December 16, 2013

Priceless Gifts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  The church’s all-purpose room is filled with tiny white lights, a beautifully-decorated tree complete with a lighted star on top, and an over-sized wreath hanging on the wall.  The chatter in the room almost drowns out the sounds of the Christmas carols playing.  The tables are all set for what promises to be a feast.  At first glance, it appears to be a festive holiday party.  A time for merry-making and laughter.  It could be a scene straight from Currier & Ives.

The ladies of the church have worked tirelessly to make this day special.  December is a crazy-busy time of year, and yet they made room in their crowded calendars to plan this special event.  Preparing the menu, decorating the room, setting up tables, and pressing the linens.  They have created a room that practically glows with all of the love and service that was poured into it.  They have provided, if only for a brief afternoon, a respite from life’s problems.  They created PEACE.
Look a little closer and it soon becomes apparent that some of the details of this holiday picture don’t seem quite right.  The children, the little ones looking all cute in their finest clothes, the older ones wearing everyday jeans and hoodies, are not laughing or playing.  They are just sitting there with the their hands in their laps, trying not to fidget, their eyes looking straight down at their laps.  Why are they not excited about this, the most magical of seasons?

December 11, 2013

His Story

Pausing for just a moment on the busy street corner, she thinks to herself, “How in the world did I get here?  When did my life take such a drastic turn?  This is not at all how I imagined things would turn out.”  It is a busy street corner in a bustling part of the city.  Most of the stores and businesses are preparing to close for the evening, and the sidewalk is crowded with people rushing past on their way home after a long day of work. 

There is really nothing out of the ordinary about the girl, nothing that would give people a reason to notice her.  Just an average teenager standing on the street corner.  Plain face, simple clothing, shoes somewhat worn and dirty.  Nothing unusual except, perhaps, the fact that she is very, very pregnant.

A year ago, if anyone had asked her what she envisioned for her future, her answer would have sounded just like many other teens her age:  get married some day, live a peaceful quiet life with a nice man, have children.  She had been raised in a fine, stable, very religious family, and had always been content and compliant, never giving her parents any trouble at all.

And yet here she stands, young and unmarried, about to have a baby in an unfamiliar city surrounded by no one she knows.  No family members, no doctor or hospital, not even a warm bed somewhere.  She actually has no idea where she will be spending the night. 

December 5, 2013

The Risk

The eyes in the photograph are dark and serious.  He doesn’t smile, doesn’t even pretend to be charming.  Instead, he looks directly into the camera, despondent and hopeless, as if to say, “I know I’m not cute, and there is not much left in me that anyone would love.  But sure, go ahead and take my picture if you must.”   Does he know that this picture will end up in a social worker’s file in a country half a world away?

They see his picture on their computer screen, and their hearts are filled with compassion.  That face!  They have never seen such a somber expression, especially in a child so young.  They long to take him into their arms and tell him, “You will be safe now.  No matter what has happened in your life, no matter what loss and grief and pain you have experienced, we will love you and help you heal.  You are home.”

But they can’t.  Or maybe won’t?  To adopt a child on the other side of the world is terribly expensive.  A sum of money that seems astronomical and impossible to envision.  It would require great sacrifice.  Delayed retirement.  Postponing the repairs to the roof and next year’s family reunion.  Extended time off work to travel to another country.  Is this really a sacrifice they are prepared to make?

November 22, 2013

Mama Duck

I’m a Mama Duck, I will admit it.  I live in a beautiful pond with lots of other ducks, and oh, how I had dreamed of having a fine row of perfect little ducklings following behind me.  Ducklings that look like me, swim like me, quack like me.

So there she was, a tiny, helpless, fragile little thing.  Motherless, alone and afraid.  I eagerly welcomed her under my wing, thrilled at the opportunity to love and nurture this precious creature.  She was the duckling I had dreamed of!

It wasn’t long, however, before I began to realize that this youngster who had been entrusted into my care was, well, different.  And in the pond where I live, different just won’t do.

