[AUDIO PODCAST] God Can Rewrite Any Story: Cyntoia Brown-Long and Liz Marie Galvan

[AUDIO PODCAST] God Can Rewrite Any Story: Cyntoia Brown-Long and Liz Marie Galvan


God Can Rewrite Any Story: Cyntoia Brown-Long
and Liz Marie Galvan Cyntoia Brown-Long: It wasn’t until I came
back to God, and I sat down, and I just let Him take over—that’s when I was free. I don’t think God gives us testimonies for
us to just sit on them. And [when I was in prison, I made a] promise
to Him that, “If you do free me, then I will tell the world about you.” And I’m going to keep my word, because I think
it’s important. I think it is necessary. Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we talk with two young women who have
faced incredible hardship. But when they turned their traumatic circumstances
over to God, they saw Him work in miraculous ways to redeem their struggles and today allow
Him to use their stories to heal others: author and activist Cyntoia Brown-Long and interior
designer Liz Marie Galvan. Up first, Cyntoia Brown-Long shares the redemptive
story of how she found hope through faith after an unimaginable series of events marked
her adolescence. While still a high schooler, the man Cyntoia
thought was her boyfriend began physically and sexually abusing her and forced her into
prostitution. One night in 2004, sixteen-year-old Cyntoia
was solicited by a forty-three-year-old man. During the course of the evening, Cyntoia
began to fear for her life and shot him. Cyntoia was arrested, and later convicted
on a charge of first-degree murder. She shares a little about how her life took
first took a turn downward, and after her conviction, how she purposed to create hope,
even through this harrowing situation. Cyntoia Brown-Long: My name is Cyntoia Brown-Long. I am thirty-one years old. And for about two months now, I’ve been freed
from prison. I was incarcerated at the age of sixteen,
and after fifteen years, God finally freed me. I grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee, about
three minutes from the military base Fort Campbell. My family consists of my mother, Ellenette,
a special needs teacher, and my father, he’s retired military. And then I also have a sister. My dreams pretty much changed all the time. One minute, I may have wanted to be an architect,
or an engineer. I’m not really sure I knew exactly what
that consisted of, but it just sounded fancy enough for me. In my house, we grew up in a Baptist Church,
Missionary Baptist. Every Sunday, every Wednesday, my mom made
sure that we went to church. It was a constant. And there was a lot of structure in my house. My mother is very strict. So for all intents and purposes, I had a very
healthy environment at home. But it was at school that I would start to
get in trouble and started hanging around the wrong people. I eventually ended up going to an alternative
school. I got into some more trouble, which led to
me being locked up in the juvenile delinquent system. Once I became a delinquent, I actually ran
away from the facility, and ended up being on the streets in Nashville with people that
I met in the facility. I started meeting people who did not have
my best interests at heart. I started doing drugs, smoking marijuana,
doing cocaine on a regular basis. I did cocaine for about two weeks, and that
was with a man that I had actually met, who is now known as my trafficker. At the time, I thought it was my boyfriend. That’s kind of how it happens. When you’re young, you’re on the run, you
don’t really understand everything that you’re putting yourself into. You put yourself in a lot of adult situations,
without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Before I knew it, I was actually being trafficked
on the streets of Nashville. On the night that led to my incarceration,
I was actually staying in a hotel room with Cut Throat—he was the man who, at the time,
I thought was my boyfriend. It was time for me to go back out and bring
money back for us to get into the hotel room. I just felt really fearful, really uncomfortable. And again, I was in a situation that a sixteen-year-old
girl should not have been in with a forty-three year old man. I ended up shooting him, because I was fearful
of what was going to happen. After that happened, I went back to the hotel,
and within 24 hours, I was caught by the police and I was arrested for murder. When I was first sentenced, I was actually
told that I would spend the rest of my life in prison. In the state of Tennessee, you have to serve
at least fifty-one calendar years before you’re even considered for any type of release. I saw a lot of people around me who were given
the same news, and they kind of just gave up hope after a while. And I didn’t want to be that. I didn’t want to be that person. I knew that there was some way that I could
live some type of meaningful life [in prison].[a] I still had a family who was there for me. I wanted to keep going for their sake, not
just for my sake. I don’t think at the time that I made that
