Monday, April 18, 2016


Continued from Be Still, My Heart

"I dreamed about a huge whirlpool last night." Roma shared one morning on the drive in to work. I stole quick glances at his serious face as I drove.  I could tell he was still seeing the swirling water as he recounted it. "I stepped out the front door, and," he swung his arms out in front of him in wide circular motions, "the water was high and rushing in circles."  After he told me he felt "something big" was coming a week earlier, I listened intently as he shared his thoughts, whether sleeping or awake. 

His dream suddenly reminded me of my own. I shared the details with him. I was floating down a rapid river, observing crashed boats and trapped debris against the shore line on both sides. That was all. Just a scene of devastation.  

Is there anything to our dreams? Sigmund Freud certainly thought so. So did the inspired authors or the Bible. I have experienced strange "coincidences" with dreams all my life. So when, in a dream, a friend told me to "write all this  down" two years ago, retold in Angel and Demons, part one, I knew it wasn't simply a suggestion. I am grateful to have documented the series of miracles that began the following days.

I went through a season about twenty years ago, before adoption was on my radar, when I had vivid dreams, often just a "picture" dream, a broken doll, for example, but I would see the exact thing the following day. If you are skeptical, just do an online search for something like "dreaming something before it happens." Many others report similar experiences. Yes, it sounds weird, and makes me hesitant to confess. And, no, there is no scientific explanation for those who believe science can explain everything. The strange experiences ultimately resulted in my heightened consciousness of Something out there, greater than myself. That awareness put me on a quest, though superficial at the start, because I was ignorant of the cosmic depth I continue to this day to plumb.

I never saw any shoreline destruction or a whirlpool in the days after our dreams At least not literal ones. While writing this post, I just searched for the "meaning" of the dream of whirlpools, though I'm not sure who interprets the meaning of dreams, or how they can be trusted for reliability or accuracy. Then I searched for my river dream

I'm not going to get hung up on dreams and their meanings, although I will circle back to this at a later date. I'm acknowledging only that Roma and I were on the same frequency. There was a telepathy that connected us, with each other and with God. Years before I even knew there was a Roma, police delivered the playful, youngster (who was surely pushing buttons on the police car radio, maybe even asking to drive) to a Russian orphanage. As this was happening, God began His persistent Call for me to go get this boy! It took a while before I understood what was going on, and longer before I surrendered to a relentless, albeit benevolent Father-God whose ways are certainly not my ways. But I am thankful God saw some worthiness in me and potential to be transformed. The assignment of raising Roma was daunting, for sure, but an extravagant blessing for which I can only repay with future trust and surrender. 

Merciful God kept showing me that Roma's and my bond meant something in life. And that bond would continue after death. 

The topic of dreams will come up again in a later post. I Just wanted you to ruminate on the phenomenon for now. Please share if you have thoughts or have experienced similar encounters with dreams. 

Continue with Thanksgiving

Friday, April 15, 2016

Be Still, My Heart

Continued from Foreboding

After the first couple rocky weeks, Roma and our family settled into a copasetic rhythm. Roma worked. He was sweet and respectful. His texts were kind and grateful when asking me to change our routine for his transportation needs.

He made the semi-pro football team he tried out for, earning the quarterback position. Roma had to look the part, ordering more new equipment and practice clothing. His car fund dwindled, but he was so happy, I saved my financial advice for another time. And the consequence of no car was that I got to continue spending travel time with him.

Mother's Day, 2015
I yearned for wholeness for this beautiful young man who, in his never-humble opinion, believed he had already arrived at that destination.  I saw his vast potential and his abundant gifts. But he possessed a child-like innocence that was hardly compatible with real life. I remember an observation of  our adoption agency's social worker who was also an adoptive mom. She shared that her bio children had received eighteen years of in-family care. The adopted ones might need the same amount of time, even if they were 25 when they could leave the nest. I was finally ready to accept that possibility.

Roma was so dear, and, when not determined to be the boss, he was a delight. That's it. Roma delighted me. That in itself was a new mercy and miracle. God had brought him home and reminded me what a treasure he was. A "diamond in the rough," a teacher once called him. Yes, Roma's light shone more brightly than most, even if he wasn't yet fully polished. If he needed so stay home several more years, that would be okay.

