{Parenting} Shaping a Servant Culture

Christ-followers are servants!

We want to raise Ethan in a culture where serving God and others is part of the DNA. A culture where serving God/others is part of the DNA is a culture which says …

It’s not about me!

Rick Warren begins his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, with the words, “It’s not about you.”

We all come into the world, it seems, thinking everything revolves around us. And it first, maybe it does. In fact, for the first 8+ weeks of our time with Ethan, we will both be on parental leave. During this time, we will very much be focused on Ethan! And we can hardly wait!

But as Ethan grows, we want his world to expand beyond himself. It’s an unhealthy attitude for any of us to have that believes, “it’s all about me.”

To help instill a servant culture in our home, we will need to find ways, as a family, to serve — God, each other, others in our church family, and others in the world.

A servant’s heart is a surrendered heart. Jesus demonstrated total surrender like no one else. Perhaps it was because Jesus was reared in a home with a servant culture. He had a mother and father who showed him what surrendered lives look like. As a young (betrothed) wife, Mary was approached by an angel with a mind-boggling opportunity to raise God’s Son. (See Luke 1.26-38.)

Mary, more than a little confused, tried to figure out what it meant. In end, she demonstrated total surrender, saying …

I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.

Now, that’s the kind of attitude we want to help Ethan develop! Of course, that means we will need to model that kind of surrender. In other words, shaping a servant culture, a culture where serving God/others is part of the DNA, comes with a pretty big price tag!

This is the fifth part in a series of reflections on the kind of culture we want to create in our home, especially for Ethan. Previously, we’ve written about shaping a Leadership Culture, a God-centered culture, a learning culture, and a high AQ culture. I have a couple other ideas on my list. I’ll try to write about those in the next few days as we prepare to bring Ethan home.

Sleepless in Pennsylvania

A few weeks ago, someone asked me if we were able to sleep due to thinking about our upcoming adoption. I said we weren’t having any trouble sleeping.

Thankfully, we’ve not really had too much of a problem sleeping. Even when I was going through the worst of the merger process with Alexandria, Barree, and Petersburg, I don’t really recall losing too much, if any, sleep (unless I just don’t remember it).

However, since we got the call on Tuesday, I have had trouble sleeping at night. I’m not thinking about anything in particular (although last night I was thinking about writing a post called, “Sleepless in Pennsylvania” — so hopefully some good will come out of my time awake!), I think I’m just wired.

Or maybe I’m getting used to Korean time, which is 14 hours ahead of us by being awake when it’s nighttime here!

Anyway, as I wrote in my last post, we are preparing to go to Korea. In fact, we’re hoping to finalize travel arrangements today. We’ll post our plans when they’re set!

It’s Time!

ethanquinn4The call from our adoption agency (informing us that our baby is legally ready for travel) came in this morning at 11:12 am!

Now, it’s time to pull out our list-of-things-to-do-after-the-call-comes and get to work on it! While we have not yet finalized arrangements, we expect to travel to Korea sometime next week.

Frankly, we are blown away by God’s sense of timing, and perhaps even God’s sense of humor!

As you may recall (if you’ve been following our adoption journey), that we received the referral of a baby boy while we were at a major point in our dissertation-writing process just over 4 months ago. In fact, we were at Asbury for our proposal hearings when the call came (it came the day between each of our hearings!).

Since then, we’ve been working hard to get our last two chapters done, which has been the number 1 task (and stressor!) on our To-Do list for the last 4 months. We really wanted to get our drafts submitted before going to Korea. And, amazingly, we just emailed drafts of our final two chapter to our mentor yesterday!

Coincidence? We don’t think so. We take it as assurance from God that he is leading us through this incredible process every step of the way!

At first, we thought we might try to go to Korea ASAP (i.e. this week). However, it turns out Korea will be celebrating the Lunar New Year next week and the Social Welfare Society office that we’ll be working with will close on 5 February 2008 and will reopen on 11 February 2008. We’re currently in the process of figuring out what this holiday will do to our travel plans (as well as coordinating our cross-cultural experience with Rev. Jun). It will delay our plans a bit, but we’re not sure how long, at the moment.

