I am in the process of thinking though all that God has been doing in our lives over the last few days. As many of you know, I got a call one week ago that changed my life in a moment. It was the call from our adoption agency telling me the story of a little boy who suffered at the hands of his father. “He needs a special daddy, one who is good and kind and can be patient with him” she told me. “We read your file and thought that might be you. Does that sound right? Can you be that Daddy to him?” What do you say to that? Everything in me cried out “I want to be!” but at that same moment all my failings as a dad flashed in my mind. The times I let my exhaustion result in a sharp tone, the times when I’ve parented out of my own weakness or insecurity. All the mistakes and missed opportunities.
“He sounds like a really special boy who needs a family to love him. I will talk to Amy and pray about it. You will hear from us shortly”. That was all I could muster. I sat in my car shell shocked and sobbing. Sobbing for this boy, my son, and from the weight of the question….Can you be that Daddy?
Every year I make a Christmas CD. I know, it seems a bit weird, but it’s just one of those things I fell into over the years. Amy is to blame. I could fill a 10 volume book series on the amazing things about my wife. Chief among her virtues is her kindness. The way she loves those around her is startling and the most beautiful thing in the world to behold. That being said, in that 10 volume “Ode to Amy”, you would be hard pressed to find a description of her love for GOOD music. She does love music, it’s just that a lot of it is, well…. not great to listen to in my opinion. I’m sure you’re thinking her kindness must be unending to live for so long with a jerk like me…you are correct. If she controlled the play list Christmas music would start around Labor Day and end around the 4th of July. I decided if I was doomed to 6 months of Christmas music, I would do my best to find some that’s tolerable to listen to. So that is how 10 years ago, I started making Christmas CD’s.
Now the process of scouring through thousands of Christmas songs is part of my holiday tradition. No joke, I have well over 600 Christmas songs on my iPod right now. Ridiculous… I know. My favorite part of the tradition is that (while listening to Stryper Christmas Reunion Album) I get to refocus my mind on what Christmas is about.
This year, as our adoption is closer than has seemed possible, I reflect on the birth of Christ in a new way. I can only imagine being in a field in the middle of the night, watching my animals as the most important moment in the history of the world is happening right over the next rise. It is still now a thought that makes me fall on my knees. That God would choose a frail and flawed race of people to bear his image. That he would demonstrate his plan for humanity through a baby born to a young girl and an adoptive father who were in poverty. You get a glimpse of the Fathers heart.
I can only scratch the surface of what Joseph must have been feeling. Is this really God’s baby? Was that really God’s angel who appeared to me in my dream? How can I be a father to God’s son? The confusion and fear he must have felt would be paralyzing. Would he even feel worthy to be Jesus’ father?
Truly we are not worthy to be God’s hands and feet to those around us. To those that God has put in our care. As I again reflect on that question “Can you be that Daddy?” I know that I cannot give my son or my other children the full measure of the love they deserve. I know that the love I give is filtered through the broken and frail man that I am, BUT I know who can be that Daddy. And I know that He loves me. And when I press into His love, it can spill out of me and cover those around me. It is a privilege that God uses us to share His heart with those around us. In a new way I learned to say to God… “I will love your kids as best as I can. Forgive me when I fail. Thank you for the pleasure of letting me have them for a while. They are yours to do with as you see fit, because I know you will be a better father than I can ever be. Help me be more like you, Father. Then I can be that Daddy.”
Amy is a business owner and adoptive mommy whose heart has been broken and expanded by loving orphans in Ethiopia. She blogs at Love the Least of These because there is power and transformation in sharing our stories with each other. She and her husband, Ben, and their three children make their home in Colorado Springs where Ben works in orphan advocacy for Children’s HopeChest.
God has taught me so much about His Father’s heart and my spiritual adoption as His son through the miracles of my children’s physical adoption, but this Christmas season I realized afresh that His entire redemptive plan hinged on it.
The Gospels start with “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:” Matthew starts his writings about Jesus with a listing of his heritage. He does this because at least seven distinct prophecies about the Messiah speak of his royal bloodline. If Jesus was not of the tribe of Judah and more specifically in the line of King David, the rest of Matthew’s story would be about a great man and teacher but not the Messiah. So Matthew sets the table for the whole story of redemption in a genealogy. There is only one problem…Jesus wasn’t genetically related to Joseph!