The vision, in my War Room, if it were indeed that, haunted me, but I was determined not to allow fear in my heart. I pushed aside the sense of impending suffering that began just before Roma was released from Fork Union in March, 2013, for his blatant disregard for rules: his sixth offense of dipping tobacco. Likely it was that memory that fueled my overactive imagination and reignited an ember of dread, that led to a rogue thought in myprayer closet. I resolved to push out the darkness that infiltrated my current joy. Fear is always the enemy, trying to steal my peace each day, when I currently overflowed with gratitude.

Roma was going to a new church with his friend Tom. He talked about going to a young adult Bible study. He was hungry for Truth. He even agreed to visited the teen Bible study where I serve as a Kitchen lady, preparing the meals for the teens. But at twenty-one, Roma felt he was too old to continue with the group after his initial visit. He left a lasting impression on all in attendance with his relaxed demeanor and warm humor,  especially with the teenage girls. But he promised me he and Tom would find a Bible study for their age group.

"Mom, I feel like something big is coming," he told me one morning in the car on the forth week he was home. These trips to meet his boss were evolving into deep conversations about faith and the future. He would tell me about his dreams, searching for meaning in them.

"What do you think is coming, Roma?" I asked because his thoughts fascinated me. Even though he was like a kid, he always seemed to be on a rare frequency with God. I had witnessed his astounding spirituality on numerous occasions, and I had become expectant about seeing God work mightily in his life. One would have to be blind to miss God's activity. Even though he ran from God time after time, his Close Encounters spawned miracles on a regular basis for which I marveled from a front row seat.

He was vague about the something  he felt was coming.  But I leaned in to listen to "Roma's wisdom," as a friend called it. Roma had wisdom? Who knew? Certainly not I. I was always trying to impart some wisdom into Roma that I hardly was quiet and listened to him. I always recognized that something special about Roma, but my focus was being finely tuned.

So was this "something" Roma "felt" was "coming" the same "thing" I had felt for  three years? (Read Prodigal, Everyone where I first shared about that premonition of looming suffering.) Our minds were in sync in bizarre and astounding and hair-raising ways sometimes, a fine thread of telepathy connecting us. And Roma with God. And occasionally me with God, though I am praying to have my thread with God strengthened.

On November 13, Roma texted me, "I think it's started. France just got bombed. And I believe it's not the end of the attacks." So whatever Roma thought was the "something big" coming, he thought it was the starting to happen.
That night he posted on Facebook, "Oh we should be scared for what's coming to this country and what God is capable of. Look out for the signs." He was beginning to sound like an Old Testament prophet.
There are many parts of my story I am reluctant to share. But I have resolved to share all of it as truthfully as I can.  So, speaking of Old Testament prophets, one evening as I was reading the Bible, not intending to open randomly and read which is not my habit, I opened at Ezekiel and felt drawn to a passage. Ezekiel 24. My eyes fell on verse 15. And a new dread filled my spirit. 

The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, no shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men." So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.
The passage stirred something deep and primal in my gut. Again, I had to push it away. The verses had the power to send me into panic mode. But the verses were about Ezekiel's wife. Had my fear been directed in the wrong direction? Was God warning me about something or someone other than my son? 

Continue with Dreams

Monday, April 11, 2016


Continued from Succumbing to Hope

About three weeks into Roma's homecoming, a close friend was visiting and asked how our reunion with Roma was going. She had been by my side for the challenges of the past few years. She knew I had some trepidation about his return, fearful the pattern of coming and going, of hope and disappointment would repeat itself. I told her how his last six months away from the family had seemed to matured him, that I was more hopeful this time, and how well he was doing.When I said he was working on roofs, she grimaced. 

"You know that is a very dangerous job." She watched me closely to insure I was listening carefully to her warning.  "An astounding number of people die falling from ladders."

Her husband is a builder, and she works in the business end of the construction industry, so she knows well the dangers of the trade. 

 I was stunned. I had never considered Roma's life being at risk on the job. He had made plenty of bad choices with his free time, but I considered him safe at work. My shoulders slumped as I considered this new risk. But my friend, who had watched strong-willed Roma grow up next door, and I both knew I had no power to influence him. But I was suddenly obsessed with his safety.

"Roma, you need to find another job," I told him the next drive to work. "Working on roofs is a very dangerous job."

"Mom, don't be negative. I'm learning a  lot, and making money. My boss is going to South Carolina for a few weeks in the winter, so I'll probably have to get another job then. But I'm fine for now," he tried to quell my fears. Maybe I was overreacting.  

