Today marks a journey that began for my wife and I almost 9 years ago.
As a young, soon to be in love couple, we found ourselves serving and caring for orphaned children in Brazil along with several other Canadians. We met some amazing kids, heard some heart wrenching stories, and knew that all of this had inspired us to change the way we looked at life.
Years later, motivated by change and inspired by love, we as a young married couple dared to dream a dream. We dreamt of being able to provide an orphan with a loving and caring family. We didn't know how this dream would shape our lives in the present, nor in the future, but we knew we had to respond to the tugging on our heart to get involved in the life of a child who needed a permanent home.
Four years ago today, our son Cannon was born. Cannon is our second child. He's funny, quiet, strong and polite. He's the kind of big brother I always wish that I had, and the son that I'm blessed to now have. Cannon was born in the state of Florida to a loving mother who hoped he would have more than she by herself could offer. His birth mom made the incredibly loving decision to find a permanent home setting for her son so that he may grow into who he is created to be. Miracles occur in different forms. Sometimes miracles become reality through a series of divinely orchestrated events. Other times, miracles are a collision of God-initiated dreams and human initiated response to His divine challenge. In our case, the story of Cannon is a little bit of both.
Each year we celebrate our son's birthday we are reminded of the greatness of his unfolding story. He's not an accident. His presence in our lives hasn't been left to chance. He exists because He was designed to be who he is: created for a purpose that we can't even fathom. And he is, and continues to be, a huge blessing in our lives.
I'm not certain that we fully understood what sort of impact his life would bring to not only our lives, but also the lives of those around us. Even today as we took some time to celebrate his special day by going swimming as a family, we were provided with an opportunity to share a piece of his story with a complete stranger, letting the inspiration and hope that he brings continue to spread.
Locker room conversations with strangers are always awkward. But there are times when they are unavoidable. As the boys and I were getting re-dressed in our casual street clothes, we happened to run into an elder gentleman who seemed to be fascinated by our presence. We exchanged pleasantries, and then just before he left he asked me a question; "excuse me sir, but would you answer a question just to satisfy my curiosity? How come your sons are two different colors?" I proceeded to tell him that our older son Cannon is adopted and our younger son Deklon is not. My answer seemed to floor him. Normally when we are asked questions about adoption we aren't really certain where the conversation might lead. I've received lectures from complete strangers who didn't feel that a Caucasian family should ever adopt a child of different ethnicity. I've also received great words of kindness, hope and joy by strangers.
In this instance, we received a compliment and encouragement of the highest order. This gentleman expressed his observation to me, "you must be living an inspired life. May God richly bless you for considering what it means to be a father to the fatherless." I thanked him for his kind words, and proceeded to finish re-dressing my two sons. I was left speechless (a feat for those who know me well). While we knew that Cannon's story would have an impact on the way we live, I couldn't begin to fathom how his life and story will continue to have an impact both in the present and the future. To be able to converse with strangers about things that truly matter in life is a gift. And as the hope, love and generosity we embody as a family continues to grow, I hope and pray that my proudness as a father will provide many more opportunities to inspire others to grow into who they've been created to be.
Stories are powerful; they can unite, they can divide and they can inspire. Every human being has a story to tell. Perhaps if we spent more time listening to the stories of others and less time trying to re-write or enhance our own stories the world in which we live may actually change for the better. Live the story you are writing and find the courage to interact with and listen to the stories of others.
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