Robbie and I are in Alabama for the next few weeks caring for my grandchildren while Julie and David are in the Ukraine adopting two more blessings for their family. I do not use the word “blessings” loosely. The three here at home are truly a delight and daily inspiration to me. Their parents have taught them well to be polite and respectful, kind, honest, helpful and most of all, to love the Lord and His Word. I dozed off the other day when they were Skyping with some friends. When I woke up thirty minutes later they had finished Skyping and I found Benjamin and Joshua on their beds reading their Bibles! Hannah was reading from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to her Uncle Robbie.
We Skype every day with David and Julie. What an enormous blessing it is in these circumstances! It is what makes it bearable for the kids to be separated from their parents for the month or more that the adoption process will take. It has been wonderful, also, to be able to connect with Oleg and Anastasia through Skype as David and Julie have been able to have each of them stay with them for several days. It is a great time of getting to know one another—fun and also chaotic! Oleg and Anastasia already think their new “babushka” is a “cr-r-razy grandma!”
It is fun to Skype along with the kids, but my favorite time is when Julie calls me late at night so that we can talk one-on-one from the heart. I asked her the other night her impressions of the kids now that they had been able to spend some bonding time alone with them. One of my concerns was how Oleg and Anastasia would respond to their well-disciplined Christian home, where the parents were in control with a firm but loving hand. Their birth homes had been dysfunctional to the point where the children had been removed from their homes and families and placed into orphanages after their fathers died. The discipline in these institutions was not harsh, but it was rigid and minus the love factor, which caused many of the children to be hardened and looking out for themselves alone, as well as being insecure and desperate for love.
Julie’s answer was that in many areas they would have to take baby steps with Oleg and Anastasia; leading them first of all to a relationship with Christ, and then gently to understand and accept that mama and papa know what is best for them and love them; that they have their best interests at heart and that they can trust them. As I thought about this conversation later, my eyes were drawn to a tapestry they have hanging prominently in their living room. It was called Home Rules:
Always be honest
Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
Count your blessings
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Bear each other’s burdens
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Forgive and forget
Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy.
Be kind and tender hearted
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Comfort one another
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Keep your promises
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Be supportive of one another
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Be true to each other
…Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.
Look after each other
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Treat each other like you treat your friends
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
And above all,
Love one another deeply from the heart
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
(1 Peter 1:22)
Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah have been well-taught in many areas. They know the limits and boundaries their parents have put in place and they are obedient to those rules. They have been taught many basic skills around the house and pitch in to help according to the list of chores laid out for them. They have been taught manners and proper etiquette. It is not these types of “rules” however that make this home a blessing to the Lord and others. It is the “Home Rules” that is the foundation for a happy home, where each person is loved, accepted, respected and bonded together as one cohesive, loving family.
These Biblical principles, which are at the heart of their family, will bring them all together despite the differences in culture or upbringing. There will be challenges along the way, but I know Oleg and Anastasia will respond and grow and be nurtured in an environment that is based upon these Biblical “Home Rules”, just as Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah have.