So, tonight was one of those nights where life took a sharp left in the midst of what was playing out to be a moment of internal celebration about how “awesome” I think I am.
Act I: The original plan
I was on a roll most of the day. I had a very productive day at work and ministering to different youth and young adults. Then I headed home to grab a quick bite of dinner (delicious meal Melissa prepared for everyone by the way) and then load the family up in the car to go see one of our youth ministry students perform in a middle school rendition of Annie (awesome show for just 4 weeks of prep and a poorly lit state). The student was excited to see us there, my kids thought seeing Annie live was the coolest thing ever, and Melissa was giving me that look of approval that says, “I think you’re a stud.” By this time I’m on top of the world. The show ended and we headed back home to tuck the kids in, spend some time together working on adoption stuff, and bask in the glory of a day well spent.
Act II: The Backstory
We parked in the driveway and headed towards the garage door. Now, you have to understand some backstory here to get what happens next. About 6 months ago Melissa was heading to the gym. In an effort to gain a crucial 5 seconds of workout time she gunned the car in reverse just before the garage door could clear the roof of her van. I’m not sure how the physics of this actually happened, but when I stepped into the garage to figure out what I had just heard from the kitchen, the garage door was hanging crooked on its tracks and bent in all sorts of directions. My attempts to fix it were quite the sit-com script that ended with the entire garage door crashing down at my bare feet. Somehow I escaped with all 10 toes still in tact. My next move was to call a repair man. In the process of my playing “Mr. Fixit” I apparently burned out the motor on the opener and so the last couple of months we have had to manually lift and lower our garage door (Yes, I need to buy a new opener).
So, when we got home from the play we all walked towards the garage door to go inside, let the dog out, and get ready for bed.
Backstory number two: Our garage door has a handle on the outside that allows you to lock it so it can’t be raised. Another point of importance is that all of the doors that enter into our house have a flip latch on them that is only accessible from inside the house and not by a key. In other words…if the handle on the garage door gets turned and locked while the flip latches on all the doors are closed, then we are up the creek in regards to getting into our house.
Act III: Unlocking faith
As we approached the garage Ethan’s (our almost 6 year old) curiosity got the best of him. I mean, what would you do? You see a shiny handle, a big door, and no one has ever told you that turning that handle could be a bad idea. You turn the handle don’t you? I would, you would, and Ethan certainly would because that is exactly what he did. Now, picture in your mind that slow motion scene in the movies when someone is about to do something they shouldn’t and the other guy lunges, reaches out his hands, and screams, “noooooooooooooooo…” It was too late. Ethan flipped the handle before I could stop him (stupid slow motion).
Seeing mine, and Melissa’s, not very well thought through reactions, the reality hit Ethan that he had just done something that was not so awesome. When he realized that “not so awesome” thing was locking us out of the house he felt horrible and became increasingly stressed over the fact that Copper, our 10 pound Poodle, was inside the house without food or water. My perfect, “father of the year” day began to spiral out of control. Bedtime for the kids was quickly getting away from us, Ethan was a mess of snot and tears, and after pretending like I could somehow save the day, I had to admit to my son that, “Daddy can’t fix this one,” and call a locksmith. I got what sounded like a lady sitting in her kitchen asking me for my information so she could send her husband over to break into my house. At this point I was willing to take the risk. It didn’t help that the 10 minute wait time she promised turned into 45 minutes. Neither did it help that our Poodle was standing in the window looking at us with the saddest little face imaginable yelping and clawing at the window like he really was about to fall over dead from starvation. The stress level was rising. I was a little irritated and Melissa kept asking me when the guy was going to be there. Something needed to happen.
The guy eventually showed up and his first words were, “They didn’t tell me it was a garage door.” Awesome! He then looked at me and said, “I’ve never done this before so let’s hope it works.” My fingers are crossed buddy.
At this time Ethan is calmed down and watching intently as this guy wedges two metal picks into our lock and jiggles profusely. Nothing, nothing, nothing… Then suddenly, pop! The garage door opens, the dog is rescued from certain peril, and the world is once again restored to equilibrium. The cost of this restoration? $125! Double awesome. But, the reason this story made our blog post is because of what happened next that made the whole fiasco all worth the time, frustration, embarrassment and money.
Ethan, who was freaking out just 30 minutes prior, runs up to Melissa and me as we walked into the house and with the sweetest smile on his face tells us, “I did a prayer and God did it.”
