In the summer and fall of 2000, Scott and I made the choice to follow God onto a radical path. An unconventional path. A not-so-typical American, middle-class path. As we began the adoptions of our seventh and eighth children, we chose to follow God’s call to bring home as many children as He wanted in the coming years. And to start a non-profit called The Shepherd’s Crook Orphan Ministry (TSC).
In 2005, this call got a little scarier when we realized that He was asking us to walk away from Scott’s engineering career (and the salary and benefits that went along with that career), and to come home to run TSC full-time.
So in our late-40’s, when it was time to begin laying the groundwork for retirement, we found ourselves emptying our retirement account to pay for another adoption, giving up all plans of ever retiring, and beginning a whole new terrifying and most exciting adventure. Our income decreased dramatically as our family size began increasing dramatically. We lost our health insurance benefits at the same time the number of special needs in our home was growing exponentially. And we knew we were exactly where God wanted us to be.
There truly is nothing like waking up every day and knowing that you are right were you are supposed to be, doing exactly what God created you to do. To look back on life and be able to so clearly trace the path that brought you to a particular point is an encouragement and a boost to a child of God’s ability to trust Him with the unknown future.
So we moved forward, trusting God to keep His promises to provide all we would need to carry out the calling He had entrusted to us. And He has proven to us, over and over again, that He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Our book, “Swaying in the Treetops: A True Story of Faith and the Fatherless,” is supposed to become available for sale sometime next week. There are a number of stories in that book, telling of the ways in which God has tangibly met our needs through the years. But I want to share just a bit here, and tell about a most recent gift from God through the hands of others.
This pilgrimage has been so amazing that there were times when we felt we had been lifted above the things of Earth and given the opportunity to see beyond the limits of our human vision. And God has faithfully cared for us every step of the way.
But sometimes, it has been hard.
There were times when God came to our rescue just hours before our utilities were scheduled to be cut off. And we rejoiced through tears of relief.
One Christmas, after praying for many weeks that God would provide money for our children’s gifts, we reached the point of beginning preparations for a Christmas without gifts — as God remained silent. And then God very suddenly answered our prayers and showered us with the needed funds to purchase gifts for all of the children. And we praised Him for teaching us many things in the quiet places before He answered.
We have felt “over-our-heads” at times, as we try to keep trusting God to lead us through the often-dark paths of parenting broken children. And He has shown us many things about the brokenness inside ourselves.
We have been stranded on the side of the road countless times, with no money to pay for repairs on whichever tired, old vehicle gave out on that particular day. And the fear and weak faith still hiding in our hearts was revealed to us in new ways.
We were once blessed with a free car that was so rusted through the floor that we lovingly called it our “Flintstone Car.” That old car met our needs and provided the transportation we had been praying so hard for. And we thanked God for hearing our prayers.
But there have also been times when we felt most unworthy of the gifts He sent to us after prolonged prayers for help.
Gifts of so much food that we sometimes had trouble storing it all.
Enough money to buy new clothes for the children to supplement the hand-me-downs we were also blessed with.
Money to buy brand new, great-quality towels and sheets when ours were so old that they were badly frayed, and developed new holes with each use.
The beginning of a new addition on our house that has doubled its size and allowed us to save four more children.
The blessing of a free vacation in a nearby home with an in-ground pool, or to a cabin in the woods.
Our own backyard, above-ground swimming pool, provided through Make-a-Wish.
And just last week. A deck for this Make-a-Wish pool. A deck that will make it so much easier for us, next summer, to lower our children with cerebral palsy and paralysis into this pool for the water therapy that helps so much with their function.
This deck was donated, completely free of charge, by a company here in town called “All Decked Out.” They spent days building it and insisted that they wanted it to be big enough for our whole family.
Not only that, but as is so often the case with those God chooses to use when providing for our needs, these people thanked us for allowing them to be a part of this story.
This deck has served as one more reminder that God hears our prayers; that He keeps His promises to care for us; that He loves to shower blessings upon His children; and that He will always equip His followers to do whatever He asks of them.
The next time He remains quiet for long periods as we cry out for help; the next time we feel completely overwhelmed by the needs of the children under our care and the demands on our time and energy; the next time we become afraid about our future with no “retirement safety net;” the next time we begin to succumb to the whispered lies of Satan who would have us believe that God does not really hear us — we will look out of our back windows, see this amazing gift from His hands, and remember His promises while we wait for the answers to our prayers.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
“I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will he.”