Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do You Want to Go to Africa?

About a year ago, Beth Moore did a promotion on several of her books where you could download them for free if you had a Kindle. It was like 8-10 books. Ummm...yes, please. So I downloaded them all and then proceeded to let them sit, unread, on my Kindle. Being a middle school English teacher doesn't leave a ton of time for leisure reading. But yesterday, I decided to start one of them.

Believing God.

She writes about the difference between believing in God (merely that He does exist) and actually believing God (that He is who He says He is). In the first few chapters she tells the reader that she has prayed something very specific for those who read the book. She has prayed that God would do something miraculous in the lives of the readers early on in their journey with the text to remind the reader of God's might and that He is exactly who He says He is.

I read that yesterday. The same day that we set aside each month (the 19th) to pray specifically for Bradley all day long. And I had been pleading with God. Begging Him to do a mighty work so that we could meet our boy soon.

Those same prayers kept me from easily drifting off to sleep last night and kept me in bed longer than usual this morning.

And while I was still laying there (scrolling through #textswithmymom on Instagram, in case you need a good laugh), my phone rang.

It was Lesley, our case manager. I sat bolt upright in bed.

Me: "Hello?"

Lesley: "Hi, Baylor. How are you?"

Me: "I think that depends on what you are about to say to me."

Lesley: "Do you want to go to Africa?"

Me (through lots of tears): "I really, really do!"

So guess what, people?

WE ARE GOING TO ETHIOPIA TO MEET OUR SON!

The call came at 9 this morning, and I am still shaking.

Oh, but for God's goodness and grace! I posted YESTERDAY asking you to pray. God brought me to a book that I had at my fingertips for more than a year YESTERDAY. We prayed for Bradley all day YESTERDAY.

Oh, my heart. How big and how great our God is.

Adam, of course, was at work, and I was not about to break this news over the phone. So with VERY shaky hands, I attempted to iron a shirt and put on some eyeliner (I'm not looking my best) to drive to the hospital to tell him.

And, as the Lord would have it, several of his wonderful co-workers were back in the offices, and he was not. So I quickly explained what was going on, and they paged him back and hid around the office with cameras.

And then... This...








So we are leaving for Ethiopia in three weeks. And we will finally get to hold the boy we have been praying for for more than three years.

My heart is full.

"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 
'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' 
and does not doubt in their heart, 
but believes that what they say will happen, 
it will be done for them." 
Mark 11:23 

Love, 
Baylor 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ten

Today is a hard day. This whole past week has actually been rough, but today especially. Bradley is ten months old today. That is ten months of his sweet life that we will never get back. Ten months that he has spent away from his family.

We have been his parents for six of those ten months, and sometimes (like today) it feels like we will always be parenting from afar.

Right now, we are waiting for an approval letter from MOWCYA (the branch of Ethiopia's federal government that deals with adoption/orphan care). Once we receive this letter, we will be issued a travel date four our court appearance. So much of my heart is so heavy and frustrated with all of this. We just want to be with our son, and while we are so close, it feels so far away.

I know I have been doing this a lot lately, but I am going to ask you to pray for us and for our son again. And I am going to ask you to pray for us today.

-Please pray that we will receive our MOWCYA today and our travel approval by the end of the week.

-Please pray that we travel in mid June so that Bradley can be home by his first birthday, in two months.

This is a big prayer. It is a bold one. But God is big and He asks us to bring Him our bold requests. So I am asking you to join with us in praying today, the day that our son turns ten months old, that he will be with his family soon.

Love,
Baylor

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Are You a Mom?

My mom and I spent last week in Haiti with Compassion International. It was an incredible week that completely overwhelmed me in so many ways. I want to take some time later this week to write through some of what we saw and experienced while we were there. But today I am want to talk about Mother's Day. You may have noticed that my little space on the internet was quiet on that day. I can attribute that to a couple of things. First, I was flying back to Birmingham from Florida that day and was quite engrossed in a good book. Secondly, (and maybe more importantly) I really didn't know how to feel about Mother's Day this year.

For the last several years, Mother's Day has been a really tough day for me. So much so that Adam and I decided to pretty much ignore that it was actually happening. Last year, he went over and above what any normal husband would do to take my mind far away from Mother's Day. But this year was different, and I came face to face with that difference in the Fort Lauderdale airport on Sunday morning while waiting in line at Starbucks.

The woman behind me struck up a conversation about needing her caffeine, and then we chatted about where we were going and why we had been in Florida. And then she said it.

"Happy Mother's Day if you're a mom. Are you a mom?"

I froze a little bit. Am I? When I look at Bradley's picture, I certainly feel like he is my son. I can so easily imagine him here in this house, riding with me in the car, playing with Daisy on the family room rug. I love him like he's my son. I don't think I could love him any more than I do right now. There is a document in Ethiopia that lists my last name as his.

