Yet another chunk of my short story!!
We left the chickens drifting back into the coop and walked across the yard toward the garden. At this point, Nick appeared with his jar of rodent remains. I took a picture that I can send to you, but I’ll spare you any description of what it looked like.
The garden was expansive and yet well maintained. Budding tomato plants, rows of onions, clusters of lettuce and several herb shrubs flanked the path of pebbled stones that ran down the middle of the vegetable patch. We passed through somewhat quickly in the dusk because Texas-sized mosquitoes were descending upon us like it was Operation Desert Storm all over again.
Inside, I sat down with Sean and Lydia.
“So, tell me, which child was your first?” I asked.
“Kate came to us first.” Sean said, taking his wife’s hand. “Pastor Evan from Apostolic Temple told us about this girl he’d met in the orphanage in Tyler.” The children were still working in the kitchen and quieted to listen to him speak. “Lydia said that we should go see her—so we did. We fell in love with her and then finally got enough paperwork done that she could come and be part of our family.”
Some of the older children sat down, Gabe on the hearth watching with his arms crossed, Katie cuddled up close to Lydia, Daniel, and Nick on the rug.
“Did people think that you were strange?”
“No. Not strange.” Sean said.
“Yeah, they seemed to throw kudos at us—I mean, yeah, they thought it was unusual, but I think they were impressed.” Lydia pitched in. “When we adopted Daniel later that year, I think we shocked people even more. Then, along came the rest of the fam and now people are more impressed than ever—but more confused also. I’ve come across a lot of people who won’t quite say it but think we’ve ruined our lives.” She kissed Katie on the top of the head. “But they couldn’t be more wrong. My life has never been fuller and better than it is now.”
“While a lot of people think we’ve blessed these children with homes,” She continued. “The children have blessed us more than we have them. God ordained this family long ago and made it perfect through His love.”
“What unique challenges does your family face?” I asked. I didn’t have a notebook out, but I felt like I should have.
Sean mused on that for a second. “Our children face people who don’t understand them. They face people who aren’t open to them as a people. When people build walls of separation between themselves and what they don’t understand, they cut off all chances for love. But they have a unique advantage in this world. They also share a strong, unique bond. We teach our children to stand up for themselves and who they are and their siblings. Especially at school. Word got around that they were Monsters Inc.—you know, like the movie? And they took the name on themselves. They stand for each other—but also for God.”
“What do you mean?” I pressed.
“All the children have accepted Jesus and come to know Him.” Sean grinned while he spoke. “And I believe in them. I believe that they’re going to move for God. I think they know love more than we do. They were rejected, and they were brought in by Jesus. And they can speak about it. And I know they will—but this is the best part. When they move—when they speak—people listen and don’t forget what they say.”
I looked around the eight quiet children sitting around us, with faces that the world reviled. What did God have in store for them?
“I always tell them.” Lydia stroked Katie’s hair. “That they are special by themselves, but they are special and strong when they are together.” Lydia looked up and I could see hope spelled out in her eyes. “These children have a testimony like nothing this world has seen. They are the broken with no hope of being healed, the outcasts that were rejected when they were born. They were the shattered in spirit, given a fountain of life—Jesus. Through Him, they are strong, and they are healed. God has something big in store for this family.”
I got a serious wave of chill bumps.
“What message will you share?” I asked, looking around, glancing from broken face to broken face, all as solemn as ashes.
“We will.” Gabe started, struggling to speak with only half a jaw. His words came slow and rough. “Share a… message… of hope. A message… of redemp…tion for those who… who don’t have it in themselves to live another day…. God heals those who are broken.”
All at once I thought I perceived what he meant. Staring at this twelve-year-old boy who had such a profound message. “And who are the broken?”
“They are those who can’t live with themselves.”
“What would you tell them, if you could?” I asked. As I listened, his jolting speech was sewn together in my mind and I hung to each word he said.
“I would tell them that God’s love is real. It’s real. And it’s deep. I spent two months in the hospital after shooting myself in the head, and during that time, I just sat with myself and my pain. I didn’t know why they were going to even bother trying to fix me, because I was just going to kill myself after I got out anyway. There was no way I could live with… this. But Love found me. Mom and dad came to see me. Not my fake mom and dad, my real ones. The ones who loved me.” He looked at his surrogate parents. “God’s love is like that. It finds you when you’re broken. And it takes you in and changes your life. My parents showed me God’s love before I’d even met God.” He took a deep breath. “I would tell people that while they may feel alone, God is always there—and His love is waiting.
My mind was overflowing with this love. “Would you tell the world that?” I asked. “Because I happen to have access to a very large Christian audience who I would think would love that message and love to hear your story—if it’s okay with your parents.”
To be continued!