Can I be honest with you? I didn’t take the time I usually do to soak in a potential story, do some research, and then write out what thoughtful revelation the Lord emphasizes. Our family just returned from a surprise gift of free lodging in Lake Tahoe!
A newer friend offered his condo to our family as he traveled to South Africa. All we had to do was get ourselves up there.
I did have one umbrella revelation during our time away, as I observed, felt, and processed a few things that were happening: family is created.
Every moment of the trip was SO nourishing, so refreshing. Our family connected through unrushed days of hiking along the beach, in the forest, and to the ice cream parlor for scoops bigger than my head. We cheered on the Olympics and watched our young kids’ faces fill with inspiration at what their bodies can one day do if they focus like these athletes. We slept in [worth the whole trip alone—that, and a couple loaves of bacon cheese bread from a famous Danish Bakkery en route to Tahoe]. We found hidden lakes to teach the kids how to skip rocks among the 22 mile long endless-are-you-sure-we’re-not-looking-at-the-ocean?!-Lake Tahoe. It was exactly what we needed without us even knowing: a supernatural, creative act to build up our family.
Watching the Olympics, we also saw how “family is created” in the women’s gymnastics team. Last week, I reminisced about the awe and mastery we admired in Nadia Comăneci and Mary Lou Retton back in the day. They broke the mold about the limits of gymnastics. They kicked and double-flipped open the stadium ceiling for women! As many of us witnessed, it happened again with the U.S. women’s team. The five women on the team were unbeatable, pioneering moves and routines no one had imagined nor seen until now. Their gold medals, very-well deserved.
The impressing thing for me and my husband, Chris, was watching these young women’s faces as they supported each other through every rotation. They obviously celebrated together with hugs, kisses, and enormous, glittery wide-eyed smiles. This helped us picture behind the scenes: they had to endure intense trainings, trials and errors, emotional breaks, and great sacrifice to become these super athletes on the screen. They learned to trust each other in their vulnerable places and honor each other through the fire as they forged gold. They created a family with one another.
Even more profound is Simone Biles and her parents, her family. The day after Simone Biles defied physics on her floor routine (no exaggeration—physicists are rethinking their careers!) I read an article about her grace under pressure NOT on the gym mats but about her life outside of the sport. People continue to confuse Biles as not having been raised by her “real” parents. She and her younger sister were adopted out of foster care fifteen years ago—when she was four—by her grandparents. Her birth mother lost custody because of addiction. Simone Biles, at 19, has had to continually educate and correct misconceptions about this. Many people can’t seem to wrap their heads around how she could call her grandparents, “Mom” and “Dad.” They continue to try and clarify who her “real parents” are. Her response to this all has been clear perspective: “My parents are my parents and that’s it.”
Adoption is real. It is a choice to graft with another and become of the same family line. It is what Jesus has for every one of us. And it’s not temporary or substandard. God is our Real Dad, no qualifications needed. Knowing the Good, Good Father reflects to us the truth of who we are because we understand whose we are. Romans 8:14-16 tells us:
“ For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a]And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
In our lives as sons and daughters of God, sometimes we have to remind others that this distinction is real, even deeper than any bloodline we inherited on earth. At times, we have to remind ourselves that we are part of this Royal Family, that our inheritance and legacy are secure. We have a safe, always-available, never-abandoning, love-expanding, Father, Abba, that champions us, his dear children worthy of Gold!
As we kayaked to the tiny island in the middle of Emerald Bay, our ten year old son, Asa, paddled us in semi-circles that I course-corrected (quietly giggling) from the backseat. Caylao, bookended between us, amplified her little five year old director’s voice: “There! I see the castle at the top!” She trusted us to ‘drive’ her floating limo. Meanwhile, our middle daughter—petrified to leave shore—white-knuckled the sides of a second kayak that Chris paddled back and forth along the Bay, safe with just enough risk for Sami’s courage to surface.
Halfway to the island, Asa looked back and began yelling, “They’re coming! There they are!” We all turned to see Chris paddling towards us, a brave Sami pointing in our direction.
At the castle, the kids explored. Chris and I hugged, high-fived. Their joy sparked our own, and we surged, electrified with love for them. This love reminds us of what Abba feels for all his children. We have inherited the same family-making DNA to become each other’s safe, always-available, never-abandoning, love-expanding champions.
Your family in Christ,
~Ella deCastro Baron