The best thing about having 'nourished' in my blog title is I that get to write about so many different things. Nutrient-dense living comes in so many forms! Some time ago, I explained that this blog would no longer cover food alone. Jesus was right, of course, when he told that infamous enemy of our souls, "Man cannot live by bread alone..." It's so true. True nourishment includes body, mind and soul.
Today, allow me the honor of feeding your soul...your heart...your longing for a real love story. This is a real-life, should-be-in-a-book-that-turns-into-a-movie kind of love story. I have been waiting since last Thanksgiving to share it and what better time than Valentine's Day?
It all started over 50 years ago when a teenage girl fell in love with a teenage boy. Puppy love turned into something deeper and in the end, a baby girl was born. You might think that was unusual for that day. Not so. It's just that when such things happened then, the girls were sent away and usually only allowed to return home if they came alone. Having no alternative, most girls given this ultimatum acquiesced. (This period of American, European and Australian history is now termed "The Baby Scoop Era" and it took place from the late 40's through the early 70's.)
Only a very few knew the truth about our young lady's baby, however, as shrouded in societal shame, she was sent to live with her sister until the dark deed of birth took place. She was among the lucky. Her child was born in a hospital rather than a religious institution where pain medications were often/usually withheld as a part of 'penance'. (You can't make this freaky stuff up.)
In an effort to 'help' her 'get on with life', the young woman was told her baby died, but after a young couple mistakenly (?) came to her room and told her they wanted to adopt her baby girl, she knew it was a lie. It was the first of many. The nurse told her the couple had just gone to the wrong room, but it was too late. 'Momma' knew baby lived and 'Momma' knew her baby was a girl. She was never allowed to see or hold her baby and it tormented her for most of her life. Unwed mothers relinquishing their babies in that day received no counsel for their grief. They were just told to forget and move on. Current research tells us that many, if not all birthmothers of that time came out on the other side with PTSD. However, as this was not a known illness then, these mothers were labeled as neurotic...or worse. It took her a very long time to forgive, but in the end, I understand, she did.
However, this girl had brass. She refused to pretend.
Can I tell you how much I LOVE that!?! This gal spat in the wind. She later married, but her husband knew the truth. She had children and they, in time, were told the truth as well. They had a big sister.
The young man, we'll call him 'Daddy', tried to see Momma, but in those days, shotguns were used in three ways...to hunt, to make sure weddings happened, and to chase off disliked beaus. So, Momma's daddy, being sorely angry with her young beau, used his gun in the third way...shooting at him and some say, even grazing the top of his car. Some also say that he was very proficient with a gun and if he'd really wanted to kill the father of his grandchild, he could have.
As for me, I'm very glad Grandfather aimed high..
The baby's daddy followed wisdom...the kind of wisdom that says you better do something a certain way or you may wind up dead... and he put distance between himself and his childhood sweetheart. It's a somewhat typical story.
They both married and they both moved on with life in two separate towns, not far from one another.
Fast forward 42 years...
With the blessing of her adoptive father (her adoptive mother died when she was young), Baby Girl finds her natural mother and they have a wonderful reunion. A wonderful reunion...one that includes siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles and friends. Yeah. It was big and it was great and they connected, not just flesh-to-flesh, but spirit-to-spirit.There was heart healing flowing all over the place. (Yeah, that nourishment of the soul I spoke of earlier.) It was a wonderful thing and just in time, as Baby Girl only had six years to know her natural mother before the wind and cancer took her away once more.
Fast forward 14 more years...
Baby Girl found her daddy. For reasons that don't matter here, Baby Girl had not realized her daddy wanted to know her. He had never told his family. He had three boys and they were as clueless to her existence as she was to theirs. Baby Girl's daughter had tried to contact him once and unknowingly talked to the wrong person, who truthfully denied parentage. It was a true case of mistaken identity. But Baby Girl didn't know that and was too afraid of heart hurt to try again. She tucked her desire to know deeply, very deeply, away.
