We were ready to get to work, but there were some things that were still holding us back. We were a pretty good family—very typical in so many ways. We were a little too plugged in to media, especially social media, and a little too unplugged from each other. I was not communicating well with my wife on many occasions and was getting too frustrated too easily with my children over things that really should not have mattered much. I mean, how egregious is it that my daughters did not put their shoes away like they were supposed to? I would hate to see what my record looks like for the same crime! I was in a rut; my family was in a rut, but no matter how strong my desire to change, I just couldn’t get out of it.
That is when God began remodeling our family. My wife came home one day from a play date with the girls and several other families. They had gone to a place local to our community who is heavily involved in finding ways to end global hunger and poverty. All of my girls got to tour and see how other people live in all different parts of the world, and they came home different, humbled. With what they had seen fresh on her mind, my wife reminded me of a host program that we had learned about from a friend a few years prior which involved bringing children from orphanages in Ukraine to America for six-weeks in the summer. Over a few days, we discussed the possibility very seriously of bringing over a child and advocating for them to find an adoptive family. Advocating was not the ultimate goal of where we wanted to be one day, but it was something we felt that we could do right now with all of the other stuff going on in our lives.
How we got from advocating for ONE child to advocating for THREE children is a completely different story!
So, what did God teach me from this experience?
He taught me how to cherish my wife more by watching three strangers fall in love with her in a matter of weeks. It reminded me of all the things that caused me to fall in love with her in such a short period of time after I met her. She is an amazing lady, and God used these children to teach me how to cherish her.
He taught me how to be a better parent to my children, as I watched U parent her brothers. It was humbling and inspiring to watch her wrap her arm around M and gently and lovingly correct him with a soft word spoken right into his ear. I, on the other hand, am the loudest person on the planet, but my method of “just raise your voice louder and speak each word with emphasis and maybe they will respond” does not work. What does work (because I saw it work, even on a very active child) is the gentle correction of a parent who has made sure the child knows he / she is loved above all else.
He taught me to be given to service, as I watched three siblings take turns serving each other at the various meals / snacks throughout the day. I watched three kids come into my home as strangers and serve their way into the hearts of my children, my wife, and especially me.
He taught me about self-sacrifice as I watched V give up whatever he had in his hand if it would make the person next to him happy—his glass of orange juice, his plate of food, the derby car he had built for himself to the kid who didn’t have one. It was amazing to see such sacrifice in such a young heart, but he was not lacking anything in his life because he shared his things. On the contrary, there was more joy in that boy than anyone in our home all summer long.
Many people have shared how much they have loved following our story. They have said they share it with anyone who will listen. Some of the stuff people say, though, is really hard to hear. “You guys are an amazing family.” “I am so proud to call you my friends.” It is hard for me to hear because I do not think that we are an amazing family. God is amazing! And, He did what was necessary to completely remodel our whole family to teach us who we ought to be. We had a lot to learn. I had a lot to learn.