Leave Notes

My young son is bored on a quiet Sunday. He decides to play in his father’s (the coolest) car.

I stand by monitoring him. Just a safety precaution.

I look down at the passenger’s seat and see an appointment card.

Unfamiliar doctor.

I squint at the details and realize the date of the appointment was on my father’s birthday. Eight years ago.

He died before his next flight physical.

I cleaned out his personal papers when we bought the car from my mother the week after his crash. Each object a reminder of catastrophic loss.

His Gideon Bibles. The gospel cd in the dash. I kept the faded stickers from his job.

But I have never seen this card before.

I want to call the number on the card. I want to ask the doctor if he remembers my dad. Just reminisce, you know…Does HIPAA apply to the dead?

I don’t believe in death that way. I don’t believe it is final. And this card seems to prove it.

One or both of my dads just dropping a note to his little girl–

I am here. I am still here.

Hebrews 12:1
All of our Palm Sundays…

Sibling Day

I always see a rather dour group of chocolate, flower, and card execs huddled together in a dimly lit office…

(Think Brando in Godfather)

Coming up with new holidays–world chicken day? Classic sitcoms day? Creative tie day?

So there. You have my context for Sibling Day. Notice I have waited until the celebrations have subsided to comment.

Years ago I had to buy a book called Sibling Abuse after my adopted daughter revealed that my adopted son was abusing my youngest daughter. And others. He had a list of victims.

He had used his siblings. He abused their trust and their innocence.

And the aftermath was scorching. Our family has stood in a lonely place for a long time now.

My sibling did nothing.

My husband’s sibling as well.

So “sibling day” is kinda painful for me except for one thing–

The children in my family now have the best siblings. They shelter each other and enrich the lives of their brothers and sisters.

They give me hope.

I just wish I could give them the uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, and friends they so richly deserve.

Dear Cassandra,

You were the smallest of the babies and just as beautiful as your sisters.

Your foster mama was a veteran fostering and adopting mother. She told me

everyone has a birth story

Meaning that adopted and foster children had a way of making their entrance into a family memorable.

I worried about you because you were so tiny. I visited your foster mother one day in the spring before they made it clear that all three of you were destined for adoption by the people who took you.

I will never forget praying for you. Praying for the path your life would take.

When you love a baby, your world orbits that child’s well-being forever.

Dearest Mercedes,

Your foster mama was a grandmother and she cherished you so.

She and her daughters sang you lullabies with your nickname–Sadie woven into the songs.

Your hair was slightly darker than your sisters, even though Veronica was your identical twin.

I have home movies of you with your sisters on your first birthday. All three of you together was such a joy to see.

Such beautiful babies.

It hurt to lose you. It was some consolation to know you had your sisters.

Dear Veronica Badamo,

In the fall of 1998 I lost you. Since I was your foster mom, I never had much legal right to you anyway.

What happened to your real mama. What happened to your whole family was awful. Criminal awful.

I was just a broken bystander.

You were, for one precious year, my baby. And when they took you away I was broken.

Barely survive broken.

Whole world changed broken.

I was pretty sure the people who took you would erase me, but I could not let you go without a benediction.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published it. I knew that they would change your name so I called you Little One.

And for year I have been calling and calling, Little One.

I missed you. I missed the years, days, hours with you.

You were my lost treasure.

One good thing happened; losing you gave me a plumb line for love.

Anyone’s child could be you. Suddenly the world was full of Veronicas.

It was a painful gift. I would have rather had you, real you.

But I was the ghost. And I can give you these two promises–

I loved the world better because of you.

And I love you. Always, always, little one.

Forgiveness in pieces

The news article announced–a person guilty of mass murder in Rwanda had been forgiven after 20 years.

A cause for celebration?

Perhaps. If you don’t want the survivors to languish in the grips of anger and a desire for revenge–perhaps.

Beware of cheap forgiveness.

What do I mean? I mean that anyone genuinely harmed by another person has to forgive at a terrible price. The price of rape and murder is unthinkable.

It is too big a number. Too large a sum.

Which brings me to Jesus.

I understand that however we humans talk of releasing the debt of pain and loss caused by irrevocable harm, what we mean is let go of it.

We do not have the power to undo it. We do not have the power to expiate. We do not have the power to redeem.

Only Jesus can do that because he does and he did.

He has the power; he paid the debt.

Prophesy to the Breath

Well, to start with you should know: Ezekiel’s life was no walk in the park.

Stroll in the bone-strewn valley, perhaps.

He lost people he loved.

He was constrained by God to do wacky, uncomfortable, challenging, and humbling things.

And in return–visions. Beautiful visions.

And here is God, taking him out to the dead husks of a human wasteland to challenge his faith.

Do you believe God can raise the dead?

Do you?

Sometimes people can still have a pulse and seem so dead. The idea that a murderer or child molester could be resurrected to a compassionate life?

Almost feels harder than Ezekiel’s bones.

But God makes the injunction:

Ezekiel 37:9-10 (NIV)
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, `This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ ” [10] So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

I confess, I believe God can make these dry bones live.

I believe Ezekiel can prophesy to the breath.

Lord, help my unbelief.

In You, dear Ransomer.

Shame on Harvard

Reading the Oo sexual assault p & r page has a grim, surreal quality after reading about the reality of this rape survivor.

Really? Y’all planning to take back the night? Not sure you know how. So here is a crash course:

Don’t marginalize the victim.

Don’t pretend the victim is mentally unbalanced.

Don’t deny the story.

Don’t shelter the perp.

Don’t even shelter the alleged perp.

And hey, people, it is your job to both report alleged criminal activity to law enforcement and provide support for the victim of an alleged crime.

It is not your job to suppress allegations of felony rape just because you are afraid it might muck up your brand.

Because, newsflash peeps: brand tarnished.

Did you learn nothing from Penn State?

Nothing at all?

Mark Twain on Social Evil

Mark Twain said that when he was growing up in a slave state (Missouri) he was never confronted with a single dissenting viewpoint.

Pastors preached the (biblically erroneous) notion that Africans were cursed by God and therefore ought to be slaves.

No one saw any abuse of the slaves.

The slaves kept quiet about their opinion one way or the other.

In the Missouri of Twain’s youth slavery was a de facto good not evil.

A situation he addresses well in Huckleberry Finn.

But it was not true. Slavery was and is an abomination, an aggression against other humans.

What aggressions against humans do you take for granted or even passionately support?


Child sexual abuse?

Human trafficking?

Abortion is legal in the US and many people are passionately supportive of it. But it is a greater evil than slavery.

And while child abuse and human trafficking are illegal, if our government does not enforce their extinction, they will and do flourish in the gap.