"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-9
Eight Years Ago...
The following verse sprung forth out of the inner recesses my heart and collided with this gracious truth regarding the providential mercies of our Creator:
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
My heart was in pursuit of entering motherhood with one, maybe two children. But God...(one of my favorite transitions throughout scripture)... revealed:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
On April 8, 2009, we sat in a Ukrainian government office petitioning to adopt one to two children between the ages of 0 to 4. Forty-five minutes into our one hour meeting they laid these pictures before us and posed the question,
"Would you consider four?"
Two days later we sat in the orphanage director's office in Zaporizhia, Ukraine and these four walked in while holding hands. It is a moment I will treasure all the days of my life. After forty days in Ukraine, having packed for one or two children under age 4, we flew home with our four children ages 4, 6, 7 and 9.
Fast forward through the difficulties, challenges, moments of great joy and great heartache to that day when this little guy officially became a Merida...
"Would you consider one more? There is one more seat in the minivan you know." :)
On June 24, 2010 the Ethiopian courts ruled in favor of our petition to adopt Eyasu. Two months later we were finally able to travel to bring our youngest child (age 5) home.
Zero to four overnight while adding a fifth just fifteen months later. Those were not the plans of my heart. Nope. But I am incredibly humbled and grateful for God entrusting me with this stewardship. It is incredibly difficult at times. It is also so much fun! It is simply far bigger than me and beyond my control or ability. In fact, the reality is that it was never about me and that's encouraging news. For I am weak, sinful, prideful, broken, selfish, incompetent, bent towards rebellion, prone to wander...
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved ... by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-10
Today, I am reflecting on the gracious gift of God that began to unfold those eight years or so ago. I am reflecting on that Easter we spent in Ukraine walking through our adoption process... I am reflecting on that first Easter we spent together in 2011 sharing American, Ukrainian, and Ethiopian traditions... But more importantly, I am reflecting on another Easter Day, on another adoption process, on a glorious day:
"when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."
Kristos Voskres! Voistinu voskres!
Kristos tenestwal! Bergit tenestwal! (Amharic) Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
We love to look back from time to time at pictures and videos of our earlier days as a family (which, consequently, began to grow just eight years ago!). It's easy to forget what life was like those first days, weeks, and months at home. Some of you may not realize, or perhaps have forgotten like we sometimes do, that none of our children spoke English! When Eyasu (a.k.a. Joshua) arrived, he began learning English from his Ukrainian siblings who themselves spoke a broken Russian-English language with a Mississippi accent. You never knew what would come out of Joshua's mouth (still don't - ha!). Here's a favorite clip of those earlier days...
As you may be aware, there are currently delays in the adoption process in Ethiopia. Thirty families have already passed court and over 200 families are currently in the middle of their adoption process. Here are some easy action steps to advocate on behalf of the fatherless in Ethiopia and their forever families:
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." 1 John 3:1 Does not your heart leap at the very thought of that - to be called children of God?!. Each time I encounter this verse I am awestruck by the reality that our Holy God has loved us so much that, though we were yet sinners, He sent His Son to live the life we couldn't possibly live, to die the death we absolutely should have died, and to defeat our greatest enemies (sin and death) once and for all in order that we may be called His child and therefore coheirs with Christ! This amazing reality is that which unfolds throughout the entire storyline of Scripture - one beautiful picture of redeeming love. What grace! What glorious grace!
One of God's gracious gifts to me has been the gift of a loving, generous, and faithful earthly father. I am grateful for the gift of a dad who has taught me much about our Heavenly Father and faithfully modeled so ma…