Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankfulness should equal action

As we approach the upcoming holiday, I eagerly look forward to spending time with (most) family members and look forward to all the good food that will be laid out in front of us.  You can scan the Internet and see all the stuff that others are thankful for then scan the black Friday ads to see where all the best sales and utter chaos will be.  You can save lots of money if you spend lots of money on more stuff.  All this stuff is good and all, but it makes my wife and I feel so empty, shallow, and full of questions when we look around our house.  Sure we want to raise our daughters to be thankful for what we have and appreciate what God has blessed us with, but it's just stuff.  We don't want to seem ungrateful for Christmas presents, big meals, and family gatherings, but that is not why we are here. 

Just last night our church had our annual Thanksgiving meal as a church body.  As I stood in the door and looked around, sadly I knew most everyone there.  There were a few guests, but not many.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good meal and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, but that meal last night could have been so much more.  Instead of eating last night, 6 of us packed up about 24 boxes of food to take and deliver to needy families in the community.  I am not patting us on the back for doing that, but it felt great to go out to these houses and bless them with food and a offer prayer for the family.  Each house we went to, and it only took 4 before we were out of boxes, was so welcoming and appreciative.  Three words kept popping into my head all weekend, "The least, the last and the lost."  It is what my preacher says and then I heard it in a podcast from Kay Warren.  I have written before about the least, the last and the lost with regards to orphans and adoption, but these folks are all around us.  One family we visited lived in a rough house in a rough area of town.  There were 4 adults and 9 children living there and a lady is having a baby in 2 weeks.  This family, who does not have much, took in another family who needed help.  They don't have much by our standards, but they were willing to give what they had to help others in need. 

What are we doing?  My wife and I both work in the school system and make good money for what we do.  We live in a house full of stuff we don't really need.  We tithe, give an offering, support a few good causes here and there, but what are we doing to help our neighbor?  Not enough.  Again, I am not blowing my horn, but take this as a challenge to the way we Christians do things.  This year for Christmas, we are not spending a bunch of money to go out and buy more stuff for each other.  We have decided to sit in front of the computer as a family on the Compassion website ( and let Ryleigh, our oldest daughter, go through the pictures and select a child to sponsor.  We want this to become real to her, not just a monthly check we send.  We want her to see the child's face and feel their hurts and know their struggles.  We want her to know just how blessed by God she is and see that there is something that we can do about the least, the last and the lost.  We will buy some presents for people, but it won't be the focus of Christmas.

Mother Teresa said, "When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed."  She also said, "It's the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."


Imagine what Cynthiana, and Kentucky, and the world would be like if we had the eyes of Jesus and saw the world the way He does. 

I challenge you to do something different this holiday season.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What a week!

Early last week we spoke with St. Mary's about the status of our dossier.  We are chomping at the bit to get a referral and go get our child.  After speaking with them, they informed us that based on where we are in the process and the number of waiting families ahead of us, we probably would not be getting a referral until May or June.  Not what we wanted to hear, but we are reminded of the verse in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  We have to be patient and know that God is working all of this out in His perfect timing and thankfully not in what we thought would be perfect.  With this time frame, we both will have to miss fewer days of school and have more time to save money and build our adoption fund up a little higher before heading over to Poland.  We were a little saddened by the time, but God is in control.

The other day my wife was on her way home with both girls asleep in the back of the van.  She decided to pull into McDonald's to get a tea and while ordering, Ryleigh sits up in her car seat and randomly says "cheeseburger" and immediately falls back to sleep.  Maybe she has some built in radar that goes off when there is happy meal potential. 

On Sunday, our church celebrated and recognized Orphan Sunday.  We worked with another couple to come up with a service geared to inform and challenge the congregation.  Our friends Dan and Stacy interviewed folks who had been touched by adoption and took their interviews and made a great video that was personal, had real people, and a real message.  It looked professional.  We also had a lady come and share her testimony of being a foster parent and mother of two adoptive girls.  It was awesome to hear how God put their family together.  She even wrote and sang a song about her experience.  Then came the sermon.  Our interim pastor would later admit that he forgot about Orphan Sunday until the service began.  However, he delivered one of his best sermons.  The challenge to the congregation to reach out to the "least, the last, the lost, the poor, the broken, the vulnerable, and the marginalized" was moving,  He shared personal stories from both he and his wife and how they had been raised by people other than their parents.  At the conclusion of both services, he invited folks up who had been adopted, who adopted, and who were adopting.  It was great to see some of our older members that were connected to adoption get up and come forward to support those of us in the process or some that had recently adopted.  In our second service, an older gentleman shared his testimony of adopting a child and years later losing him in a vehicle accident.  He cried.  We cried.  God moved in our church yesterday and is touching the hearts of many concerning adoption. 

