Friday, December 18, 2015

Let Them Hear

This year has been filled with so many trials and blessings that I have found it hard to keep this blog updated.  But today, I bring news that is too good not to share.  God has been so gracious to us this year, and today He has given us such a precious gift.

Today, our little girl came home from the hospital fitted with brand new hearing aids.  

(Press Play Below!)

After tons of hearing tests and brain stem tests, we really weren't sure how much she had been unable to hear.  But as we left the hospital, she began to TELL me.

As we left the building, my cell phone rang.  

"WHAT'S THAT NOISE?  What IS it?"  

She had no idea that my phone RANG.

As I cranked the engine to the van, she was visibly startled by the navigation voice that plays every time I drive (because I get lost as soon as I leave our neighborhood), and began looking for the extra person in the car.

"WHERE?  Where is that lady????!!!  Hello...Lady?"

After we got home, I was overwhelmed by what I had experienced at the hospital.  I sent her to the backyard to eat her lunch and watched her from a distance, and my little girl stood with her face upturned and her sandwich hanging by her side as she mimicked the birds chirping and smiled at the sky.

After her bath, I knelt beside her and asked quietly if she could hear Mama's voice.

"Yes.  Pretty hearing Mama.  All better now."

This is a good and perfect gift.  

It doesn't matter that this particular gift is "man-made" and contains a battery, or that we have had to make hard decisions for Haven's life in the face of her diagnosis.  

God is good, and make no mistake, every last good thing is from God and held together by His Word.

Seeing God sustain Haven this year - whether by the provision of hearing aids or by the miracle of her literal actual life revealed by her surgeries earlier this year - it has been beyond humbling.  

Of all the good things we think "we" could provide for this child, or the good things we "think" we have to offer our Savior - nothing comes close to the good and perfect gifts that come from the Father of lights or the truth of Salvation.  (James 1:17)  

I come to His nativity literally empty-handed. (Isaiah 64:6)  
I just don't know what else to do but praise His name. 

We have prayed and hoped big things for Haven.  
"Foolish" things.  

We continue to do so - not just for her - but for all of them. 

We are not just praying for health and hearing, 
but for "ears to hear" (Mark 4:9).

We are praying for little feet that will join our family mission 
in carrying the Gospel truth to a dying world.

This Christmas, as the weary world rejoices, we hope and pray for you the good and perfect gift of Jesus Christ.  

We pray that you live in the perfect peace of the Holy Spirit, and the thrill of hope of the Savior who was born in a stable, died on a tree, and rose to defeat death, offering you the grace of salvation and Eternal life as your forerunner.  

We pray for you to hear His truth
and accept His gift.

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

More Children, Less Orphans

Every day, I pray that our adoptions will open up more opportunities to verbally share the Gospel, and God is faithful to provide.  Secondarily, I pray for the church to open its doors WIDE to the orphan, and specifically for more children with dwarfism or special needs to be welcomed and adopted.  

I had no idea these prayers would land on my best friend and Sister.  Twice.  

But let's backup and start from the beginning.  

Not so long ago, I showed up at church and asked my friends to pray that someone with some serious free time would volunteer to travel to China with me to bring home Haven and Aaron. 

A few hours later, one of those friends called and she would BE that person.

A few months later, Becky found herself pushing my wheelchair through two airports and an emergency room as that trip went terribly wrong.  

But her work was not done.  

After safely delivering me back home to bedrest, she turned around and left her own family of 6 behind so that she could travel to China in my place to claim our children. 

 Three weeks later, when I finally met them at the Raleigh airport, Aaron clung frantically to Becky in confusion.  

Yet again, his care was being transferred 
and in his eyes he was losing all over again. 

After the balloons and the well-wishes and his first bath in his new home that night, Aaron cried himself to sleep for Becky.

You see, for many weeks in China, Becky had been his Mama...his Ayi.  

She cracked his smile, she stole his heart 
and she carried him home.  

And I get it.  She's easy to love.  She's the kind of friend that makes a person rich in this life.  

 I have had quite a few hospital stays in the four years since we met, and this is the woman who has dropped everything she was doing on three separate occasions to stay by my side.  

This is the friend 

who loves my children 

as if they were hers.

I will never forget that when life got crazy difficult and seemingly impossible and I was flat on my back praying that my miracle baby would not slip from my body into Eternity...

 she gave up a month of her life 
to claim our children.

And now, the time has come to claim hers.  

You see, amidst all the rushing, praying, packing, airplanes, hotels, jetlag, and orphanage visits, God was whispering a promise into her heart.  
She would return to China.  

As she toured the orphanages, God confirmed that she would someday be the mother to one of these forgotten children.  

Two, in fact. 

Two more children, 
both with dwarfism.

This is Addy.  

She is 5 years old and has Robinow Syndrome.
She is "very talkative" and her caretakers call her a "little teacher". 

Addy is precious, 
and she is no longer an orphan...

she is an Ulrich!

And THIS is Joshua (so excited about this name choice). 
 He is 7 years old.

He likely has achondroplasia, 
and is said to be"optimistic", cheerful, and friendly.  

He is also no longer an orphan, 
instead he is a beloved son.

These two children are headed home, and God has been paving that path for many years.

Marc and Becky are no strangers to the orphan and widow, 
and have been active in Orphan PREVENTION.  

Last year, I was looking for a temporary home for a local single mother who was about to lose her 6 children (including a newborn) to CPS after becoming homeless.  Within hours of making Marc and Becky aware of the situation, they offered their own home with literally no questions asked.  Later that night, this woman and her tired family piled into the Ulrich home, where they remained for three months!  

This meant there were 11 children in one house and that the Ulrichs (a homeschooling family) were opening up their home to Social Services.  

Very, very few thought this was a good idea.

