My life has not turned out to be what I expected. For the last 20 years, I have watched God crush my dreams, in order to build something far better than I could have ever imagined. I am 38 years old, and have one older brother. I grew up in a small family of four. I always imagined getting married and having one boy and one girl. I envisioned a nice, quiet, organized, and very controlled life. My wife and I got married my senior year and her junior year in college. We were married in February of 1999, Emily got pregnant in September, and we had our first child, a little girl, on May 31, 2000. Guess what? 364 days later, we had our second child, a little boy, on May 30, 2001. At this point, although life was crazy with two children being so close together, we had our daughter and son, and our family was complete…or so I thought. We left the size of our family up to the Lord, and He had other plans :-).
A little time went by, and Emily got pregnant with our third child, which we had on January 15, 2003. This child was born with some very serious medical complications, and spent the first seven months of his life in the hospital. He received chemotherapy as a baby and a bone marrow transplant for an immune deficiency that had plagued him since birth. Our family was living in Arkansas at the time, but had to uproot and live in Los Angeles, CA for seven months so our son could receive treatment at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. It was a highly difficult and chaotic time to say the least.
At this time in our lives, my wife and I felt we were done having children. We had always left the size our family up to the Lord, but felt we needed to do what we could to not have any more children. In 2003, we had three children three years of age and under, one of which had serious medical issues. We felt our quiver was full, but God had other plans. Despite our efforts to not have any more children, Emily got pregnant again, and in April of 2006, our fourth child, another boy, was born to us. This was Trey, and we called him our miracle baby. it was clear God wanted him here. Trey, like our son that was born in 2003, had serious medical issues at birth. He had a rough start, and was hospitalized for the first four months of his life in Dallas, TX. He, too, received a bone marrow transplant for his immune deficiency, but responded well initially and was able to live a fairly normal life for six years.
As difficult as it was having another child with significant medical issues, Trey stole our hearts and God used him to open Emily and I up to wanting to have another child. We both wanted another girl and felt the Lord leading us to try. The Lord continued to bless us, and provided another daughter in January of 2009. This little girl was, and remains, a tremendous blessing to our family. Little would we know how much we would need her later on when we would endure such difficult things with Trey. In 2009, we were a family of seven, and everything, for the first time seemed to appear settled. Our lives were crazy busy, but things were finally “under control,” or so I thought.
As you know, our son, Trey, lived a normal life for six strong years until some serious complications arose with his health. In 2012 and 2013, he was hospitalized for nearly 300 days fighting for his life against a very rare form of cancer. On September 1, 2013, the Lord called him to his eternal home in heaven. This day crushed our family. It was a day none of us ever envisioned. From that day forth, we set out on a new journey as a family, a journey of grief and healing…a journey we will be on until the Lord returns or calls us home. Little did we know though that God had more blessings planned for our lives.
Emily and I have always talked about adoption. We envisioned adopting a child or two internationally at some point in our lives. We were not sure when we would do that, but it was always in our heart. To make a long story short, after Trey went to be with the Lord, God put a little boy in our lives, who was being fostered by a woman in our church. God used this little boy to begin to open our hearts up to fostering/adopting. Emily and I prayed about it and went through the process of approval with the Department of Human Services (DHS). We wanted to get involved in the orphan crisis right here in Oklahoma and open ourselves up to providing a home for a child in need.
In December of 2014, my wife and I received a call from DHS, and were asked if we would be willing to take in a foster son who was three months old. This little boy was related to the other little boy in our church that God had used to get us involved in orphan care. We prayed about it, and decided to take him into our home. For almost a year now, our little foster son has been with us, and has been a huge part of our healing. Our hope and prayer is to adopt him and make him a permanent part of our family. We are not sure this will happen, but are very hopeful it will. Again, this was not anything we saw coming, but was something God had planned for us from before the foundation of the world. Our family dynamic had changed, and life, once again, although chaotic, appeared to be settled. But, God still had something more.
A little over a week ago, I was sitting in my office on a regular Monday. My phone rang and I answered it. It was a caseworker from DHS. She informed me that our foster son’s birth mother had recently had another a baby that was just a few days old, and wanted to know if we would be willing to take the child into our home. My initial reaction was “yes,” but I needed to talk to my wife first. I called Emily, she of course said yes, so we jumped into the car, headed immediately to the hospital, and picked up a five-day-old precious little girl…just two hours after we were called. Just like that, our family had grown once again.
Although we do not know what God’s plans are for these children, our plans are to adopt them and make them a permanent part of our family. I have learned not to presume anything, but simply to remain open to whatever God has for us. God is the only One who has a way of taking difficult things and turning them around for our good and for His glory. Yes, my life has not turned out as I expected. I wish every day that was Trey was still here, but God has used him to touch countless lives for eternity, and to open our hearts up to fostering/adopting. Again, this is never what I envisioned for my life. Many of my dreams have been crushed to dust, but God has been building something out of the rubble of my life that I pray brings Him immense glory. Life is not about the fulfillment of our dreams, but rather doing God’s will and letting Him accomplish His plans through us. I would have never imagined my family would look like it currently does, but God’s plans are always better than our dreams.
We currently have seven children, one of which is with the Lord. Will we take in more children? Will our family dynamic change again? I have no idea, but I do know this: “He, Jesus, is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and HE UPHOLDS THE UNIVERSE BY THE WORD OF HIS POWER (Hebrews 1:3).” I also know that”And He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER (Colossians 1:17).” As the Casting Crowns song, Just Be Held, says, “My world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.” I just have to remember that every single day, and although I see through a glass darkly shaded now, one day I will see face to face! Even so come Lord Jesus!!!