In our family’s military adventures at eight mailing addresses in 12 years, we’ve had the privilege and blessing of meeting a lot of truly incredible people.
People who live wholeheartedly, love sacrificially and SERVE THEIR HEARTS out for our country and for the people and things that matter most to them.
But every once in awhile, we’ve run into those kind of incredible people. Incredible people who pour themselves out protecting and defending our freedoms by day … and pour their LIVES out protecting and defending the lost, the least, the abandoned, the forgotten by night.
People who should be completely EXHAUSTED from dedicating their time and their sleep and their energy and their service to military and adoption and orphan advocacy life … and yet GLOW. Shine. Illuminate dark rooms. Sparkle in a sometimes dull, light-sucking world.
People like my friend Leia.
People like my friend Erin.
People like my new friend Jenny LaBahn and her family.
Jenny joined the Army when she decided that she wanted to become a doctor. The Army put her through medical school, where she met a fellow non-military doctor named Jacob. And this amazing (and SUPER INTELLIGENT!) duo set out on a medical journey they never anticipated.
In 2007, Jenny gave birth to twin girls … just a month before her sister and brother-in-law brought home a 2-year-old boy from Haiti.
As Jenny watched her tiny angels grow, she simultaneously watched her new nephew, who was 2 at the time, blossom from this frail, tiny orphan into this thriving, attached, confident SON. When the twins were one month old, she told her husband, “I’m just going to order these adoption brochures … just in case.”
As Jenny served as a pediatrician in the Army and deployed, adoption grew in her family’s hearts. Until, when she was deployed her last six months in the Army, she and Jacob started a homestudy. From Afghanistan to Oklahoma. Via Skype. (And then all of us military folk who have used deployment as an excuse to delay the adoption process slowly backed out of the room.)
Jenny returned from deployment, ended her time in the Army after seven servant-hearted years and traveled to China that fall to bring home two 2-year-old angels from two difference provinces. One of these angels had a chromosome deletion, a condition somewhat similar to Down syndrome, which causes developmental delays and issues with muscle tone. Because this sweet girl had more significant needs, she suffered more from institutionalization. She was malnourished and experienced sensory processing problems from extended time lying in a crib.
That’s when this woman with extensive medical knowledge transformed from an Army warrior into an ORPHAN WARRIOR.
“After that, we felt like, as long as we have more room, as long as we don’t feel like we can’t take care of the children in our family now, we wanted to give a home to as many children as possible,” Jenny told me. “Because we have health insurance. Because we have love in our hearts and room in our house, and we want these kids to know about how much God loves them.”
So two years after returning with their first two Chinese-born superheroes, Jenny’s family returned to China for a third sweet superhero with medical needs, and just last month, they returned with their fourth, a 2-year-old boy with a serious heart condition.
In the meantime, Jenny and her husband dedicate their time to OTHER adoptive families. As doctors, they review the medical files of superheroes-in-waiting for potential adoptive families for free.
It’s their way of using the gift of medicine to give back. Because, even after bringing four sweet superheroes into their home and caring for their sometimes intense medical needs, they feel like they still have more to give.
Their lives are busy. Their home can be raucous. They sometimes take turns sleeping to accommodate the needs of one of their superheroes, and they happily drive two separate vehicles anytime they go anywhere as a family. Their van only holds seven passengers, and as a family of eight, they no longer fit.
And yet, even with six children in their home, four of them with medical needs, two with very serious medical needs, driving two separate vehicles and running on very little sleep, the only sound you hear when listening to this sweet mama, who now stays home with their superheroes, is JOY. You can hear her sweet smile through the phone receiver, and the laughter and tenderness she uses when addressing children who need snacks and hugs throughout our phone conversation is priceless.
And as I just fall in love with this former military family who served their hearts out for our country and now serves their hearts out for superheroes-in-waiting, I realize something: THIS is what it means for night to become noonday.
THIS is what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
THIS is what it looks like to pour yourself out for the things that matter so dearly to our awesome God … and NOT look totally depleted. NOT appear completely exhausted. NOT be completely spent … but in God’s economy, be COMPLETELY FILLED.
Just like the precious family who introduced me to this scripture.
“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10).
THIS is what it looks like for NIGHT to become noonday.
THIS is what LIGHT looks like in a dark and selfish world.
THIS is how we combat darkness.
But it doesn’t mean there aren’t still some shadows to confront.
This servant-hearted family who dedicates their life to serving sweet superheroes with medical needs has several challenges before them.
Judah, their youngest, had an initial heart surgery in China, but he never received a complete repair. This special boy, whose laughter and bright eyes just melt the heart in his joy-filled videos, is now traveling to Boston this week, where some of the best specialists in the country are evaluating him for this open heart surgery hopefully sometime this fall.
Although their health insurance will cover some of this cost, it won’t cover everything.
This family still has adoption expenses remaining. They have medical costs before them. And in the meantime, they drive two vehicles everywhere, because they feel they still have love in their hearts and space in their home, and as long as they feel they have both left to give, they plan to bring home as many children as possible without sacrificing the needs of the individuals in their care.
And this is where WE, inspired standers by who are just watching in amazement as this precious couple DOES the heavy lifting, DOES the hard work, DOES the hard thing, gets to come help lift the load.
This family is dedicating every ounce of strength and sleep and patience and love to the sweet angels in their home and all the angels just waiting for SOMEONE to read their medical files and give their potential adoptive families a CHANCE. And with Jenny now staying home to pour her life into these deserving superheroes, they operate on Jacob’s income alone.
Friends, this is an opportunity! To give! To love! To sacrifice! To serve! To experience what it’s LIKE when you “pour yourselves out for the cause of the oppressed.” To experience what it means for “night to become noonday.” For LIGHT to stamp out DARKNESS. For sacrificial LOVE to shine like the sun.
YOU can be a part of that. By PRAYING for this sweet family. By coming ALONGSIDE this sweet family. And, if you feel led, by GIVING to this sweet family HERE: https://www.youcaring.com/jacob-jenny-labahn-654836.
Because when we spend ourselves on behalf of those who have never experienced the luxury of CARE or LOVE or FAMILY, night becomes like noonday.
Shine on, orphan warriors. Shine on.