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Last week during Christmas, my family spent a couple days down at Megan’s parents house in Castle Rock.  For the last few years, at some point during the post-gift exchange lull of the early afternoon, somebody suggests that we watch vintage home videos of Megan’s family.  After rummaging through a collection of VHS tapes marked with Sharpie scribbles, somebody pops in the featured film of the afternoon.  If you can remember, the early 80’s was the era when recording home videos required real work.  Carrying a microwave-sized box on your shoulder took a serious investment of time which means that you end up recording hours of one single shot in order for the moment to be worth it.

In this particular episode, we got to watch a snippet from an hour long episode of 3 year old Megan and her 5 year old brother playing on a swing set.  It was hysterical watching Megan try to figure why the teeter-totter doesn’t work with just one person.  More amazingly was how much my wife has changed in 30 years.  I didn’t know her back then.  I only know her has she is now.

But this is how we see growth…right? By looking back at how we used to be, how we used to think, how we used to behave and then looking at who we’ve become since then.  Looking at these videos, and even looking back at our last 8 years of marriage, I can see that the Megan I am married to today is more caring, thoughtful, hospitable, loving, generous, and beautiful.

As we reflect over this last year and turn our sights to next year, it’s normal at this time to be thinking about what we accomplished and what we want to accomplish. While there is nothing inherently spiritual about the start of a new calendar year, this is commonly a week where we evaluate and take inventory of our lives and start making resolutions.

But I want to challenge us in what questions we are asking. Instead of only thinking in terms of goals and accomplishments, let’s think in terms of growth and maturity. What if we all spent some time this week asking…

  1. This last year, who have I become?

  2. This next year, who is the Father inviting me to become?

Yep…. Those are BIG questions and maybe a little daunting. Where do we even start in answering questions like that?

The reason these questions are important is because Ephesians 4 tells us that God’s intention for us is to grow into the “fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ.” Meaning that God is most glorified in our maturity, not just our accomplishments.  The Father loves to grow us up – still preserving our “child-likeness” but leaving behind our “child-ishness”.

When we only look at our accomplishments and goals, we only leave room to celebrate our victories.

But when we are looking at who we are becoming, we have permission to look back to moments of pain, tragedy, and failure and ask God what he formed in us through those circumstances. This doesn’t mean that God purposefully makes bad things happen to us. But he uses every opportunity to reveal Himself in us. Our growth and maturity is defined when we can identify Jesus more fully in us.

Remember, setting goals is good and necessary, but the fullness of Christ is what we’re after.

In my opinion, that’s the best way to end and begin a new year.  Cheers!

Asher’s First Day

May 8, 2013 — 1 Comment

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Wow. What a day.

Yesterday started earlier than expected with a 2:30 a.m. wake up call. We were told that Gabrielle was being taken to the hospital because she was having contractions that were close together and strong.

Fortunately, all our bags were already packed and we were ready to go. It took us about an hour to get to the hospital where we met both of the birth parents. Labor was indeed in full swing.

Our dear friend Ally met us there shortly after to help as a birth doula during the labor. I don’t what we would have done without her. She’s a prime example of the difference between a cheerleader and a coach. We had some sweet cheers for Gabrielle, but Ally brought the graceful instruction needed to put Gabrielle at ease as she endured her contractions.

After a short walk around the halls of the hospital we came back to the room and were surprised to hear that Gabrielle was almost ready to start pushing. Only two hours after arriving to the hospital this was about to go down! Originally, the plan was for Gabrielle to be induced at 6 a.m., but Asher decided to arrive 20 minutes early. We can’t help but wonder if that was the first indication of a competitive personality!

Asher came so quick and strong that he retained some fluid in his lungs that usually gets flushed in the journey through the birth canal. At first, it created some issues with his breathing and oxygen, but after several hours and a couple good cries everything normalized and was great.

The rest of the day was to be expected. Many visitors from Gabrielle’s family paid us a visit to see Asher and welcome him into the world. Being an open adoption, there were mixed emotions among the visiting parties. While some were delighted to say “Hi”, others were preparing to say “Bye”. Even with a few emotional moments, there is no doubt Asher knew he was surrounded by A LOT of love.

I’m no psychology expert, but throughout the day I couldn’t help but think about the importance of our first day on earth. Our tiny brains are informed by the immediate environment we are brought into. Synapses and neurons are making connections based on whether or not basic needs are being met. In our first moments, our brains are asking “Am I safe? Am I warm? Am I dry? Am I tended to? Am I noticed and heard? Is there someone here for me? Will someone hold me?”. The answers to these simple questions set a life long trajectory and provide our brains and bodies with the information we need to know how best to respond. If our world is safe and full of love, we are free to be cared for and comforted. If our world is hostile, we learn quickly that we need to spend our days fighting for ourselves.

The name Asher is a name we liked even before we knew the meaning.  We were excited when we found out it means “happy” and “blessed”. Even later we found out that Asher is a biblical name and he was the second son of Leah’s servant Zilpah (Gen. 30:13).  Leah named him Asher because she was happy to love him as her own.  The very name comes from a story of adoption.

As I held Asher against the skin of my chest, we were able to listen to the song “Abba” on repeat. I was praying that the reality of Asher’s new environment would settle into his tiny brain, heart, and spirit.  I prayed that he would feel adopted and chosen in the very fiber of his being.

Later in the evening, it was a highlight to watch Noah meet Asher for the first time. He was super excited to meet his little brother, but was clearly more excited to open up a brand new Transformer truck “given” to him by Asher. Noah’s gonna be a good big brother.

Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement over the couple days and several weeks. We’ve been blown away by all of the support coming our way. Altogether, with our Adopt Together fund you all have blessed us with over $4,200. Astonishing.

Good days are ahead!!

Read: Big New for the Humbrecht Family
Read: Our Adoption, How You Can Help