When the desire to find him resurfaced, it came with the same level of urgency as she'd felt before finding her mother. So, she tried again, discovering in the process how far technology had come. She found an address...this time, the right one, and she wrote a letter, including copies of her original paperwork that (mistakenly) proved her identity and connection to him as well as a few pictures from childhood to present day .
Three days passed. Three days of breath-holding and trying not to. Three days. It seemed like three years and on the third day, she was sure it was a done deal. She knew her father had received the envelope because it had been signed for. He must not be interested. Okay. Time to put this away once and for all. This time, she was more ready than the first time. It didn't hurt so bad...but then, again, she was a slow processor. She probably wouldn't cry for a few more days.
And then the phone rang and she was talking to a brother. He was profusely apologetic. He had been out of town and his father had not wanted to pursue anything until he'd told his boys...all three of them.
And all three of them were happy about it.
How great is that?
How blessed to the moon and back a thousand times is that?
Hold your hats 'cause that ain't all...
Big, Fat, Awesome Family Reunion Number Two ensued.
EVEN Daddy's wife came. They had just celebrated fifty-six years of marriage. Baby Girl wasn't sure how meeting her would go, but Daddy's Wife was so kind, so sweet and beautiful that Baby Girl would have been glad to have belonged to her. And Baby Girl is very, very particular about things like that because trusting people is not one of her greatest assets.
Now you know Baby Girl was not really a baby. She was a wife. She was a mother. She was a grandmother. She had walked this earth over half a century. It had only been through a series of miracles that the door opened for her to discover her biological heritage in a sealed state where discovering the truth was supposed to be absolutely impossible. Cemented history. Supposedly cemented for the entirety of her life, the rules of the game kept her ancestry a secret. Like all adoptees in sealed states, she was denied access forever to her own original birth certificate, and forced to accept an altered one instead. It falsely documented her adoptive parents as her birth parents. It falsely documented the place of her adoption as the place of her birth. Legal lies on paper... Any social worker sitting across the table could hold and read her true documents...her truth....but not Baby Girl. She had the wrong eyes for the 'for your eyes only ' documents.
But if this story shows nothing else, it shows nothing is impossible with God.
So, fast forward a tweak to just after Baby Girl's first Thanksgiving Dinner with this branch of her family. Daddy calls her into the kitchen, away from her 'new' drowsy and well-fed siblings. His sister, Baby Girl's aunt, had come earlier to meet her. When she came, she brought a little box.
Now, fair warning, get your hankies because this is a true story and when it hits, you're gonna cry.
The box is old...very old. Actually, it's at least 57 years old. At least. The top is hinged and covered with a woven, golden material, as so many jewelry gift-boxes were in that day. Daddy, my daddy, holds it waist-high between his palms and tells me in his quiet voice that he wants me to have it.
That he thinks Rachel would have wanted me to have it. You see, Rachel was the name of my mother.
I receive the box and open it. The lid is lined with satin and has a jeweler's emblem stamped on it. There is a form on the bottom, covered in light blue, brushed cotton. The form supports a silver bracelet.
The bracelet is not a woman's bracelet. He urges me to take it off the form and look at it. It is engraved. His name in italics. Lord, I've only known him a month and now I have this lovely bracelet with his name upon it. I'll treasure it because it belonged to him, but I'm puzzled a little. Why did his sister have his bracelet?
Did he see the question in my eyes? He urged me to turn the bracelet over. There was an inscription on the back..."Love, Rachel".
My mother was only sixteen years old when she bore me. She probably wasn't more than fifteen when she gave this symbol of her love to my father. Later engaged, then married to the Beautiful Woman I spoke of meeting earlier, he'd given the bracelet to his sister.
