family, investment, legacy, Uncategorized

Two weeks ago yesterday, we went and spent the evening with my centenarian grandfather, knowing it was likely going to be our last goodbye. We shared a time of worship, of sharing scripture, of talking to him and thanking him for his teaching in our lives. He knew we were there, and in the way he responded to each of us, I am certain that he was able to hear the words of blessing and gratitude we each got to speak to him, after the many years he has spoken life-giving words to each of us.

I am sad. I miss him. He was my friend, a wise counselor, a perennial storyteller and a beloved mentor. For the four years I was in college, while my own dad was in Kuwait, while my parents and sister were half a continent or more away, he and my grandmother were my intimate family nearby. He rescued me when I was sick in the middle of a class, when I fell and went to the emergency room, when I needed to make sure the young man I met in my first days on campus was worthy of my time. My grandfather gave gentle, sage advice, founded on the bedrock of his faith in Christ. His influence is one that helped shape and guide me from my tiny years until this past weekend. And I suspect it isn’t over. Good teaching reverberates.

What I didn’t realize was that his impact was so long-lasting in other people’s lives, too. His last few birthdays have brought cards from former students, neighbors, colleagues, nieces, nephews, and church friends, so I knew he was treasured by many, and that his legacy was broad. But this past weekend when we went to his funeral in the town where he taught , where Jason and I went to college, met, and were eventually married, we spent an afternoon walking our children around the college campus that was the scene of all these events.

We had an amazing revelation when we went into the building that had housed my grandfather’s department. It was the Friday afternoon before spring break, and the entire campus was pretty quiet, so we popped in to the administrative offices so they would know why strangers were walking through the halls. When I started with, “Hi! We’re in town for my grandfather’s funeral and wanted to show our children where he had spent so many hours and years,” I was fine and steady-voiced until one of the women in the office said, “You’re Warren’s granddaughter! We were just talking about him at lunch today.”

Friends, he retired from that department 35 years ago! My tears bore witness to the fact that I just couldn’t believe that they not only remembered him, but that they too were touched by his life. One of the women who had known him when he used to spend time in the department after he retired offered to spend her time walking us through the building so we could see not only where he used to spend his days and evenings teaching and advising students, but also could see the ways that his department’s foundational post-war years made way for the current offerings. It was unbelievable, and Brenda’s kind remembrance and sacrificial time-gift were an amazing blessing from the Lord.

That tour and the memories we exchanged teed up the next morning at the same church where I often sat in the pew with my grandparents. Shortly before the service began, I had the privilege of meeting the current senior department member whom my grandfather often spoke of with deep respect when he introduced himself, identifying my grandfather as his mentor. There were Sunday school class members, current and retired faculty members from his department and other departments, neighbors from 50+ years ago, “kids” who had lived with him and my grandmother while studying at the college…

Our kids shared the scripture. One read Psalm 61, in which we hear “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”  One read Proverbs 3:1-18, which sums up so much about my intelligent, faithful, humble grandfather. One of our children shared John 14:1-7, pointing to the truth Grandpa knew so well, that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that we can each know where we are going to spend eternity if we choose a relationship with Jesus.

The pastor at my grandparents’ home church arrived after my grandparents had moved to the metro to be closer to their family, but his message was spot on – that although he hadn’t known my grandfather in person, he knew him through the scripture passages, and that we can all learn one more lesson from this consummate teacher.  Grandpa loved his subject matter, and he loved teaching and preparing teachers, but it wasn’t ever the subject or content that he loved best about teaching. Above all, he was always most interested in the people, in knowing and investing in people, in sharing stories to inspire people to rise to achieve their fullest potential, in helping each person he spoke to grow to be the best he or she could be. And as the pastor pointed out, Grandpa has one final lesson – this time about the Rock who is higher than he – to teach.  Like all his stories and lessons, we can choose to receive and learn or to dismiss. He always hoped his students would catch what he was telling them, but like Christ, he was a gentle teacher, and he would leave the decision to learn up to each of us.

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This was a typical scene in my grandparents’ home; Grandpa loved to teach and tell stories, and we could listen and learn for hours. He was good at investing in people, and it was a privilege to get to sit at his feet.

adoption, dossier, milestones, Uncategorized

What a whirlwind this past week has been! There have been a number of amazing opportunities to see God’s hand working in this season of wonder – in conversations, in surprising opportunities, in unbelievable provision. Those are all posts in their own right, so I will just leave this good news here.  We mailed our completed, authenticated dossier to our agency on Friday, and today they received it and sent it out the door – to China! This means we have hit a major milestone – our adoption status is DTC – Dossier to China, and now we wait for our log-in date when our dossier enters the review process. In the meantime, we are praying for this little one and her caregivers, and would welcome you joining us in this, too.

