Intellectual Hospitality and Justice Scalia Making space for others, even those with whom we disagree

Recently a judge named Antonin Scalia on the United States’ Supreme Court died and, despite how he is sometimes portrayed, Justice Scalia was apparently a man who exhibited intellectual hospitality, even to those who did not agree with many if any of his positions.

Justice Scalia’s reputation is pretty clear to most people.  He’s called “combative,” “tough,” and “fiery.”  And its his public perception that causes many to be surprised when it is revealed that he was not only willing to have Justices of other positions on the Court but that he welcomed it and even jockeyed for it.

After Justice Scalia’s passing, David Axelrod wrote an opinion piece on CNN.com that showed just that, namely that Justice Scalia tried to influence President Obama through a back channel to have a friend, now-Justice Elena Kagan, nominated despite the fact that she is more-or-less diametrically in opposition to all of his ideological positions.

Why would he want to do this?  Axelrod thinks that “if Scalia could not have a philosophical ally in the next court appointee, he had hoped, at least, for one with the heft to give him a good, honest fight.”

To put it more succinctly: Justice Scalia was a person who valued and demonstrated intellectual hospitality.

Intellectual Hospitality

What is intellectual hospitality?

My friend, colleague, and mentor Dr. Greg Waybright says this about intellectual honesty: it is show when we “speak to one another with 1) the grace to receive and consider differing positions and 2) the courage to challenge other positions with respect-filled questions.”  I love the twofold description, one in-coming (receiving other positions with grace) and one out-going (asking respectful questions).

And it appears that Justice Scalia had this kind of intellectual hospitality.  He was “best buddies” with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, with whom he had major disagreements, and his friendship with Justice Kagan, with whom he also disagreed, grew to such an extent that they became hunting buddies.

I can’t imagine the conversations between these legal giants never ventured into ideological territory.  And when it did, they all must have demonstrated great intellectual hospitality in order to begin, foster, and deepen meaningful relationships.

This type of deference for “the other” is badly missing in the world.  (Full disclosure: I almost ended that last line with the word “today” but then I remembered that humans have been around this world for quite some time and, thus, there’s always been a great deal of need for others-focused ethics!)

Jesus and Intellectual Hospitality

Much more can be said about this topic than I’m going to say here.  But I want to make a similar point about Jesus that I made about Justice Scalia — namely, that Jesus was willing and able to interact meaningfully with people very different from him.

Think about the people that surrounded Jesus on the regular: Matthew (who was the mob-muscle kind of tax collector), Simon the Zealot (who may well have been part of a political terror group), and Judas Iscariot (who would betray Jesus, which Jesus knew from the beginning).

Then think about some of the people that Jesus went out of his way to spend time with: The Samaritan Woman (their conversation in John 4 is a great example of intellectual hospitality in action!), Nicodemus (who was a religious leader that may have been too ashamed and/or fearful to meet with Jesus in the light of day), Zacchaeus (who was the mob-boss kind of tax collector), and even the thief of the cross (who, unlike Jesus, earned his way to his capital punishment).

Jesus has no equals among any of us human beings and yet he chose to relate closely to all sorts of us when was incarnated here on earth.

And if we are to follow Jesus, then we too should exercise a bit more intellectual hospitality too.

Intellectual Hospitality: A Few Starting Points

So, how are we to manifest more intellectual hospitality in our lives?

Here are a few starting points:

  1. Interact with people who are different.  We are all deeply impacted by tribalism — we want to spend time with people just like us.  That’s simply not what Jesus did.  And beside the usual Jesus-did-it-this-way-and-so-should-we argument, being friends with an array of different sorts of people makes life much more meaningful and fulfilling.
  2. Show respect before acting on anger. If we interact with people different than us, then we are sure to come up against ideas that make us angry from time to time.  In those moments we have a choice to make — we can 1) lash out at the person espousing the offending idea(s) or 2) respectfully engage in conversation despite our anger.  Remember, we hold positions that make others angry too!  We don’t have a monopoly on indignation!
  3. Grow. There’s little that’s more narcissistic and ego-maniacal than refusing to grow.  Think about it, not wanting to grow communicates to the world that we don’t need to grow.  And we all know for a fact that we haven’t arrived — we all have miles and miles to go.  Therefore, in all our relationships we need to admit that we could learn something important and make space in order to do so.  And the best kind of space for growth is respectful conversation.
  4. Give others the same benefit of the doubt that we want given to us.  This is the golden rule of intellectual hospitality.  Would we want someone to belittle us for our ideas?  Would we want to be ostracized because of our beliefs?  Would we want someone to refuse to see the logic in our position?  Would we want our personal narratives to be disregarded without a second thought?
  5. Pray.  Intellectual hospitality can be difficult, whether we are just beginning to practice it or if we’ve been at it for decades.  And, if we’re honest, none of us can do this on our own.  We need the power of the Spirit within us to help us.  We need him, the Spirit of God, to develop in us his fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  And each aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is necessary for us to exhibit intellectual honesty.  So let’s pray for the Spirit to grow his fruit in us!

