Anniversary posts – Before Dating

We interrupt this last series of serious posts for a little lightness this week.  Thursday is our nine-year anniversary, so I will have a few posts about my sweetheart.  I think he needs a blog name other than DH.  Not that most of you don’t know who we are, but I don’t want people to be able to google his name and find all of his personal info on this blog.  He’s very important, you know.  Hmmm, what should I call him?  I kind of want to call him Prince because that’s what I often call him around the house.  But does that make you think he’s a slightly adrogynous pop singer? Or an entitled, spoiled monarch?  Perfect!  Prince it is.   Just kidding honey!  OK, it’s decided.  From here on out, BB will refer to my sweet, darling, nameless husband.  For those keeping track, Lucy is our dog.  She’s a terror and deserves a series of posts of her own.

For our first anniversary post, I’m going to take you back in time, to the time BD (Before Dating). BB and I were both students at the music school.  I was a new freshman having moved from a small farm town, and I had my heart set on becoming an international opera star.  BB was a mature (in my mind), older, first-year graduate student who wanted to be a classical singer but didn’t like opera.  Because BB had not studied music in undergrad, he had to take a lot of intro classes, thus putting us in the same classes.

I can’t say for sure the first time that I met him.  This memory has not been engraved in my mins.  I can tell you when I first realized he was super hot.  It was a really cold, snowy Chicago day, and I was standing in the school lobby.  BB came in wearing his big puffy down coat with his bright blue Reebok hi-top shoes and his 1985 stone-washed jeans (yes, it was 2001), which were rolled up since he had just gotten off his bike.  He pulled off his hot pink stocking cap to reveal his hot mess of thick brown curls sopping wet from a shower and a sweaty ride.  He bent down to get a sip of water, and it was lust at first sight.  You just had to be there.  I wish I had the technological ability to figure out how to post pictures to this blog, but I am a literary type and can’t follow directions.

So when did I determine that he was a lot of fun to hang out with?  BB’s closest friend in those days was also new to this music school and was a year ahead of me.  We’ll call him Nisky, because that’s what BB still calls him.  Nisky and I were friends as well so it didn’t take long before the three of us became friends.  In one class, the three of us generally sat together in the back.  Now, this class was awful and boring. To pass the time, BB and Nisky would pass inappropriate, vulgar drawings back and forth to each other to try and get each other to laugh out loud.  Often, these drawings would also end up on my desk as they attempted to break me.  I have always been a sucker for potty humor.

Another thing you have to understand about BB is that, at this time, the music school was not filled with your typical cool kids.  We were dorky, artsy types.  Not generally jocks.  Not particularly attractive or charming.  BB, former frat boy, having come from a normal four-year “real” college experience at a big university in the Southeast that had an actual football team, with brothers in San Francisco, old enough to drink alcohol, and having traveled Europe three times over, was the coolest thing I had ever seen.  Guys like that did not normally talk to me, let alone pass graphic drawings onto my desk and tell me that he thought I was the smartest person in the whole class.  [I know, he was pretty smooth.]  By the time I went home for Spring break my freshman year, I told my mom that I was going to marry him.

But that wasn’t all that was unique and charming about BB. Midway through the year, he invited me to attend a weekly Bible study at his apartment.  [Again, this guy is smooth.]  At the time, I was a recovering Catholic.  After 12 years of Catholic education and no real happiness or joy found there despite a lot of effort, I had sworn off religion for the joys of college freedom.  However, when a super hot older guy invites you to his apartment, you go no matter the pretext.  [If a future daughter is reading this, you should definitely NOT go, even if it’s for a Bible study; just ask your father about his motives.]

At those Bible studies, I really got to know BB as a person.  I got to see his heart.  He would open up to Romans and preach for an hour straight.  There were about 3-5 regular attenders.  Most of the attenders were Christians so maybe it wasn’t revolutionary stuff for them.  But I was hearing the gospel clearly for the first time, and I liked it.  Before long, I was home re-reading passages myself.  BB started giving me rides to the study, which gave us time to talk.  I was getting hooked on two beautiful men who changed my life.

