I suppose the best way to start my blog about miracles is to begin with the the most impactful miracles I have witnessed: my adoptions! Twice in my life I have been invited into another family and given a new name. I was spiritually adopted when Abba Father called me His daughter in my early twenties. I will write about that wonderful day in my next story. However, today I will expound upon my first earthly adoption and explain how it forshadowed the second.
I’m two years old. It’s the middle of the night and I wake up cold and in need of another blanket. I sit up in my crib and look around a big dark room. Other cribs are situated around the perimeter of the room – each one containing another sleeping child. I strain to see in the dark. Where is my twin brother? I cannot find him here. I have no mom. I have no dad. It would be pointless to cry… no one would answer me. After a few seconds, I lay back down, pull my knees to my chest, and fall back into a fitful sleep.
This is a snapshot of my story. But let me back up a few years to explain. See, I was born into a tumultuous family. My biological father met my biological mother in high school. After many years of dating, affairs, and on again off again relationship, they finally got married. After only a few months, the couple was pregnant with a baby girl named Candy Rose. About a year or so later, the couple had twins- Scott and me. One day at a family outing full of strollers and amusement park rides, it became obvious that Candy Rose was sick. A trip to the doctor followed. Then radiation. Then chemotherapy. After months of struggle, Candy died of leukemia at Riley Hospital For Children. She was only three years old. After the loss of her daughter, my biological mother went AWOL. I don’t know if this is because of the immense grief she was experiencing. I don’t know if she took off for another man- because I do know there were many men in her life. Maybe it was both of these reasons. But what I do know is that she abandoned her husband, my brother, and me. My biological father, having lost his job after spending so much time at the hospital caring for my sister, was unable to cope. He’d lost his daughter, his wife, and he did not have the financial or emotional reserves that were required to take care of toddler twins. So, one sunny day that is permanently etched into my memory, Scott and I were dropped off at a children’s home for orphaned kids. The children’s home was a lonely place, especially in the middle of the night when you are cold and in need of a mother.
Fast forward a few months. I’m out of the children’s home. Things are a bit better. Scott and I have been placed in our first foster home. An elderly preacher and his wife take care of Scott and me. I remember the sanctuary of their church. I remember the Easter Bunny and ice cream. I remember playing outside with Scott- and being terrified when Scott was stung by a bee. But most of all, what I remember from this time is Jesus and His love. It was during this time at this Godly home that I heard the Name of Jesus for the first time. I was only three years old. Sadly, things didn’t stay better for long.
Another snapshot. Scott and I are four. You see, the state doesn’t like foster children to stay too long in one home because they don’t want the kids to become too attached to the foster parents. So we move to another foster home. It is a tiny house in a small town Indiana full of other orphaned children. Sandy, my foster mother, is screaming at one of my foster brothers named Mikie. Mikie is just six-years-old. Sandy has a 2X4 in her hand and all of us kids are shaking with fear because of her unbridled anger.
Another snapshot. Again I’m five. I’m in a bedroom. Lisa, my fourteen-year-old foster sister, clearly in pain herself, closes the bedroom door and locks it. I beg her “not again”. She makes me promise not to tell. Once again, another piece of my innocence is robbed.
A final picture. A big white and red Chevy van picks my brother and me up. God has granted us parents. Not biological parents. Parents born in love and grace. We have been adopted. We have a family.
It’s hard to sum up the first five years of my life in a few minutes. The experiences of that time permanently shaped my life. For instance, one of my first requests in my new family was to attend church. I wanted to know more about Jesus. And I hadn’t heard His Name spoken in years- I had only been three years old when the good preacher and his wife taught me about Him. There is something about that Name.
But of course- the residue from my early years wasn’t all good. Having been robbed of my innocence and having fears of being alone, I spent my teen years chasing and clinging to boys. I didn’t feel whole unless I was in a relationship. I ran away from God and His goodness in exchange for things that can never truly satisfy. Maybe you have done that too. Maybe you’ve chased girls. Drugs. Material things. Power or control. These things will never truly satisfy, but instead they leave you searching for more or at worst leave you empty and completely out of control.
I was a liar. You could not believe a word out of my mouth. During the years in foster care, lying became a habit. I lied in my mind to escape the reality that I faced daily.
I lied to get out of trouble. I lied to get attention. Stories I told had to leave the listener captivated… so I’d add a little “innocent” extra detail here and there to make my stories more interesting. Maybe you have done that too.
Some of my rebellion against God was purely my sinfulness. I wanted to run this show. I wanted to direct the course of my life. I … I … I. Whenever I made my own decisions regardless of the rules, wisdom, or sound advice, it usually didn’t work out so well for me in the end. You see, sin has a season. It’s fun, you feel in control, sometimes you get what you want. But then… oh but then. The Bible says that “there is a way that seems right to man. But in the end it leads to destruction.”
One day, September 11, 2001, I suddenly realized I was on this very road to destruction. After living my life for myself for the majority of my twenty-one years, I had married a man that I didn’t really know (under two months of dating before the courthouse), I had dropped out of college, and I had alienated my brother and my parents because of hurtful choices I had made while directing my life.
