I am in denial that our China travel group reunion is over. A weekend is much too short to visit with these families that we love so much! We had a wonderful time. It was great to see the new members. There have been five new children added by adoption and a first time family that we met while at the White Swan Hotel in China.
I'm already looking forward to 2013.
There is nothing quite like traveling for 15 days in a foreign country with children you have just met to bond a group together. I am so excited to spend this weekend with 9 out of the 10 families we traveled to China with.
Can you spot Lindsey?
Once again I am marveled by God's great plan for these sweet girls and their blessed families.
Out of the many, many vacation pictures we took last week, this is my favorite one.
This picture is so beautiful to me for many reasons. It might be because it features two of my most favorite boys. It might be because my beach reading this year was the book, Orphanology. Or it might be because the more I experience adoption, the more I am changed.
The picture itself doesn't truly capture this father/son moment. The tenderness that which Carson was caught with and the kisses and giggles that followed brought tears to my eyes. I saw in those moments the beauty of adoption--on both sides: the joy on Carson's face as he was tossed up and the smile on Tim's as he looked up.
"Adoption was an expression in our lives of the gospel in our hearts." ~David Platt
What an incredible gift, a privilege, it is to experience on a very small, earthly level, the gospel lived out in our lives. By trusting in Jesus Christ, we have, by no means of our own, been redeemed. We have been lovingly tossed into the air by a heavenly Father who promises not to let us drop. We have been graced to freely accept a love and inheritance that we don't deserve. We have been scooped up and treasured.
"Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will." ~ Ephesians 1:4-5
When I read verses like the one above, together with moments like the picture above, I see it so clearly. It makes perfect, clear sense that those who have received such a redemptive love would extend it to others in the life-changing way it has been received. "He has reached down His hand of mercy to us in the loneliness of our sin, and He has raised us up as members of His family. Consequently, one of the clearest displays of the gospel in this life is when redeemed men and women extend a hand of mercy to children in need and bring them into their families", written by David Platt. I couldn't say it any better--and this picture, captures it for me.
A redeemed father reaching up and out for his son, who was in such need of a love that he, through Jesus Christ, can bestow.
Tuesday night I did my big grocery shopping. You know the kind that you can't wait one more day to shop unless your family wants soy waffles and popsicles for their next meal? I pulled into the driveway and waited a minute for my helpers...no one came.
As I walked to the side door, I noticed the bikes and trailer in the side yard. I opened the door to a very quiet house...too quiet. I hollered, "I'm home. Come help carry groceries." No response.
I noticed something peculiar on the kitchen table.
Would anyone else find this strange and, therefore, panic just a bit? :)
Just a bit, and then enjoy putting ALL the groceries away in a peaceful, silence without someone asking for something to eat.
Mystery solved: My fabulous hubby walked with the 5 kiddos to a playground and chased them around until after dark. The above sculpture put together by Lucy had no meaning, whatsoever.
I heard a wonderful quote over the this week from my brother. He and his wife are in the final stages of an adoption. They are waiting to bring their son and daughter home from the Congo. I'm usually not a big quote person but something about this one just struck me...
"How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers."
When I think of the "orphan crisis" related to this quote it made me realize that the crisis is not the actual number of children. To picture a field of 163 million different colored flowers is amazing. The crisis is made up of so many factors. I can think of a few: prideful government officials, fear of failure, the desire to live a settled, non-complicated life, the "I've already got too much on my plate" and "been there, done that" thinking, laws written to surpress women, the lure of a quiet retirement, living in a sinful world. The list can go on and on. I think we can all come up with reasons that we can't adopt (again), foster, give more, visit and minister to the needy, etc...
"How can you say there are too many children?. That is like saying there are too many flowers."
The privilege of parenting is like no other. The challenges and rewards cannot be found in any other relationship. The amount of influence a parent can bestow on their child's life cannot be found in any other relationship. The privilege to train and raise a child, to model and share with them the Lord's love and purpose for life in like no other.
I certainly can't write a parenting book. There are days that I am frustrated and impatient. There are days I watch the clock and wish them all to bed. There are days that I am upset with myself and my lack of good parenting but at the end of everyday, whether good or bad, I am amazed and extremely thankful for the 5 flowers my husband and I have been gifted and the grace, freely given, to parent them.
About the time we started this blog, we made a Minus 1 Project money jar. I did a post about our family's jar here, titled The Simplest Fundraiser.
has been on our kitchen counter for almost 2 years collecting spare change and generous donations. It has shown up at several of our fundraising events including a swim meet raffle.
It can be found in the background of many of our pictures. I had the best time looking over older pictures. Here were a few of my favorite ones that included our Minus 1 Project jar.
(Counting yard sale money)
(Modeling for our tutu fundraiser)
(Baking Dad's birthday cake)
(Writing "For your baby brother" on a blue leaf to hang on our Thanksgiving thankful tree. This is how we told the other four of Carson's referral!)
That jar served its purpose well.
But, that season for our family is finished.
And so today, we handed the jar to Carson.
He wasn't quite sure what to make of it, that is, until Tim showed him how he could beat on it like drum. :)
Our kitchen counter seems a little empty tonight without the jar but our hearts are so full. That jar was a constant reminder to our family that there was something--someone--that was more important than so many things like a dinner out, cable tv, cell phones, even a second car.
Our family's season of Minus 1 Projects caused us to evaluate our true needs. It was amazing what we found we could live without because deep down we knew we didn't want to live without him.
We started our Minus 1 Project blog to keep friends and family up to date on our Korean adoption and our site to help raise funds for our adoption expenses. Now that our son is home, we are continuing to expand our Minus 1 site in hopes of offering fun, high quality items to help your family share and celebrate your adoptions and supporting other adopting families with fundraising. Our hearts' desire is to raise awareness to God's calling for all of us to care for the orphan and to encourage other families to start their own MINUS 1 PROJECT because every adoption = minus 1 orphan!
Click HERE to read more about our family's Minus 1 store.