Friday, April 30, 2010

Tentmaking

As a Christian, work in the secular world can seem meaningless. If God’s work is our highest calling, then what are we doing sitting in a cubicle, or scrubbing toilets, or selling clothes?

But the Bible makes it clear that our JOB need not be holy in order for our LIVES to be holy. I doubt Jesus ever moaned, “Oh, why am I a carpenter!? I had hoped my life would mean more than this!” The apostle Paul argued that his tent making allowed him to financially support his ministry himself, adding credibility to his work for the gospel.


If you are bemoaning whatever area you work in right now, maybe it is time to switch perspective. Maybe your “unholy” job is God’s way of providing you with resources for His work… money to give away, connections, people in need of God’s grace. Sometimes God calls us to quit our jobs in a full time pursuit of Him. And sometimes our jobs are PART of a full time pursuit of Him. We just need to incorporate them properly as the resource they are towards our work to glorify our sweet Creator.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Think What You Will...

Many find it strange that our white family is adopting an African child. We have been “jokingly” accused of attempting to start a “rainbow tribe” – a comment that, while meant in jest, implies that we are more interested in the colors of our family than we are in simply getting our baby home.

Many have asked why we’re adopting from Africa. I wish I had some HOLY reason.

The answer, instead, is practical. Once we felt sure of our calling to adopt, we were faced with this question: domestic or international? We favored international for a couple of reasons: 1) We had no fertility issues and felt like it was wrong to jump into line with those who did – this was an uninformed opinion, and I now would love to someday domestically adopt a waiting child who may otherwise not find a home. 2) We were too insecure to deal with all that comes with birthmothers – yet another uninformed opinion that we no longer hold.

The way that we chose Uganda is almost embarrassing: of all of the international programs that our agency offered, Uganda had the shortest wait, and allowed adoption of young babies. VoilĂ , adoption is that simple – HA! (I have since changed my mind about age constraints, and somewhat lament that I didn’t broaden the age limits in our home study!)

I knew then that adopting an African child in Montgomery, Alabama would cause some unfavorable opinions to fall against our family. But I thought: We may not have some HOLY reason to choose a particular country, (we had no “signs” from God,) but we have a very SINFUL reason to avoid the country that seems best for us. We are not adopting to gain favor from others.

More than once, when striking up conversation with a stranger, something similar to the following has happened:

Stranger:    Do you have children?
Me:             Yes, we have a two year old girl, and we will soon be adopting.
Stranger:    (sympathetic face, thinking that adoption is a consolation prize instead of my burning passion) Aw, well you know, it always seems like adopted children end up looking JUST LIKE their new parents!
This makes me laugh, because the baby we are head-over-heels in love with is guaranteed to look NOTHING like our gene pool! But we will not love him/her because we see ourselves in that little face. Instead, we will see sweet Jesus in that face. We will see the way that God chased after us and loved us, and was willing to pay far more than what we’re paying in adoption fees, and willing to go much farther than Uganda so that we could rest in His arms as His children.

In light of this, racism proves petty and perplexing. I love our baby. Black, white, purple, green – color doesn’t mean a thing in regards to our joy in raising this little one. Others may disagree. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I truly do not care what anyone else thinks.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Psalm 139:16

We are facing more challenges.


International adoption is tough. Every time we get past one hurdle, it seems to only clear our vision enough to see the next one looming behind it. There are many hurdles that I don’t like posting in a public forum. We are facing new ones now.

But these road blocks are just an illusion. Here are the facts: God is in control. He has a perfect plan. He numbered our days before we even existed (see Psalm 139:16)… Those numbered days include those ticking at the top of our blog, counting how long we will wait to see our sweet baby. He planned this, and He is loving. We aren’t spiraling out of control. We are inside of His will.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bringing Home Baby

If you think biological children have a stronger right to their parents' hearts, you are wrong.

If you think that the love of an adoptive parent for their child could never match the kind of love that parents have for the babies who carry their genes, you have another thing coming.

