Man Child

When I am a very old lady
and can’t remember my name,
or what I just ate for lunch…
I will remember
that once upon a time
you wanted to marry me.

I will think of the way
you put crayons
between your toes
til you needed them.
And how there was a place
in every outfit
for a sword.

I will see you
putting pictures on paper,
images emerging
from that mysterious
…while my heart
with wonder.

I will see you,
walking stick in hand,
pack of dogs at your feet.
Master of the farm.

Lego creations
of marvelous intricacy.
Do you remember those?

It is funny to me
how in old videos
you leap into the frame.
Tumult of delight.

Cacophony of ideas
whirl round
in your head…

And music…
what shall I say of that?
Of being paid to sing,
when you would have gladly
sung for free?
Of backyard operas?
Of piano pieces rendered
in a breathless
allegro molto vivace!

Did you know then…
that she was the muse
that would sing you?
Whose seduction
you could not escape?

There is a picture of you.
You hold a Bible
near your heart.
When did it sink
so deep
inside you?
That God grace…
that bit of glory
uniquely yours.

And of love…
You never have known how to love,
except wholly.
You never have been able to give,
but all.
It has been costly.
It has been redemptive.
It has been good.

How could I have known
that in you, my son,
I would find a
friend for my soul?
One whose heart
words unspoken
but known.

I wonder…
in those later years
when memory is leaking away
like water
from so many holes
in a tired old pail,
will I remember this day
when my man-child
became man?
How my heart swelled with pride
and gratitude
and gladness?

I think it will be part
of the deep knowing
…that lingers
when words are gone.
I hope so.

Happy 18th Birthday, Jake! Being your mother is inexpressible gift. I could not be more proud of the man you are becoming. Thank you for loving extravagantly, for seeing deeply, for listening intently. Thank you for the unadulterated joy you bring to my life and to the lives of others. Thank you for curiosity and creativity. Thank you for all the times when I am doing ordinary things in our home and am serenaded by extraordinary music. Yours.

Life with you is always an adventure. And the adventure has only just barely begun. Godspeed! I love you!

In Her Twentieth Year…

In her twentieth year, she grew more than usual. Not physically, you understand. But inside. Where it counts. She found herself stretched. Challenged.

In her twentieth year, she found reserves of strength she didn’t know she had. Lack of sleep. So many demands. Physically. Emotionally. And day after day she got up and did the next thing. And those who knew her wondered at her.

In her twentieth year, she knew a joy that she could only have imagined. A mystery that had invaded her body. Then invaded her soul. Depths of love that could not have been fathomed. Til she held that wriggling body. Til she saw that wrinkled face.

In her twentieth year, she found herself dreaming different dreams. Dreams that had to take another into account. Dreams that would require fortitude. Dreams sprinkled with fairy dust and glitter.

In her twentieth year, she bought a lot of ruffles and lace. She took a lot of pictures. She spent a great deal of time snuggling. She went to the park and the playground. And she laughed. A lot.

In her twentieth year, she came to understand a love that she would give her life for. And those who saw her couldn’t stop telling her how beautiful she looked. And she was beautiful.

Happy Birthday, dearest Kelsey!! I have never been more proud of you. I love you. Always.


The Father spoke one Word, which was His Son, and this Word he speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must be heard by the soul.
~St. John of the Cross

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Advent season in the Orthodox Church. For us it is a forty day affair, much like Lent. A season of preparation. Of expectation.

On Sunday, our priest encouraged us to approach the Nativity season with two thoughts: Rest and Abide, Search and Seek.

Rest and Abide: The Soul of the Shepherd  Distractions keep us from abiding in the field of our hearts and keeping watch, he said. We are to guard our hearts against distraction. To be still.

Search and Seek: The Mind of the Magi The Magi were seeking. They were looking for signs and knowledge. We are to seek Christ.

The two of these might seem antithetical. One implies stillness, the other journey. But perhaps this is a journey within.

There are two contemplative practices of fundamental importance in the Christian tradition: the practice of stillness…and the practice of watchfulness or awareness.
~Martin Laird

Parallel  messages of silence and awareness have come to me from three different sources over  the past three days. Even I am not dull enough to miss the significance of that. Thus, I am embracing this theme for my Nativity journey this year. A cultivation of stillness, and a practice of watchfulness.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. ~Matthew 5:8

Here are a few resources I will use to help me remember. To be still. To watch.

