Is this Even Possible? or: Everyday Missionary Mental Struggles

“This city is too big. There is no reason to go. We will surely not make a difference.”

I’m sorry, but such thinking may have just condemned you to the desert for 40 years. (See Numbers 14).

Problem is, here I am teetering back and forth on the ledge of condemnation if this is true. Thankfully there is redemption, the blood of Christ, the resurrection, and hope for the people of God.

Forgetting the Point. All Too Easy.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons*, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. - 1 Timothy 1:5–7

(Almost) Every seminary professor and seminarian ever.

Keeping Thoughts to Ourselves

There was a time when a man was alone with his thoughts. Even when they were brilliant, witty, or perhaps full of wealth-making innovation. He wasn’t constantly attached to computers or even notebooks. This he had to keep such thoughts to himself and continue about his work, hoping not to forget before he could share them, or write them down. Now every thought more complex than, “Buy Milk,” or “I’m hungry,” we tweet, blog, or podcast (this thought included). God forbid we should keep things to ourselves, or between us and the Lord.

And I wonder if back then we spent more time in awe at the minds God gave us.

I Shall Not Want. But I Do.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” - Psalm 23:1–2

Lord, what I want is green pastures and still waters. And I’m surrounded by cement.

Yesterday I layed down on green grass. It wasn’t much. But the sun did shine. And it was shockingly refreshing. And last week I ran by a river. It ain’t much. But here I’m wanting to wrestle with God over this and ask for it at least spiritually. But I realize both have physically happened in the last week.

For Priests to Honor the Lord

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.” - Malachi 2:1–2

My greatest fear in life might be that I would bring honor to the Lord and forget to do so for myself. It might be that I would advance the Lord’s Kingdom and be forgotten in history. Something I actually strive to live for, pray for, and seek actively after. But scares the hell out of me in reality.

Time to prepare my face for the dung pie. (See vs. 3).

Obvservation

It’s interesting that in order to be the kind of husband and dad that I need to be to my family, I can’t be as “productive” of a missionary as I’d like to be.


But that’s only because it’s so hard to get my head around my wife and children being my most important disciples. And it’s sadly difficult to remember that my service is first and foremost to my Lord, secondarily to my family, and a much distant third to my ministry.

Life Legacy is Measured as a Point System Duh.

Is our work as ministers measured in the physical things, or magnificent disciples, we leave behind? I would argue (and I think you'd agree) that no, our work is in a Kingdom not of this world. But yet, while we're alive and here on this earth we praise those who left behind great missionary societies. Or huge churches. Or extraordinary disciples. Or writings which change our hearts and minds and move our spirits. 

Certainly these things are not bad themselves. They are, in fact, good. 

But I find it interesting thinking that I can not think of anyone who could rightfully call me their disciple. Now at different times in my life I have been, in some sense, discipled by someone. But I am not exclusively the outcome of any one persons ministry. Many different people have affected me over the years. My youth pastor in High School and even his incredibly incompetent (but humble) lay assistant. C.S. Lewis and Hudson Taylor's writings. The life experience and testimony of the lives of many great missionaries, ministers, and preachers. The truth spoken to me by my closest friends. 

I chase hard after the Lord (or at least do my best to) because of the work of the Spirit manifested in my life through many different people. And if that is the case, why do I often feel inadequate playing the role of 'just another manifestation of the Spirit's work' in the lives of others?

We (I) want to call the sanctified life of another, the fruit of our own labor. But it isn't. Even in the best situations. It's the fruit of the labor of the Lord (sometimes gracefully through us). We should rejoice in any role we get to play in it. 

I'm convinced the Lord is not sitting up there with a gigantic chart with lines drawn between people which He intends to use as a score card so we can get credit for what's due when we get to heaven.* But it sure is easy to live like He is. The Glory is going to go to Him. Weather we give it willfully or not. 

*I can't help but imagine the voice of a sports announcer on judgement day, "And in the life of Ron Smith who changed the face of the Phillipines for God, a life-worth coming in at an even 1000 points, we have a 17% share going to his pastor for the great teaching he provided. That's 170 points to Pastor Jones... And with a 3% share going to..."

If Possible... Live Peaceably With All.

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." - Romans 12:18

This is interesting because it's an acknowledgment that it isn't going to always be possible. And it isn't going to always be up to you. You should do your best and I should do my best to live peaceably with all. 

But it's true that with sinful man, it isn't always going to be possible. My sin is going to be easy to forgive by some people, and really difficult to move past for others. And others sin will be the same for me.

We struggle and strive for harmony in relationships in this life, and we should. But it's possible we won't always be able to pull it off.

The Sock Diet™

A lot has been written lately on new diets and their benefits for both physical and mental health. I can see some of the benefits of some of them more obviously than others. For example vegetarianism has its obvious benefits, but the newly famous paleo diet (Google it) seems more of a stretch to me.

None of this really matters however, for what I'm about to propose, and that is my own diet which I would now like to put forth. This diet was developed by yours truly primarily during my time as a single man shortly after college. The decisions of what to eat and what not to eat we're getting increasingly complicated and I just began to experiment with different means to find something that worked. What I discovered is a diet which has helped me maintain a healthy weight, it has improved my skin complexion and tone, as well as made my bowel movements more regular. This is not to mention the fact that I feel great, and I find it to be at worst, minimally restrictive. Finally this diet is very easy to understand and does not require a separate app for your phone or any skills at math to keep track of points or calories.

Without further ado, I'd like to introduce the Sock Diet™.

Very simply, this diet is characterized by limiting daily intake of food items to those that can fit inside of your sock. Not a sock, but yours specifically. For example, a banana is an obvious part of the Sock Diet for most sports athletes and many new hipsters. Most 80's born preps who wear "invisible" socks may find they need to stick to baby bananas or banana pieces, but these folks tend to be the exception. An apple is on the plate for very few connoisseurs of the Sock Diet, but pizza can be rolled and stuffed in a sock of just about any size, except Chicago Style.

This is basically all you need to know about the Sock Diet and you can be off and running. That said you'll probably want to bring a spare pair of socks along with you as it can get messy quickly for some newbies as they remove socks to check if certain items at their favorite restaurants are Sock Diet compatible.

There are a few specific questions that I find people ask regularly and I'd like to address a few of those.

Burritos: Typically these are fine for partakers of the Sock Diet, a few exceptions might be burritos with a name like "gut buster" or "gigantarito". If the burrito itself is too large you might consider measuring the individual ingredients before rolling the burrito. Some people have found they like to cut the toe off a pair of tube-socks and use the tube-like shape as a funnel to pour food in to jars for a quick "naked burrito" packed lunch with little thought. Others have found ways to roll tortillas inside of socks and use the shape of the sock to aid in the rolling up process. Just be careful with your salsas and sour creams.

Oatmeal: Not a Sock Diet food.

Mice: While it's true that a mouse technically qualifies for most people and their understanding of the Sock Diet, we advise against eating them raw. Cooked is a definite YES.

Matchbox Cars: Does it fit in your sock? Eat it dummy.


Finally, if you're Hawaiian or from some other topical region regularly wearing sandals I advise against the sock diet, as I have found those who have strictly kept to it have starved on several occasions.

If you find you are a fan of the Sock Diet please do not hesitate to suggest it to your friends. This is clearly the way we were made to eat from the beginning and it's benefits are numerous and obvious.

Attempting to Save Ourselves

"But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed." -Matthew 27:14

When Jesus stands condemned he does not attempt to save himself. He could, of course, have saved himself. But he chose not to act like it and the response from pilate was amazement. 

This makes me wonder how much we as believers know we cannot save ourselves yet we still live like we can. If we truly lived like we were unable to save ourselves our lives would probably characterized by something much different than self-righteousness. And would this not cause those around us to be amazed?

Ultimately everyone around us is trying to save themselves. Whether they are even aware they are in need of saving is of little importance, because they all are living like they're seeking justification. But are we trying to save ourselves too?

Why aren't more people amazed at the way we live our lives fearless at the coming judgement? We know who will justify us, and that the justification will be (already is) perfect, so how do we live it?

Kingdom Institutions and Kingdom Legacies. The Kingdom of God, People. The Kingdom.

To piggyback off the last post, I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to be Kingdom minded rather than world-minded, or worldly. It occurs to me that our seeking worldly ambition is really seeking a legacy in the world.

Our desires are often based around wanting to leave behind a institution which can be seen, felt, and remembered by the world. Churches want buildings that will last, or preachers want to leave behind a name for themselves. Organizations like my own seek to leave behind teams that will self-perpetuate in certain places so they can point at it and say with pride, "Look at what we've done. It's measurable by it's very physical presence in this world."

