This blog will be a little different from most of my posts. I'm not sharing with you from my quiet time - I'm sharing with you from my life. I hope you'll indulge me, this day. I posted this on my Face Book page a couple of days ago and decided to add it here on my blog. How I hope that it will encourage you regarding the grace, mercy, providence, and sacrificial love of God to His children.
I don't know how many of you know my story. It is one that I didn't know fully until about 12 years ago - and one that in many ways I will not know FULLY fully until I reach my eternal home. You see, I'm adopted. I've known that as a fact for as long as I can remember. It has never been a big deal, it has simply been a reality. My adoptive parents never hid it from me and they held it forth as a good thing. They repeatedly told me that I was chosen by them.
Now, I have to admit that the "chosen" mantra with which I grew up is not quite as precious to me as it once was. Five years ago my adoptive parents "chose" to end our relationship just as they had "chosen" to begin it 35 years earlier. They recanted on their adoption promise and left me re-orphaned in the dust. No reason was given other than that they just didn't want anything else to do with me. That kind of hurt (OK, understatement) and it ended up putting a whole new twist on the fleshed out, rubber meeting the road definition of love and trust for me. But, I digress...
12 years ago - many years before Mom and Dad bailed - Phillip and I set out to find a little bit of info on my genetic heritage. It was simply out of curiosity and simply out of desire to say "thanks" if that was possible. We ordered the official South Carolina records regarding my adoption. South Carolina is a "closed" and non-identifying state regarding adoption so the 25 page packet we received read something like this.
"_________________, biological mother of __________ ____________, was born on _________ _______ in _________ county. She attended __________ Institute in ___________ where she recieved a degree in sacred music."
TONS of helpful information there! :)
My incredibly wise husband realized that this particular document had been typed on an old 1968ish brand typewriter. "So what?" you may ask. "So everything!" I reply.
An old typewriter means that all of the spaces on the entire document were the same size and therefore we were able to determine exactly how many letters each and every single word in that document contained. My mother's first name had 7 letters. Her last name had 4. The town where she grew up had 9 and the college she attended had 7. We were beginning an amazing investigative journey. We were going to find out, Lord willing, how I came to be.
Long and amazing story made short and slightly less dramatic - we finally determined that there were 2 states mentioned within the document. South Carolina (my home state) and a second seven letter state where my mother had attended school and had worked for a number of years. In God's providence that other state still had the last letter partially remaining on our Xeroxed copy. That letter was an "a" and we now had it nailed down to Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, or Florida. Now, what to do with that information?!
Well, I decided to contact DSS and see if my case worker could help in anyway at all. I asked her if she could tell me the other state's name.
"No, against protocol."
"Sure", I said, "no problem. May I ask you another question?"
"By all means and I'll help if I can."
"This other state, could you get grits there?"
She laughed (perhaps at my utter audacity) and then told me "yes." BOOM!! We'd narrowed it down from 4 to 3 - it was a Southern state!!
"Thanks so much for your help, may I ask you one other question?"
"Please do, Lori."
"OK, in this other state - would my biological mom have been more likely to eat peaches, hang out on the beaches, or listen to civil rights speeches?"
With muffled phone etiquette I managed to hear her utter in the midst of her guffawing "hang out on the beaches..." and then she says "Lori, I don't know that I should answer that!"
I let her off the hook but she had already graciously and cryptically answered my question through her stealthish "hang out on the beaches" laughter. I owe her a big thank you because she sent me to Florida - the land of beaches and the possible key to locating the woman who granted me life!!
From there I headed to my trusty State Farm Atlas to track down a Florida town with the same number of letters as the town where her college was located. Found it - knew it might be a possibility because only a year before we had met a good friend (who is also a FB friend) who had attended a college in this very community - providence! Though the name of his 1990's college had changed slightly from the name of her 1950's institute I knew there was a possibility that they were one and the same and that I might just be on my way to a major break in this mystery.
I picked up the phone, called the college alumni office and asked them a few questions about female students majoring in sacred music who were from South Carolina during the years she would have been there. During the time she would have attended, there were only 5 women. Two of them had a South Carolina home town. One of them fit perfectly into every single typed blank on that document. Friends, we had her - name, birthdate, home town, place of employment after graduation, and even married name. Everything fit exactly.
I ended up contacting an adoption investigator whom I had attempted to use eariler - only to find out that adption investigators are VERY expensive and therefore were NOT an option for the Sealy family!! When she found out all that we had uncovered on our own she volunteered to pull up the remaining info for us for free - a phone number drawn off of a driver's license. There was one catch, however - my mom did not have a driver's license BUT her father did. Suddenly I found myself in a bit of a dilema. I had my biological grandfather's home phone number. But stop and think with me, it is not like I can call up and say "Hey grandpa - you don't know me but I am your long lost granddaughter. The one that you may not have even known you had. Could you tell me how to get in touch with mom?!" Wouldn't have been prudent!!