Into the Silent Land: A guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation by Martin Laird

The Inner Kingdom by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

The Winter Pascha: Readings for the Christmas-Epiphany Season by Father Thomas Hopko

Watch For the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

Daily Advent Readings from the Merton Institute

I will avail myself of the services of the Church. I will strive to keep the fast. I will, to the best of my ability, make room for silence. And in that silence, for the Light.

How are you preparing to receive the Christ? What will Advent look like for you?

Among Trees…

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle…

~Wendell Berry

“I built it for everybody. It’s God’s treehouse.” ~Horace Burgess

In 1993 Horace Burgess received a commission from God…of a rather unusual sort. He was to build a tree house. Eighteen years later, it is a project still in the making.

Peter Pan would find himself right at home in this architectural invocation of whimsy. Stairways meander. Decks crawl all around the sides, ducking in and out of the interior. There are cozy nooks and astonishing views; a second story basketball court and a church. And if you are brave enough to climb to the crow’s nest, you can ring the bells. There has never been a blueprint. The design has simply evolved. A bit at a time. Oh yes, and he has constructed the whole of it from recycled materials.

At a height of 97 feet, it is a contender for the tallest tree house in the world. They are in negotiations with the folks at Guinness even now. Burgess has elected to not go higher, because at 100 feet he would have to install a flashing light to warn planes. 🙂

My extended family (grandparents, cousins, etc…) paid a visit on Saturday. It would be hard to say who had more fun, the children or the adults.

The tree house is located near the Genesis Road Exit off Interstate 40 in Crossville, Tennessee, 245 Beehive Lane, Crossville, TN 38555. Hours are approximately 8am-6pm. The attraction is free, though you are welcome to donate to the ongoing construction expenses. If you would like more of the particulars, read this from USA Today. Also, see a couple of gorgeous photos HERE. If you go, wear good shoes as the surfaces are somewhat…well…did I mention whimsical? Also, keep a firm grip on very little ones.

Caretaker's Cottage

Podium inside church

11 Moments That Have Made My Heart Skip a Beat

Happy 11.11.11! This is the last of the 11 posts. It has been fun, but I am exhausted. Don’t expect to see anything new from me for a couple of days. Just read back through any of the 11’s you missed. And maybe leave a comment. 😉

Thanks to Bryan who suggested this topic. It was, I believe, the most fun to write. I find myself, at the end, very grateful.

Giving Birth to My Babies  I think it is safe to say I have never encountered anything so transcendent…so astonishing…so absolutely unbelievable as the miracle of life emerging from my own body. Sure I was working. But I felt no pride. Only the most profound sense of having…for a moment…touched the otherworldly. Of standing in a rift between time and eternity. Out of which came this remarkable little bundle of life. I saw it. I felt it. But I do not understand it. And why God allows us to be part of it…I do not know. It is an extravagance of grace.

Sunset, Florence, Summer 2007. (see above) We stood on the Ponte Vecchio and watched a Master artist at work; painting the sky in an ever evolving fury of color. It wrapped itself around us and we were inside it. How do you plan a moment like this? What would you do to attain it if you could? It is gift. Lavish. Reckless. Glorious.

Stepping into the upper chapel at Sainte Chapelle  We wound our way up a dimly lighted stone staircase. It was impossible to glimpse any hint of what awaited til we were spilled out into the room. And then, Oh My!! Three soaring walls of stained glass. Floor to ceiling. The room vibrated with color. It splashed onto the floor. It hummed in the air. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I could only stand there, helpless, tears running down my face. I was undone.

Long had I resented popes and priests who built such extravagances as these from the tithes of peasants who could hardly feed their families. Until that moment. At that moment, I knew I would gladly starve to be cloaked in the glory of God like this. Just once. To feel His Holiness rest on my face as a shaft of colored light.

The Invocation in the Eucharist to make the Bread and Wine, Body and Blood  We are supposed to be singing at this moment. But I frequently find myself unable. It startled me the first time. So weighty and profound, so marvelous and mysterious. I thought, perhaps, that over time it would lose some of this power. I was wrong. Three years later, my eyes fill with tears and my throat closes. My it always be so.

Watching my daughter give birth Don’t even begin to think it is the same thing as number 1. Not even close. Yes, there is the miracle of life begetting life. Of ten fingers and ten toes, and breath and blood. But there is something else. Seeing your daughter become something else. A life giver. She who brings forth. Brave. Strong. Determined. All love. All sacrifice. A miracle of a different sort.

