every form that asks why we want to adopt. It’s in the back of my mind when I think about and pray for the children I’ll be seeing in Africa this winter. I think about it when I think about all the people at our church who agreed to be child sponsors even when it was a sacrifice financially. I think about this when I read about young women who agree to leave their life in the U.S. to move to Africa to serve vulnerable and abandoned children.

There are a number of times that I’ve asked God why He’s placed us on this path. I know that neither of us have the ability to accomplish the monumental task ahead of us. But He didn’t ask me to understand. He asked me to obey.

Audacious obedience. It flies in the face of everything our culture tells us to do to follow this God-man who lived more than 2,000 years ago. But in obedience we come to know Him all the more. This loving Savior who longs for our feet to touch the water.