Monday, December 31, 2012

On my mind for 2013


"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."
(John 14:18-24)

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of, the sons of God.

Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kyrie Eleison

Pray for Russian orphans!

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20857068

There are 10 times as many orphans in Russia as there are Russian families who want to adopt. Special needs orphans will go unchosen and unloved. Many will die of neglect or lack of medical intervention in orphanages or institutions.

Pray for Russian orphans!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Russian adoptions

I am sure you know as much as I do, but Russia is working on shutting down U.S. international adoptions.

This would be devastating for many children, especially those with special needs who are not desired at all in their country.

It would be heartbreaking for families whose adoptive processes would be shut down, no matter how far along they were.

Please pray that this politically motivated law would not be upheld.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Passport is on its way

Getting my updated passport will unstop a lot of bottlenecks, Lord willing :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lamentations 3:24

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Slow

I feel like I am in slow motion. The world is rushing around me, and as I try to run to my little girl, I can barely move at all. I feel like I should be doing paperwork faster, but there are so many things that we are waiting on. I pray that I would be able to keep doing the next right thing and not get swamped or discouraged. I've never been very good at working through piles, and I think that this is the biggest one that I have encountered yet.

I am thanking God for my husband who encourages me to keep going (and also understands legalese :-).

Monday, December 17, 2012

The World's Biggest Sequential Vortex

Today we really started looking at paperwork, and I began to realize how complicated this is going to be. Fortunately for me, the Mr. is uncommonly good at such things.

Getting me a passport is one of the first orders of business. I have one, but it is in my maiden name. Which means that we need a certified copy of our marriage license. We figured we should pick up some birth certificates while we were at it. So that's what we spent the evening doing. Maybe next go 'round we will be able to actually start the actual paperwork.

If you are thinking about adopting, go ahead and start getting copies of certificates now. If you don't adopt, you won't be out that much money, and if you do, it will save you time and headaches.

While looking through the paperwork for Garnet's country, I found her given name. Seeing her name and knowing that it wasn't an alias made her seem much more real to me. Despite my dislike of paperwork, I will joyfully do it to bring her home!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

!

Garnet is on the Reece's Rainbow "my family found me" page!
:-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Materialism

I'm M- and I'm a recovering materialist.

Here's where maybe you should say "Hi M-!" and then the coordinator would have us all talk about our recent victories, things we wanted but didn't buy, times we threw away the BassPro and Cabelas ads without looking (they keep mailing them, though, like they thought we didn't have a problem).  We'd confess falling off the wagon sometimes.  No excuses or rationalizations or "I wasn't THAT bad, I just..." are allowed.  Then we'd rehearse the twelve steps:

1) Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:19-21

2) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. - 1 John 2:15-17

3)     Do not toil to acquire wealth;
        be discerning enough to desist.
    When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
        for suddenly it sprouts wings,
        flying like an eagle toward heaven. - Proverbs 23:4-5

4)     A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
        and favor is better than silver or gold. - Proverbs 22:1 

5)     As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. - 1 Timothy 6:17-19

6)     The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
        the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
    One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
        another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
    Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
        and one who waters will himself be watered. - Proverbs 11:23-25

7)    And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
    “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
    “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
    “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
    “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
    “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
    “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
    “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
    “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets." - Luke 6:20-26

8)    Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. - Luke 12:32-34

9)    Come, everyone who thirsts,
        come to the waters;
    and he who has no money,
        come, buy and eat!
    Come, buy wine and milk
        without money and without price.
    Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
        and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
    Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
        and delight yourselves in rich food. - Isaiah 55:1-2

10)     For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. - 2 Corinthians 8:9

11)     Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
        but righteousness delivers from death. - Proverbs 11:4

 That last one's a doozy, because it seems to tell the materialist to become a legalist, but it's true.  True righteousness delivers from death, and that righteousness is found in Christ alone.  He laid aside his heavenly glory (I'm humming "Thou who was rich beyond all splendor" here) to take up a lowly life.  Foxes had holes and birds had nests, but he had nowhere to lay his head.  What he did have was life, full, pure, divine life, and perfect obedience and righteousness.  And these two things he gave up so that we could have them.  Praise Jesus, indeed!  And yet in giving them up, like a farmer sowing his seed, he got them back, for it was impossible for the author of life to be subject to death, and in getting back life and righteousness, Jesus secured our inheritance in heaven. 

Leading us to number 12:     If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. - Colossians 3:1-4

That's all for this session.  Come back next week, and stay dry!  God will help you through it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

This is My Father's World

Never forget it.


This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chariots

    Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
        but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7

We mailed the first check to our agency today.  It's a lot easier to lie about not trusting in bank accounts when there is plenty of money in them.

    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
        in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
    As they go through the Valley of Baca
        they make it a place of springs;
        the early rain also covers it with pools.
    They go from strength to strength;
        each one appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7

But there's just no other place to repose confidence than in the God of Jacob, so here we go, trusting that the road to Zion is guarded by her King, and short or long, hard or easy, we must walk in His ways.

