Saturday, August 4, 2012

When Helping Hurts - For Real

My people sleep quiet down the hall, three little loves and one big, and here I sit, awake, the sort of tired that makes my hands heavier than my arms were ever meant to hold.

It's been a Friday. It's been second-hand shopping, swimming, skirting. It's been cucumbers and peaches and yes, Spanish rice. It's been opening up the windows of my soul for a little airing out. It's been patience and tested patience, magazines in the afternoon, "I like you, Mommy".

Then, I swear I saw the flicker of a lost friend and it felt so good to hold her in my sight for just a breath, until the world skidded and slowed and I was left wondering if helping ever doesn't hurt.

Life was simpler when all of my people were huddled down the hall, sleeping warm and brownish. They were enough to fill my heart. They were full reason to stare dark out the window and lock eyes with the companionable streetlamp. They were more than plenty. More than I ever deserved. And their choices aren't always good, but their kind of bad can usually be wiped away with just a spray bottle and two paper towels.

But new people came and they brought all the love they had to give. They brought love they didn't even know they had, love they didn't know how to share. So we just took it. We made them ours. We didn't wait for the offer.

So we sit and watch their choices grow legs and feet. We sit at the very edge, because we know this isn't cheap entertainment. It's no spectator sport. We know the long hand is spinning until they'll need a referee or a cheerleader. A parent in the stand? A medic on the field? They'll need us. 

And we'll be there.

It will be messy and dark and the worst kind of new.

And when we can't fix a thing, when we wouldn't dare pretend that we could, we'll sit back down and feel like fools while we hope.

That's what love does, you know. It always hopes. It never gives up. It endures through every circumstance.  (NLT)


  1. Love reaches beyond all reason, it goes into the darkest of places and ignites a light into the dim corners and depths of our souls.

    Love for God and His love for us is the only thing sustaining our house at the moment. The baby will be up in a few hours, but this is the only time I have to work, to stretch my mind and deepen my heart. I used to fear the nights, that solitude something eerily untouchable, and now, I listen to the quiet ebb and flow, recharging, refocusing, and revisiting the day.

    And as for hope, that is one of the greatest gifts of all. When you have nothing, you still have hope.

  2. Beautiful post. WIth a beautiful comment right after it.Thank you both.

  3. That's right, we always have hope and sometimes that is enough to keep us going!
    ps...I do think I might actually see you more when I drive to Goshen to come see you, it will be on purpose, I hate that I didn't see you much this summer and you are literally blocks away :-)

  4. True. True. And they WILL call. Our call last week was the desperate voice of our A girl whose man was leaving, split up the kids, start a new life, but she wasn't ready for that. She wanted to fight for her family. So we prayed and we cheered, she fights and we continue on. That's what we do with these grown-up children who still so fiercely need a parents. It is our honor to be that first call. Always.


    1. Hi, Shannan, Sometimes when I read your blogs I just get near to tears, because what your doing is so right and so "God called" but I can understand the hesitancy of it and your pull to stay away as far as you can. But never fear you are into some exciting steps ahead, if you fail or succeed you have obeyed and God willwalk you through. Take courage with that beautiful family of yours in all your days ahead, hope I can get this through I can't seem to before. God is in the business of protecting His own ofw hich you are. Ann Schrock

  5. what an honor to be someone's first call.
    but it is hard.
    they don't always do what you tell them they should do even though they ask you to tell them what to do.

    they give us plenty of chances to love them with no conditions....whether they take our wisdom or not.

    they crawl into your heart and stay forever.

  6. You made me cry. I have said it more than once right here...I love your heart girl and I love you :)

  7. Beautiful - and the comments are beautiful too. HOPE everyone has a great day!

  8. yes! and amen! thank God for the hope of the world, choosing to live inside of us.

    the Lord uses your words in ways that are even too hard for me to understand. He is amazing. you are pretty cool, too. : )

  9. Yes.
    I wonder if God doesn't feel the same way about us sometimes.
    Maybe most times.

  10. God always hopes. He never gives up on us. He endured a lot for us.His love aches for us...even more than a mother aches for a lost child.

  11. I just read an excerpt of Jeff Goins' new book on Duane Scott's blog. I think the book is called Wrecked. It was strange to read this, right after.

  12. beautiful. but i say that all the time don't i?
    even still. beautiful.

  13. I gasped when I read today's post. Let me know when I can breathe again.

  14. So beautifully put girl. I can feel your heart breaking a you are just a smudge undone. Praying for you and them...

  15. Hi Shannan! I just found your blog about a week ago through a recommendation from another blog that I read. And I just must say... you are so precious! I have just fallen in love with you and your beautiful family! Reading your blog each night after I tuck my three little ones into bed has become one of my favorite parts of the day... I look forward to reading as much as I can each night as your words are so inspiring! We are in the process of adopting our baby girl from Ethiopia! We have been been in the process for almost two years. I just wanted to drop in and tell you that I am so happy that the Lord led me to your blog. Only wish you lived right down the street! (:

  16. Shannan, i feel your ache in those words. we have let countless souls into our lives (35 to date) and have had to watch them stumble and fall countless times. we ache and we pray for them. and as others have said, we continue to hold onto hope. Hold fast.

  17. Yes. This is the beautiful, terrifying risk of relationship. So often I choose safe because, well, it's safe. {And also, I have a mile-wide lazy streak the older I get.} But sometimes safe is a copout.

    I love the pic of your new home. And your post about fear--I needed the reminder that the voice of fear isn't His.

  18. I love how your heart loves - beating wildly and full of hope.

  19. Your words.....they are so beautiful, so powerful, so touching. Praying with you, Friend.