Extravagance from a Barn

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis

I became an orphan after my mom’s suicide. There were lots of reasons for this and truthfully, most could never be fully explained. It just happened and I was alone. The peace I have come to, however, after  almost 19 years, is that pointing fingers gets you nowhere. Every soul grieves in it’s own way and even within family we don’t always agree on what the way should be. People need space to process, to understand, to breathe. Each heart touched by tragedy has it’s own cracks, it’s own scars. We all experience the story from a different seat and judging the point of view you can’t see from your angle is madness. It’s a waste of time. It serves no greater good.

This weekend I experienced nothing short of a miracle. I prayed a simple prayer for over 18 years.

“God, show me where I came from.”

My previous knowledge of my family had come from a child’s view; the stories I knew by heart heard through the ears of a small girl. I wanted to look into eyes that were my eyes. I wanted to touch skin that was my skin. My heart learned to identify itself with a heavenly father. I made peace with a wrestling that tied me to an eternal home and an angelic clan. Yet even still, I wanted flesh and bones to cling to.

“God, show me where I came from.”

This yearning is the fertile soil that a passion for family ministry grew from. It’s the place I tilled and planted and cared for my  husband and my own children. I wanted, no needed, people to call my own.

My husband’s family scooped me up and adopted me as one of their clan. They call me daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, niece. I love them every minute of every day for the gracious ways they have loved me. They have loved me well. Yet I still prayed.

“God, show me where I came from.”

I wanted the connection again. I wanted to walk in a yard where generations had gone before me. I wanted to sit under a blanket stitched with loving hands that looked like mine. I wanted the recipes. I wanted to laugh at the inside jokes. I wanted the knowing glances and the finished sentences.

And then the call came.

A weekend gathering. A meal. A barn. My people. They called me and invited me home.


We ate and we laughed and I sat with Grand Daddy, who at 97 is sharper than many people half his age. He patted my hand and said he was so sorry for wasted years, time lost, decisions made in anger. Aren’t we all? My  kids snuggled in hay with other great-grandchildren and surrounded him. All of them were only slightly aware of the history, the stories, the joy and the pain. They smiled, not all-together sure how the DNA connected them, how their eyes matched.


His children sat with him, smiling, missing two. One because of work, one because of death. They, the carriers of the stories, smiling through pain and gladness, survivors of their own right, moving forward; letting go.


“God, show me where I came from.”

God answered. And as  he is accustomed to doing, he answered in the biggest and grandest of ways. There was a barn and a fire and a swing. There were stumps to sit on and turkey to eat. There was laughter and tears and hugging and clinging. There were questions and answers and knowing. There was healing. There was so much healing in that barn. I heard stories with fresh ears. I learned new pieces of history, pieces a child couldn’t have known. I leaned in and was embraced. I realized I was never an orphan, only a missing child. I have been found.

It was when I finally made peace with being without that God surprised me with a gift. I never gave up on asking but had come to be okay with the answer being negative. God is so faithful. He is so loving and he is so good. He is extravagant in the gifts he gives. As we enter this season of Advent, this time of waiting, I think about the people who prayed for hundreds of years for a word from God; an answer. They prayed to be connected. And then there was a barn where He displayed extravagance. This God of love couldn’t stand his people being separated from him by sin and they needed a Savior. He sent his one and only Son, not as a mighty warrior in a palace, but as a baby who needed a family. The one who would save the world came as a helpless child; a baby w ho needed touch and skin and love. A baby born into family.

I pray that you would hear the story fresh this year; that your heart would be fertile soil for beauty to grow. I pray that you would not give up on asking God for new revelation, new connections, and new perspective. I pray that you would see wounds heal and scars fade. I pray that you would know where you came from and know how to move forward. I pray you too, will experience extravagance from a barn.