No Small Thing

I don’t know the circumstances, exactly, of my parent’s lives when I first entered this world and into their existence. I just know that they were painfully broken people. And though I was only a little thing the last time I saw them, I remember them quite well. The way my mama was gentle and easy-going when she was sober. I always wanted to sleep next to her, on the occasional night that she was home. I craved her close so when she rolled over, I’d protest and beg her to turn herself back around because I felt more secure like that, her face right next to mine.

I remember my daddy and the way he carried me, sort of perched up there on his arm, all awkward-like, the way daddies carry children. I’d keep slipping and he’d keep boosting, but I didn’t mind because I felt safe up close, my little hand curled around his neck. And when he stopped at the gas station for more beer and cigarettes, I’d beg for candy, and he always got me some. I suppose he was a softy like that.

My birth parents were kind to me but they had hurts and they had addictions and they didn’t know how to take care of themselves, much less a wee girl and her little brother.

And I can still recall my daddy’s face, another time, when the police caught up with him, this worn-out, haunted look in his eyes. I watched through that car window and wondered how his hair got such a mess, my little legs not even long enough to dangle from the seat. They took his drugs and took his booze and took us kids and even though I was just a wee girl, I knew deep inside that he was in trouble and that he couldn’t make it right.

And I cried for them because every little girl wants her mommy and needs her daddy, but they were gone, again, and I felt lost. And the social workers took us to some foster homes, lots of times they took us, but we weren’t all that safe. Sometimes bad guys live in foster homes and I laid in bed at night wishing they would go away. That was back when I was just a little thing.

But, one day something surprising happened. Something strange. The social workers came to our foster home, put our stuff in a brown paper bag and drove us to their office where we met a different mom and dad. And when we walked in, the two of them sat there kind and smiling, beside that big long table and they tried to explain that they wanted us. Like, forever. And that we could live with them and they’d be our family and never go away. The social workers asked us if we’d like that. And I really liked the idea, but I didn’t know what it actually meant to stay. I had learned not to trust the grown-ups, so deep inside I didn’t quite believe. At least, not yet.

But, sure enough, we came to our new home and I had a big brother and a big sister and from the get-go they loved us and they never made us feel like we didn’t belong. And my Mom and Dad told me the story about how they had prayed for us, because God had put us in their hearts, but they didn’t know where to start or what to do. So they went through all the ropes and stepped through all the hoops and they became the kind of parents that could adopt children from broken homes. The social workers gave them picture albums, lots of lots of picture albums and told them to pick out some kids. So they sat hopeful and they searched through and ached for all the kids that God made. But, they needed Him to make it crystal clear so they flipped those pages and asked in faith that He would point us out and help them see.

And one day my Mama walked into that government office, saw our picture on the desk and she knew right away. So she told that social worker that we were her kids, cause she recognized us. Sure enough, God had helped her see. And that lady looked at her all puzzled and said it wasn’t true and that it wasn’t even possible, but my Mama knew about the God of all the impossibles. So she didn’t back down and her and my Daddy recruited some friends and they all prayed. It wasn’t long after that, that we came home. For good. And time passed and no one ever took us away, so I believed. And as days have turned to months which have turned to years, I still believe. I believe in that God of all the impossibles. And I’ve come to find that He’s the One who rescues and He redeems but He uses our hands and our feet. And He whispers His rescue plan into our hearts and hopes that we’ll obey.

And this same God has healed those wounds from a mama and a daddy who just couldn’t make it work and couldn’t make it right. Because He gave me another mama and daddy who didn’t have it altogether but who depended on the only One who does. And people say that time heals all wounds, but I think it’s love.

And every day I’m thankful that I’ve been rescued and that my life has been redeemed by the God who can make beauty from a busted up mess. And I’m thankful for a family who became His hands and feet to reach out with a love that heals–reached out to the likes of my brother and me. When I was just a little thing.

And I’ve heard about you, kind friends, how you’ve answered the call to reach out to the “least of these.” You who’ve opened up your homes and more than that, your lives and your hearts, knowing full well that there’ll be days when you will bleed.

But God—He’s planted His Kingdom dreams into your heart. At first it all started out so small, like a tiny little mustard seed. But, little by little, this dream has grown and steadily, steadily its burst forth, this courageous green shoot of grace, and your heart has enlarged and stretched and felt like it could burst right at the seams.

