Last summer, one of my favorite songs was "Oceans" by Hillsong United. If you've never heard it, take a quick listen...
At the same time, the Lord kept bringing me back to the story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33). I wondered if I had been Peter and Jesus told me to walk on the water, would I have even made it past the first step before sinking? Peter at least made it a few steps before his faith began to falter. I'm pretty sure I would have just gone straight down as soon as I left the boat. So I began praying that the Lord would lead me where my trust was without borders. That I would be able to walk upon the waters wherever He would call me. That He'd take me deeper than my feet could ever wander so my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.
Y'all, let me just be the first to say, if you start praying prayers like that, expect God to not only answer, but to blow you away with how He answers. You better hang on because He won't lead you to a deep faith like that without taking you through some rough waters where it seems the waves are definitely going to overtake you.
A couple of months after I began praying this way, we found out our precious foster girls, whom we were told over and over we'd get to adopt, were most likely going to leave us. I can remember right where I was when we got the phone call. We were told it would be a routine court appearance that would seal the deal for us to be able to adopt them. And then everything changed. In that moment, I felt like I had been punched in the gut and I was ready to walk away completely from fostering. I told God that if this is what He expected us to gracefully walk through, I didn't want any part of it. It wasn't fair. These were our girls, and it was our goal to adopt.
About a week after the call, I escaped from the house for a couple of hours one afternoon and had a date with God at one of my favorite secluded spots in town. I immediately started whining to Him about how this wasn't fair and how could this happen when our whole goal was to adopt these girls. He so clearly said to me, "What if that wasn't My goal for y'all?" (And yes, I believe God says y'all) Talk about being stopped dead in your tracks! He went on to say, "Your goal is adoption. My goal is My glory." Wow. Yes, Lord. That's all I could say! "Laura, what if y'all never adopt? What if all you ever do is foster children who need a safe place to call home where you can pour love into them and teach them about Me? Would it be worth it? Would you continue obediently following Me?" All I could say was yes. Absolutely it would be worth it. Our lives are not our own, and Daniel and I both committed a long time ago before we even knew each other that wherever He led us, we'd go. As much as I wanted to walk away, I couldn't.
Fast forward 3 months to November 17, 2015. August to November was hard, but in that time the Lord worked in both Daniel and myself. He told us that we would be okay and we would do this again. He also showed us over and over that the girls would be just fine. He was protecting them and would continue to do so even after they were gone from our home. We stood in court on that rainy Tuesday morning and gave the girls over to an incredible family (some of their biological family) that love and care for them so well. They are in a great home that loves Jesus and will raise them to do the same. There was so much peace knowing we were doing exactly what the Lord wanted us to. His plan is perfect; His ways are higher.
We took a break for several months just to heal some and allow our kids time to grieve and heal. Riley and Ella are such a huge part of this ministry, and they love deeply. Ella still (almost 6 months later) prays for her sisters by name every single day - sometimes multiple times a day! They needed time to process it all before we jumped back into it again. So, about a month ago we decided we were ready to start receiving placements again. I told our agency caseworker to put us back on the list, and we began waiting for that phone call. She called a couple of times, but the details surrounding the placements weren't right for us (visits would be too far away, etc.). And then one day she called about a baby boy. We immediately said yes! Riley was so excited. He's been wanting a brother after having all those sisters! They said he would be a transfer from another foster home, so there was no rush. We requested to wait until after Spring Break (which was about 2 weeks away) because we already had a vacation planned. They were fine with that, so we were excited! About a week later I got a call saying he'd been placed in another home. Hmm...okay. I was a little disappointed, but trusting God's sovereignty, knew He had someone else for us. We went on vacation, had a great time, AND I got shingles! :) The Monday after vacation I went to the doctor so he could check my shingles, and I asked when we could take a placement. He said, "As long as they're over a year old, you can take one tomorrow. Now, if they call you with a 7-day-old, you don't need to do that because you are still contagious." I kind of laughed and said, "Oh, they're not going to do that!" The very next day, our caseworker called and said, "I've got a 4-day-old baby boy. Want him?" Seriously, Lord?? Of course, I had to say no.
A week later we got a call about a 2-year-old boy. He would be a transitional case and they weren't sure how long he'd be here - I told her we didn't care, we'd take him! 5 days later (which was this past Tuesday), they called and said, "He's coming today at 5:30!" Ok...we'll be ready! Closer to 5:30 they called and he's not coming today, maybe tomorrow. So Wednesday rolled around and we kept waiting for a phone call. Finally my caseworker texted me and said, "Looks like he won't end up coming after all, but I do have a sibling group if you're interested." (And when I say sibling group, think more than 2)
WHAT?? God, seriously? This is not what I had in mind and was not part of my plan. Y'all, going from 4 small children down to 2 is crazy. It makes life seem like a breeze. I am not discounting the difficulties that can come with having 2 children at all. I remember how hard of a time I had adjusting when Ella was born because I was used to having just one. But from the beautiful craziness of 4 to the pretty calm home of 2 (when brother is in school - there's definitely still fighting and such when they're together), I had grown accustomed to this calmness and was looking forward to just adding one more child to the mix. I thought, "I did 4 for 11 months, I can definitely handle going from 2 back to 3." Do you see the problem with that sentence? "I did...I can handle..." Yeah, God reminded me pretty quickly that this isn't about me, nor is about what I can do in MY own strength.
So, I reluctantly told her we'd pray about it. That was Wednesday around noon. I prayed with some sweet friends I was with right then, and then prayed and prayed and prayed for the rest of the day. I can't share all the details right now, but I believe one day I'll get to. Throughout that night and into Thursday morning, God made it very clear this was His plan for our family. I wrote our caseworker back Thursday morning at 7 am and said yes to the sibling group. And God, in His goodness, continued confirming our decision over and over throughout the rest of that day and today (cause even though the last 24 hours have felt like a week, it was really just yesterday that we said yes!).
And what song just happened to come on the radio this morning while I was by myself headed home from dropping Riley off at school?? That's right, "Oceans." I know without a doubt that the Lord allowed us to walk through everything in the past year so we could look back today and say, "God has brought us this far, He's not going to leave us now."
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
This next week our family dynamics are going to change immensely. I have no clue what to expect. I can honestly say, though, that I have an incredible peace and am excited about what's coming. You see, I don't have to fear because I know the God who has gone before me and prepared the way for these children is the same God that will pour down new mercies every morning so I will be able to walk through each day. When I start to fear or think we're absolutely nuts for saying yes, He gently reminds me that His ways are higher and His plans are better.
Oh, and just to share a short bit about God's amazing grace...we're still in very close contact with the girls and their new mom (they were officially adopted almost 2 weeks ago) has been so wonderful to allow us to stay in their lives. We went to their birthday party in December and have had some play dates since then. Ella and I even got to attend their adoption. So, even when you don't understand what's going on in the here and now, trust God - He sees the BIG picture and it's so much more beautiful than any story we could ever write.