Today marks our 14th our wedding anniversary. Over the course of the past 14 years, God has led us on quite an adventure!

We’ve spent about a third of our marriage in a doctoral program (that we’re trying to finish up!). That’s on top of beginning our marriage while we were completing a Master’s program. In all, we’ve spent nearly half of our marriage in school. We suppose it was fitting that we began our program at Asbury during the week of our 10th anniversary!

During the past 14 years, we’ve served 10 different churches between us. Because we’ve served in multiple church settings, we’ve served as many as 6 at the same time between us (currently 5). Also, we have lived in 6 different houses in 4 different towns since we’ve been married.

It’s been a great journey, so far, and we’re certain the adventure will continue. In the coming weeks, in fact, we’ll travel to Korea to become parents, which will be an adventure in itself!

As part of our anniversary celebration yesterday, we watched the movie, The Bucket List, which focuses on the adventures of two men, Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman). Edward is a corporate billionaire and Carter is a working class auto mechanic. Once strangers, their paths cross when they share a hospital room together where both men discover they have a terminal illness. Rather than giving up on life, however, they create a “bucket list,” an adventurous list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket.”

It’s a good reminder for us to be intentional about living life to the fullest and making the most of our days so that we do not allow them to slip away unnoticed. That’s an especially good reminder as we move toward bringing Ethan into our home.

All in all, we’re incredibly grateful to God for his presence in our lives, and we look forward to all that God will do in and through our family in the years to come!

What’s God up to?

In my journal this morning, I wrote a prayer related to the time crunch we’re currently facing. We are expecting to receive a call to go to Korea to pick up our baby anytime within the next few weeks AND we are actively (frantically?) working toward finishing the first complete, 5-chapter rough draft of our dissertations.

Our hope is that we can submit our drafts to our mentor about a week from now, which would give us a few/several weeks for edits/polishing. Somewhere in the middle of that process, however, we’ll make a trip to Korea to begin a new journey that will, no doubt, create changes in our lives, and throw an interesting twist into the mix of our graduation timeline.

In light of all this, I prayed the following prayer this morning …

While it seems a bit crazy, Lord, to undertake an adoption process while writing dissertations, we believe, O God, that we have followed your leading. We believe that you have had us at Asbury to further our spiritual and leadership development and that you will even use our current work to make a difference somehow in the cause of your kingdom! We also believe that you had a child created especially for us. And  because you have shown yourself faithful to us in the past, we believe that you will finish what you have started in a way that strengthens our faith and brings you glory. Amen.

Not sure what God’s going to do. But I look forward to it!

{Parenting} Shaping a High AQ Culture

Shaping culture. That’s what we’ve been thinking about lately as we prepare to bring Ethan home in a few weeks. So far, we’ve talked about shaping a God-centered culture and a learning culture. Next up, we want to shape a high AQ culture.

Behind this idea of a high AQ culture is an excellent book, Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities, by Paul Stoltz, who suggests that one’s AQ is more important than one’s IQ.

While IQ measures one’s intelligence, AQ measures how one handles adversity. AQ is about resilience, how you react when things don’t go your way.

Stoltz says there are 3 kinds of people

  1. Quitters simply quit climbing at some point along the journey.
  2. Campers may start out okay, but somewhere along the way, they get tired and take a much-needed break (which we all need from time to time). However, they enjoy resting and camping out so much that they decide to stay right where they are. They decide they’ve gone far enough.
  3. Climbers keep climbing no matter what obstacles get in their way, no matter what kinds of temptations or distractions come along. Sure, they take regular breaks and camp out from time to time, but their camp is a temporary location, not a permanent residence. Their eyes are on the destination, and they keep climbing!

While Paul Stoltz wrote Adversity Quotient in the 1990s, the concept of AQ is nothing new. The Apostle Paul (and others in Scripture) talked about (and modeled) the importance of high AQ centuries ago …

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1.2-4)

Paul also wrote, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Philippians 4.4; see also 1 Thessalonians 5.16).

The basic idea is that no matter what you’re going through — when you feel out of control — you still get to choose your response. Scripture, life’s manual for living a God-honoring life, is full of examples of people who handled adversity well (as well as examples of people who didn’t) that we can learn from.

We want to cultivate a high AQ environment so that our child will have a AQ. We want to raise a climber, a person who’s resilient and keeps pursuing God’s plan no matter what.

Shaping a high AQ culture is going to be challenging, but the stakes are pretty high. In order to shape a high AQ culture in our home we must teach and model how to handle adversity. We’ll have to be aware of how we react to things (what we say, how we act, what we do afterward, etc.) because our little one will be watching!

Of course, we’ll never have perfect AQs. We’ll mess up at times, but we hope to do our best, with God’s help. We believe the quality — and the impact — of his Ethan’s life depends greatly on his AQ!

Almost There!

We just received the notice of approval of relative immigrant visa petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is the *final* step in the process on our end. Now, we’re just waiting for Korea to grant approval for the baby to travel. Once that happens, we will be informed that he’s ready and we can travel to Korea to pick him up.

This approval arrived much earlier than we expected, about 3 weeks earlier, in fact. Surprisingly, it only USCIS about a week and a half to grant approval (and the notice is dated Sunday, 12.30.2007, no less)!

We have a strange feeling, because up to this point, we’ve had steps to check off our list when they were completed. But now there are no more steps. The next call will be a call saying come and get him!

We don’t really know how long it will take Korea to finish up on their end. It could be a couple weeks, or it could still be sometime in February (as we’ve been expecting). But we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the call comes early!

A constant prayer throughout this process (especially now as it winds down) is for God’s perfect timing. That prayer is never more important than it is now as we try complete our dissertations before going to get our little boy!

Pray for Tricia

Tricia Lawrenson, wife of Nathan Lawrenson, who is the son of Rick Lawrenson, lead pastor of Nags Head Church (a great church to visit when vacationing at the Outer Banks of North Carolina). We’ve attended Nags Head Church once and have shared a couple meals with Rick and his wife Gail. Other than that, most of our interaction takes place through an online forum for pastors.

Tricia, who is 24 weeks pregnant, needs our prayers as she also battles Cystic Fibrosis. The good news is, 24 weeks happens to be the minimum length of time that a baby can survive outside the womb, but the reality is, she and baby (and family) need God’s intervention and help.

You can follow Tricia’s journey at Nate’s blog. And we especially encourage you to check out Tricia’s latest prayer requests.

O God, we surround Tricia and Nate and the baby with our prayers, and we ask you to overwhelm them with your loving-yet-incredibly-powerful presence. Walk with them through the coming days, weeks, and months, and when they feel like they can’t take another step, please hold them and carry them. Thank you for this family, Lord; they are your servants. Please watch over them, God, and work in their lives in ways that they, and others who witness your acts, will spend the rest of their lives talking about! Amen.