Adoption blog

Greetings one and all…what a beautiful morning ūüôā

[Please excuse my chipperness (my new word for the day)…I am enjoying my morning coffee]

I wanted to let you know of a project my wife and I are working on.  We have started an adoption blog called Adopted as an Heir.  I wanted to have a central place for adoption related content instead of it getting lost in the shuffle with everything I write about here.

Our goal for this new blog is:
(1) To share what we have learned along our adoption journey.
(2) To share resources we have found helpful.
(3) To share how we have grown closer together.
(4) To share how we have grown closer to God.
(5) To educate
(6) To encourage
(7) And…whatever else God reveals to us in our journey. ¬†The door is wide open.

I have written a few posts here already about our adoption journey (If you go to the “My Adoption Story” page above you can quickly find those posts). I (along with my wife) will be writing adoption related content on our new blog but you may still find adoption related posts here from time to time.

So feel free to stop by our new sight and share it with others. ¬†We are still learning and growing and we are by no means experts. ¬†My wife and I are just a couple of God’s children stumbling along in this process and seeing God’s blessings along the way.

I hope you enjoy ūüôā

The pastor -|—

Praying scripture

The following is a prayer based on Psalm 23 that I wrote for a funeral; a prayer I prayed before preaching the message:

O Lord, you are our shepherd, therefore we shall never be in want; for you make us lie down in green pastures, you lead us beside quiet waters and you restore our souls. Thank you, Oh God. We ask now that you may guide us in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake; for we want to give you praise and glory.

But during this time of mourning, Oh Lord, it feels as if we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  We ask that you may comfort us with your presence, keep us from fear and protect us from the evil one.

May we feast at your table in complete peace and comfort and security as You anoint us and fill our cups to overflowing.

Oh Lord our God, thank you, for your goodness and love follows us all the days of our lives, and through faith in Jesus Christ we are confident that we will dwell in Your house forever.

Amen.

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Don’t get me wrong here. ¬†I am not trying to re-write scripture. ¬†I just enjoy praying through scripture and using scripture to give my prayer a voice…and what better place to do this than in the¬†Psalter.

When my wife and I were freshly grieving our failed adoption I immediately started reading in the book of Psalms. ¬†I found those places where the psalmist was crying out to God; asking how long; wondering where God was at. ¬†I was thankful that the psalmist gave me words to pray as I “borrowed” his words. ¬†I was also thankful for the reminder that God is faithful. The psalmist may have been crying out to God but he usually ended with words of praise for God. I need those words too…so I “borrowed” them as well.

What a great diversity in the book of Psalms. No wonder Martin Luther called the¬†Psalter¬†a “little Bible”.

So…if you need some words for your prayer today…try the book of Psalms. If you don’t needs words right now…go to the Psalms anyway. You will need them eventually.

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

Embracing Suffering

What I have posted here is the sermon manuscript from our joint Lenten worship service that we do with the Presbyterian Church here in Jackson.  We are exploring a book together called Embracing Obscurity by anonymous.

Embracing Obscurity

The chapter we spoke about on Wed, March 13 was titled “Embracing Suffering”. ¬†Below is my portion of the message:

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As I begin this message I want to share with you a couple short paragraphs from the book Chris and I are talking about, Embracing Obscurity.  These paragraphs will help set the stage as we talk about Embracing Suffering tonight as a way to help us embrace obscurity.  This is what our anonymous author writes:

In A Path through Suffering, Elisabeth Elliot muses, ‚ÄúThe word suffering is much too grand to apply to most of our troubles, but if we don‚Äôt learn to refer the little things to God how shall we learn to refer the big ones?‚ÄĚ Perhaps that‚Äôs why her definition of suffering seems so fitting: Having what you don‚Äôt want, or wanting what you don‚Äôt have. This is the perfect definition of suffering for our discussion about embracing obscurity because it‚Äôs in the little ‚Äúsufferings‚ÄĚ of demotions, hard breaks, layoffs, out-of-state moves, menial jobs and (allow me to add…failed adoptions), that we learn to defer to God our dreams of being well-known, respected, and admired. It‚Äôs in these trenches that we realize God is big and we are small, where we exchange our will‚ÄĒ our dreams, desires, and plans‚ÄĒ for the opportunity to make much of Him and less of ourselves.
[Anonymous (2012-09-20). Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything (pp. 108-109). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

And that is the embracing obscurity part ~ to make much of God and less of us. ¬†That is what we should be about, but when we are in the midst of suffering, that can be very hard to do. ¬†After all, we are sinful, self-centered and glory-seeking people. ¬†We want what we want and this makes it hard for us to embrace the obscurity that Chris and I have been talking about for a few weeks. ¬†We naturally look inward but when we do that, our suffering is what we focus on…not on what God is doing. ¬†So when something happens that we can classify as suffering some initial reactions include (but not limited to):

Why is this happening to me? ¬†Where is God? ¬†If God loves me then why did this happen? If God exists then suffering¬†shouldn’t¬†exist either, right? How long, O Lord, how long?

