One month ago, our family nearly doubled in size.
Yes. I know. If life were a math problem, mine would look like this:
Mom + Dad + 3 Teenage Boys + Twin 4 Year Olds + 5 Year Old = Impossible
I’ve hinted at it here and there on Twitter and Facebook, little references most people would miss but a few have noticed. I’ve purposefully kept it quiet up until now, at least online. The situation is complicated and private. Not for mass consumption.
Yet now I wonder if perhaps part of God’s purpose in all this is for Troy and I to share the journey, authentically, story by story. For that reason, I’m drawing the curtains today and giving you glimpse inside our home.
Almost 6 months ago, we received a phone call. A relative asked us to raise her three small children. I won’t give you the details of the situation; I love her too much for that. But you can imagine the circumstances and heartache surrounding such a decision. I’ve never been more proud of her.
Without hesitation, we agreed. Naivete does that. Within 48 hours, these three children were in our home, running, playing, being kids, and changing the decibel level. Still, the situation was and is complicated. Within a few days they left, only to return a total of 3 different times, culminating in their moving in to our home permanently a month ago.
As we’ve shared this news with select friends and family, we’ve received varied responses. Most think we’re crazy. Others say we’re “saints.” I can assure you we’re neither. Nearly everyone looks puzzled. Without posing the question, they wonder, “Why are you doing this?”
Excellent question. And one I’ve asked. We were on the verge of empty nest. Two months before the phone call, our second son graduated from highschool. Three weeks before, we sold our 8-passenger Ford Expedition for a small car. One month after, our youngest son started highschool and older two started college. Eight months before I received a diagnosis that completely changed my health and life. On paper, it made no sense. Impossible even.
And, yet, we’re doing it anyway, because:
- We Can. Three years ago we bought a fixer-upper home nearly twice the size of our former house. My contractor husband has spent three years remodeling it until it’s beyond anything we could dream of or deserve. We have more than enough space for everyone. Additionally, we’re self-employed, allowing us a little extra freedom to rearrange schedules and adapt. And our three boys are nearly grown, not to mention fully supportive. It’s not convenient, not simple, not affordable, certainly not easy. But we can do this.
- It’s Right. In 2008, after returning from two weeks in the poorest area of South Africa, I tattooed Isaiah 58:10 on my ankle. I didn’t want to forget, didn’t want to get so comfortable in my suburban life that I’d forget the faces and the stories of the lost and discarded. I wanted it to matter to me for more than a two-week mission trip. Over the past several months as we’ve considered this change, I’ve been haunted by that verse, not to mention countless others testifying to our responsibility to the poor, needy, wounded and unwanted. Compassion is nothing but 10 letters unless it’s active. As my youngest son said, “Mom, this is what family is all about.” Exactly.
- He’s In It. For most of our marriage, Troy and I have talked about selling everything we own and moving to a mission field once our boys are grown. After that first phone call last July, we both felt as if God was saying, “You said you’d go anywhere for Me. Instead, I’m bringing the mission field to you. Still game?” Trust me when I say it’s one thing to dream, another thing to DO. One thing to say, “Here I am, send me” and another thing to strap on your shoes and start walking. Still, I don’t believe God asks us to do the impossible and then passes it off like a baton in a relay. Instead, I believe He is with us in it. And we’re going to see Him. There’s nothing I want more.
A friend recently told me, “Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean you’re not called to it.” This is hard. One of the hardest things we’ve done. Our early naivete melted into stark reality. We’re tired, overwhelmed, and grieving our old, simpler life. But we’re also excited, blessed, and embracing this beautiful new one. It’s not the adventure we anticipated, but it’s the adventure we’ve been ask to take.
And we’re saying “Yes.”
Are you facing something that appears impossible right now? How are you coping with it?
Michele – I am sooooo excited to hear about this! How cool for you and Troy to be embarking on this adventure! I know it is not and will not be a cake walk. But your hearts are in it and more importantly, God is in the center. Keep seeking Him and He will take you places and show you things that you could never dream, think or imagine! I can’t wait to hear more about your new family members!!!
Christy, it IS exciting, even in all the chaos. Calling it an adventure helps! Haha. Thanks for being with us in it.
