Friday, October 23, 2009

H1N1 - walking by faith in the fog of hysteria

I have a confession to make.  As we've approached piggy flu season, I have been weighing whether to immunize my son who is in a high risk for complications category...with the hysteria about the flu mixed with hysteria about the vaccines themselves, it is easy to get caught up in the fog of fear.  This week I met with our pediatrician and truly had a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" mindset as we talked through the options.  What a statement of unbelief!

Later that day I was reading in Ephesians, about how we're blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, chosen from before the foundation of the world, predestined to adoption as sons, made accepted in the Beloved, redeemed through His blood, and on goes the Apostle Paul with all kinds of reasons for us to bless the Lord and trust Him fully.

My kids will be reciting their memory verses this morning at our Honeycomb Kid's meeting (a home school group of sorts for those of you unfamiliar with it), and they've memorized a good portion of Romans 8, so in addition to reading Ephesians, God brought to my mind the text we've been memorizing together...nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ, not tribulation, not distress, not peril, not flus, not shots, NOTHING.

And I sat there ashamed of my unbelief as the conversations I have had recently about H1N1 replayed in my mind.  What was I saying, by implication, about my Father?  We are not "damned" if we do; "damned" if we don't!  We are in the arms of the Sovereign God who is our Father, who loves us and works all things together for our good, who can be fully trusted.

That doesn't mean hard things do not happen.  But as God's kids we shouldn't be walking around gripped with fear, expecting the worst.  Hard things are not a result of bad luck or chance, they are not a matter of statistics.  When we face difficulties, we do so by design and the design belongs to the One who loves us best.

So flu or no flu, shots or no shots, complications or no complications, I want to live each day by faith in God who is eternally worthy of our praise and trust and obedience.  He says if we lack wisdom, which I certainly do, to ask and He will give it liberally and without reproach (James 1:5)...that is my new course of action. Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday Paul

Last night I kissed my four year old son goodbye, and am looking forward to welcoming my 5 year old to a new day within the hour.  Today is Paul's birthday and I welcome you to rejoice with us as you go through your day, giving thanks to our Father who sets the solitary into families.  We are so glad He set Paul into ours!

Through the brief number of his years so far:

Year 2,

Year 3, playing with the gift Legos he'd opened earlier in the day:

Year 4, the year he REALLY got into weapons, and learned better how to protect the women in his life from "the bad guys":

And since today IS his birthday and he is still sleeping,
I don't have this year's pictures,
but here are a few we took recently at Bauman Farms:

I am off to finish preparing his banner which was printing while I wrote to you ...he'll be awake soon.
Yeah, let the celebrations begin!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beatrice's story

Good morning.  I am back after a week of a crazed schedule, and I so enjoyed the simple pleasure of sitting quietly at my desk catching up on my friend's blogs.

This morning, I want to direct those of you who don't mind reading more than 50 words in a row to a blog I follow:  Loving the Least of These.

This post by Amy so beautifully illustrates the overflowing love of God that is described for us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.  Be encouraged to share the comfort of God you've received with others, then be amazed at what God does!  Thank you for sharing Beatrice's story with us Amy and Ben!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A day to celebrate!

Today is the anniversary of our B's finalization and thought I'd share the joy that continues to fill our house as we celebrate our little Sunshine, a full fledged member of our family for 6 years now! 

This little darling loves to help in the kitchen so we are off to create the dinner of her choice TOGETHER...there is no place I'd rather be.  Have a great day.  By God's grace, we will  :-).

Monday, October 12, 2009

What is our message?

Very near nine years ago, we received news that a newborn boy who we hoped to name Mitchell was not going to join our family as we had hoped.   His birth mom [referred to here as T] changed her mind at the last moment.

