ONE OF H1S FAITHFULNESS STORIES
One of H1S is a 10-week series telling the Sage Harvest story of how two became ten ... and a jerky store.
For as long as I can remember, D.C. Williams had longed for a baby boy.
We’re both huge baby people, and as we grew our family more often through adoption of older children than through biological babies, that warrior of mine yearned for an infant son.
We’d had baby girls.
We’d had older girls.
We’d had older boys.
Never a baby boy.
Because of deployments and cross country moves, that sweet man had essentially missed the two babies we did bring into our home, and our house was getting fuller as we were getting older.
With six children now under our roof, we felt we had only just a little more room to grow. But we had two different ideas about how that should happen.
I thought if we were adding humans to our raging dumpster fire, it should be the kind who relied on adoption to provide the resources and medical care and unconditional love they needed to survive.
He desperately wanted a baby.
He so desperately wanted a baby that when I would remind him of the sleep deprivation that accompanies a baby, this man (who loves me madly but might even love sleep more than me) promised that HE would be the one to take every night shift with our baby. I would argue that while he does have freakishly long arms, he could not in fact reach the baby’s crib from the other continents where he spends most of his time and that I would probably be the one stuck with the middle-of-the-night baby gig. (Spoiler: I was right.)
We were discussing the best way to grow our not-so-little crew when a baby whose surgery we had helped to sponsor through the jerky store took a turn for the worst. He had a serious heart condition, and without the kind of surgeries he could receive only in the United States, he likely wouldn’t make it.
We’d watched a child we’d been praying about adopting actually die before we ever submitted the paperwork, and seeing this little guy we had prayed for and fundraised for take a turn for the worst broke our hearts.
We’d raised money for his surgery, but the surgery he needed to save his life was the kind he couldn’t receive as an orphan in China.
Although he desperately wanted a baby boy made from scratch, D.C. wanted LIFE for this child more, and without blinking, that father of then-six relinquished his baby dreams and insisted we run to this little man instead.
We submitted our application to adopt this little heart baby in May 2017.
And two days later, God gave us a hard no …
… when I found out I was already pregnant.
Because couples can’t be expecting while pursuing Chinese adoption, this halted our process to chase after this boy we had been fiercely praying for.
And one month later, China changed their eligibility requirements for families, excluding families with six or more children from adopting.
In H1S grace, God turned our wheel before China would have a month further into the process.
But D.C. didn’t know that these events would occur when he let go of his dream and instead chased mine. He was simply faithful to say “yes” to any child God might place in our home. And knowing that made carrying this sweet baby he had been longing for all the more special.
I stumbled through the first trimester of pregnancy, feeling hopelessly unproductive and completely exhausted, and D.C. deployed in the fall.
I knew that D.C. would love any child who came into our home, but I also knew the deep desires of his heart.
He so badly wanted a baby boy and I so badly wanted it for him. So we both eagerly awaited the appointment that would tell us what we were growing.
My ultrasound appointment to discover the gender of the child we were carrying fell during his deployment, and I wanted to do everything possible to include him on the aspects of the pregnancy he was missing. So I purchased cupcakes with gender-colored filling for our little crew and got that man on Facetime.
The night of my ultrasound appointment, we all gathered around the computer, girls and boys on my end rooting for another member of their own teams, D.C. staring back at us from a screen across the ocean, all of us dying to know whether the seventh member of our team would be sleeping in the boys’ room or the girls’ room in years to come.
That’s when the kids bit into their cupcakes to reveal the icing color that was an answer to D.C.’s years of prayers.
We were having a baby boy.
We all just celebrated and cheered as we watched tears stream down our 2D soldier’s face.
D.C. returned from that deployment, and the little man we nicknamed “Ocho” came into our home for respite a couple weeks later.
By January, our house was bustling.
I was nine months pregnant, seven little people were stomping up and down our stairs and D.C. was both working in the office every day and completing an online class every night.
I had just dropped the kids off at school when I felt off and thought I might be going into labor.
D.C. was working from home that day, and he drove me to the hospital. My contractions weren’t strong enough to admit me, but I had a fever and high ketones, and because of that, they admitted me right away.
We are still giving thanks that they did, because by the time the nurses got that baby on a monitor, his little heart rate was sky rocketing and then plummeting, over and over again.
For four hours, D.C. and I watched the baby he had longed and prayed for for years ride a monitor roller coaster wave, until, for 45 minutes during a bedside ultrasound, they couldn’t get the baby to move at all. They prodded him, they poked him from outside my belly, and he just wasn’t responding, not even with one finger.
That’s when the doctor entered the room.
“So we can do this somewhat calmly and have a c-section now, or we can watch this baby deteriorate and end up in an emergency c-section a little farther down the line.”
