Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lessons from a Big Black Truck

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means 
caring for orphans and widows in their distress and 
refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

I am pretty sure that there has never been a sermon or seminar on adoption that hasn't quoted James 1:27.  It's the "go-to" verse when considering the plight of orphans and widows.  It is a verse that has always been near and dear to my heart, but, honestly, I couldn't quite see how the last part of the verse about not letting the world corrupt you went with the orphans and widows part.  It always seemed kind of just stuck on the end.

But it was pretty simple in the mind of a child, my child, Gabriel.  I realized how much God was doing in his heart through this adoption, all because of a big black truck.

About two months ago, there was a big BEAUTIFUL black truck that was for sale on the side of the road near our house.  We would pass this truck at least twice a day, and Tollie would always tease the boys that Mommy was going to buy him that truck.  (They had NO idea how hilarious that thought actually was!)  And so, one day, the boys and I were in the car, and Gabriel made a comment about the truck as we passed by it once again.  So I said, "Well, you know, Gabriel, we could buy that truck, but we just wouldn't be able to adopt a baby sister."  His sweet, simple response brought tears to my eyes.  He said, "Yeah, but in a few years that truck would probably be broken, but a baby sister is forever."

And that's when I realized that he got it.  He got the meaning of James 1:27 perfectly.  This lesson that was so hard for me to understand was simple to him.  He got that fact that stuff tears up, but Meilí and Aaron Lí will be our babies forever.  

And now, it makes sense to me too - how perfectly this verse goes together.  Now when I read James 1:27, my brain translates it something like this:

"Don't let a big black truck stop you from following Me 
to care for orphans and widows."   

And, who knows, maybe one day God will give us a big black truck, but if He doesn't, I am totally fine with that.  We all are.  

So thankful for the lessons we learned from that big black truck. 

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, 
and he will give you everything you need."  
Matt 6:33

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Introducing Our Son Aaron Lí

"I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy;  what god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples."
Ps. 77:12-14

I don't even quite know how to begin telling this story.  And I am hesitant to even try.  It is so big that I can hardly get my mind around it and putting it into words seems impossible.  But this is the story of God's love for an orphan and how He has moved heaven and earth to "set him in the safety for which he longs" (Ps. 12:5).  This is the story of how God has brought us our son, Aaron Lí.

As many of you know, God matched us with our daughter Meilí just three weeks ago, on December 28th, 2012.  And it has been our great hope that God would give us a second baby before our three-week window of opportunity to be matched came to a close.

As time ticked away, I began to wonder whether God really was going to give us a second baby.  And, although I could not wait to adopt our precious daughter Meilí, there were still two babies in my heart.  

We prayed fervantly.  We asked others to join us in petitioning God for our second baby.  We did everything we knew to do, and yet God still had not moved.

He was waiting.

Then, four nights ago, after a day of fasting, I finally sensed Him moving.  It was during a precious hour at church while I was all alone, that He began to speak to me through His Word.

He prompted me to open His Word to Psalms.  I started in Psalms 55 and began to flip backwards, reading all the verses I had underlined at one time or another.  I got to Psalm 12:5, this is what I read: 

"'Because of the devastation of the afflicted, 
because of the groaning of the needy,
Now I will arise,' says the Lord; 
'I will set him in the safety for which he longs.'"

I cried out again to the Lord for my baby.  I pleaded with Him to arise, reveal our baby and set this baby in the safety of our family, even writing my prayer in the margin of my Bible.  

As I continued back through the Psalms, the very next underlined verses I came to were Psalm 10:17-18:

"O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;  
You will strengthen their heart,
You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of earth will no longer cause terror."  

It was at that moment God gave me hope again, and by those verses I wrote,  "I believe You will answer our humble prayer for Baby #2."

And He did, the very next day.

On Thursday morning, God brought to my mind a little boy that Tollie and I had seen on our adoption agency's website a couple of weeks earlier. At the time, we did not request to look at his file because we were unfamiliar with his medical needs. But this morning, I felt urgency to look at his file.  After talking with Tollie again, I called my agency to request his file. 

At 3:00 that afternoon, I received his file and began wading through all his medical and developmental history.  After spending some time reviewing his information, I began to look at the pictures that I had received of him. 

My heart melted with each picture I opened, but there was one picture that made my heart completely stop.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  In that picture, I saw a precious face I knew I had seen before.  With trembling hands, I quickly pulled up the Hope Blanket Pictures that I had received seven months earlier in May, 2012.  

And there he was, wrapped up in a pink and white Hope Blanket.  

The next seven hours were a complete whirlwind of activity with Tollie and I trying to get our mind wrapped around what was happening.  The first thing I did was to call our family coordinator to confirm that this was in fact that little boy because she was the one who helped us get our blankets to China and  was also the one who sent me the Hope Blankets pictures that were taken in China.  Her words were, "Yes, Ashley.  I had not made the connection until just now, but yes, that is the same baby.  Wow, this is crazy." Um, yes, this was totally unbelievable!

God provided two amazing doctors that night, the exact doctors we needed to help us figure out his medical needs, and by 1 AM Friday morning, we knew he was ours.  By 9:00 AM on Friday morning, we had submitted our request to adopt him as our son.

There are so many more miracles to this story than I can even share at this moment, so many things God was doing behind the scenes to make this all happen, and I am completely humbled by the great love of our Father.

He is a Father who knows us by name, who saw this little boy that needed a family and saw a family that needed him, and who moved heaven and earth to bring us together.

We are in awe of this amazing God we serve, and we are unworthy but so very grateful that He has chosen to bless us with six precious, hand-picked children.

This amazing story is a testimony of God's mighty power and sovereignty, and we want to shout it from the rooftops for one reason, and one reason alone:

"That they may know that YOU alone, 
whose name is the Lord, 
are the Most High over all the earth." 
Ps 83:18

He is worthy of all glory and all honor, and we adore Him for all He has done to bring us our precious daughter Meilí and our son Aaron Lí.  

Praise His wonderful name!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sharing Our Story on "Your Carolina"

Sweet Hands of Meilí

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, January 15) we have been invited to share our adoption story on WSPA's "Your Carolina" television show at 10:00.  We are very thankful for this opportunity to spotlight adoption and adoption fundraising.  We hope to encourage others to consider adoption and God's call to care for orphans in James 1:27:

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."

Although we want to take every opportunity to give glory to God's wonderful name and to promote adoption, I'll be honest in saying that I am very nervous.  I really don't know what to expect, and for a planner like me, that's hard!  But as I came before the Lord this morning, confessing my fear, and asking Him to fill me with peace, He gave me just the word I needed in Psalm 27:14: 

"Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord."

He was reminding me that I don't have to have it all figured out.  I don't have to know exactly what I am going to say or how long I am going to have to say it.  I just need to wait on Him, knowing that He is faithful to complete the good work which He started.  

Thank you, Lord, for Your word and Your peace.  May I never miss any opportunity to bring honor and glory to Your holy name, and may Your name be high and lifted up tomorrow for all to see Your greatness.

"But as for me, the nearness of the Lord is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works."
Psalm 73:28

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rest in Me

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
will rest the shadow of the Almighty.
Ps. 91:1

"Stop striving."  That is what God gently spoke to my heart last night.  "Trust Me," He whispered, because for the last few days, I haven't been trusting.  I haven't been resting.  I have been struggling and striving, taking things into my own hands, looking and searching and looking for Baby #2.  I have been  anxiously watching the clock as the time for us to be matched with another baby slips away. 

Let me explain how it works.  When adopting two babies from China at the same time, there is a very specific process and timeline.  It is a little bit complicated, but a simple explanation is that a family cannot be matched with Baby #2 until they are matched with Baby #1.  

In our case, the matching process of Baby #2 couldn't really begin until we were officially matched with Meilí on December 28, 2012.  We now have a very small window of time to find a second baby that would be a good fit for our family.  That window of time is from the day we submitted our request to China to adopted Meilí to the day China gives official approval to adopt her, which is about three weeks.  Our three weeks is up in eight days.  

Eight days to find a second baby, to review the file ourselves, to review the file with a pediatrician and with an international specialist, and then to submit a letter requesting to adopt this child.  A process that took two years with Meilí must be accomplished in eight days.

And to make matters more complicated, right now our agency isn't expecting to get any more files on babies available for adoption in the next few weeks, and, more than likely, China won't be adding new files of babies available for  adoption on their list until the end of the month.

So, basically, IT'S GOING TO TAKE A MIRACLE.  

But, praise God, He is in the miracle-making business!  And, I know, I KNOW, that if we are supposed to adopt two babies, He will do it, at JUST THE RIGHT TIME because NOTHING is too difficult for Him.

And so, once again, the Lord takes me back to the story of Peter on the water. He reminds me that when Peter had his eyes on Jesus, he did the impossible.  But as soon as he focused on his circumstances, he sank like a rock.  

For the last few days, I having been sinking, focused on my circumstances and not on Him.  I have forgotten that my circumstances are under HIS control.  But through the prayers of so many dear friends, I am remind that He is all I need.  That He has to be my focus.  That only when I dwell in Him will I have rest.  

So, for these next eight days, we wait.  Wait for God to move.  Wait for His miracle.  And when I reflect over our journey so far, all the miracles He has already done to bring us to this place, (in the words of a dear friend), "What's one more miracle, right??"  Yes, Josh, you are right, what's one more miracle for a God who is

El Elyon, the Most High God, sovereign over everything,

Jehovah-jireh, our Provider,

El Roi, the God who sees,

Jehovah-raah, our Shepherd,

El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One.

So I will rest in Him.  I will focus on Him.  I will wait on Him.  I will remember what He is has already done and will claim His faithful promises for the future.  I am His, and He is mine, and He promises to worked it all out for our good.  Hallelujah, what a Savior.

"I will dwell in the shelter of the Most High God.
I will rest in the beauty of Your presence.
Your faithful is a shield and my great reward.
I will not be afraid.  I will trust in the Lord."

from Dwell by Aaron Keyes
Click here the listen to the song.