Friday, December 30, 2011

All I Need to Know I learned From My Children

I have never been a fan of the latest trend. I always look for what is quietly finding its way along the outskirts of the crowd. I search for meaning and I tend to overthink most things.  I have commonly heard the phrase, live simply so that others may simply live, and a part of me automatically rejects it as trite.

But my world-view was rocked when I encountered people who had been handed a life of poverty through no fault of their own, and yet they carried a better attitude and outlook on life than I had ever held. After a third-world experience... I pulled my car into my garage and hit the button for the door to automatically close behind me with a much different perspective.

I am a Christian who judges without fear. I have been judged, and I will be again... and again. And yet, I believe that discernment is part of the wisdom of fearing God. I am not without fault, and I realize that the life I live and the belongings I retain are a simple indictment of how my faith reconciles with my belief. I welcome the judgement of God and I fall on His mercy. I realize that forgiveness and grace carry much more weight.

And so... I found myself beside my wife last night, again making efforts to simply live.

We are methodically going through our belongings. We started with the farthest room on the uppermost floor of our home. And on this night... we came to our children's rooms.

Have you ever just flopped down in your kid's bed and tried to look at the room as seen by young eyes? My eyes scanned over so many stories that were embedded into toys. I saw the dinosaur that Caleb carried for years, the shells from our vacation to the beach, the certificate from his Taekwondo test, the car from his derby... hundreds of items and each one has a story that is dear to my heart...

...and his as well. I realize that this room has surrounded him with memories that remind him that he is loved, and that he is never alone. And I look at the empty bags that we have to fill. We have to separate his belongings into categories: what is precious and must be kept, what can be donated to Guatemalan children, what can be donated to local charities, what can be sold, and what simply should be discarded.

I was so distraught that he would be devastated with these choices. He and his sister, like us, will have to let go of the majority of their belongings... and it is important that we approach this with the right spirit. We want them to focus not on what they are giving up, but rather on what can help others, and how we can reach our calling. 

How do you explain to an 11 year old and an 8 year old that we can no longer keep every piece of artwork and every story scribbled on a notepad (my kids are prolific readers and rabid writers... don't know where they got that). I felt my own heart grieve as toys that they have held for years now went into boxes and bags and the memories tied to those objects flashed across my mind.

And then I saw the expressions on the faces of my children and I sat in total respect for them as I slowly realized that their perspective was fixed on what mattered. They freely were giving up their loved toys and were talking to each other about the difference that it might make in the lives of others.

I am still reeling from this incredible affirmation and lesson that God sent to me through the open eyes of my children. They understand what we are asking them to do. To walk away from their home, their friends, and most of what they possess. We do this to go to a place that they have yet to see... but they have heard the cry of our hearts.

The faith of a child. It is strong. The strongest I have ever encountered.

We have 40 days before we bring home our daughter Sterling from China. 40 days to thin out all that we must. Once we bring her home, the pace accelerates. And we will be prepared as best we know to be. As for the rest... well, here is where I am living:

 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 3

Monday, December 26, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (38) Perseverance Outruns the Wind

We often give up too soon. 

This blog is a reminder to myself over the next 2 years that I will not give up.
(Written in August...posted at year end)

I have been desperate over the past several weeks to communicate my convictions of my heart to the people of Guatemala and to the missionaries who stand boldly bridging the distance. This all began as a small bundle of damp tinder a year ago, and now I am wholly consumed by the flame.

The night at Journey Church was when I first became keenly aware of this direction. With the opening note of Neulore, my heart was seized and my body was yanked to attention. There is a level of belief in God and the passion that accompanies it that I had doubted any longer existed. 

Over the past several weeks I have seen it. It shone out at me like a beacon from Adam Agin of Neulore, from Estella (the band from Guatemala), from the worshippers at Ramero's church, from the eyes of the children of Cerro Alto, and from the entire family of the Greene's. 

It is not enough for me to see it. I feel like Thomas... you can call me a doubter, but I call him  the one who had to experience Christ for himself. I don't want a Christianity of faith alone, I want to sink my hands into the wound in His side, feel the holes of the nails in His hands and feet, and trace my fingers along the thorn tears in his brow. I want to fully know and experience Christ. 

You remember the parable of the sower? The ground is fertile in Guatemala. 

