Thursday, December 18, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
We have travel dates!
We are very excited. Papa will go pick up Ana on 12 January, and (Lord willing) be back stateside on 17 January! There is much to do to prepare, and we thank you for all of your prayers and support.
If you have a good suggestion from personal pickup trip experience, Papa would love to hear it!
Papa, Mama, Took, Porgies, and Ana
Monday, December 1, 2014
I can't help but reflect on God's adoption of us - at first we sure don't look like we are in His family, but we are, because it is not of him who wills nor him who runs, but God who gives the increase. We look forward to having Ana home, when the real work begins.
Thank you all for your prayers and support!
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Perhaps God will work the travel dates to fall within my 10 December to 12 January break between semesters. I would appreciate prayers to that end!
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
the world waits with bated breath
and on you go, like normal, knowing
that normal cannot last;
the pause will end, you know,
the lapse between the lives;
before and after so disresemble one another
as sometimes siblings do.
You know that pause?
While God holds fixed his baton
with fingers lightly pinched
before the crash, the entrance,
the next movement in the cacophonous symphony of our lives?
For months on end.
Without sight of end.
Without a timeline, that,
be it love or loss,
And so, we wait,
knowing that our Lord,
who has conducted better groups than us,
will make His entrance at the proper time,
and though we lose the beat,
He has it.
In His mind and in His hand.
And the baton will come down
in His time.
We had hoped to have Ana home for Thanksgiving. Now I suppose we will hope to have her home for Christmas.
Thank you for your prayers and your support.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Today we had our SW out to the new house, and apart from fine-tuning the pool gate, padlocking it, and putting a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, we are set! We are getting settled in at the new house - Papa and Took planted some aloes by the front walk this morning (Took later un-planted one - "I'm helping it" he says - fortunately, they are hardy plants).
The boys like the new house, which is very gratifying. Mama likes it, too, which is good for a Papa to see. It has (and will be) a pretty big project, so seeing people enjoy it is a good reward. We are looking forward to having Ana home in the new house.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Porgies is a climber. We appreciate your prayers. He loves climbing his brother's stool, but is not yet sure what a "center of balance" is.
Mama and Papa had noticed that with the many, many, things besetting us busy-wise, family worship in the evenings had gotten sporadic (boys falling asleep in the car on the way home from places, Papa being at work late, etc.). But we reliably eat breakfast together (we might miss it once in a fortnight if Papa has a particularly early commitment). So, after breakfast today, we read from Acts and began our two weeks in Psalm 100 (hopefully everyone will have it memorized by the end of the time). We realize that we are bad at routine, but we also realize that routine and structure provide a base from which we can work. We know that our resources will be taxed extensively when Ana comes home, so we want to have good family time as a part of the routine. We also know that any ideas of "regular" will probably be exploded, and we pray that we will be ready for that, too. Our God is wise and good, and the answer is always to know Him better in the face of Jesus Christ.
Our home visit for the update for the new house will be next week! Hooray!
Thank you for your prayers. Thank you to those who have continued to support us on YouCaring. God provides, and we just have to trust His timing. We would also appreciate your prayers that we can get our old condo cleaned and sold promptly - that would ease our minds much.
Monday, September 29, 2014
'They said your [case] is in "the next group". They sent another group to court today, so I am hopeful that "next group" means next week.'
Praise God! We have been very encouraged by all of you who have prayed and have supported us via YouCaring and otherwise. Our God is a good God, most of all seen in the light of the knowledge of the face of Jesus Christ.
(PS- We have been experimenting with not having internet at home, because it saves money and time. That's why Papa has been manning the blog for the past few weeks. Mama still gets emails and such a few times a day, but she quipped recently "with no internet and no mirrors, I have no excuse to waste time!" She and the boys are well. We planted some flower seed this morning, hoping to capitalize on the recent rain and the turn in the weather. Autumn in Arizona is odd, but pleasant.)
