Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas!

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 


 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reflections

We are excited to adopt.  More importantly, we are committed to adopting Ana (and now we're approved!).

However, today has been a beneficial and reflective day for me, and perhaps it can be one for you, too.

Read this, if you have the time: http://www.heartlightministries.org/blogs/markgregston/adoption-issues/

We are blessed to have the story of the Mussers so honestly shared - we assent that it will be hard (yes, yes, nod head) very hard to care for Ana.  That's like sitting in camp and saying yes, yes, very difficult to summit Everest, yes.  We'll learn exactly how difficult when we get there.  The real issue is that this adoption, as all adoptions, must be single-minded in its focus on the good of the adopted child. 

Insofar as any readers of this blog are considering an adoption, the checks and cautions raised by Mr. Gregston are extremely pointed and important.  If you have not encountered Pound Pup Legacy yet, you can go there for a very cold dose of the evils that are done under the banner of adoption.  It is hard.

Did our home-study process screen us adequately?  I think so, but I'm not in an unbiased position to answer that question, but it is obvious that homestudies are not foolproof, and there are (apparently) enough bad agencies out there.  They did not do a hard-drive examination of all our computers, which I would do in their shoes.

Is our US agency reliable?  Our US adoption agency gets decent marks, though with one post-placement fatality from a Utah couple (meaning that our US agency did NOT perform the home study, rather a Utah agency did that; the woman pleaded guilty to recklessness out of frustration). 

Are we honestly and solely concerned with the well-being of Ana?  To this I can only answer "yes".   Having examined and re-examined the question, I am brought back to the conclusion that we should adopt Ana because we can take care of her better than the baby-house in P*.  This carries a lot of freight along with it - we should continue to live near good children's medical care, I should continue to earn a good living, we should keep ourselves physically and mentally fit to deal with the strains of care, we need to take extra care of our marriage and bio-kids to prepare all of us for the intense strain (yes, yes, nod head, intense indeed - but we'll learn when we get there).  But I suspect that, like marriage, having children, church office, or any other major "plunge", if you're not scared, you're not paying attention.  You can be informed and scared at the same time.  It's blithe ignorance that is truly dangerous.

Anyhow, I do not wish to dishearten anyone who is considering adoption, but remember that hot iron stays soft until it's dunked in cold water.  Temper yourself, let God temper you, and then do the next right thing.

Monday, December 9, 2013

USCIS

We got our I-800A approval notice!! Whee!



Praise God with us!
Dossier, here we come!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Just wanted to share

Our littlest is now a smiley playful little guy!


Baby G is such a sweet addition to our family!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Take Your Tater to Work Day

God is so good in so many ways.  My work these past few months has meant I spend less time with my family than when I was just a student with the concomitant flexible schedule.  So yesterday when I had to run up to our church in the middle of the day to unload chairs for our new sanctuary, Tater begged to come along.  My day was already very interrupted, so I didn't argue.  He played outside for a while and then played in the church nursery while I moved sixty new benches into the sanctuary (solo - noon on Tuesday is not a good time to ask around for help).

Then we ate hamburgers.  Nothing motivates this kid like food.  He was in a pile of toys and the bare mention of "haamboorgurs" (as he repeatedly declared) got him cleaning up in a flash.  We ate at In-N-Out, and he talked about it for the rest of the day.



He is a determined eater.  This was not the end of the meal. About half of that tomato and lettuce went into the maw, too.

Then (because he eats slower than Papa and it got late) he got to come to work with me.  This was a stressor, as it was during naptime, but he did great.  Papa had office hours and talked to students, then Tater got to climb stairs, look at the "diiinosoar", the "funny robot car" (pictured - a Curiosity replica, for you space enthusiasts), "rocks from space" and all the other fun things we have on display in my building.  (I work at a university, and the building I office in has a lot of science-trinkets). 



Anyway, I share this just because I am looking forward to having Ana home with us, and that for many reasons, but basically all the same ones I would list when explaining why I enjoy spending time with my boys: to see their joy in God's creation (and, Lord willing, in time, joy in God himself), to see what they like, to give them my time, to teach and train them.  Ana will be part of our family, and I know there will be a lot of work to do, but I look forward to little pleasures like going places with her and seeing smiles (Lord willing) and maybe even interest in funny robot cars, too.

