Tag Archives: prayer

Book Review – Under the Overpass


To begin with let me just say this book was powerful, it was one that reached down deep inside of my heart and grabbed hold of it from the first page. If you want to understand homelessness from a different perspective read this book. As a believer, someone who works with the mentally ill and homeless and live in one of the cities written about in this book, I connected in more ways than expected.

Living in America, most of us, myself included take for granted how well off we are.  Most of us never worry where our next meal will come from, when we can take a shower or what articles of clothing we will wear today.  We know we will sleep safe and sound in our own bed tonight.   Day to-day we go through life passing strangers, mentally ill and homeless individuals, never giving them a second thought.  We see them standing on the corners with their signs, or even coming up to us and asking us for spare change.  Many times I have seen and witnessed people not wanting to be bothered by folks and brush them off. Yet they are human beings, created in the image of Christ and this is our response to them?

In our lives we have so little need for God, we take him for granted and only come running back to him when our lives are falling apart.  What happens when you don’t have any of this any longer? Mike Yankoski heard God speak to him during a church service as he meditated on Philippians 4:11-12 “I have learned what it means to be content in all circumstances, whether with everything or with nothing.” Mike’s thoughts were “What if I stepped out of my comfortable life with nothing but God and put my faith to the test alongside of those who live with nothing every day.”

After praying, planning, wise counsel and a friend to join along in this journey they set out to really experience life in a very different way.  Their trip took them to Denver, Washington, D.C., Portland, San Fransisco, Phoenix and San Diego. Mike and his friend Sam set out on a 5 month journey carrying a pair of boxer shorts, a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and a sweatshirt.  Sleeping bag, books, journals and a couple of guitars to aid in panhandling – the bare essentials for this life altering journey.

The journey began May 27th, 2003 and came to it’s conclusion November 2, 2003. The stories they share of their experiences surviving in each city is eye-opening.  How those living off the streets keep up what little dignity they have, survive and yes even live out their own faith in Jesus.  The folks they meet and the stories they shard about their lives which led to them being on the streets is what got me the most.  How members of churches responded to them and their response back to them.  They met and experienced Jesus in different ways and in doing so it challenged them as to how they would live upon returning to normal, if there is such a thing after what they went through.

In reading this book it reminded me of the movie “Into The Wild”.  There is something extremely appealing about casting off the world, (cell phones, cars, luxuries we take for granted daily) and really truly devoting ourselves to dependence on God.  It’s refreshing to me to see men like these two who weren’t afraid to go out and do it.

As I finished out this book moved to tears.  I was reminded of the passage in Deuteronomy 15:11 “There will always be poor people in the land.  Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”  It is true, more so today than I have ever seen or experienced in my life.  It is now estimated there are close to 2 million homeless people living here in America.  That number is shocking.

It made me realize as someone who has been given much, I need to find ways to merge taking care of the poor into my family.  What can we do out of our wealth to help others. I am once again challenged not to ignore them to but really see the person, to do more than just pass them by. This book is one I strongly urge you to read.  In reading the stories presented in this book it should change and shape your future and how you look at homelessness.  The end of the book provides you with some simple ways you can also do your part.

FTC Disclaimer – “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

You can order a copy from Amazon for as cheap as $4.31 – just click on the link below

http://www.amazon.com/Under-Overpass-Journey-Streets-America/dp/1590524020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301366551&sr=8-1

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Adoption Story Part I


Prior to meeting my wife, I always had dreams of having a large family.  My ideal family consisted of a son, another son,  twin red-headed girls and then another son to finish it off.   I also knew if I never got married I was going to adopt a child,  (somehow, someday I would be a father) whatever it took I would make this happen.  On the first date my wife and I had I asked her this question “How many children do you want?”  She told me 4.  I told her I planned on having 5 and was she alright with this, because if it wasn’t there wasn’t any need for us to pursue dating.  She said she was fine with it and so we continued dating and 1 year later we got married.