November 18, 2013

An Unexpected Party

(A foster mother's version of "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien)

There I was, an average, unremarkable woman, living in a little home in a quiet suburban neighborhood.   It was a quiet home that meant comfort and solitude.  The days were predictable.  Nights were filled with peaceful, uninterrupted slumber.  I certainly wasn’t looking for an adventure.  I happened to like my life the way it was, thank you very much.

I had come from a long line of middle class families, and people considered us very respectable, not only because most of us were hard-working, upstanding citizens, but because we had never had any adventures or did anything unexpected.  This is my story:  the story of how an average, unremarkable woman had an adventure, and found herself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.

October 21, 2013

Am I Bland?

“Man looks at the outward appearance,
but God looks at the heart”
(1 Samuel 16:7).

We’re passing through the department store, just the two of us.  The glass countertops sparkle under the bright lights, while the perfectly-coiffed ladies standing beside them offer us samples from their manicured hands.  Noticing my lack of interest in the huge array of expensive cosmetics, my companion, never one to be shy, asks bluntly, “Have you always been bland?”  Hmm.  Is there really a correct way to answer that question?

Have I always been bland?  Did I always rush through my mornings, showering quickly, slapping on face cream, running a quick brush through my hair, choosing my clothes based on comfort rather than style?

I’m sure that I was interested in my looks once upon a time.  When I was the only person I needed to worry about.  I distinctly remember staying up late at night to wait for my freshly painted nails to dry, flipping through magazines while trying to envision how the various hairstyles would look on me.  When I had time to flip through magazines.

Many years and 46 foster children later, those days of being preoccupied with  my appearance are long gone!  I have completely different priorities now.  So where did that young lady go?  When did I lose the interest in those vain pursuits? 

October 8, 2013

The Quest for Peace

Before the eyes even open, it’s there.  Lingering, menacing, its approaching darkness threateningly close.  It’s a storm cloud that descends without warning, casting a dark gloominess across the day ahead.  Hope’s radiance may be struggling to shine through, but it is completely hidden in the shadows.

This ominous cloud may be Regret.  It is heavy with the tremendous weight of guilt, taunting its reminders of past decisions.  Roads that seemed innocuous and safe in the beginning, but with every step, every twist and turn, have long since led to a place of unintended consequences.  There is no going back.  That time can never be redeemed, and Regret is ever present, mocking and ridiculing the foolishness of yesterday.

Perhaps the foreboding cloud is Fear.  Facing an unknown future, feeling thoroughly unprepared and ill equipped.  This frightening cloud warns of impending storms, a deluge that threatens to consume, causing horrendous damage and destruction. What if the imagination’s worst nightmare indeed happens?  What about that possible scenario?  How will the heart be able to bear it?  The anxiety of such thoughts can be paralyzing.

Sometimes the cloud is simply Weariness.  The difficult circumstances of yesterday remain here today.  The battles that were fought so valiantly at the beginning have now become overwhelming and futile.  What’s the use of continuing the fight when nothing ever seems to change?  Not the slightest sign of victory is in sight.

The thoughts, the thoughts, the thoughts.  Like frightened rabbits, they bound across the meadow of the mind, first darting one way before turning suddenly and dashing in a completely different direction. They continue to scurry, frantically racing and whirling.  Never resting.  Will peace, that elusive tranquility and contentment so earnestly sought, ever be found? 

September 26, 2013

Reaching Her Heart

Good morning, Honey! 


I hope you slept well.  Go ahead and have a seat.  Breakfast is almost r . . . What are you wearing?

         Duh. Clothes?

Well, I can see that you’re wearing clothes, but do you think that’s really an appropriate thing to wear to school?

         What’s wrong with it?  This is how I always dress.

Um, isn’t your skirt is a little short?


And your sweater is pretty low-cut.

My other foster mom used to let me wear it.  I mean, she’s the one who bought it for me!

Well, you are living in my home now, and we have rules about modesty.  And believe me, those clothes are definitely not modest.  I need you to change, please.