Although we both knew what the recovery of a c-section would look like inside a military family of ten (nearly impossible), we knew that we were not willing to risk anything when it came to this little guy whose seven big brothers and sisters couldn’t wait to meet. It was an easy decision.
The anesthesiologist quickly entered the room and administered an epidural and some sort of amazing drug cocktail that made a major surgery sound enticing, and D.C. suited up to prepare for his first delivery via c-section.
At one point, from the other side of the curtain, I began feeling nauseous.
“D.C., I think I need you to leave. I might throw up and I don’t want you to see me,” I informed him.
“Baby, I’m literally looking at your uterus right now, so I think you can throw up in front of me without being embarrassed.”
How I loved that man who laughed with me through an urgent c-section and who, while watching the procedure, even reassured me that my inner beauty matched that of my outer beauty.
“If you are looking at my uterus, then I have to know, on a scale of 1 to 10, how hot is it?” I asked him.
“Baby,” he said in that same adoring voice he’d used from that first love note he’d tossed me in elementary school, “it’s definitely a 15.”
Within five minutes, the doctor delivered the little boy we were beginning to fear we might lose. But he was compromised with a cord wrapped around his neck, and before D.C. could hold him, the NICU team had to work their magic.
And after I heard the most amazing sound — the cry that let me know that our little boy would indeed be okay — I watched as D.C. held the boy he had prayed into existence.
In that operating room, with tears in my eyes, I gave thanks for a beautifully obedient and surrendered man, one who had let go of his dreams of a baby boy over and over again in order to hold children that needed a father more than he needed a baby. I gave thanks for a good and faithful God who knows and cares about the desires of our hearts, and I gave thanks for the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen.
Our little Jedi.
Although babies come with all the work and sleep deprivation a mama can imagine, they also do something so simple and beautiful.
They bring joy and healing into the home.
The same day I delivered Jedi, our little “Ocho” (who at that time was still simply in our respite care and not our legal child), was scheduled to return to his home state to complete a medical procedure at the hospital where he had first had surgery.
But after spending two months inside our home, the thought of a transition put him into total emotional turmoil.
The day-of cancellation of that plan we had no control over caused equally as much damage.
That boy we had grown to so deeply love couldn’t look at us or touch us, the people who had broken his sense of security and trust, for six weeks.
But this boy who was hanging by an emotional thread WAS able to be tender with the new BABY.
As was the rest of the household.
We’d always heard concerns that babies in big families don’t get a lot of attention.
But those people were apparently not talking about ours.
As the youngest of eight children, Jedi was simply smothered from the day he came home.
Every coo and kiss and cuddle came with a fully-committed Jedi fan club and seven “ooing” and “awing” admirers.
The kids were all in love, and D.C. and I couldn’t have been more smitten.
It was the first time in our baby-delivering lives where we weren’t counting those first 10 days together and trying to cram every memory and task into one week before D.C. had to deploy. We had weeks on end to just hold and love on this little miracle together in the same household — our team of 10, all under one roof.
D.C. and I had four beautiful months together to share all-night shifts of holding a refluxing baby upright and calling “dibs” on diaper changes because neither one of us wanted to miss a thing.
D.C. couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on any chapters of our new baby’s life, but deployments loomed and hard goodbyes were inevitable.
When Jedi was four months old, D.C. accompanied us on our flight to California for our annual summer family reprieve and then immediately deployed.
I returned from our California vacation on a flight with eight kids, a baby, a wheelchair, a month’s worth of medical supplies and a God who I now knew showed up in the mess and the mundane.
Because I had learned that here, right here in the mess of moving eight kids and one wheelchair through airports and across the country, with a screaming baby strapped to my chest and a husband on another continent — right here in this mess, holy is happening.
This brood, comprised of mostly strangers turned family and then family turned best friends navigating through life together looks messy and wild, but to me, it is also looks like sacredness unfolding in an airport.
The God who I had once confined to Sundays, to holier establishments and more devout people, dwelled with me here in the airport, here in the long days of unexpected deployments and here through the challenges of choosing children who were born into hard and unfair circumstances. Right here, in the everywhere.
Today, we’re a family of ten, and God is still showing up in who my children are and in who they are becoming.
Deacon is the kindest, most loving big brother and son anyone could ever ask for. He will play games, fix toys and amuse the kids with his origami skills for hours on end. He is everyone’s favorite, and he seems to always have kindness to spare. He will never be able to enter our home unnoticed because there is always a full-blown celebration when he walks through the door. Little voices squeal, “Deacon’s home” every single time, and our hearts leap everytime we realize that we GET to be his home.
Salem is a bright and beautiful old soul who loves a good snuggle and a long book. She lights up the room with her creativity and humor, and we can’t even imagine that she spent the first few years of her life so discontented that it left D.C. daydreaming of going back to some of the hardest military training he had ever experienced just to escape the sleepless nights and incessant crying. We know we paid our dues early with this one, because she now gives us a million reasons a day to delight in her.
