A word that conjures up images of sunshine, swimming pools, children playing, and iced tea. For me, it’s a word that carries deep significance on so many levels.
It’s a monumental time in my life each and every year, especially being a school teacher. Some years the season screams nothing but rest and refreshment to me. Other times it has bubbled over with adventure and opportunity. Every once in a while, summer brings healing to my broken, tattered life.
The summer of 2007 will forever stand out in my memory as one to be cherished. My heart hurt deeply. Life had depleted my energy, while an unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage had broken my heart. I heard a very tender whisper in my ear, my God quietly commanding me to enter into a season of rest. I avoided all appointments, travel opportunities, and even visits with friends during the morning hours over those three leisure months. Instead, He began to woo me out of my bed each and every morning, and I followed.
I spent hours with my Creator on a daily basis out on my front porch for over two months straight. I poured my heart out to Him. I gave Him my tears and my physical exhaustion. Our conversations went deep, bringing up issues I didn’t know I still had, opening up wounds from years past that had never truly healed. Little by little, He softened my heart. I found an intimacy with Christ that I never knew I could have. I’d witnessed it in my grandmother as a child and always wondered what made her relationship with Christ so different. So real. I finally began to get a taste of that sweet intimacy. I understood for the first time what it meant to rest in Him. My life has never been the same.
God had plans for me. He used that time on my porch to prepare me deep down inside. I’d never survive the following seven years without such a close relationship with my Savior and a steadfast faith in His character.
The next summer I found myself completely smitten by two orphan children, a sibling pair from Colombia. After meeting them and expressing our desire to adopt them, my husband, son, and I excitedly (and courageously) began our adoption pursuit, believing them to be the children God had given us. We loved them from the start.
A year later, we anxiously awaited the final steps of the process to finally bring our children home. We spent the summer months preparing our home for their arrival, dressing up their closets and setting up their bedrooms. A time filled with adventure and opportunity. We could hardly wait for our lives to change. Little did we know a denial letter (rather than approval) floated around in the mail for nearly two months that summer before landing on our door step, shattering my heart. Though I tried desperately to hold on, I eventually had to let them go.
After a year of grieving, the next summer brought an unexpected blessing. The sibling pair had an older sibling. He thanked me profusely for loving his brother and sister, even though they never became our children. Our love for them touched his heart. His love for them touched mine. A close, tender relationship grew between us before he began to call me “Mom”. He captured my heart and my love. I soon loved him as my son, though he remained a continent away, unadoptable.
Colombia beckoned us to come in the summer of 2011. We met our “son”, the older brother of the children we once assumed to be our own. We visited the orphanage that I’d made so many phone calls to back in 2009. I found the phone where one of them stood for every single conversation we had. We toured the houses where those children lived, met their social worker, nutritionist, and psychologist. We took their brother into our arms and became a family to him, as unofficial as it had to be.
Upon returning home, I wrote the entire experience down over a period of three weeks. What a healing response on my part. Our “tragedy” became our published story several months later, a story that many would say helped them persevere in their faith through their own trials.
When the school year ended in 2012, our family boarded a plane once again for Colombia. Our now nineteen year old “son” needed us, at least for the month we could give him. We settled into an apartment for a month that would soon fill with a frenzy of legal activity, a series of events that would finally bring one of the younger siblings back into our lives.
Besides working four days a week at a Christian school, we communicated often with a lawyer during our thirty days of residence in Colombia. He boldly stood behind us while we watched God walk us through walls and open closed doors to reopen our original adoption case, though only one of the children remained, now fourteen years of age.
By the following June, we stepped onto a plane once again to return to Colombia. To visit our now twenty year old “son”, as well as to finally adopt his fifteen year old brother. After spending nearly six weeks in his country, we brought the younger brother home to stay. Though elated over finally seeing our dream come true, we came home absolutely exhausted, depleted. Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. Psychologically.
Faith held us together over those six years. Our faith developed our perseverance, which helped us to keep going, no matter how difficult or dark each step proved to be. Just how much had I denied myself? How much sacrifice did it really require? Now looking in the mirror, I can see that I didn’t come through unscathed. There are visible battle wounds, some that haven’t even begun to heal.
We’ve been home for nearly a year now with our adopted son, but I have struggled to be the mother I want to be. I jumped right into life and assumed all my new roles with confidence, yet I never even had a chance to breathe and take it all in. Life changed completely, but I didn’t have the time or the energy to let the changes sink in.
It's been a long road of recovery. Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. Psychologically. Maybe moreso for me because of the psychological impact of going through it twice, still not knowing if the results would be different.
Summer is approaching quickly, and for the first time since 2010, we are not heading to Colombia. I feel very strongly that God is calling me into another season of rest, offering me the kind of restoration that only He can give. It’s time I slow down long enough to let Him bind up my wounds. I will never be the mother I want and need to be until I let God begin to heal me from the experiences of the last seven years. Victory or not, God has some work to do on me to prepare me for what lies ahead. Only He knows what the next seven summers may hold.
As I tie up another school year over the next few weeks, I am now eagerly awaiting many long summer mornings out on my front porch with the One who loves me more than I ever knew I could be loved. Rest. Healing. Restoration.
What a marvelous word with so much meaning.
How does it speak to you?