Tag Archives: thoughts

except by grace…

This is a brief post that is not about the Claytons, except to say that my heart is broken tonight reading about some other families. If you are here to read our latest news it is the post right before this one called news of a different kind. Please read this first.

I won’t share the entire story, but to shorten it, there are some families who have received a “no” in country when they went to court for a decision about their child. You can read a short update about these stories here:


Read the post titled Unbelievable. It really is almost unbelievable. It was hard for me to read. I cannot imagine being in the situation that these parents are. They went, met their child, saw them every day for weeks, and started thinking and preparing for a life with them, only to have them snatched away.

I don’t know how I would respond, and hopefully we will not find out, but for tonight I hurt for these families. Thank God that his grace is enough, that his love is faithful, that his mercies are new every single day, and that they never fail. What God is so great as our God?

I think in a moment like this it would be hard to echo these thoughts, but I will not pretend to know what they must be going through, and I won’t trivialize it. Our hearts are full for them right now.

Some days we just have to say that if it were not for grace that does not depend on us we would never make it.


why is it good to wait?

This is the second of two new posts today, so there is one titled the resurrection of hope you can jump to after you finish this one if that suits you. Thanks for reading. God is definitely doing something in our family through this whole deal. A lot is happening in the meantime, just while we wait. And maybe someone is learning something from watching us. If not, thanks for just taking an interest in us. We feel the love. Enjoy a sweet picture of Charity posing by a photograph/photoshop project that she recently had in an art show. Compliments of the iPhone.

Char Art Show

This post is more about the Word. God is good to us. We don’t always have fun, but a lot of the time we do, and things are not always easy, but sometimes they are. And God is good to us. That is sort of what this whole online journal is about. And of course I say journal because I feel like a woman to use the word diary. This ain’t no diary.

Our pastor recently preached a message from 1 Peter. Part of the passage was chapter 1, verses 6 & 7, which really struck me as it pertains to this season of our lives. As I say this, I want to be very clear, we are happy, not depressed people. We see way more good days than bad. At the same time, this has been a season of struggle in some ways, and we are honest about that. So these two verses spoke to me. They basically say that for a short time you have struggled through trials so that your faith will lead to glory for Jesus. It also says that our faith is more valuable than gold, which perishes, alluding to an undying faith.

It’s sort of a bitter pill to swallow because it fits in line with other passages that make it clear that at times suffering comes from God. He does more than allow it, he causes it. And on the surface that sort of makes me mad because I am selfish and most of my life tends to be centered around me. But when I read scripture I can see a plan that is so much bigger than my limited scope, and I can see that God is doing things that may be difficult for a season because there is an incredible payoff coming later. And the beautiful thing is that the payoff is also bigger than us. The payoff has ramifications for things that are too wonderful for me to really comprehend. And hasn’t your daddy ever told you that anything worth having is worth fighting for?

There is also a place that has been familiar to me in recent months, a book called Lamentations. I go there to find someone to identify with my sorrows, but I always find encouragement. Chapter 3, verses 25-27 go like this:
“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person wh seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young.”

It’s a little strange, but these verses have been so encouraging to me because I think Charity and I both feel like we are hoping and waiting for deliverance from this whole process, to be very transparent. There is so much good coming through it, but we are ready now to be done with it, and we think of it like we are waiting to be delivered from all of it. So this hits me right where I am in these days, and it says that it is good for us to wait quietly, patiently, for it. And whether I want to admit it or not, I can feel the truth in that statement, too. It is good. It’s good for me, good for us, and just good. It’s refining and sharpening and deepening. Maybe not fun, but definitely good. And definitely worth it.

It also says that it is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young, and I don’t even need to go into that. That parts stinks. The rest of the Bible is good, but that part stinks.

Thanks for listening. We love to hear back from you. And as always, thank you for walking with us.

the resurrection of hope

These are some pics from our recent trip to SE Asia. There isn’t a lot of relevance to the rest of the post, but they are cool pictures, everyone likes pictures, and Chairty is a good photographer. So enjoy. There is some news and postage under them.

Palaung Girls

Shiny Streets in Shanghai

We are in a struggle right now. We have heard some news recently from the lady who is working on our behalf, but it turned out not to be exactly what she said it was, which we think is really just a communication barrier because of a language barrier. So we are praying and working toward clarity in this specific situation and as we move forward.

What is exciting, though, is that we did get some news. And even though it turned out not to be what we thought it was, it was something, we just aren’t quite sure what yet. But the feeling we got when we received the news was a very good one. It was this feeling of hope and anticipation. I really don’t want to spiritualize everything, but well, here we go.

Back before christmas I did a sermon on the anticipation and expectation that surrounded the birth of Christ. While many people didn’t then and still don’t accept his birth as the true savior of the world, for many others it was a really exciting time. Leading up to his birth there was a period of several hundred years of silence, and then all of a sudden angels start appearing to people, prophecies start coming, and there starts to be movement. And while the promises were still not immediately at hand, for the first time in a long time there was movement. And you can see the energy and momentum start to build as the movement happens. It all leads up to the birth of Jesus, the one who came to save his people from their sins. It was a reminder, and in some ways a resurrection, of hope.

