31 August 2006

What's in a Name?

It's the only name that we agreed upon immediately. The name came to me last year as I was reading Hebrews, chapter 11. This chapter starts off with one of my favorite bible verses: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." It continues by showing some great examples of faith throughout the bible.

The name Faith comes from the Latin origin meaning... well, faith or trust. Not only do we feel it's a strong yet feminine name for our daughter, it is obviously a word that means so much to us, especially on this journey. Our faith is the cornerstone of our lives. It shapes who we are, where we've been, and where we're going. It's in a constant state of being pulled, pushed, tested and validated. We have yet to discover the magnitude of it's full power (probably never will in this life), but with each new experience and test, it draws us a little closer to who God wants us to be. We've taken a leap of faith to get us where we are today and we believe it is that very faith that will see us through to the many blessings God has in store for us.

Consider this...

Faith untested is faith unchanged.
Faith is not a noun. It is a verb. Action is a critical part of faith.
Faith is in action when you make yourself vulnerable--practicing what you believe.

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." -St. Thomas Aquinas

"All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more; He who loses faith, loses all." -Eleanor Roosevelt

"I do not pray for success. I ask for faithfulness." -Mother Teresa

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

The pewter stone in the picture is something we carry with us since deciding on our daughter's name. It will stay in our pocket (and purse) until the day she comes home.

24 August 2006

Waiting

I just finished the book Waiting by Ben Patterson. I started the book last year but never finished it after reading only a few chapters. In the last few weeks, I felt compelled to find it and re-visit it with a fresh eye. This book speaks to all of us who wait; whether it be for a child, a better job, a spouse, healing from a chronic illness, a new home, the list goes on. I thought I'd share some thoughts from the book's epilogue.

"Does it strike you as odd that a book on waiting has scarcely mentioned the word patience or perseverance? Aren't those the virtues that we are to exercise when we are forced to wait? They are, but they are secondary to what really is needed to wait with grace. More basic than patience or perseverance are humility and hope. These two are the attitudes, the visions of life, that make patience possible. Patience is a rare and lovely flower that grows only in the soil of humility and hope."

"Humility makes patience possible because it shows us our proper place in the universe. God is God, we are his creatures; he is the King, we are his subjects; He is the Master, we are his servants. We have no demands to make, no rights to assert. His superiority is not only in power but in love and wisdom as well. He is superior to us in every conceivable way-- in power and love and wisdom. To know that is to be patient."

"Hope makes patience possible because it gives us the confidence that our wait is not in vain. Hope believes that this God of love, power and wisdom is on our side. Everything that comes to us comes by his hand and through his heart. He provides for our needs and fulfills our deepest desires in the fullness of time, not a moment too late, nor a second too soon. Hope assures us that in all things, even in the delays of life, God is working for our good.
To know that is to be patient."

"One of the surprise "goods" that God is working for us as we wait is the forging of our character. What we become as we wait is at least as important as the thing we wait for. To wait in hope is not just to pass the time until the wait is over. It is to see the time passing as part of the process God is using to make us into the people he created us to be."

With all that said, unlike popular thoughts on waiting, to wait is not to be idle. It is a mandatory process when it comes to matters of faith. I am both humbled and hopeful for God's will and the work that He is doing in me as I wait. Certainly now, I can say with more clarity...
Perhaps it is God who is waiting on us, rather than the other way around?

Ben Patterson is the chaplain of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA.

21 August 2006

Golf 'n stuff

As usual, the summer's flying by. Mostly, because I've been busy with my part-time job at the golf course. Since May, I've been working in the pro shop at the local Country Club. I usually work 3 days a week, no weekends, and no nights. It's perfect because I can still focus on my priorities like spending time with Morgan, family, friends, exercise, church, and travel. It's been a wonderful blessing and a fun way to spend the summer. This job was certainly unexpected but God must have known that it would be good for me. I work with kind people in a friendly, casual, and beautiful setting. One of the great perks of the job is free golf for both Morgan and I. Needless to say, Morgan feels like I've landed the "dream job."

Golf is an interesting game. I took it up last Spring, half-thinking (boldly), "I could do this. I'm coordinated, athletic, and I can pretty much play any sport decently." The other half of me knew that it would somehow bring out the worst in me. It did just the latter. Golf is not for the faint of heart. It's a game that exposes parts of your inner character. Very quickly, it shined a light on my temperament, frustrations, lack of patience, and deep competitive drive. Thankfully though, it's also taught me some valuable lessons along the way. I've learned more about humility, patience, control (or lack there of), surrender, and peace.

It's said that, "You know a man better after playing a round of golf than working across the desk from him for 10 years." I guess the frustrations of golf also explain why most people who take it up, quit within the year. Morgan has been playing for over 30 years now and I must say, I have a much better understanding and respect for his struggles, as well as his triumphs, on the golf course. Golf is a mental and physical game but no amount of physical power can overcome what's needed mentally. I'm thankful that God uses all things in my life to stretch and grow me.

Although I'm busier this summer, I still manage my other job as domestic engineer at home. It's been a little more of a juggle but I have no complaints. Life is good. Starting in mid-September, I'll be starting Oasis (women's bible study) again on Tuesdays. Because of my commitment and love for this ministry at our church, I'll probably cut back by working only 2 days a week at the golf course. Until then, I'm thoroughly enjoying what's left of summer.

