A cluster of three tornado’s tore through Bowling Green Kentucky on December 11, 2021. One an EF-3 which left a terrible wake of destruction through the college town in the southern part of the state. Two days prior, Mari’s grandmother passed away severing at least for this side of eternal life the close relationship between her and the tender-hearted girl of eleven. The month that ended 2021 was traumatic for Mari and came at the same time her young heart and conscious was awakening to the teachings her mother and father, Suzy and Shawn had spent years training her to be sensitive to.
Like many young children, Mari would be frightened by the severe thunderstorms that frequent the area in Kentucky she calls home. But the tornado brought the normal fears into a focus and intensity Mari couldn’t escape. Suzy, mentioned, “The destruction was everywhere we went in Bowling Green. It was especially evident on our way to church every week.” So, December intruded into Mari’s life with death and destruction. And her mind was becoming more aware of her need for redemption, forgiveness of sins, the hope of eternal life and her obligation to serve. All the things Shawn and Suzy had been teaching and living.
On, Wednesday April 13th, another powerful storm rolled through northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky. Once again tornado watches and warnings went out over weather channels and weather apps. Mari’s fears intensified, but this night her fears came together with hope and courage. She told mom and dad, “I want to be baptized”.
The picture you see is Mari as she came up out of the water and Suzy said, “Her first words were, ‘I’m not afraid anymore.” Suzy went on to say, “Mari is not a child that normally cries when she’s happy. But these were tears of deep joy.” And, Suzy said, they lasted, Mari, kept saying, “Momma I am so happy!”
Mari is the fiftieth Sacred Selections child to be baptized. I don’t think that, among all the other amazing pictures or stories I’ve seen or heard there is one more profound, moving, or symbolic of the power of caring for a fatherless child through adoption. We are so proud of Shawn, Suzy, we rejoice deeply with them and Mari and for every single family that has undertaken this work and labor of love to put a place at their table, to teach, admonish and nurture a child in the Lord.
I am also reminded of the inspiring words of Bill Gaither’s hymn, “Because He lives”.
How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and the joy that he gives
Oh but greater still, the calm assurance
We can face uncertain days because He lives
Jesus said it best, “For it is not the will of the Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” If God cares about it, we better care about it too.