The entire month of November is about adoption and orphan awareness.  Let's stand up and make a difference one child and one widow at a time.

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Are we getting it?

Well it has been a little more than a month since our last post and not much has changed in regards to our adoption plans. Last time we spoke with St. Mary's, we were told we should hear something around the end of the month in regards to being on the official waiting list. That news will hopefully arrive within the next couple of weeks. The next step for us will be to update our home study to include our 5 month old daughter. This should not be a lengthy process like the original home study by any means.

Since writing last, a lot has happened in our church body with adoptions. We have friends that returned from adopting their second child from down south. They have adopted both locally and internationally. We got news that another couple from our church is in the process of adopting a child from Kentucky and that another family in our Sunday school class is adopting a child from Korea. They are completing their basketball team. They have 4 biological kids already and are adopting now to complete the team as well as to fill every seat belt in their van.

As a church body, are we beginning to get it?
Orphan Sunday is coming up on the 7th of November. A few families touched by adoption are making a presentation to the church. When the adoptions first began to happen a couple years ago, there was some resistance from some church members. Unbelievable, but true. It was the same resistance we get when we have done foreign mission work.  As more and more adoptions have started to occur, there is less and less resistance. The church is offering financial support to families. People are bonding together to help out expecting families with gifts and baby showers.  Even some of the members that offered their resistance vocally have now offered their financial support individually.

What has changed?  We are still the same body of believers.  There has been an awesome series of challenges from our interim pastor.  He gets it.  He has said that one of his regrets is that he and his wife did not have more kids.  He would tell you that he is not living for God, but with God daily.  He preaches all the time about the rules, regulations, rituals, and requirements that Christians get so hung up on that we miss out on the blessings waiting for us by simply being with Jesus daily. 

Are we as a church body moving away from our traditional way of thinking?  Are we understanding that Jesus was not a southern Baptist, was not a white guy, didn't speak English, and that's okay?  Are we understanding that Jesus did not spend a lot of time in the church building, but he was the church and went out to the people and spent time with the sinners.  He did not just sit in church and wonder how he could get lost people to come in and get saved.  Our church is slowly moving in that direction.  We are building small groups, getting out of the building and taking the church to people in the community. We are being the church instead of going to the church. 

Are we all realizing that if we call ourselves a Christian that we have been adopted into the family of God.  We were once an orphan, hopeless, destitute, without a forever family, without a bright future.  God takes us into his family, cleans us up, gives us hope, a family and changes our eternal future.

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.  Matthew 18:5
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.  Isaiah 1:17
Do you welcome?  Seek?  Help?  Defend?  Fight?  What are you doing?  What will you do?

Friday, September 17, 2010

What do dinosaurs have to do with adoption?

Out of all the mindless shows that are on TV, many of which I am guilty to watching, one that has quickly become one of our family favorites is Dinosaur Train on PBS.  This is one of my daughters favorite shows and being that it was on PBS, we trusted it was okay for her to watch and never really paid too much attention to it until here recently.

As we have been moving through the adoption paperwork and process, we have been trying to talk to her about what is going on and what to expect.  We have told her that the new baby may look different, and depending on age, talk different.  We think she is getting it a little, but she is 4 and I could convince her of most anything.  And then one day, we sat down to watch TV with her and let her choose whatever she wanted us to watch, and she chose Dinosaur Train.  I was a little boy once, dinosaurs + trains sounded bearable to me.  It is better than watching the Barbie Nutcracker movie for the hundredth time.

We sat down and immediately were captivated by the introduction.  The show begins with Mrs. Pteranodon watching her eggs hatch in the nest.  Three Pteranodon eggs hatch (Tiny, Shiny and Don) and then a 4th egg hatches a different dinosaur named Buddy.  This mother dinosaur gives a great response to the other kids and the adventure begins.  Here is the clip below to check it out.  What a great lesson about adoption for kids.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I am 31 and I now drive a minivan.