But if we're serious about the Kingdom, then the institutions we should care about are Kingdom institutions. And I suspect these are primarily people. Seeking a legacy isn't a bad thing; but it can be if misplaced in the world rather than the Kingdom. The institutions we are to desire to leave behind are God honoring Kingdom institutions. We are to have a Kingdom-view, not a world-view. But Kingdom institutions are less pretty in our measurements, and more difficult to show to our bosses with pride. They lack a physical tangible presence that can be easily pointed to, and seen by others, but they are nonetheless very real in the Kingdom of God.

More importantly, and perhaps most difficult for us to grasp, Kingdom legacies and institutions seldom stroke our pride or make us feel like we're accomplishing much for the Lord.

Worldly vs. Godly Ambition

If ambition is the desire for greatness, then in who's eyes this greatness is sought is of the utmost importance. By this definition worldly ambition would be the desire for greatness as defined by the world. Whereas Godly ambition is the desire for greatness in the eyes of God.

One of these is perfectly acceptable for the man of God to pursue and the other is not. 

Defining Church: A proposal for a re-evaluation of our terminology.


I've spent some time previously discussing a new paradigm for understanding the word "church." I think our terminology has become skewed. The very quick version is that the Biblical use of the word church often refers to the body of believers in a specific city or geographic location and only rarely "card-carrying members of a four-walled church" as we tend to understand it.

Easton's Bible Dictionary says ecclesia (the word we translate as Church) is used in the following ways in the Bible:

1) Gathering or assembly in the traditional sense (Acts 19:32, 39, and 41).
2) The universal Church (all believers) (Ephesians 5:23, 25, 27, and 29; Hebrews 12:23).
3) A few Christians observing the gospel together (Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15).
4) All the Christians in one city or geographic location (Matthew 16:18; Acts 8:1, 13:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2,  and 15:9; Galatians 1:13;  Revelation 2:1).

My concern is that we use the word church only in the 3rd sense mentioned above. But you'll note that the usage in such a way is actually a small percentage of the word church in the New Testament. Church is more often used to reference the Church universal or all the Christians in one city.

Therefore my proposal is that the word Church be used to reference all of the Body of Christ (that is Believers) in a city or other geographic location. The meetings that take place on Sundays usually involving teaching and worship, are good, but are not the Church, they merely a gathering thereof. And one of many types of gatherings. The gathering is important, I'm not arguing that it is of no value, simply that these places should be referred to as "places of worship" rather than "churches".

But this is not how we use the word today. Most people use the word church, as just referenced, to refer to their programs or meeting places on Sunday mornings. The colloquial usage of the word seems to be almost entirely limited to that understanding. "Where do you go to church?" Or "What did you do at church this Sunday?" or "How is your church? Do you like the people who go there?" These are all references to an actual program that takes places within specific walls, and not the body of believers in the whole of the city (or the Church universal for that matter). When most people use the word church they are thinking of a program run at a specific time in a specific location. Where you attend this program is significant to them because we've made them think it is what is all that is meant in the Bible by the word Church. But really the Church is much more than your Sunday gatherings, or even all the Sunday gatherings.

But this would be different if Church was used to reference all of the Body of Christ (Believers) in a city or other geographic location. I'm not arguing that there should be no meetings on Sundays. The word "ecclesia" means "a gathering" after all. But what happens between your walls on Sunday could be better referred to as "a place of worship." For where two are gathered you've already got ecclesia, no matter what walls our lack thereof you're standing in.

The Problem with Our Current Terminology

Whether it is stated as such or not, it is frequently implied that, "If you don't serve here, with our gathering, you aren't serving in the church." This means the ministry you do within your gifting at work to your coworkers, praying for them or whatever is not participating in "the church". This is a problem with our current terminology. And one that isn't correct or acceptable.

Recently I saw an article titled something like, "Part time church attendance". But the problem with even worrying about such a thing is that a Believer is in Christ. He is not part time in Christ. His attendance or lack thereof in your local place of worship may be a sign of a bigger issue, but easily might not be. It could be the person just doesn't thrive well in the type of programs you run. To be worried about church attendance is like being worried about school attendance. But a child can learn outside of school walls, he simply doesn't get the grades he needs or the test qualifications he needs to advance in school unless he attends. But the Church is not the same. The qualifications and the tests a believer needs to grow in his faith are not tied to his program attendance. Because the one who qualifies the Believer is Christ, not the pastor. As long as the person is in regular community with believers his Sunday morning attendance is demonstrative of nothing.