Both Luke and Matthew trace Jesus’ lineage through Joseph, yet both authors tell of the virgin birth of Jesus through Mary. How then could Jesus be the Messiah? Only through adoption! According to the Jewish Talmud, “whoever brings up an orphan in his home, scripture ascribes it to him as though he had begotten him” (Talmud Mas. Sanhedrin 19b)”
By bringing up Jesus in his home as his son, that is exactly what Jesus became, his adopted son! “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt 13:55)
Joseph didn’t plan on being so entwined in the salvation of the world. In fact Scripture shares of his reservations before his obedience (a very early example of ‘ReluctantHusband Syndrome’?). But aren’t you glad that he became Jesus’ earth father so that God could become our heavenly father?
C.S. Lewis said, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
If I can presume to edit C.S. Lewis, I would write, “The Son of God became the son of Joseph to enable men to become sons of God.”
What a beautiful picture… the miracle of adoption at both ends of God’s redemptive story!
His driver’s license says he is 6 feet tall, has brown hair and eyes, and is an organ donor… but to know Nathan is to know him as Ellie and Reni’s dad, Cydil’s husband, and passionate lover of missions and adoption (which he sees as one and the same). Nathan and his family will spend next Christmas (and many thereafter) in Albania, the land which gave them their kids and stole their hearts. Read their blog to follow their preparations for the mission field, thoughts on adoption, and living life as a follower of Jesus wherever this journey takes them.
Advent: 1) The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. 2) Coming.
A time of preparation. Of waiting. Of anticipation.
For unto you a child is born. Unto you a son is given.
It is a precarious thing, this waiting. Two Christmases ago we waited. Waited on a Word from God that said yes, go, I am calling you to this, your family to this – home study, paperwork, adoption agency, financial leap, personal leap, Africa, a son. A time of preparation. We didn’t know who or when or how. Only the promise – For you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago (Isaiah 25:1).
Last Christmas we waited. Waited in the agony of labor and anticipation of coming. We knew his name. Bits of his story. Bits of his struggle. When would we go? When would he come? No news. Worrisome news. Hope and then disappointment. Not us. Not yet. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
This Christmas we see the promise realized. A son is given. A family shifted and reknit. New colors, strands, personalities into a tapestry of hope and a future. Into forever. Joys and trials and blessings and struggles and perseverance and love. We see his face, hold his hands, delight in his smile. That which was promised. Not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God has promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed (Joshua 23:14b).
And we light our candle and prepare for the Child and retell the stories of promises kept and hope renewed and futures reclaimed and families reknit. And we wait.
Kristi and her husband of 19 years stay busy loving, laughing and chauffeuring their teenage daughter (biological) and kindergarten son (home six months from Lesotho) around their Kentucky home. Kristi works part-time as an elementary school counselor (and as such knows parenting advice is easier said than done and that all of parenting is an on-your-knees-with-God proposition) and part-time as a writing instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature (as an excuse to read really great books before anyone else) and any-other-spare-minute (none) writing children’s books. Since she “thinks through her fingers” she shares their adoption journey as a coping mechanism on her personal blog.
The other day in church, we heard a message that really impacted me and also caused me to fight back the tears. One of our pastors brought his beautiful young daughter with him as he shared that she was “my daughter.” He talked about how significant was the fact that she was his – not just “a daughter but my daughter.” He then related this to our relationship with Jesus – for those who know Him personally – He is not just Lord. He is my Lord. He is not only Savior of the World, He is my Savior.
As He talked, I couldn’t help but think of children all across the U.S. who have no one to call them “mine.” The tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of the desperate prayers prayed by those who feel so alone. So many children – hundreds of thousands – who want nothing more then a family to love them.
It is a hard thing to grasp – hundreds of thousands – but let me tell you about one.
A man in his early fourties shared his story on video. He talked about how he grew up in foster care and eventually aged out of the system, never to be adopted. Against all odds, he became very successful, ran a nonprofit, and helped many people in his similar situation. But as a grown man, he still carried a deep wound. “I just wonder,” he said into the camera, “after all that I’ve accomplished, after all that I’ve done, who wouldn’t be proud to call me son now?”
There are children dying inside – children in your community and mine. Some who need forever families. Some who need foster families to walk with them for a time. They need you, and they need me. During this Christmas season, let’s not forget those who are alone. While we’re celebrating with our families, let’s pray for those who desperately long for a family.
Will you consider becoming a family to a child? Or would you consider opening your doors and coming alongside another family in need? Will you be available to learn more? To be exposed to the need? To walk through one door?
