Junior high, high school, and the early teenage years are often times when teens experience loneliness. But loneliness doesn’t have to be a burden; it can be a gift when used as a tool to turn to God and get to know Him and who He has made us to be. Join me and my daughter, Lillian, in a conversation to learn how God has used this very important tool in her life.
Many teenagers and young people today struggle with overwhelming dread, fear, and anxiety. As parents, aunts, uncles, and mentors, we can often struggle with knowing how to help them fight their crippling, unseen fears. My 19 year old niece, Hannah, has battled anxiety the past five years, but she has learned how to fight her fears one step at a time. Listen and be encouraged as she shares her story and the tools that have helped her along the way.
For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram @baker.susannah.
I’ve known Nina Hendee a long time. I’ve known the warmth that radiates from her big, beautiful blue eyes. I’ve known the joy that emanates from every cell of her body even when, and especially when, life is hard. I’ve known the comfort of being a part of her family in some of my most difficult days. I’ve known her as a mentor, mom, role model, and friend.
But I’ve never known her as a fellow mom whose life had been touched by adoption until several months ago.
Jason and I were eating dinner at her family’s famous steakhouse restaurant, The Taste of Texas, when Nina came over to visit. As she pulled out her chair and sat down, she began to tell us a story. A story of herself as a seventeen-year-old girl who was pregnant and unmarried yet who made the courageous and inconvenient decision to carry her baby full term and surrender him to adoption.
She told us the story of holding him in her arms just once, only once, and telling him everything that was on her heart to say – all of her prayers, all of her hopes, and all of her dreams for his life. As she handed him over to the nurse, she handed him over to God with fervent, heartfelt prayers that he would be raised by a family who feared God and loved Him with all their hearts as she did.
And then she never saw him again.
Until the day a letter showed up in her mailbox forty-eight years later from the son she had surrendered long ago.
The letter was from a man named Kyle Poulson who had gone on the long, arduous, and vulnerable journey to find his birth mother, only to discover Nina Hendee at the end as his destination.
Their reunion over the past few months has been sweet and rich and redemptive – redemptive for several reasons.
One, all of Nina’s prayers for her son were realized and confirmed when Kyle walked into the room. He was adopted by parents who raised him as their beloved son with a strong and nurturing love for the Lord and for other people. They helped Kyle grow into a man any woman would be proud to call her son.
Two, I don’t know who Kyle imagined would be at the end of his journey to find the woman who gave him life, but my guess is never in his wildest dreams would he have thought that woman would be anyone as close in character and kindness and excellence as Nina Hendee. It was like he hit the jackpot of all jackpots in moms and in families.
But three, ten years ago, on February 13, 2010, Nina lost her son, Edd K. Hendee, in a tragic skiing accident. He left behind a grieving wife, children, parents, and two beautiful sisters. And I thought Nina had lost her only son.
But God has a strange and miraculous, almost incomprehensible, way of redeeming every story.
And when Kyle walked back into Nina’s life and into her family’s life forty-eight years later, Nina got back a son. No one can replace Edd, and that’s definitely not what I am suggesting.
But what I am saying is that when I watched a video this past Sunday about their story and the beauty of their reunion, my hope in a God who holds the power to redeem was renewed.
When Kyle’s face showed up on that screen and I saw Edd K’s eyes looking back at me, I wept at the ability of God to give us back here on this earth, in small part, what we have lost, with the sure promise of all He will restore and redeem one day in the future.
I was reminded anew that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
I was reminded that the worst the enemy can do in our lives, God undoes (Genesis 50:20).
I was reminded that every decision we make to honor God and choose life never goes unnoticed or forgotten. It is like precious seed that is buried in the ground, and just when we think it is dead without any hope of resurrection, God speaks, and it blooms (Psalm 126:5-6; John 12:24).
And I was reminded that in the Kingdom of God, our greatest deaths and deepest surrenders end in life when we surrender them into God’s hands. They do so not because we are so good or so wise. They do because God is so good and so wise, and He holds the promise of our full redemption in His nail-pierced hands.
Nina, thank you for choosing life. Thank you for making the hard and gutsy decision to carry a baby only to entrust him to another. Thank you for loving life and loving adoption.
Thank you for walking through all of your trials with the hope of heaven in your heart. Thank you for reminding me that with every loss, with every surrender, and with every death, there is a God behind it all who holds hope, redemption, and life in His Hands.
You have painted a beautiful picture of the goodness of God with the choices you have made in your life, even when those choices have cost you something big. As I look at that picture, you have helped me love God and know God more. And for that, I speak for many who say, “Thank you.”
I can’t wait to be in heaven and see the fullness of His redemption with you one day.
To watch Kyle and Nina’s powerful and beautiful story, click on the link below:
Happy Mother’s Day! While we are so thankful for the children God has given us, parenting can be hard on the heart. If you or your children are walking through a season of loneliness, don’t despair. Know God is using it for great good in their lives and in yours as well.
For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram @baker.susannah.
Last week I shared the struggle I was having in sleeping through the night (click here to read). Through the words of Psalm 63, God reminded me to make a meal of His presence in the middle of the night instead of my worry. He also reminded me that when seasons of sleeplessness come (and they will – it’s part of being human), I am to remember His faithfulness and meditate on His word. Those two things provide comfort in the midst of despair, stability in the midst of uncertainty, and courage in the midst of fear.
Over the past week, through remembering and meditating on God’s word, my sleep has been much more sound, something for which I am deeply grateful. (If you want access to the questions and guide I use at night to help settle my heart and mind, it is attached to this blog post as well.)
But I’ve noticed when I wake up from a night of sleeping more soundly, I have to brush off a sense of despair the next morning. If I wasn’t awake worrying about my problems, was God actually and actively doing anything about them? Or did He need me to be awake in the middle of the night to keep things moving along in the direction I want them to go?
(I know this sounds ridiculous, but if I’m being honest and paying attention to the narrative of my heart, this is what I’m hearing.)
So one morning this weekend, after waking up from a night of sound sleep and actually feeling rested, I paused to ask God if He had been doing anything while I was sleeping. Because everything around me still looked the same. Same kitchen sink. Same view out my window. Same birds still chirping. Same people around me waking up with the same daily needs.
In the stillness, He invited me to take another look through another lens at the view outside my window.
And instead of seeing the same, I saw different. I saw a God who had been working, and I saw a world that had been renewed all while I had been sleeping.
I saw fields wet with dew that God had watered. I saw birds building nests with twigs and feeding babies with worms God had provided. I saw green grass sprouting up beside the withered brown, carpeting the world with newness. I saw a sky that had been painted with the dawn and a sun that had been summoned peeking up over the edge of the horizon ready to light up a dark world.
I saw the evidence of a God who had been working all the night through while I was sleeping re-painting, re-newing, re-telling the world and all who live in it the narrative of our lives: at the end of every night, there is a morning. At the edge of all darkness, there is a coming light. In every death and all that is withered, there is the promise of all that is new.
A dawn that breaks with hope. A morning that comes with healing in its wings, telling those of us who will stop long enough to listen that we have a God who never stops faithfully working, watering, feeding, clearing, harvesting, and renewing.
I can sleep as deeply and as soundly as I want. He does not need my worry. He cannot help but work to renew – that is just the kind of God He is. So don’t despair. You can trust the canvas of your life to the God who paints dawn onto darkness, all while you were sleeping.
“But for you who fear My Name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” Malachi 4:2
For more encouragement throughout the week, follow me on Instagram @baker.susannah.