Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You've Got Questions, I've Got Answers!

We have learned quite a lot in the last 5 weeks as we have very quickly gone from talking about "someday" to planning and preparing for THE day that will come in August. One of the things we've learned is that when the word adoption is used, many questions ensue. We welcome all questions that are honest and thoughtful. Here's an attempt to answer some of those questions en masse:

This seems kind of sudden. What led to this?
Though this might seem sudden, I assure you it is not. For a little bit of background, read this link. Adoption has been on my heart for years and years. The Lord graciously brought our hearts together on this issue in a very sweet way. Someday we'll share that testimony.

I thought you wanted to go the international route?
Yep. I thought so too. But things changed one Friday night last fall when one of my dearest friends prayed with me after I expressed much of my heart to her. When I woke up the next morning I knew that I had to confess my plans to the Lord and then surrender them. He kindly and gently showed me that He was the Creator of families and that He had a perfect plan for us and for any child(ren) He would trust to our care whether biologically or through adoption. The Lord then made it very clear through His Word that we were to wait. And so we did.

Why Open Adoption? Isn't that weird?Won't your child be confused?
We love the idea of open adoption. The thing about adoption is that it is always a result of profound loss for birth parents and the child. Though we are currently in a season of great joy and excitement, we recognize that our sweet birth mom is in a season of very complex emotions and we grieve for her. We also grieve for the families who were told "no." We can clearly see how open adoption will greatly ease the pain of loss for both our birth mom and our baby as the years pass. I'm sure it could be weird and there might be seasons when we will need more wisdom than others, but we are very thankful for our birth mom whom we already love. No, our child will not be confused. We're not walking into this with a lack of research and we will continue to do much research for the sake of all involved.

When will you tell her that she's adopted?
Well, when do you tell your kids who grandma is? You sort of don't have to. Further, because our daughter is biracial, she will clearly not look like us and so it will be fairly obvious. She will always know that she is adopted, but more importantly she will know she was chosen for us and us for her. She will know the many ways God worked for her good long before she was born.

What about her birth mom?
We love her. She has quickly become very precious to us. Because we greatly respect her very courageous decision to choose life and then choose adoption, we have great respect for her. We ask that everyone respects our desire to protect her and therefore we are unwilling to answer questions about her. She is a brave, brave young woman. That is all you need to know. :)

Can the birth mom change her mind?
Yes, to a point. She will have until baby is discharged from the hospital to change her mind. Once she signs the baby over to our lawyer, she cannot change her mind.

What if she does change her mind?
If this happens, we will likely go through a period of mourning and we will need much support from our friends. Yet we will still see all of this as coming from the Lord for good purposes.

Who chooses her name?
We do. Her name has already been chosen, but we are not ready to share just yet. It was very important to us when choosing her name that we include our baby's birth mom in the choosing process and recognize what the Lord has done in this situation with our choice of name. We were thrilled that our birth mom wanted to participate in the choosing process with us.

I'm sure there are other questions, but hopefully this hits the big ones. We would love to invite all of you to pray for our baby, her birth parents, and us as we travel this path.


Monday, April 20, 2015

A Change In Plans...

I have very few regrets in life. Two, to be exact. One of those regrets is that I didn't enter into a Master's program immediately after my undergrad. For many years I have tossed around the idea of entering a grad program once our youngest starts Pre-K or Kindergarten. Guess what? Our youngest will start Pre-K this fall. Time to start choosing a program! The list was starting to whittle down and I was very close to choosing a school...

And then God gave us something far better-

A man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. 
-Proverbs 16:9

A  message that would prove to change all sorts of plans we were making came to my inbox several weeks ago. The message asked us what we thought about the possibility of an open adoption. Our initial response was to pray. Over the course of the next few weeks it became very clear to all parties involved that we were all a good match for each other. All sorts of small and large details began to come together very rapidly and we wrapped our minds around the fact that we would have a daughter in just 4.5 months. I could write a short book about all of the details that came together at just the right moment, but for now I'll just say that my God is still a God of miracles. We look back at things that have been happening in our lives for the last several years, things that have prepared us for something we never imagined, and we can honestly say, "God was working." We didn't know it, but He was. 

Lord willing, we will bring our daughter home in August. In a short while I will post another blog that will attempt an answer at some of the questions I know some of you might have. But for today I invite you to celebrate with us. There is much reason for great joy!! For the last month or so we have looked at each other with joyfully astonished faces and we can now declare Paul's words with a beautiful testimony behind them- 

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
Ephesians 3:20-21

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joseph, The Also Ran

My heart has been pondering so many things lately, many of which are just between the Lord and myself. Some of you know exactly what I mean because your hearts are in a state of tendering too. Today I ponder Joseph. He often seems like an "also ran" in the narrative of Jesus' life. But as I ponder his life this morning, the tears flow. The Lord doesn't have anyone in His Word merely for his or her own fame and Joseph certainly fits this bill. He's the step-dad. He's the uneducated carpenter from Nazareth. He's the man who listened and obeyed.

