Adoption Update – Jumping the Shark

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I won’t ever forget watching The Fonz, water skiing in his leather jacket, jump over a small ocean corral of sharks. For years, I had heard of this “jump the shark” moment, but I could never have imagined just how random/stupid this stunt really was.

Jumping the Shark

Our adoption journey had a jump the shark moment a few weeks ago. Our caseworker, despite knowing our adoption preferences, sent us the profile of a much older kid.

At first, I was okay with our case worker testing the waters. Sure, Tab and I could give this child a last name, a place to crash, and help them get ready for life. Sure, we could pack in all of the important life lessons, we would have taught them over the years, into one year of their life. I was okay with the idea of adopting a 17 year old–would especially like to look into this once our son is older–, until I wasn’t.

Our adoption process has been marked with friends and family making small comments that burrow deep under my skin. Comments such as:

  • “Why don’t you do foster and adoption like we did? You’ll get a kid then.”
  • “And we were told that we’d never get a child if we went the route that you have.”
  • “You shouldn’t be frustrated, hurt, or angry over this process, God has this under control.”
  • “Oh, I’ve heard horror stories about older kids being adopted.”

I don’t think that these comments are meant to be hurtful but they are.

I am forever thankful for those that ask us how the process is going. Those that are willing to listen and not necessarily push their way of doing things. God has brought good friends to walk alongside us on this journey.

I haven’t written as much on adoption lately because there hasn’t been much to say. Silence, from our caseworker, continues to be the norm. I have also felt God telling me to pray more and write/talk less about it. I’m sure there is a balance to that though.

If you think about my family, could you take a moment and pray with us? Every morning I wake up to see the room across the hall is empty. Someone is missing. Could you pray over that with me? That God would have His way. That we would be able to listen/discern the route we need to take. I’d really appreciate it.

Growing our family through adoption.

No Silent Christians

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My pastor recently said something that grabbed my attention:

There is no such thing as a silent Christian.

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

I’ve often hid behind a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Perhaps you know it?

Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

My thoughts have been, that in my life and online presence, I would let my actions speak first. People should know that I follow Christ due to:

  • What I like
  • What I post
  • And what I say about the content I consume

But something about that quote, that is falsely attributed to St. Francis, has always rang hollow to me. A sort of free pass Christians give to one another for never sharing what Christ has done/is doing in their lives; for never sharing the Gospel.

Even on this blog, I have internally struggled and fought over how much is too much to post, when it comes to the topic of faith. For those that follow me for my video game angle, are my faith posts somehow pushing them away? I have struggled with these thoughts for years. “I’ll just let my actions do the talking”, I’ve reasoned. As a follower of Christ though, I think that not speaking is disingenuous. So, I wanted to share my faith journey below.

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

No Longer Silent

I grew up in a small town, in Southern California. My dad was a truck driver, while my mom stayed home and homeschooled us kids. My dad’s truck driving meant that he was home two days and gone three days. He worked hard to provide for our family. Looking back now, I can appreciate the sacrifice both of my parents made in raising my siblings and I. But in my dad’s absence, God filled that father-space, in my life, with many men. One such man was my Grandpa Ayers. Looking back, he taught me a lot about what it means to be a man.

I made a decision to follow Christ at the age of 5. My family was hosting a Vacation Bible School at our home. Even then, I understood that sin separated me from God.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

– Romans 3:23 (NIV)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 6:23 (NIV)

And that because God loves us so much, He sent His son to die for us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:8 (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

– John 3:16-17 (NIV)

All one has to do is accept this hope, this gift, and believe in Jesus Christ.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

– Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[a]

– Romans 10:13

All of that at the age of 5, huh Bryan? Yup. I knew enough to make that decision. God has walked with me and helped me grow in the knowledge of Him ever since.

In junior high, I made the decision to be baptized. Baptism is an outward sign, to fellow believers, that you have made a decision to follow Christ. I was at a youth beach day, and I was baptized in the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully, no sharks tried to aid in that baptism.

At the age of sixty, my Grandpa Ayers unexpectedly died overnight. I was looking at going away to college at this point, after attending junior college for a few years. I felt lost losing him. But God used his death to spur me on.

I was reading a book when a single sentence mentioned LeTourneau University. So, I traveled from Southern California to East Texas for a preview event… and felt peace. I went home, packed up my stuff, and I made the drive across Texas. Where I ended up meeting my now wife, Tabitha, within a month of being at school. (I was 25 and had never dated beforehand. Ignoring the Beach Boys, I didn’t want a California girl apparently.)

