I remember so clearly grappling with how we would do it and what it would look like. I can vividly recall the questions people asked, “What about your family? I mean what if it messes up the family you already have?” It is amazing to look back on the roadblocks and see God’s hand and voice through it all. I mean there is nothing like it… adoption. Everything in the beginning screams choice and selection until you really get onboard and discover that you have no power in the process in spite of all the initial selections and choices. There were so many spirtual hoops to navigate. It was quite the mess of emotions before during and after we said yes to the nudgings and I thank God every day that He walked us through the questions, challenges, redirects and doubts. Our life as a family would not be the same without the spirit, trust and awareness that adoption and the arrival of our daughter brought to our family.
I see and hear God so often in the comments of my children. Since the time our boys were very little they would comment on needing a little sister and there were several times our now 15 year old boy would stop doing whatever he was doing, look up and say, “Mom we need a sister. You have always said you would love a girl in our family and I think I am delivering a message from God that we should have a sister.” What on earth? Those words coming from a then six year old sure caused my ears to perk up in a hurry. Afterall, who am I to stand in the way of a message God needed to deliver? Those comments came often and were always goose bump moments.
Lots of crazy stuff happened prior to walking the adoption road and like many of us we were often a mess parenting three little boys within six years. There were questions and doubts yet we did our level best to listen and act over and over again, one foot and one document signed and stamped after another. We still live that way today as parents, carefully discerning and putting one foot in front of another day after day. Fast forward to yesterday and the conversation I shared with our daughter, so perfectly and wonderfully meant to be.
We were up north truly in God’s country. For you Michiganders we were at a darling little camp on Lake Arbutus in Traverse City. Our 13 year old was invited to be an extara in a film written and directed by people we were eager to get to know. We said yes and early in the morning set out on a three hours drive north or adventure as we called it. It was just Carter and Ava and myself which in always dreamy, quality time spent with a few of my kiddos at a time really pouring in.
The day was soggy and very cold, at least 20 degrees colder than normal even for northern Michigan. We zipped up and set out to find Carter and the cast down on the beach shooting several scenes in spite of the weather. While on set Ava opened a bottle of water. Hours later we were headed into the lodge for a break from the wind and the rain when Ava spotted a huge muddy puddle. She raced ahead and stopped dead in her tracks. As I approached she said,
“Mommy, is this the kind of dirty water people in Ethiopia have to drink?” I was stunned. She is five.
“Yes,” I said. People in many places in the world drink whatever water they can find and many times it is very dirty.”
She held up her tattered water bottle and said, “But we have clean water.” I fought back tears.
“Yes Ava, I said. And that is why it is so important not to waste it right?”
The next day we arrive home all ready for a hot shower. While I am helping her condition her mop of hair she says,
“Momma I have an idea.”
“Yes baby,” I say.
“What if we could make our clean water run down into the pipes and it could go all the way to Ethiopia? Then they could have clean water.”
“Oh Ava,” I say. “I love your idea. You really are thinking about these things aren’t you? Maybe someday you could go back to Ethiopia or wherever in the world and help with clean water projects. Smart people are always needed to care about others.”
“Maybe Momma,” she mumbles with the water pouring over her little head to rinse her hair and face.
“I want to do what you do Momma. I want to help people.”
Be still my heart. She sees. She knows and she gets it.
From there we moved into an evening of watching her brother play high school soccer, complete with our village of friends, a beautiful pediatric cancer research fundraiser, treats at the concession and a quiet moment after we all returned home when she sweetly shared her ideas with her adoring big brothers.
These are the moments where I feel God lovingly surround and encourage me. It’s amazing the people plucked from the arms of defeat, destitution or despair only to be redeemed, wrapped in His perfect light and grace often for a grand or educational purpose. Sweet Ava is a light, a lamp unto others showing them that miracles are possible and that all throughout the world we need people to say yes. What is your best yes? It can be big or small but where are you saying yes to another? Where are you pouring in when you plate feels full? Who still needs you? If God calls you He will equip you and what I have come to understand best is that there is almost always the most delicious fruit that comes from the journey no matter the road or the hardship.
Thank you God for the gift of all children everywhere who have so much to teach us. Thank you for the gifts of awareness. So many live a life filled with suffering even in a time of plenty and they need our voice and our community to rise up. Help us to be those who act on behalf of the ones who need us most. Help us to deliver our best yes.