Monday, March 29, 2010

Truth Muscles

Malachi stood before me flexing his muscles and asking, "Can you see my Truth muscles?" Moments before, he had dashed across the room to confess something naughty. His wrongful act tumbled out in jumbled words. Then after he breathed deeply, he explained that he'd had to race to get the truth out ahead of his excuse. I had said that the more he tells the truth, the stronger his truth-muscles would become.

I often say the children must not pause to reason with deceit. There will always be an appealing snare when discussions are held in the darkness of our own minds. Blurting out the truth is sometimes the only way to escape a lie. A lie is never better than the truth. Nothing we do is so bad that it cannot be repaired in the light of truth.

If I am to speak this to my children then the mirror of my life must reflect the same thing. Questions about Santa, where babies come from, will Daddy be safe in Iraq (years ago) and the like, often generate a pause in my answer. However, careful responses must never contain white-lies. There are no white-lies, a lie is a lie, and Salome' would show you by pointing to her arm pit, that lies are from the pit!

Speaking truth can be painful and in our household there are always consequences for wrongs done. The question is always the same, "What did you do?" It is not, "Why did you do it?" Once truth is established without lengthy explanation, just consequences are followed by asking for and giving forgiveness, and finally, we are given a "clean slate". The term, c
lean slate, came from our friends Jim and Rochelle, it means it is finished, all is well, and the offense will never be brought up again. If, in 5 minutes, the wrong doing is repeated, there is no reference to the prior act. To live with a clean slate is to hold no hurts against each other. It means we walk in freedom and transparency and forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a weight no one is intended to bear. To not forgive hurts the one who denies it as much as he to whom it is denied.

Our clean slate begins with living in Truth. It means I do not have freedom to hide things, but if truth is painful I must tell it gently. No truth should blast or leave the recipient in a bloody heap. And to believe humbly that any wrongful act done by you could equally be done by me is the beginning of healing. Truth stands alone. Almost-true is the drop of poison in a cup of water, or the last length of bridge across a chasm that was never laid.

My life must stand on the absolute of Truth. I cannot require of anyone what I am not willing to be myself. It is the daily surrender, the dashing and the flexing I do that allows me to tell Malachi, "Yes, I can definitely see those truth muscles!"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Blade

We have five beautiful children, from different biological backgrounds. Each of these miracles is the first of a new generation, grafted into our family tree through the sacrificial love of five individual birth mothers'.

Blades of grass stand as one sea of green, strong and resilient. Yet, hold one blade and you see the fragility; it is easily crushed.

It takes only one person to adopt a child, but there are a number of intercessors who support the process to help each fragile little one survive.

We recently read about an amazing organization which intentionally does this well, The Christian Alliance for Orphans. They asked me to post some information on an upcoming event called Summit VI to be held in Minneapolis, MN from April 29-30. Haiti's earthquake drew compassionate individuals to contemplate their role in caring for the orphans of the world. This was some of the inspiration behind Summit VI with "The objective: to inspire and equip Christians to “care for orphans in their distress” through adoption, foster care and global orphan care ministry rooted in the local church." For more information please go to "". You will also see this and other important facts to include tax credit information for individual families who are contemplating adoption, but don't believe they have the resources to care for a infant or child, through the Christian Alliance for Orphans blog.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010


    I glanced at my watch at 7 this evening, surprised at the lingering sunlight. Emmaus, Zion, Ezra and Salome' played up and down the driveway, delighted to be outside. I chatted absently with my girlfriend while Ezzie sat contentedly on my hip. Suddenly I realized Emmaus was nowhere close.

    To my horror, light from the headlights of a car reflected off the chrome of Emmaus' little trike on which he cycled fervently five houses away from me, directly in the center of the street. I screamed again and again for him to get to the side of the road as I raced to intervene. All I could see was his tiny silhouette against the harsh glare of the lights. Our 9 year old neighbor sprinted, quickly covering the distance. The yelling and running caught the driver's attention. Just as I reached our boy the car stopped. Emmaus sat on his bike within arm's length of the fender in the eerie light of the headlights, blind eyes shining in the dusk. I hadn't even noticed how dark it had become until I lost sight of my boy.

    Dusk is the lingering time when sharp images and clear view is altered.

    The word dusk, or perhaps more the idea of it slipping in unnoticed, has been on my mind all week. These are difficult days for our nation. It is overwhelming that I'd experience such a vivid, terrifying picture of my own complacency in a life threatening situation with my child, when sanctity of life is the very question at hand in our capitol.

