I realized today that it's been around six months since we've posted anything here. That has been the case for a couple of reasons : 

1. We've been SO busy being a family. What a great joy we've found in that. Hardly a day goes by that our oldest doesn't remind us of that fact. She's so thankful to be part of a family, and to get to be part of a family forever. It's hard to believe all that the Lord has done over the last six months. Today I was looking back at old pictures and videos on my phone and seeing how these girls have grown so much in that time period. Even in the short six months that we've had them, it's hard to believe how much they've grown, and how much we've grown together. 

2. We haven't had a lot to share. You've seen our pictures on facebook and instagram (despite the fact that you can only see the backs of our girls). There has been a legal process happening behind the scenes that has slowed down the 'technicality' of our family being official, but it hasn't slowed down us becoming a family. That has been a day to day process of joy.

Today, we do have some news to share. Last week, our girls became legally free to adopt and this week, we signed adoptive paperwork to allow us to put a date on the calendar for that.  When I told our oldest what we were signing, she jumped up and down exclaiming "I'm so excited. This is my family forever!". It's a huge step for our family, and we feel like we have SO MUCH to celebrate. Even as I write this, I just received the email with the legal notification of this officially happening. God is good and He's working this for good.

With that though, it's hard to ignore the fact that there is pain behind it. There is a broken family behind it. And even though our girls don't understand it now, that brokenness will lead to pain in the future and hard questions to answer. That is hard, and it will be hard, but for now we rest in the joy we find in Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

God is doing what God does. He's bringing good from bad. He's bringing healing to brokenness. He's bringing joy to pain. So we celebrate the good, and trust the One who is working it. Pray for us as we get the joy of making this final in the coming days! (You'll finally get to see real pictures!!) 
Last week, Emily and I took a huge step in an adoption journey that we’ve been on for a long time. We welcomed two beautiful little girls into our home on the week of Christmas. They’ve been an incredible gift to us from the Lord. Even as I write this, I’m surrounded by the pitter patter of four little feet playing tag around the house.

For over thirteen years, we’ve had the identity of husband and wife, focused on our relationships with the Lord and each other. It’s been incredibly fulfilling and full of joy, but we’ve always desired to be something more.

Last week, we got a new identity - Mommy and Daddy.

It all happened so quickly, quicker than we expected. Emily has still called me Joel on occasion, but is quickly reminded by our oldest that it’s not my name. My name is Daddy. We laugh about it every time, knowing that we will always be Emily and Joel to each other. But still, we can’t deny that everything in our life has changed. All the cool breakables in the house are put away. There’s a lot of furniture sitting in the garage that isn’t kid friendly that will be going on Craigslist this week. There are constantly toys everywhere in the house that we are constantly picking up. We are soaking in our quiet moments together, because they are few and far between.

But there is so much joy in this house. There is so much joy in being Mommy and Daddy. Sure, there are moments of whining and waking up in the middle of the night, but they are overshadowed by the moments of hearing them giggle and being told ‘I love you daddy’ by our youngest after I changed her diaper.

There is also sacrifice, probably more than we expected. I don’t think we really expected for this to change everything about our lives. But we sacrifice the life we’ve lived and known for the sake of being Mommy and Daddy to these two girls. And it’s worth it. It’s worth it because they bring us such joy. It’s worth it because they deserve a Mommy and Daddy who love them and consistently care for them. It’s worth it because of love.

But for us, this Christmas, it’s worth it for another reason. It’s just a glimpse of the love and sacrifice that was involved when Jesus took on a new identity for us. He humbled Himself and left the Father’s side to become the Word Made Flesh. Jesus gained the identity of being fully human, while still being fully God. It was a great sacrifice, one that eventually cost His life. Christmas is all about that. Jesus being born into a new identity for the Father’s glory and our salvation.

We still have a long way to go in figuring this parenting thing out, but I’m grateful this Christmas that God has used it to remind us of the sacrifice of Christ for us, and the love He displayed in taking human form. So from us this year, Merry Christmas, and may we all remember the depths of the love of Jesus.
John 1: 16 - For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

A month and a half ago, I wrote a difficult blog post sharing how God shut the door on the adoption that we had been pursuing for over two and a half years. It was a tough time for me and Emily, but we held firm to the Lord and trusted in His best. We still felt as if God was leading us to adopt out of our area through DSS, despite the fact that it’s been a difficult road. So we chose to persevere.

