Monday, November 07, 2011

Soap Dispensers and the Sovereignty of God

Well, now that I have your attention with the title of this blog, let me explain myself. My job finds me visiting people in the hospital from time to time. Sometimes I have the privilege of celebrating the amazing wonder of the gift of new life while other times I am praying over someone facing serious surgery or diagnosis with an more uncertain future. June 2004 was one such time for my family as we were in the midst of praying over our newborn premature child who at 13 weeks premature was fighting for his life. There was one particular day in July 2004 that his delicate body was shutting down and all we could cling to was the one thing we can really ever cling to, the sovereignty of God. You see here is the connection between soap and the sovereignty of God; every day approximately 4 times a day my wife and I would go to the NICU to see our son and before we could ever go back to the room where he lay hooked up to various machines, PIC lines, monitors, and medicines, we had to wash our hands. We went to see him 4-6 times per day as we arranged our new reality around our other son at home and his nap/sleep schedule and the gift of our new sons. 69 days he was in the hospital and we were there at least 4 times/day so we washed our hands approximately, 276 times. I washed my hands so many times the very smell of the soap at that particular hospital takes me back to a place I need to be reminded all too often, a place where my hope is always and only in Christ.

As my wife was wheeled back from emergency c-section on that early summer morning in 2004, I wasn't certain of the outcome. I wasn't certain my wife would survive the surgery, and I wasn't sure I would ever hold my son, so I did the one thing I knew to do; pray. I stood just outside that surgical suite and prayed for my wife and son, I prayed and asked God to protect them. There wasn't anything profound about my prayer, it was rather like the babbling murmurings of a child who needed his D
addy, and I did need my Heavenly Father. I finished praying and positioned myself where I could look through a window in the surgical suite, and as I stood there waiting and hoping I was overcome with emotions and cold with fear so much so that fingertips were cold. After some time passed the doctors emerged, he was born! He was born but no cries, no movement, in fact no life in that moment. The doctors whisked him off to another room and there in that moment I clung to a confidence I felt I had been given from the Lord, he's going to be ok! A confidence that God had a plan for this little boy, a confidence that he was going to be ok. Of course I had no idea what his "ok" was going to be and to be honest I didn't care, he was my son and I loved him before I ever saw him. I loved him when I could not see him or hold him and I would love him when I could do those wonderful things parents get the privilege of doing, holding and beholding the image of God in the creation of a child.

For 69 days this is the promise we held on to, a promise we believed was being fulfilled in God's perfect timing as part of God's sovereign plan for us, for him. We had a son who was part of a story he will never remember except for what we tell him. We had good days and not so good days, ups and downs but one thing never changed, our hope in the sovereignty of God. So now, 7 years later every time I find myself back in that hospital I always wash my hands, I am drawn to it. I am not drawn to in some mystical way, but more just like I need to go wash my hands. I used to think I washed them because I supposed that seems the most sanitary thing to do when you are going to visit people who are not well or have young immune systems. The more I think about it, it seems I go there to wash my hands to remind me of a time when hope in God was all I had to cling to and in that there was freedom and peace. I need to go there (my singular hope in God) more often and if I
thought going there every day for the rest of my life would actually put me in that place of hoping and trusting in the sovereign plan of God I would go there, but it won't. This gives me that hope I long for, John 17,

I can however cling to God's Word and all the promises in his word that remind me of his sovereign plan and find hope there. Right now we are a name amongst other names on a wait list as we wait for referrals for international adoption and smelling the soap reminds me that God is in control of my waiting and his timing is perfect and I need to be reminded of that over and over again. I know we are more than a name and it is more than "just a list" and we have been able to see God's sovereign hand in the process, but it never hurts me to be reminded just how much I need my Heavenly Father.
Smell the soap, hope in Him!

"Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." --James 1:2-8

oh and if you wa
nt to see that promise fulfilled so far...his name is Jack, he's AWESOME!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

A View From Haiti (Tam Style)

(from July 8, 2011)
Today was a terrific and terrible day - all in one! We went to an orphanage that is allegedly run by a Voodoo priestess. She is out of town with two children seeking medical care in Miami, but her daughter allowed us to go in and serve in many ways. Tandy and I spent most of the early part of the day together, sharing an interpreter. The terrific part of the day was being able to paint lots of little girls fingernails while telling them that God loves them so much and made them beautiful; but, that even in spite of His beautiful creation, our sin keeps us from having a relationship with Him unless we have faith that His one and only perfect Son died on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins, then conquered death when God raised Him again. I loved sharing with them that this is a free gift of eternal life when we confess repent and believe! Some of them said they have heard of Jesus before and even said they believed in Him and had given their lives to Him, but it was still an honor to be able to share. We prayed over and held all of the babies, too. Probably another one of my favorite memories was also being able to talk to several of the women working in the orphanage. Many were sweet and nice, but there were two we encountered that seemed to be on the defensive and less than honest or interested when I started speaking of Jesus. The Holy Spirit prompted me to simply slow down with them and try to get more personal - listen more, talk less. I won't say the conversations went super deep, with a translator involved of course, but they certainly softened and both were genuinely moved when we finally prayed over them. When we gave one of them a package of clean water and offered to watch the babies while she went to see Dr. Rick, it seemed like that was the best gift she had received in a long time.