Wow Michele! How beautiful! I too have heard the Lord remind me “you said you’d go anywhere and do anything for me, did you mean that?” Courage, peace, and a great and affordable babysitter is what I’ll pray for you. What a wild adventure!! I sense God is serious about us not having comfort as our idol. I loved when you said “we will see him…and I want nothing more.” I know you will see him in maple syrup covered plates and profound ways children have access to understanding the kingdom. Adding this all to my prayer list. Love to you and the whole house full!
Lol … “Courage, peace and an affordable babysitter.” The perfect prayer! I agree … comfort can be a wicked-strong idol. Thank you for your presence, your encouragement, and the prayers I KNOW you’ll be praying!
You are precious to me! I am honored to call you friend. Beautifully said, tenderly thought through, and wonderfully trusting in God! I am proud of you…and so is God! May he be with you in the triumphs and trials of this new endeavor. How blessed those little three are!
Sarah, how thankful I am for you! In many ways, I believe our time together last November set the stage for the past 15 months of adventure. You and I had no idea what was to come, but He knew.
Thanks, Bryan. As always, you are an unwavering source of encouragement. Thankful.
Wow- you inspire me to take a good look at my own life. Sometimes I get so comfortable trying to protect my time, my kids, my ‘life’- when really it’s suppose to be His life through me. I am just a vessel. You are right, it’s easy to say, “here I am Lord, use me” but I wonder what I would say had I received that call. I hope I would choose Him & His plans. I admire you- but even more- I admire Him in you. Will be praying for this journey that He has opened up for you. Love you..xoxo
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“Sometimes I get so comfortable trying to protect my time…” Are you reading my mind, Celeste?! That sums up one of the most difficult parts of this entire process: letting go of my time and freedom. These past few months have shone a bright light on my selfish core. But for grace …
You’re crazy. So was our Savior. :0)
Oh, YES. He did what everyone else thought was nuts so we could be WITH HIM. Gave up His life so we could have one.
(How do you always know just what I need to hear???)
You are a woman of amazing courage. Praying for you. Praying for protection and provision. Thank you for your authenticity and risk to give a glimpse. You got this!
Tracee, if only you knew how lacking in courage I really am! I have only enough for today, and I’m banking on the hope that He’ll give me enough for tomorrow. Thanks for praying! A HUGE gift.
Wow-Goosebumps as I read this. I kept thinking near the end of your post about Acts 16. Paul wanted to go to Asia, but sent to Macedonia supposedly to help a man. But there he meets Lydia (and I’m sure some men.) Not what he expected, but exactly what God planned. He is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story!
“Not what he expected, but exactly what God planned.” The story of my life. 😉 Thank you for reminding me of this story, Sara. Perfect.
Welcome back into the world of playdates and McDonald’s playlands. And thank you for sharing. I wanted to ask but didn’t want to intrude. Congratulations on your next adventure!
I don’t think I can do McDonald’s again … I’m old now. Cholesterol can’t take it. 😉 Thanks for the support, Jen! I know you likewise have a heart for those who need a home.
Wow! Incredible! What a blessing to all!
I”m/we are facing the loss of our 11 year old granddaughter…seeing our son and daughter-in-laws hearts ripped from their chest and shattered to pieces, and watching those closest to Makayla conntinue in the new norm. Heres how we’re semi-coping: tears, sorrow, prayers, taking things a minute at a time, and knowing God is in charge
Dear Jan, I can not imagine how you all are walking through this. Hope I never have to. But there is such wisdom in what you shared. Thank you for that.
A trusted mentor/counselor told me recently that as much good as many come with this life change, “don’t forget to grieve.” She not only gave me permission but strongly encouraged me to allow myself to experience all the emotions — including grief — that comes with such an enormous change.
I knew that you were an amazing woman a LONG time ago…now you have an AMAZING man walking beside you! Combine that with an AMAZING God, and it’s no telling what could happen! Thank you for being willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus for this precious family. I am so excited to read the many stories that you will write about how our Lord has stretched you beyond your wildest dreams, and blessed you through it all! Hugs to you!
Hahaha … not amazing, just a wee bit insane. But I DO have an amazing man in this adventure with me. We certainly could not do this without a singular commitment to each other and this family. Grateful for him. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Kristina! I need you to move closer, k?
Your story is the kind that inspires me to reach higher, try harder and to trust God . . . no matter what. Thank you for posting your story and thank you for saying, “Yes.”
Grace and peace to you from God.
Thank you, Bonnie. Trust … There’s no other way to do this but to trust. So glad you’re sharing in this with me.
