I’m checking out sizes of socks in an aisle at Walmart when the feeling hits, a wave, and I’m washed away.
I have felt this before. It’s only a fleeting moment, but I lay my hand low, where a child begins to grow on the inner walls of a woman and I feel it.
I feel pregnant.
I feel full of hope, heavy with child, swollen with love.
The child’s name is Xiomara Michelle.
It’s her, a child in a Compassion project, that I am carrying through the aisles on a hot Tuesday afternoon in August in the children’s department, doing what expectant women do — preparing their hearts for a child they ache to hold. I’m picking out clothes for a child I’ve never met, choosing a dress for her (pink), socks (more pink), a teddy bear (holding a cross).
Like a first-time mother, I am nervous, scared, overwhelmed. Can I really do this? But I’m imagining the color of her hair, the turn of her smile, the moment of our meeting. I do know that she is nine. That she speaks Spanish. That she lives in Guatemala City, Guatemala with her mother and father, and come next Wednesday I will stand in a room holding photos of the Farmer and his pigs, Crayola drawings from the half dozen crazy farm kids, and with my mouth all dry and hands all happy nervous, I will meet Xiomara.
I’ll touch her hand, cup her beautiful face. I’m longing for this girl and she’s growing large within my heart and I feeling the first stirrings of her delivery.
I have a list of what I need for her, to bring to her. And I have written it in bold, what I never intended to write but the words just came from the pen tip, ink from somewhere out in the universe, a whisper from the throne room, and there it appeared on the page like a message in the sky: “For our daughter in Guatemala.” I had laid down the pen.
We sponsor 3 other children through Compassion — but I had always thought of them as … distant.
And I have always longed to adopt, to bring a child home to our hearts. But, for many reasons, that too has seemed…. distant.
But now I see how — how close all of this is. I fold her dress smooth and lay it in the shopping cart, lay my hand on its collar and I can see her close. Xiomara, a real little girl who laughs like my girls, who prays and believes and dreams like my girls, who could be one of my girls — close. The possibility of our lives changing a life, a family, a community — close — right now. The dream of adopting — close. Here.
My dreams and Xiomara’s dreams, here, meeting already, embracing. The lump in my throat in Walmart hurts.
Another set of socks. Hair bands. A world map — to show her where we live, where she lives, all the love that will travel between. A pencil case with the Canadian leaf emblazoned on the front. So maybe she’ll remember the farmers up in Canada? A photo album, a place for our photographs, notes from each of our kids. I flip through all the albums’ empty pages. Who will she grow up to become and where will the future take her?
I never expected this to ache like this, all this love.
At the checkout, I only nod to the cashier, the lump burning.
“What pretty ponytail holders.” She smiles, catches my eye, swiping each item.
I choke it out soft, laying out Xiomara’s dress on the counter. “They’re for the little girl we sponsor through Compassion —- I’m leaving for Guatemala on Tuesday and these things are for her —- when we meet.” Is there any way to wrap up my heart to give to her too?
Enough of my love to last her the rest of her life?
When I drive in our gravel lane, Hope and Shalom run out to see what I’ve picked out so far for our Guatemalan daughter. Hope holds the pencil case with the flag. “So she’ll think of us?” She searches my face, smiling. I nod.
“I have hair bands just like those!” Shalom picks them and twirls.
“Yes.” I kneel down and brush the curls out of her face. “And now your sister in Guatemala will too!” She laughs delight, flings her arms around my neck.
And when I lay out all of Xiomara’s things, I get worried the dress is too small, and Shalom tries it on and it sort of fits, but Xiomara is nine and this could be a problem. I call out to the shop, to Levi and Malakai working on their bikes with wrenches and grease, tell Levi that I need him, just for a minute. He’s nine. This could help.
Levi spins up on his bike, drops it there on the lawn, Malakai right behind him. Levi’s got a grease smudge under his right eye.
“Leev? Will you try this on for me?”
Levi looks dubious at all that pink I’m holding out to him.
“Whaaattttt?” Levi’s holding onto his shirt like a shield. Malakai’s bent over his steering wheel laughing too hard.
“Please, Leev? Xiomara’s nine like you and I need to see if this dress might fit her? Please?”
So far this week, Levi’s laid 53 dollars and 68 cents into the palm of my hand —- from his earnings, for Compassion, for Xiomara’s family. I don’t know if the dress will fit him, but I know how big his heart is.
He searches my eyes, blushing, laughing, nervous.
“Okay, Mom. If it can help Xiomara —- but just for a minute.” He peels off his greasy shirt. Malakai’s standing with his bike, mouth agape at his brother. I slide the pink on over Levi’s head and I can feel it again, the mother movement within, this brother doing something for his far-away-I-will-never-know-you-but-I-will-always-help-you sister.
“You look preetttty in piiiink, Leeeevi!” Kai teases and Levi grin-glares and Shalom falls back on the grass laughing. I think the shirt dress with leggings will fit Xiomara.
Parenting is a way of giving of self and we can all adopt more sons and more daughters who live in far away places but right here in our hearts .
We can carry our hearts out into the world to change the world.
Adoption is always an option and even we can adopt — a child, an eternal purpose, dreams.
We all can adopt the ways of Christ.
The sun’s setting when I pack away the first of Xiomara’s gifts, begin to pack my bags. And I can feel it, the contractions of the Kingdom, the first pangs of the born-again people about to deliver fresh hope.
You may already sponsor a child through Compassion? You may not yet?
Might you consider making room in your heart to adopt one more daughter, one more son?
Changing the world — a child — all eternity — begins with me. And with you.
I am so grateful that you too are coming to Guatemala with (nervous) me to change the life of one more child! (Please pray for me? For the delivery of many children from poverty?) Together, with Him, we can do this thing!
Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart. To read the entire series of spiritual practices
Next Week: Consider sharing in community: How Do You Care for the Least of These. Over the next three weeks, let’s prayerfully consider what it means to be Jesus’ hands and heart to a hurting world … We look forward to your creative voice, ideas, thoughts!
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(Community friends, please forgive the lateness of this post — no internet service on the farm and had to wait until a break in the morning to slip into my Mama’s and post. My humble apologies…)