6 weeks after we were married I asked my wife if she would stop taking birth control and get started on having a family.  She was more than overjoyed to do this and within a couple of days she was pregnant.  9 months later our daughter who is now 14 came into the world and we were both extremely happy.  We didn’t know till the day she was born we were having a girl, it took me all of 2 minutes to get over not having a son as my first child.

Around the time our daughter was 10 months old we began talking about more kids and what our future would hold.  We both agreed we were not going to use birth control any longer and leave it in God’s hands.  We also began discussing adoption and possibly adopting a child from another country.  We started pursuing this, obtaining information through various agencies on what it would take and the costs involved to adopt a child.  We didn’t know how we would ever afford to do it, but somehow God would provide a way for us to do this.

We decided to pray about it and see where God led us.  It was shortly after this we found out my wife was pregnant again and so we put our thoughts of adoption on the back burner.  Our son joined our family and I was more than overjoyed to finally have the son I had always dreamed of.

My son was turning 1 and we began the talk again about adoption.  We started praying and weighing our options and sure enough my wife was pregnant again.  After my son joined us, my wife was pregnant again 2 more times and two more daughters joined our family.  Not exactly close to what I had hoped for, however I was incredibly happy to have these 4 children.  They were very much a blessing from God.  When my wife had our 4th daughter we were told she could not birth anymore children.  All 4 of our children were born by C-section.  Because my wife’s body didn’t cooperate, having any more children could risk her health and I wasn’t about to chance it.  So we accepted this was the family God wanted for us, 4 kids was enough and we were content with our family.

Something I should mention here, twins run on both sides of our family and every time my wife was pregnant I prayed throughout the entire pregnancy God would give us twins.  I prayed daily for this until I was assured there was only 1 baby in there and even then I held out hope that somehow they were wrong.

Fast forward life with 4 kids, we are busy, living life, doing our thing and we get a call asking to come to a family meeting for my wife’s brother and his wife at the DHS (Department of Child and Family Services ) office.  He and his wife have struggled in their marriage, had their oldest child removed from their home by DHS because the mom has mental health issues and their home was a toxic environment; unsafe for him to live.  We were asked if we would step in and do Foster Care for our nephew until things get better between the parents.  We didn’t even think twice about it, we just stepped in, took him in and took care of him.  We had less than a favorable experience in doing this and learned a lot of things that shouldn’t have happened, however our nephew was given back to his parents.  We didn’t have a lot of contact with them afterwards as our relationship had been very strained with them.

In January 2007 about 6 months after our nephew returned home to his parents we received an unexpected call came from my brother-in-law asking if I could meet him for coffee.  I went and met with him and found out they were pregnant again and because DHS was still involved in their lives they were told, they had 2 option, either abort the baby or give it up for adoption. If they proceeded to have the baby and try to keep it, they would remove the baby and place it in the foster care system.  So he came to me asking if my wife and I would consider adopting the baby so it could stay in the family.  I told him we would talk about this and get back to him.  I came home and laid out the story for my wife.  We had some heart to heart discussions, prayed about it and felt like it was the right choice and told them yes we would adopt the baby.

Immediately I set to work figuring out how to legally adopt a relative’s child.  After some time of searching we found a lawyer and we began moving forward with the process. I informed the parents about the lawyer and we were all on the same page at that point.

After one of the doctor appointments, the mom began sharing stories of what was going on at home. He was abusive and treating she and their son poorly.  She could no longer handle this and wanted to know if you could come and stay with us.  Based on some of the things she told us, we could see these things happening and felt like it would be ok for her to take and break from the situation.  No sooner had she and her son moved in when we noticed a significant change in our home.  We went from calm and peace to chaos.  It’s hard to define, because it’s not so much in actions but there just seems to be drama of some type and “stuff” that follows her that doesn’t make it easy to be around her.   They tried to make it work, she moved back home for bit, but it didn’t change and she and their son moved back with us.