 

What do you think about intellectual hospitality?  Was Justice Scalia a good example of it?  What do we learn about it from Jesus?  How can we demonstrate it in our lives?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

**If you’re really into this idea of intellectual honesty, then check out this post.  In it Bob Trube makes a really strong case for having intellectual hospitality with those who differ from us greatly.  It’s a short but meaningful read!

 

Sharing the Good News

So my son and I have some good news to share, which is the entire point of good news…right?

Watch the video to find out what the news is!

 

🙂

Mother’s Day Joy and Sorrow Mingled Together

It’s time for Mother’s Day once more.

Yay!  Moms are the best!”  That’s supposed to be our reaction to Mother’s Day.

And if you’re a Mom then your reaction is supposed to be something like this: “Being a mother is the most amazing blessing that can ever be imagined!  I’m so jazzed about being a mom!

Unfortunately, these are not the only reactions that people have on Mother’s Day.  For a lot of people, Mother’s Day is difficult.

So when we observe Mother’s Day this year, and every year going forward, let’s keep in mind the real potential for pain in some people’s lives.

Mother’s Day Pain

Here are a few examples of people who may be suffering on Mother’s Day…

  • People whose moms have died, whether recently or a long time ago.
  • Women who are unable to have children.
  • Women who don’t have children but wish they did.
  • Single moms who are reminded on Mother’s Day of the loneliness of their situation.
  • Moms whose children have died, whether recently or a long time ago.
  • Women who have spent tons of money on infertility treatments that haven’t worked.
  • Women who are in the process of adoption.
  • Women who have had failed adoptions.
  • Adoptive moms who may have a hard time believing that they’re really moms.
  • Women who have placed children for adoption and all the pain and heartache that accompanies this courageous choice.
  • Foster children, adoptive children, children raised without a mother, and other children who have issues identifying who their moms are.
  • Moms whose children live a long way away.
  • Women who long to have grandchildren but do not yet.
  • The mothers whose relationships with their children are broken.
  • Women who are pregnant; they may wonder if they count yet.
  • Women who have terminated pregnancies.
  • Foster moms whose lives are often chaotic and their efforts unheralded.
  • Single women who deeply long to have a family.
  • Women who serve as the mother for children in their community whose biological mothers are unavailable for one reason or another.
  • Mothers who are incarcerated and separated from their children.
  • Children whose mothers are incarcerated.
  • Children who suffer or who have suffered at the hands of their mothers.
  • Mothers who hurt or have hurt their children.
  • New moms who are frazzled, sleepy, and doubtful about their capabilities as parents.
  • Women who have suffered miscarriages.
  • Children of moms who are terminally ill.
  • Moms of children who are terminally ill.
  • Women in the midst of a crisis pregnancy.
  • Women who have been sexually abused.
  • Step-moms who are seeking to navigate the complicated waters of a blended family.
  • Moms whose jobs take them a long way from home, whether because of the military, business, or anything else.
  • Children whose moms are not at home due to their service in the military, their jobs, or anything else.
  • Moms whose partners are a long way from home, whether because of the military, business, or anything else.
  • Moms of children with special needs who are overwhelmed and tired and who often blame themselves for the diagnoses of their children.
  • Working moms who have to cope with daily pain and doubt.
  • Stay at home moms who may feel like they aren’t making a contribution.
  • Moms everywhere who suffer under the judgment of our society, the men in their lives, their families, other mothers, and themselves.
  • All the other mothers that I left unnamed.
  • And all the men who are attached to any of the women above.

And, friends, I know lots and lots of women who fit the categories above and have sat with, prayed with, and cried with them.

Now What?