I’m not going to change.  Why should I even listen to you?  (scoffs) Look at the ugly clothes that you are wearing!

We also happen to have rules about respect in this house.  You will not speak to me that way, young lady!

         Whatever.  (door slams)

Gee, that went well!  How did the conversation go from 0 to skirmish in less than 30 seconds?  Does every morning really need to begin by engaging in a battle with the resident teenager?

September 14, 2013

Never Stop Dreaming

“Please, please, please!” he pleaded.  “Won’t you please let me try out for the baseball team?”   We stood there in the kitchen, his big brown eyes locking with my own skeptical ones, trying their hardest to communicate with me how important this dream was to him.  I was at a loss for an immediate reply. This was a bold request from a foster child.  It would mean a significant time commitment and expense for our family.  What about his schoolwork and grades?  How would I juggle the other 5 children in our home who needed my attention?  Would my consent be the wisest course of action?

August 30, 2013

Empty Hands Full of Hope

He is gone.  Without fanfare or ceremony, without even a proper good-bye, he is simply gone.  I knew this moment would inevitably happen, of course.  It started with overnight visits, which were confusing and distressing enough.

And then one day he left for a visit and did not return.

Now what?  My days had long ago settled into a familiar routine of caring for him.  Showering his face with kisses.  Snuggling with him, just so, in the crook of my neck.  Anticipating his needs.   Celebrating his milestones.  Partnering with his medical team.  And long into the night my mind continued to formulate plans for his growth and development.  Although I have cursed insomnia as an exasperating enemy, it offered me many, many opportunities to pray for him, to open my hands and entrust him to the Lord’s care and protection again and again and again. 

Those bustling daytime hours and those interminable sleepless nights were filled with silence.  I came before the Lord with empty hands, feeling as if I had nothing to offer.  Not once did I see Him miraculously heal that child, whose birth defects will most likely remain a constant rival to his health for the rest of his life. There was never a moment when I could say, “Oh, now I see God’s purposes.  Now I understand why this child is here.”  The answer to my prayers was always the same.  Silence.

In the silence, in the unanswered questions, in the doubts and uncertainties . . . God’s sufficient grace always found me.  Even when I couldn’t see God’s hand at work, the truth of His promises never once waivered.  He was my Hope in the silence.

August 26, 2013

The Choice

The screen door slams shut as Big Sister races across the grass, not caring that her feet with their purple nail polish are bare, oblivious to her pink-tipped hair being tossed in the breeze.  Reaching for the car door before the engine has even stopped, she can barely contain her excitement.  Since school has been out for the summer, she has diligently been counting down the days until this sweet reunion, anticipating the moment when she can finally wrap her arms around these familiar strangers who have come to visit. 

It has been many, many years since she has last seen them.  Much, much too long.  A lifetime of experiences have passed since then, and a brief afternoon together can hardly compensate for the lost years.  But it’s all they have, and there is not a moment to lose.  Every second is important, when it means spending it with siblings.

August 10, 2013

Where Are You?

Night has descended, still, dark and bleak.  All across the city, while most families slumber peacefully in their beds, countless invisible children wage a battle with the fear and loneliness that have become their steadfast companions.  Children without fathers to protect them and pray for them, without mothers to tuck them in and press tender lips to their expectant cheeks.  For as long as they can remember, night-time feels like drowning in an ocean of despair. 

The less-than-perfect baby lies in the same hospital crib he has occupied since he was born.  He has never experienced the brisk breeze ruffling his hair, or a fleecy blanket swaddling his legs, or the familiar face of a mother who whispers “Sh, there, there,” when he wails his distress in the middle of the night.  He cannot be discharged from the hospital, because where would he go?  Is there no one who will love him?  Who will see beyond the deformities and envision the young man he could become?

The adolescent has not been so protected.  She knows what pain feels like, inflicted on her in anger by one of her mom’s boyfriends.  A man who sees her as nothing more than an irritating, bothersome inconvenience.  After the third, or maybe the fourth foster home, she finally understands that acceptance evaporates like dew.  Rejection has become commonplace.  She lies awake at night wondering, What is wrong with me?  Will I ever find a place to belong?

