Wake and Pitt counties | Are you interested in fostering or adopting?
We have information sessions to answer your questions about fostering and adopting through Methodist Home for Children.
RSVP is required: Call 888.305.4321, ext.6, or email FosterandAdopt@mhfc.org.
On the agenda:
• What it means to be a foster parent.
• What the training & licensing process is all about.
• What types of children are referred to our foster care / adoption program.
• Dates for our next MAPP training class.
Remember to RSVP at FosterandAdopt.mhfc.org!
Marc Ridel Creative
ETHAN, AGE 6
ELLA, AGE 5
JACKSON, AGE 4
In the spring, we told you how Tabitha and David adopted their first two children – a brother-sister pair, then 8-year-old Myles and 6-year-old Mia. Now we can introduce the rest of the family – siblings Ethan, Ella, and Jackson.
All five children love trips to the zoo and video games on the weekends. Ethan has the big imagination and likes to tell stories; Jackson has the appetite, always thinking about his next meal. Mia is the chatty one – and Ella is her spunky sidekick. Myles is the quiet one with the sharpest memories of life before foster care.
There were some “oil and water” months integrating two sibling groups under one roof, Tabitha says, “but now they’re all part of the family.”
Photography by Chalice
DANIEL, AGE 8
HAZEL, AGE 5
Lindsay and Robbie arrived a few minutes early. They were understandably nervous and – this is important – they wanted to be the first to arrive. They claimed a spot in the lobby and watched the door. Every time a family with two children came in they wondered: Is that them? Are these the ones?
Lindsay and Robbie were at Marbles Museum in Raleigh; they were waiting to meet two foster children who had just become eligible for adoption. They hadn’t seen a picture of the kids and were unsure of their ages. “All we knew,” Lindsay says, “is that it would be a boy and a girl. We honestly didn’t know if they were white or black – we didn’t care about that sort of stuff, so we never asked.”
And then Daniel and Hazel walked in with their foster parents – and Lindsay and Robbie say they just knew. “I started tearing up,” says Lindsay. “I said, ‘That’s them and I already love them.’ ” Robbie said the same thing and together they walked over to introduce themselves.
Fast forward two years.
Now they are a close-knit family of four people and three dogs. Daniel’s in second grade, Hazel just started kindergarten. And even though their lives are full with school, camp, and family outings, they all dream of one day living on a farm. Deep cords of love – present before they met – hold them together. The only dissent came on adoption day.
As papers were signed and the seal put in place, the judge asked Hazel if everything looked right. Her answer was quick and clear: No.
Pointing to her new last name and she said, “This is all wrong. My name should be Unicorn Princess. Hazel Unicorn Princess.”
God bless the child.
Marc Ridel CreativeJosh, 9 These are the things that make Josh happy: Trips to Bojangles’ for Bo-Berry biscuits; afternoons riding his scooter at the park; routines like haircuts with Dad, making breakfast with Mom, reading together at bedtime. Josh came to Amy and Richard at age 7, a zombie-fighting, Hot Wheels-racing, noisy burst of boyish energy – who guarded his heart and craved a family. “Josh desperately wanted a mom and a dad,” Amy says. “He would give up playing with his most favorite toy just to receive undivided attention from us.” So they folded him into their lives – parents Amy and Richard, sisters Brianna and Alyssa – and gave him a family that will be his forever. “We cannot imagine life without him,” Richard says.
By Bruce Stanley, president / CEO
At a recent Saturday funeral, I heard Dr. Charles Wilson speak of Martin Luther’s teaching on “the left-handed power of God.” The next morning I heard Rev. Christi Dye speak of Matthew’s Gospel “burying the lead on the story” by locating Jesus’ birth as the sixth action in a subordinate clause in a compound sentence.
Both beautifully made the point that the entry of God into human history was purposefully humble and ordinary.
Manus dextra is Latin for right handed. From that we derive our word dexterity. To be dexterous is to be wonderfully skilled and polished, worthy of emulation and adoration. Manus sinistra is Latin for left handed. From that we derive the word sinister. Though no one is certain how, over time left handed came to mean underhanded, plotting, and devious.