So should the pain that many have on Mother’s Day change the way we talk about it and celebrate it?  Absolutely!  Especially as followers of Jesus and especially during our worship services on Mother’s Day.

But, if you are in contact with your mom, your grandmother, or the mother of your children, you should absolutely reach out to them on Mother’s Day.  If there’s drama between you, that’s fine; reach out any way.  As followers of Jesus we are called to reconciliation, which is often really difficult!

But for many of us who have neutral, good, or amazing relationships with our moms, we should tell our moms how much we love them and how thankful we are for them.  It’s really pretty simple — express love and gratitude!

But in our churches we should probably do things a bit differently than we typically do.  Convention says that from the stage or pulpit we should have a spiel about Mother’s Day and how “being a mom is the highest calling.”  Then we ask all of the moms in the audience to stand and we applaud them.

I think that all of that is wrong and we shouldn’t do it.

Why?  What’s wrong with acknowledging moms and their hard work and sacrifice?

Several things:

  1. Being a mom, or a parent for that matter, isn’t the highest calling.  Following Jesus and obeying all that he commanded us is the highest calling.  Think about it: if being a mom, or a parent generally, was the highest calling, then lots of folks around the world who do not know or follow God are living out that highest calling.  That just doesn’t make sense.  Besides, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7.7, said that he wished people would stay single as he was.  And Jesus was single and many of the leaders of the early church were single.  Being married and having children is a blessing from God — but it’s certainly not the best of all blessings, the way that many people in the church make it out to be!  By the way and for the official record, I’m happily married and I’m a father.  I’m not writing this out of frustration over being single or not being a parent.  And I’m not writing this because I don’t like being married or being a father.
  2. Having all the moms stand is horribly painful for all the women present who might fit one of the pain categories listed above.  It’s so bad that many women simply stay home from church on Mother’s Day to avoid the pain, shame, and guilt of not standing and being applauded.  Furthermore, we aren’t at church to celebrate moms anyway; we’re there to celebrate what God is doing in our lives and to worship him.  Can moms be mentioned in our services.  Sure!  But we need to find ways to do it that won’t marginalize and hurt all the women for whom Mother’s Day is painful.
  3. And, lastly, Mother’s Day is not a Christian holiday.  It was started by a woman who wanted to honor her own mother.  She fought for years to get Congress to make Mother’s Day an official holiday and it finally worked!  But shortly thereafter Mother’s Day shifted from being a simple day to tell our own mothers we love and appreciate them to becoming a commercialistic behemoth.  It got so bad, so fast, that the founder of Mother’s Day begged Congress to repeal it!  And things haven’t gotten better.  I mean, have you been to the store this week?  So from it’s beginning to the way it is observed today, Mother’s Day is not a Christian holiday and it seems to promote frivolous spending on trinkets that will simply gather dust.

So What Then?

What can we do instead?  If we talk about Mother’s Day in our churches, can we do so from the perspective of Scripture?  Can we do so in ways that bring honor to moms and that don’t cause undue pain?

And can we pray in ways that affirm all women and not just moms?

Here’s an example prayer.  Do with it what you will.

Father,

Thank you for caring for us, for leading us, and for calling us to be your disciples.  We each have a story that has brought us to today.  Some of our stories are idyllic and beautiful, full of loving homes, caring mothers, and wonderful children.  But others of us have different stories, stories full of pain, suffering, isolation, frustration, shame, guilt, and unfulfilled hopes.  And in light of the stark differences that a day like Mother’s Day brings up for us, we are in awe of the fact that you can create beauty, unity, and peace in spite of how different we all are.  But we are grateful Father that you have led us to where we are today.  We deeply appreciate that you’ve been with us each step of the way.  And for those of us who celebrate today, you celebrate along side us!  And for those of us who suffer today, we share in the fellowship of your suffering.  Father, help us grow from our stories.  Teach us and move us to be excellent caregivers, showing love by putting the interests of others before our own.  Today, on Mother’s Day, we celebrate you and your power to reconcile all things to yourself through Christ Jesus our Lord.  It’s in his name we pray; Amen.

 

What do you think?  How can we responsibly observe Mother’s Day as followers of Jesus?

Almost the Worst

The worst possible scenario almost happened.

Almost.  A small but powerful word.

In the span of six letters, almost can cause grief, worry, general consternation, and downright panic.

