I know many of you have likely read that verse many times. So have I. But as I sit here tonight it has taken on a new meaning. These words are alive on the pages of my heart. The last five days have been some of the happiest of my life as I have seen God prove Himself as the Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows and as I have watched Him set the lonely in families - even in MY family!
Many of you know that after two years of being in the adoption process we received a referral for our son "T" last Thursday. When we got back from Uganda God began to stir our hearts for the older children we saw there...many of whom were taking care of their younger siblings and some walking many miles on their own to get water. I can't tell you the countless kids I saw walking along the side of the road dragging heavy water containers with them while the hot sun burned their barefeet.
It was just heart wrenching to watch their forms fade into the distance. All along we thought we'd wanted an infant boy from Ethiopia but God started to change and move our hearts with what we saw in Uganda. So much so that I started to check out the Waiting Children's List on our agency's website. (For those of you new to adoption lingo that just means kids who are waiting for adoption due to older age or medical conditions...as my friend Sarah pointed out - the least of these). I found a small blurb about a four year old boy who had a sweet disposition but had something wrong with his hand. They don't give much info or a picture so I requested some more information on him. However, since we were only approved for an infant they wouldn't allow me to see anything additional. That started us wondering if we shouldn't just go ahead and pursue changing our age range in case God had other plans for our family than an infant. So, in November we started the process of changing our age range and last Monday we were officially approved for a little boy up to age 4.
I was sitting in the pick up line at school last Thursday (yes...just 3 days later) to get Ella when we got THE call. I was shocked. I couldn't believe that we would get a referral so soon. And Ben was on the phone telling me that our case worker called him to ask if we'd be willing to look at a child from the Waiting Children's List to consider for referral. Ben went on to tell me about little 4 year old "T" who had a problem with his right hand. And then things began to fall into place in my mind. This was HIM. The little boy that touched my heart a few months back from the list. I drove home and ran down to my computer to see the email from the case worker. As I opened the email I prayed and asked God to just clearly speak to my heart when I saw him if this was to be my son. The picture loaded and at first all I saw were pictures of his burned hand. And then there his face was all of sudden swallowing up my screen. My heart raced and I sobbed. It took all of one second for me to take him in and KNOW that Little "T" was indeed ours. He was meant to be in our family.
About six months ago I was out shopping and ran across a wall decal that said "We took one look at you and our hearts stood still". I bought it with the intention of hanging it in our baby's nursery, but now I know that for us, our hearts truly did stand still when we soaked in his picture and his story. Amazing to me to think about how this loooong wait has all been because Little "T" didn't come into care until 3 months ago...about the time my heart was being broken for little ones his age in Uganda. I've said this so many times in the past few weeks, but it's worth saying again. God truly does do ALL things well. Perfectly. So much better than I ever could on my best day. His timing is perfect. His plans stand. His faithfulness never ends - no matter what or how long it takes. I am so blown away that our family gets to be a part of Little "T's" story. We get to see God literally set a lonely little boy in our family, in our hearts and soon - in our arms. His word is true and His promises are real. I am seeing it with my own eyes and oh how beautiful the view is!
The day after our referral we hopped on a plane to go to Oklahoma City to see my friend Lindsey's church engage in sponsorship of the community of Ngariam (Uganda) where Ben and I were in September. Talk about a dream of a weekend. We folded about 500 profiles of children on Friday night. Imagine picking up a picture of a child and turning it over to read their insanely sad story. Child after child after child. All of us (Vince and Brandi from HopeChest were there too) just sat there with tears flowing down our faces as we put the profiles together and prayed for each child by name one by one. Lindsey was sitting across the table from me and held up a photo of a boy and commented on his sweet face. I took the profile and turned it over to read his story. And guess what? It was BOSCOE! Boscoe was the boy who we raised money for about a month ago so he could have his leg amputated and save his life. And here was his little face showing up in a stack of profiles. SO cool!
Typically, it's quite a bit to ask a church to sponsor even 200 kids and so the fact that Lindsey had the dream of seeing her church sponsor 600 kids (an entire community of orphans) was honestly a little bit crazy. Turns out we serve a crazy huge God. Sunday was one of my all-time favorite days. A lot of sharing and prayer and three services later, 400 children were sponsored. In ONE Sunday. HELLO!! That is just unheard of, really. And yet, God placed each of the orphans in Ngariam on Lindsey's heart without ever having seen them and then He MOVED hearts to reach out and care for the least of these. It was powerful stuff.
A lot of times we read Psalm 68 and focus in on the "father to the fatherless" part. But this weekend I also got to see God come through on His promise to be a defender of widows. You may not realize that in Uganda a child who has lost his father but still has his mother is considered an orphan. This is because men typically hold all the status and when they die or desert their wives the widow is often stripped of her hut, her land, her income and left with nothing but her children. These women are in dire situations and many of them are watching their children starve to death. Because people stepped up on Sunday in Oklahoma City to give $34 a month, these women are going to get to KEEP their children and not have to watch them die from hunger or relinquish them to someone else. God stood up and defended the widows of Ngariam this weekend. He engaged people with the things that move and break His heart and as a result the entire orphan community of Ngariam will be sponsored. There are only 80 some profiles left and Lindsey can't keep up with all the phone calls and emails asking for a child to sponsor.
So, this week has been AMAZING. Our God is great. He sees the entire picture of every life on the planet and moves on behalf of His children both young and old to see that they know of His love. As the widows are waking up this morning in Ngariam they will soon receive news that God IS their defender. That they have HOPE as a result of the love of God pouring out on them. They will not have to give up their children whom they love because they cannot feed them. God has come to their rescue. The little ones with no parents won't have to wonder when and where their food will come from. God is going to feed them - day after day after day. And all those little orphans with no daddies will get to experience the Love of God through their surrogate sponsor fathers who will speak love and care and peace to them. And my Little T will know very soon that God loves him enough to reach down and swoop him up in His strong and loving arms and set him in our family where he will be lonely no more.
My heart is beyond full tonight. I can't believe that God allows us to be a part of His plan for the world. Actually, I can't believe that He allows us to BE His plan for the world. As my friend Vince said this weekend - God's people are Plan A. He has no Plan B. We are His plan to be love. To sacrifice, to surrender, to live with reckless abandon for the God who relentlessly pursues each of us.
It's a beautiful thing to witness the love of God like I did this week. And I do believe there's so much more to be experienced as we open up our lives and hearts to the Father to the fatherless, the defender of widows and the One who sets the lonely in families. Tonight my heart sings - O come let us adore Him,Christ the Lord!