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The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary by Richard Bennett (Former RC Priest) www.puritandownloads.com The Puritan Hard Drive has been such a superb blessing to me personally and for my ministry, that I lack words to adequately praise the Lord! The immense heritage of Puritan and Biblical pastors, leaders, and teachers is given
The Gospel, the Roman Catholic, and True Revival by Richard Bennett, Former RC Priest www.puritandownloads.com The Puritan Hard Drive has been such a superb blessing to me personally and for my ministry, that I lack words to adequately praise the Lord! The immense heritage of Puritan and Biblical pastors, leaders, and teachers is given
From The Perplexity Of The Convent To Life In The Lord Jesus Christ - Richard Bennett www.puritandownloads.com The Puritan Hard Drive has been such a superb blessing to me personally and for my ministry, that I lack words to adequately praise the Lord! The immense heritage of Puritan and Biblical pastors, leaders, and teachers is given
From Polish Tradition to Biblical Truth - Richard Bennett And Former Roman Catholics www.puritandownloads.com The Puritan Hard Drive has been such a superb blessing to me personally and for my ministry, that I lack words to adequately praise the Lord! The immense heritage of Puritan and Biblical pastors, leaders, and teachers is given
From a Roman Catholic Hippie to a Baptist Preacher - Interview by Richard Bennett www.puritandownloads.com The Puritan Hard Drive has been such a superb blessing to me personally and for my ministry, that I lack words to adequately praise the Lord! The immense heritage of Puritan and Biblical pastors, leaders, and teachers is given
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Dear Friends,Over and over, the New Testament gives us a “simple” commandment: love one another (John 13:34, 15:12, 1 John 3:11, Romans 13:8, Ephesians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, etc.). It sounds simple, but we all know that putting this commandment into practice is anything but.When we are reminded to love one another, it’s easy to get discouraged by thinking of all the times we have failed to show love to our neighbor. C.S. Lewis provides an insightful way to think about how we can develop a habit of love by using the metaphor of mathematics. When we study math, we don’t begin by trying to understand calculus—we start with basic addition. In the same way, we learn to love by first loving our family—the basic unit of society from which we come from. This plays out in small, everyday acts of love, like forgiving your spouse for leaving the sink piled high with dirty dishes, or forgiving your child for blurting out an insult.Once we gain this habit of love in our families, we can more easily transfer the habit to everyone we meet in our everyday lives. But it is still quite difficult, as we all know, because unloving feelings seem to naturally bubble up within us out of nowhere, and they are often difficult to shake. One example is when we are driving on a highway, and we are abruptly cut off by another driver who changes lanes right in front of us, forcing us to slow down. The immediate reaction is one of resentment, and we are often tempted to react in equal measure, perhaps by speeding up to tailgate them. But this is a failure to love one another. As C.S. Lewis has written, “The feeling of resentment, the desire for payback, must be simply killed. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible.”When we feel the inklings of resentment building up within us, we must stop them before they become worse. Instead of letting your anger rise, take a deep breath and ask Jesus for the grace to forgive the person who has wronged you. Say a prayer for the person, asking the Lord to help them see the truth. When we begin to form this kind of habit of forgiveness and practice it over and over again, it will with time blossom into a way of life. When God sees our attempts at love, however small they may be, He pours His grace into our lives, giving us continued strength to persevere in love.On this Martin Luther King Day, let us be especially mindful of the importance of loving one another in order to bring about increased harmony between those of different ethnicities and cultures.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesVoices From The Grave Cry Out For Justice In Iran – Ken BlackwellEvery Vote Really Does Count – Ken BlackwellWill Republicans Finish The Job for Seniors And Small Businesses? – Ken BlackwellChai Feldblum Should Not Be Reappointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – Peter SpringWhat You Can Do to Fight Sex Trafficking – Dan HartOregon State Appeals Court Rules Against Aaron and Melissa Klein – Travis WeberHow the New Tax Bill Helps Families – Andrew GuernseyA Pastor’s Take on the Sex Abuse Scandals of 2017 – Andrew HebertThe Rich History of Christmas Traditions – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareIs Your Church Prepared to Handle a Challenge to its Religious Liberty? – Erik Stanley, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionWhat the Founders Understood About Religious Freedom That We Must Recover – Michael Berry, The Daily SignalChristian school fights Michigan Township for right to operate out of a church – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionFEMA to Allow Churches to Receive Disaster Relief After Key Policy Change – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostCalif. County Allows Christian Group to Display Nativity Scene on Public Property for Epiphany – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostTop 5 religious liberty stories of 2017 – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionAtheist Group Forces Louisiana Sheriff's Office to Remove Christian Facebook Posts – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post"Free to Believe"Judge Gives Partial Victory to Fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostChristian Couple Who Lost Bakery After Heavy Fine for Not Making Lesbian Wedding Cake Loses Appeal – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostNJ Gives Christian Teacher 3-Year Suspension After Facebook Post on Homosexuality – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostInternational Religious FreedomItaly Faces ‘Dark Future’ After Passing New End-of-Life Law – Edward Pentin, National Catholic RegisterUnder Justin Trudeau, Canada marches towards totalitarianism – Dorothy Cummings McLean, LifeSiteNewsChristians in Egypt Celebrate Christmas Amid Tight Security – The Christian PostChina church demolition sparks fears of campaign against Christians – Benjamin Haas, The Guardian LifeAbortionThe new pro-life generation – Leigh Jones, WORLDFrom Ireland to Africa: What Happened in the Pro-Life Movement in 2017 – Liberty McArtor, The StreamPlanned Parenthood: We Did 321,384 Abortions; Got $543.7 Million in Tax Dollars – Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS NewsPath to pro-life: Overcoming pro-abortion peer pressure with facts – Marvin Olasky, WORLDOhio passes Down syndrome abortion ban – Samantha Gobba, WORLDUnsafe: Ambulance calls to abortion facilities doubled in 2017 – Rebecca Downs, Live ActionCourt strikes down Baltimore law on pregnancy centers – Associated PressWomen Describe Trauma of Abortion in Survey; Nearly 3 in 5 Abortions Done 'To Make Others Happy' – Brandon Showalter, The Christian PostHow Abortion Pills Upend the Politics and Practice of Abortion – Rebecca Oas, C-FamAdoptionMother records heartfelt message for her son before he's placed for adoption – KOATBioethicsSix Things You Need to Know about Physician-Assisted Suicide – Nancy Valko, Public DiscoursePhysicians Cannot Serve Both Death and Life – Gerard T. Mundy, Public DiscourseHealth CareTrump Rule Aims to Extend Health Care Option to 11 Million Uninsured – Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal FamilyEconomics/EducationTaxes and Parental Educational Autonomy – John Grondelski, Ethika Politika4 Of The Biggest Myths About The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act – Justin Haskins, The FederalistA Good Guide: A Winsome Argument for Virtue in Business – John Yoest, The StreamHow Common Core Taught Me Bureaucrats Will Always Win Unless We Slash Big Government – Jenni White, The FederalistCommunicating Key Truths About Marriage and Family in the University Classroom – D. Scott Sibley, Family StudiesMarriageWhat's the Secret to Great Marriage in the New Year? – Erin Smalley, Focus on the FamilyIf Women Want A Family, They Need To Prioritize Marriage Above Their Careers – Suzanne Venker, The Federalist7 New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthier Marriage in 2018 – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesHow to Live Out the Gospel in Your Marriage – Kaitlin Curtice, RelevantFaith/Character/CultureWhy MLK's Vision of Love as a Moral Imperative Still Matters – Joshua F.J. Inwood, Intellectual TakeoutThe Anomaly of Being an Anti-Drifter – Jared Zimmerer, Word On FireCreation waits: Incarnation and resurrection are the pulse of the world – Janie B. Cheaney, WORLDA Modest Suggestion: Perhaps Things Aren’t That Bad – Heather Wilhelm, National ReviewThe Supernatural Foundation of Charity – Gary A. Anderson, PrinciplesThe Fatal Flaw of Going It Alone – RelevantBe True to Yourself – Jon Bloom, Desiring God6 Ways to practice being kinder – Cynthia Dermody, AleteiaModesty and Charity – Anthony Esolen, The Catholic ThingHuman SexualityManhood Is Not Natural – Glenn Stanton, Public DiscourseA great sexual reckoning – Mindy Belz, WORLDIn Defense of Prudery – David Sandifer, TouchstoneMilitary to begin accepting transgender recruits after Trump delays appeal – Julia Manchester, The HillThe Cure for Toxic Masculinity is Real Masculinity – Robin Koerner, The StreamPsychologist Says Teens Need to Stop Asking for Nude Texts – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual ExploitationCDC study shows decline in teen sex during abstinence education period – Fr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNewsHow Their Refusal To Tolerate Dissent Is Creating A Global Backlash Against LGBT People – Stefano Gennarini, The FederalistHuman Trafficking5 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Sex Trafficking In Your Daily Life – Fight the New DrugHow to Participate in National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month 2018 – Haley Halverson, National Center on Sexual ExploitationHarvey Weinstein Isn't Unusual: Sexual Abuse and Trafficking in the United States – Mary Rose Somarriba, Public DiscourseBill to Aid Victims of Child Pornography Passes Senate Judiciary Committee – National Catholic RegisterPornographyYour Brain on Porn – Katherine Blakeman, National Center on Sexual Exploitation16 Need-To-Know Facts About How Porn Is Impacting Our Society – Fight the New Drug
