Friday, November 27, 2015

Bradley’s First Thanksgiving

I LOVE Thanksgiving. I love being with family. I love being reminded of all that I have to be thankful for in this life. I love eating. And I especially love that it was two days after last Thanksgiving that we got our referral call and saw Bradley’s sweet face for the first time. It’s a good day. Our Thanksgiving this year looked a little different than we had originally planned. We were supposed to spend the holiday with Adam’s mom down on their family farm, but my sweet MIL came down with the flu. We asked my doctor about the risks of exposure, and he responded by telling me that the three groups of people most susceptible to the flu are the elderly (not us!), pregnant women (check) and small children (check). So he recommended that we stay home, and while we were so sad to miss out on time with family, we were still able to enjoy our first Thanksgiving with Bradley home here in Birmingham.

We started our day out by taking Bradley and Daisy girl to a park near our home. Little Man is SO close to walking, so we took his push toy to help him get in some extra practice.

 We walked all over the place, played on the swings, went down some slides. It was all going so well until another family drove up on a golf cart. All B wanted was to ride in it, and the morning ended with a back-arching fit because we would not play with someone else’s vehicle. 
Oh, the inhumanity of it all! 
 So because we were not planning on being home for Turkey Day, my meal preparations consisted of nothing. Thankfully, Adam’s wonderful boss and her sweet family invited us into their home to celebrate the holiday. It was a wonderful evening full of good food and great company. 

Adam and I have so very much to be thankful for this year. One year ago today, we did not even know that Bradley existed, and now he is so much a part of our family that I cannot imagine being without him. The Lord has done great things. 

And then today we braved the Black Friday crowds for the first time ever. Well, technically it was the second time. A few years ago, Adam and I went to Wal-Mart to try to find a TV. It was pure insanity, and we did not get what we were looking for, but I did see a woman wearing a sweatshirt that was a map of the Mason-Dixon line. I thought that was a nice touch.
  Anyway, two crazy hours in the mall earned us a family dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Bradley and Adam had quite the time in the play area. 
These boys. I love them. 

I hope your Thanksgiving Day was beautiful and that you were able to bask in the love of your family while reflecting on all the Lord has blessed you with! 

With love, 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Orphan Sunday

November is National Adoption Month and today is Orphan Sunday. I'm sitting here trying to sort out all that this means for my family and for the Gospel. Needless to day, there is a LOT swirling around in my head today. The care of orphans is so very central to the heart of God. His love for the fatherless was the catalyst for sending Christ to the cross. His death and resurrection are the means by which we can be adopted into God's family. A deep sacrifice that led to the creation of a beautiful family.

This truth is one I have heard countless times before. But it is different this year.

This year I know what it is to get a phone call telling you that you have a son. I know that it is to walk into an orphanage and see the child you love, your own child, sitting among the fatherless. I know what it means to stand before a judge and tell him, "Yes, I understand that this {the adoption of my child} is permanent and cannot be undone.” I know what it is to walk out of an orphanage with your child in your arms and know that the term “orphan” no longer applies to his life. I know the vast and glorious reward that comes from fighting for your child.

The harsh reality is that there are 153 MILLION orphans living on our planet today. That number is far too staggering to comprehend. I don't think I have ever seen 153 million of anything, let alone children who need and DESERVE families. And because that number is so mind-numbingly huge, it is easy to ignore. I used to have this discussion with my students when we studied the Holocaust and the loss of six million Jewish lives in one war. We would talk about how the enormity of the number tempts us to hold it at arm's length, to keep it impersonal. And then we would talk about how wrong it is to do that.

The same holds true here. One hundred fifty three million children without families is not acceptable. It should not be acceptable to a secular society with any kind of moral compass, but it most certainly should not be acceptable to the church.

We, as Christians, have been adopted. We were spiritual orphans, and God DID SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. He MOVED. He SACRIFICED. And He did so because of LOVE. He loves us. Enough that He was willing to do the unthinkable to redeem us unto Himself.

How then can we, as recipients of such lavish love close our hearts and homes to those who are exactly where we were? We simply cannot. We cannot let that number intimidate us or keep us from action. We cannot fall victim to the lie that because we cannot do everything that we might as well do nothing. There is not an immediate solution to the orphan crisis. It is something that will be taken on one life, one child at a time. And that is OK. All we have to do is being willing to walk where God leads.

Clearly, I am an adoption advocate. Adoption gave me one of my most precious gifts: my son, but please know that I am not saying every Christian should adopt (although I would love that!). I am saying that every Christ follower must be involved in some way in caring for the fatherless. It is God's heartbeat. He commands it. And it is too beautiful for words.

