Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Joy to Our World!: Our Adoption Journey

For some time I have thought Ricky and I may adopt a child in the future.  Right before Emma was born, we started volunteering for a humanitarian relief organization called "Kids Against Hunger" in Cincinnati.  Before you start helping pack meals for the world's poor, they show an awareness video about the plight of the orphan in the world.  They gave a lot of sobering statistics and showed pictures of many precious lives, but one statistic stuck in my heart more than any other:  if every orphan in the world held hands, they would be able to reach around the circumference of the globe twice.  Maybe it's because I have traveled on a plane around much of the world that the vastness of this fact stood out to me, but I knew we had to do something.  Scripture is filled with truths about God's heart for the poor, such as Zechariah 7:9-10, "Dispense true justice, and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor..."  It is also filled with the amazing truth of how we are adopted into God's family through faith in Christ's atoning work on our behalf on the cross.  So, as Christians, Ricky and I knew that our question was not 'should we help orphans?', it was 'how does God specifically have for us to help orphans?'  This is a question we have been praying about in a more focused manner since early Fall and as we prayed and sought guidance and spoke with different adoption agencies, the answer became clear:  God has for us to adopt a child, not at some vague time in the future, but to start the process now.

Therefore, we are delighted to share with you our joyous news this Christmas season!  We were recently accepted into a renowned adoption agency called 'Bethany Christian Services' China Special Needs program focused on a adopting a child with a minor correctable need (such as a cleft lip and palate).  This program resonated with our hearts because it would give us the opportunity to adopt a child that is given very little hope in his/her home country, but could become part of our family, receive the needed medical attention, and be given the opportunity for a full and abundant life!  We sit in thankfulness for how God has worked in our family and brought us to this place to move towards adopting!  (We were also accepted into their Uganda program, but are primarily focused on China at this time).

So, as we enter the new year, we will begin the home study process and gathering all the needed paperwork to help bring our child home!  And we also just learned that we received the house we had put an offer on in our church neighborhood at a much lower price than we originally thought and will be moving in in January.  We are humbled by God's provisions for us.  If everything goes as planned (which is not a given in the world of international adoption!), our home study and gathering materials portion of the process will take about 6 months, the referral process for a boy in this program is 1-6 months (these children are on a waiting list and a large number of them are boys).  We will be adopting a child younger than Emma, so our referral process will be longer than 1 month, but is not thought to be longer than 6, meaning that by next Christmas, it is possible our child would be in our home!

We will update this site as our journey continues.  Please let us know if you have any thoughts or questions or wisdom to give us on this journey!  Also, as you may know, the cost of international adoption is high.  Depending on our travel costs, the total cost for our adoption will be somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000.  We will be raising this money through those led to give, grant programs we can apply to once our home study is over, and any other ways God has to provide these funds!  If you are interested in giving financially, please contact Ricky or me and we will let you know the best way to do this (our email addressess are below).  Please let us know too if you would like to be part of our prayer team!  Your prayers are a special gift to us!

Thank you for learning about this adventure that awaits us.  And Merry Christmas to your family!  Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Link to the song 'Kings and Queens' by Audio Adrenaline.  This song has been especially powerful to us:

Ricky's email:
Michelle's email:

Merry Christmas from the Simpsons!

Shutterfly | Photo Cards

Thursday, October 4, 2012

God Made the Flowers

'God made the flowers.'  This is Isaac's lesson for the week from his AWANA group (his children's ministry class at our church).  I first learned this concept 30 years ago, but God is teaching me it anew this week.  When I was getting ready to move to the Netherlands after college to work for Campus Crusade, a friend sent me a framed picture of a flower that said 'Bloom where you are planted.'  I think God is teaching me to bloom.  He is teaching me the 'inside-out' life.  I am no gardener, but I know flowers bloom from the inside-out.  They can't fake it.  They must have good roots and soil and a stem that properly sends the water and air and light where it needs to go for them to bloom.  Even if they have the outward things, if they are not healthy inside, they will not grow (note to self:  learn more about this!  It could help me become a better gardener!) 

There are few times in my adult life when I have 'bloomed.'  I have searched and grown and done a lot of good things, but spent too much time doing a lot of good things in my own strength.  Blooming in marriage will not happen in my own strength.  Blooming as a mom will not happen in my own strength.  Blooming where we are planted in Frederick, Maryland will not happen in my own strength.  Blooming occurs from the inside-out, from the truths of God's Word taking root in my heart and mind and truly transforming me from a self-willed, independent person to who He wants me to be: someone who is joyfully sacrificial with the selfless love that has been given to me in Christ.  As pastor Tim Keller noted in his sermon on Luke 18:9-14 (the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax- Collector), Jesus gave me 'approval' on the cross.  He is my righteousness.  I can be utterly sure of God's love for me in the root of my heart.  I can live a life 'dependant on God's radical grace' as He has graciously answered my prayer 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'  This is the root of where I am to bloom: as God's daughter, as Ricky's wife, as Isaac and Emma's mom, and in the physical place God has planted us. 

