Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ho-Ho-Holiday Blessings

We had a great time visiting with other America World Adoption Association families at the Christmas gathering at our house. There were a bunch of kids and adults and our little home accommodated everyone with cozy Christmas cheer.

Santa and Mrs. Claus stopped by and brought yummy Jelly Belly candy canes and took pictures, which we will post as soon as we get them from the North Pole. We love spending time with all the AWAA people as there is a kindred spirit. I was amazed when I first met everyone in October that there seemed to be a familiarity about them, and my new friend Sandy said, "That's because we're family." We also love spending time with their beautiful little girls as it somehow eases the anxiety as we wait for Olivia.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone, and enjoy your holidays with family - or friends that are family.

Love, Dawn

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lessons in Faith

When Dawn and I decided to adopt a little girl from China, it was a very easy decision to make. But it wasn't one that was entered into lightly; it was a decision based on faith.

We have faith in God's Word. We believe that "children are a heritage from the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). We believe that Christians are to reach out to orphans (James 1:27). We believe that all Christians are adopted (Romans 8:15). And, as we enter into parenthood, we believe that God will meet our needs (Matthew 6:25-34).

In my opinion, it is very easy to "have faith" in something. It is quite another thing entirely to put that faith into action, and I am continually amazed at the faith exemplified in the lives of strong believers.

One such person is my friend Dr. Dave Black. Dave is a teacher in every sense of the word. Whether he realizes it or not, he continues to be a source of inspiration for me and countless others who have gotten to know him through his online writings. One of the things I have learned from him is the importance of living a life of faith.

He and his wife, Becky, have been ministering in Ethiopia and are headed back there again. Here is an excerpt from the December 8 entry on his blog:
In 6 days we leave for Ethiopia, even as a border war with Eritrea looks more and more likely. Understandably, our friends are concerned about our safety. One of the most important things happening in our life as a married couple is learning to be completely dependent upon God and to face whatever comes our way—good or bad—as from His loving hand. As Hebrews 11 says, whether people are delivered or not delivered, in every situation they stand in a position of faith toward the outcome.

Sometimes Christians are delivered, and sometimes they are not. Still they tell the king, as did Daniel, "We're not going to bow." The man of faith does not bow. He does not bow to the world, he does not bow to the government when it usurps the role of God, and he does not even bow to the church (or to its traditions) when it is on the opposite side of the Bible.

Our day is no different from Daniel's. We too are confronted by our own fiery furnaces, and we face one of two outcomes. We can say, "Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Via email I hear from people the world over that they are being convicted by the Lord Jesus more and more not to bow the knee.

I don't have sophisticated tracking services like some websites do, but I do know that our reading audience includes people from Africa, Europe, and Asia. More and more of them are telling Becky and me how God has been leading them to move forward in their lives toward a simpler, more biblical, and more obedient way of living. Sometimes that has brought misunderstanding and opposition, even from those who are closest to them.

Which comes first, material things or spiritual things? This question is, perhaps, the one most frequently asked. The gross materialism that characterizes our modern culture—even our church culture—is becoming more and more repugnant to these pilgrims. Do not misunderstand me. I do not deny the necessity of material things. The problem is when the "natural" things of life (or whatever terminology you prefer) become first place. I have to smile when I read of those Christians who, in the face of the evidence contrariwise, want to continue participating in the gross materialism of "the holidays" because they cannot give up their attachment to the "innocent" things of the season.

All of us should always have a burning heart for the spiritual over the material, for truth over tradition. We all need the Lord's forgiveness for this—I more than anyone. So, what does God require of Becky and me? Is it enough to say certain words? Is it enough to affiliate with a certain group? No. God wants us to affirm the exclusiveness He has revealed.