I would imagine that having a betrothed return from a trip visibly pregnant would be crushing. I can only imagine Joseph's heart-sickness over this. What did his friends say to him? Was he ridiculed? What did his parents say to him? How very, very hard. But God is so faithful. He spoke plainly to Joseph and worked mightily in his heart and mind. We don't see Mary working to convince him, she simply trusts. She trusts that the Lord will do exactly what He promised and will work in Joseph in the way and time that will cause him to also trust the almost preposterous news that Mary shared with him. Joseph's story is one that clearly shows how able and how trustworthy the Lord is. Joseph's story reminds us that, more often than not, we need to step aside and trust the Lord's work in the hearts of men. His story also reminds us that when the Lord calls us to something that is so far beyond ourselves, so far beyond what seems reasonable, He will provide. He'll work in hearts in just the right way at just the right time. He is the God who does exactly what He says He will do. He is a God we can trust. 

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for her Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet..." Matthew 1:20-22




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BRAT Life

I started to write a really poignant post about being a military kid, but then I thought it would be a whole lot more fun to, well, have fun!

How to know you grew up as a military BRAT-

1. You can easily speak in acronyms.
2. Dad/Mom is not away on business, he/she is TDY.
3. You don't move, you PCS.
4. It is hardwired into you to write the date like this- day/month/year.
5. By 1st grade, you know how to tell military time.
6. You get irritated when people refer to your Dad/Mom's deployment as a "trip." Um. No.
7. You don't go to the grocery store, you go to the commissary.
8. Once you hit your teen years, you start noticing that some of the gate guards are super cute.
9. You know the last 4 of your sponsor's social.
10. When you ask your other military friends where they've come from you don't give the names of cities, you give the names of bases.
11. You often dread the obligatory "Where are you from?" question. Eventually you just start saying the name of the place you either liked the most or lived the longest.
12. People notice that you have a strange accent. That's because it's actually a combination of accents.
13. When other people are impressed with your Dad/Mom's uniform you are unimpressed...they're just work clothes.
14. You've attended enough promotion ceremonies that you can almost recite "the oath" on your own.
15. Family vacations are actually trips to visit extended relatives.
16. You become especially proud upon hearing The National Anthem.
17. You tear up when you see deploying troops at the airport. You acutely know how hard it is to say good-bye.
18. You might walk up to said troops and offer a tear-filled hug because you just know. When they look at you, they know too.
19. You didn't "live" anywhere. You were "stationed."
20. You know rank symbols.
21. When people ask you what your Dad/Mom does, you can't tell them because they can't tell you. But you know you're awfully proud!
22. You've celebrated any holiday, birthday, milestone at an odd time because celebrating together was more important than the actual date.

Any additions, fellow military brats?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Waiting...

I'm waiting. There have been other times in my life when the Lord has called me to wait, but this is different. In fact, this is the very hardest thing the Lord has ever asked me to do. Wait. Because I don't want the details of my personal situation to detract from this message, I'll spare you the blow-by-blow. But, my guess is that most of you who know me well will know what the "wait" is all about. To say this is hard is really an understatement. There are times when I find myself bursting into tears for what seems to those watching like no reason at all. Only a few who are very close to me really know the extent of this and that is okay.

When I was a small child I felt extremely drawn to a certain thing. When I was in college, I knew the Lord was calling me to it. To put the time into perspective, I graduated almost 13 years ago. It's already been a long wait and the fact is, the wait will likely be even longer. It's a sanctifying process for sure and the emotions surrounding this waiting have recently reached a bit of a high. But, God is faithful. He is. He is faithful, He is sovereign, and He knows. He knows timelines. He knows boundaries. He knows situations. More importantly though, He knows hearts. He knows how to change hearts. He is trustworthy. He knows the appointed time. (Psalm 75:2)

I recently read a most amazing article that I encourage all of you to read. (Read the article here.) The Lord has continually reminded me that waiting time is never wasted time in His economy and He is always working. The author of the TGC article articulated 2 points that came around me like a firm embrace. 1- Waiting instills in us that we are completely dependent on the Lord. At this point, there is absolutely nothing I can personally do put an end to the wait. 2- The doctrine of God's sovereignty is not just a platitude, it is what I am living in a practical way. I am learning to lean completely on Him and not my own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) This is hard. Everything within my flesh wants to make something happen. And so, as Robinson says, my prayer has become, "Lord, sanctify my waiting." Knowing that God is fully at work gives me such hope, such excitement about this. But, I sure would like to know the end of this story NOW.

Yesterday in church we sang the popular tune, In Christ Alone. When we came to the line, "...from life's first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny" I was nearly overcome. Yes, yes He does! Not only does He command my destiny, He commands the destiny of all who are involved and all who will be involved in this wait and so I have much, much hope in Him. But, I still might burst into tears every so often. :) My guess is that many of you may also be in a season of waiting. May you be sanctified in your wait. May you be greatly encouraged and strengthened as you wait. May the Lord make you strong and courageous through His word and through His sovereignty.


Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14


Sunday, September 21, 2014

To Draw An Analogy

Some of you are too young to remember the analogy section on the SAT. It's a real shame that the College Board decided to drop that part of the test. Certainly I'm not the only one who actually liked that section, right? It was actually really fun- Crumb:Bread::Splinter:____. Wasn't that fun? (The answer is wood.) It was my favorite part of the SAT.

"The power of the analogy is that it can persuade people to transfer the feeling of certainty they have about one subject to another subject about which they may not have formed an opinion." 
-Adam Cohen


Some of you may have also seen an analogy that has been floating around social media for a few weeks. Set up in SAT analogy terms, it looks like this- ISIS:Islam::Westboro:Christianity. To be sure, this is a well-meaning analogy that is certainly meant to draw a distinction between extremists and moderates. But this analogy has some serious flaws that greatly diminish the danger ISIS poses as well as the suffering ISIS causes. It's a very weak analogy at best and a dangerous one at worst. Based on the Cohen quote, this analogy has the potential power to persuade people. Persuade them of what? Perhaps persuade them that ISIS isn't so bad. Or that Westboro is really dangerous. But that doesn't really make a lot of sense, does it? Hence, it's a bad analogy.

Westboro is a group I have spoken against many times. They wrongly represent Christianity. However, as far as I know, they have not murdered anyone. They've not crucified children, beheaded children, gang raped women and girls, buried people alive, committed mass murder, etc. They are a group of about 40 people who hold up poster-board signs that, though they are mean-spirited, are not bringing about the death of thousands. On the other hand, ISIS is a group of 50,000 and growing. They have been very clear in communicating their mission to kill and destroy. Do they wrongly represent moderate Islam? Sure. But that is where the analogy ends and because this situation is far more complex than a crumbs:splinters analogy, the ISIS:Westboro analogy is weak and dangerous.

To compare ISIS to Westboro greatly diminishes the very serious threat ISIS poses. I mean really, does anyone fear for their life in the presence of Westboro? Further, this analogy seriously diminishes the extraordinary pain and suffering that so many have experienced at the hands of ISIS. Though I don't discount the emotional pain suffered because of the actions of Westboro, I don't know as though mean epithets on poster-board can really be compared to the suffering of one who has endured unspeakable things because of ISIS.

I would argue that just because 2 things are similar in some respects doesn't mean they are similar in all, or even some other, respects. The logical problem with the ISIS:Westboro analogy is that it ignores analysis, and that is a problem. Perhaps this situation is one where the vastly overused Nazi analogy might actually work. It would look like this- Nazis:Average German citizen::ISIS:Average Muslim. But even that analogy has several problems. So, maybe we could all agree that no analogy should be attempted.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In Pleasant Places

We have a little phrase in our house that is oft repeated, especially with little Olson boy #2. It goes like this, "Obedience keeps you safe. If you don't obey my voice, I cannot keep you safe." We don't tell our boys to not run across the parking lot because we want to spoil their fun. We don't tell our boys to keep a distance from the hot oven because we want to crush their sense of exploration. We don't tell our boys to not color on the walls because we want to quench their creativity. We have these boundaries and rules to keep our boys safe. We love them more than life and want nothing more than to keep our boys physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe. We recognize that the Lord has given us a mandate to set boundaries for our children for their good and for His glory. This is why we set boundaries.

Many years ago I heard someone call Christianity the religion of "no." I can see how that could be a perception of Christianity. No drugs. No sleeping around. No cursing. No drunkenness. No sex before marriage. No, no, no... But oh how misunderstood this is! I'm quite certain my children sometimes think I am the Mommy of No. Yet my "no" is never to cause frustration or pain. My "no" is to keep my children from frustration and pain. I love Psalm 16. The psalmist recognized that God's boundaries are good. Very good.

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places..."

Oh that my children would see that the boundaries we have set around them are pleasant! Oh that I would see that the boundaries the Lord has set for me are pleasant. In meditating on the entirety of this Psalm, I realize there is some work that must happen before the boundaries can be seen as pleasant. A correct fear of the Lord and a correct recognition of Who God is must be firmly planted in my heart and mind. A recognition of the fact that following another god, whether that god be wealth, relationships, jobs, [fill in the blank], will only result in sorrow. Not just temporary or isolated sorrow either, but multiplied sorrow. What hope and joy we have in Christ when we see that the boundaries are set in pleasant places. We are promised a great inheritance in Christ! We are given assurance that we cannot be shaken, that the Lord will be continually before us. We will not be alone within those sweet boundaries. Even as we act on convictions that often open the door for ridicule and other unkindnesses, our hearts are glad because we know we are secure in Christ. The boundary lines are in pleasant places and guide us in a path of hope, joy, and peace.

Being a Christ-follower is not a religion of "no." On the contrary, it full of "yes." Yes to hope, yes to joy, yes to love, yes to security. The boundaries are good and pleasant.

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." Psalm 16:11