Sound familiar? Those are tempting questions…¬†aren’t¬†they? ¬†And I have to admit…I was asking questions like that last week. ¬†As Connie and I were in Florida on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; waiting to adopt a baby, I have never prayed harder for anything in my life. ¬†I so wanted to be able to bring home a baby. ¬†I prayed for the birth mother and family. ¬†I prayed for the baby. ¬†I prayed for our attorney. ¬†I prayed for wisdom and strength. ¬†I prayed, I prayed and I prayed some more. ¬†You know 1 Thessalonians 5 where it says ‚ÄúPray without ceasing‚ÄĚ? ¬†That was me. ¬†But then on Wednesday afternoon we got the news we were dreading the most: ‚ÄúThe birth mother has decided to parent the baby.‚ÄĚ ¬†My first prayer following those words was ‚ÄúWhy God, why?‚ÄĚ ¬†My heart began to ache. And if we are to use Elisabeth Elliot‚Äôs definition then one could say I began to suffer.

The walk through the long hospital parking lot, back to our car, felt like the longest walk ever. ¬†When we finally reached the car, I sat down and placed my hands and head on the steering wheel; not knowing what to do. ¬†I¬†didn’t¬†want to leave because I¬†didn’t¬†want to believe what just happened. ¬†I was at a loss. The only thing I could think of doing was to cry out to God. ¬†So we prayed…again. ¬†We continued to pray for the birth mother and the baby and the family. ¬†We continued to pray for strength and wisdom. ¬†But this time we added healing and understanding. We had so many questions.

As we began the long 1600 mile trip back to Jackson I can remember thinking through my tears: ¬†How in the world does anyone do this without God? ¬†It totally baffled me. ¬†How does anyone deal with any kind of suffering without the Almighty? ¬†How does anyone move on with life without the awesome love of our Father? ¬†At that moment, I needed God more than ever. ¬†I¬†didn’t¬†like feeling the way I did (and I still don‚Äôt) but what I pray for now is for understanding and wisdom in how to best use this for the glory of God. ¬†Because, no doubt, someone else will go through something similar. If they don‚Äôt know Jesus I want them to or if they DO know Jesus, I want them to remember, because true healing can only be found in Jesus. You can‚Äôt do this alone.

When we are suffering we have a couple choices to make. ¬†We can wallow in our suffering; in self-pity, drawing attention to ourselves (which does not glorify God) or we can use what we are experiencing to help others; to give glory to God…to make more of God and less of ourselves. It is all a matter of faith. ¬†If you truly believe that God is sovereign then you know that life is not about you. ¬†The world does not revolve around you and me. And as I thought about that I even struggled to write these words to say to you tonight. ¬†I¬†didn’t¬†want this to be a therapy session for me or something to portray me as some hero of the faith. So please don‚Äôt look at me as some kind of hero for not falling apart or for not being angry, because if you were in my home on Friday afternoon when we got home, you would have seen a person falling apart…still asking questions; emotionally raw. ¬†I am no hero…I‚Äôm a child of God.

What we need to remember, my friends, is that God does not delight in the pain of his children. ¬†God does not take pleasure in the suffering of his children. ¬†The Good News in the midst of pain and suffering is that God has overcome suffering through Jesus Christ. ¬†If we make suffering about us then we fail to proclaim this Good News to the world. ¬†But…if we embrace suffering to the glory of God then we shift the focus from us and highlight the conquering and glorious King; drawing others to Him. ¬†If you are looking inward; focusing on your own suffering, then you fail to see the awesome love of God. ¬†Like I said, life is not about you and me. ¬†So we might as well point to the one who it is about…God, for God is indeed in control. And that is my prayer each and every day; that I remember who is in charge and who it is that should be glorified.

