Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Down to the Wire

That is what the phrase "down to the wire" implies.  Our family is living in a constant state of it these last weeks in relationship to our approaching adoption.  Everything ranging from last minute approvals of Visas to travel approvals to hotel bookings to even simple accounting of funds - all of it has generated a sense of urgency.  We have been woefully remiss in the upkeep of this aspect of communicating our journey, relying more frequently on personal communication, occasional social media posts, and text messages with friends.  But in this, a sense of urgency began to build in the necessity to relay information to those who are watching and praying both near and far. 

This journey has had its share of speed bumps.  We could not have imagined at the outset the sheer volume of paperwork and scrutiny that would be required of us.  Above the volume of forms and data, hurtles were thrown into the path.  Health issues not only plagued, but were questioned by foreign offices.  Delays occurred on critical international documents.  We have a small tome of emails requesting submission of forms, resubmission, re-re-submission, and so on.  My bride and I began losing sleep over the stress and concern for deadlines that might not be met.  When things began to look their darkest we had to acknowledge that the whole was completely out of our control and finally release occurred in our minds and hearts.

It was at that point of surrender that breakthrough occurred.  A single critical time sensitive document inviting us to travel to pick up our daughter was issued the very day that China issued a multi-page change to their permissible adoption requirements.  These changes would have made it impossible for our family to be considered for adopting Jayde.  Our deliverance came "down to the wire". 

I can find many examples of God's hand in motion in seemingly "down to the wire" fashion.  Some of them, like above, are within my own life.   Many are in His Word. 

I see a man leading a charge of millions approaching a body of water with murderous armies in pursuit.  It comes down to the wire as Moses taps the end of his rod into the waters and impossibly they begin to split a dry pathway forward. 

I see many thousands encircling a city, for days they have marched and praised their Lord and today, with a shout and the blowing of horns, the legendary fortified walls of Jericho crumble and fall bringing victory down to the wire.

I see two hillsides filled with soldiers and a young man in the valley between following through on a sling tossed stone that stuns a behemoth of a man, knocking him to the ground, clutching victory - down to the wire.

I see a carpenter, cruelly nailed to a pair of wooden beams to endure the most agonizing of executions for base criminals.  Where the heavens paused and darkness reined on the earth, a cry "...it is finished" and eternal victory of life for all time is achieved down to the wire.

And now we are less than two weeks from stepping on foreign soil. Again, urgency is our constant companion.  We have much to do - we haven't even had time to gather our toiletries and travel goods much less finish the few remaining forms that are being requested this side of the Pacific.  We are still in fund raising mode as we wrap an iPad auction this week and continue with our Go-Fund-Me campaign to raise the funds required to pay orphanage fees, consulate offices, doctors.  Our time is tight, our budgets are set, and our prayers are many.  In many ways, my bride and I lean forward with nervous expectation and excitement with just a twinge of fear for the unknown - similar to when we were first married.  I am so thankful to be on this journey with my soul-mate!  I am equally thankful to be on this journey with the One who set our feet upon it!  We will ever be grateful to the one who always delivers, who promises that our very hairs are numbered, who states our every need is known before we ask.  He is faithful, holding us up even down to the wire!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Love Is...

It has been too, too long since we've updated this blog with our adoption journey progress.  First the holidays and then immediately following we were ushered full paced into the home study documentation - what a ride the past 7 weeks have been. 

I'm so very pleased to be able to say that we are virtually done with the home study.  All paperwork has been submitted and proofing occurs later this week.  WHEW!!!  Late nights, last minute emailing, phone calls, and forms upon forms upon forms to fill out, have notarized, and shipped off.  In all of the commotion my bride and I began to seriously stress about a fund raiser we were hoping to put on in mid-February.  Our full energies and finances had been focal on the home study to the point that our sleep is filled with dreams of paperwork.  This left little room for planning a fund raiser post holidays.  At one point we simply broke down...

...And friends noticed.  It is amazing when God puts people in your life, not just to have fun with, not just to gather over a grill or a meal with - but who have bonded with your soul, with your life, and share a common spirit and heart for the hurting.  These amazing people quickly huddled around us, told us they were taking the baton, and we weren't invited to carry it.  The result is something that is far more effective, far more amazing than anything my bride and I would have come up with on our own.  Simply, it is God in motion through people - something he desires to exercise through each of us. 

And now we have a fund raiser coming to fruition.  We hope many will join us, not just for their ability to partner with us financially, but to witness the hand of God moving and working to exercise redemption and ransom...to watch God's saving grace save life.  That my bride and I get to participate in this ride is beyond our ability to articulate.  We have simply committed to being willing.  When we give Him our five loaves and two fish, it's amazing to watch the multitudes fed...

Join us, and witness what Love Is.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Rescue Unknown

"Paper Pregnancy".  We now fully know what the phrase means.  With our adoption of Austin, there were many forms to fill out and files to be filled.   We had DCFS case workers regularly visiting and documenting.  Therapists were regularly visited and paperwork was processed.  Lawyers, both ad litem and for us, completed documents and we signed at the "x" repeatedly.  But all of this occurred over the span of 22 months. 

