Friday, November 5, 2010

A Lost Sheep - Fallen

She was the mother of our very first foster baby. The baby was a tiny 6 day old when she arrived at our home. Blone hair, blue eyes and just adorable. Her young mother was in jail. She called every day and I held the phone up to her ear so she could talk to her baby. I had the awkward challenge of holding the phone while trying to illicit some sort of sound from baby so Mama would know she recognized her voice. We only had this baby for 30 days before she transferred to another foster home so we could keep two brothers together. The mom was only 18 and had been in and out of juvenile hall before this. Her heart's desire was to be a good mama. She worked hard and finally got her baby back. She loved her beautiful little girl and resolved never to be in that situation again. But life started moving along again. She lost some of her resolve, as many of us do after making a New Year's Resolution. Losing our resolve might land us back on the couch instead of at the gym, or delving into that secret stash of chocolate we'd sworn off. Perhaps we resolved to watch less tv or sit together at the dinner table. When we fail in those areas we often feel a sense of guilt, but we secretly know we'll try it again next year. This mama's loss of resolve caused her to lose focus on being healthy for herself and her child and slowly slipped back into the old routines with the old people and the old passions pulling at her pant legs urging her down that dark path. The same scenario played out with the second child. What is a mama to do? I know how despairing I feel at times as a mom. I fail my children. I make poor choices and incorrectly prioritize my day. But this mama's failings caused her to lose her children.

Two days ago that mama ended her stay on earth. Didn't she know that although her children were lost to her, all was not lost. Didn't she know that her own life had value? Didn't she know that there was a loving God calling her name, not pointing His finger? She didn't know. She couldn't hear. She couldn't see. Her pain was so big, and no doubt the flood of accusations from the enemy of man's soul were clouding her thinking, blaring in her ears and blinding her from the truth.

While I work and care for the little ones that come to our home, I also have great compassion for the parents, especially the mamas. Not that the mama's should get their children back, in many cases they shouldn't, but oh for them to know that their own lives hold value regardless of the outcome of the case. None of these mama's wanted to grow up and hurt their children. I pray that we, as Christians, learn to look past the outward and seek to touch the hearts of the people we come in contact with. I hope we will not only pray for the children, but for the lost mamas as well. For one of these lost mama's Jesus will leave the rest of the sheep and search and search. And when one of these lost one's is found there is great rejoicing. And when one of these lost ones ends it all because it doesn't know it's valued and can't hear the call of the Shepherd because the wolves are howling so loudly...when the Good Shepherd finds it...He weeps.

May the Lord have mercy on Her soul

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"John the Baptism" and Other Saints

My son informed me the other day that he wanted to go to jail. When I asked why he simply told me, "so I can hang out with John the Baptism". We all chuckled, but it did make me think of the importance of saints in our lives. Those of us who worship in the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic tradidtions view saints almost like extended family members. We see their icons not as something to worship but a reminder of what we should be emulating. We also see them as our "speedy helpers and intercessors for our souls"...just like a friend who we would call in time of great need. Those of the protestant persuasion look at the heros of the faith, like Hudson Taylor and Corrie Ten Boom, as people whose lives should serve as a powerful example to us all.

It is important to tell the stories of the saints to our children just as it is important for our children to have a strong prayer life and dedication to our Lord through the reading of Holy Scripture and participation in Christian fellowship. You may wonder why I would put the lives of the saints on or near the same level of importance as the Holy Scriptures. It is because the Scriptures tell us how to live, how to follow the Lord, what to leave behind, how to train our children, how to treat others with love and mercy, etc. The lives of the saints are amazing windows showing us people who actually turned those Holy words and instructions into a reality, many times at the expense of their very lives. To read that I should love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind and strength is powerful. But to see and read about someone who lived it and suffered for it is part of making scripture live and breathe. Through the lives of the amazing faithful we are inspired to continue to take up our own cross and follow Christ. Their suffering and struggle comes to us as refreshment for our souls as we continue on this long journey. Of course there are many many people who have fought valliantly for the faith, or suffered long, or stood firm whose names we will never know this side of heaven. The scritpures tell us that if the all the miracles performed by Jesus were to be written down the would could not hold all of the books. Thankfully, through the grace and direction of the Holy Spirit, the things that were most necessary for our instruction and edification were written down. Likewise, though we can not know all those worthy of being known as Saints of God, we can know of some who teach us by the example of their lives and encourage us toward that finish line.

Corrie Ten Boom - Saved many Jews from the hands of the Nazis though it cost her her freedom and the lives of many family members.

St. Sophia along with her daughters Sts. Faith Hope and Charity - Refused to deny Christ even though they met with many tortures and even martyrdom for those sweet girls 12, 10 and 9.

Jim Elliot - Along with 4 other missionary men gave their lives in the jungles of South America even though they had the means to defend themselves because "if we kill them they go to hell. If they kill us we go to heaven." That sacrifice turned the hearts of that violent tribe to Christ when no one had been able to reach them before.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us and save us. -Amen