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3 in 5: The Unexpected Home Study Healing

“For the Word of God is… able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart”

(An new entry in The 3 in 5 Plan Series)

Little did I know when the Bethany Adoption Social Worker, Pat Gibson asked me to write a brief description of my family years I would be entering into a time of profound pyschological and spiritual healing!

With each adoption the applicant couple must go through what is called a “home study”.  This is an extensive series of meetings which include paperwork such as financial reports and personal history, background checks and criminal history inquiries. The Bethany social worker visits your home to check out the adoptees potential home environs.

Home Study included a visit to our townhouse in Newington Commons

 We were confident that everything would pass the test of her inquiring eye. But nonetheless when you have never gone through an examination process for parental fitness and it’s for your very first child a little nervousness is natural.  You have no personal history of success to fall back on! So it’s all new and all in the hands of the experienced pre-adoption process expert.

Thankfully all went extremely well. The puzzle pieces of our lives fell into place one by one  Finances – check!  Home – check! References – check! Christian committment – check! No criminal history – check! Interviews – check!  Personal family history… it would be a check but a little processing had to take place for me before the paperwork could be handed in. Little did I know that God wanted to do a little invasive surgery on yours truly’s heart!

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

As I mentioned in the beginning we each had to write up a page or two of our family history.  I didn’t think twice about.  I wrote a two page synopsis of my childhood and family history.  There was no big problems to report.  Pretty straightforward stuff.

After writing it up I handed it to my wife, Nora, who is the family editor-in-chief being a bona fide (not just on paper) English major.  I figured she’d zip through it and circle a couple of punctuation issues and maybe a grammatical oopsy daisy.  But alas, that was not to be.

What? Me gloomy?!?

When she had finished she looked at me then down at the paper and then up at me again and said, “Gloomy, pretty gloomy.”  Her face looked sad.

“Gloomy!”, I said, “What do you mean gloomy!” I could see nothing glaringly negative in my report.  I had stated the facts and there was no complaining or finger pointing or even whining.  It was a completely civilized accounting of my early life, for God’s sake! (I was getting a little defensive, did you notice?!?)

“Nonetheless, gloomy.”  she calmly countered.  “You’re life appears to have few if any real happy memories, few endearing moments, almost no joyful recollections.  To me it sounds… gloomy.” (she paused for added emphasis)

This caught me off-guard.  I began to re-read my family history and by golly I had to agree with Nora that there was indeed an easily perceived gloom permeating all I had penned.  Pondering what I had written I realized I felt a certain existential numbness that had limited my recollection of my childhood.  I was neither overtly bitter nor resentful in what I wrote but at the same time I did not communicate the many blessings of my family life as a child and teen. I pretty much left them out.  Thus Nora’s comments concerning “gloom”.

Recognizing this was a significant revelation for my life. It would forever shape how I understood Biblical forgiveness.

After becoming a Christian in 1978 God led me through two significant times of forgiveness and healing with regard to my father.  One was right after I got saved.  I was attending a large meeting called “Take and Give” aka TAG in Washington, DC.  At this Tuesday night gathering Larry Tomczak, one of the two main speakers taught on our relationship with God the Father and our relationship with our earthly father.  At the end there was a powerful time of prayer where each person was encouraged to forgive their fathers for offenses the were holding against them.

At a John Wimber conference the same thing occurred but this time the Holy Spirit revealed my heart in a deeper way, brought healing and changed by view of my father and transformed the meaning of past offenses.  Since my father had passed away years ago there was no way of direct reconciliation which I would have loved to do.

“Biblical forgiveness does not necessarily change the memory of the offense, but it ultimately changes the meaning of the offense”

The final step in the process of forgiveness for me was revealed when Nora pointed out the gloom that seemed to surround my memories.  Since I had not been able to carry out any reconciling action toward the offending party I had unknowingly become stuck. 

The revelation of this affected me like a man crawling out of the darkness of a tomb into a flood of brilliant light.  Or someone waking from a dream.  Things had changed. It’s hard to explain just how it happened.  But the result was clear.

Just as the meaning of the cross seen through the resurrection is transformed from curse to blessing so an offense’s meaning can change when God opens our eyes.  I saw the past through new eyes, you might say they were “resurrection eyes”.  I had moved from a place of indifference and emotional distance to a place of blessing and renewal.

I began to re-write my family history with a different perspective, with a new lightness and joy I had not experienced the first time through.  When finished the final piece of the home study puzzle was added without a hitch… Family History – Check!

(At this point there is much to say about what I mean by this experience.  It might be good to add a section on the process of forgiveness or forgiving.  You see, I believe the scriptures will back me up that forgiveness is a decision but it is also a process.  If you see it as only a decision you will miss some rich treasures that God has.  I had forgiven my father. That was a decision for sure but the process part of forgiveness involved moving me into a new perspective and a place of blessing.)

