I’m especially pleased to share Heather’s story because we’ve followed her throughout her 21- month journey in Haiti. Heather was a featured “Shameless Woman” early on in her adoption process (and early-on in the life of this blog). 

Heather and her hubby sacrificed much. They spent almost two years apart. They sought God and they fought for years, all to bring their beautiful boy home. 

I know you’ll be moved by her story. 

This is the final week to share, tweet, post, and like in order to win Adopted for Life by Dr. Russell Moore. I’ve also decided, because I am currently obsessed with the book, to give the winner an alternative option– Crazy Busy, by Rev. Kevin DeYoung. If you missed my review/recap of the book, you can read it here.

Here’s Heather’s story:

“Reflecting on the war my family fought to bring our son home from Haiti, I am overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness despite my failures. If there was ever a time for me to doubt my faith and question if God is real, it would have been the 21 months I lived in a poverty-stricken country; where many of the people I grew to love were suffering beyond what I ever imagined. 

“mud-cookes” credit: Chelsea Landis
For the first 25 years of my life I easily tucked God in my little American box of ignorant bliss. It was impossible to keep Him there after holding the mud “cookies” that many Haitians eat because of their starvation; after sitting in standstill traffic next to a man that had just been murdered with blood still leaking from his head. It was even more impossible after a mom brought her two-year-old daughter to the orphanage because she had been raped the night before and she didn’t know how to heal her daughter’s disturbing injury.  

The inescapable pain that I witnessed nearly consumed me, yet it was also there that God’s grace and beauty abounded even more.  His strength manifested in the resilient Haitian people who suffer so much, yet unwaveringly trusted God despite their circumstances. The most beautiful people I’ve ever seen are not the ones on magazine covers in their glamorous clothes and photo-shopped bodies. The most beautiful people I’ve ever seen are rising above their circumstances and living their lives with dignity, strength and courage even though they are knocked down over and over again.

After my experience in Haiti, it feels a whole lot more real to take God out of my little box and acknowledge the fact that this world is FULL of suffering and unanswered prayers but GOD IS STILL GOOD! â€œFor what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

In my own painful journey of waiting (that feels selfish to complain about) I struggled through many fears: What if our adoption fell through? What if we had to live in Haiti forever away from everything familiar because abandoning Izaiah was NEVER an option? What if God won’t give us this desire of our hearts? I deeply struggled with the “if you have enough faith, good things will happen” advice often offered to me by well-meaning people, because I know too many people who don’t get the happy ending they prayed for — on this earth, at least. And it has nothing to do with a lack of faith! They had TONS!  

Haitians taught me about tested, proven hope – even if you don’t get what you so desperately desire. Their material need doesn’t diminish their hope for heaven. Hebrews 11 describes many admired men and women who did not get to take the easy way out. But God can use any bad thing and turn it into something good for His glory and redemption:
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed they were strangers and exiles on the earth…But as it is, they desire a better country… a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13,16

That terrifying passage gives me hope that all the brokenness on earth will be redeemed in heaven for eternity. 

I was only able to persevere through our pain-filled adoption process because God is faithful. NOT because I’m amazing Super Mom. Every adoptive mama I know would go to the ends of the earth for their adopted child long before their child could come to them.  

God lead us to Izaiah in undeniably clear ways even though it was excruciatingly painful, because God doesn’t always give us the easy way out — even when we are walking according to His will. 

I stayed with Izaiah, but I wouldn’t say that I did it well. I was mostly kicking and screaming (sobbing actually) the whole way.  I guess if you get points for just “showing up” then I’ll take those points. But if the pictures on Facebook are what people based how “well” I handled the situation, let me shamelessly admit that I untagged myself from every unpleasant picture. I didn’t need a public reminder that I looked as bad as I felt emotionally the majority of the time while everyone else was posting pictures of their blissful afternoons with pumpkin spice lattes. No bitterness harbored.  😉  

For the first time in my life, I realized the beautiful sacrifice of Jesus’ life while reading the Bible from the perspective of someone suffering. As I sought for answers, I realized that most of the Bible is about  broken, messed up people like me that grew through their darkest, loneliest times because God was with them (Emmanuel).

The truth that upheld me was how God showed up in every situation. No matter what mood I was in or how seemingly impossible the situation was. His faithfulness overcame every ugly emotion and He answered our prayers and brought us home because only He can overcome seemingly impossible situations. I don’t understand why we got our heart’s desires and other people haven’t, but I do know that God is always a good God and all that is broken WILL be redeemed someday.  

We’ve been home for 6 months and are still overflowing with thankfulness. As I reflect on the past three years and begin to sort out my bruised heart, unfamiliar emotions, and changes in and around me, Tim Hughes’ song “Everything” keeps coming to mind. God was there in my happiest moments, He was there in my darkest moments, and I now confidently cling to the truth that He will be with me in all the seasons and moments that will undeniably come. Emmanuel.

“God in my hoping…God in my watching, God in my waiting…God in my hurting, God in my healing…God in my laughing, there in my weeping. Christ in me the hope of glory, be my everything.”

The new and improved Powell Fam

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