Monday, September 22, 2014
Here is their site: http://goldenruletravel.com/
They emphasize missionary, charitable, relief, and adoption travel, but I don't know if they are exclusive to those categories. They were prompt, easy to deal with, and (did I mention?) much better positioned to get cheap fares than little ole me.
Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your support on YouCaring, and we'll see what comes from the courts this week.
(who is missing this place and missing Ana most)
Also, happy (old-style) independence day!
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the LORD have created it.
He is our God, and we will wait for Him to move the slow wheels of bureaucracy.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows 'flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-
built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs 'they throng; they glitter in marches.
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, 'wherever an elm arches,
shivelights and shadowtackle in long 'lashes lace, lance, and pair.
Delightfully the bright wind boisterous 'ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare
of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches
squandering ooze to squeezed 'dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches
squadroned masks and manmarks 'treadmire toil there
footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, 'nature’s bonfire burns on.
but quench her bonniest, dearest 'to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
Man, how fast his firedint, 'his mark on mind, is gone!
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark
drowned. O pity and indig'nation! Manshape, that shone
sheer off, disseveral, a star, 'death blots black out; nor mark
is any of him at all so stark
but vastness blurs and time 'beats level. Enough! the Resurrection,
a heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, 'joyless days, dejection.
across my foundering deck shone
a beacon, an eternal beam. 'Flesh fade, and mortal trash
fall to the residuary worm; 'world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
in a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, 'since he was what I am, and
this Jack, joke, poor potsherd, 'patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
is immortal diamond.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins, c.1888
Please keep the Mussers in your prayers - our God hears and answers.
Thank you to those who have supported us on YouCaring.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Yesterday, we got a new air conditioner! This means things will be nice and cool for Ana when she comes home to Arizona, but it also means a large chunk of money. It has been a singular year for our family in many ways, and we trust God to provide. We also don't want to turn away anyone who wants to help, so to that end we have created a YouCaring fundraiser.
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.
Papa has to confess to pride - he always wanted to stay comfortably on the "watering" side of this proverb. But, God works in many ways to make us more holy, and He gives us no excuses for pet sins.
Thank you again for your prayers and support; please don't stop praying for the Mussers. (I'll probably just keep saying that for some time.)
PS - Mama is now just generally a happier person since the AC is not trying to fall off the roof and is sending its air into the ducts, instead of into the sky.
Friday, September 5, 2014
This is true in all relationships. If the sap is not constantly flowing, we dry up. If we do not regularly spend time with our spouse, our children, our friends, our pastor and elders - the relationships dry up and wither.
It's hard to do this with Ana right now, because she is not on this continent. But we pray. And God, who hears and answers prayer, knows how to minister to her no matter where she is. And we ask God that her baba would remember to show her the picture book we left. That she would get to snuggle her knit rabbit and hold her knit owl. And maybe when she comes home and sees Took and Porgies with their knit rabbits and knit owls, she'll make a connection. We've been her family for a while now - and we're looking forward to being her family for as long as God gives us.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Friday, August 1, 2014
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. - Micah 5:4-5a.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. - Ps. 4:8
Do not stop praying for the Mussers.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Our family holds to the theological framework described as "Reformed" theology, a branch from the stream of the Protestant reformation, generally by way of Scotland and England (ie - the Westminster standards). I know of a family at a sister church to ours (also in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) that adopted a little boy from U. Our former pastor (since retired) adopted both of their children locally. There was recently an issue in our denominational magazine about adoption, with a somewhat breathless article about a family's recent Eastern Europe adoption, and some more reasoned articles from adoptees, etc.
But for all of that, I think Reformed people tend to have a hard time adopting.
Susanna's last family update may hit on a contributing factor. The standing (bad) joke among some friends of mine is "Presbyterians do it decently and in good order". The apparent chaos of God's providence can be scary (it is to me sometimes). But if we really hold to such a high view of God's sovereignty and glory in all aspects of our lives and the universe, why can't we trust that the ways our lives may be "messed up" by adoption are good for us, and utterly necessary to our sanctification?
