Tuesday, August 30, 2011

INTERVIEW: Former Reluctant Husband Ike Fanz Loses His Life!







Ike and Alicia Fanz just stepped into a new world.  A world of uncertainty.  A world of risk.  But also a world of wonder.  Of immense peace.  Of indescribable fulfillment. 

The Fanzes lives have been turned upside down by God.  When adoption was something that only more noble or more "called" Christians would engage in, Ike and Alicia were right along with them.

Until...

~~~~

Tell us how your adoption journey started. How did God work in you to tell you He wanted you to adopt?

He brought your family across our path and used your example of love to spur us on. Soon the Scriptures describing widows and orphans became prominent in my quiet time. He showed me very clearly that if I was to follow him, I had to quit being lukewarm and get in the game. It seems crazy that I had been reading Scripture for years that clearly states that the Lord’s ways and the world’s ways are very different, but I had never really done anything about it.

Of the two of you, who was more reluctant and why? What changed your (or your wife’s) mind?

I was the more reluctant one. What changed me was the realization that my life is withering grass. I turned fifty this year, and I realize my time on Planet Earth is very short, assuming I am blessed with good health and not called home sooner. Following the Lord is what I want to spend my life doing. I want to have a front-row seat to watch Him in action!

Tell us about who you’re adopting and what drew you to them?

They are brother and sister, Yuri and Marina. The Lord put them on my wife’s heart while she was viewing children on Reece’s Rainbow. He very clearly spoke to my wife about them in particular. I fell hook, line, and sinker for them when we met them at the orphanage.

Why are you adopting special-needs orphans?

The world considers them undesirable or blemished. The Lord has given us a vision that these two are very, very special to Him.  And my family will be the one receiving the blessing, not vice versa.

Tell us about your trip to the eastern European nation.

It was a trip I will never forget. My wife and I have not traveled very much, so flying halfway around the world was new. Landing in a country where no one speaks your language at first seemed a little daunting but once we got there, we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. We spoke a little of the language and had fun ordering food and interacting with people there. There was an immediate bond with us and our kids. We were not sure what to expect, but as usual, the Lord made it great for us.

What broke your heart the most on the trip?

Two things. The first was all the other kids in the orphanage. We played with all of them twice a day and very soon, several of them were hugging us and not letting go. They would refer to Alicia and I as Mama and Papa. They wanted us to take them too.

The second was when we got a briefing on our children and their life prior to going to the orphanage. I won’t go into detail, but they had a rough start.

If you had all the power in the world, what one thing would you change the most about that place?

These people don’t use ice that I can see. I would mandate they put ice in their drinks.  (I am by nature a goofball, so I have to at least give a hint of how I operate.)

How has your life been changed so far by going through this adoption journey?

I trust God with much more of my life and am much more aware of the spiritual battle we are in everyday. These are both very good things, as I have to rely on Him for about everything I do. Best place to be!

What’s the first thing you want to do with your new children when they’re officially yours on Gotcha Day?

Take them to see the ocean.

What one thing would you tell dads out there who are considering adoption for the first time but who feel reluctant?

The only good advice I have is from Scripture. Those who “lose their life will find it” (Matt. 10:39). You will be opposed on different fronts as you go through the process. God will seek out your most secret places to reveal what He wants to change and refine in you. This can take many forms.  With me, money and fear came into play. He held it up to the light for me and basically asked, who are you going to serve, son? Me or this world?

If you have a testimony of your own adoption journey, men, let me know.  I'd love to allow your story to change the hearts of lives of many other families out there.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reflections of An Adoptive Father


Hurray!  Our sweetie is home.

What a journey this past MONTH has been.  Hailee's fevers started three weeks ago.  Last week, as you know, we took her to ER and they admitted her, running tons of blood tests. 

