Nikolai on the News Stands!

The current issue of People Magazine has an article on Reece's Rainbow, the ministry that helped us find our son Nikolai. Check out who's lookin handsome at the bottom middle of the page. We had no idea Nikolai's pic was in the magazine til Andrea emailed us to let us know. So we went Wednesday and bought a few copies.

The Evidence of God's Hand

As I mentioned in my previous blog, God has been removing obstacles and providing in huge ways in order for us to adopt Nikolai. The evidence that God's hand has been at work in even the minute details of bringing our son home is overwhelming.

About 3 weeks ago Drew and I received a substantial tax return. We had already decided that when we got it, we would put the majority of it onto our mortgage for our house in SC so that we could then lower the sale price some more and hopefully sell the house. With the other portion we were going to buy a laptop because our desktop was broken and was going to cost a ridiculous amount of money to fix. Our laptop, well if you saw it you would understand, it would only work when plugged in and would still shut off at random times.

I remember the day I was sitting at the computer ready to use the tax return to pay down the mortgage and I suddenly just felt like God was saying "wait, just hold on to that money for now." Then the same thing happened as we were about to purchase the laptop online; we had it in the shopping cart, ready to check out and then Drew and I both had this sense that it would not be a wise use of our money, so we didn't buy it.

Last week an acquaintance of Drew's fixed our desktop for $45! It's running like new now. Right after we sent in our commitment papers to adopt Nikolai, our property management group emailed and said, "we have a rental application for your house and it looks good." They sign the lease this Monday and we will no longer have to pay any money toward out SC house!

Because we held on to our tax return we had the money we needed to cover our application fee, home study fees, and Promise Trust fee for Nikolai's adoption. We would normally never have that kind of "expendable" money.

When Drew and I first told Andrea of Reece's Rainbow that we wanted to commit to adopting Nikolai she emailed us and said there was $1811 in a grant for him. On top of that a lady in Germany had been sending money every week specifically for whoever would adopt Nikolai! Then my new friend from Hudson's therapist office, who told me about Reece's Rainbow, gave me $100 when I told her we had already committed to Nikolai.

If your reading this and you can't see the hand of God working...get your vision checked. This whole situation is the handiwork of our Heavenly Father. I have never before in my life done something this huge in faith and so clearly seen God knocking down obstacles. He is so faithful.

Adopting Nikolai

So much has transpired in the last week it is somewhat difficult to remember what happened on which days. My last post talked about how Drew and I found out about Reece's Rainbow, a ministry for adopting international children with Down Syndrome. We knew right away that God was making it undeniably clear that this is what He has for us. I think the easiest way to explain what has occurred during the last week is through a timeline.

Wednesday, February 17 - We find out about Reece's Rainbow and start looking at the website. Contact Andrea, the director of Reece's Rainbow to get the initial paperwork. Drew and I are certain that we want to adopt through Reece's Rainbow.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday - We are looking through pictures on the website, praying, and talking about how would this all work out. How will we ever decide on which child to adopt? But we were confident that God would direct. Saturday, Drew was away at seminary, while I was looking at more pictures and saw Nikolai. I was just immediately drawn to him, maybe because he looks so much like Lane and Hudson. After Drew gets home I email Andrea to find out what country Nikolai is in.

Sunday, February 21 - Drew sees Nikolai's picture and he too has an overwhelming sense that he is the one we need to adopt. We find out Nikolai is in Ukraine. Andrea sends us our commitment papers. We are so excited and continuing to pray for God to providentially work everything out, just as he already had. We are certain we want to commit to Nikolai.

Monday, February 22 - We send in our commitment papers for Nikolai! And we begin working on the mounds of paperwork, get our homestudy set up etc...

Tuesday, February 23 - We get an email from Andrea, the director of Reece's Rainbow telling us the following
"just wanted to let you just saved Nikolai from the institution. They were DAYS from transferring him. Our facilitator called and they said they will hold him."
By institution, she means a mental institution, which is where most children over age 4, with Down Syndrome will spend their lives. I couldn't stop crying. Nikolai is already 5, but God had been keeping him at the orphanage for us!

Today is Wednesday, February 24. We have seen God's hand working in so many little ways. He made it so clear that Nikolai was our son. Imagine if we had hesitated to commit to him. God told us to "move" so we did, and even though it may seem there are obstacles; God has and can move them. He already provided above and beyond what we needed for our application, promise trust and home study fees. We are confident that he is going to provide all we need to bring Nikolai home.

Nikolai could be coming home as soon as July! We are so excited to have found our son. We can't wait to hug him and love him and give him a new life.

All this has kept my mind thinking on how much greater the love of God is. That he would give his son and adopt me into his family, call me his child and love me with an everlasting love.

You can follow Nikolai's adoption story here at The Purple Sparrow or on our Facebook page "The Purple Sparrow." If you would like to sponsor the Miles family you can do so through designated giving at Reece's Rainbow. Please pray with us that we can bring Nikolai home soon.

