It’s my privilege to welcome April Swiger today, with an excerpt from her new book, Dignity and Worth: Seeing the Image of God in Foster Adoption.

 

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April Swiger is a wife, mother to two awesome little boys (Jayda and Zay), homemaker, and blogger. In 2013, her family moved to her home state of Connecticut, where her husband, Adam, serves as the worship pastor at Christ the Redeemer Church. Living in a 100-year-old farmhouse, being debt-free, cooking nourishing food, and enjoying introvert-friendly activities are some of her favorite things.

The following excerpt comes from Chapter 5 of April’s book. This chapter is called, A Conversation About Race: How Understanding Our Child’s Cultural Background Honors the Image of God.

Thank you, April, for sharing these important words with us!

 

Processed with Rookie Cam

Processed with Rookie Cam

 

I remember the first time my son openly acknowledged that his skin color was different than my husband’s and mine. It happened just before Christmas in 2014, and he had recently turned three years old.

 

We were looking at the various characters in an old Italian plastic nativity set that my parents had passed down to us. This particular nativity is the perfect set for a toddler who plays hard all day, every day, because the pieces are unbreakable.

 

My favorite part of this nativity set is that the skin colors of the characters are not all porcelain white. Most figures look like they’re Middle Eastern, and one of the three wise men has very dark skin, just like my son. Jayda picked up this wise man and made a comment about how the two of them matched one another. I was thrilled to see him notice the similarity, and was eager to point to our Creator as the one who gave him his dark brown skin.

 

Jayda and I talked more about his observation, about how God made us each unique, and how every person is beautiful, created in God’s image, regardless of the color of his or her skin. Adam and I have used the same vocabulary with Jayda since that first conversation to reinforce the truth of the Imago Dei and the variety of skin tones God has created.

 

I believe that initial conversation about the dark-skinned wise man spurred on Jayda’s curiosity and awareness of different ethnicities to a new level. On multiple occasions when out running errands, Jayda would point to others who had the same skin color as his own, excited to see “a match.”

 

Our willingness to talk with him about race gave him the freedom to address the subject; it gave him agency in processing his experience of social dynamics. I believe if we had refused to talk to him about race, he may not have felt the freedom to ask us about it. If we had skirted the issue because it was awkward for us to discuss, I wonder if he would have felt that we were unapproachable on the topic.

 

It doesn’t matter if your children are black, white, Asian, or Latino: Every parent needs to talk openly with their children about race and ethnicity.

 

 

For believers, the conversation ought to be fueled by the gospel—how Jesus is the one who has freed us from sin and death, and racial division and racism—and focus on the hope that it brings to every relationship.

 

These conversations are incredibly hard, though. Whether they are with my son, a family member, or a friend, it takes humility, effort, thought, and wise word choices to navigate conversations about race and ethnicity. I’m willing to engage in these conversations because I’m convinced it’s important to God and honors those who bear his image.

 

 

Because race and ethnicity are important to God, and he purposefully created each and every one, I am always encouraged to hear of families who embrace different cultures in their homes and who humbly choose to enter into difficult conversations.

 

These families teach their children that people with skin colors different than their own are not bad, but are, instead, a beautiful expression of God’s creativity. How tremendous a privilege it is to lead our children in worship as we look at the people of the world, from every tribe, tongue, and nation, created by God, with dignity and worth.

 

Another reason I’m willing to enter into conversations about race is that one of the most heartbreaking realities of foster care and adoption is that certain children are seen as more desirable than others. According to one of our case workers, within Connecticut’s foster care system, the most desired child is a white female, aged zero to two years old. The least desired children are black boys. Even the babies.

 

Our youngest, Zay, even as a tiny baby, was considered “hard to place.” That means there weren’t many families willing to take him. There were a number of reasons for this, which included his prematurity and his birth mother’s health, but being black was definitely high on the list of his “undesirable” qualities.

 

I’ll say it again: I don’t believe every couple should consider transracial adoption, but I do believe more families ought to take a step forward, become well-versed on the challenges, and trust God with growing their family into a multiracial one.

 

Related post: Should Parents Have Children of a Different Skin Color?

 

April Head Shot

Want to read more? Find this excerpt and the rest of April’s book here.

Join April for more “Faithfulness in the Mundane” at www.aprilswiger.com and on Instagram.