Thank you all for your prayers for our family.  We're excited to get through the USCIS "slough of despond" process and move on to more paperwork submission, but this time for another country!

-Papa

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I have a feeling I am doing something wrong...

What do y'all say when you call up USCIS to bug them about your I800-A?
I keep getting short uninformative responses.

Thanks :-)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kyrie Eleison

Kyrie, eleison.
Lord, have mercy.


Son of David, have mercy.

You did not despise Bartimaeus,
do not despise Barton.

You are the Christ, who is coming into the world.
You loved Mary and Martha,
returning their brother to them;
will you love Mindy, and return her to a family?

Lord, you have done all thing well.
You are the God who works in and through suffering.
You wound and you heal.
Please heal hearts and homes and the homeless.

Let your people, who are called by your name,
humble themselves and pray.
Call your sheep to your fold,
they know your voice,
they will come when you call.


    “Is not this the fast that I choose:
        to loose the bonds of wickedness,
        to undo the straps of the yoke,
    to let the oppressed go free,
        and to break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
        and bring the homeless poor into your house;
    when you see the naked, to cover him,
        and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
    Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
        and your healing shall spring up speedily;
    your righteousness shall go before you;
        the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
    Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
        you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
    If you take away the yoke from your midst,
        the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
    if you pour yourself out for the hungry
        and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
    then shall your light rise in the darkness
        and your gloom be as the noonday.
    And the LORD will guide you continually
        and satisfy your desire in scorched places
        and make your bones strong;
    and you shall be like a watered garden,
        like a spring of water,
        whose waters do not fail."
Isa. 58:6-11

Monday, November 25, 2013

Come Quickly



As anyone who has lost someone they love will know, there are a lot of "firsts" to go through in the months and years that follow.
This will be our first Thanksgiving without Papa's dad.
He has been at Thanksgivings for all of Papa's life, and for the past nine years of mine. It doesn't really feel like it will be Thanksgiving without him.
Things that feel like they have started to heal are all busted open and raw again. We know that this is normal and necessary, but it is still hard.

Last night, I was crying about my father-in-law and checking blogs and I saw this, on Julia's blog...

Barton needs a family.
barton-3
Take a look at Julia's blog. He needs someone to send their paperwork to USCIS tomorrow.
Otherwise, he will end up in a cage at a mental institution.




This reminded me that the problem is sin. Because of sin's effects, Papa's dad is dead. Because of sin's effects, Barton is an orphan who is facing rejection forever.

Did you know that there is one who conquered sin and death?
Jesus gave his life so that we might have life. Jesus saved my father-in-law from his sins, and now my father-in-law is with Him forever. Jesus can bring a family to Barton, too. Pray for Barton!

A lot of things are broken, and sad, and ugly. But Jesus promised us that He will return and make all things new:

 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Revelation 21:1-7

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Revelation 22:20-21








Monday, November 18, 2013

God is Good.

I did not realize what a blessing Baby G was when we found out we were expecting last February.

Now I begin to realize how gently God is breaking us in.


Adding a sibling has been a little difficult for Tater; it has been such a blessing that Baby G is such an easy kid!

He sleeps fairly well at night (and during the day).
He is robust and healthy, and eats well. (He's wearing a size 6mo shirt in that picture.)
God gave us the opportunity to check out the world class children's hospital, and now I know where the emergency entrance is. Whatever caused Baby G's fever turned out to be not a big deal, for which we are so thankful.

Lord willing, this will ease the transition when Anastacia comes home. We will all be used to there being multiple children at home. Tater will be a little more experienced as a big brother.

I imagine that most of the things that I said about Baby G will not initially be true of Anastacia. Eating will be harder for her. Sleep might be non-existent?

God's plans are always good, and I am thankful for how He is growing our family.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

USCIS biometrics happened

Yesterday Papa, Baby G and I trooped down to our local friendly USCIS office. Thanks to everyone who shared their biometrics experiences!
We live in a pretty large metro area where people immigrate often, so the office was fairly busy. What a great place to people watch! It looked like people were immigrating from at least 4 different countries in the waiting room where we were...
The guy who took our prints told us that he had only ever taken prints for 3 or 4 people who were adopting from Anastacia's country, and that the most common that he encountered were families adopting from African countries.
It took us about an hour to get in and out, but it was so interesting that I didn't mind at all :-)

And for people who are wondering what happens at adoption biometrics, yes, it is just fingerprints. What a relief.

