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Family ties (a killer story)

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families. (Psalm 68:5-6)


Let me tell you a story about how God is working. This story started almost exactly 7 years ago.

Life is not a series of random circumstances and chance happenings. God orchestrates all things and works all things out for our benefit and His Glory (Rom 8:28). Those who have been in Christ for any length of time bear witness to how God orchestrates things and we are often floored at the grace he unleashes into people’s lives. He brings things together, often without our noticing, and makes them happen. What we too easily chalk up to “coincidences” or “luck” or “happenstance” are not really those at all. Rather, they are manifestations of God’s Providence. It’s usually after the fact that we can look back and clearly see how God’s mighty Hand was at work. Anymore, I pretty much expect God to work in my life through Big, Crazy, Can’t-be-explained-any-other-way, Seemingly Random but actually Not-so-random ways. Because that is what I have experienced. And am experiencing. God is working. And it blows my mind.

7 years ago Matt and I graduated from College at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with hard-earned degrees in Architecture. We had been married for almost 2.5 years at that point, and were 27 weeks pregnant with our eldest daughter. Like all college grads, a job was on the forefront of our agenda. So a month after we graduated, we moved to Seattle. The how and why of Seattle is another story, but for the sake of brevity, we packed up the few things we owned- namely, a le Corbusier loveseat, a bed and a crotchety cat- and drove Northward. That was July 1, 2005. It took us 5 weeks to find Matt a job and find us a place to live. In August Araiya was born. In September, we were new parents, in a new city, and really didn’t know anyone sans a few college friends who had also moved to Seattle.

So what does a young family with a newborn and zero money in a place they barely know, do on a Sunny Saturday afternoon? You go to a Subaru Trade Show, duh.

God orchestrates all things, remember?

This amazing event that we showed up to and had to get to early so we could be one of the first 100 people to get in for free…. was a major let-down. The sparsely populated Subaru event was giving out bottled water, stale chips, and showing 2-minute looped clips of Rally Racing videos. Then this other young couple walks in. We end up striking up a conversation with them. Likely because: A.) we have a baby, and babies often are starting points for striking up conversations with strangers, and B.) we were the only people there. They have a baby, too (coincidence?). We mention we are new to Seattle. They mention their church puts out this thing on Seattle stuff (or something like that, I can’t remember). We ask which church they went to, because we are looking for one of those too. They say they go to Mars Hill (coincidence?). We say we’ve been going there, but we hadn’t met anyone (which really meant no one had talked to us while we lurked in the back row feeling uncomfortable) and it was kinda dark and big and not what we expected a church to look like, and likely we probably needed to get into one of those Community Group thingies, but there weren’t any on Capitol Hill where we lived. They say they lead a Community Group and we should come to theirs (coincidence?). So we hang out for the rest of the day at this super awesome Car Show with our brand spankin’ new Seattle Friends and climb around inside the Subaru Tribeca discussing the merits and shortcomings of this just-released, All-wheel-drive, 7-seater family car, which (coincidently) 7 years later, we now own.

And then we started attending their Community Group. In Samamish.

For those of you un-familiar with the surrounding Seattle metropolitan area, Samamish was about a 45 minute drive, against Microsoft commuting traffic, into the suburbs, from our chic urban Loft in Capitol Hill. Every Tuesday night, for the first 9 months we lived in urban Seattle, we made the trek out across the bridge to the suburbs of the Eastside for Community Group. The group was filled with young families, most all of whom we are still dear friends with.

Over the next 3 years, we grew in friendship with the Brinton’s. For each baby girl we had, they had a boy.  My pregnancies were easy, and labors hard; her pregnancies were hard, and labors easy (I was there for the last one, she didn’t even break a sweat). Our 3 girls to their 3 boys. Our kids were growing up together- hiking, camping, skiing, playing. At one point, their oldest gave our oldest a ring pop and we joke about the stories we will have to tell at their wedding. But there were differences, too. We loved the City and felt called to be planted urbanely. They moved into a big suburban house. But God was working hard on each of our families and changing our hearts for loving people in the places we were called to live. We watched as He called them to Adopt and burden their hearts for Orphan care. A lot began to change for them through that process. We watched as he called them away from Seattle (and their big, suburban house) to Urban London.

The working of God’s providential hand on them was so obvious, it really reinforced to us how Adoption is truly a calling. While both Matt and I both completely were in agreement with the Theology of Adoption, and have known that we are open to Adoption, IF GOD WERE TO CALL US to that. So walking closely with the Brinton’s through their adoption journey has completely reinforced to us how imperative the working of the Holy Spirit is to lead, guide and sustain us in EVERY mission and good work he asks us to be a part of.

Then, just a few weeks ago, on my 30th Birthday, God started moving and shaking things in my heart. He was bringing up thoughts and feelings from long past and I could tell he was burdening my heart. I was a mess, trying to choke back sobs in my snot-soaked pillow for half the night. He showed me how I have felt called to adopt a child, but I have been suppressing those feelings and promptings of the Holy Spirit out of fear. I had told NO ONE that I have wanted to pursue adoption. My biggest fear was that Matt’s reaction would be, that’s crazy talk. I was completely convicted that I had to tell my husband asap. I prayed that God would soften his heart towards adoption, that he would work a miracle and Matt would be already prepared and somehow, someway, on board for what I felt God wanted us to do. But as circumstance would have it, Matt was up & out of the house way early, before I was even awake, so we wouldn’t really even see each other until after the kids went to bed that next night.

I could clearly see God was going to be at work and something profound was about to go down. It started with a Facebook message. When I got up the morning after my Birthday, awaiting in my inbox was a message from the Brinton’s, written from thousands of miles away, to a few close friends, likely at the same time I was having my big, fat, emotion-fest before God. The little girl they were pursuing in Eastern Europe had an older sister. They were being asked to consider adopting both girls as their files are legally tied together as siblings, although the girls have never met, and aren’t in the same orphan care. They were unsure they were able to, and she made the comment, somewhat off-hand, that perhaps they could help find a family for the older sister. That comment struck me to the core, and I knew God had ordained this exact scenario to play out, because this is what he had in store for us. We were supposed to be that family. We were the ideal option so the girls could have a relationship with one another, while each gaining a family. IT JUST MADE SENSE. All day I just couldn’t get past the burning question of why WOULDN’T we consider Adopting the older sister? WHY WOULDN’T WE? What would hold us back? Why wouldn’t this be God’s clear calling on our lives? What would make us say No?

All day I prayed. Mostly for Matt. Because I knew he would come home from work to a wife wrecked by the Ugly Cry ready to drop a bomb that essentially is asking him to allow God to completely re-route the path we thought we were on. I prayed that God would have already been working on Matt’s heart and that he’d feel strongly convicted one way or the other, not dragging his feet or feeling like he had to dampen his wife’s ludicrous ideas. Because if we were being called, I wanted God to make it clear to Matt as he had been revealing it to me and spur Matt on to LEAD us in this process.

Plus, one of the benefits of sharing a Facebook Profile is Matt had already seen Sara’s message. So I asked him the same question- why WOULDN’T we consider this?

And he had felt the same conviction all day long.

Praise God.

Yes, this absolutely wouldn’t have been something we would have chosen for our life right now. In some ways it could be called an inconvenience, and we don’t feel prepared or ready for such a big life change. But it’s not about us. It’s about responding to the Holy Spirit and the tugs he is putting on our hearts. Looking back over the past few months, this past year, even from that first day we met the Brinton’s, we can see the ways God has been preparing and equipping us for THIS VERY calling. He is not only calling us to grow our family through adoption, but also that we get to further entwine our family with the Brinton family through these two girls. We’ve known for a while that our friendship with the Brinton’s will be for the long haul, regardless of the differing time zones, continents, or cities we may find ourselves in. PLUS, we now get to be some big, crazy, knit together in only ways God can do, extended FAMILY. All 13 of us.

When we RANDOMLY met them 7 years and 7 kids ago, I NEVER could have imagined God had all this planned for us. But He knew what was coming. And how awesome that He would use a Subaru car show to cross our paths. With God all things are possible, and this will continue to be our prayer. And I can look back and laugh. Because it makes such a killer story.


P.S. – Sara just posted her version of this story on her Blog, so you should go check it out too!! 



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