A Boy with the Heart of Jesus & a Feminist

Three small beings settle into our big unmade king sized bed.  The covers are already warm from the middle sister turning up the electric blanket for her post shower warm-up.  There’s always fighting over who gets to sit next to momma and I won’t lie, I like that part just a bit.

It’s good to know, that for now, I’m still someone’s favorite. I’m still the one they’re willing to fight over.

The youngest usually wins and gets to settle into my left wing sucking that sassy with the tiny blue elephant on it with all his Ethiopian might.  We’ve started back reading together at night and it seems that of all the children, this baby, this youngest in arms, who probably understands the least about our convoluted stories, gets the most out of them.  He has settled in these past two weeks and no longer cries the cry of terror as we tuck him into his crib, proving once again that there is a secret magic unleashed when words are read.

On this night, we are reading a series by Suzanne Collins, no, not the Hunger Games, our American politics give us enough drama to resemble that tale.  Instead, we are deep into Book two of Gregor the Overlander.  There’s fighting and fury and myths and innocent sisters that need to be saved.  All the fun elements necessary to keep children begging for another chapter as I end reading one and tuck the bookmark in between the secondhand pages. 

After our story, as is our habit, I reach for my bible running my fingers along the thin edges of paper. This night I open to Mark chapter sixteen and I read the words about Christ’s first appearance after his death.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.  When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.  She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.  When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. (Mark 16:1-11 NIV)

I run my fingers through big brother’s fine brown hair and start asking questions about the passage of scripture wondering what all of them will think of the Jesus they sing about in Sunday school.

“When you read this section of scripture what do you notice about Jesus first?” I ask them. 

It is the Harry Potter look alike who replies without hesitation, “He appeared to them first, Momma.”

“Who?” I ask.

“The women.” He says.

And I look at him now considering whether he realizes the weight of what he has spoken.  But he is looking at his brother touching that elephant pacifier where it meets the tip of his nose, totally unaware that he has innocently declared Jesus an equal opportunity deity.

“That’s right little man.  Jesus appeared to the women first.  And did you know that wherever you see Jesus speaking to women, ministering to women in the bible you will find him treating them the same as he did the men.  He gave them the same respect, the same love, the same consideration.  This was not normal then, this was special.”

He looks up at me with those blue eyes my grandfather handed down through maternal genetics and smiles gently as he leans against my arm.  I breathe deep into his hair holding onto that moment of little boy gentleness for as long as my heart will allow.  He breaks the silence though. 

He surprises me when he says, “I will always treat girls the same momma.  I will always love them like you.”

And I can’t help but smile and hold him closer knowing this little man has the heart of both Jesus & a feminist.

And so, it is here in my house, in the room where I have rocked these babies through teething, and toddling, and night terrors that I am teaching all four of them the importance of watching the Savior. We can always trust Him to show us how to walk even when we don’t want to stand.  We can trust Him to pull us forward in our thinking even when we insist on dragging our heels.

That’s what love does, isn’t it?

It forces us to become more like it and less like ourselves.

What a glorious thing to behold when the spirit of our Sovereign Lord is embodied within the people who serve Him, whether male or female. 

*For another view on being both a Christian and a feminist visit Sarah Bessey's post entitled On Being Christian and Being a Feminist....and  Belonging Nowhere.

Truth and Trasparency

We knew the waters of International Adoption were troubled and stormy.  We knew they would be difficult to navigate.  We knew we would need help.  So we interviewed lots of people.  Families, agencies, friends of friends, anyone we thought that might have a different viewpoint or a better way to jump in.  Then armed with every fact and opinion we could find, we strapped on our life jackets, said another prayer and jumped in.  We should have asked God to send us a U.S. Naval destroyer instead.  To say that what we have heard and learned since we became a waiting family is overwhelming is not even an understatement; it’s a gross misrepresentation of the truth.  So many stories, so many families, so many details of adoptions that almost didn’t happen and children whose histories may or may not be accurate that my mind keeps racing and my heart keeps praying for their comfort and safety around the clock.  Obviously, we, as a family are at a crossroads right now; one that quite honestly, I cannot fully divulge.  There are more questions to be asked and choices to be made; hard questions and hard choices, both of which could cost us, but the truth is always worth the cost.    We did our very best to choose the people we believed to be ethical and honest to represent us to our son and his country but now we are uncertain.  We can leave at any time.  We can walk away in a heartbeat and almost no one would blame us. We have three children and a busy enough life, right? All it would take is one phone call and every difficult thing about this would go away except the Isaiah shaped hole in our hearts.  People close to us have suggested it.  Perhaps this is God’s way of saying you should turn back, they have told me.  I wanted to tell them that perhaps this is Satan’s way of fighting back against us.  Another suggested that maybe this was God’s way of making me a better servant to him.  Sometimes it’s about the process of learning to submit to his will, they described.  Seriously?  I cannot believe that.  My God is many things; jealous, righteous, omnipotent, loving, generous, but cruel?  Never.  He would never create in me this love for my child and then snatch it away as a test.  So I have cried and I have prayed and I have thrown accusations at a God big enough to handle them and me.  And I have waited and pondered other mothers in the bible and what they would do right here, right now in this very moment.  I thought about what they have done for their children.  And that prompted me to ask God not, What do you want me to do, because I’ve been asking that for weeks, but this,
What do you want me to do for my son?
And in my heart, through the stories of these faithful women, my God answered me,
I want you to fight for him.
I reread Jochebed’s story and how her son, Moses, was predestined to die by Pharaoh’s command.  She defied that command.  She did not give up her son.  She fought back the only way she knew how when she hid him in that basket in the bulrushes.  She was cunning, she was skillful, and she persevered.  She fought for her son and God’s covenant with his chosen people was fulfilled. Exodus 2:1-10
I thought of Mary, the mother of our Lord, sweet, young, frightened Mary.  Her son too was born with a price upon his head, placed there by the prelate, King Herod.  But Mary obeyed God and fled her homeland.  She left everyone and everything she knew to protect our Jesus.  She fought for her son so that he might live to fulfill his purpose for us. Matthew 2:13-23
These women were just women, mommas just like me.  Wanting only the best for their children and longing to serve their God.  I am no different.  I am a simple woman, there is nothing special about me, but I am one of Isaiah’s mothers.  If I do not fight for him, if I do not speak for him, for his history, then who will?  If I do not begin his family story with us with honesty and truth and transparency then nothing much else I do will matter.  How can I teach him to be a man of character if he cannot trust the content of my own? 
Though others may not understand the depth of my conviction, my Father does.  I have asked many times for him to make this process as easy as possible and he has chosen a different course and though I am unsure of my next step I am committed to taking it.  I do not know how long it will take, I do not know what will happen along the way but I know that I have a son somewhere waiting on me.  I know his name is Isaiah.  And that is enough for me to keep fighting for him and for the answers we need. 
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for  I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10