Friday, October 25, 2013

We are home!

Baby G and I were released from the hospital yesterday and are home enjoying being with Papa and Tater.
Praise God!




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh yeah, and

We successfully postponed the biometrics appt that was scheduled for tomorrow morning. What a load off my mind.
Thanks to everyone who has shared their biometrics experience. I am a lot less nervous now.

I was planning on getting familiar with the local children's hospital...

But not with my newborn!

Baby G was admitted on Tuesday with a fever. He is doing much better now, but we have to wait for all the workups to be sure. Lord willing we will go home safe and sound tomorrow.


The hospital is great, though! This is probably God's way of gently breaking us into what might become a way of life with little Anastacia. 

To Him be all glory and praise...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

God is so Good

After 50+ hours of labor I successfully gave birth VBAC to our second son, Baby G!

He is so sweet. He eats and sleeps well. We love him so much!

Please keep us in your prayers; Papa is sick and we have biometrics coming up soon.

Those of you who have done biometrics, is this the sort of thing I should take my newborn to?
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Little bits of progress

We have biometrics appointments now! We are going to have to figure out how to do this with a newborn... (I assume; they are 9 days from now and I am due in two...)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

USCIS

USCIS acknowledged receipt of our application! Next comes biometrics, I guess...
Does anyone know if/how the government shutdown will affect USCIS?
Please pray that things are able to move quickly!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Tiny Heart

Our God alone does wondrous things.  That is a comfort to me every day.  It has been so hard to see our son mourning his grandpa.  He has little or none of the emotional armor that we adults like to fashion and hang about ourselves.  His is simple grief, and raw.  Mama and I have been praying for him much, and I trust that this is God preparing us for something related to loving tiny, simple, broken hearts.

We are (of course) still in pain ourselves, so I did the only thing I know how to do for putting emotions into words, and wrote our son a poem.  I share it with you to inform your kind and much-appreciated prayers for our family as we balance sadness at a deep loss with joy and anticipation of God's growth of our family.

You loved him for a little while,
the best ways that you knew,
you smiled and ran and hugged his legs,
he'd smile and hug you, too.
He liked to take you out for walks,
to Sonic, and the store,
you'd sit with him for stories
on the couch or on the floor.
I know you loved your Grandpa Bob,
your papa loved him too,
we'll miss the ways he cared for us,
the little things he'd do.
Lord Jesus came and took him home,
and though it makes us sad,
we have to trust that Jesus Christ
does nothing that is bad.
He loves the little children,
like Grandpa Bob loved you,
he wipes away their tears and gives
them wondrous things to do.
Lord Jesus took our Grandpa Bob
because his work was done,
and you and I must trust him
in the work he has begun.

Please keep our son in your prayers, too.  But thanks, thanks, thanks be to God who has given us the victory who follow Jesus Christ! (I hope you hum the Messiah for the rest of the day - it's what we've been listening to in the car for the last week).

-Papa

Penny again!

Penny's family is in country, visiting with Penny and the other little girl they are adopting. Pray for them!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Yay!

In the midst of sorrow, we have some excitement...
We mailed our USCIS packet today!
Lord willing, we will be approved soon.
Pray!

I can't title this post.

Like I said in my last post, sin is real. The effects of sin are real, too. There is real pain and sorrow in this world. It is not a figment of our imaginations.

But Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In that lies our hope.

It has been a crazy week.
Papa's father died suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday. He was a godly man who had his hope in Christ. In that we rejoice. He was kind to everyone he knew. The family and his whole community are mourning the loss.

There is not much more that I am prepared to say about it right now. I am confident that someday we will be able to look back and see, at least to some degree, how his sudden death really was in God's perfect timing. But I don't think that we are supposed to be able to see that now. I think that right now what we are supposed to do is thoroughly cast ourselves upon Jesus.

I am 37 weeks pregnant. 


Lord willing, we send our packet to USCIS today.

Saturday will be the memorial service for Papa's dad.

It would be fair to say that the mixture of great joy and great sorrow is very confusing and difficult for us to sort through.

We are praying for Papa's mom, who is obviously grieving a lot, and needs love and support from all sides.

We are praying for the child that I carry, for health for both of us while my body weathers the shock.

We are praying for our USCIS packet, that it will be handled in a timely fashion so that we can move on to dossier material SOON!