The terrible part of today was of course seeing all of these children with the wrong size shoes on the wrong feet with clothes that didn't fit and hearts that yearned to be loved. Many of them are sick, and some desperately need surgeries which we could not offer them in these circumstances. You can imagine all of the health problems that arise in places that lack good sanitation and enough supplies. Thank you so much to Dr. Rick, Rachel, Kristin, Jesse, and Katie for running the medical clinic. Please pray especially that one boy who needs to have an eye removed would be able to do so soon. One other very difficult thing to see was a 16 year old boy who became blind as he grew up and now cannot see at all. He lives at the orphanage which is an extremely dangerous facility (steel, steep steps, lots of concrete sticking up, no walls on an upper roof deck where they play, etc.). He lays in bed virtually all day long, and his muscles have been to atrophy. Rick, Robby, and Brant taught the boy and one of his friends some exercises to help him regain some strength, physically, but emotionally and mentally, he needs a lot! He is so smart and talented.... and well, this is where I will end on one truly terrific note...

The blind boy has amazing hearing and musical talent. He played a keyboard for us that one of our translators had brought along. We are trying to find a reasonably priced one to buy for him here, but the only new one we could find today was too expensive. The first time I heard him singing while Brant and the translator were playing, the translator said he was singing about how he used to not know Christ, but then God came along and drew him to Himself and now he is walking with God. Then a few minutes later he began playing the keyboard himself and singing I Surrender All - in creole of course, but we all sang along with him in English. It was so amazing! Praise God for letting us be used and be a part of where He is working...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hallelujah, All I have is Christ

Why reinvent the wheel when another has said it so well? Please let these song lyrics wash over you, replay it as many times as you need but understand the truths of this song!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Gasping E-mail...

Today we were driving through town when Tamara was checking her email and all of the sudden I heard an unusual noise coming from the passenger seat. The noise was a mix of speechlessness and something I wasn't quite sure of, so I inquired, "what wrong?" Tamara in a loud overjoyed expression said, "WE'RE ON THE WAIT LIST!!!!" We had prayed that we would get word we were on the wait list prior to Christmas, but Christmas came and went and we figured it would be sometime this week. As it turns out it seems as if it was a little bit of both. The email indicated that as of 12/22 we were officially placed on the wait list but we didn't not receive this email until today, 12/27.

Probably the most moving part about the news came when we told the kids we were officially now on the wait list, they all yelled with excitement and cheered. What a little confirmation of what the Lord is doing in our family. I treasured up that moment for the rest of the day and would imagine that I will treasure it for some time. We made phone calls to some of our friends prior to tweeting the news for the rest of the following world to get word (as if we have a large following). Excitement!

So, what now? We wait! This is after all the nature of the wait list. We know that the average wait time for families waiting on a referral for one child with similar profiles as we have are waiting about 9 to 9 and a half months for a referral. We trust the Lord in our waiting and we know that we could wait longer or we could wait much less time. We are confident in the Lord's timing and we know His timing is perfect. We are so excited to share this news with so many who have been praying for our family and asking so often of where we are in the process. Thank you for your support and prayers, please continue to ask and pray for us as we continue on in this process of expanding our family.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Progressing toward the wait

Last Thursday, Dec 9th, I made a phone call to the FBI, and in God's perfect timing I talked to Michael, who will never know what an encouragement he was to me as I called to ask about the status of my 2nd submission of finger prints for FBI clearance. Michael was able to let me know that my prints had been processed, approved, and gave me a FedEx tracking number which I followed all of Thursday and into Friday when they were scanned "delivered". Inside that FedEx envelope was 17-18 weeks of waiting...approved!

What we have learned from the waiting:

1. God's timing is perfect. We don't have to understand why we wait as we do for different things in life but we must trust that God knows and has a reason for our waiting. We can speculate as to why, some spiritual speculation and some not so spiritual speculation but nevertheless we had a peace about the waiting because we believe that God is in control of our wait.