As I close my portion of this talk, allow me to share one more paragraph with you from our book: How has God allowed you to suffer? Have you lost a home? Received a startling diagnosis? Been plagued by self-doubt or troubled relationships? Longed for a dream that evades you? Suffering is inevitable. You know it; I know it. We also know that how we respond says much about us. Will we be teachable through the dark moments and difficult seasons? Will we allow God’s Spirit to humble and transform us through our pain and disappointments? Will we allow our suffering to multiply what we have to offer others?
[Anonymous (2012-09-20). Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything (pp. 111-112). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

In this sin-torn world we live in suffering is a reality; we can‚Äôt escape that. ¬†And to deny that is foolish. ¬†But the the bigger reality that we all can take great joy in is that God has overcome the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the one who suffered more than anyone can possibly imagine…and he did all that just FOR YOU and FOR ME. ¬†We won‚Äôt suffer like Jesus did, but we can use our suffering to glorify God like Jesus did. ¬†So in the meantime…do not let Satan use your suffering for his purposes but rather let God use your suffering for His purposes; to draw people to Himself. ¬†Make more of God and less of yourself and know true healing; healing that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. ¬†For through faith in Jesus Christ you will know a life ABSENT of suffering. ¬†And that is what it is all about; proclaiming that Good News in the midst of a world of suffering.

May GOD be praised, always and forever.

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The pastor -|—

Grieving — My adoption story

Last Sunday (March 3) I mentioned that I hope to have some good news to share with you soon. ¬†Well…

No good news (at least not yet).

We did travel to Florida on Sunday and Monday.
We did meet a baby girl that was born on Monday.
We did spend quality time with the birth mother and her family.

But…

We did not come home with a baby girl ūüė¶

The birth mother, at the last second, decided she couldn’t sign off and decided to parent the baby. ¬†Needless to say my wife and I were devastated. ¬†I told people before we left that nothing was final yet; that the birth mother still could change her mind. ¬†I knew this, but a large part of me still fully expected to come home with a baby girl. I think a lot of people did.

The drive home from Florida was extremely long.
Lots of tears were shed.
Lots of questions were asked.
Lots of quiet moments were experienced.
But through it all, the one thing that gave and continues to give my wife and I hope and strength is the love and grace of our awesome God. ¬†We have seen this through the love of our family and friends. ¬†We have heard this through scripture and prayer. ¬†We have felt this in the warm embrace of a hug. ¬†God is good…all the time…even though we do experience heartache from time to time.

I don’t blame God for any of this. ¬†I am not angry with God for the heartache my wife and I are experiencing. ¬†Rather…I am joyful that we are not going through this alone. ¬†We know that God will bring healing…AND…that God will use this to bring Him glory. ¬†And THAT is exciting.

My hope and prayer is that I can grow stronger through this experience so I can better help people who are grieving in any way.  I have experienced heartache and grieving before but nothing like this.

I still believe there is a child out there…somewhere…waiting for us.
I still believe that I will be a father someday. So in the mean time we will move forward and continue to pursue our dream to be parents someday.  We pray for the birth mother as she parents this little baby girl. We pray for healing and wisdom. We pray for strength. Satan will not use this to drive a wedge between me and God.

And…hopefully, soon, I will have good news to share with you. Thank you for your love, prayers and support.

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

Worship and a baby soon…Come Holy Spirit

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Let us pray…

Ever-loving and grace-filled God, You bring us from death to life through Your Son Jesus Christ.  Through the cross you have offered forgiveness.  Strengthen our faith that we may turn away from sin and strive to be perfect as You are perfect.  And…when we fall because of our inability to be perfect in this life, show us compassion through Jesus’ sacrifice and bring healing to our souls. We are deserving of death but You have shown us mercy.  We are deserving of judgment but You have shown us grace.  We are deserving of condemnation but You have shown us love. May we find strength and hope in your unexplainable and incomprehensible love for us, through Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

I have a lot going on today. ¬†Much is on my mind and heart. ¬†A baby girl is due to be born soon; and soon we will be traveling to meet her and hopefully bring her home as our daughter. ¬†It’s hard to not to be completely submerged in thinking about all that needs to be done. In the mean time, though, I have two worship services to prepare for and a people to deliver God’s Word to. ¬†What a perfect moment for Satan to use something “good” to distract me from something that is more important.

Come Holy Spirit.

May Your Word, O God, be proclaimed this morning.  May You, O God, be glorified and worshiped.  May You, O God, receive all praise.

Hopefully soon, my friends, I will have good news to share with you.¬† In the mean time…may God bless your day ūüôā

The pastor -|—

Our God

The world is big but God has overcome the world.
Satan is powerful but God has defeated Satan through Jesus.
We are weak but God is strong.
Life can be overwhelming but God is for us.
We are limited but God is infinite.