My wife plays the harp, and took her bachelor's degree in it. Before I met her, I did not really appreciate orchestral music (favoring Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, who still make cameos when I am doing work in the garage). I did not appreciate orchestral music because I had no clue how complex and textured it was. The theme or leitmotif was about all I could remember from a piece. After many years (and concerts), I can honestly affirm that Sibelius on a fair-to-middling day wrote much better music than Hank or Johnny on a good day. I understand it better. I can see the long-range order, the development of a work part-by-part, and appreciate what is being built.
And so often I don't get God's harmonies. They grate, I can't see past this passage to the next, and I sometimes feel like I am trapped in a John Cage concert (thank God I am not - I mean that earnestly - God actually knows where He is going with all this).
But if you fear "terrible experiences" adopting (like some might categorize the experience of our old pastor), is it not perhaps more likely that we just refuse to understand what God seeks to do in us, the children, or everyone else around? If we elevate our idea of order, we risk making an idol of our preference (or a societal norm, or what other people might say, or whatever).
If ever our perception of events is allowed to be normative in our thinking, we are resisting God. The only reality that matters is His eternal, inscrutable, and most wise decree in all circumstances, and His revealed will to us in Scripture.
If we affirm that we were dead in trespasses and sins, but while we were yet sinners Christ died for us so God could adopt us, how can we be so cold? (And I am asking this of myself most of all.)
If God the Father could make us His children in the face of our deadly (and in our old nature still continuing) rebellion against Him and His love, why do not more Christians imitate their Father?
If we Reformed claim to understand the doctrine of Adoption, why are we so slow to apply it?
So let us flee every idol, whether of comfort, custom, order, luxury, system, hobby, career, or desire, and do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before our God. Then, whatever He puts in our path to do, let us do it well.
Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-18
PS - That the streets of the New Jerusalem are paved with gold is not intended to elevate beauty or give us an ideal to imitate. Rather, the effulgence of beauty is inescapable in the city of God, the temple of the Lamb. Beauty, order, system, are all effects, the cause of which is the utter dominion exercised by Christ in His kingdom. If we want beauty, order, or system here and now, let us seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. The elevation of the secondary to the place of the primary is idolatry. If God is first in our lives, whatever falls into place for the secondary things (like food and clothing) will be welcomed as more than adequate and gratefully received. Just a thought that was somewhat apart from the preceding, but which I wanted to note as well.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
And I am thankful to have the best wife in the whole world. Not because of what she does or who she is in herself, but because of whom she has been made in Christ. She is the best wife because she loves her family tremendously, and loves Christ more. And this is of God's good grace.
Q.1 What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And yes, I miss Ana very much. But I must also trust that God can care for her through the orphanage just as he will care for her through our family. And it is not mine to begrudge his timing.
PS - Mama's breakfast cookies, for which she was heating up the oven with the unfortunate yogurt inside, were delicious. Cookies for breakfast are good for you when they are nuts, dates, apricots, and a bit of honey.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Smooth travel to Frankfurt. Ze Germans. They don't let a German-made safety razor blade through... not even a Merkur Super-Platinum Rostfrei. If the loss of my razor blade is the worst misfortune to befall me, I have nothing to complain of. With the possible exception of euro-denominated overpriced kaffe. But it was good, so I concede that front as well.
I am sad to not be visiting Ana today. That is not a complaint, simply a fact.
Thank you all for your prayers.
Friday, July 4, 2014
It has been a singular week. Ana gave a happy squeal when she saw me this morning, which delighted her papa. We talked and sang and said psalms and played with her rabbit and owl and reviewed her family photo book many times. I think her baba does show it to her. She likes the photo of mama (reaching out her hand to brush it), and small Porgies is interesting to her. I think she knows the papa photo is me, and I asked her to remember me. She likes her owl - when I put it away at the end of the visit, I believe she was looking for it (arching up her back to crane her head around, and lifting her right shoulder to an extent that made me think she might be capable of rolling if she really meant to, or may become capable with a bit of work). She had good grip on my fingers, which was encouraging. Yesterday afternoon I did feel her wiggle her toes (which are all bunched up) as I gave her a foot massage. It was hard to say goodbye.
