By Stephanie Roberts
God's Brave Women - Stephanie's Story
We are living in uncertain days. The days of a global pandemic that leave us all needing a little bravery. Many of us feel like our world has been stripped away over the past few weeks: schedules altered, school cancelled, events postponed, maybe even jobs or financial security lost. A virus that was once a quick mention of what was happening in foreign lands has now become the very thing defining our every move. It won’t last forever, but when it is gone, we will all need an extra dose of bravery to pick up the pieces and embrace the changes to our daily lives. I have found that when I need courage to face the days ahead, the best thing I can do is look to the past when God has proven Himself faithful. Because without His faithfulness, our bravery is nothing more than folly.
"I have found that when I need courage to face the days ahead, the best thing I can do is look to the past when God has proven Himself faithful. Because without His faithfulness, our bravery is nothing more than folly."
It is true that crises of health can be life-altering, and our family is no stranger to that reality. Two years ago, while awaiting the birth of our second baby boy, I thought I had life all figured out. Our family served as missionaries in Guatemala. Our ministry there was just getting started, but it was a lifelong dream finally fulfilled. We returned to the States for my C-section, eager to return to Guatemala as a family of four, continuing our mission of “discipling orphans to change the world.” We were wide-eyed and excited to be living out the calling that God had given us, thinking this would be how we would live out our days on this earth.
Three months later I would find myself on an airplane begging God to help me get my two-month-old son back to the States in stable condition. I never felt more alone than waiting in the long customs line in Atlanta after our first flight. I was surrounded by people exchanging stories of their exotic adventures on tropical beaches without a care in the world. Occasionally someone would catch a glance of the sweet baby strapped to my chest, never realizing the crisis he and I were facing. No one around me knew that his dad and I took turns holding him all night the night before as he screamed for air, taking 90 breaths a minute, watching his tiny, frail body as he fought for his life. No one in that airport knew that I was more terrified than I had ever been in my life. No one knew how our family’s world was about to be turned upside down, our dreams shattered into a million pieces. No one knew how brave I would have to be as we faced the months ahead. Not even me. The days and weeks that followed were a whirlwind of doctors appointments and specialists. Adrenaline carried us through as we searched for a diagnosis, eventually landing on the one that we suspected all along: altitude sickness. However, this form of altitude sickness was fatal. We were overcome with ever emotion as his doctor told us that this condition could lead to heart failure. So much gratitude that our baby boy was still with us, but so much heartache as we watched our dreams of serving in Guatemala slip away.
Each day required bravery to face it. My husband had to make numerous trips to Guatemala to sell our stuff, only bringing back what would fit in a suitcase. Our two-year-old was broken and confused, watching his baby brother almost die and then having his home stripped away at a moment’s notice. Trips to the grocery store required so much courage, knowing that living in a small town I was going to have to recall the whole story each time I ran into someone. Then came the day, when we had to move forward and resign our role as missionaries in Guatemala. We call it, “The hardest and easiest decision we have ever made.” It took every bit of bravery we had to trust that God still had a plan to use us. Each and every day through each and every step of bravery, God was faithful. He carried us through that season. It is literally the only way that we could have survived.
"It took every bit of bravery we had to trust that God still had a plan to use us."
It wasn’t long before God asked us to say yes again. This time, He was calling us to start a ministry for foster and adoptive families. Everything in us wanted to say, “No.” We had just lost so much, and in a very public way. What if this failed? It didn’t matter. God continued to call us into obedience. We bravely took that step in November of 2018 and have barely caught our breath since. Out of that brave “yes” Be the Village was born. Be the Village is now a non-profit that has grown way beyond what we could have ever dreamt. Being able to run it, is more than I could have ever dreamt or planned for my life. It is clear now that the pain that we went through in Guatemala was God’s way of preparing our family for something bigger. We can look back and see how He was placing the pieces together all along. Through every conversation and encounter, He was preparing us to bravely step through the pain of our loss and step into the joy of what He had truly called us to.
"We can look back and see how He was placing the pieces together all along. Through every conversation and encounter, He was preparing us to bravely step through the pain of our loss and step into the joy of what He had truly called us to."
I know days are uncertain, friend. Maybe they are even downright painful, but God is working. He has a plan through all of the trying days and all of the loss. He will be faithful as you step forward in bravery. You can trust Him with your yes.
I hope that you will choose courage today – that you will choose to lean into Him.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
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Stephanie Roberts is a lover of Jesus, a writer, and the founder of Be the Village, a nonprofit that serves foster and adoptive families in Kentucky. She is a forever mama to two little boys that hold her heart, and a “right now” mama to a precious baby girl. She enjoys her days with her little tribe and her husband Brad. Stephanie writes about the journey of raising her tribe at www.raisingtherobertstribe.com as well as on Facebook and Instagram. She uses her platform to encourage moms to say yes to the unique calling that God has given them. Her family lives by the quote, “When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence,” and she encourages others to do the same.