Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Orphan's Ticket Home

America World Adoption Association - which is the agency working with us on this journey to Abigail - embarked on a huge task this year. They are seeking to raise money for orphans around the world. This money will lead to adoption for many children and families. If your new to the adoption world and just being educated on international adoption in general, you may not realize that many of those 130 million+ orphans around the world are not available for adoption. Why? You might ask, as we did. The answer...the regions in which they are located do not have the resources to obtain the documents that the governments require in order for adoption to occur. These children are growing up without families because of a lack of resources. America World wants to do something about that - to make resources available, but as we all know that requires $money$. So, if you are looking for a great cause to give $$$ to - PLEASE consider An Orphan's Ticket Home. Check out the Badge above or below to learn more about how the $ is being spent.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

FAQ #1

So, we felt like there are some things that we have yet to address. Reading back over our first post, we initially said that there was more to our decision to adopt that would have to be posted when more time presented itself. Well, seeing that we have both been slackers, that just hasn't happened yet. Therefore we decided to go ahead and offer some questions and give our answers(many of these are found in our home study). In case you didn't know, you go through this sort of interview and evaluation process - otherwise known as a home study - to begin the adoption journey. So, here goes:

Why do you want to adopt?

Well, for myself (Missy) I've considered adoption since sometime in junior high. I look back now and see that God was even then shaping my mind and heart to pursue adoption. It wasn't until I was in seminary,though, that I came to understand that we are all adopted by God. One day I was reading Romans 8, and all of sudden it became so real. You see, God had foreordained that a man that had no part in my birth would become my loving earthly father. He would call me his own and make it known that I belonged to him no matter how I resisted him. He loved as only a father would. It was in that moment that it all came together for me. My daddy here on earth was a tangible example of a Heavenly Father whose love patiently waited to be reciprocated. He made me His own too...through Jesus. If I didn't already have the resolve to adopt at some point, I most assuredly did after that revelation. I wanted to be what my dad had been in my life in the life of someone else - to be that living example of God's love.

Adoption was a topic of discussion before Monte and I were ever engaged. Once we were married it became more and more important to us, but always for sometime later. We bought the lies of all the things that "need" to happen before children become part of the family picture - such as: more money,a home we own, education, well-established careers,birth children first,etc. Fortunately for us, the Lord broke through those lies and completely opened our hearts to begin the pursuit of adoption in the Spring of 2007. Our dossier (a large file all about us) was shipped to China in October 2007 and logged into the Chinese computer system on Oct. 22, 2007 (that's our LID - Log in Date).

We want to adopt because God planted the thought in us. He developed that thought into a great love for a child we have not yet seen. At this point, knowing she is across the sea makes us all the more determined to adopt.

Jill's Fantastic GiveAway

Jill is giving away this fantastic basket full of goodies! You should stop by and enter the giveaway. Afterall, doesn't everyone LOVE a FREE Gift! Oh, and you don't have to have a blog -you don't even have to personally know her - to leave a comment and, don't be lame have a little fun and enter! Click here to head on over there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

We had a GREAT worship service and fellowship meal this past Sunday. Monte preached on Psalm 100 - taking a short break from the book of John. One of the points of application in his sermon was that if we have a thankful heart, then we will voice that thanks. He shared a couple of things that he was thankful, and then invited the congregation to participate. Anyone that knows our church, knows that we are not quick to volunteer for anything - especially sharing in public speech. But this particular Lord's Day was amazing. People began popping up all around the room to share in giving thanks to our Great God! What a blessing that it was to hear our church family giving thanks!

I am so thankful for a husband that loves the Lord and loves me. We share in God's heart for adoption and so much more - for the unity God has created in us I am very thankful. I anxiously await the day that we can share in giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for bringing Abigail home to us. We have already been blessed beyond measure...with the love Jesus showed in His life, death, and resurrection. How grateful I am that He never gives up on me, He continues to teach me and offer me new beginnings! Can't wait to share all of these things with the children God gives us.

