Monthly Archives: December 2015

Enlarged in the Waiting

I love the Advent season. Advent is all about waiting in anticipation, not just for the presents of Christmas morning, but for the manifestation of God’s presence—the increase of His kingdom, in this world, in our situations, in our hearts, in our homes.

We have done a good bit of waiting over the last 15 years of adoptive parenting.  We have waited for paperwork to be approved, for our children to come home, for proficiency in English, for a new normal for our family, for attachment, for healing, for wholeness, for the replacing of an orphan spirit for the Spirit of Adoption that speaks of sonship.

Our spirits are often full with the promises God has spoken to us. Even as I write, I am filled with the satisfaction of a promise already come to pass as I live out the dream in real life! For, like many of you, our children are home and they are no longer orphans. Oh how wonderful that is!

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But there are some of you reading this who are in the waiting- for-your-child-to-come-home stage; you are facing significant obstacles between you and your child being home. I just want to pause this post to add our faith to yours in prayer:

Father God, in faith we believe You for these precious families. We call these children HOME. And we speak to the mountains that would hinder that homecoming and say, Be Moved. Comfort the hearts of our friends who are waiting, and protect these precious treasures who are waiting to come home. Amen. 

 For a few other things that are very dear to my heart though, I am still waiting, feeling the weight of the wait! I am waiting for some promises that have yet to be delivered safe and sound into the arms of our lives. Sometimes the weight feels heavy and wearisome. When it does, I find I must be careful not to allow disappointment to sicken my heart.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12 AMP)

Do you ever hear those whispers like I do–the ones that say “give up; it’s not going to happen; it is just too hard to continue in hope; the weight of the wait is too burdensome; it would be much easier to quit believing, maybe this is all there is and I should just settle …..”

I am pregnant with a promise from God, and I suspect you are too. For me it is the Promise of Adoption and all that is hidden in the meaning of that word. The promise of deep inner healing for my children, and their wholeness in all areas of their lives–healthy attachment, freedom from the residue of rejection, intimacy with the One who is The Spirit of Adoption.

And in the wait to see the promise delivered I sometimes feel cumbersome, waddling through some days with the weight of it all.

And it is clear to me that the enemy is always after the unborn life, tempting me to abort that unborn promise–to settle for less.

And I recognize the temptation to defer hope–to postpone hope for some other time, for some other promise. The sacrifice of bearing the unborn promise, nurturing it with the food of faith in what seems like a past term pregnancy, sometimes makes me weary.

BUT then I am reminded that

God’s Love Endures Forever.
Love, God’s Love In Me, is Patient.

The enemy would kill the child. It has always been his way.

But Father God responds with a shout, “LIVE!”

And so I choose to agree with LIFE.

And like a pregnant woman, I am enlarged with the promise rather than diminished by its weight.

And I see that God is changing me and my children with His promises, and once again I recognize the honor it is to bear such a weight. The stretch marks of the growth process haven’t faded, but they speak a good word to me. They speak to the expansion required by adoption, the shape change in our family and in our hearts. They speak to the pain that comes with growth— the “more” of increase. They are marks of growth in compassion, understanding, patience grace, mercy, and warfare. They are marks that speak to me about who I am becoming in the process.

And I am learning to enjoy His presence with me and in me along the way.

That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.(Romans 8:24-28 MSG)

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Beth Templeton

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband Stephen for 27 years. They have seven children, ages 18-24. Several years after giving birth to three girls God called their family to the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Beth’s heart has been deeply and forever changed as she has watched the love of Father God poured out on her whole family through adoption. She leads Hope at Home, a ministry dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord, go to Hope at Home.

 

The Great Unknown

wagi 2I woke to see this quote this morning on my Facebook feed.

“Christians outnumber orphans 15 to 1. All we need to do is have 1 out of every 15 Christians adopt, and the other 14 come alongside and help. I believe we can actually do this.” – Pastor Randy Frazee.

At first read it sounds like a simple solution to the orphan crisis. Assuming Randy’s statistics are correct, if 1 out of 15 Christians adopt we can address the orphan crisis in one full swoop. I agree with Randy that Christians need to rise up to address the injustice of children left helpless not only because they are without birth parents but because they remain without any parents willing to care for them. If the answer to the problem is so simple, why don’t 1 in 15 Christians rise up to meet this need and eradicate the orphan crisis? I do not profess to have all the answers, but I do suspect that there is one reaction that hinders a response to the orphan cry. Though adoption is the easy answer, it is the hard solution.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with Randy. Christians must respond to the cry of the orphan for a place to belong, a place to be protected and a place to be connected. But there is one reason NOT to adopt.

There is a cost.

It will cost you everything.

And if you have adopted you know what I am talking about.

Jesus did not say in this world, I will send you to do easy work. He said, In this world you will have trouble.

So why are we surprised when the process to make an adoption happen is costly? Why are we deterred when the road is not easy? Why do we stop trying when the path is blocked by hindrances? Why do we doubt that the mountain ahead of us can be traversed if we but keep our eyes on our guide?  And why do we quit before we begin?

