The day was April 20, 2004. The Woods' nest was empty. The cubbard was bare. There was only my wife and me. Hurting. Helpless. Hoping. Praying. Half a year short of 10 years of marriage. The twins were in heaven. Discouragement reigned. But hope was not lost. God was working. We were foster adopt trained and equipped; and ready to have our home filled with children. The phone rang. On the other end was a message; but not the message we were expecting. A child was available; but not a foster to adopt child. An emergency placement, temporary in nature, was needed. We had a choice. We didn't really want children in our home who would potentially be leaving in a day or a week or month or a year. We wanted children to come to our home to live, to stay, to be ours, forever. But the message regarding this child, Selena Ann Salazar, wasn't that. She needed a place to stay for an indefinite and undetermined amount of time. We had a choice. No guarantee, just a choice. A choice to say, "Yes, we'll take her" or "No, not at this time - you'll have to find another place." Four months earlier, God had brought me to a place of healing from a wound that had left four year old scars.
Four years prior in March 2000, we had a little girl enter our home to live. Kelly was her name. Three months shy of four years old, her mother had just died of cancer. Her aunt knew she needed a home; and she knew of our desire to have children. So we took her in to our home. No paperwork. No training. Just a home filled with love looking for a child to give it to. And we gave it to Kelly...for three months. Then she was gone. In God's providence and wisdom, He took her from our home and allowed her to go back to a less than favorable situation. But that's another story for another post.
This story is about the power of one decision. Four months earlier from the day of that monumental phone call, God had brought me to a place of healing. A place of surrender. A place where I had to let go of the hurt and pain. Pain wrought out of loss. Loss of Kelly. Loss of Jonathan and Jenny, our beloved twins who left this earth in August 2002. Loss of any other chance to have biological children. I never wanted children again in my home that I had to risk losing at any level for circumstances out of my control. But that December 2003 day, God rocked my world. He said (my summary), "John, you don't have the right to say no when I give you the opportunity to provide love and care and hope and help meet the needs of a child or children, whether that's for one day, one week, one month, or a year or longer. Those children, the least of these, are My children; and they face greater risk than you've ever had to face. You can't let pain from the past keep you from providing life-changing love, My love, to a child that I choose to bring into your home." After that December encounter with God, wrought out of time spent that morning reading Psalm 37, I literally held up my hands in surrender and said, "God, whatever You want and whatever You ask from me, I'll obey. I'll do it. Considering the risk You took for me so that I could be Your child, I will take the risk of showing any child Your love that You allow to come into my home for whatever period of time. My call is to be faithful to answer Your call; and if You call me to take a risk for a child, temporarily or with permanence, I will do it." I took my wife to lunch and told her I was ready to pursue foster/adpot training. We did; and we received the phone call on that April 20, 2004. And we said YES. Eleven years ago today, we said YES. We had no guarantee of any timetable that Selena Ann Salazar would be with us. All we knew was that a place of refuge was needed for this little three month old, ten pound girl; and we had a home to provide for her. And so we said, YES. Our lives would never be the same.
The next day, April 21, 2004, we headed one hour west of Breckenridge to Abilene to pick up little Selena. And we picked her up as an emergency placement; but God already knew that she was a permanent placement, forever chosen before the beginning of time by her Creator, to be a part of the Woods' family. And on that same day, April 21, 2004, when we picked up little Selena, we also found out that we had been chosen to be the parents of Brandon and Bradley, who were already adoptable. So Selena came to live with us on April 21, 2004, and six weeks later Brandon and Bradley would come to live with us.
And so on that Spring day eleven years ago today, my wife and I had a decision to make. It would be a life-changing decision. A decision that would change our family dynamic. And more importantly, a decision that would change the family tree for Selena Ann Salazar (now Brenna Michelle Woods). One decision. A decision carrying with it innumerable blessings - a decision that would reap salvation on so many levels. Salvation for Brenna from a lifestyle and life cycle and history of prostitution, drugs, and separation from God. And salvation for Brenna through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Salvation made possible because of a decision made eleven years and a day ago to say YES. Yes to God. Yes to Life. Yes to Brenna. And yes to freedom from the cycle of death, devestation and darkness.
Thank you, my heavenly Father, for your wisdom and guidance to help us make the right decision. Thank you for the life you've given Brenna and the joy that she is and that she brings to our family. And thank you for the healing you brought to my life and heart from the pain of devestating loss so that I'd be open to Your leading on April 20, 2004 to say Yes to Your plan for my family. Give others courage, I pray, to be willing to trust You and take a risk to do what is right and best; even when it doesn't make sense. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for your salvation. Thank you for being My forever Father. I love you. - John