For the teenager, nighttime means something else altogether.  It means danger and self-reliance and the rush of adrenaline when the red and blue flashing lights give chase.  There is no bed, no bedroom, no home.  She has run away from every facility and group home that has tried to contain her, but the rage refuses to be contained.  The hurt and disappointment of a stolen childhood are distant memories, having long since melted away and been replaced by the ice of anger.  She is troubled and confused and dejected.  She barely remembers to ask, What does “family” mean? 

July 9, 2013

Am I a Failure?

As we drive home after the kids’ yearly standardized testing, the discouragement is so heavy that it almost consumes me.  One of my children has a reading disability, and no matter how many hours I have poured into helping and tutoring and encouraging, no matter how many different methods and curriculums we have tried, the struggle remains.  This test has only confirmed what I already knew:  the progress this year has been minimal.  My despair is suddenly interrupted by the ringing of my cell phone.  My husband innocently asks, “How did it go?”  Forgetting momentarily that my children in the back seat can hear every word I say, I sob into the phone, “I’m such a failure!”

Later that night, I am getting ready for bed and notice a little piece of paper sitting on top of my pillow.  The angular hand-writing is instantly familiar.  I unfold the note with curiosity, and read my child’s tender words:  “Dear Mom.  I love you so much.  You are not a faler.”  I laugh through my tears at the irony of the spelling error.

July 1, 2013

"What Do You Want to Be?"

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”  It’s a common question that adults all around the world ask young children, either out of genuine interest or simply attempting to engage in conversation.  “What are your goals?  Who do you want to become?”

A firefighter?  Or maybe a pilot?  How about a teacher or a doctor?  Although the answers will vary greatly, I would be willing to bet that not one child in the history of mankind ever responded, “When I grow up, I hope I get to be the parent of a special-needs child.”   The path is completely unplanned, wholly unexpected, and when a mother finds herself suddenly facing that daunting role, it can be unbelievably frightening and overwhelming.  How can a person succeed at a job for which she is entirely unprepared?  The shoes seem impossible to fill.

June 21, 2013

What is Wrong with Me?

Hello, Doctor.  Thank you so much for seeing me on such short notice.  I don’t think it’s really an emergency, necessarily, but honestly, I think something may be seriously wrong with me, and I desperately hope you can help me.  You see, a long time ago, I used to be normal – and by that I mean that I was able to have intelligent conversations, or at least finish my sentences.  I had the ability to concentrate on tasks and formulate coherent thoughts.  But it seems that over time, all of that has drastically changed.

Well, ok.  Actually, um, I guess I should just come out and say it:  I think I might be a Foster Parent.

There, I admitted it.  Isn’t that the first step?  It’s not like I’ve been denying it or anything.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious that none of my children look like me, and that the little faces periodically change, and that I’ve always got tiny feet following me and whiny (I mean, sweet) voices calling me Mama.  I guess I just never realized how serious my condition is.  My symptoms didn’t come on all of a sudden, of course.  I’ve been noticing them for a while.  But over time they have become more and more pronounced, and I really need to stop pretending that my life is ordinary.

June 8, 2013

While I'm Waiting

I glance at my watch, wondering what they are doing right about now.  In an effort to keep my hands and mind busy, I nervously start a load of laundry, clean out a kitchen drawer, answer a few e-mails.  I look at my watch again, and can hardly believe that only a few minutes have passed since I last checked.  Why does time seem to move so slowly when I’m waiting?

The parents of my littlest one have a court hearing scheduled today, and as any foster mother knows, court hearings can be a Big Deal.  A home can be running like a well-oiled machine, the children all settled in and thriving, the daily routines predictable and comfortable.  Then, when the sun rises on the appointed calendar day, life as we know it hangs in the balance.  With a judge’s authoritative decision, with a simple stroke of a pen, children’s lives can take a different path.  Families can be forever changed.

