Thursday, March 24, 2016

Countdown to Baby A...Day 6: The Ransom

“It doesn’t make sense!  Why would they charge you so much money for helping a child?  It’s almost like they’re punishing you for doing good.”  These are questions and statements we hear all the time and I’ll admit, the first time we adopted, I didn’t really have a good answer to the big, “Why so much?” question. 

This amount does seem a bit crazy and after hearing the questions from so many people, you start to feel the same way.  But here’s the deal, it absolutely makes sense.

Why?  I won’t get into the gross, messy details, but let me tell you… Adoption fraud is real and the ones who suffer most from this are orphans or in some cases, children who aren’t even true orphans.  Basically, something as sweet as adoption can be turned into a dirty, for-profit business.

So here’s the real story behind our adoption ransom…

Some of our adoption fees, both from the U.S. and India sides, goes to investigate Baby A’s background to make sure she is a true orphan.  A good agency will interview a child’s family and anyone else who may have knowledge as to whether or not a child is a true orphan to make sure everything is legit.  They check backstories and check them again to make sure there is no error behind how the child became an orphan.

From there, the money goes into our background checks, home studies where they interview the entire family (including children), passports, visas, travel and the list goes on and on.

What I’m basically trying to say is this… Every cent of Baby A’s ransom went toward protecting her and isn’t that what matters in this whole thing?

Protection, healing and growth are our number one priority for Baby A so much to the point that, not having met her, we would give our lives for her this very second.  That sounds like a big boast, but it’s complete truth and here’s why… Because we want to comfort and guide her through the many months she’s spent without that parental protection and love… and we will offer that protection to her every day of her life and love her along the way.

While the dollar amount surrounding her adoption may seem ludicrous, please know it’s a ransom we would gladly pay for her or anyone of our children again and again.  They deserve to live in a place of safety, so their innocence can be protected.  Wouldn’t you pay the same ransom for your children? 

I don’t blame anyone for asking such questions or even being shocked at the amount, but I do want people to be encouraged when they hear that amount and know that the adoptive parents, when all is said and done, won’t regret paying a single penny toward completing their family.  In the end, their child will someday be home, or is already home and no amount of money in the world could ever replace that.

Ransom Paid…Baby’s Home…and Now They Can Dream About The Future Together.  What else matters?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Countdown to Baby A…Day 7: You’re So Amazing!

“You’re saving a child?  You’re so amazing!”  This is often what Becca and I hear from a lot of folks, when we tell them we’re adopting.  It’s a nice thing for people to say and while we appreciate the kind words, they can sometimes get to your head.  I’ll admit, there have been times I’ve walked away from those conversations with my chest puffed up and my ego on high.

But here’s the truth… We’re not heroes or saviors or even wonderful, amazing people.  We’re two married people with the same thing placed on our hearts by God and while we realize we’re helping this sweet baby who has very little, we know we will be far more blessed by Baby A than she will be by us.  We knew that before bringing Jeremiah home 6 years ago and he has proven it time and time again.  So much so, that he’s the second biggest reason why we chose to go through the long, agonizing journey of adoption again.

The first reason why we chose to adopt again?  God.  This is further proof why we’re no saviors.  This wasn’t a decision Becca and I thought of one day and said, “Hey, lets go save a baby.”  Why?  Well, we’re very busy and both of us work a few jobs to try to maintain our financial well-being.  We like staying in our comfort-zone and the thought of adding anything to our plates isn’t necessarily attractive to us.

We’re as screwed up as anyone else out there.  We’re selfish and prideful and we screw up a lot…me more so than Becca.

The fact is God put this adoption and Baby A on our hearts.  It was Him!  She was born out of our hearts because, for one reason or another, God saw fit to bless us with her.  She is a gift straight from Him to us and she will continue to be as long as we live.  The only role, although very hard at times, we play in this whole process is that we chose to be obedient to what He called us to.

While it’s been difficult for us at many times over the last 2+ years, He’s stood right beside us and has gone before us throughout this entire journey.  You want a hero in this whole story?  Look up.

