Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Further Look at Redemption

November is National Adoption Awareness Month!

When I asked my friends in the adoption community to share their "before" and "after" photos of their China treasures, the response was overwhelming!  Too much for one post, so here you can see yet more of God's abundant love at work through the joy of family!

You cannot deny that He works in and through the His institution of family to redeem these little ones.  What will YOUR role be in working among the least of these?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Waiting for the Harvest

This time last year, we were rejoicing over the arrival of our "soft LOA" and eagerly anticipating the arrival of the "hard LOA" at our agency.  It was a difficult period of waiting.  Cities were shut down for a week due to major conferences and important Chinese holidays were looming with yet more government shutdowns.  The waiting was difficult.  It was painful.  I shed many tears during that wait.  I wrote so many posts lamenting this wait.  So many struggles, so many worries and fears, so many mathematical equations went into that long, painful wait.  The wait for the LOA that arrived safely to our agency last year on November 11, 2014 and then to our home two days later.  You can read my building anticipation and struggles with the wait here, here, here, here, here, and here.  To say it as an emotional week last year would also be the understatement of the year.  It was emotional and hard and scary.  Looking back on it has been powerful for me this year.  God showed up in big ways throughout that wait.  Not just in the process of our adoption, but also in His process of refining me.

This year it seems no different.  I find myself waiting again, but the waiting is different.  This year the waiting is a different set of challenges....waiting for speech to develop, communication to improve, temper tantrums to abate, for fears around food to subside, for relationships and trust to run deeper.  I'm waiting for children to grasp concepts in school, for attitudes to change, for connections to be made, for knees to be bowed.  The waiting, while different from "the great LOA wait" of last year, is still hard....just in its own unique set of ways. 

What makes waiting so hard?  Waiting is hard simply due to the fact that I have absolutely no control over it.  I cannot control the waiting.  I cannot control the time table.  I don't even have the privilege to know the time table.  Waiting is hard, no matter what you are waiting for....perhaps a longed for child, a prayed over soul mate, an answer to prayer, or the salvation of a loved one, but let's be honest, waiting is hard even in less spiritual ways.  Sometimes it is hard to wait for our turn to speak, to get that needed cup of coffee, to eat that promised piece of chocolate cake, to open the first gift Christmas morning.  We don't want to wait in line or get stuck in traffic, we don't want to wait for the internet page to load or the computer to reboot.  We can't wait to eat the cookie so we munch on the dough.  Waiting is hard for humans!

My waiting this year is no different from my waiting last year in this: I cannot control my wait.  I cannot control the circumstances around my wait.  I can, however, control my response to the wait.  I can grumble and complain.  I can bemoan the lack of progress I see in certain areas, the failure to see any type of movement.  I can focus in on how the wait is negatively impacting me or causing me a certain level of inconvenience, or I can choose to control my attitude and place my focus on the Lord during the wait.  I can thank Him for the waiting and praise Him for the character He is developing in and through me as a result of the wait.  I've discovered that for me personally, I need to do several things in this time of waiting to keep my attitude in check.  First, I have to keep an attitude of praise.  No, waiting is not my first choice, but ultimately, that isn't up to me and I can't change it.  I can praise God for being the supreme Lord of my life and ordaining things to happen precisely as He sees fit according to His plan.  Second, I need to ward off my self-pity and temptation to complain by immersing myself in His truth.  I can do this no other way than by spending quality time in His word, seeking His character and finding for myself His worthiness for me to rest patiently during a time of waiting.  Third, I have to ensure I stop manipulating circumstances to get things to line up according to my plan, rather than His.  I can't force it to happen.  Lastly, I need to fully rely on Him and accept the time of waiting expectantly--expectantly waiting to see Him glorified and proclaimed in and through the wait.

We plant a garden in our backyard each year.  It is very small right now as we don't have a lot of space to have anything too expansive.  Some day we hope to have more land and a larger area to grow more things.  Each spring, as we purchase our plants and seeds and begin the process of planting that garden we can feel our mouths begin to water over the thought of that first red tomato or perfectly ripened cucumber gracing our dinner table.  We want that garden to grow and to grow quickly, but that isn't how God designed it.  We have to plant it just so in perfectly fertile soil so that the plant may take root and become strong and established in its new space.  We have to water it and weed the garden and nurture the plants to help them grow.  In the case of my cucumber vines it also involves a bit of pruning and redirecting to ensure it grows exactly where I want it and not over the top of my green beans.  The pruning is difficult and sometimes yes, a bit painful, but all the while, growth is occurring.  And we wait.  We wait for that perfect harvest to come, to watch those little baby plants transform before our eyes, to see the fruit of our labor.  As we dig into the deep red flesh of that first tomato that is still warm from the sun on the vine, the waiting was entirely worth it.