But in the end - by the providence of God and the obedience of the Ulrichs - this mother and her family were preserved and are now absolutely thriving. 

From Marc's account of this experience:
"It is God's house, and we are His.
It was a delight to serve." 

Now all five of their children stand together 
with Becky and Marc and say "Yes."

we will make room.  

It is not lost on me that Joshua and Addy will be running the halls of my church with Haven and Aaron in a few short months, or that they will all grow up together as "family". 

This story is so, so familiar.  

One girl.  

We love because 
He first loved us.  

We have Mercy because 
we were crowned in it.  

And as Marc says; 

You are a picture of God, make it a good one."

The Ulrichs have set up the following ways you can support themas they bring home Joshua and Addy:

1)  PRAY for their family, and for God to be glorified:  Ulrich Blog

2)  SHARE this post.  

3)  GIVE a tax-deductible gift through Adopttogether or 
SHARE their link:

4)  GIVE by Paypal


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Whom Shall You Serve?

 Three years ago, we walked into an orphanage completely unannounced and carried two of our children out of their affliction.


 My son was covered with weeks worth of his own dried vomit after being fed a diet of only milk powder, of which he was severely allergic.

Our daughter had scars all over her body which had not been there when I had traveled to meet her just 3 months before.  She clung to me for dear life as I carried her out, and hid her face in fear from the nannies who approached us to say goodbye to her as we left.  

In a little guest house down an alleyway in Addis Ababa, far away from that orphanage, we peeled them out of their dirty clothes and washed them in a little tub in the base of the shower. 

We dried them off and rubbed frankincense oil into their cracked skin.  New clothes, new shoes, new life.  We left behind their pasts, which had literally been robbed of them by a few greedy criminals here in the United States, and we brought them home.

Two years later, 

we brought home two more.


In the past three years, 
God has REDEEMED the years that the locusts had consumed.  

But don't miss this.  It isn't about them. 
And it is not about the act of physical adoption.

It's about you.

You are, in many ways, these children.

God shows up for you.  

He visits you as you lay in your own filth, battered by the sin of this world and the thief who wants to rob you of your past, present, future, and salvation.  You may tell yourself that you do not need saving...but my friends, we ALL do.

God is not only forgiving, loving, and merciful; He is also HOLY and Just.  He cannot dwell eternally with your sin, regardless of if you believe Jesus existed or not.  We have ALL sinned (Romans 3:23).  

We know those commandments, the ones Moses carried on tablets of stone, because our Creator wrote them on our hearts.  By those commandments we all fall short of eternity with Him (Romans 6:23).  We must be reconciled to Him, and He has given us The Way.

He shows up unannounced, and He asks you to come with Him.  He provided your ransom, a sinless person to die in your place for your sins, Jesus Christ. 

He places your sin on His Son (Romans 5:8) who defeats your sin and the death you should have died by rising from the grave 3 days later and ascending into Heaven to prepare a place for you (John 14:2-3).  He provides a Father in Himself and promises to put His Spirit within you.  

He asks one thing.  

To be the Lord of your LIFE.  

Not the lord of your Sundays, or your weeknights, or some portions of your life and days...He asks for EVERYTHING.  To accept what Christ did for you as your only hope of salvation and turn from the sin that you currently love.  In return, He washes you clean, annoints your head with oil, and makes you more LIKE JESUS.  

You take on His name and He makes you love what He loves. He gives you an aversion to the things of this world, to sin, to the trappings that destroy, and gives you the desire for things of eternal value.  

When this happens, you will HIDE YOUR FACE from the sin that you once loved.  You will cease in defending your "right to sin" and take an active battle against it in your life and in this world.  

You will never again claim the "right" of forgiveness as if you had earned it, you will fall on your face in the humbling knowledge of your completely undeserved receipt of it.  

Do not love your own sin enough to be unwilling to lay it down and claim what He is offering to you (Romans 3:10-18).  

I assure you that no night of inebriation, no day of clinging to the false hope of material things, no pill, no purchase, no vacation, no diet, no drink, no job, no child, no relationship, no community service, no public standing or recognition, no reputation, no church ministry or service, and certainly no good deed will EVER bring salvation or eternal joy. 

Freedom comes ONE way, and it was paid for with a heavy price. Unshakable Joy and Peace are only available through Jesus Christ and the assurance of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1).  

Drop everything you are doing right this minute and decide TODAY whom you will serve.  You cannot serve two masters, you are either serving HIM or you are serving SIN.  If you love your sin, God says you HATE Him (Matthew 6:24). 

I don't care what circumstance you are in at this moment, today IS the day that you can hand over your entire life and truly begin to LIVE (Joshua 24:15) as an adopted son or daughter of God.

It doesn't matter if you are the most successful person in your family or the black sheep with no family.  

It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, churched or unchurched, living in sin or sinning in your mind - if you are not a servant of King Jesus, you have NOTHING.  

And if you choose Him now, you have EVERYTHING.  FOREVER.  

We know this from experience.  

Paul and I were liars, thieves, partiers, and revelers.  

We were false converts who had no love for Jesus or for His Word, and we did not seek to do His will except for our own glory.  Yet we sat in church EVERY WEEK, pretending we were okay.  We thought we had it all together.

And then He came for us both - within weeks of each other - and said "ENOUGH, COME WITH ME."

And we did (Acts 1:9).

We walked away from our idols, 
our security, and our "freedoms".
We have never looked back. 

And He has truly Redeemed 
what the locusts had consumed in our lives.


The story never changes...

One boy, one girl.  

By His Grace and Faith ALONE (Romans 5:1).

We have Mercy because we were Crowned in it.  

We love Him

Because He first loved us.

"Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness.  Throw way the Gods your ancestors worshipped...and serve the Lord.  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day who you will serve...But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord."

Joshua 24