Uncle. Ebenezer.

When I was growing up, my brother loved to pin me to the ground in some hideously uncomfortable position until I cried out in pain, “Uncle!” Then he would set me free, defeated.

This week has felt like a game of “Uncle” with God.

  • Our kids aged 2-3 years overnight.
  • Pneumonia.
  • In a matter of days, my boss was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor, announced his resignation, and has surgery tomorrow morning. My heart absolutely breaks for him and his family.

All of this was in less than 7 days.

“Uncle! Uncle!” I’ve had enough. This week’s events are on top of a fraudulent adoption last year, a horribly delayed international adoption, and a traumatic in-country experience that I’m still trying to deal with, on top of two kids who live under my roof, but don’t speak English.


It’s times like this when I cry out, “God, am I doing something wrong? Am I not doing what you wanted me to do?”

And God always takes me back to my Ebenezers.

An Ebenezer refers back to the Old Testament in I Samuel 7, when Samuel set up a stone as a marker where the Israelites defeated the Philistines to remind them where the Lord was their help in providing victory.

There are times in life where God does something so spectacular that you can always look back to that moment and know that you were on the right track. For instance, when I applied to Trevecca, Ken was interested in being an RD. I had pestered him for weeks about calling Trevecca about an RD position, and he finally did, the week of my interview. What they said stunned us, “Well, we only have one men’s RD position.” Our hearts sank. “But he resigned yesterday. Why don’t we interview you this week when your wife is here to interview?” He got the job, and I was accepted to the PA program. I can always look back to that moment and know exactly when it was that we knew we were supposed to go to Trevecca.

Last fall, we needed $17,000 for adoption fees and we had not even begun to fundraise. But God provided, miraculously.

When I prayed for years for God’s intervention in our family, He provided the answer through Ken.

Even now, the letters, emails, and cards I get from current and former students are my Ebenezers, reminding me that God has called me to Trevecca and that what I do makes a difference. I keep them posted on my dresser at home, on my desk at work, and in a bright yellow file labeled, “Rainy Day File.” I would have quit 4 years ago, had it not been for these visible Ebenezer in my life.

Time after time, there have been Ebenezers in my life, marking the times when God has shown that I was on the right path, reminding me of the times when He has sent help in time of need, and spurring me on toward the next Ebenezer.

When I cry, “Uncle!” God answers right back, “Ebenezer!”

Uncle. Ebenezer.


 Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. 

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.


7 thoughts on “Uncle. Ebenezer.

  1. Praying for you, my friend! I know in my life when I’ve been waiting such a long time for something to happen, I somehow imagine everything will be perfect afterward. It never is. It isn’t always as heartwrenching as your week has been, but Satan usually finds a way to try and steal our joy. It probably seems simplistic, but I’m praying you will have interuptions of joy today, so you can focus on those instead of the hard stuff. Thanks for this post, for the reminder that we all have Ebenezers we can look back to and see how God has worked miracles in our lives.

    • I think it’s far more realistic to allow myself to mourn the tragic retirement of my boss and mentor, the loss of the years of my children, and being really sick. Indeed, even Jesus struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane, and it wasn’t at all about Satan stealing his joy.

  2. Addie and Palmer have been given the best mother, hand picked by their loving Father! What a GIFT you are to them!!
    We all love you guys!!
    -Esther, Brock, Reagan & Samuel!
    (And the rest of the Sheets clan!)

  3. Hi! Just found you guys from “goggling” Trevecca Pa program, and here I am subscribing to your blog from the first few paragraphs and as I scrolled to see one of my favorite songs….”Come Thou Fount.” And all this time, I never knew what an EBENEZER was….Thank you! You have me teared up in joy, and the heart you have for adoption is incredible. So excited to see your journey along with the PA program.

    May God bless you and your young family.

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