 

 

Cliché Christianity

I don’t like it.  You know what I’m talking about.  Here are my [least] favorites.  If you say this to me, and I’m in a bad mood, prepare for a sermon (sorry, but I’m sassy these days.)

1.  It’s all going to work out and be ok.

2.  God will provide [the job, the money, the spouse, etc.].

3.  God helps those who help themselves.

4.  God never gives you more than you can handle.

Why do I hate these clichés, you ask?

A.  They aren’t in the Bible.

Not even sort of.  Show me where it says that “It’s all going to work out.”  Read Revelations.  Read about Jesus for goodness sake.  All but one of the apostles were martyred.  It doesn’t work out – not in the way that you mean when you say that.  If you say that and mean, the world will be destroyed.  God will exact justice on the unrighteous, and Jesus will come back and kick a**.  Then, I agree with you.  It will work out.

Otherwise, if you mean what I think you mean – that things will turn up, you are incorrect.  Tell that to the person dying of cancer, to the mother whose baby is starving to death, to the man dying of AIDS.

B.  They are not applicable outside of rich (white) America.

The only reason we can say with a straight face that “God will provide” (and mean that he will provide the spouse, the baby, the job, the money) is because that in rich, affluent America, there’s almost always a way to get those things yourselves.  I’m not saying that God’s not a part of that, but we really are just digging deep and finding a way to get what we want.  We aren’t sitting back and letting God “provide” because God doesn’t promise that he will provide – not those worldly things.  He will provide strength, mercy, love and grace, but you may not get what you want in the end.  There are many of God’s children around the world starving to death.

God does give us more than we can handle.  In fact, I think he only gives us more than we can handle.  God is not about us succeeding and handling things.  God is about his own glory.  Remember Job?  You can’t say to a woman locked in a cage in India being raped day after day until she dies at the age of 25 that God won’t give her more than she can handle.  Who can handle that? This saying just isn’t applicable to her life, so why should it be applicable to ours.

C.  They fall short.  Way short.

God does make bold promises.  He says that he will never leave or forsake us.  That he loves us so much that he murdered his only son to pay for our sins.  He promises that he will return.  He promises that justice will be done.  He says that his grace is sufficient.

When we use these clichés, we turn God into a Hallmark card.   When we indicate that Christianity is about working hard and living a comfortable life with a little God thrown in, we are lying and we are stealing God’s glory.  We are diluting the truths of his promises in favor of something that is easier to say and swallow.

I think we do this because God makes a lot of scary promises too, and we don’t want to face those.  He says that we will be persecuted.  He says that some will call him Lord, and he will say he never knew them.  He promises that the wicked will suffer eternal torment. Jesus says that He is the only Way, Truth and Life.  He says that to save your life, you have to lose it.  He promises that we will suffer as Jesus suffered.  He says that the way is narrow and few will find it.

I want more.  I don’t want clichés and feel good sayings.  I want the truth.  Because things are too hard right now, and I need a God who can stand up to these trials.

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This adoption is getting messy ya’ll.  We need serious prayer.  We are completely stuck at the immigration phase with no end in sight.  USCIS gave us a deadline of July 23 that we are unlikely to meet, which means we would have to reapply later once we get the needed documents and start over again.  Starting over means more delays.  We are contemplating a riskier strategy but are seeking God’s will in what He wants us to do.  We want these kids home, and we want them home yesterday.  But, most importantly, we want to love the Lord, seek first his kingdom and make decisions that bring him glory.

Thanks for following our story.

