Oh, how my heart has been singing for the last 18 hours. Let's roll back a hair and start at the beginning.
I friended Fatherheart Maternity Home on facebook before we went to their fundraising banquet in the beginning of November. I love seeing the pictures of all they do and the beautiful home they have there. This is just one of the ministries they provide under the blanket of Living Alternatives, but it is an amazing one!
A couple of weeks ago, Fatherheart put out a little invitation on facebook for people to come to their Christmas "shower" open house. I'm a big fan of making one's face known to people you intend to work with/have a relationship with in the future, so I told Allan about it and we started looking for a sitter. The girl who watched the kids when we went to the banquet couldn't do it because it was a school night and well, I was really out of options. Then, Friday December 2nd we went to our last homeschool co-op for the semester and as I was sitting in the nursery, I got to talk to the teenage daughter of a woman who has become my friend this school year. It didn't hit me until that night that Alex could watch the kids, (she's everything we love in a sitter...kind, loving, attentive, responsible, etc) so I messaged her mom and asked how much she would charge.
I waited a little while for a response and as the day of the open house got nearer, I found myself praying that prayer from our experience with the banquet, "Lord, if this is not your will, still my heart..." Finally my friend wrote back and said that *if* they were in town that night, Alex would watch the kids and she would bless us by doing it free of charge this time. I was in disbelief. We hadn't budgeted anything for a sitter in December, so we weren't sure where the money to pay her would come from. She had to be here from 4pm-11pm and that's much longer than we would normally have a sitter for and we like to bless our sitters abundantly. (since they are doing the same for us!) To keep from rambling anymore, I'll just underscore that this offer was an enormous blessing to us.
We waited with baited breath (or maybe that was just me...Allan seems to have a better handle of the patient endurance in this particular part of our lives than I do) and my friend wrote back and said, "YES! We will be in town and I will drop her off a little before 4."
Oh.My.Goodness. This is happening! This is really happening. Why was I even so excited to go? It's not like the open house had anything to do with or would hold any bearing over the adoption process. The only way I can explain it is just the same reason I *had* to talk to Bev the night of the banquet. I don't know why, but God is so pulling us toward this ministry with a fiery passion. I also had a slight inclination that *she* might be there. What she? Who is she? The mother of our babies. I don't have a clue why, or even HOW that will work, since we haven't even finished the process of being eligible for adoption through Loving Alternatives, but I just felt that way.
Yesterday afternoon Allan came home from his daily stuff early to get ready. We were going to leave at 4, since the open house started at 6 to avoid a repeat of the banquet debacle. When I googled the address, we found it was 30 minutes closer to us, which is a blessing in itself, since we'll have to drive out there somewhat frequently in the coming months. Alex came and we gave her the grand tour and left, excited. We chatted a bit on the way there, but I felt nervous. I couldn't explain why, but I was and God gave me a very deep, and yet shallow at the same time, rest for the last 45 minutes of our ride.
When we pulled in, we were 20 minutes early and no other cars were there yet. We sat in the truck taking in the sights of the property as the light waned quickly. I felt "home." I could feel the hand of God resting on that place even just from inside our truck. The house sits on 27 acres that have been carefully planned for making girls in potentially bad situations feel completely at ease and well-loved. Everything about the property screams "Come to me, you who are weary, and you will find rest."
Finally we watched another car wind up the long driveway and jumped out of the truck. Walking up to the house is breath-taking in itself, this massive country home with charm to spare and all lit up for Christmas. Walking in, though...there were residents waiting to greet and take guests on tours of the whole house. The house has 12 bedrooms, each equipped to house 2 girls. Bathrooms are communal, but there are plenty. Everything is decorated so beautifully, with well-thought out colors and scripture verses to remind the young ladies there of how special they are plastered EVERYWHERE. I promise you, I would live there in a minute!
The tour ended with the dining hall where there were snacks of every kind laid out and information on the various ministries. We each grabbed a cup of coffee and in no time at all, found ourselves engaged in deep conversations with staff, residents and other guests. It was all such a blessing. As more guests came, the staff and residents busied themselves with tours and answering questions. Allan and I wandered into the front room and found 3 of the residents sitting, waiting for more guests to show up. They invited us to sit and talk with them and oh, how they opened up and honored us with their stories.
One resident talked about how she found the perfect family for her son to go to. She was so happy and at peace with the choice. (Fatherheart is all about choices. They teach the girls the life skills they will need to go be fabulous parents who only need rely on the Lord. They also offer the option of placing their children with other families through the Loving Alternatives program. This is the program we are currently working with) Another resident told us about her past and how God used the baby growing inside her to save her and how she was proud to have saved him, as well. Another resident was new and I felt drawn to her immediately. After talking to Allan later, he said he felt the same way. She shared bits of her story with us and asked questions about our family as other people walked in and out of the entryway. In fact, we talked so long, the staff had to come and gently tell us that they were getting ready to clean up.
Without getting into too many details, she is due around our birthdays and she's not sure if she wants to parent her son or place him, but she knows that she wants whatever God's will is and she has a very strong need for *REAL* Christians to touch her life.
We went to say our goodbyes to everyone we had met and to talk to the "house mom" about coming to teach the girls about cloth diapering and emergency diapering. She seemed genuinely excited and said she would have her life skills coach call me (I'm waiting so anxiously for that call! I can't wait to share that ministry with these wonderful young women!) We walked back toward the front of the house, but the girl we had felt so drawn to was not in any of the nooks and crannies I peeked in. I had a worried look on my face, I *needed* to tell her goodbye and give her a hug and let her know we'd be praying for her and her son. Allan was looking around, too and finally, with a sigh of relief said, "she's over here." We went to her and hugged her and told her what we needed to say.
She said she'd be praying for us. WOW. I've said it before and I'll say it again; sometimes we, as people, go into things thinking that we'll do something to bless someone else...but then they change our lives more than we could ever hope to touch theirs. It is that way with our Compassion kids, it's that way with homeless ministry and it's certainly that way with Fatherheart. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say it's that way with any ministry that God is actually a part of. We come with humble hearts and leave far more full than we could have imagined.
The ride home last night was so full of hope, love and excitement. I so desperately want to find *some* way to serve those girls this Christmas. I desperately want to take my kids out there and hug on those young ladies some more and get to know them even better. We got home around 11 with our heads and hearts swimming and we went to sleep with smiles on our faces. Who could ask for more? Will our babies come from there? I don't know, but I do know that even if they don't, Fatherheart will always have a piece of our hearts, because the love of God rests there and He chose to let us feel it for a few hours yesterday.
So please, PLEASE join us in praying for the Fatherheart Maternity Home. For the staff who do amazing work with these young women and the residents currently there and that the home would be full. For all the babies and the homes they will fill, whether they will go home with their birth mothers or with adoptive parents. If you meet a young woman who could benefit from a ministry like this-refer her! They have taken in girls from everywhere in the US and even from other countries.
P.S. We've had a real bad drought the last several months down here in Texas. Allan and I, (and many we know) have prayed desperately for the Lord to open the heavens and bring down healing rain on this land. The last few weeks we've had some short showers, but nothing to fill the empty creek beds and tanks. Yesterday that cleansing rain came. All day long it rained, slow and steady. The entire ride to Tyler was rainy and while we were there we could hear the droplets on the window panes and all the way home it rained. It rained at least until we fell asleep last night. As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let us not forget that his name was also Emmanuel-meaning "God is with us." And he certainly is...bringing healing rain to the parched lands literally and figuratively.
P.P.S. Our sweet babies LOVED Alex and had a great time last night! Praise God!
Love and miss you all!