Saturday, June 1, 2013

Made In the Image of God, Part I

We've been in country for almost three weeks now.  Things are progressing along at a great rate, although I can't wait to get home since I miss my other children like crazy.  Our facilitators are amazing people who care about us and who love the children in their country.  We have met nannies who not only care for our children, but who have prayed for them and loved them.  This has been incredible.

Everyone wants to see photos, but we decided before we came that we'd wait till after we had court papers in hand to share those ... we want it all to be official before we make it official!  But I did want to share a little bit with you all, since you have prayed for and supported this journey up until now.

On the day we met our son, I had a complete come apart.  I cried.  I railed at Heaven.  I mourned.  And then I sought God and found peace.  Why?  Because it broke my heart to see this precious boy so obviously bearing the brunt of a broken system.  Our son has been lovingly cared for by an amazing director and a team of nannies who love him.  There is very little I can complain about on that front.  

But the fact that he was abandoned at all broke my heart.  I hate that there have to be orphans at all.  I hate that it took us so long to get here.

Before we ever met him, God clearly told me to be ready.  To brace myself.  For when I saw my son, I would see GOD more clearly.  For indeed, He was created in the image of God.  In my oh-so-human heart that excited me and I set up unrealistic expectations.  

I expected to see a child who, in spite of the overwhelming odds against him, was flourishing and victorious.  I pictured a boy who had been miraculously healed and was smiling and whole and ready for his new family.

Instead I sat in an office and heard about how he had been doing so well, "But...."  And then they filled in the "but".  The "but" made my heart hurt, but I still hoped.

And then I met him.  This amazing boy God had brought us half way around the world to meet.  This boy I had dreamed about, prayed for, and loved beyond reason or explanation.  And he was smiling.  He is ready for a family.  But.  

But he was worse off then I imagined.  The last year was not a great one for him.  And it hurt to see that.  And then came the still, small voice after I processed my emotions.

"Can you see Me yet?"

What?!?!?!  See YOU?  Where?  All I see is a child in an orphanage that in a perfect world would have been in a family since his birth.

"Keep looking.  Made in MY image, reflecting MY likeness."

It took a while, but I finally saw.  Every time I look at my son's face, I see GOD now.  It's so clear, so blindingly obvious to me.  I am just in awe.

I see that by man's wisdom we would describe God as perfect, and then we would go on to mean that to be attractive, strong, victorious, admired, etc.  But God chose to come humbly, as a babe.  He chose to come humbly, as a servant.  He chose to bring life, through death.  God's ways are not our ways.

And when I look at my son, and the other orphans here in this Eastern European nation, I see God.  I see children who are not forgotten.  God knows their names.  I see children that the world calls disabled, retarded, damaged, and forsaken.  God has never left them.  I see children that are hidden away because they are disfigured and different.  And yet God said, "It is good."

I look at our son and I see these truths.  I see the impact of sin in a depraved, fallen world.  That is why he is where he is.  But then I see God in his eyes -- in that purity of spirit, the humbleness of stature, the unrestrained joy in response to love.  It's beautiful.

Our son reaches for us eagerly when we walk into the room.  He doesn't berate us for being late.  He doesn't judge us and find us lacking.  He is just thrilled we have come.  God is like that.  Our son laughs and delights in our company, even when we don't do anything particularly delightful.  He just wants to be with us.  it is enough that we love him and want to spend time with him.  God is like that. Our son is sad when it is time for us to leave, often sheds tears when we walk away.  It leaves a gap in his life when it is time to be separated.  And there is an expectant joy for the day when we won't have to be separated every again.  God is like that.  Our son seems to come alive when he hears other children laugh.  Nothing brings him greater happiness than the joy of those around him.  Our God is like that.

Made in the image of God?  Oh, yes, Lord I see it!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Today we will be on a plane and tomorrow we will be there!!!!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We're off!

Friday, May 10, 2013

And the Number We've All Been Waiting For: 1!

This is it: Our last day on American soil before we head out for the adventure of a lifetime, to bring our angels home! WOW.

I feel like I should have something incredibly profound to say.  You know what I mean: something earth shattering and motivational, upbeat and excited, transforming and memorable.

And all I can think of is whether or not I've forgotten to pack anything and if there is a way to fit my pillow into my luggage because I really missed my pillow last time.  You feel transformed after reading that, right?  It was earth shattering; I just know it.
Or not.
Let me try again.