Another problem with calling our meeting locations the church is it confuses our understanding of the word pastor. In our current terminology, pastors are leaders of "the church" and therefore in some sense have arrived. But pastors are just preachers or teachers in the Church at large. They may have a specific place to practice those gifts, an audience that listens; but the man who preaches to his friends over a beer or at the Thursday night wings restaurant is also a teacher and sometimes preacher. He's operating in his gifting, he's blessing the Church the same as the man who has podium and speaks before pews. One is not greater than the other. The language we've used has confused that.

There is the issue of the term "para-church" (disclosure: I work for a "para-church" organization, this has certainly shaped some of my thinking). But what is the para-church except the Church operating outside of specific walls or sometimes denominational boundaries? Para-church organizations, as well as just believers in general, are filled with preachers without podiums (but that doesn't make them any less a preacher), evangelists without the title of Missions Pastor (but that doesn't make them any less evangelists), elders without a church board (but their elding is no less significant), and servants without church floors to mop (but their service to the Church is no less important). The programs being run are not what makes the Church the Church. The Church is the Church because of Christ. Sunday morning, Tuesday night, Wednesday at midnight, it doesn't matter the way we've defined it.

Our terminology has led us to believe (whether we say it not), "where two or more are gathered in a building we've called a church, there God is with them." Rather than simply, "where two or more are gathered."

It's led us to believe that Jesus said, "And whenever you eat of this bread and drink of this wine as imparted by an ordained priest (however your denomination should choose to do that) in a church building on Sunday mornings, remember me." Rather than, "whenever you eat of this bread and drink of this wine."

And our terminology has led us to elevate people practicing their gifts (read: God-given roles) within certain walls during certain hours on Sunday mornings, above those who are living out their gifting everywhere else.

Implications of a Change

Should the terminology be changed, and our understanding altered, the implications would be significant

1) We would see other places of worship as part of the Church, not as competing churches.

2) Other pastors would be percieved as other shepherd teachers rather than competing church leaders.

3) An elder with the gifts of an elder in speaking with authority in to people's lives could be living out his gifting at one place of worship most of the time, but occasionally be a big blessing to other places of worship.

4) Authority for elders and pastors would come from the Lord rather than be ascribed to them by the people in his place of worship because of his seminary degrees or history climbing a hierarchical ladder. People need to respect their pastors and elders, but they do not give them the authority to pastor and eld. That authority comes form the Lord alone.

5) Traveling preachers fit a role as preachers that happen to travel, not as sheepless shepherds.

6) The para-church is simply another part of the church that either lacks places of worship or tends to do worship at non-traditional times.

7) Finally the church planter is no longer the awesomest guy around. He is simply someone who organizes one of many places of worship. Not an up and coming 'leader' of the church.

The Church only has one Head and that is Christ. I think our terminology has caused many of us to merely keep that as a good sounding theory, when really we believe our pastors to be the head.

We need a change of terminology because the Church is an institution founded by God; it is the body of Christ. But right now when we say 'church' we mean the programs and institutions founded and run by man between four walls on a Sunday morning.

These are not the same thing.

The word church can refer to a small gathering of believers. But it is not the exclusive meaning of the word as we have used it. I propose this change not because it is a massive shift in our thinking (in my opinion it's not particularly radical), but because it would help us understand the word Church is used (and even primarily so) in other ways in the New Testament than we usually use it.

Carefully guarding our understanding of the Church is fundamental to our functioning as the Church.

p.s. This is something I've been chewing on for some time and have just now finally nailed down concretely enough to write out. I'm very curious about feedback. If you respond to this in a post, or just have some thoughts you would like to share via email please email me.

Adoption is Hard Work - Part 4

I'm actually writing this from the front porch of my guest house room in Ethiopia. The boys are asleep in the room as I sit out and relax at night. Now you'll notice a few things in that sentence. First, yes I have my boys. I've signed the final papers and no one can take them away from me (legally that is). Also, it's "I" not "we" that's here to pick them up. My wife is back home with our daughters for a number of reasons. It's fun to be with them. But hard to be with them alone. I have a visa for them to enter the United States but do not yet have a visa for them to enter the country we live in. So I'm here. Probably for a few more days at least.

