Kim and I signed up for the Perspectives course for next January. The Perspectives course is a missions 101 type class. We’ve heard great things about it from various people over the years, and always thought “hmm, maybe one day. . .” Well, you know us- we never wait for anything- so we signed up.

You might think it rather odd that former missionaries are signing up for a missions class. What’s the motivation? We’ve been off the mission field for two and a half years now. Our experience was pretty intense and it’s been healthy to step away for this amount of time. It’s taken us a while to re-acclimate to American culture, find a church, buy a house, and just now we’re finally sort of at the point where we want to pursue ministry opportunities again. Man, it’s taken us a while! Not that we’re signing some sort of dotted line with a new missions org or anything. But I see this as a decisive first step back into a much larger world- a world we used to know so well.

Something our pastor said a couple weeks ago really hit home to me. We were talking about giftings and he said he will always be a pastor. It doesn’t matter what he does- he could be flipping burgers at a fast food joint, and he’d still be a pastor. It’s just who he is. That hit me like a lightening bolt. I feel and have felt the same way about missions. I feel that no matter what I do I’ll always be a missionary. It’s just who I am now. It’s a part of me. I may not be overseas right now and I may be working in a tech office, but it doesn’t change who I am. Something inside me just lights up when I think about sharing Jesus with someone who has never had the opportunity to hear about it. To me there’s nothing more important.

So we’re taking a missions course. . . and slowly, ever so slowly coming around to the idea of getting involved again. We’re not sure even what it looks like yet or when. Could be months. Could be years. But we’re willing to follow whatever path God has for us.

Kim and I just got back from another adoption training. The first one was with LifeLink in Chicago (our placing agency). This one was with our home study agency, Lutheran Social Services, in La Crosse.

So what’s it like to attend adoption training? I should start by saying it’s just really cool to be in a room with a bunch of other people who are like you. We all come into the room as strangers. But we all have something very special in common. And therefore we all have something to talk about, and can bond quickly. People come to adoption for different reasons. Some aren’t able to have biological children. Some like the idea of a bi-racial, multi-cultural families. But we all have one thing in common- we all have a place in our hearts and home to love a child who has a need. That’s special. And so fun to see other people who are willing to do that.

We had two days of lecture and discussion. We talked a lot about the “lingo” of adoption. It matters how you talk about it. For instance, it’s not helpful to talk about your “own” children or your “real” children. They are your own real children whether adopted or not.

We also talked about how our family becomes “conspicuous” after you adopt. Particularly in our case as we adopt internationally, the makeup of our family is changed forever. We begin to stand out. I couldn’t help but think of our time in Indonesia when we talked about becoming a conspicuous family. We stood out big time over there. We got used to it eventually. And I suppose we’re still used to it now. To this day I still feel that I don’t quite fit in with American culture. Even though I was born and raised here, there’s something about spending time overseas that changes how you look at things, and how you look. After we adopt from South Korea we will really stand out again. But I’m okay with that. I’m proud to stick out for a good thing.

Something that really hit home was the reminder that adoption is a life-long process, not an event. All too often we think of adoption as merely an event- something that we work towards, get a child, and then we’re done. BAM, we adopted! But really adoption only BEGINS when you bring the child home. That’s when it starts. And it continues for the rest of your life, the rest of their life, and into generations to come. The makeup of your family changes, for generations. That’s a sobering thought. They don’t stay little babies forever. Adopted children grow up to become adults. They make friends. Go to school. Graduate. Get married. Jobs. Etc. Adoption is the process of loving your child, through all the ups and downs, through all the transitions, no matter what happens. Am I prepared to do that? Am I prepared to be this child’s father through all these this, and not just when they’re a baby? This is a serious question to consider. I believe I am. But this training was a good reminder that they don’t stay little forever. And a reminder that we’re starting a process and not working towards an event.