 A few days later on our morning drive to work, Roma was tying his shoelaces on his boots when I heard one snap. 

"Roma!" I said, louder than I intended. "You can't climb a ladder with broken shoelaces. You'll trip."

"Mom, chill," Roma almost yelled back. "You know how superstitious I am. Now I probably will fall."

"No, don't say that." I tried to calm us both. "Tie the ends together well, and tuck them into your boot. And be very careful!" 

I had to stop my negative thoughts. All the past months I was able to hand Roma over to God for His protection. I was able to put aside worry. Now that he was home and seemed to be doing well, finally, why couldn't I stop fretting about him. Did I truly believe what I claimed to believe about God's providential Power? I wasn't proving to be a very credible witness! I had to lay Roma down, and trust God, again.  

But the niggling worry didn't subside. Stubborn Roma! I should have used the reverse psychology that so often worked on him by telling him I thought roofing was the perfect job for him, that was the best he could do. That would have raised his hackles, and he would have proven me wrong. 

Strong-willed boy!  A year earlier, he had fought me for control over every aspect of his life. I had remained calm, remembering Roma had always been God's boy and if I worried, it meant I didn't trust God. Like Abraham had laid his cherished son Isaac as God had demanded, I had laid my cherished son Roma down before God, again, and again, realizing I had no power to make him do what I wanted, or to act in his best interest. I finally told him what should have been a relief for him. I said, "Roma, you can live your life your way. I will no longer have any expectations of you."

He looked at me with obvious sadness and said, "Mom, that is mean."

I knew my resignation would trouble Roma. But he couldn't have it both ways. He thrived on my high, and reasonable in light of his many talents, expectations of him. If he insisted on doing life his way, he would fail.  I wanted him to understand my reluctant surrender. 

One night Roma and I were talking about his stagnant car fund. He was borrowing back as much as he was contributing. He was sitting at the kitchen table and I was giving him some solid financial advice.

"Mom," (he always started his contemplative comments with "Mom," maybe to get my attention.) "Why do I need to save money?" His remark alarmed me a bit. Was he sliding back into irresponsible behavior? 

I explained the obvious, that everyone needs to get into a habit of not spending every penny they make. That we all need a reserve, in case of emergencies. Somehow his query made my heart ache.  Roma was an innocent. Almost "otherworldly." Would he ever get it? He just wanted to play ball and hang out with his friends. He didn't even notice when someone didn't like him or disrespected him.  Roma wasn't capable of being offended. If he got angry with his family or with a friend, he reached out quickly to apologize and make peace again. 

The next day after delivering him to his destination, I was praying for him in my darken War Room, named so after seeing the first ads of the movie by the same name. I wanted him to save his money. I wanted him to consider going back to school. I wanted him to find a new job. I wanted him to be a functioning member of society.  I wanted him to have more discussions with his sister Liana, as much for her broken heart as for his. After the first conversation on the last days of 2014, Roma seemed satisfied to have discovered Liana was alive and happy, with two sons of her own. But she seemed so distant from his seven-year-old memory, as if he had swam to safety on one side of the divide, as she faded in recession on the other side. He never expected to encounter her again, and he had to learn to live with that loss. Otherwise, he would be stuck, treading water in a vast emptiness. Currently, she might as well have been living on Mars, for the translating and awkwardness he felt was a barrier far too insurmountable. I pleaded with him, but he put me off every time I mentioned it. 

"Mom, I'm too emotional about it right now. I can't think about it today. One day, I promise, we will go visit. One day."

I could hardly force him, although my heart ached for sister Liana, and aunt Lia, and eager cousins who I had grown to love. For now, he seemed too satisfied to just play football, or basketball, and to hang out with friends, and work on roofs to fund those simple joys.

There in my War Room, failing to be still and knowing God is God, I fretted about God's most surprising and cherished Gift--Roma. 

''What will become of Roma?" I asked God aloud in my dark prayer closet. Suddenly I had a startling thought. Almost a picture.  A quick movement. Was it a vision? Although I sat on an ottoman in complete darkness, I saw, or imagined Roma falling from a tall ladder. And he was gone. Dead.  The image reduced me to sobs. 

"How could I ever live without dear Roma?" I asked the universe.

I immediately chided myself for my vivid imagination. That's all it was, right? I had to stop being negative. 