Adopting a Child With Down Syndrome

Adoption is something that Drew and I have always known God had for us in our future. When Drew and I were dating, a friend of mine thought she would be funny and blurted out "Drew, you know Kam wants 12 kids, right?" When we got in the car Drew asked me "Do you really want 12 kids?" (He had a very concerned look on his face). I almost lied, but I told him I really did want 12 kids, give or take a couple. Thankfully, he didn't break up with me right then, and 7 years later we have been married for 5 yrs. and have two children.

Yesterday, as I sat in the waiting room of the Speech Therapist office a lady sat down next to me with her daughter who has Down Syndrome. We started talking and she told me about an adoption ministry called Reece's Rainbow that helps place international children with Down Syndrome into loving homes. I was immediately interested, actually my heart was pounding with excitement. I had almost skipped the kids therapy appointments that day!

When I got home I immediately went home and looked at to find out more. I started weeping and couldn't stop. And it was not tears of pity for these children; it was tears of joy that God had answered my prayers. We had been looking into ways to foster or adopt children with Down Syndrome or other special needs, but because of the 90% abortion rate in the US there really are not a lot of children with DS available. My heart had been somewhat restless and impatient waiting for God to show me the "how." I thought "This is it!" I couldn't wait til Drew got home from work, I called him right away. We hadn't really even considered the possibility of adopting a child with Down Syndrome internationally, but now it just seemed so clear.

After the kids were in bed, Drew and I talked for hours; we looked at the pictures of these children waiting for their "forever family." I told Drew I had already requested and received the initial application. He laughed and said with a huge smile on his face "I figured you did, I just assumed you had probably already filled it out and sent it in too." (Which of course I had not). I love my husband, and I love that God brought us together, and has knit our hearts together in this way. And so the adoption journey has officially begun. Though, as I look back I see God's hand working in big and small ways to bring us to this place and preparing our hearts to adopt.

Please pray with us as we pray and plan. We have some logistical and financial obstacles to tackle. And I do not know how we will ever decide on just one child. We know God has already decided that.

US Census Commercials - You Really Shouldn't Be Laughing.

We've been seeing the humorous commercial ads for the 2010 US Census for a few weeks now. Funny as they are, one has to ask who paid for these? The answer of course, I did, and you did! In fact the cost for airing the ad during the Super Bowl alone was 2.5 MILLION dollars. More of our hard earned tax dollars being flushed down the toilet. Numbers have yet to be released on what it cost to make the commercials and air them on a regular basis. Let alone the millions that are spent to actually conduct a nationwide census. Why would our government spend such an exorbitant amount of money when we are in a deep recession? The answer could only be, so that they can further rob us of our liberties and our money.

I urge my fellow liberty-loving Americans to think twice before participating in the 2010 Census. Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama wrote an article entitled "The Census and Despotism" that is well worth reading. If you like keeping your money and your liberty then read it. And if you are looking for an intelligent source of information regarding the political affairs of our country, you should follow Campaign For Liberty. It's not about being Republican or Democrat; it's about liberty.

Tim Tebow's Super Bowl Ad Gets Two Thumbs Up From Pro-Choice Journalist

There's been a lot of ruckus over Tim Tebow's Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad. Pro-Choicers have got their panties in a wad again. But in an ARTICLE from The Washington Post one Pro-Choice journalist is actually supporting his ad. Read it, it's worth the time.

I Love It When Your Kid Is Worse Than Mine

I remember those blissful days before my first child was born. My mind would drift off dreaming of when I would get to hold my baby boy in my arms. Thinking of what he would look like and imagining him as a toddler or going off to kindergarten. He was perfect in my mind. A little angel.

Before I had kids, I recall on more than one occasion seeing a toddler throw a temper tantrum in the store over not getting what they wanted. Or seeing a mother looking like she belonged in an insane asylum with that crazed look in her eyes as she grabs her 3 yr old by the arm and says "If you don't stop screaming and crying we are going to leave." Then 10 minutes later the kid is getting exactly what they wanted and the mom seems so happy that the kid is quiet. "That will never be OUR kid; our son is going to love Jesus." My husband and I would say to each other. Those of you that know my 4 yr old are laughing, probably out loud.

Parenting is so much harder than I ever imagined it to be. Now that I have two boys of my own I am tempted to cut my Mom some slack (please don't tell her I said that). The bummer part about being a parent is that my kids get all my sin problems; they seem to get the worst of my husband and I. That is why my 4 yr old is sometimes a loud, hyper, angry, selfish sinner. Occasionally I look at him and I want to say, "Please don't be like Mommy." "Mommy always got in trouble growing up; it's just not worth it, son." He learns more from HOW I act than he does from WHAT I say. And he learns about who God is from how I act too.

On more than one occasion I have found myself rejoicing over another child being "bad". Just a couple of months ago my son's preschool class put on a little Christmas Program. I was pretty nervous wondering if he would behave or not and sing the songs or if he would pitch a fit on stage or just refuse to sing. Well, he did great! He behaved and sang and stood there like a little angel. I was delighted. I was equally delighted that one girl sat there the entire time with her hands over her ears, another kid kept shaking his jingle bell when he wasn't supposed to, and another cried the whole time til he finally had to just go sit with his parents. I found myself giddy that my kid was the "good" one (which was only because he wanted cake after). Hey, it doesn't happen that often so I have to treasure those rare moments of public displays of goodness.

