Adoption Update: Thinking About a Name

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Malachi thinking about what to name his little brother…or where the candy is hidden at.

Naming our kids has been an important process for Andrea and I. We have felt that the names we give our children is part blessing, and part a vision for their life. Case in point:

Abigail means “A Father’s Joy”: She lives up to this most days (she has her moments). Most of all, we pray that her life would bring her Heavenly Father joy.

Chloe means “Small Green Shoot” which doesn’t sound like much. It has the connotation of “New Life.” This name means everything when you know Chloe came after a miscarriage. She brings new life to everything we do!

Malachi means “Messenger of God.” We believe that his story and his life proclaims the God’s love and grace to anyone who takes the time to listen.

So what will we name our new son? For us, it’s going to be a Biblical name.  But we won’t share what we are naming our son- but here are some of the conversations around a name.

Abbie and Chloe want to name their new brother Luke. Luke is a good name.

Malachi wants to name his baby brother Goliath (from the Biblical story of David and Goliath). You may remember that Goliath was a giant and an adversary of Israel. Not sure if that is the route we want to go. However, if his brother has the genes of Yao Ming and is a 7 footer it might be warranted! But it would be comical to see a 5’5′ person named Goliath!

I joke with the kids about naming our son Mophibosheth- one of the son’s of King Saul who King David showed kindness and hospitality to. I haven’t looked up the meaning, but it is fun to say. Nicknames could abound: Mo, Bo, Sheth, or Phib!

We’re still looking for the “right” name. Who knows, it may all change when we meet our new son!

If you had to choose a name for a son, what would it be and why?

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It’s A Boy!

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Last night on my Facebook page I posted the above picture as a little teaser to the news we want to share as a family. It was fun watching everyone’s comments fly in to a picture with no real context. So we want to share our joy with you today and invite you to begin to pray for our family as we begin making preparations to expand!

Here is a little Q&A

Are You Expecting? Yes! But Andrea is not pregnant. We are adopting a second boy from the nation of China. We started this process late in the spring or early summer and just received our “Log-In Date” or LID. This means we have officially been entered into the database in China as prospective adoptive parents.

Do You Know Which Boy You Will Adopt? No. We don’t. We wish we had a photo to show you, but we are working with our adoption agency for them to find a potential match for us. It worked real well with Malachi- and if it were left up to us, after looking through pictures you want to bring every kid home.

Are you crazy? Four kids? Two Adoptions? Yes we do, at times, think we are crazy. It is precisely this line of questioning that we know that this is something we feel strongly about. We felt called to adopt Malachi- a calling that was over a decade in the making. After adopting Malachi, we felt that God wasn’t finished writing our adoption story.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper/easier/more sensible to have your own kid? (In all fairness, only one person has ever asked us this question- but it still gets asked) There are no guarantees in life. We are not guaranteed the ability to conceive another child. But we know there are countless children domestically and internationally who need a family. Our decision to adopt again is rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ. James 1:27 says that “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows…” When we read that verse, we have to ask ourselves “What is God asking me to do?” For us, it is to adopt. For you it might be to pray, to provide foster care, provide respite care, visit orphanages, or to financially sponsor someone who is adopting.

What’s Next? We wait, which is most of what the adoption process looks like. But the waiting is not a passive time. We will pray, prepare, and train for our new addition. We have money to save and to raise. We have plenty to do!

We have more to share in a post coming next week. We wanted to get the ball rolling with announcing the news and inviting you to be part of our team through prayer. Be on the lookout for other other post.

Thank you for your congratulations and prayers in advance. It’s going to be a fun journey!

 

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God Breaks Through

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Growing up I was always filled with amazement on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. There was a near palpable difference in the atmosphere that night and morning.I remember one Christmas Eve where it was so cold that the power lines beside our house snapped. The power company was out on Christmas Eve, very late, to fix the lines. Of course, they left footprints throughout the snow outside- which was excited because I don’t think we knew that they had been there. I was convinced that there was only one other person who could have made those footprints on Christmas Eve. I was saddened to hear it was the power company! But there was such great excitement.

After the presents are open, there is something almost mundane about Christmas Day. I say this in a good way. AS adults, we’re tired out from a late night and an early morning. The kids are either playing with their toys or getting tired. The whole day takes a different pace. Compared to the busyness of every other day- Christmas can almost feel mundane or slow at times. The rhythm is different.

I don’t know what Mary would have been doing when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that she would conceive a child who would be the Son of the Most High. Maybe she was feed her baby chickens. Perhaps she was taking a walk somewhere. My guess is that in her mind that day began just like any other day.

