Faith, life, Parenting, Uncategorized
Comments 17

Desolation to Delight

She sat in the courtyard in the brilliant African sunshine.
Her dark skin failed to conceal the desolation in her eyes.
Her arms, weak from holding the child, now lay still and empty. Her hands rested on the cotton skirt that covered her thighs, her fingers played at the creases.
Her child, the boy, naked and brown with shining eyes and a perfect mouth, was in the arms of another, hungrily working at wrapping those flower-blossom lips around the bottle nipple.
His blanket was but a dirty square of fabric, ripped from something larger, to be made small enough to enfold the baby.
Swaddling clothes.
And I listened to the lilting voices speaking words that sounded like the tinkling of bells and falling water. I didn’t understand the language.
But the story was clear.
The baby was healthy, declared the staff nurse.
But malnourished.
The girl with the desolate eyes explained: no milk had come. He had slurped water from her cupped hand, lapped at the creases of her palm instead of the colostrum of her breast. She was, indeed, desolate.
Three days he’d been here, born on a day in November to a land called Africa. And such a world to great him. 
No father. A mother with no means at all to care for him.
Not a stitch of clothing, nor a diaper.
He was such a baby that anyone would be proud to call him son. Ten fingers, ten toes, alert eyes, strong neck. But in this suspended moment, he was no one, and every one of us, wrapped in the filth of earth thirsty for life and love and a chance.
We sat around the low, orphanage tables under the shade of some foreign tree and I watched the intake process. I listened to every syllable of the story, translated by a social worker.
She was only a girl, fifteen, raped in a bathroom she had been cleaning. And now, here she sat, empty with a single friend beside her.
Her friend explained she would keep the child if she could, but she had taken in a foundling, a little girl not yet two-years old. She couldn’t take any more; she herself had little income, poor by even Ethiopian standards. So, she brought the girl and the baby here, to the one place where there was hope.
Fatigue overcame desolation and she swooned on her stool.
“Had she yet seen a doctor?”, the question came.
“Was she bleeding still?”
We left the orphanage gates, perfect boy in the arms of competent nanny, and swept the young mother into the Land Cruiser to the hospital.
I sat beside her with a soul full of things to say and no words to say them. The Atlantic Ocean may have ridden those bumpy streets between us the gulf was so large.
Both of us mothers. Her the same age as my daughter, penniless and sick. Me, a daughter of luxury from the land of plenty. But I wanted more than anything to tell her: you will no longer be called Desolate. Your name is not Forsaken. Jesus came for you, and me, and that precious baby. You are his bride. He delights over you.
I squeezed her hand.
I prayed.
I begged God’s love and peace to flood her soul.
I noticed the smallest smile in her eyes as she said thank you. She turned and I watched her small frame pass through the hospital doors.
And later, when I held that child, and chose his first little, blue outfit, and when I fed him and changed his tiny diaper, I prayed salvation over him. I was only a visitor, but I’d seen a vision. And it altered my soul.
When I think of her I wonder, did she get to say goodbye?
Friend, we live in a broken world. We live with the distortion of sin inside us, around us, because of us.
But, we are not abandoned! Salvation and goodness can be found in every dire situation.
If you feel like your name is Desolate or Forsaken, you are not beyond redemption.
You are not beyond redemption.
The Lord sees. You.
He will claim you. And heal you. 
Isaiah 62:4
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” 
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” 
for the LORD delights in you
and will claim you as his bride.
I’ve linked up again with the amazing community that meets on Fridays at Lisa Jo’s. I usually go over the five-minute rule, but I do follow the rule of writing stories for the love of it!



    • Sylvia, there were so many layers in that experience; it was hard to distill it into something readable, actually. So much to feel and think about. Thank you for coming by the blog today.

  1. Dang, this rocks me to my core, and I was worried about getting my little one to the doctor for a cough. There are big, big things out there, things I don’t think about every day, but things I should.

    Thanks, Alyssa.

    • Amy, I don’t know if we can think of them every day, actually. We can have a spirit that is saddened by the things that make God sad and made happy by the things that bring God joy. This then, shapes our choices and helps us to live in a way that agrees with him…it’s those little choices. It tears me up, too, because I don’t know what to do with the stuff I know since I am so average and limited. My husband and I started small — we began buying coffee that profited the growers directly (economically and spiritually), we made a plan to live debt-free (still working on that) so that we could give more to projects that promote sustainable change….little choices add up 🙂 Bless you today.

  2. Teresa says

    ohh…My heart hurts when I read this…. Can I do more? What is the pricking I feel when it comes to Ethiopian children?????

    • My friend-
      You are loving and living it in front of two of them every day! You serve and pray and speak up and encourage. You amaze me. But, the squeezing of our souls does hurt and perhaps it should always.

  3. Tears well and heart opens and sees brokenness and pleads that He would help me see beautiful. May we ever keep both eyes open to see the world as He sees it and truly believe that He does all things well and pray for those who are in desperate need of Him…may we serve and give and pour out for others….

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Melanie-
      It’s harder to do in our own neighborhoods and cities, I think: seeing this brokenness and pleading that he would show us beauty. I agree, this should be a daily prayer. Bless you today 🙂

  4. Love of it is right, my dear. Right down to the soul. All the longing is squeezed out of my heart to read your story of redemption and delight. Thank you, thank you for sharing your heart. I’m so glad I stopped this evening. One moment. Change. Forever.

    • So glad to know you, Jessie!
      When I was in Ethiopia I felt a bit like Alice who fell down the rabbit hole. So much out of place and wrong and other things, like their worship and smiles, so very right. I learned that God delights in things that I knew nothing about and that there was so much I still lacked in my understanding of his love for this world.

      • “There is so much I lack in my understanding…” THIS sums up my life’s journey. I write on “perspective” a lot because I’m always learning how I miss it. 🙂

        I’m back. Had to show my hubby your post!

  5. This does hit at the core, the deepest part of our souls where God has connected us to each other with His steel threads of love. I’m so thankful for your message if hope here. Best writing I’ve seen in a long time. Thank you for sharing your gift.

    • Thank you Audra! I’m so glad to share these stories — they are meant to be told and not bottled up. Change happens with the telling and retelling of the redemption story. I just want to be a part of that–connected by those steal threads of love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s