 

 

 

Redeeming the Time

Happy Easter!  We had a lovely time celebrating the Resurrection on Sunday beginning with an awesome worship service at TMC.  We cooked brunch at home (I attempted hot cross buns – good, but slightly burnt).  We then went to a nearby nursing home to spread some love to the residents there.  We had a great time getting to know them and praying for them.  The day ended with a fabulous dinner with friends.  Over the weekend, we read the four accounts of the passion and resurrection, went to Good Friday service and watched The Passion of the Christ.  It was helpful for me to keep in mind the real reason we celebrate – Jesus lives!  ( I did eat my fair share of jelly beans as well.)

Things keep on moving with the adoption.  It’s fun to be out of the long wait period and into a shorter wait.  First off, we got new pictures last week.  The kids are definitely getting older!  Freddy’s not such a little guys anymore; he’s definitely changing the most.  Looking more and more like a little boy and less like a toddler.  We got to see a nice smile from our oldest girl as well and see that she enjoys holding the babies.  Carolyn looks as sweet as ever of course.  We also watched an amazing video shot by a family recently returned from DRC.  They documented their whole week of travel, and we learned a lot.  It was encouraging to see how quickly their little girl (5 years old) bonded with them.  It was also eye-opening to see what the trip was like.  Best part was that we saw Carolyn for a few seconds!  It’s such a difference to see live footage compared to a still photo.

We finished all the rest of the visa paperwork from Carolyn and Freddy, so as soon as we get the I600 approval, we can request embassy appointments and send in the applications.  Yesterday, we got the updated home study.  We were advised by our agency that the court process has already started, so we will supplement with the home study.  We also have to amend our I600A approval for three kids, so that request went out today.  Moving right along!

In other news, we found our bunk beds.  They are white and wood, and the best part is that they are $125.  DH found them on Craigslist, and we are picking them up on Saturday.  They may even have some used mattresses we can have as well.  I’m hunting now for discount bedding.

We also finished a photo book for the kiddos, and a family who is traveling in May is going to take it for us.  DH had a fabulous idea that we blow up the pics of the kids, cut them out and take photos of them in everyday situations.  Then, he wrote a little rhyming story to go along with it.  It’s adorable and hilarious.  We call them “Flat Kids.”  Tonight, I will write the text in Lingala, and we will send it off to our messengers.

It’s a crazy time in our house.  We are on edge, nervous, anxious, cranky, and overwhelmed.  So much change is coming, but it’s not here yet.  The verse we studied this week in small group says:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,  redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is(Ephesians 5:15-17)

The days are evil!  Around every corner I can feel it.  The Devil is pushing at me so hard to veer off the path.  I am constantly giving in to my own worries and selfishness.  We are praying that the Lord protects us and our marriage from the evil and from our own sin.   We pray that we will understand what God’s will is during this challenging time, and that we will redeem the time for good.

Christmas & Adoption

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!

The Forgiveness

Forgiveness is such a part of adoption. When we are adopted, we are forgiven – reconciled to the Father through the death of the Son. I think about forgiveness a lot in the context of the adoption of our children as well. They are not being individually forgiven (since they have done nothing to forgive), but they are being reconciled – brought into – our family from a place of separation. A hurt has been done – it is the fallen-ness of the world that makes them orphans – a result of the existence of evil and sin. Then there are real things that will need to be forgiven – Will my children forgive me for not being there when they were born, for not coming sooner, for ripping them away from their homeland and culture? Will they forgive their birth family for the loss of their family of origin?
Forgiveness is so hard…it’s truly impossible. This morning, the Spirit led me to the phrase “the Forgiveness of Sins.” Jesus is not only the Forgiver, but he is the Forgiveness. Forgiveness is not of the the world. It’s supernatural – Christ on the Cross reconciling us with the Father, His Blood washing away our filthy stains.

How do we translate that into our daily practice of forgiving others? How do we live Jesus’ words in Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” It can only be done through the Cross – through Jesus, The Forgiveness. There’s no method, no set of steps. The Forgiveness has happened; the debt paid. Christ offers forgiveness, as His hands and feet, we are commanded to do the same. When we deny the Forgiveness to others, we deny Christ himself.