Today I read a Facebook status about adoption. Two of our good friends finally got the numbers they need to move their international adoption forward and my heart was overjoyed. I’ve been fascinated by this family’s journey towards unity chronicled on Facebook. For the past month or two, I prayed when they prayed, mourned when they mourned, and finally today I rejoiced when they rejoiced.

Of course, I rejoiced as a friend who loves them, but this victory touched me on a few other levels.

I rejoiced as a woman passionate about overcoming injustice. I rejoiced as a mother who just wants to scoop up all the hurting children in my arms and call them mine.

But most acutely, I rejoiced as an adopted daughter whose life has been forever changed by a selfless, Christ-like couple.

These pictures were taken with my god-parents after the last night of the Stingarettes (my high school’s drill team) Spring show.

I come from a small town in Texas surrounded by refineries and fueled by Friday night football. My mom was a retail manager who worked on Sundays but kept faith in her heart–even in the face of harsh insecurities. My dad was a psychologist, a philosopher, and a man weary from wrestling with God. Both loved me and did the best they could, but when my curiosity to learn more about God brushed against their comfortable disinterest, my mom made arrangements for me to attend First Assembly of God weekly by riding the church van. Some mornings, this man would pick me up. Most Sundays his wife would teach me in Sunday School. Every Sunday I was dropped off at home full of hope, excitement, and security. I knew I was known and cared for by a community of believers and because of this couple, I knew I was known and cared for by a loving God.

As the years past, my connection to this couple deepened. Instead of Mickey picking me up in the church van on occasion, Missy would pick me up in her shiny, green sedan–always dressed lovely, always with a smile, always with a listening ear for how my week went. Instead of dropping me off after church, they would invite me over to have “snake” (steak) and potatoes. They introduced me to deer meat, golfing, and their cat, Nick at Night.

Soon, a few hours after church grew into a sleepover Saturday night (since I was going to go to church the next morning anyway) and then overnights became weekends with the Lanes full of antiquing (or shopping) with Missy, while Mickey hunted (or played golf). They invited me to dinner with their friends and Christmas celebrations with their extended family. They even rushed me to the mall minutes before closing just so I could show off my chosen prom dress, and like good parents they “oohed and awwed” appropriately. So much in love with this couple was I, that when my mom thought a job offer in Canada might move us away, I called them and asked if I could move in with them. It wasn’t awkward to ask at all because somehow, without a DTR or a piece of paper declaring it, I became their daughter.

Shortly after, God made it “official”.

My mom didn’t take the job and so life resumed to weekly grind at my parents and weekend trips to the Lanes.

One Sunday evening, during a sweet, quiet moment after worship, our pastor asked all the teenage girls in the church to come to the altar. As I stood in a line with my peers, he began speaking about the need for a father and I felt he spoke directly to my need of spiritual covering. Pastor proclaimed that God was our Heavenly Father but that He desired the men of the church to be his earthly representatives. Ending with a call to the men to come, and as the Spirit led them to commit to becoming a spiritual father to one of us, he opened up the altar and the band began to play. I looked down the line and realized that all five of us were without fathers in some way or another. Although I was the only one with a father present at home, he was present in my academic and social development, but absent in my spiritual journey.

Not surprisingly, Mickey and Missy came up as a couple, took our pastor’s challenge, and from that moment on, I was officially their daughter.

This is a picture of my adopted father, Mickey on my wedding day almost nine years ago.

Years later, I stood on a cool but sunny, Mardi Gras afternoon waiting for “Solomon’s Song” by 100 portraits to play, so that Mickey could give me away to marry this passionate and gorgeous urban minister I brought home to him for approval. My own father chose not to come to my wedding, but this man who didn’t have a single thing in common with me but Jesus, stood in covering over me, walked me down the aisle, and passed me from his care to T.C.’s. Whenever I look at the this picture, I’m reminded that, “H
e sets the lonely in families” Psalm 68:6.

And so I rejoice today.

I rejoice because I know that God’s plan for wholeness is one step closer to being fulfilled in this little boy’s life. I rejoice because I know if it were not for my friends stepping in, who knows if hope could penetrate his lonely existence. I rejoice with my friends because I know exactly how their little boy will feel twenty years from now- loved, cherished, wanted, and protected.

That is why I’m so excited to plant this church with my husband. We’re called to create a space where lost, lonely little girls and angry, misunderstood young boys can find loving adults who would sacrifice time, energy, and money to communicate their value. I personally hope for a community full of adoptive parents whose obedience to step in when it would be easier to walk away will teach lost children to utter, “Abba, Father”.

As planting pastors we hold three things close to our heart and plan to build our church upon them–Jesus, justice, and family. To me, adoption, legally or spiritually encapsulates these values so beautifully and completely.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Remembering and Rejoicing,