In grieving Papa's father, I realized something...
If anything were to happen to Garnet, I wouldn't want to be in emotional limbo. I want to be completely invested.
In order to do that, we are going to start calling her by her first name, the name we will put on her birth certificate.

Meet Ana (short for Anastacia, which means resurrection).
Because Jesus lives, we live. Because Jesus leads us, we love Ana and can't wait to have her home.



I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Thursday, September 19, 2013

From the Adoption Universe

Here is a collation of some of my recent adoption related thoughts...

Orphanages and mental institutions are BAD. Some of them don't do as much damage as others, but in none of them do children have parents who are looking out for their best interest. In many of them, they have no one who is looking out for their best interest.

Go read this post by Julia at Micah 6:8.





Tommy Musser, a boy who was in Garnet's orphanage but is now home with his family, is in the hospital with serious digestive issues. Keep them in your prayers!





Lots of fundraisers are going on to help families bring their children out of horrible places and into the loving arms of their families.

Hidden Treasures starts in October. If you have anything to donate, you should do that!

Julia at Micah 6:8 is running another big fundraiser to help lots and lots of families. Go read their stories! Fall in love! Help them out!

The Unroe family is bringing home three little ones from Garnet's orphanage. Their plate is seriously full; they are busy being good parents to their 18 children at home as well as to their 3 children who are still abroad!


There is a lot more I could say.

Sin is real. Horrible things are happening to children around the world.
But God is more powerful. We are thrilled and blessed to be instruments in His hands, doing what He would have us to do, no matter how great or small.
To God be the glory!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Approved

So, our state has now approved our home study!  We've got the paperwork for the dossier together, and we will get to pitch a packet to USCIS soon. 

As I was explaining to a friend from church (regarding baby, house, adoption, job, teaching, etc.), "God just gave us all the blessings all at once, so we're pretty busy..."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pictures...

I am putting together a photo sheet for our dossier for Garnet's country, and I thought I would share with you as well...

Our not-so-photogenic abode:

Well, okay, the front is not so bad...
The music room. I don't do too much performing these days, but that harp used to get a lot of use!
Here is our main room. What do we like? Books. And apparently leaving toys all over the floor.
Our bedroom. All three of us share it... for now...

Papa and Mama (on our anniversary!)


Our only ex-utero, in-country child. Let's call him "Tater" (short for potato, short for... you don't really want to know :-)
Mr. Tater again. He loves to be outside!
Our classic family picture, in which Tater is much smaller... we will do another set this fall, I expect.
 Now the real question is...
Does Mama look like that slender lady in the family picture?
The answer...































No.
Mama, for real, at 35 weeks pregnant. This one does not go to Garnet's country :-P


 So there you have it.

Our house does have a couple of other rooms, but they aren't very photogenic either. I really didn't want to document my kitchen... Hopefully they will take my word for it that we have one.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Apostilles

Six months ago, I had no idea what an apostille was.  Now, I know the ladies at the capitol building by name.

BUT - I think we have all our papers together to start assembling our dossier!  We're still waiting on state approval of our home study (to the best of my knowledge), but we can be ready for the next step.  Now, if only the new house were ready...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Please pray for us!

I think I speak truth when I say that it is a busy season for us.
Papa is busy with his full-time work plus fixing up our new house.
Baby is due in ~7 weeks.
We are seeing motion in our adoption process, and need to make time to do the work that we are supposed to do for that.

We have an unexpected opportunity... One that deserves careful consideration and lots of prayer. Also waiting. So many things require waiting!

In the midst of all this, we are working on building our marriage and our family. It is not easy! But it is good, and we are thankful for all that God has given us to bless and refine us during this time.

Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Slow-Walk

If you think things have been quiet here, you're right.

There are a few things going on, adoption-wise, like getting our physicals apostilled, updating our application to the relevant ministry (prior to putting together our dossier), and still waiting on the home study process.

In other news, we embarked on a related adventure: buying and cleaning up a new house.  This is (for me, papa) where most of the action is these days.  We are making slow but steady progress, it's really a question of whether we will be able to be moved in for bio-baby #2's arrival.  This house is a bit bigger than our condo, but it is laid out wonderful well, with a very nice, open feel to it (the condo can be claustrophobic at time - there are too many walls per square foot).  Both the house and the condo are 3-bed 2-bath homes, but let me tell you, the house seems twice the size of the condo.  It's closer to my work, in a very nice neighborhood, and will be, I think, a great place for our family to be - once it's finished. 

