Your Father’s Arms

It’s wild to think that we are nearing 2 years of Eli being home with us.  I still remember the first time I picked him up out of that smelly orphanage crib.  With all the issues looming before us, God was more than faithful.  Eli is not only a healthy little boy, he’s advanced for his age now.

With all the love and support we received during our adoption process, we put together a 50-minute documentary that we gave to family and close friends who had walked with us during this time.  I want to share a piece of that video with you today for 2 reasons: 1) to be reminded of God’s faithfulness, and 2) for you to consider adoption.

The video shows some of my departure from America and the first time meeting Eli.  I saw him while he slept, but then the video shows our first encounter together.  The song in the background is a song that I wrote to help fund our adoption efforts.  It’s entitled “Your Father’s Arms.”  The first verse is about Obadiah.  The second verse is about Eli.  The third verse is about the rest of us.

Hope you enjoy some home footage:


Eli Finally Sleeps Well

It’s hard to think that Eli has almost been home with us now for 2 years.  In May, when he turns 4, he will have been with us longer than he has been without us.  Honestly, it’s hard to imagine what life was like before he came home.

Eli adjusted well.  I mean crazy well.  We didn’t have any real horror stories.  When I got off the plane with him in my arms, he cried the first time Amanda held him, but 5 minutes later, he has been absolutely attached to his mommy.  The first night he only woke up one time probably due to jet lag or some of his medical conditions.  Mom, who he had been around only a few hours at that point, went in to console him, and he went back to sleep easily.  And that’s all the sleep issues we have had.  Naps great and sleeps great.  Potty trained in 20 hours.  The kid is a stud.

But even with all those successes, there was one thing that always concerned me about Eli.


There Are 2 Travis Agnew’s…


There are 2 Travis Agnew’s.  No, for real.  There are 2 of us.  I’m not doing some type of preacher illustration, there are two of us out there.

So, let me explain.  Years ago, when I decided to start blogging, I tried to get a domain name and realized that was taken.  By whom, I wondered.  I went ahead with the .org and continued upon my trek through life’s uncharted waters.  Then I was talking with a college student one day who said he heard me speak somewhere.

He then tried to find me on the world wide web.  He said I had changed my appearance a lot.  He then asked me when I lived in Wisconsin.  I was perplexed.  I was pretty confident that my looks have not changed that much and that I had remained in South Carolina in recent years.  Curious, I began to do research and I was shocked at what I found.

Here’s what I discovered:


The Frustration with National Adoption Day

I was appreciative of a text message this morning from a dear friend telling me they were inspired by an article in this morning’s Index Journal.  I still have only read the short version on the website and not read the entire article, but I was interviewed earlier this week concerning adoption.

Honestly, it took me a moment to realize why I was being interviewed for two reasons: 1) There are plenty of other families that do more than us for the cause of adoption, and 2) I forget that Eli is adopted.  In fact, I don’t like talking about it when one child is distinguished as the biological child and one as the adoptive child.  God brought both of our children into our family.  Different ways, but they are both our sons.

I went along with the interview because today is National Adoption Day, and I figured, if our family could inspire others to adopt, that’s a good thing.  That’s worth it.

We had a wonderful day as a family today playing in our home and helping with some friends’ wedding, but it ended on a very bitter note.  Right before family worship tonight, I read a tweet from a dear friend that read:


“There’s a Baby in My Tummy!”

The other morning, I went to get my boys dressed for the day before work, and I found Eli had stuffed his teddy bear into his shirt and was patting it saying, “there’s a baby in my tummy!”

When I saw him there giggling and running around, I couldn’t help but think how far we have come.

Eli’s really been fascinated with this whole baby thing.  His mom is 9 weeks pregnant.  Both of his aunts have been pregnant in recent months, and so he is used to seeing ladies with a tummy and he associates them with being pregnant.  The problem is when he went up to a lady in the story yesterday, patted his belly, and yelled, “Baby!”

She wasn’t pregnant.


How to Fix Lethargic Worship

(Whenever I am trying to remember how big God is and if he can handle my current problems, I look at this picture and remember: God is good.)

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim
that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe

3 and has gathered them from the lands-
from the east and the west,
from the north and the south.  – Psalm 107:1-3

How to Fix Lethargic Worship

The cure for lethargic worship is a good memory.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist expresses praise to God based upon his faithfulness in the past. He reminds the worshipers that God is always good and deserves our gratitude.  He had rescued them from the hands of their enemies.  He had rescued them from their circumstances and gathered them back together again.

Have you ever felt in worship that you were just going through the motions?  You stood up and sat down when you were instructed.  You mouthed the words to some songs on a screen or in a hymnal.  You left the same way in which you entered.  The best way to describe your worship was lethargic.

The cure for lethargic worship is a good memory.  God has shown up all throughout your life. When you have called on God, every time he delivers.  The only proper response is worship.  Each new day is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us.

When we were in the middle of our adoption process, I was forced to remember this fact often.


1 Year Home with Eli

It’s hard to think that we celebrated Eli’s 1 year being home anniversary yesterday.  We took the boys up to Dollywood this weekend to celebrate our wonderful year and had a great time.

It’s impossible to use words to adequately describe how God has moved over this last year.  Last year, I placed our son in the hands of his mother in an airport with him crying in terror that he was being left again.  This year, they are inseparable (actually, they were inseparable within two minutes, but that’s another story).  Last year, my son couldn’t walk or crawl on all fours.  This year, he was running up hills at an amusement park.  Last year, my son didn’t want to eat any type of food and only knew one word.  This year, he asked to pray over his fajitas, chips, and salsa at La Hacienda.  Last year, he was afraid to get buckled in the car seat.  This year, he begged to get strapped in a roller coaster (see below).


Homes for Hope (What a Year!)

Homes for Hope was started at North Side in 2010. After a message on orphan care in December 2009, we were overwhelmed with the response of families wanting to help out. The interest was so great that Jeff Lethco told me to figure out a way to organize this so we can help people regularly.  The mission behind Homes for Hope is to make orphan care simple. If you have ever attempted to get through the paperwork attached to orphan care, you understand that sounds like an absurd statement. We can’t make orphan care easy, but we can make it simple. Our goal as a ministry is to provide logical steps in the 5 major ways to get involved.

James 1:27 commands us to care for orphans: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress…” There are many ways to help rescue the 143,000,000 orphans in the world. Here’s how our church is assisting people:


“Boy, Don’t You Know That There Are Orphans in Africa…”

Eli came home on May 1st.  It is hard to believe he has only been home a year, because I can’t remember what our family was like before he was here.  I can honestly say that when I look at those two boys, I see my two sons.  I don’t see one biological and one adopted, I see the two Agnew boys.

Yet there are still moments when I say something that reminds me how much he is mine.  Sometimes if he gives me a look or I have a flashback of our time in Ethiopia, I remember for a moment what it was like when we were strangers.  More often than that, I find myself forgetting that he hasn’t been with us all the time.

Which brings us to what happened last week.