Tabitha and I married in 2007. Two years later, we had our son Wyatt. Last year at a Life Action Conference, we felt God calling us to adoption, after years of infertility. We finished jumping through the adoption hoops last May (2019), and we are waiting to grow our family. In the meantime, God continues to grow us.

There is no such thing as a silent Christian.

I’m hoping that by sharing where God has brought me, I can push against the silence and use words to share my faith. I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ first and foremost. I am then a husband to Tabitha, and a father to Wyatt.

This blog is my attempt to engage the world for Christ. To share the life He is working through me. Thanks for reading and coming along for the journey.

Adoption Update – I feel so frustrated

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Leaving church Sunday, someone walked up to Tab and I and asked how the adoption process is going. I replied, “I feel so frustrated.”

Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, we were sent an email from our adoption caseworker. The email contained a picture and a brief description of a little boy who is/was up for adoption. We were told that our home study had been submitted and to email our caseworker back if we were not interested. We didn’t email back. 🙂

Weeks went by, the deadline for caseworkers submitting interest in this little boy came and went. I followed up with our caseworker to see if she had heard anything, nope. Silence.

Another week went by, we received an email from our caseworker saying that we had not made the initial selection process. I felt gutted. So many questions filled my mind:

  • Were we not picked because of hold old Tab and I are?
  • Were we not picked because of the age different between Wyatt and this little boy?
  • Why?!?

I knew I couldn’t dwell in the land of why too long… so instead I kind of shut down.

It’s been about a week since we found out that we weren’t selected. This morning, I feel like I am waking up from a haze. With my mental fog clearing, I can tell that I’ve been distant with those I love, mourning someone I will never know.

There is something about a picture and a description that opens your mind to possibilities and dreams. Excitement about what could be is good; checking out when things don’t go as planned, not so good. I am learning through this adoption process. Learning about:

Trusting God when things don’t make sense / have gone off the rails

Strengthening my own personal mental armor / being stretched

Yes, I am still frustrated about the adoption process. But I realize that the word “process” is key. The process, the journey if you will, is helping prepare Tabitha, Wyatt, and I for the day we change from a family of three to a family of four. While my pessimism towards the process tells me that that day could be awhile off, I have to admit that I have no clue / it’s all out of my hands. Next week could bring a new email, a new child to dream about and consider.

Daily, I have to give this process to God. Let go. Let Him do His thing.

Until next time,

Bryan

 

 

From Across the Net – “Infertility Prepared Me to Reach Other Childless Men”

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Infertility, at times, whispers to me in the darkest recesses of my soul. Telling me that I am a failure.

I am thankful for those, in my church, who have dared to bridge this gap. I am thankful for a God, who loves my wife and I so much, that He has called us out of the grieving process and into adoption. That doesn’t mean that we don’t still have bad days. 9 years of nothing still haunts us. No, this means that we now focus on what He can provide… versus us. I am thankful for His hope.

This piece about gutted me this morning. Reminds me that Satan speaks into the silence of where fellow Christians are afraid to go… But we have to.

“I have so many questions about why this isn’t happening for us,” Neil told me, “and what we should try next.” For Neil, these questions included the ethics of using donor eggs or donor sperm, whether an adopted child would ever feel like “his own,” plus age-old questions about God and suffering. This is hard terrain to navigate, one I have seen precipitate theological shifts into unorthodox territory when people lack pastoral guidance.

“All my friends are fathers and grandfathers,” another man told me. “And me? I’m nothing.” When infertility robs you of being a father, what else can you become? This can be a key question for infertile men.

You can read more here

 

Your Calling Doesn’t Equal Career

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Ivan Mesa, writing for The Gospel Coalition, wrote a fantastic article titled “3 Things Your Calling Is Not“.

This might sound like an obvious point, but part of my angst has been due to the assumption I had to grab hold of my calling or else it would slip away. I’d be lost, I feared, wasting my life because I hadn’t been decisive or clear-eyed enough to know what God had called me to.

For a long time, the Church preached to men that your calling equaled your career. I personally found this line of thought to be hurtful and confusing. The night before college graduation, I remember breaking down and crying. I had no clue where God was calling me, no clue what a career might look like. Tears running down my face, I prayed that He would make a career path clear to me. That He would provide for me a job/career so that I could make ALL the money and further His Kingdom.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Looking back, I can see how I took the preaching I had heard for years to heart. How when God didn’t immediately answer my career/job prayer, I took His silence and withdrew into anger, resentment, and bitterness.

