OK, OK, OK. . . .it’s been three weeks this time. There’s just something about putting in writing the “no, we know no more than we did last week” that makes it a little more real and more. . . disappointing, I guess. So, I’ve pretty much avoided it. I want the blog to be about our adoption process, the steps we are taking, and how we are gaining ground towards that blessed “gotcha day” (adoption lingo for the day your child is brought home). It’s turned into a commentary on life, things that are on my mind, and just taking up a space in the hopes that I could say something about the process besides nothing at all really. So, I guess that’s what I am going to do. Comment. On what God has put on my heart these past couple of weeks as we have rapidly approached the Christmas season.
Those in the reading audience that are our friends from church know that, due to the shallow pool of willing and able males, I am asked to step up and take a solo during music presentations on occasion. Sometimes, I get to do a song that I really love (I Will Rise would be an example), but mostly it’s a song that I’ve never heard of, and often never sing again. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means more time actually listening and practicing. This year’s Christmas musical was full of worshipful, meaningful songs, but mostly those that I had never heard before we began practice (on Labor Day – when all God’s children start singing about Christmas). The song I was asked to sing was one of those, of which I have an audio below (I think. . tech-savvy does not describe me) – to fully listen to if you so choose after reading the blog. As mentioned, I get to know the song more than just reading the words because of the number of times I go through the whole thing, so hopefully by performance time the words roll out easily and I can focus on trying to at least be in the neighborhood of the key the song is in.
But, there was a particular phrase in the song that kept resonating in my head regardless of how commonplace the rest of it became. Oh, the whole song was a great commentary on how careful we should be to not let Christmas become secularized or something it is not. “Awaken us” is the plea made to God so that “we not miss this“, meaning the birth of the one true God. . in amongst everything else. But, don’t we hear this every year? We even have sayings. “Jesus is the reason for the season” “Don’t take the Christ out of Christmas” I’m sure there are more. And I am sure they all have value. But they don’t appeal to me. They don’t get an “amen” from me if heard in passing, nor do I rattle them off. No, the phrase in the song that wouldn’t stop its convicting powers was at the end of the first verse. It says “What if we look, but we’re not blinded by the light?” I will have to admit, it applies to me in a number of different ways, but especially in two.
First, is through this adoption process. We have treated it like something we are doing instead of something God is doing. I have discussed at length what our plans were – kids exactly 30 months apart with no plans beyond precious little JP . God had different plans – plans that took us months to pray over before pulling the trigger, then going public with. But, once we did all of that, we used Him as a sidekick again, there for the support we needed to accomplish something. In contrary, we are simply the vessel He has chosen to use for His glory and to raise up a child in His name. But, in the meantime, I take those first three blessings for granted.
We have probably bored you with this detail before, but becoming expectant, navigating a pregnancy, and bringing home a baby were blessings that God completely worked out for us very easily. We started discussing having children before even being married a year, and boom! Kara was on her way. We did the same with Gabe. With JP, we gave ourselves a window of opportunity, so that he wouldn’t be born during baseball season. Since I was coaching at the time, Jaclyn didn’t deserve the nightmare. So, JP came during January – problem solved. While I didn’t experience being pregnant myself (including this disclaimer to keep the ire of other females at bay), Jaclyn will tell you that they were relatively smooth. And, other than Kara being her stubborn self, the deliveries went the same way. So all of this, for us, became easy – if that’s possible. So why not expect the same when it comes to an adoption? But, for many hopeful parents out there the reasons for adoption are much different. Even friends of ours who aren’t involved in the adoption process have either gone through or are still struggling with physical difficulties in having children. Sometimes, this is infertility (hard enough), but often it is the joy and hope of a coming child that never makes it into the world. I know that I have written before about enjoying my kids as they grow up, which I try to do, but that line makes me stop and look at the miracle they are in general. I pray for our friends as they struggle to bring life into the world and search for God’s plan in the valley. I pray for friends like Ashley and Beth Culpepper, Dexter and Amber Williams, or Tim and Anne Jackson who have wonderful miracles that the world might tag as less and a prayer of thanks for the families that Josie, Karcyn, and Sam have been blessed to be born into.
Secondly, and more importantly, that line makes me sad at the state that I know we are in. When I say “we,” I’m referring to most of us involved in some form of American Christianity. We use those phrases I mentioned above to show that we know Jesus’ birth is why Christmas is celebrated, and we might say “Merry Christmas” to combat the “Happy Holidays” thrown at us. We put up nativity scenes instead of Santa and Frosty, and make sure we are at church the Sunday of Christmas. Just to hammer home the point – yesterday, we were finishing up shopping among the maddening crowds on Christmas Eve Eve. As we went through one store, the now-on-sale Christmas decorations included a few paintings. Kara took notice of one and said “something is just wrong about that.” I looked to see the picture of Santa Claus kneeling over the manger where baby Jesus was laying. On one hand, an attempt by modern Christians to make sure everyone knows that we know about Jesus. But, on the other, is Kara right? Is it just another way to compromise and marry the gospel with something of this world to make it more friendly?
Christmas is this. The reminder that on a day over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, in amongst hundreds of weary, smelly travelers trying to settle up with Caesar, the King of all Creation came to the earth in human form. He laid in a feeding trough. His family had to move out of the country for a few years to avoid His execution as a toddler. He lived a short life, in human terms, and paid the ultimate sacrifice because we would never be good enough to do it ourselves. Jesus walked the earth not so we could have peace, love, and joy on earth. Not so that we could do a few extra good deeds for a month than we do the other eleven. And certainly not so we could give and receive.
We know this. You know this. But, have we heard the story so many times that it’s just another story? Not that we don’t believe it – because we do. Not that it isn’t “special”, because I’m sure it is. But because we see it over and over and hear it year after year. Have we looked at the light so many times we are no longer blinded by its majesty?
My prayer for you today is that you enjoy time with family and friends. You enjoy the giving and receiving. But, mostly that you and I both look and are blinded by the light. So blinded that, like Saul/Paul, we are stricken to our knees. That we have no choice but to stop and worship. And that we are never the same.
Merry Christmas to you from the Scotts!