friday.

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Here’s my contribution for Restoration Living’s Lent and Easter Prayerbook. May this day, this weekend, take you to new places. Deep places. Holy places. May we all be aware of and awake to how life circles around and in between both brokenness and beauty, pain and joy, death and life, as we learn how to live and breathe and love as resurrection people.

The ache, deep inside, that comes flooding into your heart, rippling over its surface, down and in between each layer – it hurts. It consumes. It permeates…everything.

Suffering – the strike of disappointment and its unwarranted process of making you aware that there’s nothing you can humanly do or offer to make your pain go away; the stark reality that we live in a broken world.

We fight it.

We numb it.

We hate it.

But it’s there. The rupture between goodness and badness occurs, and we’re left with pain and heartache and questions – with darkness.

The light hasn’t arrived yet. The beauty hasn’t risen yet. The new day hasn’t come yet.

And so we sit, in the darkness, holding out our arms, crying out for something more, something better, a sliver of hope. When will it come? When will HE come? The God who promises to turn ashes into beauty? Where is he?

Could it be, that he, is IN the suffering? Could it be, that he, would actually meet us there, in the despair? Could it be, that he knows all too well what it’s like to cry out with all that he had left? Because on that day – that Friday – in all of Jesus’ humanity, he stepped into the darkest of darkest places, and entered into the most wretched suffering. For us. With us.

He sees…you.

He aches…for you.

He grieves…with you.

That Friday marked history forever. His acceptance to suffer in that way, on that day, sent a message to the world about his heart for us, for you, in epic proportions. A message that says, “I am with you…IN the suffering. Let’s go there, together. I want to show you my heart, my love for you, there, in it. And then just wait…just wait to see what I have for you. It’s coming – new life, new hope, a new day. The story isn’t over yet. Death doesn’t win. But first…let’s go there, to the broken places, to the dark places, together. I’ll be right there, beside you, because you’re mine. You are my beloved.”

Perhaps the more we enter into our suffering, the more we’ll long to taste resurrection, new life, hope. Maybe the depth to which we feel pain is directly related to the depth to which we feel joy.

Because you see, Jesus had to go through Friday, before he could get to Sunday.

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a few little words.

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I love opportunities to write for good causes and places and spaces, and I was so grateful when Jedd Medefind (President, Christian Alliance for Orphans) asked me to write a short piece for Becoming Home (Barna Group – FRAMES Series). I very much appreciated that he was willing to include an adopted person’s voice and perspective in this book. That speaks volumes!

I was asked to capture my “Listen” speech from Summit 9 in a few paragraphs. Well, you know me, I’m a woman of many words and that felt impossible! But, you don’t really tell someone that. Right? But, you can and do nicely ask for more than 150 words. Right?

Well, I asked, I submitted, the editors took off and did their hard work, and the book was published.

And, as any writer would, when the complimentary book arrived at my home, I was elated…to see my name, on that book. And then I opened it. And then I read it (my piece first, of course). And it was different. And, as any writer would, I checked my original submission to compare what was sent to what was printed. Yes, indeed, it was different. Minutely different, but different nonetheless. And, as any writer would, I felt mis-represented. I didn’t like the differences. It didn’t feel “right.”

And what didn’t feel “right” wasn’t that the words and phrases were changed and rearranged, (I understand there’s an editing process and I really do believe that people will “get” the message), but the WAY in which my words and phrases were changed and rearranged…THAT’S what didn’t feel right. Because to me, it’s been very, very important in how I use my voice, in how I use my words, in the adoption and foster care world. And, as any writer would, I care very deeply about each and every word. Because what words you say and how you say them can change a tone, a meaning, a nuance, a message. Right? And in writing, that matters. Well, at least to the author!

NOTE 1: It’s OK if right now you’re thinking, “Carissa – get over yourself and your words” because I often say the same thing to myself. HA!

NOTE 2: There’s no blame on anyone for the changes. It’s just what happens in the editing process. And, the changes don’t take away from the message that the adopted person’s voice, his/her story, is one to be listened to and responded to.

So, those changes? Seriously. No big deal. But, here are my words, my original words. We’re working on changing them for the second print, but for now, you get to have them. Because I want you to have them. From me.

I encourage you to read Becoming Home. I so enjoyed knowing more of Jedd Medefind’s story and heart and insight as he uses his position and platform and passion to invite the “church” to become conduits of safety and love and healing and hope. And, because it’s important to keep the conversation going about what it means “to care for, to preserve, to keep, to take care of…one another.”

May we continue, to listen, to one another.


Listening…it takes practice.

What does it mean to listen to the heart of an adoptee? How do you hear what’s really being said behind the voice, the eyes, the behavior? How do you begin hearing those who hold a wound from before they can remember – a wound that birthed a deep longing to feel significant, wanted, loved?

Us adoptees, we’re like you…worthy, loveable, capable. Many times, though, we’re defined as voiceless, helpless, forgotten. But, we’re not. We are people who have a story to tell, a voice to offer. We’re learning to trust, and are being healed. We have hope. We don’t need you to rescue us, we need you to see us…the beautiful parts and the broken parts. We need you to remind us of who we are, who we were created to be.

We need you to listen to our hearts…our loss, our heartache, our journey, our restoration.

And then respond.

No, you don’t have to. You get to.

You get to model vulnerability, cultivate courage, build trust, offer grace. You get to show a real-life, real-time picture of Jesus, of his heart…for the orphan, for the world. And then, as that relationship becomes a two-way street, something sacred and beautiful and healing can happen. A space is created where transformation can take place…for all.

You, me, us, them…we get to be in this together. This is the call to the church: to love and be loved; to step into what God is already doing among us, through us. We, the church, get to offer healing and truth and hope – to one another – with a posture of humility and openness and presence as we share our stories, our hearts.

But first, we need you to lean in, be still, be present, and listen. It’s then when something miraculous and mysterious will happen. It’s then when we will begin to embody what it means to connect and trust and feel safe…with one another, with God.

May we all become good listeners…to all of the story.

Because if we do, it just might change…all of us.

**Original submission for Becoming Home: Adoption, Foster Care & Mentoring – Living Out God’s Heart for Orphans (Barna Group – FRAMES, 2013). Written by Jedd Medefind & David Kinnaman; RE/FRAMES by Francis Chan, Jim Daly, Ruslan Maliuta, David Platt & Carissa Woodwyk.