Through His grace, God has nudged me over the years–He is a slow and patient teacher to my stubbornness–. Teaching me that He calls me where I am. He calls me at:

  • Church
  • Home
  • And Work

He reminds me that I do not have to set out on a mystical spiritual quest to figure out His will. Thank God for that.

If there is one lesson God has taught me over the years, it is this:

When I focus too much on myself, life becomes depressing. When I step out of myself and focus on/serve others, I find life and joy.

Which stirs up and boils down to this:

Embrace where you are called.

Be Silent, Don’t Talk

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Sometimes I want to feel like I can talk out loud. I want to talk about what it’s like not being able to have more children. How years upon years can go by and nothing happens… and how bad that hurts. I want to talk about the lies that constantly swirl around about not being whole… the lie of being a failure for not being able to produce. Whenever my wife and I open up about where we are, people say the most insane/insensitive things:

“You should be quiet, you already have one.”

“You should focus more on others.”

“You should come up with a plan to adopt and be ready to start next week.”

Why can’t others just listen? Why can’t we mourn together? Why is it so hard to just pray and be?

Eric Schumacher wrote a post yesterday titled “Dads Hurt Too: A Father’s Memoir of Miscarriage“. Made me cry. Even though my wife and I haven’t experienced a miscarriage (that we know of… there are different types of miscarriages), I get where he is coming from. I’ve heard the same lies:

Comparison pointed a paw at our living children—three of them, then four, then five—and demanded, “What right have you to mourn a child you never knew, when you have all these?” Comparison thrust the faces of friends before my own—friends who could not conceive, friends without a living child, friends whose children died in the crib or in college—and mocked, “You mourn, but not as those who have no kids. Others are worse off; stifle your sorrow.”

There comes a point where you feel like you should just be silent. The hurt experienced from opening up and talking in community not worth the price.

  • Why do we, as Christians, go silent when others who are hurting pour their hearts out?
  • Why do we act like we have no power when we claim Jesus lives in us?

I feel like I should be able to talk, especially around fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet I can’t.

On Man Colds, Of All Things

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Man colds suck.

The snot. The fever. The inability to breath. 

Rest is required.

Lots of rest. 

Which means a day off from work.

Especially if your kid is in school.

Ah, silence.

This is how my nose felt last week.

The TV is all yours. The couch comfy and inviting.

Never mind that you feel like death itself has come. Your friends Netflix and video games have arrived for a visit.

You like them.

A lot.

Frantic levels of new Shovel Knight content rule your day, in-between the naps. 

Glorious naps.

Man colds are real.

Terrible, nasty, super cold-like experiences. 

But a sick day, is a sick day; and rest is rest. 

So why not enjoy it? 

And relax like the best.

Let us share your joy

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I am not exactly sure how to write this. But I’m living at that point where friends and family don’t want to tell my wife and I that they are pregnant. Somehow afraid that our feelings will be hurt after years of dealing with infertility.

More than any birth announcement, I am hurt more by silence. Robbed of that shared joy that comes from living in community with others.

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I want to encourage those around my family to share their news. Allow us to come alongside them. Please don’t be silent. Let us share in your excitement.

When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other. – Ecclesiastes 7:14a (NIV)

We are made for community

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An isolated soul can become an echo chamber of lies. Creating a false but believable reality. Apart from community, we can mentally torture ourselves with untruth.

In the midst of saying depressing things like:

  • Those that are dead are happier than the living (4:2)
  • Better to never be born than to live and see evil (4:3)

King Solomon, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, tells us that we are made for community:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (4:9-12)

We need others to speak truth into our lives. To tell us when we are doing well, off target, and sometimes just to listen. Trusted and positive outside influences help break through the mental echo chamber. Breaking down the walls of silence.

There are often days where I am doing my best to go to work, come home, and spend time with family. I tell myself that I have no more energy to spend. A simple text, email, or phone call too much work. I believe these are lies we tell ourselves. I believe that God calls us to more.

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That intergalactic communication device, you know, the one in your pocket? Use it.

I want to challenge you. I want to challenge myself. We need to break out of our everyday lives and invite others in. I think it’s more simple than either of us realize.

Someone stole money from my office

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My boss needed an item mailed. I went to grab money out of petty cash. That is when I discovered that the money was missing. Not just the paper bills but the two heavy envelopes filled with change. The type of change that would make for a fantastic day at the arcade.