A couple of days ago, the earthquake happened (while Hailee was in the hospital).  Now, Hailee's home but still fighting fevers.  Thankfully, they're not as severe as they were.  But they're still there, nevertheless.  After taking her back to the hospital to read her TB test, the doctor said she's most probably fighting "some sort of virus."  But do they really know?

Now we're preparing for a hurricane.

And I heard next week we can expect a plague of frogs and locust infestation.

OK, everyone laugh with me.  Go ahead.  Let me hear you.

What?  You don't think it's a laughing matter?  Of course, it is.  Doesn't the Word of God say:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."     ~ James 1:2

Shakespeare called it a "comedy of errors."  Circumstances are so bad that you just have to laugh.  I don't know if Shakespeare knew the Lord, but he was onto something.  The difference, though, between Billy and us Christians (maybe he was a believer, I don't know) is that our laughter comes from a deep-rooted joy that can only come from God in the midst of horrible circumstances.

And I know that you know what I'm talking about.  Many of you reading this blog can write a saga or two that puts our little short story to shame.  Many of you are dealing with circumstances that just won't go away.  Maybe your child has a life-long condition in which God can call them home at any time.  Or maybe you've already lost a child.  Or two.  Or three.

And what can compare to what the early apostles endured?  When Paul and company talk about "suffering" and "trials," they were getting sawn in two and crucified.

So were they laughing?  I don't have a clue.  But if they weren't, there was still that profound, in-your-gut joy that rose up in them, that sense that ALL IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!!

And so I can hold Hailee like I did in this photo, look at all the things stuck on her and stuck in her, look at her weary eyes and say to her, "It's all alright, sweetheart, all is well with our souls.  Jesus is the healer and He is in control."

And then we prayed for you--the "you's" out there enduring more than we are.  And after Hailee and I prayed, we knew that the Lord was sending joy your way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24 Update on Hailee

First of all, I have to speak to each and every one of you who has commented on my last update.  Your outpouring of prayer and love support is overwhelming.  My family is truly grateful. 

Please accept my apology if I can't respond to all of them.  Adéye and I are taking turns at the hospital, plus we're tending after all the other children.  But we've read all of your comments and are so very touched. 

I just got back from the hospital.  It seems all the doctors do is test, test, test.  And each time they take blood, poor baby.  She really doesn't understand what's going on.

Word is out in the hospital that Hailee's case is an enigma.  At one time, nine--count 'em, NINE--doctors were in the room discussing her.  They're scratching their heads.

But now for the good news.  Some of you were so kind to suggest what Hailee's condition COULD be.  Let me assure you, Adéye and I have not taken your suggestions lightly.  We have asked the doctors about each of them.  And now that the test results are coming in, we are at least able to rule out some serious stuff...

Leukemia--since those with Down syndrome have a proclivity toward this, it's a legitimate concern, but looking at the blood test results, the doctor says definitely not.
Mononucleosis--tests show that Hailee did have mono at one time in her life, but this condition is not mono.
Meningitis--doctors were going to do a spinal tap to test for it, but decided against it, because they don't suspect it anymore.

There are other things that it could be, but we don't know.

What we DO know is that our God is in the business of healing.  And THAT'S what we're praying and believing for, regardless of what the doctors find. 

I am so confident that many of you will join our prayers about this.  Especially, we need prayers that Hailee's immune system improves more and more so that she doesn't relapse.  So a total, complete, effective, long-lasting healing from God.  Is there any other kind?

Thank you again.  It's times like this when we know we can rely on God, but also on the body of Christ.  Go team!



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update on Our Little Hailee

The Fetching Mrs. Salem is in the hospital spending the night with our little Hailee who went back to ER today with still another fever. Tests are being run, and as soon as we know, we will let everyone know what's going on with her. 

She's had a fever off and on for three weeks now.  At first, she had cold sores throughout her mouth, then on Sunday she tested positive for strep, and then, after penicillin, she still had a fever that in fact hit 102 degrees.

