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Category Archives: Write Your Story NOW ~ My stories
I woke from a restful sleep and lay in bed, thinking about the day ahead. Soon I drifted off again and dreamed. A teenage boy who looked about fourteen years old sat at a large cherry wood desk, concentrating on a book. Though I had never met him, I felt a sense of intimacy and familiarity with him.
Then the Lord spoke to me, saying, “This is your son.” Startled by this message, I moved in to get a closer look at this studious young boy with brown hair and glasses. The Lord spoke to me again, “I have a plan, a special purpose for him.” Then a feeling like cold water hit my face, and I woke.
I shook my husband. Stan, “We’re going to have a baby, a son!”
“Huh?” he said and rolled over, unimpressed. But as I thought about the dream, seeds of hope dropped into my heart.
At forty-two, despite major surgery and other medical interventions, I had never been able to conceive. My husband had two grown children, but not having a child of my own grieved me.
My husband and I directed a ranch, in Vista, California, for street men from Los Angeles trying to get their lives back together. Part of the summer program included a camp for kids. Under close supervision, teenage counselors shared kitchen duties with the street men.
One day, Jack, a 30-year-old former Los Angeles street gang leader and drug addict, told us about a sixteen-year-old junior counselor named Robert who shared kitchen responsibilities with him. Robert’s foster mother, exasperated by her inability to control him, abandoned him at the ranch. Since she suspected he stole and lied to her, she turned him over to the police and they hauled him off to a boy’s detention home.
Jack pleaded with us, “Robert’s mother abandoned him at age eleven. He has been shuffled from home to home since that time. He needs a stable place. Please take this boy in, otherwise, he will end up like me. I want him to have a better chance than I did.”
Our hearts went out to Jack and Robert, but homes for troubled teenagers are almost nonexistent. The staff at the Ranch prayed and searched for a month, but nothing happened. Jack persisted. “How can you not take care of him when you call yourselves Christians?”
My husband began to be convinced that God wanted us to take Robert into our home. I didn’t have parenting experience. I wanted to start out with a baby, not a teenager. Additionally, at the time, I battled “chronic fatigue syndrome.” I didn’t think I had the strength to handle the challenge of a teenager, let alone an abused and troubled one.
Finally, after processing my fears with my husband, I prayed, “Lord, if this is your will, then I will yield to it because I know that every path you lead us on is fragrant with your loving-kindness and truth, even if it is a hard path. I don’t want to miss the blessing you have in mind.”
One week after this prayer of surrender, we took Robert in. We faced the challenge of working through his problems with him and ultimately adopted him. A few months after that, I remembered the dream and wondered if this was the fulfillment of the son promised in the dream.
Robert grew up, married, and became the proud father of five little girls and one boy. Two years after he left home, we thought about adopting another child. We had learned a great deal in the tough challenge of raising Robert, and he was worth it! After what we had been through with him, we thought we could handle anyone.
We asked the Lord to show us if He wanted us to have more children. Few people adopt older children, yet older children yearn for the love of a family as much as the younger ones.
We contacted a Christian international adoption agency since we learned that some countries have fewer time and age restrictions. Since my husband was fifteen years older than I, we explored this option and they accepted us. Three weeks later, they sent us a picture and information about Alex, a fourteen-year-old boy from Brazil.
Alex had a tough background. His father abandoned him at birth and his mother severely abused him and later abandon him. Despite these negative influences, he had many outstanding characteristics, such as being caring and considerate, a good student, and being cooperative.
We decided to adopt him, and the mountain of paperwork began. When we discovered the costs, we blanched. We did not have those kinds of resources.
Discouraged, we talked with a friend in Dallas who adopted two older children. She adamantly told us, “Don’t let the lack of money stop you. God has ways of providing. Go forward. Begin the process with what you have.”
So, we began the adoption process trusting God to provide. Through a series of miracles and help from others, God made a way for us.
After six months of paperwork, we received approval. We flew to Brazil to claim our son. We arrived at the airport and hastened to the courthouse. I wondered how long it would be before we met him. A thousand questions went through my head. Is this really God’s Will for all of us? Are we sure this is the right boy for us and us for him? Will we bond? Will he like us? Will we like him? How will we communicate with the language barrier?
Finally, after lengthy preliminary visits with the social worker and psychologist, they ushered Alex in. He anxiously hugged us and sat down. We talked through an interpreter for forty-five minutes, and then we all rose to leave. My husband and the social worker left the room. As Alex got up to leave, he put on his glasses for the first time. I gasped. Stunned, I ran out of the room to catch up with my husband. I blurted out, “That’s him! Alex is the boy in the dream I had years ago!!!”
During our stay in Brazil, our hearts knit together, and we became a family. About a month later in the States, a friend who spoke Portuguese asked Alex, “Weren’t you worried that you were nearly sixteen, the cut-off age for international adoptions and hadn’t been adopted?”
Alex said, “No, I told Jesus the kind of parents I wanted, and He gave them to me.”
© 2002 Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul
All Rights Reserved
My reflections on the story: God gave Alex, a child longing for love, the parents he desired and gave me, a woman longing for children, a special son.
“He opens His hand and satisfies the desires of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16 (NIV)
“He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord and He will reward you for what you have done.” Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
“Stop, wait a minute. I want to help this woman,” I shouted to my family who walked ahead of me on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. We had taken the bus downtown to the courthouse to meet with the social workers.
We had adopted Alex from a severe poverty situation in Brazil when he was fifteen. After he grew up and graduated from a local university, we sat on the couch one day visiting. “Mom, I know I could stay here in the USA and buy a nice house and car. But what I want to do is to give my brother and sisters trapped in poverty, the same opportunities I had.”
After many years and attempts to bring them here, we were in Brazil to go through the formidable legal process. We decided to adopt Alex’s siblings, seventeen-year-old Michelle, thirteen-year-old Ingrid, and twelve-year-old Michael. We had finished our court appointment, and we were on the way to catch the bus to the apartment where we were staying.
I spotted a woman sitting on the dirty sidewalk with a tin can by her side. She had a baby cradled in her arms and a little boy and girl in dirty clothes playing beside her. My heart moved with deep compassion. Was it the look of sadness and despair in her eyes as she sought to get food to feed her little ones? I don’t know. I knew I had to help her, even if it was only for one meal that day.
I walked over to the nearest food stand to purchase some sandwiches and drinks. As I stood there, twelve-year-old Michael came up behind me and handed me a bill, the equivalent of a dollar. “Here mom,” he said quietly, “I want to help.”
Tears sprang to my eyes as I knew Michael didn’t have much himself. Yet he knew what it was like to be in that situation. He wanted to take the little he had to help someone in a worse condition.
As I walked away that day and for days after, I prayed that somehow God would make a way for her to get out of that situation.
As I reflect on this touching incident, those in need come to mind. Jesus gave it all, and He cares deeply about the poor. We honor Him when we give to them. We may not be able to do a lot, but that doesn’t have to stop us from giving the little we have.
Today during a guest (substitute teaching assignment, I had the opportunity to teach sixth-grade science. At the end of the class in the morning, we prepared the students with questions to ask the visiting veterans who were invited to lunch.
What a wonderful sight to see the children sitting with the veterans at lunch and talking to them! When the students came back to class afterward they had the most interesting answers.
For example to the question, “What was one of your more memorable experiences?” One veteran said, “The day someone saved my life.”
My father gave me the best gift a father could give to a daughter.
To this day, people benefit from his decision to use his gifts, talents, and abilities to care for others. A man I have never met, wept on the phone when he talked to me. He wept out of gratitude for what my father had done for him and his tribe.
Over 60 years ago, my father heard the voice of God. In obedience to God’s voice, he took his young wife and two little girls into the jungle of Africa. The people there nicknamed them Mama and Papa Obedience.
My car broke down over the weekend. My son-in-law, Carlos helped me fix it. He discovered my oil needed changing. While he worked on it, he sent me to Walmart to get oil and a filter.
The automotive section had closed. I stared at the myriad of choices in oil filters, confused about which one to buy. I had used the machines but I couldn’t find the number they recommended.
I spotted a man and his family who turned down my aisle. I reached out and asked if he knew how to figure it out. He didn’t know but his teenage son stepped up and pulled out his iPhone. He asked me the make, model and year of the car and began to search.
I’m enjoying hanging out at our charming Broadway Cafe. I am writing my stories and working on my book,”The Gift of Writing: 10 Ways to Share Your Heart.”
I’m drinking iced tea, caffeine free red rooibos, vanilla and almonds bits. Delicious!
I asked a young woman sitting behind me to take this photo. I found out she’s a camp counselor at New Life Ranch for the summer. She’s going to a university in Texas studying mechanical engineering. She wants to go overseas to help underdeveloped nations with their engineering issues.
Something compelled me to go after the homeless man shuffling by our hotel. I hesitated because my sister had gone into the lobby and would not know.
I had worked with the homeless a few years back so they didn’t make me nervous. I learned that many of them were people who had lost their way and needed encouragement.
My sister and I were in downtown Philadelphia attending a quarterly meeting of a year-long program from the Publicity Summit where we learned how to approach major media with our projects and products.
One Person Who Impacted My Life
When a friend asked this question on facebook, though many people profoundly impacted me throughout my life, the first person who came to mind is my dorm mother in Africa.
At times I felt alone and abandoned because my parents’ missionary responsibilities required them to leave my sister and I when we were little. When we grew older we went away to a mission boarding school for three months at a time and then we came home for a month.