Sunday, April 19, 2009


Just a quick update to let you know where we are in the process:

Homestudy: We had our first visit with our social worker last Tuesday. It went well, she was really nice, and we'll have our final visit on April 28th.

Dossier: We've made a lot of progress on our paperwork. We are going tomorrow to get fingerprinted for our background checks, to get some more documents notarized, and to get one thing state certified. Our goal is to have all of our part finished by the end of this week.

Education: We've completed half of the online trainings and have about 5 chapters to go in our workbook. We went to DC this weekend to visit some friends so we used the hours in the car to get through a lot of the book.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel =)
Hope you all had a relaxing day! (Thanks for a great weekend Matt and Mary!!)


Monday, April 13, 2009


My perspective on life and my purpose in it is easily pushed off track by no one other than myself. Perhaps the biggest problem with this loss of perspective is that it quietly sneaks up, takes over, and I don’t even realize it for days, weeks, or even months, as I live in apparent obliviousness to people around me. It usually takes a bit of a jolt to wake me up and correct my direction. For example, often I’m overwhelmed at someone else’s generosity before I realize my own greed. Or I’m amazed at someone’s gratitude for something I think of as small before understanding just how much I take things for granted. This was the case for me tonight as Heather and I watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

The story was about George and Barbara Kadzis, who adopted 6 children (some with special needs) from China. Now, I should make clear that I don’t personally know the Kadzis family, but I hope it’s ok if I make some observations from the show. First off, their generous heart for children in need makes me seriously question why I’m not a whole lot more giving. George was a dentist and probably made a good living, yet he and his wife chose to stay in an older, smaller home that was falling down around them so they could afford to care for more children. Absent from their story was the American-driven dream of a bigger this or a better that.

This makes me wonder why I so frequently feel the need to buy stuff, or why I want a nice house, or why I want a new car. When I’m being honest, I confess that the critical word is “want,” but unfortunately, nine times out of ten, I convince myself that I “need” all these things instead. That way, I can justify the purchase (no matter how expensive) to my guilty conscience. This corrupted logic leads me to waste God’s blessings on myself, ignoring those in true need all around me. I’m not blessed so I can hoard for my own; I am blessed so I can be a blessing to others. My struggle is to implement this into my daily life.

One scene from tonight’s show was particularly moving to me; it dealt with Melody, the Kadzis’ blind daughter. To give you a little background, the design team usually asks the children what their interests are and what they’d like their room to look like before construction begins, that way their rooms are tailored to their interests. When they were talking to Melody, they asked what all the books were on her bookcase in her old room. She pointed to one shelf and said those books were collectively half of the Bible (in Braille), and if she had the entire Bible, it would take up two shelves.

At the end of the show, they brought Melody into her room and she went straight to her new bookcase and started running her hands across the books, no doubt hoping to find the “rest” of the Bible. What struck me was how ecstatic she became when she realized that she finally had the “whole Bible” to read. She had waited years to have a privilege that I daily take for granted. I’m so lackadaisical that days on end sometimes pass without me ever picking it up. The ugly truth is that Melody’s situation certainly isn’t an uncommon one. There are millions of people around the world who do not have access to God’s word, whether that be because of government oppression, language barriers, health reasons or other factors….and there my Bible sits, all too often unused, much like our money.

God does not want my laziness; he wants passion. He goes so far as to say he’d rather us be “cold” than “lukewarm” in our pursuit of Him.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

So on this Easter Sunday night, please join me in praying that we would be passion-filled and that our perspectives would keep God in focus and not ourselves. His claims are way too grand for us to respond lukewarmly. We can reject Him coldly or accept Him with fire in our hearts, but His bold statements leave no room to respond indifferently.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Mystery Solved!

About two weeks ago we got a great surprise, when two t-shirts arrived in the mail.
They were Mocha Club shirts, which we had actually been thinking about buying, but hadn't yet taken the plunge.
I need Africa more than Africa needs me. Do you?

At first, I thought Heather bought them, but that wasn't the case. Then, I wondered if I bought them and just forgot (which is very possible) but I looked at the bank statement online and that wasn't the case either.

So, we began quietly wondering who the secret Santa was. Heather had a couple of guesses and I had one.

Well, Wednesday I was having lunch with my guess and when he slyly brought up the Mocha Club video that we posted on the blog a few weeks ago, I figured I must be right. He confessed.

Heather and I would like to sincerely thank Lynn and Cissie! They fit perfectly...

I'd like to share what's printed on the shirt:

When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation. AIDS. Child soldiers. Genocide. Sex slaves. Orphans. From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. "I am needed here," I think. "They have so little, and I have so much." It's true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa everyday. There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and even then it is difficult to believe. But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in those same people. It's a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day.

The images spilling out of my television showed circumstances that could seemingly only equal misery, and I was fooled. I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness. The truth is, in Africa I find hearts full of victory, indomitable spirits. In places where despair should thrive, instead I find adults dancing and singing, and children playing soccer with a ball crafted of tied up trash. Instead of payback, I find grace. Here, weekend getaways are not options to provide relief from the pains of daily life. Relationships and faith provide joy. Love is sovereign.

My new reality… I know now that my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. I'm ashamed by my lack of faith, but at the very same moment I am excited by my new pursuit. I'm forced to redefine the meaning of having much or having little. I'm uneasy with the prospect of change and of letting go, but just the thought of freedom is liberating. I want what I have learned to trickle down from my head into my heart - I no longer want to need the "next thing" to have joy.

I'm not saying that Africa does not need our efforts. It absolutely does need our partnership. But for me, I've come to understand that I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME. Why? Because it is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent's many lessons. I came here to serve and yet I've found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all its need, has much to teach me.

The line that reads, "I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness" resonates with me. Every time I catch myself longing after more stuff, or a nicer this or a nicer that to make me happy, and everytime I'm sad, I forget what has already been done for me on the cross. I forget that God offers everlasting joy that is not dependent on the circumstances of my life, however good or bad they may be.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Mercies Every Morning

Last night I was overcome with sadness. I kept thinking about all that we would miss of our child’s first year of life. We will not hear his first cry or see his first smile or get to cheer for him the first time he rolls over. We probably will not know the details of his birth, and we can’t make sure that he is fed and kept from harm in those early months. These thoughts and more were weighing down my heart, and I was a little scared of how much I already love someone that I’ve never even seen. It is so hard to be in control of so little. Yet this morning I was reading the account of the crucifixion in Mark and was reminded of a few very important things. How quickly I forget what was so clearly demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Christ.
1) God loves me more than I could ever imagine. We never have to doubt His love because He proved it once and for all by dying for us. Not only does He love me, but He loves our son, and He loves him much more than I am even capable of loving. Although we won’t be there in his first months of life, God will be, and who better to care for him and protect him than the One who created him and loves him most.

2) We serve a powerful God. Not only does He love us enough to care for us, He is powerful enough to do so. He has overcome death and has made a way for us to be with the Father. There is nothing that He cannot do. He is all-powerful, and He has proven that He chooses to use that power to act on our behalf.

3) God uses what seems like our darkest moments to bring glorious light. What did the disciples think when Jesus was crucified? They had to be upset, possibly wondering if they had got it all wrong, not understanding why Jesus would not get down off the cross when they had seen Him perform so many miracles. Yet what they didn’t understand, and what I always seem to forget, is that God is always there, working in ways we can’t imagine, taking what seems like a hopeless situation and using it to accomplish His perfect, redeeming plan.