A New Year, A New Life and Love

She’s never been to Starbucks. Never stayed in a hotel. Never heard a bedtime story and now she’s living with us. Our new year began on Janurary 2nd.  We drove a quiet 11 year old girl from Boston to our home, arriving at 2:00 a.m. to be greeted by welcome notes and lavender macaroon cookies left out on the counter by our other kids.

On December  10th, 2014 we were going about our lives, getting ready for Christmas. We snuggled into our cozy beds and drifted off to sleep as the street light shone through spyrographic ice on our bedroom window. At 4:00 a.m. God woke me up, to the sound of my own voice yelling, “Hurry!”  At first I wasn’t sure it was God, it was “just a dream,” a dream about an adorable girl we know in our Sunday night Bible study in the refugee apartments. “I’m going to be adopted,” she said in the dream, working her small rough hand into mine. “I want to show you where I’m going to live so you can meet them.” We flew through the air and landed in the rugged courtyard of her new apartment complex. Several young, jobless or homeless men gathered around burning trash barrels to stay warm. The icicles dripped rust from the balconies. “It’s that one up there on the end, next to the stairs. I’ll be able to come and go as I want to.” She smiled as she pointed out a lacquered black door on the second floor. We began to creep across the courtyard toward the staircase, arms locked so we didn’t crash on the ice. The circle of young men in “wife beater” t-shirts, gangsta jewelry and flannel coats approached, questioning me. “What are you doin’ here?” Danger slashed across their faces. We began to back up. I whispered to my little friend, “I think we need to get out of here. Hurry!”

This dream, so vivid, spoke of impending doom and urgency. Something was wrong. Reaching over the edge of the bed for my computer, I immediately emailed the Bible study co-leader. It was 4:00a.m. “Is she o.k.?” I just needed to know. Her response back, “I think your dream was from God. Her father is moving her to Boston on December 16th. She doesn’t want to go.”  In six days!  We started praying. My husband agreed that perhaps God was showing us something in the dream and we should speak to her dad about the possibility of her living with us. Her dad agreed, but first she would go to Boston for Christmas. We checked out the neighborhood they were moving to. From a crime perspective, it’s one of the worst.

Many miles later, we sit in Starbucks and sip hot chocolate. I’m teaching her to play the piano after school and she is singing in our church children’s choir. We’ve read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Number the Stars and tonight, The Witch of Blackbird Pond at bedtime. She’s getting fat eating American food rather than Liberian pepper soup. She laughs with her brothers who live nearby and our kids and we’re all learning together; learning to make room, to share, to sacrifice our personal schedules, to listen to 103.5fm instead of our favorite stations on the way to school. We are learning to live with and love someone new every morning and every night.

As I walk the dog after getting everyone to school, I’m thankful. I thank God that he still speaks in dreams and visions. I thank him for always doing something new, so thankful that her father said, “yes,” and as we walk toward Valentine’s Day, I thank him that he is still teaching us all how to love.


  1. says

    Margaret, this is beautifully written, of course, but more, your wide heart and open table inspires. ANd I am with you—I do believe God still brings dreams and visions at times, preparing us for what is to come. Thank you for sharing what God is doing among you!!

    • Margaret Philbrick says

      Thanks Leslie! You can’t believe how much we laugh around our open table at the massive quantities of Siraccha sauce Jessica and her friends are dumping all over their food. Thanks for supporting me in this post. It was a little risky for me because I know in my Wheaton bubble many do not believe that God still speaks to us in this way. Thankfully, I know he does. God bless and love to you.

  2. says

    Yes, God speaks in dreams and visions with Words and Images. If we have ears that can hear, the more we turn to God the oftener he can break through ordinary perception to that higher, future-oriented level of consciousness. We need that enhanced ability to “see” and “hear” to be able to accomplish difficult things. I am thrilled for you and your family, Margaret, and pray God’s richest blessing on this child. She will be the path to salvation for many.

