19 hours ago
Friday, March 2, 2012
Ripples . . .
Yesterday, my sweet mom received a well-deserved award from a local law agency. For those of you who don't know, my mom works for Bethany Christian Services. In short, Bethany is an adoption agency, but what they actually do encompasses so so so so so much more. I could never do as eloquent of a job describing them as my mom did yesterday, but their goal, the heart of this ministry, is for every child to have a safe, loving, permanent home. PLEASE click on this link after you read this post and learn more about Bethany and ways you can partner with them if you feel compelled to. Mom has been an employee of Bethany for almost 21 years, but we first came into contact with them when we fostered a baby when I was 11. We had Jeff for 6 weeks--he came home from the hospital to us. When Jeff left us for his forever family, my heart hurt in a way I didn't know possible as a young girl. After Jeff, we had a little baby named Christopher briefly.
Fostering was just the beginning because Bethany saw gold in my mom and brought her on to do contract work and 21 years later, she has played many different roles in that office. She started working with birth moms. Girls she calls her heroes. And they are heroes. They make the most selfless choice in the world to deny their bodies comfort and lovingly grow another life. Then, they choose to allow grief and loss to become their constant companion as they choose a better life for that baby than they believe they are able to give him/her. I always believed that must be so hard, but when I was pregnant with Caroline, I realized that there is probably not a word in my vocabulary to adequately capture the pain and love it would take to place her in someone else's arms. To trust that 2 strangers could love her and raise her well. To believe that God had a plan for her that didn't physically include me on a daily basis. Heroes.
Mom has also worked with families. She has walked along side couples painfully struggling with infertility. Husbands and wives desperate to become dads and moms. She has partnered with families who are burdened for the orphans of our world--both domestic and international. There are families who have a heart for children that are hard to place because of disability or age or other hardship and Mom has matched them, changing all of them forever.
She stepped into the director role several years ago and now oversees it all as well as going into the community to raise awareness and money to keep this ministry going. It's not an easy job, but she is really good at it. Many days, Mom comes home with red eyes and a heavy heart. No matter which side she is working with, there is deep pain and loss in this process. She has met with adopted kids as well, helping them process the loss they feel because their birth mother chose not to raise them. An amazing life doesn't erase that real wound. Grace and dignity and wisdom allow her to find the right words for all of the people God brings across her path at Bethany. (And, somehow, she still manages to be an amazing and present mom and, now, Nana to us.) Her hours are not 8-5 . . . babies are born at all hours of the day and night. Birth moms don't all live in West Little Rock. But she faithfully treks wherever she is needed.
None of this is news to me. (Or anyone who knows her.) But, it is so nice that someone else noticed her. Of course, Mom hated the attention. We have teased her that we are amazed she told anyone she got the award. She told my dad last week and emailed me. She is just not one to toot her own horn. Which is admirable too. But yesterday, her closest friends and family and colleagues got to witness someone in our community publicly praising her and thanking her for the difference maker she is. They call their award the Ripple Award, because, like the picture at the top of the blog, her life has created ripples. Ripples of blessing and life and healing and hope. Ripples in ponds that might have been stagnant and moldy without her presence.
I know firsthand this is true. She is selfless and motivated to do the right thing even when it is hard. She has compassion and is tenderhearted. I am lucky to have been one of the first ripples. (And I know you well and truly believe this, Mom.)
From a young age, I have known that in some way I wanted to be a part of the fostering and adoption process. Thus far, Josh and I have only felt called to support others doing it. Maybe one day we will be called to do more, but we are thankful for places like Bethany that allow us to participate on many levels. So, in honor of Mom's Ripple award, Gifts from Granny has given a gift towards Bethany's efforts in Haiti and Ethiopia. One of the neat things that Bethany is doing internationally right now is helping equip these countries to foster and adopt their own so that children can be raised in their own culture and, hopefully, grow up to be leaders there. I am excited that there is hope for these children who have been abandoned because of death or disease or famine or poverty to have safe, permanent, loving homes here in America with people like my cousins, Josh and Liz, as well as in their own communities. It's like that song my kids come home from church singing--our God is a big, big God!
Congratulations, Mom! Believe it or not, you deserved the award. And Robert was right, your Saviour is pleased with you. We are blessed to be a ripple and I love you so much.
(And, yes, WAH.)
Posted by Rachel at 9:30 AM