God, Is He My Son?

Sometimes the best things happen when you step out into blind faith. When you look back on all the little yesses that make it that much easier to that one big yes. When we follow, just one step at a time, listening to that gentle whisper, whether or not it really makes the most logical sense.

I may be partial, but that smile melts my heart.

I may be partial, but that smile melts my heart.

One of these best things just happens to be our son.

Six-years-ago we were on the path to adopting one child from the DRCongo. Six-years-ago we had a plan. And it was pretty simple. We knew we could handle three children. Financially, emotionally, physically, we just had a pretty good handle on three kids.

But God doesn’t always want us to stay where we are comfortable. God doesn’t pat our backs and tell us how wonderful our parenting is or cheer us on like we’ve got everything under control. God pulls us up and out of that place. Over and over again.

He tells us to hang on to Him. And then He places us in the middle of some crazy things. Things that feel really big to us. Things that we don’t really have answers for. Things that maybe don’t make a whole lot of sense.

But that whisper, that tug on our hearts. And we said yes.

So we accepted the referral of the cutest little 18-month-old girl. And we thought we were complete.

Until God said there’s more.

More that I want you to step into. More faith for you to hold. More blessings. More of me.

So we did. We looked at photos of nice vacations. And then photos of devastation. Photos of children waiting for families. And we were a family. Waiting for children.

We made the call and stepped into a great(er) unknown.

“I know this sounds crazy, but are there any other waiting children in our daughter’s foster home? We feel God calling us to more.”

And the answer was no.

Okay, God. I see this. You strengthen our faith. You ask us for more. And close the door.

And then a while later the phone rings.

“You’ll never believe this…I’d like you to pray. Ask God if he’s your son.”

I stared at the cross that Easter weekend, asking God for answers. Is this sick little boy our son? What if I’m not enough for him? What if he’s just too sick? How can you heal him, Lord?

But those eyes and his cheeks. And his need and my heart. My heart breaking open a million and one times, again and again.

And we said yes. Again and again. Against advice and against all reason. Against what some would say, sound judgement. To give this little boy a chance.

Because God gives us a chance. Over and over again. Against all odds. Against all reason.

Because it was time again to give God a chance. With our hearts. Against all odds. Against all reason.

I don’t know why God saved this boy, gave him a second chance at life. I don’t know why he was born with such a big heart and strong faith and brave soul. I don’t know all the miracles God worked in his life even now. But I do know, I do believe, God has a big plan for this boy’s life.

Five and a half years ago, I held him for the first time. After dreaming of what his weak little body would feel like in my arms. I held tight, but gently. I was afraid of hurting him, but squeezing him hard and not letting go was my first instinct. It wasn’t his, though. He actually preferred his new daddy. Calling me, “white mama”, those four-year-old brown eyes danced with laughter. I should have known then what a jokester he was.

And we waited. And waited. And fought for him and prayed. We prayed for protection and healing and health. We prayed for a homecoming, a miracle, more.

Three-sweet-years-ago today, my miracle boy was brought home. He was frail and weak and quiet. He was scared (and so was I). He was six, not four. He was big, not so little. He was my son. He is my son.

And how far we’ve come.

He Called My Name

He called my name.

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My son. He's my son through and through. I love him fiercely. But in adoption, that love may not be returned right away or ever. 

Today he was hurt. He was stuck and in pain. And he called my name. He yelled "Mommy!! Mommy! I need you. It hurts!"

I went to him. I went to comfort and hug. I tried to take the pain away. I hurt for him. But I was also thanking Jesus because ...

He called my name. He called me mommy and he wanted me when he was hurt. You guys. This is a big deal. And it's beautiful. But it's not always the case. And sometimes I ask myself, if this were going another way, would I still be praising Jesus? If this adoption thing were any more difficult, would I feel defeated? If I was unable to bond with my child, would I feel as though I failed? Would I feel alone? How would I respond if things were not going well? 

I'd like to think I'd cling to Him. I'd like to say with confidence that I would never doubt my choices even if it were difficult and scary and maybe even miserable. But, I'm not in that season right now so I don't know. I know that as I praise the Lord in the calm, peaceful, beautiful days, I am preparing myself for a storm. Because no matter what, storms do come. Some are big and some are small, but as long as we walk this earth, they will come. 

And praising Jesus in the beauty of the everyday prepares my heart for them.

I want to encourage you because maybe you are in a stormy place. It will pass. Cling to Him. And surround yourself with people that will point you to Christ. (Don't have anyone, please let me help you find some! I'm so serious right now. We cannot do life alone.)