So what’s next for us? We have three interviews with our adoption worker in the next couple months. Laura, our worker, wants to finish the home study portion by the end of this year. We have two interviews in our (new) home (Yay!), and one in her office in Madison. Then we expect to get a referral within a couple month after that- so maybe February or so. The referral will be exciting because we’ll have a picture on our child along with some basic information. We’ve been looking forward to that for a long time. To finally put a photo to a name. Much more to come. Exciting exciting times.

I feel like this month has been an absolute whirlwind, but want to write an update.

First…God’s Provision.

Wow. All I can say is Wow.  We have been so blown away by the Lord’s provision in this adoption.  Can I just say that we took a step of faith Feb. 1 and sent in our adoption application.  To be completely honest, we didn’t have the funds to adopt (like really really didn’t have the funds), but felt like God told us to trust Him to provide, so we did.


The next week Josh got offered an amazing job that he wasn’t even looking for, basically tripling our salary overnight.  In addition, that same month I got offered a part-time contract job as a designer for a really awesome company. Score. Did I mention we got to keep our business on the side (which has been doing awesome as of late- and we still get to work together)


We knew we wanted to involve others in this, and so we stepped out again with fundraisers.  Can you believe that people have given over $12,000 in FOUR MONTHS towards this adoption?!

And here’s a little recap…

Still going: Puzzle! (currently at 91%!!… that’s ~$9,000)

8/13/16: Online Art Auction (raised $1500!)

6/20/16 -Paparazzi Jewelry Fundraiser (raised $93)

5/3/16 – Portraits in the Park Fundraiser (raised $720)

So, in just six months, we’ve been able to save and raise 36,000!! That was exactly our goal for Sept.  the largest chunk of the adoption process.  We are confident that we can save or apply for grants for the rest of the funds.


In the midst of all this, we’ve been wanting to move.  For the last few years, and even when we lived overseas we just had a sense that we were supposed to be closer to Madison, in the Sun Prairie Area.  We long to be part of a community that is multi-cultural and even are interested in working with some groups and fellowships that reach out to people in the area.  It also happens to be where Josh’s work and our fellowship is.  I can go into all the reasons, but the point is… we have had a burden to move for some time.  But, we were waiting. We wanted to be careful with money and timing.

At our last meeting with our agent, she made it clear that we needed to either move in the next two months or wait about two years.  So, what do we do? We move!

Well, we start looking at houses, in our price range thinking we’d get a tiny house now and maybe move again later.  So, long story short- God gave us a house we wanted in the area we needed for the price we could afford (coming in at about $39k less than their original asking price).  Crazy, but it happened.  Just as an fyi, this will be our 9th move in 9 years… so not moving again for a while sounds great to us!  And so that means we are ready to move on with our HOME study!!


Next up… Homestudy!

So, as much as it’s been incredible to watch God provide, we are super excited to be finishing up our this fundraising phase and start our home study phase…

We recently sent in a LOAD of paperwork to get things rolling. We should have a couple more interviews and a training in Oct (pray that we can find a babysitter).

We hope to have our home study completed by early December.

After that we’ll just wait for a referral.

We are told this can be anywhere from 2-6 months, and then another year or so before we can pick up our child.

We’re also hoping to apply for some grants at the end of the year, which will help with travels.

There’s the update.

I’ve been doing a personal Bible study on salvation. I’ve been studying scripture for the better part of a year in an attempt to understand the ideas of lordship salvation vs. free grace or ‘easy believism’. If you’re not familiar with these terms, it’s okay, neither was I. Terms aren’t important, but they represent two very different understandings of what salvation is and it’s important to know the difference, and what’s at stake.

Some people frame the debate between lordship salvation and easy believism as a debate between works and faith, as if one is works and the other is not. The opponents of lordship salvation claim that by making Jesus your Lord you are “working” and therefore doing something more than faith. An extra step if you will. But I’ve learned that this debate isn’t really about works- but about faith- and what true faith really is. The opponents say you’re working to secure your faith. The Bible says you are secure and your works prove it.

