Thursday, August 30, 2007

Light Bulb Moment

I have always loved creating things with my hands. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to do some sort of craft with my mom, at school or just because! Through the years, most everyone in my family have received many "handmade" gifts from me (even well past my childhood years!). After I got married, the trend continued not only because I loved making their gifts but because it was much cheaper on our "newly married" budget which quickly turned into our "first home/new baby" budget! Since baby bedding was so expensive, (and I had watched my mom sew for years), I decided to give sewing a try and my very first sewing project was a rag quilt my mom (who did the majority of it) and I made for Isabella. (I don't have any pictures of just the quilt, besides she is so adorable, I couldn't resist!) I absolutely LOVED to sew and have always loved all kinds of fabric, so I began making several patchwork quilts! Including this one for Elijah:
(Again, how could I not include this precious picture of him on his new quilt?!)
My first Christmas quilt I made and donated as a gift for our church's Women's Tea (which made me sad because I really wanted to keep it once I finished it and have been planning on making another one ever since, but I haven't really gotten around to it!)
This quilt was my first attempt at doing something a little different and it is now hanging in our bedroom!
I discovered that not only making gifts was cheaper but maybe I could sell my "crafts"! So, shortly after Isabella was born, I began making hairbows for all ages and selling them to help with the cost of a new baby (but also so I could keep my little girl "dolled up" in bows without having to pay ridiculous prices for them!) I then began dyeing little onesies and ironing cute little appliques on the chest and matching one on the bottom side with matching socks!
I loved the way they turned out and VOILA!, a new little business was created called Heavenly Heartstrings! I had great success at first but quickly got burned out making bows all the time, especially when Elijah was born and I had two babies within 14 months of each other! I had absolutely no time to make and sell baby items and so I was left with hundreds of ribbon spools, onesies and socks of all sizes, appliques, bottles of dye and enough fabric to start a fabric store! I constantly used the ribbon to make bows for Isabella, but everything else went into a storage container for several years!

Fast forward to 2006....Ever since we started this adoption process, Brad and I both knew that it would be a huge financial undertaking so we began to think of ways we could bring in extra money to help pay for the adoption costs. As Brad took on additional jobs, I tried to think how I could help while staying at home taking care of Isabella and Elijah. I had discovered this company called Once Upon A Family a few years back and decided to become a consultant with the company quickly after starting the adoption from China in 2006. Once Upon A Family provides families with unique ideas and beautiful products to help create lasting memories through simple traditions that strengthen families. I love the company, their goals, their focus on family, and their heirloom-style products as I still remain a consultant with them. However, I was getting the "itch" to be "crafty" as many of my friends were having many babies, so I was looking to create gifts that were functional and helpful, but also cute and inexpensive.

One day while sewing on my mom's sewing machine, she told me she had an embroidery arm attachment but she had never had the time to figure out how to use it. I started to "tinker" with the embroidery arm and a light bulb went off! I have tons of fabric, tons of ribbon and now I have access to an embroidery machine.....I am going to make cute embroidered burp cloths for baby gifts and maybe I can sell them to help with our adoption costs!

My very first burp cloth that I made (and I still have it!):
I finally found something that I absolutley love to do, it allows me to be creative, it is tremendously therapeutic for me, and I can raise funds to bring our little ones home!!! My mom has been so gracious to let me "live" in her sewing room for hours at a time during the kids' naptime while embroidering burp cloths! I am currently working on a website to sell my burp cloths but for now, just click on this link to view the collection of burp cloths available to purchase! (The ones below are just a little sample!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

African Children's Choir

Oh, how I love this video! When I saw this video on American Idol's "Idol Gives Back" show back in April, I was absolutely captivated by these children! I cannot wait to go to Ethiopia and hear this beautiful music being sung by children and adults alike!

This is a video narrated by a sponsor for the African Children's Choir and she gives a little background information on the children in the choir:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Global Rich List

I found this link off of another blog but found it to be very interestesting. It really puts things into perspective. Go to the Global Rich List and enter in your current salary and it will give the percentage you fall into in regards to how "rich" you are compared to the people in all the world. I think most of us don't have a true world view on poverty and how many people fall into that category. It is truly tragic.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Smudgy fingerprints

Brad and I have gotten a lot of our documents collected and notarized in the last couple of days, so we feel a great sense of accomplishment! We Fed Exed our Home Study reviews to our old agency for part of our re-evaluation and hopefully this will start speeding along soon!