If you are in the peaceful, pretty days and life is going well. Enjoy it. Love it. Live it. Praise Jesus throughout those moments. We must not take them for granted. These are our days to prepare our hearts, to strengthen our relationship with Jesus. Because I promise you, the time will come. We all have moments of weakness and He needs to be our strength. 

There is beauty though, in both the storm and the calm. I pray you see both. I pray you cling to Him. I pray for strength for days ahead. 

When Will The Suffering End?

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Right after Thao died I had the fleeting thought that I had paid my dues. The unimaginable had happened. Thao died. I lost my son. 

I had been convinced a few months earlier that I would never lose a child. That the Lord would not allow that kind of pain and suffering in my child's life. 

But I had been corrected. 

And yet I still thought that maybe I was safe. The rest of my life I could rest assured because I had already spent my time in the hospital. I had already surrendered. The Lord asked for surrender. I dedicated my life and my marriage and my family to Him. Done.

Check. Check. Check.

But friends, where in the Bible does it say once you have suffered enough, I will make the road easy for you? Your journey will be full of only good things. Your life will be easy. And comfortable. 

No where. 

The Lord says this world is fallen and broken and sinful and a wreck. Because, sin. 

The Lord also says He gives us the gifts of joy and hope and salvation and heaven. Because, Jesus.

I lost my son. I lost three precious babies before I held them. I waited three and a half years for my Congolese babies to come home. I lost a lot of stuff in a house fire

And none of those things have stolen my joy or my love or my salvation or my Jesus from me. I love my life and I enjoy my days!

Because the things I cling to are eternal, not earthly. The thing I will hold most dear to my heart cannot be bought with money or contained in a house. I hold onto Hope the most of all. 

Because of Hope, I know that I will see Thao again. 

Because of Hope, I know that I will meet my precious babies face to face. 

Because of Hope, I endured the wait. 

Because of Hope, the stuff I lost was put into perspective. 

Because of Jesus, my Hope. 

So, dear friends, when will this suffering end? 

As long as we walk this blessed earth, we will endure suffering. We will walk alongside the suffering. We will bring the suffering into our homes. We will be the suffering. 

It will ebb and flow. Some days just finding shoes for five kids feels a lot like suffering. Some days soggy carrots and messed up meal plans feels a lot like suffering. Some days I feel as though I carry the suffering souls in my own. Some days suffering is holding my child as he takes his last breath or watching my house go up in flames. Some days suffering is holding a hurting child and loving them anyway. 

Do not run from suffering. 

We can't take anything with us, but we can see other souls ushered into Jesus' arms by the way we live through the suffering.  

Be like Job. 

Praise Jesus through the suffering.  (Job 1:20-22)

Be like Job's friends. 

Sit with the suffering. (Job 2:13)





Risking Our Hearts

The reality is, this life could easily not have been. This life with him as our son and her as our daughter. Some days it made so much more sense to say no, humanly speaking. Because it's difficult and costly. Scary and unknown. But we just kept hearing the whisper to take one more step of faith. At times we felt like we were risking it all: our future, our finances, our family. But we pressed on because the Lord burdened our hearts and it was undeniable that this was the obedience He asked of us.  One step at a time, our hearts were open, our arms were aching, our home was ready. And finally after more than three long years, they came home. And I cannot fathom, even for a short minute life without them. I am so so thankful we were brave enough, by God's grace, to believe in the complete redemption of Jesus Christ. To believe that He covers all. To believe that "safe" isn't always what we are called to. To believe that we are weak and He is strong. And His love pours out into us and overflows into the unloved, the fatherless, the orphan. That Jesus is and was so very real to these children. Someday I will tell you of the stories we have heard. Of Jesus and child like faith. Of filling a hungry belly and comforting the scared and broken heart. 

But today I'm telling you of how hard I was hit. A weeping, sobbing hard at the reality of so many others. Of the fact that so many children, no different than my own, have a very different future. So many children are sleeping on streets. So many children are hungry. So many children are hurting. 

And we could have said no. Because it's easier, more comfortable. Saying no doesn't rock us to our very core. Saying no doesn't hurt our hearts or our families or our finances. Saying no does nothing. It does nothing to feed the hungry bellies, either. 

I'm not saying everyone needs to adopt because that is extremely the opposite of what I believe. What I do believe is this, if God is pushing you, burdening your heart and soul with the fatherless, then please do not let our earthly mindset stop you. Sometimes the easy way isn't the right way. Sometimes we miss out on abundant blessings in our lives because of fear. Sometimes we need to risk our hearts a little. Sometimes we need to step out in faith and do something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes He asks us to do this because we are more dependent on Him that way. And that's where He wants us, in complete and utter dependence on Him.

