The Power of Story

This weekend, we attended an adoption celebration.

Not just any adoption – an adoption that catapulted our friends from a family of 6 to a family of 9.

They didn’t adopt triplets; no, they adopted 3 kids almost the exact ages of their other kids.

adoption

7 kids, ages 4 to 10.

S-E-V-E-N kids.

Ages F-O-U-R to T-E-N.

Let’s pause for dramatic effect.

* * * * *

(I don’t actually know how to pause a blog post. I’m trusting you’ll do it on your own.)

* * * * *

What seems like insanity to the general population, is one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever heard, let alone had the honor of cheering on from the sideline.

Their story has been written (and edited and re-written) over several years. Over many tears, over many fights, over many victories, over many set backs.

3 kids dropped into an already full house; into a family that said “yes”. They fought for hope, fought for unity, fought for new life in tiny hearts that had been shredded by drug addiction.

They will continue those fights, but now they fight as a legal, bona-fide family team.

And on Sunday, we celebrated.

While this story is uniquely theirs, their journey has impacted an entire community.

* * *

r  e  w  i  n  d .

8 years ago, I married my love and moved to Dallas/Fort Worth to start adult life after graduating college.

We started looking for a church to visit (because when a pastor’s kid marries an elder’s kid, that’s just what you do).

I was adamant that we would NOT join the church Taylor grew up in; we were starting fresh (and so clean clean) somewhere else.

The problem is, every time we visited the aforementioned establishment, I loved it a little bit.

And then a little bit more.

And then a lot of bit.

First I loved the teaching, then the people, and eventually – through the teaching and the people – Jesus.

“Wait, but haven’t you been a Christian since, like, conception?”

Basically.

But there’s a big difference in head knowledge and heart knowledge.

There is an enormous difference in possessing the ability to recite the books of the Bible in one breath and experiencing a relationship with Jesus. (Even though the former is still pretty dang impressive, ifImaysayso.)

It was in this place, at this church, that I met Jesus – in a lot of ways – for the first time.

knew him, but I didn’t really know him. Know what I mean?

No, it wasn’t until I saw people whose knowledge of Jesus affected their lives and decisions in a deeply profound – yet totally natural – way that my own heart started to shift.

It was through people like the family we celebrated this weekend.

People living real, hard life in a different way – and inviting us to journey alongside.

People who invested in Taylor and I, newlywed babies.

People who did weird Christian stuff (that was actually super awesome) like coming over to the house we just bought and praying over our floor plan, asking God to bless each room. (???)

People who took me to lunch, asked intentional questions about my marriage, and made me fall infinitely more in love with my husband over 30 minutes of encouragement and a Chick-fil-A sandwich.

People who sat in the children’s hospital waiting room with us even though we told them not to come.

People who don’t take “I’m fine!” as a valid answer.

People who stood together on a sidewalk and prayed over a friend backing out of her driveway to drive to the hospital where she would deliver her stillborn son.

These are our people.

But not just our people – Jesus’ people.

And it’s not what they did for us that is noteworthy, it is how they lived their lives differently because of Jesus.

I saw this at our church. Over and over and over.

I still see it.

I saw it this weekend as I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a few hundred people and watched as our kids raised their hands to praise a God who is displaying his mighty, healing, redemptive power in a newly-permanent family of 9.

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A God who took 3 precious, wounded hearts and gave them an entire room full of people standing in solidarity to say, “You are cherished and you are loved. Welcome to our family.”

A God who took that family of 6-turned-9 and gave them an entire room full of people standing in solidarity to say, “We’re in this with you. We are in your corner.”

And as I looked around at the people standing to our right and left, I was overcome with the beauty of it all.

Because each person there also has a story of their own.

In the room that night – hands raised – was a man with a brain tumor. And a family with a sassy foster child. And a teen with bipolar disorder. And a recovering alcoholic. And a single mom.

A hundred different, unique stories coming together for one purpose – to remind each other of one God’s faithfulness.

Any one of those stories could have been the focal point of the evening, because each story is important. And each story should have an army of cheerleaders behind it.

Each story points the skeptics, the weary, the broken-hearted to Jesus. Each story reminds the faithful and revives the wounded.

When we share life, our stories swirl together to create a beautiful picture of God’s grace.

When you see that…like really experience that, Jesus becomes a lot more real than just a hipster flannel graph character.

flannelgraph

If you, like me, default to being skeptical of religion…

if you think “having a relationship” and “falling in love” with an invisible celestial being sounds creepy…

if you think church is just a feel-good place full of perfect people and perfect lattes and perfectly executed worship fog…

or even if you just don’t see the need for it…

Come sit by me on Sunday. I’ll introduce you to stories and faces that look a heck-of-a-lot like the real Jesus.

And when you meet the real, unfiltered, gracious Him, life begins.

Our stories are powerful.

Let’s share them well.

ps if you want to laugh and smile and ugly cry from now until next Tuesday, start at the beginning of this blog and read the entire adoption journey for yourself: Deep Rolling Right Field.
warning: your heart will be permanently altered in the best possible way.

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