Back to work.  Thanks for reading, and we hope to have some more adoption action in yet a little while. 

“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.” - John 14:18-21

Our prayer for Garnet is that she (and we) will be kept by God for yet a little while, until we can come and bring her home, and then that we all would be kept for yet a little while until Jesus comes and brings us home.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hidden Treasures, for Penny's Family!

August's Hidden Treasures auction begins tomorrow, and it benefits Penny's family!



I  am very excited about it, of course. You should all go check it out!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Link

Here is the web address to the FSP for Ally's family. Hopefully I can get a proper link up soon.

Update: Ally's picture on my sidebar now links to her family's FSP.

http://reecesrainbow.org/63347/sponsorwelsh

Monday, July 29, 2013

God Works

I suppose that is a bit of a silly phrase, perhaps more appropriate for drain cleaner or something.  It's manifestly obvious to those who care to see it that God is at work.  Always, everywhere, providentially sustaining His creatures, working that which is well pleasing to Him, and working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

But Ally has a family.

It's awesome to see God answering prayers.  It's awesome to see God answering OUR prayers.  Prayer is an amazing condescension of God - He makes it plain that we are to earnestly participate in the outworking of His will in the world around us.  We cannot take credit - "Oh, yes, I prayed for that.  Mhm.  Maybe you should thank me." - is as absurd as it is blasphemous.  The dog cannot take credit for the crumbs falling from the children's table.  Yet we are commanded to beg God just so.  Jesus says "when you pray...", "ask, and it will be given...", "if you ask anything in my name...", and God, who loves Jesus, hears us.  Paul urges us to prayer, for all people in all places, and this first of all.  John gives us some of the most intimate prayers of Christ himself in his gospel, and closes the Revelation with a prayer that echoes throughout the succeeding millenia - Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

God hears prayer, rightly offered and rightly desired (see James), and God does His work.  Ally has a family (and so does Madeline!) .  Praise God, and keep praying for orphans.  You never know how God will work, just that He will, and it will be for His glory.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Praise The Lord!!

Guess who is now on RR's My Family Found Me page?














Ally!!!!!

I am praising the Lord that this beautiful girl's family found her just in time!

Pray that all roadblocks are cleared for them, and that they are able to bring Ally home as soon as possible! Pray that Ally will be prepared to meet her new parents.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hooray!

Look whose family found her!


http://reecesrainbow.org/category/rescued

Madeleine has a family coming for her! 
What a blessing!





Miss Ally is running out of time;
pray that her family would find her quickly!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

6 years!

10 years ago

These kids met.

They got along pretty well. They both made big accommodations in their plans for their lives so that 

This could happen.


6 years ago today I married the love of my life.

Our life has gone in unexpected directions since then, but it has always been amazing. We have been guarded, guided, and protected by God.


And sometimes we even get to go on dates.


I am so thankful for my kind and loving husband who has lived with me and loved me for six years. I am thankful that he loves Jesus, that he loves me, that he loves children, and that he loves the church.


The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

Psalm 16:6


Friday, July 12, 2013

A reason to adopt - The other side of the story

My dear wife makes it seem like I was calm and cool in coming to the conclusion that we should adopt.

In truth, I have always been partial to the adage about the duck, you know, look serene on top but paddle like the blazes underneath.

And, while billing this post as "the other side of the story", I'm actually in 100% agreement with my wife's conclusion.  God told us to adopt, and we had the choice of obeying Him and opening our family to this little girl, or trying not to obey Him (which never ends well).

Once again, I am a cessationist in my expectations of continuing revelation, but it's also very true that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing even to the joints and the marrow, and when God wants to pry open your heart, don't argue.

Psalm 27 is the first page of our adoption binder.  I have highlighted v1

    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?

and v10

    For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
        but the LORD will take me in.

So I figured there was no reason to fear anything God sent our way (but much to fear in going our own way), and being quite convinced that God generally does His work through the means of His people, v10 hemmed me in behind and before and gave me no choice but to adopt.

