Saturday, September 20, 2008
It all began to make sense; the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.
I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.'
That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Please meet Miss Saintana Civil of Haiti. Saintana has been my Compassion child since the spring of 2004 when our former church held a Compassion Sunday event complete with video presentations and a table stacked with photo cards of children who were available for sponsorship.
So, why out of all those stacks of photographs, did I choose Saintana? Well, first of all, I knew that I wanted a child from Haiti. Our church was directly sending missionaries to Haiti and some families in our church had also adopted Haitian children. It seemed like that was the area of the world we had chosen to impact. Secondly, (and this is the craziest thing) when I looked at her photo, she reminded me of my great grandmother. The simple cotton dress, the tightly pulled back hair and a seriousness to her expression that revealed a life that had been hard. I was just instantly drawn to her and knew that she was the one.
I cried the first time I received a letter from Saintana. It made my sponsorship of her seem suddenly very real. This wasn't just some money that left the checking account each month but a real child, who loves to sing and who prays God's blessings for me. The letters from Saintana are written by one of her teachers in French Creole. I can only read one word in that language but that is really the only one I need to know: Jezi (Jesus). In a country rampant with voodoo, Saintana knows about and loves Jesus because of Compassion.
It is hard to believe that four years have past since I first sponsored Saintana. Four years of her photo hanging on my refrigerator and four years of praying for God to watch over her. It is fortunate for Saintana that her serious little face caught my attention in 2004. But there are many more children who have not been so fortunate and are in great need of sponsorship. Some have been waiting more than six months - they are on the outside looking in - waiting for someone to give them hope for a better life.
Please take some time to learn about Compassion by clicking on the links in this post. Then take a look here at the photos of some kids who have been waiting the longest for sponsorship. Who knows, one of them might remind you of your great something or other! Sponsoring that child really will make them a part of your family and most importantly give them an opportunity to learn about how to become a member of God's forever family.