With one day left I'm facing all of my excitement alongside all of my anxiety.  I'm facing the truth that life is about to be altered in ways I can't even fathom, and they're just around the corner.  For better or worse, this is it.  And I can't wait.  After all, the pressure's not on me -- I'm not the One writing this story; God is.  And He knows all that is to come and will not be surprised or flummoxed by anything we're about to encounter.

It's easy to lose your focus when you're adopting.  Adoption has totally changed who I am as a person.  My focus, my thought, my very soul have been transformed.  I understand so much more fully the enormity of what God has done for me.  But you see, I'm not supposed to be the focus here.  That's why God has allowed me to come to the end of my rope.  He wants me to keep the focus where it belongs.

On our children.

Aren't they beautiful?!?!

They are the main characters in this beautiful love story and we're just supporting characters.  So my focus is on my kids.  My kids here, my kids there ... but the children are the heart of it all.  And the only thing that I want  you to remember is to pray for them.  Pray that in all of this, all of our children are protected and loved and that God's plan for them is walked out.

I'm humbled and honored, terrified and thrilled, and ready to burst with the love that is in my heart for my babies.  I can look back and see how God truly kept His promises: if we would trust Him, He would provide.  If we would give him our fishes and loaves, He would multiply them.  If we were willing, He would carry us through any challenge that was throw into our path.  Now we move forward and trust Him again, knowing full well that He is worthy of that trust.  To Him who able to do exceedingly above all we could ask or think... to HIM be the glory!

If you want to help us reach the place of FULLY FUNDED, you can do that HERE!  We thank you so much for your gift -- your part of this amazing ransom!

Just 2 Days Till GO! (And some thoughts on things I've been hearing lately)

There are just two more days until we fly out.  Two more days in our home.  But it feels like we've already gone, because I'm rattling around a home with no children in it.  Me, the "I'm-not-a-kid-person", is absolutely clueless as to how to go about a day without my children. So I decided to spend a few minutes this morning sharing a few of the misconceptions I started out with, and those that I encounter often.

I've also been the "I-like-my-own-kids-just-not-yours-person",  so it often raises eyebrows when I tell people I'm adopting.  It's simple to me; these children are mine.  And as God grows my heart to love these children, I find that I'm loving all children more.  That's not to say I'm ready to be the nursery coordinator at church or run a VBS program (after all, let's not go crazy!), but I've found that adoption has changed my life so much.

Just the other day, someone asked me if any of my kids were mine -- and my kids were standing right there.  It took me aback, and then I realized they were asking if any had been born to me biologically.  I realized it was ignorance, not rudeness, so I tried to respond kindly.  I said, "They're all mine, but I've carried three in my womb and three in my heart."  The person had the grace to stammer and blush, then say, "OH."  I'm not sure if they got it or not, but no way was I every going to respond and divide my children and say some were mine and some were not.  I try to respond gently, but also in such a way that maybe they won't ask the same question of the next beautifully diverse family that they encounter.

Everyone talks about how happy they must be now that they have a family.  I've heard that a few times this week, and every time I've left a person with wide open eyes and hopefully a more open heart to a different perspective.  I'm not on a rescue mission.  I'm not out to earn eternal gratitude.  I didn't "fly over there and radically save a child to give them a better life."  The truth is simple: Papa Bear and I love God.  We love children.  We long for a large family.  And we're willing to go and bring our kids home from the far corners of the earth.  We don't expect any emotions of extreme gratefulness from our new kids, any more than we do from the kids who have been with us for their lifetime.  But the truth is also this: They had a family.  And for some tragic reason, they have been yanked away from that family.  The tragedy may be death, abuse, neglect, lack of education, or a mother who felt ill equipped and alone.  But whatever it was, it was tragic. We're just plan B.  Our children will mourn, they will rage, they will weep ... and they will be loved.  We want to honor their past, and help them create a future.

I've also heard a lot of awe and wonder and the comments that boil down to, "I couldn't do it."  Read the link to that blog post where I discussed it -- and maybe find some freedom.  My answer to that now is simple, "You're right.  You probably couldn't right now.  BUT if God stirs your heart for it, you'll be able to at the right time.  This is my thing, my calling.  If it's not yours, that's okay."