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adoption, authentication, dossier, fundraising

When I woke up this morning, I was mindful of the fact that the NCAA Men’s Basketball ChampionshipTournament would be starting in less than four hours, and we had hoped that we would have all the Freethrows for Family spots filled. It didn’t look like that would happen, but I posted an update of the remaining spots on Facebook, went to get ready for the day, and came back to a trickle of messages that turned into a deluge! While we were packing lunch and eating breakfast, more requests for numbers came in, and by the time I was ready to leave for Bible study, it was clear that God’s work for me today was going to be here at home instead.

Friends, this is the board now:

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When we planned this, we had hoped that by some long shot, all of the spots would be filled by the time the first games began, and although I was too busy to watch the clock or any games, I am pretty sure every single one of the spots was claimed before halftime of the first game, and there were more people asking for spots after we ran out as well! As my friend Dana put it, “God’s timing is always perfect.” So many of you were instrumental in getting this board filled, and we are incredibly grateful! We will keep you posted as we find out who chose the number with the winning team underneath it. If you were wanting to enter into the story through a contribution, we are planning to do another project in the late spring or early summer, and we will welcome your help!

In a seemingly unrelated development, we have been waiting for our paperwork to be verified at the State Department and affixed with a seal at the Chinese Embassy so we can send our dossier to China, which is the next step in the process.  When we send our dossier in, we will also send a payment that is roughly 20% of the total cost of the adoption. Together with an amazing gift we received earlier this week (which is a story for another post), the contributions you made for Freethrows for Family have prepared the way for us to send the dossier right away. God’s perfect timing and provision were evident in this; just as I was getting ready to write in names on some of the last remaining spots, the FedEx driver pulled up with the documents we have been waiting for!

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With the authenticated documents in hand, we are now ready to submit our completed, authenticated dossier and the accompanying payment to the agency where they will prepare it to go to China!

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This stack of 16 authenticated documents along with letters of reference and a small photo collage showing who we are will soon be on their way!

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This is the Chinese Embassy Seal that we were so eager to see in place on our documents. It’s interesting, isn’t it?

Thank you so much for being part of this story of a glorious unfolding! You are welcome to subscribe using the button on the right so you will get an email notification of the next part of the story. We are so grateful to have friends with us in this adventure!

adoption, fundraising

A friend and I have been working on a project to catalog our church’s amazing children’s library, and I was being trained on the data input this afternoon. It is quite an undertaking, but the end result will make this great collection of family resources easily searchable, which will be wonderful!

While I was away working on that, our dear friends (you!) were busy sharing links to our Freethrows for Family game; when I got back to look at updates, we had quite a few more spots filled!  Thank you for sharing information about what we are doing and for helping us move forward in this adoption. Before we started this journey, I had no idea what an incredible encouragement it is to families in the process of adopting to know that there are others who are willing to walk along the road beside them. As we were praying tonight, with gratitude for each of you, I saw an image of a couple and their children walking along a country road. Before long, there were a few people beside them, then a few more, and pretty soon it was a crowd of people all walking along together with this family. That’s what it feels like tonight. Thank you for walking along this stretch of road with us!

Here are the numbers we have left. We’re hoping that the word will continue to spread and that we may have all the spots taken before the games begin. If they aren’t, we will still keep playing anyway with hope that more people will join in and fill the board, but it will be more fun if all the players can be cheering for their iPad team right from the beginning! Please keep on sharing… 🙂FullSizeRender-3

adoption, dossier, fundraising, Uncategorized

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We usually enjoy filling out March Madness brackets for some early spring fun and bragging rights, but this year we decided to do it with a twist for our adoption. We are going to be giving away an iPad Pro to the winner of our Freethrows for Family game, and we hope you will consider either playing along or spreading the word of this adoption fundraiser with anyone you know who might like to follow the tournament with an eye toward winning an iPad Pro and helping us get ready to take our next big step – sending the dossier to China.

Here is how to play:

  1. Pick a number between 1 and 68. Email your top three choices of numbers (in order of preference) to jason@seasonsofwonder.com We will post updates of the remaining numbers in the comments section as numbers are taken, so you may want to check the comments first for a current list of available numbers.
  2. Make a donation of at least $25 per number you would like to claim. (You can use the PayPal button on the right or make other arrangements if you prefer.)**
  3. Begin cheering. The number you pick is the number that corresponds to a team name.  The teams have been randomly placed on the board using a roll of the dice system, so the team you are cheering on to win an iPad Pro may be in addition to your ordinary team loyalties 😉

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We will send an email confirmation to you with the name of the team that corresponds to your number so the cheering may begin.

Thank you for playing along with us and for spreading the word! Please share the link to this post with friends and friends of friends!

** If you don’t want to play but are interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to our daughter’s adoption fund, please contact jason@seasonsofwonder.com for how to do so. The PayPal button will not be able to generate a tax-deductible receipt.