    A piece of this evening's story that I must relate is that though my responses were quick and appropriate, and all was well in the end, praise God, my adrenaline never kicked in. Everything continued in slow motion. As I hugged my precious boy I was stunned at my own calmness. It felt inappropriate for the horrible moments. To feel numb at the possible outcome of my child's death was unnerving.

    So I contemplate this in the light of our days. I wonder that sanctity of life can be an issue so easily silenced with a promise and perhaps a turn of the pen. Our five adopted children have no words to debate the value of their own lives. For every "good" argument in support of abortion, I have a baby to rock, a little hand to slip in mine and a voice that calls me "Mamma". There is healing, grace and forgiveness for abortions already done. Yet, why must there be more? Pro-choice is deceit. Pro-choice means someone doesn't get to choose.

    Dusk has fallen over all of us. The subject of abortion is hotly debated until the deal is made. All are appeased.

    The light is waning, the child is unnoticed, and our blind eyes see nothing.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    His Silver Glance (a short story by Gabriel, with Salome' in mind)

    “Good night. My darling” came the soft refrain as her father gently kissed her head. Her eyes closed, and the sweet notes of a beloved lullaby floated from the retreating figure, a dark silhouette against the light of the hall. With a last sigh, his dear little Cecily relaxed into the peace of sleep.

    An owl hooted from somewhere among the trees, greeting the other day of night. And the moon, full and clear, watched another world come to life.

    The woods and fields, once ringing with the music of the birds and beasts, now took on the symphony of insects, and the concourse of darkness.

    Cecily awoke. Silence and deep shadow welcomed her. The lunar face, her only companion, stared at her out of the open window, making every form, every object, knife sharp in his silver glance.

    Cecily trembled. Papa had gone. Yet there was the moon. His gentle aspect called her on, in that dream world night.

    “Moon Man, don’t look at me like that. You always make that same face at me. I can’t come out to play. Papa sang already.”

    The moon soberly looked on.

    “Yes, I know it is pretty out, but Papa would be so displeased.”

    Still the darkness enticed her, and Mama had promised that with the stars so bright and twinkling, she would get to stay up at least once. That was a week ago. Maybe Papa wouldn’t be mad. After all, she was tall for her age—Uncle Angus had said so—and she wouldn’t be gone long.

    “Ok Moon, I thought about it. I think Papa would let me for a little. I am tall, and almost seven, and we won’t be gone long.”

    Outside, the air glinted with what seemed silver dust. And in the black blue and purple, the little girl darted as a firefly or a glance.

    Her friend hovered above her, leading her on into the deeper dark. Eager and innocent, she followed.

    There had been little difficulty in slipping out of the front door. Everyone slept. It had been a long day studying, working, cooking, eating, playing and laughing.

    A smile peeked from her face, as she glided to the waiting forest. Jethro hadn’t been outside like this before, and he was a full two years older! She was first. She was brave.

    A little shawl—“just like Mama’s”—swept behind, a comet’s tail in the night, and the moon looked on.

    The edge of the field now loomed ahead, and the Aspen grove, stark and surreal against the darker backdrop of conifers, beckoned.

    Stepping lightly beneath their tall forms, she peered up at a straight smooth trunk. “O beautiful trees, beautiful trees, I do like you all very much,” said she, and gave one an affectionate touch. But its silver bark in the cold light showed nothing of the warmth and assurance of the day.

    There was a gentle breeze, and the tops of those silent wardens rustled in the dark. She shuddered, and the moon shone.

    She took another step into the clearing, her silvery companion glided over the trees. “Moon, I don’t want to go that way, I am cold now; can we please go home?”

    He looked on, silent and passive to her plight, while the wind faded to silence, and the wood receded into stillness.

    Nothing stirred.

    A little voice pierced the silence, “Dear Moon, please lead me home. I did want to see the night, but now I am frightened. You were with me a little, but now you are so far away.”

    As if in answer, the air appeared to ripple suddenly. A great black form—huge but noiseless—loomed out of the darkness. Cecily’s heart leaped in her chest and she let out a little gasp. Like a falling shroud, a dark silhouette alighted with hardly a sound not a yard from where she stood. Golden eyes, shining as of their own light, stared out from a deep moonlike face.

    A wail pierced the night. The owl—wonderful, terrifying, haunting—moaned into the dark. With every pinion and quill gleaming in the rays of the moon.

    As that sound faded, a terrified sob followed “Please! Leave me alone, you! I want Papa, I want Papa!” The little girl’s whole body shook, as choking sobs wracked her little frame.