Martin Luther knew his Latin! He made no mistake talking about God’s left-handed use of power. He stripped the phrase manus sinistra of its devious connotation. In a startling and refreshing way he describes for us how the King of Kings entered into human form not to display dexterity with sword or political power. Rather he came as love, humility, self-effacement, sacrifice, and service. He entered unexpectedly from a direction in which no one was looking!
In an unattributed piece on Luther, Macedonian Ministry speaks of God’s transformative power continuing to be manifested not where the world is looking. Our headlines don’t “bury the lead.” All forms of media point to power, used and misused. It is right-hand power exercised in brutal form that commands our attention. God’s left-hand power, even now triumphant, oft goes unnoticed.
Macedonian Ministry asks us to remember the year 1809. Right-handed power was transforming the world as Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte led his armies across the Austrian Empire. The battles of Aspern-Essling, Eckmuhl, and Wagram were going to be the ones that shaped history. They have, however, become mere footnotes. While cannons boomed and swords flashed across Europe, unnoticed were women giving birth. In 1809, God’s left-handed power delivered to us Alfred Lord Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Darwin. And completely unnoticed in Kentucky of all places was born Abraham Lincoln.
It is not the army of Caesar Augustus that continues; nor does the might of Emperor Bonaparte. Rather, what continues is the loving work of the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God for Jesus’ life with us and death for us. Let us all take the left hand of the one seated at the right hand of the Father, and overwhelm the world with humility, service, sacrifice, and love.
It was an amazing Saturday!
Wrapping Hopes & Dreams with 96.1BBB at Cary Towne Center
Target shopping spree with the Scott Hannon Memorial Foundation:
Many thanks to Target at North Hills for covering the sales tax on the kids’ purchases
By Bruce Stanley, president / CEO
And Mary said, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation … he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly, he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1:49-53
With the Christmas season comes the release of new feature films. One of them is the latest installment in the Terminator franchise. Linda Hamilton is back and supposedly prepared as rigorously for this one as she did the first. It took nearly a year of diet, aerobics, and weight lifting to get prepared. I was reminded, as I read of her renewed commitment to fitness, what Ellen DeGeneres had said years ago when the animated film Finding Nemo came out. Ellen is the voice for the Dory character and did a comedic bit about it on her show. A guest asked her about the movie and she went into an extended riff about how demanding it was for her – that she’d never been a strong swimmer and had to swim lap after lap to prepare, that she wasn’t good at holding her breath and had to build up to that, that she now knew what Linda Hamilton had gone through. Not all rewarding experiences demand the same amount of preparation.
If observed seriously, Advent demands difficult preparation. This third Sunday in Advent is observed as Gaudete, the Sunday we thank God for the joy that is to come. In many if not most Advent wreaths, the day’s candle stands out because it is rose colored or pink. Its very appearance brightens before its wick is kindled. Do not let the pink JOY candle deceive you. As Mary makes clear in the Magnificat, Jesus cannot enter into our lives without our honest self-examination and repentance. We have inner work to do before we get to joy.
Mary, even as she thanks and praises God, names the things that clutter our hearts and take up space where joy in Jesus should reside – pride of place or achievement, belief we have achieved on our own, reliance on material wealth, and considering ourselves better than others. This is a long and serious list that must be addressed. I expect if we are honest, this list of clutter is common within us all. We need to be Linda and not Ellen during this month. We have work to do between now and Christmas Day.
Only when hearts are truly humbled can joy enter in. So let us all commit to daily disciplines of scripture reading, prayer, and acts of kindness. Let us look to serve others and not be served ourselves.
By Bruce Stanley, president / CEO
This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. –Matthew 3:3-4
As we deck the halls of our administration building we put out several Christmas creches. Each is unique; They are from different countries, different cultures, and made from different materials including pewter, wood, and ceramic. While the styles vary, the substance does not. In each there is a manger, a holy family, a shepherd’s crook, sheep, and wise men bearing gifts.
Those are the beautiful and celebrated parts of the Christmas story. Yet they do not tell all of the story. There is one essential character in the narrative who has already come and gone in Matthew’s narrative: John the Baptist.
