If you looked at her and did not know her, this lady might not look as beautiful to you as she does to me. She wears t-shirts and jeans (the “Mom” uniform). She doesn’t have any more time to fix her hair than the rest of us. She doesn’t wear make-up most of the time. She is vertically challenged. (She and I joke about this because she is 5 foot nothing, and I am a giant.) She would call herself chubby. (Though I’ve never noticed.) None of these things matter, because she is just so pretty.
You see, her beauty comes from inside. Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy,” and boy, does that describe this woman. She is radiant. Her joy is contagious. She is God’s child, and there is no doubt about that.
Let me give you a little history of this woman’s life. I won’t reveal everything, because, frankly, she doesn’t know I’m writing this. I’m not sure she would appreciate every detail of her life being put out there for the world (or at least the 10 people who read my blog…HA!) to see.
Let’s call this woman, “Helen.” This is not even close to her name, but Helen means, “Beautiful,” so it works.
Helen has three biological kids. All three of her kids have suffered medical issues of some kind or another. One was serious enough to need a wheelchair for a while. Another had a major, life-threatening illness at one point in her life and now has a major, life-altering autoimmune disease. The third does not have anything as serious but has had normal childhood ailments.
When I met Helen, she and her husband and kids were living in a very small house that had a lot of issues. (I did not see any issues, but she told me about them.) Her house was cozy and cute but small for a family of 5. Helen’s kids all reached teenager-hood (Teenager-dom? The years of death and dispair??), so the house grew even smaller.
If I had been Helen, at this point in my life, I would have probably just looked forward to when my kids were fully grown so they could get out of my small house and I could have room to breathe. I would have also looked at all the medical issues I had been through and thought, “Whew! Glad I survived that! Never again.” I’m selfish like that.
Helen, on the other hand, did not celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel of parenthood. Instead, she saw a need around her and decided to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Helen and her family started taking in foster kids. These children were in crisis and had nowhere else to go. They were damaged, traumatized and hurting. The first kids were very difficult as the family ended up getting attached to the kids right before they went home to their families. Then, something amazing happened.
Helen and her family decided to stick it out and try fostering again. Helen started having opportunities to adopt the kids she was fostering. She had the chance to give them a forever family. One after another, children came into Helen’s life. She prayed for God’s will to be done, and her beauty increased day by day. At some point, she wondered what exactly God had in mind for her, but she kept praying and kept following His will.
Today, Helen is the mother of blessed chaos. She has 12 children, and she is glowing. Her joy is contagious, and her resolve to do God’s will is astounding. She may possibly be one of the strongest, bravest women I have ever met.
Last week, as we sat at lunch, I asked how she was doing. I asked her if she ever longed for her past life of having “just” three kids. I asked if she wondered if she had made a mistake by taking in so many. Then, this beautiful creature in front of me gave me an answer that amazed me. It was at that moment that I saw just how lovely she really is.
Helen told me that she wondered what she had done with all her time before having a dozen children in her house. She said her life now felt whole. She said she hoped she was doing a good enough job of raising these babies and that she was not messing them up.
This woman took these children from nothing and gave them a family, and she wondered if she was doing enough. Bless her heart. (This also reminded me that we mamas never think we’ve done enough. Mama guilt is very real and very powerful.)
Helen talked about her babies, and I could feel the pride and love she has for each one. She gave up her life to raise these precious children, and she would not have it any other way. What a beautiful thing.
As I sat there listening, a verse kept going through my mind. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:30
I started thinking about myself. Do I listen to God? I mean, of course I read my Bible and go to church, but am I listening, truly listening, for what it is I’m supposed to be doing? Do I give my days to God and wait for him to direct them? Or do I rush about, living my life, hoping to fit God into my plans and my days?
How about you? Are you hearing God when he directs you? Do you live purposefully? Can you hear what God is telling you to do?
“Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.” Psalm 86:11
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143:10
I want to do God’s will. I want to hear his guidance. I want to be like Helen. I pray that I will listen and follow. I pray you will too. -Al