Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Ezra awakens with a frown pressing down on her usual bright countenance. She sinks to the second step from the landing and leans her elbows heavily on her knees.  She looks at me solemnly.  Everything is wrong.

"Perhaps you are hungry?" I suggest, as I try to take her hand.  She denies me the privilege and shrugs, then slogs down the stairs as if her feet are sticking to mud.  "Perhaps you should go back to bed?" I wonder out-loud anticipating the flat glance I receive in silent reply.

Ezra sets her own breakfast place with graham crackers and my mom's homemade jam.  Her favorite striped glass usually reflects her cheerful mood. Today, however, she doesn't care.  The two graham crackers break in the center.  She is mad.  I carefully remove two sheets from the snug brown paper, with a dramatic flare, and place them on her plate, "Taadaa!"  She runs from the table, back upstairs, pulls the blanket over her head and begins to sob!
I stroke her back as she hides from sight.  I am reminded of the early days, when she was fifteen months old and had only just arrived from Ethiopia.  There was a morning similar to this one, not in outward mood, but in the strength of character and independence revealed.  The crib blanket could barely cover her. When I attempted to help, she kicked at the parts I'd smoothed, then would try in vain to pull all corners flat.  Her tiny foot always appeared as soon as she'd gotten the edge up to her neck.  Again and again she attempted to care for herself in this ironic display of using a flimsy blanket without success.  And yet in her stubbornness, she refused to allow the one who loved her to help.  I recall feeling heartsick watching her reject my care, while the lesson prodded my inward independent spirit.  How often I'd tried to control my life without surrendering the most vulnerable places to God, as if His help were only for designated bigger things, outer struggles or life involving the world beyond. Without God, my futile attempts were as vivd as my tiny baby's refusal for help...then.  But time is the great differentiator when trial and error prove our foolishness and independence fails us enough, need invites humility to gently enter the scene and everything changes.

I kiss the blanket-clad head and explain, "When you are ready, I will teach you to remove the graham crackers, unbroken...then you can do it yourself." Several minutes pass before the willingness can take affect.  Ezra joins me in the kitchen downstairs and climbs into her chair.  Her plate is empty because I have already shimmied the crackers back into their tight space.  I show her the careful way.  Her first attempt fails.  I remove the broken ones and the next one she takes slips out perfectly!  She "jams it" (as Zion would say) and almost smiles.  Then she asks for orange juice.  With a sigh I admit, "The only way for juice today is if you make it yourself, but you must let Mommy help you."
Ezra eats quietly, taking time to decide.  Then she asks for help.  I give it. Together we make a wonderful team.  I am thankful for her reminder of deeper things.  I am also thankful that the rare morning storm of bad mood has rumbled away, leaving clear eyes and calm skies ahead.  I wish to shoo the storm out the door once and for all, but we know it will return on a different day or hour, to attack another.  When it does, I hope I'll be patient enough to learn the next lesson!

Friday, August 22, 2014

For Now

Do current events tempt us to give up our belief in the power of good over evil?  Do we wonder, How can this end well, as despair paralyzes the hope we hold dear?  If it were up to our reflection in the mirror, our dejected nods to self would seal the isolated despairing yes, without even bothering to consider the possibility of a happy ending.  But as global brothers and sisters of our loving God, we mustn't forget that in solidarity of faith and boundless belief in miracles, our steady, humble prayers, reach ears in-tune and a heart willing to unleash the ultimate joy.  The eternal joy that follows suffering is offered freely from the One who daily gives the dawn that follows the darkest night.

I have found an illustration which reminds me that this human dwelling place is not our ultimate home:

The most spectacular moments of delight or seconds of terrible suffering known at the train station stop, are still only experiences along the pause in our journey onward.  No station break will be a lengthy halt on our trip to our ultimate destination.  The pangs of travel, as we bear our baggage loads of chosen items we hope will equip us, or feel forced to carry, are temporary.  With that in mind we choose to endure the struggles we encounter in passing.

Each time our connected cars stop, we do not plan to stay behind.  We trust the train and know the tracks will guide us to our final goal.  The stations along life's way were never meant to be more than the necessary stops.  Do not lose heart, do not lose hope!  Fix your eyes on the destination as we slip through dark tunnels or are borne up mountains steep. Side-by-side, as devoted travel companions, we care for one another and strengthen the weak of heart, as we place our belief in the eternal power of the Conductor.  He will carry his passengers safely home.  He is vigilant and leads faithfully.
The power of good fuels our trustworthy locomotive.  With each passing day, we approach the end and anticipate joy!  For now, while there is still time, we speak the truth in love to fellow travelers and thrust out sturdy hands to grip and guide all who wish to come aboard with hearts surrendered.  In anticipation of our glorious destination and surrounded by our compassionate community, we find courage to press on.

And at the joyful culmination of the journey, we will embrace the loved ones waiting there and tell of all that we experienced, exhausting but worth it when we have finally arrive.  That day will be good, so good and nothing bad will linger to steal our communion of joy!

