Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Walking on Water

The first moment I met Ezra, four years ago, she clung to Magdalene as she had since the day they left the orphanage.  Dennis, Gabriel and Magdalene had journeyed to Ethiopia to meet and bring home our two precious Ethiopian children.  Two and half year old Emmaus slept soundly in Dennis' arms in the airport.  Emmaus' five hours of screaming on the flight had exhausted him thoroughly.  Dennis wore the battle wounds of our new little boy's fears in the form of bloody teeth marks to his face.   I reached my hand to Magdalene's chin and tears began to stream down her cheeks.  "Being a Mommy is hard," she wept.

At fifteen monthes, Ezra could neither walk nor eat solid food.  Each time she was given something to eat or drink, she'd hold it in her mouth without swallowing, perhaps she percieved each mouthful would be her last.  Intially she'd sleep sixteen hours a day, until I realized she was sleeping her life away!

Within the first 30 days of our adoption my mother and I contracted Hepititus.  Suddenly, I lay sick in a dark room for the duration of two months.  Dennis and our three oldest children had to juggle everything, especially the difficult traits life in an orphange had forged.  Chaos took hold of our family, while close friends cared for as many of our needs as possible.

When Jesus' disciple Peter asked if he might also walk on water, Jesus answered, "Come!"  In the darkness of the night, over the tumultuous sea, Peter believed he could do the impossible, with Jesus' guidence.  I imagine Peter's strong character and trust as he stepped out of the boat onto the waves.  At first he did not waiver, but when he took his eyes off Jesus, fear of the powerful storm overwhelmed him and he sank!  He cried to the Lord to save him.  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Matthew13:31 NIV)

What impossible thing are you facing, Beloved Friend?  Tough situations often look worse the more closely we examine them and we are seized by hopelessness.  In the midst of the dreams of our lives, we're struck by the pain of unexpected circumstances and things appear far different from what we had imagined or think we can handle.  Can this ever turn out well?  We ask ourselves.  But Jesus did not instantly calm the storm into which Peter walked.  Jesus met him there and brought him through it!

Look at our children and rejoice with me!  Be inspired Beloved!  As these siblings dance in puddles, in celebration of family, and the joy of childhood, remember the stuggles through which they have walked.  Impossibility did not win in their lives, nor should it rule in yours.  The God of miracles is at work transforming you, even through your hardship.  We have no idea of what his wonderful plans are! Step out with Him in trust for He is faithful, no matter how strong your storm appears. Take one step at a time, splash or leap with your eyes steady on Him.

 Zion, who stands in the center of this photo, always says,  "God is with you!"  And Zion knows!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Baghdad Shoes

Bloody boots lie somewhere unseen, but the young American soldier in the hospital bed cannot hide from view.  He sleeps and may never awaken.

The Iraqi soldier's feet are bare when he arrives unconscious, his critically wounded body rests fitfully.

In the Baghdad Army Hospital, my physician husband stands between the beds of these two men, alert to the needs of each patient.  His staff struggles.  The American could be their brother, lover, or self, but the insurgent is the enemy.

Dennis answers their unspoken fear, "Here there are no sides, only wounded men, who love their countries, believe their religion, and deserve our best care.  Here we have one task.  We are the Samaritans.  We must care for these men equally, without judgement or preference."

At home, the children and I wait and pray for his safe return.  The stress is palpable, but normal life must proceed.  One day I buy shoes.  On the way home Gabriel, who is 12, asks gently if I meant to buy five pairs of shoes for myself.  I am stunned.  I did not.  A day later, I stack the boxes on the store counter.  I return home with one different box.  Are they the running shoes I need, to alleviate my worry?  No, they are beautiful stilettos in orange tweed.  I think of my Bosnian friend, from the year when Dennis was deployed to the Balkans.  She says what people do in war makes no sense and should be forgotten.
                                                               *          *          *        

I still wear these shoes, a decade later and I have not forgotten the way my husband walked in his dusty boots in Baghdad.  He cared well for those entrusted to him, all children, created in God's image.  He wept and prayed over Americans and Iraqis.

Gabriel is 22 now.  In a day he will leave the Middle Eastern country in which he has been for four months.   Dennis leads the way, walking hard roads, and caring well for the faces before him.  It is my prayer that our eight children will walk in the footsteps of their dad.  I hope they will journey individually, but in the same way, respecting the dignity of men, no matter the path they choose, following the One who equips us to love our enemies.