Today, Brad was able to steal away an hour so we could run down to the Sheriff's office and get our fingerprints "the old-fashioned way" with ink. When we got there, we were told that not too many people could fingerprint with ink and get good prints because it has become a lost art with the new computerized machines they use now. After seeing my fingerprints, I believe them! I almost started to cry in the car because my fingerprints looked like some precious "artwork" I have received from my children in their toddler years!! There were smudges and smears all over the page. I have resigned to the fact that I am sure we will be visiting that Sheriff real soon for another try. In the meantime, I am going to send it off anyway just to see if they will take them as is. Of oourse, Brad's fingerprints looked perfect and manly! (and just a tad attractive....can you be attraced to your husband's fingerprints? Maybe I am confusing attractiveness with envy!)

Anyway, moving on.....So, not only did we Fed Ex our I-824 form to USCIS (hopefully, for the last time!), we also Fed Exed our FBI Clearance request to West Viriginia (with my smudgy fingerprints....they totally looked like the Sheriff was snacking on a Snickers bar while he was fingerprinting me!) I hope I have to apologize profusely to "Sheriff McChocolatey".....pray my prints are accepted!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

Did Moses Marry A Black Woman?

By John Piper
A biblical view of interracial marriage and why it matters for the local church to take a stand. You can view this article here as well.

Moses, a Jew, apparently married a black African and was approved by God.

We learn in Numbers that "Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman" (Num. 12:1). A Cushite is from Cush, a region south of Ethiopia, where the people are known for their black skin. We know this because of Jeremiah 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian [the same Hebrew word translated "Cushite" in Numbers 12:1] change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil." Attention is drawn to the difference of the skin of the Cushite people.

In his book From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race, Daniel Hays writes that Cush "is used regularly to refer to the area south of Egypt, and above the cataracts on the Nile, where a Black African civilization flourished for over two thousand years. Thus it is quite clear that Moses marries a Black African woman" (71).

In response to Miriam’s criticism, God does not get angry at Moses; he gets angry at Miriam. The criticism has to do with Moses’ marriage and Moses’ authority. The most explicit statement relates to the marriage: "Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman." Then God strikes Miriam with leprosy. Why? Consider this possibility. In God’s anger at Miriam, Moses’ sister, God says in effect, "You like being light-skinned Miriam? I’ll make you light-skinned." So we read, "When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow" (Num. 12:10)
God says not a critical word against Moses for marrying a black Cushite woman. But when Miriam criticizes God’s chosen leader for this marriage God strikes her skin with white leprosy. If you ever thought black was a biblical symbol for uncleanness, be careful; a worse white uncleanness could come upon you.

To the opposing views on interracial marriage, I would add my own experience. I was a southern teenage racist (by almost any definition). Since I am a sinner still, I do not doubt that elements of it remain in me—to my dismay. For these lingering attitudes and actions I repent.
Racism is a very difficult reality to define. Our pastoral staff has been working on it for years. Presently, we are most closely committed to the definition given several summers ago at the Presbyterian Church in America annual meeting: "Racism is an explicit or implicit belief or practice that qualitatively distinguishes or values one race over other races." That is what I mean when I say I was a racist growing up in Greenville, South Carolina. My attitudes and actions were demeaning and disrespectful toward non-whites. And right at the heart of those attitudes was opposition to interracial marriage.

My mother, who washed my mouth out with soap once for saying, "Shut up!" to my sister, would have washed my mouth out with gasoline if she knew how foul my mouth was racially. She was, under God, the seed of my salvation in more ways than one. When our church voted in 1963 not to admit blacks, when I was seventeen, my mother ushered the black guests at my sister’s wedding right into the main sanctuary herself because the ushers wouldn’t do it. I was on my way to redemption.

In 1967, Noël and I attended the Urbana Missions Conference. I was a senior at Wheaton. There we heard Warren Webster, a former missionary to Pakistan, answer a student’s question: what if your daughter falls in love with a Pakistani while you’re on the mission field and wants to marry him? With great forcefulness he said, "The Bible would say, Better a Christian Pakistani than a godless white American!" The impact on us was profound.
Four years later, I wrote a paper for Lewis Smedes in an ethics class at seminary called "The Ethics of Interracial Marriage." For me that was a biblical settling of the matter, and I have not gone back from what I saw there. The Bible does not oppose or forbid interracial marriages. And there are circumstances which, together with biblical principles, make interracial marriage in many cases a positive good.