When I left the hospital, the fever finally broke, but Hailee still has a long way to go.  We still don't know what's causing the fevers, sleepiness, and lack of desire to eat and drink.

Adéye and I and all the kids would greatly appreciate your prayers, since Hailee could be in the hospital for days until she's better.

We love you all and are immensely grateful for your sincere, heart-felt support!

Monday, August 15, 2011

When Our Own Family Rejects Us




You have made the courageous choice.  You and your spouse are going to adopt.  It’s been a journey getting to where you are now, but you’re finally there, and you’re excited beyond description.

Until…

…you tell a family member that you thought would be excited for you.

It can be a mother, a father, a sibling, even your own child.  And that’s what makes it hurt all the more.

I happen to recall a passage in Scripture that mentions these family members:

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

~ Luke 14:25-27


On the face of it, this passage seems so darn harsh.  Gosh, Lord, really?  Hate? 

We actually do not need to delve into deep theological study of the term hate here to understand what Jesus was getting at.  We just need to read the story in its context.  Just read from verse 15 to 33.  The “hate” passage is buried directly in the middle of one teaching by Jesus—to be my disciple, nothing or no one should get between Me and you! 

A disciple is more than a learner or student.  A disciple is a devotee.  When we signed up for this, dear friends, we put in all of our chips.  There’s no turning back. 

In 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez sailed with 600 men to the shores of Mexico to once and for all conquer Montezuma and the Aztecs occupying there.  After unloading provisions, he ordered the ships to be burned.  There, on the sandy shore of Vera Cruz, hundreds of men watched as their lifeline back home disintegrated into sea water.  There was no turning back.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have told the Lord that we are His.  We sing songs that we are His.  We tell our own family that we are His.  We now have a glorious opportunity to show the Lord and the world that we are His.  We need to encourage ourselves that once in, we are always in, no matter who comes up against us in what the Lord has told us…even if it’s our own family.

We always answer with words seasoned in grace, and we always listen to what our family says, perchance they are right and we are wrong in some way, but we also must listen to what we know the Master has spoken to our hearts.

“Count it all joy,” count yourself among the wounded, but also brush yourself off and get back into the fray.  At the end of the day, at the end of your life, at the end of all time, we answer only to the audience of One.

If you’d like to read the post in my Reluctant Husband Syndrome series entitled “Question 7: What will my extended family say, and will they accept my adopted child?”, go here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TESTIMONY: Matt Peterson In China Says--"Leave Your Cape At Home"





It's not often that I get testimonies from overseas.  Well, uh...actually...this is the first one.

The Petersons are planted in China.  Welcome to their wonderful story of how they've taken in a beautiful girl who was hard to place.

With God, there is ALWAYS a place!


In 2008 my wife Heather, my two daughters Sydney and Aubrey, and I all moved to China.  Our goals were to study Chinese and to love anyone who came into our lives.  What an awesome journey!  After living in China for nearly two years, we went back to the States to spend the summer with family and because my wife was expecting our third child.  We returned to China after my wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Caleb.  Once here, we wanted to continue with what we set out to do—to learn the language and continue to love and serve those around us.  We had no idea that our lives were going to take a drastic turn in a new, unforeseen direction.

Some friends of ours sent out a mass text saying that there was a little Chinese orphan girl who needed help.   Nearly two and a half years ago, she was found abandoned at a train station here in China.  Appearing two years old, her skin was dry and cracked. 

A Chinese family actually took her in and began to love her as their daughter.  Last year when China was conducting its census, this family learned they had to register the little girl.  Part of the registration process is a health check-up, during which time it was discovered that the orphan was HIV positive.  Although the family had been raising her for the past year and a half, they decided not to continue raising her. 

Like many places around the world, people who are HIV positive face many stigmas and this situation was no different.  The family tried to leave her with an orphanage and were turned away because of her being HIV positive.  In the end they took her to a hospital and left her, where she was placed in isolation, simply because she had the virus.  For the second time in this little girl’s life, she was abandoned by those who were meant to care for her, to love her, and to provide her with a secure home.

