The fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Dueteronomy 14:29

~ Silas and Naomi are HOME from Uganda ~

29 September 2011

4 years, 10 months, 17 days...Done

Waiting under the stairs of the courthouse. It felt like time was crawling at a snail's pace. My emotions were swirling. What was I supposed to be experiencing? Relief? Joy? Giddy excitement? Exhaustion? In my confusion, each sensation took a brief swirl through my body and brought eyes brimming with tears, cold sweats, yawns, giggles, and inevitably full blown sobs.

The kids made an honest attempt at patience, although the contentment brought by coloring books and snacks waned quickly. They sensed the weight of the morning's events, yet as more friends and family surrounded us with their love and support, the children settled.

4 years and 10 months...we have waited this long to be here. This was it. The final step, the last event, the only thing seperating us from being fully united as a family. And we were here. I started to sense the wave of relief rising behind me. Forcing steady, slow breaths and whispering praises, we clung to eachother whenever a moment allowed.

Our name was at last called and we filed into the court room, children racing to the jury box (to which the baliff said, "look, it's a jury of his peers!") as we gathered our little ones to the long table. Surreal.
I had never expected this moment to be so significant, but my racing heart told a different story.

The kind and gentle voice of the judge led us through the formalities. He knew. He understand and his mannerism gave grace to the weight of his authority. We were so blessed through the way he conducted the proceedings.

The wiggles began. Naomi pushed and pulled on her brother until we started to play hot potato with them, transferring kids from lap to seat to lap again, hoping, praying for some stillness.

Our eyes tell more than words can, but the four little blurry heads in this picture depict the vast degree of movement going on. "How are we going to get through this?!" we spoke to each other without words, only a chuckle. THIS WOULD BE the way it ends...THIS is life now. Constant moving, constant noise, and a deeper, more intimate connection than we ever dreamed we would have as husband and wife. No words are needed.

Papers were signed. Silas made sure everything was in order. The judge spoke with a profound and direct statements and I couldn't help but hear my heavenly Father's words rising up. "He has a right to FULL inheritance." Ephesians 1:18

And then he was ours. Not that he wasn't before. He has been ours since April 2010 when we first heard his name and saw his sweet face. But now, he is legally bonded to us on this earth.

Now I was feeling the excitement and I could hardly wait to hear those words again with our little girl's name placed at the center.

She pressed into me, as if she knew our lives were being joined, brought to a parallel place.

And then, she was ours.

It is truly finished. And we cry out from a place of knowledge like never before:
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

For almost 5 years we have experienced such overwhelming love, support, graciousness, sacrifical giving, servanthood, and devotion from so many family and friends, literally around the world. To have some of those precious ones present for this final event in our adoption, after being in Africa without them for so much, was truly significant and something we hold so very dear. (Although we do wish we could have had every one of you by our side that day, we know hearts were present with us from a distance.)

"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15
(The word adoption in this passage is referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male in Roman culture. How cool is that!)
". . .for in You the fatherless find compassion."
Hosea 14:3

". . .for in You the fatherless find compassion."
Hosea 14:3
(This little girl's life has been bathed in the compassion of her Father from the day she was born.)

The realization quickly came that there were no more lists to write, not another call to make, all appointments had been kept, the travel was done, no documents left to sign, copy and notarize, every event had taken place.

It was truly over.

We were done.

After 4 years and 10 months . . . my mind was free from the burden of pursuing the security of my children. I almost did not know how to function without the constant pressure of accomplishing the next task. Strangely, I felt a little lost . . . and maybe even, a sense of loss.

I was unsettled by this out-of-place emotion. How could it be present amidst so much fullness?

A divinely appointed conversation with my father-in-law brought clarity and peace as he shared his own heart and experience with me. This process had come to define me for so many years, and even gave me a degree of purpose. Now, it is done, over, and that is gone.

So . . . there is relief and joy . . . and we sing out from the grace we are bathed in daily as we press forward:

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7

We would like to thank you the gifted photographers who graciously spent their morning blessing our family with images that will memorialize this incredible day... Thank you, ladies!!!

Robin Anderson


Caryn Suehowicz @ Eikon Photography

19 September 2011

In Case You Were Wondering

These last posts about darkness may have left you wondering if adoption is worth it.  

Consider these pictures as food for thought

These are the first pictures we received, and a recent picture of each of our precious little ones

The other night I showed Silas this first picture we received of him and said, "hey Silas do you know who that is?"
"That's Nicholas (the name given to him by the orphanage)"  He replied  "Daddy, is he sad?" 
"Not anymore son...not anymore."

12 September 2011

Darkness is a message of Joy

Darkness is a message of joy.

Do you believe this is true? God has promised that all things work for the good of those who love Him. Do you believe it? My aunt once said to me in a particularly dark time of her life that she was “trying to learn all that God had to teach [her].” I thought to myself, “wow, how on earth does a person arrive at a place where they can honestly say that?” So I ask you again, do you believe it? How can one really take hold of what God has promised tenaciously enough to give voice to joy and with dry eyes say “I trust you God?” The answer is really quite simple…to trust God you have to enjoy the darkness.

