Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas Performances

Our Christmas was stuffed full with opportunities for our little ones to be on stage. Between a bi-lingual service at church where Darla & Hudson got to be an angel & nativity donkey, a Christmas Eve service where they got to sing with their class,

and a Christmas pageant encore at my parent's house Christmas night with cousins... they are becoming familiar with the lights & cameras. When Darla & Hudson's Sunday School class rehearsed for Christmas Eve I expected them to take their cues from all the older kids performing. Instead, Darla marched center stage, grabbed a mike stand, and belted out Away in a Manger for a laughing audience of parents. (My siblings & parents were pointing at me while laughing... I can never escape the "She is SO her mother!" comments when Darla steals the show.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Awhile back I believed the Lord was using the journey of Moses to teach me about this adoption journey we are on. I was recognizing that the Promised Land is embarrassingly close to Egypt and yet it took the Israelites 40 years to make the trek. I said that I believe one of the reasons it took so long (aside from the obvious disobedience) was because God had more to teach them than how to get from point A to point B; He established Himself as their provider, their leader, their King. He taught them how to be a people group, His chosen. He softened their hearts and they learned to hear His voice. I acknowledged that as we pursue adopting God has more to teach us than just a quick add-on to our family.

That is ringing true this week. When we decided to put an application in to adopt we were open to any type of adoption from any country. Ultimately we narrowed it down to Ethiopia because we loved what we learned about it as a country, as a people, and we knew it was where Lance & Jasmine were going to adopt from. We liked that we could all go through the same agency and process together. We've prayed for God to open and close doors and move us in the direction best for our family. We've hit a lot of roadblocks financially, which has been frustrating. At the same time I have felt like God would make the next phase clear when we needed to take the next step.

This past week I was sicker than I've been in probably a couple years; with a nasty head cold and an infected wisdom tooth that knocked me flat for the week. As I sucked on ice chips on the couch for some sleepless nights I did some praying & thinking. I remembered that we ruled out getting a foster license because 1. We didn't want a revolving door in our home. We want to adopt, not foster. 2. The state requires a lot of training and after 8 years at a job where S. was busy evenings and weekends, we couldn't start to think about adding more evening commitments to our plate.

Sitting on the couch I realized our situation has changed quite a bit in past months. It's no longer overwhelming to go through foster training. We still don't want a revolving door but we are patient enough to wait for a child who is legally free to adopt. As I started thinking through that option I prayed that God would give S. and I the same mind. He's been excited about Ethiopia and I wondered what his response would be to my out of the blue idea.

As I began sharing my thoughts with S. he was immediately on board. In fact, as I talked it out it started making more sense than it did in my head. S. was the one that said, "I know we both have a heart for the fatherless, regardless of the country- but we definitely have had a lot of experience with kids having rough starts in life here in the U.S."

I inquired about making a detour and applying for domestic adoption. We found that instead of waiting for more funds...we already have what we need! What our adoption jar holds is enough for the whole adoption! We can put all our fund raising efforts toward Lance & Jasmine's adoption. Ironically, this week we were given 2 monetary gifts to put towards one of a few needs; one of the needs being adoption. I added it up and told S., "With these 2 checks we pretty much have what we need to send in our Ethiopia packet. What do you think?" Simultaneously we looked at each other and shook our heads. We both felt like money aside, U.S. adoption is what we want to do. By the time S. left for work this morning I was downright giddy.

All that being said, we covet your prayers as we meander through the wilderness. Our next step is adjusting our application and setting a time for a home study. We'll also be enrolling in DSHS classes. Where an Ethiopian baby would face challenges culturally and may face health problems due to poverty (lice, scabies, malnutrition, etc) many babies in U.S. foster care have faced neglect, abuse, or drug exposure. It's all daunting and we aren't completely naive about the possible challenges. Today we are simply thankful for a faithful God who accepts us full of bugs, drugs, beat up and needing Him.