That’s when our friends’ text caught our attention.  They asked if anyone would be willing to foster her or help cover the expenses of caring for her.  I remember that it was literally less than a minute after receiving that text that my wife called our friend to get more details about this little girl’s situation.  By the end of that night, my wife and I knew that we were going to take her into our home.  That decision put us on a course that would rock us to our core. 

At first we didn’t know if we would only provide foster care for her until her forever family came forward, or if we would try to adopt her.  (My wife and I are both under the minimum age needed to adopt from China and because of that, we weren’t sure if we would be able to adopt her.)

Three days later, I (Matt) was on my way to the hospital to meet this little girl.  I can’t, even now, really put into words what that experience was like, but I can say that it was overwhelming, exciting, and nerve-racking all at the same time.  She didn’t speak a word of English, but luckily my wife and I can speak some Chinese.  It’s very possible that we were the first non-Chinese people she had ever seen, but she handled moving in with us like a champ.  It took a lot of adjustment for Heather and I, because, well, Lily is Chinese, and the Chinese culture is very different from ours.  For example, when Lily first came to us she preferred to drink hot water, eat dumplings and wear many, many layers of clothes.

This was one of Lily’s first days with us. It didn’t take her long to dive
into our girl’s dress-up clothes and put on everything she could get
her hands on. To this day dress-up remains one of her favorite activities.

One of the things I’ve learned through this process is that we don’t need to have a cape and superpowers to foster or adopt a little child.  In fact, the only thing we need is to be available.  I read this quote recently that puts it really well—“Availability is rarer than ability.”

The reality is that lacking ability in these kinds of situations can even be more helpful, because it forces us to go to God to find new strength and to grow in new ways. 

I will always remember the second night Lily was with us.  We had just laid all our kids down for bed and both my wife and I collapsed on the couch feeling completely exhausted in every measurable way.  That’s when we had a very honest talk with our Father about our deep need for Him, and you know what, He has helped us in ways that I would have never seen or needed if I were insulated in comfort. 

It must be made abundantly clear that my wife and I are just normal people.  The only thing that sets us apart is that we said “yes” when it would have been much easier to say “no.”  The reality is that you and your family are some of the best gifts you could ever give away.  This entire experience has probably been equally beneficial for our three birth kids.  They love having another sister and have made the transition for Lily even easier.  Remember life isn’t about what you store up but what you give away.  But we’re getting away from our story, so let me catch you up on our family since Lily joined us.

This photo was taken during a family photo shoot we had a couple months back. 
When Lily got in front of the camera all by herself, she put her hands
out and twirled, which made for some really precious pictures.

As I write this, it’s been exactly seven months since Lily joined our family and started HIV medication that boosts her immune system.  It’s been incredible to see that over such a short period of time her immune system has become nearly normal.  Outside of her health getting better, she’s also settled in amazingly with her sisters and brother.  All the girls love playing with dolls, dressing-up, and dancing, and we love every minute of it.  Also in these short seven months we’ve  seen Lily go from knowing zero English to now being able to communicate completely (including whining and arguing) in English.  It’s unreal how fast these little kids pick up new languages.  (It’s also cute, because sometimes our oldest daughter will talk with Lily in Chinese and Lily will respond in English).  My wife and I want to adopt our little Lily flower and are trusting in God to help us.  It might take a couple years because of our age, but she’s more than worth the wait.

I’m surrounded in a sea of pink and purple, but in that sea
are my three little princesses who I love and adore.

Another thing I would like to share is that doing the right thing isn’t easy.  It will cost you something.  Even people who were close to us didn’t agree with our decision.  They were afraid of Lily being HIV positive and the threat of spreading the virus to us or our children.  Part of this journey has been learning that HIV doesn’t spread as easily as our fears tell us. Are you willing to sacrifice comfort, security, and ease to help someone else?

