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Some people may think the picture above is photoshopped. It’s not, it’s authentic. I know this because it was taken by one of my favorite photographers and I have followed his work for years.
He and his wife Sandy are very close friends of ours.
He was doing this photo shoot for one of our favorite ministries (Dutton Farms) and as he focused on the Lavender candle, this chicken (I think it’s a hen but it may be a rooster? I should know this) jumped up and into the picture.
Click! Wonderful! Yes!
I love this picture so much because it is authentic.
Allow your family to be authentic. This was a huge goal for Carol and me.
We were a family in the spotlight often (because of our ministry) as our kids were growing up. It was very important back then that Carol and I teach them how to respect other kids, grown-ups, each other and us as their parents. It was also very important to us that they be polite and not rude to the people around them.
However, with that said, we never asked them to act differently when the spotlight was on and everyone was looking. We always encouraged them to be themselves and never pressured them to act a certain way in the public eye.
Being a family on tour with my speaking ministry and meeting new people in every new city along the way was pressure enough without us being obnoxious, fake parents.
We wanted our family to be authentic.
Yes indeed, teach your children to respect people and be kind and polite to the people around them, and then let them be real and not put on a show.
The photographer of the chicken and the candle (Greg McDonough) is one of my favorite photographers.
But much more than that, he and his wife Sandy have an authentic young family with three children who are wonderfully polite and allowed to be themselves in front of all of us around them.
And it makes a world of difference in their children’s lives.
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This is a picture of an orphan from a third world country whose mom died of starvation. No dad in her life.
When this picture was taken this baby was starving and had been eating clay to survive.
You can’t see them in this photo but her body is covered with bites where intense insects were eating her alive.
She has a bloated stomach from starvation and her ribs are almost sticking through her skin.
Stick arms and stick legs.
When her 18-year-old mom died of starvation, this baby’s cousin at 16 was trying to keep her alive. The cousin was starving so she traveled away from her village and gave the baby to some missionaries saying, “Please save this little girl, she is very special.
The little girl in this picture is almost two.
Do you know any two-year-olds or have you within the last few years. I have. It seems like just yesterday my nephews were two.
Two-year-olds know whats going on. This little girl realized that her closest friend and source of love was gone when her mom died. She was left alone.
She was without a family.
My oldest son Josh was eight when this picture was taken. At the tender age of eight, he had orphans on his little mind.
I know this because he asked me what our family was going to do about it.
The little starving girl in this picture became Joshua’s baby sister.
Yes. She is our beautiful daughter Mareah.
The missionary woman who saved her life called us her Forever Family.
It took a long time before Mareah began to heal from the brokenness of the trauma she experienced. There were some very rough years for Mareah, Carol and me.
Now that we are starting to see the other side of the mountain of suffering, Mareah has told me many times that she is so grateful for parents who love her like we do.
Through her years of brokenness, anger, and pain we have told her time and time again that there is nothing she can ever do to push our love away.
Carol agreed with me several months ago and said that Mareah is a different person these days and laughs a lot.
Because we are imperfect parents, there are still days that we grate on her nerves and get under her skin. And there are days that Mareah would admit that she is not a day at the beach.
However, this forever family is here to say Satan will not have the final word in the story of the little girl he tried to destroy.
There are more smiles than frowns these days on her beautiful Haitian face and the truth is, she just needed to really know that there was nothing she could do to push our love away.
Mareah has told me she believes we will never push her away. She believes these days that she is the daughter of a Forever Family.
There are millions of orphans who need a family.
If this Tip is stirring something in your heart God may be trying to get your attention.
Be motivated by God’s invitation to love, never by a sense of guilt.
Ask yourself these four questions:
Do you have a loving environment in your home?
Do you have room in your family to add a son or daughter?
Are you able to adopt? Not everyone is.
Is God stirring your heart to adopt?
If the answer to those four is yes, then there may be a little boy or girl somewhere in the world waiting for you to make the first move.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me,
-Matthew 25: 35 and 36a (NIV)
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Today is my firstborn’s birthday so I am going to tell a Joshua story.
John 3:16 says this: For God so loved the world that He gave His only son.
When Josh was about 3 months old, he was with me at a summer camp where I was speaking. On the last day of camp, after spending the week talking about how much I loved Josh, I did something to illustrate this point in John 3:16 when God says He gave His only son.
I lifted up Joshua in the outdoor chapel (during the meeting at the end of my talk) so that everyone there could see him.
There was a large wooden cross on the back wall of the chapel.
I said, “As we close chapel tonight I am going to fasten Joshua by his little hands with a spike to this cross and I would like each of you to do something before you leave.
I would like for you to walk up to my son hanging on this cross, ignore his cries and either spit on him, spit right in his face or slap him, slap him as hard as you can across his face. Then walk away.”
What happened next I did not plan on.
A young man sitting to my right jumped to his feet and with great emotion said, “Brett! No! You wouldn’t do that to Josh!”
I called the young man by his name and said, “You are right. I won’t do it. But do you know why? Because I don’t love you like God does. Do you understand me when I tell you that God gave His only Son to die for us? How much does God love each of you? Do you see?”
After all these years I have never forgotten that young man standing up like that. He made the point for me.
Well, my son Josh was hanging out with some friends recently when the new guy in the bunch said, “Josh, I have only known you for a very short time but there is something different about you. What is it?
Josh smiled and said, “Jesus.”
The picture here of Josh and I at Chili’s was taken one year ago this week at his birthday lunch celebration.
Have a wonderful week everyone and Joshua have a wonderful day! I will see you very soon and I love you.
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This is Andrew Anderson. He is one of the best bowlers on the planet. He has won gold medals, championships galore and recently, he took home the big prize as he won the USBC Masters PBA Tour title. He is incredible.
This dude is so fast with a bowling ball that all of his pictures are blurry. Okay, not really, but he is the real deal and he is fantastic.
He is 22 two years old; my oldest daughters age.
He was a senior in high school winning championships when Kelly was a senior.
Here’s the kicker. Andrew Anderson graduated from Holly High School, class of 2013, with my daughter Kelly in the small town we live in.
That’s pretty cool. When most people see this kind of talent and it comes from your hometown, you really want to celebrate that. I am like most people, so let me stop this Tip right now to say: Andrew, congratulations! The people here in Holly are very proud of you. Look me up next time your home and I’ll treat to dinner at Leo’s.
All right, so how does this tie into my Faith Tip this week. Here it is. I think there is something inside of us humans that wants to do something great with our lives. When we see people do extraordinary things we want to be like that in some way.
God wants us to be great too. And He said this is how you do it. If you want to be on the top, humble yourself all the way to the bottom and serve the people in your life.
Do you want to be first? Let everyone else go in front of you and be the last. Do you want to live life to the fullest? Then die every day to yourself and let my Son Jesus Christ live through you. I am not kidding when I say this is the greatest way to live.
God truly blesses this kind of living.
Do something great with your life. Be known in your hometown as the one who puts God and people first and cares for those around you.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20: 25-28
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. I John 3:16