Friday, November 18, 2016

Joelle's Baptism and a Family Update

Well this was an expected and very unexpected week all in one.  Lets start with the good because God is so good.  This past Sunday Joelle followed Christ in baptism.  In July, at our Vacation Bible School, Joelle really began to understand sin and God's good love.  She has been asking about 'becoming a Christian' for over a year now, and until this Summer we had pushed her away gently praying that God would really show us when she truly understood the sacrifice Jesus made for her and what it would cost her to accept that.
There's a fine line in childlike faith and parents who push their kids to know Jesus.  We wanted to be as certain as we could so Joelle could always remember the day the Lord redeemed her, and this July it really seemed to come to the front of her heart.  Even a child as well behaved, beautiful, and talented as Joelle is (we may be biased) she needs Jesus...we ALL do and I'm reminded of my need for Him every day.

What we love so much about Joelle's redemption story is it had nothing to do with God's anger or was His kindness and adoption of all of us that drew her in (Romans 2:4).  So this past Sunday, Papa and Joelle jumped in the church baptistery so Joelle could publicly illustrate what Jesus did in her heart this summer...washed her clean and forgave without keeping a record.

It was such a special day.  And might I add, the absolute most important decision she will ever make in life.  That was her first step to a life filled with Christ. We are so grateful for family and friends that have encouraged her along the way.  Our Children's ministry played such a big role and helping Joelle understand the Bible.  And her own story is a huge reminder to us all that God's family knows no boundaries.  After all, He adopted us in our deepest need.

Adoption can be hard...always worth it, but hard.  You get looks and comments here and there, but for the most part people smile and go on with their lives.  People that walk with you faithfully have lives to live too, and most people around will never understand how anxious you are about racism, equality, and justice for all people.  You look at the world differently than most everyone around you, and that's ok....especially on a day like Sunday when you watch your daughter so pridefully follow a Savior she may or may not have ever known.  Joelle's redemption story is still being written....but Sunday was a great reminder that before the earth began rotating around the sun, God had a plan for our little girl...and we believe one day we'll see it happen for our little boy too!  Adoption is beautiful...but a very small glimpse into the beautiful story God has created for us in His adoption of us!

That brings me to the second thought we want to share today...we believe that our other son, Armoni, has fallen through the cracks of the 'system' as of today.  It does not look like he will ever come to the US and physically join our family, though we'll never forget him.  The past few months have brought a slew of emotions for all of us.  Our kids pray for him nearly every day. There's an empty room with a bed and his decorations on the wall of our home. There's a lady in the DR Congo that has wrecked our family and stood in the way of Armoni joining us for 3 years now.  And to say there were moments I wanted the Heavens to open and reign down fire on her family would be an understatement.

But....when's the last time you prayed for your enemies?  Maybe you don't have any, but our family has felt like we have a very obvious one over the past few years.  There are days Satan himself has taken a back seat to this lady in our minds.  She's slandered, fought, lied, stolen, cheated, and cost us a lot, and I don't mean money.  I hope you'll join us in praying for her today.  I'm not sure what to we trust the Lord knows....and He loves her and our son as much as anyone else.  We're trusting that God is far more able to care for him than we could ever be...and there's peace in that.

Many of you have walked with us, asked for updates, and prayed with us over the last 3 years.  It's been a roller coaster, and it's near impossible to think the ride has ended without the trip to the airport; but it certainly seems that's what has happened.  It's easy to question 'why' a family with a heart open for adoption, an open room, and a desire for a very specific chubby little face would go through this; but I'm reminded of what the Lord said to Job.

Job 38 - Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?  Tell me if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions?  Surely you know....have you ever given orders to the morning or marked off its place?...have the gates of death been shown to you?  (In short....Job, who in the world do you think you are compared to me and my plans?!)

Job answered in chapter 40 - behold I am of small account...I lay my hand on my mouth.

Sometimes it seems the best thing to do is shut up and listen.  And that's what we've tried to do over the last year.  And what we've seen is that if Armoni never comes here, God cares for him.  Over the past 2 years of our fight we were introduced to Israel and in that time Israel came home.  Had we not been 'in process' with Armoni, we don't know if we would have ever known Israel.  Could that have been God's plan all along?  We'll never know. But more importantly I've had to ask myself: "why do we so often try to make sense out of God's plans?"

We wanted friends and family to know because so many have asked.  But we also wanted to share with you that we 100% believe God is good and He is in control.  He doesn't cause orphans and failed adoptions, but He is Sovereign over them.  He doesn't break families up...adoption is redemption from brokenness...God joins families together....and because of that we believe His plan is much bigger than our family here.  He doesn't do things the way we always want, but almost always that's a good thing.

Part of our heart is still in the Congo today, and maybe he always will be....and maybe the Lord saw fit to make sure part of our hearts stayed with a people group that is more desperate and in need of hope than any other group in the world right now.

I hope our journey will encourage and not discourage you today.  We are more filled with hope today than ever before because in our weakness He's made strong...and in our failed attempts at life, He always shows a powerful hand.  When we can't, He reminds us He already has.

We are so encouraged by families in our church choosing a hard path to live out grace through adoption and foster care.  We are inspired and we admire the stories we hear from all over the world through this blog that families have chosen adoption.  Part of our son's failed adoption may have inspired you to get involved....and maybe that was the plan.  See!  Around every corner you can see God's goodness if you'll just look.

Don't be discouraged today...what He leads you to, He'll always lead you through...just keep your eyes on Him.