First off, it's exhilarating to finally be with my sons. This has been the goal. But as excited as I am, it doesn't feel done yet until they're home with my wife and daughters. There also is the inevitable feeling of shock that comes after you've worked this hard for something. It's been two and a half years. A year and a half since we were first referred our sons. That's a long time to wait. And these boys are a great gift. But it's almost a feeling of let down that they aren't perfect after so long!

Now don't get me wrong. I never expected perfect, but it's hard to long for anything this much without at least a bit of a feeling of "buyers remorse". I don't regret that I spent the money, or took the time, or any of it, but after two and half years of waiting they still poop their pants? This is the $60,000 dollar model right? Cuz that's what I paid for!

Okay that sounds crass. More than I probably mean it to. But I have to say it's strange how all the feelings mix together. I imagine a huge percentage of adopting parents have tons of feelings they're afraid to admit to people. Even their spouses.

Now, I do love the living daylights out of them. And I'm surprised how much I'm attached. But then there is also the feeling of frustration for me,
first and foremost over language. I can neither express frustration or delight. Encouragement or discouragement. Even reason is lost, "Don't touch that light socket or you'll zap yourself," is what I say, but all they hear is daddy saying no.

In December I visited and the younger of the boys screamed bloody murder one nap time, "My daddy left me! My daddy left me!" (Or so my translator said). That made me feel mighty loved until today a friend visited me for about three hours and he screamed the same thing at bed time for an hour (the best I could tell that's what those daddy screams were).

There is so much wrapped up in this. It's making me realize how much I delight in my daughters because they are like me. I enjoy them and their personality for often vain reasons. My sons don't think or act like I do (not yet) except in the ways that boys do just because they're boys. When they do something that's super boy-like, such as play in a puddle for a solid hour, laughing hysterically at how wet they are, I delight in that because I'd be the same way. But when they smile at their own disobedience it makes me crazy. I want them to want to please me like my daughters do. But they don't. I want them to care about my opinion, but they're still figuring out their own.

My boys giggle. And laugh. They're ticklish. And they sing songs and talk to each other (they're 3 and 4 by the way). They take a while to fall asleep but sleep like angels without waking up even briefly all night long. Often 13 hours. They smile and play with each other. They like rain, sunshine, strollers, balls, sticks, drinking water, and eating beans by the pound.

But they don't know Jesus and I can't even tell them about Him. When I pray they don't know what's going on. My daughters are used to it. My sons push my hands off their belly and get confused about whom I'm talking to.

I'm stuck on Ethiopia alone with them for about 5 days longer than I would have liked. Alone time with them is good. And I should rejoice. Unfortunately I'm only here right now because of a bonehead move my agency made on Friday. It took them 30 minutes longer to do something than they anticipated and so a government office they needed was closed. So I waited through the weekend. They got it solved this morning (Monday), but then the embassy I need is closed until Thursday. Knowing my plans were thwarted yet again by incompetence is overwhelmingly frustrating. Had it been anyone else (as opposed to my agency which has made nearly every possible mistake) I think I would have been fine. But the incompetence is stealing my joy. I'm having to work hard in the Word to rejoice over the gift the Lord has given me rather than pray imprecatory Psalms over these people.

I should mention that a few weeks back I found nothing in the word that could keep my attention. It was people's stories I didn't care about in the Old Testament. Or theology I couldn't process in the New. This is why God gave us the Psalms. Man, can I read the Psalms when life is too emotionally roller-coaster-esque for anything else.

I've been such an emotional wreck for six months I've thrown out my back probably 10 times when I normally only throw it out every few years. I'm so stressed my time in the word has suffered and I've slept like poo. In the last few days my back has recovered by leaps and bounds (until today when I got so mad it tightened up again). I've slept so much better in the last three nights it's incredible. I feel rested. Overwhelmed.

But it's still not done. Not till they're home. And then that's just the beginning. Of disobedience. Crying at night. Attachment to us and too much attachment to others. Eating issues. Potty issues. Whew! But I'm so ready for these problems.

Adoption has been incredibly hard and I'm just getting started.

But when I rub these boys heads and see their smiles and the bounce in their walk I get excited. Not because everything is finally peachy keen. But because someday they're really going to know that I'm their daddy. Different than that other guy they met. And they'll understand when I see them do something that delights me and I yell "That's my boy!"

Someday my boys will know they're my boys and they won't remember any different. They'll know their sisters and mom. They'll know the foods we eat and how to wash their hands and where and when to poop. They'll live and experience love. In a way they wouldn't have otherwise. And my family will have the pleasure of being there through everything it takes to get them there. And we'll grow and stretch and fall madly in love with them.