Out of the mundane, out of the routine, God broke into the world.

When I think about the shepherds who were in the fields watching their sheep by night, I wonder how mundane and boring that day began. They were going to be out in their fields all night. Maybe there would be some excitement and they’d have to fend off a predator. But it was night- everyone else was asleep.

Out of the mundane, out of the routine, God broke into the world.

Most of our lives can feel pretty mundane. We get up, go to work, make dinner, go to bed, and repeat. Over and over again. For many of us, we want to break free of the routine for something great. But here is the challenge: we can be so future focused; so focused on the next big thing that we miss how God is breaking into the mundane routines of our lives.

This is what happens at the first Christmas- an ordinary night; just another day in the fields for the Shepherds; just another newborn baby crying- or so it seemed. That night- “the eternal breaks through into the normal routines of daily life.” The Shepherds saw it- and yet how many others missed it?

On this Christmas Day, I am guessing that you have a routine for the day. I know we do. Wake up, gifts, breakfast, clean up, drive to see family, and on and on. On this sacred day, are we looking for God’s divine presence to come into our lives? Are we ready to respond?

Merry Christmas!

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Why We Cancelled Worship on Christmas

Our church cancelled worship on Christmas Day.

(Just hold your rocks for a moment.)

I have seen post from clergy colleagues on my denominations Facebook pages who are completely amazed that anyone would consider cancelling services on Christmas Day. Gospel Coalition blogger Kevin DeYoung wrote a post urging Pastor’s not to cancel Christmas Day services (though he posted it about 3 months too late to really have an impact). I don’t agree with much that DeYoung says in the post- but this isn’t the place to discuss that.

We cancelled worship on Christmas Sunday because I need to be a Dad to my kids on Christmas Day after spending all of Christmas Eve with my church.

One of my core beliefs to my ministry is that I have a ministry to my children and family before the church. God’s called me to pastor and lead them. They are my primary ministry. My church is my secondary. I don’t want my kids or wife to ever feel that they were second fiddle to the church (which is much different than saying my relationship with God is my top priority). I know I come up short on this with my family from time to time, I am thankful that Andrea (and our kids) help to hold me accountable to this.

So I am going to give all of myself to God and my congregation through worship and preaching on Christmas Eve. Then I am going to give all of myself to God and my family on Christmas morning as we worship and celebrate together. What a great opportunity for all parents to lead their children and families in worship.

By all means- come and worship with us on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas Day, our doors will be closed- but that does not mean our hearts will not be turned towards God.

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Vintage Christmas: Lessons from a Cubs Fan

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The Chicago Cubs last won the World Series in 1908 and did not win again until 2016- a period of 108 years. As a baseball fan there is the attitude of “wait until next year” with the hope that next year will be the year. With the Cubs winning the Series, there were many great stories of people who had dreams of a championship fulfilled. None of those stories are as moving as the story of Mabel Ball. Mabel had been waiting her whole life to see her Cubs win the World Series. Literally.

You see, Mabel was born in 1908- the last time the Cubs had won the championships. For the next 108 years, the Cubs would come up short. Certainly, there were some good teams, great players, and heartbreaking losses. Mabel lived to be 108 years old and lived long enough to see the Cubs win the World Series this past October. Mabel died six days after the Cubs victory. Her son said,

“The cruel irony, the almost unbelievable irony, is that the person who waits and waits and waits, after it happens, says, ‘I’ve done what I’ve got to do, and I’m out of here,'” Rich Ball told the paper. “It ain’t funny, but it’s funny.” –Rich Ball (Mabel’s Son)

In Luke 2, there is a man named Simeon. He was righteous and devout. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he “had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” Can you imagine what that would be like? Both looking and waiting to see the Messiah- the Promised One who would heal the world of our sin sickness- and being able to die knowing that God continues to be faithful to his promises.

I imagine Simeon waking up each morning thinking, “Perhaps today is the day.” Or maybe he walked around the Temple looking at the children there expectantly listening to the Holy Spirit to point out this Messiah to him. Simeon faithfully waited, watched, and looked for the Messiah. While scripture doesn’t indicate how long he lived, Simeon could die happy and fulfilled knowing that he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

This is our call during Advent- to wake up each day thinking, “Perhaps today is the day that Jesus will return.” Imagine how that mindset would change the way we live. I’d like to think we’d invite others to watch for Jesus with us. I imagine we’d change some of our priorities. I imagine that even in the waiting that we’d see God’s hand at work in ways we had never seen because we have made a priority of watching.