Let that sit for a moment in your mind. What is it that makes the call to adoption possible? Is it our money? Is it our time? Is it space in our home? Is it our desire? Or is it merely our willingness to go to a place that is HARD?

I have always treasured the story of Peter walking on the water. Peter was my kind of guy. He was a bit of a hot head. (I can relate). He was a regular guy. A fisherman. Nothing special in the world’s eyes. But Peter had faith. He had the kind of faith that took him to unknown places without suitcase or a credit card. Peter followed Christ wherever he went, even out of the boat and on to the water.

Peter did not follow Jesus in the water; he followed Jesus on the water. It was an experience that defied gravity and made history. Take a look.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33).

I do not get the feeling that Peter sat in the boat when he saw Jesus coming and thought about the impossibility of what he was about to do. It does not sound like he spent much time contemplating all the reasons he should not climb over the edge. He saw Jesus and simply asked, Lord if it is you tell me to come.

Tell. Me. To. Come.

How many of us are asking this of the Lord? Tell me to come Lord and I’ll get out of my boat— my safe, comfortable, spot and I’ll head towards the impossible. All because I have faith that you are the creator of the universe, and surely you can bring me to the place you have called me to.

That seems like a crazy idea to me, but Peter’s account is there to point us toward out of the boat experiences. Sometimes our call to follow Christ makes no earthly sense! I can relate. When we were called to adoption we were in the midst of a financial crisis, contemplating selling our house and closing our business. The pursuit of adoption defied our reality, but Jesus clearly called us to a place of trust without borders. Adoption is a calling to walk upon the great unknown, defying gravity by the One who created it. It will not make sense. It will not be easy, but Jesus makes it possible, to do the impossible. When it comes to the hindrances that keep us from following Him, it really does not matter how contrary the obstacles it only matters that we follow. You see we can spend hours debating why the adoption process should be shorter, simpler and less expensive. We can talk all day about how many obstacles we have in our lives that prevent us from the pursuit. We can excuse ourselves with our ‘if only’ scenarios, or we can fast and pray and listen for God’s call. If he says come, we need only fix our eyes on Him and go.

What about you? Have you been called to help those who have adopted? Or have you been called to climb out of your boat and be 1 in 15? Either way, I can promise you it will not be easy and more likely hard, but if you focus on the impossible you will never leave your comfortable spot. Look up. Keep your eyes fixed and your faith will take you the great unknown!

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Tiffany Barber

Tiffany is a wife to Kirk and mother of eight including six biological and two newly adopted from China. With a looming financial crisis at the outset of their recent adoption, God took their family on a journey of faith. Having been home just over ten weeks, they are currently working through the transition phase of their new adoption. Tiffany writes an honest account of challenges of adoption and the redemptive work of her savior Jesus Christ at Extravagant Love. Though her faith and limits have been tested, she points that adoption is paving the way for her to grow and experience God’s presence as never before.

One Year.

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November 24, 2014

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Waiting behind the curtains.

I can hardly believe it was one year ago today that we met this sweet, precious boy for the first time. We walked into an eerily quiet Guangzhou civil affairs office and peered through the infamous curtains. The curtains that separate all families from their new children until it is “time.” The curtains my son sat behind, waiting for his future to begin. The anticipation in the room was palpable as more waiting adoptive families shuffled in and the noise steadily grew. After all of the paperwork was signed and it was “time,” I finally held him in my arms and knew instantly that he was my son. The unconditional love I felt for him was overwhelming. All of the waiting and heartache melted away as our new life together officially began. The escalating chaos and noise of the civil affairs office went unnoticed as we became a family of 6 that day. My other children attempted desperately to catch his attention, to see even a glimpse of a smile, while hubby held the camera ready to snap. Snacks, drinks, and toys were placed in his lap to divert his welling tears. I tried to shield him from everything else that was going on around us because I knew he was overstimulated and unsure. But everyone was elated to simply be in his presence after waiting for so long. I gaze at this picture of me holding him … the one that I asked hubby to shoot on my iPhone so I could tell the world he was finally ours … and I feel all of the emotions come flooding back. The feelings of joyfulness, thankfulness, concern, love, fear, protection, confusion, trauma, and more. I see a scared, apprehensive little boy who had no idea what was happening to him. I see sadness and brokenness in his precious eyes. I see hurt in his face that no one should have to experience. I see an amount of bravery and strength that is overwhelming.

I also see the beautiful story of redemption unfolding in his little life. I see a child who is loved deeply by his family and by his Abba Father. A child who is fought for. A child who is fearfully and wonderfully made. A child who was knit into our family through divine intervention. A child who has difficult past experiences that are part of his story, but don’t define him. A child who has hope. A child who is worth it all.

