Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Applause of Heaven

Part Five ( (Begin with Part One of the Family Connection series here)

Back in August, I wrote a post called Light Bulb Power. The title of that post came from a light bulb at Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on a wall of light bulbs that spells "Jesus is Life."

My son Roma lit one of those lights while he was there in the summer of 2014, affirming his new faith. The "light-bulb" image was reinforced by a seemingly casual comment made by a friend who said, "that's what you can hang on to, the idea of the light bulb going on." Wise words from a wise and Godly friend. So "Light Bulb" became a Sacred Echo, one of many. When I heard it, I would pray that my eyes be opened for illumination, as well as Roma's!

And then I forgot about the light bulb the last months of 2014. I got distracted with trauma, and life, and drama.
              *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

There are some stories one only shares in huddled privacy and hushed whispers to select people who are believers of astonishing stories.But I will share mine with anyone interested, because, as G.K. Chesterton declared, "The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen."

The last series of posts, from Hope for Restoration to Face to Face with Igor have stirred readers to contact me like never before. One reader, unknown to me, wrote, "Sounds like Honey has been busy working hard since she crossed the veil. It would seem too 'coincidental' that she was so curious about Roma's family and now it's all coming together." I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn't able to share the exciting news of finding Roma's family with my mother. ("Honey" is my late mother made known in this post)  Another wrote, "I have no doubt your mother knows all about this. I think she has a hand in it."Another wrote, "Not only does your mother know about this, she instigated it."

"It." "This" Vague words trying to describe events we cannot properly put into words. But people are embracing my astonishing stories.

I made some Spiritual Resolutions the end of last year, as I spent sacred time with my mother as she passed from this world to the Next. I determined I would be more intentional in seeking God, in SEEING Him in all situations. I have been rewarded with some great experiences! Unfortunately, most of the time my "ah ha" moments are delayed, because I forget to be intentional when seeking Him. I am ashamed to admit how blind I am!

On the evening of December 14, I sat in my study in front of my computer, as I do so often. I have a dinosaur of a desktop computer so I write in the same place consistently. My study has become a sanctuary for me. Often I sit to write, just waiting for God's inspiration to give me things to say.

As I sat in the otherwise empty house, on this particular Sunday evening, night fell. The only lights in the house were in my study. As I entered the open floor plan of my dark house, I was shocked to notice the battery-operated LED lights I had strung on my dining room chandelier chain were surprisingly lit. In the blackness of my house, the tiny bulbs shed a dim, ethereal light. I froze. How did
those lights come on? I turned the overhead light on, and clicked off the battery pack that powered the tiny glass lights the size of grape seeds. Always the thrifty consumer, I keep those battery operated lights off until someone is home to enjoy them. I was a little spooked, and locked the front door. I later chided myself for imagining the front door needed to be locked to keep out someone or something that would turn my lights on. I returned to my study after a short break.

Ten minutes later, I exited my study again. I gave the dining room chandelier a suspicious glance, relieved that the lights weren't lit again. My husband, is a scientist, and everything has a logical explanation to him. Perhaps the battery pack could just come on. There was a "timer" setting, which allowed the lights to burn for two hours. Perhaps there had been a malfunction. I laughed at myself for being afraid. But then I turned toward the family room. There, over the archway, where more lighted LED lights.

This frightened me in a way I was not expecting. But who expects lights to come on? I was still thinking "logical explanation." Although the lights had been up for two weeks, they had not lighted themselves once in that time. Now twice in a matter of a quarter hour. Still it was possible for them to spontaneously come on, I anticipated Bruce's explanation.

I headed back into my study. Next break was for something to eat. I smiled at my now dark chandelier and unlighted arch. Once in the kitchen, I turned on the light. I turned toward the dark family room. Through  the other archway, and could not believe what I was seeing.

I had bought six Mercury balls at a Christmas outlet in North Carolina with my sister. That was the last visit I spent with  my mother before she went into the hospital for the final time. The balls, six, eight, and ten inches in diameter had coiled white lights inside that lit at intervals, creating a shimmering effect. They are operated by batteries

On a shelf on the entertainment center sat a set of three mercury balls. The largest was shimmering.

I went to sleep that night, troubled over the meaning of the lights. Was it a warning of some kind? Was I crazy? Was I reading too much into this phenomenon that might have a logical explanation?

The next morning in my dark closet for prayer, I suddenly remembered my "light bulb" Sacred Echo. I also recalled my words to my mother as she lay dying. "I don't know how this works in Heaven, but if you can let me know your are all right, I will be watching for a Sign."