I am hearing clearly. I am seeing clearly. There is no longer questions of purpose in my mind. My eyes have found their narrow focus. How can I profess to be a follow of Christ, and not be compelled to take action? My belief in God and my faith in Him compels me.

We are radically changing our lives. 

  1. Complete the adoption of our daughter in China.  After 5+ years we are nearly ready to bring her home. We are within 6 months of travel. It could be very soon. (At the time of this post, we have our referral & pray to all be together within 8 weeks.)
  2. Come home to Middletown for a period of transition. We will take 4-6 weeks to  recover from the adoption, finalize the paperwork and citizenship, and find a new pulse to our daily lives that includes our newest family member.
  3. Place our home on the market and sell it. We will continue to live in the home and go about life while we work to sell it. We will also begin downsizing our personal belongings and addressing debts. (This process is underway.)
  4. Move our family in with Parents, and take a year to pay off debt, fulfill auto obligations, save money, and focus on transition details in Guatemala. I will begin talking with area churches to gain support. (This has also begun...thank you Uncle Stephen!) We will also secure income and education requirements for our 3 children.
  5. By early-mid 2013, board a plane with what we can carry and move to Guatemala. This will involve the resignation of our jobs, and I will become a full time missionary in Guatemala, working with Catalyst Resources International.
There are many more details involved... but you get the main ideas. In the meantime, we are working on Passports for the kids, and plan a full family visit in the summer of 2012. I also intend to visit Guate as much as possible in the meantime, at least 2-3 visits per year. (As of this December, 3 trips are on the books!)

It is my intention to commit to an initial period of 5 years. After that time has passed, we will need to furlough back home for a period of evaluation and next steps planning. (As we walk further into this process, the vision we hold far exceeds 5 years.)

I am sure that many of our family and friends will be shocked. Some with a smile, and some with sheer terror, convinced that I have lost my mind and am taking the whole family down with me. Others who know me better, will not be surprised, and will celebrate that I have found a direction. Frankly, I am comfortable with all reactions. I love you all, and I do not require you to understand. I ask that you visit us. Come and see.

Please pray for us in the meantime. We will need your love. We will need your support. We will need your contact. We will need your visits. We will even need your generosity. (We will soon seek 250 friends & family members to commit to giving $100/year.) I am sure though, that if you chance yourself to give, you will find... as I did, that even though money may leave your hand... you are the one receiving.

We go because (ah... check out my blogs ;-) we believe that true religion is providing clothing, food, and shelter to the least of these. We believe that God specifically calls us out to take care of orphans and widows. We believe that we are all pilgrims in a foreign land who are seeking to get home.

I do not consider myself a person who is going to save a people, or to make their lives better, or to teach them how to be better Christians. I find that point of view despicable, arrogant, and very unlike the example of Jesus. Rather... we go to walk beside those who have staked their lives on the belief of Jesus Christ as the only way to get to God. We have found a fertile soil... and we intend to plant our lives in it. We are stunned to find those who live their lives believing that suffering is an honor and evidence of a relationship to God.

Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

James 1:26-27

King James Version (KJV)

 26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Matthew 25

King James Version (KJV)

 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Don't let the storms slow you down. Don't let the winds blow you off course. Don't leave quite yet. You can make it better. You were created to do just that. Walk with me. Walk with us. Trust in the God who created us to shelter us under the shadow of His wings. I would rather be crushed in service to Him that live a comfortable life without meaning.

Pray for Guatemala. Pray for the girls of Mimi's House. Pray for the Greene's. Pray for Edgar and his family. Pray for Ramero and his family. Pray for us. Pray for Kellie. Pray for Caleb. Pray for Aleksandra. Pray for our new daughter. Pray for me that I hear God's voice and do not lose sight of who I am.

Here is how you can help us...  begin praying now about what God would have you to do. There are incredible opportunities!

I look forward to meeting you at the airport, and taking you to meet the life that walks beside you.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sterling Mei: (7) A Christmas Story

Sterling was found on January 2nd, 2011 wrapped in bits of clothe and "abandoned in a small wood tree". She was born premature, and had been left to die. She lay alone and completely vulnerable.

And then someone found her and reached down to pick her up and take her to a place of care. She was underweight and required an incubator to keep her alive. She remained inside it for 3 months.

She was given the name of Ying Chen, which meant, oustanding morning. I have to suppose it was because of the incredible wonder of her being found that morning alive, strong enough to survive.