As a result of all the drama between them, DHS became more even more involved in their life.  Safety plans were put in place for the mom and their son and we were ultimately responsible for taking care of the mom.  My wife and I continued to help support her throughout the rest of the pregnancy.  My wife attended all the prenatal appointments, and she helped prepare her for the birth.  While my wife was doing these things I was working with the lawyer to get all the paperwork in order and getting the parents to sign off on things.  My plan was to have the final paperwork ready for signatures shortly after the baby was born so the adoption would be complete.  Now that the mom was living with us, things began to change.

We made it clear to the mom that she needed to find a shelter or move in with a friend or someone else after the baby was born. We agreed she could stay with us for one week, but after that she would need to leave and we wanted our family to be able to bond with the baby.  The time was approaching for the baby to come and the doctors ended up scheduling an C-section and she also planned to have her tubes tied.  The day the baby arrived, my wife took them to the hospital and she delivered Hope.  I stayed home with the kids and kept them company while they did their part.  After she was born we went and visited a couple of times throughout the day.  Finally, it was time to come home and we all came back to our house.

We held firm, she stayed for one week and despite not putting any real effort into finding a shelter she luckily found one and she and her son moved into a shelter.

Hope was lovingly welcomed into our home.  The only problem was now the mom had decided she wasn’t quite ready to sign off on the papers just yet.  Since she was in a shelter it was difficult to get a hold of her and she only responded through e-mail.  She continued to drag it out longer and longer and then turned on us and wanted nothing to do with us.  Somehow she found a lawyer all on her own and in talking with the lawyer convinced the lawyer that we would pay for her to help with her divorce and get what she wanted out of the adoption.  She refused to sign or move any further unless we paid for her lawyer.  This is where things turned for me and it became difficult for my wife and I.  I was tired of the mom and her games.  I was sick and tired of this battle.  We were taking care of Hope, providing everything for her and yet had no legal right to her.  Her parents could have come in at any time and taken her away from us and we had no leg to stand on.  In my mind I wasn’t about to fight over this child.  My wife was willing to lay down her life for this little baby, but I wasn’t there yet.

When we had done Foster Care for her older brother I did all that I could to take care of him.  I provided him with the basics, but my heart was not in it.  He was not mine and I didn’t have all these warm and fuzzy feelings for him, like my wife did.  I didn’t connect with him in a way I thought I would and it was vastly different from my own kids.  Not that I would ever let something happen to him, but my feelings for my own kids versus what I felt for him were not the same and no matter how hard I tried my feelings weren’t changing.  Now the same thing was happening with Hope.  While I wanted to make sure she was taken care of properly, I was continuing to do all I could to bond with her, but I wasn’t feeling the feelings I had for my own kids.  I packed her around all the time, held her more than anyone else, kissed and hugged her and treated her no differently then I did with our older 4 kids after they were born. However those feelings still were not there.

Due to the mom’s unwillingness to move forward and I wasn’t about to pay for her lawyer. I was ready to tell her to come and take her baby and be responsible for her, we weren’t going to do it.  I had enough of her games and I wasn’t going to fight over a child that wasn’t mine.  I remember lying on the couch with Hope on my chest one Friday afternoon just looking at her.  Something changed inside of me.  I looked at her and saw how beautiful and wonderful she was and I offered up a prayer to God.  “God, I offer this child up to you, she belongs to you and you know what’s best for her, I pray blessings upon this little girl and if you want me to take care of her I will.”  As soon as I uttered those words my heart melted and changed.  I don’t know how or why but it did.  A day after that things began changing.  The mom was suddenly willing to begin signing papers, however she still wanted her lawyer paid for.  After talking with our lawyer we negotiated just what we would pay for, the adoption and nothing more.  She agreed to this and we moved forward with her adoption.  Prior to her 1st birthday the adoption was finalized.  All of our many prayers answered; it was done.  She was officially our daughter.  In my heart she had become my daughter the day I offered up that prayer to God.

Since then Hope has been a huge blessing to our family.  She is a funny, gregarious, bossy little girl who we all love and enjoy.  She’s just like all of our other kids.  I never thought I would feel the way I feel about her, but I am so glad my heart changed.  She is my daughter and I believe that God designed our family this way.