Make no mistake, we appreciate those kind words and encouragement.  We really do!  And know we don’t walk around thinking we’re terrible people, unworthy of a “Good job” every once in a while.  We know we are doing some good in the world, but we want the credit and praise placed not on us, but right where it belongs… and that’s on the One Who put this whole crazy plan in motion.

We thank God for this opportunity to parent such a sweet little innocent child and again, know she will teach us far more than we could ever imagine… and that’s honestly all we could hope or ask for through being her parents.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Easter Reflection

As I reflect on Easter, there is an incredible amount to think about.  Obviously I think about Jesus dying for me and that incredible act of forgiveness.  I relish in that and thank him over and over again.  But given my past, it’s still extremely hard for me to accept that forgiveness.  Why?  Well throughout the last 10-20 years, I've become an agent of guilt.  I’ll choose to dive into lustful things, selfish things, really…any sinful thing and come out feeling like trash.  In turn, I tend to parent that way hoping my children will feel guilty enough about their transgressions that they won’t dare do it again.  Now this isn't a conscious decision to parent this way.  I've conditioned myself into thinking it will work.  It’s sad really because my guilt doesn't ever make me repent, it makes me feel sorry for myself and angry at myself and I end up diving into sin all the more.

This year I went to a local church for an event called, “Stations of the Cross.”  There were 9 stations following Jesus from the garden to His exit from the tomb.  At each station, we had an opportunity to pray to Christ, thank Him for His sacrifice and answer questions pertaining to the scripture on each wall and what Jesus was currently going through.  It was extremely moving and caused me to really think about where I’m at these days and how I view the sacrifice Christ made for me.

As I went through each station, a common theme began to take form.  Jesus lived each station I was walking through and each station had me wanting Jesus to stop doing these things for me.  I know…it sounds crazy, but I literally found myself wanting to get in His way and let him see who was saving, thinking it would make Him stop.  I honestly envision it this way…

As Christ prayed to His Father at the Garden, I found myself wanting to talk God The Father out of this whole “Die for my Sins,” thing.  I picture it like this, “God.  Hey it’s me, Charlie.”  He responds, “I know.  I created you.”  I should have seen that one coming, but I go on… “God, I realize you love me and created me the way I am, but I have to ask you to put a stop to this.  Jesus is following you blindly here.  I mean, He knows what is going to happen, but reward Him for His faith and please put a stop to this.  I’m not worth it!!!”  As soon as I say those words, He disappears.

The next thing I know, I’m standing next to Pilot as he addresses the angry crowd surrounding Jesus.  I listen intently to the conversation, disgusted by the crowd’s chants, but beaming as I hear Pilot say he finds no reason for Jesus to be crucified.  I find myself elated and relieved that Pilot was about to put a stop to something not even God The Father was willing to do.  But then Pilot washes his hands and before I can even whisper in his ear and plead Christ’s case, he releases him to the angry mob.  As I start to yell Pilot’s name, he disappears along with everyone else.

Instantly, I find myself in a crowd of monsters witnessing Jesus wearing a crown of thorns shoved deeply into His brow as He is savagely beaten, insulted, spit upon and whipped repeatedly with a Cat-of-Nine-Tails.  I try to scream loud enough to be heard over the angry crowd, “Jesus!  Son of God!!!  Release yourself and flee!  Please Lord!  PLEASE!!!”  I scream louder and louder as each drop of blood and flesh thrown from the Cat of Nine Tails, soak up one of my sins.  “JESUS STOP THIS!  YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO IT, SO PLEASE PUT AN END TO THIS!!!”

In the blink of an eye, the crowd, the guards, Jesus and everyone else is gone and I’m left sitting in the pool of Jesus’ blood.  With His screams of agony still fresh in my brain, I immediately grab any kind of cloth or fabric I can find and try feverishly to clean the area where The Son of God was nearly beaten to death.  I wipe and scrub as fast as I can, but nothing is happening.  I scrub harder and harder to the point of my fingers breaking, but nothing soaks up the blood.  I cry out to God, “He is faithful!  He’s been faithful almost to the point of death!  Please stop this!!!”

The tears rolling down my face are suddenly gone and I open my eyes to see Jesus falling down repeatedly as He tries to carry the cross built for His death.  I try to bust through the crowd in hopes that I might whisper into His ear, “There’s still time.  Save yourself, Jesus.  I’m not worth all this.”

Just then the guards grab a man from the crowd and order Him to carry Jesus’ cross.  Again, my hopes quickly arise, as now Jesus has an opportunity to slip into the crowd, to disappear, to never be seen or beaten or mocked again.  He can be free of this death and I can go home, not having witnessed anymore.  But with one look from Jesus, my hopes are crushed.  While dragging his own shredded body through the streets, His look simply says, “It’s time and you are worth it.”  I cry out and scream, “Jesus NO!  I’m not!!!  I’m not!!!  Please Lord, NO!!!”  The grief is too much and I fall.

I awaken to the sound of hammer on nail…hammer on nail…hammer on nail.  As I begin to open my eyes, I feel my arms thrashing violently over and over.  As my vision becomes clear, I see one of my hands swinging a hammer and the other holding a nail.  I’m the one nailing Jesus to this cross and I can’t stop!  I begin to vomit and for every purge I strike the nail even harder.  I look to Jesus expecting to see him cry out in pain with each strike, but He calmly looks into my eyes and says, “Yes, your sins put me here, but do not weep for me, weep for yourself.”

I back up and fall to my knees.  I don’t want to witness this!   I want to run away, but my legs won’t move!  I sit and watch as the cross is dropped into the ground, hoping it will break and Jesus might somehow finally be freed…but it doesn't.

I lay there for hours watching, weeping, and hoping there is still some way out for The Son of God.  Then I hear Him say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  There it is!  I again have hope!  My legs are swiftly renewed and I run to the cross.  “You’re wrong, Jesus!  I knew I was sinning when I lied.  I knew I was sinning when I looked at porn.  I knew I was sinning when I turned my back on you, when I was selfish, when I did wrong.  Get down from there!  I’m not worth it!  I’M not worth it!  I’M NOT WORTH IT!!!!”  With my last screaming attempt to rescue him, my voice goes silent.  I try and try, but I can’t even make the slightest whimper.

At that moment, Christ looks down at me and with His eyes filled with relief and promise, He whispers, “It is finished.”

At the tomb, I weep.  Not for Jesus, but for me.  For my loss of innocence…for my lack of faith…for my doubt…for lost time with my wife, my kids, my family & friends.  I weep for not stopping to speak to a stranger in need...for being selfish.  Ultimately, I weep for not embracing what Jesus, My Savior, set out to do for me.

The last Station of the Cross, Jesus showed himself to His Disciples, fulfilling the promise He made…that He had beaten death and was still alive.  Today and everyday going forward, He has and will continue to show He is still alive and that every sin, every iniquity, and every misstep from here to eternity is paid for.

Right now, I feel myself being asked the same questions the Disciples were asked after Christ’s death and resurrection.  Will you hide in fear?  Will you seek the lost?  Will you be my hands and feet?  Will you not only accept what I have done, but believe it as well?  Will you take up your cross?

Will I take up my cross?  I will, but it won’t be easy.  All too many times, I've thrown boxes and any other crap I can find, directly on my cross, so I don’t have to carry it.  Why?  Well, simply because often times it seems a lot easier to play the part of a Christian…to act like everything is perfect in my life…to act like I don’t sin, so I don’t have to actually carry my cross.  Living out my faith can and does take me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to change.  Change takes a lot of work and when you've been so lazy for so long, the weight of that cross seems like way too much to carry.

That weight will only increase, if I try to carry it all on my own, but this Easter has reminded me that I don’t have to carry it on my own.  Look, I’m not saying I won’t have to work hard to change things, but I know if I give Jesus the opportunity to change me, He in turn will help carry the weight of that cross.  I don’t know about you, but that makes me smile a whole bunch.

Since Easter, I've decided to make a lot of spiritual, mental and physical changes.  I've set goals in all those areas, but the biggest is to spend time with Jesus and surrender guilt because without attaining those goals, every other thing I set before me will be futile.  Oh…and I’m already making steps in dropping the unconscious “parent by guilt” thing, so my kids can learn from their mistakes, while living with joy.  I figure that’s pretty important.

