This summer we returned to the States on a 9 week “Home Assignment,” an opportunity to speak to churches, reconnect with supporters and tell people the ways God is moving in Italy. To say the summer didn’t go like we planned would be an understatement. To say that life spun entirely out of control would be a little closer to reality.
In late July, after four solid weeks of traveling and speaking, Nic and I were looking forward to a little time with friends and family. A ringing phone at 4:00am changed that. In fact, that phone call changed everything. It was Nic’s mother telling us that she had woken up to find Nic’s father dead in his favorite chair. The days that followed were filled with shock and the panic of planning a funeral from scratch. A few days after the funeral Nic’s mom suffered a stroke, more shock and now the panic of determining the best way to care for her. In the midst of all of this my dad, who was present at my father-in-law’s funeral, began to decline rapidly. Within days of the funeral it was apparent my dad did not have much time left. For two weeks Nicole and I split time between my father’s bedside in Atlanta and her mother’s hospital room in Nashville, rarely in the same city at the same time. Ten days ago, at 2:30 in the morning, with me in my father’s home waiting for him to take his last breath and Nic spending the night in the ICU with her mother we received an email informing us that at that a baby was being born in Reno, NV and if we were willing we had been chosen to be the adoptive family. Within hours my wife was on a plane to Nevada to meet our newborn son and I was watching my dad take his final breaths.
My father’s memorial service was this past weekend. Our son, a boy we did not know existed 18 hours before my dad died, was present at the service. In the past three days Nic and I have finally had an opportunity to begin to reflect on the events of the previous three weeks. It may be years before we are able to truly process it and someday I will write it all down, but somber peacefulness that has begun to settle in has given me time to gain the smallest amount of perspective. An absolute impossibility in the middle of the hurricane. As I look back I am now able to see all of the ways God has provided for us, giving us exactly what we needed, when we needed it, even when we didn’t know what it was.
An old friend that we haven’t spoken to in quite some time showed up at Nic’s father’s funeral. He happens to be a hospice chaplain and has been integral in helping us get insurance filed so that Nic’s mom is cared for. Another friend volunteered to ride with me to a speaking engagement in Arkansas, and when I found out my dad was spiraling down quickly he was able to make the 6 hour drive back with me at 2 in the morning. People have shown up out of nowhere to entertain Ruby Love, who has been dragged from city to city and been the only child in the middle of mourning for weeks. When I couldn’t get a ticket to get to Reno a friend left work to fly with Nic so she wouldn’t be alone. There are so many stories, some big, some small, all tangible examples of God’s provision for us.
“Manna in the Wilderness”
We all know the story of the hebrew people wandering the desert for decades, each day waking to find the Lord had provided manna from heaven to sustain them for the day. I have no doubt most of those people grumbled daily about their trials, “If we are truly God’s chosen people why are we wandering around the barren desert? If God is so good why has he left us here?” I know how they probably felt because I have felt the same way over the past month, I was asking the same questions as I was watching my father die while still mourning my father-in-law and trying to support my wife as she spends another night in the ICU with her mother. I was even asking some of those questions as I held my new son and thought about the fact that his grandfathers would never get to hold him. It has only been in the last few days as the storm has begun to calm that I have started to realize the manna God has provided. The sustenance to get us through the day when we thought it was impossible. The daily bread when we weren’t even strong enough to ask for it.
And the next day, it would show up again.
We thank you so much for your patience during the last few months of silence. It was never meant to be this long. We especially thank you for your prayers over the past few weeks as we have endured multiple tragedies and an absolute miracle in the form of our new child. We will continue to keep you all updated as we prepare to get back to Bologna as soon as we receive the documentation necessary to get Atticus his passport. Most of all, we thank you all for being our daily bread, the manna in the wilderness God continues to provide.