Today, I get to share some good news. Next week, we have the JOY of having two beautiful little sisters move into our home before Christmas. We have been chosen as their adoptive family, and will foster them until that adoption can take place. This was completely unexpected for us, especially to happen this quickly. We can thank our wonderful workers at DSS and the relationships we have built there. We can thank an incredible attorney who has consistently fought for us behind the scenes. But ultimately, God is working a miracle of grace in our family. We don’t deserve this, but are beyond thankful for His consistent love to us. He has been working in our family for good since the very start of it.

We can’t share a lot of details over the internet, but we can share our joy.

It’s been a long road to get to this point, and we certainly still have many things that need to take place before an adoption is finalized. But for now, we will take the time to become a family, to learn each other, and to celebrate the gift of Jesus together this Christmas.

Thank you each so much for your prayers for our family over the last several years. Your faithfulness to pray and care for us is showing great fruit in this time.

Here’s how you can pray for our growing family in the coming days:
1. Pray for these precious girls that this transition will be as smooth as possible for them.
2. Pray for me and Emily, that we can quickly learn parenting on the go and do our best to communicate the love of God through the love we show them.

We love you all and hope that God’s gift of Jesus to your family this year is felt strongly. Merry Christmas!
This morning I was reading through Psalm 71 and the words echoed strongly in my heart:

1     In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
       let me never be put to shame!
2     In your righteousness 

       deliver me and rescue me;
       incline your ear to me, and save me!
3     Be to me a rock of refuge,
       to which I may continually come;
       you have given the command to save me,
       for you are my rock and my fortress.

I know that many of you have been waiting on an update on our adoption (you can read some past blog entries for more context). It has been well over a month since we let you know that we had a hearing that did not go well and that we were still waiting for a verdict. Last week, we had that hearing and we received that verdict.

Just as a recap, earlier this year we had a hearing that was a huge win for us, seeming as if it was a 99.9% chance that these kids that we’ve been praying over for over two years would be coming home with us. It left us with what we thought was a small, simple step for DSS and us in order to get the kids home. It still, however, required going to another judge for another hearing.

What we thought would be a sure thing with no complications ended up incredibly complicated. In the end, we received a no on the kids coming to us now, and the future of the case is all but shut down. There are so many details that go into all of this, but the result of it is that the kids will likely stay in permanent foster care until they age out.

Emily and I are heartbroken over this. It makes no sense considering the goal of foster care in South Carolina is to either return kids to their parents or have them adopted into a permanent home. Nevertheless, this is where we are. We have no answers. We’ve been praying for them, and I know the Lord will reveal them to us in time.

For now, this prayer is what we have: Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come.

Last Sunday, I had the honor to preach on the death and resurrection of Jesus from 1 Corinthians 15. It was a highly emotional experience for me with everything going on, but it was clear that God gave that passage to me for one reason.

Paul says in verse one: ‘Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you STAND.’

God knew that in that moment, we needed to be reminded of the gospel. We needed to be reminded that our sure foundation wasn’t our emotions. It wasn’t in any hope that we had in this world. It wasn’t in our hopes for these kids in our home.

Our sure foundation is the good news of Jesus Christ, and it’s in that hope that we stand.

We may be sad, and we are. We may experience anger, and we do. But those things don’t make us who we are. Jesus makes us who we are.

Here’s what we ask of you: Pray. Pray for these kids that God would work His good news out in their lives. Pray that they would be safe and well loved. And pray that each of us remembers what our hope is in: Christ alone.

Most of you have been following our adoption story for awhile, some of you for years and others over the last several months. Emily and I want to say a huge word of THANK YOU for your prayers for us over this season, as well as give you a quick update. We honestly could not have walked through this process without the support of so many who have patiently walked with us through this.

Here's where we are -

Most of you know that over a month ago, we had a hearing that we won by God's grace. Basically this opened the door for us to be the only couple to move forward in adopting these kids we've been promised for over two years. This was a HUGE step and gave us so much hope. 

Since that hearing, we've been waiting for all the paperwork to be signed and a bunch of legal things to be worked out. The great news is that most of that has happened now. We have so much to be thankful to the Lord for in getting us to this point.

So now, we would like to ask your prayers again. As far as I understand it, we only have one (yes, just ONE) step left before the kids are able to move into our home. Simply this - We are waiting for a signature from a judge. This could literally happen any day now, and we are incredibly excited! So please, pray for expediency with all this, so we can begin this transition for these children and work to help them feel loved and a part of our family.  

Thank you so much for your prayers. We can't wait to let you know the good news!
If you’re reading this post right now, this question has probably come to your mind at some point or another - Are the Ainsworths still adopting? Unless you are in our missional community, a huddle with us, or involved in the regular rhythms of our life, you may not know. I realize that for you, this has probably been a bit of an awkward journey. You may be unsure of the status of things, and afraid to ask because you don’t want to bring up a sensitive topic. We totally understand that.

Truthfully, it has been difficult, and we haven’t talked about it much because there hasn’t been much to talk about. We’ve been tied up in court hearings and proceedings that progress things, but ultimately haven’t led to any decisions. We have had many moments of great hope, believing that this was the time where things would be finalized, only to have that hope diminished by various circumstances. We’ve had long periods of nothing happening, proving difficult to endure with optimism. Through it all, we’ve persevered, believing God’s call to be better than our failing emotions.

To answer your question - Yes, we are still adopting

It’s been over two years at this point since we were supposed to have two beautiful little kids placed in our home. I would be lying if I didn’t say those two years have been hard. Every day we walk by the bedroom we worked so diligently to prepare for them, from building a bed to making quilts and curtains. With each glance, we experience a mixture of hope and sadness. Every time we open a drawer or cabinet with a child safety lock, we are reminded to pray for these kids.

I’m writing today because everything is changing over the next several days. We have a court hearing early next week that has the potential to be a final decision in all this. With this, we need each of you that have been praying for us over the last several years to spend some time praying over the coming days. 

Pray - 
1. For the Kids - Whether it’s a transition for them, or things stay the same, God loves these kids deeply. Pray that He would use either circumstance for His glory in their lives. 
2. For the Case - Pray that our judge will make a decision that’s best for the kids, that their welfare and well-being is at the core of the decision.

I know many of you have been praying for us, and we do appreciate that. Whatever happens, we will continue to trust and believe in God’s sovereign hand, not just over the world, but over our lives as well. He is working our lives, and this situation, for His best. We may think and believe that we know what’s best for us, but my idea of ‘best’ for me doesn’t begin to compare to God’s best for me. So if you pray for us, pray for God’s will and God’s best for our lives, and not just for our desires.

Whatever happens, our hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives, whatever they may be, are only a reflection of the true life He’s given us. Our love is only a glimpse of the love that He has shown to us. Our family is a picture of the family that we receive from the reconciliation by Christ’s blood. Our adoption is ultimately a reflection of God adopting us as His children by the work of the cross.

He is good. He is love. He is best.

Well it’s been quite awhile since our last post. I’m sure that many of you have been wondering what is going on in our adoption world. Truthfully, we haven’t posted in months because there really hasn’t been anything to tell. I can catch you up pretty quickly -

We were selected last April to Foster to Adopt two beautiful little kids (M&M).

Their move into our home has been tied up in court since then.

Honestly, that’s all we really have as an update at this point. It seems simple and uncomplicated, but it’s been everything but that in our heads and hearts. There have been multiple moments where we’ve been close to getting them, and court has been postponed for varying reasons. That has been hard emotionally, but we trust our God who is faithful, not only to us, but to these kids as well.

We have another court date coming up next week, and would ask your prayers for these kids and those in charge of making these decisions.

Because we don’t have too much to share at this point, we thought we could give you a glimpse into our home and the room we have ready for them. Emily and I have worked hard to be prepared for them at any moment (as we have to be). 

Because it will be most comfortable for them at the start, we have them sharing a room together. You can see from the above early pic that we once had a crib in the room (Emily made a cute little crib quilt). The youngest is now too old for that, so I built a little toddler bed and Emily made a comforter for it.

Here's a little shelf area with a place for more books (we LOVE books!) and toys. We have a little chalkboard framed on the wall to leave notes!

We want to say a special word of thanks to each of you who have been praying for us these past months, even without word of an update. We believe that now, more so than ever, we need to be bringing these kids before the Lord. If you can join us in praying for them over the next few weeks, we would be incredibly grateful. 

Can you pray for us? Yes, but I would hope that you would especially pray for these two beautiful little kids made in the image of God. Pray that, no matter the outcome, they find their hope in the one who made them for His glory!