I slumped when I realized I had failed miserably at expecting a miracle that I had asked for. Was my mother that close, and I had missed her visit? And how quickly I had forgotten my Sacred Echo of light bulbs, of seeing the "light go on."

Remembering the words of readers giving my angelic mother credit for helping find Liana and the rest of my new Georgian and Russian families, I thought how this all might tie together. The unseen world can be seen better, when we have eyes to see, and that has been my prayer. Why am I surprised that God answered that prayer?

Two weeks later we were messaging Roma's family.

When I let my vivid imagination run wild (as if I have any control over my wildly wandering thoughts!) the most outrageous things seem possible. Maybe the evening of the lights going on was Honey's discovery of long deceased Igor. I imagine the Applause of  Heaven  as my mother, who I grieved so much during this most exciting news of family discovery, who herself had kept our curiosity alive about Igor, had just encountered the object of all our curiosity. A beautiful, tragic young man whose loving cousin had said of him, "It seems he was doomed from the beginning." Maybe now Igor had peace.

Continue here

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Face to Face with Igor

Part Four  

 (Begin with Part One of the Family Connection series here)

I first encountered Igor Romanovich Sudzhashvili in January 2002, in a stack of official documents translated into English from Russian. He was just a name, and that name stirred no particular emotion in me, as we prepared to adopt his son.

In truth, I was preoccupied by the copious paperwork required for an adoption that already threatened to send me into panic mode. I had no time for additional sentiment. I was on auto pilot, skimming information, but interested only in completing required paperwork that needed to be done, yesterday,

From that same stack, Liana's name had tugged at my heart, as had baby Rostilav's. They were helpless children. But Igor was an adult. The record stated that he was incarcerated. The mother was charged with neglect. A family was imploding.  What responsibility did he bear on the unfortunate state of his children? But I had not walked for even a inch in his apparently difficult shoes. I could not judge this man I would never know. I was just required to love his son.  

Roma's stories about his father, unlike the animated, joy-filled stories of Liana, were rare. There were a few, and I will share those at another time. Mostly, my mother is the one who kept our curiosity alive about Igor. Many times over the years, she wistfully studied the handsome features of my youngest son and rhetorically pondered, "Wouldn't you love to see a picture of his father?"

My mother died in October. I have thought of her many times since this new story we are living started to unfold in late December. She would have loved to hear the details, and see the pictures. I start to call and tell her new updates, and then I remember that she is not there. I like to believe my Godly mother, Honey, is "in the know" in Heaven! 

Thirteen years would pass before I would learn new and surprising information about Igor. The information would come from Igor's cousin, Lia,

Shortly after we located Roma's sister Liana, Lia reached out to me on Facebook. She was overjoyed when learning from Liana that Roma, lost for so long, was found! Her family had tried to help from neighboring Georgia when the mother lost custody of the children. But they were not allowed to cross the border into Russia to the north. After several attempts to save Roma, they learned of his adoption.

Lia's first messages to me in early January were praises to God. She called us "heroes" for saving Roma and loving him, and now sharing his pictures and his life with them again. Never once have I felt like a hero. Lia confessed that at first she cried every time she read my messages. I did the same with hers. Our communication is aided by Lia's beautiful nineteen-year-old daughter Elene, who reads and writes English very well. I am eager for the day we will all meet in person.I am just beginning to understand the proud and noble heritage of Roma's family. I am seeing my son with different eyes. One day he will understand the magnitude of this great and merciful Gift of revelation.

Igor at 5 or 6
Lia was born the same year as Igor in 1965. She remembers with love that she and Igor were more like sister and brother than cousins growing up. Lia's parents tried to intervene in young Igor's unhappy childhood. His mother had abandoned him when he was little. His father, Roman, who traveled long distances for extended periods for work, returned one day and found his wife gone, and young Igor relinquished to an orphanage. He went through the lengthy process of bringing Igor home. When Roman finally remarried, his new wife was harsh on the boy. Whenever possible, Lia's mother, Igor's aunt, brought him to spend time with them and lavish him with love.

Lia described Igor as sweet, sensitive, stubborn, and difficult at times. (Hmm. . . ) The difficult parts she blames on his painful childhood. Lia's affection for Igor is deep and genuine.

Lia's stories reveal Igor's love for Lia, too. She was his confidente who he trusted with his joys and his sorrows. The gifts he gave her of his time and talents remain priceless treasures to her.