Jami Kaeb is wife to Clint and together they have six children (four of whom were adopted). After having her eyes opened to the overwhelming needs of those in the foster care system, she began a journey that ultimately led her to found The Forgotten Initiative (TFI). TFI equips and supports “Forgotten Advocates” to bridge the gap between Agencies and the Church, bringing joy and purpose to the foster care community. Learn more at www.theforgotteninitiative.org. Jami loves coffee. A lot. And connecting with others. When the two are mixed, she is especially happy! You can get to know her better through her blog at www.lifewithapersonalgod.org.
I watched the sun and clouds shadow the mountain as the morning rose up from the night. Praying as I watched for the clouds to stand aside so that I could see it all. But, not to see the mountain this time, covered with oaks, pines, and cedars. This morning I longed to see passed the clouds of uncertainty.
It was his words that triggered it all, his remembering days of loneliness and the days he cried alone in a Ugandan orphanage. And though he is only 5 years old, his words spoke a volume full when he said to his new mother, “I was crying and you weren’t there.” I remember Psalm 68:6: “God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing.” But, a secret that I never knew before is that He causes a family to be lonely for the ones He plans to set among them.
And I feel the words stirring me. And the question pressing hard on my heart, “Is someone crying and I am not there?” And do they know that I am crying for them, too?
But those pesky clouds; always descending on me, always blocking my view of His will. Causing me to look through the mist and wonder what it is I exactly saw before, back when it was lightening clear? And I imagined that Mary wondered too. She was full of the Spirit’s plans for her, full of this divine DNA stretching at her abdomen, reminding her daily that she was set on a course beyond her own imagination. But surely people looked at her and wondered if she was “one of those kind of girls”; a shame, a disgrace. And Joseph might have thought so, if not for a dream. Did she always believe that she carried the Liberating King in her womb and at what moment was she seen as fully legitimate in all the eyes around her?
And I long to feel legitimate here in my little cabin, sitting at my computer, watching for the bread crumbs to continue to drop and lead me inch by inch on this journey of adoption to it’s glorious conclusion. You may be carrying a dream as well, something uniquely your own, birthed deep inside your heart/womb. No, not as grand as Mary’s, but His plan anyway, and all those hours and mornings before all is fulfilled we wake up and go about living with the “life” growing in us, affecting our choices and behaviors, our thoughts and our plans. And I suppose the temptation to be afraid, or to doubt the plan doesn’t change it, just steals the joy from the journey–just lays a wedge between us and Him.
So here in the black and white I speak softly. With the black and white keys I peck out a confession to the bright white screen. “I feel like a mother full with child, but such a strange gestation it is! Because if I am to hold my offspring in my arms, I must follow a path of uncertainty, filled with questions, with governments, with forms, with deadlines, and with astonishing price tags. This journey, already taken by others, has sometimes ended in failures, heavy financial losses, disappointments, yet also with great success. I feel my abdomen stretching and I pray to see it all through to the end.”
And to my cry to feel “legitimate” as a prospective adoptive parent to dark skinned beauties far away and across an ocean—he seemed to answer me with 10,000 God “yes-es”. He took away a bit of the “shame” of not knowing how a girl like me, and an already full family like ours could even begin to afford an impossibility like this. All of the the “yes-es” were in the form of dollars and each one provided by way of the new job that the “man of this house” secured just a short while back; a company reimbursable grant for adoptions for up to 2 children and up to $10,000. They were 10,000 reasons to keep trying, to keep praying for miracles, to keep hoping for more.
So during this gestation period where fear sometimes grips, and uncertainty sometimes clouds my view, but where hope keeps pulling me up and forward I am asking Him for more “yes-es”.
I’m Rhonda and I live in a house full of “menfolk” on a small hobby farm in the Ozarks. My husband and I have been married for 22 years and have four sons ranging in age from 12 to 21. I tiptoed into the land of blogs in the spring of this year after immersing myself into the stories of some amazing people and writers that were willing to share their lives in very generous, sacrificial, and honest ways on their personal blogs. Most were telling of the miraculous ways in which they entered the realm of adoption and followed it to a life changing conclusion. My family felt the call of adoption tugging at our hearts and I wanted communicate about it as well. I am yet amazed by the people that I have met through this new venue and hope to always follow their example of sharing from a heart of gratitude and ambition to encourage others along the way. You can pop in and visit me at God Reprieve.
Ahh…I love Christmas.
I love the Christmas scents.
I love Advent wreaths and calendars filled with family time.
I love apple cider. And egg nog. And Christmas music.
And most of all, I love what Christmas represents.
I love the story of the Christ being born.
I love the way life and hope and miracles are represented in his birth.
