Now or Never


“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:13
Today I told my nine year old daughter what abortion was.  It was the worst conversation I’ve ever had in my life.  And before some of you start pronouncing me an awful parent here’s how the deal went down.  We went to Wal-Mart for bread, butter, and school supplies.  And there, in the coloring book aisle was the current USA Today.  Its headline read, “Forced Abortions, broken hearts.”  And of course, she read it faster than I could cover it up.  “What’s that mean, Momma,” she asked?  “I don’t know baby,” I replied.  Then I picked it up and quickly read the article.  It detailed the horrific practices of forced abortions that are standard practice in China.  It spoke of a woman named Pan Chunyan who was abducted by Chinese officials in her own business last April and taken to a hospital.  There they administered chemicals to kill her baby and cause her to deliver her third child, a son, dead.  She was eight months pregnant.  My heart sunk, and my stomach lurched.  Tears stung my eyes.  Here it was at last, one of those now or never moments.  Do I insulate her or tell her the truth.  She saw my tears and I didn’t try to hide them.  “Why is that pregnant lady on the front of that newspaper,” she asked?  I took a deep breath and asked God for grace & strength I don’t possess.  “Come on baby girl, we’ll buy the paper, and I’ll tell you all about it,” I whispered.  So, on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, on the long way home from the grocery store, my oldest child read the story for herself.  And I let her ask the questions she wanted.  And I answered them the best I could.  I don’t believe in lying to my children, never have.  When they ask questions, I answer them.  Sometimes they get details, sometimes they don’t.  Here’s what I said.  China is a communist country.  Their people are not free.  Their government decides where they live, where they work, and if they go to college.  They have laws in place that allow only one child per family.  In some cases, exceptions are made.  If you have more than one child you must pay a penalty.  For each child, the penalty increases.  Now, their government has gotten more serious about the situation.  This is not the first instance where a woman late in her pregnancy has been abducted and taken to a state facility and forced to undergo this procedure.  It will not likely be the last.  And this is where the questions started……..”Why momma?  Don’t they know that baby is important?  Don’t they know that baby belongs to God,” she asked?  I tried to explain to her that not everyone believes the way we do, but how do you explain to an innocent when others defile the sacred?    It’s like in the movie The Incredibles when the mom leaves the children by themselves on the island and warns them that if the bad men find them, they must run because the men won’t show restraint even if they are children.   She understands that analogy perfectly and something inside me breaks a little because we shouldn’t live in world where this conversation ever takes place.  Tears streamed down both our faces as I told her that it’s the responsibility of good people to stand up and shout out about injustice when they see it or it will never go away.  Sometimes people & governments are bad, I say, sometimes they truly care only for themselves.  You must always, always, speak up.  I tell her to be prepared because often your voice will make you unpopular, or the object of ridicule.  Speak up anyway I say.  The only approval you need is God’s, and you’ve already got that.  It didn’t feel like we were just talking about abortion anymore.  She was worried about Pan Chunyan.  She worried that the mother had wanted to abort her baby.  I pointed out that the article says her husband was frantically trying to raise the penalty money.  That baby was wanted, I say.  Still visibly upset she asks if God is upset with Pan, I reassure her, that this act of violence was against her will.  There was nothing she could do to stop them.   So she wiped her tears away with the back of her hand and then said to me, “Tell me about the other countries momma.  Tell me about the other places that aren’t free like us.”  And I did.  And I’m pretty sure a patriot was born in that black minivan on county road 21 today.
But here are the things I did not say to her today.  I did not dare explain that every day in her own country 3,331 babies are aborted (Guttmacher Inst. 2008).  I did not dare explain that every day their parents choose to end these lives.  They are not forced to do so by our government. That here, in the land of the free, we throw them out as “medical waste.”  That right now our new government health care plan will be providing public funds to “community health centers” many of which will be run by Planned Parenthood.  I did not explain that to many a baby is a choice and not a child.  We distance ourselves with words like embryo and fetus but that does not change what’s really going on.  Ecclesiastes 11:5 “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.” Just because it’s been legal in America since 1973 doesn’t mean it is right.   And I cannot help but believe that if these expectant parents only understood how loved and special they were in God’s eyes they might choose differently.  If they could but catch a glimpse of what he sees in them, in their potential as his children then perhaps they would give their children a chance; even if it meant giving them to someone else to rear.   And if perchance someone reads this and wonders if the choice they made can be forgiven, it can.  Maybe someone somewhere told you differently. Maybe people you loved disowned you.  Maybe friends who were Christians judged you.  None of that would surprise me either.  But the God who created you, the God who set you apart from all others still loves you.  You are his child.  Make no mistake about that. You are still precious.  “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 4:22-24 
I know today is not the last day abortion will be talked about in my home.  Honestly, I hope it’s not.  I pray that my children, all of my children, ask me about every disturbing thing that this world has to offer them.  I’ve already bombarded Heaven’s gates for help and I know my Father won’t let me down.  