The legal adventure of adoption for my wife, son, and me is a perfect example.

 

Almost Stuck

First things first, the major part of the adoption process has gone off without a hitch.  Our birthmom, who happens to be my cousin, has been great from start to finish with this whole thing.

I would be dishonest if I said I never had a doubt about her backing out — I did.

But this doubt had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.  Let me explain…

When we started this adoption journey, I started reading all about other adoption stories.  And, for whatever reason, I was constantly drawn to the worst case scenario stories.  Here are a few examples of the types of stories I read:

  • Birthmom and adoptive parents come to an agreement before the child is born.  Just before the birth, or just after, the birthmom changes her mind.
  • The birthmom and adoptive family make and agreement and the child is placed with the adoptive parents.  But the birthfather wants to exercise his rights a few months down the road and the horrible scenario of adoption litigation begins.
  • And most relevant to our current situation, an adoptive family is doing an inter-state adoption and gets stuck away from their home due to some paperwork issues.

So when I got a phone call from the social worker we hired in Nevada in which we learned that there were some paperwork issues, I got totally freaked out.  I started imagining all the worst stories that I read about months ago.

I even started to coach myself through the issues involved with being stuck here.  At least your with your wife, son, and mother-in-law, all of whom you love, I told myself.  Maybe you can figure out a way to stay with some of your family in town?  It could be worse, after all…

Of course my wife and I (and many others) prayed.  But when faced with what seems like a looming disaster right around the bend, it’s hard to be as confident in God’s leading as you’d like to be.

The worst almost happened.

The Flipside of Almost

Luckily there’s another side to almost.  There’s the good news.

Our good news came in the form of another phone call from the Nevada social worker and an email from the California adoption agency.  Both of them assured me that all the necessary paperwork has been processed and approved.  We can go home!

We almost got stuck…but we didn’t!

We get to return home!

almost

Happy dance on the other side of almost!

In just a matter of a few hours from the time I’m writing this, we’ll be on the road undertaking a 5-hour road trip with a new born.  Nothing problematic about that!

I wonder what might almost happen on this leg of our journey!

 

If you’d like to help us with our adoption finalization costs or if you want to read more of our adoption story, then please CLICK HERE.

Also, if you want to keep up with our adoption story going forward, then please subscribe to my blog via email by using the entry boxes near the upper right hand corner of this page (or near the bottom if your viewing on your mobile device).

 

Thanks!

Praying on the Spot

Maybe you’re like me and you have a hard time remembering things.  I’m horrible with dates, names, places, directions, and on and on.

In fact, I was so nervous that I would forget my wife’s birthday that I set it as my password for everything when we were dating.  Then I did the same thing with our anniversary date when we first got married.  (I have since changed it, so don’t try to log-in to my stuff!)

So it should come as no surprise that I almost never remember to pray for someone when I tell them I’m going to.

 

Praying on the Spot

So, in response to my poor memory, I started praying for people on the spot.  I began with my close friends and family.

Sure, it was a bit awkward at first, but once we all got used to it, things were great!

I then extended the “praying on the spot” circle to include other people in our church community.  That went well too.

But lately I’ve started praying for people I barely know, like cashiers and other people I run into in my daily life.

Well, as many of you already know, my wife and I are in the process of finalizing the adoption of our little boy Jude Myron.  Here’s an obligatory picture:

praying

Jude Myron, posing for his newborn pics.

For part of Myron’s time in the hospital after he was born, he had to stay in the NICU’s nursery due to some particular adoption regulations.  Well, as you might imagine, we saw some tired and stressed out parents and family members in the NICU (which is short for neo-natal intensive care unit).

Praying in the Hospital

On one particular day a woman walked out of the NICU and it was clear that she was really shaken up.  She was sobbing as she walked by in her hospital-issued gown to go back to her labor recovery room.  My instincts were telling me to reach out to her, to console her, and to pray for her.

But I thought it would be awkward, her being in a gown and all.  So I let the moment slip by.

I saw her early the next day and she was with a friend.  They were chatting and things seemed better.  I naively thought, Well, I guess the worst times are behind her.  I felt okay about passing on the opportunity to pray for her the day before.

Then, later on that same day, I saw her exiting the NICU again.  She was in tears once more, but this time she was wearing street clothes.

All the excuses were gone.  Now was the time.  And since Myron was about to be discharged, I wasn’t going to get another opportunity.

