Looking back over my life I’ve seen many instances of the Lord’s restoration, but two very specific ones seem to stick out and are the reason that Restore is what it is today.
This is a picture of my dad not long before he died on January 17, 2020. I’m the oldest of three kids and although we were raised in church, my dad never went. He was an alcoholic. Our home life was stressful, but we were good at hiding it. I can remember so many bad things I wish I could forget. He made me feel like I was in the way, always messing up, and not good enough. I don’t remember him ever saying he loved me.
My mom and grandparents are the ones that taught me about Jesus. I was saved at the age of 11 one night by my bedside. I thank the Lord for that night, and the peace I felt. The Lord changed me, but my dad remained the same year after year.
In 2018 he was diagnosed with lung cancer. As I was reading one morning, I came across this verse.
“A new heart also will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh”. Ezekiel 36:26
I realized that was what I wanted for my dad and begin praying that very thing every time it came to my memory. Lord, take away my dad’s stony heart and put in a heart of flesh.
He had part of a lung removed that year and recovered from the cancer, but then in 2019 he was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. I remember getting the news and going over to my parent’s house. I told him how sorry I was and hugged him. He didn’t hug me back. I shouldn’t have been surprised because he never showed me affection before, but something about that time was different. It seemed to hurt a little more. I desperately wanted to see some sort of hope.
That Thanksgiving my brother-in-law talked to him about the Lord and about making preparations for eternity. My dad broke down and asked Jesus into his heart that day. When I heard the news, I can’t even tell you the feelings I had. I don’t know if I have ever been so thankful for anything in my whole life. My dad no longer drank, he no longer cussed, he wanted my mom to pray for him, and read the Bible to him. He was truly a changed man.
Within weeks He went to His eternal home. A home in heaven nonetheless!! None of that would have been possible if Jesus hadn’t stepped in. I love this picture of my dad even though he’s sick because it shows Christ’s love in him. I’m so very thankful that He truly is a God of restoration and that one day I will see my dad again.
I never got that hug I so desperately wanted, but I know someday I will hug him, he will willingly hug me back. The Lord did a miracle in my dad. And I know without a doubt He can do the same for others too.
This picture reminds me of restoration as well. Even though it’s an awful picture of my rain drenched self, it contains such joy because of what God did in the lives of the two other individuals pictured.
My husband and I were foster parents in the past. December 6, 2012, we got a call about a baby girl needing placement. It was just what we were waiting for. The state was sure that the mother’s rights would be terminated seeing she had already lost two kids to the system and was only four days clean when giving birth to this little one. We welcomed that little baby with open arms and raised her as if she would be ours forever.
But that’s not what happened. She was not ours forever. May 23, 2014 we returned our sweet baby girl to her mother. I refer to that day as the worst day of my life, because it was. I can still remember the feeling of her body in my arms as I carried her down the hall of the DHS office to a room where we would say our last goodbyes. And I can remember hearing her cry for mama as we left and realizing that was me she was crying for and I couldn’t turn around and comfort her.
At that moment I couldn’t see why God hadn’t answered my prayers. Why he wasn’t giving her the family and safety I had prayed over her night after night. I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t enough.
But looking back if I had only known what I know now. This picture is of the first time I got to see that sweet little face after walking away not knowing if I would ever see her again. It’s a picture of two moms who love the same child. It’s a picture of a mom that realized her child meant more than that next high and turned her life around in order to parent safely. And it’s a picture of God’s grace and mercy.
God indeed answered all my prayers. He gave my baby a family that loved Him and would keep her safe. He gave her two moms, two dads, tons of grandparents, and a whole lot of people who love her. And most of all He let me learn to love her mom just as much as I love her.
Both experiences have taught me the value in family restoration and how it can’t be done without Jesus. These memories are what spur me on to make Restore a place of hope and healing. As my favorite quote says,
“There’s no family situation so dire that God cannot intervene. No dynamic too dysfunctional, no past too painful, no depression too deep.”
Building Family Ties With Love & Laughter
No family is ever too broken for the Lord to fix as He’s proven time and again in my life.
Father, I thank you for this calling on my life even though sometimes I feel ill equipped. Make Restore just what you would have it to be. Help me be your hands and feet in sharing the restorative power that only you can bring to families. I love you, Lord! Thank you for changing my dad, and for giving Malyijah so many people who love her. Go with us as we make Restore reality!
Your loving daughter, April