I searched my office feeling panicked. Maybe the money had fallen back behind the desk drawer? Maybe I had moved the change. Nope.

A thorough search revealed nothing. The petty cash was gone.

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I immediately went to both of my bosses. Had either of them moved/taken the petty cash? No.

The lack of suspects or even evidence led to an acceptance of cash loss. Procedures would change going forward.

Deep within us all, beats a heart that demands justice served. King Solomon speaks to this desire in Ecclesiastes 3. Concluding that justice will come in God’s time, not our own.

Silence, the lack of action, can be deafening in a situation like this. No one has come forward with any information. Could a child or even someone who shouldn’t have been in the building pulled off the heist? I’m not sure. But the need for justice screams in my heart.

Control Is Hard To Give Up

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God is in control so we don’t have to be.

titanicI’m not too sure what is going on anymore. The company I work for has built it’s business on school bond elections. We design schools, gymnasiums, and administration buildings with bond issue funds. A workable and sustainable business model with one major hiccup, voters. Back in the beginning of May, voters shot down two of the three bond issues we were counting on for work. Thankfully, we have learned a bit from a similar failure last year. We have since diversified our client base and moved into areas not targeted by large Dallas architectural firms. What is odd is that one week we were talking about hiring, growth, and technology upgrades. In the weeks following the bond election, optimism has disappeared and silence rules. Just like last year. I have no idea whether my company will lay off anyone within the next few months. I do not think we have diversified enough/obtained enough clients to sustain our company long term. While business may seem normal for now, I keep waiting for the hammer to drop like it did last year when I lost a fellow co-worker due to layoff. Frustrating to be back in a situation where I have no control.

Health-wise, I’ve been seeing a couple doctors and having some tests run. Will be getting the test results next week. I am nervous. My body is tense and I feel sick. I have zero control over the situation.

nineveh02This past Sunday (5/17), my small group leader asked me to teach during our morning hour together. Knowing that the kids were having a lesson from the Book of Nahum, I decided to dive-in and see what the book is all about. Turns out Nahum is a sequel to the Book of Jonah. Nahum takes place a 100 years after Jonah visited the City of Nineveh. By this time, Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, had returned to idol worship. The Minor Prophet Nahum steps in and speaks aloud (an oracle) that the destruction of Nineveh is coming.

The people of Nineveh must have laughed at Nahum. Their city walls were a 100 feet high with a 150 foot moat extending out from the walls. The moat, for anyone who is wondering, was 60 feet deep. Who knows what lived in there. Situated on the Tigris River, Nineveh had a series of dams throughout the city. Now what is interesting is that Nahum prophesied that the city would be destroyed by water (2:6). The dams that held back water-giving life would end up unleashing water that would undermine a part of the city walls. Like a sandcastle, the walls would fall, allowing the Babylonians access into the city.

640px-Nineveh_map_city_walls_&_gatesOne of the key verses that stuck out to me was 1:3 –

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.

God gave the people of Nineveh a chance. He sent Jonah, a reluctant prophet, to tell them to turn from their evil ways. And they did! A hundred years later though, the people had forgotten all about Jonah. What stuck out to me in 1:3 is that God is slow to anger. He could have destroyed Nineveh a hundred years ago, but He didn’t. Another verse I noted was 1:7 –

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,

The head and heart disconnect, I call it. I know that God is good, no matter what the situation. I know that He is a refuge, ready to catch us/hold on to us when all seems to be falling apart. I know that. But sometimes my heart forgets. I want to be in control.

I am not sure where my job is going to be in six months. I have no idea what is going to happen next week at the doctors office. What I do know is that God is good. He will take care of me. I just need to tell my head and my heart that.

Fear of Silence

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“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Lately, I have been leading a Bible study at my church on Wednesday nights. One of the things I’ve been learning is to be okay with silence. For some reason, we tend to fill moments of reflection with noise.

This past Sunday morning, the choir director at church had a musical interlude for what seemed a few minutes. Instead of focusing on what lyrics were next, I found myself alone in my thoughts. Quietly, I was able to reflect on the lyrics that had been sung and was able to simply pray.

Our words quickly lose meaning, effectively becoming white noise, when we won’t shut up for a second. Instead of living in fear of awkward pauses, I encourage you to be brave and embrace the reflective silence. Who knows, perhaps you’ll discover something new.