decision [because] I really cared enough about myself, to make it for myself. It was really for my mother’s sake that I
wanted to do better and I wanted to actually live a meaningful life. The opportunity to join a college course through
a local university, Lipscomb University, came and I worked really hard. I went through all kinds of hurdles, and I
finally got accepted into the program. It was after I started taking classes there
that I started to see, Wow, it is really possible for me to actually live a real life in prison. I spent most of my time studying my school
work or having conversations with other people, and it really just opened my mind up. That was really helpful for me. Developing self-control and learning how to
make the right decisions there in the prison environment. Because it’s hard—it’s very difficult
to try to keep yourself out of trouble there. Narrator: With her sharp mind and determination
to expand her horizons, Cyntoia earned an associate’s degree and then a bachelor’s
degree. She even worked with a film crew to release
a documentary of her life on PBS in 2011 called Me Facing Life, sharing her story with millions
around the world. But in 2017, there was one man who resonated
very strongly with this young woman’s story—and he would eventually become her husband. Jamie Long: My name is Jamie Long. I’m from a city outside of Houston by the
name of Lamar, Texas. I’m a God-fearing man. I’m a husband. That’s who I am. The way me and my wife met is nothing short
of a miracle. I come from a musical background in my family,
my uncle being Huey Long [of the Ink Spots]. My grandfather, Curtis Long, played guitar
for Bobby Blue Bland and a whole bunch of your famous blues singers. Everyone in my family sings, everyone in my
family plays an instrument. And I fell into that bloodline. I grew up in a Christian family and that’s
what my mother always instilled in me—Christ. I remember hearing the voice of the Lord at
a young age. You know, that didn’t change when I became
an adult. I started to really realize where this voice
was coming from, who it was coming from. I was actually in my studio, preparing to
go back on tour, finishing up an album. I was having writer’s block, and I decided
to step out of the studio and go into one of the extra rooms we had at the studio. And on my TV, there were YouTube recommendations
for me to watch. My TV had been on for three days and I just
didn’t turn it off. She [Cyntoia] had been sitting on my TV for
three days. I noticed it [the documentary] was an hour
long, and I was like, There’s no way I’m watching this whole story. I’m just not. I mean, if you know me personally, it’s hard
to get me to watch a ten-minute segment. First of all, I don’t even know what this
is about but if it recommended me to watch it, I’ll watch it. An hour later, I was just like, Wow, that
was pretty amazing. The Lord stopped me in my tracks, and He said,
“Write her a letter, and write it right now.” And I said, “I’m not gonna write her a letter
right now. I’m gonna go back in the studio and finish
doing what I’m doing.” It was just so heavy on my heart, I never
made it back into that room. I stopped right there, stopped what I was
doing. I wrote her a letter and I said, “Okay, God,
I did it.” I put it in the envelope and I said, “All
right, I’ll send it out tomorrow.” He said, “Take it back out of that envelope,
and burn the edges of the paper.” I said, “Okay, either I’m going crazy, or
God is up to something.” And I burned the edges of the paper. I was obedient to the voice of the Lord. I sent the letter in, and I forgot I sent
it. About a week or two later, I got a letter
back from her. She told me that the reason she wrote back
was because she saw the edges of the paper burned. And I said, “Okay, we’re dealing with a God
who’s serious about details.” Cyntoia: Yeah, that was the only reason I
wrote, because it stuck out so much. I wasn’t writing anybody back at the time. I had gotten so many letters in, but I wasn’t
responding to anyone. Jamie: Yeah, I’m not a person to write anybody,
either. Cyntoia: You sure ain’t! Cyntoia: When Jamie first wrote me, he could
speak a lot to me about God. And the thing is that God was telling him
to let me know—to have faith in Him, that He was going to get me through this. And at that time, I had become so bitter and
so angry, because I felt that I had spent so much time praying for God to get me out
of this. Here I was, and it’s like, “Well, where are
You?” I didn’t realize that I was angry. I just told myself, Well, I just don’t believe. He’s just not real. And you know, Jamie would constantly—not
in a pushy way, but he would continue to tell me about his experience, things that God had
done in his life. It was like, “Well you know, I remember a
similar circumstance. . . ” So yeah, I guess there is no explanation
[other than] it was God. It really caused me to start going back and
looking over things with new eyes. “All right, maybe I just kind of explained
