Two years ago I had the chance to go to Haiti. While we were there, we went to an orphanage. It was not much more than an old tent, some wooden benches, and concrete block dorms. At the time, I was pregnant with Little Mister, Peanut was 3, and Bean was 4. I met a little boy at the orphanage who let me carry him around all afternoon. He seemed to be sad and actually a little bit angry. He was about 3 or 4. I’d be sad and angry if I was a little boy who had to live there, too. I’ve prayed for him whenever he came to mind and asked God to rescue him, to give him a family, and to give him hope and a future.
Two days ago, God brought him to my mind again. So, I started praying. But, instead of praying & then forgetting, He kept bringing this specific child to mind. That same night in the car, the song Kings & Queens by Audio Adrenaline came on. If you’re not familiar with it, the video is filled with Haitian orphans and the song talks about how God loves and values them and has a plan for each of them. Honestly, that song bugs cynical old me. I saw the orphanages. I’ve heard of the corruption. And so, when this song came on, even after God was prompting me to pray specifically for this little boy, I shut it off. I thought to myself: “That’s not realistic. Most of those kids won’t have a future.”
Tonight I opened Facebook and saw a smiling little boy on a friend’s feed. The caption said that his adoption from Haiti was complete & he was finally home. The name was the same. The age would be right. I looked again. It was the same little boy. Quickly I messaged my friend to ask if, indeed, this was the same boy I met at the orphanage who was now adopted by his friends.
I started bawling like a baby. God does not see the orphan and think of these children as ones without a future or a hope. God does not see them in their situation and stay silent. At the very time He was prompting me to pray, He was already working to answer the prayer. And, man, He has been good enough to show me that my cynical thoughts were so wrong. This sweetheart could have been adopted by someone in California, or Toledo, or not adopted at all. But, to be adopted by a friend of a friend and to have me check Facebook at just the time that these pictures were posted? Some might say He’s just showing off. I call it an amazing mercy.
In no way am I trying to say that I have had a piece of this little one’s story. Instead, my Father has used a boy that many would consider forgotten and unimportant to show me that He knows each of us, cares for each of us, and is working in each of our lives. He is not cynical. He does not give up.
In all of the pictures of this child now, he has such a beautiful smile! His eyes laugh and you can tell he feels such joy. Forever, my memories will have an addendum. See, I can’t think of this precious boy as the sad orphan any more. God has rescued him, God has given him a family, and God has given him hope and a future.
In our room, in a spot I see right before I go to sleep and right as I wake up is a frame with the second part of Isaiah 43:1 written in beautiful calligraphy: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!” In the same way that this sweet boy has a new surname and a new family and is irrevocably theirs, when I accepted that Christ died for me and defeated sin and death before being raised from the dead, I became wholly and irrevocably God’s. He called me by name. He redeemed me. I am His.
Overheard tonight as RayRay was telling Beanie the Christmas story at bedtime:
RR: And then the baby was born and they named him Jesus.
Beanie: NO! Pookie! They named him Pookie!
Ahem. I don’t know about you guys, but we will be spending tomorrow explaining the real meaning of Christmas! We’ll be telling our kids and reminding one another that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ — and with His birth we celebrate the amazing love, grace, and redemption that came from His life and then His death and resurrection.
I’ll be listening to my all time favorite Christmas CD, Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson. I wrote about my love for this CD back in 2006 and my high opinion still has not wavered. It’s the entire Christmas story — all the way from Genesis. God never intended the advent to be the whole story — it’s a fabulous piece in the middle. Just when people think it can’t get worse and God has been silent for 400 years while the Romans take over and bring oppression — BAM! — enter the protagonist! But, he’s not a mighty warrior. He’s a baby. Born to a teenager. In a barn. Rather than taking care of the temporal suppressor and tyrant that was Rome, His life/death/resurrection here on earth took care of the eternal suppressor and tyrant that is sin, injustice, hatred, and loneliness.
And His name was not Pookie.
May your day be full of blessings and peace!
A few weeks ago Bean announced that she didn’t want to go to Sunday School. Since the first half is actually just nursery childcare while we’re in worship service, we told her she could come with us. I warned her that we would have to be quiet so we didn’t disturb anyone else who was trying to listen to the Pastor teach. I thought this would dissuade her.
So, we walked in and saw that the service was set up for our quarterly Lord’s Supper. I got nervous. This was NOT the Sunday for her to try Big Church for the first time.
A note for the non-Baptists out there….. Here’s how we do it: They pass glorified offering plates of little cracker-things that are supposed to be the bread and little tiny juice cups of grape juice. Yes, grape juice. I know that Jesus drank wine at the Last Supper, but too many Baptists are teetotalers. It’s a time of reflection and reverence. It’s also usually accompanied by someone playing the piano/organ or singing a song. Not exactly fun stuff for an active 3 year old who has never been in the worship service. If you want to know more about what the Lord’s Supper is/means, drop me an e-mail or leave a comment…. glad to share….
We also believe that this sacrament is for believers in Christ only — any denomination is okay. But, kids who haven’t decided to place all of their hope and faith in who Jesus said He was and is — yeah, they can’t have the crackers and juice.
Of course she asked what was up. How do I explain this without sounding wacky? Without making it sound like uber-exclusive crackers & juice. That we weren’t sharing. And she couldn’t have any. And we all ate while someone sang a song and people were praying. I didn’t want to scar the kid, you know. And, I didn’t bring any snacks.
So, I started trying to explain…. and I think I did a pretty dang good job for someone parenting on the fly. I told her that we did that because it’s something Jesus ate and drank at a special meal with some of his friends. We do it to remember who He is and what He taught us. We also do it to remember that He loves us. It’s something special for people who have decided to listen to what He says in the Bible and who believe in God. I sighed in relief, thinking that I had passed this parenting test. She understood!