Please, please don't let fear or finances or self-doubt stop you. Because we are all scared going in. Most of us don't have the kind of money it takes to pay outright for an adoption. And none of us are perfect. These kids don't need perfect parents or their own rooms or name brand clothes. These kids need families to love and surround them. These kids need parents to tuck them in to their beds at night, feed their hungry bellies and hold them when they cry. 

I won't take for granted that my kids could have easily been "stuck" for much longer, or even forever. I don't understand so many things here on earth. Hungry, lonely children is probably at the top of my list. But I also won't sit idly by because it's easier and more comfortable. The very least we can do is pray for these children. My children pray each night for two sweet children by name. They want these two kids to have families, mommies and daddies and sisters and brothers and pets and food and toys...

They want this and they believe it will happen. Because it happened for them. I don't believe we rescued them. I believe Jesus did. I believe Jesus rescues and redeems and restores all of us. We are just journeying this life as the rescued. We are just breathing and listening and obeying as Jesus is redeeming. We are believing because Jesus promises to restore. He will someday make all things new. But as we wait in hope for the Lord, we love and live generously. I want to live as though everything belongs to the Lord. As though I believe deep down this earth is temporary. And my hope, my true treasure is in eternity with Christ. It's much easier to risk our hearts that way. 

And tonight I feel as though I am basking in the blessings of it. 

 

The Fingerprint of our Adoption

Here we are nine months in with her, seven with him. We adopted a toddler and a preschooler, they came home as preschool and school age. The wait was agonizing and confusing. But it's over. 

And here we are. The beauty of adoption, its like a snowflake or a fingerprint, no two are ever the same. We fully expected challenges. We've read all the hard things, we've prepared our hearts and minds for rejection to the fullest. 

They call us mom and dad. We have a little "family" cheer we do. We talk about how we are all on the same team. My heart beats for theirs. Just like all my other children. I feel no different than I do with my others. It's beautiful and heart-breaking. It's beautiful because, my goodness do I love them. It feels right. It feels normal. We are family. It's heart-breaking because of how it came to be. Because somewhere out there they have or had a biological family. And whatever brought them to me, caused much pain in their lives and others. 

We have challenges. They have fears. We have patience poured out from the Lord. They have a new start. We have years to catch up on. They have a forever family. 

We have little games we play. Like "guess what? I love you." And they've learned to play them, too. We have small expectations for them. They have blown us away. We have great love for them. They have tested it. I think we've passed. (But they will test us again, without warning.) 

We've had to re-do alot. Both us and them. Both adopted and biological. We've had to forgive and ask forgiveness a lot, both parent and child. We hug a lot. We talk a lot. We re-focus a lot. 

We are thankful for new days, a lot. We treasure the moments, a lot. They have chores, we have rules. They get mad at us for being unfair. We have gentle reminders of life now and not so gentle reminders of life before forever family. We talk a lot about the past, but it's over now. We tell them they are safe. We will not hurt them or let them be hungry. They will live with us, in our home, forever. (Or until they turn eighteen or twenty-three or thirty...) We whisper Jesus' name into their ears. Sometimes they are tough and strong. Sometimes they are scared and mad. Sometimes they throw their arms around us and yell (because there is no other level of noise) "I love-uh my mama!!!" 

Most mornings begin with a sweet girl snuggling with me, lying on top of me, listening to my beating heart like a newborn baby. She is after all, only nine months home. She wants to hear her mama's heart beat for her. 

My son is up to my shoulders now which means I must sit to hold him. I carried my then six-year old around the house when he came home. He's only seven months home after all. He still needs a mama's love and reassurance. There is a hole in him from mothers past, I have to prove my love to him. But that's okay. Jesus' love runs deep and it's free for us. He desires to pour it into our lives, it overflows into theirs. 

And in so many ways, they are just kids. Kids like yours, with a little rougher start in life. But they like to play the same. They desire to be accepted. They want to be loved and listened to. They are making friends. Their relationships with their siblings, though, is one of the most beautiful things I've seen. They laugh deeply, play hard, and fight to tears. They think of each other first. They are each other's best friend, right now. They defend and look out for each other. They have special made up games they play. They are learning from each other. It's loud and crazy and simply amazing. 

Adoption is risky. Adoption is hard. Adoption is painful. But God is redeeming their stories. He is working in all of my children's lives, to draw them close. My prayer for all of them is to know God more. To be solely dependent on him. To desire to be more like him. To be filled with love from God. To overflow his love into other's lives. So if you are wondering, if my heart feels different now, it does. I have more children to know well. I have more children to physically care for. I have more children to pour love into. I have more...joy and blessings. I have more of Jesus because of them. 

God sets the lonely in families...

Psalm 68:6a