Now I am a pastor. One quick walk through my church’s pictorial directory gives me a rough count of over two hundred non-Anglos. I am sure I missed some. And I am sure the definition of Anglo is so vague that someone will be bothered that I even tried to count. But the point is this: dozens and dozens of them are children and teenagers and single young men and women. This means very simply that my church needs a clear place to stand on interracial marriage. Church is the most natural and proper place to find a spouse. And they will find each other across racial lines.

Opposition to interracial marriage is one of the deepest roots of racial distance, disrespect, and hostility. Show me one place in the world where interracial or interethnic marriage is frowned upon and yet the two groups still have equal respect and honor and opportunity. I don’t think it exists. It won’t happen. Why? Because the supposed specter of interracial marriage demands that barrier after barrier must be put up to keep young people from knowing each other and falling in love. They can’t fellowship in church youth groups. They can’t go to the same schools. They can’t belong to the same clubs. They can live in the same neighborhoods. Everybody knows deep down what is at stake here. Intermarriage is at stake.

And as long as we disapprove of it, we will be pushing our children, and therefore ourselves, away from each other. The effect of that is not harmony, not respect, and not equality of opportunity. Where racial intermarriage is disapproved, the culture with money and power will always dominate and always oppress. They will see to it that those who will not make desirable spouses stay in their place and do not have access to what they have access to. If your kids don’t make desirable spouses, you don’t make desirable neighbors.

And here is a great and sad irony. The very situation of separation and suspicion and distrust and dislike that is brought about (among other things) by the fear of intermarriage, is used to justify the opposition to intermarriage. "It will make life hard for the couple and hard for the kids." "They’ll be called half-breeds." It’s a catch 22. It’s like the army being defeated because there aren’t enough troops, and the troops won’t sign up because the army’s being defeated. Oppose interracial marriage, and you will help create a situation of racial disrespect. And then, since there is a situation of disrespect, it will be prudent to oppose interracial marriage.
Here is where Christ makes the difference. Christ does not call us to a prudent life, but to a God-centered, Christ-exalting, justice-advancing, counter-cultural, risk-taking life of love and courage. Will it be harder to be married to another race, and will it be harder for the kids? Maybe. Maybe not. But since when is that the way a Christian thinks? Life is hard. And the more you love the harder it gets.

It’s hard to take a child to the mission field. The risks are huge. It’s hard to take a child and move into a mixed neighborhood where he may be teased or ridiculed. It’s hard to help a child be a Christian in a secular world where his beliefs are mocked. It’s hard to bring children up with standards: "you will not dress like that, and you will not be out that late." It’s hard to raise children when dad or mom dies or divorces. And that’s a real risk in any marriage. Whoever said that marrying and having children was to be trouble free? It’s one of the hardest things in the world. It just happens to be right and rewarding.

Christians are people who move toward need and truth and justice, not toward comfort and security. Life is hard. But God is good. And Christ is strong to help.

There is so much more to say about the challenges and blessings of interracial marriage. Suffice it to say now by way of practical conclusion: At my church, we will not underestimate the challenges of interracial marriage or transracial adoption (they go closely together). We will celebrate the beauty, and we will embrace the burden. Both will be good for us and good for the world and good for the glory of God.

John Piper is the pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the author of many books. Go to to learn more.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A little hiccup in the process...UGH!

Well, we received our bank letter back for our dossier and it is not acceptable, so we have to request it again with a notary signature (they forgot to notarize it the first time). UGH!

We also received our I-824 form from USCIS stating that they need a money order NOT a personal check! I think I was in such a hurry to get it off in the mail that I didn't read carefully the requirements even though I have done this a bazillion time already. (Since we already had filed our I-600A form and received our I-171H, we had to file a I-824 form stating that we were changing countries).

We are supposed to receive our notarized physicals from our doctor's office tomorrow! Hopefully, THAT will go smoothly!

I keep telling myself....this is all part of the journey!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Eli's 4th Birthday!

Elijah turned 4 years old on August 12th, but we celebrated with a Dinosaur Party this morning from 10am-12pm at our house! He was so excited about his "dino party" since he has been engrossed with dinosaurs for a while now! There were blown up play dinosaurs everywhere and all the kids wore dinosaur masks.All the cousins: Rachael, Isabella, Brett Austin, Elijah, David and John Isaac

Elijah LOVES Tow Mater from the movie "Cars", so he was so excited to get his "Tow Mater pail", Tow Mater truck and "The World of Dinosaurs" soft book made by Mommy!