3 in 5: Road Through Bethany

[Jesus] came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

 Now we had the PROMISE… God had spoken, 3 children in 5 years.  And we had the PRAYER… asking God for supernatural signs to accompany the first child’s adoption.  Now what we needed was the next step in the PLAN which was to find an adoption agency that God had prepared in advance.   Which one would it be?

Nora and I had already gone through a very informative and comprehensive introduction to adoption curriculum called “PACE” (Parents Adopting Children Everywhere)We were well equipped now to make a decision.  Would it be Korean?  Would it be European?  Romanian or even Polish? An US adoption was not out of the question but the wait time could be a bit prohibitive.

My Polish mother was none too keen on a foreign adoption.  Even a Polish adoptee didn’t assuage her fears.  “They give you the sick and the problem children they don’t want,”  I’d hear her say in her Zsa Zsa Gabor accented English (Gabor was Hungarian but my mom and Zsa Zsa shared accents… and class and beauty and puffy blonde hair, too!)  However we were not deterred!

After some discussion and prayer we decided to investigate Korean adoptions.  We had heard some very positive things about Holt International Children’s Services during the PACE course.  If I remember correctly it was August when we decided to drive north to pay Holt a visit in Keystone state of Pennsylvania. Holt does not have any main offices in Virginia or Maryland.

Everything we experienced there was positive.  The wait time would not be as long as a domestic adoption.  So we came home upbeat thinking that this might be God’s plan.  Heck, Nora started dreaming about a Korean child within a few days!

Sometimes dreams are prophetic and sometimes dreams are the subconscious processing stuff and sometimes it’s the pizza with too many exotic toppings!  Turned out it wasn’t the first reason!  Soon a discovery would come that would change all our plans!

Manassas Baptist Church

Our friends Frank and Liz had been pursuing adoption at the same time as we were.  Seems they were one step ahead of us!

One day Liz called Nora with some very exciting news…  a National Christian Adoption agency was opening up a new office in Northern Virginia . She and Frank had gotten on the brand new waiting list and there was a meeting happening next week!

Bethany Christian Services, a national adoption organization were already in Virginia with an existing office in Richmond.  However they wanted to expand to Northern Virgina and their first information meeting was going to held at Manassas Baptist Church.

Little did we know that rather than us finding the adoption agency God was bringing the adoption to us and to our friends the Ecelbargers.  Bethany Christian Services came on the scene at just the right time. We didn’t need to be told twice, we were signed up and on our way!

Frank and Liz would be called first.  They’re adoption process started that fall and in less than a year they would bringing home a beautiful son, Nathan.  We would be called a little later.  Together Nathan and our son Anthony would be the Bethany Boys!

An another unexpected blessing would be our Bethany case worker, Pat Gibson, a wonderful lady from our church who would be the one to guide through the process. She would carry out our interviews and home study, introduce us to the foster parents and then present us with our wonderful son, Anthony.  As you can see, Pat was a very special person in our lives.

Interestingly enough, some years later I would officiate at her son, John’s wedding.  He would marry the young lady, Jeannine who when Anthony was 3 years old would rent a room from us at our townhouse on Buffie Court.  She would become a precious part of our family life with a friendship that endures till this day.

Our God moves in marvelous and sometimes mysterious ways.  As they say, there are no coincidences in the kingdom!

3 in 5: Super-[natural]-size it for You, Son?

‘You do not have because you do not ask”

We’ve all heard that McDonald’s will Super Size a meal but this part of my story involves God who when asked will Supernatural Size a promise (smile!).

The Promise…

One adopted child, one natural born and a third which God did not reveal the way the child would come…  this was the 3 in 5 Plan.

Options…

Prior to hearing it from God in the shower one morning in June 1984, my wife Nora and I had begun the process of adoption discovery with a group called P.A.C.E. – Parents Adopting Children Everywhere .  We attended a series of classes where all options of adoption were studied including some personal “coming to grips” with the reason we were pursuing adoption (more on these two aspects in future posts! One called The Options of Adoption).

If there was any question left in our minds about going forward with adoption for our first child the revealing of God’s 3 in 5 Plan confirmed our course. You see, the “spiritual” thing might have been to wait for God to bring a miracle and not somehow try to fulfill our desire through a more “natural or controllable” way like adoption.

Sometimes God…

We regularly had sought prayer at meetings and conferences.  At one such meeting we asked Larry Tomczak, friend, pastor and Christian leader, to pray for us.  Larry was all too happy to oblige.  After praying he had a word of encouragement.  He said “Sometimes God withholds children so that we might adopt a child He wants to place in our lives…  And after that he brings the couple a natural born child”.