That is how we felt and sort of still feel right now with this seudo-news. We feel like after a period of silence we are now starting to see some movement. The process may not really be picking up again yet, and it may be more time before we see or hear anything again, but this movement sort of reminded us of hope, and it was an exciting day. Word from a distant land was like cold water to our dry souls.

Thank you for praying. Please ask God to give us clarity as we try to decode what our lady is saying to us. We don’t think she is outright lying to us, but things tend to not be exactly the way they come across, so both sides need clarity in how we communicate. Ask God to give us that and discernment. And enjoy the pictures. I wish we had some that went along with our post, but other than taking pictures of excited and frowny faces, I’m not sure what we can do. Enjoy.

Thank you for walking with us.

hard jobs make hard people

What can I say?don't be jealous.
Charity and I just got back from an adventure in China, Thailand, and Seoul, Korea. It was only supposed to be a but we spent a few hours in Seoul because of flight delays. These are pictures from the China leg of our trip. As you can see it was “freaking cold” there, as our new friend B would say. The first one is of us in Shanghai having some fun on our last night. The second one is a pic of me eating dofu. It’s always better when you’re wearing gloves, a tobogan, a scarf (that’s right, a scarf), and a freaking huge jacket.
We have not heard anything new on our dossier, but we did hear from the lady who is working for us on it. She said that the lady at the department of education in our region has not looked at it yet, so our prayer continues to be for favor with her and that father would soften her heart as she reads our dossier.
Our new friend, B, in China said something that I think had a lot of insight in it. She said, “Hard jobs make hard people.” That simple statement is so true, and that could be very true about this lady reviewing our dossier in kstan. She probably sees a lot of these and has to make some hard decisions on things that probably sound a lot alike. It would be easy for her heart to grow calloused and hard from doing a job like hers. The responsibility of her job is huge. She holds the lives of so many children and families in her hands. I cannot imagine what the weight would be like everyday. Please pray for her.
Our prayer for her is that God would grant us favor in her heart as she reads about us and from us and that she would see our love for orphans and for her people. We also pray that God would soften her heart as she reads our dossier and that he would give her insight into us through it, that we would not be just another arbitrary decision. We also pray that she would be able to see the gospel in us and in our dossier and that it would stand as a witness to her of the greatness of Jesus, even though we won’t actually ever say anything to her.
Everything here is in God’s hands, and he does whatever he chooses. Please pray for this lady specifically and ask father to move quickly in her heart and to prepare the way ahead of us. Also please pray that God would prepare our hearts for whatever is coming next. We want to respond in faith.

An uncommon way to glory

(Edited on August 14: We posted two blogs on the same day to break up the reading some and because they were sort of different in focus. One is more of an update on the new situation. The other is some thoughts Aaron had on it. This post was actually written second, so If you want to see all the latest in the right order read the post right before this one, then this one. Thanks.)

There is a theme running all the way through Hebrews of endurance. The writer keeps encouraging them to endure and not to give up. With all that would have been going on around them with opposition (past, present, and future) and struggles it would have been tempting to either just give up or to turn back to the old law. Hebrews encourages them to endure, even when it is hard and not getting any better. 

There are several passages that emerge with this theme, and it sort of climaxes in Chapter 12, but one passage that is a little more obscure, but is so powerful is chapter 10, verse 23. It says, “hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Those are incredibly encouraging, motivating, and challenging words for me.

It is so motivating to press on through difficulty, especially when the focus and purpose of the struggle is for something that is based on the gospel, which is how we see our adoption. But it’s also challenging. I don’t just endure because of prideful wanting to finish something or to preserve character. In fact, those things are lifeless and drain me about as much as anything because when I am motivated by them I get bitter, angry, frustrated, scared, and just not pleasant. They are all man-centered ways of thinking, and they don’t have anything to do with hope.

But this says to hold on to the confession of our hope. So the motivation is purely out of hope, which is what our confession is based in. But a lot of the time, my confession is not in hope. I am self-reliant, selfish, self-centered, and any other self-exalting word you can think of. My confession, spoken or not, is in myself and what I can and feel like doing. It has nothing to do with hope.

But God-centered, gospel-centered, gospel-glorifying endurance is always based in hope. Our confession is in hope that springs out of the grace that God has lavished on us in his kindness to us in Jesus. And he is faithful. He never changes. Our perspective changes, and our expectations from him change, but it is only us who change. He has never changed.

And so while endurance is really not much fun and wears me out, even brings out the very human side of me in anger, grief, distrust, self-righteousness and 100 other things, it is incredibly good for me and is in some ways a privilege. Because when I endure the right way, it screams of the gospel. It screams of grace and of Jesus. And that is really why we started in the first place.

Thank you for walking with us. We love you.


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