So here’s where you come in, if you’re up for it… I’d really appreciate it if you’d take some time to pray for me, that I will allow Jesus and His sacrifice to take hold in my life more and more every day.  And if you’re up for a challenge, I not only invite you to think about what changes you can make in your life as you reflect on Easter, but to actually take steps to change in those areas .

Cheers to “Christian New Years” when we are reminded of Jesus’ gift of a new life and embracing our chance to live it out!  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rummage Sale, Saints, and Adoption

Have you ever felt blessed beyond what you deserve?  Have you ever sat at your desk at work and found your eyeballs filled with tears?  Not because of some inspirational, heartwarming video you watched on YouTube or Facebook, but because something so incredible and heartwarming was actually happening to you?  I have.

About a month ago, we put the announcement out to our church that we were going to have an Adoption Fundraiser Rummage Sale and asked people to donate anything they may have lying around the house, so we could raise money for our adoption.  This wasn’t our first go-round with this type of fundraiser, as we did it back in early 2009, before we adopted our sweet little Ethiopian Prince, Jeremiah.  Back then, we had numerous people donate a bunch of stuff and one friend made countless trips to our house with cars-full of great things to sell.  The end result...over $700.  Pretty cool, huh?

Well this time, we had no idea what we were in store for.  First, I had friends contact me within a minute of posting our request on Facebook and within 3 weeks, our community…nay… our church family, had filled our larger-than-most shed at church.  2 days before our sale, I put the request out to my poker buddies and they jumped into action, as well.  It was pretty cool, but the real surprise came when we started laying out everything for the sale in our church sanctuary.

IT WAS FULL!  Granted, our sanctuary isn’t huge, but it was friggin full!  2 X-Boxes, 2 Bean-Bags the size of Montana, vases, lamps, a couch, enough clothes to fill the Grand Canyon (slight exaggeration), TVs, books, kids toys, a bike, sports equipment, etc…  Pretty much everything you could think of and, to top it off, a woman from our church who bakes for a living, made 2 huge chocolate cakes and cookies to sell.  Did I mention my brother from another mother, Jeff, made his famous Ocean Rolls for us to sell?  Again…pretty cool.

So we set up Thursday night for a Friday morning sale.  The late night and short rest quickly turned to morning, so with exhaustion setting in, Becca and I left for church.  After a few last-minute tasks at the church, I kissed my wife and off to work I went. 

Within 25 minutes, people were banging on the church door, asking my wife to get in early.  Headache-ridden and overwhelmed, my wife texted me asking for prayer because she was already at the brink of breaking down.  A few minutes later, I received this text, “Just started crying….pray for your dumb stressed out wife! Ly” (Note:  She was never this overwhelmed before three kids.  Go figure.)  A few minutes later, our resident “Fix-All Lady” Donna showed up, took over, and let Becca regroup.

That’s when it hit me at the office…eyes-welling, knowing how God has surrounded us with incredible people.  Becca continued to send me texts of more people showing up to help, people donating extra money on top of what they were already spending, and how her headache had disappeared.  I may lose my ‘Man Card’ for admitting this, but I just kept welling up throughout the day.

As if generosity hadn’t been heaped on us enough that day, our friend/neighbor Shawna, helped us clean up for about an hour, picked Emmy up for school, and brought us dinner.  Seriously, what is wrong with all these nice people?  I thought our culture is supposed to be full of “Me Monsters” who only care about themselves.  Our friends clearly did not get that memo.

A long story, short…we drove away from the church after the Friday/Saturday sale completely exhausted, but with a little over $2,000 toward our adoption…and we haven’t even sold the 2 X-Boxes yet.

The following day at church, we had the opportunity to share with and thank our church family.  They gave us a mic and we set out to try to put into words what their kindness did for us.  I’m terrible at public speaking and I may or may not have gotten choked up while speaking, which made my attempt even more pathetic.  (I think I actually squealed at one point…pathetic!)  To be honest, I’m still not exactly sure what I said, so here’s my second (less teary, more coherent) attempt to thank everyone.

