Faith for the Journey…
We began our life journey as high school sweethearts, married and were blessed with two wonderful sons, Ethan and Aiden. When our hearts were stirred for our third child, God asked us to follow Him to the child He had predestined for us.
‘Have you ever considered adopting?’ These five words, pondered over in our kitchen one evening, were the planting of a seed that eventually bore beautiful fruit. After much prayer, God confirmed in our hearts that our third child would come through the gift of adoption. We took up His cross and followed Him on a 2 ½ year journey to find our precious daughter, Eliana Ofelia in Guatemala. God has been changing and growing us since we committed our lives to Him as young adults, but this journey would change the condition of our hearts and the course of our lives for eternity. There are pivotal points in life when we are aware God is calling us to something beyond our ‘selves’ in order to grow us more into the likeness of Him. This journey revealed many new faces of our Lord and presented us with precious gifts of the Spirit to grow our faith in Him. God gave us 4 words to cling to at this point ‘Faith For The Journey’. We had begun a journey, with faith as our guide, to create a family that only God could conceive in the hearts of three families on three separate continents. God is the master planner and His work is adorned in splendor.
Before bringing us to Eliana, God led us to Alva – a beautiful 18 month old girl for whom we traveled to Guatemala, embraced in our arms and fell in love with. After many complications and several months, her mother returned for her. Through this loss, God revealed to us the depth of love He has for us – He led us to her and placed a love so deep in our hearts that we would take her entire family with us on our life journey. Though she would never be our daughter, God’s purpose for us is to be prayer warriors for her, her 5 siblings and mother. We daily pray for each of them by name, which is the reflection of God, our Father’s, deep love for us. A precious gift of the Spirit! Our first adoption journey brought many challenges, which revealed personal weaknesses in both of us. We learned to lean hard on the Lord, cry out to Him and allow Him to be made strong in our weakness. We now praise God for the growth in Christ that comes through trial.
Eliana is now 3 (nearly 4) years old and it is amazing how God has used her life to reach others for adoption already. “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
After bringing Eli home, we knew our family was not yet complete. In searching God’s will for our lives, we also knew that God had placed adoption on our hearts as a means of blessing us. When we were asked if we would adopt again, our response was that our hearts were willing, but we were not financially capable of making that happen again. An often heard response from us would be, “If God sends us a check in the mail, we will surely adopt again…” And yet, God placed an assurance in our hearts that He was capable of that if He should call us to it. So, we prayed that if God had chosen more children for us from afar, He would clearly call us to them. We had a period of stillness where God blessed us with a very silent time of waiting and praying; we felt His presence, but He was silent. God calls us to "be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10); and in our stillness, He was able to prepare our hearts and lives for something that was far beyond us and truly of Him.
After we adopted Eliana, God led us to cross paths with many people who were touched by adoption, considering adoption or knew someone adopting. After seeing the way Eliana’s story touched lives, I (Angie) began giving out our phone number to anyone showing interest, praying that God would use our blessing to touch others for adoption. I received a phone call one day from a woman, in the process of adopting, who expressed several people had given her my name & phone number, from varying circumstances and she felt that God had placed it on her heart to connect with me. They were using the same agency, All God’s Children International, and they actually lived only 3 miles from us – ‘isn’t that a coincidence’ we commented. We kept in touch and I was blessed by watching God at work through their journey to Ethiopia for their beautiful daughter. By chance, we actually met in person at the Little League field while watching our boys and we shared the joy of their upcoming travel to Ethiopia in crossing at the ball fields! Several weeks after they returned home with their daughter, she shared with me in an email that their Ethiopian daughter had 2 biological brothers whom were later relinquished for adoption. After petitioning the Lord and praying for them, they felt God was telling them not to adopt them. She was broken and crying out for these boys and the Lord’s provision for them.
Upon receiving the email, something stirred in my heart…the same quiet knock God gave me when He brought Eliana to us. That day, I knelt at my bedside and prayed for these boys that God would bless and protect them and lead them to the family He had already chosen for them. I prayed that God would break our hearts for these boys if I was hearing the knock from Him and not from within my own selfish desires. Joe and I began to pray for these boys and the families that would be approached about them – ‘Lord…let the people hear your heart for them and bless their precious lives.’ Every family contracted with All God’s Children (AGCI) prayed over the placement of these boys and each one received a ‘no’ from God. When there was one family left to contact, we called AGCI and stated that although we were not currently contracted with them, we were praying over them and felt God calling our hearts to them. At this point, our hearts had been broken for these boys and our confirmation from the Lord would be that He stirred every other waiting family’s hearts to say ‘no’. On November 26, 2007, we received a call from AGCI that these boys had not been placed. Joe and I prayed together once more for these precious lives and received clear calling from God that our sons, Muaz (then 7) and Bereket (then 3 months) were being saved for us. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
God broke the silence and called us to Ethiopia…
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
God had begun writing our story in His book of life – orchestrating details and making connections for our faith journey to Ethiopia for some time.
The above verse from Jeremiah goes on to state, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…” (v. 12-14)
We had called upon God and prayed to Him and He was listening. We sought Him with all our hearts and we found Him calling us to Ethiopia.
Our second confirmation from God that He was calling us to adoption again was that it was beyond us financially. God is made strong in our weakness and we were about to experience that in all of His fullness. In the next six months, we witnessed the hand of God make the miracle of approximately $35,000 (of the needed $38,000) happen! I originally struggled with making this need public in order to adopt again, but God showed us His need for these two boys to be safe, loved and growing in Christ. Suddenly, it was about watching an awesome God work a miracle and giving Him the glory for who He is! It was about leading others to Christ by experiencing His love for His children (our boys) lived out to the fullest measure. God knew where every penny would come from before He ever called us to our boys and He, Himself, stirred the hearts of His people to work a miracle for our sons! We witnessed a miracle that cannot be described this side of heaven…friends, family and strangers poured out a love offering large enough to conquer an obstacle put in place by the world…finances. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:6-8 God reigned victorious because He had a plan for our sons before they were conceived in their mother’s womb in Ethiopia; that He would call them out at a time and hour predestined by their Creator, Himself, and He would place them in our family.
Five months after arriving home from Ethiopia, the Lord brought Joey (our third biological son) into this world, which brings us to a total of 6 precious children. Each child is a unique gift from God, whom pours blessings into our hearts daily. The Lord has given us abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine and He has created a family for us that is perfectly of Him.
The Lord has been faithful to help our newly expanded family grow in love for one another this year . We have witnessed the courage God places in the soul of a child chosen for hardship and the faithfulness of his Creator to equip him for healing in a profound way. The following verse is etched in stone and sits on our window sill as a reminder that God has a purpose and plan for each of our lives. “I have chosen you, go and bear fruit that will last.” John 15:16
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