Son of man, can these bones live?

April 21st, 2014


Amy Carmichael once received a letter from a zealous young lady who thought God might be calling her to be a missionary. “What is missionary life like?” she asked Amy.

To which Amy replied, “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”




Throughout the past seven months, as I have chronicled our family’s struggles here on this blog, an unspoken question has hung in the air, intensifying as our predicament also intensified.

“Now that you’re experiencing post-adoption distress, surely you’ll tone down your advocacy for these children.  You couldn’t ask other people to make those kinds of sacrifices, could you?”

Hanging in the air I say, thick enough to choke on.

*cough, cough*




Growing up in my parents’ home, a rich store of books about extraordinary Christians of the past filled my mother’s bookshelves.  I read them all, some more than once.

Now, many of the same titles are lined up along our bookshelves, titles like, “The Man Who Believed God,” “Nothing Daunted,” “To a Different Drum,” “The Triumph of John and Betty Stam,” “Through Gates of Splendor,” “Dauntless Women,” “No Time for Tombstones,” along with collections bearing more generic titles, such as “Missionary Stories for Young People.”

I grew up closely familiar with the stories of missionaries in dangerous lands, martyrs of the faith, heroes of the persecuted church, sometimes in their own words.

These books brought alive the stories of William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Mary Slessor, John G. Paton, Isobel Kuhn, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth, the ten Boom family, Watchman Nee, Georgi Vins, Richard Wurmbrand, Jim Elliot, and the list goes on and on and on, both the well-known and the obscure.

Then there were the missionaries our church helped to support, all household names, some of whom we met personally when they visited us on furlough.  I just looked online for the five missionaries I could remember after more than thirty years and found that they’re all still actively serving in the foreign countries where God placed them.

All of them were teachers and examples to me of what it looked like for imperfect humans to know Jesus intimately and follow Him wholeheartedly into difficult places.  Often they were called to work hard for many long years without seeing much fruit from their labor.

When I turned sixteen, my parents gave me what I most wanted for my birthday, my own hardcover copy of Elisabeth Elliot’s “A Chance to Die,” the life story of Amy Carmichael.

These childhood heroes have come to mind so often during these past months, and I’ve closely identified with them like I never have before.

The lives of these obviously flawed, ordinary people bear startling witness to an unseen reality.

We always carry about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies.

We are called to die, so the life of Jesus can shine through us.

At the same time, we humans can be so drawn to the comfortable, the known, the easy, the familiar, the safe.  And that’s not innately a bad thing.

It only becomes problematic for us when God sends us in the opposite direction and we don’t want to go.

Will we as Christ’s people shrink back in fear from His path of sacrifice?  And call it “counting the cost?”

Will we set our hearts on our own visions and ideals for our lives and families more than we set our hearts on following after Him?  And call it “the abundant life?” 

Will we preserve for ourselves treasure on earth rather than giving Him our last mite with abandon?   And call it “being a good steward?”

Of course we will and of course we do.  I feel the pull toward ease and comfort every time my alarm rings early in the morning, doing what I always said I could never do!

I need life infused into my dry, dead bones every bit as much as Katie and Tommy do.

We had a vision for what we wanted our family to be.  It was a good vision, friends, not a bad one!

But it wasn’t God’s vision for our family.  His goals for us are so much greater than our goals for ourselves.  He’s so much more interested in making us better than He is in making our lives better.

Our family is so privileged that He has sent us these two children, at the same time using us to transform them into the people He intends them to be and using them to transform us into the people He intends us to be.









So, friends, if you’ve questioned whether I’ll be so bold as to ask others to freely give their lives away and bring Owen or Tiya or Brandon or Mikah home…

You’re absolutely right.  I couldn’t ask people to make that level of sacrifice.

But not because I want to spare others from making hard sacrifices.

It’s because calling people is not my job, it’s His!

Bringing life out of death?  Breathing life into dead, dry bones, both ours and our children’s?  That’s the specialty of our God!

Across the ocean are children without parents, who have been rejected by their societies because they have disabilities, who are being warehoused in institutions, who are legally available to be adopted.

On our side of the ocean are parents like the missionary heroes I read about while I was growing up.

Ordinary, imperfect human parents who don’t shrink back from whatever sacrifices He might ask of them in order to follow where He leads them.

Parents who are willing to loosen their death grip on their own cherished visions for their families in exchange for His vision for them.

Parents with a sturdy faith who know that their God can be trusted because He is good, and who are willing to have their faith tested, grown, and refined by Him.

Parents who consider children, all children, to be a gift from the hand of God.

We have watched in awe as God has called many parents like this to bring home older children from the Pleven orphanage, children who would never be considered by the overwhelming majority of potential adoptive parents.

And we are fully confident that He can bring parents like this for five-and-a-half-year-old Owen, who did not grow up on the top floor of Pleven but needs to be in a family to reach his potential~



Eight-year-old Tiya~



Ten-year-old Brandon~



And twelve-year-old Mikah~



I can hardly wait until I start hearing about the parents God sends to these special little ones!  It’s a wondrous thing to walk alongside the other Pleven families and witness the transformation wrought in their children!