This is the way of Him who calls into existence things that did not exist. Before you were only concerned with your own life, your own time, happy enough just to live your comfortable safe existence, doing comfortable safe things. But when God planted that seed, His Kingdom dream took root deep down into that fertile soil of your heart, and you have grown to love and give in ways you never thought possible. My friends, this is no small thing!

 Now, I know you’ve had your qualms and your pestering fears. Like, what if you don’t have what it takes? Or what if that kid has too many issues? Let me speak something into you. We’re all painfully broken. Every last one of us. And we all feel it, how this broken, wrecked up world reels from all the ache and there will be days when you, with your foster kids will cry and wonder, “Where is God” in all this mess?

Here me out—God is always with us and He is in us and He’s the one who says, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do it to Me.” So, don’t forget, don’t ever forget that when you pray for that child with all the issues, and when you bend low to scoop them up and just provide a place that’s safe—this, this is God reaching out and shouting out, “Here I AM!” And this is no small thing.

You are brave. And God is big and when you fail, because we all have those failing days, God will be there to scoop you up and draw you close and you can hide yourself in Him. But, then just keep walking, your hand in the nail-scarred hand of Him who came to rescue all His sin-wrecked children. You are His rescue-agents. When you open wide the arms and fling wide the door of your home and your heart, you help to heal the world. My friend, listen close. I want it to really sink in. This is no small thing.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.’(Matthew 25:40)

Do not be afraid because I am with you. Don’t be dismayed for I am your God. I will give you strength. I will help you. I will hold you up with  my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

27 Comments

  1. by Bri Suitt on January 30, 2013  2:58 pm Reply

    This is so good. Your life is such a blessing and testament to Christ's love in so many people, near and far! This is coming from afar -but we're glad you're here too Maggie! Praying that my heart is soft and open to the orphans and widows in my community -so cool to see how the Lord uses the obedience of his people in the lives of people like you!

  2. by Denise Keeter on January 30, 2013  9:26 pm Reply

    Wow. Thanks for sharing, Maggie! We just finished our training to be "foster parents" and are incredibly afraid. What a word in due season your post is for me. Hugs!

    • by Maggie Paulus on February 1, 2013  10:11 pm Reply

      Amazing. And thank you, Denise, for opening up your lives like that. You guys have been an incredible example to us.

  3. by Stephanie m on January 30, 2013  9:41 pm Reply

    Maggie idk much about the true ins and outs of adoption. I've heard stories but....I'm a student therapist, 1st yr, and your story is something even I can relate to. See I view the people, children and adults, God will bring me to and vice versa as people whose lives I will have the chance to positively impact and lives I will be able to speak life and not death into. And that, I know, is no small thing. Thank you for this :))

  4. by Beth Templeton on January 31, 2013  5:41 pm Reply

    What a beautiful blessing you have spoken over adoptive parents Maggie. I'm so glad I came across this post. It is clear the Lord's hand it on you and I so love how you honor your parents. I am going to share this on our Hope at Home facebook page so that other parents can receive this blessing. Thanks!

  5. by Rebecca on February 1, 2013  2:37 am Reply

    Maggie, I came to this post via Bethany Hansen. Thank you so much for these wise, live-giving words. I'm still crying a bit of the ugly cry over your post (BH wasn't kidding about the crying) but it's because your words are so affirming. I've struggled greatly with wondering if God really wants us to add more children to our family because it just hasn't happened yet. But your description of your parents, the adoptive ones, made me weep and gave me hope. That is exactly what I want to do---and I believe God wants us to do it too. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I think I'll return here time and time again to read these words.

    • by Maggie Paulus on February 1, 2013  10:24 pm Reply

      So beautiful, Rebecca. It's neat because I don't think my parents realized way back then, that their obedience would give hope to so many! Bless you so much.

  6. by Anonymous on February 1, 2013  1:52 pm Reply

    As an adoptive mom thinking of adopting out of foster care again....thank you for this post. Thank you.

