A story about faith and adoption, mustard seeds and Easter flowers.
This month’s post is by Veronica Reeves. Veronica serves on the team at King’s Ranch as Church & Donor Partnerships/Communications Coordinator. She also serves as a speaker for Restore Moms Retreats. She is the mom of four daughters (the youngest of whom is adopted) and a pastor’s wife.
It has been a long winter in Arkansas. And Arkansas winters aren’t storybook-snow-topped; they’re wet, gray, and just dang cold.
A week ago I was driving to the Ranch – dead trees all around me, mud puddles all beneath me, gray sky all above me – and the thought actually occurred it me: What if Spring isn’t coming this year?
This winter feels like it’s lasted forever, everyone’s saying. What. If. It. Is?
I know it’s ridiculous. I’m a grown woman. I’m a teacher.
But for a split second, driving my car surrounded by gray, I lost my breath.
I wondered, What if it’s not coming this time?
What if there’s no more green to spare?
Do I even remember what green looks like?!
I shook myself out of it and laughed. For 44 years now I’ve seen with my own eyes Miss Spring show up and always – always! – just in time. Like a prompt, ever-faithful, beautiful friend who doesn’t struggle with running late (like I do). Spring will come. She’ll show up. She always does.
And then, this week.
One week after my embarrassing-to-admit panic of a moment in the car driving to work, one week after forgetting what green looked like, one week after losing my breath for a second in fright, one week after shaking myself out of it, laughing, and believing Spring WILL come… I was driving THAT VERY SAME ROAD and couldn’t believe my eyes for what had grown up literally overnight… Easter flowers!!!
Out of the gray that threatened to last forever, a humble row of Easter flowers – some shyly just blooming bright yellow, others still hiding in their green, most looking a little beat-down already by the rain that’s taken up residence here. They lined up to say, Good morning! Welcome to work! We’re here! This place is a mess! Haha! But it’s going to be okay!
In the very same spot where I had my almost-come-apart, there they were like a crowd gathered in a row of clumps to watch a parade.
I drove right through and marveled, breathed deep, and remembered…
That’s what faith is like.
Faith is like, It’s been four days; there’s surely a stench.
Faith is like, If only You had been here, Lord…
Faith is like, I believe! Lord, help me overcome my unbelief.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for
and the evidence of things unseen.
Faith is the haunting “one thing” needed that the right-living sister missed.
Faith is the only obedience.
And the Bible doesn’t leave us guessing how much it takes.
I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.
So when those Easter flowers lined up to watch the parade of me in my car hurrying along this life, they shouted in celebration of the moment I couldn’t catch my breath, but I did. Of the moment Winter claimed to live forever, Death jeered in victory, and Gray took over the landscape, but one millimeter of Faith overcame. When I began to breathe again. When I remembered green again. When like my father Abraham, I, against all hope, in hope believed.
Of course I’m not talking about Arkansas winters. I’m talking about something much more real that that.
CHRIST. IS. ALIVE.
Even in February. Though gray still dominates the landscape for sure, evidence lines up to cheer us down the road if we will look, see, and believe.
Parenting children with compromised attachment takes a calling from the Lord, as well as the equipping of tools and an army of support. [That’s what we do here at King’s Ranch!]
It also takes FAITH.
When you, like me, start to lose your breath in therapeutic parenting… When you start to wonder if your child is worse than she was when you brought her home… When you can’t remember “green” – you can’t remember why you did this in the first place and if you heard God correctly and whether you will ever see any progress… Take a breath. Laugh it off. YES, He called you. YES, she is getting better! (Don’t forget to remember the atrocity from which you rescued her.) YES, you CAN do this… Yet not I, but through Christ in me.
A friend put this on our VIP Facebook group over the holidays, and I think it’s a perfect reminder of the work we are doing with our children.
Look for the “Easter flowers.” Take note (like literally, write them in a journal) every hint of healing progress. Don’t let the gray overwhelm you. Drive confidently forward and let the trees of the field clap their hands.
You have what it takes, little mustard seed momma. Christ is alive. And He is in you.
When I was called to ministry, I thought I was called to be a missionary and teach English overseas. I thought I was called to fight global poverty in the name of Jesus. I thought I was called to change the world. That was twenty-six years ago. Sometimes I wonder (like I wondered if Spring was coming), if my life will ever count for anything grand. When my husband and I started dating and realized we were getting married, we began to pray that God would do something extraordinary through us. Remembering to put in a load of laundry before bed and making it out of Target spending less than $200 is my current-season extraordinary.
But the other day, as I was sitting at my kitchen table across from my 10 year-old Latvian daughter, teaching her the English language with our homeschool language arts curriculum, it hit me.
I’m doing it.
This is it.
I didn’t get in a plane and move to an impoverished country. I brought a tiny little mustard seed of an impoverished country HOME. And here she is, sitting across from me learning phonics on the iPad.
And the Lord said, That’s enough.
Loving her, teaching her, hidden in a house in the woods in Jonesboro, Arkansas, U.S.A., at a kitchen table sprawled with books and papers and crayons and coffee and fruit snacks.
The God of Immeasurably More is also the God of Enough.
In Luke 17, he records Jesus explaining faith to his apostles using, again, the metaphor of a mustard seed. But this time instead of one-millimeter-faith moving mountains, it’s digging, uprooting and re-planting a mulberry tree. [Hmm… sound familiar, Unplowed Ground friends?] Roughly twenty feet tall, what makes the mulberry tree unique is its extensive root system. To uproot a mulberry tree would be a major operation. I love the way the gospel writer quotes Jesus using the passive voice in this display of faith: “Be pulled out… Be planted…” Scholars call this the “divine passive.” I call it a stellar reminder that when we have the tiniest inkling of faith, it is God who does the pulling out of the roots! It is God who does the re-planting! And isn’t that a timely reminder for those of us who are “cultivating the soil of our rescued children’s hearts”!
So let’s not grow weary in doing good. At the proper time, it will yield a harvest.
In God’s economy, my mustard seed of a kitchen table IS changing the world. And yours is too.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” So the Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this black mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled out by the roots and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days already… So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him… Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will grant you.”
…Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.”
And when she had said this, Martha went and called her sister Mary, saying privately, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” So when Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him…
Now when Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus, intensely moved again, came to the tomb. (Now it was a cave, and a stone was placed across it.) Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, replied, “Lord, by this time the body will have a bad smell, because he has been buried four days.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you that you have listened to me. I knew that you always listen to me, but I said this for the sake of the crowd standing around here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he shouted in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The one who had died came out, his feet and hands tied up with strips of cloth, and a cloth wrapped around his face. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”
A member of the crowd said to him, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that makes him mute. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they were not able to do so.” He answered them, “You unbelieving generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him to me.” So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Then Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.
He is not here. He is risen, just as He said.