April 10, 2010

reflections of a new dad

I’m not supposed to envy. But every time I’m in Chuck E. Cheese with the troops, I wonder how other parents can press that big red button at exactly the right time for the light to stop on the bonus sign, winning them a thousand tickets. I end up at skeet bowling, winning two here, five there.

Well, after watching the videos yesterday of my new daughters, I felt like I finally hit the jackpot. I felt that way with all of my children, that’s for sure. But this time, I felt a range of emotions I hadn’t before.

I cannot wait to hold those little ones in my arms to say, Welcome home! Home is where my arms are. Home is ANYWHERE but where they are now. Home is where two adults, five children, and one Savior will love the heck out of them for the rest of their living days.

Hope is not ethereal. Hope is not intangible. It is not a word to describe some future state of happiness a country can enter into. Hope is the very real, tangible dream placed in us by God, and faith is the vehicle to bring it to pass. Or as it says in Hebrews 11:1—“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is evidence!

Adeye and I had a hope to save these two girls’ lives. Impossible task. Where are we going to get $34,000 to make it work? Faith was the bridge that took us to that hope.

Oh my gosh, we are NOT EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE! I want to say that again and again. I shirk when people tell us that, because it blows up that bridge of faith that we need to get there. It translates as, “Because I’m extraordinary, this worked and will work for the rest of our lives.” But listen, it’s equally dangerous to say, “God made us extraordinary. Therefore, we are doing this. It’s by His grace.”

All of that may sound good, may sound spiritual. But it treads on perilous ground. It provides scores of people with an excuse not to step out in the things of God. It ever points to other people who God has sovereignly touched with “the grace.” It says, Unless I really get an epiphany of Jesus, I’m not doing it.

I used to live in that realm. I’m STILL tempted to live there. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. It’s not scary in the least.

Men, can we talk? As a man, terror—not fear—would enter my heart everytime my wife had “that look” on her face. You know the one. It shouts, “I need to talk to you about something I think God is telling us.” As a man of God, I have a responsibility, darn it! First of all, God speaks through ME, not her! I’M the spiritual head. And as such, I have the great and ominous responsibility to be…duh, duh-duh-DUH!...”THE GREAT PROVIDER.” And besides, I’m too old for anything except to relax. I need my peace and quiet so that I can be a productive father for my family…(long pause)…DARN IT!

Men, there is a fine line between being a “responsible” head of the household and dying to myself. It’s the world that tells me the things in the prior paragraph. I need money. I need youth. I need my time. I need the grace of God! Ooooh, that last one. What heresy!

For me, I needed a good kick in the pants to be the man of God that the Lord expects me to be for my family—and that’s one who takes chances and dies to himself. THEN the grace of God kicks in. Once I entered the world of the ridiculous (ridiculous faith, ridiculous decisions, ridiculous abandonment of my own way of thinking), freedom and grace took over. God worked. I stepped out of my box of what I thought it meant to be a good dad and good husband, and I made a simple (but HARD) decision. But even in that, there can’t be any pride. Why? Because I KNOW I’m a dweeb. Neither I nor my wife are extraordinary.

Adeye and I continually see ourselves as “the least and the greatest.” We are Gideon—the least man in his clan, the least clan in his tribe. We are Paul—the greatest sinner. Honestly, believe it or not, the most extraordinary thing we ever did was to say, “Here am I, Lord. Send me!”

I’m wondering if someone reading this post is being nudged by the Holy Spirit right now. I’m wondering, as I’m caving in my emotions now, who it is whom God is selecting to be the next Gideon and Paul. I’m wondering who out there is being stirred to speak to their spouse and say, “Money is not going to provide for us to rescue this child. GOD is!” Or to say, “I’m going to stop saying we can’t ‘handle’ a child like this. Rather, ‘God, do you want to handle this child through us?’”

You saving one orphan out of 147 million is worth to Jesus what those two mites were worth that the widow put into the offering basket. You will have “put in more than all.”

