I will never forget walking off the plane and down the ramp to the many family and friends who were so eager to meet our daughter home from Ethiopia. My sister, Shannon, was by my side and Ava was tucked into the front carrier asleep and I was fighting to be able to walk I was so tired and so filled with raw emotion. I could not wait to bring this once orphaned child into the arms of her community, her home, her brothers and her Daddy. It was magical. It was a feeling that has changed me. I sit here today, 12 weeks after bringing our daughter home, and I am amazed by the love we have for our daughter and the many tangible ways God is using adoption and having been to Ethiopia twice to transform m life.
I feel compelled to tell you that five years ago I knew almost nothing of the plight of the orphan and very little about those living in poverty or being forced into modern day slavery. I was quite clueless even though we were caring and charitable people who always had the needs of others in our picture. I was raised as a Methodist and I was always taught right from wrong. I attended Young Life and although I was never comfortable being outward with my faith, I did believe in God. Growing up I can remember praying but like many people, I often only prayed when the going got tough which it often did. I cannot recall many times when I simply chose to dialogue with God and looking back I am quite certain that I was living as if I was in charge of me not as if God were in control of me.
Several years ago I endured a very painful situation when my stepmom basically abandoned myself and my sisters after living in my family home for nearly eight months in order to be healed after a severe accident. Upon her wishes we were all working to help her exit a very troubled 18 year marriage and doing all that was needed to transport her to numerous appointments to better her health both mental and physical.
I can remember so vividly stepping up to help her and being in control of making all that she needed to heal happen. It was tough stuff but I we would overcome it and see her through it. If we planned enough or if I controlled enough she would get well and she would exit her awful marriage and come back to her daughters and her grandchildren. That is truly what I can recall thinking and those who know me know that I love to be in control. I am a planner and I like to orchestrate what will happen next. Makes me chuckle just typing that…
Then the bottom fell out of the boat. The bottom fell out of the boat I was so carefully and properly steering while hoping above hopes that she would remain on board with me until the bitter end so that I could have my Mom back.
I was preparing dinner and after returning from what I thought was he weekly therapy session she simply announced the she would be leaving and that her husband (almost ex-husband) would be picking her up within a few minutes. I lost my mind and felt in that instant that I had lost everything.
You see when we took her in we placed all of our adoption dreams on hold. We actually thought the dream was over and that we were meant to help her instead.
OK so get to the point- perhaps that is what you are thinking… I had to tell you all of that in order to tell you this…
I can remember feeling so lost and so broken by what she was doing not only me but my immediate family and my extended family and I can recall thinking that the only thing I could think to do was to beg God to take control of the situation. allowing me to find peace and comfort and quiet from the pain and the hurt and the rage that was swallowing me whole. Sometimes I wish it had not been such pain to lead me to my epiphany but God does have HIS ways 🙂
So…here I sit nearly three years later and I feel like my faith has flourished beyond anything I could have written or dreamed. After choosing to see HIM in a way I had never chosen before and I chose to ask GOD to be in the driver’s seat of my life. Remember I like to be in the driver’s seat so this was a iant leap for me. charge. I’ve always thought that being in control was something I do best.
How could I have known that God does a better job of running my life than I do? I sure wish someone’s magic words or a lightening bolt to my head could of convinced me. In many ways it matters not how or why I was granted the grace of the epiphany I had after my Mom left me with very harsh words and now gratitude for all my family had endured for her. What matters is that God intervened and God stepped in when I needed Him most. HE showed up as some like to say, and I am now a testament to God’s sweet grace.
This precious baby below is the most wonderful testament to God’s grace.
God spared her, rescued her, preserved her and shared her with our family.
God rescued and restored me and God can intervene and drive the boat of your life too.
I feel so filled with praise and love for the miracles that have occurred since saying an even bigger yes than I ever had before to allowing God to work in my life. Today I rocked a baby who we have adopted into our home and quickly into our hearts just as God will adopt us if we let him.
Ava turned seven months yesterday on her sweet Aunt Shanny’s birthday. Ava is everything we could have hoped for and certainly more of a blessing than I ever imagined receiving in following God’s words to care for the widow and look after the orphaned or those facing such injustice.
God is not through with me yet and in fact so much is just beginning. I have been given the opportunity to return to Ethiopia very soon and I am listening very carefully for God’s whispers in what I am meant to do next. First I was changed by relinquishing my need to be in control and then my heart was broken for the least of these in Ethiopia.
I thank God every day for creating in me a passion that will allow me to become more like his son, Jesus I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who need it most. The more I learn the more I realize that as Christ followers we are asked as ordinary people to live out the very meaning of the good news. I am being asked each day what I will do with all that I have now seen and all that I now know. How will the next chapter of my life unfold? Will I be willing to live beyond myself and my comfort zone?
Now more than ever I want to see the world through God’s eyes. This may sound funny or far out or foolish to some but I am listening with a very ope heart and ears as to where God wants to use me and I am hearing him say, “Keep your eyes on me but in the meantime change a life, reach out to those left behind, feel the pain of the abandoned, help to set the lonely in families, learn more about those facing severe injustice.”
This is all to be continued friends but I leave you with this thought…
What might, just might happen in your life if you chose to let God steer your boat?
Where would you go and who might you meet along the way?
I just love the idea of getting on board and giving up what we think is best and letting God dictate the plan. It is far from easy but please consider joining me on the journey of a lifetime.
Send me a message and let me know where God is working in your life!
Thank you God for the gift of an open mind and a faithful heart. Thank you more and more each day for bringing your Ava into our lives. She is the such a great gift and although we know she is ultimately yours, we are so grateful to raise her and love her in our wild and crazy Strobel clan. Below is Ava gazing into the eyes of her brother, Carter, who insisted on a few shots with his sister. “Mom I think she thinks I am her favorite brother, Carter informed me while loving on his baby sister.
These photos are pure eye candy to a Mom who never knew I could love and trust so deeply. I am so blessed and so filled with love.