this away because I was angry.” If I had to say what I love most about Jamie,
I love the way he loves God so much. I get to see how important it is to him to
stay in alignment. It helps keep me straight. It helps keep me humble, it helps to keep
me focused. That’s helpful. It’s just good to have somebody who is my
best friend, but who also can help me to stay on the right track and keeps me accountable. That was the biggest step in me recognizing
that I was angry at God. Once that happened, I started to listen, and
I was just soaking up everything. I wanted him to constantly minister to me. I wanted to read the Bible with him constantly. We recently started reading Jesus Calling
every day together, and we would talk about, “Okay, well, what did you take from that?” We talk about experiences that speak to us. I just started getting hungry for it. Jamie: Personally, I find Jesus Calling so
special. Sometimes we think that God and Christ is
this imaginary person in the sky and we call on them when we need something like a genie
in a bottle. But that’s not true. Jesus is always calling. He has a word for you 365 days every year. It doesn’t stop. He’s always there. He’s there when you need Him. He’s there just to say, “Hey, thank you.”[b]
He’s there. To me, it’s my coffee for the morning. It’s something that I can get my day started
with. Cyntoia: Yeah, I agree. I love how we have the verses that she [Sarah
Young] includes for every day. Jamie: Exactly. Cyntoia: But then, you have a passage that
just really makes it hit home. Jamie: Exactly. Cyntoia: It really speaks to you on a personal
level. And a lot of times it’s like, “Wow.” Jamie: Yeah, like, “Oh, wow.” Cyntoia: “I needed that. How did they know that today this is what
I need?” Jamie: Exactly. Cyntoia: That’s what I love about it. Jamie: Right. Cyntoia: This is the June 30th entry of Jesus
Calling, and it reads: I am the Truth: the One who came to set you
free. As the Holy Spirit controls your mind and
actions more fully, you become free in Me. You are increasingly released to become the
one I created you to be. This is a work that I do in you as you yield
to My Spirit. I can do My best handiwork when you sit in
the stillness of My Presence, focusing your entire being on Me. Let My thoughts burst freely upon your consciousness,
stimulating abundant Life. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. As you follow Me, I lead you along paths of
newness: ways you have never imagined. Don’t worry about what is on the road up
ahead. I want you to find your security in knowing
Me, the One who died to set you free. Jamie: Amen. Cyntoia: This passage speaks to the fact that,
again, Jesus is the One that can set you free. You know? At the end of the day, we can talk about the
courtrooms. We can talk about lawyers. We can talk about judges. We can talk about everything here on earth. But to experience true freedom—whether in
prison or out of prison—it comes through Him.[c] And I think that’s important to remember
for everyone who’s in prison, everyone who’s out of prison. I know just about every prisoner has this
book on their shelves, and I can remember—I know this isn’t the only passage that speaks
along those lines—just how much it meant to me, being in prison and reading something
like that. That’s pretty much when things really started
to change in my situation, because things had been stagnant. When we first met, I had lost my last appeal. My hope levels were like pssh. Jamie: Like, nobody was saying her name around
the time we met. Cyntoia: There was like a little blip of time
when the documentary had first aired, in 2011, when people were all advocating and things
and then it kind of . . . not died, but it just went away. I was like, “Man, that’s not going [well]
for me. I don’t have any support in terms of people
trying to advocate for me. My last appeal has been denied, like, whatever.” But here was this man telling me, “No, you’re
going to get out. God says you’re going to get out.” [I thought] You have to decide if you’re going
to believe what this man is telling you, or if you’re going to believe God. I made that decision and I said, “You know
what? I’m going to believe what God says.” All of a sudden, miraculously, my appeal was
opened back up, which never happens. And just things started happening. Jamie: When I wrote the letter, [there was]
one other specific thing that the Lord told me to do. He told me to put the hashtag #FreeCyntoia
and He told me to put the date of 2017. Eventually, that would become the hashtag
that actually went viral. Cyntoia: It’s so crazy because we didn’t even
realize that. I kept all my letters that he ever wrote me,
so I have the letter. People would always write letters and put
hashtag this, hashtag that. #FreeYou. I just thought it was just something that
people would put on their letters. I didn’t really think much of it. It’s so crazy how prophetic it was. Jamie: As we go back and look at that letter,
God was so intentional with what He was doing. Cyntoia: And then probably five, six months