Now we are rounding up my fellow-travellers to drive back to S. It has been a good week, but indeed a singular one in my life. Now to pray for speedy courts and second travel dates. Thank you all for your support in prayer. Jesus Christ has conquered his and our enemies, and reigns at the right hand of the Father. Thus, we can wait patiently and trust his timing and plan, for it will be right.
Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? - Gen. 18:25
And they were astonished beyond measure, saying "He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!" Mk. 7:37
Two of my favorite verses.
Now for travel. Aptly derived from "travail".
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Today I will get to see Ana for the last time in a while. It has been a good week, and I will miss her very much while we wait the second trip. It has been good to get to know her, see her personality come through, sing to her, say psalms with her (though I cannot say them very well in her language, so we use English), and tell her about America, about Jesus, about mama, Tater, and small Porgies. She has a book of fotos, a little bunny like her brothers have, and a little owl like her brothers have. Hers does not have a name yet. Maybe Tater will make one for it when she comes home (he is the namer-of-owls, his is Owlet, his brother's is Mr. Whoo-whoo). On to the orphanage.
Visa fotos went extremely well this morning. Ana did super in the car and walking through the mall (I got to carry her on this walk, which was nice). She had no issues with the middling-busy crowd, and sat for her photo like a champ, though the lady wanted her on a stool, so both the nurse and I worked to steady her, keep her head up, and point her nose generally at the camera. Bravo, Ana. It waa also nice to hear the staff calling her Ana and Anastacia. Since the visa photos, I think they are generally convinced that we are serious, love Ana, and want good for her. This has resulted in a degree of thawing in their attitude toward me. They have made it easy to take Ana outside, for instance.
I would like to attribute as much of their reservation as possible to a concern for protecting kids from random foreigners and/or journalists, and I think this is a real concern for them. Nobody needs a media circus, or even noise on the internet. The direction the orphanage is heading seems positive, there's a lot still to do, and you cannot erase the consequences of the past. But you can take better care of them.
Babas are in evidence everywhere. There have always been a few (three to six) babas with kids out and about when I have visited. I spied a baba reading to a group of three toddlers on our way back from the exercise room. When the storm blew through, there was a stream of babas and kids filing in the back door. Good things to see. (I continue to say baba because the term lelya has not penetrated into common usage yet.)
One more visit tomorrow. It will be hard to leave Ana, and I look forward to the next trip. I look forward more to when she is home with her brothers and her mother and me. I look forward most to the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells.
"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. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
After breakfast, I took a stroll in the park and settled on a bench by the old church to jot thoughts and swat mosquitoes. A resident had a similar idea, and after commenting on my shoes (Vibram five-fingers) sat down on the next bench. I had offered a dobar-den to his comment, it being the wittiest reply available. After a while he asked if I were from the town. I smiled and said "ne, Amerikansky". This is usually when people decide that I am functionally an imbicile, smile, and do their best to have done with me pronto. But this gentleman sat down next to me and started a conversation.
Turns out he has two kids, mid thirties, and four grandkids, aged 3-9. He wondered if I was in P. on business, and I shook (shoulda nodded...darn) my head and said "adopt". This got a puzzled look, and we attempted to talk for a while, I showed him photos of Tater and Porgies and Mama (by a dinosaur in So.Dak.), told him their ages, and then showed him a photo of Ana. He was aware of the dom mediko-sozial, and my cartoon below helped him get the idea. We had now spent about half an hour establishing what took you a minute to read. He checked his watch, I checked mine, and we wished each other good day, and parted ways. Now he knows that Americans really are imbiciles with funny shoes. But perhaps he at least thinks they are nice imbiciles.