To quote Chris Tomlin from his song Our God is Greater:

Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

Nothing in this life can take away the fact that our God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-57).  You may feel overwhelmed, you may feel defeated, you may feel outmatched, but our God is bigger, stronger, more powerful than anything that Satan and this world can through at us.

Because the fact of the matter is that Jesus died on a cross and rose from the grave to overcome this world and to defeat Satan. Jesus also died and rose that our sins would be forgiven and that we could have hope in the resurrection to eternal life through faith. ¬†God’s grace encompasses us even though (and because) we are sinners. ¬†God’s love is massive and true. ¬†God’s compassion is abundant.

Satan is strong.  This world is powerful.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Embrace this Good News and celebrate, but more importantly worship — Worship our awesome God.

Why?

Because…

Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

Community — My adoption story

As I reflect on my adoption journey I find myself feeling very thankful for the community of people around us.

Monday night we had an adoption fundraiser at the Pizza Ranch here in Jackson. ¬†The event was called “Tip Night”. ¬†How it works is that my wife and I received a percentage of the proceeds from dine in meals, deliveries and carry out orders starting at 4 pm…and the community turned out. ¬†My wife and I (along with a crew of wonderful friends), cleared off and cleaned tables, visited with people and provided adoption information. ¬†Our case worker was also in attendance helping us. ¬†A huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped us. ¬†Also…a huge thank you to the Pizza Ranch for doing this for us ūüôā

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Pizza Ranch manager, Jeff, handing me a check from the sales proceeds.

We received just over $900 from proceeds and “tips” that people gave. ¬†That doesn’t included the money people gave us in the weeks proceeding this event. ¬†In a word…my wife and I were –> Overwhelmed.

Praise be to God!

Ever since we started this adoption process we have received so many well wishes, prayers, financial support and other displays of love. ¬†We have said over and over how blessed we feel to live in such a caring community with such wonderful friends. ¬†The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child“. ¬†Well…we are blessed to be living in this “village”.

And now…we anxiously await the birth of our daughter.

That’s right…a girl…due March 1. ¬†The call could come at any time. ¬†But we also know a lot can happen. ¬†Nothing is final right now. ¬†The one thing we do know is that God is faithful and that God is in control. ¬†If this adoption falls through we will be sad, disappointed, etc…but…we know God will continue to guide us in this process. ¬†In the mean time we pray for this birth mother and her baby. ¬†We pray for her family. ¬†But most of all we pray that God’s will be done and that we may have the eyes of faith to see that because in the end, glorying God is what matters.

Loving God, you have blessed my wife and I with a wonderful family; caring and supportive friends, and a caring and supportive “village”. ¬†Thank you for showing love through all these avenues. ¬†In Jesus name, Amen!

The pastor -|—

Goose bumps — My adoption story

When instances of God’s faithfulness humbles you to the point of tears welling up in your eyes you just have to share the story…and that’s what I am doing here.

A couple weeks ago friends suggested a fundraiser idea to us: Tip Night at the Pizza Ranch.¬† What happens is that the indivdual(s)/organization schedules a night with the Pizza Ranch (usually a Monday or Wednesday) and they receive 15% of the sales from 4 to 8pm plus any tips. ¬†The people bus tables, clean up and talk to the customers. ¬†Basically anything that doesn’t involve working in the kitchen or running the till. ¬†So Connie and I scheduled a Tip Night for Monday, Feb 18.

Now the advertising begins.

I created a Facebook event and invited people; a friend offered to create a poster for us and I emailed the local churches about a bulletin announcement.  Yesterday (Thursday) I decided to email the editor of our local newspaper (Jackson County Pilot).  I told him about the fundraiser and wondered if they would be interested in helping us promote it and/or do a story about adoption.  I mentioned that I have encountered a number of people touched by adoption since we announced to the community we were adopting; stories we probably would not have heard otherwise.

Today I got an email back from the editor and I was…
Blown away
Humbled
Embraced with God’s love

The editor told me that my email was uncanny as they were discussing on Thursday about doing a story about adoption.

[Cue the goose bumps]

I told my wife this and tears started to well up in her eyes. ¬†She said, “Guess who was involved with that?

GOD

…and Praise be to God!

Through out this process I have felt God’s gentle touch on my shoulder as we deal with preparations and decisions. ¬†God continues to assure us that we are on the right path. ¬†But more importantly, God continues to show us His faithfulness that leads us to glorify God. ¬†Because you know, in the end, that is what matters; glorifying God.

