No Country Roads at Night

Almost Missed It. September 7, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — ckonstanty @ 11:26 PM

Today was our second, official, real school day for this school year. I don’t know how, but I am now the home school mom of a freshman, a 7th grader, a 5th grader and a 3rd grader. What in the world…Thankfully, I am surrounded by some fantastic people who are so much better at this gig than I am and they are always helping me do better. It is certainly an adventure. And it takes up about 90% of my brain activity each day.


There are binders with schedules all over my house. Textbooks here and there. Half-finished papers drip off the printer. There are broken pencils and crayons in endless supply. There are questions, directions, more questions, more directions, tears, triumphs, fits (and not just the kids). Sometimes there are bad words flying through my head a mile a minute. Other times there are happy tears when there are less wrong math problems than right and a paragraph beautifully crafted without help. There are talks. Lots of talks – about character, about choices, about life, about God, about friends, about enemies, about hormones, about…. you name it. My brain isn’t getting any younger – that is for sure.


There is also a lot of running. Running to co-ops, other classes we share, field trips, art class, dance class, soccer practice, youth group. My van and I spend a lot of time together. Today was no different. My oldest had a thing at 11:00. So I dropped him off, went back home to cram in botany lab stuff with my other three and then ran back out to stop at the store for 4 gallons of milk and heavy cream for a thing I was baking. Now, you must understand, when I am in the car alone I do 2 things – scroll for the best ballad to belt along with and think through the checklists for the day, the next day and so on. I get really distracted trying to “make it all happen.” When I got out of my van today and walked to the store doors, I almost missed it. Well, actually, I almost missed him. It took me almost tripping over this young man sitting on the sidewalk to notice there was even someone there. He was dirty and had a back pack and the usual cardboard sign…homeless. In all my haste and business I almost didn’t see him – literally. And then I said the dumbest thing. “How’s it going?” Seriously? I mean, really? How’s it going? Oh my word…


“I’m lucky to be alive today.”



Six words. Six words that I heard as I kept walking through the automatic doors that just cut through all the crap. Do you ever have those moments when life priorities become abundantly clear? Yeah, me too. Do you know how important my carpooling, list making, gallons of milk getting were in that moment? Not important at all. So instead of getting my 4 gallons of milk, I got one. And then I also bought 2 apples, 2 bananas, 2 bottles of water and a huge thing of trail mix. I have no idea why – its just what I thought to grab in the moment. Those went into a bag and on my way out, I gently set it down next to the young man. The usual things were said – thank you, god bless you, have a good day…I choked out a small, “You are so welcome.”


That young man has been on my mind all day today. No idea who he is, what his name is, what his story is. And I wish I did know. I wish I was braver, slower, more open to stopping and sitting next to someone, more open to looking foolish to others. But, I’m not. Not yet at least. I was reminded today how easy it is to get wrapped up in the things of this world and miss opportunities to serve others, love others, acknowledge others. We make it so much harder than it needs to be. A kind word here, a smile there, looking someone in the eyes, a small gift of time.


Jesus always had time for others. No matter their situation. My prayer is I will be more and more like Him. At the very least, Lord let me see someone before I trip over them next time. Mercy.



Hope does not disappoint… August 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — ckonstanty @ 4:36 PM

Those last two posts were a little heavy so its time to share some of the good we encountered on this trip. For seven years, teams have traveled to Ludlati and much has changed over those seven years. Trust has been built. Doors opened. Relationships formed and strengthened. Memories made. Its easy to focus on the obstacles and forget the victories because they feel few, but the truth is, there is a lot to rejoice over at Ludlati.

2016-07-28 11.36.44We have had the privilege of walking beside the women who come and cook six out of seven days every week for 150 kids on average. They are amazing, courageous, strong, funny and resilient. They are our friends. They cook, clean, teach, discipline, care for and watch over every child that comes through the gate at Ludlati. They are volunteers from their community who have decided to give back. Each year we get to see a little more of who they are and find ways to encourage them to keep going. The care point could not exist without them. I guarantee most people I know would lose to them in an arm wrestling match. To wash dishes for them, carry water, sweep out the building is an honor because they can do it better every time. They let us enter their world and pretend we know what its like. They share their jokes with us, sometimes their troubles, and best of all their hugs and laughter. I think of them each day when I stir a pot with my tiny spoon as I remember how they take a 4 foot one through a pot of bubbling porridge like a hot knife through butter. They have my up most respect and admiration and it is an  honor to sit in their circle.

