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She thought she’d get to keep her.

Katie Davis, a missionary in Uganda and founder of Amazima Ministries, has adopted 13 daughters, but once she had 14.

At 17 years old, Katie moved from a suburb in Nashville, Tennessee all the way to Uganda to teach kindergarten. Why move halfway across the world when her parents wanted her to attend college? Because she had fallen in love with Uganda during a high school mission trip and, with her parents’ blessing, committed to teach there for a year before college. After her year ended, she returned to Tennessee but lasted only one semester in college before deciding that where she was really called to be was right back in Uganda.

There she adopted 14 Ugandan girls and founded Amazima Ministries, which provides vulnerable children and families of Uganda with education, medical care, and spiritual discipleship.

In the midst of positive change in the communities Katie was able to help through her organization, the unthinkable happened in the home she was building with her girls.

Despite her own and others’ efforts to find the birth family of one of her daughters, no family had been found, so Katie had moved forward with the adoption process.

Then the birth mother knocked at her front gate one day.

Over the next several months, Katie watched as at first the new small family of mother and daughter floundered, then flourished. Though not the ending Katie wanted, she chose to see God’s goodness through the heartbreak.

This is where her first book, New York Times bestseller Kisses from Katie ends and her second book, Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful begins.

How do you hold onto hope when you don’t get the ending you asked for?

I’ve had  Kisses from Katie Katie on my to-read list for too long. When I saw Katie was releasing a second book, I knew I could wait no longer to hear her story more in depth from her blog, so I read them both back-to-back. I genuinely enjoyed them both, but I especially love how her writing voice has developed in Daring to Hope. I felt as if I were sitting across from her at her kitchen table as she told me her how her story has unfolded.

She describes in Daring to Hope the many traumas and tragedies she has experienced during her time in Uganda, not just the difficult loss of one of her girls but also the deaths of good friends she has asked God to heal and whom He brought home to Heaven instead. She struggled at first to find Him in the mourning, but find Him she did.

“Even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstance, we can experience His presence and we can trust in His ultimate goodness. Our pain can bring about an intimacy with God that we otherwise might not know.” (page 82)

“I can trust Him. I can hold onto hope, because I can hold on to Him.” (page 156)

After loss, where could she see His goodness? She wrestles with the answer to this question and beautifully relays to the reader the ways she turns to Scripture and hope in Christ. I make it sound so trite, too simple, so here are my favorites of Katie’s words in Daring to Hope:

“We live in a world where innocent people suffer and good friends die and stories don’t have the endings we prayed for. The pain and the hurt are everywhere. But the joy and the hope that we find in our Savior? They are everywhere, too. I do not have all the answers; in fact, I don’t have many at all. But this is what I know: God is who He says He is. And in the hurt and the pain and the suffering, God is near, and He is good, even when the ending isn’t. Our pain does not minimize His goodness to us, but in fact allows us to experience it in a whole new way.” (page 138)

I’m a writer of romantic stories, so I’m a sucker for a good happy ending, but Katie is right: sometimes life doesn’t seem to have a happy ending. Then what?

Our pain does not minimize His goodness to us, but in fact allows us to experience it in a whole new way.

Why not avoid suffering altogether?

I love how Katie describes daily life with her children and even her unfolding romance with her now-husband, whom she met in Uganda even though they grew up not far from each other. Katie writes of their life now serving the people of Uganda with breathtaking beauty and honest agony. She gives her purpose there, too:

“I desire to enter fully into the joy He places before us and I desire to enter fully into the suffering He places before us because both can be His gifts to us…All the joy and all the pain right up next to each other has made a life of seeking God and knowing Him and then knowing Him more. He has shown Himself to us here. All of our stories and the intricate way they have been woven together whispers of His glory, His wild pursuit of each of us. His unending grace and love and kindness reach to us, saving us, drawing us to Himself. We can only be mended if we have been broken, and so often, it is in the mending that we feel most clearly His tender heart toward us.” (page 195)

Katie Davis Majors has now lived in Uganda for over a decade. She is wife to Benji and mama to her fourteen favorite people, thirteen adopted daughters and a baby boy she and Benji welcomed last year. Her life’s work, the intention with which she lives, is inspiring.

“I will show up to Heaven like this… Worn and grimy from the effort of giving all I have. Scarred from loving deeply, living fully, hoping wildly.” (page 179)

I do not have all the answers; in fact, I don't have many at all. But this is what I know: God is who He says He is. And in the hurt and the pain and the suffering, God is near, and He is good, even when the ending isn't.

Disclosure: Rachelle received a complimentary review copy of Daring to Hope from the publisher.

Photography: JenniMarie Photography

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