Thanks for sharing that – it is a beautiful picture of the Gospel.
Isn’t that the truth? Everyone of us has been taken in, fed, loved, and given a place at the table.
Wow !!! I’m excited for you and Troy. When God called Gary and me to adopt two children we were in our mid-50’s so I know that God does stretch His children and also that He gives the strength for the task.
Thank you for sharing this, Nancy. I’ve thought of you both often, wondering how you did it. You’ve always had such a heart for others. I experienced this first hand! So grateful for you and your example.
Just found your site last night, and can already relate. Our home also grew immensely last year when we adopted three foster brothers needing a safe home. The ride has been wild, difficult, daunting, exciting, hilarious, terrifying, and explosive with grace – God’s grace on us and our beautiful sons. Love what you are doing, and I know that you will see life in brilliant, new colors through this adventure.
Wow, Ellen! What a journey you’ve been on! Thank you for stopping by and sharing in my story. Be sure to come back and share your wisdom with the rest of us. Glad we’re in this together!
It is only impossible when God is NOT in it.
This makes me so very proud to know the woman you have become and how you have raised your family.
The little ones will be so blessed by being part of the Cushatt family that God created.
(And keep good notes. I think there is a book in your future.)
Thank you, dear Linda. You’re a treasure to me!
What a joyful journey you are on. I pass your house almost everyday and think of you often. I’ll be saying prayers for your new additions as I pass now! When ever you need girl advice you know who you can all—I think I’ve been through it all now. Blessings and congrats! Love to you all! Let me know if you ever need help.
Janna, please stop by and say hi sometime as you drive by. I miss you! And I need your girl advice! Thanks for all the prayers. Means the world to me!
Michele, this is the first time I’m visiting your blog, and wow! What a testimony!
I don’t know you, but I am proud of what you and your family is doing.
May God use this testimony to reach many more people. And I’m sure that He will guide you and your family through this new adventure.
And remember: if it is hard, it’s because it is more worthy… 🙂
God bless you!
Thanks for stopping by, Cris. So nice to meet you! And thanks for taking time to leave a douse of encouragement. He is with us!
Hugs to you and your family as you willingly embrace this adventure. And babysitter referrals. 🙂
Yes, you’re in charge of praying for (and supplying) babysitting referrals. Hugs right back at ya. 🙂
Great post. It is easy to be scared of hard things. We should be, they are hard. But they are also a blessing. My wife and I are expanding our family from 4 kids to 6 through adopting 2 special needs kids form China. I thought our family was full. Then God asked me to do more. I reluctantly followed, but now I am loving it. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it be worth it? Yes.
You’re right — hard things ARE scary. Terrifying! But sweet, too. And so rich with God’s presence, perhaps because we are finally convinced that we can’t do this life thing without Him. Thanks for sharing a piece of your story, Jeremy. Nice to hear of another family of eight. 🙂
Thank you both for some encouragement. My husband and I have both had God call us to adopt a special needs daughter from China recently and add her to our family of 7. The part that’s overwhelming for us is looking at all of the financial part of the adoption. We don’t have that kind of money, but God keeps telling us every time we turn around that we are supposed to just keep going with the adoption. It seems impossible! It is so good to read of other Christians that are going where God is leading and He is there with them through it! God bless you all!! =)
Wow! I’m so proud of you – happy for you – to hear God’s voice and be in the center of His will. What a testimony you are to all of us to listen and to obey. God be with all of you – I know He is – He’s smiling and saying “just watch me work this out” – HUGS
Thank you, Marlene! Can’t wait to see God’s face and activity in all of this.
Yes, I AM facing and in the middle of something that seems absolutely impossible right now, but I’m at peace and that really makes NO sense to those who don’t understand the grace of God. THANK YOU for the reminder. I’m still waiting to see what the “mission” is – not convinced that I’ve fully found it yet, but walking as closely to Him as I know how to and I appreciate your encouragement through this blog!
I’m so glad my chaos encouraged you, Carol. 🙂 You KNOW you are in the center of God’s hand. He will not let you go! And He is fabulous at felling Goliaths.
Oh, friend. That’s about all I can say. That and my Bubba keeps asking when his new friends can come over, the very ones he likes so much that he can’t remember their names (it’s a guy thing and apparently starts young!). So the invitation still stands–and we serve low-cholesterol snacks here.
