Usually you would see this term on a report card from school. It's equal to that "4" or that "A" that most students strive for. But the term can be used for people too. A better way to say it is to "defy expectations". I have some peoples' stories to share with you, about people who defy the worlds expectations on a daily basis.
On May 19,2001, a boy was born. His mother put him up for adoption, and the child's aunt and uncle adopted the infant Christopher. Now, this was a special boy. Christopher's mother had not been very healthy, and he was born blind and later diagnosed with autism. But his adoptive parents believed in him. At age four, he went on his first mission trip. It was then discovered that Christopher was a singer. Since that, Christopher Duffley has performed for the president, sung the national anthem at many sports games, and preformed with his favorite artists, like Paul Baloche, writer of "Open The Eyes Of My Heart", Chris' favorite song. There's a video of him singing that song, he is amazing. But none of that would have happened if his parents hadn't taken that leap of faith and adopted him. What if Aiden has that hidden talent? Maybe he's an amazing singer. Maybe Zack, he's a computer kind of kid. Or maybe Theo is an amazing painter. Whatever their talents are, they probably won't be discovered by them sitting alone in an orphanage. He needs a family to help him discover that potential. Christopher defies expectations in his own way. Would you expect a blind, 11 year old boy with autism to blow you away with his voice? Imagine Brody, and the potential he has!
Next is someone I "discovered" about two years ago. He is a indoor kite flyer, who has epilepsy. He took this talent and actually tried out for America's Got Talent. And he got in! He got called back at the wild card show. I hadn't really seen the show before, but I stopped to watch it. The first performance I saw was Connor Doran doing his act at Wild Card week. I couldn't look away. He was so captivating to watch. If you haven't seen it, look at the video below. It was the most inspiring and captivating thing I have ever seen.
The last is possibly someone you have heard of. In 1982, in Brisbane, Australia, without any medical explanation or warning, a baby came into the world with neither arms nor legs. Imagine the shock his parents felt when they saw their first-born brand new baby boy for the first time, only to find he was what the world would consider imperfect and abnormal. A limbless son was not what nurse Dushka Vujicic, and her husband Pastor Boris Vujicic had been expecting. How would their son live a normal happy life? What could he ever do or become when living with such a massive disability? Little did they or anyone else know that this beautiful limbless baby would one day be someone who would inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. God uses Nick to touch lives and bring the hope of Jesus Christ to people across the globe.
Throughout his childhood, Nick Vujicic dealt not only with the typical challenges of school and adolescence such as bullying and self-esteem issues; but also struggled with depression and loneliness. He constantly questioned why he was different than all the other kids surrounding him; why he was the one born without arms and legs. He wondered what the purpose behind his life was, or if he even had a purpose. According to Nick, the victory over his struggles throughout his journey, as well as the strength and passion he has for life can be credited to his faith in God. His family, friends and the many people he has encountered along the way have also encouraged him.
After school, Nick went on with further study and obtained a double Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Accounting and Financial Planning from Griffith University in Logan, Australia. By the age of 19, Nick started to fulfill his dream of being able to encourage other people and bring them the gospel of Jesus through motivational speaking and sharing his testimony about how God changed his life and gave him a future and a hope. “I found the purpose of my existence, and also the purpose of my circumstance. There’s a purpose for why you’re in the fire.” Nick wholeheartedly believes that there is a purpose in each of the struggles we each encounter in our lives, and that our attitude towards those struggles, along with our faith and trust in the Lord can be the keys to overcoming the challenges we face.
Today, this limbless young man has accomplished more than most people accomplish in a lifetime. Nick made the massive move from Brisbane, Australia to California, USA in 2007, where he is the President and CEO of a non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs. Since his first speaking engagement back when he was 19, Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions of people, speaking to a range of different groups such as students, teachers, youth, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs, and church congregations of all sizes. He has also told his story and been interviewed on various televised programs worldwide. “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!”
Next is someone I have mentioned before. His name is Luke Everett. He's the pastor from Rancho Sordo Mudo, a ministry for the deaf orphans in Mexico. He told us his life story, which was pretty amazing. You can hear it here and his message here. He went lost most of his hearing when he was little. His dad was called to be a missionary in Mexico, and they packed up their family and headed south (they lived in America). If you haven't seen the movie, "Hearing Everett", I suggest you do. It's about Rancho Sordo Mudo, and how his family was lead there. He's now in his 50s. He's had a lot happen to him. But despite everything that has happened to him, he still has hope in Jesus.
Aiden, Zack, Brody, Frank and Theo have so much potential! All of these people I told you about have something in common: they don't let a disability get in the way of their abilities. Christopher is a singer. Connor flies kites and inspires people everyday. Nick is an inspirational speaker. Luke is a pastor and runs a ranch in Mexico. Frank could be one of them. He just needs a chance.
I have some more heroes. So many people in this world inspire me.
