My arranged family

Joy and excitement. I watched as it flooded our youngest son, consuming his body, sending his arms in a tensed raised position while his hands quickly and in short movements waved back and forth. His face tensed up also, his mouth dropping open in almost an o shape and you can see in his eyes that it’s just too much for his brain to handle alone. We call it his “spaz.” It is his response to the overwhelming passion burning within. A good passion.

This was his response as he played a chess game with my husband during our last visit. He was proud of having learned a new game so quickly. He was excited about “taking prisoner” (the innocent pun of a pure child) some of my husbands pieces. With each edifying word from Jacob, he grew more and more excited. The “spazzing” was the indication that my child was overcome with happiness.

I continued to observe the interaction between these three awesome people I have the privilege of loving. Seated at the small square table so closely together I became lost in praise. My boys were working together, striving to defeat my man in a game he lovingly took time to teach them. I sat back and smiled as I thought of the other ways he has loved them through teaching.

My gratitude and praise increased as I recalled his leading us through “family prayer time” each visit. This includes verse memorization as well as prayer. We begin with learning a scripture, which he makes fun for the boys by turning it into a catchy song. I look at them, one on each side of Jacob, smiling and singing with pride. The song is repeated until everyone has memorized the verse, and is singing along. We then wrap our arms tightly around each other, bowing our heads and pressing them together as the head of our household covers us in prayer.

He’s even made the sometimes daunting home school more pleasurable thanks to the creative and humorous approach he takes. The boys have become more attentive, and eager to participate since he has joined the journey.

I am undone with love and gratitude.

In the stillness of my joy was the sweet reminder, “This is what you asked for.”

I didn’t see it playing out like this. I envisioned better backdrops, though I never asked for them. I never considered that MY husband, the man hand-picked by God for Him and I, would reside in one of New York states deadliest prisons.

I earnestly pray that these two boys who are being taught so much by a beautiful man, my beautiful man, learn so much more by the backdrop God is using. I pray that they are able to look around that visiting room and see the families, the men and women made in Gods own image, divided and yet so united. I pray that it touches them so deeply and they carry with them a love that so many families know, and so many outsiders can’t understand, and some yet despise and shame. I pray that the love they are learning is spread in a grassroots movement for great change in a broken and misunderstood system.

I think of the disciples who envisioned their redemption playing out differently than it did. (Luke 24:21) I am sure as I never envisioned a husband incarcerated, they never envisioned their Redeemer having to die on a cross. God’s plan for Israel was bigger and better than what they hoped. I am able to confidently replace the name of Israel with my own.

God’s plan for Samantha (and family) is bigger and better.

The ride is crazy beautiful.

The beauty that faith slowly unravels is brilliant.

He’s not finished yet.



2 thoughts on “My arranged family

  1. Oh, Samantha, How beautiful; and what a testimony to Jacob’s surrender to Christ Who is leading and training to be such a good Father. Sounds like God brought you two together! Jacob must be so blessed by your observations of his transformation into an instant father! We are blessed to hear of Jacob’s growth and of your support and encouragement for him as he is surrounded with so much negativity, I’m sure. We love you both. And HAPPY FIRST ANNIVERSARY!! MARY AND BILL >


    1. Thank you so much. He’s my Ephesians 3:20. We love you guys and look forward to seeing you soon. Can’t believe it’s already been a year. Time flies when you’re having fun 😉


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