It started with a red box.
A shiny red gift box that was left on our porch this summer. There was no way the giver could have know the crushing reality of that day. It had been the day that our deepest fears about the circumstances were confirmed. It was the day we knew we really needed to make the turn we’d already begun. And then the box.
You need to know. We didn’t want it to be this way. It isn’t what we prayed for. The miracle wasn’t supposed to look like this. For 5 years we marched faithfully toward what we believed would be the Lord bringing the impossible to reality. We prayed and prayed for redemption of a family. We believed we would see kids return to their parents.
Then the whispers. “Turn. Come this way.”
BUT LORD. That’s not the way. I know you can split this sea. I know you can move this mountain. I know you can restore this family. I know you can conquer and heal and overcome. WE NEED TO GO STRAIGHT THROUGH.
“Not this time. This time we are going to turn.”
BUT LORD. YOU CAN DO THIS! Why won’t you do this? We can’t give up now. So much effort. So much time. So much heart. All laying here. Right here. THIS WAY. PLEASE LET IT BE THIS WAY.”
“Turning is not quitting. I’ll go every step with you. Redemption is this way.”
And so, in February, with a deep collective sigh, we started a slow wide right turn. We packed up nine fragile hearts and started traveling toward a new definition of redemption. The hardest part was the unknown. Were we really turning the way we should? What would it look like? There was such low visibility about what was ahead that we felt we were walking blindly. With 7 kiddos in tow.
And then, a few months later, the red box.
The note inside said we should use the money (the LOTS of money) however we wanted- for needs or frivolous fun. So for a minute we dreamed a bit about Disney World or other crazy spontaneity. But really we knew. We knew exactly what the money was for and we knew why it had come that day. So we stored it away. It wasn’t quite time, but it propelled us to keep turning. It affirmed that although we couldn’t see ahead, we were turning the right way.
No one knew, but months and months ago, at the beginning of our turn, Ricky actually said, “A van. When transportation shows up so that we can all ride together. That’s how we’ll know that this is what we are supposed to do.” Because for months we’d been doing the temporary- driving two cars while we cared for 7 kids “for a while”. But a bigger van- a van with seats for everyone- in that van we’d know that we were forever 9.
Because the Lord is gracious with our tender hearts, He didn’t just drop a van in our driveway the next day. Instead there were gifts, building the van fund a little at a time. I think he knew that a turn like this would take some time. We needed the van to get put together in pieces, like a crumb trail guiding us along the turn. With each piece of the gift, a piece of our hearts turned, too. As money was provided, provision was proclaimed. The partnership was affirming that we may be turning into unknown but we aren’t turning alone. All of it was affirming that even though we SUCK at this sometimes, screwing up royally many days….redemption does indeed lie ahead.
Isn’t it just pretty fitting that the physical picture of our WIDE RIGHT is a giant vehicle that does just that….makes wide turns. In the last week, right up until the day we picked up our new ride, another group of more than 20 families got together to finish up the van fund. It was a group of some of our nearest and dearest and please don’t ask me to talk about it in person because UGLY CRY. The luxury and lavishness of such a gift is not lost on us. We know this isn’t something we HAD to have and we are incredibly humbled. But we are also so very grateful, astounded and most of all AFFIRMED.
Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for being a huge part of our story. Thank you for making this turn a little bit easier (and a whole lot fancier). Thanks to you, the nine of us are riding together! And there is joy…