    When she dared to peek from where she lay on the ground, the owl was gone. Relief spread like a flood through Cecily, and the air was a little warmer, and the silver light of the moon took on a comforting cast. Her tormentor, the owl, had vanished.

    She looked up into the soothing face of her white companion.

    “Thank you Moon, you saved me from him; you weren’t far away after all.” A warm breeze caressed her little tearstained face, and the night again seemed safe and familiar.

    She looked up; her silver friend looked down, and she was glad. Face still lifted to the welcoming sky, she picked her way through the aspen, with their somber radiance like pillars in the temple of night. And set beneath the stars, in that pillared glade, glistened a pool.

    A great splash sent a small cascade of black water and mud onto the bank, as Cecily plunged into the water. Where once it had reflected the moon in all his glory, it now boiled with the strugglings of a little girl. She had not seen it.

    “Mr. Moon! Help me, please!” Came her desperate plea, partly garbled by water and mud, but the rippling pool continued to dance, as in laughter.

    Though appearing to be just an ordinary pool in the woods, the water was deep, very deep, and Cecily could not swim.

    Her hands flailed above her. Her head went under once, then a second time. A pathetic muffled cry, came weakly from the faltering child. The moon looked on.

    A screech pierced the calming night. An owl, the same dark figure from before, tore through the trees, huge silent wing beats accompanied him.

    A last choking “help” resonated from the pool, accompanied by a black, mud covered little hand raised to the sky.

    Wings outstretched and talons extended, the shadowy figure descended, grasped the receding arm and shoulder, and with great labor, lifted the little girl free from the cloying mud, water and grime. With stolen child, he ascended into the night.

    Cecily awoke, the sky, no longer black with shadow, glowed with the promise of the morning. She was in her own bed. The sheets, black with mud, bore evidence to her near fate. Feathers, soft and downy, to her salvation.

    “What will Papa say?” came the last thought before she slipped back into an exhausted sleep.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Ethiopian Invitation

    Liane is a woman who draws out the best in every member of our household. To me, she is like my first cup of coffee in the morning: strong, inspiring and a motivation to embrace whatever the coming day has to offer.
    She is our adoption social worker. From her voice came the words, "Perhaps your Ezra is in Ethiopia?" Up to that point we'd had only our little girl's name. It was May 17, 2008 when our hearts broke with compassion, as Liane promised they would, for that amazing place in Africa where not only our sweet Ezra would be waiting, but also our Emmaus.
    And so, our love of Ethiopia continues to move us. At 4:30 am this morning Dennis drove Elias to the airport, where he began his 11 day journey with some of the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) staff to include Liane's husband Mark, and our beloved Adoption Ministry Director, Joy.
    Salome' excitedly asked Elias, which child he'd be bringing home this time!
    Joy invited Elias to be her companion - to help out in any way necessary and to love-on the children while they visit the orphanages and the Widows/Orphans home. Joy and company are evaluating sites for building similar communities. The relationship between the widows and orphans is healthy and flourishing like flowers in rich soil. The orphans who come from such a sweet setting have already begun to soak in the love required to heal the wounds left by relinquishment, abandonment or death.
    Elias is not planning on bringing any new little person home (though I made sure to poke holes in his extra-large duffel bag, just as I kissed him good-bye this morning!).
    Liane once told of an Ethiopian woman. Poverty, sorrow and suffering had been her lifelong companions and yet she radiated joy. Liane asked her why. Tears streamed down her face as she said, "Oh, that the God of the Universe would choose to reveal himself to me."
    Last Friday morning our family stood before a judge as two beautiful Ethiopian children; Kibrom Geberegiorgs Habtegiorgis and Bethlehem Mulugata Gutama officially became our Emmaus Kibrom and Ezra Bethlehem. In that incredible moment I thought, "Oh that the God of the Universe would choose to reveal himself to me."
    I see part of that joyful revelation in the surrendered lives of Elias' companions, both American and Ethiopian, in the selfless choices of our precious birth mothers and in that dear Ethiopian woman. Such life changing joy is God's open invitation to us all.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    a little something

    Salome' fell asleep with one hand holding the hem of my skirt.
    She curled up on the floor beside the purring kitty, partly under my chair while the other hand held tightly to her lavender blanket.
    Her whole attitude changes when Mommy is close enough to touch.
    At the end of my day, which sometimes feels more like the end of my rope, I need a touch too.
    Tonight it came in the tender form of this verse from Matthew 11:28
    "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
    Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.
    For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."