And He has revealed these things to us in a way we can comprehend and implement among the children of men. To say "Christ" does not help anyone. Jesus taught that many "christs" would come. The word must contain the content of who God is, what He has done in Christ, and therefore what the Gospel is. Nothing short of this is enough. While a student in Basel I heard the term christophoros. It means "one who bears Christ." It was used by the church fathers in distinction to another term, christologos—"one who speaks about Christ." The true Christian is one who does not merely talk about Christ. He is one who bears Christ far and wide. Cross-bearing and Christ-bearing. That is our task as we leave for the great unknown.

It is my prayer that Dawn and I can set that kind of Godly example for Olivia, whenever she comes home. I pray that we will strive toward a simpler, more biblical, and more obedient way of living. May we learn to forsake the false comforts and securities of this temporal world and rest in the eternal promises of our Heavenly Father.

* Itinerary and Prayer Guide for the Blacks' Trip to Ethiopia


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Points of Prayer...

If you would like to know of some ways to pray for us and for other families going through the adoption process, here are a few. If there are things I don't mention, please contact me so that I can add it to the list:

  1. You can pray for our daughter by name. We are naming her Olivia. Her middle name will be her given Chinese name or some part of that name.
  2. Pray for her birthparents: their pain, their healing, their circumstances.
  3. Pray for her safety.
  4. Pray for her orphanage: The facilities themselves; For the Caretakers and Nannies - that Olivia and the other babies will be held and loved often; For the caretakers' strength and courage; For their sadness when they say goodbye to a child to whom they have grown attached.
  5. Pray for her health and warmth. We have heard some stories about how cold it can be in some of the orphanages.
  6. Pray for us. For peace in the waiting process and patience to keep remembering that Olivia will come home in God's perfect timing, NOT OURS! Pray for us as we prepare and all the many different ways in which we need to prepare.
  7. Pray for the process. While we acknowledge that all will take place in God's timing, there can still be prayer for the many bureaucratic steps that occur. We haven't finished these steps ourselves as of yet, and then our lives will be in the hands of first our government and then the Chinese government. It is an interestingly woven tapestry of details and people.
  8. Pray for our finances. We have made payments for one third of the process, but need much, much, more to make this happen. Also, Lee's sister Sharla and his mom are planning to go with us to China and they need to raise funds as well.
  9. Pray for our fellow America World families and others who are also in this process at various stages. Pray for emotional health as many of us didn't realize what an emotional journey this is.
  10. Pray for those considering adoption. It is a wonderful way to add to your family and change YOUR life and the life of a parentless child. It can be your own personal mission field.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Medical Letters and Home Study Approved!

Some good news and some sobering news (ALWAYS!!). First, the good. Our medical letters were approved and therefore our homestudy is complete and was also approved! This is VERY significant to have this step done. Now we wait for our I-171H. I can't even figure out a way to explain that right now, so just pray that it gets processed efficiently, as it can take 4-6 weeks, but the office stated that it is taking the full 6 weeks right now.

Ok, the bad. As you may recall in an earlier post, China is anticipating some delays for referrals (when we get our match). The time frame from Log In Date (LID) to referral is typically 6-7 months. With the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs)
moving offices THIS MONTH they are anticipating referrals to move to 9-10 months from LID. Our social worker went through everything with me today on the phone, and just so we ALL have managed expectations, worst case scenario is that we may not be going to China until 2007. This made me a little sad since I had decided that I'd be ok with anything as long as she was home for Christmas next year and for our 15th wedding anniversary on the 21st of December (thinking that I was being generous with the time-frame).

BUT and this is the big but, I will KEEP reminding myself (and you can remind me, too, as long as you're gentle) that our daughter will come home when God is ready. All of the bureaucratic red tape in the world couldn't stop His plan, and if that is for us to go by next fall, WONDERFUL! If that means we wait and wait and wait, I guess I will have to learn some patience, eh? Really, as Lee says, "We've waited this long to have kids, what's a little longer?"
Har-dee-har-har! (good-natured laugh)

Well, lots of love to all of you. Thanks for prayers, thoughts, and emails. Don't forget to leave your comments after you read. Just mark "other" instead of "blogger" and you won't have to log in. It encourages us.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin