For my husband it is the scent of Bath ‘n Body Works “Sweet Pea” lotion that brings him back to our wedding day and honeymoon. Certain songs bring me back to soccer field warm-ups in college or high school trips to the beach when I lived in Charleston, SC.
This past week I was spending some time with my mom after she had undergone a procedure for breast cancer. I would wake up in the mornings to join my dad on their screened-in back porch, coffee in hand, windows open, listening to the birds and other critters in the surrounding fields and pastures. Every couple of minutes a rooster would crow and EVERY SINGLE TIME it would rush me back to our adoption in Uganda. Several things take me back there. Foods, smells, dates, photos…it was one of the darkest times of my life to date.
Every other trip to Uganda was for outside ministry and I had the time of my life. I have always loved serving the people, offering medical care and eternal hope, loving on the babies, speaking to the women in the villages, singing with the students, but this time I was there for a different reason. Our family of 5 (soon to be 7) packed up our lives to live in Jinja, Uganda for an indefinite amount of time for the sole purpose of giving a little girl a forever family.
I was pregnant at the time and so you can just imagine how strong the smells were, the taste of food was, the frustration of the corrupt system, the emotion and devastation after the news that our daughter's VISA had been denied, believing that I may not ever be able to bring my little girl home.
I don't think specific dates like September 28 (the day we left for Uganda), November 12 (the day we became her legal guardians), or November 20 (the day I came back to America without my husband and Ugandan daughter) will ever go by without the flood of memories that go along with them. The feelings of uncertainty, the “what if's” that circulated in my mind, the waiting, the questions…it all becomes a jumbled mess of tears in the back of my throat if I allow myself to go back there.
But I don't go back there to sit and sulk. No! I go back to remember all that God did to bring our sweet Alethia home! I go back to remember that desperate place I was in as I pressed my pregnant belly and face to the floor in our tiny hut, literally crying out to God.
I go back to trace His hand through the journey as a whole and to thank God over and over again for getting us through that season. I thank Him for bringing our little girl home, and for allowing us to be a part of His story, even in the difficult chapters He has written for us.
Today, though, I realized something. I was trudging through Deuteronomy, reading through the recap of how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt for the umpteenth time and then reading another round of the 10 commandments when it occurred to me that Moses (through God) had to keep those memories at the forefront of the peoples' minds for a reason. He had to keep reminding them of how great He was in order to believe how great He is and will continue to be.
He had to keep reminding them of His provisions then so they wouldn't worry about their provisions in the future. He had to keep reminding them of His grace for them then so they would know how much God truly loves His people and cares for them for eternity.
If you haven't already experienced a time in your life that brings you to a place like this, you will. Believe me!
But don't just go back to your hut in Jinja when you smell the livestock or scrub a stain out of a shirt for remembrance sake; go back to give God the glory and fill up your spirit with fresh hope and confidence in the One who got you through it.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”