“Oh, friend” is exactly what we need to hear! It helps to know we have friends with us in this. As they say, it takes a village. The kids would love to hang out with your sweet boy – anytime. And me with you!
Wow, Michele — I am utterly speechless, but yet not surprised. You have been a servant of Jesus your whole life, and He knows His perfect plan can be safely entrusted to you to fulfill in a wonderful, powerful way. How huge and how magnificent that is. And, despite the overwhelming day-to-day fatigue and weariness that might (already has!) set in, it must feel absolutely fabulous to know that God is infusing you and Troy with the necessary strength and wisdom that is required with this enormous responsibility. I keep thinking of the verse that says in our weakness, He is made strong. And He promises that His grace is sufficient for our every need. He doesn’t take us where He isn’t able to lead and accomplish great things through us….if we are willing. And YOU and TROY are willing!! Praise God for servants such as you both. Your children (ALL of them!!) will be eternally blessed. I’m proud of you–beyond what words can convey.
How huge and magnificent HE is! I know you love Him just as I do, dear Leah Ann. And as crazy and overwhelming as this is, I trust Him. I do. So grateful to have your wisdom and leadership in my life
Michele, that is a beautiful story! I tip my hat off to you and Troy and your family. I agree that raising a family isn’t easy. But God is always with you and he is watching over you and Troy and your family. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. You and Troy have showed me this thought the years we have known each other. And you continue to amaze me in you strong faith and obedience towards what he asks of you and your family no matter how hard it may be. Some day I hope to have my faith and relationship with God to be this strong. I will always continue to pray and lift you up as you and your family continue doing what God has asked of you. And if you ever need a trust-worthy, honorable, and friendly babysitter give me a ring!
Thank you for your kind comments, Hannah. And the verse you mentioned is the first I memorized as a young girl. A good reminder for me! Your life is a gift, girl, and thank you for blessing my life with it.
Hi Michele. I came over from Michael Hyatt’s blog to get to know you better. This post says a lot. I obviously don’t know the situation you are dealing with, but I do know because I am an adult child of an alcoholic, mentally ill mother, that ANY difference you can make in the life of a child (x3!) is worth it. God bless you, and your family, and these 3 precious children as you make a family. This post makes my heart happy. Thank you.
I can’t tell you how good it was to read your comment, Kelly, especially knowing you’re a grown-up version of these little ones. It isn’t always easy, that’s for sure. But it helps to have a vision of the life that could be as a result of love. Thank you for taking the time to give me a piece of YOUR story!
When we had 2 toddlers we took in our high school aged niece. It was a challenge to say the least.
I’ve always dreamed about ‘going on mission’ too -and imagined it out in the unknown 4 corners of the world. But, God has really shown me he’s brought the field to me, as you say. It’s not what I envisioned either, but I am slowly accepting I can make a difference right here at home.
I hope all is going well since you posted this several months ago.
Thanks, Denise. 🙂 It’s been quite a year! We’re still adjusting and learning, but I’m glad the initial transition is (mostly) behind us.
Hey there, I just now read this. Such an awesome article. I will share with you the experience that I fall back on time and time again that keeps me moving and gives me hope. One day, it was a couple of years ago now, Dominic was 3 or 4, and totally out of hand with his list of behavioral acronyms (ODD, OCD, ADHD, SID…all adding up to one big PIA). It was another morning when I was already at my wits end, pissed at the world and myself for saying yes in that moment of naviete, that I had to deal with this, that I had given up my “easy” life, thinking (again) that I didn’t know how in the world I was going to make it another 15 years like this, blah, blah, whine, whine. Suddenly in the midst of all the noise in my head and heart, loud and clear with a huge silence all around it, came the voice that said “Adrienne, really….what else do you have to do with your life?” Me: well, hmm, nothing else I guess, you’re right…alrighty then, Thanks! and WOW!
It doesn’t keep me from getting to my wit’s end or whining to myself, but, it makes me stop and remember that God is in this with me, with us, and we are not alone. And that has made all the difference to me. I’m SO thankful for the message and the intervention that I needed that I couldn’t get anywhere else. And, I also remember that “to whom much is given, much is expected”. And clearly, loving and helping this child is what is expected! God has blessed us with the finances, the school system, and the love and support of an amazing community to make a huge difference in Dominic’s life, and thus ours. XO