Yesterday did not start off well. I woke up panicking about work, and that quickly turned into broken-heartedness about the kids. The lack of information and progress paralyzes me at times. It comes out of nowhere like a punch to the gut. Yesterday was one of those days. On our dog walk, we wrestled with God – begging him show us that he’s working and hasn’t forgotten about us.
During the afternoon, we got a pleasant email – new pictures! It’s not quite what we wanted, but it was something. It makes such a difference to see another picture of them, growing, changing – reminding us that they really are out there and that the waiting is much more painful for them. Carolyn looks skinny so I hope they are feeding her well. She may just be at that age where kids are skinny. She’s as adorable-looking as ever with her little off balance stance and smirk. She’s always wearing a dress. I wonder if it’s because she likes dresses or maybe because all the girls wear dresses? Freddy is ridiculously cute with his little chub cheeks. He’s got a little smirk on his face this time too and is starting to look like a little man. (Hopefully we will meet him before he actually IS a man…)
I don’t think that our desperate prayers necessarily changed the course of events. I can’t even begin to know how God works, but I do know that the photos are from him. A small glimpse of his grace. A reminder that he is here and is fighting this battle on our behalf.
Taking a ten minute break from the grind. Although this should be an easy week since everyone’s still on vacation, I still need to bill 8.2 hours every day in order to make my minimum. Nevertheless, my brain needs a breather.
Christmas came and went. It was about how we expected – not fabulous, not terrible. The Lord did amazing work in our family, and we had some great conversations, so for that, I am thankful. However, as of today, I am contemplating swearing off holidays forever – one thing Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to have right. When I asked DH what he wanted for Christmas last week, he said "the 27th." So, we made it.
I have many blog posts running through my head today, but they all require deep thought, of which I am not capable today.
We had a fabulous day yesterday at home filled with sleeping in, movies, organizing the closet and three delicious meals (pancakes for breakfast, BALTs – bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato – for lunch, roast chicken, brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes for dinner). It was a much needed day of rest.
The children were sorely missed this weekend. They came up often in conversation, and we received some nice gifts for them. It was hard to celebrate knowing that they are in an orphanage across the world. Hoping for an update in the new year…
I am reflecting this week on the relationship between Christmas and adoption. Our Christmas card featured Galatians 4:4-6, which states:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-6 ESV (emphasis mine))
The birth of Jesus is directly related to God’s adoption plan. We could not be adopted by God without the birth of Jesus. Why does it matter that we were adopted? It matters because through adoption, we become heirs (And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:7 ESV)). As an heir, we get the perks of being a child of God – namely, the Holy Spirit, eternal security, and a seat in the throne room to rule over the earth (our inheritance). Pretty sweet. Even more, we get the right to call God, our father – we are daughters and sons of the most high God of the universe.
I heard once an adoptive father tell of explaining to his son that the adoption was permanent. There was no distinction between the adopted child and the other biological children. Children are not loved by their parents because they earned it. Ask any new mom what her child did to earn her love, and she will look at you like you have three heads (only partly due to sleep-deprivation). Parents love their children because they are their children. Likewise, God loves us, not because of anything we did or any value we bring to the table, but just because we are his children. But, we are only his children through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.
This week, I will celebrate my brother’s birth, which allowed me to enter into the holy family of God as a permanent member. Merry Christmas!
So why am I blogging this journey? It’s a question I ask myself a lot these days. It does seem terribly self-involved and not really in line with my personality. So, here are the four reasons (in no particular order).
1. I love other people’s blogs. I read them every day and find tremendous joy from hearing the stories of others. While I realize that it’s a little silly, I follow the stories of people and learn from their experiences. I started reading blogs when we began struggling through infertility. I found a community of other people having similar experiences as I was, and it was a great comfort. It gave me opportunities to laugh and cry at the absurdity of it all in a way I couldn’t do with my friends and family who couldn’t really understand exactly what I was going through. I mourned with the losses of others and rejoiced at their good news. Now, I follow adoption blogs.
2. I want to remember this time. I want a journal of the thoughts, feelings, memories of this time. I want to be able to really tell the kids what was going on with me and how I felt as I prepared for their arrival.
3. I want to keep folks updated on the process. I know that people want to know what’s going on, but don’t always want to ask. I also hope to share photos and stories of when we bring the kids home.
4. Finally, my new year’s resolution for 2012 is to live out loud. I want to fight against my natural tendency to want to keep everything private and only share what I think will make me look good. It’s sinful and dishonest. I am a real person with real struggles and failings, and if anyone thinks I have it all together, then I apologize for lying to you. I want more honesty in my life. The purpose of life is to glorify God, not myself, and I am hoping to put that in practice.