As I write this I would imagine that there are a multitude of orphans who are going to bed and they’re praying.  They’re praying that a family would want them, that they would have parents who would love them and accept them no matter what.  Maybe the answer to their prayers is me.  Maybe it’s you.  But are we willing to be the Father’s answer to those prayers?

Thanks for reading all of this.  If you want to read more about our family and our adventures in China, please check out our blog at http://petersonchina.blogspot.com.

With hope,

Matt Peterson

Monday, August 8, 2011

"When I Am Weak, Then Am I Strong"






Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
                              ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10


How can someone “take pleasure” in sickness or personal calamity?

Just one verse prior to this passage, Paul admits the reason why he was “blessed” with his thorn in the flesh—so he wouldn’t think he was God’s gift to the world through his numerous revelations.  As far as we know, John didn’t need such a thorn, and look at the revelations HE received.  The last book of the Bible is named after them.

But God knew Paul.  And his experience was not a punishment, by any means.

Somehow, Paul enjoyed such very close communication with Christ.  I don’t know if Jesus personally appeared to Paul or if Paul heard His audible voice or if he saw the words in a tortilla.  But he definitely heard from God himself on this one, and it was enough to turn his attitude around a thousand percent!

Paul knew something that I need to remember: I don’t have to take pleasure in the disease or attacks.  I take pleasure in my state of weakness because I know what’s coming down the road!

And it doesn't matter what the infirmity is.  I think that's why the Word never spells it out for us.  Maybe God doesn't want us to read a specific ailment or life condition, lest we be tempted to always label it "the thorn God allows."  It's a whatever.  Whatever we face, we can pray.  Don't ever stop praying.  Allow God to speak to your heart.  Because the lesson to learn is the thing that's about to come.  I must never be concerned with how or when it will come, but it WILL come.  And what is that?

Look at the words in the passage—“power” and “strong.”  “In” those infirmities (or put another way, in the period while I’m experiencing them), I can boast, not about me, but about what Christ is about to do.  Wow!  Did you get that?

Take heart, dear friend.  It’s coming.  Or more specifically, HE’S coming.  And He’s coming in power and strength, through His grace.  And He’s using YOU for His good purpose!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TESTIMONY: Dave "Aus" Ausdenmoore's Five Rules of Dadhood









When you think of rules, you think of "law," restriction, prohibition.  But these rules broken down by my frequent reader and blog friend, Aus, will hopefully free you up in your spirit. 

Often, Reluctant Husbands are afraid and don't know why.  I am confident Aus's easy-reading post will put many of you at ease.  At least, that's my prayer!
 
My name is Aus, and I suffer from Reluctant Husband Syndrome.
Or at least I did.  Actually I always will because the prospect of being a dad simply scares the devil out of me and it always has.  All six times.

And over the intervening 26 plus years, I’ve learned a couple things…including….it’s supposed to scare the devil out of you!

I’ve also learned that there is no shame in being an RH. And RHS applies to having bio kids too.  It’s about having kids, not HOW you have them!

I could relate half a dozen or more stories about how the light went on for me, about when my heart was touched, when my eyes were opened, and about all the practical things that stand in the way of adoption, domestic or international. Anthony has covered most of them—most all the practical ones, as well as the more “ephemeral”  It all comes down to “trust.” Trust in God to provide the resources (financial or otherwise). Trust in your bride to “know the right thing to do.” Trust in God (yet again) to lead you down the road that He intends for you to travel. Trust in yourself to “know the right thing to do” when your beloved bride does not!

But for me, RHS was mostly caused by my fear—or lack of trust in myself—to be able to parent a child to adulthood and produce an offspring that was someone that would make the world a little better place than it was before they arrived.

I don’t mean someone that would cure cancer or stop wars or earn Nobel prizes.  I mean someone that could be an average guy or gal but who touches folks in a kind and gentle way, who has the heart to commit 100% to whatever they were called to do, someone who simply “gets it” in daily life.

