Sunday, December 1, 2013

Until Morning

"I pray to God - my life a prayer - 
and wait for what He'll say and do.  
My life's on the line before God, my Lord, 
waiting and watching til morning, 
waiting and watching til morning."  

It's Gotcha Day.  But where is she?  I'm looking everywhere, but I can't find her.  They are supposed to bring her to me here, but no one comes.  I check my paperwork one more time and my heart skips a beat - I am waiting in the wrong building!  

I run for her.  

I push past vendors and crowds of people on the street until I see a gate up ahead, and I know this is the place.  It's a large circular gate used for crowd control, and a group of women stand in the center, fussing over a little girl.  They are scanning the faces of the people who walk by, asking the same question over and over again...  

"Where is her mother?"

I can tell that they are going to leave; that they do not think I am coming.  I yell out her Chinese name as I run towards them, and her eyes meet mine from a thousand miles away.  

She heard me.  

She smiles in her usual way, as if she knows a secret that the whole world has missed out on, and things begin to move in slow motion.

They bring her to the edge of the gate.  I reach for her, and she leans towards me over the rail.  The sound of traffic disappears as she places her hand on my cheek and says two words...

"Piaoliang Mama."

I am mesmerized by her beauty, and I tell her what I have known to be true since the moment I first saw her picture...

"Wo ai ni.  Ni shi wo de xingan baobei neur."

She smiles even bigger, 
and then she is gone.  

The sound of my alarm clock rips her from my arms, and I can't even open my eyes until the prayer has left my lips...  

The Lord is the Strength of my Life. 

These words whispered into dawn's darkness are the only way to survive the transition from dream to reality that repeats itself so often in This Wait.

I am hidden in His Pavilion; I am set upon a Rock.  The reality of this is that His hand is upon her, and in this knowledge is where I find rest.

I pour my coffee, I drink in the silence of my morning time with the Lord...and I wait.  
I get to be the one to wait for her.  To petition for her.  I get to.  I get to.  I get to.  I get to.

I Get To.  

And I thank Him.

Because I am her Pretty Mama - "Piaoliang Mama".  
This is what she calls me as she points to my pictures.  

That detail is not part of a dream 
- it's real
and the thought of her whispering those words 
as she turns the pages of her photo book is enough ... 

Piaoliang de nuer,
Wo ai ni.  Ni shi wo de xingan baobei neur.
Wo lai gei ni.

Pretty Daughter,
I love you.  You are my cherished daughter.
I am coming for you.

- Piaoliang Mama

Friday, November 1, 2013

Paid in Full

There is one word that was uttered by my Savior before He surrendered His life on the cross, effectively paying my debt and purchasing my place in Heaven.  

"Tetelestai!"  Literally, it is finished.

This same word has been found stamped on receipts or business documents in New Testament times when a debt was paid or an account closed...  

"Tetelestai."  Paid for.  Completed.  Account settled.

Friends, please don't miss this.  Make sure you hear this.

Haven and Aaron's adoption has been Paid In Full.  With one single private donor who wishes to remain anonymous, God has brought this matter to a close.  

There will be no more fundraisers, no more puzzles, and there will be no applying to ABBA Fund for a loan or juggling money.   Let another family benefit from those resources.  

The last adoption was not like this one.  And I won't forget what we learned.  

In fact, one of the provisions God used to bring our Ethiopian children home during our last adoption was the sale of my wedding diamond in exchange for plane tickets and covenant loans from organizations which stood outstanding at 10K when we began this adoption.

You see, these children are our treasure.  They are our investment.  They are our retirement.  They are our security.  

It is the hope of Christ that drives us this way.

And for Him, we would sell everything we have to buy this field.  We would give up everything we own to dig out this treasure. 

This is our "financial peace".  
This is reckless.  
This is foolish.  
This is wasteful.  
This is beautiful.  
This is Jesus.  

This is the only thing worth anything.  

These things that I know to be true allow me to believe in foolish investments.  
Because I was once one of them, and Christ chose to invest in my life.  

In fact, Christ chose to TRADE His life for mine.  

And I am His Little Girl.  

Do you know of this treasure?  Do you know Jesus?  Do you hear Him calling you to do something insane?   Have you dared to give it a voice and share this calling with friends or family only to be made to feel foolish?  

Do you feel unequipped?  

Friends, He does not always call the equipped.  And His plans often sound crazy.  But I promise you with every ounce of my soul that I know this to be true:

He equips the called.  

What is He asking you to do?  Has He called you to adoption, to missions, to ministry, to evangelism, to give of yourself recklessly, to pour yourself out in His Name? 

Do you know Him?  
Have you surrendered?  
Have you REPENTED?

You see, before you step out and do even one thing FOR Him, there is an account that must be settled. 