5 stockings

Wow. I have 3 kids. I've had 3 for a year and a half now so the surprise of it should be over. Yet I think because we had all of them in under 4 years it has taken awhile to sink in. 95% of the time it feels normal but every once in awhile I step outside myself and think "am I really putting toothpaste on 3 little toothbrushes?" Or I set the table and think "We really need 5 forks, huh?" Now I know some families (ahem...Diacogiannis') will laugh at this because to them anything less than ten is 'a quiet night'.
When I pulled stockings out this month it hit me fresh as I hung one, two, three, four, five stockings. Five Christmases ago there were only 2 stockings and we were hoping Darla would be born 'any day' (yeah right...January 7 is hardly a Christmas baby). Now there are 5 proud stockings and if you notice, there's room for another one or two if we all scoot over a bit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

some crazy lovin'

Jews talking about how Jesus can’t be the Christ; “However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.” John 7:25-27

I read this and think, “Idiots! Here are the Jewish leaders, people who know Scripture inside and out and they still miss it!” It’s easy to look at the New Testament and wonder what the hold up was for these stuck-up Pharisees. They were waiting and anticipating a Savior, they looked like they had it together, they seemed so…ready. But they clung to pre-conceived ideas of what it all should look like. Their expectation involved less life-changing forgiveness and more kicking Roman butt. They wanted it their way and they wanted it to meet what they perceived their needs to be. They did not want it to be uncomfortable or to involve personal change that might rock their world. Ultimately they wanted it to fit into their nice, neat, explainable religion. Jesus didn’t “fit” and they ditched out.

It’s easy to shake my head. “Tsk, tsk ignorant religious people”, and then turn back to my own nice, neat, explainable religion. Right? As I finish the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan this month I keep thinking about how we often do what the Pharisees did; reduce God to a manageable religion that doesn’t interfere with our own comfort. “The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That’s for the “radicals” who are “unbalanced” and who go “overboard”. Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.” Gulp.

I’m laughing (probably out of conviction) by the time I read Chan saying, “Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong.” Jesus called the Pharisees “white washed tombs” meaning they looked "right" on the outside but their insides were just as messy as Joe-Leprosy.

The Pharisees could control their lists. They knew what to expect on the Sabbath. I like to reduce my own life to lists: a checklist involving quiet time (read a chapter…check), giving (change in the offering bucket…check), fellowship (small group attendance…check), reaching out (fed homeless soup…check). Sounds good, noble, even balanced. I must be close to God now, right?

I am struck as I study the book of John that the very thing the Pharisees thought would prepare them for the Christ actually drove them away from Him. They thought they knew it all but it made them unwilling to change. “Sorry, we have it figured out and no way could the Messiah be from Joe-Joseph over in Nazareth.”

As I’m immersed in the life of Jesus I’m realizing that He doesn’t once claim to be balanced or manageable. Not only that but He calls us ALL to be “extreme” “radical” in our faith. That is what faith in Him is. It isn’t having our own ducks in a row; it’s following Him regardless of the cost. We need to stop looking at believers that inspire us, thinking only; “wish I could be like that” and start thinking; “just wait until my faith has increased to that!” “Lord, be real to me like that!”

I have a tiny understanding of what it means to have crazy love. At eighteen I tried my darndest to be rational and safe (to grow up, get a college degree, and achieve ‘balance’). Yet this twenty year old just insisted that I fall in love with him and follow him. What could I do? I’ll tell you what I did. I pledged my life to him and in my vows said “Wherever thou goest, I will go.” I smiled as I joined into his financial debt. I put aside a semester of college and worked at a lousy hotel so I’d never have to watch my love leave at night again. I ran out of money with him, stayed up late with him, dreamed big with him, ate chocolate chip mint ice cream and skied the mountains with him. Ahhh…it was worth it. I got something so much more lasting than if I had played it safe and practical or if I had thrown it all away on parties and “college life”.

How much more worth it is it to fall in love and follow with abandon my Savior? He doesn’t have debt- he has cattle on a thousand hills. I don’t even have to tell Him my dreams; he planted them in me. He is the best love story ever and it’s the one with a guaranteed happily ever after. Why would I ever succumb to urges that demean zeal and passion for Him? Why would I ever be half-assed in such a pursuit? I’ll sacrifice comfort. I’ll sacrifice knowing what’s going down on the Sabbath. I want to be willing to change. Don’t let me get set in my ways thinking I have it all figured out. I want a paradigm shift if it means shifting to the Truth. And much like following my husband-love, I know that when I say “I’m all in!” I’m in for a ride. So. Worth. It.