Every year this awkward, unkempt guest shows up on the second Sunday of Advent. He comes unwashed, out of the wilderness, with challenging words of repentance and accountability for our sins. He is wearing a camel’s hair shirt and a barbed belt that purposefully chafes him each time he moves as a reminder of his sins. No Christmas cookies for him. He eats severely – only wilderness foods. While he seems out of place and unwanted, his importance cannot be denied. His awkwardness is essential to Christmas.
Many times as a pastor I have seen the unwashed, unexpected, or uninvited guest become the one who ushers in the Christmas spirit. Grace UMC in Wilmington is located on the same block as the Cape Fear Gospel Rescue Mission. In my second year of ministry we planned a Christmas party with the mission. The idea, of course, was that we, the advantaged, would provide presents/party/program for the disadvantaged. We shared a wonderful meal, we handed out presents, and then our choir led us in Christmas carols.
Unexpectedly, in the midst of the caroling, one of the homeless residents stood. He was tall and so slender as to suggest chronic hunger. His hair was clean but unkempt and he had a couple days stubble on his chin. In wavering southern voice, he spoke in the idiom of the rural church. He said, “I want to favor you with a special.” Then, without accompaniment or permission, he sang ‘O Holy Night.’
When he sang the words, “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,” we all teared up. His voice was untrained. He wandered between sharp and flat. And yet, this awkward, unexpected soloist who came to us out of the “weary world” brought us into hope and rejoicing. Forty years have passed, yet I can still see his flannel shirt and blue jeans. I hear his untrained voice not with my ears now but with my heart. We who thought we were bringing the gifts were given a greater one. I doubt he ever realized that he was “the voice of one singing out in the wilderness,” but that day he prepared the way of the Lord.
As we wait and prepare for Jesus to come, let us do so with a renewed appreciation for the role that all of God’s children have to play in our lives. Let us actively welcome those who come from wilderness or weary world.
By Bruce Stanley, president / CEO
Watch therefore, and pray without ceasing, that ye may be accounted worthy … to stand before the Son of Man. –Luke 21:36
For the second time in four years our family finds itself preparing for the marriage of one of our children to a fantastic person. Joy is overflowing our hearts and we are counting down the minutes. Decisions have been made, details decided, rethought, and decided again. The planning and preparations are complete. With only two weeks before the wedding, we sit on the edge of our seats with high anticipation.
The first wedding we celebrated was for our daughter; this time, our son. Because of convention and cultural norms, there has been a marked difference in the amount of work involved. At this point I will readily admit to what you already surmise – as the dad I have done none of the heavy lifting. Because all involved want the events to be tasteful and refined, my contributions have been limited to offering praise, affirmation, and applause.
From my father’s sideline seat I have been struck by the marked difference in effort required of our family this second time through. For our daughter’s wedding I was asked to be attentive to details large and small for months and months. For our son, not nearly as much has been asked. While I have been looking forward to his wedding, I confess that even as dresses are selected and accessorized, the menu for the rehearsal dinner chosen, and family travel solidified, it wasn’t until last week when a package for our son (who lives in San Francisco) came that the moment to be seemed close upon me.
I reflected some that night that my level of necessary preparation for the two events has been greatly varied. In the words of Luke 21:36, for my daughter’s wedding it felt that it was indeed “watch therefore and pray without ceasing.” For my son’s wedding, I am clearly joyous and looking forward to it but honestly my level of watchfulness has not been as high.
Further reflection revealed that this varied level of preparation and watchfulness applies not just to impending nuptials, but also to my approach during Advent. I know that during some years I have been constant in prayer and Bible study and I marked the days of the Advent calendar without fail. In other years my preparation has been more episodic and periodic. I am convinced that in most if not all of life, anticipation is likely to exceed participation. In years in which I prepared little for Advent, I gained little. In years in which it was priority, I gained spiritually.
With this renewed understanding, I am fully and completely committing to preparation for the coming of the truly great event, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I invite you to also rededicate yourself to intentional preparation for the joy that is to come.