Temple Baptist Church - 12-20-20172 Peter 1:1-4Introduction:A. Last week, we saw God's promise to meet our needs in this life as He has given to us all things to be richly enjoyed. God, contrary to most preaching that you hear, wants you to “love life” and enjoy the fruit of your labors. “Eat, drink, and be merry” are not necessarily states of sinfulness.B. The other thing that that God promises is that our spiritual needs in this life have been preemptively taken care of. God knows what spiritual battles that we will fight before we are confronted with them.C. There are several things that we need to notice pertaining to godliness:1. We have obtained righteousness through our Lord Jesus Christ – vs. 1 2. God wants us to have peace of mind in this ungodly world – vs. 23. God has given us all things pertaining unto life – vs. 34. God has given us all things pertaining unto godliness vs. 35. We are to be partakers of the Lord's divine nature – vs. 4D. Ungodliness Has Permeated Our Nation - Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.1. The sinful condition of professing Christians. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.2. God has given to us ALL things pertaining to godliness so why have these prophetic verses come true?a) Because of the Compromise of the pulpits. 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.b) Because of the worldliness of the people. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.c) Because these things have led to the decline of godly churches! Jeremiah 6:16-19 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (17) Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. (18) Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. (19) Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.E. Ungodliness Has Permeated Many Churches - 2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.F. Godliness Is Commanded - 1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;G. Godliness Is Possible - 2 Peter 1:3-4 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.1. God Has Given To Us A New Nature - 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (Biblical salvation always brings about a new nature with a godly direction implemented in our lives.)2. God Has Given To Us His Precious Holy Spirit - 1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. (Our faithful Companion and Comforter leads us into righteousness as He reproves us of our sin. He is our “Stop Sign.” I do not mean this in a disrespectful way. He wants us to live a life of godliness and always leads in that direction. Do live a selfish, carnal life and blame the Holy Ghost for it!)Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.3. God Has Given To Us His Infallible Word In The English King James Bible - Psalms 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (You do not need to study the Greek and Hebrew! You need to study English and spend your time in the Bible.)Psalms 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,4. God Has Given To Us Godly Examples To Follow - 1 Thessalonians 1:7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. (The Old Paths of godliness are well worn and plain to follow. Our spiritual forefathers had it right! The new “do as you please” religion of our day has it wrong.)1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.Titus 2:7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.h. WHAT IS TODAY'S PROBLEM? Why do professing Christians not live lives of godliness when all that they need has already been provided? Because their ‘LOVE FOR THE WORLD” IS GREATER THAN OUR LOVE OF GOD!1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.1. They love what they want. “lust of the flesh”2. They love what they see. “lust of the eyes”3. They love who they are. “pride of life”HOW TO LIVE A GODLY LIFE1. Godliness Is The Result Of A Repentant Heart - 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.2. Godliness Is A Result Of Denying Worldly Lusts - Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.3. Godliness Is A Result Of A Heavenly Hope - Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:2 Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.4. Godliness Is A Result Of Hard Work - 1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;5. Godliness Is A Result Of Contentment - 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.6. Godliness Is A Result Of The Fear Of The Lord - Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.Psalms 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Temple Baptist Church - 11-26-2017Romans 5:1-11Introduction: A. In these verses, there are two things found in which we are to glory: our salvation and our tribulation. Most would totally agree with the first but have some difficulty with the second. We will look at them in the biblical order to get the mind of God on both subjects. B. Last week, we looked at glorying in our salvation which glorifies God.C. The second thing that we are to glory in are our tribulations. Verse 3. We who are older understand the hardness and brevity of life.Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.D. At this point, I doubt if any of us would raise our hands when asked, “Do you really like to suffer?” God answers that question for us in 1 Peter:1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be,ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: E. I would say that the Apostle Paul was a spiritual man who loved God. Paul asked God thrice to remove the thorn in his flesh.F. Going back to 1 Peter, the next verse shows the importance of trials in the life of God's people.1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:G. Our text shows the reason for our glorying in tribulation. There is a progression that follows tribulation.Romans 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.1. Tribulation – this comes from a root word that means to “crowd or pressure.” This shows that tribulations are troubles which are both hard and lengthy in nature. Though we do not enjoy troubles, especially lengthy ones, they are the basis for our spiritual growth. Children grow into adults through hardship, not easy times.2. Patience – to stay under or to persevere, to have fortitude or to bear with continuance, hopeful waiting. Patience is, though we want our troubles to come to an end, spiritual endurance or not quitting when things do not go our way.3. Experience – to be properly approved or trustworthy. Experience cause one to know how to get something done. There is an old saying that “experience is the best teacher.” As we learn how to handle life, we can teach others who follow us.4. Hope – expectation or confidence. As we learn to patiently endure our problems, we find the faithfulness of God which instills more confidence. Before our next trial begins, we know that everything will be alright. Proverbs 3:5-6 becomes a reality instead of just a memory verse.5. Not ashamed – the word “not” is an absolute negative. It means never for any reason. “Ashamed” means to be disgraced. The ultimate sign of spirituality is to never be ashamed of our heavenly Father, our wonderful Saviour, or the precious Holy Spirit who indwells us. I had still rather be an old time Christian than anything that I know.Conclusion: Life is as hard as it is short! Though our troubles may vary, it through the corporate trials of the members of the local church that we God in all our tribulations and can be an encouragement to others. If we suffer for Christ, we will reign with Christ.
The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoungKevin DeYoung covers the entire Bible in ten amazingly succinct and beautifully illustrated chapters. DeYoung created the book to be the one resource you use to tell your family about how Christ came to us as a baby to bring us back to Eden by dying on the cross. I encourage you to read this book with your young children during the days leading up to Christmas. You could also cuddle up by the fire and read the entire volume in one sitting with kids of all ages. All members of your family will enjoy reading The Biggest Story. And if you want to watch the story, you can buy the animated video of the book.A Family Christmas Treasury by Adrian RogersAdrian Rogers desires for everyone to experience the joy of Christmas found through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He begins each devotion with reflections on a Bible verse and ends each devotion with a family activity such as writing a Christmas card to someone you love or creating a jar to collect money for church. Each devotion is designed to engage both you and your children. If you are looking for a Christmas devotion for you family, I encourage you to try A Family Christmas Treasury.The Expected One by Scott JamesScott James wrote this great little book specifically with your kids in mind. Each devotion contains a Scripture passage, a small explanation of the verse(s) and 2-3 questions (with answers) to prompt some family discussion. The chapter also features a small question to help you apply the passage to your life. This book begins on December 1st and ends on December 25th so it does not follow the traditional Advent calendar and does not come with song suggestions. But if you are a touch creative and have young children with short attention spans, I think you will really like The Expected One.Prepare Him Room by Marty MachowskiMarty Machowski shows your kids the beauty of the Christmas story by having you light candles, look at nativity scenes, and reflect on Scripture. He built each week’s devotion around key passages from the Christmas story. He placed a chapter from his original Christmas story about the orphan Bartimaeus at the end of each Advent week. In addition to being biblical and easy to understand, the devotions are also infused with object lessons, Christmas carols, and crafts. Marty Machowski has helpfully planned out your entire family’s Christmas devotional calendar. Moreover, you can download the music mentioned in the book here. And you can buy a teacher’s guide here if you want to bring this study into your Sunday school class room. If your family likes Christmas traditions, grab a copy of Prepare Him Room.All Is Bright by Nancy GuthrieNancy Guthrie created a devotional that your kids can do. Each day features a one page devotion and a coloring page that accents the lesson. If you have a child who loves to color and who wants to explore the Christmas season on their own, you will want to grab a copy of All Is Bright.Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.