See, I was afraid that I’d warp them somehow or give them a belief set that caused them to be all those things that I think are bad, dangerous, or wrong.

I didn’t have a “dark night of the soul” or a “conversation with God,” or even an e-mail from Him! But I did, over the first 18 or 20 years of child rearing, learn a good number of things that included such gems as these rules…

Rule #1: I’m not perfect and I’m when it comes to parenting, I am going to “screw up by the numbers” sometimes. 

Rule #2: My kids (much like their parents) will make bad decisions many times during their lives.

Rule #3: No amount of effort or training can change Rules #1 or #2.

And finally…

Rule #4: Even a parent that falls prey to Rules #1, #2, or #3 is far superior to...

No…Parent...At…All.

So at the tender age of 44, with three children over the age of 15, I was asked by one of the kids (the daughter that was just married), “Dad, you and mom always talked about having a big family, so after mom got sick, why didn’t you guys adopt kids?”

And my response was simply, “Honey, I never even thought about it.”

This, much to my bride’s disbelief.  She’d thought about it for years and was shocked that it had never occurred to me.

And with that quiet Sunday morning conversation, I was thrust right back into RHS in capital letters.

Eight months later, we had a six-month-old daughter in the house.
About three years later, having agreed that we were all done having kids, that little girl would be looking at websites on her mom’s lap and pointing to a picture of a little girl, saying, “That’s my sister.  We can kiss her boo-boo, and she can play with my toys.” Our adopted daughter would find that picture twice more over the next week and say the same thing.
OK, maybe I need to revisit my earlier comment that God has never spoken to me directly. Maybe in this case He did?  I mean, a three year old clicking forward and back until she finds the same picture three times? Sometimes God even deigns to “smack us on the head” when we refuse to listen. Regardless, less than a year later, we’d be in China adopting our next daughter.

And less than a year later my bride would see a picture of a little boy, and by that point, I knew that there was no fighting it.  Our youngest son has been home for about 18 months now.


So eight years later at the tender age of 52, I’d be the happily married proud dad of six kids—three boys and three girls, ranging in age from 26 to three.
And I’ve learned Rule #4 is completely true….

And discovered that there is a final rule...

Rule #5:  Once you are a dad, you are a dad forever!

Yeah.  The reality is that there is no escaping caring and loving and worrying and hurting for your kids, even as they prepare to walk down the aisle. Once you’re in, you’re in forever!

But God provides what you need when you need it, that’s why rule #4 works.

My name is Aus, I’m a happily married father of six.  I suffer from Reluctant Husband Syndrome, and I’m among the luckiest man in the world…

Because I’m a dad.


Remember, PLEASE don't feel like you have to be a fantastic writer to contribute your testimony.  It ONLY takes someone who's willing to share their heart to help so many others out there who need to read what you write.  So don't hesitate!  Email me soon!

Monday, August 1, 2011

TESTIMONY: Chad Reickard's Ashes To Beauty




Get the tissues out. 

I am so honored to have met Chad Reickard via cyberspace.  This is a story that Hollywood won't put on film, but should.  Chad and Kristin weren't following the Lord when they got married, had their first child, then had their second, only to lose little Kael after a few short weeks. 

God used their tragedies to turn ashes into beauty.  But watch out, their "beauty" may just radically change your life.


* * *

I’m a mechanical engineer and the father of four beautiful children:  my daughter Elliana, 10, my son Kael, who is in heaven, my son Jaevan, 4, and my soon-to-be daughter Aria, 3, and still living in China.  My life was empty till our Lord Jesus Christ saved me and changed me into who I am today.  I grew up in a church-attending home, but I never had a personal relationship with God.  I went to college, got a job, got married, and then had Elliana.  To the world, I had everything I needed.  Spiritually, I was empty and unfulfilled.  At the time, I was OK with that, but unknown to me, as we prepared for the birth of our second child, God was about to take my world, turn it upside down, spin it around, and throw it across the room.  My faith, my marriage, and my life was about to change….