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Then there are the shepherds at the care point. They change annually, but we have been fortunate to keep in touch with the ones not assigned to Ludlati anymore. They come back to see us and it is amazing to see how they grow and change. These people are the real deal. Every year I come, their dedication, sacrifice and love for the Lord and kids leaves me speechless. Just do the math with me. Each care point has at least one, usually two, shepherds. Ludlati, one of 34 care points, is seeing about 150 kids everyday. These young adults are responsible for discipling them, grief counseling, relationship building, hygiene education, and anything else that comes through the door that day. I can barely keep up with my 4 kids and they are taking on 180. The task that is before them is impossible. Yet day after day, they show up and put themselves out there. They see everything – the good, the hard, the amazing and the devastating and still keep coming. They are the future of Swaziland. They are the ones who have visions of how to move forward. From these people have come sports ministries, music ministries, business plans and dreams of a better future. They are giving back and directly affecting the next generation of Swaziland. They are leaders, servants, dreamers and tireless. Each year it is a privilege to walk beside them and cheer them on.


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This year more than ever it struck me that the older kids at the care point were the younger ones when I first came. They  have literally grown up right under our noses. There are so many stories that could go here, but I will choose two.


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I met Bongiwe on my first trip in 2011. I chose her as our family’s special friend to write to that year and when I came back in 2012 we connected. This sweet girl at the time was small, shy, on the fringe a bit, but always came to the care point. Last year it was a blessing to see her have her own group of friends and be a part of things. This year I was blown away when she was one of the girls performing a tribal dance they do for us on Fun Day. She was confident, strong, smiling and beautiful. She is still shy, but this year while we watched the choir I felt arms around me and a head on my chest and when I looked down, it was her. She has grown in confidence and I was told she is doing great in school and not just by her. I take no credit at all for her growth – credit all goes to the care point ladies, shepherds and the Lord. I am but a very small piece and I cannot tell you how seeing her makes me proud and thankful. She is overcoming.


Mkhuleko (yellow striped shirt below)

I have to admit that before this year I don’t remember meeting him. But after this year I will never forget him. A tall, smart looking 20 year old, in his first  year of college, we were told he asked to come back and volunteer on his break at Ludlati. He told us he had been coming to the care point since he was 13. We have his testimony on tape and I don’t think there was a dry eye when he was done. He told of his first time at the care point – a place he didn’t want to go, but found warmth and acceptance there. He spoke to the work the shepherds did and the relationships he has because of coming. Now he is grown and wants to give back to the care point and his community. He spent his entire 4 weeks of break helping out and spent the week with us while we were there. He and some friends have started a rap group and they performed on Fun Day for us. He could have chosen to do anything with that break. I am so thankful he chose to come back and serve and be an amazing example for the others.

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So, yes, there is a lot of hard. But there is also a lot of good. Each year we see what hope can do. We see how the Lord takes our small offerings and turns them into miracles. Each year we see growth and change. Each year we are flabbergasted by these young people who give their all.


Hope does not disappoint.


“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.” Romans 5:3-5


The gift of pain… August 8, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — ckonstanty @ 7:15 AM

“Are we going to the hospital again this year?”


A simple question asked a a pre-travel meeting full of good intent. But a question that makes the pit of  my stomach turn. Last year we weren’t able to fit it in and I was totally, selfishly fine with it. I don’t like American hospitals to begin with and the public hospital of Manzini haunts me still after 4 years. Its not the nurses or doctors or the building really. Its a place where people are doing the best they can to treat what they can with what they know. And it often the last place many people see.


“Sure. We can fit that in probably. I will ask.” The answer I wasn’t wanting. We were already a day short this year – where are we going to fit it in? Turns out – right after Fun Day is over. Fun Day followed by not so fun.


The hospital is optional. There was a way out. One of our team was sick and we thought it best she shouldn’t go and be exposed or expose others. I wasn’t sure my heart should be exposed to this again and as eyes fell on me for some reason I resolved to go and face this place again. I know where it is. As we get closer I am reminded of what happened in the parking lot after our last visit. There weren’t words, a team mate physically ill to the side. Shock. Four years ago, we walked away from a dying boy and his mother who’s cries still echo in my ears. There was nothing they could do. He was dying. His breathing labored, eyes distant, a mother keeping vigil and a scraggly team hoping that being present brought a small cup of relief.