later, the hashtag started out of nowhere. Just like, literally overnight, and it was
like, “Whoa, what is this?” Jamie: I didn’t put it online. So just to see it come from the letter and
God showing that He knew what He was doing the whole time [is so neat]. We can’t pinpoint who started it today. It’s like, “Okay, well, let’s give God His
credit. I give the glory to Him, because He started
it. I can’t explain it. Cyntoia: Yeah. Jamie: I don’t want to get credit for it. And I don’t want anyone else to take the credit
for it. It’s, “Thank you, Father. You’re amazing.” Narrator: Cyntoia’s story continued to elicit
compassion from people around the world, and supporters rallied around her with the hashtag
#FreeCyntoia. In January 2019, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam
granted clemency to Cyntoia and she walked out of prison a free woman in August of 2019. Cyntoia reflects on the day she received the
news of her clemency, and goes on to share about her new book, Free Cyntoia, and how
she’s spending her days in freedom. Cyntoia: I already knew in my spirit that
it was coming. I don’t want to act like I’m too surprised,
because God doesn’t surprise me. He always does what He says He’s gonna do,
but this is really awesome. When I issued the clemency statement I was
like, “He’s gonna get His glory.” Yes, there were many people that came together
[because] He put it on their hearts to stand up and to come together. But the point is, it was Him. And it’s because He is a God of second chances. [d]
I felt like that was really important to stress. The first thing that I had to say after—because
I knew that people would be paying attention to it, and I felt like it was the perfect
time to just let them know—[was] that this, what you’re witnessing right now, this miracle,
it’s from nobody but Him. My book, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption
in the American Prison System, covers everything—and I mean absolutely everything—that I experienced
over the fifteen years [I spent in prison]. I wanted to make sure that I included things
about the juvenile system, the school system, even before I became involved as a juvenile,
different things that led up to that because I wanted to paint a clear picture of how this
happened. I wanted to include how I ended up trafficking. If you look at it, you think, Wow, you met
this person in the space of two weeks and he had you do this? I think that’s important. In order for us to accurately combat trafficking,
we have to understand what makes girls vulnerable to it. We have to understand how you get from point
A to point B. You’re not just kidnapped and put on the streets. It doesn’t just happen like that, it’s not
always that clear cut. A lot of times, you know, it’s more subtle. It’s more manipulative, it’s more preying
on the minds of people who are vulnerable in terms of being susceptible to manipulation,
to lies, to thinking things are one way and not another. So I wanted to dive into that and everything
that happened. And then, of course, everything with the justice
system: with being tried, with spending time in prison, actually taking the steps to rehabilitate
yourself, because unfortunately, our prisons are not places of rehabilitation. They’re not places of redemption. I wanted to show what it’s like for someone
who actually applies themselves, someone who fights to find that rehabilitation in a place
that’s not conducive to it. My husband and I have been working with our
attorney on developing our non-profit organization, The Foundation for Justice, Freedom, and Mercy—or
the JFam Foundation, as we call it. And we’d really like to try to get more stories
out there from the people who experience the justice system, because we think their voice
is important, and [it’s important to] really understand what’s going on in the system and
really understand what we can do, where we can fit in to change. [We also want to help] people understand that
there is a need for change, because I think that that’s the big area that’s lacking right
now. A lot of people don’t think that the system
is broken, they don’t think there’s flaws. We’d like to focus our work there. Even though I was in a physical prison, I
was in prison within prison. I was in a prison of anger. I was in a prison of my past, constantly letting
that anxiety hold me captive.[e] I’ve spent time in many prisons, and I was constantly
trying to find a way out of it, constantly trying to find a solution. Oh, well, maybe if I exercise more, I won’t
feel this anxiety. Maybe if I just keep my mouth shut, I won’t
be angry and won’t have these outbursts. Nothing ever worked. It didn’t work until I surrendered. I was like, “God, I don’t have control over
this. I can’t fix it, but I know that You can. And I’m just gonna let you do what you do
with it. I’m just going to trust that I am a work in
progress and you’re working on me. I’m just asking you to come into this situation
