Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!



Because of my fond memories of Halloween, (& because of the precious Snow White costume that Caroline is wearing this year,) I was happy to see this Christian arguement for Halloween. In case you're a Christian wondering if you should listen to those who call it an occultic holiday, this is worth the read. To each his own. As for me & my house, yes, we can love God AND pass out candy to Trick or Treaters!

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Why Are You Adopting?"

One of the most incredible side effects of our adoption process is my newfound boldness for the gospel. I don’t care how many times I was offered a course on “How to Witness” at camps and Sunday school classes growing up… there was no way I would sit down with a semi-stranger and draw a diagram or spout out a memorized outline on the path to salvation. Fear gripped me. And besides that, it felt unnatural. I was never the evangelistic type.

Is that an excuse? Probably not. But now, I feel ready to speak. I haven’t done this yet, but I feel sure that the next time I see questions in people’s eyes that say, “Why in the world are you adopting from Uganda?”, the answer will come naturally: God adopted us. God loved us before we even knew Him. God gave His only Son to die for the world, so that we could be adopted as brothers and sisters of His Son Jesus. And God gave us His Spirit to empower us to love others how He has loved us. Our adopting this baby will be a muggy, shadowy reflection of the divinely beautiful and glorious way He pulled us into His family.

“Yes, but why Uganda? Why not a white country?” Well, why NOT Uganda? I think of Russ Moore’s words when he essentially says, “Our identity is now in Christ. Our identity is not in nationality or race. Our family is a family built on the life, death, & resurrection of Christ – more than on genetics. That includes our church family, and our family at home.”

What a freeing new phase of my Christian life! Will our sweet baby ever know how much his/her life already blessed his/her parents… even before we met!?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This is MY Life... God Change Us

"Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family. So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud—just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time,) and lots of fun stuff on the weekend—woven around church (mostly). This is life for millions of people. Wasted life. We were created for more, far more."  -John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life

Monday, October 26, 2009

Squeeze My Camel Through the Needle's Eye

We are in our house! I’m not saying it is organized, or that we’re unpacked, but it is starting to feel like home! We love it… although it’s strange to be among brand-new floors and counters and fixtures while our thoughts are constantly with our baby, who is probably in very rough conditions. I have never been more aware of the ridiculous wealth of Americans compared to the staggering poverty of most of the world’s population.

Adoption is expensive – sometimes seemingly prohibitively so. I hear many people say that they WISH they could afford another child, but can’t go through the costly adoption process. I admit that my mind sometimes spins when I stop to wonder how the finances will work out.

But I do not think that adoption is PROHIBITVELY expensive. It just isn’t. On top of the grants and fundraisers and loans, there is the simple fact that our standard of living is lusher than it has to be. Even when Brad and I were pinching pennies while I was pregnant and in school, we had ridiculous wealth compared to the rest of the world. Our small apartment would’ve been a heavenly home to a child from a third-world country.

Do we really EVER think that we are strapped in America? We sleep on mattresses and pillows, and have running water at our fingertips. We stand in front of full closets wondering what to wear, and in front of full refrigerators wondering what to eat. We have to ask what the weather is like outside, because we set the temperature inside. (And we don’t even call these luxuries!)

My heart broke last week when I heard this line in a Derek Webb song: “I’m trying to squeeze my camel through my needle’s eye.” It’s referring to Mark 10:25. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Do we even recognize how rich we are? Oh God, please teach us to love you, and not our lush lives. Even teach us to give up all of the luxuries we love for the sake of gaining the TRUE treasure that comes only through loving You.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Global Rich List

Here's a fun little site... if you're feeling strapped for cash, go here to show where your income ranks in terms of the rest of the world.  You may be surprised how wealthy we really are in our country!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Uncle Ryan

Brad's brother Ryan is getting married today! We're all in Indiana for the big event.  I started thinking recently that Ryan may have had a bigger part in us choosing Uganda for our adoption than we ever realized. 

When we started the adoption process, we picked Uganda without having any idea why.  I didn't think I knew a single thing about the country.  We had watched a documentary on Uganda that we loved, (The Invisible Children,) but we didn't hold it in our hearts and remember exactly where the documentary was filmed.

But one day, as baby Caroline played with a hand-sewn stuffed elephant that her Uncle Ryan had brought her from Africa, it occurred to me... Ryan hadn't just been "somewhere in Africa" the day that Caroline was born... He was in UGANDA. In fact, Caroline spent her early months wearing a "Jumbo Says Jambo" Ugandan onsie and playing with a stuffed and a wooden Ugandan elephant.

Ryan had been in Uganda and wasn't able to meet his newborn neice until a couple of months later.  So when he came to see us, he had beautiful pictures and stories of stong and unbroken people. We never knew we would go there ourselves not long after! We really didn't know that we had family there!

Anyway, since it's his wedding day, here's to Ryan, who probably played a major part in bringing us to our child! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

All that God's grace asks, it provides.

“Your grace gives me fear
And Your grace draws me near
And all that it asks, it provides.”
- Derek Webb

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the person I want to be, and how impossible it seems to get there. My sister often emails me excerpts from the blog of Katie in Uganda. She gave up everything to give her life to Christ and orphans there. When I read the journey she’s been through and the miracles that she has experienced as a result of loving God more than comfort, my soul aches to find my own path to that point. She admits over and over that she is a sinner, and just like any young American girl. Yet she humbled herself so that God could use her in incredible ways.

What will it take for my life to be like that? It’s humbling to see where I am today, and wonder how in the world God will sanctify me into a person who loves nothing more than to pour myself and all that I have out to others. I feel chained to 100 obligations that God says I don’t have to worry about.

But thank God for this: While true Christianity requires impossibly radical living, God’s grace provides for us anything that it requires from us. I know I can’t be who I am called to be. Jesus’ blood cries out for me to be more than I am today. But His blood also promises to make me who I cannot be apart from Him. And I am telling you… I know He is faithful to do it. And I am willing to be changed. I may love my comfort now, but I am willing (and waiting) for God to bring me to renouncing any/all of it for the sake of a life lived IN Him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adoption Quote

"If any group of people should care for orphans, strangers without hope in this world, it is those who were strangers without God and without hope in this world that God brought near by the blood of Jesus and placed in His household so that they would be His sons through adoption.  If anybody should lead the way in caring for orphans, it should be those who have experienced the privilege of adoption, yet await the day in the future where God removes the totality of our affliction."  

- Dan Cruver, Our Adoption in Christ: What It Means for Us and for Orphans

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Precious Ugandan Babies!

We don't get ultrasounds of this baby, obviously. :) But I can obsess over all of the precious little faces I can find online of Ugandan children!











Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Waiting

All of the sudden, waiting hurts.

So far, the adoption process has been nothing but joy.  Thinking about our child has filled me with joy, and thinking about how God loves us & sought us like I am doing towards this baby fills me with awe. But last week, something changed.

I think it started when I put up our "countdown." 7 months!? It occurred to me then that it is quite possible that our baby is already born.  Depending on the age, possibly has been born for a little while.  And then I began to ache.  What am I missing of his/her little life?  Thinking of our baby warm and safe in the womb was such a comfort. It was a happy thought.

But one night last week, I started to worry as I fell asleep. I prayed, "God, please let people hug that sweet baby. Please, don't let them feel abandoned. Let them feel overwhelmed by love!"

I search for pictures of orphans online all of the time recently, to smile at the precious faces and wonder if they are like our sweet child.  But that night, visions of the rougher photos haunted me... emaciated babies... sick children... and I think, HOW WILL WE WAIT!? Can't we just get our baby home to SAFETY!?

Fear is not of the Lord. I know that. Please pray that God will teach me to lay my worries at His feet.

Monday, October 19, 2009

God Invented Adoption (Adoption Bible Verses)

“In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” -Ephesians 1:4b-5

God invented adoption. Our sweet God loved us from the beginning of time, even when He KNEW we would run from Him. So He devised a plan. He already had one Son. Jesus, as part of the Trinity, existed even at the beginning of time. God would give up His one Son to a human life of sorrows, suffering, death, and resurrection. In return for that heavy price, we were adopted as brothers and sisters of Christ.

“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.” -Romans 8:29

Among a lot of Christians, the word “predestined” can be controversial and divisive. But any negative connotation we may have for predestination is erased by the words before it in the Ephesians verse above. “In LOVE He predestined us for adoption as sons…” And in the Romans verse, “predestined” refers to our promised sanctification and ADOPTION as the younger siblings of Jesus! We can trust in the love of our Father.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

For Mama's of Girls Everywhere!

Check out adorable, affordable CUSTOM MADE clothes with proceeds that go towards the seamstress's Ethiopian adoption.  Prices range from $18 to $40.  (I am all about compassionate consumerism lately, aren't I? Haha!)  Check out her site: http://www.itspoppydip.blogspot.com/








Saturday, October 17, 2009

Adoption Bible Verses: God Loves Orphans


(I will post separate verses some day soon about OUR adoption in Christ. For now, here are verses on God's love for orphans.)

In you the orphan finds mercy.
Hosea 14:3

Never take advantage of any widow or orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I will hear their cry.
Exodus 22:22-23

You are the helper of the fatherless. LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
Psalms 10:14,17-18

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.
Psalms 68:5-6

When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.
Deuteronomy 24:19

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
Proverbs 31:8-9

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Matthew 18:5

I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
Matthew 25:40

Friday, October 16, 2009

GO TO THIS SITE!

http://www.147millionorphans.com/

Go to this site and BUY STUFF! Not only does wearing this stuff raise awareness about the HUGE orphan crisis in our world, but the money goes to feed starving children in Uganda!!!! (and don't we all love Uganda!? Yes, yes you do!)  Brad -- take notes -- great gifts for your wife sit on this site! ;-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Faith Means Believing our Father's Love

Don’t you think God tires of us acting like we have to earn our status as His children? There have been days when I’ve felt unworthy to worship on Sunday mornings because I hadn’t been having a daily “quiet time devotion”. But my daily devotion time didn’t pay the price for me to enter God’s presence. CHRIST on the cross paid the costly price for our adoption into His family, and it gave us the full rights of children. What holds us back from acting like His children? So now I tell myself: Just worship! So you messed up … your Father still loves you, and wants you to ACT like the part of the family that you are!

Why don’t we believe that we are God’s children? What would I do if this next baby refused to grow up under the truth that (s)he is our precious child? How frustrated will I be if, as an eight year old, (s)he still acts like an orphan!? (We’ll say he’s a boy for ease of writing) What if he hoards & hides food, in fear that we won’t give him the next meal? What if he waits for an invitation to sleep at his own house, EVERY single day? What if, every time he makes a mistake, he runs away from home to hide in fear of our wrath, which has never fallen on him? How heartbreaking would it be if he didn’t embrace his “sonship”?

I think that’s what it means when Scripture says that “faith without works is dead.” We want our child to LIVE as if he is our child! It would be a heartbreaking shame if he refuses to believe the truth of whose he is… that he is 100% a “Goode”. And God wants us to BELIEVE… to HAVE FAITH, that we are truly His children. We’re unafraid to be generous, because we know our “Dad” will provide. We aren’t workaholics in a quest for luxury, because we know we are heirs to all that is God’s. We don’t fight to impress others and seem like we have great status, because we are already in the Royal Family.

So maybe the greatest act of faith is not to move mountains, but to simply believe that we have a Father who loves us. How powerful would that faith be?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jesus Loves the Little Children...

... all the children of the world! Red & yellow, black & white... 

Here are some pics of beautiful orphans. MAYBE one of those sweet faces will put a longing in one of YOUR hearts to adopt! :-)

Korea:


Russia:


and my heart is in Uganda!...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Faith in God's Goodness

A few days ago, I joked about how jealous I was over the precious twin girls a sweet family was just blessed with.  Today, I read a post from the same family, referring to a previous baby lost in pregnancy. I searched her blog, and was amazed to read this post, which revealed a mother's unwavering faith in God's goodness, even as she had to deliver the son whom she already knew had died.  If you want to see what true courage fueled by faith in who God is, read her words. Yes, God is good, all of the time, even when we don't understand His infinate ways.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Adoption: Countdown

Drumroll, please... here are the latest results on the adoption countdown... (brrrrrrrrrrr -- that's my drumroll)...

In one month from today, November 12, our social worker from Lifeline comes. This means we will have completed all of our social worker visits, and have only paperwork/red tape left! (a LOT of it left, thanks to our procrastination while focusing on the CPA exam & house!)

In less than eight months, (by our sheer hope & estimation more than by facts,) we should be leaving for Uganda!

In nine months, if everything else has gone to plan, we will be HOME with our sweet new baby, and big sis Caroline!

(Clash symbol... the crowd goes wild.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

“But Am I Called to Adopt!?”

Many Christians feel a stirring in their hearts when they think about the orphans of our world, without necessarily feeling “called” to adopt. I’d like to issue a challenge to those Christians. But first, let me disclaim: Not every Christian is called to adopt. I know that. But when I read that OVER a THIRD of Americans have considered adoption, but that only 2% follow through, my heart breaks.

God defends the cause of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14). He loves the children of this world. But the children are in trouble. There are 147 million orphans in our world. The orphans of Ethiopia alone equal the population of greater New York City.