Well, that’s the big breaking news we’ve been waiting for. Check back for more on this story as it develops over the next few days. We expect to post a good bit before, during, and after our trip to Korea.

Oh, in case you’re wondering how we’re doing. Let me put it this way: I am psyched. Joleen is a basket case! 😀

First Full Drafts Done!

joleenatworkIf you’ve been following our doctor of ministry journey and/or adoption journey, you know we’ve both been pushing to get our first full, 5-chapter drafts in to our mentor by the time we go to Korea. Expecting a call from Korea any day now has put the pressure on us to get them done (not to mention the fact that our final deadline is approaching!).

While completing these drafts won’t give us too much of a breather, it is a huge weight off our shoulders. And maybe we will be able to reclaim our kitchen and dining room space!

randyatworkToday, we both finally completed our first full drafts, one year after beginning this dissertation-writing process. Having completed our proposal hearings in late September, our field research in November and December, we were finally ready to write the last two chapters in January. In case you missed it, click here to read a little about our dissertation topics.

What’s next?

We’ll email our drafts to our mentor tomorrow afternoon. While we wait to hear back from our mentor, we will work on revising/updating chapter 2 (the literature review, which is never really done until the end). Basically, we have about 4 weeks or so (which is expected to include a trip to Korea!) to work with our mentor, Dr. Russell West, in getting our drafts ready to be submitted to the D.Min. office so that our defenses can be scheduled (probably in April). Assuming we survive all of that on time, we hope to graduate in May!

Thanks to all those who have been praying us through this! 8)

Cross-Cultural Experience

As part of our Doctor of Ministry program at Asbury, we are required to complete a cross-cultural experience. We plan to complete our cross-cultural experience in Korea (when we go to pick up our baby).

Thanks to our bishop, Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, for putting us in contact with Bishop Jeremiah Park (bishop of NY area), originally from Jae-Chun, Korea, who put us in contact with a friend of his, Rev. Yong Jai Jun, in Korea.

Rev. Jun is the senior pastor of Flame Methodist Church in Sung Nam City, near Seoul. Bishop Park describes Flame Methodist Church as one of the most vibrant Methodist churches in Korea. We are in the process of coordinating our cross-cultural experience with Rev. Jun.

We look forward to seeing and participating in the work of the church while in Korea. We are somewhat aware of our Westernized Christianity, and we pray that God will give us a glimpse of a part of himself that we are currently unaware as we observe another part of the body of Christ. We pray that God will deepen our spiritual walks as well as our leadership in his Church!

So, we’ll go to Korea for two purposes: 1) to pick up our baby boy, and 2) to experience as much of the culture, including the church culture, as we can while we’re there. We will post lots of reflection and photos here about our experience in Korea, and we invite you to experience the Korean culture with us by reading along.

God continues to work out all the details regarding our adoption and doctor of ministry journeys. We are so grateful!

Undeserved

The topic of my devotional reading yesterday was about remembering God’s grace in my life and being humbled in the midst of that thought.

Sometimes I revolt at such words, thinking they are close to self-debasement, but this devotional does not read like that to me today. I know I owe everything to God. I think of his blessings upon me with the wonderful marriage I have and now the blessing of this child and I am overwhelmed with a sense of God’s goodness.

Recently, I was thinking that when we get ourselves in trouble with God is when we think we deserve things. But none of us deserve anything. God doesn’t owe us anything!

God doesn’t guarantee any couple a child. There are the Bible greats who suffered the pain and the social stigma of the day of being childless. We don’t deserve anything. We aren’t guaranteed anything. We should not take anything for granted!

We should not take relationships for granted. We should not take our relationship with God for granted. But so many times we do. That’s what leads to an inattentiveness to the relationship – no time in the Word or in prayer, not going to church, not serving others.