Goodness. This had been hard. But they're mine now. And no one can take them away from me.

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to me when I was faithless. Thank you for protecting my boys. Show me how to love and protect them. And be with our family. All six of us as we go through the transition of a lifetime.

Adoption is Hard Work - Part 3

Six months ago I stood in court in Ethiopia and declared before the judge my intention to adoption two boys. Six months ago. That was a year after being paired with them through a referral. One of the most important decisions (probably THE most important) you make in the adoption process is which agency you will choose to go with. Our agency has been fundamentally incompetent for two and half years now.

Two weeks ago our paperwork was submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia and I did a dance thinking the agency was finally out of the equation. But I was wrong. Turns out the agency is still responsible for getting a birth mom to appear before the embassy, as well as providing information about our other son who was an abandoment case. And it turns out they can mess up even the final details.

My wife and I have been outrageously patient with our agency for a year and a half since we received and accepted our referrals. But we've switched tactics. It appears somewhere along the way our agency got confused and began to think their incompetence was acceptable. A year ago March I wrote our and asked if it was possible to switch agencies. I wish I had followed through. Though the real reason we didn't switch was we were already attached to the two boys we had been referred. We'd been praying for them. They are my sons. But for a year since then our agency has consistently made excuses and not taken any responsiblity for their lack of competence.

It's exausting. Last week I sat in class with my local language teacher who asked about how things were progressing. I told him the boys were still not home. To this he laughed and said, "I don't think I would have any more patience at this point." He's partially right. The truth is we lost patience a year ago. Then we were mad for about 5 months. Then I lost sleep for another four or five months after that. Now we're pretty much just emotionless, until today I received another email from our agency with more excuses, shifting of blame.

Imagine if this had been the case with our Savior. Imagine if when Jesus saved us he only partially saved us. Or consistently made excuses for our different sins and said, "Well, I'm not really responsible for covering that one with my blood." In some sense the agency is supposed to act as the savior for my boys. It is their responsibility to fulfill the requirements of the law that our boys cannot fulfill on their own. But they're a terrible savior. No agency is perfect, just like no savior besides Christ is perfect. But goodness.

I'm mad. I'm mad at the agency for their shockingly consistent terrible behavior. For their promises that they care about the kids and do this "for the kids," because it seems what they actually do is very little. I'm mad at the Lord for allowing this go on as long as it has. I don't understand why He doesn't intervene and rescue them.

"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear." - Isaiah 59:1 (NIV)

If His arm is not too short to save or His ear too dull to hear, why does He not seem to save? Why does He not seem to hear? This verse in Isaiah goes on to talk about the sins of the people and that being what keeps the Lord from intervening. There is a part of me that wants to examine my own life and see if there is sin that is keeping them at bay. But that betrays my understanding of the gospel. Surely there is sin in my life, surely I don't deserve these sons, but Christ has made me clean before the Lord. So I conclude it is still the sin of man, the sinful nature of this fallen world. The fact that Satan still reigns in some sense over the world.

My prayer is for salvation for my sons. For the Lord to extend His grace to my sons. For His arm to be long enough to save. He will save. But why the hell doesn't he do so faster?

Adoption is hard work, and I don't even have my kids home yet. I haven't begun to see them disobey when they don't understand my English, or even more blatantly when they do. But this has already been hard. By far the hardest thing I have ever done.

I want to scream at my agency. I want to shout from the highest mountain (or the most followed facebook account?) that no one should ever go with this agency. I want no one in the world to experience what we're expreiencing. But I know there are folks out there who have had it even worse than us. And more than anything I just want my sons. Home. In my arms. I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them their daddy loves them, and fought and fought for them.

And I want to be able to be consumed by something else. I want to recover from this and watch the Lord demonstrate grace in their lives and my own. It's been infurating to see the Lord's hand in every aspect of my life except this. I know He is there. I know He is present. And I know He is hearing and probably even answering my prayers. But goodness Lord, your timing sucks!

Set my sons free. Please God.

And I'm SO sorry to those of you who have had similar or worse experience. I hope at least some will find solace in their bad situation not being as bad as ours. Or those who have it bad would know they're not alone. And whatever the pain is in your life, I hope you remember the love of your Savior has not left you, but living in fallen creation is like the pain of child-birth.

We know better is coming. Lord haste the day.

Bring me my boys!