If these numbers – which represent individual souls loved by God – burden you as a Christian, then let God use you. If your heart has any leaning towards adoption, don’t wait on God to drop a neon blinking sign from heaven that says “PROCEED."

God has made many things clear in His Word:
     - He loves a cheerful giver – so we don’t wait around wringing our hands, wondering if we’re going against Him when we give to the poor.
     - He loves His Church – so we don’t say, “I’m not sure if I feel called to worship & learn with other believers.”
     - He loves orphans – so we don’t have to wonder whether God is pleased if we pure heartedly pursue loving orphans through His strength.

You don’t have to have it all figured out before you take your first step of faith towards adoption… if you overwhelm yourself with thoughts of finances and square footage and decisions and paperwork, you may paralyze yourself to the power that comes from just taking a step in Christ and trusting that He will lead you through each step that follows.

I have already been immeasurably blessed through God’s beautiful invention of adoption, and we aren’t even through the paperwork! Let God also bless you!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Picture of Love

If you want to see, through pictures, the miracle of how love can change us, look at the series of pictures below. Katie, a college age girl who has given up the American dream to live in Uganda taking in orphans as her own children, recently took in her 14th child, Patricia. Look at how love changed Patricia over a matter of days:

Day 1:






Day 3:







Day 5:





Day 7:








Later still:




Awful Adoption Ad

Here is a well-meaning ad for adoption that, in my opinion, went horribly wrong! The purpose is to show that you get back more than you give when you adopt. True. But there is something sick about the way that they portray that here! Feel free to leave comments on whether you agree or disagree!





Friday, October 9, 2009

Prayer in the Harvest

The last few lines of Hillsong’s The Desert Song have haunted me ever since I sang them a few weeks ago at church. God is really shaking me lately… He is letting me know that something in me has to change.

The entire song is about the victory we can declare in Christ as we go through trials. My life, right now, is as good and “trial-free” as anyone’s I have ever seen. The last verse, however, is not about trials. It is about the good times, which Brad & I are definitely enjoying now:

“This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor & providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow”

Our life, right now, is too blessed to not be emptying ourselves out to others. If any of you reading this also pray for us, please pray that God would show us – and empower us – to give. I get nervous when I see that we’re moving into our nice house, as I finish my nice education, and continuing with our precious family and friends and endless blessings… I pray that we don’t get lulled by the lullaby of all that doesn’t matter. More than that, I pray that God lights a fire in our hearts to chase Him, and all He loves.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two Are Better Than One?


I am a whiney, jealous baby! There is a blog I follow about a family who has also been moving towards a Ugandan adoption. Today, I read that after a phone call & a rapid turn of events, twin girls who were born in Alabama only days ago are about to be THEIR girls! And my first reaction in my heart is – why couldn’t that be us!?

Now that my more mature side is laughing at my initial selfishness, I am filled with joy that this sweet Christian family is about to receive such a blessing. But I do have to say… the thought of two at once still pulls at my heart almost to the point of an ache. I would still love to adopt two babies when we go to Uganda in the summer, while Brad still feels strongly about adding to our family one at a time. I am praying that if we should adopt two next summer, that God will change Brad’s heart. And I pray that if we should adopt one, that God will change my heart.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ask & You Shall Receive :)

Yes! (I found Don't Waste Your Life -- free PDF online! Woohoo!) Here's a taste:


If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full." 



This is the life I want! God, free me from my insane selfishness!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life


I read a book once called Don't Waste Your Life. Lately I'm wondering... where did I put that book? And how can I follow its call?

I look at my life and think, what matters in it? ... my husband, family, children... this adoption... any moment (though few) that I have spent in service to others... any precious moment when I finally allowed myself to truly worship God.

The rest in my life? Extra. Other. Yet it makes up the bulk of my day-to-day life. And I am remembering the feelings I once had as a young Christian, when I declared that I would go live in a hut in Africa... not because God had truly called me there, but because I couldn't comprehend how else to fully give my life to Him.

And yes, I have a hard time giving my every day life to God. I do wish He would just pick me up and put me into some drastic form of ministry that I am too chicken to pick for myself. My heart breaks for Him to change me! Now! I can just feel my fleshly desires chaining me down -- vanity, materialism, desire to "succeed" -- and my spirit is screaming out for FREEDOM from these!