This is what I wrote in my journal: 
It has been five days since we've received the news that T's boy was welcomed into arms other than ours.  By God's grace, we have accepted this news as coming from God in love.  It was hard news, painful news, news that has brought many tears from our eyes and those who have been weeping with us.  BUT, we trust that God's arm was not too short to bring this baby to us if it had been His good pleasure to do so...we also trust that He has not disappointed us out of cruelty, but out of love.  We grieve, but we do not despair.  God is all-powerful and He is good.
The manifestations of His love through the body of Christ have moved me to tears as often as the pain I have felt in my heart...we have been carried in God's arms of mercy and are filled with thankfulness for His compassion and comfort and His people, for the simple providences like songs that come on the radio, the call from our caseworker extending T's apology, the cards and phone calls and hugs and tears of friends, etc...our God is faithful and He is all-wise...we trust that this too is being worked by Him for our good and His glory.
My good friend Gina sent me this quote from "The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart" in response to her hearing the news: 
She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship and was securing the accomplishment of His will and working out His own designs.  Whether she traced the secondary causes to the prayer of a child, to the imperfection of an individual, to obstacles arising from misunderstandings or to interference of outside agencies, she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God's ruling hand and to allow herself to be guided by it.
Can we recognize God's ruling hand when we see our plans upset?  I long to say yes with greater faithfulness, for I still respond according to my old nature all too often. I heard once that when we suffer, in whatever way (loss, sickness, injury, persecution, etc) that it is like God holding a megaphone up to our life...we are always preaching a message by the way we live and what we speak, but that message is magnified when there is pain or sorrow attached to it.  What is my message?  What is yours?  I so want to declare the goodness and love of my Savior at all times.  Please pray for me to be more faithful in declaring His unsurpassed worth and glory every day that He gives me breath.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quotes from All Things for Good

All Things for Good, by Thomas Watson, is a book I've been recommending to people for are a few quotes I like from the book:
  • If it is good for us, we shall have it; if it is not good for us, then the withholding of it is good.
  • The mercies of God make a sinner proud, but a saint humble.
  • Faith keeps the heart from sinking in despair, fear keeps it from floating in presumption.
  • As in a watch, the wheels seem to move contrary one to another, but all carry on the motions of the watch: so things that seem to move cross to the godly, yet by the wonderful providence of God work for their good.
  • God's rod is a pencil to draw Christ's image more lively upon us.
  • If God does not give you that which you like, He will give you that which you need.  A physician does not so much study to please the taste of the patient, as to cure his disease.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Last but not least, meet P

Hello Friends,

Our last cherub, unless the Lord should add to our number, is P.  His story is also filled with wonder and tender mercies as we look back and see the hand of God bringing us together.  I have started a journal for each of my children from the beginning of heart pangs and in January of 2004 I started one for P.  In the very first entry, I mentioned that people have often told me over the years how great it would be if I just got pregnant...though that would indeed offer obvious reasons for rejoicing (children are gifts, whichever way God gives them), I found myself fighting the sentiment for a couple reasons.

The biggest reason is that God has grown in me a passion to help fatherless ones get grafted into Christian families, and I love the privilege it is to be one of those families.  The lens of earthly adoption has helped me see the glorious gospel of God adopting us into His family so much more clearly.  I am moved daily to adore the Father of the fatherless, knowing I am no longer fatherless because of Him.  He is so worthy of imitation!

Secondly, the sentiment seems to implicate, whether intentionally or not, the idea that homegrown kids are preferable over grafted ones, and that adoption is a plan B sort of deal.  I believed those implications when adopting M, initially...I have since repented.  God tells us children are a heritage from Him, and truth be known, that includes grafted children EVERY bit as much as homegrown ones. 

So now, let's meet P, our son who just woke up asking how many more days until his birthday...he'll be 5 in a couple short weeks and excitement is brewing in his heart.  Ours too! He came home to us on May 18, 2005 (3 days shy of being 7 months old).  Here we are, at the airport, meeting him for the first time as his escort came off the plane:

At home, he let Daddy feed him his first bottle, with two strange girl faces watching him:

P was content and cheerful for the most part, from the get "grieving screaming" with this round of adoption, but what we did experience was a boy who would respond to just about everybody the was many, many months before he bonded to us as a family in particular.

The night before his homecoming, we received a call letting us know there was a question about whether he would be on the plane or not...he was sick and he hadn't passed the initial flight physical.  My anxiety-resistance muscles got a serious workout that night as I exercised trust in the Lord (who works all things together for good to those called according to His purpose).  He did make it on the plane, and we had fun trying to decipher the medicine packets that came with him (written in Korean).  We are good friends now with our Pediatrician, who we've seen often with P (and with R, especially early on)...he's had breathing issues, many trips to the ER/hospital for various things, and couldn't hear for about a month when he first came home, but I think it was nursing him through it all that bound us together so tightly.  He is so our boy!  And God has restored him to good health which we give Him all thanks for.

