From Invincible to Vulnerable

“Every time I look up at the sky I want to pray,” said Reuben as we stood in the morning dark at the bus stop.

His mop of hair still bore evidence of pillow-smoosh.  There was a tired raspiness in his voice.  His backpack weighed on his little shoulders.  He turns seven this week, him in his little Spiderman shoes and fleece jacket that is showing a bit more wrist than I was aware of.  Children grow whenever you aren’t watching.

I looked at my son, and I thought, “Whenever I look at my children I want to pray.”  Or at least I feel the urge to, feel the necessity of doing so.

“Maybe that’s why God didn’t have me die when I broke my head in Chile.  So I could pray.”

It takes a few seconds for me to remember how to breathe.  “He has great plans for you, Reuben, and He was merciful to me too, to not make me lose my dear son.”

He came close, so close that all I could see of him was wild blonde hair and a backpack on the horizon of his head.  “I wouldn’t have gotten to know Henri.  I wouldn’t have gotten to go to school.”  He weighed what he would have missed.  I weighed it too and found it unbearable to think of; how different our family would be without him.

“It should make you a bit more careful, you know, knowing how close you came.  You often do dangerous things,” I couldn’t help but say, appealing to this rare moment when he might question his perceived invincibility.  “Yeah,” he said and gave me a half smile.

Let me tell you how Reuben makes friends.  We go to a park and I see him scanning the assembled children.  Targeting the oldest and tallest among them, he goes and climbs to the highest point on the playground, shouts for their attention, and proceeds to jump off.  Wins a crowd every time.  He then dashes off yelling, “Come on!”  And they do.  I even overheard one older kid saying to his friend, “Let’s go with him, he does dangerous stuff.”

He’s seven and he has a ceramic plate in his head, has had stitches under his chin, and right now has a slowly healing broken pinky (because he keeps jamming it and re-injuring it).  His most treasured possession is his pocket knife.  He longs for the day when I’ll let him use my chef’s knife instead of the smaller paring ones.  He has an unnerving tendency of walking right down the middle of the road when we go on walks, just naturally drifting there whenever I blink.  I almost lost him once, and it seems he is bent on keeping up the suspense.

Oh yes, when I look at my children I want to pray.IMG_4654He’s seven on Friday, but yesterday he was born.reuben reuben4reuben2I know.  I know I can’t stop him from living life Reuben-style.  No matter what it does to my blood pressure, nor how many gray hairs it causes to sprout on my head.  reuben1

And truly, he does come by it honest.  The thrill of speed, of adventure, and yes, of danger.  Though I’m now less of a soaring hawk than a protective hen, in my childhood I had a distinct and thorough joy of riding hands-free on my bicycle (likely right down the middle of the road), of skiing as fast as I could straight down a black diamond slope, of throwing the throttle wide open on our four wheeler, delighting in the weightlessness I’d feel as my light frame would lift out of the seat when I hit a bump, being held in place only by my fingertips on the handles.  I lived the myth of invincibility with rigor, and fortunately for my health but not for growing in wisdom, with little consequence.  Oh, God’s mercy.

So I see it; the way our invincibility grows as we do into vulnerability.  As we see and experience tragedies, as we are hurt physically and emotionally, as we find that loving might mean losing.  As we become parents and find that our hearts no longer reside safe within our chests, but walk about on little legs that rush to danger.

So, I cannot get over what God did.

IMG_0004A little garden tomb we made during Lent, putting candles on the stepping stones and reading a devotional together each evening leading up to Good Friday, when we sealed up the tomb with a small clay caterpillar inside, wrapped in a cloth.  Easter morning the tomb was empty, the cloth neatly folded, and a butterfly rested in the tree symbolizing His resurrection.

God sent His Son knowing He would die a painful death out of love for us.  That is astounding.  Jesus went from being invincible truly to truly vulnerable.  For us.  I realize that as potent as my love feels, as thick and wide, it is a pale love compared to the Father’s.  Protective love has nothing on sacrificial love.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  -John 15:13

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  -John 10:11

I hold these thoughts in my heart as the morning light pours into the living room, as my baby within kicks and turns and Henrik snores softly in his playpen.  As I plan a party to celebrate my Reuben and his seven years of life.  I hold this awe that God, the only one to enjoy true invincibility, became vulnerable, became hurtable, and mortal.  From all-powerful to all-dependent on a human mother.  Astounding.

If I could I would put a protective bubble around my son, so nothing could harm him, so I would not have to experience the soul anguish of losing him.  But my love is weaker than God’s.  So much weaker.  He gave the son He delighted in to redeem us, His rebellious and unruly creations.  He lavishes love on the unlovely.  He at great cost extends us mercy.  May we awake to that marvel, may we be astounded.

For The Love

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I had just put my boat away and changed into dry clothes; another day at the rowing club in Chile.  I’m sure my back was sore, my knuckles bleeding, and that I had a salty crust of sweat and sea water on my face.  It was summer in Chile, and I stood with my fellow rowers in easy companionship until someone mentioned un balde de cachorros (a bucket of puppies).  And there it was; a five-gallon bucket full of lab puppies, sitting in the hot sun, abandoned at the door of our rowing club.

This is an all too common occurrence in Chile and no one was shocked, there were no authorities to appeal to, no local media to descend upon the situation.  I knew none of them could take them home; their parents would just dump them back on the curb.

So…

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This happened.

On the bus ride home, with four puppies in a bucket at my feet, I mentally rehearsed the speech I’d make to my husband.  I am a word smith by trade, but no combination of words seem to soften the blow of “Honey, I have four puppies in this here bucket”.

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The children were thrilled.  They love being a halfway house for street pups.  First we warm them up, then bathe them with flea wash.  Then come the anti-parasite drops, then food and water.  Then we take them to the street pup adoptions downtown and try to find them good homes (new owners being held to a sterilization contract).

Many animals came through our doors…

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Hotel Gingrich quite full.

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This one above I plucked right from the hands of a boy who was viciously abusing him.  I gave that little boy a stern lecture; I’m sure he’s still terrified of the angry gringa who told him off and took away his toy.

Don’t you feel it, that righteous indignation that anyone would be so callous and cruel as to hurt-abandon-kill-torture such a helpless little creature?

Now, look at me, right in the old blue eyeballs a minute…..I want your attention.

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54,559,615.  As of January 23, 2012, that’s how many babies have been killed by abortion since Roe vs. Wade.  (http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/shock-estimated-54559615-abortions-since-roe-v.-wade)

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Photo credit:  (http://www.flickr.com/photos/74896762@N00/3167352760/)

They feel it, you know, the pain of dismemberment.  Where is the righteous indignation that a bucket of pups can evoke?  Where is the horror that babies are being chopped up daily, hourly, endlessly?  Why all this compassion for animals and none for these dear ones?

If you have had an abortion, I do not hate you.  I cry for your baby, and I cry for you.  They didn’t tell you that your heart would be dismembered too; that part of you would be carried away without words, out of sight.  That it wouldn’t ever stop hurting.

Please, never do it again.  Please know that God loves you intensely and nothing is beyond forgiveness.  He wants nothing more than to bring you close, forgive you, and heal you.

If you are considering an abortion, please, no.  We would love to adopt your baby and love them as our own.  They’d have three big brothers and one big sister and a mama and papa head-over-heels in love with them.  We know amazing couples who cannot have their own children, who ache to be mommy and daddy.  Your baby is a treasure, your baby is a gift.