Lucky #108




I’ve lived through a lot of numbers in my life.  I celebrated turning sixteen at Cherry’s soda fountain with my closest friends.  I married my dear friend at nineteen, he was twenty-one in the First Baptist Church on Main Street in my hometown.  I waited five long weeks, that’s thirty-five tortuous days for Annabeth’s heartbeat to show up on ultrasound after our doctor told us the pregnancy didn’t “take”.    I survived seven years of college and graduated with a doctorate without losing my mind or my family.  I have three children ages nine, five and two.  But I can honestly say I’ve never been number 108.  We knew we were on the bottom of the list.   We expected to be at the bottom of the list.  We just didn’t know the list was so long.  I’m not sure who I felt sorrier for, me or the adoption consultant who had to inform me.  It wouldn’t seem so large if there were more referrals, but for the last 90 days not a single child has been matched with a family within our agency.  So with odds like that a family could be waiting for a long time.  Initially, I took the news in stride.  I joked, I laughed, I made statements like, “you can’t get to the top if you don’t start at the bottom”, but secretly in the bottom of my heart I was disappointed.  For a few days I just let the number marinate.  I just let it hang around our house and get to know us.  And I prayed about it, but mostly my prayers were short because as Lydia says, “God can hear you from your heart, you don’t have to say everything.”  Oh, how I love that kid!  And I read his word.  And just like he always does my friend Jesus directed me to the words I needed to hear,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
He reminded me that Isaiah is not a project!  In fact, none of my children are!  They are members of our family and that the entire process of raising each of my children is a marathon not a 20 yard dash.  Our family story doesn’t begin when Isaiah arrives; it’s just a new chapter.  He also brought to my attention that a lot of folks are watching our actions, i.e. the witnesses.  And the longer this process takes the more closely people will be watching.   Are we who we say we are?   Absolutely!  But, the proof is in our actions.  Can we live it?  Yes, we say we love Christ and that we’ve committed our entire lives to his service, but if we have no race to run then how will others see that and come to know him for themselves.   As my daddy says, “love is just a word, unless you back it up.”    And oh, how my Savior backed it up!  He waited thirty-three years on this earth, that’s 11, 748 days, to walk the hill to Calvary for me, for you.  He knew we could never make that walk.  We just don’t have it in us to pardon our own sins.  He ignored the shame.  He bore the unspeakable pain of that day for my daughter, for my son, for your son so that they would never have to.  So that they would never know what it means to die in such a way.  He fixed his eyes on his father and the home he once knew.  He knew his course.  It was already marked.  Just like mine is.  Only mine is so much easier.  I have only to wait and work.  I have only to tell his story.  That is all he has asked me to do.  It seems such a small thing really. In perspective the number 108 seems like what it is, just a number.  So here’s what I’ve decided to do.  I’m going to choose to be joyful every single day for however long we have to wait.   And I’m going to work as hard as I can. I’m going to embrace every opportunity to tell others about the love Christ has for me and for them because I don’t want them to miss the chance to know the greatest guy that ever lived. I’m going to grab on to my best friend Jesus and run this race for however long he says to, and I’m not talking about waiting for my son anymore.  He marked my course himself and he’s waiting for me at the finish line, so I can’t lose.  Neither can you.  If you’ve got some numbers in your life that you’re dealing with maybe it’s time you gave them to him.  Third divorce?  Second miscarriage?  Tenth time in Rehab? He can handle whatever you’re carrying around.  But you have to let him.  Verse one tells us that these things can hinder and entangle us.  Don’t let them.  Don’t let them hold you back from the race he has designed for you.  Let him use you for his glory.  It’s what we were made to do.  There’s no number in your life he can’t help you through. There’s no number in your life that he can’t forgive. He tells us so in John 6:37, “…whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

715,040. That’s approximately how many days it’s been since he finished his race. He’s doing his own waiting now; on the right hand of God.  Waiting for the moment he can collect his children.  Waiting for the moment he can finally bring them home.    Watching them suffer and knowing that he must wait until God’s perfect timing says he can bring them home.  I can understand a little bit of what he must be feeling.  715,040…suddenly 108 doesn’t seem so big after all.   


We are often asked if there is anything someone can do to help us so below you will find a prayer list.  Please consider praying for us on a regular basis.  We would greatly appreciate it.
1.  Pray for our son’s family.  Pray that he & his family come to know Christ and his love for them.  This is the most important thing to us!
2.     Pray for our children to grow in their understanding of God’s love and grace for them.  Pray that God will knit their hearts to their brother’s before he ever comes home.
3.     Pray for God’s timing and will for our adoption.  We do not want things to proceed any other way.
4.     Pray for our son to love us as much as we already love him.  Adjustment & attachment can be very difficult for some babies.
5.     Pray for the other families waiting on children.  For some families the wait is nothing short of brutal.



The Gift

Most nights somewhere between the hours of 8:30 to 10pm things start to settle down around my house.  Teeth get brushed, dogs get fed, spelling books get tossed into backpacks, and the rush of the day finally begins to peter out.  We get the girls tucked in and kissed good night, everybody gets out of bed for that last drink of water that they just have to have or they will totally dehydrate before morning, and then finally Luke and I start our snuggle time.  As I turn on his turtle night light and send stars spilling across the ceiling I start singing the words to I love you a bushel and a peck.   I gladly sit down in the fuzzy brown armchair and feel the day start to end.  The weight of those sweet little arms around my neck reminds me just how blessed I am as he burrows his forehead into my neck.  As I start into Amazing Grace I notice he’s already broken out into a light sweat.  That always happens right before he tumbles into never never land, and by the time I’ve finished the second verse he’s a goner.  But things are just starting to get really good because now it’s almost totally quiet.  For the first time since 6 am I can hear myself think.  The only two sounds I hear are his breathing and mine.  And so there in the quiet stillness, with one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever been given I begin to thank my God for all he’s done for me, for all he’s doing for me.  I’m humbled by his goodness and my words catch in my throat.  As I bury my face in Luke’s hair and breathe in the sweet mixture of baby shampoo and little boy I cannot help but be overwhelmed with the thought of my other son.  And so I pray someone is rocking him to sleep too.  I pray that God puts someone in the gap until we get there.  And for awhile I just cry silently.  Because sometimes there are emotions no words can express.  And just then Luke wakes up and needs another song so I sing Jesus Loves Me while lightly rubbing his back.  After our song I pray some more with him and before long the sound of my voice has lulled him back to sleep.  I’m rubbing the outside of his right foot while thinking how little he is and how hard it would be if the new baby was here right now because how would I divide my time between two such very tiny people? Especially when one of those very tiny people has some big life adjustments to make?  Then it hits me.  It’s a Gift.  This waiting.  It’s a gift from God himself.  This entire year that we have been saving and working and preparing paperwork has felt like a punishment, a nightmare, really, but it’s not.  It’s a gift.  It’s the time we need to become the family God designed us to be.  It’s time for us to grow.  It’s the time frame that he has envisioned for us.  It’s hard to admit but I’m not the mom I need to be for these children yet, but with God’s help and some time, I will be.  And what about our children?  Maybe they’re not ready yet either.  Perhaps this waiting period is the essential time they need in order grow and be able to wholeheartedly embrace another sibling.  Is it possible that God has given me this time with them as a gift before the next little one comes?   
I think about work and all the challenges we’ve faced over the last year, the challenges we’re facing right now and I sigh knowing God is working those things out too. 
Perhaps God’s doing what he does best, giving us what we need before we even know what to ask for.  And so, as that realization sinks deeper into my heart my tears take on a different meaning.  Gratitude.  And I began to wonder how many times in my life I have viewed waiting as punishment.  When what God had intended was a Gift. 
Infertility, Separation from family, a Layoff, Financial struggles…….
We endured each thing (sometimes more than once) and I can see now when looking back it was a gift.  It was a gift of time.   It was a chance to allow God to work in a way only he can to arrange things in our lives into patterns of greatness for his glory.  It was a chance for us to grow into the people he needed us to be in order for his work to continue.  And isn’t that what our lives are really supposed to be about?
 So as I sit with my sleeping little man I have new words to say to my Father.  Thank you for not answering every prayer exactly the way I want it.  Thank you for “wrecking my plans” so you could design greater ones.  Thank you for having patience with my impatience.  Thank you for loving my stubborn heart enough to give me what I need and not what I want.  Thank you for using me in your work, even if I can’t always know or understand how you’re working.  Please just keep using me!  And Lord, while waiting for our son to come home from Ethiopia may be hard I’m guessing it was a lot harder for you to wait on yours to come back home to you.  So if some days I forget that you’ve already written my story and know the ending please forgive me and help me to remember that, “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Filthy

Someone I love very much recently told me that another person I love very much feels intimidated when they’re around me because they think my life is perfect.  Now before everyone reading this starts thinking my ego is beyond enormous let’s understand I didn’t say the word perfect nor do I think the word perfect applies to my life or me at all.  (That word “perfect” nearly caused me to have a nervous breakdown earlier in my life but that’s a whole other story.)  In fact, I detest that word so much I’ve pretty much banned it from my house.   So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s get down to the real business at hand.  How imperfect I am.  Really and truly, let’s talk about how filthy I am.  You see, the truth is I’m the worst sinner there ever was or there ever will be.  I can be greedy and grouchy.  I get tired sometimes and yell at my family.  I lose my temper and say things I shouldn’t.  I hurt people’s feelings and don’t apologize.  I get angry and then say more things I shouldn’t.  I’ve gossiped….a lot.  I’ve spent money I don’t have on things I don’t need.  I’ve been more concerned with what people thought of me than what God thought of me.  I overeat and don’t exercise even though I’m overweight.  I judge others.  I wasted 30 years of my life serving God by following rules instead of following Him.  See, there’s nothing “perfect” about me and there never will be.  I am a daily work in progress.  Christ will never be through with me.  Praise God that He will never be through with me!  I love that Christ never ordered one sin to be worse than any other sin.  So my envy is just as bad as someone’s murder.  My wandering eye is just as guilty as the person who followed through.  Ouch!  For some of us, that hurts.  It’s human nature to compare ourselves to one another and think, “Well, I may have lied to my husband about the money I spent, but at least I didn’t cheat on him!”  It makes us feel so much better than someone else.  But to Christ, it’s all the same.  A sin, is a sin, is a sin.  Each thing breaks His heart just the same.  Thank goodness we’re all covered.  Thank goodness Christ looks at our filth, all of our filth and says,” It’s ok, I still love you.”  For the prostitute and the kindergarten teacher, His grace is the same.  For the preacher and the pedophile, His grace is the same.  We don’t have to understand it, for it to be true.  We just have to accept it for ourselves and allow Him to change us for the better.  But don’t take my word for it.  Paul tells us in Romans 3:22-24, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”    And I fall short every day, but every day He still gives me grace to cover my filth and make me His kind of perfect.  In fact, if there is anything good about me you see, it’s Him.  It’s Christ.  I can promise you that.   

Tickled

Sometimes I just have to wonder if God doesn’t get tickled watching me from time to time.   I have to think that He hears my prayers for help and then watches me get busy trying to fix the problems I just prayed about and then just chuckles at me.  It’s not that I don’t believe in God’s power or promise’s it’s just that I seem unable to grasp that they apply to me ALL the time.  And so, sometimes I think He can’t help but just laugh out loud at my silliness.  This thought came to me this week as I realized that I must be the queen of ridiculousness.  That’s right; I am totally guilty of praying and then getting busy trying to fix things.   (I mean God is really busy, right?  He might not have time to get to me right away!)  I have spent the last several months running in circles and wondering how I should handle this situation or what will I do if that happens?  Ummm….hello, didn’t I just hand that over to God?  Didn’t I just pray that His will be done?  Then there is absolutely no point in going over and over the same problem in my head trying to come up with another solution because no matter what happens He is still in control.  And once again that fact hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  He is in control.  You’d think by now I would have learned that.  You’d think I’d quit trying to do His job for Him, because when I do the results are just disastrous.  It’s like an amateur trying to paint a Monet.  And so, still I say He must shake His head and laugh at my sweet but misguided efforts.  Maybe it’s like when one of my children tries to wear my shoes, they can put them on, and they may even get a few steps, but eventually they’re going to need my help walking or else they’re just going to fall flat on their face.   And I’m just the same way.  I’m so busy trying to fill shoes that I’m just not made to fill that I keep missing what He’s trying to say.  I keep missing what I’m supposed to be doing.   So today He reminded me and now I’m reminding you…….” seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:33-34