It comes down to this fundamental question: Is there a connection between obedience and faith, and if so, what is that connection? To put it another way, is obedience required for salvation or do we just need to ‘believe’ and that’s all? This is a fairly personal question. For most of my life I was taught that all we needed to do to go to heaven was to accept Jesus into our heart, believe, and we would be saved. It apparently didn’t matter how I lived or what I did. But the crucially important thing, apparently, was that I accepted Jesus into my heart. My assurance of being saved therefore could be traced back to an event I did a long time ago when I was a kid. I said the prayer- I’m in. However, is this really what the Bible teaches? Is this the pattern we see in the scriptures?

Well, no, actually. There’s nothing in the Bible that suggests a one time act is all that’s expected or required of a genuine believer. Rather we see a ton of scripture that talks about bearing fruit, confessing your sins, repenting and turning to Jesus, obeying His commandments, loving one another, walking in the spirit, following our shepherd’s voice, picking up our cross and following Jesus no matter the cost. . . These aren’t one time occurrences but rather patterns (fruits) in the life of a person who is truly saved. Jesus says “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” – John 15:4 Abide means to remain in. It means walking with Jesus, knowing Him, loving Him, and being like Him. Abiding in Jesus and bearing fruit is a continual thing, and is evidence that we truly know Him.

I’m not trying to downplay the importance of asking Jesus into your heart. Coming to know Jesus as savior and Lord can be a moment in time. In an instant our eyes are opened to the truth of the Gospel. Jesus and the Bible all of a sudden taste really good in our mouth, we believe and are saved. Hallelujah!

However, it can’t stop there. As great as that is, it’s equally important to live out our faith- to continue doing good for God, bearing fruit and growing. James 2 says faith without works is dead. If your faith doesn’t show forth and is not evident in your life what good is it? Faith like that is useless. The parable of the sower teaches us that faith can’t be a shallow thing. Our faith (the seed) has to go deep, take root, and produce fruit. Only then will it stand the test of trials and tribulations, distractions, and the deceptions of the devil. So here again we see that faith has to have substance. It can’t be claimed in a moment, packed away, and brought out only when we need it. Jesus says to be ready, and to those not ready, “I do not know you.” – Matthew 25:12. Faith has to be lived out. It has to produce something. “You will know them by their fruits” Matt 7:16.

So there is a connection between obedience and faith. Obedience doesn’t save you, but the Bible says that without obedience you’re not really saved. You have a dead faith- a fruitless faith that gets gathered up with other dead branches and destroyed in the fire. Obedience produces fruit and this more than anything else is evidence that you are saved.

This is not a debate about works versus faith. Everybody agrees that we are saved by grace through faith. The question hinges on what kind of faith we’re talking about. Is it an easy faith? A faith that doesn’t require or produce any fruit? Is it not accompanied by a repentant heart? Does your faith exclude Jesus as Lord of your life? We can see from a wealth of examples in Scripture that this is not the kind of faith God wants us to have.

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar , and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.” 1 John 2:3-4

Faith alone saves you.
But the faith that saves is never alone.

Taken from Josh’s journal, 7.17.2016

Community. I see a pattern running through my life lately, a thread that binds the pieces together, and it all comes down to community. Kim and I just had a good talk where we really examined this core desire in our heart and how it has manifested itself especially over the last couple years. Very interesting. Let me try to explain.

I think this idea of community, or team, or partnership has become very important to us. I realize just how deep this is when I see all the many ways we have tried to create this in our life in various ways. But before I get into that I think it’s helpful and interesting to chart how this all got started- and now why we are the way we are.

I don’t want to over analyze this, but just off the top of my head I see Indonesia having a lot to do with our  desire for community. Ever since we left the mission field we’ve been striving to re-create that sense of community- that sense of team that we used to have. We were very close to our local team over there- Joshua, Natalie, Beth, Marie, Jeremy and Lindsay were like family to us. We developed a very tight bond with them because we were so like-minded and in it together. We struggled through so many of the same things with them, and were working towards a common goal.