Occasionally, I will see a kid pitching a fit in the store while my son happily helps me put groceries in the cart and I feel a sense of pride. It's so WRONG, I know. I am focusing on the stuff that doesn't matter. I am comparing my son to others and in return teaching him that it matters more what people think of him than what God thinks of him. We all do it sometimes with ourselves don't we? "I may have done this sin, but they did far worse." "I might not be the world's greatest mother, but at least I'm better than my mom, or at least my kid isn't like that kid." I could raise a son who does all the right things on the outside and is well behaved, but who does not know or love God. Or I can raise a son who loves God and wants to please Him. I would rather have my son love Jesus and His Word, because then the behavior will follow for the right reasons.

By God's grace He is helping me teach my sons that it matters more what is in their hearts. That the only one we have to compare ourselves to is Jesus. My 4 yr old, has learned that obedience is necessary not because then he won't get in trouble, but because it is what Scripture tells him is right. I have seen glimpses of him caring that he has sinned against God, not just disappointed me. I have seen him genuinely repentant over his sin, not just saying he's sorry to try and avoid consequences. Scripture and the knowledge of Jesus is the ultimate behavior modifier, contrary to what Dr. Phil says.

More than once I have had to ask my son for forgiveness for sin, for yelling, or for being too lazy to parent him how God's Word tells me to. I've admitted to him that I need God's help and God's Word the same way he does if I am going to do what's right. Sure we both still have a long way to go, but God can do the work in both of us.

And God has taught me humility (which I am still learning). He's taught me to pray for those mom's in the grocery store when their kid is throwing a tantrum. Because wouldn't I love it if someone prayed for me when it's my son is displaying his depravity.

Persecution in China

I had the privilege of spending the summer of 2001 in China teaching English as a second language. I love the people there and I was blessed by their hospitality and the love that Chinese believers show to one another. But, their government is wicked; their is no other way to describe it. They continue to persecute Christians for their faith while trying to appear that they allow their people freedom. We need to be vigilant in praying for our brothers and sisters in China who face great persecution for proclaiming the name of Jesus. It has been almost one year since Christian and Human Rights Lawyer, Gao Zhisheng was arrested by nearly a dozen police officers. That is the last time he was seen in public. Please take the time to read the story of Gao Zhisheng, contact your state's representatives, contact the Chinese embassy, sign the petition for him to be freed. Click HERE to do all of the aforementioned.

Learning to Pray

I read an article the other day by a popular Doctor about how when life gets busy, typically the first thing to go is exercise. He strongly recommended that we cut out some other aspect of our busyness and make time for physical exercise. As a Christian I have found that when my life gets extremely busy (which it always seems to be) the first thing to go is my spiritual exercise of prayer. My communication with God is reduced to quick requests like "Please bless this food" or "Please help my kids to behave and not make me look like the worst parent in the world."

Having been raised as a legalist, I usually cringe when I hear things like "spiritual discipline." But, over the last few weeks God has graciously showed me that it's OK to be a disciplined when it comes to things like prayer and studying His Word. Let me explain, or rather let John Piper explain...

"Is it true that intentional, regular, disciplined, earnest, Christ-dependent, God-glorifying, joyful prayer is a duty? Do I go to pray out of duty? Is it a discipline?

You can call it that. It’s a duty the way soldiers in combat clean their rifles and load their guns. It’s a duty the way hungry people eat food. It’s a duty the way thirsty people drink water."

Piper also gives some helpful suggestions on how to pray.

First, set aside a set time each day, and don’t leave prayer to chance. Second, I suggest you combine it with reading the Bible and that you take what you find in the Bible and turn it into prayer. Third, I suggest that you pray in concentric circles and make the aim of each circle the glory of God. You can work from outside in, or from inside out. For example, pray for your own soul, then for your family, then for your friends and colleagues, then for your church, then for wider ministries and the global mission of Christ, and then for the political leaders of the land. And let what you ask be at least partly shaped by what you just read in the Bible.

Over the last few weeks as I have put these suggestions to action I have found my prayer life to be rewarding, encouraging, refreshing, and freeing. God has shown me unconfessed sin, areas of my life I had not surrendered to him, and has given me great joy as I pray for others. My time studying in the Word has been more productive and my walk with God strengthened. In fact, I am somewhat kicking myself for not having been more disciplined in my prayer life sooner.

I often hear Christians say "All we can do is pray." I've even said it a time of two myself. By God's grace He has opened my eyes to the joy that is found in regularly spending time fellowshipping with Him through prayer. We get to pray! As the words in one my favorite hymns say "What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."

To read or listen to John Piper's full sermon on prayer "Put in the Fire for the Sake of Prayer" click here.

Matt Chandler is Suffering Well.

Matt is one my favorite preachers to listen to. He was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, and Associated Press has written this article on how he is "suffering well."