Every child comes with a labor all their own...but the labor itself is also a gift from God who draws us closer to Himself in such times.  Part of the labor in P's story was the need to raise funds for his adoption.  I'll write about that another day because this post is already getting long...for now, just enjoy some more pictures.  By eleven months old, P was able to swing on his own...his co-ordination continues to amaze us to this day:

In May of 2006, his adoption was finalized (we had 55 people at our house helping us celebrate!)...woo hoo!

I love my family: 

If it has to do with sports, weapons, food, music, or tools, P wants to be involved:


Oh yes, and exploring...this boy is the energizer bunny personified with a mind that competes with Curious George:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Memory Lane with R

Good morning,
     In the last post, you got to "meet" all my kids with the focus being on M.  Today, I'd like to share a little bit of R's story with you.  All three of our children were adopted with the help of HOLT and we are very thankful for our social worker, Sharon, who we count among our friends.  After M joined our family at the end of 2000, we knew we wanted to adopt again.  We mailed our application the day M turned 9 months old, and the journey officially began once more.
     We planned to adopt within the States again, but God tells us clearly that as we plan, He directs our steps.  There was a lot of redirecting that took place in this journey, but how thankful we are to God for His leading and for grafting R into our family...her story is amazing, as is she!
     We got to meet R for the first time on Oct 24, 2002 when she was 4 1/2 months old when our own social worker was able to escort her home for us.  Here she is when we first came home, still with her ID tag on her wrist, not sure what to make of all the changes she was enduring.

      We had been told many transitional stories so we had some ideas of what we might expect.  R struggled a lot with being "home" for about a month and my heart ached for her and all the changes she was having to caretakers, new sights, new sounds, new food, new smells.  Essentially, EVERYTHING she was familiar with was taken away from her in an instant.  I would cry too!  I cried with her.
     We hugged her, sang softly to her, and tried to comfort her the best we was like watching a flower unfold or bloom as she began to relax and fall in love with her family over the course of time.  Her two names in Korea, which we kept as her middle names, mean "love" and "bright" (like the sun) suits her very well.  We call her our little sunshine much of the time. Take a look at this smile and you won't wonder why:

Here is the day R became a big sister:

She has been in a number of she is loving on her Daddy at one of them:

Here are a few friends who came to celebrate R's 4th birthday...she is well loved.

She LOVED being in ballet: 

And gymnastics:

This past winter we were given a Winter Wonderland in our own backyard...many days of playing in snow and coming indoors for hot cocoa, which all the kids seemed to enjoy thoroughly. Truth be known, I did too!

We homeschool...R prefers the floor to the table when given the opportunity:

Here she is celebrating her 7th birthday:

      R is one of the most generous souls I know; she would give you the food off her plate and go without in order to give food to a hungry person.  She amazes me with her giving spirit.  She has been described by more than one person as an old soul in a young persons body, and I agree...her thoughts are deep and often full of wisdom far beyond her years.  She loves to read.  I finished a 500 page novel recently and she asked if I liked it...I had, so she wanted to read it.  Two days later, she had devoured the whole thing and we were able to discuss it. There are many things I could write about R that give me great pleasure!  I am so glad she is my girl.
     One of the ways God redirected our steps when adopting this second time was to shift us from a domestic program to a Korean one.  Then, when we were #6 on the waiting list, our social worker called and asked if we'd be open to looking at some "waiting kids" because there were a number of them all of a sudden with minor special needs.  We were open.
     Before I tell you more, I have to say that when we adopted P, we requested a boy in the process with no reservations, but in the process with R, Mike and I were divided...He wanted to request a boy and I had a hard time agreeing to it.  Before making the call to the "waiting children" program coordinator, we had to have a hearty talk about this, and I was ready to submit myself to his decision...if he was set on a boy, I didn't want the coordinator to talk to us about any girls.  When it came to the minute of decision, he said we should consider boys and girls.  So we made the call, and the coordinator sent us profiles on three children:  2 boys and 1 pathetic looking girl who seemed to cry out to us both the moment we laid our eyes on her!
    We talked with our pediatrician and based on medical reports, she was the least healthy of the three.  We discussed what we needed to know in order to care for her (just a list of minor "special needs" like gastrointestinal issues, recurring infections, a hernia; risks associated with low birth weight, etc).   
     It took us a few long weeks to get R assigned to us.  They had wanted us to get an updated medical report before making a final decision...we fought to get represented in committee, arguing the medical report would be what it was, a report about our daughter.  We simply wanted her growing up here with us, not in Korea due to strange regulations and paperwork.  It is a very odd thing that happens in adoption...she was not technically our daughter yet, but in our hearts she already was and we found ourselves fighting for her.
     The day came when we were brought before Committee and R was stamped with our name.  That very same day we got a call telling us our "healthy child" profile arrived that day:  Did we want to reconsider?  Nope.  We knew we were following where God was leading...we didn't even ask if it was a boy or girl.  We weren't buying a truck and being offered a "better deal"...we were gaining the daughter God had for us and we were more convinced than ever that this little girl was to be in our family.
     Later, that SAME day, we got another call.  R's updated medical report had finally reported her developmentally on track, the hernia had "spontaneously resolved" and other matters had significantly cleared up.  Praise the Lord.  Parents love to hear this kind of news about their child, but their love doesn't alter based upon it.
     I know this is lengthy, but believe me this is the extremely condensed version!  You're only still reading if you are interested anyway, right?  So R is our "special needs" girl...she is needy just like all children, and she is certainly special.  We give God thanks daily for her!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Introducing M

