This is parts of a talk I gave to our ladies' group at church,
I thought I would share it here, if you're interested.
(the horse has nothing to do with it!!)
Learning to say YES, when God asks us to do something difficult, has been a learning process for me. It can be rather scary, jumping into the unknown, but I have learned that God can be trusted, and when he asks, we better say YES. Hebrews 4:7 says, Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Andy and I have been married for 18 years now, and in those years we have had many opportunities to say YES to the adventure God has called us to. Some have been big things and some little, sometimes we didn't say YES when we should have, but hopefully we are getting better at it!
I remember when I was a newlywed we lived in a little single wide trailer, and I worked at our small town grocery store. There was a lady there who I worked with, and she had a hard life. Her family was very poor, and she was working hard to provide for them but her no account husband wasn't helping things much. She would tell me about how her daughter just wanted to be able to eat a big piece of meat for her birthday because they never had enough money for meat, and a small town grocery store salary didn't provide much. Well, I always kind of felt like I should be witnessing to her, but wasn't ever quite sure how. One day I remember we were putting food in the refrigerator case, and I could just tell very strongly that God wanted me to tell her about Him, but I chickened out and didn't say anything. I have always regretted that so much! Not too long after that her husband wanted to move so away they went. She told me as I said goodbye that she was a better person for knowing me, but that didn't help me feel much better, because being a better person wasn't going to get her into heaven. I learned a big lesson there though. When God asks you to do something, you need to say YES, whether it's scary or not!
About five years later we were back living in the same small town again, raising support to be missionaries with UIM Aviation in Tucson, Arizona. We had one son, Luke, and he was three years old. We wanted more children very badly, but God wasn't sending any by the regular route, and so we were about to start on the adventure of "special delivery" babies, through adoption. We had no money for expensive international adoption or private agency adoption, since Andy had just finished college and we were trying to raise support to be missionaries! Then I heard that if you were open to adopting bi-racial children, you could adopt much more easily and inexpensively because there was less demand, which sounds bad but it's the way it was. Back then, in 2001, I only knew of two other families who had adopted bi-racial children, and no one who had adopted a full black child. But God was working in our hearts. It didn't take too long for us to realize that we just wanted children, it didn't matter what color their skin was! I am so thankful that we said YES when God asked us to adopt children of other races, each one of them is a treasure and our family now has ancestors from every continent except Australia!
Fast forward another five years- we were now living in Tucson, Arizona, where Andy was an airplane mechanic for UIM Aviation. Tucson was a difficult place for me to live. We lived on one side of town, near the airport, but our church was 45 minutes away, on the other side of town. So getting together with any of the ladies from the church was difficult. Andy, on the other hand, loved his work at the hangar and got along great with all the other mechanics there. This caused a strain in our relationship. We lived out in the desert, where it was very difficult to grow anything because of the dry conditions and poor soil, so although I was trying to "bloom where I was planted", I was having a difficult time of it. The dry desert left me feeling very dry inside as well. In the summer of 2006, we had a mission conference with the other UIM missionaries in Nebraska, and after talking with a friend there, and hearing of her life in Mexico, I got the wild idea, "Maybe we should move to Mexico?" I brought it up to Andy on the long drive back to Arizona, and we talked of little else the whole way back. God was leading us. Our mission director decided it would be good for us to go down there and help them build a hangar of our own to use, since we had just been renting space at the international airport. So a few months later we were on our way! Learning Spanish, building the hangar, and doing our best to encourage the other missionaries down there filled our days. Although life in Mexico wasn't the easiest, with the language barriers and the danger from the drug war, we really loved our time there, and I'm so glad we said YES when God moved in our hearts to move down. Missionaries are just regular people, and I think sometimes God asks us to be missionaries because of the lessons he wants to teach us personally, not because of all the people he wants to reach through us. He doesn't need us to accomplish his purposes and introduce people to Him, but he does decide to use us sometimes, if we are willing, and that is a great privilege.
In the winter of 2011-2012, my life changed when I started having seizures. My health was not good for most of 2012, I had little energy and many ups and downs. But right in the middle of that both Andy and I started feeling God tugging at our hearts that we needed to do more for him. The adoption agency in Arizona that we used to adopt DJ and SJ would post pictures online of hard-to-place kids from time to time, and in the summer of 2012 they posted a picture of a little girl named Emily, who had special needs. I could not get her out of my mind. Did God want us to adopt a special needs child? But what about my health issues? We already had five children that were keeping me quite busy! Then, we started feeling that God wanted us to adopt through the state foster care system. Now that was scary! We had never adopted through the state before, and although the adoption would be free we were scared of having the state involved in our family life. All my objections were met by a verse or a song that God would bring to my mind. Finally after a few months of indecision while God worked on our hearts, we knew we had to say YES, we had no choice. I remember the day I put the application to adopt through the state foster care system in the mail, I felt such a sense of relief- I had obeyed, I had said YES, even though I was scared. That fall we took the required 10 weeks of training classes, and then we had our homestudy done the following spring. Everything takes way longer when you are adopting through the state instead of privately, but finally, in the early summer of 2013, we started actually inquiring about girls that were waiting for a home. For one reason or another it was harder to find one that would be a match for our family than it seemed like it should be! We had several matches that did not work out, but in the fall of 2013 our social worker told us about a 6 month old girl that we should submit our homestudy for. A 6 month old child was very rare in the state adoption system, our social worker only saw them every 3-4 years. When she emailed us the picture of this little girl, the minute I saw her I thought, oh yes, she's our daughter! I had searched through hundreds of photo listings, looking for her, but when I saw her, I just knew. What we didn't know was that it would be another year of waiting on slow social workers before we would be able to meet her for the first time. I am so very glad we said YES when God asked us to adopt through the state. Miss E is so perfect for our family and she is a treasure. What a joy to be able to be her Mom and Dad!
Now, this spring, I am learning to say YES when God asks me to trust and have joy in the midst of epilepsy. In March and then again a couple weeks ago I have had more seizures, and I'm not really sure why. Living with seizures is not real fun, for me or for the rest of the family. It's not how I always envisioned my life turning out! Being a mom of six children and not being able to drive for months at a time is a pain, how can I be a good mom if I can't take my kids to where they need to go? There is fear of the future and 'what if' questions plague me- I don't want to die young! But if I spend my time worrying and complaining and wishing God was doing something different in my life, that's not saying YES to God, is it? Right now, the YES God is asking me to say isn't to a new exciting adventure, it's saying YES to a life of joy and rest in God's perfect plan, even when the trials he brings into my life don't make sense. Living life with seizures is not what I would have chosen for myself, but it is what God has given me. God can always be trusted!
I don't know what adventure God has next for us, the first 18 years of our marriage have been quite eventful, but the verse God gave us when we were first married still applies today-
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.