As photos started loading on my computer screen from Liana and Lia, I sat dumbfounded! My mother, who was so curious about this man, could not have anticipated how much father and son resembled each other. Here I sat, face to face with Igor. Roma's father. This man whom I had felt nothing beyond indifference all these years sat starring back at me, almost pleading, reaching out to me across the decades. I finally understood his brokenness and pain.

Igor at 17

As Lia and Liana make Igor known to me, my deep compassion for him grows. Such a beautiful young man, so like his son, my son, who he never got to know. A young man filled with potential, and hopes, and dreams.

Surprises meet me at every corner.

I have shed buckets of tears for my new-found family from Russia and Georgia. I have cried for Igor, for Lia, for Liana, for Roma, for myself.

By the time I got to know and love him, Igor Sudzhashvili had been dead for eight years.

Continue here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lovely Liana

Part Three  (Begin with Part One of the Family Connection series here)

I have a dear seven-year-old grandson. Jack is full of life and a sense of awe and adventure. His sweet temperament and energetic enthusiasm for all topics reveal his vast potential. He is loved dearly by his sisters and brother, his mother and father, his aunts and uncles and cousins, and his grandparents. And not necessarily in that order of magnitude! Jack, who is secure and happy, is already making his impact.

If he was suddenly removed from my life, if he disappeared, I would be haunted forever by the mystery surrounding our precious and irreplaceable Jack.

Suppose we lived in a country where it was common to send children to foreign countries by way of adoption. What if we were informed Jack was scheduled to be shipped off to one of those  foreign countries, and I could visit one last time, to say my final goodbye. But when I arrived in my tearful state of utter despair, with a gift of candy, trying to be strong, I was told he was already gone. What if my desperate attempts to learn more yielded no information about his whereabouts or condition, but only dead-ended to a door that was securely locked. We would have no choice but to move on with life. But, of course, we would never forget him,

Never for a moment would we forget him.

Someone else's loved and irreplaceable seven-year-old brother, son, nephew, cousin, grandson became my son in April, 2002. In a temporary period of hopelessness, helplessness, and chaos, Roma's birthmother's parental rights were terminated. For almost thirteen years, Roma's Russian and Georgian families have asked questions for which they could find no answers. What had become of cute, precocious little Roma? Was he okay? Was he thriving?  Did he live with a family who would celebrate or discipline that witty, charming, bossy assertive personality? Was his potential being nurtured? Was he mistreated? Was he loved? Was he still alive? Infinite questions and mystery surrounded one loved and lost little boy.

Never for a moment would they forget him!

Do not misunderstand—I am not saying adoption is a bad thing. It is a wonderful, redemptive, God-ordained experience from my point of view. And for all the children who would otherwise have no families, adoption can literally save lives.  Blessings from our adoption have been incalculable. But there is another side, a story of loss. And this is Liana's story.

When lovely Liana's photo first flashed on my computer screen on December 30, 2014, I knew I already loved her. I had dreamed of her and this meeting for 13 years.

I cried as I began my first surreal message, "My dear, dear Liana, I have searched for you for a very long time . . . "  Through tears I translated her messages. Though foreign words peppered the translations from, her JOY gushed at seeing her little brother's photos for the first time in thirteen years. He was alive! He was not seven anymore. Her self-reproaches for not being able to save her precious little brother were heart wrenching. She was only seventeen years old. She had no power to prevent the adoption. She told of arriving at the orphanage to say her final goodbye, and he was already gone. The pain was still apparent. I cried for hours over that one image.

Since our first meeting, five weeks ago, Liana and I have messaged for hours. And we have cried for just as many. Random moments in those first days after our meeting, I would be overcome with tears. Tears for her loss, for her new joy, and even in her joy, sadness for lost years. But we cannot go back. We are grateful for this miraculous reunion from a merciful and loving Father. We will embrace this opportunity, and each other!

While her brother, my son, struggles with his understandably emotional tempest over this astounding development, Liana and I have become family. Our messages now end with blown kisses, and hearts, and Я люблю́ тебя́, which means "I love you," I think. At least that is what I want to say. The translation system is flawed and tedious, but as I get to know this beautiful mother and sister, wife and daughter, universal languages take over.

We have time to be patient as the ongoing story takes wild turns, and surprising characters from the past enter into this inspiring narrative. I am humbled by God's Presence in our midst!

God keeps giving me things to say. I will keep writing them down.

Stay tuned, and please remember us in prayer!

Continue with Part Four here