 

Affiliate links used in this post.

 

 

 

Welcome to Five Minute Friday!

We’ve saved you a seat. Even better, we’ve got lots of fun announcements to share this week!

If you’re new, learn more about the Five Minute Friday community here.

First of all, I’m so excited to tell you that the e-book, Letters to Grief, is now FREE to all subscribers! AND … there’s bonus content! Sign up now and get two free adult coloring pages to go along with the book!

 

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Speaking of free books, click here to grab Amy Sullivan’s book, When More is Not Enough: How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need, for FREE!

 

WhenMoreIsNotEnough

But wait! There’s more!

Both Dayspring and KraftyKash, two of my favorite companies, are having summer sales!

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Use code THANKYOU to get 25% off sitewide at Dayspring.com.

 

KraftyKashSummer

Use code SUMMERTIME20 to get 20% off your entire order at Krafty Kash, through June 30th!

And with that, it’s now time to WRITE!

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

 

Rest - FMF

 

Set your timer for five minutes, and let’s GO!

***

I’m tired.

It’s summer vacation, and instead of kicking back and relaxing, I’ve said yes to way too many things.

I’ve said yes to too much, and I’m feeling the self-induced stress and pressure all the way up to my chest.

I’m sleeping poorly, nervous that I won’t finish what I’m suppose to accomplish. I wake up with deadlines heavy on my rib cage. I make lists and add items faster than they get crossed off.

I need a break.

My kids are feeling it, too. They’re complaining that I’m on the computer all the time, not spending enough time with them.

I promised to take them to the beach.

We went this afternoon.

The forced separation from my computer for few hours was just what I needed. I stared out across Lake Michigan, and took a deep breath.

It was glorious.

As I felt the breeze in my hair and listened to the gentle repetition of the waves, I remembered the goodness and faithfulness of my God, who beckons me to come and hand over my burdens.

 

So I heave my To Do List and my deadlines onto His shoulders, and I look forward to His promise of eternal rest in Him.

***

Rest

 

 

Related posts:

When You Have a Burden that Needs to be Lifted

On Being a Writer: Rest

Rest is Good

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links have been used in this post.

 

Don’t forget to grab your FREE COPY of Letters to Grief, plus the two free adult coloring pages to go with it!

Happy writing, friends!

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Hey there!

Welcome to another round of Five Minute Friday!

In these parts, we love writing fast and free, for five minutes flat. We love newcomers, so if it’s your first time, please make yourself at home!

You can also click over to our FMF Facebook page, and join us on Twitter on Thursday evenings at #fmfparty!

This week’s prompt is:

 

lose

 

 

Setting my cell phone timer for five minutes, and … GO.

My kids’ best friends were in a car accident last night. Right in front of our house. We live in a church parsonage, and they were turning into the parking lot for prayer meeting. Four siblings in one car. They got broadsided, then the driver who hit them slammed head-on into an electrical pole.

Praise God, no one was hurt. It was nothing short of a miracle.

The car that hit the pole was an ’83 El Camino. If it hadn’t been made of steel, the three occupants never would’ve walked away.

My daughter’s 11-year-old friend, who had been in the car that got hit, came into our house, shaking, while one brother called their parents and the other one lay on the ground having a full-on panic attack. People congregated and swarmed. Fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars pulled up, lights flashing.

And nobody was hurt.

Needless to say, all three of my kids were shaken to the core. They came face-to-face with the brevity of life. How things can change so drastically in just a split second.

My nine-year-old spoke his fears out loud: “If they had died, I would’ve lost my closest friends. I feel so bad for their parents. What if all their kids died in one car?”

The question filled all of our minds: What if we had lost them?

And yet God intervened.

STOP.
Six times in the gospels, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Friends, we never know when our time will be up. It might come on an ordinary Wednesday night when you’re turning into the church parking lot on your way to prayer meeting.

Are you ready?

For those who bow the knee to Christ as Lord, Jesus says, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day” (John 6:39).

 

jim elliot

 

Thanks for being here! Be sure to visit your FMF neighbor with and say hello!

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racism

 

Twice in the past three years, our family has had the privilege of “adopting” an international college student for the school year. Two years ago, we hosted a girl from Japan; this year, we have a girl named Ruth from Rwanda. The students live on campus, but we hang out every couple of weeks.

