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!

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

 

 

It was my privilege to be interviewed by Christa Threlfall for a series on her blog, Brown Sugar Toast. The series is called Dwelling Richly: An Interview Series on Studying the Bible. In my response, I share some habits that have helped me in my own Bible study and spiritual growth.

 

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You can find the whole Dwelling Richly series by clicking here, including fantastic interviews with women like Jen Wilkin, Gloria Furman, Kristie Anyabwile, and Trillia Newbell.

In the interview, Christa asked me questions related to my personal Bible study habits, including:

  • Have you ever used accountability in the area of time in the Word? How? Did you find this profitable?
  • What has been your driest time spiritually and how did you overcome that period?
  • How did you make time for Bible study when your children were little?
  • How did you encourage a love for God’s Word in your children? Did you have a method for helping them learn how to study for themselves?
  • Any recommendations for Scripture memory? Meditation?

 

How would you answer these questions? Do you have any helpful tips you could share in the comments?

Find my answers to these questions by visiting my post in the Dwelling Richly series.

 

 

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It’s my pleasure to welcome Kaitlyn Bouchillon to this space today. Kaitlyn is a member of the Five Minute Friday community, and we even got to meet in person at the Five Minute Friday retreat in Nashville in 2015! Kaitlyn is the real deal. So full of wisdom and genuine encouragement.

Her brand new book, Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the In Between, is now available! Thank you, Kaitlyn, for sharing these uplifting words of truth with us today!

 

 

With Easter approaching, I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about those three important days.

Good Friday: The very worst, terrible, horrific and dark day in history.

Saturday: The in between of silence and confusion.

Sunday: The resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of promises-kept, the most joyful day known to man.

The more I sit and think about these days, the more I find myself attaching certain times of my life to each one.

A brain tumor diagnosis at age seventeen? Good Friday.

Being declared cancer-free? Sunday.

Spiritual warfare and depression? Good Friday.

Seeing a relationship reconcile after four years of unanswered prayers? Sunday.

But most of the time, if I’m being honest, I’m living in a Saturday season. I’m somewhere in between darkness and light, questions and answers. I’m holding onto what I believe to be true and I have faith that He will remain faithful, and yet my life feels chaotic, relationships are difficult, my to-do list is miles long and I forget how this story is going to end.

We know that our Savior is victorious but even still, Saturday exists. There is silence. There is confusion. There is weeping and we are full of questions because everything has changed so very unexpectedly. What then? Where do we turn in the in between?

Because most of us, if we got real honest with ourselves, would say that we are the Saturday people, a mixture of grief and hope walking toward an uncertain tomorrow.

And yet, Sunday is coming. It probably won’t look like what we’re imagining, but our Savior is a promise-keeping promise-maker.

We can trust the unknown of the future to the God we know is authoring its pages.

 

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That doesn’t make it brighter or happier, I know. But, it does give us a reason to hold onto Hope.

Jesus is good and gracious and mighty and merciful. He is power and promise and even in the times that feel wild and vast and unsure, He is there. He is the God of Already’s even when we’re in the thick of it.

 

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We will walk through seasons of Good Fridays and we will live most of our life in an in between, clinging to hope and truth while believing that Sunday is just around the corner. And it is. Sunday is coming because Jesus is coming back for us. And so we will hold tight to Hope, trusting that the One writing the story of our lives will not make one single mistake. We will be the Saturday people who look expectedly toward Sunday.

 

 

Lord, may we be faithful in this in between as You have been faithful to us in every season. Thank You for coming for us, choosing to walk with us, and promising to return again. In the dead of night, You slipped into the world You made. You stepped into the darkness and promised to be the Light. In every in between, as we live with questions and trust that You’re the answer, please help us to keep our eyes on You, giving You glory in every season.

 

Psst … The “He Is There” print is a free download {one of many!} for Kaitlyn’s blog subscribers.

 

Kaitlin Bouchillon

Kaitlyn Bouchillon is an author and blogger who believes every person is a walking story and every story matters. Her first book, Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between, released in early 2016. She loves writing – blogs, books, and handwritten letters – is addicted to queso, and is crazy about her people. She currently splits her time between Starbucks and her cute little apartment in Birmingham, Alabama.

Happy Monday!

I’m honored to be guest hosting this week for Literacy Musing Mondays — a fun, regular link-up I’ve enjoyed over at the internet homes of Mary HillAshley Hales, Leslie, and Tami!

While I’m only guest hosting this week, you can join them every Monday with a literacy-related post by clicking here!

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Confession: I’m not a history lover. I’m terrible with remembering dates and details and who fits where.

I don’t love history, but I’ve grown to love historical fiction.

Why? It makes history come alive. It picks me up and plonks me down in the middle of a different era, and gives me eyes to see.

Rather than viewing historical events as an outsider looking in, historical fiction invites me to step into the scene and become part of it. It paints color into an otherwise black and white page.

Writers of historical fiction hold tremendous power. They possess the ability to carry me back in time and make the past come alive. The otherwise flat records are rounded out and given new dimension with the portrayal of warring emotions, complex conflicts and imperfect resolutions.

Best of all, historical fiction helps me remember. It sews details together and wraps me in the finished garment.

As a homeschooler, I love the way historical fiction draws my kids in. They learn so much and refer back to books time and time again as reference points relating to certain historical periods and events.

I’m so grateful to the authors who work so hard to research and animate history for the benefit of readers like me.

My two favorite historical fiction authors are Susan Meissner and Lynn Austin.

Some of my favorite Susan Meissner books:

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard (Read my review here.)

 

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Secrets of a Charmed Life (Read my review here.)

