For many years God has presented children to my mother's heart and gently asked if I could share love with them, too. I'm thankful for a husband who has not questioned why or how but who has thoughtfully and prayerfully said, "Yes." Some children arrived for a moment, some stayed for years, a few did not speak our language, fewer still were disabled from birth, a handful of them I may never even get to know, but all them were entrusted to my heart for a reason that I hope someday to understand. I think I've raised my children to grasp that their mother's love was not being spread thin for them during those times either. That with each child outside our family, my heart was made full, expanded and there was yet more motherly love to go around. None of them was asked to share a portion of my love for them.
There are children I've read about and maybe even one or two I've worked with who've scooped themselves a little piece of my heart because life seems especially unfair, overwhelmingly difficult, or downright appalling for them. When I left for Uganda on a mission trip just a few weeks ago, I knew there would be children who would wrap my heart up. I fully expected it. I even tried to make extra room before I met them face to face. What I couldn't know was most of them would be tween or teenagers. Holding the babies who weren't afraid of the color of my skin or hair or eyes was wonderful. Cuddling a toddler sucking her thumb while napping in my lap was bliss. Holding hands with six year olds who gently pressed on my skin to watch it turn a shade whiter or studied my unpolished fingernails gave me joy. The teenagers were more stand-offish. They weren't interested in personal contact. They wanted, they craved, they needed simply to be seen, to be recognized in the crowd, to share in a little conversation. They wanted to be helpful.