May 26, 2013

That's Amore!

"Delayed!"  "Delayed!"  "Delayed!"  The ugly red words flashed again and again, all over the flight information monitor, confirming what I could already see - torrents of rain were pelting the gigantic plate glass windows of the terminal where I stood clutching my bags.   The anticipation of this trip, the months of detailed preparation and language lessons in my rare free moments, the monumental task of getting all five children settled temporarily into four different homes - nature obliviously disregarded all of my efforts and had preempted my well-laid plans.  I was hesitant at first to accept this news.  Surely, they could reroute us through another city?  Maybe the connecting flight to Rome would be delayed also?  If we ran at full speed through the next airport, could we possibly make the 15 minute connecting time after all?  Finally, reluctantly, I accepted the disappointing reality:  Our trip to Italy to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary would have to wait, at least for another 24 hours.   We returned home to our empty house to wait.

Twenty years!  Where did they go?  Wasn't it just yesterday when I said, "I do" to this man?  When we promised to love and cherish each other, in sickness and in health, until death parted us?  The Lord brought our lives together that day and He proclaimed, "That's love."  Or, if God speaks Italian, he would have said, "That's amore!"

Like married couples everywhere, we have experienced the good with the bad, the laughter and the tears, the affection and irritation, the commitment to press on and the temptation to give up.  And through it all, we have become a team, partners, amici, friends.

And yet, somewhere in between “I do” and “What am I going to do today?”, we sometimes get lost in the busyness of life.  He has his demanding job.  I’ve got the craziness of corralling kids and keeping a home.  I get this nagging feeling in the back of my mind sometimes, wondering, Who will we be when the kids are grown and it’s time for retirement?  Will we have anything to talk about, anything in common with each other?  We were about to get a small taste of life without children.  Well, if the weather and the airlines cooperated, that is.

May 1, 2013

Press On

I poured my heart out to him, pleading with him to entrust his life to the One who will always love him.  Letting him know that this is the most important decision that he will ever make.  That no matter what happens in this brief life, he can be assured of a destination that will last for all of eternity.  His response?  A derisive, scoffing laugh, as if to say, “What a foolish, simple-minded woman you are.” 

My heart broke, another chip to join the many splintered pieces that have slowly fallen off over the years.  Moments later, in the privacy of my bedroom with the door locked, the tears flowed.  “Why, Lord?!” I cried.  “Why am I investing so much time and energy into something that apparently has no eternal results?  What is the purpose of all my efforts if the children I love do not love You?”

April 15, 2013

One Day

You never know when, in one day, in one ordinary moment, your life will be forever changed.  You’re going about your daily routine, distracted by busyness, when unexpectedly, love and magic happen. 

One day, almost 4 years ago, I answered the ringing phone, an automatic response that I have done thousands of time.   The social worker on the other end of the line asked me if I would be willing to care for a special-needs, severely medically-fragile baby boy. Sometimes I have had to decline because of circumstances or due to poor timing or simply from lack of peace.  But this one day, after praying for the Lord’s direction and discussing the situation with my husband, I said yes.  Yes, I would welcome this frail child into my life, and yes, I would do my best to provide for his needs and to love him as my own as long as he was in my care.

One day turned into another.  The days steadily added up to weeks, and in spite of the extreme difficulties of caring for this child, we slowly settled into a routine that felt “normal” for our family.  One day looked pretty much like the one preceding it: administering and adjusting medication, charting medical and developmental details, scheduling doctor’s appointments, working with therapists.  It was nothing miraculous, nothing extraordinary . . . just waking up each morning and choosing to be faithful to do what the Lord had called me to do.

He was just a baby boy, so tiny and weak.  Every breath was a struggle, every movement painful. One day looked pretty much like the one preceding it:  fitful naps; frequent choking and vomiting; countless unknown strangers in white coats, touching, poking, pricking, squeezing.  Through it all, there was one person who never left his side.  She was with him 24/7, always available to comfort him when he needed it.  She sang softly into his ears, melodies letting him know that Jesus loves him, and reminding him that God’s grace is amazing.  She knew just how to hold him so that it didn’t hurt quite so much.  She was his foster mother.

