Saturday, May 16, 2015

Have Courage --- Be Kind (two beautiful daughters and the mothers who grew them)

Rushing into the restroom, not wanting to delay those who would be waiting for me, i rounded the corner giving myself the shortest time possible to get in and out. But only 3 seconds into my self-allotted one-minute-window, she looked at me and shifted me at my core.
Church was over, we'd lingered longer than the others, talking with much-loved friends we hadn't seen in years. The halls had begun to echo with our voices, we were the last in the building.
But this little treasure was found silently working, cleaning, wiping away the sloppy splatters left on the sink counters in the women's toilet i'd just flew into. Me a flurry, her all peace.
I smiled in response to her, she'd smiled first with her eyes, then with her lips --- everything about her smiled, in such a “little-but-powerful” sort of way. It was a startling sort of kindness. Me a flurry, her all peace. Mine was a hurrying kind of living, not anxious or troubled, just moving fast to beat the clock, but her wall of gentleness drained the rush right out of me and i knew something truly good was in front of me. Without a word from either of us, i knew she was a much-loved-daughter of the One who had made her.
It doesn't happen often to me, not like that. But when it does, i've learned to get ready, something sweeter than we people can come up with is about to be handed to me, if i'll just have eyes to see and ears to receive. It's a “be still and know that I AM GOD...” moment --- and He can do it a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e He chooses to.
Attending to the reason i'd entered the room, i listened to her soft hum as she cleaned.
Then washing my hands, i appreciated the spotless counter and shiny faucets she had just wiped clean. Another lady was cleaning toilets, and mopping out each stall. Taking my used paper towel to wipe away my splatters of water i turned to look at the young lady and thanked her for doing such a nice job. There were three of them in all, silent, busy, working. When i spoke to one, they all froze.
They were not use to being “seen”.
They were there to clean, not to be seen.
But their work was almost done for the day, this public restroom was cleaner than most kitchens. As i thanked all three ladies for taking such good care of the restrooms in our church, they humbly received my words of affirmation. Two were older, the one was perhaps a daughter, i shared my name and asked for theirs. The little package of peace was named Isabella. Her mother stood beside her, Isabella's gentleness had been taught to her by her mother; the love between them was rich. My guess is that their pockets held little, but their hearts were wildly wealthy and i wondered if they knew how wonderfully different they were; how their riches were showing in ways that can't be bought or sold. We talked; the hurry i had entered with was no more. Isabella's mother shared that her daughter always wanted to come to work with her to help on the days she did not have school, “you see it is a way we can be together even though i need to work” (make NO mistake here, this daughter was blessed to help her mother, no one was making her work). So... this daughter and mother were together, cleaning up messes left by others... thankful for a job... thankful for time together... serving others. An uncontrollable gush of love pressed through me towards this girl and her mother, words of affirmation were spoken, the mother's eyes sparkled, young Isabella leaned into her mother with a shy glow of appreciation over having been seen. A fifty foot yacht could not have stayed afloat under the weight of their love. And i knew, i'd been to church twice.

The twins were celebrating 9 years of living, it was their birthday. The cake was baked and decorated with colorful candles. The table was set with safari plates and napkins, there was even a silly pointy party hat waiting at each chair. It was the Sunday we were to fly home from Kenya, but first, we'd get to thank God for making “them”, we'd make sure they felt our joy over the fact that they had been born. I'd asked their precious mother if we could give them a surprise party, she'd joyfully agreed, saying, “they've never had a birthday cake, oh how happy they will be”. At 11AM they came walking down our long, dusty drive, dressed in their sweet Sunday best, so excited to have been invited to “mum's and dad's”, not knowing a party was bulging inside the walls of our small lake cottage. In truth, we were just as excited over their surprise party as we were over the fact that just 9 hours later we'd be boarding a plane and headed home for a 3 month visit.