Then we all went outside to hit the triceratops pinata! The kids loved the pinata, of course!

But the grabbing for the candy is even better! Happy 4th Birthday, our precious Elijah!
There are many, many reasons why I love him, but I will only post 4 in honor of his 4th birthday:
  1. I love him because he is so sensitive and affectionate.
  2. I love him because he loves to pray and loves Jesus.
  3. I love him because he is so independent and confident.
  4. I love him because he is hysterically funny but doesn't even know it!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Saving is FUN!

We have been trying to find ways to save money for this adoption and one of the simplier ways we found was to enroll ourselves in our bank's "Keep the Change" program. Basically, every time you use your debit card, they round the purchase amount UP to the next dollar and put that into your savings acount. It is our money that we are saving but an easier way to "collect change"! After the first year's worth of savings, the bank will MATCH your savings amount and put it in your savings account!! Every year you save, they will add 5% of what we have saved that year into our savings account! We started this special savings account one year ago and we have saved (with the bank's matching amount) $613.79 for our adoption!!!! I just LOVE this program!!!

We also received my birth certificate today and all of our lab results back from our physicals!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thank You, Louisiana!

Last Thursday, I spoke with the Bureau of Statistics for Louisiana to request Brad's birth certificate. She informed me that because of Hurricane Katrina, most of Louisiana records were scattered in neighboring cities and they had not received all of them back yet. She said that it was typically taking much longer to receive legal documents. So, I went ahead and requested that his birth certificate would be expedited and I received it in the mail TODAY!! Quick service!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Our Physicals Nightmare

A little history is on order about our physicals: last year, I called around trying to find a doctor's office who actually had a notary on staff so we could "kill two birds with one stone" with our physicals we needed from China. Much to my dismay, every doctor's office I called did not have a notary on staff which I thought was a little strange until I happened upon the "new clinic" that had a notary! Hooray! So we go there and there were NO cars in the lot, but we proceded anyway thinking it was our lucky day not having to wait! Well, after a huge wait (when nobody was there), we were excorted back. There, the fun began! We felt like we were getting a physical from a 4 year old! Everything that shouldn't have happened, but a few major things I must share that happened:
  1. When gathering the appropriate needles to collect blood samples, the nurse dropped the exposed needle on the floor and then proceeded to "blow if off" so she could still use it!!
  2. After sticking me SEVEN TIMES to collect the blood, the eighth time she used a butterfly and was successful until she TRIPPED over the tube and yanked it out of my arm as my blood "painted" the room! Yes, it hurt!
  3. Even though Brad has veins the size of waterhoses and has NEVER had trouble giving blood, 4 people tried to collect Brad's blood unsuccessfully so they brought in a guy who thought he was so cool and literally started "sweeping" under Brad's skin to hopefully "poke" a vein of Brad's!!! This is where Brad finally told them to stop because he thought he was going to pass out.

So, this year for our physicals we went to our regular doctor (minus the notary). Since both of the kids needed shots for their well-visits soon but were terrified, we thought it would be a great idea to take them along to let them see how painless a "shot" really would be and eliminate their fear.

So, we all pile into the room, see the doctor, give him our physical forms to fill out and then he sends in his nurse to take our blood. The kids were really curious so they were looking on with great anticipation while Brad went first. He was sitting calmly on the table, as she tied the little rubber band on his arm, and she politely asks him if he is squeamish. He answers back that he isn't, but I notice that he looks a little unsettled. She inserts the needle and Isabella calmly asked him if it hurt. I say very cheery and quickly, "No, look at Daddy! It doesn't even bother him!" As soon as I looked up at Brad, his face went white, his eyes rolled back in his head, he slumped over and fell down on the table!!!! I quickly asked the nurse what is happening and she says she DOESN'T KNOW!!! She then tells me to get the doctor as Isabella asks me if Daddy was dying! I jerk open the door and scream for the doctor who was literally 4 foot away from me and he came in and tried to wake Brad up. I scurry to get the kids out of the room and all Elijah can say is, "Can I get a sucker now?" The front desk entertains the kids with candy and desk supplies while I ran back to the room where Brad starts asking "what happened?". I wanted to kiss him and kick him at the same time! So, I yelled, "Don't EVER do that to me again!" He quickly came out of it and they watched him for a while until they felt he was okay. They quickly took my blood and we left in a haze! As we walked out to the car, Isabella loudly stated, "Shots ARE bad!"