My prayer now is that any story that is published, whether in the Pilot or not; or through our testimony, that people see God’s glory and run to God in worship. ¬†I continue to pray for the child God has chosen for us. ¬†I continue to pray for that birth mother and family. ¬†And I pray that God may strengthen, encourage and guide us as we raise this child. ¬†In all we do, may God be praised and glorified.

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Thank you, God, for your gentle touch this morning and for your continued messages of love through supernatural acts in our lives.  This was no coincidence but your hand was and is involved.  Thank you for the wonderful reminder. May you always be praised. Amen!

The pastor -|—

Resources – My adoption story

Just in case I haven’t communicated this yet:
The adoption process can be overwhelming.

Surprise, surprise, I know.  But it is only overwhelming if you attempt to do this alone.

As our adoption process moves along I am finding myself exploring a number of resources: websites and blogs. ¬†I am also talking with others who have adopted. ¬†Those conversations have proved to be extremely valuable and I will continue to seek people out. ¬†Just yesterday I was speaking with a good friend/colleague/mentor about our adoption process. ¬†He had gone through the adoption process a while back. ¬†I was sharing some feelings I was (and was not) experiencing and listened to this wise man share what he went through. ¬†I found a sense of peace come over me as I realized that I wasn’t abnormal; that my feelings were not necessarily wrong. ¬†It was like God had ordained this conversation for that particular moment. ¬†After I hung up the phone I prayed and thanked God for His faithfulness.

Wow…God is amazing.

The websites and blogs I have come across have also proved to be valuable. ¬†I recently came across a blog from a family in our area who is adopting ~ for the third time. ¬†I am thinking I will be in touch with them eventually. ¬†Recently, my wife and I were given a website that contained a number of adoption fundraising ideas. ¬†Some of them were so simple and brilliant. ¬†Ideas, support, prayers, etc are out there…you just need to look and access them.

So as I come across some of these sites I am going to be adding them to my new blog roll on the right hand side of the screen called “Adoption”. ¬†My hope is that people who stumble across my blog will find comfort, as I have, in knowing that they are not alone. ¬†And…if you are reading this and are in the adoption process, please feel free to share your resources here.

God is so amazing. ¬†I praise Him for those “little” moments when He reminds me of His presence. ¬†I am thankful for the people He has brought in our lives. ¬†And I hope that some day soon I can be a resource to someone going through this process; that God can use me to give someone what He has given me.

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

The heart of a potential father – My adoption story

I tell you…this adoption journey has been an incredible faith journey. ¬†The longer we wait the more fervent my prayers become. The more money we spend the more I turn to God for the faith to be patient and to trust. The more we prepare our home for a child the more excited I become. ¬†The more I talk about this the more I wonder what kind of father I will be.

In my last post about my adoption story I mentioned that I was a little hesitant about diving in; which was the complete opposite of how my wife felt. ¬†I worried about this or that. ¬†I had a hard time with trying to figure out how we were going to pay for this. ¬†I was nervous about some of the¬†logistics. Now…I can hardly wait until the day that I can be referred to as dad. ¬†Even to type that word, “dad”, seems strange when it refers to me. ¬†There’s a part of me that thought that it would never happen. ¬†And even though that part of me was saddened by that potential future I was starting to grow accustomed to it. ¬†But now…I can’t imagine traveling another road; I can’t image a future where I am not called dad.

And that feeling; that confidence that God has chosen a child for us out there…somewhere…makes this an incredible faith journey. ¬†I keep praying and asking God “When?“; “How long, O Lord? How long?“; “How will this be?” ¬†I lift up my fears, questions, concerns; and eventually I feel this sense that God understands and gives me that comforting embrace that says, “Be patient my child; be patient“. It is something that I can’t¬†adequately describe but maybe you know what I am talking about.

And maybe this wait is part of God’s plan in shaping me; in refining me; in preparing me for fatherhood (Wow…really strange to type “fatherhood”). Whatever the case, I can’t imagine going through this process without my relationship with God through Jesus. ¬†I can’t imagine trying to navigate the plethora of paperwork and phone calls and planning and applications without God. ¬†I can’t imagine trying to plan and figure out every last detail without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. ¬†I can’t imagine not having God to lift my voice to.

So the waiting continues and this potential father is super excited. ¬†My life will change in countless ways but I am so ready to face those countless changes. ¬†As scary as it is going to be I am so ready to be called, “Dad”.

Praise be to God!

The pastor (and potential father) -|—