Not quite sure what he was talking about we responded, “Really buddy? What’d you pray for?”
“I asked God to give the man the right tools and to open the lock because He [God] was able to help David kill the giant. And God answered me!” was his reply.
And that is when the frustration, chaos and loss of time suddenly made sense. In that moment I realized that the simple turning of a handle had forced us to slow down. It prompted us to sit there and enjoy a beautiful night outside together as a family. And, most importantly, it gave my boy an opportunity to not only trust God for something that was huge in his mind, but to also see God’s faithfulness to hear our prayers and meet our needs.
You know, it is so easy to get caught up in the expectations of a daily routine, to grow accustomed to a life that has you at the center. And, when that routine gets altered in the slightest way we love to express our disappointment in the fact that we have now been inconvenienced. The problem, however, is that when it comes to parenting those expectations can, and will, often blind us to the amazing opportunities to enjoy the adventure God has called us to with our little ones. One thing I forgot to mention…in an attempt to console Ethan, he and I grabbed a spare baseball in the yard and played toss while Kiley twirled around the yard gazing up at the stars and Landon played “stuntman” by repeatedly jumping off the trunk of my car into the grass.
Had we not been locked out we would have been brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading books, and getting into bed…you know the usual routine. But as it were, our family had a moment of freedom where we got to just enjoy the beauty of the unexpected.
That is worth way more than $125 or the most perfect day. I love it when life happens!
What if our lives were meant for so much more than what we are living?
What if the standard of success according to God is not based on how big a house we live in, or how fancy of a car we drive, but instead was based on how much we demonstrate His love to others?
What if the point of life wasn’t how much we can get, but how much we can give?
Are our lives reflecting what our hearts know to be the right answers?
These are some of the questions that Brett and I began asking ourselves and one another at the beginning of this year. We have our wonderful American life: 11 years of blissful marriage, three beautiful healthy children, a crazy poodle, a comfortable house, two cars, our eventful (and often crazy) homeschooling life, a fruitful and busy career in full-time ministry, amazing friends and family. What more could we desire?
Glad you asked. We desire to know God’s will for our family. We desire to hear His voice and to allow Him to direct us as to how we can better glorify Him and make His glory known. So, when God spoke to us a few months ago about doing something big for Him, we had a choice. We could either come up excuses as to why God wouldn’t really ask us to do that and disobey, OR we could obey Him and completely TRUST in our big, sovereign God to carry us through, to be our Provider and our Strength.
What did He open our eyes up to? The estimated 163 million orphans around the world! Orphans that God loves passionately, that Jesus died for, and that need a home. God’s heart for the fatherless is evident throughout His Word.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
– Isaiah 1:17
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
– John 14:18
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
What can we do? We can respond to His calling. We can act in obedience…
So, it is with great joy and excitement that we have begun the process to adopt a little GIRL and a little BOY from Ethiopia!
We have three beautiful children. Kiley is now 8 years old and such a sweet “little mommy”, Ethan is almost 6, all boy and such a sweetheart, Landon is 3 and full of life and craziness. In looking at our precious children, and how God is moving in their lives and revealing Himself to their hearts, we know we want more. Our hearts can sense that our family is not yet complete.
We have a son and a daughter half-way around the world who belong to us. They belong to us in the same way that Kiley, Ethan, and Landon belong to us. They belong to us in the same way any child belongs to a parent. They are out there with no mommy or daddy to call them by name. And, they have a family…here, with us, our family. They have a sister and two brothers who draw pictures for them and who pray for them. We do not know their faces or their names… yet. We do not even know their ages. But already we love them. Already our hearts ache and long to hold them and call them our own.
We do not know how long this journey will take, nor do we know all the places this journey will lead us, but we do know that we are not alone as we go. We have the grace of a loving Father. A God who has adopted us into His family, and we have that family. Brothers and sisters in Christ who are just as excited about this journey as we are. Friends who are willing to sacrifice with us. Friends who are praying for our little ones as we are. A community of faith who sees the bigger picture, the picture of the Gospel that adoption so beautifully paints on the canvas of our hearts.
Friends. Family. Church.
So this is where our journey begins. This is where we come to the end of ourselves and find the “abundant” life that Jesus promised we could have when He becomes our greatest pursuit. We invite you to join us as we take one step at a time, trusting God through it all, and see His glorious grace lead us and keep us the entire way.
Our children are out there. Let’s bring ’em home.