“Please do not ask specifics about what is wrong. Families will probably tell you anyway, but we want to be sensitive and compassionate.” Amy, our host, is going over the rules that I am half listening too and then the walk to the children’s ward begins. Our goal – to meet the families, encourage where we can and pray. As we walk, changes become apparent. New windows, new paint. The metal doors are now blue instead of dark forest green. It helps a little. Its not so dark and dreary. Murals touched up here and there and then a small chuckle again as we get to the hall to the children’s ward that has Strawberry Shortcake welcoming you of all the things… I walk a little quicker down this hall and avoid looking at the last isolation room to the right. I am pleasantly surprised that the ward is hardly full and I’m ok with that. A small breath of relief passes my lips and I find myself drawn to a mom and daughter and a sleeping boy on the hospital bed. She is kind and receptive. We chat, she shares her sons condition and the first chink in my armor breaks. Same age. Similar diagnosis as the boy 4 years ago. But he’s getting better she says and will go home in a few days they think. “And how soon until he is here again,” my inside voice whispers. I encourage, we pray, there is hand holding and well wishes. I survived and there are so few families here, we start to trickle out because we have met with most of them already.


My first mistake was leaving alone. No distractions. No one to block my sight. Before I am aware, the door of the isolation room is staring back at me – why did I stop? Through the window I see the same oxygen tank. The same bed. The same chair where she sat. The same curtains. And we are there again and my heart tears in two and the tears well up. They still do. In a moment unguarded, I am back in that room and the memory feels so real. Somehow, my lead feet start walking again and take me to the end of the hall where, thankfully, I am met by a team member who knows why I am convulsing with tears over this not so terrible hospital visit. It is the remembering.


“You may be one of the only people who remembers him. Your pain was a gift in a way.”


Words of my husband typed thousands of miles away after sharing this with him. Pain as a gift. He is right. It is often loss and pain that change us in ways we could never have changed before. My heart has been broken a thousand times on these trips and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, truthfully, yes I would. I wish there was a way to do this without opening my heart and having it shredded, but for something to become more tender, it must be broken down. I want to remember all of it. I want my heart to be moved, changed, broken, tenderized if it means showing the love of Christ to others and being more like Him.  So often we insulate – I insulate – to avoid heart ache. But we forget that a heart that is aching is still alive, and maybe more alive, at that time, than ever.


I still pray for that mother from 4 years ago. I  have no idea who she was or where she lives. But for a moment our lives crossed and shared a deeper moment than most in a lifetime. She is knitted into my heart for eternity. Her loss became my loss. Her pain became my pain. And it becomes clearer to me that this is the way it should be. Shared suffering. Shared grief. Shared burdens. Because, again, a heart that is aching is still alive.


Who knows, maybe next time I will ask if we are visiting the hospital. Doubtful, but possible.


Good things, hard things and Jesus… August 7, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — ckonstanty @ 11:25 PM

Its been four days since our team landed at O’hare airport. Re-entry hasn’t been as hard this time around. Maybe because I know more what to expect and can filter it quicker. The over abundance. The entitlement. The imbalance of resource distribution. The shock isn’t as bad as the first trips.


I was asked by a dear friend and past team mate, who picked us up from the airport, “So, how was it?” The first word that came to mind and out was, “Quiet.” Which to him made perfect sense. For some reason all of our extra extroverts were’t able to make this one.


This trip was different for many other reasons though. It was a trip of extremes. Swaziland itself is in the midst of a fifth year of drought. And it is showing. The land is hard, dried up. The wells are dry. The cattle are dying. Food costs have soared. HIV rates are higher. Life expectancy lower. At Ludlati alone, we know the meal our kids are getting is it for the day for most. This year there was an undertone of restlessness. The youngers were a bit more aggressive with one another. Lots of fevers and running noses. The list goes on. Circumstances beyond control have slowly sucked the life out of this country and its people literally. Its just hard. All of it. The stress underneath is palpable.