For now, we must be faithful travel companions! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


The closer I walk with God,
the less the opinions others hold 
of me, matter.
The less their opinions of me matter,
the more God's opinion of them,
matters to me. 
As I place my hope in Christ and pursue his way, 
seeking other's best frees me from myself,
displacing the influence of destructive assumptions and insecurities. 
Through the lens of his love, I see the answer to the daily question,
How then shall we live?
Walk closely and love well, Dear One.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Amidst Miracles

Sometimes searching for miracles requires retracing our steps.  Salomé says I can share her own special story of God's provision in the eleventh hour.

Newborn Salomé awakened on the morning of her 29th day of life with a fever. Within a few hours we found ourselves in the hospital surrounded by pediatricians, nurses and an infectious disease doctor, as she underwent multiple tests revealing nothing.

For six days I sat beside her bed, vigilaint, hardly sleeping or eating, reading my Bible and praying as our preciouis baby became grey and listless.  There were no answers as to why our healthy child should suddenly decline at such an alarming rate.  Dennis and my mom kept the rest of the household going, but everyone felt helpless.  Friends spoke encouragement saying, "Why would God take a four week old baby who's already been through so much?  She will get well!"  I responded strongly, "Who are we to know the mind of God?  If Salomé's life is fulfilled in 29 days, then we must accept that.  She is God's, and we will celebrate the days he allows us to have her!"

On the sixth day of Salomé's illness I heard from the Lord, "It is finished."  In Texas, our adoption social worker Carol, heard the same three words.  Neither of us shared them, as we both believed Salomé would die. When the darkness seemed to consume the hospital room, on the night of that sixth day, two nurses entered.  One was round and bossomy, the other, who called herself the apprentice, was tall and thin.  They were rough and kind and I'd never seen them before that night (or since).  "Come," said the mentor, "Give me that baby and we will pray her back to life!"  She placed the fragile body on her ample chest and she began patting, praying and singing.  After several hours, Salomé began to move, the greyness disappeared and she drank hungrily from her bottle.  The women were gone before morning rounds. When the staff saw Salomé, they were speechless and every test incicated that her boby was completely healed.  We praised God!

Years later, Kelly, a friend of ours did her pediatrics rotation through that same hospital.  The first story she heard on her tour of the pediactric ward was of "The Crazy God Lady and her baby that lived..."

Just before stealing this writing moment, I was given a reminder that not only must we remember miracles, but we must look for God's quiet messages of hope in everyday things.  This clockface from a tower in Vienna ca. 1850 fills the dining room wall.  We have set it at the eleventh hour, because Jesus is coming!  It is obvious that the second hand is formed in the shape of an angel, but Today I realized that the minute hand is in the form of a harp.  Once the harp reaches the angel, in God's perfect timing, the Angels will Sing!  Until then, let's keep searching and praying for miracles in our own lives and over others, throughout the globe.  Joy abounds in time and space from the healing hand of God...encouragement from One Crazy God Lady and a Beautiful you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Anticipating Joy

The air in the schoolroom felt stifling as Littles sprawled on pillows, the couch, the floor and me.  On the computer screen the late night movie, Hook, enthralled their spirits with adventure and fantasy, while I watched in celebration of Robin Williams' talent and in sadness over his death.

At just after midnight I carried Emmaus and Ezra, the sleepers, down to the twin blowup mattress I'd prepared in the basement and the others climbed into the big bed in the guest room (Gabriel's room when he is home).  The rumble of a pending storm outside startled me a bit as I slipped under the light covers beside Zion.  Dennis' 4:45 a.m. alarm would be the only thing awakening him upstairs as the Littles slept soundly in the coolness of the bottom floor.

At 3 a.m. Zion gruffly spoke, "Bloody nose Mommy..."  I pulled off my night-gown (the things we mothers do!)  and held it to his face as we navigated passed the mattress and coffee table attempting to not bloody the bed and floor on our way to the bathroom.  The light over the mirror revealed my night-gown still held to his nose, full of blood, and myself, almost naked and feeling vulnerable, as I soothed him.  Surrounded by darkness, as I held our boy, I thought of the Iraqi mothers holding their bloody children, watching earthly death steal from them their hopes and dreams of a new day for their families and future and I cried.

This morning, to my astonishment, the sheets of the guest bed were white as snow, still beautiful and appearing freshly laundered as they'd been before the night.  The day shone clear through the window where there was no trace of blood on the floor either.  Only my night-gown, soaking in the sink, bore the evidence of Zion's struggle.  Yet even the cloth of my gown no longer held the blood, the water had taken the stain into itself.

The jarring of the night led me to my Bible.  Psalms, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Ephesians, the places in which I have found solace lately, did not draw me in.  So I started at the beginning and read from Genesis 1:1-4 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.  And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."

Beloveds, if this earth were it, the beginning and the end of us...if we were but physical beings thrown as dice, dependent on the luck of the spot on which we dwelt, despair could consume us.  The sacrifices and selfless choices poured into each day would be for nought.  But it is not!  Our time on this amazing earth is only a small part of the real adventure.  This current planet home which sometimes drains us deeply with sorrow and struggle is really just the guest room, preparing our hearts for home.