Over the past year, we have watched our precious son and brother come alive. He’s blossomed from a quiet, shy boy into a loud, fun-loving, needs-to-be-in-the-mix, joyful, sometimes bossy, silly, loving son who happily gives and receives affection. He has learned that his mommy and daddy will meet his needs. He has gained 7 pounds and grown almost 4 inches this past year. He has learned how to draw, how to put puzzles together, how to use simple words to communicate, how to pretend play, how to rough house, and how to laugh so contagiously that you can’t help but laugh with him. He has won the love and attention of his siblings. He has learned how to take things apart so he can figure out how they work. He is learning the ABC song and will impress anyone with his Itsy Bitsy Spider hand illustration skills. He has learned so much in his short time with us, and we have too.

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November 24, 2015

We have learned to love more, give more of ourselves, and forgive more. We have learned to be more patient, although I’m still a work-in-progress on that one. We have learned more about ourselves as we’ve grown and stretched. We’ve been reminded that we aren’t in control, but we know Who is as we learn to let go. We’ve been reminded that when we mess up, we are forgiven by the One True God. We’ve remembered over and over again what God’s grace means, as we stumble through trying to share it with each other. We’ve felt His unconditional love repeatedly. Through adoption, we’ve learned, grown, stretched, shown grace, forgiven, and loved together. We’ve been reminded what our Abba Father’s adoption of us means, as we try to grasp our eternal inheritance in heaven. And we’ve seen a small glimpse of His remarkable redemption of us.

“God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:5-6

Happy Family Day precious son. You are so very loved!

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

Finding Life in Infertility

There was so much life in my home last night. I woke up to empty wine glasses scattered about my living room and dishes filling my sink. And, I sat and cried in gratitude. I have found this beautiful infertility and adoption community. These women filled my home last night, some who have been coming since the beginnings of this group 6 months ago, and some whose faces and stories were brand new to me. But regardless of what history or lack of history we have with each other, we were instantly and eternally bonded because we share each other’s deepest pain and greatest passion through our infertility and adoption journeys. I adore these women.

My mind is always racing and processing for a while after these monthly gatherings. Each time blows me away with how God is moving and how God can turn pain into purpose. My thoughts woke me up before the sun and the rest of my house this morning. As I sat and reflected in the quiet stillness of the morning, I started to hear giggles coming from the back of the house. The quiet giggles quickly turned into loud happy yells. I walked in to get my munchkin out of bed, and his delight when I opened that door melted me. He reached his arms up to hug me, and in my arms was where he wanted to stay all morning. We played in the backyard. He held my hand as he walked, contemplating letting go, but just not quite ready yet. He’d play on his own for a couple minutes, then crawl over to me to give me a hug or lay on my lap. Back to play. Back to me…over and over. He has my heart.

There is life after infertility.

There is life in the middle of infertility.

I have found it, and I am so very grateful.

Morning greetings….

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…and outside play time.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 presetIf you are experiencing infertility and don’t have a community of people who are in the same boat, I hope you find one. If you can’t find one, maybe you could start one. I’ve been amazed at how many people have come into my life since I started praying for a community like this. Being able to share with people who walk this same road has helped me find peace with infertility.

Also, about adoption. If it’s on your radar, and you’re struggling with whether or not to take that leap, just do it…whether infertility is a part of your story or not. Adoption is the most amazing miracle I have ever experienced. It gave me a son who far exceeds my wildest dreams, and not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the infertility that became a part of the story that led us to him. He has brought joy and life to our home and filled my heart to overflowing.

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Kinnier-3 copyMindy and her husband, Nick, adopted their son, Silas, domestically in August of 2013 after seven years of marriage and two years of unexplained infertility.  They live in Southern California, where Nick is a pastor and elder at ROCKHARBOR church and Mindy is a part-time teacher. She also hosts an infertility and adoption group each month, where she gets to do life with women who share her deepest pain and her greatest passion. She blogs at Finding Sunday.

His Good and Perfect Will

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Revelation 4:11

This verse.

It’s been one of my favorites for a while. Next to this verse in my bible is written “baby – 2007”. We were two years into trying to add little ones to our family and nothing was happening. My thoughts were consumed with having a baby. Slight panic was beginning to set in. When this verse smacked me in the face, it was truly a gift from God. I clung to this verse to remind me that God was in complete control. It was easy for me to believe that everything God creates is by his will, but I could rest on the truth {even if it was a hard truth to swallow} that anything He does not create is because it was not His will.

His good and perfect will.

His good and perfect will for our family was for me to not get pregnant.

His good and perfect will for our family was for me to be the mama of two boys that are better than I could have imagined.

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My love for this verse has evolved. It’s not about a baby anymore. It’s about praising Him for the family He did create and the beautiful stories He wrote to make it happen. It’s about telling my boys that they were created for a purpose and that they exist because God willed them into being. Every part of who they are is because of our worthy God.

My family is exactly the way God intended it to be and ALL glory, honor and praise goes to Him.

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2F4A9155Abby and her college sweetheart husband Wes began the journey of domestic adoption in 2009. Blessed with a {more than they had planned but oh so thankful for it} open adoption experience, they were able to witness the birth of their first child Max in the summer of 2010. Little brother Sam joined their team in September of 2012. You can read their story at Akers of Love.