Isaiah 30:15

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

"In returning and rest
You shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence
Shall be your strength."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Garnet

We are moving down the path to Garnet. I called and talked to the social services agent at the placing agency today. It is very scary as it gets more and more real.
I am flooded with feelings of inadequacy and selfishness. Why right now? (Would I ever really NOT ask that question?)
Why me?
It's too hard! She will be, in many ways, a difficult child to care for, certainly in comparison to my perfectly healthy snuggly little son. There is a very real possibility that if we adopt Garnet, our other children will know the death of a sibling at a relatively young age. Lots of things could go wrong, and we could be hurt.

Then, of course, there is the process of adoption itself. Did you know how many phone calls to strangers you have to make? I still don't. But I have called two strangers in the past two days and I think that is a record for me.
And the elephant in the room... the money. But God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and if He needs to kill a few cows for us, that is no harder for Him than providing our daily bread, which He has always done handsomely.

Two things help to keep me on track:
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dangerous Moment

Am I going to do a good deed? Then, of all times--Father into thy hands: lest the enemy should have me now.
-George MacDonald

Monday, November 19, 2012

First-World Problems

Now, when I am annoyed at something or other (like neighbors parking too close, or delays in my bus route), I remind myself - these are such first-world problems.

My son doesn't have parasites!  We have clean water IN OUR HOUSE!  There are toilets!  My wife survived a C-section!

I know that God gives us the things He wants us to have, and it's not right or wrong to live in a rich country with so many material blessings, but it's easy to think they're important.  They're not.  Stewardship is important, whether of much or little, but it is the King who appoints the stewards; ours is to deal faithfully in all He gives us.  And if I feel like it's such a burden to back in between my neighbor's two trucks, I need to get over myself, and remember the grace that saved me, wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked, and recall that I am bidden to buy gold refined in the fire, to buy wine and milk without price, and drink of that living water that springs up pure in all lands where Jesus is loved.

Anyway, selfishness is always close at hand, but it is poison to an adoption.  Who am I to be selfish about things that were given to me for the King's use?  These are just some musings I have had while we have been praying for the kids in the P***** orphanage and hoping to adopt one.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Picture :)

I just wanted to get sweet little Garnet's picture up here.
Isn't she lovely? I think she looks so smart, and like she would do so well in a loving family!

It's time to pray for this little girl.

Garnet

I am working on tracking down Garnet's file; we will see what happens.



:)
I am excited.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Penny has a Family!

I am so thankful that this sweet girl has a family coming to her.
*
Now I need to figure out what to do next. There is a little girl, "Garnet", from the same orphanage, that I would like to pursue. The agent does not know who has her file right now; if it is another U.S. agency, or if it is in her home country. I am afraid of losing steam just because Penny has a family, which is silly. One good thing happened, and that should be a big encouragement.
We are qualified (I believe in every way) to adopt, so right now I am trying to be proactive and open to any changes in direction that God might lead us through.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Inching

Over the weekend I talked to the agent. Penny's file was indeed reassigned, and apparently several families are interested in her. It seems that we are waiting on the agency in her country to give updated information? Or something? I am still new at this.
*
*
I got to see her basic information and update from her file.
It's the sort of thing that if you heard a doctor listing these things about your baby, you might have a heart attack. Since I knew that she had severe special needs, however, her file didn't seem so bad.
She is 12 years old, the size of my 10 month old son, and apparently at the developmental level of a 3 month old. She was born with cerebral palsy, and neglected for almost 12 years. 12 YEARS. This little girl has been starving ever since I was 12 years old. This fact makes words like "microcephaly" and "severely delayed" seem like nothing to me. I know it could be worse, but more importantly, it doesn't matter how poor her health is, or how much care she needs; she needs a family. If families were only for beautiful, healthy, children, we'd still be dead in our sins. Enough said.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Scale

A few weeks back, when my wife was telling me more about Penny, she mentioned her height and weight.  Since she is not in the US or Liberia, the units were in kilograms and meters.  I'm an engineer, so I can mentally keep track of units pretty well, but my wife was not clear what those numbers meant in reality.  Our son was sprawled on the bed after a good nighttime nurse, so I got the tailor's tape and held it next to him, did a few numbers in my head, and came back:

Penny is only slightly taller than our 10-month-old.

She is 12 years of age.

Penny is only slightly taller than our 10-month-old.

This just broke my heart.

We're Reformed Presbyterians, so I didn't think I had illusions about how depraved human nature is.  Shiites blow up Sunnis, Copts are killed in Egypt, Boko Haram commits atrocities, a gunman in my adopted hometown kills six, shoots a congresswoman (and gets life in prison?!), these I have categories for.  The soft malice of neglect is so bitterly poisonous, so slowly choking, that it just made me weep.  I won't ask "how could people do this?", because I know, because without Jesus we are all capable of slouching into sin until children around us wither and die, but it hurts to see it worked out, and on a little girl that we pray for.  But God has a bottle full of tears, and each one will be addressed in His good timing.