Standing in front of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night  I am a great lover of art. It is not unusual for me to have strong feelings about works I see. But only a precious few have inspired a visceral reaction. This was one of them. The curious thing is that I knew very little about van Gogh when I encountered it over 20 years ago. It’s as though some of the immense passion van Gogh poured into his work was able to communicate itself to me directly, without translator. Gut to gut. Soul to soul. Understanding his story as I do now, I can give words to some of that. But all I had in that moment was the intense pang in my heart that told me there was far more here than swirls and stars and paint. And that bound me to the work, and to the artist, forever.

Watching Jake draw  It has fascinated me since he was a little boy. Art seems to pour out of him. Like water. He picks up a pencil and begins. No hesitations as he thinks long about what to draw. No draw erase, draw erase, til it’s right. The picture is already in his head (or in his heart?) and his hand knows precisely how to translate it to paper. It is a wonderment to me. I am in awe.

Being in Monet’s Garden at Giverney  Perhaps it all comes of having read too many fairy tales. The ones where someone gets swept up out of his day to day world and carried off into some fairy realm. When I was in Monet’s Garden, I felt that I had stepped into one of his paintings. As we meandered over the grounds, I kept finding myself facing a perspective that I knew only too well. But now the fronds of weeping willow swayed with the breeze. Bees hovered over blossoms. And there were ripples between the water lilies. And still, there was this sense that I must be dreaming. That this was too extraordinary to be believed.

Josh singing Amazing Grace at his school talent show  He was a quiet seventh grader. None of his friends or teachers suspected he was so talented. He stepped onto the stage, I gave him an introduction, and lyrical incense flowed from his mouth. Pristine, clear, sweet. Nobody moved. Everyone was completely silent. As though no one dared sully the sacredness of this moment. And I knew how much it would mean to him. And my mother’s heart swelled with gladness.

Up From the Grave…  When I was a little girl, Easter was a new dress, Sunrise service, and a song we only ever sang on that day. It began, appropriately, as a dirge. “Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord.” The whole time we sang this my heart beat faster and faster because I knew what was coming. “Up from the Grave He arose! With a mighty triumph o’er His foes…” Even when I was too little to understand all that the song meant, something inside me knew that the whole world was turned upside down between verse and chorus. I sang the song many times as I grew older. Even as a cynical teenager. But it never lost its magic. Even now, just typing the words, I have butterflies in my stomach.

The Proposal  It’s not like it was a complete surprise. We had already talked about marriage. We had even looked at rings. Just in case. 😉 But when it happened, for real, I was giddy and scared and excited. And a little piece of me seemed to float over the whole thing and look down on it, like it was happening to someone else. And it took wearing the ring and telling people for a few days before that little piece of me crawled back into my skin. And I was able to believe. And it became true.

 I would love to hear about the moments that have left you breathless. Do tell….


11 Wonders Unseen by the Rest of the World

We all have them. Those little everyday miracles that sneak up on you. Today is a tribute to those.

A sleeping baby  This afternoon she fell asleep in my arms. I watched the rise and fall of her breath. Her face pure and peaceful. Her body curled against mine. It was so beautiful it made my heart hurt. And I knew she would sleep better in her bed. But it was everything I could do to let go of her. (By the way, the photo is of Kenzie sleeping in Kelsey’s arms. Also beautiful. :))

Tender shoots pushing up through the earth in spring

Ditches full of golden leaves

First steps, first words, discoveries

A kind word

Love notes

Pictures drawn by children

Hugs. Kisses. Freely given.

Family meals when everyone is there, and the conversation is rich and deep and good

When my kids help each other clean up toys. If you are a stay at home mom with small children, I heard that “amen”. Little unsolicited kindnesses to a sibling bring a great deal of joy to a mom’s heart, even if no one else sees.

This topic was suggested by my friend, Cassie, as was item number ten. Item number eleven is for Cassie, and for others like her, who every day give themselves away. They receive no glory for it. Most of their efforts are unseen. And they may not see the results of their investment for years. But they don’t do it for any of that. They do it for the glory of the One who made them. This song is for them…

11 Favorite Turns of Phrase

I have an almost idolatrous relationship with words. I admit it. To be able to express a thought, an emotion, with precision…to make it live in the mind and heart of another is deeply satisfying. I admire writers who string words together elegantly, evocatively. I have collected these for years. Here are a few of my favorites.

Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery…  ~Annie Dillard

In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. ~Aeschylus

All this indescribable thing that we call the Christmas atmosphere only hangs in the air as something like a lingering fragrance or fading vapor from the exhultant explosion of that one hour in the Judean hills nearly two thousand years ago.  But the savor is still unmistakable, and it is something too subtle or too solitary to be covered by our use of the word peace.  ~G.K. Chesterton

For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.  ~Mary Oliver

Trample not on any; there may be some work of grace there, that thou knowest not of.  The name of God may be written upon that soul thou treadest on; it may be a soul that Christ thought so much of as to give his precious blood for it; therefore, despise it not.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.  ~e.e.cummings

I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.  I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.  The function of man is to live, not to exist…  ~Jack London

I am the product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles.  Also, of endless books.  My father bought all the books he read and he never got rid of any of them.  There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not.  Nothing was forbidden me.  In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves.  I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.  ~C.S. Lewis

My worship is a blue sky and ten thousand crickets in the deep, wet hay of the field. My vow is the silence under their song.  ~Thomas Merton

Most children enjoy the sound of language for its own sake. They wallow in repetitions and luscious word-sounds and the crunch and slither of onomatopoeia.  ~Ursula K. LeGuin

In the house of breathings lies that word, all fairness. The walls are rubinen and the glittergates of elfinbone. The roof herof is of massicious jasper and a canopy of Tyrian awning rises and still descends to it. A grape cluster of lights hangs therebeneath and all the house is filled with the breathings of her fairness, the fairness of fondance and the fairness of milk and rhubarb and fairness of roasted meats and uniomargrits and the fairness of promise with consonantia and avowels. There lies her word, you reader! The height herup exalts it and the lowness her down abaseth it. It vibroverberates upon the tegmen and prosplodes from pomoeria.  ~James Joyce

Where have you found words wielded winsomely? A phrase that delights your senses?



11 Unforgettable Dining Experiences

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
~A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Pooh and I are very like in this. I find food terribly exciting, especially when it is exquisitely prepared and beautifully served. Yes, I eat my fair share of leftovers and occasionally even stoop to fast food on the road. But I am passing fond of meals that nourish the senses. Preferably all of them. I favor long, slow meals accompanied by deep conversation and laughter. And if this happens to occur someplace beautiful with people I love, all the better. Here are 11 of my favorites.

Asia de Cuba, Anniversary March 2010
My sweet husband surprised me with a trip to New York for our 23rd anniversary. He chose the restaurant. He is brilliant. 🙂 Asia de Cuba is a trendy Asian/Cuban fusion restaurant. Philippe Starck designed the unique interior. White curtains and a holographic waterfall help create the unique atmosphere. Our waiter sat down at our table and spent a very long time talking with us to discover what we liked before making recommendations. Everything we ate was beautiful and delicious, but there were two distinct standouts. The calamari salad is one of their signature dishes. Crisp calamari with chayote, hearts of palm, bananas, cashews, chickory and raddichio, and sesame orange dressing. Amazing! And dessert. Oh. My!! The Bay of Pigs was gastrorgasmic. (My friend Maurilio sent this word to me after I tweeted the above picture. He was right!) Bananas covered in an impossibly delicate shell of caramelized sugar, ice cream (coffee I think) fudge and caramel sauces, warm chocolate chip cookies, macadamia nuts, fondant, and whipped cream. It should be illegal.

Gelateria Bellocco, Summer 2010
Our family has eaten our fair share of gelato. We are pretty finicky about what constitutes proper gelato. Last summer, Kelsey and I returned to our favorite gelateria in Florence. We ate there 3 times in 24 hours. But just two days later we were renouncing our favorite for Sergio’s marvelous creations. In particular, he makes a pistachio that uses salted pistachios. I was skeptical, but I was wrong. Salty, creamy, intense, addictive. If I lived in Italy I would have to go to a 12 step program. That’s all there is to it.

Mangia Nashville, Anniversary March 2011
An Italian feast! Five leisurely courses, each featuring two or three selections, served family style. Superb food prepared by Nick Pellegrino, who also sings, dances and quotes lines from the Godfather. It is a wonderful community experience, and a meal you will never forget. (By the way, the desserts at the top of the post are theirs.)

Country Breakfast at my Mama’s
Just ask my kids. If we are going to visit the first question is likely to be, “Do you think Mamaw will make breakfast?” My mother’s biscuits and gravy, and chocolate gravy (I kid you not), sausage, eggs, homemade jelly, fried apples, etc… is legendary. Better than Cracker Barrel. Even better than the Loveless. Yep. I said it.