The last comment I want to address is one I've been writing a response to and deleting since last year.  It's one that makes me rage and weep simultaneously.  So forgive me if I don't answer it as well as I'd like.  "I hope you're ready for what this will do to your real kids.  I can't imagine what it must do to their hearts to realize they aren't enough for you."  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  Would someone say that to a pregnant mom?  I truly doubt it.  Let me tell you something, my kids are my world.  And they know that.  They know I love them.  They also know that we have children all over the world, and they are excited to have their brother and sister coming home soon.  We aren't adopting to fulfill a void in our lives; we're adopting because we were meant to.

As for my children, let me tell you what adoption is doing to their hearts: It is growing them.  It is teaching them compassion.  It is teaching them selflessness.  It is teaching them to love all of the diverse people in the world, and to not be afraid of those who are different than they.  It is teaching them to be open to being the hands and feet of God in a world where many think that's just too radical.  It is giving a glimpse of the wonder of heaven and the sacrificial love that provided for them the grace and life they could never attain on their own.  It is making them better people!  And if you think those things are bad for them, then nothing I say will impact you at all anyhow.

Thank you for following us, for praying for us, for loving us, for sharing this journey with us.  Stay tuned for more if you want to keep walking along with us and if you want to partner with us you can do that HERE.

Bring Angel Home from Benji L. Hansen on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Winner's Choice Giveaway, a Fantastic Gift, and a VIDEO!

Things are moving quickly as we ready to leave for Eastern Europe.  Right now there are TWO amazing ways you can be a part of it!

First, please check out this amazing blog, and the gift we've been given.  I love how God is moving for our children, and I am humbled to be a part of it.  Every dollar we receive from now till Sunday, until the grant is satisfied, counts as doubled.  If we raise $500 by Mother's Day, we actually get $1,000!!!!

Next, we have a Winner's Choice Giveaway.  What is this you ask?  It's a THANK YOU.  It's a way that we can give YOU something for blessing us.  This particular giveaway is hosted by a wonderful woman named Christina and instead of picking your prize, she is letting you choose!  How cool is that?!??  Here are the details:
WINNERS choice! American Girl doll of choice, Dolls for Downs doll of choice, $100 Amazon gift card, or $100 to the FSP/orphan of your choice! ONLY TAKING 20 ENTRIES. Every 5 entries I will draw for an incentive prize, there will be jewelry, cold stone cards, or American Girl doll clothes to choose from! E-mail with your receipt to receive your entry (forward the one paypal gives you).  Donations are tax deductible and can be made at:

Bring Angel Home from Benji L. Hansen on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Three...A Little Number That Changes So Much!

What does 3 mean to us?  Well, it's only three days until we board an airplane to take us to our sweet wee ones.  It's the number of children that will have been added to our family in the last year through adoption (yes, the kids in our family will have doubled!).  And it's the number of times I'll have experienced the miracle of growing a child in my heart, as well as the number of times I've experienced the miracle of growing them in my womb.

Three is a precious number!

And today I'll share three things you can join us in praying for:
  1. Please cover our kids in prayer as we leave them to go bring home their brother and sister; they are already homesick and weepy for us and we are praying that they have so much fun that there is no time to miss us too much
  2. Please pray for every process abroad to take the least amount of time possible, if that is God's will, so that we can be united as a family soon
  3. Please pray a special blessing for everyone who has sown into our adoption to help us bring our children home; it is a miraculous thing to be a part of ransoming a life and a miraculous thing to place into God's hands whatever you have to give and watch Him multiply it to rescue one of His children
If you want to continue to follow our journey, I'll be posting periodic updates here on this blog while we are away.  If you want to contribute any gift, big or small, you can do so HERE and you'll receive a tax deductible receipt.

4 to Fly

Today marks the last full day we have with the four kids who are already in our heart and arms ... and four days till we fly out!

Yesterday marked a MIRACLE.  Yesterday when I woke up, we still had quite a ways to go on our funding.  QUITE a ways.  And an amazing woman of God -another adopting mom- felt compelled to fill in over half of what we still needed ... and exactly what we HAD to have in hand before we left.  How amazing is GOD?!?!?!  And to move through this other woman ... this woman on this same journey ... bringing home her own sweet baby.  Two families, three kids -- will you pray for us all?

Yesterday I shared a bit about the sad parts of adoption; I try to stay away from that and stay encouraging, but I had to be honest and give a balance approach also.  Today I'm just going to tell you that ADOPTION IS WORTH IT.  IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT.

And now I'm off ... to enjoy the four that we have before they leave tomorrow afternoon for their NY vacation!  We have plans for packing, and playing, and snuggling, and adventures.

To be a part of our adoption journey, follow this blog and to support it, make your tax deductible gift HERE.