We aren't much different from that tomato plant and the circumstances of our wait aren't much different either.  Our wait is God ordained.  He's allowing time for our roots to grow deeper and more established.  He's building our character and pruning us to be more like Him.  He's preparing us for the time of Harvest, for His miraculous return, when His glory will be fully known to every tribe and nation on earth.

Waiting is hard.  Waiting is God's attempt to shape me into someone more like Him.  Waiting gives birth to things far greater than what we could fathom or understand.  Waiting provides yet more opportunity for us to bring Him glory.

So yes, a year later and I find myself still waiting--waiting on different things, but still waiting.  This year I choose to rejoice in the wait and the glorious work it means He is doing in me.  I will wait expectantly for the harvest.

"And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we
will reap, if we do not give up."
~Galatians 6:9~

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pictures of Redemption {Orphan Sunday}

My friends, adoption is redemption.  It's costly,
exhausting, expensive, and outrageous.  Buying back lives
costs so much.  When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him."
~ Derek Loux(via Lifesong for Orphans)~

Today is Orphan Sunday.  November is national adoption awareness month.  We are not all called, personally, to adopt, but we are all called to participate in the care of orphans.  How can we do that?  Pray, give, go, support!  Pray for those in the process, support them financially in their endeavor to adopt, follow the prompting on your heart and GO, or provide moral support for families who have adopted.

Hannah was placed into our arms in a stark government building.  She is transforming before our eyes.  Redemption that only God can accomplish.

Our referral photo of Hannah

Adoption Day: January 2015
Home eight months: October 2015

It is remarkable to see how these precious ones change.  And so, I thought you might want to see others.  It isn't just Hannah who changes.  I asked my friends in the adoption community to share their treasures with me...their photos of redemption.  The response was overwhelming!  I hope you enjoy....







Whether home a month, a year, or several years, adoption changes things.  Adoption grants us a front row seat to His redemption at work.  Beauty from ashes.  What a gift!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Our Village {Nine Months Home}

Nine months since we stepped our toes off our flight from China back into the United States with Hannah strapped snuggly in her Ergo carrier.  There is much to reflect on.  So much has happened these past nine months.  More than I ever deserved and God has heaped grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy on me. 

We couldn't have gotten through these first nine months home without you....our village.  You have blessed us in ways you simply will never fully understand (unless you walk the road of adoption one day yourself).  We can never repay you and that is the beauty of it...our village doesn't want or expect repayment.  They just simply give.  With joy and abundant sacrifice.  You just give and you keep on giving.

I will be totally honest.  Life with four kids consumes me.  I am not the friend to you that I once was.  I don't return your phone calls.  You get texts from me at odd hours.  Sometimes I respond to e-mail, sometimes I mean to and don't, sometimes I never even actually read your e-mail because it gets overlooked and slips from my mind.  I can't commit to much.  Spur of the moment is impossible.  Asking me to come something often means you are not only inviting me, but also my sweet little Asian sidekick, but you don't care.  You invite me because you want to see me.  You check on me and ask good questions.  You brought me meals through post adoption adjustment and then again through two surgeries.  You pray for my sanity--daily.  When you ask how things are going you want more than just the "fine" that is so easy to give.  You really want to know and you really listen.  You care about speech therapy and how hard it is.  You care about insurance and deductibles and medical bills.  You ask about the big kids and invite them to come play, even though you know that invitation probably translates into babysitting for you because I most likely won't be able to stay.  You still sit with me at church even though I have a distracting (and loud) toddler in my lap.  You don't judge the behavior of my children and encourage me, rather than offering parenting tips or suggestions.  You watch the big kids for appointment after appointment after appointment.  You offer breaks and any creative ideas you might have to grant us respite.

You are genuine.  You are the embodiment of Christ and for you, we will be forever thankful.  You are His hands and feet to us and your compassion seems to never run dry.  You teach us about how to love and love well.  You teach us about how to serve and serve with joy and tremendous sacrifice.  You are our village. 

Nine months home, village.  We wouldn't be here without His grace and your effectual prayers.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cousins through Grace

Adoption is beautiful.  These two?  Cousins by chance?  No.  Cousins by God's gracious design through the gift of adoption.
Cousins...through His perfect plan.
A gift of His amazing grace.