    • Margaret Philbrick says

      Your response to this post gives me chills. I pray you are right in this prophetic word and I think it is true. I’m putting your response in my prayer journal. I’l let you know in ten years what happens!
      Thanks for writing:)

  3. says

    Thanks so much for writing and sharing this, Margaret. It is beautiful and uplifting, filled with hope and growth and love. And I love seeing her smile at church on Wednesday evenings! Thank you.

    • Margaret Philbrick says

      Yea! so glad you are blessed by seeing her sweet face! Her giggles and massive consumption of Sirachha sauce bring many smiles around out table:) Thanks for writing!

  4. says

    When I was in seminary on the tip of Africa, one of our visiting lecturers (from Gordon Conwell, in fact) addressed the young, black men in our class: “You need to develop an African theology, young men,” he said. “And by that, I don’t mean taking Africa as your authority. Our authority is ALWAYS scripture. But most of the world’s theology has been written be western men coming to Scripture’s authority asking Western questions. There are things that you need to ask of God in His word which your people need. For example, dreams. Our Western church knows almost nothing of how God speaks to his people through dreams. But African people know that dreams are connected to the Spiritual, and the Bible is replete with stories of God revealing himself in this way. It is your pastoral duty to mine the Scriptures and speak God’s truth into a truth you already know in your bones to be true.”

    I remember getting chills as he spoke. And I got chills reading your story. I ABSOLUTELY believe God spoke to you through this dream, and wish my heart were more tuned to hear him in unexpected ways myself.

    So grateful for your obedience, open and welcoming heart. I so look forward to hearing what God does next. <3

    • Margaret Philbrick says

      Bronwyn, thank you! One of the reasons I am able to know this and see him in this way is that I ask for him to reveal himself to me, pretty much daily. So often, I’m sure I miss it, but he is always faithful to do so. Keep looking and expect him to be there, around every corner, on every train platform, in the grocery line. Thanks for sharing this precious story from the big continent. Love to you. Can’t wait to see you soon. xo.

  5. Elizabeth Lobs Mattson says

    Margaret, such a joy to read this, I wish I could meet you at Starbucks and hear hours more of the story. It is so compelling to me. Being respectful of your family privacy to be sure, would love future installments. Praying God’s best for this little girl and the rest of your family.

    • Margaret Philbrick says

      I would love to meet you at Starbucks! Let’s do it sometime. You write, don’t you? Thanks for your support and encouragement of my writing. I love your family from afar.

  6. Donna Lobs says

    Beautiful Margaret. It is amazing when we are tuned expectantly to what God might speak to us..and He does!! Several times over the years God has revealed in a dream to my husband solutions to family situations. I too can give testimony to God speaking thru dreams.
    Of course ,Holy Scripture abounds with God speaking thru dreams.
    May your family be blessed.Jessica surely will be.

    • Margaret Philbrick says

      Donna! I remember being with you out in Geneva when Caleb was an infant and you said to me, “Welcome to eighteen years of sacrifice!” Well, I guess God has more than eighteen years for us. What a blessing. Tons of love to you and Rick! xoxox. Thanks for reading.

  7. Debbie Henderson says

    Margaret, this is so beautiful and joyous. What an amazing act of love you and your entire family are showing this little girl. You have opened your heart and listened to God. That is one of the most beautiful things that we can witness in life. Blessings to all of you!

  8. Heather Walker Peterson says

    I’ve been so grateful for this post. About a week ago, I asked God, “So many people we know are actively pursuing adoption or foster care. Our lives feel quiet and comfortable in comparison. Are we supposed to be doing more right now?” My husband said that God will call us to what we are supposed to do, and you have shown that as long as we’re open that if He does call, it will be clear. Thank you!

    • Margaret Philbrick says

      Yes Heather! We weren’t even considering foster care or adoption until he woke us up. But, we did already know and love Jessica so I guess he just decided it was time. He will do so for you as well if this is what he has for your family. In the meantime WRITE!!!! xo

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