Raising support to go overseas we also had a team of prayer partners and supporters who “came with us” in a sense. We shared newsletters with them, prayer requests and updates, and came home and spoke at their churches. It was so encouraging to go through this experience with these people back home knowing that they cared and were praying for us. We really learned the value of community through all our partners back home. We couldn’t have done it without them- our local team and our “home” (back in the States) team.

We also experienced the depth and richness of community with our Lembak friends and neighbors in our house in Bengkulu. The idea of “community” is wired into the DNA of the culture over there, and we experienced this and lived it first hand. Living in community isn’t a choice over there- it happens whether you want to or not. I suppose you could be really rude and hide out in your house all the time. But aside from taking extraordinary steps to avoid it, if you live over there in a village-like setting you’re in community. And even this was a really cool thing. Yes it was hard at times but it was really special too. We were a part of something. We were accepted and adopted by the people. They loved us and we reciprocated it. The mutual sharing, mutual responsibility and trust was really cool. People didn’t hold fast to their stuff but many things were open and shared, especially if there was a need. But anyway this idea of community and sharing openly really got a chance to be lived out and practiced while we were there. We saw it, participated in it, and were really blessed by it.

I could name other communities too (Wycliffe, Campus Crusade, etc.) but you get the point. And ever since we left Indonesia to a large degree we’ve been trying to replace or re-create that community that we lost. I think that was one of the most abrupt transitions for us on returning to the States. One day we were on a team with people we loved, engaged in similar work- and then we weren’t. One day we were in the culture, in community with our neighbors- and then we weren’t. And for about seven years we had a worldwide network of prayer partners and supporters- people we kept in touch with, shared prayer requests, and letters- and then one day they were gone. Just like that, virtually overnight all of our communities vanished, and for the first time ever in our marriage we were on our own. We were still a part of Wycliffe when we first got back, so at least we still had that. And our prayer partners didn’t dry up that quickly. Maybe I over-exaggerate a little, but certainly in one years time we did lose all that. It was rather abrupt and I see now just how important these things were and are to us in the way we’ve tried to re-create it.

To put it bluntly, we long for this fellowship again. I see this in many of the things we’ve struggled with over the last couple years. We’ve tried to get this with my family, my brothers, and sisters-in-law. We’ve tried and failed to get this through our church (and then they went and had that terrible church split). We’ve tried with our apartment neighbors. I feel like a large part of why we’re adopting is so we can be in community with other people again. Indeed [adoption] has given us an opportunity to reach out and engage with a large number of people again. We are in a sense forming a team again around ourselves by sending out adoption updates, email campaigns, fundraisers, etc. We are inviting people to join us in something big. Of course we do have other reasons for wanting to adopt but it is so nice and so refreshing to be in touch with everybody again.

But we want even more than that. We want a local team. We want to be in a local community, not just far flung partners all over the world. We’ve been talking about moving lately to Deforest and Sun Prairie and the primary motivation for this is to find a good church, and get involved, and maybe do ministry again. It has a little bit to do with my job, and it’s closer, and we like Madison and don’t really want to be in Portage- but really it’s again mostly about community. Finding a good one and getting involved, and we think we have a good chance, or a better chance, of doing that in the Madison area.

We long for community. We long to link arms with others and do great things for the Lord. We have seen that our family really is the body of Christ, and those who are like us in mission and purpose. These are the people we really want to be in community with.

It was sort of interesting to see the larger picture and to connect many of these dots together. I think community is biblical (God is in community with Himself, the trinity) and it’s a noble pursuit. We do really hope to perhaps do missions work again one day and we’re praying that God would lead us and help us find community again before we do that. We so desperately need it!