"Yes. Yes, I am. This is actually my first Mother's Day."

She congratulated me, and then it was my turn to place my order.

It was a brief interaction, but it left me thinking for the rest of the day. I had come upon Mother's Day this year with a strange feeling of uncertainty. On the one hand, I have a son. That means I am a mom. But I have never met him, never held him, never comforted him. That makes this Mother's Day hard in a different way. To love someone so much and not be able to see him. That is a new brand of difficult.

But I tried to spend Sunday focused on hope, believing that our boy will be home soon and that this will be my very last empty-armed Mother's Day.

I love you, Bradley, and I am so, so happy that you are the one who made me a mom.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Gospel Comes Near

There were so many wonderful things to be learned and taken in at the CAFO summit last week. So many, in fact, that there came a point when my brain went into overload and became incapable of processing any more information. I want to try to work through some of these things, and I want to start in a place that I believe is not only at the heart of adoption but at the heart of Christianity.

The Gospel comes near.

Jed Medefind, president of CAFO, said this during his message on Thursday morning, and it has been bouncing around in my head ever since.

It is so simple. So true.

So easy to overlook.

There is this human tendency that I believe we all possess. It is a drive that whispers and tells us to stay away from the hard things. To surround ourselves with people who believe what we believe, do what we do, think what we think. To keep the "others" at arm's length so that we won't be challenged to change anything about ourselves or our lives. Human nature tells us to sit back and stay where it is comfortable.

Jesus says the opposite.

Jesus calls us to  hard places, broken places, even dangerous places. And He calls us there, not because He longs to see us suffer, but because He longs for His name to be made known to ALL people. Not just the people no seem to have it together or the people who have ready access to the Bible or the people who fit into a certain mold, a mold that looks suspiciously like us. No. The Gospel is for all mankind, and in order to get the Gospel to all mankind, we have to be willing to get near all kinds of men.

The Gospel comes near.

Sure, it may make us uncomfortable. It may result in some awkward moments and strained relationships. But aren't we thankful that someone took that risk with us? Thankful that someone loved us enough to set the potential for hurt feelings aside long enough to share the most important thing in the world?

I submit that the same is true for Christians seeking to live out a James 1:27 kind of life. God commands us to care for the fatherless, and that is just simply not something we can do from a distance. It is not enough to be aware, to raise awareness. We must actually act. We must draw near, be in the trenches, committed to doing whatever it takes.

Because the cause is worth it.

Every single child on the face of the earth deserves a family. It is not something that should have to be earned or begged for.

So we have an important question to ask ourselves.

Do we believe this? Not just enough to acknowledge it as truth, but enough to be spurred into action and do something? Do we believe it in a such a way as to act as though it was OUR child in need of a family?

Because if we do, then sitting by and acknowledging the need is not enough. Just as Christ was compelled to leave His Father's side to redeem us unto Himself, so to just we be moved to action.

Maybe that means adoption. Maybe it means foster care. Maybe it means serving as a mentor or supporting family advocacy groups around the world.

Whatever it is, it is caring for those God has in His heart.

It will be difficult. It will be messy. Guaranteed.

But the Gospel draws near.

You will run the risk of being hurt or feeling rejected. But so did He.

And so we must share the Gospel with conviction. We must care for the fatherless with love. And we must trust that God will use us as His instruments to reach the ends of the earth for His name's sake, for His glory.

This is no easy charge. I struggle with it ALL.THE.TIME. But God demands real and radical sacrifice. And He is worthy of it. His banner over us is love, and His cause is salvation. There is nothing greater.

So I challenge you as I challenge myself. To reach out beyond the circle of those who mirror us and into the places where God's name is not yet revered. To take a risk and ask the Lord how we can practically love the fatherless and then listen and ACT when He responds. We are His church, and this is our calling.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lots Going On

All of a sudden there is a lot of stuff going on in my life. First, you and all of your bold prayers last week, resulting in AWESOME news from Ethiopia! Then, I went to the Christian Alliance for Orphans summit in Nashville for two days this past week. And now I am sitting in an airport waiting to fly to Haiti with Compassion International for this coming week. Whew! 

That's a lot! 

I'm working on sorting through everything I took in at CAFO last week and gearing up for what the Lord already has in store for this week in Haiti. 

But I also wanted to share that we have our preliminary court hearing THIS WEEK. That means we are about to be one step closer to having Bradley in our anxious arms. So I want to invite you to pray with us again at 9:30 CST tonight. We are joining with other families from our agency I praying for Ethiopia, adoption, government officials and processes and, of course, our kids. Here is what I will be praying tonight:

-For Ethiopia, that God would continue to comfort those who lost loved ones to ISIS. 