19 August 2006

Comments

We've just added the ability to leave a comment on our blog. If you have a question or would like to leave us a comment, simply click on "COMMENTS" at the bottom of each entry.
Thanks again for all your prayers and support!

17 August 2006

Positive Adoption Language

During one of the required pre-adoption classes we attended last year, we learned some informative information regarding positive adoption language vs. negative adoption language. Generally speaking, we don't consider ourselves overly sensitive people and for the most part, we believe that people are well-intentioned. Sometimes the words we use may convey a lack of education or experience on the matter at hand. Because words can be so powerful, we thought this blog entry would be beneficial for all of us.

Positive Language vs. Negative Language

Birthparent vs. Real Parent
Biological parent vs. Natural Parent
Birth child vs. Own Child
My child vs. Adopted child
Born to unmarried parents vs. Illegitimate
Terminate parental rights vs. Give up
Make an adoption plan vs. Give away
To parent vs. To keep
Waiting child vs. Adoptable child or Available child
Parent vs. Adoptive parent
International adoption vs. Foreign adoption
Child placed for adoption vs. An unwanted child
Child from abroad vs. Foreign child
Was adopted vs. Is adopted

Words not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings. While we (as parents) may understand what people mean when they say "real mom/dad/child," the important thing to keep in mind is that a child may not understand how his or her mommy and daddy could be anything but real.

The poem is called The Answer by Fleur Conkling Heyliger.

16 August 2006

Moving Forward

We thought we'd share some encouraging news that we received from our adoption agency.

As you can imagine, they are busy answering calls and concerns regarding the upcoming changes to the Korea program. Of course, we had questions of our own. Mostly, we just needed some confirmation and hand-holding. For those of us who have been waiting on a referral, we were told that things should move forward as planned. This means that we are still on schedule to file our I-600A form next month. This form is a petition for international adoption through the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, formerly the INS). It's a small step forward but in the adoption process, any small step is more like a leap.

We were also told that we are "unofficially" #14 out of 30 on the wait list for referrals. I say "unofficially" because this isn't typically something the agency wants us to know, for various reasons. Since completing our home study back in April, the agency has received an average of 3 to 4 (girl) referrals a month. We know however, this in no way guarantees the same amount per month going forward. We have been praying for a pleasant surprise and an influx of referrals to come :)

Another point to mention...
Unfortunately, due to the recent increase in fees, some families may need to pursue adoption from another country. This may also have a slight impact on our wait time. Either way, we know it's out of our hands and we're just thankful for any encouraging news on this often bumpy and unpredictable road of adoption.

13 August 2006

bumps in the road...

Our agency just informed us of some changes happening with Korean adoptions. These changes may slow our progress as well as affect the future of adopting from Korea. Below are just a few of the changes.

· There is pending legislation in Korea attempting to stop international adoption. As of today, the legislation has not moved forward.

· There is a big push for domestic adoption in Korea and the government is offering incentives for Korean families to adopt domestically.

· The Korean government has established a system that would now hold children in need of adoption for five months before they are eligible for international adoption. The five month period would be a time where Korean citizens could choose to adopt the child. (Children with known medical issues would be exempt from this system.)

· The birth rate in Korea has decreased significantly and more birth parents are choosing to parent their children. Thus, the number of children eligible for adoption has also decreased.

In spite of the above mentioned changes, our agency believes that those of us who are already in the process will not be affected. Another change has to do with the rising costs the Korean agencies are experiencing and their need to substantially increase fees in order to effectively continue their adoption programs. Because of this, all fees for Korean adoption will be increased by $5,000, effective August 15, 2006 (that means us).

Personally, we think it's wonderful and appropriate that Korea is finally encouraging domestic adoption. We continue to have faith and trust in God's plan for us and as always, we appreciate your prayers for wisdom, perseverance, and of course... patience.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
-Romans 8:28

07 August 2006

Art Appreciation




We wouldn't normally consider ourselves very "artsy" or even all that cultured. We do however, appreciate great beauty and creativity. We occasionally visit a museum and for the last 4 years, we've made the annual trip to Laguna Beach for the famous Pageant of the Masters. This weekend, we did just those two things.

The Getty Villa in Malibu just re-opened after a nine year and $275 million renovation and expansion. Parched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it was once lived in by J. Paul Getty himself. It features his Antiquities Collection from Rome, Greece, and Etrusia. The Getty Villa was modeled after the partially excavated Villa dei Papiri in Italy.

The Pageant of the Masters is a unique show of "living pictures."
It re-creates classical and contemporary works using real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. An outdoor amphitheatre, professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets, and sophisticated lighting, make this night one that we look forward to every year.

"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection."
-Michelangelo

beauty in art...

Some pictures from our weekend...

















02 August 2006

Legacy


A few years ago, I heard this song and it really got me thinking about what kind of legacy
I wanted to leave. Thought this summed it up pretty well...

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all the who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...

Song & lyrics by Nichole Nordeman. Nichole is a two-time Dove Award-winning Female Vocalist of the Year and critically acclaimed songwriter.

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