Since we made our announcement about me returning to the DRC to be with four of our daughters, we have had the privilege of having a whole bunch of conversations with people. Through some of those conversations, we're learning that some people don't understand this decision. They're encouraging us to make the "right" decision, when the bottom line is, there is NO right decision in the place we're in. No matter what we decide, it's wrong. Wrong because our family will be divided--which is patently wrong.
Almost 10 years ago, Brian and I went to a church planter "assessment". It's a tool commonly used to determine if you as a Pastor and couple, are equipped to plant a church. Brian and were both blessed to know Sam Summers very well. We both learned so much from him. Sam was teaching at those "Assessment Meetings" and for all of these years, since that day, I have reminded myself over and over of something he said. At that time, Brian and I ONLY :) had sweet Bailey, who was about a year and a half old and I was VERY pregnant with Dylon and Preston. And what Sam said that day made such an impact on me, I remember the room, the desk I was sitting at and even the clothes I was wearing! He said this: "I know taking risks for God can be scary, I know you think that being "safe" and having life all figured out for your kids is what is best. I am here to tell you that it's not. Raise your kids teaching them that God wants to take us on adventures. Tell them you don't know what tomorrow brings! That is how they will grow up with faith, knowing God is faithful." Isn't that just amazing?!?
Yes, our eight kids at home need me, I believe that with all my heart. However, if Brian and I present this to our kids as an adventure, an opportunity to love our four sweet little girls, they will see it that way as well.
I have had a few people ask me if I think our kids at home will resent the girls. I already know the answer to that, it is simply "no". After learning I was going to go back, in two separate conversations, both Preston and Jazmyn told me all they want for Christmas is their sisters to come home. I am blown away at how God is at work in their little hearts. What a joy to watch. Our hope for our kids is that they will know even at these young ages that God's love always involves a choice and an action, and our love should be like His. And we pray that they will continually ask themselves how well they display their love for God in the choices they make and the actions they take.
1 Cor 13:13
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
I have read my favorite book "Kisses from Katie" numerous times and I have shared some of her thoughts here before. I opened it up yesterday after having a rough morning and SO connected to these words:
"Mommy" is such a powerful name. Mommy means "I trust you." Mommy means "You will protect me." Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing when you are excited; Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with when you are sad or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed. Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts. Mommy is a comfort place, a safe place. Mommy means you are mine and I am yours and we are family. Though I had only parented them for a short time, the mother's love in my heart was true and God given, and a mother should never have to be separated from her children. "
Then a little later in that same book: "I thought about the fact that several of the girls had lived without a mother for a period of time. Some had hardly known their mothers, others knew their mothers well enough to still feel the fresh pain of losing them. And now I was leaving. They would be loved and well cared for, but in a very real sense, they would also be motherless again. It was so hard on them and it made me feel sick just to think about it."
Unlike Katie, it is true that I have eight children in the US that I am "Mommy" to. So, for her, the answer was being with her kids. I have to choose between my kids, like I have been doing for months now, thus the title of the last post, "Impossible Place".
When we arrived to be with the girls in August, I started my time with them as "Mama". This is how children in the DRC refer to any woman, it is a sign of respect, like "Madame". Same with "Papa", it would be like "Sir". After several weeks with them, without me even asking, they started calling me "Mommy". I am their Mommy and I cannot leave them there anymore. I have had many friends ask me how long I am prepared to be there. My answer is: "I simply do not know." I can truly hardly make it through today at the moment. I am clinging to Matthew 6:34: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
Last week a good friend called us and committed $100/month to our Adoption Fund until our daughters are home. He also challenged us to ask others to do the same thing. 30 (or 31) families each committing $100/month that to us, covers a significant piece of my being with our daughters in the DRC. I know, for some, $100/month is too much, but please know that any amount will help us. A few families could throw in together. A small group could throw in together. We get it if you are unable to commit to a monthly gift. Maybe you can commit to a one-time gift. No matter the amount or the frequency of your gift, it ALL matters to our daughters and to our family. Thank you from the depths of our hearts for your generosity!
One more quote from "Kisses from Katie" to close out this post, one I have read over and over throughout this process.
"I didn't realize it then, but I strongly believe now that there is a common misconception that whatever happens to us is the will of God. It's as though we think: Okay, I can do whatever I want and God will either do something or He won't and that will be His will. It will all work out. It will all happen just like it needs to. I don't believe this anymore. I believe that God is in control, yes, but I also believe I have a choice: I can follow Him or I can turn my back on Him. I can say "yes" to Him, or I can say "No". I can go to the hard places or I can remain comfortable. And if I remain comfortable, God who loves us unconditionally will continue to love me anyway. I may still see His glory revealed in my life and recognize His blessings, but not like I could have. I can miss the will of God. The rich young ruler certainly did. He didn't fall dead, as Ananias and Sapphira did; and maybe he went on to live a great life, but it wasn't the life he could have lived had he said "yes" to what Jesus was asking of him."
We love you and are so grateful to God for every one of you.