She is nearly a year old now... and her caregivers report that she smiles and loves to be held. She is growing strong.  Kellie and I count the days until we share her smile and we hold her close in our arms.

The new name we have given her, Sterling Mei, means Precious Little Sister. And we think it incredibly beautiful and appropriate. We are honored to be allowed this gift from God. It seems that he had a purpose for allowing us to wait so long. No matter the rest of this story... we find ourselves in this place at this time, and we feel the smile of God.

And as we read the Christmas Story again tonight... I couldn't help but catch the similarities that remind me of how deep our faith runs into this miracle.

It seems that God knows what he is doing. And tonight he reminds us:

Like our daughter, His son entered the world wrapped in scraps of clothes and among bits of wood.
Like our daughter, His son was found by Shepherds.

This Christmas Story is about the quiet entry of the hope of the world. Those who had no hope, now have a way made that was only moments before unimaginable. What was once abandoned now is held.

There is no limit with our God. This is our Christmas story.

Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright...
Holy infant, tender and mild...
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Reminiscence of Things To Come

The Spirit of Christmas Present has shown me the memories of the Spirit of Christmas Future.

Ebenezer... you've got nothing on me. I have seen the things to come, and I have stood in that place and reflected on the glow of today. We are absolutely wrapped in layers of convergence.... countless threads of individual life happenstances that are woven into this textile. Should you ever have an eternity to talk... let me tell you my story.

I can see the present weavings and I know where the lift and pull will settle into the larger fabric. I know that it is essential that we grasp each thread as we briefly press it between thumb and finger. These are the times that our souls will reach back to as we need to remember who we are... from where we have come... and why we are compelled to make the journey.

It is a powerful feeling to be aware of the significance of your days. Each and every thought seems to play out in my mind as a tangible ribbon that is lifted by the wings of the air. My perspective no longer has the ability to remain in simply today. My questions have changed as I understand that I am not choosing this path... I simply must yield my spirit to the unmistakable voice of God.

My choice is simple: accept the will of God, or follow the fate of Jonah.

It is no longer a question of timing... because this is God's timing. It is no longer a question of readiness... because God is always ready. It is no longer a question of the past... because God has paid that price. It is no longer a question of can I... because I already know that I can not, but God can.

My bona fides come from He who sends me. He is not limited to the likely vessel.

It is no longer a matter of answering the questions of men... it is now a matter of following the footsteps of my saviour. It is no longer a matter of how many plates can I spin... I am held steady by He who holds gravity and set in motion the universe.

And my soul is well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sterling Mei: (6) A Face Among a Billion


Sterling Mei 
(Precious Little Sister)

Birthdate: January 2, 2011
Birth Weight 4.85 lbs
Birth Length 18"

Nanhai District
City of Fo Shan
Guandong Province

 <<Nanhai Orphanage>>
Within a mere 8 hours of posting my last blog entry, Kellie took the call that provided us with our first connection to our daughter. These past 5 1/2 years have taught us to lean into the understanding and timing of God. His timing has proven perfect and we find ourselves far beyond any visible horizon from our journey's beginning.

God has shaped us to face the road that is ahead. There will surely be times that are too hard for us to face, but we know that when we are made weak, then his strength is perfect.

Let this be our guide:

James 1:27

New International Version (NIV)
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Our hearts overflow with the convergence of this moment.

If Faith Can Move Mountains... then my path is straight.

The final night of my last stay on the grounds of the property of Catalyst. The active top of Pacaya was made known by the soft red glow against the clouds. The lights of the city both below and above blended into the haze of the evening cooling. I sat barefoot in defiance of the evening chill and dangled my feet over the concrete edge of the unfinished second floor. This Team House had risen against all odds over the past year. Concrete had been mixed shovel by shovel... and block had been set a single piece at a time. All only building as money allowed. And yet... the building has never stopped.

The wind chilled me as I looked across the sidewalk at Mimi's House... and I understood that it was a testament of the vision held by those who were willing to stare fear in the face, and move forward in the embrace of true belief. This was a place build on faith. A man, a woman, a family... had risked it all to take a chance.

And then I realized... we have nothing to risk. We toil away for 30+ years to acquire things... simple things that rust and degrade. We build up monies to allow us to be slothful in old age... and we barter away the chance to stare fear in the face. We trade for comfort and security the experience of our faith.