I reiterate, I'm sure we ain't seen nothing yet, so it's best not to dwell on "our adoption journey" before it has really begun in earnest.  For crying out loud, all we've done so far is paper, money, and words (and that's what I do all day as an engineer).  When it is flesh, blood, and tears; when it is skin, bones, and sleeplessness; when it is pain, love, and bitter herbs; when it is years of time and months of progress, aches and age and finding caregivers when our flesh and our heart may fail; when it is the last day and we stand in our flesh before our Redeemer and (Lord willing) see our little girl freed from the cruel effects of sin on her body and mind; then we can talk about "our adoption journey".  But (thank God) it still won't be about us.

    O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
    You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
        you discern my thoughts from afar.
    You search out my path and my lying down
        and are acquainted with all my ways.
    Even before a word is on my tongue,
        behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
    You hem me in, behind and before,
        and lay your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
        it is high; I cannot attain it.
    Where shall I go from your Spirit?
        Or where shall I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
        If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
    If I take the wings of the morning
        and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
    even there your hand shall lead me,
        and your right hand shall hold me.
    If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
        and the light about me be night,”
    even the darkness is not dark to you;
        the night is bright as the day,
        for darkness is as light with you.
    For you formed my inward parts;
        you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
        my soul knows it very well.
    My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
        intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
        the days that were formed for me,
        when as yet there was none of them.
    How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
        How vast is the sum of them!
    If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
        I awake, and I am still with you.
    Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
        O men of blood, depart from me!
    They speak against you with malicious intent;
        your enemies take your name in vain.
    Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
        And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
    I hate them with complete hatred;
        I count them my enemies.
    Search me, O God, and know my heart!
        Try me and know my thoughts!
    And see if there be any grievous way in me,
        and lead me in the way everlasting!
-Psalm 139 

Newly listed: Madeleine

Today I was looking at newly listed children on RR again.



Do you remember when I wrote about my little sister, the dancer? Madeleine loves to dance, too! Reading her little bio on RR made me so sad. This sweet girl so badly wants a family to love her!

Madeleine's family, are you out there? We are praying that you find her soon!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A reason to adopt; or why talking about our adoption is difficult for me

There are lots of reasons why a family might adopt, and there are lots of reasons why we are pursuing adoption, but I haven't really talked about the biggest one.

When people find out that we are working on an adoption process, they assume that we are going for a newborn (or as close as you can get to that in an international adoption). I tell them, no, she is actually an older child. Eleven years old, to be precise. 
No, we aren't worried about birth order, you see, she has severe special needs. She is cognitively younger than our son, and smaller, as far as we can tell from our year-old file. He will be her big brother. We pray that he does a good job!



Then people ask "Why?!" 
"Why would you do such a difficult thing?"

There are a lot of answers to that question, ranging from the trivial to the profound. 
We like being parents.
All adoption has the potential to be very difficult, medical needs or not.
Orphans need families.

But the big one, the one that can be hard for me to say, is this: God told us to.


I have been interested in adoption ever since I was little, but not in special needs adoption.

God started planting seeds in my heart shortly after my son was born. I remember looking at my tiny boy and knowing that I would love him no matter what (by the grace of God). It didn't matter if he didn't grow up to be like other kids, if he was brilliant or delayed, if he was robust or sickly. He is my son, I thought, and I will love him always. 
Around the same time I started reading Susanna Musser's blog and becoming aware of what needs there were in the world.

Then God started to yell at me. 
(Side note: I am a reformed Presbyterian and tend to be pretty un-Pentecostal. I don't say that God told me to do things very much.)
I did not actually literally hear God's voice with my ears, but in order to be any more obvious I think He would have had to use audible speech. Every sermon I heard, every scripture passage I read yelled "do something!"
I tried some "somethings". I started donating to Hidden Treasures and writing notes to adoptive families. We had a family from our church over to dinner to talk about adoption (they had adopted their two daughters.) 
The instructions didn't go away, though. God kept telling me "this isn't enough, you aren't there yet."
I started praying for specific orphans (ask any adoptive family, that's a "dangerous" thing to do).
I shared everything I read with Mr.
He too was shocked by the condition of some of the orphanages and was fervent in prayer.

Scripture and sermons kept saying "adopt!" to me, but nothing could happen if Mr. wasn't on board.

One morning, I had slept in a little bit and Mr. came in to wake up me and Jr.
He had been reading the Psalms, and looked at me and said "we should adopt."
It wasn't long before we had found Garnet and decided that she was our daughter (we thought it was Penny at first, but God led us right to Garnet).