Continue with Be Still, My Heart

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Succumbing to Hope

Continued from Catching up

Being an extreme extrovert, Roma was happiest hanging out with people. This was obvious when I first laid cautious but adoring eyes on the active little seven-year-old, armed with a cheeky smile and big personality. He was asserting his will before he could speak English.  This mode of operation never decreased in vigor. Neighbors in my small community of twenty houses where we first lived when Roma arrived would report that the little fellow would knock on their doors and say, "I just came by to say hi." He loved people. He would visit his friends, often leaving the youth to seek out the adults in the home, just to talk, endearing himself to many. Roma spread himself around, never meeting a stranger. Soon most people in the community knew Roma. When they would meet me later, they would ask with fond smiles, "Are you Roma's mom."

I would answer, "Maaaybe." But it was always in jest, for I was so proud to be known as this precious boy's mother. Even if he wasn't behaving himself, I felt that no one blamed me because he was "adopted at seven." People thought we were such "nice people" for rescuing an orphan. I knew fully well, and told many, that Roma had been the one who rescued us.

When he returned in October, he revived his people skills. He reconnected with friends he had lost touch with, and he went out of his way to greet adults he had known. It was as if he slipped right back into the role of being the kid everyone loved. He hugged all adults from his past he hadn't seen for a while, and respectfully interacted with them, rightfully acknowledging their importance in his life. One friend recently shared that Roma had the ability of making everyone feel like they were his favorite.  

And after a couple of weeks home, after seeing all available friends, he even hung out with us occasionally. He brought a new friend from basketball home to meet us. I was impressed that Roma had such nice friends, friends of character.  He would invite friends over to watch ballgames with Bruce, and to our weekly Pizza Night, a tradition predating Roma, of neighbors who had become family over the years. Roma was home, enjoying the benefits of family.  

When he was home for dinner, he would come close to me, hang his arm about my neck and say, "Mom," like he had just had a great idea. "You want to fix me some potatoes?"  Of course, I did.

Potatoes were always Roma's favorite comfort food. The first evening seven-year-old Roma arrived at our house like a ricochet on steroids, he was going through the refrigerator once we finally confined him to the kitchen. He found potatoes in the bottom drawer. "Patoshka"  he said delightedly, standing up, holding one in each hand. I was more than happy to fix this man-child of twenty-one his cherished fried potatoes.  I would sit, happy to engage in conversation with him, occasionally fussing about the salt he poured on, as I had done since he was seven.

Roma was trying to save money for a car and insurance. He would hand me a wad of bills when he got paid, asking me to save it for his car fund. Then he would borrow some back for an outing with his friends. He stayed busy. He played volleyball on Monday nights, basketball on Thursday nights, pick-up games of basketball and football when he could entice enough friends to play, as well as working. He hardly had time for misbehaving!

He registered to play on a "semi pro" football team. Those practices were on Sunday afternoons. I got to drive him to practice too, sometimes annoyed that the car fund/activity fund canceled each other out. "Mom, remember, you said God said our time in the car was precious." That was enough to snap my heart back to a condition of gratitude. And patience.

 Roma was euphoric about football. He had played quarterback in public high school, but at Fork Union he switched to be a receiver,  starting on the offense and the defense. He was an All League receiver  for Pro-bound, Penn State quarterback, Christian Hackenberg.  A newspaper in Virginia had called them the "Dynamic Duo."  

Roma's early exit from Fork Union put a pause on a college football career for Roma. Not because colleges cared, but because we didn't trust him to go off to college and work at college goals other than football. He had to come home for a year and earn our trust. Instead he took a circuitous route, never really making it to college. I hadn't given up hope. He was smart enough. Even Taylor, five years Roma's senior, was just getting back to college in earnest.

"Mom, I'm so excited to be playing football again," he would say as he held his fists close to his chest, as if in an effort to keep himself from exploding from pure joy. And I was joyful for him. And about him. Sweet little Roma was back, the same enthusiastic boy he had been, before the boredom and rebellion of the teen years dulled his bright spirit.

I watched him with curiosity and listened with interest as he talked about his dreams for the future. His physical beauty was mesmerizing. I was captivated by the symmetry of his handsome face, his manly stubble (when did he lose the fuzz?), his dark wavy hair, and his dancing green eyes, so full of hope. It was contagious, for I grew hopeful too. 

Continue with Foreboding

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Catching up

Continued from A Grace Refined. 

