Wednesday, April 30, 2014


"First Step" is the title of this water color, painted by Deborah Robinson in 1995.  It is one in a series of the seven ethnicities of the Hawaiian Islands, originally commissioned for the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, from which copies were also purchased by a cruise line.  Elias and I had the privilege of representing the Caucasian ethnicity, interesting, since eventually our family would become its own diverse representation of the celebration of God's rainbow of children.

This morning as the sun shone into our bedroom I noticed something I've never seen before, in all these years.  Elias' little foot is lifted, and a white space exists between his heel and his shadow.  Isn't it fascinating how significant details often go unrecognized until the timing of a unique life event opens our eyes to them?

On Easter Sunday, one of our precious little sons, surrendered his life to Jesus.  He has known and loved God for as long as we can remember, but Sunday he realized it was his decision to ask the Lord for forgiveness and to take charge of his heart.  In humility and with joy he did this!  It is like his first step in his individual journey of walking with God, trusting Him to guide his life.  We asked him how he felt as we embraced him.  Smiling widely, he answered, "Lifted!"

Monday, April 28, 2014


"I wish you were dead!" he yelled and ran from Olena, who stood silent and sad.  Since my struggle through hepatitis the first months after our Ethiopian adoption, 22 year-old Olena has worked with us four days a week, to help lighten the load and bless the household.  She is gentle, kind and loves the children well.  The words he yelled in her face, we'd never heard from any of the Littles, nor could we understand his outburst.

I directed the boy to 'my office', the bathroom, and sought an idea of natural consequences in my mind for his harshness.  He stood sturdy, with his feet rooted to the ground, his chin down and his lower lip pursed in what initially appeared to be stubbornness.  I leaned in to ask him what he had done, not why, as that introduces a string of excuses.  He pressed his chin down further, almost as if he were backing up, then came the flood, "I'm so sorry Mama...I didn't mean it...I don't want Olena to die!" He felt horrified at the gravity of his own words.  I reached for him, he buried his face in my shoulder and sobbed.  I did not discipline him.  We stepped out of the bathroom together and tearfully he asked forgiveness of Olena, which she gave without delay.

In our attempt to raise these Littles to love well, with selflessness, justice and compassion, they must understand mercy.  The combination of 'how' we live is this: 100% grace and 100% truth (the idea of this combo was first expressed by Pastor Jim Fleming).  On that afternoon, the child's own grief and sorrow over his sin was enough.  The lavish grace God pours over us as we seek his Truth must be reflected in our reactions to the most difficult situations our children and loved ones face.  There are times when the very best consequences are none, and I remember with humility, that this is the way Jesus ultimately loves me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Cup

Good Morning!
Before the sun rises, and after my sweet husband has gone for the day, my coffee is my company.  In the darkness, I pray for everyone and everything that comes to mind, while I sip the bitter brew, wrapping my hands around my steaming cup.  Before my Littles awaken, can we talk about a very different cup from this porcelain one I hold?

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said, in Mark 14:36 (NIV), "Abba, Father, everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will."  These words struck me this Easter weekend as never before, as scripture often unfolds newly, with age of self and change of season.

Jesus spoke words based on his oneness with the Father and sinless heart of truth, "Everything is possible for you."  But God answered him in silence, or with the quiet no, that parents often whisper in the ear of their precious child, when they know better.  To His Father, who bases all His answers on Love, Jesus responded with obedience.  Jesus believed in Truth, offered his request, agreed with His Father's will, then he that order.

God can do all things, but sometimes his answer is no, even to Jesus.  Can I live this way, with unfailing belief in the impossibility, obeying the answer, no matter what it is, trusting God's will and not mine?  Yes.  Yes!  At the darkest moment of history, when the cup of sin (mine and all of mankind's), deepest suffering, excruciating sorrow and most hideous evil, was willingly accepted by our Savior, then today I can hold my cup, filled with even the hardest things I can imagine, and trust the outcome of ultimate good, because God is good.