Thanksgiving is Here! We both LOVE Thanksgiving. We can't wait to see our family in Arkansas - and of course, to eat lots of yummy food! I'm also looking forward to listening to the above Thanksgiving book on our road trip...check it's a great way to remember and celebrate this wonderful holiday. Don't forget to voice what you are thankful for...make that grateful heart of your's known and give praise to the Giver of all good gifts. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FIC Conference

A few weeks ago (Oct 10-12) Missy and I went to a Family Integrated Church (FIC) conference that was put on by Voddie Baucham's church in Spring, TX (near Houston). The FIC model rejects age segregated programming, arguing that these programs undermine the family and encourage parents to let the "professionals" teach their children about the faith, when the Bible clearly instructs parents to do this.

I left with conflicted emotions. Missy and I spent more than four years @ FBCWS working in youth ministry, and four years later there is very little fruit to show for all our efforts. And now we know some of why that is so. It wasn't our job! It was the parents' job. It wasn't God's plan. It was our plan. Now we're trying to use God's plan. It's so weird, because it isn't primarily just a different way of doing things. It is a different way of thinking. And that takes time.

The road that led us to attending an FIC conference was us attempting to get ourselves ready to raise Abigail. I just think, if God has used her to change us so much even before she has gotten here, what does he have in store for us as we seek to raise her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? I'm so looking forward to this challenge. But it does make me much afraid.

Do You Hear the Cry of the Orphan?

We didn't realize until last year that we Americans have a National Adoption Awareness Month, and maybe you didn't either. It just so happens that November is that month. In conjunction with that, many Christian organizations have joined hands to promote awareness of the plight of the orphan around the world. FamilyLife, Focus on the Family, and Crown Financial are each providing airtime on their daily programs to inform and educate us about the orphan. So, go take a listen - I'm sure that you'll benefit just as I have.

Currently the statistics show that there are 130 million children that are orphans on our planet Earth. Whether God is calling you to adopt or not, He is calling each of us to do something. The church cannot neglect this responsibility any longer. American Christians very well may be the wealthiest (in more ways than one) Christians ever. I recently heard another statistic that grieved my heart - the Christian population in America on average gives away only 4% of their income - whether that is to a church, charity, etc. Now I am NOT saying that we can just "throw" money at the plight of the orphans and produce a solution. What I am saying is that Almighty God - Commander in Chief of all creation (including us) - has commanded us to go and His hands and feet. If our giving is a reflection of where our hearts are, then the worldwide plight of the orphan is probably not even on our radar. Our Great Heavenly Father has shown us compassion, and He requires us to do the same - whether it be with our time, service, resources, money, etc. He "demands my soul, my life, my all."
What is your part in that? Here are just few possibilities:
  1. Take a trip - go visit the orphan - help improve their resources.
  2. Well, maybe you are physically unable to go yourself - but you could help send someone else.
  3. You could sponsor an orphan not only with money, but with prayers, letters, and gifts.
  4. Ask God if adoption could be part of His plan for you.
  5. Help someone else adopt.
  6. Be a voice for the orphan...educate others.

Adoption is really just a small part of the solution. Most likely, though, there are more people that should be answering God's call to adopt that aren't. Above all else, the church could collectively drop to our knees and petition the Lord on their behalf - let Him reshape our hearts and transform our minds. He has given us instructions, why are we so hesitant to follow?

Please visit Learn more, PRAY, and take action.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

8 Things...

So, Jill shared this tag and I liked it - so here goes(by the way, these are Missy's choices, although Monte does share in many of them!) :

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch:
1. Lost (Looking forward to it's return and getting some answers...would love to have a watch party for the season opener)
2. Psych (the 80s and 90s references are great fun)
3. Burn Notice
4. Jon & Kate Plus 8
5. 17 Kids and Counting
6. Heroes
7. America's Test Kitchen (all-time fave cooking show)
8. PTI (had trouble thinking of 8, so I let Monte pick one all his own - definitely all his own)

8 Favorite Restuarants:
1. Panera Bread
2. Yen Jing (the BEST Chinese ever - and it's local)
3. Pappadeaux's
4. Macaroni Grill
5. TaMolly's
6. Carraba's
7. Carino's
8. UNO's

8 Things That Happened Today:
1. Made some homemade blueberry buttermilk pancakes for breakfast
2. Went to visit some MIA church members
3. Went on a lunch date to the Dairy Queen
4. Went shopping for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes
5. Picked up some last minutes groceries
6. Watched Facing the Giants with our church
7. Completed most of the cooking for tomorrow
8. Sadly, I left the kitchen a mess!

8 Things I Look Forward To:
1. The Lord's Day...getting to worship together tomorrow!
2. Tomorrow's fellowship meal - we've started having lunch every week
3. Whatever Monte will teach and preach next
4. Discipleship with my"lil sisters"-fellow daughters of the King
5. Going to Costco this week
6. Thanksgiving
7. Finishing When Joy Came to Stay by Karen Kingsbury
8. Christmas

8 Things On My Wish List(it just so happens that I keep a running list on our computer...sorry if that's a little weird):
1. Digital Piano - I want to start taking lessons again and this would definitely be helpful - can't wait until I have enough saved up for it!
2. "God's Design for Women" - a message series from Alistair Begg
3. To Kill a Mockingbird on dvd
4. A Potato Bin - we desperately need one!
5. Eat It - it's a board game I found on a toy store website last looked fun!
6. Some of those pie crust cutters like Jill has...they look Awesome!
7. Pajamas...for some reason I always love a new set of pjs!
8. The Ever Loving Truth by Voddie Baucham

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"The Necessity of Persistence"

This book has some great encouragement on so many levels. We found it in the clearance section at a Mardel, and we were immediately drawn to the title. For us, we desperately long for the little girl we know as Abigail. We eagerly wait to see her and however many more children God wants entrust to us - whether He gives them through adoption or birth. With that said, one particular day - back in September I believe - I(Missy) was especially discouraged because China was still extremely backlogged. As a matter of fact, things haven't changed much at all. America World received only 3 referrals this past week, and they were all for families that have been waiting since February of 2006. In case you weren't sure what that means - these families have been waiting for almost 3 yrs - which means that our estimated wait time guessed it I'm sure - almost 3 yrs. We have only put in a little over a year now. Oh, how our hearts ache at times! We may not know what it's like to see the visible effects of a child growing in a womb that will one day be a part of our family, but our hearts definitely already know Abigail. She is no less real to us or a part of us than if God had created her through us. So, what do you do in situation that is completely out of your control? The way I see it, there are 2 choices - despair or rest in the hope of the One that holds the hearts of kings in His hand and directs them like a watercourse wherever He pleases.(Proverbs 21:1)
With all that said, back on that discouraging day in September, as our Great Heavenly Daddy would have it, I read this fitting devotional for the day - and here is a piece of it:
And will not God bring about
justice for His chosen ones,
who cry out to Him day and
Will he keep putting them off?
I tell you, He will see that
they get justice, and quickly.
- Luke 18:7-8
"In the tale of 'the persistent widow,' an indifferent, arrogant judge refused to handle
a widow's case. The widow kept coming to his home and begging him to rule on her behalf. The judge finally agreed to grant her request, but only because he grew tired of her consistent pestering. How do you picture God? Do you see God as the indifferent judge who must be worn down by your repeated prayers? Do you feel exhausted and even angry that your any pleas have gone unanswered and wonder if you should keep on asking? Jesus reassures us in this parable that if an evil judge can be swayed by sheer persistence, a loving God surely listens to repeated cries and, at the appropriate time, will move quickly to act...Jesus tells us not to lose heart as we 'cry out to Him day and night' because He is going to act on our behalf...It is His good pleasure to act on your behalf, in His perfect timing."
What a wonderful reminder this was and still is - our God is so much bigger than anything we face. His timing is perfect and His ways are so mysterious to us - and all motivated by His love. Please continue to PRAY with us that many sons and daughters would come home from China and around the world (in case you weren't aware - our enemy has been at work in international adoption - many countries are experiencing long delays and setbacks) before 2008 comes to a close.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Little Something from Family Worship this Morning

We've been in the practice of Family Worship time for a few months now. Some may ask, "Why have family worship when there is just the 2 of you?" I would respond, "Why not?" In all seriousness, it has played a vital role in strengthening our walk with the Lord as a couple and just our relationship in general. Our Heavenly Father has used this journey to Abigail to teach us many things and grow us in so many ways. We know that we are more unified TODAY than before we embarked on this journey. We eagerly await the day that there are children to spend these times of family worship with, and we also cherish these times we have just the 2 of us with the Lord. The thought of Abigail was the catalyst to learn about and begin family worship, but oh how we both wish we would have begun family worship during our first year together. In case your interested or perhaps uneducated in matters of family worship as we were (and we continue to learn and try new elements), here is what our's consists of:
  • Sing a song (from iworship dvd, accapella from hymnal,etc.)

