Hurt People…

Go ahead. Finish the sentence.

Hurt people…hurt people.

You’ve heard it a million times. And so have I. And we hear it because there is truth in it. All you need to do is watch the news. Or a crime show. Or read statistics.
The vast majority of people in the world who do horribly evil things to other people…have been hurt. And badly. In their lifetime. And more specifically…in their childhood.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this phrase uttered each time we welcome another child into our home. Sometimes I disregard it because the person saying it is issuing a flippant warning based on some far-fetched tale they heard from someone somewhere.
But often…usually…this phrase is said from a heart of love. A thought of concern. A warning from facts. And it should be listened to. It should be weighed. We should be protecting our families from those hurt people who could hurt people – both outside our homes and within.

I want you to hear me say that. We know. We get it. We have not chosen the “safest” pathway for our family. But we have done so with knowledge, with precautions, and with desperate prayers for God to be our faithful protector.


I want to share another side. A side that I believe to be just as truthful if not more so. I want to change this phrase around, turn it on it’s head. Because, you see, the past 4 years have brought many hurt people into my world. And I’ve learned something about these people.

Hurt people…love people.

They d0! Even those who appear to be the most unlikely to ever love another has shown love from a more true, more real, more beautiful place than I ever could.

You see, they know. They understand. They have been there. They have been hurt. And, more often than not, they turn that around in love.

I’m sharing this because there are some hurt people who hold my heart in each of their little hands. My children. Each and every child in my home is an absolutely beautiful example of this. Each and every one of them have been hurt. I’m not going to detail everything here, but please trust me on this. My children have seen and experienced things that no human being ever should – let alone an innocent child. And my children. They love other hurting children… people… with a fierceness and beauty that simply astounds me.

I remember the time I picked one up from school with a new baby in the car. There simply hadn’t been time to warn her. And I was worried. Her adoption was still new, still fragile. Her trust far from earned. What would this bring up? How would she react?
She greeted that baby with a beaming smile and a squeal of joy. And later that night? When she requested to feed him his bottle? I heard her whispering to him. All the fears and worries she was sure he had. She was whispering reassurances. Whispers of safety, love, and care.

I remember the time two of my older children brought in the mail. In it was a catalog. A literal catalog of children in our state who were waiting for adoptive homes. They could both read so they quickly figured out the purpose of this catalog. Soon they were both sitting there – with tears streaming down their cheeks – sitting together in a chair praying for each child pictured in that catalog.

I remember the time a little boy came for just a weekend. He was dirty, frightened, tough, and a little scary. He came with no shoes, no coat, no carseat, matted hair, and shorts…in February.
He was not kind. He was not gentle. But that didn’t stop my children. There was no fussing in the car as we rearranged carseats and seating situations. When we got home, one dug through the box of shoes to find a pair just his size. Another went to her special stash of bath toys to find ones she thought he would like. Yet another picked out a special stuffed animal (one of her own) to give to him.
And when he left after that weekend? Those shoes. Those bath toys. That special stuffed animal. Those things went with him. Because my children insisted on it.

I remember a conversation we had just a couple weeks ago as we prepared to welcome two new little ones. We were discussing how to best welcome these precious souls.
One child: “…and we shouldn’t just hug them a whole bunch, like not all the time.” (This particular subject is one she has heard a lot about recently.)
Second child: “But some hugs are nice. Because I remember when I first came to your house, you (gesturing to first child) hugged me and even though it was a little weird since I didn’t really know you, it helped me know I would be safe here.”

I remember a time in the car…
(The car is the BEST place for quality conversations, by the way. There is something about the close proximity without the need for eye contact that spurs the pouring out of little hearts. We spend so much time in the car, but I just won’t give it up or pass it off to another for this reason.)
I remember a time in the car. We had passed a familiar landmark and the young soul in the front seat had told me a story. At this point, I was extremely grateful for the need to keep my eyes on the road because they had filled suddenly and simultaneously with hot and angry tears. It was a short story. A simple retelling of hurt and pain. Hurt and pain from someone who should’ve protected and loved.
And then, the words: “But I still love her. So much. I just do and I always will. And if I see her again, I will hug her. Because I know she’s sad. And when moms are sad they need a hug.”

I remember a time, just recently. A time when I heard a cry from an upstairs bedroom. I knew I would need to go back upstairs. Again. To pat the tiny back, sing soft songs, reassure of safety. But I turned on the video monitor first, to assess the rest of the room. I turned it on just in time to see a two-year-old – honestly, one who is still learning to curb his rather selfish side. A two-year-old who’s “things” are very important to him. I saw him climb out of his bed. I saw him reach into the crib and pat the small back. Then he returned to his bed, just long enough to get one of his special blankies. And I watched him return to that crib, stuffing the blankie between the slats until it was inside the crib.

