Come, Thou fount of every blessing,Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
While the hope of endless glory
Fills my heart with joy and love,
Teach me ever to adore Thee;
May I still Thy goodness prove.
It wasn’t until it had been many mornings in a row that I realized I always woke up singing. Every morning a song of praise, worship, reassurance, promise filled my earliest waking moments. And as I showered, dressed, packed lunches, prepared for the day the song would often follow me. Eventually it would fade but the next morning a new would rise. The songs weren’t just a sweet way to fill the quiet, they were a miraculous replacement for noise. My first morning thoughts had often been about the complicated details of my life and never moreso than as we navigated bonus-kid-parenting. what did we need to do? How were we going to do it? Was I going to be able to manage? How was it possible? Worry. Doubt. Planning.Strategy. Noise.
But then- singing.
Don’t get me wrong- the songs didn’t take away the hard things of the day. They didn’t always prevent my poor attitude. Didn’t suddenly make everything ok. But the songs were first.
Not long after I noticed that I always woke with a song, I was reading through Psalm and came across 42:8. “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me”
I remember thanking God for reflecting his care for me through these morning songs, a reminder that he directs my paths. I thanked Him for giving me a gift of an answer to a prayer I wouldn’t have even ever known to pray. But then.
One morning as I brushed my teeth there was, laced with the song of the morning, a dim flash of a memory. Years ago, sitting in the youth center at church watching RRL on stage, and praying for a voice to sing and lead worship. As I remembered, I dropped my toothbrush and stood staring. I don’t remember why I prayed those words in that moment. That was 10-15 years ago. But I suddenly knew, it was a prayer for today. Prayed before I could have known to pray it. And answered. My singing voice is just as terrible as it was then. But during that season of morning songs, especially in the days leading up to our adoption, the songs that flowed from my lips were worship. And they were leading. They led me into the day and they led my family to worship as I sang. I’d been given exactly what I was prompted to pray for…a voice to lead worship.
After that morning realization I started making notes. Were there others? Stepping stone miracles that lead to our family slowly becoming 9, the things I had been grateful for yet not fully appreciated the way the Lord was carrying us before we even know to ask.
Remember when RRL asked me and I said “no”? That very evening a conversation/prayer time we had with a spiritual giant in our lives, Dr J. Willis, changed the way we viewed difficulties in life and our marriage, even spiritual warfare. I remember confiding this in a few friends. One of my nearest and dearest confessed to me, days before our adoption, that when I told her my “no” was an attack from Satan, she’d been a bit skeptical. Thought it a bit cheesy. But now, firmly saw the necessity of that preparation. 15 years before.
In 2005 we wanted a baby. But one didn’t come quickly. During those days of waiting we prayed together like we never had before. We prayed for God’s creative design for our family. We were open to where he would carry us and how he would place children in our hearts and home in a way we wouldn’t have been without that time. 10 years before we knew our team would be 9.
And while we waited for that design, we decided to work hard toward paying off our debt. It set us on a path to gain complete freedom from debt that then allowed us to do so many things. But never could we have dreamed how important that freedom would be until it helped us say “yes” to three bonus kids. He did that for us before we knew to ask for financial provision.
On a whim one day I taught KJ and Cbug a little safety chant… ME: “why do we stick together?” THEM (while grabbing each other’s hands in parking lots/grocery stores/etc): “Cuz we are TEAM LEWIS.” “Team” language became a huge part of how we talked to our kids. We couldn’t have known how desperately they would need to remember to stick together.
Praying for Community. Man I prayed for community. It fuels me. I thought I needed it then, but WOW did we need it the day the 3 came home the first time. Community became the very vein through which life was pumped during those early days and so many after, in a way we couldn’t have known to pray for.
I remember the Christmas when a Momma was doing her very best to get her 2 year old and 3 year old ready to head home. Their tiny baby brother- 6 months old- was crying. I offered to help, and snuggled him to sleep while singing. I prayed for him that day in a way that seemed so odd to me, compelled to pray for his life and future. It was such a weird moment that I still remember the details of it. Now I know something was happening that I couldn’t have known to ask for… a piece of us connected. The song I sang in that quiet hallway is still the one I rock that baby boy, now my 7-year-old son, to sleep with.
And what about reading Nehemiah, verse by verse, for no reason I knew for sure? Except that I had prayed, years before, to find a love for studying scripture. I was sure this was why I had been given Nehemiah. Because I loved studying it and my prayers had been answered…little did I know how that book would carry me.
The numbers. Thirteen- always my sports number, one I chose because no one else wanted it. 13.1- my favorite distance to run. Joshua 13- the story of Caleb (our son’s namesake) and Joshua and their devotion to following God when others said “impossible.” And just a little over 13 years post the surgery that has allowed me to live a health-stress-free life was January 13th, 2017. Our adoption day. Of course Pi. AND 152… the number of days they lived with us first and then the number of days until that breaking-point when an elder “coincidentally” called us and pulled us right up out of the pit. oh and btw, 52 just so happens to be the number of days Nehemiah and friends spent completing the wall. Why those gifts? I believe because He knew i would see him there- in the numbers.
I get goosebumps when I think about RRL saying “A van. When a van shows up we will know this is what we are supposed to do.” And then it did- one night a red box showed up and later became our van, a van in which we all RIDE TOGETHER. Or what about the day we got pictures of our new “family,” the very day the papers were signed.
The day I told RRL I needed some time alone. For my birthday. I thought I need some time to pray, some time to hike, some time to rest. We agreed to my birthday. When we made those plans we had one hundred percent of ZERO idea how significant that very day would be.
There were also the prayers we prayed specifically for “unity of spirit”. For an entire year. Before 4 parents agreed that 3 kiddos would be forever, officially passed from one set to the other. The barriers of mental and emotional health that had to be transcended for that to happen. Y’all, a mountain was literally moved.
These are (some of) the stones that were gathered, one a time, and placed in a monument of sorts. Together they built our family marker on January 13th, 2017. The day that marked our Ebenezer. Our place to look back and say as Samuel in the Bible did, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” (Be sure to go read I Samuel 7 about an impossible victory over enemies.through which God was glorified.)
Celebrating our adoption day isn’t really about when we “got” them. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to refer to it as a “gotcha” day. More, it is about remembering how far we’ve been carried. Looking back just long enough to celebrate the miracle that came to be. Standing on that place, looking forward and praying for what may lie ahead.
In the year following adoption there have been more stones added to our marker. Very specific moments etched in our memories when kids began to accept and transition and become. When brothers and sisters don’t even remember not being. And when Christmas is miraculously uneventful because everyone feels HOME.
Yet, there is so much about “what is next” that we do not know. So much that is daunting about the future. We don’t know where we may live or what the next chapter of our story will be. We have no guarantees about health or wealth or even what our children will choose when it comes to a faith of their own. There are a few prayers we are praying that we are heavily relying on intercession right now. But we have this crazy security. A firm confidence because of what has clearly been demonstrated in our “thus far He has helped us.”
So this year we celebrated on January 13th with adventures and cupcakes and even attending an adoption party for friends celebrating their own new forever. We celebrated partly because our God carried us to Nine. Officially. But a lot more because the day is our place of remembering AND dreaming.
We did this year. And we will next year.
January 13th is our Ebenezer.