and take over because I just can’t anymore.” And it wasn’t immediate, but it definitely
took place. He definitely can fix whatever it is that
you [need help with]. Jamie: Trust Him. Cyntoia: Yeah, God is no respecter of persons. What He did for me, He can do for you. He is in the prison-freeing business. Jamie: He’s willing to do it. Cyntoia: Oh yeah. Jamie: He wants to do it. Cyntoia: Yeah. Jamie: He’s waiting to do it. Cyntoia: He did it for Joseph, He did it for
Cyntoia, He can do it for you too. Jamie: Exactly. Cyntoia: No matter what your prison is, you
just have to submit to Him and cast all your cares on Him and let Him do what He does. That’s who He is. He’s God. [f]
Narrator: You can read more about Cyntoia’s story in her new book, Free Cyntoia, available
at your favorite book retailer today. Stay tuned for our interview with interior
designer Liz Marie Galvan after a brief message about a way to connect with Jesus Calling
readers each week through prayer! Narrator: Liz Marie Galvan is an interior
designer and a blogger who, even as a little girl, aspired to create beautiful spaces by
constantly decorating and rearranging her childhood room. After marrying her high school sweetheart
and settling into life on a farm, Liz Marie studied design while her husband served in
the military. Together they also dreamed of starting a family,
only to be disappointed time and again with infertility issues. Liz Marie shares how she endured this dark
season of her life by diving headfirst into things that brought her comfort and peace:
her faith, and creating a warm and cozy home. Eventually her ideas around creating welcoming
spaces turned into a popular blog, and then a book, called Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways
to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Liz Marie Galvan: I am Liz Marie Galvan, blogger
at lizmarieblog.com. [I’m an] interior designer, former military
wife, co-owner of the Found Cottage, mama to Copeland, and most recently, an author. I grew up in West Michigan, where we now live. I have two parents who are wonderful, and
that I now consider best friends, and an older brother. We grew up in West Michigan, and we spent
every weekend at our cottage that was on a tiny lake in northern Michigan. I have really good memories of going up there. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascination—sometimes
borderline obsession—with home decor, interior design, and all things that revolve around
that. I remember sitting in second grade while the
teacher was talking, and I’m looking around the room, coming up with ideas of how I would
change the room and how I would decorate the room, and I still remember this. I remember realizing I could use my imagination
to come up with designs and picture how I would decorate spaces. I was the child that wasn’t watching cartoons. Instead, I was watching interior design shows
like Christopher Lowell and Trading Spaces. That’s what I ran home from school to watch. I started blogging when I was in elementary
school, because I would take photos with my disposable camera of my bedroom set up different
ways and I would go and get them developed, and I would put them all into this Creative
Memories journal. That was my original blog. And my mom would get so mad at me for wasting
my disposable film on taking photos of my bedroom different ways. But it worked out. It’s now my job. Jose and I met in high school. We went to different high schools actually,
and met through a mutual friend. I’ve always been kind of a dreamer and a thinker
and just always doing things, and he was always there being my biggest cheerleader. It started as a really good friendship and
just blossomed into, You are my person and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. We got married when we were nineteen, we were
really young. On the day after we got married, I moved down
to North Carolina to be with him, where he was serving in the Marine Corps. And I started college. I was going to school for business, because
I was unaware that they had an interior design program in the small town that we lived in. After that, I started school at a local community
college that offered interior design courses, which was really exciting, and it really just
honed in my craft and I was able to meet some really awesome professors that showed me a
new side of interior design. My husband deployed a couple of times, but
on his second deployment, I was always redoing furniture and redecorating our home and a
friend came to me and said, “You should start a blog.” At that point, I honestly had never heard
the word blog before. I had no idea what it was. I looked it up, and I found this entire community
of interior designers and home decor enthusiasts that were all blogging. So I started a blog while he was deployed,
and I started documenting painting furniture and all the projects I was doing. That’s what took me on the path to be the
interior designer that I am now. Now we’ve been married for twelve years, and
