The Garrisons

Follow our journey on adoption #3 for child #8!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Prayer that Changed My Life

Have you ever prayed a prayer and not known exactly what you were praying for?

I have.

And looking back, I can see that it was that prayer that changed the trajectory of our lives.

About nine years ago, I was a stay-at-home mommy to our three blonde babies, and loved it.  I really did. I was leading Bible study, had a home-based business, and I led a busy life caring for our family.  Life was good. But still, I felt restless.

Not restless in a "discontent with my circumstances" way, but restless in a "there is more for me to do" way.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but I couldn't shake it either.  It was at that point that I began to pray for God to do something with my life.

"Lord, do something so big in my life that others will know that it is you."
I longed to be purposeful.  I longed to live a life that mattered for Him.  I just didn't know what that looked like.
It was during this time, that adoption began to stir in my heart.  I ordered a DVD from an adoption agency and cried all the way through it.  I couldn't wait for Nathan to get home from work, just knowing  he would feel the same.  
I sat him down to watch it.  I wept.  He asked what was for dinner.  I was crushed. 
But had some good points...we didn't  have $25-30Gs laying around for an adoption, and it just wasn't practical.  So, we moved on...that clearly wasn't the answer to my prayer.
Later that year, I got a job teaching at a Christian school.  It was perfect - my kids would be able to attend there, we would go to school together, and it was purposeful.  This must be the answer to my prayer. 
I spent the next 5 years teaching at this school.  I worked with some great teachers, met some incredible families and had a good experience.  But still, I couldn't shake that nagging feeling that there was something more...or simply just something else.  I continued to pray my prayer and scolded myself wondering why I still felt this way - Maybe I was just finicky or hard to please.  There was nothing wrong with the blessed life I had been given.
During those teaching years, one of my closest relationships developed.  My friend Misty and I's lives overlapped in almost every way.  We taught together, ate lunch everyday together, went to church together, were in small group together, had children who were friends, and spent our free time together. She is precious to me.  She has a big heart, and made me laugh every day.
This itself is a long story, but the short version is that through her own mental illness and a series of unfortunate events, her four children came to live with us for a time.  We loved them like our own kids, and struggled through to try to help them through this incredibly trying time. 

It was one of the hardest things I've ever done (not loving her kids - just dealing with the brokenness of it all).  But it was in this place that I found my heartbeat.   It was in this place of holding these sweet kids and providing what their family couldn't at the time that I felt purposeful.

"Lord, do something so big in my life that others will know that it is you."
The kids eventually returned to family, and our family took some time to heal and regroup.  But I couldn't shake the same feeling and returned to the same prayer again. During this time, God once again placed the longing to adopt on my heart. Through some crazy circumstances - a friend sending me a blog about adoption, my daughter telling me she felt like we were supposed to help African kids, a random audio book I picked up was about the orphan crisis in Africa - God continued to confirm that this is where he was leading.  This time it was an impression so deep on my heart I knew we couldn't ignore it. 
As to not drag the story out, you can probably guess what happened next!  We took what felt like an enormous leap of faith and decided to adopt from Ethiopia.  The faithfulness of God seen through that journey (and our others) is for another day, but I want to encourage you in this: 
God will honor your faithfulness when you step out for him.  He will not leave you hanging or leave you behind.  If it seems crazy, it's probably God.
You see, when I began to pray, I had no idea what I was praying for.  I had no idea how God would transform our family, grow our faith, lead me to start a ministry in our church, and work in our lives.  I no longer have that nagging feeling.  I have the assurance that crazy or not, I'm right where I'm supposed to be. 
The Lord did something so big in our lives, we KNOW it was HIM.