There's something beautiful beyond words when real joy shows on a child's face. Their joy was present because they were coming for a visit ----- all dressed up and feeling special just to know they were wanted and welcome and loved. Their joy was present even before they knew of the party we'd prepared for them.
The mother and children walked towards our cottage, laughing together. Enjoying each other, they are thankful for more things than many people ever pause to notice... this family lives in one room, all together... but... they live as if a palace surrounds them. Inside their hearts, it requires a palace to hold the love ----- on the outside it feels best when they have no walls between them. As they approached our porch, we swung the doors wide open shouting, “Happy Birthday!”, the children froze. Then slowly, after sweetly removing their dusty shoes (no one asked them to, they do it as a show of respect), they walked towards the table in awe of the colorful party plates and napkins. They didn't know what to do with the pointy hats, our son Peter helped them there. Soon party hats were on and party horns were blowing ----- oh the pure pleasure of watching them celebrate their own birth in a way they'd never imagined before.
They're birthday cake was a chocolate sheet cake --- just like the one i'd baked for all our precious 3 kids for all their wonderful birthdays back on Mockingbird Road. Grace and Peter's birthday cake eagerly waiting for them, resting in the same-same pan i'd used to bake Mike, Maggie, and Peter's birthday cakes. If a metal pan could speak ---- well, that one's had a sweet life.
Presents were given, a tiny dollhouse for Grace, 4 toy cars for Peter, candles were lit, we all sang together. Eve, their mother, was even more excited than her nine year old treasures as she watched her love towards them be multiplied before her eyes. She'd struggled intensely just to put food in their mouths for 7 of those 9 years. But when God moved us to Kenya, He gave her a job working in our home. Our obedience was about so much more than us ---- God put the puzzle pieces together that needed to be in place. Eve needed a job, we needed help, her children needed food and school and a safer place to live. And on this day we were celebrating together --- the goodness of the Lord. Their older sister Faith sat at the table as well. She's beautiful in ways unable to be captured by camera or words. Poised humility --- that's her. It's as if she's a princess whose chosen to live with less rather than more. There's a Cinderella-ness to her, she's gentle and caring, seeking nothing for herself, yet you get the real sense of knowing she's always in her Father's eyes, held very close to His heart. No matter that her earthly father abandoned her... her REAL FATHER holds her dear.
When candles were blown out and cheers where finished, without a word from anyone, little Grace bows her small head and begins praying. She's serious about her Lord, we all feel like children beside the maturity of her soul.
She prays long... not quickly...
She has her first birthday cake e-v-e-r in front of her ----- but she won't be rushed, she must thank her Daddy-God. Oh the lessons little Grace could teach the world.
Then theirs cake on plates and juice in cups, presents are opened, and photos snapped.
We've done it, we've celebrated how thankful we all are that GOD MADE Grace and Peter!
But where we are thinking we're finished, Faith softly clears her throat and Grace and Peter smile.
Eve smiles like a proud mother, as Faith leads her sister and brother singing a song naming the books of the Bible... all of them... all-of-them... in order. We are stunned!! And then, they begin quoting scriptures, perfectly. They're not struggling, no, those Holy Words come rolling off their little nine year old tongues just as easily as chocolate cake just passed over them.
Faith has been teaching her little brother and sister all these things, not with a whip or stick in hand, but with the gentlest of hands and the kindest of ways in the single room where they live.
“Have courage, be kind”, words from the latest Cinderella movie --- never seen by beautiful Faith, but beautifully LIVED in her every waking moment.
Faith loves Grace and Peter, they love her, and Eve covers them all with such a loyal mother's love ---- it's not just words i'm typing ---- it's real. She's a mother alone filling stomachs with food and hearts with love and pouring Jesus into the souls she's been given charge over ------- and it's all so captivatingly beautiful. It's another glimpse of church --- there's no steeple overhead, but HE is present and pleased.

In this world, there are beautiful ones.
They are self-less and undemanding. They are busy working and sharing and helping. They are poised and ready to teach, but they won't force themselves on others. They don't think of themselves as wise or “able” or important or strong. They don't criticize or judge, they don't have time for that, they are too busy in the middle of being courageous and kind.
The world won't like them...
Oh God... the world most likely won't be kind to them...
Little Isabella might be ridiculed and looked down on by those who think they're important, those who criticize, those who judge.
Lovely Faith might be lustfully looked at by those who are strong in dark ways, those who take, those who are not kind.
But Lord, You A-D-O-R-E them ---- they are priceless masterpieces formed in your hands --- they live more wonderfully than the ones who are loud and in front.
You've given Isabella and Faith to women who might be much more like mother-Mary than they realize. Women who work hard and love well and care nothing for drawing attention to themselves, for they have the pleasure of feeding the mouths you've given them to feed, and they do it with hands roughened by work and strengthened by You.

So Lord, thank you for sharing Isabella and Faith with me, with us. Thank you for the quiet, seen, gentle, strong way You teach us in the way these courageous, kind ones live and love. You are the One who says the “first will be last and the last will be first” and i'm oh so thankful for Your ways. Because i will be eagerly perched and ready to cheer these two beauties on when YOU move them from the positions of “last” this world holds them in ---- and they are placed at the front of the line of those who have found great favor in Your ever watchful eyes.
Lord, they are lovely.
Please protect them fiercely... please place a wall around them that holds back those who would do evil against them.
And Lord, please continue to multiply your goodness in them, so that those who think they belong in the front, those who would look down on those they think are behind/beneath/below them, would instead be overwhelmed and amazed at the beautiful ways You are found where kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness live.

Have courage ----- be kind.
Love God --- Love others.

Isabella and Faith ---- i'm cheering for you ---- and so thankful for your mothers... they are lovely, as are you!
(and Lord we thank you for the many others like Isabella and Faith and the mothers who raised them up ---- like: Micah, Saranne, Lorene, Pauline, Jennifer, Isabella, Jamie, Mary, Kim, Emily, Floy, Shirley, Sharla, MacKenzie, Abby, Eva, and Hillary.)

Happy Mother's Day !!! (a few days late but celebrating still)


  1. Nicole with mother Ashley whose mother is Cheryl
    my mom, Carla whose mother is Roberts