Drop a pebble in the water:
just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples
Circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center,
flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling
where the end is going to be.
~ James W. Foley ~

Water Ripples

Her name is McKenna. And she’s just about one of the most perfectly beautiful little girls I’ve ever met. She glows. She has a family now. And there’s much more to her story.

I’m not able to sleep tonight. I’m awake and watching Kathryn on her monitor camera. She’s restless — sleeping, but fitfully so.

As I watch her sleep, I remember the fear surrounding our decision to adopt such a severely disabled child exactly ten years ago. I remember the relief of finally surrendering to what I knew God was calling me to do. I remember our choosing her name in faith.

Kathryn Felicity, “pure joy.”

I remember begging God to fill her with joy and to spread joy to others through her life — in spite of the warnings we had been given that she would always be “a vegetable.”

We asked, and believed, that God would work through her life to somehow further the work of His kingdom and shine light into the world regardless of how severe her limitations might be.

We obeyed, brought her home, fell head over heels in love with our girl, and watched God answer our prayers as He filled her with joy and caused her to defy all of the predictions made about her future.

WithKathryn-Guat               ForPortrait

As I’ve shared before, Kathryn is a very, very disabled little girl. But she’s happy and she brings happiness to others and she surprises the world every day by making fools out of those who focused on the many things she would “never do.”

This was enough for us. We felt that our prayers had been answered. And she was a precious gift to our family.

But God is always working behind the scenes. We won’t know until we get to Heaven exactly how He worked so many things together in this world for His own purposes.

Sometimes, though . . . He lifts that secret veil and allows us a glimpse. Sometimes when we are most in need of encouragement and a reason to carry on . . . He hears our cries for help and lets us have a little peek.

One such peek happened for us just eight weeks ago.

While sitting at the breakfast buffet in Guangzhou, China, Scott and I were feeding our new little daughter Lilyan and whispering about the beautiful little girl at the table just behind us. I could tell she had cerebral palsy, and she reminded me so much of Kathryn that she took my breath away. Her peaceful face and angelic smile drew me irresistibly to her table where we started a conversation with her new parents who had just adopted her from another province. Dinner with the Nelsons #2

As we became friends with this family, we eventually learned that McKenna’s story is long and winding and absolutely filled with God’s fingerprints and breathtaking miracles. (And I hope they will write it out for the world to read someday.)

But we also learned that her story actually started with Kathryn. Before McKenna was even born. Remarkable!

McKenna’s parents had written to us years before, asking questions about adoption. We had just returned from Guatemala with Kathryn and had apparently written back to them and shared Kathryn’s story. Then we had gone on with life and actually forgotten about this.

But Kathryn’s light shone brightly and lit a fire in this couple’s hearts. We had no idea that they eventually made the decision to begin adopting. By the time we bumped into each other at breakfast that morning, they were in the process of adopting their fifteenth child.

McKenna. Cherished child of God. Rescued from a life of hopelessness because God had so patiently guided us through our fear and given us the courage to step out in faith and bring Kathryn Felicity home from Guatemala. Then He used her life to reach across space and time, creating a ripple effect that would eventually lead McKenna home.

But things didn’t stop there, because McKenna’s parents also shared with us that other families had made decisions to adopt after watching their adoption journeys unfold over the years.


We just don’t know what will happen when we toss that one pebble and let God take it from there.

He always has a plan. And He graciously, lovingly gives us opportunities to be a part of those plans if we will just close our eyes and leap into His arms when He calls to us.

It doesn’t matter how dark or uncertain or terrifying the leap might be. It’s not important for us to know how the leap will end. He — the One who whispers to our hearts to take the leap — knows and has it all planned as part of His design.

What an incredible day it will be when we enter Paradise after completing all that He has here for us to do. Will He allow us to look out over the finished picture and see how He intertwined our lives? How the ripples of our leaps spread and spread until they formed a masterpiece of beauty and glory? Will we be able to recognize the delicate threads of our own faithful choices throughout His intricate work of perfection?

I believe we will.

 . . . And there is no way of telling
where the end is going to be.

Dinner with the Nelsons #1

McKenna with her daddy, and Scott with our sweet Lilyan

Third Day - Guangzhou #9

Lilyan and McKenna, sweet friends – both newly adopted

6 thoughts on “Ripples

  1. What a beautiful gift to be given – to see how God has used you! As you know, we are another one of the “ripples” from the faithfulness of your lives – already three adopted with special needs, prayerfully more to come – all because your lives told us it could be done when the rest of the world was saying it couldn’t. Thank you for your faithfulness – to God be the glory!

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