He was releasing us from any possible guilt of feeling we were not living up to anybody’s expectations including our own.  Legalism and condemnation for not having enough faith is a sad and nasty place to get caught in. Thank you for speaking grace Larry… plus Larry is no slouch when it comes to faith!  We received grace and faith that day, a great combination!

Time to Ask…

Once we had confirmed we were proceeding with adoption God prompted a scripture to me.  James 4:2

James 4:2  You do not have because you do not ask

He was encouraging me to ask.  I knew right away what it was because I had been thinking about it a bit.  I had wanted to ask God to confirm the first child’s adoption with some kind of supernatural sign.  I wanted this child to know that God Himself had placed him or her in our family.

Motive Check…

Was it selfish of me to ask for such a confirmation? James 4:3 says…

James 4:3  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Did I have wrong motives?  Did I want more for my own glory or reputation?  Good questions… I thought on it for awhile and came to the conclusion that… No, I felt no conviction of the Holy Spirit.  I just wanted my son to experience all the grace and destiny and love I could pray in for him.  And that God could provide.  I believed that God had a very special purpose for his life.

So I Asked…

So I asked God to bless this child.  To confirm his adoption supernaturally.  To let him know that the path of his life was not an accident and that the Sovereign Lord of the Universe was in control and was at the helm guiding him through to his divine purpose.

Pretty heady stuff… but I prayed it just the same!

The scripture God had given my wife and Nora for the 3 in 5 Plan children was already pretty heady!

“Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” Isaiah 8:18

So God answered my prayer and brought about some signs and wonders in ways I could not have expected.  More of this wonderful  first child testimony in an upcoming post.  (Got a lot of writing ahead of me I know but it’s oh so much fun and joy! Wish I had more time!)

Final Thoughts

As I was writing all of this down I realized how amazing this was in a way I had forgotten.  The 3 in 5 plan and this supernaturalized adoption are quite the evangelistic tools.  Atheists say God does not exist and try to tear apart the Bible.  The 3 in 5 plan is a testimony of God interacting in a personal and supernatural way in our ordinary lives.  God does reveal Himself in this time of history dominated by scientific materialism!

He asks  “Super-natural-size it for you, Son?  I just say, “Yes, Sir!”

The 3 in 5 Plan: Shower Talk

Shower talk?!? Yeah, I talk in the shower, for sure… that’s when a lot of my significant conversations with God take place.  I don’t know, some people sing in the shower (one of the few places where almost everyone sounds good!)… some hum (easier on the ears)… some scrub in silence… but me, I talk to the King of the Universe.

Somehow the hot water flowing over my head relaxes me and I’m suddenly pouring out my heart about something that’s bothering me.  Or there’s a great need I know about and I’m asking God to please, please do something about it.  Then there are times when all seems right with the world and I’m thanking my Creator for all His love and all the good stuff that is happening.  And sometimes… He talks back!

Yeah, I admit it.  I am one of those folks you rather not run into.  What do you do or what can you say when someone says to you, “God spoke to me?”  Oh, that’s really nice… uh, was it like audible?  Or do you say, “Hey I think I left an egg frying on the hood of my car and I think it’s done… uh, it’s an experiment… you know it’s been five days of 100 degrees outside and I really should get it… so see you later, OK?”

Telling someone you heard from God can be scary for the person who did the listening (like me!).  Did I really hear?  How can I know?   People will think I’m crazy… especially if it’s predictive.  Thoughts like that go through your head.  But then there’s also the feeling of assurance, confidence and faith that you know are not natural to you. Such are the promises of God when they are personal and powerful. And if the conversation is something you do on a regular basis you begin to know the “voice”.  Sometimes audible but most of the time there are impressions, pictures or key words.  Or just a calming Yes or a gentle NO.

When I went into the shower that day in June of 1984 I began to talk to God about the dilemma my wife Nora and I faced.  The first 3 in 5 Plan blog tells how we were diagnosed as acutely infertile.  I said, “God I know you can do miracles and all kinds of wondrous things like give us natural-born children just like with Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament.”  I expressed my confidence in what God has done and what he can do… however I added a personal caveat in that I wanted… I said, Abraham was real old, over 100 and I’d really like to have some fun time with my kids at a much younger age.  Is there anything we can do about it?

And that’s when it happened… I believe I heard God say that He would give me 3 children in 5 years.  One would be adopted, one natural-born and one he was not going to tell me!  It was not a wishy-washy faint impression… it was strong and specific.  I was amazed and quite taken aback.  I did not expect such a communication though of course I had hoped for one just like this!  Thus the 3 in 5 Plan was born.

After the shower I found my wife, Nora to tell her the news. Her response was one of delight.  She had already been looking through the eyes of faith at the promise of a natural-born child.  In fact she had written an entry in her journal with the expectation of the baby’s future arrival.

