Two weeks ago on Thursday, during the Global Leadership Summit Amy and I attend each year, I got a call from my biological brother. My birth father was in the hospital. His chance of survival was not good — pancreatic cancer.
While driving to Florence, Alabama, in the Rav 4 rental car, my mind spent 8.5 hrs reminiscing and preparing. It had been 20 years since I had last seen my birth father. I was also about to meet family members for the first time I’d only heard about.
I arrived at the hospital the next day around 5:30 in the afternoon. I met John, my biological brother who’s just under 3 years younger than me, in the hospital lobby. The moment we saw each other time froze. There was no past, no future — only right then. We spent hours sharing stories of our lives across the hospital bed where Donald, my birth father, lay hearing but unable to respond.
It was a surreal moment if there ever was one.
Donald passed away Sunday afternoon. The family, my aunt and uncle, two first cousins, my older half-brother Kenny, John, and I spent the morning together at Cowboy Church. I have in my memory “holy ground experiences” with God. Perhaps you have them too. They are those moments when you realize the space and time you occupy is divine, holy, and ordained. Usually these times are noticeable by the goosebumps on your arms. I had plenty of goosebumps on Sunday morning.
I’m so grateful for the week I spent with my new family learning about the life they lived and the stories surrounding my birth father. I’m deeply indebted. I was welcomed as if I’d always been there.
Rummaging through Donald’s house in preparation for cleaning and clearing things out, I ran across several photo albums. I had wondered if there was a photo lying around with he and my birth mom together. The evening after the funeral service and probably the best barbecue I’d ever eaten, my first cousin Debbie and I went through one last tub of photos.
As she flipped the the first photo sleeve up I was shocked. There were two pictures of me the hospital took when I was born. The next six celephaned protectors held photos of my birth parents and me together. I was adopted at two weeks old. These photos showed my life between my birth and my adoption. I’m still trying to figure out how to express my feelings. The closest thing I can muster at this point is a sense of completion.
My family has been so supportive through all of this. It was so fun sharing the photos with my adoptive parents. Mom and Dad were always open with me about my adoption and hugely supportive of me in every way. I’m also thankful to Amy and the kids for being there for me through this as well. It’s been a blast sharing the stories with them all. Though the circumstances surrounding my experience were of loss and pain, I walked away gaining new perspective and joy.
Our ministry with YWAM Tyler is in full motion. Amy’s responsibilities as a teacher and as the high school vice principal can be pretty overwhelming at times. These past few weeks have been packed for her. She rises early and stays up late preparing and leading with excellence. Pray for continued strength and creativity in her teaching and administrative roles.
Thank you for praying for our family and mission to help others know God and make Him known. The motto for YWAM isn’t just a cute maxim. It does encompass why we do what we do. Our prayer is for all these students Amy teaches at Christian Heritage School and all the students we encounter through our missionary training programs at YWAM Tyler to truly know God personally and be equipped to share His love in whatever sphere of influence He moves them into.
How can you pray for us? We are trying to secure another vehicle for our family. As volunteer missionaries, we aren’t really prepared to take on a car payment, so we are asking the Lord to provide a reliable car for our family.
Would you continue to pray with us about this need?
We are making the commute to two different campuses work for now, but this lifestyle is not sustainable. Over the past month, several financial gifts have been given to help us purchase a car. We are truly grateful for those who have helped us. We are getting closer to this need being met, but we are still short of being able to purchase a car outright without debt. We are convinced what God has started He will finish, and we can’t wait to share photos of the car God has for us soon!
4 Replies to “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”
Wow. Let me say that again, but backwards this time … wow!
Thanks for sharing this. Surreal is most definitely the right word for what you experienced in reconnecting with your birth family Richard!
Please talk with Amy and look at some possible dates when we can come welcome y’all at your new house. No rush. This is a super busy season. Maybe sometime around the Labor Day holiday weekend might work? Or another time, whatever. Just know we want to get together with y’all and welcome you officially in your new home!
Glenn and Carol
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Thanks Glenn. Yes, you guys are on our “most wanted” list to have over soon!
Such a great update! Thank you for inviting your team into such a personal week, Richard. God is just so kind to add this element of completion. We are praying for you, Amy, as you step into this new role. May God’s joy sustain, inspire and uphold you. I am grateful to hear of the progress towards the purchase of this new car. Now I anticipate another picture of God’s continued provision for your family. We love the Fish family!
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Thank you Jeff! Y’alls love and support means a lot to us.