When I gave my story to God

I never wanted children.
It wasn’t in my five year plan. Or my ten year plan.
Or my ever plan, really.

But one day, after college…while sitting on a green wooden park bench in Seattle, looking out over both the Space Needle and ferry boats dreamily floating from downtown to the San Juan islands, I prayed.

I imagined cars unloading from their short voyage, bound for rocky beaches and hiking. Or perhaps antique shopping and ice cream, and somehow at that moment, I realized I was missing something.

As I sat there with my journal in my lap and Bible by my side, I prayed the Lord use me. REALLY use me. I knew my plans were good. I liked my plans, they were big and international and out of the ordinary.

But they were my plans. Not the Lord’s.
I’d never really consulted Him on any of it.

That day, while looking out at the sparkle of the sun upon the waves, hearing the sound of seagulls and the busyness and hubbub of a thriving city below, I knew there was more.

I just had no idea what that more was or looked like.

“I want thy plan, O God for my life. May I be happy and contented whether in the homeland or on the foreign field; whether married or alone, in happiness or sorrow, health or sickness, prosperity or adversity – I want Thy plan, O God, for my life. I want it; oh I want it!” -Oswald J. Smith

And that day changed everything.


I didn’t fully grasp what that pouring out of my heart and releasing of my own dreams meant until years and years later…but I see it now.

And now I’m a mother of six (!!!!).


Photo Credit: Katie Derus Photography

Somewhere between that day on the park bench, and meeting my husband, my heart had softened on having children. And after birthing two charming, toe-headed little boys within two years of being married, my husband Ben and I began the process of adopting from Ethiopia.


Photo Credit: Teresa Anderson

And then again and again and four times now.

Ben and I joke that adoption is like getting a tattoo.
Once you get one, you want one more.

And one by one, your whole being is covered in adoption.

the crazies

Photo Credit: Katie Derus Photography

It’s become our life. Not only the fact that we have four beautiful, brave, brown-skinned African children that we get to call our own, but somehow we’ve also become encouragers, advocates, and shoulders to cry on.

Adoption isn’t easy. In fact, it’s hard…really, really hard!

We’ve gone through things as a family I never would have imagined or planned for ourselves. But you can choose one of two things: either it will break you, or you commit to lean harder upon our Lord, determined for it to make you and your family stronger…together.


Photo Credit: Teresa Anderson

There isn’t much choice, really. I prefer the latter.

Whether adoption is part of your story or not, God has big plans for you, should you release your perfectly planned out future to Him.

The plans I had for myself in the art world, traveling and living internationally, may have been amazing. But my heart aches at the thought of what I would have been missing.

Mom 6

Photo Credit: Teresa Anderson

My true calling, the actual reason I’m here on this earth… is the amazing beauty of seeing a child move from distrust, to joy and thrive in love, and encouraging families (many of whom I’ve never even met in real life) cling to Christ as they struggle under the weight of it all.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” -Erma Bombeck

Have you ever heard of Jabez? His story is but a quick blip in the Bible, yet his prayer is one to pray daily:

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NIV)

Jabez prayed it. And I prayed my own version of it.

For you cannot go with God and stay where you are.

You just can’t.

Now, as I write my first book…a book the Lord has asked me to write, I see with such clarity how my life, and Ben’s life, has been beautifully interrupted.

Yes…beautifully interrupted

In big, bold letters. Italicized and underlined.

Because it’s big. And sometimes scary. And incredibly awe-inspiring. Because HE has done this. And I’m excited to see where else He takes us. All because we surrendered it all to Him.

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’, declares the LORD.’ As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

Pray the Lord’s blessing upon your life as He expands your borders. Ohhhh how big and beautiful and exciting His plans are.

All He wants is ordinary people who He can use for extraordinary purposes.

Ezekiel & Elsabet

Photo Credit: Katie Derus Photography

And that’s us, isn’t it?


“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 (NIV)



About the Author

familyTeresa Anderson

A wife to Ben, mother of six (2 biological & 4 from Ethiopia), Teresa‘s life is the opposite of what she’d planned. Never {ever} wanting kids, she realized in her early 20’s that she was living the plans she wanted for her life, rather than the perfect plans He had created her for. After praying and completely laying everything down at Christ’s feet, He soon placed a new dream upon her heart: Africa. Caring for the uncared for. Loving the unloved. Now, she lives in a {very!} busy household and blogs over at Hugs & Punches, striving to see the beauty and choosing to have inexpressible joy amongst all the craziness, loudness, silliness, and mess that is her life with a house full of beautiful kids.

  • http://www.glowliveaslight.com/about/who-we-are/ Alyssa Martin

    Teresa, what a great reminder of the beautiful things the Lord can do in our lives when we give our story to Him. Thank you for that! I LOVE the quote about how God wants to use ordinary people for extraordinary things. Sometimes I feel so inadequate or not equipped to do the things He wants me to do. How foolish to think this way! LOVE Acts 4:13.

  • Kristen

    I found this post very encouraging! I love the quote by Oswald J. Smith :)

  • http://Andileigh615.wordpress.com Andi Clem

    This is AMAZING. Wow! Your family is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your heart with us! My best friend and her husband have huge hearts for international adoption. I’ll be pointing her to this and you! Again, thank you for sharing! I’m encouraged by your heart!

  • http://www.mandyandconner.com Mandy Volpe

    I love it when we give up our plans and let God do his plan. It isn’t always easy but it always turns out best. Thank you for sharing!