  7. by Andrea Young on February 1, 2013  8:51 pm Reply

    thank you so much for writing these words! so encouraging...heartfelt...inspiring...THANK YOU!!! i was wondering if i could have your permission to repost this??? can you email me at andreapierceyoung@gmail.com or link it on my blog (www.babeofmyheart.com) and let me know if that would be okay??

  8. by Maggie Paulus on February 1, 2013  5:10 pm Reply

    Thank you, dear Bri. You're an amazing encourager. Now, that I'm a grown-up, I'm even more amazed by my parent's love and sacrifice to adopt us. Love you.

  9. by Maggie Paulus on February 1, 2013  5:12 pm Reply

    Such a great perspective, Stephanie. You're right, speaking life into people is huge. Bless you!

  10. by Maggie Paulus on February 1, 2013  10:12 pm Reply

    Thank you, Beth. I checked out your page. Such a neat thing.

  11. by Maggie Paulus on February 1, 2013  5:13 pm Reply

    Thank you! You're so brave. You're a rescue agent!

  12. by Anonymous on February 2, 2013  4:26 pm Reply

    I have 4 beautiful daughters, 2 of whom are biological and 2 that are adopted. My family also does foster care. We have been thinking of not continuing; my head has many logical reasons to stop, but my heart says differently. I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for this post as it affirmed to me that now is not the time to stop foster care...I needed this!

    • by Maggie Paulus on February 4, 2013  3:42 pm Reply

      Prayed for you just now. May God give you wisdom.

  13. by Jennifer on February 2, 2013  5:44 pm Reply

    Linking to this on my blog in just a few minutes - such a beautiful bit of encouragement.

  14. by Taylor-Tots Mom on February 2, 2013  11:30 pm Reply

    A facebook friend linked me to this blog post. Thank you so much for being open and pointing praise where it belongs, to our God and Savior. It is only by God's grace and strength that we have been able to foster and adopt. I pray God will bless you for sharing your story, and inspire more moms and dads to step out in faith and 'do unto the least of these.'

    Bless you!

    • by Maggie Paulus on February 4, 2013  10:41 am Reply

      Yes, ma'm. God gets all the glory. He moves our hearts. (Thank You, Lord!)

  15. by Kristen Adkins on February 3, 2013  8:57 pm Reply

    This is amazing..... thank you for this story of redemption and sacrifice! I often wonder what my adopted kiddos will say about their experiences as they get older.... This is wonderful perspective for a mother in the middle of the daily grind of teaching that they are loved and safe now....

  16. by Lauren Casper on February 4, 2013  2:58 am Reply

    This is so very beautiful. I am sitting here in tears. We were foster parents five years ago. We had twin boys and we loved them so fiercely but the state gave them back to their parents and my heart broke a little. I don't know if they are safe but I pray for them every single day. I know that no matter how broken their parents were those little boys still loved them. So I pray that they are healing and becoming a whole family. We now have two children who we were blessed to adopt from Ethiopia. I will always remember my boys who came to me through foster care though - they are forever in my heart.

    ... and yes, we are all so very broken. by God's grace alone...

    • by Maggie Paulus on February 4, 2013  10:40 am Reply

      Amazing. And it's no small thing that you keep praying for them! God has angels and I just know He intervenes. Bless you, bless you.

  17. by An Inviting Home on February 3, 2013  10:08 pm Reply

    This is great, thank you for sharing! Last year we adopted a sibling group of three and I always wonder how to explain it best to them that they are so very special and an important part of our family. This was great to read, thank you!

    ~Sarah

  18. by Maggie Paulus on February 4, 2013  3:37 pm Reply

    Bless you, Sarah. Yes, my mama told me when I was younger that my parents just didn't know how to take good care of me. For some reason, I totally understood that and from then on, I just felt compassion for them. Prayed for your kids just now.

  19. by Maggie Paulus on February 4, 2013  3:40 pm Reply

    Prayed for your family just now, Kristen.

  20. by Micaela Tharp Fitzgerald on June 27, 2013  11:29 pm Reply

    Maggie!!! Thank you so much for writing! I didn't know--in college--of your amazing GIFT for writing! It's beautiful. And I must tell you that my husband and I, as we hope to adopt a baby boy in August, were just really blessed by this post. I had to go read ALL your adoption blogs. All I can say is "thank you!!!"

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