As she approached the area where I was seated we made eye contact.  When she was right in front of me I finally gathered the courage to talk to her:

“Are you okay?”

“Not really.”

“I’m sorry.  How long does your baby have to be here?” I asked.

“Eight and a half more weeks,” she replied.

I knew at that point only one tiny drop of the pain she was feeling.  Myron had been in the NICU for three days and that felt horrible…and he was healthy.  My heart broke for her.

“I saw you the other day and I wanted to talk to you but I didn’t,” I said.

“Was I crying then too?”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry about that.”

“No.  Don’t be sorry,” I responded.  Then I paused for a second or two.  We were still making eye contact.  I knew that I was about to ask her if I could pray for her but I was scared.

“I know this might sound weird…but can I pray for you?”

“Sure,” she said as she brightened up ever-so-slightly.

I motioned her to move closer to me since there were half a dozen people in the waiting room.

“What’s your name?” I asked.  She told me.  “What’s your baby’s name?”  She shared that information with me too.

Then I offered my hand to her and she took it.  I paused, trying to gather my strength, and I prayed.

I simply offered a prayer for her recovery and the health of her child.  I had a really hard time holding it together though.

I finished praying and I looked up and we shared a nice little moment together.  She then told me some more of her story and how hard it was to have such a tiny baby.  I wished her the best and told her I would continue to pray for her.

 

Conclusion

For every one story like this that I have, I have twenty where I did nothing.  Praying for someone you don’t know can be difficult and weird.

But praying for a stranger can sometimes be the best missional ice breaker ever.

What’s the worst that could happen?  Someone could ask you not to pray for them?

The missional benefits outweigh the “risks.”

Praying for someone who is far from God can be the catalyst to put them on the path toward Jesus!

 

What do you think about praying for people on the spot?  Is praying in this manner difficult or weird for you?  Or do you find it easy and natural?

 

If you’d like to help us with our adoption finalization costs or if you want to read more of our adoption story, then please CLICK HERE.  Thanks!

Boy: It’s a Boy!

image

It’s a boy!

Our son was born on January 21st of 2015 at 11:12AM. He was 7 pounds, 4 ounces and he measured 19 inches long.

His name is Jude Myron Barnes. We will follow a tradition in my family where boys with the initials JMB go by their middle names. So our boy will be called Myron.

He had all his toes and fingers. He passed his first tests with flying colors (#tigerdad).

And Wendy, my cousin who is Myron’s birthmom, was amazing. Not only did she give birth to our beautiful son, she also selflessly hosted family and friends for much of the time before and after labor.

Wendy is a perfect illustration God’s grace through all is this. As my dad said last night, “Wendy is my hero.”

But since this is my blog, I want to share a bit of my experience.

I was super sleepy when Wendy’s labor began. It had been an adventure getting a room in the hospital. And then the process moved pretty slowly until Wendy’s water was broke.

That’s when things sped up!

I stayed with Wendy until she started to push. I went out to the waiting room with my dad but I couldn’t stay. I had to be closer.

So I stood in the hallway outside the labor and delivery room. I was listening to everything that was being said.

My wife, my mom, Wendy, Wendy’s mom, and the hospital staff all worked together perfectly.

But my universe changed when I heard three things.

The first was someone yelling “It’s a boy!” A BOY! That’s amazing! A girl would have been great too. But we weren’t meant to have a girl. God had a boy in store for us!

The second was when I heard my wife say, “His name is Jude Myron.” We had spent months picking names, so hearing her say those words was really surreal! We picked Jude Myron because the names mean “praise” and “sweet oil,” as in myrrh, like that which was given to Jesus when he was born, respectively.

Jude Myron is a gift of praise to the Lord.  It’s our deepest desire that Myron grows into this name with all humility and grace!

And the third universe-changing thing I heard was this: “WAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Myron’s cry made my heart grow, burst even. In that tiny moment I knew that I would be loving that boy for the rest of my life.

I literally felt my capacity for love grow because of that boy.

I had always heard about how amazing meeting your child is but experiencing it was amazing!

The voice of that boy changed everything for me.

I just leaned against the wall in the hallway and wept tears of joy.

Getting to hold Myron was great. Feeding Myron was great. Even changing him was great!

Gosh, I love that boy.

God, thanks for this gift. Now we want to give him back to you. Our boy is yours.