We had been praying about adoption.  The adoption idea didn’t start with the infertility but blossomed during our engagement on a beautiful day trip along Skyline drive. We both expressed a desire to adopt a child in the future, maybe even more than one!  Little did we know what the future would hold.  And little did we know that God was preparing our hearts for what was to come. This made pursuing adoption so much easier.  A future post will feature our adoption journey with some insights and advice when considering that option.

Since our infertility was confirmed, we had been seeking God for direction and encouragement.  Exploring scripture through a Bible Study by Bryn Jones on Faith we came across a verse that stirred vision and hope and planted expectant faith in our hearts.  It helped produce the fertile soil from which the 3 in 5 Plan would sprout.  It comes from the book of Isaiah, verse 18 of chapter 8…

“Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” Isaiah 8:18

For signs…  and for wonders!  I never cease being amazed at what God has done!   That day years ago a promise was born… 3 children for signs and wonders in 5 years! Now that’s a real shower talk revelation!

The 3 in 5 Plan: First Glance

Daniel, Tessa, Chip, Tony & Sasha

The 3 in 5 plan is the true life story of how God personally intervened in the lives of Chris and Nora  Lutyk.  It’s the unexpected miracle that started with the very bad news that we could not have children through normal means.  In fact after we were seen by the fertility specialist at Georgetown University Medical Center in 1983, he sat us down and said, “Come back in ten years and maybe the medical technology will have caught up to your problem”!  No standard in-vitro plans, no special procedures, no modern day scientific breakthroughs were offered to us at that time or have been offered to us since.  We were on our own.

Well not really.  Both Nora and I had a strong faith in God and we belonged to a  supportive church family.  We had gotten married in 1980 and subsequently I came on staff at Fairfax Covenant Church (today it is called Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax) doing Youth Ministry and Worship. As Christians we believed that God still performed miracles and we trusted that He would guide us in the right direction.

Chip, Daniel & Anthony 1991

The essentials of the 3 in 5 plan were quite simple.  One day God put it on our hearts that we would have 3 children in 5 years… one adopted, one natural born and one that he would not tell us… it would be a surprise.  This happened in June, 1984.  Of course the doctors had told us that the natural born child part could not happen naturally… or scientifically.  So we are talking at least one miracle!

Anthony (meaning “inestimable”) came to us through adoption in September 1985 (He had been born on August 6th). We prayed that God would do some very special things to confirm to all that his becoming a part of our family was planned by Him.  God did some amazing things for us, details forthcoming in other blogs!  When Anthony was 8 months old we had the “it’s blue, it’s blue” event.  This is the color of a positive result of the home pregnancy test that Nora took in April of 1986.  Needless to say we were dancing  and laughing joyfully upon seeing the result.

Chip was born in December 27, 1986.  But not without a scare along the way.  Nora had a mild stroke the day after Thanksgiving that year.  But God was merciful and gracious on our behalf and Chip was protected.  Nora recovered quickly…fast enough to have a natural childbirth much to the chagrin of her pediatrician who had wanted at least an epidural to ease the delivery after a 27 hour labor.

The final child of the 3 in 5 plan was the trickiest for us.  Should we adopt or should we hold out for another miracle pregnancy?  No clue from God on this one.  One evening in December of 1988 Nora and I sat at Anita’s Mexican restaurant discussing possible adoption scenarios.  I had suggested Filipino but that day we found out that the Philippines had just closed off all foreign adoptions.  We had entertained Korean adoption but that didn’t seem on target. Nora had suggested the possibility of a bi-racial American adoption. Time was running out if we were to start the adoption process and fulfill the 3 in 5.  We asked ourselves often if adoption at this time was taking control of the plan rather than continuing to put our faith in God’s promise.  All the doors seemed closed.

I didn’t have to wait long for one to open.  Nora had already taken her home pregnancy test earlier in the day and she knew it was positive.  So running out of options that night presented the perfect opportunity for her to announce that she was pregnant again!!

Our third son, Daniel, was born July 30, 1989.  Again this was a natural birth but we almost didn’t make the hospital in time after stopping for film (film!?! hard to say that word with everything digital these days!) at the local CVS a couple of blocks from the hospital.  But all turned out well.

Indeed it had.  I went to the doctor after both Chip and Daniel’s births to verify that nothing had changed with my condition.  They confirmed it again and again.  One doctor explained that my wife must be extremely fertile! Miraculously so I replied grinning ear to ear!

We are so very thankful to God for putting faith in our hearts and not only doing something wonderful and miraculous but also by telling us ahead of time.  I look forward to adding more details to the story over the next few months.  The 3 in 5 Plan has some marvelous twists and turns and surprises and is filled with good and faithful friends and family.  Can’t wait to tell you more of the story!

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