There is a child out there somewhere looking for your arms. Looking for “home.” Is God asking you to open them up?


Me and Jesus said...

thank you for that. Im a a 27 yr old widow and have four kids. Two that im adopting next week and two more that i hope to adopt in the next month.
I love kids. I love big families. I love my God.
I get many comments on how extra ordinary i am. How wonderful i am. I have a hard time accepting those compliments, because just as you said... Its only by dying to self and allowing God to be in complete control of my life that i can do this.
I have been praying about international adoption... Right now im doing foster care.
Your story adeye, on your new daughters touched my heart. I want to go rescue my own little haliee and harpers... It makes me sick that i sit here with an extra bedroom, lots of love and these poor children are stuck in that place!!!!! Pray for me as i seek Gods wisdom.

Holly said...

Yes!!! Your story....THEIR story...is CHANGING hearts. My heart...and others.
Ultimately, this is HIS story.
I'm ready! :)

Kristin Ferguson said...

Anthony, it's always a treat when you make a guest appearance on here and write such words of wisdom. Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts into words for all of us to read. I agree with you wholeheartedly, although I honestly don't think you're a DWEEB. :) Can't wait to meet you in person when you move to VA!

Love, Kristin

trustandobey said...

What a wonderful nudge, Anthony. What most don't realize is that the blessings that we think we are lavishing onto these children, come home to roost right in our own laps. Certainly adopted children benefit and bloom and blossom and grow, but God gives adoptive families such new insight into His heart. It is unbelievable.I think people shy away sometimes because they feel what will be required of them is more than they can (or are willing) to give. But the blessings are FAR FAR greater than they could know. And they are missing out, both the child and the family lose when we say NO.
ps-what a great shot of the girls!!!

heatherbrown said...

Beautiful. I am sending my husband to read this, who is unsure that adoption is the right thing to do...but I know better. :)

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

What a GREAT post!

As a mama of a dozen kids, people have often said that I'm extraordinary. "No." I say, "I'm just an ordinary mama with an extraordinary God."

I believe that God puts lots of dreams and passions into people's hearts, but that they must step out in FAITH before He will bring them to fruition. People can say, "I've always dreamed of adopting. But we don't have the money." We said, "God, you placed this dream into our hearts, and we believe that you want us to move forward with an international adoption. We have NO idea how YOU are going to pay for it. But we TRUST you to bring it about."

Just 1 month after we stepped forward, in FAITH ... BELIEVING that we were to adopt 3 siblings from Ghana ... with NO idea how GOD was going to pay for it ... we met a couple who gave us $15,000 towards the adoption. Then, we continued to trust God for the rest, and He provided "extra" work for my husband. We had all that we needed.

Last year ... we stepped out in FAITH again ... when God called us to leave all of our security behind, and move to a small island to pastor a very small church with a very small budget. We said, "Yes, Lord" because we KNOW that God will provide. And, he has.

Blessings to you and the family as you welcome these precious ones into your hearts and lives.

Laurel :)

soontobemomof9 said...

My husband is soooo reading this! What a treasure it has been to share in a glimpse of your family! You may nit think you are extraordinary, but that is what you inspire in others ..,. Extraordinary hope and joy and faith in out almighty God! Thank you!

Jodi said...

Wow. That was SO well said!
I'm having my husband read it for sure! Although his heart has already changed in a wonderful way~ we brought our little boy home from Ukraine a week ago!!

The picture of your two little angels is heart warming, I love it :)


Cammie Heflin said...

What a beautiful post and gorgeous pic of the girls!

Nan and Dan said...

amazing!! what else can I say :)

blessedmomto8 said...

WONDERFUL ANTHONY! So wonderful to know that! I have been called 1st a couple of times and my husband followed. You have a wonderful wife and wonderful children. You are SO BLESSED!

Lori said...

VERY well said. Thank you for putting into words what is always *cringing* inside of me when people utter the least little comment on how wonderful we are for adopting. UGH. It's soooo not about me because if it was, they'd quickly see how much of a wretch I am. It's all about our Father who paves the way, PAYS the way, and, only by His grace, gets us through each day as we transition into a bigger family through adoption.

