Our most challenging seasons oftentimes allow us the most intimacy with the Lord. Leaning into the uncomfortable and the tension shapes us and brings about the most glory because we serve a God who’s in the business of redemption.
My husband, Justin, and I chose to build our family through adoption. God uses small people and small yeses to do big things.
In December of 2014, we flew to Uganda where we would spend about the next three months to adopt our son, Oliver. For two months, I was tired and exhausted but assumed it was just “new-mom tired.” Tired and exhausted led to more symptoms: fatigue, extreme thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and on and on until eventually I was told I had parasites. I flew back to America because I wasn’t sure how much more my body could take, leaving Justin and Ollie in Uganda since Ollie didn’t have a visa yet. I thought some medicine and good sleep would surely get me feeling better and back on a plane to Uganda in no time. Except I was wrong, and I got worse and ended up in a coma in the ICU.
I woke up from the coma to learn I had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and it was a miracle I was alive. My husband and son were 9,000 miles away and it felt like my world was falling apart. All I could seem to do was to pray. I asked God to show me purpose in all of this, even in the tiniest way. I needed something, a glimmer of hope, to keep me pressing forward.
Through divine appointment, two months later we got a message that changed our lives forever. There was a six-year-old girl in Uganda who had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and she needed a foster family. The moment I got that message, I knew she was my daughter. We didn’t hesitate for even two seconds to say yes. This was the answer to the prayer I had prayed two months earlier in that hospital bed, except more magnificent and extravagant than I ever could have dreamed of. Zola became a forever part of our family and her life has taught me so much about redemption and God’s love for us.
After a long and hard 15 months in Uganda, we flew home to America as a family of four, two functioning pancreases short, and our lives have never been the same. I know a new kind of hope and have learned to find joy in the unexpected. And after all we had been through, we just couldn’t get back to America and go back to a comfortable, lukewarm faith. We were changed. Radically following Jesus means making radical decisions.
You see, before we left for Uganda to adopt Ollie, I prayed that we would never feel so comfortable that we lost our sense of total dependence on the Lord. OH. MAN. I had no idea the depth of the words I was praying. Justin and I said we would sacrifice anything to bring our kids home. But I think we limited what we thought God would really ask us to give up on behalf of his children. And I never thought our home would be one of those things.
Because we were being obedient, right? Here’s the thing about obedience: if we are being obedient with the expectation of something in return, it’s not really obedience. Obedience is the Holy Spirit living in us and moving us to follow Jesus no matter the cost. Even if it means we get nothing in return. Even if it means we lose everything here on earth. Because in reality, when we lose everything, we gain Christ. And Christ is everything!
Financially, it was devastating. When we finally got to America, we tried running the rat race, tried to catch up from the drowning debt we had accrued, the medical bills, etc. We were exhausted going from zero to two kids from hard places, homeschooling, working through trauma, re-entry, and PTSD. We worked our tails off, were miserable, still sinking, trying to keep up with society’s expectations. We missed the simplicity of Uganda. We had no time for serving, friends, or family.
It caused us to evaluate how we spent our time. So we said, “See ya’” to the American dream and sold our house, bought and fixed up an RV to pursue a simpler, debt-free life with more time for the things we are most passionate about. It’s given us more family time, which has been so needed in mending weary hearts. It was a fresh start with less burden. Kingdom dreams over the American dream. You can invest in both, but only one is eternal. May we never limit what we’re willing to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. Because souls are worth far more than stuff and these two children were worth more than a house.
When you step of out your comfort zone you step into what God created you for and that, my friend, is greatness.