First off, THANK YOU!  The time and great sellable items are far more than what we could have ever asked for.  When we went to our first adoption seminar, they told us, “If God is calling you to adopt, don’t worry about the money.  He will provide it!”  And He did.  We came in with the same mantra this time around and guess what?  He is providing again and I have no doubt, He will continue to do so.

By no means am I comparing what we are doing to what God has done for us, but I like to explain it this way…  Jesus’ death on the cross, His incredible sacrifice, paid our ransom.  At the moment He breathed his last, we were no longer orphans, but sons and daughters.  Our ransom was, and is, forever paid!

Adoption, at least internationally, is extremely expensive, but Becca and I see it as a ransom we pay to forever (or at least as long as we live) receive our son or daughter.  Through this, many people have told us how incredible we are for “saving” this child.  That’s where the tiny comparison of Christ and us quickly diminishes.  Yes, it is a sacrifice when you spend so much time and money to complete an adoption, but we truly are far more blessed by our new son or daughter, than they will ever be by us.  That is an unquestionable fact. 

When we set out to adopt our eventual son, Jeremiah, we never thought, “Man, its sure going to be great when we save this child.  He better never take us for granted because without us, who knows what would have happened to him!”  Why?  Well, (1) God could have picked anyone to be Jeremiah’s parents, but He chose us to be blessed by this incredible boy.  He chose us to raise this sweet boy and that is an incredible gift!  (2) We wanted another child to love and to love us…not owe us for something God put on our hearts.  (3) The call to adopt is not for the weak at heart.  It’s not some Slam-Dunk, Save the World so we can look good, sort of thing.  It’s hard and it sucks a lot of the time.  When you sit and wait for answers on the well-being of your child a half-a-world away, you realize how much that child means to you…how much you love him.  Any thought you might ever have had about them “owing you” vanishes at that moment.
Basically, we can’t take pride in “saving” our next child because God is the one behind the “saving.”  He’s saving Becca and me from not fulfilling His plan for our lives.  He’s saving Emmy, Jeremiah and Levi from being short a sibling.  He’s saving us from not reaping the rewards of being obedient.  Really…He’s saving our family from being incomplete. 

So when I tell our family and friends, “Thank you for helping pay the ransom for our next child,” please know I say that, giving full credit to the “Hero” in this story…Jesus Christ.  Becca and I are by no means “Saviors.”  We are simply saying yes to what God is calling us to do (Something I’m not very good at, mind you.)  The paid “ransom” and “saving” is and will continue to be handled by my Jesus…and that suits me just fine.

To our Water Church family and friends, thank you.  Thank you for giving your time and possessions to help pay that “ransom.”  But mostly, thank you for allowing me to encounter one of those feel-good, heartwarming moments that can make my eyeballs fill with tears.  Not on YouTube or Facebook or Vimeo or anywhere else on the internet…  But smack-dab, face-to-face, in the flesh, right in front of me.  Your selflessness this past month and especially this past weekend, has showed me how well surrounded our family is with Saints and God’s all-encompassing goodness.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Adoption Update: Special Needs? Wait...what Kind of Special Needs?

A big apology to all two of my blog followers.  I realize I haven't posted in almost 3 months and, much like the rest of the world, you're on pins and needles waiting for my next post.  Now that we're out of the 1-Bedroom 700 sq ft house, my big stupid brain has more room to think, soooo here's what you've been waiting for.

Apparently, the twists and turns of life are not over.  Apparently I was wrong when I was young and thought I'd have everything figured out by 35 (granted...I don't turn 35 for another 3+ months, so there's some hope).  Apparently God isn't done teaching me lessons (go figure).

My latest lesson, which I shared at church a couple Sundays ago is this...I'm selfish.  Yes, selfish.  Now before you jump on the phone and call the local newspaper in shear shock, let me explain (kidding, of course).

I've always known I was "a bit" selfish.  I've put myself first plenty of times and manipulated many people to get what I want, so figuring out that I was selfish wasn't a huge step for me.  But recently, I had a conversation with my wife that rocked me, even though it was one of the simplest conversations we've had.

