Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hungry for more Part 1

Somehow over the last several months I have been getting hungrier and hungrier. Maybier "thirstier" would be a better analogy, but honestly hunger just seems to fit the way I feel. I think it is what finally prompted us to start the adoption process (after years of talking about it), and I think the process of moving toward adoption has just whet my appetite. I feel God's pleasure in it. And I feel that I know Him more because of it. And it's just leading me to be hungrier and hungrier.

This is not just about adoption. It's about becoming dissatisfied by things that just aren't satisfying. It's about developing an appetite for things that are unspeakably satisfying. I remember a description in The Last Battle (from the Chronicles of Narnia).The children in the story had entered into Aslan's land (though they didn't know it yet) and hesitantly tasted the fruit of a tree there. And "if you had eaten that fruit, all the nicest things in this world would taste like medicines after it." I am experiencing a little taste of that fruit. And I want more. And I don't want to go back to being satisfied with any less.

What I'm understanding more and more (by God's grace alone)is what it really means to say that we can't hold on to God and the world at the same time. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (Matt. 16:26) I would always have said that I believed those words, but without really deeply understanding them. Without knowing what it really meant to let go of the world, or to truly taste life.

I can't say that I'm doing it well. I daily find myself holding on to worthless things and failing to run after the real treasure. But my appetites are changing. There are a lot of things that I used to think were important, and perhaps even necessary for my happiness. And I didn't see any conflict between desiring those things and saying that I desired God. Many of those things are just part of living in the culture that I live in, and I mostly felt okay about wanting them. But the funny thing is...a lot of those things just don't taste good anymore.

Really it's a lot like my diet. We eat a pretty healthy diet at our house, but occassionally I just crave fast food. I know it's bad for me, but every now and then I convince myself that a little "fix" won't hurt. Once I get ahold of it though...every single just isn't what I thought it would be. Maybe the first few bites taste good, but I really don't want to finish it. And I always regret it. It just makes me appreciate it even more when I get back to our normal (healthy) fare, and I recognize how much better it tastes and makes me feel. So I still find myself craving things of this world sometimes, and even giving in to them. But the more I turn away from them, the more God whets my appetite for what He has for me. Just a taste for now, really. But when I get those little tastes, I can hardly even imagine what's to come.

O Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him?
O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

His Burden is Light

Before I start, take a look at the new button in the top right sidebar (it matches the above image). Now, I'll tell you a story.

When we first started this adoption process, we had a rather simple picture of what would happen, which included an orphan who needed a family(in our minds a child whose parents had died) and a family (ours) who had plenty of room for another place at the table. Throughout the process our minds and hearts have been stretched as we've gotten a more realistic image. First, most of the children available for adoption in Africa are not "true" orphans. They have living family members, even parents, who have either relinquished or abandoned them due to extreme poverty, disease, or other cultural issues. This was wrenching for me to realize, and actually caused me to step back from the process for awhile as I considered the implications of it. Furthermore, if the child we adopt has living family, there is no clear way for us to help them. We've questioned our agency and they've been clear that absolutely no money or assistance can be provided by us because of child trafficking issues. We have also become aware of the staggering numbers of orphans in Africa and around the world. In Ethiopia alone there are 4.3 million orphans, and I believe that last year only around 8000 were adopted. Clearly adoption is not the answer to the world's orphan problem (though a beautiful solution for those who are adopted).

As we processed some of this information, I really questioned whether we should adopt. Adoption is expensive, and the amount of money we were spending on this adoption could feed and educate dozens of orphans in Africa. Maybe we were being selfish. Maybe we should just send our money to Africa for orphan care and give up the idea of adopting. As I agonized over this, I e-mailed a friend and posed the dilemma to her. My wise friend's answer was simple: do both. Adopt, because through adoption God is giving us the opportunity to provide a family for a child, and to pour our hearts into him in the way that only a family can. And...continue to care for and provide for orphans somehow.

I should mention that my wise friend is the mother of three children. All three are adopted, and all three have special needs. And, she and her husband (also a wise friend of ours!) are currently preparing to sell their house and move to Zambia, South Africa to pioneer a ministry to orphans with special needs. I could go on and on about what they're doing and how excited I am about it, but instead, why don't you just click on the "Special Hope Network" button and see for yourselves. Read what's there, and let God break your heart and give you a burden. I will admit that sometimes I lose sleep over it; I lay in bed some nights and see the pictures and hear the stories we've seen and heard over the past months, and ponder what God has asked of me, and what more He will ask. And I am excited. It's a burden I am eager to carry. Now click on the button on the sidebar, or click here, and see what I mean.

“He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know me?” Jeremiah 22:16

Oh, and if you're interested, following this post is one with an update of our adoption process. :)

An Update

This may be the last adoption update you'll get for awhile. Two weeks ago today we got our I-171H in the mail. It was a Thursday, and the mail came a bit early that day (around 2:30), so we took off on a race to the capital to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office, which closes at 4:30, to get the paper officially "sealed". Friday we mailed it off to "The Assistant Stork". This brilliant adoptive mom started a business in which she hand delivers dossiers to the Dept. of State and the various embassies and takes care of all of the paperwork that needs to be done before the dossier can be sent to the agency. From there our papers were sent back to our agency. Yesterday I got an e-mail telling us that on Tuesday the papers were officially sent off to Ethiopia. I can't quite describe how that makes me feel. I am somewhat in awe at what those papers are going to do. I am also extremely thankful that there is nothing at all that I can do about the process at this point; it's entirely and obviously in God's hands, which feels wonderful. I know in my heart that it's been in His hands all along, but during the 6 months that we were working on all of that paperwork it was hard not to feel pressure that we were in control and had to make this happen.

So now we wait. According to the e-mail we got yesterday, there are 12 families ahead of us on the waiting list who are waiting for children in a similar age range to us, and who are either requesting boys or open to either gender (the majority of families adopting request girls, so that's a longer list!) I have no idea of how that will translate in terms of time. Our agency says that it will likely be between 2 and 12 months. I'm glad pregnancy isn't like that; can you imagine being told you'd likely deliver sometime in the next 2 to 12 months?! We are at peace about it, however, and are resting in knowing that God already has the picture of our complete family, and will work it out in His time.

Meanwhile, this blog will continue now with (possibly annoying) posts about our family happenings. But as soon as anything happens on adoption front we'll let you know.