16 years ago today a beautiful blue eyed, blonde haired angel was sent to this earth, and I was totally unaware.  Michael was not born to me, in fact he was about four years old the first time I saw him and he made quite and impression. I was walking out of a bible study class on a Tuesday morning and I was nearly plowed over by a flash of a yellow t-shirt and bright blonde hair. In an effort in avoid knocking me over at the last second, I watched in amazement as this child defied gravity, it was like a scene from Matrix. To this day I am not sure how he did it, but he was side ways on the wall, feet off the ground, and laughing the whole time, as if time stood still for him, and gravity was not real in his world.
    Fast forward 2 years, and I was becoming the step-mother to that little blonde boy with “super-powers”. When we first began to blend my “all girl” family with Gary Blacks “all boy” family it was surprisingly a BLAST. We brought the balance to each others tribe that we desperately needed. The “chick family” needed some protection and fun, and the “fella family” needed some stabitily and calmness in their lives. We all got along brilliantly, and despite the outside attacks against us, and the people that wanted to destroy us; the seven of us just got closer and tighter all the time.    
    Michael was our biggest challenge, he wasn’t a bad kid, he just couldn’t seem to control himself, some days I thought he was going to wear us out completely…..he had energy that just would not stop. He had the face of angel, but he also seems to have no comprehension of consequence.  He was so wild, so impulsive, yet he was not mean spirited. That little guy was just carrying so much, and had so much going on inside him all the time, it would just seep out in the most loud and sometimes destructive ways.  I loved this boy with passion from the start, I could see his heart, I could see his hurt, I just kept praying and asking the Lord to show me how to love him the way he needed to be loved. How to be the Mother he needed me to be, to use me somehow to heal some of the wounds in this little guys heart

               Every weekend when we were becoming a family we would load up all the kids, the tents, and the boat, head up to the mountains just to  have some fun and get away from the madnes and the craziness.  One particular weekend in a small western town, Michael was set on buying this wooden gun. He worked and saved…and he was so excited when we drove to the same shop the next weekend to buy his desired gun. We took all the kids to a near by park to play and let Michael shoot the rubber bands from his gun into the air (and not at his siblings). Gary and I walked hand in hand and stumbled upon a fabulous tiny white historic Church, and went to get a closer look.  Knowing I love history, Gary pretended to be interested as I read the placard aloud, “Historical monument, over 150 years old, protected and preserved by the historical society of…’ BAM, BAM, BAM! What the????…..Gary and I both started running to the sound of wood, hitting wood with great force….I could see Michael…but my legs felt like they were stuck in mud and I could not move them fast enough. There was nothing sweet or angelic on Michaels face; his eyes were somehow not even blue, but dark. He had more physical strength than he should have been able to possess in his little body as he was slamming the end of his new gun into the fragile aged wood of the beautiful church. Hitting it, over and over, with everything he had, destroying them both, the look on his face was one of absence, as if in a trance. I was horrified, on every level. When I saw Gary s face I was even more horrified…. “Go sit in the car”….Gary said with a stern “dad” voice and took the gun from Michael. No longer was Michael in any trance, but snapped quickly back into a dire reality. He was fully awake now, and fully aware of the consequences.

Only quiet sad sounds came from the inside of the car, as we drove back to the cabin. Little whimpers and tears streamed down Michaels face, his little head hanging low, dreading the spanking to come. There was Gary’s heavy breathing, anger mixed with disappointment. Tyler, Alexis, and Emily were staring out the window, afraid to say anything; sad for Michael, and always a little relieved they were not in trouble them selves….even baby Caleb didn’t make a sound….and that was a miracle in itself, since he had at least 4 times the amount of words to use in a day for an average 3 year old.

I was quiet as well, taking it all in, and I was praying. And feeling very heavy. It did not take long for me to hear the voice, the whisper, the One I have known since I was a child. I prayed, “Lord, there has to be punishment for this, Michael is out of control, he has to understand that he has to control him self no matter how he feels, we can’t let him keep acting like this, especially as an example to the other kids, but God, I cant let Gary spank him….Look at him God…Look at him, my baby boy is hurting…..what do I do Lord…..”

Many times in my life those prayers have been met with silence, but this answer came instantly, ” You are right Lisa, someone has to pay for what was done, but NOT Michael”…and I knew……

When we got back to the cabin Gary called all five little ones into the bedroom, (all our kids were 8 years old and under at the time) and asked them to sit on the bed. Gary explained the salvation story about how Jesus Christ had not committed any sin in his life, but someone had to pay for all the sins we had committed as his children. It was a sacrifice of love that Jesus gave him self for us to die on the cross and take our sins, paying the price for what we had done and setting us free. The eyes of our little ones were larger than normal, and Gary continued…”Mommy feels like the Lord has told her that Michael has sinned, and he knows that what he did was wrong, but Mommy wants to take Michaels sin for him this time.” Michaels jaw, literally dropped open, and with that Gary took his belt off and proceeded to hit me with it, not once, but three times….I fell to my knees with the pain off it. I am certain that Gary laid it on extra thick for the dramatic effect, but the pain was intense. Gary and the other kids left the room, and Michael and I sat in silence for a moment…..”Why did you do that for me?”  His watery blue eyes asked looking up at me. “Because I love you more than I love me“….and with that his little arms wrapped around my neck, and we held each other and cried for what seemed like hours. After that day, Michael was different, he was still wild, like little boys should be, he was still full of energy and life…but so much of the hurt and the anger evaporated that day, we were both healed as God molded our hearts together in our tears. there was a trust and a bond that grew between us that day that nothing could ever destroy, no one could every take away.  When God molds hearts together, blood or distance does not matter.   Ten years later Michael continues to be one of the greatest joys of my life. Every morning when we are getting our coffee, and he hands me the creamer, he puts his arms around me, and tells me he loves me, he is so tall now, my head rests exactly where his heart is. He often hugs me for a while, and sometimes even strokes my hair.  I always tell him that is heart beats so fast, he says “It’s because I have such a high metabolism mom”….but I think it’s because there is a ridiculous amount of love rushing through that heart of his, every second of everyday, and it is just always struggling to keep up….

Happy 16th birthday Michael, Hope it is the best one yet,

 I certainly love you, way more than I love me, and it is so easy!