  • Reading in unison from something like the Apostle's Creed, Beatitudes, the Shema, 10 Commandments, etc.
  • Sing another song

  • Read Scripture and Discuss it

  • Pray together

We are currently reading through Psalms. This morning we were reading Psalm 16. Here is one thing that stuck out to us:

"LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." (v. 6-7)

We discussed what an encouragement David's trust in the Lord's faithfulness is in this Psalm. We saw David's heart of contentment in what the Lord provides. As we wait for Abigail, it is at times discouraging and heartwrenching. Our hearts long to meet her, but that meeting is withheld by government bureaucreacy. Even still, our joy is in our GOD - and our cup runneth over with His rich blessings. He has made our lot secure - He is soveriegn over all things, even governments. Reminds me of "It is Well With My Soul" - one of our favorite hymns, maybe we'll have to sing it in family worship tomorrow!

Anyone else out there having family worship? We'd love to read about it...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Just Found Out About This Movie

Looks like another promising film is coming out - Oct. 10th - can't wait to check it out!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Something I Read Recently

The waiting process is filled with lots of learning and growing. America World (our adoption agency) has some required reading for the time spent waiting. Of course, just like in school, Monte & I have both procrastinated. Now we are "hitting the books" to fulfill our commitment. We figure that if we are asking God to bring Abigail home for Thanksgiving we better take that request serious on our end. So, I've been reading The Whole Life Adoption Book.

Since most of you out there are family and friends, I thought that I'd share something I learned from my reading today - a few good quotes from the chapter that addresses preparing biological children, family, and friends. Here goes...

Natural Child: any child who is not artificial.
Real Parent: any parent who is not imaginary.
Your own child: any child who is not someone else's child.
Adopted child: a natural child, with a real parent, who is all my own.
- Rita Law

The following came from a table in this same chapter...

Positive Language for Discussing Adoption

Positive Terminology.................. Negative Terminology
Birth parent (father,mother).................Real Parents
Child joined the family............................Child was put up for adoption
Child came to us through adoption.......Child was surrendered or abandoned
Their birth children.................................Their own children (when excluding the adopted child)
My child.....................................................My adopted child
The waiting child......................................The hard-to-place child
Special/medical needs child....................Handicapped/difficult child
Search, reunion.........................................Track down his/her real parents

This chapter ended with some answers from a spiritual perspective to some common questions about adoption:

1st Question - "Why would you accept someone else's child as your own?"
Answer - Voluntary Redemptive Suffering - It is a voluntary choice to promise to a stranger's child - "We will be your family, forever, by our choice to do so." It is redemptive in that it restores to the child the dignity of life that was ripped away. And the exhausted with no guarantees of what tomorrow will bring to care for a seriously ill hear the words - "You're not my real mom/dad," and respond with love in the pain of that not be able to erase the past that has become a barrier for this child to receive affection. We adopt because we live our lives by a spiritual principle - voluntary redemptive suffering.
2nd Question - "What makes this child adoptable?"
Answer - The Value of Life Itself - The value of a life is not determined by its productivity or the convenience of its presence. Ugly consequences of severe abuse, debilitating handicaps, age, or race are not factors that determine the value of a life - beyond all of these is a child - a creation of God. This child is "a life that by virtue of its very existence has worth, value, and promise. He or she is a child in need of adoption." Families like us choose to adopt because of our strong belief in the value of life - we are guided by the Giver of life Himself.
So, there you have it - a little adoption education so to speak. May we all be challenged to view life from God's perspective - to learn from and follow His example of adoption of us.
"In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." - Ephesians 1:5-6

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2 Cats & 2 Dogs

We once were a 1 cat family. Then, Cali needed a friend. She really did need one. She was horribly miserable when we would leave her home alone. I'm sure that anyone that would feed her while we would be away thought we were the worst cat owners alive. So, we found Yoda (don't let the name mislead you she's a girl too)- and now Cali is definitely not lonely when we go away for awhile. They're both happy and content as long as we leave what we call "the buffet" out for them.

In January 0f 2006 we stopped to look at some lab puppies in Greenville. They were adorable, but $150 each. So, we went home without a puppy. About a week later, Monte called this same owner - they still had 2 or 3 left. We went back the next Saturday. I held Lucy, she wagged her tail, and we had ourselves a lab puppy for $100.

