Memorial Day has come and gone, and I am looking forward to the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” which will soon arrive. With summer comes the wonderful anticipation of REST: that warm and delicious, lounging-on-the-beach kind of rest that I love! This year, though, "summer" started earlier for me.
My husband and I spent Memorial Day in a little cottage on the Rhode Island coast. Only two blocks from the ocean, our tiny haven afforded us an opportunity to rest, relax, and refocus as we celebrated our 15th anniversary. Despite the still-chilly air in New England, and only a brief, obligatory appearance by the sun, we walked on the beach, dipped our toes in the water, and watched as hardier souls than we dared to submerge themselves in the icy ocean waters.
Have you ever felt guilty for something you didn't do? In this world of "Who's Who" and "American Idol," it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are inferior to others who are almost religiously celebrated for the amazing things they've done. Not surprisingly, God has been using this season of graduations, achievements, and reunions to sharpen my perspective on how to evaluate success.
"Lord, I’d like to see Betty Jane again before I die.
I won’t bother her or interrupt her life.
I just want to see what she looks like.
~Minka's prayer, May 22, 2006*
I can find no better tribute for Mother’s Day than the story I am about to share with you. If you have ever doubted whether God answers prayer, or wondered how He makes Himself known in tangible ways, you will simply love this!
The book is called The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up. It is the biography of Minka Disbrow, who waited and prayed for literally a lifetime to be reunited with her baby girl. Released this week by Tyndale House Publishing and written by her granddaughter, this story is an inspiring testimony of God's wonderful plan of redemption.
The innocent victim of a senseless rape, Minka was 16 when she released her newborn "Betty Jane" to a Lutheran foster family. Despite incredible pain and forced secrecy, this young mother created an astonishing family legacy through nothing but prayer and relentless dedication.
With only a photo of her baby and a heart that ached with a mother's love, Minka wrote dozens of letters to her daughter which were never answered. Still, she held on to her faith and Dutch tenacity, annually celebrating the birthday of a child she had held only briefly and then lost.
She kept that photo for 80 years. In May, 2006, prompted by the Holy Spirit, Minka asked the Lord to give her a chance to meet the daughter she had never stopped loving, before she died.
Now, through an incredible series of God-ordained events, Minka and her daughter (renamed Ruth) have finally met. Jenna Bush Hager had the privilege of interviewing them both together, and you can listen to their conversation on the Today show by clicking here.
What impressed me most about Minka's story, and what will inspire everyone who reads it, is the unconditional love this mother showed in the face of so many obstacles. It would be understandable for a young mother to reject a child who was the product of such a hideous crime. It would not be uncommon for a victim of a rape to refuse to forgive her perpetrator. And it would be easy to renounce God after surviving this and a lifetime of almost insurmountable challenges. But Minka did none of these things. She chose, instead, to forgive. To keep writing. To keep praying. To keep believing the best. And miraculously, she was rewarded in the end.
“She never forgot about me, Brian,” Ruth said. Her voice trembled.
“These letters . . . there are so many letters!”
“Letters? There are letters?”
“Yes, so many. She kept writing for years . . . asking about me.”
~The Waiting, p.261*
Minka's letters - over 60 inscriptions of love for Ruth, were eventually recovered and given to her daughter, along with all of the adoption papers. Two families, fractured by one traumatic event, were reunited. And it doesn't stop there.
The massive collaboration that has taken place in order to quickly publish the family's history (Minka is nearing the age of 103) is awe-inspiring. From authors to agents to publishers to television studios, her story is fast becoming viral. In Minka's own words, it is the power of God through decades of prayer. Even as I write, I am convinced of the urgency of the message God is trying to get across: He loves us. He never forgets us. As indelibly as that baby was etched in Minka's memory; as cherished as that photograph in her hands; so also, we are inscribed on the palms of God's hands.
Don't miss this wonderful testimony of the power of God to redeem human lives. Weep for Minka, yes, but then allow God to soften your heart to the lost children He is still trying to reach. Pray as you never have for hearts to be mended and for loved ones to be reunited with the One who, like a mother, never forgets His own.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on
the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
your walls are continually before Me.”
~Isaiah 49:15-16, NKJV
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014; Cover photos used with permission from Tyndale House Publishers. Reunion photo taken from video courtesy of Grant Huhn and used with permission. *Inset quotations from The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up; La Grow. Cathy, and Cindy Coloma. Carol Stream, Il: T yndale, 2014. Bible quotation from the New King James Version. Disclaimer: The writer received no financial compensation from Tyndale publishing for this article.
It has been said that the best defense is a good offense. As I have continued to meditate on the Psalms this week, I believe that is true, but with a qualification. I have noticed that our strategies for life are often far too wearying for us because we end up on the offensive lines when we shouldn’t be. We become tired and overwhelmed, trudging after the Lord reluctantly. We excuse or eliminate ourselves from His battles because we have already been expended fighting when we were not called to fight. In short, we miss the rest and refreshment He has provided for us along the way.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.