He could have thrown it away, but he didn't. It would have been an easy toss into the trash can, but he didn't do the easier thing. Instead, he took the time to give it to his sister. And his sister tucked it away. There it waited in its box, surrounded by various other items that came and went with the seasons of Auntie's life. Always surrounded and yet, alone. Created to reflect light, it sat in darkness, it's golden covering protecting it...holding it upright when it's links weakened; keeping it ready for revelation.
If it had been human, perhaps it would have lost hope after more than five decades of solitary confinement. It was created, after all, to be worn and used and cherished.
To be loved.
I went to thank my 'new' aunt for bringing the bracelet. She was such a dear woman. With tears in her eyes, and holding both my hands in hers, she told me she hadn't known why she'd kept it all these years. She hadn't known what made her hold on to something that had no value to her.
"But now I know!" she said.
And she was genuinely happy about it.
For 57+ years, that silver bracelet sat in that gold box and waited. It had a destiny. I was its destiny. I was its only reasonable destiny. There isn't one single soul on this earth that this bracelet would mean anything to anymore.
Identity is a huge thing for many adoptees. Huge. I don't know why it affects some of us more than others. I find it remarkable that this need regarding my identity wasn't fulfilled until after I was fully sure and aware of my identity in Christ. That's the first and primary thing for all mankind, I believe.
But I love how God honored my need. The resounding thought here, for me, is that He sure didn't have to do that! I would have been okay...more than okay. But God is just. so. thorough. So...beyond thorough.
I thought I was satisfied with the truth discovered about my origins. I felt blessed, so very blessed to know the truth and to be able to know the loving people connected to that truth...Oh, heavens, there are so many of them! Yes, there were some things I'd discovered that were hard truths, but although painful, they were worth knowing. But this bracelet...It was hard evidence, evidence God surely didn't have to give me, that told me there was more to my story. No...more to my history. To my existence. My natural mother often told me she had loved my natural father. It seems it was something she wanted me to be sure of. Well, here was hard proof. I didn't think I needed that, but maybe God knows my heart better than I. (You think?)
I was conceived, after all, in love. Mature love? Probably not...they were what I consider today to be no more than babes, but yes...there was love. That concept had never, ever been a part of my understanding or expectation. And I was surprised, very surprised, to learn that it made a difference.
This type of bracelet had a particular name when I was young...the same name it had in my mother's day, but a name that has been lost since because the bracelets aren't used anymore as they were then. These bracelets were often exchanged between young loves as a kind of sign of 'going steady'. They were called 'I.D. Bracelets'.
So, how funny is it that God revealed this big 'more' about my identity through an I.D. bracelet?
Yeah, I know. See, people don't understand how wild and crazy our Father is. He's not what so many people think. He's not what so many people are afraid of. He is not to be boxed in, dressed in black, or tamed. And tolerant? Yes, even that. Not with the definition modern America has given the word, but yes, tolerant...Look at what He bent over backwards to do for me! And it's not because I deserved it. I am the least deserving of anyone I know.
The fact that God gave me this gift through my mother, my father and my aunt, is astounding in that it speaks to me not only of my parents' love, even puppy love, for one another but more than that; it speaks to me of the extravagant love of my heavenly Father towards me. He put that bracelet in safe keeping, knowing I would come one day in the future. He planned a very, very special surprise for me and even in the retelling of a story several times already told, I'm overwhelmed. His knowledge of my core, His washing of my feet by giving me this thing He just did not have to give, this completely intimate gesture displaying His love for my mind and emotions, it's almost more than I can take in. I shake my head, teary-eyed as I type.
And I think I hear him say, "See?"
And I do. I do see.
He's just so personal.
With all this crazy, over-the-top love that's been poured like thick, sweet honey over my head, I am flattened. I can think of no better word...I am flattened by the ongoing evidence of God's love, the Creator of the Universe's love...for me.
And if He can love somebody as undeserving as I am this much, how very much do you think He loves you? You haven't experienced a love story of your own yet? You just love Him and then...just watch for it. First He'll give and then He'll give you eyes to see what He's given.
Happy Valentine's Day.