Brad said that the last thing he remembered thinking about before he passed out was the guy "sweeping" for his veins last time and then he woke up!

Update: TB tests were all clear, of course!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Would Die For That

This video has been floating around many other blogs. I have no idea who Kellie Coffey is and since I haven't listen to the radio I think since my kids were born, this song could have been released sometime between now and June of 2002. Regardless, I like it, so here it is:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Check! Check!

I must say that I am so proud of how much we have gotten done yesterday and today! We completed and notarized all of our employment letters, reference letters, financial form, limited power of attorney form, application letter, 1040 tax forms, marriage certificate and notarized most of our documents for our dossier! Oh, and Brad got our bank letter today as well! Accomplishment feels really good!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel

This article was posted on February 10, 2007 by John Piper on the Desiring God website. He writes of eight similarities between God's adoption of us and our adoption of children.

Galatians 4:4-8
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.

Romans 8:14-17
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The biblical foundation for the act of adopting children is primarily in the New Testament rather than the Old. There are only three adoptions in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, 1 Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:6; Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 11:1) but not until the New Testament is this called adoption.

The Foundation of Adoption
The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel. Galatians 4:4-5 is as central a gospel statement as there is: “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.” God did not have to use the concept of adoption to explain how he saved us, or even how we become part of his family. He could have stayed with the language of new birth so that all his children were described as children by nature only (John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”). But he chose to speak of us as adopted as well as being children by new birth. This is the most essential foundation of the practice of adoption.

Eight Similarities
What I would like to do is lay out eight similarities between what God did in adoption and what happens in a Christian adoption today. I pray that whether you have adopted, or are engaged in assisting adoptions, or are pondering an adoption, God will use these comparisons to heighten your confidence that God is graciously involved in our adoptions. He has done it himself. He knows what it costs. And he stands ready to support us all the way to the end.

1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.
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 4:4-5)

To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? In the previous chapter, we heard the answer: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It cost God the price of his Son’s life.

There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about the embrace of this cost for the life of a child!

Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish at Bethlehem. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.

2. Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.
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. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6)

There were legal realities God had to deal with. His own justice and law demanded that we be punished and excluded from his presence for our sins. Righteousness was required and punishment demanded. God had to satisfy his justice and his law in order to adopt sinners into his family. This he did by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

This means that the status of being a son legally preceded the experience of the Spirit coming to give us the affections of sons. We are legally sons before we experience the joy of sonship. The object work of our salvation (two thousand years ago at Calvary) precedes and grounds the subjective experience of our salvation by the Spirit today.

So it is with our adopting children today: The legal transactions precede and under gird the growth of family feelings. If the legal red tape seems long and hard, keep in mind that this tape is not yet red with your blood, but Jesus satisfied all the legal demands precisely by shedding his blood.

3. Adoption was blessed and is blessed with God’s pouring out a Spirit of sonship.
Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15-16)

God does not leave us in the condition of aliens when he adopts us. He does not leave us with no feelings of acceptance and love. Rather, he pours his Spirit into our hearts to give us the experience of being embraced in the family. What is remarkable about these two texts is the term abba. It is an Aramaic word. Why then does Paul use it, transliterated, in these two letters written in Greek?

The answer is that it was the way Jesus spoke to his Father, in spite of the fact that virtually no one in Jewish culture referred to God with this endearing word abba. It stunned the disciples. They held onto it as a precious remnant of the very voice of Jesus in the language he spoke. In Mark 14:36, Jesus is in Gethsemane and prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Therefore, in adopting us, God give us the very Spirit of his Son and grants us to feel the affections of belonging to the very family of God.

In the mercy of God, in our families God works to awaken affections in adopted children for their parents that are far more than legal outcomes. They are deeply personal and spiritual bonds. Adopted children do not infer that they are our children by checking out the adoption papers. A spirit pervades our relationship that bears witness to this reality. Like the other children in the family, they all cry, “Daddy.”

Praise God that he give us both legal standing as his children and the very Spirit of his Son so that we find ourselves saying from a heart of deep conviction, “Abba, Father.”

4. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) marked by moral transformation through the Spirit.
All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

God does not leave his children without help to bear the moral image of the family. We may trust that his help will be there for our children as we bring them under the means of grace that God uses to awaken and transform his children.

5. Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.
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 4:6-7)
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)

Notice that Galatians 4:7 says we are heirs “through God” and Romans 8:17 says we are heirs “of God.” In Galatians, the context is the promise of Abraham—through God, that is, by his sending his Son to redeem us, we are heirs with Abraham (even though many of us are Gentiles!) of his inheritance, namely the world (Romans 4:13). But in Romans 8:17, the context is that we, with Christ, are heirs of all that God has, namely, everything. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21).

Just before we left for England on sabbatical, Noël and I went to a lawyer and updated our wills. All the boys are married, and Talitha is the only legal “dependent.” A lot had changed since the last time we made wills. This was a reminder to us that she will inherit like the sons. She is not in a lesser adoptive class. All inherit together. That is the way God did it. That is the way we do it.

6. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) seriously planned.
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.

In our lives, there is something uniquely precious about having children by birth. That is a good plan. There is also something different, but also uniquely precious, about adopting children. Each has its own uniqueness. Your choice to adopt children may be sequentially second. But does not have to be secondary. It can be as precious and significant as having children by birth. God is able to make adoption and A+ plan in our lives.

7. Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations.
We . . . were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3)

God did not find us like an abandoned foundling bundled on the front step and irresistibly cute. He found us ugly and evil and rebellious. We were not attractive. We would not be easy children to deal with. And, what’s worse, God himself was angry with us. He hates sin and rebellion. We were then doubly “children of wrath.”

These are the ones God pursued in adoption. Therefore, all of God’s adoptions crossed a greater moral and cultural divide than any of our adoptions could. The distance between what we are, and what God is, is infinitely greater than any distance between us and a child we might adopt. God crossed the greatest cultural barrier to redeem and adopt us.

Consider too, that according to Romans 9:4, the people that God chose in the Old Testament, the Israelites, were adopted out of a terrible situation. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” But how was this adoption effected? Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” They were slaves in Egypt. But not only that, they were often also rebellious against God. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).

Therefore, God went and took a son from Egypt who was both enslaved and rebellious. The pattern is set: adoptions do not just come from nice, healthy, safe, auspicious situations.

8. Adoption meant (for all Christans) and means (for Christian parents) that we suffer now and experience glory later.
The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

This strikes us as strange. Aren’t we already adopted? Why does Paul say that we are “waiting for our adoption”? Yes, we are already adopted. When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. But God’s purpose for adoption is not to leave any of his children in a state of groaning and suffering. He raised Jesus from the dead with a new body, and he promises that part of our adoption will be a new resurrection body with no more disabilities and no more groaning. Therefore, what we wait for is the full experience of our adoption—the resurrection of our bodies.

There is much groaning in the path of adoption on the way to full salvation. But the outcome is glorious. It is worth it all. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

This is especially relevant for parents of children with disabilities. They know the “groaning” of this life. All of us have children with some sort of disability, and some of us will live to get very old and watch our children age and die before we do. Others will see their children struck down in war or by accident or disease. Others will care for a disabled child till one of them dies. All of this groaning is groaning in hope because we are adopted by God and destined for a resurrection and an eternal future of health and wholeness and joy. It will be worth it all.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Teenage Affluenza

I found this video on another blog and it is worth watching. It was created for the 40 Hour Famine taking place August 17-19, 2007.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Pfffftttt! Rainy season!

Still trying to sound out that first "word" in the title? Pretend you're a horse, press your lips together and blow out! There!

Okay, so what is "rainy season"? Well, it started today in Ethiopia and usually lasts through September! While it is raining all the time, the courts shut down and there is no adoption business going on for 2 months!! I talked to my case worker today and she said this only affects those who have already received a referral (not us) and whose child is going through the court system to be officially adopted (again, not us). So, we press on with gathering and notarizing and organizing our documents for our dossier!! However, we have received all reference letters in today that were sent to Gladney. A big thank you to everyone who wrote one on our behalf!

We also received an email from Natalie about the PCR testing. There was a 126 page document attached with the email explaining all about the medical testing they do on the children to be adopted in Ethiopia. Basically, we had to read the informational packet and then decide if we wanted our children to be tested once or twice for HIV/AIDS. After much consideration, we have decided to have them tested twice which might cause a slight delay in a referral for us, but we felt most comfortable with this option.