we have been through a whole lot of things. But each thing has just made our marriage
stronger, and that’s how it’s been from the beginning. You never think that you’re going to be the
person struggling with infertility. It was never on my radar, or a thought in
my mind, that that would happen. We started about six years ago, maybe seven
now, trying to grow our family. The first time, it took us about a year to
get pregnant, and I never lost hope in that year. We got pregnant, and a couple of months later,
we had our first miscarriage. And it was the most devastating thing I had
ever gone through. It was just something that I never could have
imagined until I was in those shoes. Since then, we have lost nine babies, and
it was a very difficult journey. One day, it bubbled up to the surface, and
I just had to shout it from the rooftops. I couldn’t go on the blog or on social media
and pretend like everything was okay. I had to start sharing it. I’m so thankful I did, because I was able
to meet an entire community of people that were going through the same struggle [through
my blog]. It was so helpful to be able to rally together
and give each other hope and pray for each other. [g] It’s a very lonely feeling, infertility is. It’s a very isolating because not a lot
of people are very open about it. Or, you’re surrounded by a lot of people that
have children and they didn’t talk about how difficult it was to get there, so it can look
really easy for people. We lost our ninth baby, and I was starting
to stumble a little bit and wonder why I was going through this. And I was looking to God, wanting to know
why I was not able to bear a child. It was one of the darkest seasons of my life. [h]
I never would have dreamed of writing a book in the season of life I was in when I wrote
the book. The thing that I pride myself in is making
every space at our home and other homes cozy. I wanted to write a book about cozy. And looking back, writing the book was one
of the darkest seasons of my life. I think that really inspired a lot for the
book, because I was craving to be cozy in every aspect of my emotional and physical
life. I was able to gather a hundred very approachable
ways that you can make any space in your home cozy, from emotional ways to physical ways,
including your five senses. Looking back, it was the darkest year of my
life, writing that book. But I think that it truly inspired a lot of
the cozy elements of the book and I was able to draw from my craving to be cozy. I think creating a cozy corner is honestly
one of my favorite things to do. I share a lot about it on the blog and in
the book. Creating a cozy corner can be anything from
grabbing a chair or purchasing a chair, and grabbing a pillow and a blanket and a footrest,
and designating a corner in your home that you can retreat to for morning devotions,
or evening quiet time, or watching TV at night. Just creating that cozy corner, it can be
really simple. It doesn’t need to be anything beyond designating
a corner for yourself if you live in an open concept home. You don’t need an entire den area or living
room area, just retreat to that spot. Or if you like listening to music, buy a radio
or something that you put in the corner to listen to music. Now we have Alexa, things like that that can
play music, or you can listen to your devotions or a podcast in the corner. I think just designating a corner like that
can make a huge difference. Sometimes I think that we’re overwhelmed with
more stuff, and creating a cozy corner can be [as simple as] cleaning that corner out
and only having your favorite items in there so that you can feel at rest. You don’t feel like you’re looking at a to-do
list. You’re looking at your quiet, peaceful time. Jesus Calling is what made devotional and
quiet time approachable for someone like me. I feel like my mind goes a mile a minute,
and I think that a lot of people tend to overcomplicate doing devotionals or doing Bible studies,
and Jesus Calling made it approachable for someone like me. And it very much got me into doing daily devotions,
because it was approachable. Being able to leave it out in my quiet corner,
I see it every day. It’s a reminder that I need to sit and reflect
and have that quiet time to do my devotions. And it’s approachable. This is Jesus Calling from October 22nd: No matter what your circumstances may be,
you can find Joy in My Presence. On some days, Joy is generously strewn along
your life-path, glistening in the sunlight. On days like that, being content is as simple
as breathing the next breath or taking the next step. Other days are overcast and gloomy; you feel
the strain of the journey, which seems endless. Dull gray rocks greet your gaze and cause
your feet to ache. Yet Joy is still attainable. Search for it as for hidden treasure. Begin by remembering that I have created this
day; it is not a chance occurrence. Recall that I am present with you whether
you sense My Presence or not. Then, start talking with Me about whatever
is on your mind. Rejoice in the fact that I understand you