My husband, kids, and I recently went with Ruth to an International Food Fair on her college campus. When we got there, Ruth introduced us to a white-haired woman named Jeanne, who lived at a retirement complex in the area. My husband asked Jeanne, “So how do you know the students who are here?”

“Well, when I moved back here after my retirement,” Jeanne explained, “I asked people at the college where I could find international students. They told me that there’s a regular gathering every Friday night on campus. So, I walk over from my condo on Fridays to meet with them. It’s so lovely.”

This is how it’s done, people.

Do you want to see racism squashed in our land? Be like Jeanne.

Go out of your way to find people who are different from you.

Sacrifice the time. Ask the questions. Make the effort.

Do whatever you need to do to find people who don’t look and sound like you, and make friends.

The remedy for racism is relationship — first with Jesus Christ, then with people of different ethnicities.

We will always have biases and skewed perspectives unless we’re willing to actually get to know each other at more than just a surface level. But in order to truly love one another, we first need to know and accept God’s love for us.

Racism is a complex, multi-faceted issue. It isn’t only about policy and privilege.

We can fight for as many rules and regulations as we want in an effort to make life fair and equal for all, but as my husband says, “You can’t legislate the heart.”

We need Jesus. Through our relationship with Him, we can build genuine, lasting, God-honoring relationships that will squash racism underfoot — where it belongs.

Read the rest of this post, How to Defeat Racism, over at iBelieve.com.

Spoiler alert: When my grandma first heard I was dating a black man, she was not impressed. Click over to iBelieve.com to read what happened the first time my white grandma met my black boyfriend.

 

Related post: I’m a White Girl from Michigan, and I’m #GoingThere

 

I married a black man(2)

Welcome back for another round of Five Minute Friday — the fastest, free-est, bravest, most encouraging community on the web!

If you’re new here, imagine a whole bunch of writers from every corner of the globe giving you a big welcome and offering you a piece of chocolate while you write and read. Or maybe a brownie in a mug, as those tend to dominate these parts.

You can learn more about Five Minute Friday here. We’re so glad you’ve joined us!

 

Before we kick off, I wanted to let you know that a brand new round of #fmfpartysnailmail is about to begin!

Photo Credit: Kaitlyn Bouchillon

Photo Credit: Kaitlyn Bouchillon

 

If you’ve never tried it before, you definitely WANT to get in on this action!

The gist: You sign up, receive a list of six FMF names and addresses, commit to sending one snail mail card per week for six weeks, and in return, you’ll receive one card per week in your own mailbox! So great, right?

Register HERE for #fmfpartysnailmail!

This round begins on June 20th and lasts through July 25th.The deadline to register is June 17th.

 

This week’s FMF prompt is:

want

 

GO.

I was in our local DVD rental store the other night, because yes, I’m old school and I’ve never had Netflix or cable. Try to set that detail aside, and stand with me for a moment in the ancient aisles of my DVD rental store, Family Video.

So I’m perusing movie titles, and a married couple in the aisle next to me has a conundrum. The wife points to a movie and says, “Oh, I really wanted to watch that one, but it’s only available on Blu-Ray.”

The husband has a quick solution, as many husbands do: “Well, we could always just run over to Best Buy and use my points to buy a new Blu-Ray player.”

If this interaction had been documented on Twitter, it would’ve merited the hashtag, #firstworldproblems.

I found myself instinctively looking at my watch. 8:40pm. Were they seriously going to rent the Blu-Ray movie of their choice, drive to Best Buy, and purchase a brand new Blu-Ray player, just so they could watch the movie they wanted to watch?

Apparently.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with shopping at Best Buy or having Best Buy points to spend — I fall into this category, on both counts.

But after hearing this couple’s interaction, I did wonder:

Does our culture’s knee-jerk reaction toward immediate gratification cause us to miss the important lesson of learning patience?

Does our ability to satisfy our wants in the moment take away the blessing of learning how to wait well?

STOP.

 

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” ~ Romans 8:25

 

 

Join us with your own five minute free write on the prompt, WANT — and be sure to leave an encouraging comment on the blog linked up before yours!

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the next round of #fmfpartysnailmail before June 17th!

We love fostering community in this place! Have a great weekend, friends!

 

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