Monday, July 21, 2014

Love's Portrait

Here I stand in an ink-blue, polkadot skirt, smiling at Master Artist Ezra.  She often draws portraits and writes love notes with the few words she can spell, to Dennis and me.  These we find taped to our bathroom mirror or bedroom door, wherever we may most likely see them.  Ezra loves well.  When a child invites you into their heart space, the soul is refreshed, unconditional love abounds there.
Not long ago I saw this unfettered love displayed through the actions of a stranger.  A Latino grandmother scooped up one of her two charges, spoke brusquely into his chubby face, then set him back on his tottering feet.  She leaned forward a bit in her chair and breathed out a rich sigh of pleasure as she gazed lovingly at both children.  

Our five Littles sat close to me, devouring soft ice-cream cones at the IKEA café, while I sipped hot coffee.  Our uncharacteristically calm demeanor allowed me a few seconds to enjoy the sight of the grandmother's love, expressed in her fussing over clean faces and full bellies, as she coaxed the smallest child to eat his last bite of hotdog.  She noticed me watching her and smiled at my crew as she extended her arm in a sweeping motion, "Mama?" I nodded.  She continued, in broken English,  "Oh, so, so beautiful, hmmm, nice."

In her look and actions, I was acutely aware that she believed I had birthed each of our five youngest children.  Women understand women.  I began to explain, but she would not let me speak. "No, it's okay, I know...and so, so, so beautiful...and you, yes, yes..."  she nodded kindly.  Her grandchildren were done and ready to run, as children often are in an instant.  She blessed me with her gentle eyes and bustled away.

In these eleven years since our adoption journey began, Dennis and I have had some interesting interactions, been questioned and sometimes felt almost accosted by strange remarks over our diverse family.  But I have never seen a reaction to the beliefs of this woman; that I must have had a life with many lovers, husbands or boyfriends... and yet instead of viewing me as one with a Scarlet Letter, she saw me as beautiful!

Condemnation is easily given power over our opinions, like a weed in the garden, it seems to pop up before our very eyes and displays itself vividly through our slightest glance.  The accusing thoughts attack quickly and if not wrangled in the instant, destruction of relationship or self-worth is immediate, as quickly as a gash from a dagger wounds.  I am in-tuned to this in the intimate choices of a pregnant teenager as well.  We say we support life.  We say promiscuity in our community is acceptable.  However, what is our true view of unplanned pregnancy?  Somehow judging the woman is an acceptable form of hypocrisy and condemnation in our society.

Psalm 119: 22 says, "Remove from me scorn and contempt..."  It always starts with me.  If I can look on others in the same way that Latino grandmother and my daughter look at me, then you will be loved well...and if you can look at the next face you see in that same manner, then they will be blessed, and... 

This is love's portrait.     

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Ezra grabbed my hand and pulled me to the stone steps leading down the length of the yard.  "Mommy, Mommy, come see," Zion called, as he stood beside Emmaus gazing up into the branches of a tree.   This simple tree has lived and flourished for seven years on the lower terrace, but has never produced fruit.  Yet today, a single plum, almost ripe, invited us to stand under her canopy of leaves to behold her surprise existence.  Emmaus spoke in hushed tones, "It's a miracle, I've never seen a miracle before!"
"Yes you have," Zion answered, "when you were adopted!"

Are you waiting for a miracle?
Many of you know that for five years I prayed about adoption with no 'fruit', not even a hint that we may someday be able to adopt.  I prayed desperately for just one more child to add to our biological flock of three.  Never would I have imagined that for each year of prayer, God was building trust and patience in me, and that in His time, those five years would become five children!

The little discussion between a 7-year-old brother and his two 6-year-old siblings from across the globe, under a 7-year-old tree presenting her first plum, is the tangible miracle I see before my eyes today.   Trust God with your dreams, he planted them in you and nothing is impossible for Him!  

Monday, July 7, 2014


This morning I glanced at the familiar pots flanking our front door, as I turned from waving goodbye to Elias, who was headed to work.  The cascading blooms always steal my attention as I instinctively snip-off dead leaves and vines-gone-astray with my fingers.  To my surprise this simple variegated filler plant held up its beautiful secret; two white blooms.  I had no idea it had flowers to offer and yet if I did not look closely, perhaps I would never have noticed!

I am reminded of an event last week, ever so momentary, but poignant none-the-less that I wished to share with you.  As I sat in my car waiting on the green light for my left turn onto a side street, I noticed an elderly man.  He looked like a retired Santa Claus in overalls as he stood at the edge of his lawn with his hands shoved in his pockets.  He watched each vehicle closely as they passed by him.  The house beyond looked as unkempt as he did, not shabby exactly, but in need of attention.  I felt sad for him.  The cars were certainly fascinating to him in some way, or maybe it was the people driving them.  Perhaps he was lonely, weary and bored and came out to his curb every day to watch life pass him by...

The busy street suddenly cleared and in an instant, the 'lonely-weary-aging-Santa' dashed across the street, grabbed an armful of mail from his huge mailbox and zipped back over to his yard.  In a flash he was back inside his house!

I laughed out-loud at my ridiculous assumptions!  I almost felt as if I owed the gentleman an apology!

In my morning reading of Psalm 51 the focus is on self-examination, seeing our own sin for the ugliness it is and entrusting ourselves to God's unfailing love, making us white as snow and restoring our joy.  Only God knows the hearts of men.  Our job is to assume nothing, but to be willing to see the best in other's and to humbly expect joy in the unexpected.