I've spent all of 15 minutes skipping around the Loving Leah blog because, as I posted yesterday, they had some killer Ugandan travel tips. I clicked away from their travel tips to a more current post, and my heart stopped.

There was their precious son, adopted from Uganda, and my heart leapt from my chest. Adoption is just such an indescribable miracle, and to see the beauty of it in pictures makes our own coming miracle feel just a little closer.  I was so shocked by my emotional reaction. Their little boy was so beautiful, and so at home having his two year old birthday party and playing with his friends.  It made me so utterly happy that I started laughing out loud... until I was sobbing. The kind of sob where you can't breath or talk, but are smiling and laughing at the same time.  (The only other time I've done this is when I was eight months pregnant and saw a couple bring home their newborn for the first time on "Bringing Home Baby.") There is something magical about bringing a sweet child into your family.

Our turn is getting closer!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ugandan Travel Tidbits

During the period of uncertainty surrounding Ugandan adoption, I guarded my heart by no longer thinking about travel plans. But, as the Wayne's World clip in my previous post said, "GAME ON!"

A friend left me a comment linking to an awesome post about what to pack.

I also found a chart of annual Ugandan weather. I saved it, converted celcius to farenheit, deleted some useless columns before realizing that I didn't save the reference of where I found it. Sorry. It sort of runs off of the page when I post it, but if you double click the chart, you can see the entire thing.  (And please note that September/October weather, which is when we'll be there, is insanely nice, even if we don't have air conditioning. Woohoo!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Game On!

Warning: This may be my most ridiculous adoption post ever. 

Uganda has had it's share of "on and off" lately regarding the adoption process.  Brad has been yelling "game on" every time we get good adoption news for the past couple of months, and I wasn't quite sure why.  After our last round of bad-news-turned-good, he finally told me about this clip from Wayne's World.  It cracked me up.  What a visual of the process!!  I hope that from here on out, we'll have a lot more "game on" and a lot less cars & Stacy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Unprepared

I often write posts in advance.
I wrote this post before I heard that our expected travel date is perhaps August/September.  As much as we have prayed for an earlier date, I have to admit that an extra couple of months helps with preparation and finances. I don't know what our plans will be for Caroline since my school teacher mom can't keep her outside of the summer... but God has worked everything else out perfectly so far.  So below is the post I wrote in a panic thinking we may still leave in June; clearly God answers our prayers and fear sometimes before we even know it!
--------------------------------

Can I be honest for a moment?

I feel slightly paralyzed with fear. What an outrageous and arrogant feeling for me to have! After all, God has moved mountains to bring us closer to holding the child whom we love. I have cried over this baby and longed for this baby. I tried to prepare my heart during these painful stalls in the adoption process to hold on for a long wait.

And where did shielding my heart get me? Here. Yes, amazed at God’s grace because the wait was not long at all, but also unprepared for the blessings that will fall on us MUCH sooner than later!

Unprepared. I can’t stop thinking about that word. All I was prepared for was a WAIT. (Serves me right for not practically believing that God can move & FAST, haha!)

So now, I can’t stop wondering how we will get ready. My mind is racing. Travel preparation, infant car seats, a nursery, clothes, adoption payments coming at us faster than we can get out a calculator. Most of the things we need to do to get ready will have to wait until we get a referral and know more about our child.

My stomach turns in knots… until I think about the first moment that I held Caroline. That moment was peace. And I didn’t care that her bed wasn’t set up yet at home. I didn’t wonder how difficult it would be to adjust our budget to a family of 3 instead of 2. I felt nothing but joy and love.

I can close my eyes and imagine wrapping my arms around our second child. And I feel peace. And joy. And unbelievable, undeniable, absolute LOVE. A shadowy reflection of the bigger love God feels for me, and for our new baby. He will take care of us.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cows

Adoption is doing weird things to me.  Transracial adoption is apparently making me plain nuts. Let me explain.

As we leave our neighborhood every day, we pass a field of cows.  Caroline loves to yell, "thanks for the milk, cows!"  Sometimes she yells, "Look, baby cows!"