March 26, 2013

Invisible Warrior

Soldiers are universally recognized as heroes.  They bravely step onto the battlefield to fight for the cause they believe in, courageously facing their adversaries with resolve and determination.  Their amazing victories are applauded and awarded with ribbons and medals, speeches and ceremonies.

But there is a warrior of another kind, the one who daily enters the battlefield in a place where no one can see, where no one applauds, where no medals are awarded.  Despite the fears and doubts and insecurities and loneliness, she fights resolutely, knowing that her cause is indeed a worthy one.  She is an invisible warrior.  She is a foster mother.

March 20, 2013

A Broken Vessel

He was a precious, perfectly formed baby, entering the world with a full head of dark hair and deep brown eyes that seemed to display a sort of maturity and wisdom.  His sweet innocence didn’t remain long, however.  As he observed and listened and experienced what was happening around him, he soon understood that the world in which he lived was a dangerous, unreliable place.

Because his home was chaotic, and he never knew for sure what would happen next, he learned that life is unpredictable, and he shouldn’t get his hopes up.  It’s best to never, ever have any expectations. 

When he was sad or hurt, it wasn’t sympathy or comfort he received; the adults in his life became impatient and angry with his display of tears.  He learned to never, ever cry. 

At nighttime, he knew that his father did terrifying, unmentionable things to his sister in the room next door.  His mother did nothing to stop it from happening; she was unable or unwilling to protect her daughter.  The boy learned to never, ever trust adults.  Somehow, even in his young mind, he realized that it was up to him to be strong and in control if he hoped to survive.

March 9, 2013

Family Tree

She is a young, single mother who is unable to care for her children.  One social worker is busy buckling her children into the vehicle outside, preparing to drive them to various foster homes around the county.  A police officer stands in the doorway, a show of strength in case this emotional situation escalates and gets out of hand.  Another social worker is attempting to ask her questions for a form that she is filling out, questions that, despite their basic nature, she is suddenly incapable of comprehending.  It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

One of the questions the social worker asks takes her momentarily by surprise: “Do you have any family members that we can contact, people who might be able and willing to care for your children?”  After thinking for a second, she shakes her head.  Regrettably, she can not think of anyone who might be able to help. 

What?  Not a single family member?  Why?  What about the children’s grandparents or aunts and uncles?  Where are the extended family members whose role it should be to support each other through difficult circumstances?  Does she really have no one?

March 1, 2013

This Life That We Share

The sun, how it shined! We couldn’t have planned it that way
As we spoke our vows on that perfect June day.

I stood there with him, we stood there, we two.
And our friends and family heard us say, “I do.”

What’s next, we wondered, in this new life we shared.
Whatever it was, we knew we’d prepared.

We wanted to have children, to hear little footsteps down the hall,
But . . . none were forthcoming, no, none at all.

We set up the doctors appointments and tests,
Then went home to pray, just hoping for the best.

We heard the bad news in doc’s office where we sit,
And we did not like it, not one little bit.

February 23, 2013

Love Blooms

Preparing the Soil

Long before I met you, many years before you were born, the soil of my heart was being prepared to love you.   There was no specific, definable emotion, and there was no one upon whom to shower my affections.  But the Lord had so lavished His love upon me, that it sort of overflowed my heart.  It began as a general feeling of charity, an unsettling desire to share my heart, my home, and my blessings.

Externally, the preparations were quite practical, keeping my hands busy and my thoughts happily occupied.  I completed the training classes and the licensing process to become a foster parent, purchased a crib and car seat and stroller, stocked up on children’s clothes in various sizes.  I quit my full-time job In order to become a full-time mother.   All the while, I wondered whom the Lord would bring into my home.  Of all the children in all the world who needed a family, which one would join mine?

