Sometimes it’s easier for me to trust God with giant things than it is to trust Him will the daily requirements of life.
Oh, I wouldn’t ever say that. Good grief. I know God cares about minute details. He loves and true love cares about little and big, giant and miniscule. I know that.
But I don’t always believe it.
Which is why even though I learned to trust God with enormous life-changing things like building our family…I didn’t really trust Him about this little ole detail of… well, building us a house.
Unlike families that grow through the birth of babies, our family had to show an immediate capability of caring for more children before we could even be in the running to adopt.
Doesn’t it sound silly to write it that way? But that is the feeling—like you’re in a scavenger hunt of some sort where you have to be fast enough and make sure you have all the proper things picked up along the way. Except the list keeps getting longer as you go and people look at you cross-eyed when you try to show up without some random obscure thing.
“You mean you don’t have a picture of yourself and your second cousin’s aunt’s poodle? Sorry, you’ll have to get that before we can file your paperwork.”
Exaggerated, of course, but not nearly as badly as you’re probably thinking.
So obviously, with all the check-writing and the fingerprinting and one-more-call-to-the-attorney-to-see-if-we-can-get-this-thing-rolling, it was obvious that God was going to have to lead us to the right child because Lord-knows I didn’t have a brain cell left to try to judge what child would do well in our home.
And in the end, He brought us the total opposite of what I expected.
I figured we’d adopt a 0-5 year old girl who wasn’t white. Our daughter wanted a sister so badly, and she was of Hispanic origin, so it made sense. We ended up bringing home an 8-year-old white boy. And it was all God and it was so good and of course this was the child for us because he is our son.
So the building of our family was all God. And that was simple.
But we lived in this tiny house with just two little bedrooms and we knew the powers-that-are would say that we couldn’t have more than one child because we all know that nobody can survive without their own personal bedroom space and at least 300 square feet of living area for their stuff. (Can you tell I lived in a third-world country for too long? Even writing that makes me want to sit them all down and explain the realities of life for a few minutes and the curse of American elitist mentality.)
But regardless, our home would not do to adopt more children into.
And I kinda figured that God just expected us to take care of that.
So we packed up our beautiful little cabin and started on a rolling adventure. First we lived in a giant farmhouse. We worked with cattle and tried to get used to racing from the upstairs all the way downstairs and through the house in the morning to get to the bathroom. You may laugh, but for years I never had to even open my eyes to go use the bathroom in the morning… just stumble out of bed and around the corner. This was quite the adjustment with my wait-until-the-last-second-so-I-can-sleep-just-a-little-longer habit.
But the thing is, this lovely farmhouse had three bedrooms. Well, it has more than that—but for our purposes there were three and we could write on a dozen random sheets of paper that we had collected this important item on our scavenger hunt.
While we were living there, we were matched with an unborn infant. It wasn’t at all what we expected, but we were happy. Soon we had ultrasound pictures on our fridge and lots of excitement. Our little Annie was born while we lived in that home. All two pounds three ounces of her. Twelve days later she died. We ached and sorrowed and held each other close.
When we finally came up for breath again we felt God’s call to keep going. I remember my father’s warm hug and soft encouragement, “God knows the names and birthdates of all your children, Tashe-girl.”
So we kept our adoption profile up and kept looking for another referral.
Yet, some things weren’t working with the arrangement at the farmhouse. It wasn’t our house and it wasn’t right for our family. When the end of our initial one-year agreement was looming in the distance, my husband kept looking at me and saying, “I think we’re supposed to go home.” And the longer we ignored this statement because, hello, we needed that bedroom! the harder the stress pulled at us.
He was sick almost all the time. I was doing barn chores that I was barely strong enough for. Add a couple minor injuries and a bout with walking pneumonia, and I was coughing and limping my way through the day-to-day work. That stressed him out even more and he ended up in the ER with a gallbladder issue. My hair, which already had a nice little patch of gray, began to lose all its color and fall out. One night I stood in the shower and cried, deep shaking sobs, and scooped up the gobs of hair that were covering the bathtub floor.
I told my husband he was right. We needed to go home. I didn’t know how, because we were matched with our son by then and had written on all those papers that we had three bedrooms and all that, but we needed to go home to our farm on the hill where I could breathe in the wind and our donkey could look at me from over the pasture fence instead of being left alone in the barn with just food and water for days, and I could step outside at night and see the milky way light up the expanse above the barn.
We prayed. A lot. Looked at a dozen different options. But my husband was convinced that God was saying to build a house.
Our tiny honeymoon house was rented by then so we didn’t have the option of living there until a new house was built, but we knew God was saying to build.
We picked out a spot where a walk-out basement could be set into the hillside and big windows would allow me to watch the windmills spin across Tug Hill.
We planned for the bedrooms and bathrooms and an open floor plan that would allow me to cook and work and teach my children from any corner of the living area.
And then we looked at our finances and then at each other and groaned.
There was no way.
No possible way that we could afford to build a house.
Two adoptions and living in a rented house for a year had drained our finances so hard—it was almost as bad as when we returned home from living in Haiti with twenty bucks in our pockets and a month’s worth of bills due.
But we were out of options and we needed a house. So we marked out the footers and started digging.
And then something startling happened.
It began with the footer. We had it dug and were measuring for concrete. Everyone told us to get an extra half-yard, at least. We didn’t have the money to. So instead, we ordered a half-yard less than what it looked like we needed. Not because we were ignoring advice, but because that was all the money we had.
I finished work and went to see the building site that afternoon and my husband met me with the biggest smile I had seen since Annie died. “Come, love,” he said, pulling me toward the fresh dug earth. There in the ground was the completed footer.
“We had enough?” I asked, already sure of the answer.
“Nope,” he told me. When I looked at him in surprise, his eyes twinkled. “We had more than enough.”
He turned and pulled me toward the barn. There fresh cement filled the gap between the ground and the end door in a slanted ramp, something we had wanted for years but could never justify doing. There was enough concrete in the truck after filling the footer that he had been able to pour the ramp to make driving in and out of the barn easier.
It was God’s faithfulness in action—and it was just the beginning.
(read part 2 here)