A couple of days ago, I saw a couple of those baby cows she loves so much. They were running. It was two of them, and they looked like a couple of children trying to catch up with their mom.  One was black, and the other was white. And I got sentimental. And I cried.

Do I think that my two children are going to look like this together? (haha, I don't think so!) Like I said, I am going nuts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On The List!

As of Monday April 19, we are now officially on our babies' home's waiting list for a referral.  WAAAAAHHH HOOOO!!!

When I told Brad the news on Monday afternoon, he said, "do you mean that someone in Africa knows our name?"  Isn't that a funny thought!? The world is shrinking on us.  It IS a small world after all!

And shouldn't it be? We serve a God so big that the Earth is like a speck of dust. He has loved our tiny little selves so much that we are called His children, even though we are insignificant!  If our loving Father thinks that this is a small world, then I guess it is fitting that Africans are our neighbor and that, specifically, a Ugandan is our sweet baby!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It
(gasp)
is
(gasp)
starting to feel
(hyperventilate)
REAL!!!!

This is really happening! Our adoption process is really moving!

Soon, there will be travel plans. Immunizations. Expenses. Suitcases. Bittersweet goodbyes to our precious Caroline. 

Soon, there will be a long plane ride. Africa. Dust, boda bodas, heat, beauty... and an orphanage.

Soon, there will be tiny hands and soft cheeks that I won't be able to stop kissing. Hair that I have no idea how to manage. A tiny voice that I have cried to hear.

Soon, there will be at least a month in Uganda, petitioning judges and embassies, loving a baby, and forever reconsidering the American way of life.

Soon, we will touch ground in an American airport to be reunited with friends and family who prayed with us for this.  Who love this baby we will bring home to them. Who understand that God planned us for each other before we even existed.

Soon, we will no longer have "a child." We will have children. Siblings. Our new little one will have a big sister who I guarantee will love even more than she bosses. They will be friends. And we will be blessed.  Two children. Twice the love, twice the tantrums, twice the laughter, twice the work, twice the joy.

God, is this real!?!?!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Memorial Box

I read the blog of a lady who writes "Memorial Box Mondays."  She uses Mondays to tell stories about times when God moved mightily in her life.  It makes me smile to think that some day, as I tuck our sweet second child in bed, I can tell my own memorial box story about the day we found out that we could go to Uganda to get him/her.  I'll tell our little one how I was too scared to get excited, fearing that my heart may break if I never held him/her in my arms.  "And yet," I'll say, "here you are, at home with me.  So always remember that God is working. Even when you're scared. Even when you don't know if you have enough faith. God is making a way."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

News & News & News

Wow!!!
I picked a heck of a week or two to totally fall away from blogging. I have a million valid reasons for that, but they aren't NEARLY as fun to talk about as OUR ADOPTION NEWS!!! A LOT of good has happened. 

First and foremost, UGANDAN ADOPTION IS BACK ON!! I have to admit that I am waiting to get fully excited until we hear that someone has successfully made it through the process.  Our agency, Lifeline, started an incredible movement among Congressmen that resulted in the US State Department making changes that will cause the US Embassy in Kampala to grant needed visas.  (shew, long sentence!)

Also this week, Brad and I recieved immigration clearance allowing us personally to bring a child home from Uganda. This HUGE step means that in the next few days we will be sending paperwork to the babies' home in Uganda and be on the waiting list to receive a referral SOON!  If you don't know, a referral means that we will hold a picture of our sweet baby in hand, and learn whatever information they have to tell us about our little sweet one.

I may be wrong, but I BELIEVE that a referral is likely to come within a month or two, and that it is possible to travel not long after recieving a referral. If you know me well, you know that it was always our prayer to travel in the summer so Caroline can stay with my schoolteacher mom.  I had nearly given up on that prayer, and now I am floored to see that it is still well within the realm of possibility.  Isn't God ALWAYS far sweeter and more powerful than we ever give Him credit for?

This news is all so good that I almost have trouble believing and wrapping my brain around it. On one hand, I always had faith that God would work things out -- I just didn't think it would be in EXACTLY the way that I hoped! I figured it'd be through some terribly difficult journey of faith, with many changes in country and circumstances.  And I knew that, in the end, I'd be thankful for what God brought us through. But I never considered that He might bring us through a picture-book fairy-tale!