Presently, about a month ago Lucy found a whiny pup hiding in our bushes. We had to coax her out. She was badly injured on one side of her little body. We couldn't just leave her. So, we made an appointment with the vet. He said she had a very bad chemical burn. He also said that she would most likely have a complete recovery, and the financial damage would not be too bad. She looked like a german shepherd - about 4 months old. So, with vet bill in hand we had a new addition - finally a real friend for Lu, the cats aren't too friendly with her!?! All that to say her name is Ginger, and she is now a happy growing german shepherd puppy!

We've got amazing parents! My dad came out and built us a fence for these 2 rambunctious dogs. They love it, and so do we!?! We're praying Abigail doesn't having any allergies to dogs or cats, but at least now the dogs can be outside most of the time. For now, Monte has to live with a house full of females!?!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Finishing a Book Feels Good...

I finished reading Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret last week, and it feels like such an accomplishment. It's funny how simple things like reading a book can make you feel good. I chose this biography of Hudson Taylor because it told the story of his obedience to our Lord Jesus to go and tell the Gospel to the Chinese people. It seems we are both drawn to anything that might give us greater understanding of the country where Abigail waits for us to bring her home. As I read of Taylor's interactions with the Chinese people, I often thought of her birth family. Our prayer is not only for Abigail to come home for Thanksgiving, but for her birth parents to know the gracious love of God. I cannot imagine having to abandon a much greater the pain of that loss will be without the loving arms of a Savior to bring comfort and restoration.

I learned what an amazing faith-filled relationship that he had with the Lord. His story was such an encouragement - describing the sovereignty of God in so many circumstance. The lessons from his prayer life were enormous. There were times that hope seemed lost and a situation impossible, but he never gave up making his requests to heaven. Over and over God moved His hand and the miraculous occurred. All was definitely not perfect, and there were many sad and disappointing turns - yet through each moment the pages were filled with the story of a brother in Christ that truly learned to Abide in Him. I love this closing quote that the book ends with from Taylor himself:

"There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world. An easy, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. There are not two Christs-an easy-going one for easy-going Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him, and thus bear much fruit?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You know that you're an adoptive parent (or should be) if:

  1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.
  2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.
  3. You can't watch Adoption Stories on TLC without sobbing.
  4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted 1 child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you.
  5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who have experienced the blessing of adoption.
  6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about an adopted child's "real" parents.
  7. You have ever been "pregnant" with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth.(2 years!)
  8. You had no idea how you would afford to adopt but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing where God calls you He will provide.
  9. You have ever taken an airplane ride half-way around the world with a child you just met.
  10. You believe God's heart is for adoption.
  11. You realize that welcoming a child into your heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.
  12. You know what the word "Dossier" means, and you can actually pronounce it!
  13. You have welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.
  14. You shudder when people say your child is so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you are the blessed one to have him or her in your life.

Author Unknown

We found this list on another America World family blog and just wanted to share it. Who knows, maybe as you read it, God will open your mind and heart to the blessing of adoption.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Waiting

It seems like forever since we began this process. I'm sure it seems even longer to family and friends. Our LID (log in date for our paperwork making it to China - basically begins your place in line waiting) was only a little over 4 months ago - October 22nd. We know that all reports say that the wait will be extensive, but when you know that you know something - how can you not wait? Maybe just maybe God wants to do a miracle in China, and He wants to call out as many of His people as possible to be a part of it.

"...The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful." - James 5:16

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Beginning

The real beginning was actually much longer ago, but that is another story for when there is more time. The Summer of 2006 we began our serious discussion of planning out how we saw God shaping our family. Adoption would most definitely be a part of that - but from where? We were intrigued by stories of little girls from China. A few months went by without any further discussion - adoption was for a little later we thought...Christmas 2006 would bring everything into a much clearer light. Third Day and Steven Curtis Chapman both released Christmas albums with songs about orphans and adoption. The Father truly used those to stir our hearts even more toward adoption. We also attended a FamilyLife Conference that Dec., at which we bought a Bible Study about Adoption. God began to use this Bible study and those songs to put an ache in our hearts for the little girl we now call Abigail.
It wasn't until April 2007 that we began the process with America World. Our paperwork was completed and sent to China in October 2007. Now, we just wait...PRAY and wait.