One is someone I have mentioned multiple times: Renee. She is in country adopting Rascal, and instead of complaining about how badly her son is being treated there, she is fundraising for Everett and Olson to get them out of there! She has already cleared out an orphanage, and is working on another! She is an amazing women of God, and he has blessed her to be a mighty writing warrior (me, not so much)! And she never takes the credit for clearing the orphanage, it's all Jesus! She is amazing, and it scares me to think what would be happening over in 39 if she hadn't gone over. Alexis, Tyler, Pryce, Patti, Carter, Marcus, Bernie and Mason probably wouldn't have families coming for them. Bernadette, Mason, Clarice, Greta, and Mabel wouldn't have even been listed. Moxie would have been transferred. She is an inspiration, and I hope God will bless me with her writing ability.
Next is Andy Finch. If you are a snowboarder, you have probably heard of him. Here's his (or his dad's) story in his words:
"A little over 2 years ago my father started acting very out of the ordinary, very strange. My dad is my childhood hero and I have a great respect for him. My friends call him perma-grin because he was always smiling. He had no criminal history, but in mid September something went haywire in his brain and he lost all sense of reality. To him everything was normal and “The rest of the world was just acting crazy!” He felt threatened and the last two days before the accident he started carrying around a gun.
Due to the stress he was putting on the family, I did a last minute 8 hour round trip to Fresno to see if I could help my father in any way before I headed to Europe for 3 weeks. After sitting down with him for 4 hours I realized there was nothing I could do and I told my wife that it was going to end up in the hands of the police. Cliff was doing things that are just not acceptable in our society and for good reason.
My wife had just met me in France for a week vacation after I had just competed in Switzerland. She had been on the ground for about 5 hours when I received a text saying, “emergency! Call now!” I knew instantly something bad happened with my father, but never could have imagined what I was about to find out.
I called my mom who could barely talk. She told me my father had been shot 6 to 8 times and docs didn’t think he was going to make it. This call was right when I was about to go to bed. Well no flights were leaving till morning, so my wife and I just started praying. The next morning with no sleep God gave me a peace that I would see my father again alive, if only for a moment. I was strangely calm as we bought new plane tickets home on the first possible flight. Family picked us up in SF and drove us straight to the hospital in Fresno. The first thing they told me in SF was that my father had opened his eyes. On the drive down I got the whole story.
Cliff had gone to my uncle’s house looking for my mom, but was in a very angry mood. He brandished his 9 mm as he searched aggressively through the house. My uncle frightened by what my father might do, called the police. When the police tried to pull him over, they were led down a high-speed chase down a main street in Fresno. The Police did a P.I.T. maneuver and put him into a ditch. Approaching his car, two shots came from my dad’s vehicle, than 18 rounds were returned into my father’s truck. Police pulled him from the vehicle and had to revive him 5 times. No one besides my dad was hurt in anyway except a dent in the police vehicle that spun out Cliff’s truck. That was miracle number one!
When I finally saw my dad, at I can’t remember what time of night, I could barley recognize him. There were multiple bullet wounds to his face and everything was swollen. A sheriff sat next to my unconscious father while he was chained to the bed. That was quite possibly the hardest thing for me, seeing my father treated as a criminal.
Still not knowing if he would make it, we started praying like never before, as did everyone that heard about it, which was a lot of people as this was a high profile accident, with the news covering every detail.
I’ll try to make this short, but there was so much stacked against my father and our family. I want you to try and realize why my faith in God is more secure then ever before! First thing we prayed for was for Cliff to survive. As vital signs stabilized we prayed for him to be able to breath on his own. 2 weeks after his accident, I put a prayer vigil together with only a 24-hour notice. 200 people showed up on the front lawn of the Hospital in a dangerous part of Fresno and the hospital was nervous because it was sketchy at night. The next day he could breath on his own. Miracle 3 was when he could talk. Who would cover the medical bills, which would bankrupt my parents? Would he ever walk again? Who would defend my father in court, which could also bankrupt my parents! Bail was set at 2.2 million dollars. Was he paralyzed? Was his brain damaged from the bullets to his head? Nothing was moving, fingers, toes or arms. Stood him up the first time 4 months out. He lived off a feeding tube for 6 months. Was his mental illness still present? Without my dad, my parents had no substantial way to make money. 2 weeks after the hospital released my father, my mother went into the hospital for a mastectomy and lung surgery, that I am for sure was a result of the stress from the accident. Chemo and radiation would follow for the next 6 months. Now she could not take care of herself, my dad or run the business. Fully had to surrender. Amber and I were newly weds and it was a hard way to start our new marriage. Cliff was facing life in prison with two counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, two counts of assault and one count of evading the police. It would take 10 pages to tell you how everything worked out, but believe me when I tell you it was a true miracle that only God could have orchestrated.
Hit by 7 bullets, 3 in the head (all missing his brain), one bullet thru his jaw, another through his cheek and hitting his ear drum, another lodged in his C1 of his brainstem and stopped against his spinal cord. YES, a bullet stopped against his spinal cord! Try and tell me that’s not a miracle! Such a dangerous zone that the doctors wouldn’t risk removing it. One bullet in his left elbow, two in his right elbow, both blown to pieces, and another in his stomach/ lower back. Was completely paralyzed for a long time.
