Last month, our little guy turned one. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but when I think back on the past year it’s easy to see that a lot happened.
One of my favorite parts about becoming a family of four is watching the bond develop between Caleb and Elliot. They laugh together (and at each other) a lot. Elliot smiles biggest and squeals loudest for Caleb – we don’t get such high approval ratings from him. And Caleb takes care of Elliot and watches out for him. It makes me happy to see how they interact, and to envision what their friendship will be like in 10, 20, 30 years.
I saw a glimpse of their bond this afternoon when we were out shopping. We’d spent the morning at the Treehouse (an indoor playground) and Elliot fell asleep in the minute it took to drive to the store. He stayed asleep as we walked inside, and Caleb requested to sit in one of the side-by-side child seat carts. Elliot stayed asleep the whole time we were in the store, and for half of it Caleb had his arm wrapped around Elliot’s shoulders. Before Elliot joined our family I had no idea how brotherly love would melt my heart.
It’s not likely we’ll stay a family of four for very much longer. Last week we submitted our application for foster care – starting the process to get a foster care license. We’ve been thinking about adopting for years, and until recently had planned to start seriously thinking about it in a few more years, when our boys were bigger. But when Hans was at Urbana last December (and I watched some of the conference online), God used Michelle Higgins’ talk to prod us to action. Her statement that there are 100,000 children in foster care available for adoption, and 300,000 (protestant) churches really hit home.
Although we do hope to adopt someday, our plan has now shifted from adoption to foster care, and the extra uncertainty that it brings is looming ahead. But I am excited to get started, and look forward to having more kids join our home. I hope and pray that we can form strong attachments with the kids that come to us, and with their parents. And even though it will be hard, I trust that God will work.
The last few months have gone the way they tend to in the fall… entirely too fast! It is hard to believe that November is here already (especially since the weather this week was in the mid-60s!) and that the fall semester is over half finished.
We’ve been keeping busy – enjoying the beautiful fall weather, spending time with new neighbors, making pear and apple sauce, filling our house with students, hosting Sarah (our planting coach with InterVarsity) for a visit, two fall conferences, garden and yard work, hosting our parents, and seeing our kids grow right in front of our eyes.
With all of the activity, I think a photo update will be more interesting than reading my account of these activities. Enjoy!
I met with a student on Tuesday for a prayer walk, just a few hours after I had been feeling anxious and overwhelmed by all that needed to be done by next week.
We read this from Mark:
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 (NIV)
As we discussed what we could learn about the kingdom of God from the parable, we came to the role of the farmer. He scatters, trusts, waits, and identifies the right time to harvest.
Just as the farmer was attentive to the growth of the plant, we need to be attentive to what God is doing around us, identifying our role/responsibility in the process.
Praying that God would open our eyes to those around us, we made our way over to her department. As we walked through the halls, we prayed for those whose offices we passed by. She introduced me to a number of people from her department, including a postdoc that she just recently found out is also a Christian.
We ended at her empty office, praying for success in her research and a better relationship with her office mate. We sat to debrief the prayer walk, and she realized how large her network was; she knew by name nearly everyone we passed in the halls. As we talked further, it became clear that her next step was to seek out and pursue relationships within her department, made easier by the fact that many grad students eat lunch together in the lounge every day.
God answered our opening prayer; he opened her eyes to the community in her department, and invited her to step further into it. It’s not often that I call Lindsay immediately after a meeting with a student, but I was so excited and encouraged that I couldn’t wait to tell her!
Hebrews 4:12 begins: “For the word of God is alive and active,” and I saw that on Tuesday. This parable applied well to the prayer walk, and our eyes were open to the opportunities in her department. But when the same text is used in a different application in my life, Hebrews 4:12 rings that much more true.
Our planting coach, Sarah, was praying for me the following day, and the same parable came to mind for her. The farmer was not anxious in his sleep; he was able to trust that his crop would grow – mysterious as that process may be. Sarah prayed that I would be able to let go and trust God in what he is doing, and that we would have eyes to see how things have grown in the times that we’re not working. It was a powerful reminder of who really is in control, and that I need to keep trusting and keep putting him first.
Just as this student was challenged in mission through the parable of the growing seed in exactly the way that she needed, I was ministered to by the same parable, just as I needed. God’s Word is truly active and alive. Praise God!
Two weeks ago we left for a two-week “vacation”. Most of the two weeks weren’t really vacation (although not having to cook for two weeks made it feel that way) since we spent one week in Madison, WI, for training with InterVarsity and half of the next week visiting supporters (which also felt like vacation… we love getting to spend time with people!). The last part of our trip was spent in northern Ohio, visiting part of Hans’ extended family and attending his cousin’s wedding.
The training we attended was for planting an international InterVarsity chapter* at Michigan Tech. We’ve been trying to get something going for the past few years, and the training we received is going to help make that happen. We were matched with a coach (another InterVarsity staff who has experience planting a chapter) and were brought through several cycles of activities to help us really see how we can grow a student group that multiplies itself.
Our biggest takeaway from the week in Madison?
Students are seeds to be scattered, not sheep to be gathered.