WITHOUT Christ, 
you have a great debt to pay.

you have been paid for.  In Full.  
Your account has been closed.

If you are IN CHRIST, your works, your resources, your adoptions and your humanitarian projects do not add to this account.  

If you trust in your own good works for your Salvation, you are tossing pennies at the Cross and 
you are not trusting in Christ alone...AND THIS IS SERIOUS:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matthew 7

Whatever you do must flow from obedience and thankfulness 
of this closed account.

So if you have repented and have turned to Jesus, there is only one thing left to DO.  Follow Him.  

Whatever He has asked you to do, I implore you to do it.  
I dare you, in fact.  

Do it and do it now.

Is this safe, though?  Is HE safe?

I leave you with this, from the land of Narnia and the pen of C.S. Lewis...

"Safe?...Who said anything about safe.  'Course he isn't safe.  
But he's good.  He's the King I tell you."

Long live the King.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Aaron's Smile

I love my son Moses' smile.  

Whenever I look at him, he's smiling at me - 
or just staring at me like I am the only other person who exists in the whole wide world.  

This kid loves his Mama.  

It was one of the first things I noticed when I walked into his orphanage and bent over the crib he shared with 3 other babies to pick him up for the first time.  

He was the one who was smiling back at me.  

It was one of the first smiles I had seen from him, because in most of the pictures that had been sent to us, he appeared to be confused or startled.

It's the same with Aaron.
In a file filled with pictures, he is not smiling in any of them.
However, his expressions look so familiar to me,
and I know exactly why.  

I have seen these expressions before, 
and having Moses and Miriam home for almost two years now, 
I know what they mean.

I know what emptiness and defeat looks like in the eyes of my children.  

It looks like this.

And like this. 


After we said yes to Aaron, one of the first things we did was order another cake, since Haven's party seemed to have been quite successful in capturing laughter and smiles.  

Aaron will be home before his 3rd birthday in May, so this was not a Birthday Cake.  This cake was sent with a photo album of our family and was intended to celebrate the news of his adoption. 

It was sent to make him smile, and we really tried our hardest not to get our hopes up.  

Because honestly, he could spend the rest of his life pouting and I would love him exactly as much as I do now - which is already unexplainable.  

You see, 
he already hangs my moon.  

Just like Moses did before he came home.  

Nothing has changed between Moses and I in these two years; 
my love for him has been continuous.  

My love for these boys is a God-given kind of love and a true blessing, because it has been complete and full from the moment I opened their files and has remained that way, despite the fact that raising  boys from cradles of hurt is not an easy task.


All that being said, I was praying for evidence of hope in Aaron's eyes; 
a sign that there will be laughter in the days ahead...
a sign that we were not too late.  

And once again,
Hope was granted. 

And my heart just melts.

Because our boy knows we are coming for him. 

But I can't imagine waiting one more month 
to hold this beautiful son, let alone 5.  

And yet He is with me in this waiting.  He has proven His faithfulness to me time and time again with the certainty of the His promises, and I trust His plan for my boy.  

We wait in hope of the Lord...  

He is our hope and our shield.

And His love endures forever.

May your unfailing Love be with us, Lord.


Even as we hope in You.

We love you, son.
There will be many more cakes.

Psalm 33

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dear Haven (Happy Birthday)

Dear Haven,

You turned six on August 1st, and although we could not be with you, Mommy had a Birthday cake delivered to your orphanage.  We felt like this was a ridiculous gesture in a country that does make much of birthdays, but your father and I could not let this day pass without notice.  

We were told that you hand-picked your "very best friends" that would be allowed to share in your special party, and that it was beautiful.

We know that this was probably your first birthday party.  While this breaks my heart, I can tell you with certainty that there will be no more missed Birthdays.

Every year when your birthday comes around, I will remember that while God was knitting Lilly together inside of my tummy, He was delivering you into His Perfect Keeping.  He was with you, my dear girl.


While you spent too many years in a crib because of your size, He was there.  And when those visitors held you and made promises to return for you, He protected your heart.  He waited with you.  

One day, I will show you pictures of a little girl with a shaved head waiting for a Mommy with joy in her heart  - I will show you Hope in a place where all hope was lost - and I will tell you Where it came from.

From the beginning, He created you with a plan for His Glory, and you are already a testimony to His grace.    

Everything about you screams perfection to us, and every last inch of you is put together in a way that brings glory to our God, to the One who made you.   

You are so beautiful.

You expose the lies that this world tries to sell about the standards of beauty and worth for what they are; because your beauty is absolutely undeniable, and your worth has already been determined.

Your father and I know that one of our biggest challenges in raising you will be staying out of your way.  We have noticed your determined nature, and we know that you will be fully-equipped for every good work that He has planned for you.

We do not see you as "disabled".  We see you in the light of His Truth and His Word - we see you as Gifted, as Designed, as Purposed. 

