Tomorrow is the big day. At approximately 2:00 p.m. Monday afternoon (around midnight tonight in Birmingham), Lord willing, we will meet our daughter.

As we prepare to become a family of five, I thought it might be helpful to share some of what we know about our little girl. Right around the time the Lord was turning our hearts toward adopting a child from China, a woman in a small city here was having a baby that she could not take care of. Instead of having an abortion, as is common throughout China, this precious woman decided to have her child. She wrapped her premature newborn little girl in a blanket, placed her in a brown paper box, and left her in a place where she could be found. Thus our daughter was born.

Sixteen months have passed since that day. In God’s grace, she has been well nurtured and cared for in an orphanage that we will have the opportunity to visit next week. The adoption agency we are working with, Lifeline, recently entered into a partnership with this orphanage, a home for orphans with various special needs. Many of the staff at Lifeline are members of Brook Hills, and some of them had the opportunity to visit this orphanage just a few months ago. This gave us an opportunity to send some gifts to our little girl, and it also allowed us to receive some pictures of her. Here’s a couple of our favorites, starting with her looking at pictures of her new brothers that we sent to her…

Caleb and Joshua built her a pink bear and recorded their voices so that when she squeezes the bear’s hand, she can hear Caleb and Joshua telling her they love her and can’t wait to see her…

And then one of our favorites. She has good taste in reading material…

In all seriousness, someone on the trip had a copy of “Radical” and gave it to her to hold. We have joked about the look on her face, as if she’s saying, “How did I get stuck with the guy who’s rebelling against the American dream?”

In summary, all I’ve seen are a few pictures of her, and she already has me wrapped around her finger!

Her name will be Mara Ruth. [For those wondering, we are pronouncing “Mara” like “Sarah” with an “M.”] In the first chapter of Ruth in the Bible, Naomi loses her husband and her two sons, and she returns to Bethlehem barren with little hope of survival beyond a daughter-in-law who has made the trip with her, Ruth. As people approach Naomi and call out her name, Naomi responds by saying, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Mara (which means bitter).” Don’t worry…we’ve not named our daughter Mara because we think she’s a bitter little girl! Instead, we’ve named her Mara because Naomi had no idea that amidst the saddening tragedy in her life, God had actually set the stage for surprising triumph. For in the days ahead, he would use Ruth in Mara’s life to bring satisfaction from suffering.

This incredible story of redemption in Scripture illustrates what God has shown so clearly in our lives…and in our daughter’s life. Amidst the ups and downs of infertility and struggle, Heather and I have often wondered, “Lord, why are you not answering our prayers for children?” But in the end, He has shown that indeed He is sovereign, and He has used pain in our home to bring about pleasure that we never could have imagined. Similarly, the story of a little girl in China left in a brown paper box looks like tragedy on the surface. But the Father to the fatherless delights in showing His glory by taking tragedy and turning it into triumph. On Monday at 2:00 p.m., God will set the lonely in a family (Psalm 68:6), bringing satisfaction from suffering.

As I prepare to go to sleep (or at least try to sleep tonight!), I’ll leave you with a poem that I wrote last Christmas (2010). I hesitate to share this because poetry is definitely not a skill I possess, but I wrote this for Heather as we began to enter our third year of this adoption journey. I wanted to encourage Heather (and our family) to persevere, particularly from the perspective of a child waiting to be adopted in China. As I read over this again, I am compelled to worship, for tomorrow I will meet this child, hold her, hug her, kiss her, and love her as my daughter.

Today, I sit in China, a special child in need,
Of a mommy and a daddy who will come and care for me.

Though I’m still just a baby, I have a longing for a home,
For a family who is willing to call me their own.

Most days I feel forgotten, yet unbeknownst to me,
The Father to the fatherless is at work behind the scenes.

For many miles away, He has a mom and a dad,
Who’ve been walking through a journey that has sometimes left them sad.

For many years they prayed that God would give them a child,
And finally God answered in a way that made them smile.

In one year alone (nine months to be precise),
Through a miracle of miracles, God gave them offspring twice.

First a son through adoption, and then one more naturally,
And all of a sudden, they doubled their family.

Yet now a few years later, they are struggling once again,
Pleading and yet wondering if their prayers are in vain.

Oh, be patient, mom and dad, for the Father on high,
Is listening with care and has heard our every cry.

He knows how much I need you, and how much you need me,
He’s arranging every detail for the day that we will see…

Each other for the first time, in the city where I live,
Where you’ll take me in your arms, and on that day you’ll give…

Me what I’ve always dreamed of and desired deep inside,
A family whose love for me will never, ever subside.

I know this may sound insensitive and hard to understand,
But I am very grateful that the process you had planned…

Has been blocked and delayed at various points along the way,
For as a result of your setbacks, I’ll be your child one day.

So even when it’s tough, please wait and persevere,
For though you do not know me yet, I’m waiting over here.

One day soon in China, we will finally meet,
And our God will be exalted for your patient pursuit of me.