Kael Xavier
Our second child and first son, Kael Xavier Reickard, was born on August 18, 2004. 
Little Kael gets a kiss from his big sis, Elliana, while mom Kristin holds him.

After only one week at home, we realized that something was seriously wrong with him.  We took him to the hospital and his bilirubin levels in his liver were off the chart, so we were told to go immediately to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa.  Once there, the doctors discovered that Kael was in liver failure and would need a liver transplant, which would take place at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  Once we arrived, the doctors told us that babies rarely survive transplants until they are at least three months old.  In order for Kael to survive his transplant, he needed to stay alive long enough to reach the three-month mark.  So for the next six weeks, we lived at the Chicago Ronald McDonald house and visited Kael in the hospital every day.
Kael in the hospital.

Kael almost made it three months, but the Lord took him home the morning of October 7, 2004, and he was laid to rest on October 10, 2004, in Davenport, Iowa.
From Ashes…
I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to lose a child.  I felt empty… like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.  Back then, I was not saved so I did not turn to the Lord.  Instead, I went in the opposite direction—I blamed God.  I was angry with Him for letting my son die.  I spent most of my time grieving over my son and being angry with God.  How could He do this?  Why did I deserve to lose a son?  Why did an innocent child have to suffer so much?  How could a loving God do such a thing?
In the fall of 2005, which was about a year after Kael died, we decided to try for another baby.  Kristin got pregnant and then after six or seven weeks, lost the baby.  Are you kidding me?  Not only did I lose a child, but I can’t have any more?  My anger exploded!  I declared to my wife that we were done having any kids whatsoever.
Harvest Bible Chapel
Before the miscarriage, my wife discovered a new church in the area and visited one Sunday when I was out of town.  She loved it.  They preached truth without apology, and fed her with God’s word, which she had been craving.  When I came, she told me all about this new church, but I was hesitant.  After several weeks, I finally agreed to give this new church a try.  I wasn’t sure about the church, but I liked the music, which was contemporary Christian.  We began to faithfully attend this new church in the late fall of 2005 and for the next year, seeds were planted in my soul.  Harvest preached God’s word with boldness and without apology.  I slowly began to realize that not only did I need to hear the truth, but I needed a Savior.  That summer, I gave my life to Christ and began my journey of dedicating my life to serving God and repairing the relationship with my wife, my daughter, and all those around me.
Once I placed God at the center of my life, my marriage, and my family, everything fell into place.  Just like Saul, the scales fell from my eyes! (Acts 9:18)  I used to think abortion and homosexuality were okay, but now I know they’re wrong and an abomination to God (Romans 1: 26-32).  The relationship with my wife has never been better!  Loving her and nurturing her as God intended completely changed our marriage.  By using the Lord’s word to teach and discipline my kids, I know that God is pleased in the direction they are heading in their faith.  We are now serving in the children’s ministry at church, giving our time and energy to assist in bringing more kids to Jesus.  My life has purpose now and I look forward to the day I meet and kneel before my Savior!
To Beauty…
After the miscarriage, my wife was already thinking about adoption, but I would have nothing to do with it.  This was mostly due to my anger, but I had also never pictured having kids that were not from me.  It didn’t make sense to me how a child that wasn’t biologically mine, could love me as their father.  Once I gave my life to Christ, and began to study the Bible, my heart slowly softened and I came to realize that it might actually be possible for a Father to love a child that wasn’t biologically his.  So I told my wife one morning at church that I was ready to start the adoption process.
We found an agency, filled out all the paperwork, and began the long process of waiting.  We started with China, but after a year of waiting, switched to South Korea.  Oh, how God closes doors and opens others!  We thought we were starting over on the South Korea list, but after only thirty days, we received a referral late January of 2007.  A little boy named Jee Sauk was waiting for us in South Korea.  We immediately accepted the referral and began the process of bringing him home.  Jaevan Jee, whom we call JJ, arrived into the United States on September 3, 2008.