Before I plow ahead, I'm going to take this opportunity to help readers catch up.

It has been difficult and emotional to continue to write blog posts after it appears my story with Roma has come to a tragic and abrupt end. But there is more to tell, so I'll keep writing. Each time I hit publish, I ask myself, who cares about this story now? But every few days, I receive messages from new readers and support from regulars. I am thankful for the encouragement their kind words offer.

I've always said that I feel as if I've lived a Divinely Directed movie. Those showing up late at this sad part of the movie must be confused and discouraged. Why bother now, now that the main character has permanently left the stage? I claim (and this would be news to my dear boy) Roma was not the main character in our story. God is. And He isn't leaving!

In order for these posts to make sense, I would recommend reading my book, But the Greatest of These is Love, published in 2012. God was there in the beginning, coaxing me to be a part of His Story. Did I want a major role in this chronicle of surrender? No. But God wouldn't take no for an answer. The characters were cast.

(I have reduced the price of the download to $1.99 to encourage people to join us. I noticed that there are a couple of paperback copies for $4.99 available for Amazon Prime free shipping. That's cheaper than I can buy my own books.)

Then catch up with the activities after the publication of the book with the exciting Hound of Heaven Winks series in mid 2014. What a season of overlapping God Appearances, with Him pulling more characters into our story, people I will love into eternity, people  whose own lives have changed as much as mine while witnessing the Power of God so vividly in Roma's scenes.

As 2014 came to a dramatic end, another series of blog post took off with unbelievably intricate webs of divine connections. I'm so thankful that I had been instructed in a dream six months earlier, prior to the Hound of Heaven Winks post, to "write all this down," or I might have been so caught up in the excitement, I might have forgotten to record it. Read the eleven part series that begins with the Hope of Restoration. It's almost a mini book by itself, a tragedy of Russian proportions. For twenty years, a family in the Caucasus Mountain region, between Russia and the Republic of Georgia, suffered turmoil which resulted in the devastating separation of a young family member. It was a Sacred moment to connect in cyberspace.

Robert Frost once observed, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." If that is true, there will be many tears in the reader, for I sobbed while learning and writing about this foreign family whom I now love and respect completely, and sincerely desire to meet in person one day.

After part eleven in the Family Connections series, readers can advance to the next post by clicking "Newer post" at the lower left of each page. Some are connected with links at the bottom.

I am reminded of an early blog series of three short posts, beginning with If You Write it, they will Read. I'm almost embarrassed at my earliest attempts of blog writing, but God was powerfully evident even then, so I share with humility and in awe that I had God stories to share all along this journey.

The agent I write about in part one is one I would like to contact again with another proposal, in case there is another book in the future.  As she said five years ago, if I had followers for my blog and I was enlarging my readership, and increasing my platform, whatever a platform is,  then she might be willing to represent me.

I have spent years trying to determine what my "platform" is. It appears that it has evolved into "To know God, and to make Him known." What a challenge and a joy to attempt that awesome feat. 

Hopefully new readers will find their way to Roma's scenes of God's unfolding story. Please tell your friends to follow along.  I would appreciate if you joined the blog on Google +, if possible. And engage with comments. Like the book's Facebook page. Write a review on Amazon. All this activity over But The Greatest of These is Love will indicate to a prospective agent this story has a future and a hope of transforming into a sequel.

Again, I am so thankful for the support and encouragement that has surrounded my family in our gut-wrenching loss over dear, sweet, strong-willed Roma. I am empowered by the continued interest in the ongoing story. The encouragement keeps trickling in.

Just last week, a woman introduced herself to me at a church where I attend Bible study. She told me she had read my book, just finishing the night before. She came to Bible study talking about the book and her new friend Roma. One of the ladies knew me and told her the heartbreaking news an hour before a mutual friend pointed her in my direction. She was downcast when she approached me. "Are you Debbie?"  She had fallen in love with Roma. She lived in the same neighborhood where he had attended elementary school.  She thought as she read that she would have liked to have known of the little Russian boy when he arrived, to help tutor him in English and learn Russian from him.  He was so handsome and sweet, she imagined  he would be a good catch for some deserving woman one day. Now she was heartsick. We hugged and parted, both in tears, as she said, "I'm going home now to have a good cry."  Yeah, me too.

Stay tuned. There is so much more to this story. 

Continue with Succumbing to Hope