"Friend Request"

  I am so excited to share this with you today.  I need to write about happy things, as I’m just beginning to come out of a sickness that’s had me down for nine days now.

The happiness I want to share with you today is this ~ the ebook called “Friend Request” that was released this week by my two older sisters, Patti Callahan Henry and Barbi Callahan Burris!  Reading this short ebook, and reliving the true story it tells, was pure bliss.

 

 

Let me give you a little background.

I am the youngest of three girls.  “Preacher’s kids,” we like to call ourselves.   My two older sisters are only eighteen months apart.  I came ten years later.  No, I wasn’t a mistake.  I was, however, the result of my parent's last attempt to have a boy. (smile)  My name was supposed to be James Stuart. But that’s a story for another day, and my parents have done a good job at convincing me they’re happy with how the story turned out.

The story for today is this: When I was fourteen years old, my world was turned upside down when my middle sister, Barbi, who also happened to be my hero, experienced an unplanned pregnancy.  I remember exactly where we were sitting on the end of my bed when Barbi spoke the words that changed everything.  “Jeans, I’m pregnant.”

The long and winding story of how Barbi ultimately came to choose adoption for her unborn child is the one my sister will tell.

What I can tell you is how my life was changed by watching my sister carry this precious child for nine months and then do the most gut-wrenching, heart -breaking, brave, and selfless thing she could ever do.  She chose life for her baby and then she chose adoption.  She chose a family who could give her baby everything she was not prepared, or meant, to give her.

On July 18th, 1989, while holding my newborn niece in the hospital rocking chair while the tears poured from my fourteen year-old eyes and landed on her wrinkly little forehead, I told my baby niece how much I loved her.  And I told her that because of her little life, I now knew what I was going to do with the rest of mine. God used her little life to plant a tiny seed that day in my heart that blossomed into a wild passion for life and adoption that I have carried with me since that sad day in that stark hospital room.

The short ebook that my sisters have written is (at least in my mind) a book about God’s faithfulness.  It’s the story of how our family was reunited in 2010 with that precious child that my sister placed for adoption 20 years earlier.  It’s a story that reminds me that God is so very faithful to His promises.  See, Barbi chose adoption not because it was what she wanted to do but because she knew it was what she was being led to do.  She did it with every ounce of trust and hope she had in her aching heart.  And God, as He always does, proved faithful.

 

This is a picture of Barbi and the daughter she named Janelle, which means "God's gracious gift," when they reunited in 2010. Her parents named her Catherine Janelle and she is beautiful inside and out.  There really aren't words to express the indescribable joy we continue to feel after being reunited with her and her wonderful family.  She is loved to pieces by us all.

I’ve asked my sister Barbi to share her thoughts with you on God's faithfulness, and I know you will be so blessed by what she writes below.

 

FROM MY SISTER, BARBI:

“Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”- St. Augustine

God is such a show off, and I LOVE that about Him! Not such an admirable trait in humans, but I could soak up the Creator’s handiwork 24/7. From the brilliant, orange sunrise to the sparkling, starry night - the earth boasts of His glory. But what do we do when the God of the Universe decides to express Himself in a uniquely intimate way? When our personal, little world has a close encounter with Jesus Christ, do we recognize His presence and fall to our knees in humble gratitude, or do we write it off as a mere coincidence that good things go round?

On April 20, 2010, God rocked my world with a dazzling display of His goodness and faithfulness. I always had faith that my LORD was a blessed controller with a perfect plan, but I wasn’t given much of an opportunity to see His handiwork concerning one particular aspect of my life…the well-being of my daughter, who was born in 1989 and adopted into a chosen family. I trusted in God’s promises and anticipated the day when my unknowing would be made known. That day arrived, and God showed off, big time.

After almost twenty one years, I was reunited with my daughter when she found me on Facebook and sent me a "Friend Request."

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I used to believe that God blesses the faithful, the obedient, and the disciplined.  I strove to be that perfect example of a ‘good person,’ and I failed miserably.  As a preacher’s daughter, I wasn’t taught that line of thinking, but I was born with the perfectionist gene, so my head didn’t pay attention to what my heart already knew: God loves and blesses the faithful, obedient and disciplined, AS WELL AS the unfaithful, disobedient, and undisciplined.  ‘Ragamuffins’ is the term that Brennan Manning uses to describe our fallen condition, and grace is the miracle that covers us in the midst of our mess.

Ephesians 1:4-6

In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in  accordance with His pleasure and will - to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has feely given us in the One He loves.

 

The Message translation of the above verse says this: “What pleasure he took in planning this!”  Amazing grace, unrelenting faithfulness, and masterful weaving - that is what God has done for me, and can do for you. He is good, all the time. I am in awe of His mercies that are new every morning, and I am grateful for the gift of His love. His miracles will not go unrecognized, as I continue to share His presence in my life through an adoption reunion story. Yes, He is a show off, and I have been given the opportunity to boast about Him!

Barbi

 

 

If you desire to learn more about the adoption reunion story you can click here to purchase the short ebook.  But be warned, have a box of tissues by your side.  God has a story of redemption and faithfulness waiting for you in this ebook, Friend Request, that will break your heart in the most beautiful kind of way, and remind you afresh that His grace is indeed enough.

 

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