JJ, destined for royalty.  The "royal priesthood," that is!

Defending the Fatherless

We initially started the adoption process to add another child to our family.  We believed we were blessing the life of the child we were adopting.  In the end, JJ blessed our lives beyond comprehension.  Here we thought we were blessing him, when in turn God used JJ to bless us. 

Welcome to America, JJ!

We have learned so much about God’s heart since JJ joined our family.  Through His commandment to “defend the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17) and to “look after orphans” (James 1:27), I slowly began to realize that I have a responsibility to the orphan, as one of God’s people, while we are here on Earth.  Even though I’m a fairly new believer, I now understand God’s love for adoption since He adopted me into His family by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5).

Life is good!  JJ today, with his beautiful sister Elliana.

Round Two

In the summer of 2010, my wife approached me about adopting another child.  We were only able to afford JJ’s adoption by getting a loan, which we are still paying off.  I told her that before we could consider another adoption, I would need a new higher paying job.  Oh, how God is faithful to his children!  Two weeks later I received a job offer from a large family-owned company.  I don’t normally get obvious signs from God, so I could not ignore this one!  I gladly took the new job, leaving my current job of twelve and a half years.

We started praying about which country we should choose.  We again, felt led to adopt from China but this time through the special-needs program.  It was difficult trying to decide which special needs our family could handle, but our social worker insisted that we be honest with ourselves and put down only those conditions that we felt we could handle.  We did, and mailed our application along with the small application fee.

When we sent in our application, I had no idea where the money would come from.  I just knew that if I was obedient to God, that He would be faithful to us.  I shocked my wife by informing her that we need to ignore the fact that we didn’t have the funds, and instead have faith in God, trusting that He would provide.  Can you imagine the surprise on her face?  Her husband, who used to be destined for hell, who never knew God, who used to live for worldly things, had now turned his life completely around and was stepping out in obedience by trusting in his Savior.

This adoption would be different.  This time, we desired to be obedient to God.  We had room in our home for another child and God had placed a love for the orphan in our hearts.  Have I mentioned God’s faithfulness?  With the help of numerous friends and donations, we had an adoption garage sale in the spring of 2011 and raised almost one-third of the money we needed!  Then we were able to raise the remaining funds by deducting from various investments.
One week after the garage sale, God blessed us again!  We received our referral!  Jiang Si Qing is a little three-year-old girl living in China with CHD (Congenial Heart Disease).  Remember how we filled out all the special needs that we felt we could handle?  Well, God had other plans for us!  We never wrote down CHD.  Our social worker just sent us the referral and said, “I know you didn’t write down CHD, but see what you think.”  See what we think?!?  How can I look on this beautiful little child of God and turn my back to her?!?  God could only be more explicit by sending an airplane to write “Adopt Jiang” across the sky!  We accepted and are now waiting to travel to China to bring her home, hopefully before her birthday in late December.
Aria's referral pics.



God’s way is better
As I look back at my life, I can’t believe how much patience the Lord has.  God could have given up on me a long time ago, but instead, He waited for me… and waited… and waited.  Even through all my sins, curses, and disobedience.  Can you image your child being that way—for YEARS?!?  DECADES?!?  God’s love, grace, and mercy are much more than we can ever comprehend in this life.
Someday, I’ll understand God’s plan for me, my family, and my children, but until then, I’ll continue to have faith in Him, keep reading His word, and strive for righteousness.  God’s way is best and if we turn from our sinful selves, accept His gift of salvation, and repent, He will bless His children.  He will not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).

Men, I need your testimonies!  As you can see from past ones posted here, all it entails is speaking from the heart.  Such a simple thing, though, can radically change some reader's life direction for Christ and can even save a life! 
Just send me an email and I'll give you details.  Thank you so much for playing a part in God's expanding kingdom! 
~ Anthony
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