My children have led me into courtrooms, hospital rooms, doctors offices. Psych wards. Juvenile detention centers. Places of both extreme light and extreme darkness.

Some of them look like me, others don’t. Some don’t even live with me anymore. Some may have never known I was their mother.

I was a foster mother. Hard. I adopted kids: hard as well. I lost children, hardest of all.

But this weekend my tallest son taught me how to paint on an extension ladder. He is nearly a foot taller than I am, so he makes it look easy, but what impressed me was his success in teaching me to challenge my fear.

He taught me by doing it–first and better than me, then by walking me through my fears (and why) then how to overcome them.

We both know from experience that I am a crabby old dog, disinclined to new tricks. But love will prevail.

After all it is love, they say, that casts out all fear.

Good news when it is a long flight down.

Ten a Day

I do believe all crimes against children are under-reported. I know because even the cases that get reported do not go down the wormhole of additional victims.

So I have been going along with the standard figure for death-by-child-abuse in the US–5 a day.

Today I read that figure should be double–ten children a day die from child abuse a day in America.

Mind boggling.

One kindergarten class every 2 days.
A basketball team a day.
70 a week…3 thousand 6 hundred 50 a year die…

Are murdered…
And we…
Do nothing.

One in what?!?

I see this statistic so often I have it memorized–one in four girls are sexually abused, one in six boys. That is 25% of girls and 16% of boys.

Only the statistics are ridiculously low and therefore misleading and therefore very wrong.

There is NO reason to believe that the statistics for Norfolk or Pitcairn Island wouldn’t apply to the rest of us. There is little reason to think that pervasive abuse of boys by a man like Jerry Sandusky would not factor into raising the stats for boys.

Let me offer a counter example–1 in 4 girls eats cereal for breakfast, 1 in 6 boys has some kind of tomato in his diet.

I bet if you read that statistic you would have one of two responses–

Boy,those numbers are off!
Sure, but that cannot be all of the kids eating cereal and tomatoes.

The most scientific response to those statistics would be to dig deeper to find out why the kids were not having their diet accurately reported.

It would actually be a relief if the answer were in the children–they lied or felt ashamed of their cereal and tomatoes?

But the ugly truth is this: our society systematically pressures victims and their families to suppress stories of abuse. Our numbers are grossly inaccurate because no one wants to face the real numbers.

And by numbers I mean people
And by people I mean children
And by children I mean rape victims…who deserve our help, our assistance, our dismay.

Unquenchable Fire

Luke 3:17 (NIV)
His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

God is a patient guy, but we would all be prudent not to confuse patient with impotent or sloppy. He will not wait forever to fix what we have broken.

And it will take a very long time to burn all the trash we have amassed…in our hearts alone.

Make no mistake–

We will all be salted with fire.


Authentic Friend

I imagine the room is in a church basement. Worn wood, a coffee pot on a table, styrofoam cups, a rows of folding chairs.

Sparsely attended. I cannot see the faces of the other attendees. I know like mine, theirs will be worn, washed of something. Artifice. No room for that here.

I stand and tell them my story. All of it, unadorned, shocking. Only here, in this circle of (imaginary) truth it will not be held against me–my pushy honesty, my tenacious insistence on the whole story. Uncomfortable, impolite. I know. I got it.

Most places now I tell myself, shut up, you know now they don’t wanna hear this.

That is why I return to this picture in my head–a simple circle of truth, where every secret thing is revealed. So no one is shocked when the truth is what it is—

We all

Who is your mama?

I was not just taught to respect my elders, I was the kind of kid who desperately needed to do the right thing to gain their love and approval. I loved my mom. Fought for her. Needed her.

So now that I am an adult and a parent it is painful for me to realize how terribly off-kilter my relationship with my mother was. I did not see clearly how frayed and diminished her feelings for me were but I did live in fear of her temper. The kind of fear you might have if you were the guy hit by lightning five or six times. Always looking over your shoulder. Always afraid of the storms.

So Mother’s Day is a bit ambivalent to me. Not just because I am too stubborn to just look at the bright side. I also have some interesting experiences as a fostering mother, an adopting mother, and a losing mother.

But one thing is clear: God is my mom. His voice was there before I knew what to call Him. He nurtured me, loved me openly without reserve, and sent people to me who loved me voluntarily so that I would know that I could be loved. That I was lovable.

I use the past tense because now I know.. Growing up I constantly doubted. How could I be lovable in light of my mother’s warped mirror?

She sees me a monster. He sees me his little girl. I have learned to cling to that, To run to Him in grief and in joy. To acknowledge the treasure of His surpassing love.

And gather the evidence of His boundless love–all His little ones scattered abroad.

Each one of us…

Best Nim Chow in Port Lavaca, Texas…

We have some dear friends who run a wonderful Asian restaurant in Port Lavaca, Texas.

They are originally from Cambodia and for many, many years they have been separated from their older children.

Today I got an amazing and wonderful Mother’s Day gift. I got to meet the whole family!!!!

I am so grateful they have been reunited after years of hard work and waiting.

And if you are in or near Port Lavaca, stop by their restaurant–The Four Seasons. All the food is delicious.