 

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A Fall of Marigolds

 

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Lady in Waiting

 

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Some of my favorite Lynn Austin books:

 

Gods and Kings (and the entire Chronicles of the Kings series)

 

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Candle in the Darkness (and the entire Refiner’s Fire series) (Get the first book in this series FREE on Kindle by clicking here!) 

 

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While We’re Far Apart

 

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Here are some of my favorite historical fiction chapter books I’ve read aloud to my kids:

The Golden Goblet

 

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

 

 

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The Great Wheel

 

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Now let’s ….

Meet Your Hosts

Ashley @Circling the Story
Blog/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram
Leslie@Forever Joyful
Blog/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Google+
Mary @Maryandering Creatively
Blog/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/ Instagram/Google+
Tami @ThisMomsDelight
Blog/Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram/Google Plus
 


Now, it is time to link up to the Literacy Musing Mondays hop! You will have until Saturdays at 12 p.m. now to link up! So come back often. :)

 

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Linkup Rules:

  1. Include a link back or the blog hop button linked to this hop on your posts.
  2. Link up the urls to your posts not to your blog.
  3. Please remember this is a family-friendly linkup. Although we believe in the right for adults to read whatever they want to read, we prefer to read wholesome posts that feature literature that edify and uplift families. We reserve the right to delete any posts that are not family friendly. We love all kinds of literature and genres including family-friendly inspirational romances, fantasy, or science fiction. We do not welcome anything with excessive violence, sexual content, or cursing. These posts will be deleted.
  4. We also want to be loving community by supporting one another. Please make a point to do this this week! Visit the post next to yours and at least one other blogger’s post of your choice! I want to see lots of clicks on everyone’s posts. I know as a blogger, you know how it feels not receive comments, right. Spread the comment love this holiday season. 🙂 Remember it is also nice to follow them on their social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Follow your hosts and co-hosts on their social media.
  6. Tweet about the link up too.

Share your literacy-related posts below! 

 

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It’s my pleasure to welcome Christina Hubbard to the blog today. Christina is a member of the Five Minute Friday community, and she recently released a new e-book, called Five Ways to Love Like You Mean It.

Today she’s sharing three habits that have helped her to love more lavishly. You can find Christina at her blog, and on Twitter @Creatively_Free.

 

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There’s a limit to my love.

I always see it in the lack of gummy worms on my frozen yogurt at our local self-serve dessert dive. My kids, on the other hand, do their dishes up right with piles of waffle cone bits, whipped cream, and cherries.

They seize the moment to fill up on every sweet thing, as kids will do because they know how good a little extra on top makes us feel. They understand something wonderful about the limitless way God wants us to experience life, a secret I often forget.

On a recent afternoon, I found myself standing between the terrific choice of sweet cream and strawberry yogurt. The kids heaped their cups full of Heath bar chunks, goji berries, and sprinkles at the all-you-can-eat candy smorgasbord.

“Look, Mom! I’m getting strawberries! That’s healthy.” Kyle proudly showed me his creation. He saw how my shoulders slumped and my eyes flashed, “Too much.”

The cashier measured ounces of chocolate, cinnamon, cupcake, and raspberry swirls. Dollops of Hershey bar, Heath bar chunks, peanut butter cup, and gummy worms practically fell onto the silver scale.

“That’ll be $19.09,” the cashier said. I picked my jaw up off the floor and paid up. I looked at my bowl, so conservative and neat with just enough berries for a bird.

The difference of a few dollars shouldn’t have mattered so much, but I saw how the family behind us paid $11 for three cups. I couldn’t let it go.

I peered at the other family’s half-filled cups and back at the kids’ dishes exploding with color. I sighed heavily.

“Guys, you can’t eat that much.” The scolding exited my lips before I could repent.

“Sorry, Mom,” my daughter said sheepishly. “We promise we won’t do it again.” She couldn’t hide her grin, the joy gleaming behind her apology. Oh, how a limitless gift of sugar can thrill a little girl’s soul.

For days, I wondered why I had such a hard time letting go of a few bucks for my kids. Maybe I was a sugar control freak or a tyrant of food waste.

 

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” -1 John 3:1 NIV

 

I had failed to remember the two best reasons in the world a mother has to splurge. How it is a privilege to show my kids they are loved beyond comparison with an extravagant treat. Later I apologized to the kids and resolved to look for more opportunities to share the limitless affection of the Father, whose love breaks the scale every time.

 

God's love breaks the scale every time.

 

 

What this world needs more than limits is the excessive sharing of God’s love. Unexpected, extravagant, and abundantly sweet. I’m talking about a lavish love so over-the-top, it makes people wonder, “Why are you doing this for me?” That’s the secret to the kind of love that captures the very heart of God: like the richest chocolate or a dish of frozen yogurt with the works.

Here are three practices that help me love without bounds:

  • Doing what the other person chooses. I always gain a lesson in selflessness with this one.

  • Sharing something I hold dear.

  • Giving out of the ordinary. (Ice cream after school, an unexpected gift, a surprise phone call.)

 

 

It’s always worth the cost to lavish others with the Father’s love. Even if it means paying for a few extra gummy worms.

 

How did you feel the last time someone loved you with a little extra on top?

 

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Check out my new e-book for more great ideas to love people better: 5 Ways To Love Like You Mean It.

 

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Christina Hubbard is a writer and poet who shares about identity, worth, and the creative process to help others find God’s imagination in their own lives. She loves her motley tribe by reading great books together, making wonderful messes, and giving them plenty of space to run free on the suburban prairie of Kansas. Connect with her at http://www.creativeandfree.com.