I do not want to miss the promise of this life in the present due to the fear of securing comfort in a terrestrial future. I do not want to build up these treasures here. Not when my own actions today could change the life of so many that I embrace.

I had spent my third week on the mountainsides. I had allowed my life to merge with lives who could show me so much. I saw belief... a reliance of faith that was made manifest by the needs of the day. I realized that my own comfort and security had robbed me of this reliance on God. And I lamented that this sense of security was nothing more than a mask pulled too far that obscured my sight.

The desire of my soul can not be achieved with the labor of my hands and mind alone. I reflected on my professional path over the past 16 years since college... and I felt deeply what I have always known and raged against... that I am not satisfied. There is no reward in this day to day for a paycheck. My faith told me that there could be more. My faith promised me that mountains could be moved and that God could use anyone who yielded to him.

And yet...

Here I sat on the edge of this concrete, feet dangling into the darkness... the sky so much greater than my accomplishments. My mind shifted to my children... their look from pillows and blanket at night unblinking as I tucked them in. My heart felt then the truth and faithfulness of my wife, the legacy of my family... the great stories of faith of the testaments.

I reflected briefly on the doubt of Thomas, the shame of Noah, the running away of Jonah, the unfaithfulness of David, the cruelty of Saul, the accusations of Job, the deceit of Jacob, the murder and doubt of even Moses... all of these men had mountains to overcome. And yet... floods did not drown them, depths of ocean did not crush them, water flowed from rocks, feet walked on dry land, and the son of God was born on a quiet night in a manger. Where they failed... they eventually becoming willing.

Kellie and I prayed that we could be willing. Open to the plan of God. Able to shake in our boots as we took steps in the face of fear. Even if we lost all that we had... and even our lives, we understand that this is nothing in comparison to walking a day in the faith of God. Followers of Christ are compelled to hear his voice... and then the measure of success is shifted.

I stared at that volcano that had overlooked this little plot of land long before Fontaine and Paula flourished signatures on the contract. I thought of how it holds the capacity to destroy the entire city, and yet the people build. Life for us is not about the fear... it is about embracing the beauty.

We are a promised people. We walk towards the mountains with faith that we can either stand on top of them, or God can remove them. Either way, we simply go with God.

I can tell you this... while I do not see where every footstep will fall, I can see clearly the place where I am compelled to be. And the destination is not the goal... it is merely the direction I move. This journey along the way is incredible. What was once impatience has turned to total amazement and wonder of what we experience along the way.

Many mountains stand before us. And we have laced up our boots.

A call will soon rock our world.

Listen... it soon comes.

G i d d y a p

Thursday, December 8, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (37) Commitment of Lunatics, Believers, & Dreamers


...perhaps I am all three! 

I used to work as a mental health liaison for state psych units in Indiana. When a person was held against there will in a lock-down unit... the legal term was that they had been "Committed."

2 Timothy 1:12
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

  1. I know not why God’s wondrous grace
    To me He hath made known,
    Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
    Redeemed me for His own.
    • Refrain:
      But “I know Whom I have believed,
      And am persuaded that He is able
      To keep that which I’ve committed
      Unto Him against that day.”
  2. I know not how this saving faith
    To me He did impart,
    Nor how believing in His Word
    Wrought peace within my heart.
  3. I know not how the Spirit moves,
    Convincing men of sin,
    Revealing Jesus through the Word,
    Creating faith in Him.
  4. I know not what of good or ill
    May be reserved for me,
    Of weary ways or golden days,
    Before His face I see.
  5. I know not when my Lord may come,
    At night or noonday fair,
    Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
    Or meet Him in the air.

So...lock me up and throw away the key! I am irrefutably, undeniably, irreversibly COMMITTED. I can not see how everything will work out, and there are some mountains that stand in our way... but I can see how it looks when we arrive. And I can tell you that it is worth the journey.

I am in awe at how God is working already. My friends at Breiel Boulevard Church of God in Middletown Ohio, you cause me to fall face down and cry with thanksgiving. Through your willingess to say "Yes" to the people of Guatemala, God has sent a loud and clear message to my heart that our tentative first steps are indeed Godsent.

Thank you so much my dear uncle Stephen. This is no coincidence. We are here now... where we find ourselves, for a purpose.