On to visa photos, thank you for your prayers, our Gospod Bog is faithful to complete what he began.
Also, you can just buy Bibles in the bookstores now. Hooray!
Sausages, plums, and yogurt to drink. I like the food here. But I was not brave enough to order a salad from the deli.
And for my language-loving boy(s) at home, a Cyrillic magnet alphabet board! Trusting Google Translate, it says I love you, and you can arrange yourselves according to the singular or plural, as apropos. On to the notary.
I have now had four visits with Ana, with four more to go. It has been a pleasure to get to know her, and to see the beginnings of recognition of me. God is faithful, and I trust that the rest of the week will go as well or better than the beginning.
Specific conditional comments:
Her ability to eat from a spoon was encouraging. I got to feed her for an hour on Tuesday, though not today.
I met her former baba, and Ana clearly recognized her and had a positive response, which was nice to see, and gives me hope that she will eventually bond well with her mama and papa.
She will vocalize when particularly happy, and will sometimes make whistles or gurgles in her throat; I have not deduced the meaning or cause of these yet.
Her left hip has some motion, though very restricted. Her left knee does go to 90degrees, or slightly more.
Comments on the orphanage:
The bad press received because of the despicable actions of the former director and her daughter has made the staff somewhat skittish. It is worth remembering that the majority of people think they are doing the best job they can, given the resources and demands. This is a subjective statement, plainly, but it is the sentiment I have observed. I also think Americans have zero conception of the psychosocial effects of a bureaucr-archy such as the east bloc endured under Soviet hegemony (and which is not easily removed). The staff, however, mostly came of age under Z's rule and in such a system. Obfuscation is an elementary reaction. Outright lying (as long as it doesn't put you in a bind) is fair game. Snow jobs are second nature. The paramount instinct is self-advancement, because if you don't step up you will be stepped on. This does not merely relate to job or social or monetary standing, but pervades all of life. Bear in mind that communism demands atheism, and though the church was allowed to limp through that era, her witness is not strong, and her methods generally favored self-preservation over evangelism. That is a hard lesson to un-learn (even in America).
Susanna and the early adopters from P. saw the conditions there, which I cannot pretend to fathom. Observing it today through American eyes, it remains a sad place, with the dangers of institutionalism evident, and the neglect of (at least) the grounds inescapable.
Put on your comm-goggles for a moment, though. There is no god, the strong are praiseworthy, life is secondary to the state. That these children are maintained at state expense should be commendable, ne? They would be dead, otherwise. The staff is really doing all they can, their salaries are low, and things really are much better than a year or two ago. Why are the Americans so crazy? Can't they see this is a hard job in an old building caring for these kids nobody wanted? If it's such a big deal, let them do something instead of just yelling at us.
All of this is to say that any discussion of the conditions of the orphanage demands nuance, and hysterics are always counterproductive. There are productive ways to help improve the situation there, and they should be pursued. For instance, someone should adopt Owen (not sure if his file is still on RR). He is plainly delayed, but spunky and interested in his surroundings like the bed of irises outside in the back - they must have been lovely in April and May. He also cannot speak, but expresses himself in moans and groans. It seemed to me that a great deal of his delays could be reversed if he were removed from that environment ASAP. Remember that abandoned children come from moms who chose life. If we have less of an orphan population in America it is because we have a more widespread murder problem. We just make it medical and pretend a great sin can prevent lesser ones.
So please do find ways to help (like the P-project, see Susanna's site), prayer, and adoption. Do not be deceived about the hearts of men and women (or orphans) - without Christ, there is no faculty un-corrupted, and while we may be dismayed by evil, let us not pretend to be surprised (else we display a shocking ignorance of our hearts and the cross of Christ). And when we deal with people, especially the orphanage workers, let us by smooth speech break bones, by innocence outguile them, and by soft answers smother wrath, for histronics lead to no good, but persuasion and persistence pay off.