Picnics in the Japanese Garden at Cheekwood
When the kids were little I would buy an annual pass. We would go every couple of weeks. We would look at the artwork in the museum, then stroll though the gardens and see what was blooming, or putting up shoots, or making seeds. But we would always end up in the Japanese Garden. It was our favorite. And this is where we would pull out our lunch. And just for a while, we were far away in Japan. And this was our garden. And nothing could be more natural than bringing our lunch out onto the lanai and breathing slowly and contemplating the waves of stone, and the colors and textures, the order, the calm.

Cafe Tomaselli, Salzburg
Mozart ate here. It’s true. I think I know why. The pastries are elegant and delicious, and surprisingly affordable. The cappuccino is warm, and frothy, and rich. And everything is served on proper plates and in proper cups, on proper trays, with lovely little sugar cubes and tiny glasses of water, and a spoon laid over the top. And one can imagine, just for a moment, that all of life is just this grand and elegant.

French Boulangeries
It took us exactly one morning to become Parisian, dashing into the local Boulangerie for our morning pastries. Our favorites were the Viennese rolls, soft warm bread with chocolate chips. We would walk down the street, nibbling, till we reached the courtyard behind Notre Dame. There we would finish our breakfast properly, perhaps sharing a bit with the birds.

Boudro’s on the Riverwalk, San Antonio
To sit along the riverwalk at night is nourishment in itself. Then add to that the most amazing guacamole I have ever eaten. It is their recipe we use to this day. Mesquite grilled Texas Quail in a molasses glaze, served over pepper jack grits. Gulf coast blue crab cakes with roasted corn sauce, jicama slaw, and tomatilla cream. Yum. Yum!

Johnnie Foxe’s, Dublin Ireland
Their mussels are legendary, and not without reason. Beautifully seasoned, tender and fresh. Best seafood chowder I ever ate. And our introduction to Banoffee pie. I have been playing with recipes ever since trying to get it just right. Everything is served up in a convivial atmosphere with all kinds of quirky kitsch all over the walls. Makes for interesting conversations. 🙂

Boma Cafe, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney World
Boma is beautiful, as is the whole of the lodge. And they serve up a whole buffet of African fare. Lentils, curries, soups, vegetables, meats, salads, all with exotic seasonings. A wonderful opportunity to sample a wide variety of unfamiliar foods.

African Supper, Malawi
We gathered under a great spreading acacia tree. There were a thousand stars overhead. Our freshly scrubbed bodies were chilly in the night air. A fire blazed, and there were lanterns on the tables. We filled our plates with nsima (rather like grits, but softer), greens with tomatoes and onions, beans, stewed meats, and bread toasted over the fire. We drank pineapple and mango sodas. And we relived the moments of the day. Our stomachs were filled, and we would sleep the sleep of the weary. Weary, but glad.

Tell me about the significant dining experiences in your life. What is it that makes them so?

Buon Appetit!

*Special thanks to Giorgio who supplies the topic for today’s post.

11 Things I Might be Doing Instead of Blogging…

I just never got round to it today. I told myself that for 11 days I would blog every day. How hard could it be? Turns out, very. As you might have already concluded based on my usual output of 3-4 posts per week.  .

So, on those days when I do not write, what am I doing? Here are some possibilities. (Not all from today)

1. I might be running. Especially if the day is sunny and cool, and the trees are all aflame with color, and the air has that musky scent of fall, and my legs feel strong, and I finally have to make myself stop because I do, after all, have responsibilities. Hypothetically.

2. I might be at church. I’ll be there in the morning, so tomorrow’s post will be late. But, the fact is, some of my best writing has been born of time spent with the people of God in this most sacred and other-wordly place. And being there is so very good for my soul. So if you are missing me, I just might be there.

3. I might be making sandwiches, and helping with homework, and attending talent shows, and listening to stories of heartaches and triumphs, with my children. No apologies. I know where my priorities lie. They will always, always come first.

4. I might be cleaning my house. But that’s unlikely.

5. I might be in the garden. If so, that’s a good day. The worst day in the garden beats a really good day most other places. It is clean and true. It is life. And death. And seasons. And resting and growing and plenty.

6. There is a fairly good chance I am playing with my granddaughter. Four or five days a week I have the pleasure of spending the whole day with her. Watching the miracle of new. Of discovery and yearning. Study and mastery. Frustration and joy. When given the choice of snuggling up with the wee one or snuggling with my computer, little bit will win every time.

