What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Exactly What's So Wonderful About An Empty Nest, Anyway?

 Double Happiness

This is a post I've put off for over a month now.  I've wanted to sit down and put my thoughts into writing, but I knew it could take a while.  I wondered how those thoughts would be received.  Not that it really matters, but I did wonder.  If I've learned anything in my nearly 48 years, it is that, in this life, I only have One Person to please.  Still, tonight the time seems right to share my heart with you.

The thought has occurred to me, on many occasions since May of last year, that if we had not followed the call God placed on our lives January 1, 1995, to adopt a baby girl from China, we would be "empty-nesters" right now.  Actually, truth be told, that was "our" original plan when Tom and I began our life's journey together twenty-seven years ago.  Our plan was:  have our children early, while we are young and energetic, scoot them out of the house when they reach adulthood, smile at our accomplishment, then happily pursue a lot of fun together in our "golden" years.  Somehow, by His grace, our plan and God's plan did not line up at all.  In the years before Lacy came home in 1995, our eyes were opened to the great needs of orphans worldwide.  Later, it only felt natural for us to invite two more dark-haired, almond-eyed princesses into our home.  I praise God for these blessings!  I honestly can not think of anything I would rather not be than an empty-nester right now.

Our home is a content and happy one.  At the moment, it happens to also be relatively peaceful and calm, with only our three youngest, very quiet girls still living with us.  So, why, at our ages, would we consider adopting again?  Why, when we are approaching the age when many people are starting to think about retirement, are we willing to commit our hearts and lives to another child?  The answer is simple.  God has called us to do it.

I believe God places a stirring in your heart when He is calling you to something big.  He placed that stirring in my heart nearly two years ago.  I had no earthly idea what He had in store for us.  And for months and months, I asked Him to show me what it was.  He didn't.  Not at all.  Not an inkling.

This past January, I undertook a challenge to read the Bible through in 90 days.  That may sound like some huge feat, but really it only required an hour a day.  I saw themes running through scripture that I'd never seen so clearly.  Two were in the Old Testament, one was in the New.  The first was: Care for orphans and widows, the underprivileged and discarded.  Another was:  Trust God.  Really trust Him.  Believe that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. God will never leave you, nor forsake you, so have faith and don't fear.  Finally, in the New Testament: Share the Good News of Christ with all people. 

During the first half of the year, God made one thing very clear to both Tom and me.  He wants us to boldly use our gifts and talents and resources for His glory.  And we both felt very strongly that He was calling us to make personal sacrifices.  We discussed ways we could do this better, to His glory.  In the end, we felt that the best way for US to do that, is to open our home to another one of the lost and hurting orphans waiting for a family.  It is easy, (ok, it's not easy, it's difficult) to think about the 147 million orphans worldwide and doubt what you can really do to affect a difference in their lives.  The problem with that thinking is that orphans aren't a vast, faceless mass of humanity.  Each one is precious, created in God's image, valuable and loved by Him.  Each one wants to be loved by a mom and dad, to be really special to someone.  Each has the potential to contribute to society if given a fighting chance.  Each needs to hear of the Savior's love, and learn that there is salvation in Christ.  To us, realizing we can't help them all is not an excuse for ignoring the ones we can help.  And clearly, we can help one more.

So where does all this bring us?  It brings us to a little four-year-old boy in China.  There was a twisting, turning road that led us to this particular little boy, but that story will have to wait for another day.  We are working hard to complete the necessary mountain of paperwork to bring him home as soon as we can.  Right now, he has no idea we exist.  He is completely unaware that he is loved and wanted by a family a half a world away.  We have named him Caleb Paul.  Caleb, because we want him to be bold and courageous, trusting that God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do.  Paul, because he was a godly servant of the Lord, redeemed and fully committed to sharing Christ with all men.

I wish I could tell you more about Caleb or post the pictures and video of him.  But, alas, that is not allowed.  His identity must be protected and we respect that requirement.  Trust me, as soon as I can, I will.  But for now, just believe me when I say that he has a sweet smile and a slightly mischievous demeanor.  We are told he likes to lead the other children in activities like an older brother, which we find just precious.  Our home promises to ring with the sights and sounds of yesteryear...legos, trains, trucks, and cars.  Skinned knees, bleeding lips, stitches in the head.  Tom just thought his coaching days were over.  Our girls are preparing to sacrifice some dress-up and craft time for bikes, and sand piles, and critter catching.   And I'll be bringing out the kindergarten curriculum for the seventh time next fall.  None of us could be more excited.

Will you pray with us for Caleb?  Having adopted a five-year-old before, we are fully aware of the huge transition he is going to be required to make in culture, language, sights, sounds, smells...everything.  The adjustment can be really difficult at first.  But we are also witnesses to God's amazing grace in our lives and the lives of these very resilient children.  He has never taken us anywhere that He hasn't been right beside us the whole way.

To God be ALL the glory!!




Abby St.Clair said...

Big brother Jonathan and sister Abby can't wait!!!!!!!

Laura Lee said...

That's because you are awesome and I can always count on you to be happy about the important stuff!

Robin said...

A dear friend of mine gave me you blog site and reading this post has blessed my day. We have adopted 2 beautiful children from China after having 4 biological children. Jacob is 8 and Lily is 2. We are praying about a 3rd and will follow God's lead. I will keep you in my prayers as you journey to your son.

Robin Starnes

Jamie R said...

That was amazing to read. I love all your blogs, and I thank you for your Godly perspective. Caleb is for sure in my prayers!