We weren’t a couple that “always knew they wanted to adopt.” It’s not something that we discussed before we were married.What we definitely did discuss was our desire to be parents. I married my husband because he helped me be the better person I’d always wanted to be. In fact, that was the thought that made me giddy on the night we were engaged. This was the man who would father my children! Yes, children, plural. We both hoped to have a large family.I do remember, however, the first time we discussed adoption. We were living in Mexico City, sitting in the pink living room of our tiny apartment that would shake every time a truck drove by, momentarily causing us each to wonder if it was actually an earthquake. The sunlight was streaming through the windows and I brought it up. “What do you think about adopting?” Like many couples who first have this conversation, we were waiting for children. At that point it had been over a year of trying to grow our family, which for NFP (natural family planning) teachers, we knew signaled something might be wrong.“What about international adoption? Do you think we could parent a child that didn’t look like us?” Those were some of the first overwhelming questions that we pondered. We didn’t exactly come to any conclusions, but I do remember my husband’s response. If we have love to give, why wouldn’t we adopt?Fast forward a year. It was the summer of 2011 and we were back to living in the states. I was able to receive medical care to remove endometriosis. Three months after that surgery, during a dark and hopeless time if I’m honest, we conceived. Our son, Samuel, is now five. He was a blessing from God, a healing balm for my soul. It was when I was holding him in our rocker when he was just days old that I had one of the most profound spiritual moments of my life. “Enjoy this child I sent you and this moment, right here. You do not love him because you bore him, but because he was meant to be your son. You will love your other children in the same way.” In that moment the message I heard was blindingly clear. I’ve gone back to savor the peace that moment brought me many times during our adoption journey. God is faithful. He could be trusted, completely. We were called to adopt.Now, if only God would have told my husband that so clearly!What was so evidently a call from God needed more time to grow in my husband. And its not as if anyone “just adopts,” as our story is evidence of. He was right to see the many logistical hurdles to reconcile. So we began pursuing adoption as we do most things: researching as much as possible. Over the next few years we attended several in-person sessions and orientations of local agencies, trying to figure out what would be the best avenue for our family. Foster to adopt? Domestic adoption? International? If international, what country? Through a long process of elimination, including a desire to honor birth order, we eventually decided to adopt a toddler from China. I had lived in China during a summer in college and was always drawn to the country. Plus, I already spoke some Chinese.Then, in August 2015, just a week after we made the decision to adopt from China, my husband was unexpectedly let go from his job. Fortunately, he found another one rather quickly and just three months later, within a week of starting his new job, we began our homestudy. It was November 2015, and we were beyond excited to finally be starting the adoption process.Then came a massive swerve in our plan. In January 2016 we got the sudden call about a potential domestic adoption situation from a friend. Here was a woman making an adoption plan. Would we be willing to adopt a baby to be born in two months? This was much faster than we’d planned, but God wouldn’t ask it of us if it wasn’t possible.We said yes.I met the mom and we hit it off. Meeting her and learning how facing an unintended pregnancy took such courage in every aspect of her life was humbling. This adoption was not about our desire for a child, but about her plan for hers. We just happened to be two people who fit together in this puzzle of loss, creating something so much more than our individual parts. Planning an open adoption, we were in contact over the next few months and I was actually able to be there for the birth of her daughter, our daughter, and spend three amazing days in the hospital with her. With input from her first mom we named her “Evangeline,” or “Good news.” There we were cocooned up in our little world of mutual love for this little baby, protected from the outside world. We loved this baby girl incredibly during those first few days of her life, and our original questions about adoption became suddenly irrelevant as they were undoubtedly answered. With a resounding yes, we learned first hand just how quickly we could love a baby that we didn’t birth, who