-For government officials, that they would move with all imagined speed to process paperwork on behalf of these children. 

-For our son, that he would continue to grow and be healthy, that his caregivers would love him well in our place. 

-For our case, that our hearing would be completed without incident and that our MOWA (federal government) approval letter would be issued immediately so we can travel by the end of May. 

Thank you all so much for partnering with us on this long and difficult journey. We are so grateful for your faithfulness and love. 

More to come soon! 

Love, 
Baylor 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Humbled Awe

I am sitting on our back porch in humbled awe. We serve a great and powerful God.

Each morning, I come out hear to drink my cup (or two) of coffee and pray. As you probably know, most of my prayers center around a little boy on the other side of the world. I sit right here and ask God to protect him, love him and bring him home to us. I ask God to move our case forward so that our son can live with his family and know the deep love of his mom and dad.

And over the weekend, I asked you to join me in those same prayers. So many of you responded with emails, texts, Facebook massages. You shared that post with your friends. And then I believe hundreds of you linked arms with us on Sunday night to pray for Ethiopia, adoptive families and our case specifically.

Adam and I sat in Bradley's room and prayed these same things, too.

Dear friends, I received a message this morning that our preliminary hearing has been scheduled. And it is SOON.

I can't share the date here, but if you are just dying to know God's goodness, just send me an email. I'd love to tell you.

This isn't the hearing for which Adam and I will travel, but it is the next (and last) step to get to that point.

I don't have words. So many of you prayed with us and for us. You went to God on our behalf. And He answered in a POWERFUL way. All I can tell you is THANK YOU. Thank you for being part of his story. Thank you for giving of your time and your prayers for our family.

I would ask that you keep praying for Ethiopia as a nation and for our case specifically, that we will travel soon and have Bradley home by June 27.

It is impossible to ignore God's hand in this. Time and again in Scripture He tells us to call on Him, to cast our burdens on Him, to seek Him, to ask great things of Him. And He tells us to do these things so that He can be magnified and glorified. It can be tough to hang in there sometimes; I am a walking testament to that fact. But He can be trusted. He is good, and He loves us, even when (maybe especially when) life is looks impossible. That is Him setting the stage to do something incredible.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Malachi 3:10

Love, 
Baylor 



Saturday, April 25, 2015

Please Pray with Me

As I have done so many, many times before, I am going to ask every person this post reaches to pray with me, with us. There is a group of adoptive parents who pray together on Sunday nights at 9:30 CST. We pray for all different things: families waiting on a referral, families waiting on paperwork, families waiting on court dates, families waiting to go get their children. Each of those things is so important, but you will notice an obviously common thread.

WAITING.

That is what SO much of the adoption process is about. And as you know, that is where we are right now, too. We are waiting on a preliminary hearing so that we can be in line for our own court appearance. So many steps to get to our boy.

So I want to ask you to join with us tomorrow {Sunday} night at 9:30 CST. I want to ask you to pray some VERY specific things, not just for us, but for all families and for Ethiopia.

-Last week, Ethiopia experienced a terrible tragedy when 30 Ethiopian Christians were killed by ISIS in the Middle East. Please pray for comfort for the people of Ethiopia, especially for the families of those who lost their lives for their faith. Pray that the Lord would use this event in a powerful way in Ethiopia, to open eyes and hearts to His truth and His redemption.

-Please pray for a deep sense of urgency in the government officials who process adoption paperwork. Ask God to lay it on their hearts that each piece of paper represents a child who is away from his/her family. And pray that that reality will spur these workers into swift action.

-Pray for the families who are waiting on all kinds of things: referrals, paperwork, hearings, travel. Ask God to give their hearts rest and peace.

-Please pray for our family specifically. We are struggling right now. Please pray that Bradley is safe and being well loved and cared for (all of our photo updates indicate that this is happening!). Pray for our family's case specifically, that we would be issued a preliminary court date this coming week. We are also praying (begging) that Bradley will be home with us by June 27, the day my brother-in-law gets married.

I have been praying and pleading, and I am asking you to join me. If you are on social media of any kind, please feel free to share this post with anyone you think will join us. We need every last prayer we can get. And if you can join us tomorrow night, please let me know somehow. Leave a comment, send me an email, anything. I need to pray and thank God for you.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 
Jeremiah 29:12-13

Many of us are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, and these verses follows right on its heels. A dear friend put this chapter and these verses in context for me a few weeks ago. At the time that the Lord spoke these words through Jeremiah, Israel had been in captivity for decades, crying out for deliverance. And this was God's assurance to them. I can identify so much with that idea. I have felt like a captive to this process, to this time of waiting to be a mother for so many years. Crying out to God for deliverance all the while. I am praying, and I know He will listen. 

Love, 
Baylor 


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