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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

When God Spoke

By Caryl Harvey
Aug. 31, 2014

On that day, when I found myself in abject misery and floundering in depression, I asked God for a miracle. My 20-year-old son had been murdered a block and a half from our front door. My husband, Charlie, was grieving too, but he was trying to go on with life. I was not. Charlie wanted to rebuild our family without our beloved Chad. I did not.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want my family; I loved them desperately. But Chad’s death created a black hole that swallowed up everything and everyone, even my 13-year-old daughter, Sarah.

Every day, when I awoke, I was disappointed. I was angry too ... mostly at God. But railing at the Creator only made me sink deeper into my sadness. Finally, on that day, I asked Him for help.

“God,” I said a couple of weeks before Christmas, “I need a miracle. Otherwise, I believe I’ll die.”

No voice thundered from heaven.

My miracle came a few nights later. There was a knock at the front door sometime around 9. Sarah bounded down the steps to answer and came back looking puzzled. No one was at the door, but in her hands she held a strange offering. An evergreen branch in a Styrofoam base held a silly-looking plastic bird. There was an envelope with it, and Sarah tore it open.

“On the first day of Christmas,” a note read, “my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree. We couldn’t find a partridge and our pear tree died, so you’ll have to accept this bluebird in a pine tree.”

It was silly. Then we noticed the other piece of paper in the envelope ... Scripture about God telling Elizabeth she was going to be a mother. And the next night more Scripture came, along with two turtle candies taped to the top of a Dove chocolate bar. “On the second day of Christmas ... ”

Every night, for 12 nights, we received an anonymous package. Every night there was Scripture leading to the birth of the Savior. And I began to anticipate the gifts. More than that, I started looking forward to the next day, and I planned what I would cook and what I would wear. It was anticipation, and depressed people do not anticipate. God had spoken.

Slowly, I recovered and resumed my life as wife, mom and church organist. God and I were on speaking terms again. Sarah grew older and began to date a wonderful young man who had a terrible secret. His mother was unstable and emotionally unable to care for her family. Greg’s little sister was in jeopardy, and he and Sarah asked Charlie and me if we would take the girl. We said no.

It wasn’t that we didn’t want to help, but we were still struggling to recover from our trauma, and we were far too vulnerable to assume the care of a teenaged girl. Sarah and Greg knew our hearts would not resist the sweet, dark-eyed 13-year-old for long. They brought her to family dinners and dropped her off to spend Saturdays. Eventually, there was nothing left to say but yes.

By the time we made that decision, though, Michelle was already in the foster care system. To get her, we had to become certified. We applied at our county social services, and they began the long process. Months went by. The county department was splintering and short-staffed.

One thing after another bogged down our application. County representatives made appointments to come for interviews and never showed up. They didn’t get the paperwork completed. Finally, they agreed to allow a neighboring county to do our home study.

The caseworkers made a 50-mile trip only to have our county change its mind at the last moment and send them back. It was infuriating and frustrating.

I asked God to intervene and facilitate the process. He didn’t get back to me on that. We apologized to Greg and Sarah, but we just couldn’t take the extra pressure in our lives. We backed away from our decision to become certified to get Michelle.

That was midsummer, and over the next weeks we wrestled with guilt. Michelle was not doing well in her current placement, and the possibility existed she would be sent somewhere far from her brother and the family who was beginning to love her.

Then, it was county fair time. On the Sunday of the fair, there is a community church service, attended by about 100 people. That year someone from the Christian Cattlemen’s Association spoke. We enjoyed his message, and at the end of it he invited his wife to introduce herself and say a few words.

The woman came to the podium and spoke a few words about her recovery from an automobile accident. Then she looked out over the small crowd and said, “I want to tell you that if God is speaking to you about being a foster parent but you are hesitating, you need to go forward with it.”

Charlie and I looked at one another in shock. It could mean no one but us. Tears formed, and then gushed as we recognized God’s hand working. God’s voice speaking.

That was 13 years ago. Since then, Greg and Sarah have married and given us three wonderful grandchildren. Michelle is ours too; we adopted her as soon as she was available. She and her husband have four lively, beautiful children.

With our two other daughters and their families, we are a force to be reckoned with on holidays. Later, we adopted our sons Matt and Marques. And 58 youngsters have come through our doors as foster children.

We don’t know how our lives will affect those kids. Or their kids. We don’t know God’s long-term plan for our lives.

What we do know is that on those two momentous occasions, and probably on many more, God took a hand in our lives. He moved to heal depression and to bring security and His presence into a child’s life. What we do know is that God spoke.

CARYL HARVEY attends Holyoke (Colo.) Assembly of God.


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