Well, now that we have gotten the blog started and are anxiously awaiting the introduction of our newest family member, we figured it would be a good idea to tell a little about ourselves and how we got to where we are today.

My wife and I both grew up in central Kentucky, just miles apart in similar kinds of families. We both grew up in church, went to VBS and did all the stuff “religious” families were supposed to do. We had the foundation of faith growing up so making the transition from “good kid” to “good kid with Jesus in their life” was an easy one. We both grew up with God, took Him to high school with us and then off to college. My wife went to college to become a speech language pathologist and I graduated with elementary and special education degrees. She works in the school system of the community we live in and I work in the school system in the neighboring community I grew up in. While we were dating, she first mentioned her call to adoption. I did not think much about it and said that sounded good. Fast forward about 8 years, 6 years of marriage, 2 girls, 2 miscarriages, and 1 call to adopt later and here we are.

But these things don’t define us. It’s not who we are.

My wife and I are both followers of Jesus Christ. We are by no means “religious” people, but two people that actively seek a daily relationship with Jesus. We are not bound by the rules and regulations that religious people and institutions have set up for Christians. We are pursuing a life that is free. We are by no means perfect. We fail each day. We will continue to fail. But the pursuit continues because of the past, present, and future forgiveness promised to us. This lifestyle has led us on various mission trips both here and abroad. We have travelled to Poland together on 3 trips with our church, Cynthiana Baptist. I have been a total of 5 times. The dark past of this nation is still evident today. But the purity and beauty of the children will melt your heart. Having worked with children each time we have been over there, one can’t help but fall in love with them. Despite the language barrier, these kids are hungry for attention and affection.

Shortly after the miscarriages last year, we were reminded of my wife’s call to adoption and began praying hard about it. After surrendering to the call, we found out she was pregnant and that she has some blood clotting issues and needed to be on medicine for her sake as well as for the sake of the pregnancy. So here we were, with a 3 year old girl, pregnant, and starting the adoption process. Should we continue, should we postpone, forget it all and a thousand other things were going through our minds. We continued to pray and decided that God had placed this calling on our lives for a reason. It wasn’t so that we would think about doing it, or talk to others about doing it, but God wanted us to do it. We serve a mighty God and we know that he is in control of this adoption. We can’t pay for it out of our pockets, but God has been working that out through friends, family, our church, and mystery donors. It’s probably not the way we would have drawn it up. Who wants to trade in an SUV for a minivan anyway? Praise God we are not the artists in charge of our lives.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We answered, will you?

On Tuesday, August 24th, our dossier papers were sent to Poland to begin the translation and authentication processes. It is estimated that it will take about 8 weeks to do this and then we will begin waiting for a referral. It is hard to imagine that we could have a new addition in our family by Christmas. Of course there is no way to predict when we will receive and accept a referral.

Some people we have spoken with told us to be prepared to say "No" if a referral comes in and it is not what you requested. The orphanages want the older kids to be adopted first and will sometimes recommend an older child than requested. How do we say no to a child that needs a home?

God has been blessing us throughout the process. We have had financial blessings from friends and family. Our church has supported both financially and most importantly in prayer. We have some friends that recently adopted who have been great supports as well as some other people who just “get it.” We have encountered people that don’t get it. One day, seeing an adopted child misbehaving, we were told, “Look there. That’s what you get.” How sad to think like that, especially if you call yourself a Christian.

Yes, we know there are plenty of children in the USA that need a home. We know it. We get it. God has called us to adopt from Poland. Poland has been a major part of my life and of our marriage. Our family roots come from Prussia, which split and part went to Germany and part to Poland. If all the people who say that there are so many kids around here to adopt, would actually do something more than talk about it, so many kids could be taken out of the orphanages and placed in Christian homes. God calls us to take care of orphans, are you going to answer the call?

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Hosea 14:3 In you the orphan finds mercy.

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

If God tells us so specifically that we are supposed to take care of or offer support for orphans and widows, why do we do so little? If those people that profess to be a Christian gave just a small portion of their time and resources, imagine what a difference we could make in both these children’s physical and spiritual lives. Unfortunately, a lot of us assume that someone else is going to do that. “I’m just not called to do that.” A lot of times God calls us, but we don’t bother to answer the phone, or even hear it ring, and assume the call never came. God is calling you, are you going to answer? How will you answer?