You see, my children have been hurt. In unspeakable, horrifying, terrible ways. They have been hurt, and yet they love. They love well. They love deeply. They love truly.

Their things get broken. Their hair gets pulled. They have to give up space and time and things. Their family grows and shrinks in the blink of an eye – often with hardly any warning.
And they love.
They say ‘hello’ and they say ‘good-bye.’ They see the ones who have hurt them most.
And they love.
Plans change. Special occasions morph and shift. Family outings are clumsy and awkward. Daily traditions are thrown out the window for a time.
And they love.

I see these things and I’m astounded. Humbled. Brought to my knees in thankfulness.
These are things I could never teach. Strengths I have not been asked to show.
This love is a reflection of their Creator God. The one watches over this broken world. The Savior who has promised redemption.

He loves. And they love. From the depths of their tiny hurting hearts. These precious, darling, hurting people. They love.


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And On The 7th Day…We Cried

The morning started beautifully. Our two new babies had their first visit and my regular “at home babies” melted peacefully back into old routines, play rhythms, and camaraderie.

I got projects done. Oh my, did I ever!! I labeled things and sorted things. I organized and I scrubbed. This was glorious. And I had grand plans for the rest of the day.

But the rest of the day? It broke me. It broke all of us.

I knew it would be broken from the minute they came home. Home from a visit. Back home to us.

He saw me. And he started to sob. Like, a really grown up, deep down, heart breaking sobbing.
He covered his face in his chubby little hands and he sobbed.
I tried to hold him. To comfort him. To sing him songs. To soothe his little heart.
He only sobbed harder.
So we sat there. And we sobbed. Together. Hearts breaking.

And it was as if those tears, the sight of others losing the facade of control, broke the dam in all the little watching hearts.
And we cried.
All day.

Baby girl cried. She was inconsolable. She didn’t want to be held, she didn’t want to be swaddled. She didn’t want to have tummy time, she didn’t want to play on her back. She didn’t want to eat and she didn’t need to burp. She just cried.

And our new little boy, he just continued to cry. All through lunch. Crying himself to sleep at naptime. Waking up in tears. Refusing snack while sobbing. Standing to the side watching others play – in tears. Just crying.
And occassionally. Occassionally he would stop. And he would scream at the top of his lungs. A terrible, heart-rending scream. Anger. Fear. Confusion. Chaos. I could hear it all in that scream.
And I would cry.

My other children cried to.

One of them followed me around everywhere with his favorite book. “Read, me, Mama?” “Read, me, Mama?” And I would stop. Over and over and over again. And I would scoop that precious little body into my lap. Reading those same 5 pages again and again. Kissing away the tears on the little tear-stained cheeks. Reassuring. Loving. Reading.

And the littlest of our “regular” ones. He’s been the baby for over a year until this past week. I learned something about him today. He’s my little peacemaker. And his love displayed to others – others who were angry and unkind to him – it was beautiful to behold. But the tears he shed were so very sad. Tears much like mine. Recognizing the need…and recognizing the inability to meet the need.

And my girls. They cried. They cried over missed naptimes and incorrect papers from school. They cried over pants on backwards and snacks that weren’t “yummy.” They cried when I needed their help and they cried when I sent them to play.

And I cried. From exhaustion. From defeat. From hopelessness. From pain.

We cried.
We cried through driving time, playing time, supper time, and bedtime.
We all just cried.

By God’s grace, Daddy was home for supper tonight. And he knew. He knew how little strength I had left. How fragile all the little lives around our table were. He knew.
And he was intent on making this family night.
After supper was over he went over the Bible lesson from Sunday school. Just yesterday.
He read the Scripture – Revelation. He taught.
Through song. Through memory work. Through examples. Through questions. Through charade.
We sang. We prayed. We laughed. We calmed.

And then it was bedtime. And the tears started right back up again.
But Mommy was refreshed. Just enough. From remembering.
The Lamb. The Lamb who was slain. Who was worthy. The Lamb. Who opened the scroll. Who made us members of the family. The Lamb. Worthy. Of all praise.

One at a time. To bed.
Our new little man first. Singing, crying, stroking the blond baby curls until those tired, blue, and very very sad eyes closed.
Then the other baby boys.
More songs. Rubbing noses, tickling under chins, the “I love you” contest. Familiar. Relaxing.
Then the little girls.
Blankets like burritos. Kisses on both cheeks.
And those big kids.
Thanking them for character shown. Reminding them of the family they belonged to. The one the Lamb had provided.