And then the amazing happens. A squeal is heard – laughter – and 20 little heads perk up and eyes catch a glimpse of tiny legs flying through the air in a grown man’s arms. The line forms and one by one they enjoy this new human ride for a moment. In another place, a sick little one finally finds real rest in the arms of another and sleeps soundly. Soccer balls begin to roll and little legs chase and kick and run like the wind. As the day winds on, other voices begin to add to the melody of play. More laughter. More embraces. London bridges here. Jump roping there. Clapping games inside. Small hands find shelter in big ones. Deep brown eyes find love in pale blue ones. The connections from years past remain and grow stronger. And there is singing soon. Echoing off concrete and it is sweet and wonderful to breath in. There is rhythm that this body just cannot do right. There is freedom for a moment – a release from hardship. There is joy. And then there is candy. And fruit. And more play. And then it is time – to soon – one by one they leave. Dark is coming and there are miles to walk. Before we know it, that day’s symphony of all that is hard, and good, and gritty, and miraculous comes to a quiet end. The laughter fades away. The soccer balls rest. The ropes lie limp. Our hearts break again for the things we cannot change and hold tightly to the hope that showing up and loving these precious ones imparts hope eternal. There are the questions again – the whys, the hows. The small anger that burns at the statistics and obstacles. The resignation and clinging to the promises of God.


It is hard to verbalize the extremes one feels all at the same time at the care point. Each day brings hard realities and truths that we don’t know how to process and yet it is one of the most joyful of places. How can your heart be breaking and singing at the same time?   The only reason  is because there is HOPE. In the ashes of a country full of obstacles, they are rising. The next generation is rising and overcoming. And they are not stopping to ask permission to do so. They are leading, setting an example, they are refusing to give into the voices that tell them its impossible. They are breaking old chains, ideas, culture and stereotypes. And it is spectacular to watch.


So once again, we learn a little  more of what it means to suffer with. There are good things. There are hard things.  There is laughter. There are tears. There is joy. There is despair. There are questions with out answers. There are bonds made stronger. There is suffering, but not alone. And, thankfully, Jesus is over it all.




Whispering love… July 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — ckonstanty @ 1:25 AM

As I sit here I want to share reasons I haven’t written in over a year. I wish there were good reasons. Busy-ness maybe? Broken arms? Slipped into a coma and now awoke? But honestly, I hesitate to even write now because of the noise. There is so much chatter and words and arguments and BOLD type yelling out there and frankly, I don’t want to add to the noise. I’m tired of the noise. People always speaking and never listening. People always coming out to insult and harangue others. And so I came to a decision. I’m going to whisper.


There have been so many things I have wrestled with this last year. Some personal and raw. Some external and out of my control. I’ve had a hard time gaining perspective – a lot. I’ve had annoying health issues with no satisfying answers. I’ve watched my two oldest grow into a pre-teen and teen and experienced the shifts in parenting them. We’ve adjusted to a new neighborhood. I’m still homeschooling and realizing its not going to get easier. And in six days I will be on a plane somewhere between here and Swaziland again. I’m not complaining – believe me I’m not. There are so many others who have much heavier things going on – I know. I just feel like I’ve lost my bearings a bit. I’m just looking for a foundation to stand on. A place of certainty when it feels like there isn’t one around. I have watched and waited and observed and prayed and it has come to me I think. It is simply love.


Not Hollywood love or sitcom love. Not puppy love or crushes. Not the worlds version of love. Not over-complicated love. I’m talking Jesus love.We make things too hard I think. Love, in its purest form says, “you before me.” It looks like a mother up for the tenth time in a night comforting her child. It looks like acknowledging the cashier at the store. It looks like meeting a need in secret. It looks like handing the guy with the “please help” sign a sandwich.  For me this week it looked like Boy Scout camp in the cold, pouring rain for two days with my boy and making granola at 10:00 PM tonight. No fanfare. No drama. Just “you before me.”


And that hits us right where it hurts, doesn’t it? In our culture of self – self promotion, self preservation, self protection….real love is death to self. Ouch. Love is a verb. Ouch again. Love is a choice. Moment by moment, situation by situation. I’m not so good at it. My insides fight loving others before myself all the time because I wanted the last cookie. I wanted to go to bed and sleep in. I want time to myself. I want my kids to stop asking me a thousand questions. I want to be right. I want to be noticed. I want affirmation. I…I…I….I need help…


I want to love better. I want to be able to say where ever I am “you before me” and mean it. I wonder what the world would look like if we all just quietly went about loving others like this. You before me. No strings attached. No expectations. Just the quiet, subtle whisper of loving others well.


Join me?


