Preparing room in our hearts for Jesus. Isn't that what the Advent season is about?
But how does one actually prepare for an event as monumental as the arrival of Christ into the world? At the moment of conversion, did those of us who follow Christ ever pause to consider the enormous significance of his entrance into our lives and what would happen when he arrived to take his rightful place in our hearts? And during this season of Advent, are we prepared to welcome him into our lives anew?
If we're honest, I think the answer is "yes and no."
The dictionary defines the word "advent" as "the arrival of something momentous." I have to wonder, though, when those momentous occasions occur, do we truly realize what is arriving?
This year, as my wife and I take time each week of Advent to pause and "prepare him room", this season of preparation is taking on a deeper meaning, for we are actually preparing for two advents. We are preparing for both Christmas day, and for what is affectionately known in our adoption agency as "gotcha day." We long for this day, a day that will finally arrive after eighteen months of paperwork, social worker visits, blood tests, two sets of fingerprints, waiting lists, court dates, and a marathon flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A day when we meet our little one/ones for the first time and become his or her (or their!) forever family.
Everything in our lives is about to change dramatically. Nothing will be the same.
Are we prepared to welcome this infant into our lives? Yes and no.
So much will have to change, starting with our names. The stockings hanging over our fireplace have the names "Brian" and "Tracy" stitched into the fabric. Those will have to go. Next Christmas, the new ones will read "Mom" and "Dad."
Our home currently feels like a haven of safety and comfort in the world. Our new family member will quickly challenge that assesment and will reveal to us a world of dangers we either never saw or comfortably ignored--things like exposed electrical outlets, glass keepsakes, and unlocked medicine cabinets.
Our current media consumption, our time spent with friends, our waking and sleeping schedules, our leisure time...it's all about to get tossed out the window and replaced with something new.
How comfortable we've become with the Christmas celebration. The arrlval of baby Jesus seems so innocent and unobtrusive, yet a moment's reflection on the upheaval awaiting expectant parents like us ought to move all of us to stop for a moment to seriously consider the transformation and upheaval awaiting all who sincerely welcome Christ into their lives.
But Advent is not a season of fear. It's a season of joyful anticipation. For when Jesus arrives, his upheaval involves rescuing us from the kingdom of darkness and transfering us into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12-13), the true resting place for our restless hearts.
So let every heart prepare him room this Advent season because ready or not, he's on his way.
January 2009 - We saw Slumdog Millionaire, and God really began to stir our hearts about international adoption.
February 2009 - We had serious conversations and prayer about adopting from Ethiopia.
March 2009 - We had our phone orientation with Gladney (our adoption agency), decided to adopt from Ethiopia, and sent away for our application.
April 2009 - We submitted our application to Gladney, and began the paper chase!
May 2009 - We had our doctor appointments, continued the paper chase, and had our homestudy visit.
June 2009 - We submitted our last item of required paperwork to accompany our application to Gladney. Our homestudy report was completed and submitted to Gladney. On June 30th, our second anniversary, we received word from Gladney that we were fully approved to be an adoptive family through the Gladney Center, and that they sent our homestudy to CIS.
July 2009 - We received our "invitation" from CIS to come for fingerprinting. We were fingerprinted on July 18, 2009.
September 2009 - Our CIS approval notice arrived in the mail. Dossier completed and sent off on September 8. Placed on Gladney's wait list on September 8.
May 2010 - We received our referral for two boys--brothers--on May 24. The older is 19 months old. The younger is 1 month old.
July 2010 - We passed phase one of the court process on July 19th.
August 2010 - We traveled to Addis Ababa to meet the boys, go to court, legally become their parents, sight see a bit, and return home for three weeks. We returned to Ethiopia on August 30th, when they were placed forever in our arms! We are a family of four!
October 2010 - We received the boys' Certificates of Citizenship in the Mail from CIS!
November 2010 - We completed the Recognition of Foreign Adoption Decree process here in Texas, and received the boys' original birth certificates issued by the state of Texas!