For as long as I can remember, I have lived in imaginary worlds-wanting to find my home and fit in the 'wild blue yonder.'  While keeping my heart focused on the truth that my ultimate home is in heaven and thus I will never fully be home here on this earth, I pray that God-the One who made the flowers and the lilies of the field and me-will bloom me where He has planted me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

'Delighting in the High Call of Wife and Mother'

About 11 years ago, I first read an article entitled 'The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective' by Dorothy Patterson that is part of John Piper and Wayne Grudem's book 'Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.'  When I first read this article, I was living as a missionary in the Netherlands and was about 7 years shy of becoming a wife and 8 from becoming a mom.  It is interesting to see the points I underlined when I was so far from experiencing its truths, compared to what stands out to me now.  I re-read this article last week in light of our new ministry home at South End Baptist Church in Frederick, Maryland, on an especially difficult day with my children (you know, one of those days when you sit everyone down and read them 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'), as a reminder of God's good plan for me as a wife and mother.  As Ricky, Isaac, Emma, and I transition into our new chapter, the words I re-read from Dorothy Patterson resonated even deeper into my heart: ' is hard to locate an aging mother who believes she made a mistake in pouring her life into her children, and it would certainly be more difficult to find a child to testify that his mother loved him and poured herself into his life to his detriment and demise.' 
The Lord impressed these words upon my heart as a read:  reward (Psalm 127:3), blessed (Psalm 127:5), delight, privilege, LOVE.  There is much ministry to be done in the church and community and world and I pray for God to give me wisdom in where my gifts and experiences fit for the church's benefit and His glory, but most of all, I pray that I will cherish Patterson's words 'Mothers, too, win most by losing all.'  I pray that I will lay down my life for my family, as Ricky's helper and Isaac and Emma's mom and that I will do this with a spirit of delight.  I am not 'missing out' on all the ministry Ricky is doing.  I am 'gaining' the privilege of holding my children, who are the gifts of much answered prayer, on nights when Ricky is ministering in the church and they need their mom to nurture their hearts in the midst of transition and missing their dad.  I am not just to 'demonstrate' the 'high call of wife and mother', but to 'delight' in its blessed rewards as I cling to the verse I have posted in the kitchen, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weaknesses'  (II Corinthians 12:9).  So, now, 11 years removed from the 23 year old girl who was living as a missionary in the Netherlands trying to learn how live out Biblical womanhood, I sit holding my little girl who is resting in my arms as she recovers from a weekend virus (while her brother spends some needed 'Isaac/Daddy' time at a minor league baseball game featuring our very own Frederick Keys!), with delightful gratitude for this high call God has placed upon me by His grace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Times Are Changing

These are exciting times in the Simpson household.  After 3 1/2 years what we planned to be a year long sabbatical from vocational ministry will finally be coming to an end as I begin my new position as the Associate Pastor at South End Baptist Church in Frederick, Maryland.  This has been a very long journey for our family as we have faithfully sought out the place of ministry God has for us, and we truly feel South End is the place.  Words cannot really express how humbled we are to be given this opportunity and to be joining such a faithful body of believers.  Just in the short time that we've known them they have shown us over and over the love of Christ from caring for our children during the interview process to providing movers for us to many other things that are to numerous to mention.  We are ready to get started.

As we move forward in this ministry and in our lives I felt like this was an appropriate time to begin a blog.  I've tried to blog before with varying degrees of success.  But I hope to stay faithful to it this time whether it's sharing what the Lord is teaching me or answering a question someone (assuming anyone actually reads this thing) has about God or the Bible or baseball :) or giving an update on what is happening with our family.  If you have prayer needs feel free to share them, and I will pray for you.  I want this blog to be a place where I can connect with people whether it's my new church family or the many family and friends we're leaving behind.    I'm not in love with the layout of the blog, but we'll call it a work in progress, and I suppose there's more important things anyway.

The title of the blog comes from Micah 6:8, which says, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (ESV)  This has been a very significant verse to Michelle and me as we've journeyed through this sabbatical season.  I've gained a better understanding that this is what the Lord requires of me, and that I cannot do it on my own, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit living in me.  I do not do these things in order to gain favor with God but out of humble thankfulness for all that He has done for me.  If I am to live a life pleasing to the Lord then I must "do justice" which means that I must care for the "least of these".  I must give sacrificially of what I have for the good of others, and I must lead my family (and my church) to do the same.    I should "love kindness" or mercy as the King James Version says.  This means that I forgive people, not out of obligation but graciously because of what God has done for me.  I'm kind because kindness is a part of the fruit of the Spirit and the Spirit lives in me.  And I "walk humbly with my God" realizing that it is God who gives me strength to do any good thing.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope to make it worth your while to visit from time to time, and I'd love to hear from you if you have any comments.  Our journey has taken many interesting twists and turns over the last few years, but God was faithful and in control the whole time and had something better prepared for us than we could have ever imagined for ourselves.  That's why He's God.

In His Grace,

Our new church home...