So we drove to St. Louis late last night to surprise my brother-in-law for his 40th birthday. It was fun to hit the road and spend time talking about our 1 year, 5 year, 10 year (and I think 100 year came up) plan. We’ve learned that making plans is really quite silly, but it is fun to think about what the future might hold. Obviously in 1 year, we hope that the children will be home. It’s so ridiculously fun to imagine what next Christmas will look like (I can promise that traveling will not be involved!). Past that, we really don’t know where we want to be re jobs, school, where we live.
We spent a good portion of the drive talking about our “mission.” We listened to an old Tim Keller sermon entitled Missions. He explained that we are all born to seek a mission. When we are young, we all dream about what we want to be when we grow up, and it usually is a big idea with a big outward purpose (i.e. a fireman to save people; a teacher to help kids, etc.). As we age, we tend to turn our mission inward. We start living only for ourselves. Keller proposes that a self-focused mission will starve out our joy.
We talked a lot about what our mission is and will be on our drive. We don’t have an answer yet, but it certainly got us thinking. It’s a hard question – trying to line up our passions with our talents and with the biblical calling to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19).
So, the blog’s about to go public. I have 100 Christmas cards going out this weekend with the blog on it, so I should expect at lease 5 people to check it out. It’s a little nerve-wracking to think that people will be reading these thoughts. It does help me to feel less crazy since right now it’s just me talking to myself. DH really needs to spruce up the blog to make it a little more fun! That will be on his weekend to do list for sure.
I wish I had an update for you. I really don’t. We pester our agency every so often, and they quickly respond with no actual information. Per the last email, this is what they said:
– 20 couples have accepted a Congo referral, but are waiting to travel
– 9 couples awaiting the initial “hearing” results
– 15 couples had their hearing in the last 30 days but are waiting on translations
– 25 couples came out of court in the last 60 days
Is this helpful? Not really. I guess if the numbers were 0 that would be informative. Otherwise, it’s not. These emails almost make me more frustrated. I am really not good at not knowing what’s going on. Give me a timetable. A checklist of things that have to happen and a mark of where we are. Seriously, what is going on right now? How can no one know? Someone must know….so tell me! (That was a little glimpse into my brain.) But, we walk by faith and not by sight. All the information in the world won’t bring them home any faster. We know that God has called us, and that should be enough to give us faith and peace. I am so weak. My flesh cries for more!
So, for now. We wait. And wait.
In the meantime, Christmas is upon us with all its joys, stress and chocolate. Hard to believe another year has gone by. I’m looking forward to 2012. I”ll have to do some posts on lessons from 2011 and goals for 2012. I already have a lot of thoughts on those topics.
Christmas is in the air and all around us. I was singing to Frosty this morning in the car. Christmas is one of the hardest times of the year for most people. With all snobbery intended, I think Christmas is 100% fun and happy for only those who have not yet suffered (emphasis on yet). Christmas is a time we remember those who have gone before us, a time when families pressure us to visit and love them despite their utter unloveableness, a time where we realize that we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to this year, a time we realize that the (spouse, child, job, health) we prayed would be here by now, is not. Why does Christmas bring about such anxiety, depression, loneliness, heartache?
One answer is that our expectations are wrong – we are sold a false sense of joy and excitement by commercials and movies; that Christmas is just another day like any other. I think that the longing and feeling of unrest comes from a different place and is entirely appropriate. Christmas is a day that brings hope – a Savior being born – God incarnate (John 1:14), born to save men from their sins (Matthew 1:21). On Christmas we remember this miracle, but we also see that the plan is not yet complete. We wake up and the world seems the same – poverty, famine, sickness, death, violence. We are reminded that this is not our home (2 Cor 5:8). We are strangers in this strange dark land wandering (Exo 2:22), trying to find the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13).
Jesus enters this broken world full of hopelessness and offers hope – today is born a savior, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11) (can’t help but hear Linus as I write that). The hope is real and present. TODAY you can be saved by him. His work is finished (John 19:30). The world is net yet redeemed, but it will be. You can be redeemed today. For those of us who are already, we can remember the beauty and wonder of that Christmas day so long ago; rejoice in the assurance that Jesus has saved us; and long for the day when we shall rejoice in his appearing (2 Tim 4:8).
If Christmas leaves me unsettled, that’s ok. Our hope and delight is not in this world. No amount of warm fires, hot chocolate, gifts, family unity and world peace will be able to overcome the longing in my soul to be united in full fellowship with my Savior.