Elbows fused, right leg barely works, left leg his only good limb, left arm works ok, right arm doesn’t work (used to be right handed). Deaf in right ear. Mental illness under control with medication. Mom got cleared of cancer a year later. Between the state and my dad’s purple heart (VA hospital) most bills and court fees were covered. Business still eeking by. Court stuff- took two years in court, court gave my father 5 years probation and 200 hours of community service and $5,000 in damages. I prayed for justice knowing God is a just God and that might mean my father spending the rest of his life in jail.
God put on my heart a week after that accident that he would snowboard again even with everything he faced. It is a miracle to watch my father snowboard again! Keep the faith!"
There are some musicians who are also my heroes. Their stories and songs speak to me.
I love music. I feel it can sometimes communicate better than just words. In my long list of favorite artists (which are all Christian), Steven Curtis Chapman, Matthew West and Mark Schultz are at the top. Steven Curtis Chapman is deeply involved with adoption, and had multiple children adopted from China. He has written so many songs related to adoption, and good things anyway.
"All I Really Want For Christmas (is a family)" is the letter of an orphan boy, telling that he wanted a few things, but above that, he needs a family.
"What Now" is a song about following God's commandment to "take care of orphans... In their distress", about seeing the need and taking care of it. It is about the verse that says "you fed me when I was hungry, gave me water when I was thirsty," and what you do to the least of these we do to him. This song is about seeing Jesus in that little orphan girl on the other side of the world, or the homeless child who was sleeping in the old car while his mom went looking for food. Jesus is right where he said he would be, we just need to act.
"Meant to Be" was actually written for a VeggieTales movie (I like VeggieTales, don't judge), but the story of the movie was the story of two boys on the football team. One boy caught the ball, winning the game. 15 years later, the other boy is wondering what would have happen if he had gotten the ball. He has a journey (like the three spirits of "A Christmas Carol") and realizes that everything happened for a reason.
"Do Everything" is another of my favorites. The story is it doesn't matter what you do or who you are, "do everything you do to the glory of the one who made you, because he made you".
Now to Matthew West. I don't know his full story, but his newest album, "The Story Of Your Life" has some pretty awesome songs.
"One Less" is best explained by the first verse.
"There's a child, been abandoned out on the street
Now she's waiting for someone to be her miracle
There's a wife, somewhere halfway around the world
Begging God for a little girl to call her own.
Well, worlds collide, and colors fade, and a man and wife
Brought that little girl home today
There's one less, one less, one less broken heart in the world tonight"
This is also about how God loved us so much that he left his high heavens in the form of Jesus, and died on the cross so that we could spend eternity with him. He took that step, and so did the couple in the song.
"Strong Enough" is also a good one. Though not orphan/ adoption related, it is about us not needing to be strong enough for every trial, we just need to depend on God, and we will get through.
Now on to Mark Schultz. Did you know that Mark Shultz was adopted? He was. He wrote a song for his biological mom, called "Everything to Me". I just discovered it, and I love it. It is what he would say to her, that he understood her choices. "You had dreams for me, you wanted best for me, you made only choice you could that night. You gave life to me, a brand new world to see, like playing baseball with my dad at night. Mom reading 'Good Night, Moon", and praying in my room. You worry if your choice was right, when you gave me up, you gave vey thing to me". When he sees her in heaven, he will tell her the man he had become, and that he is grateful of the life she gave him.
"He's My Son" always makes people cry. Although not a strictly orphan/ adoption song, I think of it as a really good song to advocate with. It's about a father, praying to God about his son, to help him, because the father can't do anything else. The father wants to take the son's place somehow, because "he's not just anyone, he's my son". The father is just asking for his son to be able to grow up, and live without being scared. The song doesn't mention why the son is scared, but some people use the song for music dedications to their sons who have/ had terminal diseases or died young from a disability. Others use the song from Mary's point of view, as Jesus died upon the cross.
What's the point of all this? Well, first, I wanted to put some of my favorite songs out there. And second, there's so many messages in them. "What Now" is about taking God's love to the least of these, specifically the widows and orphans, but it extends to everyone. I know it's summer, but think of that kid at your school, or coworker who always sits alone. We need to extend our love to those least of these too. Marcus, Carter, Patti, Pryce, Tyler, and Alexis, they are the least of these. Thankfully, they have families coming for them. Zack and Aiden and Brody and Frank and Theo, still needs his family! He needs a momma to read him stories at night, a dad to play baseball in the yard with. International adoption can be daunting, I know. Reece's Rainbow tries to help out by raising funds to help with the cost. I know that $24,000 is a lot of money. 143 million orphans is too.
Have you heard the story of the starfish? It is a story used a lot in the adoption world. Here's how the story goes:
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?"
The youth replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean.
The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die."
"Son," the man said, "don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?
You can't make a difference!"
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said:
"I made a difference for that one."
That is how every orphan will be saved. One at a time. One dollar at a time. There's a shirt I really want to get , it says: "How do you save 143 million orphans? ONE AT A TIME." and that is exactly how we plan on doing it.
Let's rally together and save these boys! Because it matters to this one!