Unbeknownst to me, the garden of my life required a lot of hidden preparation as well, pruning and weeding and nurturing work that only the Lord could accomplish.  Ever so gently He removed the thorns of selfishness that would have prevented me from loving you whole-heartedly.  Slowly and patiently He enriched the soil of my heart with faith and wisdom, essential nutrients that He knew I would need in order to be your mother. 

February 14, 2013

Culture Shock

Worlds Apart

My world is relatively calm, predictable, and safe.  For the most part, I know what to expect from day to day; I never miss a meal unless it is by choice; and I sleep peacefully at night, knowing that the door to my upper middle class home with its well-manicured lawn is locked and secure.  Life is good.

His life is turbulent, unstable, and dangerous.  He never knows from day to day if his mamacita is going to come home, and if she does, if there will be a man with her.  There may or may not be enough food to eat, so when there is, he hovers over it like an animal, shoveling each spoonful into his mouth as fast as he can, snarling if anyone accidentally gets too close.  The door to his apartment in the government-housing “projects” may be locked, but it doesn’t keep out the sounds of screaming neighbors, gunshots, and sirens.  Life is uncertain.

He has spent his eight brief years learning how to navigate the urban jungle, having long ago accepted the “every man out for himself” mentality and adopted a machismo attitude in order to survive.  He has learned how to lie, steal, manipulate, and threaten.  And most of all, he has learned to never, ever trust anyone.  It may not be a perfect world, but it is all he has ever known.

January 23, 2013

Unbreakable Bonds

Empty Arms

“Please,” she pleads on the other end of the telephone.  “Please don’t let him forget me.”  I can’t ignore the desperation, the near hopelessness in her request.  It surely follows years and years of disappointments and frustrations, watching dreams of the future crumble around her.  It is an appeal made from a heart of grief, knowing that she will most likely never see this child again.  It is the cry of a heart-broken grandmother.

Parents may make mistakes, and sometimes they do foolish things or make decisions that affect the lives of their innocent children.  The children end up in the foster care system or being placed for adoption, in hopes that some of the damage that has wreaked havoc on their young lives might somehow heal.  But when children are separated from their parents, it’s not just the nuclear family that is dramatically affected.  Where does that leave the grandparents?  How do they fit into the story?

January 8, 2013

Becoming Beautiful

There is nothing immediately noticeable about her that distinguishes her from most young ladies her age.  She is not exactly lovely, but her milky-white skin is free of blemishes; her sparkly, slightly mischievous blue eyes are framed by eyelashes that could use a little accentuating; and her long dark hair rebelliously escapes from the styles that try to contain it.  She spends carefree summer afternoons alternating between giggling with her best friend about the stylish new dress in the window at the village shop, and exploring the small woods near her home, imagining that she is on a quest to find a hidden treasure.  A perfect combination of feminine daydreams and tomboy amusement. 

She has heard the legendary tale, of course, of a girl named Cinderella, an ordinary girl like herself whose mundane, predictable life was turned upside down when the prince chose her above every other maiden in the kingdom.  How she longed to be beautiful like that!  To have the prince search tirelessly until he found her, and then whisk her off to the palace on his white horse for a perfect, story-book ending.

Oh, how she dreams of the future!  She can only imagine what an exciting life awaits her “out there,” away from this provincial village that hasn’t changed in centuries.  She longs for a life of adventure, to travel to far-off countries with exotic sights and strange-smelling food.  To do something important!  She wants to experience the world, to become someone whom other people would describe as interesting and confident and brave.

One chilly autumn day, the young woman strolls down the path on her way to town, daydreaming and anticipating the annual Fall Festival that is being planned.  Hard-working farmers and jovial shop-keepers and skilled tradesmen from the surrounding countryside will all be coming together in a few short days to celebrate this year’s bountiful harvest.  She knows she will be meeting a lot of different people, and she wonders what she should wear and tries to imagine how her hair would look in a cute new style that she had heard was becoming popular in the bigger towns.