• Megan Carpenter

Strengthen Them When They Stand

“Strengthen them when they stand…” words from the blessing spoken over those celebrating their birthday each year. This summer, as I received the “Birthday Blessing” this phrase seemed to be written across my forehead as the hand of blessing passed over me.

For the next few weeks, this phrase “Strengthen her when she stands” kept coming back to me. I went back to the weekly bulletin to read over it again- it did not say, “Strengthen her to stand,” though God does do that too, but the Holy Spirit was calling me to receive “Strength when I stand.” This blessing was speaking to those moments when we, I am called to Stand and the Holy Spirit will meet me with the exact provision I need for that moment and not a moment before. It is faith- I am beckoned to stand, in my weakness, in my selfishness and believe He will meet me there.

Sixteen months ago, our family changed overnight as we went from a cozy, idyllic family of five to a wild, un-scriptable family of seven. After five years of paperwork, prayers and dealing with corrupt governments, we brought home six-year-old twin girls, Ruth and Dorcas.

From the outside looking in, our dream had been realized. We had won the battle, they were home, rescued from a life in the DRC. We had stood by faith and what God had called us to a decade ago and it really happened. Hooray, yippee! Right??

Yes, for certain, our prayers had been answered. There is no doubt that God moved obstacles after obstacle miraculously to bring them to us; but in those months and in the moments post homecoming, the reality was that our simple, idyllic life was gone and it was not coming back. One night the children and I attempted to leave the house and eat dinner at South Hampton Sandwiches with a friend in from Little Rock. Meals were a constant battle, the trying to get Dorcas and Ruth just to sit at a table, while still dealing with the normal elements of mealtime between Lawler, Brackett and Wyllys. I was so desperate for time with others, with friends, yet every other minute was consumed with physically re sitting Ruth or Dorcas, cajoling them in simple English to please eat the turkey sandwich and hamburger in front of them, rather than pick it to pieces and drop it on the floor. I don’t think I even ate the salad I had ordered. But the breaking moment of the night came as we headed to the car. Trying to say good byes to my dear friend, Ruth ran into the bushes near the bank drive thru while Dorcas fought and screamed as I tried to get her in the car. Dorcas escaped and ran straight for the street, while Ruth still circled the bushes. My friend stood helpless asking what to do. Somehow, I got Dorcas before a car hit her and locked her in the car while grabbing Ruth. Screams and tears from all the kids filled the car. I don’t think I even buckled them up, we just drove the mile home, retreating once again, in tears and exhaustion. Those were our days. We were not “standing,” we were surviving at best, held up only by God’s grace and the prayers of others.

And now, a year and four months later I hear the words, “Strengthen her when she stands?” Inside, I feel His call to more than survival and numbness. I am not chasing Dorcas and Ruth in parking lots anymore, while calming Lawler’s tears, telling her “it is all going to be ok.” Those days have passed. It is now asking my children for forgiveness when I lose it over Dorcas spilling her ice cream in the car and Wyllys’s hands are covered in chocolate. It is asking Jesus to please rescue me, forgive me and teach me how to love when it does not come naturally. He is calling me to choose to stand again and ask Him for the strength and grace in those moments and the more that will come. And hope that the next time Dorcas spills her ice cream, I will scoop it up and put it in a cup and hand Wyllys a napkin to wipe the chocolate from his face and hands.

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