Since moving here 3 years ago, God has provided for us in more ways than I can count. We left behind both sides of our family which was incredibly difficult, but we also trusted God’s plan and knew that He was asking us to step out in faith and move here. We had no idea what He had for us here other than a job for Dave.
Moving across town is a pain in the butt, moving across the country is in an entire league of its own. Transferring licenses, transporting cars, flights, negotiating on houses almost 1000 miles away, finding new doctors, dentists, pediatricians, hairdressers, registering kids for school…it can be overwhelming. At times I let myself grow anxious in the process, and other times I found myself just submitting to the inevitable that these things had to be done, so why make it harder by being scared of these changes.
At the very top of my list upon arrival here was finding a church home. I knew if we could make it here and plug in somewhere immediately that we would be ok. The very same weekend Dave, and I flew out here to find a home, we also visited a church at the top of our list, Faith Church. I had done a lot of research online, and narrowed my list of churches down to my top 2 or 3. Our #1 choice was where we visited that weekend. We just didn’t want to move here, and drag the kids from church to church, new transition upon new transition, and bring even more chaos into their lives than they were already experiencing.
We laugh now because after we left church that day, I asked Dave as we were walking through the parking lot “well, what did you think?” His response “good enough for me!” And so technically it was in that now hilarious moment that we decided this church would be home, however, a little tip for anyone looking for a church home, I wouldn’t recommend choosing one solely based on how you feel after 1 visit. Please understand there was a lot of prayer, and research of the churches values, belief system, etc going on prior to this moment that ultimately led us to make that decision 🙂
Our first goal after finding our church home, was to find friends so that we could start to build our own family here. We immediately started plugging ourselves in. We attended Sunday school which ultimately led to finding a small group, and I regularly attended MOPS and bible study during the week. I met many lovely women this way. I chose to be vulnerable even when I didn’t feel like it, because I knew building up walls wouldn’t build authentic friendships.
After I started developing close friendships, I started focusing on another desire of my heart….grandparents. I grew up close to one set of grandparents whom I honestly saw almost daily. My grandpa and my dad farmed together so my grandpa was at our house pretty much every day, and they were frequent fliers at our school programs, and we attended the same church so they were at all of our church events too. A small part of me always hoped that my kids would have that same presence in their lives…that their grandparents would be around to watch baseball games, and band concerts. That dream honestly started dying the moment we moved away from central IL to the Chicago suburbs though, before we ever moved here. Even living 2 hours away makes it harder to spend time together than living down the street like we used to. It was something I had to mourn, and if I am honest, still makes me sad, but I also know without a doubt in my mind, that this is where we are supposed to be so I can wallow in my own self-pity, or we can choose to make the most of our circumstances and make new kinds of memories, and squeeze every ounce of quality time out of the moments we do get with our parents.
That being said, let me get back to my point….moving here meant no more regular contact with the kids grandparents. I so deeply wanted others to love and cheer on our kids like we do. It’s hard to do that when you aren’t blood relatives. Our friendships here have become deep friendships, but our friends also have young families so I know they would bend over backwards for us, but I also know they have immediate needs to take care of with their own children too. I began praying almost from the moment we moved here for some sort of grandparent like relationship to develop. I had no idea what that might look like, and I knew it might never happen, but I decided to ask God anyway, and I trusted Him even if the prayer was never answered. In my mind I imagined this being maybe a person who was already a grandparent in the opposite situation as us, where their adult children lived far away and thus their grandkids were far away, and they rarely got to see them like our parents now with our kids. As I got to know more women, and mentor moms at MOPS, I started asking all of them not just to consider being in that role in our lives, but more so if they knew anyone who might fit that role in our lives. I started asking in the Fall of 2015…..nothing came from that. No one could really think of anyone to connect us too, but I also wasn’t discouraged either.
Fast forward 2 years, to the Fall of 2017. I was still praying, but not discouraged, just waiting on God to see if anything would turn into a deeper role with our kids. Our church did a sermon series that fall on Adoption. Within the series they revealed a plan to help support families in foster care and adoption, as well as how we as a church can serve in a role to adopt our town and fill needs there, and adopt a people group that we can focus our resources on making a bigger difference. I came away from that series so encouraged that something God had already called us too, and a fear of ours as to how we were going to be supported in that process was literally being answered before our eyes….when we moved here a friend of mine who has adopted encouraged us find a church with an adoption program because she knew it was on our hearts. Our church didn’t have one, but we felt peace that this is where we needed to be. So again, in faith, we trusted God, and chose this as our church home. So seeing all of this come to light….was like a huge hug from God saying “I’ve got you! I know your EVERY need, and I know EVERY detail! Trust me!”