Will you join me in a continued prayer for God to work out His loving plans for all of the children and families involved in the Ugandan adopton proceedings? We are floored by His grace. So floored, in fact, that it may take me a few days to comprehend how REAL this amazing situation is, stand up, and scream to the top of my lungs with joy!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Husband Did This!

I guess I'm all about videos this week.  This one is fitting especially because my sweet husband Brad and his friend made it, and it is Brad's 30th birthday!!!  (HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRAD!!!)  I love this video.  There is nothing like seeing how Christ changes lives.  As you'll hear in the song on the video, Jesus is "something beautiful!!"

Testimonies from Saint James on Vimeo.

Monday, April 5, 2010

All the Single Ladies

Hilarious. And has gone viral, made some major news networks, and put at least a minor spotlight on adoption.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

He Is Risen!

Before Jesus' death, loving God felt like helplessly chasing perfection.
Kill a perfect lamb to obtain momentary forgiveness and access to God,
knowing that later, you'll have to do it again.
A sacrifice must cover every sin.

It broke God's heart, but it was justice.
It was necessary since He cannot be in the presence of impurity.

So He fixed it.
He loved us.
So He came to die for us.
HE became the perfect & final sacrifice.
He made us pure.
He imposed Jesus' sweet Holiness onto us.
Then, on the third day, He gloriously rose from the dead.
Three, the Jewish number of perfection.
Three days dead.
And then He rises to conquer death.
He conquers death, and sickness, and poverty, and all of those things that are the result of a world eaten up in sin.

We cannot see the full results yet.
But we have faith...
"Take heart, for I have overcome the world."

And He has.
Believe it.
On Easter, and on every day,
CELEBRATE IT.
What is your problem?
He has overcome it.
He has overcome it all.
He has conquered the world.

And we are all conquerers through Him who loves us indescribably.
If you cannot fathom the depths of His love for you,
don't worry.
They are unfathomable.
Endless.
If the incredible, all-powerfull, God-over-all LOVES you endlessly,
what do you have to fear?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Something is Better than Nothing

When I was in fifth grade, I had an incredible teacher who treated me as if I were brilliant. She tutored me one on one in all of my strong areas to make sure that I was learning at a faster pace than the rest of the class, and she truly believed that I had boundless potential. That year, I excelled.

When I was in sixth grade, I had a math teacher who thought I was an idiot. On our first day, she tested our prior knowledge by handing out a quiz that was sloppily handwritten and photocopied, and I couldn’t differentiate commas from decimals. In panic, I bombed the quiz, and my teacher believed from that day forward that I did not belong in an accelerated math. By the end of the year, I hated the subject and could no longer see that I did have potential in that area.

Soon, Brad and I will be entering the life of a sweet fifth or sixth grade boy. I wonder… can we be the ones who see his potential and help him fulfill it? After his years of bouncing through the foster care system, I pray that he can learn to feel worthy of love. And I pray that we can help in that process, rather than add to his pain.

Sometimes I wonder if what we are doing is wise. How will he feel to be “befriended” by a family who is in the process of adopting another child? Will he wonder why he isn’t the one we are currently adopting? Will we only add to his string of disappointments in life?

We’ve done a little homework regarding the lives of children in group foster care facilities. Many children get weekend passes to visit their living relatives or prior foster parents. It is at least a glimpse at stability and family for these orphans. But other children have absolutely no one to visit. The group home all but empties, except for those children with nowhere to go. No one is willing to come pick them up and spend time with them.

And so we’ve decided that the risk is worth it. It pains me that we are not immediately offering the unconditional, open-armed love of parents. Who knows what God’s will is for us or for him? We cannot offer him all that he should have, but we would rather show this sweet child the flawed and incomplete love of a friend than not be in his life at all. I pray that God let us help him instead of hurt him.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Waiting Room

A current picture of our adoption. :)

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27:14

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord.
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me."
Micah 7:7