Please join us in the following Prayer Needs of
Elizabeth Ministry/RECLAiM Sexual Health:
• Lord Jesus, the work of Elizabeth Ministry always needs your help. Please bless and provide the physical healing of our founders, Jeannie and Bruce and their family. Protect them in their many travels and their busy lives. Please provide more volunteers and donors. Bless also the many students of the RECLAiM Sexual Health program, as well as the staff and support team and their families.
• Lord Jesus, the Evil One is attempting to destroy your work. By your power and the presence of your holy angels, bind him and cast him into darkness, that your Light might shine more brightly.
• Jesus, bless and guide church leaders, civic, national and international leaders. Your creation is in serious moral decay. Send your Holy Spirit anew and give your people new power to overcome the evils around us.
• Lord Jesus, bless and protect marriages. Bless the relationships of parents with their children. Help single parents and those in difficult situations. Help us to protect the unborn. Give wisdom and comfort to those suffering from infertility and those who have experienced miscarriages. All Ye Holy Unborn Saints, intercede to the Lord for us! Holy Mary our Mother, pray for us and with us!
• Lord Jesus, there are so many individuals who have been sexually assaulted. Help those who cower in darkness to come into the light of your goodness, that those who suffer may be healed.
• Lord Jesus, please comfort Janelle following the sudden death of her husband. Protect and shelter their two-year old son and their daughter in utero.
• Lord Jesus, please bless all those who pray with us and for us.
IN YOUR HOLY, MIGHTY AND GLORIOUS NAME WE PRAY!
Who of us hasn’t at one time or another played Chutes and Ladders? Do you remember how old you were when you realized that getting to the top and winning the game really didn’t have anything to do with being nice or being mean? It was just a matter of chance. Luck. Sure, it gave you some ideas of doing something nice or not doing something mean. But what did it get you? Winning? Losing? Neither – just random chance.
Have you ever wondered if life isn’t sometimes like that? Does God really care about how your life turns out? Or is your life and your future just a roll of God’s dice?
It’s easy to wonder. How wonderful it will be when we meet the Lord and ask all the questions we’ve wondered about! “If he/she hadn’t moved here, would we ever have met? If we had stayed in the first house we bought, would we have……?” You’ve read the poem, “God’s Tapestry“? We live in sight of the tangled back side. But what does the beautiful front of “God’s Tapestry” look like?
Where are you in your life today? Tangled in knots? (Perhaps you might like to read this article about Mary, Untier of Knots,) Maybe you are calmly waiting for the next knot to present itself? Life is like that.
Life can certainly be like that. If you have followed my series, you know that God has worked in mighty and various ways (See Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V) to bring good out of my tangled life. After several years of struggling and at the ripe old age of 36, I was blessed with a wonderful husband, “Gabe,” (Thank you, Lord!!) but later learned that we would be unable to have natural children. (Unfair, Lord!! Not nice!!! But, “Yes, Lord…!”) For the next few years, we cared for several foster children and eventually adopted “Robbie” at God’s clear direction. A few months later, we opened our arms to a quiet and detached 27-month-old child, “Angel,” who was considered a special needs child. Angel had been born to a woman who was heavily into drugs and alcohol. Being unable to adequately care for Angel, her mother often left Angel neglected or with a variety of caregivers. Physically Angel was a typical child; emotionally she was another “knot.” We later learned that she suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), so following the “tapestry” analogy, her life might be better pictured as “a loose thread,” with no “attachments,” no sense of belonging to someone, no sense of self-identity. (Please google “Reactive Attachment Disorder.” This information can provide a way for parents, primarily mothers, who are active in Elizabeth Ministry—or aware of Elizabeth Ministry—to recognize and help those who care for young children who are at risk of RAD.)
How does one care for a child who is “unattached”? First of all we cared for Angel and loved her, provided as much structure and order in her life as possible, perhaps overprotected her, but helped her to be a child rather than a very immature adult. We grieved when “Mom” didn’t keep appointments. We made it a point to always be “there” when we said we would be. We played. We prayed. We eventually learned to forgive a woman who was unable to give Angel the care that every child needs. Over time, we assessed our suitability for adequately parenting Angel, and we considered our support system. Because of the strong network of committed relationships we had formed over the years, we decided that if we couldn’t succeed, with God’s help and the support of our many friends, could anyone else do as well? When Angel became available for adoption at the age of five, we also welcomed her as part of our “forever family.”
The inadequate care given to Angel in the first two years of her life certainly did cause later challenges, as we knew might happen. There were periods of pain and struggle, visits to counselors and therapists, as well as tangles with the police and the juvenile justice system. The teen years are a challenge for all parents. If a child’s sense of trust, dependence, independence, and responsibility are poorly formed in the very early months, disaster can result. By God’s grace, Angel is now married. She and her husband have two happy children. Is their life perfect? Not always. Is anyone’s life perfect? No. Do they still struggle with relationships and responsibility? Don’t we all? Will we always be there for them? Absolutely.