Fontaine & Paula Greene, Tom Planck, Larry Renner, Joe Mayerik, Greg Weins, Randy Montgomery... this is no mistake that we have all crossed paths in the past. God has brought us to this place, in this moment... to accomplish something.

I ask you all to reach out within your networks... and to pray during these next few days... ask God what His plan is... what is it that you are to do?

The people of Catalyst Resources International give clothes to the naked, food to the hungry, houses to the homeless, a future to those who have no hope. There is a great need to sustain this ministry... and we have only 3 short years to make it happen.

During the next 18-24 months it is my hope to bring this message to as many churches as possible. I have searched for a my calling all my life. I have had the hands of great ministers placed on me as they spoke of a God plan for my life.

We are raising support and funding for our transition as full time missionaries to San Cristobal, Guatemala to work with C.R.I. It is our goal to run a home that takes in children who have no hope: to educate, to feed, to clothe, to love, and to find their forever families through adoption.

This is our heart... our calling... our conviction. We have experienced the miracle of adoption... and it has become our heartbeat.

Clifford Hutchinson, Henry Howard, Brother Mitchell, Charles Tarr, Carmel Mathis (my Pop)... all have told me that God would one day use me. I must tell you that I had lost hope in this word... I had given up years ago.

And I must also tell you now... my faith has been restored.

This is our calling.

I have found it through the:
faithfulness of my God,
love of my wife,
& the simple truth in the eyes of Guatemalan children.

And so, our family walks this path together... the Journey has begun!

I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (36) A Convergence: He Leads Me.

The LORD your God is with you,
   the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
   in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
   but will rejoice over you with singing.”

New International Version (NIV)

I have never been so sure of the existence of God as I am of late. There have been so many remarkable occurrences these past 6 months, that they nearly bring me to my knees with just the acknowledgment. It all began in the home of a friend in West Chester... Mr. Renner.

We were there to meet the missionaries whose home we had stayed in the summer prior, Fontaine and Paula Greene. I remember standing in the family room area and listening to Fontaine as he clearly and sincerely described the desires and convictions of his soul. I stood in that circle of friends and felt the tears roll down my cheeks during our final prayer. Something real had grabbed my heart. This was a truth that I had only hoped for, and maybe even longed for. I felt the belief that I had embraced as a child. Simple faith. I had encountered people who did not merely fret about the problems of the day. They believed in the words spoken enough to allow them to become life lived. And now, what would I do when I realized my current condition was shallow as a religious man seeing pain, and then passing by on the other side?

Kellie and I drove home in mostly silence that evening. We spoke briefly of our excitement for the upcoming summer trip, but my mind was overloaded with reflections of the Greene's words, and the path that had brought me to the place I found myself. By the time we reached home, I knew that I longed to gain what the Greene's had. I wanted to believe.

The next morning dawned as Sunday. I recall that the Greene's were in the service... but, I can not replay in my mind any words that were spoken. I felt like I had found lost treasure. I walked out of the building holding a secret that I was bursting to pursue. I began talking to Kellie about how I felt, and I was afraid. My ideas seemed so huge, and I was consumed by powerful conviction that I feared was nothing more than emotion.

To my shock, before I could fully verbalize my conception, my wife jumped into the conversation and finished my sentence. She shared with me the thoughts that had been stirring in her head over the past 24 hours... I was stunned for the first of many times, because her conclusions reached paralleled my own.

Since that day I have spent two additional weeks working with Catalyst in Guatemala. I have had a great many conversations with people I trust and admire. The same message came to me through 3 different people, all within a 12 hour time span.

Sam, a pastor I had met for the first time; edgar, the man I had worked alongside on construction projects and worshipped beside; and Stephen, my uncle.

All three men shared with me this singular concept. Those who are successful in missions work are those who have no other alternative. They are called to do so by God, and they have no other recourse except to answer. If a person has any other acceptable alternative in life, he should take it. Missions are only for those who can not escape.

It has to be more than emotion and intention. It must be a relentless belief that can endure hardship, sacrifice, and be comfortable with insecurity, fear, risk, and solitude. These pictures are taken from the ruins of the Convent of Capuchins in Antigua, Guatemala.

I pondered these thoughts as I walked through the 275 year old ruins and retraced the steps of the nuns who gave up everything to enter this place with an agreement to abandon all possessions, all contact with family, and never leave.