Sometimes Christians have difficulty admitting things. In particular Christians cannot seem to admit the “shameful” things which continue in their lives after they become believers in Christ. Despite our efforts at denial it will always be true that every one of us is gloriously messed up. I heard a pastor say once, that we are all a mess, we raise little messes, and they in turn give birth to the best thing of all…grand-messes. True Christianity must always start with a fundamental admission; that we are sinners in need of a savior. This admission however, is not the end but the beginning. To grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ another admission must take place in our souls…we continue to sin even though we lay claim to the promises of Jesus.

Sin, you see, is a very deceitful thing. Something which can be a part of our souls without us even knowing it is there. Do not be deceived, it exists even if we are ignorant (or in denial) of its presence. Sin is down there in our souls bottled and corked and washed on the outside so it looks pretty, like a crystal vase with rotting flowers in it. The problem we will always have is that even though we may fool ourselves God walks into the living room of our souls and looks around…he sees there on the mantle the brightly polished vase…but he smells the stink of rottenness.

You might be wondering “what is he talking about? I see darkness in this, but certainly no joy.” That is exactly why Christians have to learn to enjoy the darkness. Seeing our souls the way they really are is the beginning of healing. God will never be in the business of making us more comfortable and self assured. God is in the business of sanctification. He is making us more pure; He is shining light on the shameful things and exposing what we want to keep hidden. God is teaching us to become more like him…and for creatures like us who are fallen and sinful that process takes us into what we perceive as valleys and dark places. But the darkness is a message of Joy.

I have in the past weeks become acutely aware that darkness comes into our lives from more than one avenue. Sometimes darkness comes simply from life. Our sin and that of others will never be the only cause of suffering. Grief over the loss of a loved one, a lost job, health problems...and the list goes on; these can all cause periods of darkness. A friend of mine is flying home from Africa today…with empty arms. Two days before he was to leave to go pick up his son he and his wife received news that their precious boy had died. He went on the trip anyway in hopes that he could minister to the folks there who cared for his little boy. His trip to Africa was supposed to be a journey filled with joy over the blessing of his new little one. Now it is a pilgrimage filled with sorrow over the loss of his son…but it is filled with something else too. My friend, as he was leaving in a cloud of darkness, was somehow overflowing with joy. I could hear him fighting tears, but I could also hear him saying with the psalmist “I know, oh Lord, that your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” He was holding fast to the promises of God and the darkness was a message of joy. Yes even the darkness of death.

Let me take you to two scenes, two men, facing death, facing darkness. The First faced death at the hands of the Romans. At his execution Jesus prayed that God would forgive the men who killed him then looked up to heaven and cried out “my God My God why have you forsaken me.” Jesus, in his darkest hour, looked to heaven for comfort and no one was there…God had turned his back. Jesus faced darkness; the darkness of sin and the curse and for him there was no comfort, no rest, no redemption…only judgment, only death.

Only a few years later Stephen told the true history of Israel to a group of Pharisees, they were so enraged over what Stephen said that they picked up stones and began stoning him. Like Jesus, Stephen asked God to forgive his executioners and like Jesus, Stephen looked up to heaven, but for Stephen there was no darkness in the hour of his death. Stephen’s death was a vision of the Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord, and his face shown like that of an angel.

These two men were nothing alike. Stephen was a sinner fallen and under the curse. Jesus was innocent. Of all the people who ever lived Jesus is the only one with the right to have a relationship with God. Stephen’s death should have been the dark one. Jesus faced the darkness for him. Darkness is a message of joy because Jesus has overcome the darkness. Jesus, by his blood has purchased redemption and the darkness is powerless against him.

I stood up from my aunt’s couch that day somewhat bewildered (as I suspect some of you are in reading this). “I don’t understand how she could find joy in this…how will I ever get there?” I went home and one month later boarded an airplane for Africa. The very moment our feet left the ground God breaking us of…well…of our-selves. I look at my children, this beautiful tapestry of life that fills my home, and I see one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. Not because it is easy. Not because the darkness has left the building. My Children have shown me more clearly than any thing else in my life that I am a sinner in need of a savior. When I look at them my soul is laid bare before my eyes, they are a mirror to me. God has given me, in my children, a window into my soul, and what I find there is sin…darkness…but there is a Healer…there is a Healer. One who faced the darkness on my behalf with no hope of deliverance, One who has broken the power of darkness with his blood, One who is ever present to help in times of need, One who fought and continues to fight the battle for me. Adoption…my Children (all of them not just the adopted ones) are what God has used to show me how truly needy I am…and in so doing God has taught me that I can trust him. I am learning what my aunt already knew; because of Christ, because of his matchless life and sacrifice, yes because of his resurrection, darkness is a message of joy.

Having our sins exposed, is never fun…suffering loss is never fun. But all things and all circumstances can be joyful if they fall under the protecting shadow of the cross of Jesus Christ. By the merit of his blood there is redemption.

All things will work out for the good of those who love him.

I believe Lord help my unbelief.