We are the wild olive shoots Paul speaks of in Romans 11 that, by faith and through Jesus, have been grafted in among the other branches to be nourished by the rich root. We are thankful to God for extending such a generous and compassionate heart toward us. And we give him glory for our rich inheritance as his children.
Adoption is part of God’s long history of redemption, a story that has become our story.
As people created in his image, we not only rejoice in the ways we are already like him, but we strive to become increasingly shaped in his image. Our family desires to imitate the way God loves. We fail miserable so often. But we still keep trying.
One way we love like God is by expanding our definition of family, allowing God to perfectly graft into our family tree those who need to be fed by our root. Our root that has been planted by His seed and grows in His soil.
If blood identifies relatives, then it’s the blood of Jesus that flows through our veins and forever binds us together as family.
I married the perfect love match for my heart, my perfect partner in ministry. Mark and I have joyfully struggled in our shared journey of faith.
The Lord grew us quick! Two biological boys 17 months apart. Luke and Connor are wildly active and creative, passionate about people and ideas.
Those early years are nearly a blur as our tree grew quicker than we intended. Sweet memories muddled by pregnancy induced forgetfulness, sleepless nights and endless diaper changing.
But we embraced God’s ways for us, and as my body swelled so did my heart to receive all the life God wanted to give us. And God’s soil is fertile.
Pregnant with desire to be available to God, he faithfully expanded our world. A broken world where parents are unable or unwilling to raise their own children. But this sad reality gives us the opportunity to love. To offer hope. Our family traveled to Guatemala to welcome home Lydia Jane. The Lord graciously poured love into our hearts for this child. It’s as if she was knit from my womb. She is joyful, compassionate, just, and constant.
For a child who spent her first three years living in three different countries, her days are a beautiful story that God is writing about family, identity, and hope.
Our four years living in Africa birthed new life for our family, as we struggled to understand how God’s redemptive message pierces the whole world. We became more aware, more alive. Tessa Marie was born to us during this time, a full expression of our love for Uganda. Her name meaning “Fourth child,” yet we did not know it. Her name a gift to her, shared with two women of godly nature.
Her love for Ugandans changed our family forever.
And when we weren’t expecting, the Lord opened the womb of our hearts to receive another child. His earliest days we know nothing about. We gave him the name Myles Owen. Myles, for we traveled far on land and in heart to love this sweet boy. And Owen, meaning “well born.”
His story of abandonment will tell a bigger story about a redemptive God. A God of rebirth. A God who took a little baby left alone and reborn him well into love, into family.
And then there’s Tom. Ngobi Tom, raised in a remote village in Uganda with his family. His parents we love. And his home we are always welcome. The Lord has uniquely woven Tom into our family.
As he mentored us in ways of culture, we nurtured him in education and experience. Those intimate years in Uganda with him bonded us together for life. And we feel more whole when he is with us. After four years of college in Michigan, Tom is living once again in Uganda using his gifts and education to minister among his own people. We miss him every day.
Only The Tree of Life, with its rich soil and deep roots can become an environment of grace, grafting wild shoots that grow as if they’ve always been rooted in its soil. And only The Tree of Life can teach us how to do the same.
Through him, our love is made perfect.