Hi Friends! We are super excited about this online adoption art auction! It’s our last major fundraiser, and we are hoping it will get us to our goal of having enough to accept a referral from S.Korea by September. We have over 20 amazing artists and makers that have taken their time and skill to […]

We got this email from our adoption agency yesterday:

We received an email from Eastern notifying us that we can work with your family. Lifelink will be your placing agency and LSS your home study and post placement agency. Please proceed with your home study. I will be sending LSS an agency agreement to sign. Did you have any interest in any of our waiting children? The youngest one is very cute and healthy. I know that you have been working very hard on raising the fees for this program. Where are you with this?

I will be your Lifelink contact.

Looking forward to working with you.


Praising God for this most welcome feedback. We have been in limbo for the past month and a half awaiting a response from Eastern, the partner agency in South Korea, about whether we can move forward with them or not. The change is due to the branch closing down in Madison and the need to find somebody else to do our home study. And this change needed to be approved by the agency overseas. So this message has confirmed that they will work with us and we can move forward with our home study. Just one more step closer.

But this message unexpectedly stirred another emotion within me. The sentence “Did you have any interest in any of our waiting children?” caught me by surprise. I read this line and it caused tears to well up behind my eyes. Do we have any interest in your waiting children? How could you even ask such a question. Yes! Yes! Of course! Oh God please! Do I have an interest in your waiting children?? If they are waiting, then I do!

My heart breaks that there are waiting children. Children without a mommy. Children without  daddy. Children in need of a family. Something about that line sent a dagger right through my heart. It brought home the reality of what we’re trying to do. Adoption is not about a process anymore. It’s not about newsletters, paperwork, or money. It’s about waiting children. And there are some out there, right now, that need a loving home. My heart breaks to hear this. To know it.

“Do you have an interest in any of our waiting children?”

With tears in my eyes. Yes. . .

When I look back over my life over the last two years I am just amazed at God’s provision. I’m amazed at how quickly Kim and I can jump from one thing to another. How one day we’re living full on in another culture, immersed in the heat and language barriers, bugs, weddings, and customs entirely different from what is ‘normal’. And then I open my eyes again, and this time God has me working in an office, in Madison, Wisconsin, surrounded by caucasian white collar tech workers. I sit in my cubicle, coffee in hand, and chat with coworkers over video conferencing. I live a double life, and nobody here seems to notice.

The experiences I have taken from my other life are like a secret now. Not to me, necessarily, but hidden and unknown to all the people around me. I must look perfectly normal to my coworkers when I go into the office. Oh how I blend in. But I confess that I don’t recognize myself in this setting. I think about the person I was just a couple years ago, and I look at the person who I am now, and it seems quite illogical to me. These two pictures don’t resolve in my head in a way that makes sense. I can’t draw a straight line between these two points and say, “Ah, that’s how that happened.” The course of my life has taken many unexpected twists and turns. Something dramatic and noteworthy has happened here.

The only explanation I have for this is this. Many years ago I gave my life over into the hands of a God who is trustworthy; into the strong hands of a God who works miracles. I told God that my life wasn’t my own anymore but His, and He could do with me what He wanted. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised when my life is illogical, and it doesn’t follow a normal straight line, predictable, kind of path. It’s evidence of a life surrendered to a God how does crazy illogical things. God doesn’t follow a predictable pattern. He has a unique plan for all of us. May we all have the strength and courage to follow Him in and out of what is “normal”.

Hi friends!

We thought it was about time for another puzzle progress report! We are about six weeks in, and although things seem to be slowing down a little bit, we are still amazed at the generosity and encouragement we’ve received from so so many people.  I can’t believe how many of you have given towards Jireh’s puzzle so far.  Thank you!

We are now at 71% of the puzzle!! (That’s 356 pieces sold!)  WOW!

Puzzle Progress:  Note to self- next time I design a puzzle, I think we’ll use more color. This is quite blue, and Josh and I both admit it is a beast to put together. Haha.  That’s okay though, we’re having fun with it.  Something I’m enjoying with this puzzle is putting together all the words that describe our little guy.  (Like I said, we’ll include a better shot when we’re all done, but you get the picture).

Here are the words so far:

“Cherished”     “Loved”     “Prayed for”      “embraced”     “friend”      “treasured”     “together”    “wanted”     “desired”    “special” “entrusted”     “adopted”     “sister”     “America”     “Korea”     “son”     “sought”     “heir”     “cared for”      “provided”      “family”

From our last post:

“The Lord Provides.”     “seen”     “chosen”     “In our hearts”    “worth the wait”    “grafted in”     “prayed for”     “brother”     “forever”

“From our hearts to our home, many helped our family grow. Each piece special in its own way, bringing the final piece here to stay.”

There’s also a dotted line from S. Korea to America.  Can hardly wait to bring our little peanut home, and let him know the truth of these words.  Thanks for all your love and support!


Know anyone who would like to help us with the last 29%?? Share or find out more here: Puzzle Fundraiser Post

Sneak Peak: August 6-13 Online Art Auction

July 6

I’ve been told the adoption process isn’t easy.  We’re just starting to dive in, and I’m already finding this true.  The last couple weeks have been a little bit wild, as we found out that our adoption agency’s branch in Madison is closing down. Although we should still be able to adopt through their Illinois headquarters, this news still has stirred up much grief, confusion, and waiting on our part (and on others as well).  Our agency has been great at keeping in touch and trying to set us up with the proper resources, but we are still waiting.  Right now we’re basically waiting on approval from South Korea, waiting on word from our agency, and waiting to get set up with a new case worker for our home-study.  On the good side, we do have a peace about things. However, I have to admit that some days my patience is better than others.  Please continue to keep these things in your prayers. I know it’s worth it, but know it will be quite the journey. Thanks!



Below I’ve included a few other brief updates, just from what we’ve posted on our FB group.  (More so for record or if you want more info)

June 20:

Hi friends,

We just received note that our adoption agency’s branch here in Madison is closing down. Although this should NOT effect the grand scheme of things, it still makes us sad. (Our main agency is in Chicago, so we will still be going through the same South Korea program, but we’ll be working w/ Illinois rather than Wisconsin)

What this does mean is that the main person that we have been working with (and absolutely LOVE) will most likely not be finishing up our home study and such. We are working with her to figure out next steps- whether we could move forward faster and have her finish our paperwork or have another agent complete it.

All that said, please pray for our social worker along with all those affected by this decision. She has helped many many families over the years. Please ask that God would help this transition go smoothly, and help us to know what the next steps are. We would love to still be able to work with her to finish our home study, but are leaving that in God’s hands.


June 22:

I don’t usually share my sketchbook with people, but today I was reminded that even when we feel like there’s so much uncertainty and at times it may seem like the waves are crashing down- it’s reassuring to know that the Sun will continue to shine. He is greater than even the greatest waves. That brings true peace in the midst of chaos. (Mk 4:34-41)

Coming back to this adoption journey…No, the waves aren’t crashing down, but I’ve gotta say that even with the uncertainties, there’s a peace that God is in control.


June 30:

Talked with our agency today. Still waiting to hear back from South Korea on a few things. You can pray for patience, approvals, and a smooth transition to a new caseworker. Thanks!

I should add that she offered to send us a picture of a waiting boy (he’s about to turn 1 in July!) Josh and I decided to wait until everything is a for sure go with all the agency transitions & funds first…


July 1 (LifeLink’s FB page): 

Lifelink International Adoption will continue to operate and provide services throughout Illinois, but effective July 1st our Iowa and Wisconsin offices will be closing. Lifelink International Adoption’s current Iowa and Wisconsin clients have been provided with the appropriate resources for moving forward. We will not be accepting new clients from these states.

This decision was difficult for Lifelink International Adoption and its parent corporation Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS), but became necessary based on the current international-adoption landscape.


(We also have received thoughtful emails/correspondance from LifeLink and our agent, but because of privacy, I’ll not post those)