Today Is the Day

Today Alida was running when the sun was rising. She looked out over the sky and saw that it was half pink and half blue.

Now neither one of us thought that God would reveal to us the sex of our baby in some way before the baby was born. However, both of us took this particular sunrise as a reminder the God is with us through this process.

Today is the day. Today is the day that we pack up the car. Today is the day that Sunnie, our dog, gets dropped off at some friends’ house. Today is the day that we drive for four and a half or five hours to Las Vegas.

But more importantly today is the day then Wendy, our birth mother, is going to be induced.  In fact, that process begins today in about eight  hours from the time I’m writing this blog post.

Alida and I have no idea how much our lives are about to change because of what outs happening today.  But I can honestly say that we’re super anxious to find out!

So please keep praying for us, and for Wendy, and for our baby, and for this legal process to go smoothly. We would greatly appreciate it!

Also, if you would like to read more of our story and/or support us in this process, please click here.

And lastly, if you want to keep up with our adoption news, then subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the upper right hand corner of this page (or at the bottom of the page if you’re viewing this on a mobile device).

Anticipation

Anticipation…

Have you ever waited for something?  Like really waited for something?  Like for something that is more profound than you could ever imagine?

My wife and I have been in a constant state of anticipation lately.  We aren’t generally neurotic or worrisome sorts.  This state of anticipation is specific.

We’re adopting.

And adoption is chock full of anticipation.

But so is waiting for a child to come into the world through biological means.

And so are a thousand other things in life.  And, if you’re anything like me, then that ubiquitous anticipation is torturous.

Anticipation is just difficult and often painful.

Is Our Anticipation Special?

I’ve learned something recently — being in a near constant state of anticipation can alter one’s perception of reality.  In fact, it can cause one to think that his or her anticipation is special, unique, and one-of-a-kind.

And in the previous two sentences the word “one” really just means “my” and “me.”  I’ve learned that anticipation has altered my perception of reality.  I think my anticipation is special, unique, and one-of-a-kind.

Sure, the situation my wife and I find ourselves in is unique.  But every single situation in the universe is unique.  And when someone is waiting for something, their anticipation is completely unique.

Everyone’s anticipation is special.  So, in a certain way, no one’s is.

But Anticipation Is Difficult

But just because everyone’s anticipation is equally special doesn’t mean that the anticipation we all experience is therefore easy.  It’s not.  Anticipation can be difficult sometimes.

And when it is, I’ve learned that there are few things which are totally unhelpful, whether because I’ve done them or because I’ve been on the other side.

So, here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Don’t try to make people feel what you think they should feel.  That’s not helpful.  Just let people feel whatever they need to feel.  Empathy is key here, not sympathy and certainly not unsolicited advice.  Ask questions for which the person feeling the anticipation can answer honestly, not just in the way you want them to answer.  Give people space to feel.
  • Don’t judge people for being different than you might be.  Here’s a great example of a mistake that I tend to make: I sometimes foist religious lines on folks.  Something like this: “Don’t worry; God is good.”  Or something like, “Just have faith in God.”  Whether the person who is experiencing anticipation believes in God or not, saying things like these is not generally helpful.  It says to the one feeling the anticipation that what he or she is feeling is wrong and that he or she needs to feel things correctly.  His or her feelings are wrong.  And, as any human being who ever lived can attest, it’s super hard to prevent feeling the feelings that we feel.
  • Be there.  Just be there.  I’ve not always been there for people who are in the midst of anticipation.  I don’t ever know what exactly to say.  I’m fearful that I’ll do or say something wrong, like the previous two bullet points above.  But in my experience, on both sides of anticipation, just being there is enough.  Have a meal together.  Go on a hike.  Do normal things.  If the subject of anticipation comes up, let the one in the midst of it take the lead.  If all they wanted to do was pick at the anticipation scab for one second and then move on, cool.  Let them.
  • Lastly, pray for them.  Even if you’re not a Jesus follower, pray for your friend or family member that’s facing anticipation.  Ask God to be with them.  Ask God to be faithful to them.  Ask God to be good to them.  Ask God to help them feel hopeful and excited.  In other words, pray to God all the things that you may have wanted to say to the person!  Why?  Because those are good things!  And the person in the midst of anticipation needs them.  So ask God to give them to him or her.