So let's add to my waiting list -- as we wait for this precious child, let's also wait on the amazing work I KNOW God says He is faithful to complete in me. Please, Lord, do it soon!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Birth Mother


This morning, I saw a homeless woman downtown. Her poverty reminded me of the unknown woman who is now in Uganda, carrying my baby in her womb. I will never know her. She will abandon the child she births, leaving the baby to be found, as so many are, near an orphanage or hospital. Or maybe she will die in childbirth, and others will bring the baby to an orphanage. I don’t think I will ever be able to have any information about her. But I think about her every day.

Is she hungry? Is our baby hungry? I wonder if she is afraid. I wonder if she will ever feel how much God loves her. What kind of pain, fear, or guilt will lead her to abandon the baby she carries for nine months? Or what kind of poverty leads to conditions where so many die in childbirth, while we in America deal with that rarely? Will she ever know that she doesn’t have to worry about this child’s future? Will she know how much love there already is in this world for that precious little baby?

I’ve realized that the process of international adoption is already changing me. I see the world as a small place. People who once were nothing like me are now very similar to my family. I hope God will use this time in our lives to open my eyes to see the world as He does.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Adoption MARKET!?!

I don’t mean to harp on celebrity adoptions, but I got several responses about my “Brangelina/Madonna” post the other day, which made me curious about where they all actually adopted from. Within five minutes of searching the internet, my heart was sick. The press uses disgusting language to describe their adoptions! “Madonna is on the market for another African child.” And then the controversy, “Many think international adoption markets should be closed.”

MARKETS? There may be a MARKET for an expensive breed of ANIMAL, but should this language be used for a sweet act that leads to parenting children? Yes, adoption involves money. But there isn’t some BREEDER who reaps a profit! It is lawyers’ fees, and not-for-profit adoption agency expenses… plane tickets and immunizations… fingerprints & parent background checks… all for the purpose of getting a precious CHILD home to his/her parents.

Then came the arguments against adopting children away from their country of birth. Isn’t this a non-issue? Until every country has the resources and desire to properly take care of its orphans, then what is wrong with a non-citizen adopting from your country? Isn’t an American-born baby better off in a loving family in Russia than stuck in “the system” until they’re 18? I don’t know of a single country who makes sure that every child has a family of their own.

I also feel like there is something missional about international adoption. I don’t know how to put my finger on it. All I know is that when we worship to Shane & Shane’s “We Ask for the Nations” song at church, my eyes fill with tears and my heart swells – and I am asking God for the nations in two ways – it is my prayer for the love of Christ to cross the globe, and for our upcoming adoption.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Cries

I happy-cry at the strangest things when it comes to our new baby! I'm starting to think that "pregnancy hormones" may have much less to do with hormones than we thought -- because I am just as weepy & sentimental even when my body is not involved! Here is a video of Ugandan school children singing "Jesus, My Firm Foundation" in their lovely accents. It had me sobbing. I hope our little one can hear them declare, "I have a living God. I have a future. The Lord has plans for me, in that I'm sure!"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jesus Was Adopted

I’ve always known that Jesus shared no biological tie to his father, Joseph. But do we soak in that Jesus was ADOPTED by Joseph? And, as God’s grand gesture to reveal the beauty of adoption (and so much more), our salvation is hinged on Jesus’ adoption!

Old Testament scripture said that the Messiah must come from King David’s family line. Mary, as Jesus’ only biological tie, was not a direct descendant of David. Joseph was. So how can Jesus be the Messiah? …through adoption to his father Joseph, who was from the line of David!

The New Testament affirms that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. In fact, Romans 1:3 says that Jesus was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” ACCORDING to the FLESH!! Jesus’ adoption meant that even His FLESH now came from the correct family line to be the Messiah. Jesus’ FLESH was the perfect sacrifice for our sins on the cross, and the perfect FLESH to be raised from the dead to show His victory over sin and death.

What a powerful picture for any Christian doubting whether the bonds of adoption could be as strong as those of genetics!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

3 x 10

My parents kept Caroline for three very full days while we went on vacation this weekend. Since then, I’ve felt the urge to speed through the car ride from my work to her preschool when I pick her up at 2. I miss my baby! She is home, and I STILL miss her!

We will need major prayer from our friends and family when we leave Caroline for TEN TIMES that long to go to Uganda. (and that’s if all goes well.) 30 days without my baby! Selfishly, I want to bring her with us. Rationally, I know that she is better off safe with my parents, whom she is crazy about.

Please pray that she will handle it well when, as a 2 year old, her parents leave her for at least 4 weeks and then come home with a new baby! And pray for us… 3 days without her is one thing. Multiplying that by 10 breaks my heart!