Slowly, she looked up at me and thoughtfully said: “Mama, my bootie itches.”
With that, she lifted up her dress and proceeded to scratch reverently and with reflection.
I know that you’ve read this when you’re 16 and you found a copy of Mama’s old blog gathering dust in the external hard drive. You are shocked and feel betrayed that I shared this in such a public forum. Don’t worry, sweetie…. I did it so you’d have yet another topic to discuss with your therapist. We have to keep Daddy’s co-workers in business, you know.
Good news! We heard that the levees around the Industrial canal that everyone saw on the news today didn’t break. That means that my home (which isn’t too far from part of that canal) is fine. We’ve also heard preliminary reports from the school that it isn’t flooded. We live on campus, so that means we’re not flooded. I have done many happy dances to celebrate this.
I’ll tell you that today was stressful. I woke up wondering what happened and I’ve thought about it all day. I tried to stay away from the news so I wouldn’t become anxious, but that didn’t always happen. I know that no matter what had happened, God would have taken care of us. Still, I think there’s a difference between nervousness and worry.
This may seem like an unconnected and much more extreme example, but during my reflection on the coming hurricane, God reminded me of Veggie Tales. Lately Bean and I have been watching Rack, Shack, & Benny. It’s a retelling of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. (Who, because I don’t want to type their names again, will be referred to as “The Guys.”) In the Biblical story, the following scene roughly plays out:
Nebuchadnezzar the King: Dudes, if you don’t bow down and worship this idol, I’m throwin’ you in the fire. And your deity can’t save you.
The Guys: He can save us. We are sure of that. But, whether he saves us or not, we will praise Him alone.
I am sure The Guys were uttering nervous prayers while they were being tied up. I’m sure their hands were shaking as they were lead to the furnace room. I’m positive they were looking around for the angelic beings that they hoped would swoop down and magnificently save them. They didn’t know how they’d be saved. They didn’t know they would be saved. While they trusted in God’s faithfulness, their knees still knocked.
Ok, so in my case there was no forced idolatry, no threats of furnace-throwing, and no chocolate bunnies (see the Veggie version for that), but I still felt a kinship to The Guys. I couldn’t do anything about my situation but watch and wait. Worrying wouldn’t add a day to my life or keep the water levels down. So, I spent a lot of my time wondering “what if…?” followed by praying and talking to God about those anxieties rather than fretting to myself.
Today, you can be sure that I uttered nervous prayers, my hands were shaking, and I watched the news for angelic beings holding up the levees. Most of the time, my prayers were simply “PleaseDon’tLetItFloodPleaseDon’tLetItFloodPleaseDon’tLetItFloodPleaseDon’tLetItFlood.” And, the whole time, my knees knocked.
Like I said in the beginning, I knew that God would care for us regardless of what the outcome was. If I was sitting on the couch bawling because my house was under 35 feet of water — that’s ok. Trusting in God doesn’t mean facing adversary without emotion. I actually got mad the night before we left. I went to a Student Wives Meeting and we were all talking about the hurricane. One lady glibly said: “We just have to trust him” and got up from the table, effectively ending all conversation. She said it as if she was saying “By the way, chicken is on sale this week at Winn-Dixie.” Rather than kicking this lady in the knee, I just thought about kicking her in the knee. This is probably good since she is a professor’s wife.
So, we know that God tells us not to worry. But, that doesn’t mean adopting a sugar-coated stoicism. Go on and feel nervous, just share that with the Father and trust that He’ll take care of you no matter what. In the comments to the previous post, Carolyn called us courageous. My response was that I’m not very courageous at all. But, my God is always, always faithful. Even in floods and furnaces.
To make up for this long post, go to Bean’s website and see a new video I put together. If you don’t have that address, leave me a comment and I’ll send it to you.
Thanks again for all of your encouragement and prayers!
“Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea:
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar,
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.”
-The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Ok, so we didn’t exactly see horrors in the halls of stone, but there were greedy porters, a break-down in Onion Town, and wild dogs…. don’t worry, the stories will come.
We’re now 100% back. Nothing is left that belongs to us in Central Asia except for the friendships and the memories we’ve left behind. We’ve entered a new transient stage — currently homeless and technically jobless, we’re heading off into the wide open future. If I wasn’t so jet-lagged, I might be worried about this blank slate o’ life. Nah, I’m honestly not worried. God hasn’t left us — even on the 45 minute crazy, turned around taxi drive that resulted in a fender-bender and a 50 lira price tag, even as we realized that we wouldn’t be able to crate anything back to the States and I had to say goodbye to the Mama Chair, even as people said they would buy our stuff and then wouldn’t and then gave us a lowball price and then finally agreed to buy it. There’s an insane sense of hope about me now. Insane because on paper my life shouldn’t be hopeful. But, I’ve never paid attention to what’s on paper, have I? We’ve got some ideas about the future and sure enough, when the time comes, the right one will work out. For now I have just two focuses: 1) Being with peeps I like -and- 2) napping.
Speaking of peeps, we’re hanging out with Heather and Michael, two great peeps we really like. Last night I discovered Peeps Easter candy in their pantry. They don’t eat them (who does?), so instead we had some Peep Wars. Take your Peeps and put them on a plate facing each other. Then, put them in the microwave and turn it on. (This is especially dramatic if your microwave has an automatic turntable.) The Peep that beats down the others is declared the winner. Just make sure you turn off the microwave before they explode….
Yes, this is what my life needs right now. Hanging with peeps, watching Peeps explode, and enjoying the unplanned life of transience.