Good morning Friends,
     Today I'd like to introduce you to my oldest daughter, who I will refer to by her first initial M.  The journey to bringing her home has far too many details to record, but I will say this:  God is able to make a way, where there is no way.
     The picture above was taken when she was 3 days old.  We adopted her locally and got to bring her home when she was 2 days old, the very same day we buried my Mother (who had died the day before M was born).  Long story there, but for now, suffice it to say that we are complex creatures that can weep and rejoice at the same time, all the while trusting the hand of the One who brings us every circumstance.  Twas an amazingly intense time!
Here's M at 18 months, in our garden:

     When M was 21 months old, we welcomed our next daughter home from S. Korea.  R came to us when she was 4 1/2 months old so the sisters are 17 months apart...too fun!  I love having them so close in age.  As soon as M saw her, she took her hand in her own and the two girls have been nearly inseparable ever since.  God is the one who knits families together, and knit us together He did.  We give Him all thanks and praise.

     2 1/2 years after we welcomed R home, our son P joined our family.  He came home 3 days shy of 7 months old, also from S. Korea.  This is a picture of M holding him for the first time:

     He was still in a daze there...who wouldn't be?  It wasn't long though, by the grace of God, that he broke through all the walls of weirdness that come with international adoptions...transitions come in lots of flavors, but God's grace is sufficient every day of the way.  M was very happy to get a little brother...she had been a chief prayer warrior along the journey's road, and a champ of a cheerleader when I'd get discouraged.  Here is a picture of M and P watering our flowers, which they had picked out for me as a Mother's Day gift:

     Time flies!  M will be 9 in December, and it seems like yesterday she was an infant in my arms.  I know if I blink a few more times, she'll be all grown up.  Here are a few more pics over the years for you to enjoy.  This one is of the three kiddos on an Easter Sunday:

Enjoying the Zip line at Bauman Farms...if you live in the area, this is a blast to visit on the weekends of Oct.:

P wanted to take a pic, so I had him take one of me with M...he's gotten pretty good with the camera :-)

M is airborne on her way into a pile of Fall leaves...this is so her personality!

Me, M, R, and P with a couple of our young friends at the top of the dune at Pacific City:

     Grandma taught M and R how to make a quilt this year...this is the one they made for their cousin who they love so much.  The week after week visits with Grandma were a blessing in so many ways.  Thank you Grandma!   I am so proud of their diligence and patience in this project...they did a fabulous job (and Grandma did a great job too, requiring a little patience of her own)!

     M, R, and P have all worked hard at raising funds every year since they could walk for the Pregnancy Resource Centers.  This year, they all ranked in the top 3 fundraisers for their age categories, together raising about $3,500.  They have taken to heart the cause of protecting the unborn and valuing life which God gives, and it is a blessed joy for me to see them grow in their enthusiasm and fruitfulness each year. 

M is making the camp fire while Daddy looks on:

     It amazes me that God has given Mike and I the privilege of raising M as our daughter.  We waited and prayed for 7 years before M was grafted into our family.  We have pondered Genesis 29:20 which tells us that "Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her" and wondered if that was expressing his perspective after he married her.  For NOW to us, those seven years seem only as a few days because of the love we have for M (not so while we lived them).