Only about a month later, right before Christmas 2017 I was approached by our Kids Ministry Director and she said “I have kind of an odd question for you?” I approached her kind of warily. I had no idea what she wanted to talk to me about. She went onto say “Someone told me that you have been looking for someone to serve as adopted grandparents to your kids?” Of course I said “yes” and she went onto tell me that a couple from the church had approached some of the leadership about having this desire on their hearts to be adoptive grandparents. She asked if we would be open to meeting them. Of course a million thoughts ran through my mind….do they have their clearances? (Yes actually they work at the church and all staff are required to have clearances). What if we don’t hit it off? (every friendship I have ever had has been genuine, not a setup blind date!) So I agreed to set up a time for Dave, the kids, and I to meet them during church hours in a commonplace. It was January/February 2018 when we met them. We instantly hit it off with them, and set up a time to do dinner with them at our house (the entire church staff which I trust a lot knew them well so we knew it was safe. We had a great time with them that night!
We all stepped into this new relationship with uncertainty, but complete transparency of expectations, fears, etc. As we got to know them more they shared their story with us. Their story is one of much heartache and pain. After years of struggling with infertility, and a miscarriage, they finally got pregnant with their daughter Emily only to have her contract viral cardiomyopathy when she was 3.5 months old which required a heart transplant. Then when Emily was just 17 she was diagnosed with cancer and died when she was 18. They told us that the day they lost Emily they lost so much more than just their one and only child. They lost all of their hopes and dreams of ever having a son in law, and grandchildren, and all the joys that come with having those things in your life.
So here was a couple without any grandchildren or a chance of ever having grandchildren at all, showing up, and saying “we will be your kids grandparents.” Are you serious God? How in the world our God can take something so broken, and make it beautiful, I am just in awe of. His goodness continues to amaze me.
Though my heart did deeply desire adopted grandparents for the kids, I knew that prayer may never get answered, but the fact that it did….I am so humbled by. Our God is so good to know the deepest needs and desires of all of His children. He honestly hit it out of the park, and gave me more than I even asked for or expected. They come to birthday parties, soccer games, watch kids for me when I need to work, etc. AND they live in our neighborhood!!! I can literally walk to their house! Seriously…only God can work out and piece together all the details like that!
Here is a picture of all of us together between Easter Services at church this past spring:
We have worked hard as a group to find a balance to respect the relationship our kids have with their blood grandparents, and now these grandparents. We chose to have them call them (once they were comfortable with it) different grandparent names to preserve and respect the importance of the relationships they already have with my parents and Dave’s parents. So they kids call them, Oma and Opa which means Grandma and Grandpa in German. Initially, I think all of us were in a dazed and confused “is this really real state?” We were waiting for the blessing to be taken away, and now they feel like family. They have proven themselves trustworthy, and safe, and they are a huge part of our lives here.
They have been a part of our church for a long time. The people who connected us knew their story, and walked with them through Emily’s death, and the darkest parts of their lives, and so to see them receive such a ridiculous blessing after so much darkness…was just a true joy for people to be a part of. Many have described to me what it’s been like watching them since they have gotten to know us, and they say “it’s like a huge cloud has been lifted, and they have found joy once again.”
Not only are they good to our kids, but they are so good to us. In true parent fashion, they have stepped in even to help parent us when our own parents are so far away….showing up with tools we need, helping with a house project, always having a full table of food when we come over, taking the kids so we can have a date night, and so many more. I tear up now just thinking about it….you truly don’t realize how much you take for granted until your family isn’t down the street anymore. Our family can never be replaced, but it’s so nice to have a hug from someone when your own mom and dad are 850 miles away.
Just this morning I was reading in the book of John, and in Chapter 1 vs 4 and 5 it says this:
“His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.”
I love that so much! He. Is. Light! And He shines despite the darkness!!
I pray that this is an encouragement to you today. That you would never give up hope despite your circumstances. Oma and Opa (or as Dave and I call them, Rick and Cindy 🙂 have walked through one of my worst nightmares, and to see light continue to shine, hope in God still present, and God providing for each of us…..no matter what we face today, we don’t ever have to give up hope because we have Him!
P.S. If you don’t know who Ellie Holcomb is, I love this song by her called “We’ve Got This Hope.” Take a listen!