Sometimes we don’t serve others because we think we are the ones who deserve to be served. Maybe we don’t go to church because we expect God to be there when we need him.

Too often, we expect God to act as our God even if we don’t act like we are his people. God is faithful, but there are responsibilities that come with being his people. We get out of the relationship what we put into it, to a certain degree. But, because of God’s grace, we always get more, much more, than we deserve!

{Parenting} Shaping a Leadership Culture

One of the things I look forward to as a parent is raising Ethan in the context of a leadership culture. Leadership is important to us; we’re both leaders. While we don’t yet know what gifts God has given him (and others God may develop in him in the future), we certainly want to provide an atmosphere where God can grow him to be a leader in whatever areas he discovers his giftedness.

In the Scriptures, particularly with the leaders in the Old Testament, there are so many examples of children following in the footsteps of their parents. Often when the parent was a bad leader, the child was also a bad leader, and vice versa. There were exceptions, of course, but they seem to be few and far between. The challenge for us is to provide the best environment we can so that Ethan will be an effective, godly leader.

Role Models
Everybody needs good role models. As parents, we’ll automatically be role models for Ethan, and that will include modeling leadership. We’ll also ensure that he is exposed to other good leaders so that he can learn from them, too. Having good role models is essential for learning leadership!

Opportunities to Lead
Learning leadership from others is necessary, but it’s not enough. You can’t develop leadership without actually leading. IOW, leadership skills are best developed on the job, putting them into practice. That means we’ll need to give Ethan opportunities to lead as he grows and matures (although we’re not exactly sure what that will look like yet).

Again, we don’t know what God has in store for Ethan, but everyone, regardless of giftedness, can benefit from a strong leadership culture. Everyone leads in some capacity — in school, in the workplace, as a parent, or any number of other contexts. May God help us to take our task of providing a leadership culture for Ethan to heart!

Well, this is part of a series of posts written in preparation for bringing Ethan home. Previously, we’ve written about shaping a God-centered culture, a learning culture, and a high AQ culture.

Another Photo of Our Boy

Ethan3We believe we have entered “the window” of time when we could get the call to go to Korea. With each passing day, the likelihood of a call becomes more likely. While we don’t know when the call will come, we expect it to come within the next few weeks.

This week we received a third set of photos of the baby we’re adopting from Korea, and we’re posting one of them here.

If you’ve been following our adoption journey over the past year, you may know that everything is all set on our end (i.e. the US side of things). All that remains now is for the Korean authorities to finish up on their end and grant permission for us to come and get our baby.

We’re looking forward to meeting Ethan (who is now a little over 7 months old) soon in Korea!

Our New Digs!

After toying around with the idea of moving our blog from Typepad to a WordPress-powered site (hosted by Dreamhost) for a while, we made a sudden decision to make the move today. We’ve been Typepad users for a few years now but have decided to move our blog to a WordPress-powered site.

We were concerned about the process of exporting all of our posts from Typepad to WordPress, but it was fairly painless.

While we were mostly happy with Typepad, WordPress will give us complete control of the site; it will also cost a good bit less. Actually, WordPress is a free download, but we will pay for hosting at Dreamhost. BTW, there is a free hosted version of WordPress at WordPress.com for those who want to blog without dealing with the technical side.

So, welcome to our new digs on the Web!

Some Assembly Required

Parents, in particular, will recognize these three words: Some assembly required!

unassembledstrollerWe’ve already gotten a little taste of them, too, as we prepare to bring Ethan home. We both put a crib together a few weeks ago, and my latest project was putting together a stroller. Actually, I took on the task of choosing the stroller, too. I wanted to make sure it was tough enough to go anywhere. It even comes complete with its own tire pump in the basket underneath!

assembledstrollerJoleen is going to try to use the same logic in choosing a “tough” looking diaper bag. We’ll see. 🙂

Anyway, when I took the stroller out of the box, it came in a number of pieces. For the fun of it, I tried putting most of it together without looking at the directions (which I did), but toward the end, the directions became necessary!

Now this is a stroller!