What to do? I wanted to be honest but not foolish. So, after a lot of prayer, I picked up the phone and called "grandaddy".
A kind and ancient sounding voice answered the phone - like a voice I should have known but never got the chance to. I told him I was trying to track down his daughter. "Oh sure sweetheart here's her phone number and street address. She lives in Florida now." OK - that was just a bit too easy! (Sidenote - my biological grandfather died 2 months later. I am so thankful for God's providence in having us seek out this information when we did. It was within 60 days of being an impossibility)
So...here I am...29 years after my birth....holding my biological mom's name, address and phone number in my hands. Talk about surreal!!
I called Phillip at work. "You're not going to believe this... I've got her... now what do I do?" "CALL HER!!" "OK, I think I will - gulp!!"
Just so you know - I wasn't planning on simply blurting out "Hey Mom!! Remember me - you gave me up for adoption 29 years ago and I decided to look you up. How's life been treating you!" Bad move - wasn't going to make it!!
I HAD planned to make sure that she was alone and was able to speak openly, freely and in privacy. I had planned to give a cautious and patient prelude to the BIG KAPOWEY! As a matter of fact I had 3 pages of notes written out in front of me as a help and guide.
"Hello, Mrs. _______. My name is Lori Sealy and I'm calling you from Montgomery, Alabama. Do you have a moment to talk? This is a rather private and confidential subject matter. Are you originally from _____________________, SC and did you attend ________________________ Institute in _____________ Florida?"
I was ready to slowly prepare her for the inevitable bomb blast from the distant past.
RING! RING! "Hello this is ___________ ___________."
I momentarily froze - this could be my biological mom's voice - the source of my own voice. Time stood still.
"Uh, hi. My name is Lori Sealy and I'm calling you from Montgomery, Alabama. Do you have a moment to talk?"
"Oh, I'm sorry not right now I'm teaching a piano lesson could you call back on Monday?"
"Uh, yes ma'am, certainly. Talk to you on Monday!" CLICK!
Wait a minute - MONDAY?!?!?! This was Friday----that means I have a whole weekend to wait!! You've GOT to be kidding me! Nope - no joking on that one - just the facts - the long over the course of 2 and 1/2 day facts!!
Monday came - it took a long, LONG time to get there - and I called again.
RING! RING! "Hello this is ___________ _________."
"Um, yes, Mrs. _____________, this is Lori Sealy calling again."
"Oh yes - is your name Heather?!"
Folks - I just about fell out of my chair. On my original birth certificate was the original birth name of "Heather." It was the name given to me by my biological mother.
Yep - I had found her! I had found her!!
"Well, I suppose my name is sort of Heather. That is the name that my birth mom gave to me."
"Oh sweet child - I am who you are looking for!!!"
I couldn't get a word out. She had more questions.
"Lori, do you play piano?"
"Why yes ma'am I do. I've been playing since I was 5. I was a music major and I write songs now."
"Lori, are you a Christian?"
"Oh, yes ma'am. It was quite a journey for me to arrive in the land of the redeemed, but yes ma'am Christ has saved me from my sins and I am His and He is mine."
"Lori, you wouldn't know this, but when you were born I asked the nurse if I could hold you for just 5 minutes before they took you away. While I held you I stroked your fingers and asked my God to do two things - to let you play the piano and to save you at a young age."
Friends - God heard my mother's prayer!
I also found out from her a little bit of how God - in frowning providence- orchestrated my arrival into this world. My mom had been married and divorced and then found herself in an adulterous affair with a married man - a married man who had 6 children. He took her to have an abortion. There was NO way he was going to have another child - particularly not THIS way. He drove her to the clinic. They went inside, signed the register, and sat down in the waiting room. They sat there for 30 minutes she told me. Then, as she waited, a Sunday School lesson on the 10 commandments - a lesson from decades ago - a lesson she just "happened" to sit in on because she was with her Aunt and Uncle that particular weekend - and they just "happened" to take her to church - a thing her parents never did - that one Sunday School lesson just "happened" to come to her mind.
"Thou shalt not kill."
She told me it was like a lightning bolt struck her and she turned to my biological father and said "No way can I do this. I will find some way to bring this child to term." And she did. She spent 9 months living in a one room hunting cabin outside of Sumter, South Carolina - alone, scared, ashamed, guilty, wanting to die but not about to die because she was going to see that I did NOT die! And I didn't, by grace. She brought me to term and she graciously and sacrificially gave me up for adoption.