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Vintage Christmas: Sharing the Joy of Christmas

I love the Youtube video of the N64 Kids. The brother and sister are overflowing with joy as they received an N64 for Christmas. They rejoiced over this gift. If you have ever given a gift, this is one of the hopes we have in giving the gift- bringing happiness.  But often the joy we experience on Christmas can be short lived. How many of your children have broken a toy later on Christmas day? Or we, as parents, purchased a desired gift, see a response of joy or happiness, only to find that gift buried under a bed weeks later?

When we find our sense of happiness or joy in a person or thing of the world, it is a fleeting experience. The scriptures tell us time and time again (and so does experience) that the things of this world just do not last. While a person or a thing may provide us joy or happiness today- what happens when our circumstances change?

Joy, when it is rooted in Christ, remains steadfast. This is why the mature Christian who’s joy is in Jesus her Lord and Savior can go through great trials and still feel joy. This is why the person with a chronic illness can still praise God for the blessings that are in his life. That is why Mary, when told that she would conceive a child thus turning her entire world upside down can say, “May it be to me as you have said.” The joyful Christian finds their hope in the faithfulness of God who is active in their lives.

The Christmas story invites us to consider whether we will be a joy taker or a joy giver.

Let’s be honest, there are people in our lives (and this person could be me) who suck the joy out of every experience- and even our relationship with God. These people are like Debbie Downer from the Saturday Night Live Skit- there is a constant, Wan-wan-waaahhhh with the proclamations of doom and gloom. If we are constantly complaining about life, about our church then why would anyone want to experience what is happening here? If we complain all the time, if we take the joy out of life, why would anyone want to be a Christian if it means complaining all the time?

Instead, we are to be joy-givers to the people around us. In the Christmas story, the song of the angels invited the shepherds to go to Bethlehem to see for themselves this miracle of God. They were invited to share the joy of this Good News for themselves. When they had found Mary, Joseph, and the baby

“They spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them…the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”[1]

The Shepherds were filled with joy about what they had seen and heard and had to go and tell their neighbors what they had experienced. As the shepherds were invited to share the joy of this Good News, we have the same invitation- to be a joy giver rather than a joy taker.

When we are joy-givers, we invite those around us to see and investigate the reason for our joy. When we are joy-givers, we are able to point to the reason of our joy and to explain why we can be filled with joy even when life seems to be filled with darkness and despair. As joy-givers, we get to share the hope that we have that God is faithful and is active in my life and yours because God was revealed through a barren older woman, a teenaged girl, and lowly shepherds. God hears our cries and we can find joy and peace in knowing that. As joy-givers, we can provide the antidote to a world where fear, hatred, and depression are the norm.

We are invited to be a joy-giver this Christmas. With less than two weeks until Christmas, I want to challenge you to refuse to steal anyone’s joy. Do everything you can to refrain from complaining and to find joy in the simplicity of our presence together and in the love of God through Jesus.

[1] Luke 2:17-18, 20, NIV.

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Vintage Christmas: Making Preparations

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Christmas is just a few weeks away now. I am sure that you’re in the thick of preparations. We began our preparations a few weeks ago by putting up our Christmas lights before Thanksgiving. It was warm and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to put them up in short sleeves!

Preparing for Christmas was almost magical as a child. Whether it was seeing Dad put up the Christmas lights, mom making cookies, or our Advent Countdown getting hung on the stairs, there was a lot of work that went into our Christmas celebration. That doesn’t even include the shopping, hiding of gifts, and wrapping that takes place before December 25th.

While we work to prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas, we cannot miss the opportunity to prepare ourselves for Jesus. There is a difference between the celebration and the celebrated. What sort of preparations are we to make to encounter Jesus?

Luke gives us a clue in the song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah “sings” or prophesies:

“And you, my child, will be called a Prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the LORD to prepare the way for Him; to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins because of the tender mercy of our God by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death; to guide our feet on the path of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

John was to “prepare the way of the Lord.” He announced the coming of Christ; that God’s kingdom was here. The way people were to prepare for Christ’s coming? They were to repent and seek forgiveness for their sins. Then they would have knowledge of salvation that comes from God.

As we prepare our Christmas celebrations, let us not forget to prepare ourselves for the One we celebrate- that we turn away from our sin and by God’s grace turn towards Jesus, the light that shines in our dark world, illuminating the path of peace.

What are your favorite ways to prepare for Christmas? How are you preparing yourself to encounter Jesus this Christmas?

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