Monday, December 19, 2011


On Thursday night, December 15 a spectacular thing happened.

Hope came home. 

As a mama of a Ugandan babe, this is of course exciting.
Our entire Florida-Ugandan Family congregate at the airport EVERY time 
a new family steps off the tram in our international airport
with a Ugandan child -
formerly an orphan,
now a closely-held, 
wide-eyed and overwhelmed,
 dearly-beloved son or daughter.

It's tradition!
We whoop
we holler
we bring balloons and signs and cameras 
We make a loud  huge deal.
By Wednsday there were 13 Ugandan children who have stepped off this 
tram and into our community of love.
On Thursday, though....
that number became 14.
Our Hope came home on Thursday.

Back on August 11, my friend Janna and I were having a normal playdate at her house.
We'd been separated much of the summer with one family travelling (them)
 and one family cocooning (us).
Our kids play well together and love doing so.
Janna had her 3 kids - I had my 4. 
We talked for about 4 hours while LEGO's and cars and babydolls were thrown about.
We ate salads
The kids had sandwiches and snacks.
It was all very normal.
It was nice.
And then something sincerely supernatural happened.
God spoke up.

Janna mentioned that she and her husband were ready to begin the adoption process again 
wanted the Lord to be clear.
Wanted to adopt from somewhere they felt a signifigant connection to.
They didn't want to just choose out of the blue.
And they wanted to adopt a sister for their youngest, a girl among 2 older brothers.

*This? Completely flew by me.
I was all: "Oh! Cool!"
And that. was. all.
(God must have been shaking His head at me.)

20 minutes later...

I "randomly" mentioned I was praying these last 2 weeks for a little girl.
"Do people ever tell you about orphans and ask you to pray for them?",
I asked Janna,
since I know and respect her greatly.
"What are you talking about?", she asked. 
"No. No one's ever done that to me.", she added.
I told Janna that this little girl lived in an orphanage and was recovering from malaria.
I told her we were unsure of her age but thought her about age 1-1/2 years old. 
And I told her we were unsure about anything else about her
 her status
her limitations
her health
her background
her adoptability
her availability.

Then I told Janna her name....Hope.

And with that one word I watched Hope be born in her mother's eyes.
I watched Janna's face lift and lightbulbs click on.
I watched confusion cloud her eyes and then - clarity settle.
And I heard her say to me:
That's our name. 
For our daughter I have started praying for.

She said it like a question, almost
like she was asking permission to tell me Something Big.
I was floored.
It was my turn to be confused. 

Slowly the wheels in my head started turning 
and I knew I needed to head out, 
wrangle my kids home, 
and make some phone calls.

When I got home 10 minutes later
there was a message on my voicemail.
Janna had called her husband, Scott.
She told him the precious little she had heard about Hope
He said: "Well. Let's go get her."
The voicemail I arrived home to that day,
only 10 minutes after leaving her house
 spoke these words to my stunned ears:

"Esty, I have talked to Scott. 
And we want to do everything possible we can do to Lord-willing 
bring Hope home to be part of our family forever."

That was all they needed. 
An invitation from the Lord. 
And they raced to their daughter and never looked back.

Now, it was not all over after that.
After that came the most mountainous trek of faith I have ever witnessed.
After August 11 came a race against the clock
and a challenge of hope such as I have only been a part of 1 other time.
And that was with my Rissa.
But this?
This was different...
because I was the witness, not the parent.
But I was allowed to be party to miracle after miracle.
For Hope.
For Janna and Scott
For me.
This little life has seen something extraordinary.
Hope came home.
And here's what it's done to me:
Hope coming home makes me unafraid.
I can't explain it 
but after watching it all
up close
every step
one miracle at a time
I can testify this truly:

 "...and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
~Romans 5:5


  1. Tears and tears and more tears. We serve an AMAZING GOD!

  2. Esty, what a story. Totally get it. God is so much bigger than we expect and when we get to see a little peek of his big-ness, it brings up such a huge sense of confidence and security in us, his little children. Welcome home, Hope! :)


  3. I LOVE reading and witnessing stories like this one. What a true testimony of Faith & Love. God is so Good!

  4. Ahhhhh....I can't stop crying. Though I've heard this story a gazillion times-I'll never tire of reading/hearing it. My <3 leapt for JOY as we worshipped together y'day and my eyes stayed fixed on this precious HOPE that God has brought us---His love, GRACE and mercy overwhelmed every crevice of my heart!

  5. Adore this with my whole heart. Love you, sweet Esty!

  6. What a beautiful account of God's hand in bringing a family together. Would you allow me to repost your words on WAGI? Can you check with the family first too?

  7. Lovely, lovely, Esty. What a joy for you to journey with the Mawhinneys in this way. Thank you for taking the time to share their story, Hope's story, your story, and, ultimately, God's story. Keep writing.

  8. Your life and your witness and your open heart are a joy to watch and a privilege to know. Welcome home, sweet baby Hope. And happy late birthday to Rissa!!!!

  9. I had a dream about Janna and Hope the other night. Nate took me by their "house" and it was a beautiful and elaborate doll house. I thought "How does she get all those children in there?" And then I turned around and she had a table set out on the lawn spread with every good food and all her family were around it. She asked Nate and me to stay for dinner.
    That dream has stuck with me and in many quiet moments I find myself drifting back to it and praying for Janna and her family. Thanks for telling me the story and including us in this journey too! I hope you are doing well, friend.

  10. Just realized that I hadn't ever commented HERE on your blog post - as I re-read Hope's story I wept (again!) in wonder of how BIG our God is! I just marvel at HIS story...and how HE has used you and Andrew to write a huge part of our story!! AMAZING!!!

  11. Thank you for this post (which I read on Grafted In). I am a bio mom of three still waiting for our adoptive son to come home. What an amazing story! It is such a great thing to see God show up in such miraculous ways!!!