So here we go...  About a month ago, my wife and I decided we wanted to "officially" start the adoption process and that, this time, we would open the door to a "special needs" child.  Becca asked me what special needs I was comfortable with and I answered candidly.  Now you can't really fault us on this, as it's a huge decision and I realize this sounds harsh, but trust me... this wasn't a case where we created some sort of shopping list for our next child.  This was an honest question which I thought I was ready to answer, until I actually did.

I started off with, "Lost limbs, cleft pallet (easy fix BTW), mild-deformity and.."  Becca cut in, "What about down syndrome?"  Obviously, I was caught off guard, but answered honestly.  "They're (yes, I said "they're", like people with down-syndrome are some separate species) ... so much fun, but sometimes they never leave the house.  I mean, I want to retire someday and travel with you."  Aaaaaand that's where it hit selfishness.  (Note:  There is nothing wrong with retirement and travel.  This is MY conviction.  God calls each of us to care for the widows and orphans.  He doesn't call all of us to adopt.)

In saying those words, I realized I was actually putting retirement and travel ahead of some child who has no one and nothing.  Retirement?!  Travel?!  I'm focused on those things, instead of a child who really has nothing but simple joy in them?  A child who could remind me everyday of the faith and innocence I once had, before the world crept in and setup camp in my brain?  A child that can literally make anyone smile?  A child who God could use to steal away my selfishness and make it disappear?  Needless to say, I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, "WOW.  I'M FREAKING SELFISH!!!"

To make things worse (ok...better), God pointed out to me that literally everything, every sin I've ever encountered and struggled with has centered around selfishness.  Oh the familiar sting of realizing I'm an idiot.

So here I sit, reading stories of highly capable children and adults with down-syndrome who are living and have led perfectly normal lives, while dealing with the constant attack and insult of the word, "retarded" ... knowing I may have to deal with someone calling my "possible" future child that same stupid word.  I try and imagine my response and the best I can come up with is this.

"Sir/Ma'am, my child has down-syndrome.  He/She isn't retarded.  They are full of a joy and innocence which neither of us can possibly imagine.  The only "retarded" person you see in front of you is a man who almost gave up the opportunity to experience this sweet child and build into them.  I hope you have a nice day, Kevin."  (Note:  I randomly picked that name.  Sorry Kevins of the world.)

And that's the truth.  Look, I'm not naive enough to think bringing home a child with down-syndrome will be easy and to be honest, it might not even happen.  I'm not totally ok with the idea yet and maybe that's the point.  Maybe God is just working on me to the point where I'm ok with it.  Our next child may be perfectly healthy, they may have one less arm than me or they may have a cleft lip.  The fact is that I need to not only be ok with whatever child God has for me, but I need to be excited for that moment where I hug that child for the first time.  To be honest, in my mind it's really no different than the moment I met every one of my other children.  I knew there would be hard times.  I knew there might be a moment when they're being made fun of or picked on.  I knew their lives and mine would never be perfect.  So what's stopping me now?  Answer: Selfishness.

For now, I suppose I need to work on this whole selfishness thing and hope that in the meantime, I don't miss out on whatever God has for me on the other end.

Here's where you come in... Please pray for Becca and I, and really our entire family, as we set out on the second of our adoption journeys.  Please pray that whatever child God has for us, that we will be excited about him/her (Emmy really wants a sister).  And please pray that I will take my eyes off the mirror in front of me and refocus them on the One who created me to make a difference.  (That's right...big stupid-brained me was put on this earth to make a difference.  Go figure.)

Oh...and that whole "retirement and travel" thing?  I'm pretty sure when I close my eyes for the last time, I'll awake in the ultimate paradise getaway, complete with an eternal stay.  So yeah, I'm good with that.

Thank you!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tales of a Tiny House

It's been a while since I've posted anything for one simple brain has lost all functionality and will to exist, let alone process enough thought to type even the simplest of words on this dusty computer screen.

Why? you ask.  Well, months ago, my wife and I agreed it would be a great time of bonding for us to move into a 715 sq ft, one bedroom house with our loving family of five, while our new house is being built.  We would live in an eclectic part of town where the river is only 100 yards away, downtown is a lazy 10 minute walk away, and most of all, we could grow closer as a family.  Not to mention, the owners were the only people willing to do a month-to-month lease and we could save a little extra money for our down-payment.  Yes it would be tough having to shed some alone time and a bit of privacy, but man would it be worth it!

