This is the text of an article I wrote for our church bulletin in preparation for our trip. I hate to waste a good deep thought, so here it is.

During the holiday season we are naturally drawn to thoughts about family. We purchase gifts for family members, we travel great distances to be together, and we express love for our family that we often neglect during other times of the year. We often find the holidays difficult as we reflect on those members of our family who are no longer with us, but we find joy and comfort in welcoming those who have recently joined our family.

As I have announced, Ashley and Jaycie and I are going to China this Wednesday to welcome the newest member of our family – Hannah Li, on Christmas Day. This is an event for which we have prayed for over two years now, and while we have grown frustrated with the process at times, now that we are about to leave we wonder where the time has gone. All of the difficulties of the past are no more than dim memories as we are overcome with joy and anticipation.

Adoption is a wonderful gift, and one that teaches us so much about God and His love for us. We have prayed for this child before she was even conceived. We have loved her since before she was born. We have known her name before we have even seen her face. We have and will overcome every obstacle to go to a foreign land to get her and bring her home. There she is an orphan, but soon she will be a daughter with a home and a family and a future.

I want to remind us all that we are God’s adopted children. This congregation is our family. We didn’t create it, and we don’t deserve it. We didn’t do anything to make it happen. God, who knew us and loved us before time began, has overcome every obstacle to come to the earth He created to bring us home as His children. He has paid the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us. He has changed our name and given us His Name, so that we can live with Him and experience all that He has to offer. He has given us a family – this family – for better or worse.

My prayer is that we will do what it takes to continue to become the family that God intended. I pray that we will have the love to bond us together despite our differences, the courage to face trials head on, and the perseverance to make it through to the other side. I pray that we will cry together, laugh together, study together and pray together. I pray that we will endure all the difficulties that the devil sends our way as we walk together, arm in arm, toward the home in Heaven that God has prepared for us.

Thank you for your love and support, in this as in every other part of our lives. If you would like to keep up with our travels, you can follow along at http://hannahforchristmas.blogspot.com.

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