Jesus' act of obedience is the very reason we can live in freedom from our own sin, forgiven through his sacrifice, blameless before our Holy God.  In my little life, the closer I get to God, the bigger He gets!  The outcome of God's 'no' to Jesus, was the 'yes' to salvation for me and you and all of us who surrender our lives to the Lover of our souls, Jesus Christ.  

God bless your day, I pray that you will have strength to walk in faith, trusting God, no matter what your cup may hold with Jesus guiding you.

Yesterday, six-year-old Zion said, "With Jesus, there's a party in my heart!"  Let that joy inspire us!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Twelve and a half Minutes

He adjusted his tweed cap and yanked the worn sleeves of his sweater to just above his elbows.  His unruly white beard and eyebrows matched his vibrant blue eyes, with which he surveyed the shoreline.  His rickety folding chair sat patiently amidst tufts of windswept grass, while he dug the slim legs of his easel into the soft sand.  He heaved his sturdy build central to his paints, brushes and canvas and settled his gaze on a rusty, blue sailboat, hoisted up on a rugged frame.  After years of neglect, she seemed to understand that he saw glimpses of her former radiance, and stood portrait-ready, basking in his admiration.

I approached him breathless, having only a borrowed moment for this side adventure,  "Hello, I'm Grace, I saw you leaving the bridge, descending this path to the shore, with all your gear.  I had a rough morning with my little ones and just seeing you inspires me!  How often do you paint?"

His merry eyes met mine, "I am Larry, next week I'll turn seventy and this is the first time I've ever done this.  I've wanted to paint all my life, today is the day!"

We laughed and cheered his courage (not with glasses, though I believe the moment was champagne-worthy!).  I thanked him for encouraging my day and generously sharing his sunny outlook with me.  He thanked me for noticing him.  How long does a friendship take to form? I think 12 1/2 minutes will do!  Isn't life better together? 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Daniel admired the orange variegated socks, strewn with grey paisley swirls, he'd found for Elias.  'He is winsome indeed', I thought of  Daniel, as he untied the chosen shoes to slip onto Elias' newly sock-clad feet.   Elias commented on the dapper grey vest, baby-blue silk tie, jeans and argyle socks this shoe salesman wore, to which Daniel answered, "If you look good, you feel good and if you feel good, you act accordingly!  You should see the way my kids act when I pick them up from school looking as I do, they feel proud that I'm their dad!"

Over coffee, an half hour later, Elias and I returned our conversation to Daniel and snapped this snazzy photo of Elias' new look.  It was delightful to hear the root of Daniel's handsome exterior; to be professional in his workplace and to bless his household by representing himself well!  In our lives, this has been a quiet goal for me as well.  I always 'dress' and the Littles do the same.  I see in Elias, Magdalene and Gabriel, that those seeds of giving a nice appearance have roots in them.  As a home school mom, I can't tell you the surprise I've encountered when people ask what I do or where I'm going and I reply, "I'm a stay-at-home mom, I'm headed home, or staying here!"  I dress in a way that shows my children and the people inside and outside of my walls that they deserve my best.

With a similar motivation, Dennis rarely wears a suit or elegant clothes.  He prefers nice fitting polos and jeans, to reflect his personality.  His greatest introductory compliment was from our friend Susan who said to another, "Dennis doesn't look like a heart surgeon, he looks like a river raft instructor!"  The way we present ourselves matters.  Yes, it encourages our own attitude, but the face we reflect to others shows respect to them as well.  In Dennis we see a doctor who is in it for the long haul, adventure ready, but relaxed enough to sit beside his patients and their families in casual dress, willing to stay for the duration of time he is needed or wanted.  His clothes also say he is a normal guy who can play on the floor with his kids, take out the trash and probably be thrown out of a country club (which almost happened, except for this line, "I know Bill Gates was directed to change from his jeans to remain here.  I however, only have my jeans to wear today, and since I am your key-note speaker, I probably need to stay!").

As Elias and I left the mall, he said, "Thanks Mom, six pair of socks and a pair of excellent shoes, I'm set...but don't worry, I won't be following exactly in Daniel's footsteps.  That website, to which he referred, Four-pair of socks for $40 a month, isn't my thing.  Forty-eight pair of socks a year, nah...even with my roommate Alec stealing them I couldn't justify that!"