Now we are dealing with an agency that is not a "government" entity, who is working with federal agencies, and processing forms for both domestic and foreign government offices all in the span of a few months.  Honestly - it feels like a series of tidal waves have hit our home.  We are just getting the initial shock wave of documents and fees dealt with and in motion and we are already bracing for the next wave which we can see on the horizon. 

As this is being written, I almost laugh out loud because in God's perfect timing, Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane comes across my play list. 

Hello hurricane
You're not enough
Hello hurricane
You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows boarded up
All your dead end fury is not enough
You can't silence my love

We often forget that our Father is providing and looking out for our every need even when we aren't aware of them.  Jesus reminded us of this just before giving us the example of "perfect prayer" in Matthew.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Matthew 6:7&8 ESV

In conversation, friends and family have asked us what our soon-to-be adopted daughter thinks about us as her family to be - what her reactions have been.  They are shocked when we tell them she doesn't even know we are pursuing her.  Due to stipulations both stateside and in China, the knowledge that a family has initiated the process of her adoption has not yet reached her ears.  She is completely unaware that she is in the process of being rescued from the life of an orphan into a family that loves her.  All she has ever known is life in an orphanage and by her reckoning, she may only guess that this will be the norm proceeding towards an uncertain future.

We want so badly for her to know, for her to have that illumination of hope and joy that she is loved and has value.  We can't wait for that knowledge to come to her.  We can't wait for the day we get to usher her off of native soil towards her new home to her forever family.  We have a lot of work to do to get to that point, but we relish the notion that the day will occur.

My bride and I were discussing and she very wisely pointed out that this is not unlike so many of us.  How many have fretted, worried, and wrung hands over life's uncertainties?  It may be financial.  It may be health.  It may be relational.  Most of us at one point or another have allowed the pit of fear to swallow us and cover us over until we could see no help, no rescue, no way out.  Despair lives in that darkness.  Hopelessness dwells there as well.  People lose touch with their humanity in those depths and in that ink of isolation exists a devil's playground where fear begets fear.  Desperation begets desperate actions.  Faith is lost as frailty becomes focal. 

And how quickly we forget the words above "your Father knows what you need before you ask him".  Just as with our daughter who is half a world away, our Father is already in motion.  He is already moving mountains on our behalf even when we aren't aware of it, even when all we can see is the storm directly around us.  Our rescue is already occurring even before we call out for help.  In fact, he initiated it before any of us even called upon him as Father in the sacrifice on the cross.  And one day, those who call him Father will also leave native soil to join our forever family.

These are the joys of a rescue unknown.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Mikeworths are Going to China

See the picture above?  Most would look at this picture and see four young people/children in a rural American setting post harvest.  Nothing special, nothing that stands out other than their charm, good looks, and the seeming abundance of pink in the joyful announcement centered in the photograph.  The sign is obviously focal as we excitedly share with the world the amazing news that we are embarking on the journey of a lifetime - we are bringing our daughter home from China!

What most fail to see or even know is that this picture is filled with impossibilities.  Impossibilities made possible.  God is present all over this photo.  In fact this photo screams of his miraculous intervention over the course of decades.  Protection is present.  Restitution is present.  Life snatched from death is present.  Rescue from abuse and trauma is present.  Deliverance is present.  Unexplainable healing is present.  Special needs overcome is present.  Love from neglect is present.  Family is present.

And now, a small girl from China has made her way into our hearts.  By no means did we ever dream of venturing to this nation.  We joke - "Want to know where God will send you - tell Him where you're not willing to go!".  Years ago when our hearts were earnestly seeking his will for adoption we were certain international adoption was our calling...in Africa.  We wanted nothing to do with domestic adoption, the "mess" of foster care, or DCFS. 

Hello Austin.

Fine, but we'll only adopt, not foster.

...and God laughed.  And then he held our hearts as we wrapped our arms around small wounded souls.

Alright, but at least we'll never venture towards Asia - it's so, well- it's so foreign.

And then we met her- our daughter to be.  She is precious and has been written of before (Behind the Eyes).  Her name literally means "little jade".  She has difficulties.  Some might label them impossibilities.  That word means very little to the God who made the photo above possible.  Consequently it means very little to us.  We both knew in the depth of our hearts that this is where next steps are leading...

And so, with our Father smiling down on us, blessing us, and speaking peace to the waves of fears that are already rhythmically washing upon the shores of our home - we now find ourselves wading into the currents of adoption again.  Paperwork breeds paperwork and emails are now almost daily exchanging between agencies and ourselves.  Forms and fees are becoming as breathing as both domestic and foreign government offices must be satiated.  Sleep is strained as we now begin to dream of foreign lands, notarizations, and fund raising.  And ever present - joyful expectancy.

New friendships are already being forged as God is moving people and mountains to bring our daughter to us.  Never underestimate the love of this Father.  He will move the earth to bring a single child into family.  He gave his only child to bring each of us into his family.  Regardless of the effort my bride and I are putting forth in this, it is He who is orchestrating and making possible the impossible.  He relishes the impossible.

And because of this, we will soon have our "little jade".

...stay tuned.