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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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Entries in parenthood (32)


Happy 10th Birthday, Joshua

Ten years ago today, I was on bedrest in Baptist Hospital and Joshua tap-danced his way out of the womb. We like to tell the story at our house like this: Joshua entered the world via C-section like all McMurray boys. When the doctor pulled him out of my womb, Joshua grabbed a blue surgical rag on his way up. Dr. Growden’s jaw fell open wide at the site of this 4 pound baby boy gripping a quite large blue rag. He held onto it. “I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years!” exclaimed Dr. Growden.

Strength. A quiet strength possesses Joshua. I say it like that because it emanates from him something like his spirit shining through to say hello to the world. Once several years ago when Joshua had been wounded by life’s harshness, I drew a sketch of Joshua in my arms standing in front of the King of Kings in His Holy of Holies. That is what my soul could do for his soul at that time. Just bring him in my arms to Jesus. 

That sketch has come to mean a lot to me. I have begun to see it as myself bringing a younger wounded version of myself to Jesus. I can take my own inner child in my arms and bring her into the Presence. That is when inner healing happens. Being a mom is a lot like that. You see your children laugh, play, struggle, cry, grieve, push your buttons and you realize that it is pushing you farther in and making you a better person. 

In his ten short years, Joshua has done that for me. He has made me better. 

Every night as Matt and I put him to bed, we say thanks to God. Thank you, God, for choosing us to be his parents. We are blessed.

This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23


remembering Honduras

On the day we left our home of four years, the gravel crunched beneath our feet and I felt as if the Earth may fall away. The children lined up on the road at Rancho Ebenezer snailing their way to school on the first day back. We rounded the first bend in the steep dirt road to be greeted by two oxen pulling a cart and a Honduran man with a staff mumbling out commands only oxen understand. The man tipped his hat at us as the oxen seemed to imitate him with their horns. They saluted us goodbye. 

I memorized the road. The house with the geranium in a coffee tin stood as a reminder of my first trip down this mountain some 6 years earlier. The Honduran people had impacted me, changed me, with their easy smiles, gentle demeanor and determined generosity. On that trip we had inched down the road in a pick-up truck. Hondurans give pick-up a whole new meaning. When our load maxed out at around 20 people hanging off the sides and packed inside, we stopped and picked up four more walkers. The Hondurans smiled, scooched over and never uttered a word of complaint. The geranium house came to symbolize this people for me. They can do a lot with a little and smile the whole while. 

I swallowed hard and nodded goodbye to the pulpería (a small “corner” market) and the tears fell as my heart filled up with love. The soccer field across the street served as a local gathering spot. Just down the mountain, the health clinic and middle school buzzed with activity. We reached our top speed of 25 and hit the pavement a short while later. A fog of pollution and smoke hung over the city. I scanned the skyline and begged my brain to take it all in.

The crowded airport air hung around us like robes. Typical of the culture, the pseudo-line had dissolved into complete chaos. A short man with a belt-buckle the size of Texas pressed against my back. His breath on my neck was hotter than the sun. We held onto our boys and I tried not to wail out loud. My fingers read their faces like Braille. 

The crowd swallowed us up like a giant ameba and we had to let them go. The grief I felt was far heavier than Samuel in my arms.

The crowd pressed into a semi-circle around one doorway. Someone started shouting for us to let a disabled woman through. I remember looking on in a daze as the allegedly handicapped woman walked closely behind a man waving a walker over his head. 

Someone near me, an official I think, began yelling that I was getting high blood pressure and had a baby and needed passage. I might faint, he said, if they did not let me through. The crowd parted like so much Red Sea. Pressing forward in a stupor, I crossed the threshold of the security door with Sam (9 months) and Joshua (5). Matt and Matthew stayed with the crowd and the carry-on luggage. I located the correct gate and bee-lined it to the nearest window. I could not silence nor soften the sobs that wracked through my body. My forehead rested on the floor-to-ceiling-glass pane that separated me from the country I had grown to love and from my children. Desperately, I searched the parking lot below. I wanted one last glimpse of them. 

I felt a presence beside me. It was the woman of the walker. However, now she leaned on it and invaded my personal space. I was too emotional to notice and before I knew what hit me she enfolded me in some of the largest, warmest, most welcome arms I have ever been hugged by. I blubbered out some of my story and she comforted me with words I do not now remember. It had something to do with God’s timing and His sovereignty. Truth. I recognized it. Her words were right and healing and spoken with such kind compassion they did not sound cliché. She held me for a while – me and Sam with Joshua close by. I needed the words but mostly the arms. Finally, I looked up to see Matt and Matthew struggling like beasts of burden to the gate. He joined me at the window and we scanned to and fro. No sight of our boys. We boarded the plane and began our long journey away from Honduras and the children we loved.

While my family and I waited at the baggage carousel in Miami, I spotted the supposed handicapped angel. As I looked on incredulously, she heaved a giant trunk off the conveyor belt with the apparent ease of a wrestler. Was she handicapped? Had she experienced a miraculous healing? Was she a fraud? Was she a mirage? I do not know. All I know is that she was God’s perfect provision at the perfect time. 

Four years later to the day, I sit in profound awe of how He has provided perfectly for us. Often, I have questioned his timing. Lord, now? Or you want me to do what? Why? At times, the darkness of grief has enveloped me and I wondered if God was with me. On this side of it, four years later, I can say that He is true to His word. He never left me nor forsook me. 

I am grateful for the way Honduras changed me. I learned many lessons at the feet of Hondurans. One is the relevance of time. Another is the value of relationships. How to greet someone. How to hug. How to pray. How to serve. How to love. 

I went to Honduras to love Hondurans and yet their love profoundly changed me. 

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