Once we had been through all that, actually paying the commitment fee was pretty easy. 

So, no, I have not always been interested in special needs.
Garnet's Eastern European country was barely on my radar before last year.
I was never looking to adopt an older child.

But God knew better than all of that, and by His remarkable guidance, here we are, waiting to meet our Eastern European darling.

So the simplest, but most profound answer to "why are you adopting Garnet?"

... God told us to.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

John 16:33

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”


Friday, July 5, 2013

A Thought from Pastor Shishko, Franklin Square OPC


"Know what God wants.  Make it your want" - Leadership Qualities (link is to a Word .doc)

This one hurt.

It is easy enough to know what God wants.  That's the (comparatively) simple task of study of Scripture, formulation of doctrine, and a synthesis of facts into a cogent idea.  The scribe who answered well was not far from the kingdom of God.  He knew that to love the Lord and to love your neighbor was more than all burnt offerings (he'd read the Psalms).

But, as a dear retired PCA minister in our congregation pointed out in an excellent sermon on Mark, "Not far is not in."

Maybe I know what God wants.  But I sure do know what I want.  I want convenience, I want comfort, I want security.  God wants some things, too.  Holiness, obedience, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, wisdom, prayer, meditation on His word, love for His bride and service to her, etc.  Yeah, I have a decent idea what God wants.

But exterminating my wants and replacing them with God's wants is hard.  It's so hard, in fact, that it takes the power of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit to conform me to the image of His Son, Jesus.  I think the adoption process has been good in this regard, but I know that the process will be nothing compared to having Garnet home with us, learning what she needs, and doing it regardless of our/my wants.  Because (we think) God wants her to be our daughter.  God wants us to care for the orphans, that much is plain.  Making a love for orphans, the widow, the stranger, my want is hard.  Just doing is a necessary but insufficient condition.  If we want what God wants, then we will work heartily, as unto the Lord, no matter what task He assigns.

So thank you, Pastor Shishko, for the godly challenge.  May we rise to it in the strength of His might, and remember always Ps. 115:

    Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
        for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Common Interests

This past weekend, I (Papa), took the youth of our church out to SoCal for an outreach project to help a new mission work (Trinity OPC in the Dana Point area).  After worship on Sunday morning, I got to talking with a nice fellow who was keeping an eye on his kids, one of whom has Down syndrome.  We chatted for a while, and it finally came out that he and his wife were working on an Eastern Europe adoption of their own (http://reecesrainbow.org/57778/sponsorfrancisco)!  We rapidly fell into adoption shop-talk, and later at the church picnic I got to meet his wife who (as I suspect is the case with all adopting couples) had even more adoption shop-talk to discuss.  They introduced me to yet another new friend and her children, including a six-year-old girl with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe! (their blog here: http://ahomefordarya.blogspot.com/) 

It truly is a small world in the body of Christ!

It is a wonderful thing to fall in quite accidentally with people who have so much in common with you, who share unique perspectives on your own situation, who are further along the road than you and can encourage you, and who are aligned with you on a very deep-seated and important issue.

Adoption is a compelling mutual interest.  Yet the adoption of the Christian as sons and daughters of God through the work of Jesus Christ is a much, MUCH bigger deal.

I'm assuming that most of the readers of this blog have a compelling interest in adoption, for some reason or other.  So I want to challenge myself (and you) to have that same ready "Oh really! That's wonderful!  Tell me about..." response to your fellow Christians, especially when you meet a new one.

Now, I'm a deacon in a very conservative Presbyterian church, so I very much understand the wariness that develops when you have the repeated experience of seeing a nominal Christian act contrary to their profession.  Jesus and Paul give good guidelines for dealing with this when it's in your bailiwick, follow those.  But I am reminded of the apostles' urgent complaint about the man casting out demons in the name of Christ who was not one of them!  (Mk. 9:38-40)  Jesus does not interrogate the man about his creed.  He simply says "Do not stop him", and let time tell. 

