Gotcha Day

1 year later

A year ago today we walked into a very unfamiliar orphanage and looked into the eyes of two little girls who’s faces we had been staring at for what seemed like ages and who we couldn’t wait to wrap our arms around.  It’s been a full year…a year of hard fought battles and fits of laughter…a year of what we thought were unnecessary tears, but ultimately they were tears of hurts being healed and memories being mourned.  It’s also been a year of sisters learning to be sisters and daughters learning to be daughters.  I think it’s safe to assume that is a day we will never forget.

We’ve recently asked them what they remember about that day.  Sifa willingly offered that my pants had a lot of pockets and Jen had awesome hair.  Yeye simply said she didn’t like me.  I remember looking at their feet and holding their hands, they remember our style and my facial hair…go figure.  But they also said they were’t scared.  WHAT?!?  They weren’t scared to leave what they had known as they held our hands and walked out of the gate into a world they did not know.  Maybe they surrendered to the thought that this is simply another day in what has been all too normal.

We’re still learning how to be a family of six.  Jen has recently accepted a position at one of our awesome high schools, so we are learning how to be a family of six with two working parents and four girls in school.  Needless to say, it’s been a crazy adjustment, but we love watching the Spirit gracefully thread himself through every fabric of our lives drawing us closer to Him and each other.

Here are some things we have learned over the past year:

  • You can read here what we had learned in the first six months.
  • It’s harder than we thought it would be…but so was having twins.
  • First grade is hard for a child from the Congo who was in Kindergarten for five months.  It’s also hard on her parents…But God is good!
  • Yeye LOVES to sing songs that make no sense.
  • Sifa is AWESOME at soccer, and when I say awesome, I mean so awesome that I see her potential and I become one of those dads that no one likes…so much so I’ve heard other coaches complain that she’s too rough!  My response, “There’s only one way to play in the Congo!”  Let’s face it…she’s my only hope for an athlete.
  • All four of our girls are hilarious.
  • Van rides over 5 minutes are not fun.  (Fighting, singing loudly, asking questions, throwing things)
  • Sifa & Yeye still remind us the healing process is not over.

Others have traveled this road, but I do believe we all have similar feelings and thoughts.  Jen Hatmaker has a great blog that expresses our thoughts exactly: The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later.

It has been a GREAT year, but that doesn’t meant it hasn’t been a difficult year; so we are extremely grateful for the people that God has put in our lives for such a time as this.  All of this has been so new but with a touch of familiarity as it defines our relationship with a loving Father who adopts His children into a forever relationship with Him.

Again…thanks for walking with us, hurting with us, crying with us, and serving with us!

Jarred and Jen


Stop saying “Jesus Loves You”…


…before you label me a heretic or burn my likeness in effigy (you’re gonna need a XXL dummy for that so it’s not really worth your time or money), allow me to explain myself. There is truth in the statement, “Jesus loves you.”  We can’t argue Jesus proved his dedication to our salvation on a cross 2,000 years ago, and I for one am extremely grateful for his sacrifice and atonement.  I understand what he did for me, but a world in which the majority doesn’t really believe in the truth found in Jesus, it’s hard for them to grasp the concept, “Jesus loves you.”  Why would they want to grasp it in the first place?

I can’t really blame them.  Many in our westernized culture only see Christians as biggots, racists, and anti-Obama.  The faces and voices of the Christian faith are those who scream the loudest; and for many, they don’t want to hear our screams followed by our soft and often scripted proclamation, “Jesus loves you.”

“Does he love us, because it sure doesn’t seem like you do.”

Re-worded and used in the right context, this could be a very effective “Jesus-Juke.”  But let’s imagine for just a moment this truly might be the the thoughts of those who don’t believe (or don’t care to believe) in Jesus.  It’s very possible.

But to not say “Jesus loves you” goes against every fiber of the Southern Gospel singin’ womb I was created in.  Let’s face it, it was a solid way to end your answering machine message for those who missed catching you on the phone.

“Hello, I’m sorry I missed your call.  I was either away from the phone or I saw your number on the caller ID and avoided your call.  Please leave your name and number and I may or may not call you back ASAP…and don’t forget…JESUS LOVES YOU.” 

It has a ring of nostalgia to it, doesn’t it?  I think at some point or time, you or your family probably had some form of this message on your answering machine.

I don’t really ever remember Jesus telling his followers to go out and tell everyone, “JESUS LOVES YOU…go ahead Peter, say it…tell ’em I love ’em.”  However, He did tell them how others would know they were followers of Jesus…by their love for one another.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

They will know you are a follower of Jesus by the way you love.  What a novel idea…genuinely love people.  Now does this mean we are to trash our theology and run with love and acceptance of the world around us…no, it simply means, people need to know that you love them before they will even care about whether or not someone who lived 2,000 years ago loved them.  How is anyone going to understand Jesus’ love, if we who follow him don’t love like he has loved us.

Do we abandon the phrase “Jesus loves you?”  No, I don’t think so…but in many instances, they want to know that you love them, then they may sit and listen as you tell them how Jesus loved them first.

What if you went out today and told others that you loved them?  What would happen?  You may get some weird looks, but it’s a very disarming phrase.  In verse 34 Jesus says that we are to love others because He loved us first…and he followed that up with telling the disciples to love each other.  Jesus taught us how to love others so they can see him in our love for them.

If we love like Jesus loves, we don’t even have to say “Jesus loves you,” because they would’ve already seen it in the way we love.

By the way…I love you!!


How can we love others like Christ loves us?