And I especially love that we can be confident that because of His birth?
Salvation, mercy, and adoption are available to us all.
I love the various ways adoption is interwoven into the very fabric of the story of Christ’s birth.
As if it weren’t simply a “less than optimal” option? But rather, a key to unlocking the heart of God for redemption and family.
You see, not only are we able to be adopted into the Kingdom of God through adoption BECAUSE of Christ’s birth and life here?
having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:5-6 NKJV)
But Christ himself was adopted and loved wholeheartedly by an earthly father, through Joseph’s commitment to God and Mary. (Matthew 1; Luke 2:22-35)
What an amazing responsibility Joseph faced…stewarding. disciplining. loving. Christ himself…as his son? Protecting him, protecting their family, carefully guarding the mystery of his son until the timing of the Lord…
But really, don’t all fathers (and mothers) feel the weight of that responsibility? The depth of the honor to be able raise God’s favorite one. The seriousness of the accountability to guard and shepherd and love and discipline so that that person would be ready and able to fulfill his own destiny?
And, we may understand–as adoptive parents–how much Joseph could love and care for Jesus. We can say that we “get it”…That to Joseph? Jesus was simply his son. His child, for whom he was responsible for preparing for life (and so much more)…no more and no less loved than his other children…
While I am celebrating [with immeasurable gratitude] that Jesus was born for the sole purpose of giving US life?
While I am breathing in the beauty of this season?
I am also grateful for Joseph’s faith and commitment to God. I am mindful of the truth that adoption is in the very threads of our Christian beliefs.
And I am thankful that it continues to be the heart of God for us today.
Ashley Smith is a passionate and enthusiastic Blogger, Mother, Christian and Adoption Advocate. She often writes to release true stories and emotions about International Adoption, Faith and The Everyday Life over at In My Own Words and prays that her words would bring hope and life to readers. She is the analytical left-brained wife of a creative worship-leading right-brained (and yet still amazing) man and Mom to a 5 year old superhero-loving boy, Marvel, who joined their family in the summer of 2012 from Ethiopia! Ashley—and family–recently rejoined the crazy world of international adoption as they work to adopt a waiting child from Ethiopia in the coming year!
Driving home today, I listened to this song. A stream of words, playing through my speakers, that I’ve heard time and time again.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on.
And I related it to our sweet baby that waits, as we wait, in birth mother’s womb or crib in a baby home.
waiting for your baby to come home from Africa
We wait for things to happen. Some of us wait minutes, months, or years.
It’s what we do with that wait that makes a difference in the wait.
Waiting for the things that Earth holds. Sometimes fleeting and may not be packed and carried with us when we go. Won’t take nothing for the journey now.
I listened to the words of the tune again today. A smile grew across my sun kissed cheeks. My focus turned from our child to our Savior. He reminded me that while we are waiting for our child, that I need to be aware of the bigger picture. I need to appreciate more His hand in the forming of our family.
Trust in Him. Turn it over to Him. He did start this afterall. He will finish it…all in His time.
This wait is precious and there is so much that I want to learn, absorb, and put into practice. But I don’t want to wait, while I wait. I want to make as much of this period of ticking time that I can.
So, driving and thinking about the wait of our child, He reminds me that He is waiting on me. He’s waiting on me to turn all my focus on Him; invite Him to be an even greater part of our wait. He leans in and whispers that the wait for eternity is the most precious wait of all. And that while I wait to meet Him face to face, I spend my time in this temporary home of mine, in a way that will glorify His name.
Getting to know Him on a more intimate level. Growing. Hand in hand. In Him we are FREE. In the Bible. Free of fear, free of the burden of wait, free of worry, and questions. FREE. And again His voice echoes, “Turn it over to me.”
The wait is slow and we’ve so far to go. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Rubbing away the cloudy vision, my eyes are trying to focus on the prize that is eternity with our Heavenly Father; ultimate prize.
distance separating loved ones will disappear as phone calls are swapped for embraces
acceptance into nursing school develops into an on the spot hire for a job that is more than perfect
everything works out in God’s timing
soft words spoken during moments of quiet; answers and peace
learning and growing during the wait; seeing beauty unfathomable
finding healing in difficult times
This couple from Alabama has been married just shy of four years. They knew they were ready to start a family. The southern pair felt that at some point in their lives they would welcome a child into their family through adoption. They just didn’t know God would speak and move them to adopt first. They continue seeking God’s face as they embark on their journey to adopt their first child from Uganda, Africa. You can follow them on their blog, Love for the L.O.T.