Theirs was a life lived simply, consecrated to their beliefs... held faithful to the end of their days. Again, I was struck by the power of their convictions... belief turned to action.

During my returns home, I began to share my heart, my longing for this type of life... a living out of belief and embracing the power of a true walk. Although I was unable to discern the cause of my struggle, I found the subject difficult to discuss with my parents. Finally, upon finding the nerve to speak of it, I was stunned by my parent's response. My mother said, "we have known you were thinking of this, we saw it in your words and actions." 

Again... after finding the strength to put air and voice to my hopes, dreams, and visions to the director of C.R.I., I was blown away to find that his vision could be dropped onto my own like an overlay with no variance. 

Walls that have stood tall and immovable, blocking even the exploration of possibility have simply vanished as I lifted a foot to step in their direction. People who would be barriers by their position, have reduced me to tears with their statements of support. Phone calls whisping on nothing more than puffs of hope were met even yet today with incredible serendipitous convergence. How is it that I could place a text at the precise moment that the eyes of those who could help me were being inexplicably turned to the obscure direction of my need?

How is it that monies needed and unavailable are now being sought by a man who is available, willing, and prepared to do so? How is it that he suddenly shares the conviction that is echoed on my own soul... catching frequency in us both at the necessary moment?

How is it that eyes are being turned to the message that is shared, and hearts are open to action? How can it be that requirements of institutions 2000 miles from my home, that I have never heard of... can match exactly the history of experience that my wife and I posses? 

How can it be that this road of adoption that we have followed... that has been so incredibly delayed... how can it be that now it aligns us into a perfection with the goal in sight, and obstacles cleared?

How can it be that our once closed and wounded souls have been healed and made open for this moment before us? How can we stand here and not be moved? 

How could I do anything other than begin walking this path?

I have doubted God many times... and I see Him clearly here. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sterling Mei: (5) A Tale of Eagles

View from Pacaya… a mission trip we took earlier in the year… a reminder of perspective.  
The mountains are big, but the view is beautiful. 

The telephone sitting on her desk finally rang. She had been waiting for this call for five years. The caller I.D. identified it as Children's Hope International, our adoption agent. Kellie pressed the green button, and said, "hello." And while this was the call we had long awaited, this was not the message we hoped it to be.

Why does it always come down to birds for me?

1O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
 2To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
 3Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
 4Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
 5My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
 6When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
 7Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
-Psalm 63 KJV

1 Hear my cry, O God; 
   listen to my prayer.

 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, 
   I call as my heart grows faint; 
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 

3 For you have been my refuge, 

   a strong tower against the foe.

 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever 
   and take refuge in the shelter of your wings

-Psalm 61 NIV

In the early months of 2003 we adopted Aleks from Russia. The weather was very cold and the skies were mostly gray, but we remember this time as perfect. The complications somehow only made the whole experience sweeter. We were at our best during those few weeks. We were fearless. We could not be stopped. I had a verse of scripture that stood as my foundation. Nothing could shake me because these words were engraved on my heart.

Whenever I felt small and overwhelmed, I pictured myself sheltered under those outstretched wings, and I knew that nothing that mattered could touch me. No matter what happened, at the end of my days... it would be only the eyes of God that returned my gaze. My strength would return as I felt the beat of His wings rush the air over my back.

And so, now back in the present... Kellie sent me a text and relayed the news of yet another delay. As I read the words, I remembered a comment I made to my uncle yesterday about Kel and I being "professional wait-ers." These words now stung as I wrestled with frustration, impatience, and anger.

Our dossier had been "mis-filed" along with three other families by the agents in China. We are powerless and have no other option except to wait another 30 days and hope for our desired phone call at the end of the year. What started as an expectation of a 3 year journey, now moves into the 64th month.

I drove my car until I found an abandoned factory and then parked and shut off the engine. I needed some silence. I needed some space. I needed a moment to breathe. I closed my eyes and reluctantly took a moment to check myself and I began to tell God.

And as simple as that... I rememberd:

 28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
 30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
 31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 
-Isaiah 40 KJV

I sat in my car listening to the stillness as I let those words bathe my mind. My perspective began to shift. Things would be all right. I yield to the timing of God. I yield to the understanding of God. I simply yield.

I picked my phone back up and send Kel a simple text:

"We are gonna be some mighty strong birds."