The Idol of Being Right March 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — ckonstanty @ 10:53 AM

I read a story in the Bible the other day that I hadn’t read in a long time. I’ve been mulling a few things over in my head the last few weeks for many reasons, but the biggest reason is a common thread that runs through them all – why, as Christians, are we so bent on proving we are right? Why are we so afraid of not knowing the answer to every question? Why do we feel the need to yell louder when people don’t listen to what we say? Why are we so insecure?


The story I looked up is a familiar one to many, but I think there is a piece of it we often overlook. Jesus is in the temple teaching a crowd of people and all of a sudden “the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery (not just accused – caught in the act) and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do you say?” Now it goes on to say that this was done on purpose to find a way to charge Jesus with heresy or whatever charge they could find so I’ll give that it wasn’t about the woman’s sin – at least not yet. I find Jesus’s response fascinating…Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  No gasping, no shock and awe at this woman’s sin. No berating or finger pointing. He bent down and wrote with his finger in the ground. I would give anything to know what He wrote. Words? Pictures? Names of the men before Him? I so wish I knew! Anyway…


Still they pestered for an answer and I can just see Him straightening again with a sigh and looking at each man and also at the woman standing there in front of all the people. And I flash forward to today and look around and see  how we still do this. Dressed in our Sunday best for others to see we shout – He’s an alcoholic! She’s a prostitute! They are homosexuals! They don’t believe in creationism! He left his wife! She’s in an emotional affair! That family eats at McDonald’s every day! Over and over again we throw people in front of Jesus with the expectation of being made right.”See! Sinner here!” we cry holding our heads up. “See what they are doing!? Can you believe this?”  We wage war in political arenas, in blogs, in office corners, in the court room…for the sake of hearing, “You were right!” Now I am not saying that working for ideals is wrong in itself. I am questioning the motive. I really do believe there are ways to stand up for what we hold dear, but I also see the ugliness.


And here Jesus sits quietly, watching the circus unfold, and he is drawing in the dirt. I can feel the weight in his heart as he hears the “righteous” shout for an answer and the woman on display holding in her sobs. Two types of people – the ones who claim to be pure, holy, upright and the one who can claim nothing of the sort. And then Jesus speaks…


“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.


Again with the writing! Oh the silence that must have followed that statement. So quiet you can hear the dirt moving under his finger. What did He say? I’m sorry, I must not have heard that right. You see, this isn’t about us – its about HER…or is it? “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” How often we miss this subtle directive. The truth is the only one in that room who was worthy and able to throw a stone at her was Jesus. He who was without sin. Yet, everyday we take it upon ourselves to use His words to wound others. We spend so much time using God’s word to prove ourselves right that we forget the point of knowing the word is to prove to ourselves we are nothing without Jesus. We have lost sight of our own brokenness and the hope we were offered in our pit. We focus on the Law, we forget about Love. Love came down to redeem what was lost, to give life where there was death, to not enforce the Law, but to end it. And yet we still drag others before Him expecting to be admonished and the other to be put in their place.


“But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him…”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.” In the end, redemption doesn’t come from me pointing out another’s sin. It doesn’t come from finger pointing  or rule keeping or rule breaking. Redemption comes from a personal, one on one, forever changing encounter with Jesus. He is the only one able to forgive or to condemn. The only one who can stay in the room when the ultimatum is given. I wonder what would happen if we would meditate on this passage more. What would it change in us when we pick up a stone to hurl at another? Would we finally realize that Jesus is so much more than our ticket to eternal life? That being a Christian isn’t about joining an elite club of the “right” kind of people? Are we willing to let His words pierce our own hearts and rip them open to expose the darkness within before we spew it out at others?


I can already hear the “but, but, but!” and I know what you are thinking. I wrestle with the same objections, but when I am honest with myself, Jesus never marginalized a certain type of person except one – those who looked holy and righteous on the outside, but had hearts of stone on the inside. He calls us to love what we think isn’t worthy of love. He calls us to love with peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. He calls us to be his hands and feet and to share His truth in love. Truth in LOVE. If we share His truth without love, we are but a clanging gong to others. “But we are right!” BONG! “We are right!” GONG! “Shout it louder!” BONG, GONG, BONG!


Its not about being right…. Its about redemption.