Welp, that’s about it.  Do you have any other thoughts about dealing with anticipation or interacting with folks who are?  Let me know in the comments below.
If you’d like to keep up with more of our adoption story, subscribe to my blog via email in the upper, right-hand corner of this page (or near the bottom if you’re reading this on a mobile device).

 

Also, you can click here if you’d like to support my wife and I in this crazy process!  Either way, we would appreciated your continued prayers!

Countdown: Adoption Style

It’s January 14, 2015.  The countdown has moved down to six days.

Six.  That’s less than a week!

It’s crazy!  In six days (if not before) my wife and I will be holding our first child.

Writing that sentence makes me lose my breath just a bit.  It’s totally surreal in fact!

The reality of this countdown has been pretty insane.  Here are some of the things that have been going on lately in the Barnes house:

  • We have our bags packed just in case we need to hit the road quickly.
  • We have a diaper bag packed and ready to go.
  • We have a couple of bags of baby stuff packed and ready.
  • Our dog is packed and a sitter has been arranged.
  • We have an infant car seat installed in our car.
  • Cloth diapers have been prepped, washed, and dried.
  • Baby clothes, towels, blankets, swaddlers, etc. have all been washed, sorted, and stored away.
  • The nursery has been finalized, minus a few things that we don’t need until later.
  • Baby-proofing of the house has ramped up significantly.
  • There’s a ton of baby food in our house, thanks to our wonderful friends.
  • I’ve become very well acquainted with the baby aisles in Target.
  • We’re learning how to swaddle, mix formula, use cloth diapers, etc., etc.
  • We’ve had a thousand conversations about parenting.
  • We’ve prayed for Wendy, our birthmom, our child, and this whole process a ton.
  • We have leaned on on friends and family in ways that we never have before.
  • And we have seen God’s faithfulness to us like we never have up to this point.

This countdown has changed our lives.

Once the countdown goes to zero our lives will be changed again!  Baby Barnes will transform who we are as a couple, as individuals, and as followers of Jesus.

So, please keep praying for us.  Pray for the adoption process to continue to be smooth.  Pray for our nerves as this countdown keeps ticking away.  And pray that the good news of Jesus and his kingdom will be lifted high through all of this!

If you’d like to read more of our adoption story and/or if you’d like to find out how you can support us, please follow this link: https://www.continuetogive.com/mattandalida.

And if you want to follow our continued adoption saga, enter your email in the subscribe box near the upper right hand corner of this page (or near the bottom of the page if you’re reading this on your mobile device!).

 

 

Gratitude 2014

Today is Thanksgiving which, naturally enough, helps me remember to show gratitude, to be thankful.

So, what do I want to show gratitude for this year?

Gratitude 2014

I’d like to show gratitude for…

  • …the best spouse I could have ever asked for.  I seriously don’t deserve my wife!  She has literally helped me become a better person.  Literally.
  • …the transformative power of Jesus to change lives, starting with mine.  I’ve had a front-row seat this year as Jesus has flipped my life over and the lives of some people close to me as well.
  • …my families, both my given one and my chosen one.  The level of support that my wife and I have experienced from our parents, siblings, and extended relatives has been indescribable.  And our fictive family, our chosen set of friends, have blessed us beyond belief as well.  It’s been incredibly humbling!
  • …my cousin Wendy, her parents Christy and Wade, and her kids.  As our lives are beginning to dovetail with theirs due to our adoption scenario, we couldn’t be happier at the possibilities for grace and beauty that will flow both ways.  God is good.
  • …how welcoming our neighborhood has been.  We moved to a new neighborhood this March and it’s been great!  We’ve enjoyed sharing Alida’s baking, cooking out, and enjoying hours of enlightening conversation.
  • Lake Avenue Church, our local church home.  We’ve been inspired there, served there, worked there, made and found community there, and have been given opportunities to lead there.  Gratitude doesn’t begin to express our feelings about our spiritual family!
  • …health and comfort.  My wife and I have a great life.  We’re blessed.  But we know that being blessed comes with a responsibility to be a blessing in the lives of others, especially those who don’t have health and comfort.  May we be moved to demonstrated and speak the love of Jesus where Jesus has placed us, where we work, live, and play.
  • …people in my life who are very different than my wife and I.  We’ve been stretched by the diversity and it hasn’t always been fun or easy.  But I know without a shadow of a doubt that we’ve grown.

What in your life causes you to feel gratitude?

Express it in the comments below!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!