Please pray with us that God would send parents to Owen, Tiya, Brandon, and Mikah!

Please feel free to share their names and photos with others!

If you think God may have one of these children for your family, please email Shelley Bedford at and she will be happy to tell you more!







The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones:

I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.   I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.

Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”




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12 Responses to “Son of man, can these bones live?”

  1. Rebekah says:

    Thank you for continuing, even when it hasn’t been too easy! You and your blog have blessed and challenged me in an enormous way… Not to mention how you have blessed Katie and Tommy.  Thank you for being willing to give your all for these helpless little ones.

  2. Melissa says:

    You know first-hand how desperate the need is, so I am not surprised that you would continue to advocate. Thank you for all you do.
    Owen’s face continues to tug at me.  Our situation right now (both my husband and I working) does not lend to the kind of support he will need, but I know God can change that in a second if that’s the case! We are continuing to pray about him…You are not forgotten, little boy!

  3. Thank you for your transparency.  Your courage is lending me strength to continue.

  4. Amy says:

    I loved reading what you wrote from Amy Carmichael’s book, “A Chance to Die”.  That book was pivotal in us knowing that God was clearly calling our family to adopt our oldest son three years ago.  Just had to share an old blog post about it.  It is amazing how God continues to use these missionaries who are no longer living on earth to influence Christians today through books about their lives.

  5. Angie says:

    Keep on soldier! :) You are laying a straight path so that those who come along behind you will not stumble. I am one of those coming behind. I come from a back ground so vastly different , I marvel at your faith and boldness. I want it to shine as brightly in my own life. I know it is only Christ in you. Praise Him for His power and strength in your life. I wrote every book down you mentioned. I can’t wait to read them all! 

  6. Ruth says:

    beautifully said…what my heart wanted to say but couldn’t verbalize…

  7. Missy says:

    There are missions of all sorts, aren’t there? I would expect that once fear is overcome the parents of those children will come forward. That is what I pray for, that fear will not have power.

  8. Jen says:

    Love this!  Certainly challenging my heart.
    Jen (JennyO @ Momys)

  9. sabrina says:

    Beautiful and timely message. The message of dying so that Christ may live through us is not shared as it should be. Thank you, sweet sister, for sharing it now.

  10. Jay says:

    This may sound odd, because I’m sure I’m not the intended type of reader of your blog. I am not in a position to adopt (and before you turn and say that your God’s hand works in different ways, I will never be allowed to adopt, by my own country or by anyone else’s) and I am not a Christian. 
    I don’t believe in God in the same way that you do. I believe there are many many things in the world, and outside the realms of our understanding or imagining, that are unexplained. That will never be known. I believe in the power of faith, both faith and Faith. I believe that all religions that have love and not hate as their strongest message, can somehow be working towards the same goal. But I have been deeply, deeply hurt in the name of ‘God’ and ‘religion’. And so I, at this moment, find it impossible to begin to believe in the same way you do. I do not look to, or ask for help from, any kind of ‘God’ as such. I have strong beliefs of right and wrong. I try to do my best. That is all I can do.
    But in reading through your blog from start to finish, in about 4 days, I feel compelled to say how much I admire you, and how much I envy you. Perhaps others (and you’ve spoken about them) wouldn’t see much to envy in the life that you lead, but you do, and I do. I envy that time and again you are able to come to the conclusions of faith that you do. That every time you feel weak and vulnerable, you have the strength within you ( and there is no denying that strength because it is there, even if ultimately you believe it comes from your faith) and the upbringing and belief to turn to your family, your husband and your Christianity. I envy you being granted that reward, in and of itself.
    I can imagine the answers you will give to this. That I too could have that reward. That I, and I alone, am the only one stopping myself being in that place. I have searched, and continue to search and fight and try with all of my heart to come to a place where I can believe in something more tangible than my own failings. I will continue to search for whatever these is in this life for me. 
    This sounds self centered and I don’t mean it to be at all. I do my best with the energy I have to be a positive in others lives. To help where I can. But I wanted to tell you that someone else, who isn’t Christian, who isn’t able to adopt, who has no children, can so strongly see the wonderful good in your lives, and thank you for sharing it. 

  11. Christine says:

    I’m not a Christian, but I agree with every word of this. Everyone has their own personal mission in life, to make the world a better place. There is nothing wrong with raising awareness about your own path, so others have the opportunity to learn about it and follow if they wish. That’s the only way people are ever moved to action.

  12. Tara says:

    Oh, dear Susanna, I was catching up on your blog and once again, God used your words to leap off the page and convict my heart. I’ve been struggling with my expectations versus my reality with our little guy and what I perceived to be the disruption to our home. God had already been revealing my pride and just used your words to further convict and encourage me. I LOVE what you said about Him being more interested in bettering US than our lives! Good stuff! Thank you, my friend! I quoted you and linked back here, of course. Blessings to you!

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