When you hurt, come home… February 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — ckonstanty @ 2:27 AM

Yesterday I was sitting in our faux leather chair with my phone numbing my brain, wrapped up in a ball with a cup of tea taking a deep breath and trying not to cough. I’ve been fighting a chest cold this week along with our oldest and Steve graciously took over bedtime solo. And then it happens…loud noise, a yelp, little pattering feet down the stairs. Little Miss Emma who is like a Chinese dwarf hamster on a wheel that never stops rounds the corner holding one hand in the other and the tears are just starting to peek over her lower lids. I would love to say “Mom Mode” kicked in and my arms instinctively reached for her joyfully, but it wasn’t that romantic. With a sigh, I put down my tea and phone and she crawled up into my lap so I could assess the damage. Through her tears I gather she caught her finger between her bedroom door and closet door (it really is a stupid arrangement, but whatever). As I pry away the hand covering the offended finger I see a nice purple circle appearing with some skin hanging off it, and my heart softened and I found myself in one of the most tender moments of parenting…holding my hurting child and whispering it will be alright.


I have been pondering many days now the amount of mom guilt I have on any given day, my discipline skills, my grace skills, my teaching skills…do I even  have any skills?? But seriously trying to come to terms with a concept that will be staring at me before I know it – my children will leave this place and go off on their own. They have their own will. They have their own choices to make and I wonder how they will do “out there.” There are so many books about how to make your kids turn out “right” or how to get them to be who we think they should be. I am guilty of manipulating my kids to act the right way on the outside while stomping all over their tender hearts on the inside. The world expects outward compliance. Dance the dance. Be an individual until its offensive to someone, then conform or else! Don’t rock the boat…and with that worldly expectation come the waves of popular opinion rooted in sands that change with the strongest wind that happens to be blowing at that moment. So what am I supposed to do?


While holding Emma the other night with an ice pack wrapped around her tiny finger I realized while stroking her hair how thankful I am that she came. She was hurt and she came looking for mom and dad to make it better. I also realized I had a choice in that moment. I was tired, not feeling well, and she has a horrible habit of popping out of bed thirty times a night and I could have yelled at her, minimized her pain and sent her back to bed with my iron fist and a small message along with her small heart – “I don’t care that you are hurting.”  I wondered how many times I have sent that message into my kids hearts with out realizing it. How many times would they need to hear it before they believed it? Who would they go to then?


One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. At the climax of his demise, the son realizes that home is where he needs to go. Somewhere, rooted in his mind, as he is slurping up pig slop because he is so lost, so hungry and so desperate, a familiar voice whispers to him, “Home…come home!” He knows he’s blown it and not just a little bit. But he, “Comes to his senses,” and he knows that his Father is at the very least a fair man. What he doesn’t know, though, is his Father has gazed, glanced, stared – watched and waited for his lost son to come home and not to gloat over his suffering.  I love that the son humbles himself and remembers where he came from and returns. I love even more the picture of an old, respectable Jewish man staring down the road wondering if this is the day his son will come home and when he sees him in the distance, the Father yanks up his robe and runs to his son! What a picture to see….what better message can we give our own children? When you are hurt, lost, done, broken, alone, confused – come home. When you have hit bottom, spent your last dime, made the worst decision ever – COME HOME.  The world loves to chew us up and spit us out. It loves to use us, guilt us, demand things from us – but home – home is your safe place. Home is where the world gets shut out. Home is your refuge.


I know this parable is about God the Father and us, his wayward children, but can we not see the parallel for our own families? Do I make sure my kids know that no matter what they do, no matter what they may do, this door – this home – is always their safe place because it will point them to THE Father? Do I remember to tell them each day that I do not love them because of the things they do or don’t do, but simply because they are? That their value comes from a Creator who loves them more than I ever am capable and not the stupid math worksheet they are struggling with? Is this message being buried deep in their hearts so when they find themselves alone, lost, eating from a trough (metaphorically I hope) that they will hear the whisper to come home knowing that they will find grace and mercy and if they happen to physically walk through the door, arms that will hold them like Jesus would if He were here?


After a few minutes with the ice pack and scrounging a band aid, Emma slid her arms around my neck, squeezed tight and said, “I love you, mamma.”  I squeezed her back and said, “I love you, too,” and off she went to bed. I curled back up in my chair with my tea and prayed that making her pain go away would always be this easy, but I know better. And then it occurred to me, we spend a lot of time shaming the prodigal son in that parable for many things… but maybe, just maybe our time would be better spent figuring out how to be more like the Father…