Cue the prick of Captain Hook's sword in my back, as I willfully walk the plank.  I'm ready to fall, nay...jump into the shark-infested sea below.  Hopefully, they don't toy with their prey too much before ending my existence, but if they do, it still won't be as bad as the bites sustained by the... constant tiptoeing over creaky, uneven floors...or the nights when Levi sleeping (or not sleeping I should say) in the same room as his older siblings, keeping them (and us) up all hours of the night...or the lack of a retreat to escape the forever-running mouth of my 4 year-old ("Daddy, can I have a snack?  Daddy, watch this!  Daddy, can you get me some water?  Daddy, watch this!  Daddy, can I play with my legos?  Daddy, watch this!  Daddy, watch THIS!  DADDY, WATCH THIS!!!!  Daddy, why are your ears bleeding?)  I could go on, but you get the point.

Yes, the plank has never looked so inviting before now.  Please understand, I look forward to seeing Jesus when I die.  I do!  But I've always wanted to stay on this earth long enough to walk Emmy down the aisle on her wedding teach my kids how to play sports, ride a bike, instill love, patience, and strength into each of them.  Now...not so much.  "Excuse me, Mr. Reaper.  You have a call from a Charlie Beal on line one."

"Come on, Charlie.  It can't be that bad." 

"I'm sorry.  What?  I can't hear you.  Come a tiny bit closer, so I can smack you in the mouth.  A little closer.  A liiiiiittle closer."

Have you ever shared a Kleenex-sized bathroom with 4 other people?  Have you ever had to put off making sandwiches (on a 10" x 10" portion of counter space mind you) because you were afraid of waking your children in the next room?  Have you ever tippy-toed across a floor, as if you were avoiding lasers while robbing a museum, in order to not wake your sleeping wife?  Have you ever been in the same room as your children for every waking hour you're not at work?  Have you ever changed right in front of your living room window (that's where our dresser is) at the risk of your neighbors seeing you naked, because closing the window equates to instant claustrophobia?  As Becca says, "It's like a never-ending camping trip in a really nice tent!"  Shall I go on?

Have I mentioned we still have 3 months (best case scenario) left in the tiny house?  I've never been a big fan of "hard-alcohol," but at this point, an IV with a constant flow of Jack Daniels sounds intriguing.

To top it off, I'm pretty sure Levi hates me now.  Before moving, I was 'The Man' when it came to putting him to bed.  I'd sing one song to which he would reply with his cute little hands bumping together, "Mo Mo."  I'd sing another song, "Mo Mo."  After the third song, I'd rock him slowly and he'd eventually give me a kiss and lean toward his crib.  Within 5 minutes, he was asleep and Becca and I were hanging out.

When I try (Key Word: Try) to put him to bed now, there's weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Seriously!  It's like there's an alien trying to escape his body.  (Googling Exorcism)  To make matters worse, I'm pretty sure he flipped me off last night...and not just with one hand.  Apparently, my plan of having him watch 'The Departed' to get him sleepy was a bad choice.

So here I sit befuddled by life's choices.  Choices Becca and I thought were good.  Choices we felt would bring our family closer.  Choices which have culminated in me waking up in a cold sweat after dreaming my kids were beating me to death with a bunch of tiny houses made of legos.

To our house-builders...please hurry.  To our family and friends...please pray.  To my coroner...let me save you some time.  Cause of Death: Lethal combination of Tiny House and Children (otherwise known as "THC").

PS... James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

While I'm frustrated with our current situation, I absolutely believe we will look back on this time with fond memories and a new appreciation for what God has and continues to bless us with.  But seriously, you should pray that we find more joy than pain in our current trial. 

PSS... Last night (really this morning), Levi kept Becca and I up until 3:00 and 1:30 respectively...I woke up at 5.  Yay perseverance...kinda! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Here We Go Again...Adoption 2.0

"Hey Charlie!  I realize you just sold your house, you're moving into a 720 sq ft 1-bedroom house with a family of five, and your offer just got accepted on another house, but I have an idea...adopt.  Yes, adopt!"