So, why am I telling you any of this. Well...here's why. Today I went to my mail box and there was a letter from this precious lady - who is still alone - no family - no husband - no children - ALONE! She gave everything up for me! And this is what I read:
God made you on purpose. You're not an afterthought, you're not on earth 'just because,' and you're not a random act of His creativity. You were given His 100% stamp of approval from head to toe before you were born - and the moment you were born He beamed with joy. I did too! Happy Birthday, Lori!"
We swap letters and pictures fairly regularly and every now and then we swap a phone call, but we have never met. This past Christmas I called her and got her answering machine. I told her that Phillip and I would love to come down and meet her face to face if she was up to it. I never heard back from her - not until today. Her note continued...
"Lori, I loved your call. As much as I would love to see you, I have become mostly blind and crippled so now is not the time. God is helping me to keep working for Him! It's a miracle. He is ever present with you and with me. Blessings from Him to you and Phillip and Joshua and Elizabeth. I love you. In Jesus name, ________"
Friends, I am blown away. Just yesterday I told my dear husband - "You know, I think I may have lost another Mom. _______________ has not called or written back since I mentioned us going down to meet her." My heart was sad.
This day,my heart was made glad and God reminded me - through the dear lady who suffered so much that I might even be here - that I am not here by accident but by Divine appointment and foreordination. He allowed a painfully crooked path to be the course by which Lori Sealy would enter the world - but He allowed it nonetheless - and He allowed it in His perfect wisdom and faithfulness (Isaiah 25:1).
My best birthday note ever ended with a reference to Psalm 139:13 -16 which says:
"For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book they were all written, all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
My friends - that's my story and in some ways it is all of your stories too. You have been knit and fashioned to be in this world at this time by the Sovereign and Wise and Holy and Righteous and Merciful hands of the Creator God. It is in Him that you and I "live and move and have our being." It is He "who made us and not we ourselves." It is He who has ordered our steps even though we think we have planned our ways. It is for His glory that we are here - whether we want to admit it or not - that is our purpose and it is only in fullfilling that purpose that we will ever truly find peace and contentment and true love and real joy in this life.
Dear ones - Lori Sealy has walked through many a dark valley. I have lived as an atheistic God-hater and have been subdued by sovereign mercy. I have lived as a selfish liar and manipulator in order to gain my own way and have been brought to my knees and re-created as a truth teller. I have spent many a year as a proud and stubborn woman seeking my own self-protection from any further heartache and have been humbled by the Savior who sought not His own comfort but my comfort.
He gave His all for me - sacrificed everything for me - and He did it knowing everything about me. Knowing everything I'd ever done and thought and felt, knowing everything I would ever do and think and feel, He loved me anyway. He loved me enough to take my sins upon Himself and to place His righteousness upon me. He didn't have to, but He did! I did nothing to deserve it, but He gave Himself anyway! "Amazing love, how can it be? That Thou my God shouldst die for me!" More than amazing yet more true than anything else in all of the world!!!! This is the truest of all truths and the loveliest of all loves. This is the ultimate sacrifice - much, much greater than my mom's sacrifice for me is Christ's sacrifice for me!
"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried.... He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (Isaiah 53:4-6)
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus, who , although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:5-11)
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Do you know this One who has given you your physical life? Do you know this One who is the author not only of life in this momentary world but of life everlasting? Do you know this NEW and greater spiritual life that He gives by grace through faith in His finished redemptive work on your behalf?
I have been an orphan. I have been adopted. I have had my physical adoption nullified and have been physically re-orphaned in this fallen world. I have this day been reminded by the very one who suffered for me as a human life giver that I am here by Divine appointment and that my adoption in Christ has been eternally secured by the ONE who suffered for me as the everlasting life Giver.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).
I have been reminded that my spiritual adoption is NOTHING like my earthly adoption by my adoptive parents.
"For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up." (Ps 27:10)
No, I have in Christ "recieved a spirit of adoption as sons by which I cry out, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself bears witness that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs with God and fellow heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:15-17)
"He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is IMPERISHABLE and UNDEFILED and will NOT fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith...." (1 Peter 1:3-5)
The Lord Jesus Christ has suffered for me as the greatest lifegiver and He who cannot lie has sworn to me that "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." He swears it to you as well.
How I pray that you know this One - this life giving, life preserving, life enhancing One. You were made by Him and you were made for Him. Flee to Him in faith and repentance. It matters not who you are or where you've been (I am a testimony to that marvelous mercy). Come to the Giver of life that you might find rest and the true and rich and steadfast meaning of life.
Thanks, mom for the reminder that I am no accident but that I have been made with a purpose. Thanks for your sacrifice which was a means to that purposeful end and thanks for praying that I would know His sacrfice and therefore reach that end, by grace!!