When Robbie and Angel were quite young, we had an interesting discussion with them about adoption and about brothers and sisters, since both had other birth-brothers or -sisters. This was an excellent opportunity to tell them about my birth-daughter, an older sister, who was placed with another family when she was born. Robbie and Angel thought it was totally cool to have an older sister! (At that age, no questions were asked, which was a blessing!) When Robbie was 8 and Angel was 5, my birth-daughter turned 18. I wrote a letter to the social worker who had managed the adoption, giving her permission to have my daughter contact me if she wished. As it happened, this young woman, my daughter “Celina,” had written a similar letter, providing her birth date and the name of the hospital where she was born, that she might make contact with her birthmother. The social worker made an easy and obvious match. It was fortuitous that my parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary a few weeks later, that a nephew’s wedding was also scheduled for the same weekend, and that all this was in the same area where Celina lived. The long-awaited time for us to reconnect had come.
Celina and I made plans to meet at a McDonald’s while Gabe and our children were at a local playground. It was with great anticipation–along with trepidation–that I sat by a window and watched people come to the door that afternoon. Would I recognize her? Would we like each other? Would she even come that day? As the appointed hour approached, I watched. Too old. Too light. Too dark. Not a gal. Big family. A few minutes ticked by. Finally an attractive young woman arrived, glanced at me through the window, and mouthed, “Are you Ruth?” I nodded, and returned the obvious question, “Are you Celina?” and she nodded. As she walked in, we greeted each other with a warm hug and wept.
The next day I told my parents that I had met Celina, and wondered if she could come to their 50th anniversary Mass, maybe just sitting in the back, so that she could see her grandparents. Mom and Dad said, “No!” Instead they wanted her sitting up front with us, since she was also part of our family. We all wept.
I called my sister whose son was getting married the next day, and asked if Celina could come to the wedding, and of course she also agreed. As I’ve heard the story later, she told their children, now mostly adults, that my daughter would be there at the wedding, too. Their response? Well, sure, Angel and Robbie would both be there, to which my sister responded, “No; Ruthie has her own daughter, and she’ll be there, too.” Their response? “Hmmmm….OK….?? Wait a minute, You Mean We Have Another Cousin???? Cool!!!”
Since that time, Celina, her husband and their seven children are becoming recognized as part of the biological circle of our many nieces and nephews. (Perhaps distant cousins are wondering who she is and where she belongs. She belongs to me. She and her family are part of the “tapestry” begun by God. Not all the questions and connections are meant to be answered in this world!) Gabe and I and our other children are also invited to her family gatherings, although it’s a farther drive for us. I’ve met her mother, who thanked me long ago for giving Celina life, and for letting her be part of their family. I no longer weep (as much!), but hold my head up proudly. Celina and I don’t see each other often since we live in different states, but we do keep in touch. We’ve also learned that she definitely has the same “weepy” gene that runs in our family. She’s for sure “one of us”!
As I consider the tapestry that the Lord Jesus has designed for us, I marvel. I question. I will definitely ask God someday! I do know that our faith and trust in God, our Loving Father, has also affected many other people, beyond our three children’s families. (Robbie is also married; they have two young children.) I don’t generally think of “birth-family” or “adopted-family.” Our family extends to so many people that it’s impossible to count them. What God has done with us—and undoubtedly each and any of us—is only one of God’s many gracious gifts. God’s not done yet, I know. Life has never been a proverbial Bed of Roses; the thorns have been numerous. The tangles continue. Life is like that.
What can we do to care for others as they experience tangles and challenges? What can we do for ourselves when WE experience tangles and difficulties? Prayer is definitely our Number One asset. Reading the Bible, especially the Psalms and the New Testament, and acknowledging the personal challenges overcome by the various Biblical personalities, is especially helpful. We have learned as Christians that nothing is impossible with God, that even death has been overcome. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and how unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34) Another thing, when the challenges are ours: Be open to prayer! Ask others for prayer and guidance. Everyone has struggles and sorrows. We need to notice and reach out to one another as sisters and brothers in our one family, which includes every person on the planet. Prayer reaches each person, but kind words, consideration, and smiles go a long way. Who knows the burdens that our neighbors, our sisters and brothers carry? God does! God is eager to help. Can we help the woman in the grocery store who struggles with a fussy baby? Yes! A simple word of encouragement rather than a harsh look can go a long way! Befriending those who need support can be the most effective way of caring for others.
Elizabeth Ministry is a network of women who care about other women and their families. Please join us and make a difference in someone’s life! Please! Learn about Reactive Attachment Disorder and make a difference! Ask the Lord Jesus, Lord of All Creation, to make a difference in the next generation. The healthy life of our children depends on it! We are truly the Family of God, and we owe it to one another to share the Good News! Sisters!! Brothers!! You are needed! As Steve Angrisano’s song says, “Go, Make a Difference”!