"I'm sorry...what?"

Yep, the words you see above are downright crazy.  Some might even say stupid.  But when God speaks, I tend to listen.  Don't give me that look!  I always listen, but I may not always obey, especially in crazy times such as this.  But here we are.  The call has been made and it's time I answer.

"But Charlie, WHY?!" The last time you guys adopted, it sent you into a tail spin of debt and stress.  The only reason you sold a house you're happy in is to settle your debt.  And now...NOW you want to set yourself up for that again?!!!"

You're so vain.  You probably think this post is about you.  Don't you?  Don't you?

No, those critical, Doubting Thomas, and really...somewhat appropriate questions written above are from me

So to answer my own questions one word, youredamnright.

Sorry for the whole "damn" thing, but it feels appropriate.  When you've fought something you know is right for so long, you tend to cuss.  Well, I do.  Sorry Mom and Dad.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not approaching this whole adoption thing, like "It's ok if we build up a bunch of debt for an adoption.  Let's break out the credit card apps and roll, baby!"  I know we have to change some things to change some lives and (Becca, cover your ears) if that means skipping some rounds of golf or a guys weekend trip, that's ok.  (Becca.  Becca!  You can uncover your ears now.)

So let's go back to that whole "Why?" thing. one word, Jeremiah.  Yes, my little Ethiopian Prince.  My sweet, fiery son who's purpose, at least in his younger years (prayerfully), has been to teach me patience.  To teach me that I'm still able to pull my hair out even right after I shave my head.  To teach me that I can hear the same question 57 times in 15 minutes without putting my fist through a wall.  To teach me that crying and screaming in a very public place such as Target, Church and wherever you might imagine is a degree.  To teach me that getting hit or kicked in the "man area" is tolerable (yes, vomit is forming in my mouth at the very thought).  But above son has taught me that I can love any child God has called me to, as my own.

"We get it, Charlie.  You love your son...he's cool...yada yada yada, but why would you risk falling back into debt?"  Oh, that pesky question!!!

Ok, you might be a little frustrated with my answer, but here we go... Why not?  Yes, why friggin not?!!!  Look, I get frustrated with the stress of life and sometimes even with my family.  I fly off the handle.  I cuss.  I bitch.  I moan.  I look at other men who are single and sometimes envy them because their lives seem a bit more carefree.  I struggle with stuff I know I shouldn't.  I screw up and don't have things in order nearly at much as I would like.  But if I wait for the point where I'm perfect, before I actually help someone, I'll help no one because it will never happen.

So again...Why not?  You see, God has given me a heart to love on people.  A heart to pick children up who may not know what's going on, even though a big nasty world is crumbling all around them.  A heart to do right, even when I can't muster the energy to do so (I rarely succeed in this area).  A heart to do something that may be seen as foolish in the eyes of the world because I feel called to (again...I rarely succeed in this area).  Really...a heart for those who are hurting because I've been someone who has hurt.  I know the burn.  I know the regret.  I know the sorrow and the longing for something better.

Now that last paragraph isn't a "Praise Me"sort of thing.  Trust me...I fall short plenty more times than I do well.

What I'm trying to explain here is that I'm far from perfect, but it seems foolish not to help someone.  Knowing my love for my own children, it seems foolish not to offer that same love to another child.

So here's where you come us out.  Look, adoption is extremely expensive and I could easily buy the truck of my dreams for less than the cost of adopting a sweet child.  But I don't want your money, unless you feel called to help us out in that way.  What I really want is your prayers.  Throw our names and desires up to the heavens if you will.  Anytime you see a helpless or downtrodden individual, pray for them and after that, pray for our next child.  Heck, if it helps, pray for a sweet soul who will run up and hit or kick me in the "junk."  Ahhh...I can see I've stuck a cord.  So whatever it takes to inspire you, please lift our family up in prayer and ask for wisdom as to where our fourth child lies and how God can provide a way to get to him or her.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.  Cheers to many more years of providing love to the little ones in our lives and cheers to you for joining us in this adventure.