As the terrible horrors of 911 flashed across the screen, words like terrorist and hijackers flooded the airwaves. All day as I watched the events unfold, I looked down at my baby girl and then back up at the screen. It suddenly dawned on me that my child’s destiny literally lay in my hands. I thought, “How does one go from an innocent baby to a terrorist willing to kill thousands of people?” I saw for the first time how powerful my position as a parent was! My beautiful innocent six-week-old daughter needed a real mother- not someone who lived a life for herself. Surely parents are a child’s first line of defense against evil. On that day and over the next few months, it slowly began to dawn on me that I had a responsibility to my daughter’s soul- her eternity! But how could I protect her and show her the good way if I continued living a life for myself? I was humbled by this realization. I had to fight for her! For those of you who don’t have a mom or a dad fighting for you, I have good news. There is a Father in Heaven who fought and continues to fight for you and your eternity. He fought so hard that He was willing to send His only Son to die so that you would be able to be free from evil and free from a life lived on the path of destruction.
Something else hit home on that day. Almost every great story has a good guy v. a bad guy. Superman v. Lex Luther. Cinderella v. The Evil Step Mother. William Wallace, or Braveheart v. a corrupt English empire. This universal theme of good v. evil is so prevalent in our stories because I believe we are in a real battle between good v. evil! On 911, I wondered how my story would go. How would my daughter’s story end? I had to pick a side! I knew I wanted to be on the winning team- the good team. And I also wanted to know the Captain of that team: His Name is Jesus Christ. It was evil that caused me to be physically and emotionally abused as a child. It was because of the selfish and sinful choices (evil choices) of my mother that my brother and I were abandoned. Don’t worry, I have totally forgiven my biological mother. But her sin, our own ability to make selfish evil choices, must be called what it is: sin. 911 showed us all just how low evil can stoop. But, I also knew that September morning that good exists because just as I had seen and lived through the effects of evil, I too had tasted and seen the effects of the good in my life! My brother and I were given a mom and a dad who were willing to take in and adopt two five-year-olds and love them as though they had come from their own bodies. But I think this earthly adoption was just a foreshadowing, only a glimpse, into another adoption that I would experience in my life: when the Loving, All Knowing, All Powerful God of the Universe adopted me as His daughter.
And this good news of adoption continues now as I tell you something marvelous: you too can experience the loving embrace of a new family. God wants to adopt you! Once we are in God’s family, we are called God’s children- sons and daughters of the Most High. Princes and Princesses in Christ the King’s Kingdom- no Evil Step Mothers allowed in Jesus’ house. What does it mean to be God’s child? It means that we are loved and embraced. We are welcome to come into His kitchen, open the fridge, and get daily food to live on. We are invited with open arms into a relationship with Our Abba Father, our Daddy! WOW! But guess what? It gets even better.
Let’s look to an example on earth to fully understand what it means to be adopted by God the Father. Most of us know that when a father dies on earth- all of his possessions are usually given to the father’s children. The children are called “heirs” to the estate because they inherit everything that was the father’s. Do you know that Bible says that we, God’s children, are heirs to the Father’s Eternal Kingdom- His “Estate”? The Bible says that God’s children are co-heirs with Christ, the Son of God! The moment we believe and trust in the Son Jesus, we partake in the divine nature of God because we are legally HEIRS to His Kingdom! Look at the following astounding verse:
Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Isn’t that amazing? CO-HEIRS with JESUS- God’s Son- because you see, we are also God’s sons and daughters! That’s why Jesus says to us that whatever you ask for in my Name according to God’s will, it will be given. (John 15:16) WOW! BEING ADOPTED IS GOOD! Here’s another earthly example to illustrate the point even further: when I was living at home, if I went to my dad and asked him to get me McDonald’s French fries even as late as 10 o’clock at night, guess what? He did it! Why? Because my dad loved me! How much more will our Father in heaven give us good gifts when we ask!
The last part of that verse in Romans 8:18: “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” sounds a little scary. But let me “unpack” that a little so that maybe you’ll understand what Paul is saying.
At the beginning of this story, I shared details about a time in my life when I was alone in the middle of the night in a children’s home. That scene always haunted me until one day Jesus showed me this verse:
Jeremiah 18: 1-4 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
You see, I am clay on the Potter’s wheel. The Potter is God. I was marred in the Potter’s hands. Marred means to disfigure or spoil. So going back to that lonely moment in the crib- do you see that God was there? Shaping me. Molding me. Always ALWAYS in HIS hands. It wasn’t God who caused the pain of my early childhood- that was because of the poor choices and sinfulness of others. Of my biological mother. Of Sandy. Of Lisa. But, the pain I experienced wasn’t wasted. I was being marred in God’s hands. What happens in this verse after the clay is marred? It says that the Lord “formed [me] into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” God, my Daddy, is shaping me into a pot that He can use for His purposes, will, and glory. Because of my experiences, I am more compassionate. I know what it’s like to feel alone. I know what it’s like to feel forgotten. Because He is remaking me, I reach out to tell others about the Good News of Jesus. I love to tell people that they too can be forgiven and loved and welcomed into the Father’s House. God does not forget us. His eyes miss nothing- He numbers the hairs on our heads- that’s paying very close attention! He sees all of us. He knows our hurts. He understands our pain- because He suffered as you and I have suffered. Let’s read that verse in Romans again:
Romans 8:18 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
I suffered and was marred so I could be remade into another pot. As this new pot, I share in His GLORY! After the suffering, the pain, and the loneliness, God takes that pain and uses it to advance His kingdom. That’s how we share in His glory! We are adopted sons and daughters in His Kingdom. There is NO better place to be than in the palm of His hand.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”