God has asked me to do a lot of insane things in my life. Starting with getting married at 19. (Was never part of my plan.) Moving to Dallas. (I wanted Nashville.) Giving birth to 3 babies. (I only wanted 2 kids.) Adopting 2 babies from Uganda. (I only wanted 2 kids.) Moving our family of 7 to New York City. (Who does that???) Moving our family of 7 back to Dallas mid-pandemic. (Who does that???) And now, Bradley and I are in a season of ministry that has us out of town almost every weekend of the month. I keep my suitcase open in my closet and am perpetually packing and unpacking it. We’ve never been busier. To outsiders, it may appear that we’ve lost our minds. But somehow God has led us every step of the way.
I’ve always said that if it were just me and Bradley, we would go anywhere, do anything, live anywhere, at any cost, to serve the Lord. But when you throw 5 kids into the mix, I’m much less quick on the draw. Every decision, every move, every step directly affects these 5 individual lives. Everything we do is shaping them into who they will become. Every step (and misstep) is forming their theology and their view of God. If I think about this long enough, it becomes totally overwhelming. The responsibility of being called to serve God and also raise 5 godly children is too great a weight to bear sometimes. How can I be absolutely sure that my complete obedience to God is not simultaneously ruining their lives?
I have been wrestling with this for YEARS.
God clearly called me and Bradley to adoption. When we adopted our Ugandan babies in 2012, I struggled with how it would affect my 3 biological daughters. Would we be wrecking the beautiful family dynamic we already had? Were we inviting unnecessary pain, heartache, and headache into our home? I had heard so many horror stories of adoptions gone wrong, and not nearly enough stories of adoptions gone right. Which is one of the reasons why I’m currently writing a book. (Side note: Why do people love to share their horror stories with those who are in the thick of it? Drives me crazy.) Of course, adopting our 2 babies has been the biggest blessing and the greatest joy of our lives. We could not possibly imagine our home without them. Do they have problems? HECK YES. But guess what? So do the white girls that I gave birth to. All 5 of my kids are messed up. Because their parents are messed up. Welcome to our family. This is us.
When we moved to New York in 2017, Bradley and I knew to our core that God had called us there. And yet I struggled. I remember sobbing and telling my friend Lisa that I felt like I was feeding my kids to the wolves. Up until then, our children lived in a pristine bubble called Plano, TX. They attended a private Christian school. Their friends were all from upper-class Christian families. Their environment was completely controlled. And there’s nothing wrong with any of this. In fact, in many ways, it was a blessing. Until God called us away from it. Did our move from tidy Texas to gritty NYC feed our kids to the wolves? Yes. Were they thrown into a lion’s den of information, lifestyles, poverty, and culture shock they had never been exposed to? Yes. And if God called us, would I move them back to New York tomorrow? Yes.
At the end of 2020, God led us to move our family back to Texas. I struggled with this move, too. We had been part of such an incredibly diverse community in New York. My kids were exposed to different cultures and traditions. Their eyes and hearts were open to a multitude of those less fortunate. They were surrounded by people who were different than them. The diversity of our environment was life-giving. They had experiences and opportunities in New York that we could never replicate in Dallas. Were we taking a step backwards by removing our kids from the colorful tapestry of the city? Yes. Were we disorienting their souls and sense of identity by uprooting them once again and moving across the country? Yes.
Are you feeling my distress? This is not a new dilemma for me. This is not a new topic I created out of thin air so I could have something to blog about. I have been anguishing over this for years. Because God has been calling me to do crazy big things for years.
Is my obedience to God ruining my kids’ lives?
The answer, unequivocally, is NO.
In all my wrestling with the Lord, he has been so gracious with me. He has assured me again and again, and I believe this to my bones: His plan for me and Bradley is also his plan for our children.
God’s calling on our lives is also his calling on our kids’ lives.
God’s anointing on our lives is also his anointing on our kids’ lives.
God’s assignment for our lives is also his assignment for our kids’ lives.
God’s covering over our lives is also his covering over our kids’ lives.
God’s grace for our lives is also his grace for our kids’ lives.
God’s strength for our lives is also his strength for our kids’ lives.
In other words, as long as these 5 humans are under our roof and in our care, God’s plan for us as parents is also his plan for our children.
And it gets better: God’s plan for us collectively as a family is also his plan for us individually as his sons and daughters. God has something specific he wants to accomplish in Harper’s life by allowing her to be the big sister of 2 Ugandan babies. God has something specific he wants to do in Ava’s life by allowing her to experience extreme highs and lows in NYC. God has something specific he wants to do for Greta, so he allowed her to be uprooted from New York and moved back to Texas to accomplish his plan. God has something specific for James and Jolie, for which he’s paving the way, brick by brick. God is accomplishing his individual plan for each of us as he’s accomplishing his grand plan for our family. And he’s not even breaking a sweat. This isn’t difficult for him.
One of the most significant and comforting Bible verses that has profoundly ministered to me in recent years is Isaiah 40:11. I still read it and weep.
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mothers
with their young.”
Is this not a breath of fresh air to your lungs? My Friend, let this wash over you today. The God who calls you to fulfill his assignments (big and small) loves your children more than you could ever imagine. You can absolutely rest on the promises found in this verse:
· God will provide for your family. “He will feed his flock like a shepherd.” He will make sure you have everything you need to accomplish your purpose. He will equip you to do every good work he has called you to. You will lack nothing.
· God will protect your children. “He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.” Did you read that clearly??? As you follow God on the path where he leads you, he is carrying your children. Not you. You were never meant to carry your kids through this life. You’re not strong enough. Hand them over to the Good Shepherd. He loves them more than you do.
· God will empower you, Mom. “He will gently lead the mothers with their young.” He knows this life is hard. He knows the weight you carry as a mother. He knows you’re exhausted from holding it all together. He knows you beat yourself up over every choice you make, and how you never feel like you’re doing a good enough job. He knows the guilt you carry. He knows your struggles. And with more grace than you could ever imagine, he gently leads you, sweet Mother, as you make decisions for your children, as you serve your family, as you do the holy work of parenting. He’s gently leading you. And he’s filling you with his power to get the job done.
God’s got our kids. And he’s leading us moms with so much grace, kindness, and gentleness. His plan for all of us (including our children) is specific and good. Will we be throwing our kids into the lion’s den when we follow God wherever he leads? Probably. But our Good Shepherd is also one heck of a lion tamer. Our children will have a front-row seat to the unlimited power and protection that our glorious God offers to those who belong to him. And this will become part of their testimony. God is carrying our babies close to his heart along the path as he leads us. God’s got your kids, Friend. Keep following him.