September 2003. Vacation time.

At that point we had been waiting to adopt an African American infant in the U.S. since March. Our social worker had told us to expect a wait of 1-3 months, and here we were in September, with no baby in sight. No birth mother had even picked us. We were wondering if a U.S. adoption was going to work for us after all. We’d just started talking about possibly adopting from Ethiopia instead, and we were talking about how neat it would be to eventually end up with two little girls. But after the months of waiting, that dream felt far away and unreal to me.

We were camping and I was feeling a little frayed around the edges, so my husband took our six kids on a bike ride while I made dinner in peace in the travel trailer. When dinner was almost ready, the caravan of bikes returned. John had a sack in his hand from the campground gift shop, which he handed to me triumphantly.

Inside were two stuffed animals– fuzzy black seals. “They were the only ones left and they were on clearance. I had to get them!” he said with a grin.

“Cute!” I said, mentally wondering why we needed more stuffed animals.

“They’re for our new little girls. They’re going to need stuffed animals of their own,” he explained.

My heart swelled at his confidence, and at his fatherly desire to give good gifts to his children. Over the next months, every time I saw those little stuffed seals it was like looking at a promise—a promise that our children would be coming eventually. Those seals graced our daughters’ bedroom until they came home, Tsion only 5 months after our trip, and Bizunesh a year and a half later.

We talked often about how neat it was that those seals were waiting for us in that gift shop to give us hope for the future.

March 2007. Vacation time.

This vacation we were once again in a gift shop. My husband remembered the seals. He picked up a couple of Orca whale stuffed animals, his eyes twinkling. “Hey, we need to buy stuffed animals for our next kids too!”

“How fun!” I said, peeking automatically at the price tags. “Hmm…these are $5.99 Let’s look around and see if we can find some on sale.”

We cruised around looking at the offerings in the shop until I spotted another display of Orcas. I picked one up. Only $1.99. A bargain even to tightwad me. I called my hubby over excitedly as I rummaged for another one. Sure enough, there were two.

“Two bucks?” said my husband. “These look just like the others. Why are these so cheap?”

We dug through the heap of Orcas and discovered that almost all of them were marked $5.99. Except for… three.


My husband and I looked at each other, eyebrows raised.

John grinned at me and scooped them all up. “I guess we’d better buy all three. After all, you never know how many more kids we’ll end up with.”

Looking at those three Orcas now perched on the couch, I’m wondering if we might already know.

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  1. Okay – I’ve got the tissues out now. It’s amazing the way God sends our messages to us, isn’t it?

  2. Wow – you guys are amazing!

  3. How do you say their names?

  4. I’m tearing up, to please excuse any typos. Someone knows something and I think we all know who He is. What a message to recieve in such a wonderful way!

  5. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets messages by sale! (http://learningpatience.wordpress.com/2007/03/22/provision/) Love the story – thanks for sharing it!

  6. Dawn in OR says:

    Doing a snoopy dance here in Oregon!! Ha, Ha, it is 3!! 3,3,3!!! No, really I do not know what God is up to for you. But I can tell you of some beauties who are a 3! Yeah, yeah, Yeah….
    blessings, blessings,blessings
    good things do come in threes you know! 😉


  7. Wow! That is wonderful! I will be anxious to see what God has in store!

  8. Wow is right. What an odd way to make me cry this early in the day…..

    Your faith astounds me. To be open to three more children? For you and your husband to be on the same page about it? That’s really incredible.

    I will pray that the children who need you the most are placed in your care.

    Have a fantastic day. And God Bless You!

  9. A friend of mine kept telling me to come over and visit your blog……..so glad I did.
    Just beautiful.
    Thank you.

    **In it for His Glory**

  10. What a great site! I am so glad you posted on my blog so I could find you and the larger families blog. What a blessing.

    I absolutely love this post. As I’m sure you are totally aware of, having a houseful and wanting more is truly considered insane. I’m glad there are other insane people in the world with us. 🙂 I think three more is a great number!

  11. Ah, I just love those tangible touches from God’s Spirit letting us know that we are on the right path. He can use something as simple as a stuffed animal to whisper to us His dream. Don’t doubt that it is Him… you know in your Spirit, and do not need to justify it to anyone.

    Looking forward to seeing more of the Spirit’s leading… and seeing which 3 children He has for you! 🙂

  12. I have chill bumps!

  13. *smiling* 🙂

  14. OH, MARY! More babies for you? That’s just amazing news!
    I loved your story because our adoption journey is also taking so many twists and turns. At times I get so darned impatient. Here we wanted at least 7 and we seem to be stuck at 2. The 2 are amazing, but I’m so anxious to be a Mommy again!
    May God give both our families guidance to find our children and patience to wait for His timing. Amen.

  15. That husband of yours is a keeper! I can’t think of ANY reason on God’s green earth that we would need more stuffed animals… but it appears that, in the heavens, there are some very good reasons! That three has to mean something , and it will be a delight to look back someday and finally see what it was.

  16. That rocks!

  17. Ah Mary. Your heart is so big. If anyone can do it, you guys can! What a blessing you will be to the two or three children God will bring to your family!

    I just love you guys!!

  18. Jennifer says:

    amazing 🙂

    and i love their names

  19. Triplets. I know it….

  20. Wow! You are a truly amazing family! Blessings to you!

  21. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Awesome.


  22. goose bumps.

    Wow, eleven kids. How cool is that!! 🙂

  23. Incredible!

    God Bless you and your ever expanding family! =)

  24. So sweet, you’ve again made me all misty here – terrific!

  25. Oh my goodness, and I can’t even talk my husband into four. 🙁
    But I’m happy for you!

  26. that’s very cool! can’t wait to see what God does in your family.

  27. What a great post! love it!

  28. We leave for vacation on the 15th and I’m so looking at the stuffed animals on clearance!! =0)

  29. love this post…

  30. Oh Mary! How exciting for all of you! I will be anxiously watching to see how God continues to reveal His perfect plan.

  31. Wow, speechless 🙂

  32. I love this Mary.

  33. I love God’s way of letting us know His will. And I love hearing about other large God-inspired families!! Blessings on you.

    Cindy (kelsey’s mom)