2. God answers our prayers in so many ways. We prayed for patience and long suffering in our waiting, and God was faithful when so many would ask us if we were frustrated or even assumed we were. God provided grace to be able with truthfulness answer those questions with a reminder that God's timing is perfect and so we wait.

3. God grants encouragement at times in the most interesting ways. I may never talk to Michael again, but my heart was encouraged and my excitement overwhelming as I sat in my truck in a moment of praise and adoration to my great God and King.

What next?

Last Friday, I sent my approval to NY where it meets up with Tamara's approval letter to be authenticated and then from NY it will be sent to Washington D.C. The moment it hits the mail to D.C. we will officially be on the wait list. We are hopeful that we will have an official wait list just prior to Christmas this year. After that, we wait again until the Lord moves and all the while we seek to learn what we are to learn as we wait.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I am Asking For This Year

As most of you know, I was privileged to spend time ministering in Haiti this past summer. My journey took me to a place unfamiliar to me in the midst of the most intense devastation I have ever witnessed. Some 6 months after the earthquake that claimed the lives of so many, our team was sent to help be part of the rebuilding effort. Our training told us that while everyone may not have lost a family member in the earthquake, everyone knew someone who was effected by the severity of this earthquake. We were there to do some rebuilding working alongside Haitians which was wonderful. What we quickly learned is in the midst of such earthly devastation, God was awakening the hearts of His people to Himself for His glory even through the tragedies of the loss of home, property, loved ones, and stability. We met Haitian after Haitian proclaiming the goodness of God to spare them their life and praying that God would use the earthquake to turn the hearts of the people of Haiti to himself. This is what I continue to pray as often as God brings it to mind.

So, how is this relevant today? While we were there, I was again reminded of the excess in which we live, of which I live. I have been richly blessed in virtually every aspect of my life and not only that, I have been blessed for a reason; for a purpose. Psalm 67 remind me that we are blessed to be a blessing as the Psalmist says, "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations." Catch the significance of this passage, the Psalmist prays the blessing of God upon himself that he might make God's ways known on earth to all the nations. I am blessed and in being blessed I am to be a blessing. In recognizing the excess of my life, I have decided this year and by God's grace for years to come, to use occasions where people have the desire to give me gifts to encourage family and friends to partner with me in being a blessing to the nations for the cause of Christ in the lives of those around the world. Below are several ideas of a few things that are on my heart right now as opportunities to invest in the Kingdom of God, and I hope by making them known to you they too will become things you care about at different seasons of your life. I hope to add to this list as time permits more research and as God leads.

One Verse ( is seeking to translate the Bible into languages where there are no known copies of God's Word available. How many bibles sit unused and unopened in your house? I know I have plenty that are unopened and unused while I have several that I use with regularity. Imagine not even having access to God's Word in a language you can understand? Best part, you can give a donation to help this cause as a gift and that would be a wonderful gift for me.

We are in the process of adopting children internationally and there are great costs involved in that as well. Sometimes people give money as a gift. Please know this year any money you give to me as a gift will be helping to bring home a child or children from Ethiopia and in that you will play a part in the process for which I am grateful. God's heart beats for orphans and widows in a unique way and for all those redeemed by the blood of Christ, you too were once orphaned but God has adopted you as a son or a daughter and given you the right to be a child of His.

99 Balloons (, a great organization started by dear friends of ours (Matt & Ginny) after the loss of their son Eliot who lived 99 days on this earth before being united with his Creator in heaven for all eternity. They are doing some wonderful work with and to families who have children with special needs both here and internationally. This would be a wonder way to give a gift knowing the invest you make has eyes that are not fixed on the temporal world but on the world that is to come in Christ.

I have been blessed and I want my life to be a blessing but for a purpose--spreading the fame and the glory of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ here and to the ends of the earth. This is one small way, but it's a start and a continuation of some of what God is teaching me as I broach my 34th year of life.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gladney Approved!!!

Well friends and fam - We have received our official Gladney (stateside agency) approval for our adoption. Now, this does not mean we are on the waitlist yet. We still have to get our dossier (docs that go to Ethiopian embassy) finalized. We sent off another packet of those documents on Friday. We are waiting on the results of our FBI fingerprints and we have to call CIS (customs and immigration) and get our appointment to get that set of fingerprints done. We heard from CIS (via text, no less) that they had received our application on Friday. Wait list times are ranging from 7 months to 8 or 9 months and right now there seems to be several families wanting twins or other sibling groups, so we are going to need some patience and more patience as we wait. But, we certainly trust God's timing in all of it and we are excited to see where the Lord has us this time next year :) We are getting ready to start applying for several adoption grants, so please be in prayer for us with that -

love, tamara