Today is notary, tomorrow visa photos, Friday is last visit and back to S. Thank you for your prayers, God is faithful, as always.
Now for lunch.
Monday, June 30, 2014
It is a cold place.
The attempts at color highlight the dominant theme,
walls, stairs, hearts.
A man and his woman are abandoning their baby today.
Perhaps they have other errands; he seems in a hurry.
Down below I will meet my daughter.
Twelve years have passed since she was the subject of such a scene,
with her twin, though, "No information on father".
I am the first father she has had,
and she lies across my lap,
this sack of potatoes - if Fabergé made potatoes.
She is deformed,
the weight of others' sin has distorted her skull and jaw and life.
She seems to have spent years - a decade? - on her left side,
her ear folded and her legs crossed,
for so she now sits, hips twisted like the past of the orphanage.
Yet she turns her head,
her eyes like two brown sunflowers
following the sound of her name,
and catching my gaze and smile.
Her country grows many such flowers,
in field, garden, and orphanage.
And they are beautiful,
as God made them to be.
In a foreign country, you cannot pretend to understand the people around you. In this way it is more honest than one's home.
As we age, our eyes grow dim while our ears and noses slowly enlarge. There is a lesson about wisdom here.
To see both a cloud and its shadow from above is a mere pretence of objectivity. One sun illumines us.
Overflying this country shows a variegated terrain of hills and valleys, wet and dry, grass and wood; a good place to work in the sun, see the vines grow, grapes, tomatoes, perhaps squash and kitchen gardens. We are called to tend and keep, plant, water, and prune, souls as well as seeds.
As my inimitable interpreter put it: "It's not a good hotel, but at least it is a hotel, you know."
Soviet charm with easy access to shops! Who could ask for anything more?
He also said, after an inquiring visit to a disappointing smaller hotel: "There's no competition in this town." He does have a degree in economics, after all.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
This was an interesting question to me. I'm not worried about the travel - you go places, there are people, hotels, restaurants, taxis, and maybe you need to double-check your Cyrillic before ordering or buying food, but I figure it won't be all that hard to travel. (The families that adopt from Ukraine - my hat is off to them. Living as an expat for a few months is daunting to me!)
So I said "No, not really".
But while I'm comfortable that I can travel reasonably well, I won't know my heart until I get there. We are committed to adopting and loving Ana. That's a decision we made a long time ago, and we are very glad to have emotional progress back (it's been 18 months of paper - the emotional progress gets stalled just about the same time a baby would be delivered, then Porgies actually WAS delivered, and then there's been a long time of "well, just keep doing the next form, update, whatever, and move forward where we can"). I'll be honest - I have not had much experience caring for special-needs kids (but then, I'd had NO experience being married prior to the wedding, and God preserves us to this day), so I just don't know myself in this regard all that well.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."
(1 John 4:7-12)
And in light of this, I am certain that God can work His love for Ana through even weak, sinful people like Mama and myself. I am certain that Jesus Christ can give me some of His infinite love to show to Ana next week. I am certain that God will sustain and provide for us, though I don't know how it will all play out, and I can't expect it to be comfortable or pretty. However, I am certain that it will be glorious, for:
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
So please pray that God inevitable glory will shine through, that I will love Ana as Christ loves, and that Papa and Mama and the boys will:
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Monday, June 16, 2014
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
We are waiting right now. We would very much like to come visit you, meet you, and know who you are. We pray for you. Your biggest brother reminds me if I forget sometimes (but I don't forget you). God knows you, and God does not forget you. God has plans for you, Ana, and for our whole family. I don't know what those are, but I know they are wiser than I could ever imagine.
We are working on the new house - it should be the house you come home to, and we want to make it clean, snug, and welcoming for you. Your brothers are growing fast. I wonder how big they will be when you come home. (I wonder how big you will be when you come home.) You have very nice brothers, and they will help take care of you.
You also have the best Mama in the world, though you don't know that yet. You will.
Your Papa wants to lead his family to Jesus, and that's the most exciting thing we have to tell you: Jesus loves you. We will work on this one a lot. Your brothers are learning it, too. Your Mama and Papa are still learning it.
We love you,
Monday, May 19, 2014
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
There are orphans in Crimea.
There are (were?) American families pursuing those orphans for adoption.
Now, they cannot.
Russians cannot be adopted by Americans.
Because, amid the serious business of jockeying for power and (mostly) appearance of command, our president, Mr. B.O., has been rolled. Again. And again. And again. How serious the dungaree phone call photo-op was! Too bad for the little people. They get lost in the cracks between the egos (or the ids?). But anyway, they couldn't have voted for him (whom? anyone?) anyway. They weren't that important, you know. Not like the clashing paper titans, the shadow-puppets of geopolitics, projecting themselves onto a blank world (or was it inhabited? hmm, didn't notice, must not have mattered) and squabbling just as jerkily and inconclusively as a two-bit wayang-kulit.
But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields. - Eccl. 5:9
Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart. - Zech. 7:9-10
Do not move an ancient landmark
or enter the fields of the fatherless,
for their Redeemer is strong;
he will plead their cause against you. - Prov. 23:10-11
Glória in excélsis Deo
- et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
- Laudámus te,
- benedícimus te,
- adorámus te,
- glorificámus te,
- grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
- Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis,
- Deus Pater omnípotens.
- Dómine Fili Unigénite, Iesu Christe,
- Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
- qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
- qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
- Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.
- Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus, tu solus Altíssimus,
- Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spíritu: in glória Dei Patris. Amen.
(Et cum spiritu tuo.)
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
We are so happy that Penny (who was the first little girl on our radar) has a happy, safe, God-fearing family to be a part of.
Our paper wheels continue to turn slowly, we think. There's a document (HS amendment) to apostille (when isn't there?), so I need to get down to the capitol sooner or later...
Monday, January 27, 2014
Thursday, January 16, 2014
I put pencil down and close the book,
enfold a tiny person in my arms,
as back to bed she goes.
Smiles swapped, grins given,
no more study for now,
we will off to the grocer,
just the morning, the infant, and me.
Apples, oranges, spinach,
and so much more, one-handed,
careful not to bump or drop
the produce or the person
cuddled elbow-close and
open-eyed amazed, the big wide world
has piñatas on the rafters!
Back home, clear morning light slants and brightens
the world we have enjoyed together.
And he watches me make breakfast
for his brother and his mother and for me,
selfless, I suppose; he cannot yet eat omlets,
delicious though they are;
so working, I sing God's songs
to my morning son, and he smiles,
more reward than I deserve,
O gracious Father,
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
This is a sea change in our house. I've never been good at routines, so we are very curious to see how this one plays out. However, it was adopted for a few good reasons (and not the bad one that wants us to feel in control of every minute - we've learned (and will learn) how laughable that idea is).
1) We were feeling stretched but not really doing that much (though with a newborn, which does count) - this is a cue for organization
2) Eating late was not healthy, and made it hard to get to sleep at a reasonable hour (which cascades to the next day, etc.)
3) Our older son is like a combination of me and one of Mama's brothers - he's particular, likes predictability, and gets upset when reality does not match the vision in his head. So we want to cultivate a vision of a "normal" day and then meet it pretty regularly. Christmas nearly ruined him - our schedule was whacked out beyond recognition, between visits to family, illness, church services on TUESDAY!
So we began our experiment on Monday, and so far, so good. We almost got in trouble Monday night, when we tried to do both laundry (coin op, requires some planning and effort) and Costco. We got to bed half an hour later than we wanted to, but seemed to recover yesterday, and agreed that we should only do one thing after dinner. Yesterday that was a trip to Home Depot for more renovation supplies, today that's Papa off on diaconal work.
As a rather damning side note, Tater gleefully declared "Costco says 'cost-cost-cost'". How true...