But our love will not be Enough.  

There will be times in your life when Mommy won't understand, 
or when Daddy won't be able to "fix it".  

And while we may fail you, Your Father never will.

He is the Hope, the Help, and the Healer.  

He brought you into to this family, 
And you can join His.
I speak of this from experience.  

We love you, Haven.
And we celebrate you.  

You are our gift; 
and your gift has now been multiplied...  

Because you led us
 directly to your brother,

who is now our oldest son.  

And while Aaron's letter is still being written
it begins here - with the Hope that you have shown us.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."   

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ADOPTING TWO: Our SON with Dwarfism!

We are overjoyed to announce 
that in addition to Haven

we will be bringing home 
a 2-year-old little boy 
with dwarfism from China!

In order to explain what has happened here, 
we need to tell you about our other son 
who went to be with Jesus last week.

This story is his legacy.

This is the story of our family... 
of broken people walking towards Home. 


I recently received a message from a missionary friend serving in China who is a Sister to me.  Her family actually adopted the first boy I ever advocated for in Ethiopia.  

"I thought about you and Haven a lot yesterday.  I spent the afternoon at the orphanage in our city.  There is a new baby...he has dwarfism.  He has a lot of health problems and is very weak..."

My heart skipped a beat as I opened the pictures.  His future looked dim, but this email was presenting an opportunity to change that.  

What if he was adopted?  I knew that in order for this to happen, a family would have to personally petition the orphanage director to create a file for him and then hope to be matched with him - all very unlikely and extremely difficult.  

Nevertheless, I sent the pictures to Paul.

And we knew.

This was our son, 
and we would fight for him.

We wrote back, asking her to petition the director for his file on our behalf.

"Please tell them to get me his file...His name will be Aaron...this is our son."

I sent several emails to set an adoption process in motion;  then I pushed back my chair, walked into the den, and got on my knees in the exact same spot where I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ not too long ago.  And I pleaded for Aaron.  

"Please Jesus, bring our boy home."  

Then I sat in silence at the Mercy Seat, still on my knees.  I felt a strange assurance; it was as if Aaron was already home.  That night, I fell asleep in prayer while staring at his picture.

"Bring him home, Jesus...
Bring him HOME."

And He did.  

Around 11 am, while I was praying in petition, Aaron's lungs flooded with fluid and collapsed, and he died.  

As I read this news, my heart broke and filled with joy simultaneously.  Whole, complete, and no longer in pain, our son entered the presence of Jesus Christ and was renamed once again by His Maker, while this mother whispered prayers of redemption.    

We FAIL these children over and over again, 
and yet He never does.  

Nothing is lost in Him.  

Not this baby. 
Not the others we have "lost". 

They are Home.  

We are the ones who wait, 
and we do it in the certainty of Hope.  

The missionary saw a glimpse of this Hope more clearly than I could have at the time:

"I believe, if only for a few hours, Father allowed that boy to have a Mommy."


That same day, we heard there was a new file for a waiting 2-year-old boy with dwarfism.  We requested the file but I could not bring myself to open it, because the only funeral that would be occurring for Aaron was currently underway in my heart.

I opened Haven's file instead, 
and read her story for the thousandth time.

I thought of my beautiful girl
waiting for 6 years.


I thought about what I would give for the chance 
to have lifted her out of that crib years ago,

to have traded the years of waiting 
for a waiting family.

Just like Moses and Miriam.

I thought about what I would give 
to have brought her home when she was two, 

which was the year that all the hope 
seemed to disappear from her pictures...


 I realized that I would trade anything for 
a chance to rewrite her story...

But I am not the Author.

So with trembling hearts, 
we opened his file, 

And Mercy was granted.

Paul and I agreed; 
the yes had been written on our hearts long ago, 

and this story about a boy and a girl 
was strangely familiar...

This past Monday, 
we were officially "matched" to our son.

And so it is with great pride
 that we introduce our legacy,

 Aaron Onesimus Roepnack.

He is two years old 
and he has dwarfism
(and looks great in pink!)

just like his big sister Haven

We chose his name 
because just like Aaron in the Bible,

he will be the brother of Moses and Miriam,

And these children have been 
brought home by way of the desert.

Just like their father, Paul.

Onesimus was the apostle Paul's adopted son, 
who was twice redeemed from slavery.

We pray that Aaron Onesimus will grow up with 
the Word of God on his lips and Christ in his heart;
 because what a story he will have to tell.

One thing is certain...

God's picture of this family
just keeps getting better.

"If we are out of our minds, as some say... is for God...
for Christ's love compels us
because we are convinced that One died for all...
that those who live should no longer live for themselves
 but for Him who died for them and was raised again."


A Home for Haven:

Haven's Facebook Group: