Experiencing Generosity on our Adoption Journey

I shared last week that we are back on the road to adoption.  Eli will be one month tomorrow and we are moving forward with the different steps that lead to finalizing the adoption.

As we have relaunched this journey, we have been reminded that we are not doing it alone.  While we knew that was true, people have expressed love and support in a number of ways.

While I enjoy blogging, I recognize I don’t have a huge audience that frequent my posts.  However, what I shared last week brought about a huge jump in visitors.  I know that is because so many have a heart for adoption and shared our adoption story.

We also saw contributions to our Brackemyre Family Adoption Page. It is a humbling experience when people give from their own resources to support what we have decided to do.  We are nearing 50% of our goal on our page and had a couple of unexpected gifts come in the last week.  With that has been given, we have been able to stay current with our attorneys and other home study needs.

If you are one who gave on our page or shared it or read our storyTHANK YOU!

As we continue down the road to adoption, we’d love for you to join us in one of three ways:

1) Visit our AdoptTogether page to read a little more of our story

2) Share our AdoptTogether page with those in your circles of influence. Perhaps there is someone you know who has a heart for adoption.

3) If you are able, you can give through AdoptTogether toward adoption expenses.

We have had people give us diapers and outfits, provide meals and stop in “just to see the baby.”  We are truly grateful and look forward to the next few miles on our adoption journey.

Back on the Road to Adoption

Many months ago I posted about our bump on the road to adoption. We had made connections with a birth mom and were preparing to welcome a new child into our home. Birth mom decided to parent and our journey toward adoption seemed to stall. We had a number of people who had given toward adoption expenses through our AdoptTogether page.

Then last month – enter Eli.

Through a friend of a friend we were connected with a birth mother who was due early July. She decided to pursue adoption with us. We made plans to meet her on a Monday – two weeks before her scheduled C-section. As it turns out, Eli made an early entrance on the next day. Eli spent several days in the hospital and we were communicating with our attorney to get all appropriate paperwork in place so we could gain custody. A week after his birth, we brought Eli home.

Due to the money already given through our AdoptTogether and another grant we received, we were able to cover some of the initial expenses. There are still other expenses associated with adoption, including some due to this being an interstate adoption. We are adopting a Hoosier!

There are at least three things you can do if you feel lead to help with our adoption.

1) Visit our AdoptTogether page to read a little more of our story

2) Share our AdoptTogether page with those in your circles of influence. Perhaps there is someone you know who has a heart for adoption.

3) If you are able, you can give through AdoptTogether toward adoption expenses. While there are many worthy causes and many other families pursuing adoption, we’d love any support people feel led to give.

In our experience, adoption has been a period of waiting and more waiting followed by a flurry of activity to bring a child home.  Thanks for taking the time to read about and even be a part of our adoption journey.

Meet the Team // Sydney the Intern // @TinkerCoffeeCo

Sydney is working this summer in Indianapolis as she takes summer classes at UIndy. She was able to connect with a local coffee company – Tinker Coffee Company – and is working as their intern. Recently they featured her on the Tinker Coffee blog. It was a brief interview with some fun info about what lead her to Indy and to Tinker. I especially like her response to What got you into coffee?

You might have noticed that some of our Instagram posts are looking A LOT better recently, and we have one very special person to thank for those upgrades: our illustrious intern Sydney Brackemyre! Syd the Kyd is a dynamo and has been doing awesome work with us for the past month and we wanted to give folks the chance to get to know her a bit better. We sat down with Syd and asked some questions about where she’s been, where she’s going, and what drew her to the coffee industry in the first place.

Read the entire interview on the Tinker blog!

Do Your Children Believe // Terence Chatmon

Read the Bible.

Go to church.

Pray.

Some pretty standard answers that are given when asked what we should do to grow in our relationship with God. All are pretty good indicators that we are moving in the right direction and are generally accepted as steps all followers of Jesus should be taking.

In the opening pages of his book Do Your Children Believe?, author Terence Chatmon shares this statistic:

“. . . the hard truth remains that fewer than 10 percent of Christian families ever really engage with one another for the express purpose of encouraging or informing their growing faith. And not 1 percent could show you any kind of written plan that even briefly describes the spiritual direction they’re praying for and working together toward.”

So while we know we should read the Bible and pray, it seems that the majority of families do not practice those things together.  Into that gap of knowing verses doing (especially in the context of the family), Chatmon offers his insights.

Now normally the emotion that is associated with Bible reading and prayer seems to be guilt.  Guilt that we don’t read enough.  Guilt that we don’t pray enough.  Guilt that we aren’t consistent in either arena. Chatmon doesn’t pile onto that feeling of inadequacy.  Instead he shares his journey of how this became a priority in his life, even admitting that for a number of years he was not actively involved in doing what he writes about. He mentions multiple times that he doesn’t have it all figured out nor is he an expert. He confesses that he is not a Biblical scholar, but has in recent years taken seriously the role of leading his family.  From that experience and obvious passion he offers his thoughts.

In the chapters of the book the author offers ideas on identifying each family’s values, crafting a vision and a mission along with other steps to help families achieve a written plan for family faith development.

One of the things I appreciated as I read the book was that while Chatmon offered direction and shared many personal stories, he didn’t give too many specifics on what his family put together.  He didn’t want someone to fall into the trap of simply adopting what his family did.  He stressed the importance of each family identifying their own values, their own mission, their own prayer focus, ultimately making their plan their own.

While he shared some good insights and clear steps, there were a couple of phrases I highlighted that I considered memorable.

Near the end of the book Chatmon was expressing a long view of his family’s faith development plan.  He painted this picture:

“The thought of my kid sitting around a table with their kids, teaching and training them how to sit around with their kids – my great-grandkids – learning and living the ways of the Lord . . . I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

His vision reaches beyond even his own lifetime.  The generational impact could move far beyond his own years on this earth.  A pretty powerful picture.

In the final chapter he concludes the book by underscoring why he is passionate about families developing a written plan:

” . . . my most direct route to fulfilling this enormous calling of mine (and ours) is to live it and share it and instill it within those who are closest to me:  my family. They are the essential starting point where any hope of my being effective, any hope of becoming my very best for the kingdom, must begin.”

Chatmon offers practical tools to help families (especially fathers) to become intentional about a faith development plan and create specific steps to leave a spiritual legacy.

Weddings, God and Covenants

As we move into the season of summer we also move into the season of weddings.  For the past few years I have had a couple of weddings on my calendar each summer.  This past weekend my wife and I attended a wedding and in a couple of weeks I will be performing one. I know of the three other weddings in our immediate sphere of relationships that will take place this summer.  Summer seems to be synonymous with weddings.

As I think about weddings, especially as I officiate any of them, I think of the word covenant.  When a man and a woman stand together on their wedding day, they are entering into a covenant.  There is a difference between a contract and a covenant.

The world in which we live in operates by contract relationships:  I am going to give you certain things in exchange for something else.  If I give you those things, you are obligated to provide certain things to me.  If you break your end of the contract, then I’m able to simply walk away from our agreement.

If I live by a covenant, it’s different.  Even when you don’t keep up your end of the bargain, I continue to be faithful to the relationship.

I was reminded of the idea of covenant as I have been reading the book Do Your Children Believe? Author Terence Chatmon talks about the idea of covenant and how God shows us what it looks like to keep a covenant.  He writes this in one of the later chapters:

“. . . as you read the grand sweep of the Bible – God’s covenants with Adam, with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, with David – you keep seeing this theme emerge.  His people forget what He’s done for them. His people are contentious and inconsistent. His people sometimes even stumble into outright rebellion . . . yet He keeps reaching out and redeeming a remnant.  He never stops seeking His people.  He always remains faithful to His covenant.”

It’s a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father and a great picture for a marriage relationship.  To never stop seeking.  To always remain faithful.  Even when the other blows it.

What a good reminder for those who are getting married.

For those who are already married.

For all those who are contentious, inconsistent, even outright rebellious.

Guess that’s all of us.

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”
(2 Timothy 1:9)

 

Reason #199 Why We Love Small Groups

A few of our 2017 grads. Photo credit to one of our moms for snapping and sharing the pic.

Earlier in May we honored the class of 2017. It’s an annual event we do in our services where we bring our high school seniors on stage and recognize them for graduating. While it’s a regular thing we do (along with churches all across the country), each year is as unique as the members of each graduating class.

For the past few years we have asked our grads to fill out a brief questionnaire so we can make the recognition a bit more personal. Not all of our congregation knows every graduate by name so it’s an opportunity to highlight what our grads have achieved and what they have planned.

The last question for them to respond to was this: What is Your Best School Memory?

A couple of their answers show just why we love small groups.

I anticipated that our grads might point to homecoming or prom or an athletic or academic accomplishment. Some did. In fact, one of our grads was Homecoming Queen this year. Two of our grads finished #3 and #4 in their graduating class. Others enjoyed some athletic success.

But what two of our grads put down as their best memory had to do with their experience in small groups.

Here are the grads own words:

“I loved being kidnapped . . . by my small group leaders. It was always fun being surprised and spending the day with my small group.”

“My favorite memory is having our annual small group Christmas party/sleepover.”

Just another reason why we love small groups.

To the small group leaders out there: You are making an impact. You have influence. Sometimes we just have to wait until they graduate (or later) to see it or hear it.

To the small group leaders out there: Thank You!

Honoring the Class of ’17

 

Every May we take a few minutes in our services to recognize and honor our High School graduates. Since graduation season is typically a busy time for the families, we try to make it simple while also giving honor where honor is due.

This is the video we showed during our Graduate Recognition time:

Many of students from this class grew up here, so it was extra special to see them in their caps and gowns. Below are a couple of pics that demonstrate that.

Three of our grads that were honored Sunday were in the first class of our Sonshine Preschool.  Our director obtained copies of the graduation pictures from the first morning and afternoon classes. Perhaps those from Wilmington will recognize a familiar face or two.