7. I might be doing laundry. But I hope not.

8. I might be cooking for my family or for friends. If I am, I might be having all kinds of fun. Making something beautiful, delicious, and nourishing. Trying a new recipe. Cooking with one or more of my kids. Or friends. Music playing. Candle burning. Glass of wine nearby. OR….. I might be scrounging through the pantry or the fridge trying to figure out how one comes up with a palatable meal with only black beans, chia seeds, and mustard. Those chefs on Chopped have nothing on me. 🙂

9. I might be reading. In fact, I’m probably reading. Unless I am doing one of the other things I already said. Then again…there might be a book on my ipod; Jeremy Irons whisking me away to Spain in the midst of my laundry. And next time I pull a pair of socks out of the drawer I will remember Santiago becoming the wind.

10. I might be sleeping. Which is what I should be doing now. Many blog posts have been written while I should have been sleeping. At least WordPress has the good grace not to tattle on me like Typepad used to. You don’t know if I have posted at 3:47 in the morning. Sleeping is not my strong suit. I’ve never been very good at it. But there’s still just the off chance that I might be sleeping instead of blogging.

11. I might be wasting time. Probably on the internet. Checking email, then facebook, blog stats for the blog I am not writing, looking up recipes, translating random phrases into French. Or I might be writing a blog post about why I am not writing a blog post. Or writing a post about why I’m writing a post about not writing a post. Or diagramming that last sentence.:)

What is it that keeps you from doing what you want to do?


11 Thoughts on the Fatherless

A special eleven post today on Orphan Sunday. For your consideration….

Our beautiful nieces, Keeli & Ellie, with big sister Alex & big brother David

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…
~James 1:27

At last night’s Show Hope fundraiser, Steven told a story about Stevie Joy. Stevie Joy is a talented gymnast. But one day she told her parents she wasn’t sure she wanted to go back. She was afraid of her new coach. This coach was pushing Stevie Joy and was more assertive than she was used to. She didn’t know what to do with this. So Steven offered to go talk with the coach. He explained Stevie’s fears to her. The coach was wonderful and very understanding.

Next day, when Stevie very reluctantly returned to gymnastics, the coach pulled Stevie aside and talked with her. By the time Steven came to pick her up she was all smiles. She told him she and the coach were now best friends. Then she said, “That’s why little girls have daddies. So they don’t have to be afraid.”

Yes, Stevie Joy. Yes

Our friends, the Green family, Kaleb, Gatlin, Bennett, Cooper, Brian, Kali, & Wendi

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. ~John 14:18

When Danielle Ballantyne was 5 years old, her parents took her to the market. They told her they were going to get some candy and that she should wait for them right there. They never came back. She wandered the streets for some time before being taken by a police officer to an orphanage. She would spend the next 8 years of her life here. She would listen to the jeers and taunts of school mates. She would steal to feed her hungry belly. And she would lock her heart up so that she would never be hurt again.

Then one day Dani came home from school to find a package waiting for her. A large package. Full of candy. And with pictures of a family. A family that was coming to get her. She blushed as she talked of diving into the candy. She had never seen abundance like this. She spoke candidly of the fear she felt in meeting this family. She had forgotten how to trust. She had been hurt so badly. But her parents were patient and kind, and she is learning to open herself more and more to people around her.

Today, 4 years after becoming part of a forever family, Dani is vivacious and strong. She believes God had His hand on her and that He has a purpose for her life. She talked about how she would help care for babies who were sick. Babies the orphanage staff had no time for. Do you know what this young woman wants to do with her life? She wants to go back to China and take care of other children like her. To tell her story. To give them hope. I am in awe of her. She is so brave.

Our godson, Jonah Miller

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! ~I John 3:1

Mike and I have not been called to adopt. But we have had the privilege of helping others financially, either directly or through Show Hope. And we have had the joy of being able to be part of their support team at home with encouragement, meals, etc… Not all of us are called to adopt. But all of us are called to love the fatherless. We ourselves have been chosen. We have not been left fatherless. We must share this with others.

Jovie, Jaydn and Jaxon Gaddis (chilren of our friends Nathan & Bethany) with Kenzie

If you are not sure where to start, may I commend to you the remarkable work of Show Hope. Steven and Mary Beth Chapman began this organization to assist families who had a heart for adoption but lacked the resources. This ministry is run with the utmost integrity and efficiency. And it is literally saving the world. One child at a time.

A final thought. From Andrew Peterson. On what matters. On what lasts.

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