didn’t look exactly like us.However, we were not meant to parent Evangeline for long. Her mom changed her mind and we relinquished Evangeline back into her care not a week after leaving the hospital.This was another incredibly dark time. Just writing that sentence hardly captures our emotions at the time. Had we done something wrong? Had we misinterpreted the call to adopt? What was so wrong with us that we couldn’t conceive and now we couldn’t even adopt to grow our family? My life felt so bleak and my faith was full of doubts. I was crumpling inwards, but God was constantly pulling me outside of myself. This wasn’t about me. Adoption wasn’t just about us. Yes, we had love to give, but our first promise was about treating everyone involved with dignity and respect, and trusting in God’s plan enough to know that we were where we should be. We wanted to adopt because we had love to give to a child, and this situation hadn’t depleted that love. We had more to give. So after taking a few months to get our bearings and heal, we continued on with our Chinese adoption.We were able to update our homestudy for an international adoption and get our complete dossier submitted by October of 2016. We settled in for a long wait. I was thankful for our domestic adoption situation because with international adoption we wouldn’t have the same opportunity to meet our child’s mom and experience first hand what exactly it took to make a decision to place your child for adoption. We were adopting a “waiting child,” a child whose parents couldn’t be found and who needed parents. The laws in China are different than the U.S. in that parents can’t legally place a baby up for adoption, forcing mothers and fathers who can’t parent to abandon their children in public places so they will be found and hopefully cared for. We would likely never meet our child’s first parents.We got a call about our son on December 7th, 2016, just a few weeks after being eligible. Here was the face and file of a child who needed parents. He was so obviously our son. But would this really happen? Would we get to parent him forever? Looking at his file I saw his birthdate. Somewhere on the other side of the world, he was making his entrance at almost the exact moment we finally jointly decided to pursue adoption back in 2015. It had been him all along.There was more paperwork (mostly immigration paperwork at this point) and waiting, and we were finally able to board the plane to China to meet him in March 2017. We met our 18-month old son one year to the day that Evangeline had been born, St. Joseph’s feast day. His Chinese name given to him by his caretakers was “Zi Zhong” or “faithful son” which we found especially compelling and it remains his middle name. We chose Mateo for his first name: “God’s gift.” Our older son was thrilled to have a sibling that would stay with us “forever and ever” and immediately began learning all that being a big brother entailed. The laughter we heard those first few days in the hotel in China was a long-awaited gift.Adding a toddler to your family is not the typical route, and we definitely had challenges those first few months adjusting to our new family. While we had been waiting for Mateo for years at this point, this adjustment came with grief for him. Although he gained parents and a family, he also suffered an incredible loss of all that was familiar to him those first few months of life. However, his resilience and infectious laugh are reminders that God does make all things new. We’ve been home eight months now as a family of four and it’s still a gift each day to consider how it came to be. With all of our waiting and seemingly wrong turns and dead ends, Mateo would not have been here as our son had anything else happened.Adoption has shaped a family, created brothers, and allowed us the privilege to parent a beautiful child carefully created by God. But the effects of adoption extend far beyond our family unit. Adoption has given grandparents another grandchild to dote on, aunts and uncles another nephew, and our neighbors another explorer to adventure with. So many people are richer because Mateo is in our family. We are the lucky ones.Adoption has brought life to our home once again and we’re praying we get the opportunity to adopt again. We couldn’t have adopted again so quickly had it not been for the generous support of friends who helped us crowd-source our adoption funds after experiencing our failed adoption. Please consider how you can help promote adoption in your community, especially over this giving season!Alison Contreras lives with her family in Hyattsville, Md. She teaches couples in the D.C. area about their natural signs of fertility as a Creighton Practitioner at Caritas FertilityCare.Photograph by Melissa Green
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