Canon is our athletic, dynamic, fun-loving kid who brings so much life into ours. We love nothing more than watching his little heart light on fire on the football and soccer fields. Through his “Canon-Bomb” trademark enthusiasm and zeal, he still breaks almost everything he comes in contact with, but he has restored in us more than we can articulate. His unbreakable spirit and love for life enriches our home, and we will never stop giving thanks for the gift of calling him our son.
Zeph is a faithful, hardworking, gentle little servant, and I can’t imagine life without this boy that we could have easily missed out on. We can't believe that God would find us worthy enough to steward this gentle little soul and the gifts that he brings to the world. We call him the family “calming goat,” and we often send him into the trenches when a sibling needs to be talked off the ledge. Zeph teaches us all about God through the way he lives. Kindness is his hallmark, joy is his jam, and everyone feels closer to God when they are closer to Zeph.
Avy is the fiercest, funniest and strongest little thing that we can’t even come close to taming and, to be honest, we don’t really want to. If this girl had a hashtag, it would definitely be #idontgivearip. Right now, she doesn’t care or listen to what we say, but we know that she will someday be an unstoppable force for God who doesn't really care or listen to what the world has to say. This mighty little artist, enthusiastic, baby-loving, beautiful force to be reckoned with is going to move mountains, and we can’t wait to watch the mark she leaves on this world.
Yezi is a giggly, determined, capable, sharp and gorgeous girl who turns stereotypes on their head. She plows through obstacles like it's nobody's business and leaves inspired people and changed hearts in the wake of her hot pink wheelchair. She is a treasure and just so much fun to watch grow. And quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter if she can walk or not, because this unstoppable girl was made to fly. Through God’s grace, we are just lucky enough to help provide the runway.
“Ocho” is basically a frat boy trapped in a little boy’s body, and he is always looking for a party. We can’t keep a shirt on the kid because he is too busy fully embracing life and clearly, you can do that much better if you pop your top off. He is cuddly and fun-loving and active. He is the boy who teaches us what resiliency looks like and that you can walk a broken path while maintaining an unbreakable spirit … with your shirt off, of course.
And Jedi is in that sweet spot between toddler and baby, melting our hearts a million times a day with his “hi” and “bye” and stomping and singing routines. We are all simply madly and completely in love.
We’re still what D.C. calls a “raging dumpster fire.”
But the thing is, we see the “Fireman” show up every. Single. Day.
The baby might sleep in the closet because we’ve simply run out of living space in our house, and the chaos and calamity of 10 people under one roof might make a three-ring circus look and feel zen-like in comparison.
But, even amongst the noise and chaos, there is so much peace, because I have never learned more about the perfect love of God than when I’ve looked into the unlikely and beautiful faces of the children who grace our dinner table.
Because oddly enough, we needed them more than they needed us.
The funny thing is that when you go to the broken, it is often times your own brokenness that is revealed, and it is in this revealing where we encounter a God who loves us whole and entire.
Through my children from hard places, I have been granted access to a path that has guided us away from a lack-luster life and nudged us closer to a God who is bigger than I could have ever imagined. It is at their feet, the feet of the marginalized, that I have learned of a merciful God who delights in and accepts us now, right in the middle of hardship.
When we first brought children with broken pasts into our home, I thought a family could fix and amend those hardships.
Now I know we can’t.
What I discovered is that the fault lines in those histories don’t just disappear because forever love has now arrived on the scene.
I just get the privilege of embracing these children wherever they are at and carrying them through the quakes.
The same way our God embraces and carries me.
I’m so thankful that I don’t have to be perfect for Him to love me. He scoops me up right where I’m at in my busted, broken state, and He calls me H1S and tells me, “I’m yours.”
Because at the end of the day, I am very much still the flawed, the hurt and the broken.
But I’m also the responsible.
I am called to BE Jesus to everyone and to SEE Jesus in everyone.
That means I get to live in that beautiful place of being loved as One of H1S while loving others as Ones of H1S, all while relying on the only One who can redeem us all as Ones of H1S.
And it’s there, in that space of beauty and brokenness, of rest and responsibility, that I can walk out this life as One of H1S.
Did you miss the beginning of the Sage Harvest story? Not to worry, it's not too late to catch up! Follow the links below for the first nine parts of the 10-part series.
Part 1: One of H1S Relentless Love Stories
Part 2: One of H1S Rescue Stories
Part 3: One of H1S Provision Stories
Part 4: One of H1S Verb-Love Stories
Part 5: One of H1S Resurrection Stories
Part 6: One of H1S Dependence Stories
Part 7: One of H1S Abundance Stories
Part 8: One of H1S Harvest Stories
Part 9: One of H1S Steadfast + Immovable Stories
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