And now Mommy. Crying at the kitchen table. Tired. Worn. Utterly finite.
Thankful. Blessed. Resting. Trusting.
Remembering. The Lamb. The scroll. The family. The praise. The hope.
Because. Just a few chapters later.
That Lamb.
Wipes every tear from their eyes.
When every wrong is righted.
When all is made just right.
When sorrow is no more.
When Heaven comes to earth.

When we will cry. No more.


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Redemption Wins

The morning had been rough. Husband and wife were struggling to communicate. Time is short. Emotions are worn. Nerves are frayed. She found herself wondering as she drove the children to school how much the children picked up on tense words delivered over a phone call. And, if they did, if they also heard the words of repentenance and forgiveness. What showed most to the children? The sin? Or the grace and growth? Could they still see Jesus in their parents’ marriage?

She interrupted her thoughts to tune back in to the child who had been speaking to her throughout her troubled pondering:

“…and then when I finish school I want to become a foster parent so that I can give a safe home to kids like me. And then I want to marry a lady who wants to love foster children. I didn’t think I would ever get married. But you and dad make it look so fun to be married. I think marriage is a good thing now.”

And redemption wins.


She must’ve stumbled 7 times between the door and the kitchen table. Toys, diapers, blankets, books, and boxes that needed to go to the attic littered the floor. Tears filled her eyes as she surveyed the house. The week had been extra full of court appointments, school meetings, doctor appointments, and behavior issues. Would she ever find a balance? Would the house always be this messy? Could her children even see Jesus shining through the mess in their home?

Screaming and angry words came tumbling down from the upstairs. Another squabble. More fighting. No time to clean up.

She dodged the piles on the stairs (yes, it had come to that) as she went up to talk to the squabbling children upstairs. More piles in the hallway.

One child needed some more in depth talking than the bedroom would allow. Into the bathroom they went surrounded by piles of laundry. Piles and piles.

Tears. Talking. Finally…

“Mommy, I need Jesus to die for sins.”
“He did, sweetie. That’s why Jesus died on the cross. It was for our sins.”
“But I need Him to die for ME!!! I need His help!”

And redemption wins.


She giggled.

The sound jolted through this mommy’s heart even as her eyes filled with tears.

She had giggled!

It had been a little over a year they had known this precious girl. Every day, several times a day, when husband and wife kissed or embraced there was no giggle. Instead eyes were covered. Tears. Shaking. Fear.

But today. There in the car, when Daddy leaned in to give Mommy a big, loud, silly kiss.

She giggled.

And redemption wins.


Another court date. Another horrific day at school. Dangerous and disrespectful behavior. Numerous phone calls and texts. There were interventions and restraints. Nothing was reaching this child who was running from an unexpressed fear with unrestrained vehemence.

An early pickup was required. Tears and repentance came but hearts were still so heavy. How to help this hurting child understand the correct way to handle this all-encompassing fear??

A new service provider was filling in for the evening visit. This brought more fear and uncertainty into the young life. Other options were discussed, but in the end it was deteremined that this was how it needed to be. Reassurances were given, but the fear remained.

When the visit was over, he came running in the door ecstatic: “Hey, Mom, guess what!? (He never called her Mom…) She’s awesome! And she’s a Christian! And she told me her favorite verse and it’s about praying when you’re scared!”

She thanked the service provider with tears in her eyes. The lady nodded. She understood.

She turned back around to his continued talking.

“And I was thinking. Sometime when I’m up later than the little kids, could you and I find verses about being afraid? And then could you teach me to memorize them? I don’t know how to memorize, but I’ve heard you memorize. And then when I’m afraid, maybe I could say the verses and remember to trust in God!”

She returned his very tightly squeezing hug as tears streamed down her cheeks.

And redemption wins.


She couldn’t stop starring out the kitchen window.

They were playing! Out in the yard!

Their brightly colored rain boots tromped through the mud and grass as they used sticks and sand buckets to collect a wide variety of interesting treasures. They were little best friends. Chatting about their finds. Exploring together. Completely at ease and free.

She couldn’t help but let her mind drift back. To the very first time she had tried to play with them outside.

Their little backs had stayed pressed against the sliding door in paralyzing fear. Nothing she said or did convinced them to leave that position of relative safety and venture out into the yard.

But today.
They were exploring.
No fear in sight.

And redemption wins.


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