Don't you love sentences that start with "But God..."?

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I didn't find out today.

And I was restrained enough not to bug the agency.
I need to wait. While I wait, I pray that God will bring Penny just the right mama and just the right family to bring her the love that she has never known.
This is the first time that I have posted Penny's picture on this blog, though probably not the last. I never get tired of looking at her beautiful eyes.
Once I saw a picture of her on Reece's Rainbow, before I knew who she was. In that picture she was laying in a crib with a big smile on her face. I am glad that I remembered that picture; it is the only time that I have seen her smile.
...resting in God's good will...

Today is the day

Today is the day that I should find out if the agency has Penny's file!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nov 7

Today was the day that the adoption agency met to request Penny's file from the government of B******. That means that tomorrow we should know if Penny's file is assigned to the agency or not. I am nervous and excited. What if we are her family?

On another note, two nights ago something new happened. Until very recently, the idea of adoption had been very academic to me. I was convinced that it was the right thing to do, but I didn't have any deep feelings about the children. Two nights ago, however, I had my first dream about being in the orphanage at P*****, holding the tiny frail bodies of beautiful girls; girls who for years of their lives have been neglected and malnourished. (Incidentally, the one that I remember most vividly was not Penny, but a little girl who I have seen on Reece's Rainbow  who is not even in that country.)
After I woke up, I felt that perhaps God was preparing me to meet and love my own daughter.
I do not know what God has in store for us, but I take pleasure in resting in His will.
To God be all glory!

From "The Strength of Mercy" by Jan Beazely

"The choice to trust God isn't cushioned by deals and promises that everything will turn out the way we think it should. God's only promise is that He will work all things in our lives for our good and for His glory."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Humility v. Evasion

We have been thinking about adoption for quite some time now.  By "we", I mean, of course, my wife.  I have been thinking about adoption for probably about a month.  It was (and is) breathtakingly scary.  But one morning I had gotten up to write, started the coffee, and sat down with my Bible, and opened to the Psalms.  I read backwards, starting randomly from 29 or 30, and I got to 27 after a bit.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.
Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! - Ps. 27 (ESV)

And I was left thinking "well, what else could we do but adopt?"  God has opened His temple-city and welcomed me as His son in Christ.  Can I afford to be stingy with our two-bedroom condo?  He has set His love on me (a Gentile!) for no reason but His good pleasure.  Do I dare to reserve my love for my own biological children?

But pride is a wily foe.  Oh, no, I'm probably not good enough to be a good father to adopted special needs children.  No, it wouldn't be healthy for our family/church/work responsibilities to add that strain; they're important, too!  No, no, being a PhD student means I'm just not qualified.  Those people on the internet who adopt kids, they're the real heroes!  Much safer to admire them from a distance.

But it didn't work for Moses, and it didn't for me, either.  "Lord, I can't speak!" (says the man who is going round and round in argument with God the Creator-Lord).  You don't see Caleb and Joshua saying "It really is a big fancy land, and really, manna, quail, and this wilderness are quite good enough for the likes of us."  We don't see Jesus deferring His role as Savior because it would be, well, ostentatious to presume to be the one to crush Satan's head.  And we don't see a single apostle shrink back from the plain charge to take the world with the gospel.

No, the humble response to God's command, small or large, is "Here I am...speak Lord, for your servant hears...Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word".  Ducking a call because you feel inadequate is utterly missing the point: YOU ARE INADEQUATE!  But God is sufficient for all things: "Give what you command, and command what you will" says Augustine.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”" - 2 Cor. 12:9

So we will see where this all goes, but wherever God leads us, we want to go.  "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Rom 8:28


Anastacia means Resurrection

I decided that if we are able to adopt Penny, or a little girl like her, that we should name her Anastacia. I thought it would fit perfectly. This whole topic makes me sensitive, though, and I am very careful not to let my heart or feelings show too much.
Therefore I said to Mr. M: "I have a name picked out for a little girl from P*****, but I am scared to say it." Without missing a beat, he said "Anastacia?"
I was dumbfounded and said as much. He looked at me like the name was obvious and said something to the effect of "I have thought that forever".
It makes me laugh just to think of it.
God is good.

Monday, November 5, 2012

It begins.

I am beginning my adoption blog before I begin my adoption. Even in the process of talking about adoption with Mr. M, God has taught me things about Himself that are amazing.
I don't want to forget a moment of the process, so I want to start writing things down right away.
I know that even if I really hope that God leads us to an adoption (or several adoptions!), He might not. I also know that He does all things for His glory and our good, so I think this process is worth chronicling no matter the outcome.