Adopting demands an opening of yourself to the world.  It was (and is) quite uncomfortable to me since I am usually a very private person.  Yet a profession of faith in Christ entails an unreserved opening of yourself to His demands, which includes loving those who profess to be His people.  Who do you suppose wounded Paul more deeply?  The Jews in Thessalonica who stoned and beat him, or John Mark who turned back from the work (to be later restored, praise God)?  Nero who probably killed him, or Hymaneaus and Alexander who made shipwreck of their faith?  Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified Him, but calmly observed that the son of perdition was lost.  The Christian life will hurt, and I bet that most of that hurt comes from those we thought we knew.  Nothing for it but to love Christ and love His people, and we'll wait until glory to hear the roll call of the kingdom.

Come Lord Jesus!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Preparing

Right now there is not a lot we can do that directly relates to the adoption process, but there are still lots of things to do to prepare.
I have been working on my hours of education through our placing agency. Fortunately, I have seen most of the information before. I didn't realize how much I had read until I started reading and recognizing so much material. I would like to thank everyone who presents adoption issues on their blogs in such helpful ways.
Other than doing mandatory training and lots of prayer ;-) there are a few other things that I have been working on to get ready.
-getting rid of stuff! We know that Garnet will need adaptive equipment and space for therapy, not to mention all the normal stuff like a bed and a high chair, so we have been seriously using Craigslist to clear the place out. Boy, does it feel good ;-)
-gluten free cooking! (And some dairy free, too.) I don't know when Garnet will be able to sit down at the table and eat what we are eating, but I want to be prepared to cook nutritious meals that are not hard on the gut when that time comes. This has had some added perks, too... I feel better, and when we have guests who can't/don't eat wheat, I don't get scared anymore!
-learning a little bit of the language that is spoken in Garnet's country. I have a list of common phrases on my wall, and can tell you "thank you", or "good night" off the top of my head. I am working on reading the Cyrillic alphabet fluently as well, so I am not totally lost ordering off of menus :-)

All this, beside normal mom and pregnancy stuff, has been plenty to keep me busy. Now we are just praying that our home study would be approved soon!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Big things and Little things

I was formulating this blog post in my mind while I couldn't sleep early this morning, right before I heard Junior choking and vomiting and jumped out of bed to take care of him. He is napping now, and I am working on recollecting my thoughts.

I had a conversation with my mom earlier this week that reminded me of things that I have been thinking about.
A few years ago, I told a friend "I feel like God is preparing me for something." At that time, we were childless, with no real expectation of having children, and I felt that acutely. I had no idea what I thought God might be preparing me for. I proceeded to do lots of things to "fill time" and see what God had for me. 
In God's providence, I got pregnant and carried Junior to term. It was then that I realized that motherhood is NOT grand. I don't mean that it's not important, or that it isn't worth doing, but it is not grand. It is a series of little mundane things that seem to go on forever (or so it seemed to the mind of the new mom). It never occurred to me how the noble motherly feelings would be interspersed by gross diapers, a lot of spit up milk, and not a lot of sleep. I should have known, I have seven younger siblings, but the connection never got made.
I remember thinking "I wonder what God is preparing me for NOW!"

Then, one day, in one of those coveted uninterrupted showers, it dawned on me: "this is it. This is what I am prepared to do. There might not be any grand finale, or huge 'life's work' that this is all leading up to. In a sense, I have arrived. I AM DOING the big things that I will do." 

It's not that I was wrong to think that God was preparing me for something; He is! Glory. But not glory in this life; it will be glory in the next. That was where I was askew. I was living my life like I was in the wings, waiting to go on stage. 
"I can't wait for my big entrance! I hope it impresses lots of people!"
In a sense, this whole life is preparation, but in another sense, this whole life is doing. What is my big role? To do the next right thing as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and church member. It doesn't look very glamorous. It is easy to miss the grandness of my calling for all the repetitiveness and seeming insignificance. I might never get the big part that I thought I was being "prepared for". 
God doesn't tell us to go around doing grand things. God tells us to be faithful in little things. If something grand comes from that, it was God's doing, not yours.


You might think that being in the process of adoption seems rather grand, but if you think that, try it yourself. Writing down your full name, address, and SS# for the hundredth time does NOT feel grand. It feels annoying and stupid. It's like doing your taxes 100 times over.
Once Garnet is home, I am sure I will have illusions of grandeur, and I am also sure that they will dissipate pretty quickly when I go back to a lifestyle of sleepless nights and hectic days.
So don't tell me that I contradict this post by doing something grand. I am not. I am doing the next little right thing, one step at a time, and I covet your prayers.
:-)