And we can be sure that joy comes after long nights because we know who made the morning and our hope is restored as we daily learn to trust God more.  Death does not win,  Jesus' love has overcome it through his blood.  My acronym for HOPE today is this:  Heaven's Offering Promising Eternity.  There will be a time when blood, storms, sweat and tears are no more, that day is coming soon.   Together we anticipate joy in the light of Jesus' love and promises.


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Way

                     (Emmaus and our friend's dog Lido, three years ago)

Do you remember the disciples referring to the Gospel in the book of Acts as The Way?  What shall we do?  Which way shall we go?  This way...The Way.  Isn't it refreshing to know that God's way is always the right one, and the exact direction of our lives, to be lived in love, is displayed in God's Word through the life of Jesus.

Almost five years ago, on the 2nd of October, Ezra and Emmaus arrived home from Ethiopia, accompanied by Dennis, Gabriel and Magdalene.   At the age of two-and-a-half, Emmaus could speak fluent Amharic, which none of us could understand, except for the simple words meaning coffee and dog.  On his first night home, instead of sleeping, he screamed.  I held him and wept.

In the beginning of our adoption paperwork, when the process appeared almost impossible, Amara, our sweet friend and I saw a photo of Emmaus'  beautiful, solemn face.  The name on the email said Kidron, which means of darkness, sadness and obscure.

For years the name Emmaus had beckoned our hearts to the thought of another boy, even when we were in the process of adopting Zion, whose birthmother, Anna, chose us before he was born.  And while we prayed over a baby girl named Ezra.  (Zion is 9 months younger than Emmaus and Ezra is 6 months younger than Zion.)  Each name came to our minds more than nine months before the three Littles were born.  (No, there are no more names, in case you are wondering, though there was one...but that is a good story for another day.)

The road to Emmaus is the way on which Jesus walked, after his resurrection.  There was no more darkness, sadness or obscurity.  Jesus had risen and His followers could walk in forgiveness and the joy of transformation!  It was simply the definition of each name, Kidron to Emmaus, which gave us clarity in our adoption.  God would transform this toddler's life, as He had ours, and we would be given the privilege of becoming his parents.

Now, as a seven-year-old, Emmaus has written us a letter.  He first slipped it into my hand asking that no one else but Daddy be allowed to read it.  I have since been given permission to share it.
"oooooooooooo [hugs] I love you more than tv and Pie and cooking and friends.  I love you when you cook and when you bless me and our family and dad you bless me too and i love you'  you are my favorite mom and dad love Emmaus"

I share this today because God loves Emmaus, you, your dear ones, me and all His children.  Sometimes our circumstances or those of others' tempt us to believe He has forgotten us, or sent this world swirling without a care.  But even in darkness, we can trust and wait for His light.  It is on the horizon.  When our path seems sad, God will lead us through it and joy follows suffering when we stay close to Him.  And the obscurity of today, our struggles, this age; they must serve to draw us closer to the One who holds our lives in His hands.  We can find hope in God's way, and walk with Him along this earthly road, leading to eternity.  Be encouraged.  If one precious little boy, living under our roof, can have his entire life transformed by the love of Jesus, then you can trust your life to Jesus as well!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Future with a Hope

We watched an ant haul a moth across the driveway.
A Little asked why.
"It might use the moth for food or building," I answered.
"Or perhaps it has always dreamed of flying," replied Emmaus.

In these dark days of loss and suffering in many countries throughout our precious earth, I am tempted to despair.  But the God of the Universe who calls us by name, who never sleeps or turns His face from our requests, is with us.   It is we who have been given the privilege to be the hands and feet of His compassion, healing, love, encouragement and sacrifice.

The Enemy is strong, his way is brutal, seeking to strangle our attempts to believe in Hope, seek power through prayer and act with courage.  He whispers or sometimes screams, "Fear men, fear me!  Fear the relentless violence and revenge...hide from the future, your dreams will be shattered as I destroy the innocent and most fragile among you, while you gaze in horror, helpless and weak.  I will prevail!"

Beloveds, God says, "Fear Not!" These are the first two words spoken by angels throughout God's Word when something big is on the horizon.  God will give us strength and direction now, as we turn to Him for revival.  We must open our hearts and our ears to The Lord, trusting that His sovereignty remains and His love will comfort, restore and guide His children.  As we turn our backs to Satan's lies, we receive encouragement and inspiration from these words given through
Habakkuk 1: 2-5
"How long O Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife and conflict abounds.
Therefore law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so the justice is perverted.
The Lord's Answer
"Look at the nations and watch-
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe
even if you were told."

We will call to The Lord, read and write words of truth and belief inside our very thoughts.  We must draw close to Him and pray for everyone and everything!  Prayer is powerful.  We can love well in the earthly realm in which we have been placed, as we hope in the eternal hope of Jesus that remains secure, though mountains tremble and seas quake.  God is alive and well and with us.  He shall overcome!

Like Emmaus we look at life with innocent eyes of possibility, trusting God with our dreams.  There is a future with a hope, secure in Jesus!

Isaiah 40: 31 equips our hearts with courage, "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint."