Mary.

Merry Christmas, y'all!  

Advent this year has been so sweet.  Slow in the right ways.  Worshipful and aware, deeply aware, of the hope that is founded in the fact that redemption was made possible because of this babe that came down.  The Word made flesh.

I've spent this season walking through the She Reads Truth Advent study and it has been good for my soul to spend quiet moments most mornings grounding myself in the Truth of the Gospel and really walking through what Jesus came to do here on Earth and the specific and perfect ways He fulfills the role of prophet, priest and king.  For the last week we just read scripture leading up to Jesus' birth and I was overwhelmed by Mary this year.  I can't seem to get her out of my head and I can't help but write here about the way that I have viewed her this year.  First, it started with reading about the angel revealing God's plan to Mary.  From that day's devotional a couple of things stick out.  First, Mary's Son would be great, but in the eyes of the world she no longer would be.  In agreeing to the Lord's plan, she gave up every ounce of worldly identity and pride and image.  The devotional went on to say:  "sometimes God strips away our worldly identity in the process of giving us heavenly ones" and "trusting God means being willing to lose what I call valuable in exchange for what He calls good." .  Y'all. This is good.  Women need to hear this - I need to hear this.

I can't seem to get it out of my head how Mary lost her worldly value and identity in bringing Hope to the world.  And then this, "there was no room for them in the inn".  It may really have been that there were no rooms but I have a feeling I've been reading it wrong all along.  I'd venture to say it was more than "our rooms are all full" and more like "we don't have room for someone like you".  Did people choose not to make room like they would for someone "important" because she was deemed "less than", a pregnant, unwed woman? 

So often that can be us - leaving no room for Jesus because we make room for so many other things.  We stiff-arm Jesus when we see an opportunity for something valuable --- more money, more sleep, a higher position at work or socially. 

And then there's the concept of the least of these.  I'd say unwed mother during those days fit the category.  What do I do with that verse?  You know, the one about caring for the least of these...Ignore it?  Justify that I'm a part of a church that does something about it?  See my kids as the least of these (in their warm beds and trendy clothes) ?  Or, do I realize, fully, deeply realize when I care for those in need, when I go out of my way to love on people different than me (or really, just the same --- we'll get there in a minute), when I look the lady in the eye who asks me for money, when I offer to pray with someone desperately needing Hope --- I'm going face-to-face with Jesus.  I'm interacting with God made flesh.  I want to live it, breathe it, come face-to-face with my Savior. 

Let's not forget that the least of these is me.  And it's you.  We may all live in different places, use different modes of transportation, fall into different tax brackets, have different understanding of "need" but we are all equally broken, equally sinful, equally in need of the Savior of this world.  The one who came to us through one of "the least of these".

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"  --Matthew 25:40

Adoption Update!

Hi Friends!

I guess I left you hanging a bit after our adoption announcement!  How about an update?  Let's go with a numbered list --- my mind is having trouble forming any kind of decent paragraphs.  

  1. Where are we adopting from?  We will be bringing home a baby from China!!  (One of my best friends bought me this globe with a heart around China a couple of weeks after we submitted our initial paperwork...it was such a fun gift and such a sweet way for her to recognize along with me that this was real!)
  2. How long will it take?  Currently our agency has families moving from start to finish in 12-17 months!  This means that we will hopefully be headed to meet our babe between July and December of next year.  Plenty can change along the way so I'm trying not to put all my eggs in the 12-17 month basket but it's hard not to think that way :)
  3. Where are we in the process?  We have completed our home study paperwork and had our first interview this morning!  We spent about six weeks gathering all of our paperwork, reading required books and completing adoption training credit hours.  I feel like our first interview went really well.  Our social worker is clearly gifted at what she does.  As time got closer I felt more and more anxious but she came in and put us right at ease.  She was calm and conversational, nonjudgmental and kind.  Our interview lasted about two hours and we talked through lots of our paperwork, told her how we made the decision to go with our agency, talked about the support we have from family and friends, and got to spend a bit of time talking about our kiddos.  (I also feel like I should record how our morning went just so I can remember.  The kids woke up and we tried to get through our morning routine without tearing the house apart but somehow it looked like a tornado had come through.  I burnt the eggs so bad they were black and smoking when I came back to the kitchen and remembered that I was actually cooking breakfast, we headed to school ten minutes late which was not a great plan considering our social worker was going to be arriving at our house 15 minutes after I got home from preschool drop-off if I hadn't been late --- that left me with about 5 minutes instead of 15.  I also was baking pumpkin bread which I left in the oven while I ran to school.  I tried to hurry the kids along through the rain to be dropped off (read:  I tried to accomplish the impossible - there is no fast setting on kids when you're late...in fact I think they gear down into slow motion) and then hurried back to get the pumpkin bread out with six seconds left to spare on the timer!  I rushed in and thankfully Jordan had arrived a few minutes early and started cleaning up things!  It also helped that she actually had a hard time finding our house (it bought us a few extra minutes :)).
  4. How does it feel like it's going so far?  I know we're only getting started as far as the waiting game so I'm trying to keep my head on straight and not get too worked up about the wait.  I feel like our home study is one of the only parts we can help speed up.  Once we  complete our home study we'll be thrust into a series of waiting periods as we wait to hear from different offices and get forms approved from here to the other side of the world.  But up until now we've had a little more control over how quickly we can get paperwork in, forms notarized, training completed, etc.  I was feeling like we had taken too long on certain parts but this past week we had a fellowship night for the NC families adopting from China through our agency.  It was such a sweet night and a sweet opportunity to meet other people walking through the process and hear their stories.  I felt so much better after talking with lots of these folks to hear that we're not as slow as I was feeling like we were!  The main feeling I have is excitement!  I just can't believe all of this is real!  We talk about it all the time, I think about it anytime I'm not talking about it, and I'm just all together beside myself!

Okay, I know this is a quick update.  I've sat down to write it multiple times and haven't pushed through until now.  I hope to give some more detailed updates soon.  Would also love to answer any questions if there are people curious about things I haven't mentioned yet!  Thanks for following along as we wade these waters.  I've gotten so much encouragement from reading other people's adoption stories so I want to make a point to post about ours as much as I can make time for!  Hopefully the next update will come quickly!