My dear friends, Gary & Marlynn started doing foster care about a year and a half ago. I remember her telling me that they felt called by God to do it and that they weren't doing it to adopt any children. After all, they are a blended family with almost 10 children between them and they're almost 60 - it made no sense to adopt. I mean that's crazy! -right?
In December of last year a little boy was born. He was born addicted to meth. His poor little body was struggling and he spent almost three weeks in NICU alone. St Francis (a foster care agency) stepped in and took custody of him. They called Gary & Marlynn to see if they'd come "take a look" since they had no family for this little boy. They went to the hospital to visit Luke. It was January 1st. The start of a new year (That might have been slightly prophetic actually!)
Up to this point Luke wasn't taking a bottle at all. When they arrived at the hospital, Marlynn wanted to hold him. So she did. She then proceeded to try to give him a bottle. And guess what? He actually took it! The first bottle he ever took was in Marlynn's arms. I knew, after hearing their story, they were smitten with this little boy.
So, on January 6th, this older couple, who already have 10 kids...and grandkids, took home a sweet little baby boy with nothing but unknowns about what the future might hold for him: would he have massive health problems, developmental delays, would he be placed with biological family or back with his biological mother....they had no guarantees, no promises, nothing but uncertainty and unknowns. But they did it. That's what faith looks like. That's what it looks like to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean NOT on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge Him, because He directs your path." (Proverbs 3:5-6) After all, God did say, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways. (Isaiah 5:8) So true.
After Luke was home, he would often struggle to even take a two ounce bottle. So one night, as the struggle to eat continued, Marlynn starting signing the song, "Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within..." and now that is Luke's song. The one that calms him and causes him to relax. Think of it. A child born addicted to meth, left alone in the hospital for two weeks, is now being snuggled and rocked to sleep while listening to hymns about God's beautiful grace. Its perfect. A perfect picture of selfless love. A beautiful example of God's love for the very least of the these. A convicting example that we should follow anywhere God leads even if it doesn't make any sense. It reminds me of the following verse: "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people." (I Peter 2:15)
Yesterday, I had the privilege of celebrating Luke's adoption. I saw this faithful couple go before a judge and, with complete joy and excitement, commit to love and raise this little boy forever. It was so moving. I am absolutely inspired by their example of fearless obedience. Their counter-cultural and radical obedience is a beautiful example of God grace, love and perfect sovereignty.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Baby Luke in his daddy's lap
Praying at the National Adoption Day ceremony
My girls and Ashlee's kids came to see the adoption and take part in the ceremony at Exploration Place
Can't you tell how much Gary loves him!
My sweet girl!
They released doves - one for each child who was adopted.
Swearing they"ll love him and support him as mom and dad.
Such a cute baby!
Shaking hands with the judge.
He's ours. Forever.
The proud Daddy.
Mom, Dad, baby Luke, and the judge.
After they signed all the adoption paperwork, Gary held up his little boy in joy.
Luke having a moment with his sister.
Safe, loved, and held tight by God's perfect design.
This is my very favorite picture. Luke's big brother Garrett, was just holding him tightly and snuggling him close after the ceremony. The sweetest thing ever.
After the adoption festivities, we all (Us and Ashlee's crew) hung out and enjoyed Exploration Place.
Alonzo. Aliah's older brother.
Elijah loves Aliah. Its so sweet. He was chasing her around the place and she was just giggling and loving it!
"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!" (Psalm 95:2)