Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dying Well and Adoption

I was listening to Matt Redman's song, "10,000 Reasons" today and it dawned on me that in order for us to die well, we must practice dying well throughout our lives.  It's not something that will just drop into our personalities when our time to die has come.  Let me explain a little bit how this thought dawned on me and also how it relates to adoption.

Redman's song relates how our hearts have 10,000 reasons to be singing praise to God day in and day out, never ending, never fading.  There is no reason for anyone to cease to praise God.  There is always a reason to praise the Lord.  The last verse of Redman's song is where it came to me that we must prepare now to die well.  Here are the lyrics...

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore. 

In this section of the song, he's saying that when the time of death hovers over us, there will, even then, be every reason to sing praises to God as we await the eternal dawning of never ending worship. When that time comes, even in the moment of earthly departure, "my soul will sing your praise unending."  When strength fails, when organs cease to function, when hair is gray and trips to the bathroom become more cumbersome than worth it, God is still worthy to be praised.  How then do we look forward to the day when we can glorify God in our death?  How do we know that when our time has come, we WILL sing praise unending?  I think the way we die for the glory of God is by living for the glory of God now.  

When morning dawns, is praise on our lips?  When darkness falls, is praise on our lips?  When children are born, is praise on our lips?  When children are lost, is praise on our lips?  When we worship at church, is praise on our lips?  Will our hearts, even now, sing praises to the Lord "whatever may pass or whatever lies before me"?  When praise and satisfaction in the Lord become our ever-present anthem, there is no reason to think that this anthem will be drown out by something as fleeting as death.  For those in Christ, death is just the beginning of "ten thousand years and then forevermore."  Sure, we leave those we love, but we enter into the joys of everlasting satisfaction and delight when we see Jesus Christ face to face.  Let the joys of eternal delight in Christ motivate you to rejoice today in Christ so that when your time comes to face death, praise will be the "natural" and automatic response of your soul.  

How then does this relate to adoption?  As our adoption has changed over the last few months, we haven't been affected as negatively as some other couples have.  Sure, our process has changed, our plans have changed, and our peace of mind has been shaken.  However, we've heard stories from other families that could, at times, feel like death.  For some in the adoption journey, the day to day wait for documents, referrals, or even pictures may feel like an eternity.  And yet, do we delight enough in the Lord in those moments to sing praise unending?  Do we use these moments as "practice" for when we will worship around the throne of the Lamb who was slain?  

This "strategy" for dying well sounds stoic, I know.  It's not easy, and in this life, it does not come naturally.  But maybe it will just be helpful to keep it on the front of your mind as you face life's challenges.  Maybe you can bring to mind the joys of God's provision while you are waiting on that USCIS document.  Maybe you can remember that God has a chosen son or daughter out there for you who will fit into your journey of sanctification so well that only God could have orchestrated the beauty of your family.  The Lord is good, his love endures forever.  Praise him and die well.  


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How to Help Us Financially: Lifesong

Just thought this would be
a funny picture to include.
Many of you know that Liz and I were graciously given a matching grant from Lifesong and Orphan Care Alliance around Christmas of last year.  We not only met the matching aspect of the grant, but we exceeded it!!!  This was an amazing blessing to us, and many of you were part of that effort.  Since we haven't moved along much in our adoption process, those funds are still at Lifesong and our account is still open.  This is good news for you if you would like to help us bring our Congolese baby home.

We still need between $5,000-$6,000 to get us closer to the end financially.  We're not sure about the timeline and it's possible there will still be unexpected costs, but at the moment, $5,000-$6,000 will get us closer.  The benefit to giving to Lifesong on our behalf is that they are a 501(c)(3) agency whose sole task is to help families fund adoptions.  This means that you can give to our adoption journey AND it is a tax-deductible gift.

For those who have already helped us along this journey, Thank You.  For others, if the Lord leads you to help us through this Lifesong account, here's how you can do it.

Make your check out to "Lifesong" with our family name and account # in the memo (Howell/ #2240 Adoption).  This will get that amount applied to our account.

You can send the check to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Attn: Howell/ #2240 Adoption
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

Keep in mind that we have already matched our grant, so your gifts won't be doubled at this point, but we will still be incredibly thankful for any support the Lord leads you to donate.  

Adam and Liz<><

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Paperwork Journey... Again

So after several changes, we've begun the paperwork journey again.  Well, sort of.

We got our dossier back from our previous agency and I spent that last several hours scanning each document in order to send it to our new consultant for review.  We've basically moved to an independent adoption, but we are working closely with a lady whose former position at the U.S. State Department was the Adoption Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, Congo.  Her role was to review adoption cases in the Congo and issue visas once the cases were approved.  So, if anyone is going to know about how to adopt a child from the DRC, Danielle will know.  She's the one that we are sending our scanned dossier documents to.

So we've kind of started the paperwork again, but we already have much of it in place.  We'll probably have to get some updated medical letters and background checks, but overall we have what we need.  We got our newest I-171h in the mail from USCIS reflecting our pregnancy last week.

It's fun to feel like things are moving once again.  Please pray for us as we make a decision about working with a particular attorney in the Congo.  Danielle has connections in the DRC with people who run orphanages and have children available for adoption.  She recently presented us with an attorney who will be able to locate a referral for us, and we are praying about jumping on board with him.

The recent changes in our adoption journey have set us back a little bit financially.  I've found out by talking to others that this is not uncommon to encounter unexpected costs or increased fees even after you agree to a certain estimate.  The independent adoption is cheaper than adopting through an agency, so our total costs at the very end will be almost identical.  However, over the next few months, we will need to do a couple of fundraisers and perhaps recruit more Lifesong support to cover travel costs and other miscellaneous costs (visa fees, DGM fees, etc.).  So, keep your eyes peeled for fundraiser opportunities.  We've got a couple in mind that might prove to be quite fun.  We also still have some t-shirts for sale ($20).  If you want one of those, you can contact us here or via Facebook and we'll get it to you.

As always, thanks for your continued prayer and support.  This has already been a longer journey than initially expected, but we know the Lord's timing is best and we are more than comfortable resting in His timing.

Adam and Liz<><