Some happy Mother’s Days are out of this world

As my girls and I made plans for Mother’s Day, I glanced at the photo under glass on my desk, family gathered around my Mom. Her sweet smile. The familiar ache built in my chest, pulling me into the dark place, wishing I could have one more Mother’s Day to shower love on her.Mother's Day joy

Then I realized that our little brother, Mac, who drowned when he was three, is in heaven celebrating with her.

little brother Mac
Malcom Bayard Foard III

And she is there with her dear mother, celebrating the life of a true servant-hearted woman.


And my grandmother, Eleanor, is celebrating with her mother, Maria, who died when Grandmom was a girl.

Maria Tschanin Zimmerman
Maria Zimmerman

And Maria is celebrating with her mother from her native Switzerland that she fled during an Anabaptist persecution.

That’s as far back as I know family history on Mom’s side.

Enough to give me perspective.

Would I really want to drag Mom back to this little world, when so much has been opened up to her? So much joy. So much celebration. So much connection. So much life.


I stroke the face in the picture, say ‘I love you’ again, and release her into the hands of Love who holds her forever.

Real love is like that, isn’t it? Loving, holding, and then releasing when necessary.

For the first time, I am truly ready to pick up the mantle my brother offered after Mom’s funeral—the matriarch of the family.

To continue to hold them all up in prayer, no matter how large the family grows.

To rejoice in their accomplishments and weep with their pain.

And to smile when my family is gathered around me.

Grammi love
Grammi love
grandchild fun at Easter
egg dying with grands
three generations at Christmas
three generations at Christmas
Siesta Key
Fun in the surf

The circle goes on.

So good. So good.

Never too late for a father

tombstoneMore than forty years since we buried him, today I awoke and thought about my father, how his life and death have influenced me. The Commander, The Old Man, Daddy, or @#$%^##, as he was called by me or my siblings, was admired in the Navy, a strong officer and early-on initiator of civil rights reform. Personally, he struggled with his own demons.

And his family suffered.

An alcoholic, abusive, a “womanizer,” a man with a huge hand and the rage to match it that terrorized me throughout my childhood, he sent me to college with a profound Daddy-shaped whole in my being.

All my life, that gaping emptiness pushed me toward excessive shyness and insecurity in my younger years, and some poor life choices as I grew into adulthood.

It also ushered me into the hands of my heavenly Father.

Many times I felt as if I walked high above a rushing river, one foot on one beam and the other on another, shaky one, always threatening to send me tumbling into to raging water, and sure death.

By the time I received the call from my mother that Daddy was dying I was married with two adorable daughters and a marriage that was daily torture. I flew across the country, praying I would make it to my father’s bedside – the first prayer in quite a while.

The pain of my daily life had driven me into the desert, and I’d given up on what had seemed a God who didn’t hear, or wouldn’t. I hadn’t followed his will for my life, and figured I’d missed my chance with God.

To the surprise of his doctors, my father lived two more weeks after I arrived at the hospital. I stayed at his bedside caring for him while he was awake, then simply sitting and reading after he slipped into a coma.

The last night, about 3 AM, I looked up to see his blue eyes open, trained on me.

Full of love.

Due to a tracheotomy, he couldn’t speak, but I’d been his voice while there, and understood he wanted me to come closer. As I leaned over his bed, my long hair fell across his chest. He reached a shaky hand and stroked my hair – my first really pure, loving touch from my father.

I soaked it in.

As I blinked away tears, his eyes said he loved me – the kind of love I’d needed, yearned for, not the empty words I’d heard from a drunken abuser.

I whispered, “I love you, too, Daddy.”

He smiled, dropped his hand, closed his eyes and fell back into the coma.

In the morning, my mother arrived, finally rested from the long vigil she’d kept with him for months at Bethesda Navy hospital. I was totally exhausted. I patted Daddy’s unresponsive hand and left the isolation room to give my mother my chair by his side.

As I pulled off the mask and gown I’d worn while in his ICU isolation room, Mom tapped on the glass and motioned toward the bed. My father was awake, his eyes watching me. I was too tired to robe up again, so I waved, and went on to our room to collapse into a deep sleep.

Sometime later, Mom woke me. “Daddy’s gone.”

All six months they’d been there, she’d been gathering the courage to talk with him about Jesus. Seeing him awake, she told him how God loved the world, and him, so much that he’d given his son. She told him Jesus died for him, to clean him of all his sin. When she asked if he wanted to accept that gift of life from Jesus he nodded yes. She asked if he wanted her to pray for him, and he again nodded yes.

After the prayer, he closed his eyes and died.

As I listened, at first it was anti-climactic. Not there for that moment, after all the hours at his side, I felt shorted.

But a few days later, while I read the passage from I Corinthians 15 for his funeral, I realized that if God could love and transform a man like my father, even in the last minutes of his life, then God could still love me and work in my life.

It was my father’s death that gave my life a new beginning.

It has taken years of work, counseling and prayer, and love from others to heal the ill effects of his impact on me.

Now, I am whole enough to be able to identify the strengths I have gained from him, both genetically and learned by example.

And I am grateful for my father.

I share this today because some of you have also had a father who has harmed, abandoned, or simply ignored you. I want to encourage you into the arms of a heavenly father who will never hurt you or abandon you.

It is never too late for healing, for the pathway that once hurt you to be the one that gives you strength.

And for the man who is reading this who is that kind of father, and you hear the enemy telling you it is too late, you have gone too far, done too much or missed too much, I want to say, “As long as you are alive, it is never too late.”

Not too late to say you’re sorry.

Not too late to receive the same washing every one of us needs from the power in the death and resurrection of Jesus for us.

Not too late to express love to your child.

That makes for a truly happy father’s day, when the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children.

And to those good fathers, the ones who care for, love and protect their children, who interact with joy and sacrifice for your family, thank you. You make our world a better place.

Corrina and her dadAlex and his Dad

Cindys familyJack d Arielle Eylsse at beach 5 2014

True religion leads to compassion

True religion leads to compassion

Compassion has a special call on my life, in particular “True religion is this that you care for the widow and the orphan.” I’ve spent the last decade caring for my widowed mother. Now that she is set free in heaven, I turn to the other concern . . the orphan, the one with little or no voice, and a lifetime of emptiness unless someone comes to offer a heart and a home.

Most of us have seen dramatic scenes of orphans in foreign countries, but the need is also very close to home.

Right now, there are over 100,000 children in foster care in the U.S. waiting for adoption. 100,000 children with no certainly or continuity of love in their lives.

Far too many of them will time out of the system when they turn 18, unprepared for life alone, set loose without a life foundation a family provides, untethered.

Little wonder so many end up in prison within ten years. Where else will they be for Christmas or Thanksgiving, while families gather all around them, behind closed doors?

While 100,000 sounds overwhelming, it becomes less so if we break it down by state and look at the resources.

Texas edges out California for the sad honor of the highest number of children at risk, 13,091 children. My state of Florida comes in fourth, after New York, with 5,127 children waiting for forever homes.

How can our compassion move such numbers?

Look at the second column in the data below, which represents the number of churches in each state. Texas has more than twice the number of churches as available orphans. If half of the churches in Texas practice true religion and one family adopts a child, with the congregation supporting them, the foster system would be empty, except for emergency, temporary placements.

And over 13,000 lives left out in the cold in Texas would begin to heal and grow toward the light.

In Florida, in less than one out of three churches one family could adopt a child, and empty the list of Florida’s foster children waiting for adoption.

Look at your state and calculate the odds. They aren’t insurmountable, are they?

State Children Waiting FY 2012* Churches*
Alabama 1,155 10,760
Alaska 786 1,050
Arizona 2,910 3,771
Arkansas 1,020 6,343
California 13,091 22,798
Colorado 916 3,813
Connecticut 1,385 2,909
Delaware 243 1,009
District of Columbia 303 825
Florida 5,127 16,805
Georgia 1,645 14,380
Hawaii 223 1,163
Idaho 278 1,776
Illinois 2,936 13,097
Indiana 2,318 9,204
Iowa 961 4,766
Kansas 1,853 4,615
Kentucky 1,999 6,859
Louisiana 1,088 7,983
Maine 480 1,539
Maryland 559 5,816
Massachusetts 2,468 4,039
Michigan 3,583 11,169
Minnesota 983 5,628
Mississippi 890 7,718
Missouri 2,065 8,973
Montana 403 1,518
Nebraska 904 2,595
Nevada 1,879 1,248
New Hampshire 182 1,033
New Jersey 2,226 6,713
New Mexico 836 1,796
New York 6,056 14,767
North Carolina 2,070 17,625
North Dakota 210 1,252
Ohio 2,655 14,657
Oklahoma 2,803 6,737
Oregon 2,062 3,646
Pennsylvania 1,924 15,539
Rhode Island 223 703
South Carolina 1,330 9,479
South Dakota 397 1,368
Tennessee 2,514 11,179
Texas 13,148 27,505
Utah 566 2,582
Vermont 226 692
Virginia 1,517 10,952
Washington 2,865 5,393
West Virginia 1,404 3,432
Wisconsin 1,129 6,045
Wyoming 107 803
Puerto Rico 818
Total 101,719 348,067

Now, I’m personally too old to adopt, and have health problems that would even preclude fostering right now, but my heart is there. I can support those who do, and I am doing so right now with my words.

If you cannot adopt, perhaps you can help provide funding to people or programs for those who wish to adopt. You can offer respite care to foster parents, or ongoing support for those who adopt or foster.

Several families close to my heart have responded to this call. Some have adopted internationally as well as domestically.

The one I know the best, adopted at five weeks, is now almost six years old. Since he is African-American and his parents are Caucasian, it is unlikely he can ignore the obvious, that he isn’t “just like” his brother and sister. He’s asking questions about where he came from. Last week he asked his mother, “If I didn’t come from your tummy like (his siblings), then is the other tummy my mommy, too?” The conversation ensued, gentle answers to his probing questions, the why’s and how’s of it all. After he heard that his birth mother had been too young, etc. to care for him and gave him up for his good, he reflected. “That must have been sad for her (his birth mother). I am glad that God made something happy from something sad.

Happy with life and the world
Happy with life and the world

That is the key of adoption.

It is sad when a woman is pregnant and cannot, or will not, keep her child. (But at least she loved him enough to give the child life.)

When we, with a heart of compassion, step up the plate and care for the one who needs us, we are God’s hands, making something happy from something sad.

Check out these sites for more information.

On March 3-5, 1025, The Dropbox will air across the country. It’s an award-winning documentary on one man’s response to an orphan’s need, profoundly moving. You can watch the trailer here, and check out local theatres and buy tickets below. (I heard some cities are already sold out, so don’t wait until the last minute.) to buy tickets to The Drop Box.

Have you personally been touched by adoption, or are you contemplating opening your family heart to another?