Love you guys!! I'm so thankful for you letting us see how God is working through you!

Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

That was absolutely beautiful!

Praying your girls home into your arms forever Anthony! Praying for your family as you all wait to be united forever!

Thank you for sharing your heart here with us - it blessed me tremendously as a Mom of 9 gifts from God.

In His amazing grace,

David and Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Just beautiful. God uses ordinary people in their weakness and humility when they are totally dependant on Him.

Blessings to you!

Sally- That Girl! said...

Thanks Anthony! Your heart and my hubby's heart beat the same for this Adeye and I are the luckiest women in the world!!!!

Charissa said...

They are so beautiful. I know both girls will truly bless your family. I can't wait to see how they blossom. :)

Melinda said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. We don't hear the perspective of dads very often, but so glad you decided to share. I hope many hearts are stirred towards adoption by what your family is doing. Praying many blessings for your family!

The Sanchez Family said...

Wonderful words...

Susan A said...

thanks for posting, Anthony, what you and Adeye are doing is wonderful, especially for Hailee seeing she has been stuck in there for almost 5 years! Thank you for being brave and stepping out in Faith! :) YHWH is faithful and He is forever good. Praise His name!!

I loved the picture of the two girls, so cute.

Coppedge Clan said...

Oh, love it, Anthony! Thanks for sharing your heart! Your words were both inspiring and humbling! And we love Dweebs.....we are dweebs ourselves! :-) Can't wait to see you and the fam! Lots of Love, Anne

Kelly Rumbaugh said...

Anthony- Well, said.
And when you stand in front of the lord in heaven-- he will say
"Well done, my good and faithful servant"
Your heart is Jesus heart....lovng the least of these.
May your two newest blessing be home very very soon--through the power of our father!


Mountain Girl said...

Thank you very much! I am your neighbor in Divide and really did not want to offend you, but felt like I needed to share with you.......Your daughters are just precious and so are you, Adeye and all of your children! May God BLESS you and yours richly!

Mare said...

Visiting from Jill's blog...what a beautiful post. This post has touched my heart! Thank you!

My prayers to you and your family.

rachel27b said...

I have to say it...I believe you are extraordinary :) What makes you and many others like you, extraordinary, is that you are doing what you believe to be God's will. You are willing to step out and walk...that oh-so-scary step into the unknown with your known God. It is a testimony, a lesson and an encouragement to the rest of us! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

I used to go out to an orphanage with a friend and we used to spend time feeding the babies, playing with the toddlers and trying to give them a bit of love and attention. Unfortunately, due to transport restrictions, I have not been able to do that for a while, but I am really hoping to start doing so again.

Janine Claire Robinson said...

Hey Ant - so great to read your thoughts. You and the kids back home are so much in our thoughts while your precious wife and princesses await their return home to you. Know that you guys are slathered in prayer!!! Much love from all us Robbies.

Cari said...

Thank you, Anthony, for sharing your heart! I forwarded this post to my husband who appreciated it as well. He said the story of the widow and her two mites that you mentioned was the same passage that he read during his devotions this past week.

So many adoption blog posts are authored by women that us girls get much needed support, but it leaves the guys lacking in this area. All day long my husband is surrounded by the unbeliever with goals that do not include "dying to self" or "surrendering to God". This is why we wives need to daily pray to see the fruits of our husband's relationship with God!

Stefanie said...

Love, love, LOVE this post. It really spoke to my husband, too :)
Hope you don't mind, I linked this post to a post of mine over at No Hands But Ours... I just had to share it!

Lisa said...

You know, I hear it too but wonder is it just me or. . .and then I worry about the struggles we are under and my poor husband works so hard to provide just like yours. ((I loved the words from your husband...all I could so was see my Mark's face.)) and I worry about college for my oldest son and home school. . .I don't even know where to begin.

Beautiful post! for some reason I think I will be back to read this one more then once or twice.