Conversion and Control: A Love Story

Today’s Bellator Guest Contributor is Debbie Baker, friend of the Bellator Society.

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When my husband and I dreamed of our family size early in our marriage, we agreed that 3 seemed like the perfect number of children.  We had grown up in the South where comments like “don’t you know what causes that” flowed freely toward people with more than 2 children.

But God did 2 Big Things in our lives that would change us forever.

Conversion.

The First Big Thing was our conversion to the Catholic Church and our immersion into a beautiful Catholic community.  We both converted to Catholicism after the birth of our first child, then we moved to Wisconsin for 15 years shortly after the birth of our 2ndchild.  Although we missed family and friends back home in the South, I am so thankful for how far the ripples of what we learned among our Catholic community have carried our family—and our family plan.

I can pinpoint the very day I started to listen more to our Lord in this part of our life.

The Lord had blessed us with the 3 children we had planned for and I was waiting to see my OB/GYN for my yearly exam.  On that day, I was so deeply touched by the couples that came into the waiting room—God was showing me how precious the gift of children was.  I watched older couples who seemed to cling to one another, couples with smiles on their faces and fresh ultrasound pictures in their hands, and then the couples with a look of sadness on their faces.

I don’t know exactly what God did to me that day, but I went home and confided in my husband my immense desire to be open to another life.

Not long after, I became pregnant with our 4thchild.  We felt so blessed with our 4 children and cherished the craziness of our big, busy family and agreed that 4 was a good number. Soon my husband was sitting in a different doctor’s waiting room.

Control.

We thought we had it in every aspect of our life as we carefully planned it all out, under control.  That is until my husband, the sole provider for our family, lost his job. We were shocked since he had worked hard, brought the company success, and was dedicated to them.

This was the Second Big Thing.

We would spend the next 10 months letting go of the fictional belief that we had control over our lives.  This job loss ended up being a reset button for our life.  During that time, we grew in our faith and learned so much of what the Church actually taught and why she taught it. We had only known the tip of the iceberg from RCIA and we had joined so many Catholics in the cafeteria line where we picked and chose what we wanted to follow and believe-especially with family planning.

But God didn’t leave us there.  He surrounded us with a group of friends who had a zeal for God and the Church. They were also open to life.  One had a magnet on her fridge that read,

“Never put a period where God puts a comma.”

All of this new information led us to a deeper love of Him and a true desire to please Him with our lives and to offer back to him all the things we tried to control ourselves.   After prayer, Confession, and discussing a reversal, God really threw us for a loop when He placed the desire to be open to life in our hearts in the most unexpected way: Adoption.

He hand delivered the news in almost a surreal, undeniable way.

It began in a little local toy store.  I was waiting to check out and our 4thchild, Mary Claire, was by me looking at books with another little girl.  The lady in front of me finished and turned to call her daughter’s name—also, “Mary Claire.”  We laughed that our girls had the same names (remember we were in Wisconsin, not Kentucky—where 2 names are very unusual).  We connected and walked out together.

Her Mary Claire had just gotten home from China to join their family which consisted of 4 other biological children.  I was so shocked because I always thought adoption was for infertile couples and had never known anyone who grew their family that way.  God’s seed was planted for fruit beyond anything I could have planned.

I went to the dentist right after that where they had international adoption brochures on the counter. Coincidence?  Later that day, I passed a new billboard on the side of the road……it was about International adoption! We felt our Lord nudging us in a mighty way!

It took us a long time to discern if that was what He really wanted us to do, but we finally started the paperwork to bring home a healthy, young as possible little girl from China.

God must have been laughing at us as we tried to control even this plan that He had for us.

In our minds, we were open to adoption but, yet again, under our terms-“young” (less time without parents) and “healthy”(who doesn’t want and pray for that for their children?).  Ultimately, He was in control and we brought home our 2 year old with special needs. And if His mercy wasn’t enough with that beautiful adoption, a year later he showed us the face of our next daughter.

I could hardly say the number 6. . . but God moved incredible mountains to bring her home to us.

Our family is really His story of His mercy and redemption.  We have found that true joy is seeking His will in our lives.
It is only found when we finally surrender control.

Our little girls have brought unfathomable joy to our family.  When I look at them, I am so thankful that He didn’t leave us where we were. We have a God that loves us too much for that.  His goodness continues to make my heart overflow with thanksgiving!

I wish we would have known this from the beginning but maybe that was the story He wanted us to have.  We cannot undo our regret for our choices of long ago nor the action we took on our previous belief of the lie that our marriage would be better and more free under our control.  But, on this side of His mercy, I am able to pray daily—from a place of pure grace—to continue to trust Him with our family.

“The grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that God has put in the human heart. On the contrary, as Christian experience attests especially in prayer, the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world.”  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1742

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Debbie is a devoted wife and mother to six beautiful children.

 

 

 

 

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Fran & Tracy

Fran & Tracy

Fran and Tracy are Bellator Society Co-Founders. They sometimes write together even when they are miles apart—it’s no small miracle.

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