There are so many way to do this:

-Foster care
-Orphan care ministries
-Orphan prevention ministries
-Birth mother ministries
-Respite care for foster families

God calls us to love the world and that means loving the people who live in it.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” 
John 13:35 

“For He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ in accordance to His pleasure and will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.”
Ephesians 1:4-6

With deep love,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Love That Grows

I'm constantly amazed by how much the Lord is teaching me and revealing to me as I make this transition into motherhood. He is changing me and molding me, yet again, into a completely new person. In one of my recent posts, I talked about how some of that has been painful and less than pretty. A lot of sin has been brought to the surface during this very sanctifying experience.

But there is this new phenomenon I have been seeing take place over the last two weeks.

When you are going through the adoption process and attending countless classes, conferences and online seminars, you are warned time and again that it is not always "love at first sight" with adoption. That for some families, it takes time to get to a place where you truly feel like a family. God was very gracious to us in that we both fell head over heels with Bradley the moment we saw him. Then that love was confirmed when we finally got our feet on Ethiopian soil to meet him.

Then we got home and the reality of parenting a child from a very hard place set in. It was so much harder than I ever imagined possible. I loved Bradley so much, and I knew that he was my son. But he didn't know that. To him, I was just a lady who had taken him away from all he had ever known. I had to FIGHT SO HARD for his heart. Day by day, minute by minute showing him that I love him, that he is mine. And that those are good things.

And rarely was that love returned. The first several weeks home were mostly trying to get him to stop crying. I have hesitated and wavered back and forth about sharing a lot about this period of our family's life because it is so personal, and it is part of our son's story. But I do feel a sense of obligation to be honest about what adoption really looks like after the airport and behind the pictures. So I am going to use broad strokes here.

Bradley was scared. Everything in his little life had changed. Every single thing. How terrifying for a baby. So every moment of my day was spent teaching him that this is a safe place, that he is loved, that he will always have enough to eat, that he doesn't need to be afraid, that he can stop crying. Please stop crying.

I loved this boy so much, but life did NOT look like I wanted it to.

The Lord sent His Spirit into our home and carried us through those first weeks.

But over the last few weeks I have noticed a shift. It was very subtle at first, but now I am seeing it more and more clearly.

Bradley loves us back.

We have crossed the shaky bridge from being a source of food and cleanliness to being people he truly loves and wants to be with. I see it in the way he reacts when I walk in a room or when Adam comes home from work. He smiles and giggles, lets out a squeal of delight and reaches for us without screaming. When playing, he will randomly crawl into my lap just to give me a hug and then go right back to what he was doing.

He sees us as his mom and dad. He has learned what those words mean, and, more importantly, he has applied them to us. I could collapse on the floor and weep for this. My son sees me they way I have always seen him. The Lord has grown his love for us, and truthfully, He has grown our love for Bradley, too. Each day we feel more and more like a family.

Don't get me wrong. There are still a LOT of hard days. There is still a TON of crying. But the undertone is different. He wants to be consoled, and he wants me to be the one to do that. He wants to play with us, not just sit in our laps or be held.

He is learning what it means to be a family, and it is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Our God is a God of miracles. Truly.

With love,

Monday, November 2, 2015

Her Name

I feel so much pressure when it comes to settling on names for children. It's something they will carry forever, so I want it to have meaning and, obviously, be pretty. A few weeks after we found out we were expecting babe number two, a name that I had never even considered popped into my head. It was one that could work for a son or a daughter. Adam loved it, too, and so it stuck.

All we had to do was settle on a middle name. When we were in the process of adopting, we knew our boy name right away, but we could never settle on a girl name. But we have had the opposite experience with this little one. We had our girl name picked, but could not nail down a boy middle name.

So, all of that to say, we have named our precious baby girl:

Asher Elizabeth

Asher because the Lord has made us glad with the news of another life to love. In the Old Testament when Leah gave birth to Asher, she gave him is name because the Lord had blessed her and made her glad. And that's exactly what our girl is to us: a blessing that has filled our hearts with joy. 

And Elizabeth for a woman in the New Testament, the mother of John the Baptist, who waited a long time to give birth to a child. She asked a miracle of the Lord, and He poured His grace out on her. And it happens to be my middle name, too, so that doesn't hurt. :) 

So it is with much anticipation and excitement that we await Asher's arrival early next year! 

With love, 
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