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The Sweetest Christmas Story- part 4

My days were spent visiting my soon to be adopted little girl,

sipping hot tea in the big conference room and playing simple games with her.

At first she was very shy and kept her beautiful eyes with those long eyelashes lowered.

But gradually she began to meet my eyes for just a second

before looking down again at what she was doing.

A dish of hard candy was on the table and from time to time

I offered her little bits of sweets.

This went on for a few days – morning and afternoon.

At the same time halfway around the world

my oldest daughter was counting the days.

Waiting,

waiting for me to fly home on Christmas eve.

What do you do for Christmas? I asked the orphanage workers.

I knew their Christmas was in early January and I wondered how they celebrated in the orphanage.

The kind workers shook their head and mentioned one word. Orange.

An orange? I asked.

Carefully they explained that each child got one orange. That was their Christmas gift.

It was and still is hard for me to imagine getting one orange for Christmas.

That’s all.

But there were so many children to care for –

the needs were great

they could do so little.

An orange.

And then my thoughts move  forward to that day

when my tiny little dimpled darling

came into the big conference room

tightly holding an orange in her small hands.

She walked over to where I was sitting.

I stooped toward her knowing that this was her Christmas gift.

Her only Christmas gift.

She tightened her grip on that orange

clearly showing me that she was not about to share it. No way.

Halfway around the world we celebrate with toys and food a-plenty.

My heart longed to do more,

to give more

to share of all that I had with  all the children in that orphanage.

That day at the end of our visit

Jenny walked with the orphanage worker to the big gray door

still gripping her orange in her hands.

Little did she know that in a few weeks I would be coming back

to take her home

to her forever family. And ten thousand oranges.

Yes, I see oranges with new eyes these days,

They seem almost insignificant here

but in many places around the world

they represent plenty and abundance.

In a world that struggles with poverty, disease and extreme hardships

it often takes so little

to make a big difference.

Thoughts of those orphans holding their oranges

cause my heart to ache with sorrow.

Lord, open our eyes.

Help us to see what You see.

Teach us to love. And to give.

Soon I would be leaving Kostroma to fly home to the States.

But this image would stay with me

forever.

 

 

Waiting Is Never Easy

mommy and baby noelleFrom the time I was a very young girl I dreamt about being a mother.

Holding my own little freshly bathed and powdered baby.

Rocking her gently and singing her lullabies.

But although my longing was strong , I did not experience the joys of motherhood

until later in life.

Yes, one Mother’s Day after another passed

with me whispering another prayer of relinquishment

and asking for peace from the One Who loves me like none other.

I focused on showering my love on other mothers around me

and knowing that there are many ways to mother.

But it was not always easy.

Times of waiting never are.

But one day that all changed and I found myself holding the sweetest little girl in my arms.

Seven months old  of  loveliness and charm captivated my heart

and since that moment  I have walked that path of Motherhood.

My heart wanders back to moments of dancing with her in the night

Times when  I, a single parent, came  home from a long day of teaching and classes

and quietly tiptoed  up to her room.

I’d quietly step  to her crib and joy of joys, she’d lift her curly head to greet me.

Mommy was home. And she’d pull herself up and reach out her arms

And I’d scoop her into my longing ones.

Together we’d dance around her bedroom

enjoying

each other.

The high point of my day – being with her.

Blowing bubbles together

and hilarious moments of laughter.

Weary, up at night moments,

On my knees prayer times seeking wisdom and

Holding a sick child and praying for healing.

Double the joy when I was blessed to adopt again a tiny toddler from Russia.

Snuggle moments and tender moments

anxious moments, prayerful moments

that seem to pass too fast.

Yes, much too fast.

Today my girls are 21 and 14.

Where do those years go?

I wouldn’t trade anything for the joy I have had of being their mother.

But on this Mother’s Day my heart wanders easily to

those women who struggle with Mother’s Day for a number of reasons.

Longings unfulfilled

Broken hearts

Prodigal sons and daughters

Mothers  who are not with us anymore.

So much that can cause the heart to feel sadness at this time.

Always remember that He is the heart knower.

Yes, He knows all those longings and deep sorrows.

He knows and understands.

Reach out to your mother on this day if she is living

and hold your children close if you can.

Love is from God  and it shines forth from shore to shore for all of time and beyond

His Love beats with passion

for you, my friend.

Shining moments all over.

Never forget it!

 

Love Is Doing What You Can

christmas joyShe was deeply intent on her coloring

as I walked by her desk.

Small fist guiding a purple crayon back and forth

across the white drawing paper.

“What are you drawing?” I asked this first grader

and I’ll never forget her answer.

“It’s a pink dress

for my Mama.”

She looked up at me and her brown eyes danced as she spoke.

I smiled and nodded.

“Oh, she’s really going to like it.”

“Well, she doesn’t have no pretty dresses.” Her bottom lip trembled as she softly spoke.

“She has nuffin’ pretty so I’m making her a dress.”

My thoughts wandered to her mother

the young woman who stood by my classroom door

every afternoon to pick up her daughter.

Practically a child herself

Hair pulled back and usually with a little one on her hip.

“You’re Mommy is going to be very happy,” I said

bending low so that only she would hear me.

I can still see that crayon smudged picture

colored by her precious, little daughter.

If she could

she would have given her Mommy the moon.

But she couldn’t

so she did what she could.

Sometimes we all need the wisdom of children.

Single parents struggling to make ends meet.

Families already up their ears in debt.

Christmas need not be a reason

to spend what we do not have.

No, it is a time to express the love within our hearts.

Hearts have a language that is beyond words.

More often than not

just spending time together

means more than the most expensive gift.

So let’s consider ways

to love

and give

and share.

Last week I took my youngest to the diner.

“One hot fudge sundae

with nuts

and whipped cream

and a cherry on top,” we ordered,

“and please

two spoons.”

A simple gift of time that will not be soon be forgotten.

How about you?

Look beyond the expected

and observe the simplicity of love.

Yes, come to Bethlehem, my friends,

and see.