perfectly and I know exactly what you are experiencing. As you continue communicating with Me, your
mood will gradually lighten. Awareness of My marvelous Companionship can
infuse Joy into the grayest day. I probably should have read that every day
of our infertility journey, because there were days when it was really easy to be positive
and hopeful. And then there were other days when I couldn’t
see the light at all. I couldn’t see past everything that we were
going through. I was angry, and I was upset, and I was mad. It’s definitely a great one [devotional] for
anyone going through anything during the waiting period of their life. That is definitely a great passage to read
for anyone going through it infertility and miscarriage. At the end of the summer last year—we host
a market in Holland, Michigan every year called The Found Cottage Mercantile—while we were
at that market that we run, my husband and I were separated because there was so much
to do, so he was off doing something and I was off doing other things, meeting with people
that come to the market. During the day, separately we found out later,
about fifty people came up to us who had either been adopted, who have adopted, who are [adopting],
or some who were involved in adoption somehow. All day long, people were coming up to me,
having me hold their adopted babies, and it was the strangest thing. We hadn’t talked about adopting, nothing. And at the end of the day, Jose and I came
together and we were like, “What happened? Why?” It was the strangest thing, we both looked
up and we were like, “Okay, God, we’ll look into it. We get it.” It was thrown into our faces. It was the oddest thing, but we were like,
“Fine, we’ll look into it.” There’s so many different paths that you can
take with adoption. We were like, “You know what, what if we
just announced that we were looking into it and we could get help from people?” We’ve really learned to embrace our blogging
community and we know no more than other people. We’ve learned to really utilize that community. So we announced that we wanted to adopt. And a couple of months, or maybe a month later,
we got a text from a birth mom who was pregnant and due in five weeks and hadn’t picked a
family yet. I’m starting to get the chills. She was pregnant with a son. We met, and she asked us if we wanted to adopt
her baby. That was Copeland. It’s so funny how it went from God shoving
adoption on our path, to a couple of months later, we had our son named Copeland that
we could have never dreamed or imagined having, especially that soon after everything happened. Adoption definitely looks different for everybody
in different situations, but adoption has truly opened my heart. From the second I was privileged to be in
the room when he came into the world, and from the second I looked at him, I was like,
That’s my son. It was just an instant bond with him. It was, This is my child. I think that adoption has taught me to give
Cope back to God through the whole thing. When I look at his face now, it’s like, It
was always you. You were always my son, this is why we were
waiting. It was always for him. Adoption has opened my heart completely to
wanting to share Cope with everybody and realizing that it’s a village of people, and I want
him to be surrounded by these wonderful people. I think a cozy home starts with the people
in it, the gratefulness of the home that you live in and the people that are in your home
that are choosing to visit you. That gratefulness, I think, is cozy. Providing a space for people to come into,
loving those people, welcoming them in with a warm hug. That’s a cozy home. Narrator: You can find Liz Marie’s book
Cozy White Cottage at your favorite bookseller. Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast,
we talk with actor and producer Rita Wilson. Rita has a host of creative talents to her
name, and now she’s added singer/songwriter to the list. When we caught up with Rita at CMA Fest in
Nashville, she told us why it’s never too late to chase a new dream. Rita Wilson: What are we all blessed with? What are our gifts? Even if you think you have a gift for something,
but you’re not quite sure, you should check it out, because maybe you do. That’s something worthwhile and worthy and
might be affecting and touching somebody else. So go for it. Narrator: Do you love hearing these stories
of faith weekly from people like you whose lives have been changed by a closer walk with
God? Then be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling:
Stories of Faith Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, leave us
a review so that we can reach others with these inspirational stories. And, you can also see these interviews on
video as part of our original web series with a new interview premiering every other Sunday
on Facebook Live. Find previously broadcasted interviews on
our Youtube channel, on IGTV, or on jesuscalling.com/media/video.

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