It was pointed out to me recently that I have lots and lots of stories about how God has worked in my life. It is sometimes hard to see when it’s your own life. God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, redemption, and grace are interwoven throughout many stories in my life. Yet, I need to start where it began.
I wasn’t raised in the church. I went to church once in awhile, and knew of Christ, but had never truly accepted Him. When I was in high school, everything changed, and I accepted Christ as my Savior and devoted my life to Him. As many relationships do, I fell hard and fast, then slowly let it dwindle. I never gave up my relationship with Him, but I did become a long-distance friend for awhile.
During my “long-distance” relationship period, I got married, despite the red and yellow and orange flags before me. I got married at 18, had a baby at 19, and the divorce was finalized at 21. When I first held my baby girl, Sarah, in my arms, I realized I had to get things right. When my divorce was finalized, I realized I was solely responsible for making sure things were done right by her. My long distance relationship with God needed to become near and dear, so that Sarah would have a close relationship with my Lord and Savior. And, truth be told, I needed God more than ever at that point. I was hurt, lost, confused, and alone. I had nowhere to go, but up.
I started a full time job and went back to school. A few months later, I started another full time job. I was busy, but I was closer to God than ever before. I felt peace from Him and learned how to receive comfort from Him. He became my rock, my shield, and my protector. During that time, I clung to the verse of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I trusted God and I worked hard. I prayed that someday the hard work would pay off, so I could get more time with Sarah.
God had plans for me. Finding a man that had a close relationship with Christ, who would be willing to accept and love a daughter, seemed like an impossible task I wasn’t willing to take on. And, honestly, I didn’t have the time. After 5 years of being a single mom, I knew I wanted more, but didn’t think it was in God’s plans for me. However, God knew the desires of my heart. Psalms promises, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4). God knew my desires and He had major plans for me.
I was first introduced to a man at a church picnic of a new church I began attending. My first reaction was “Not for me!” Six months later, we met again at a church small group. He began talking to me and I slowly opened up. After six months of talking, I knew this man was handpicked for Sarah and me. When I first introduced him to Sarah, he didn’t even flinch. He was willing to take on both of us.
On our wedding day, Graham wanted Sarah to feel just as special as I did. He wasn’t just marrying me; he was becoming a father to a 7 year old. Graham bought and gave her a necklace. This was a token of love that Sarah will cherish forever. It was beginning of a strong father-daughter relationship.
A few months after the wedding, Graham adopted Sarah as his own. Before the adoption day, we sat down and told her that he would like to adopt her. Graham asked her directly, “Would it be OK if I adopted you, as my own?” Sarah said “Yes.” On the day of the adoption, we went for a walk around the court house. He took her in his arms and told her he loved her. This was an unconditional love. A love that only a father can give. A love that our God gives us.
Sarah had to accept the adoption for her to be just as happy as Graham was. God wants this also. We have to accept our adoption into God’s family. If Sarah had said No, the joy would have been dimmed significantly. There would have been a struggle to go through with it. There would have been tears of sadness. Sarah needed to accept it. She needed to want to be a part of his family.
So, we celebrated the adoption afterward with ice cream. Is there a better way to celebrate? We celebrated with tears of joy, smiles, and laughter. When God adopts us into His family, there is a big celebration in Heaven too. Luke 15:10 tells us, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
If Heaven celebrates adoptions with rejoicing, then adoptions on Earth should be celebrated with tears of joy and laughter. And, as always, ice cream!!
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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