I have to tell you about Esther. (I adore her.)
It’s a God-given, doesn’t-make-sense kind of love because I don’t know much about her and I don’t speak the same language as her. I have no idea if we have anything in common, and, typically, when I approach Esther, her eyes bug out in apprehension as she curls further into herself.
I can’t shake the feeling to keep going though.
Esther’s always been at church. I’ve never talked to her, but she’s always been the overwhelmed lady hiding against the wall with teeny-tiny twins tied to her body.
Earlier this year, we built a home for an incredible family. Sifiso, Lizzy and their children have become an indelible part of our lives. They live very close to Esther. Lizzy is living out the Hope and Home she experienced when we built her house together, and is putting in into practice with Esther.
It’s the real thing – real love happening right there on the side of the mountain.
Lizzy and I often visit Esther together and scoop up those filth-covered babies and pray – even though Esther’s cringing.
One day in June, Lizzy casually announced to me, “I delivered Esther’s baby today. We didn’t have time to go to the clinic. I’ve never done it before. You should have the baby. You can keep him. She can’t do it.”
I had seen Esther days before – and had no idea she was even pregnant! Her under-developed 14-month old twin girls were always wrapped around that frail little body. That sweet lady with a medical chart full of reasons why she was unable to breastfeed her newborn, or even properly care for her other children, was maxed out.
Overwhelmed. Empty-eyed. And hopeless.
Esther lives in a tiny shack without very many options on the horizon. She answers to a husband who drinks the meager funds they do have for feeding the babies, her parents have passed away, and her brothers have removed her oldest child from her home and want to give the babies away.
There is not a quick-fix for such brokenness.
Sometimes you can’t build a home to make it better.
Sometimes you can’t give money to fill a need.
Esther’s needs go far beyond material possessions. Or circumstance improvement.
All of ours do.
But you have to start somewhere.
So we started bringing formula.
There weren’t words. There was no personal sharing.
There was only one hand reaching out to another to offer some formula.
Then, one day, those sorrowful, hollow eyes approached me at church and said, “Kacy, we need diapers.”
I was elated! We were still on the basic needs level, but she reached. She felt cared for enough to reach and to ask. Girlfriend got some diapers right away!
It’s because so many of you have reached into your pockets and given to Ten Thousand Homes that we could reach out to Esther to meet some basic needs. Because you have to start somewhere.
But meeting a physical need does not fill up empty eyes.
And empty eyes can’t get full when the stomachs that go with them are not.
I don’t ever want to make someone feel like a charity case. Or disable a family from self-sustaining. But something in me said to just keep going and just keep giving. And that this relationship had to start with the very most basic foundation of reaching in the most raw needs.
I’m not sure if Esther has been reached for before.
Or if she’s only been taken from.
So now Lizzy’s reaching, and we’re reaching… and we’re gonna fatten up those babies!
I pray for Esther, but I honestly don’t always know what to pray. Because sometimes I only think about what’s within reach.
But I’m here to tell you I’ve seen a miracle by the hand of the God whose arm is not too short – Whose reach is unfathomable to me.
Holly and Laura are visiting Ten Thousand Homes (TTH) for a Season of Service. They left their daily lives to enter ours for a season, and have held nothing back.
Holly has been working toward this trip for 3 years, and took a leave from her free-lance business as a professional hair and makeup artist for the entertainment industry in New York City. (She’s kind of a big deal, y’all.) Laura came back to TTH to give 3 months of herself before she follows God into the next giant leap of faith. She’s an incredible videographer and photographer and is dedicated to using her gifts for the glory of God. (I hope you’ve noticed that my blog photos are so much better when Laura’s around! She’s the real thing.)
With these two ultra-talented artists on hand, we decided to reach beyond the basics with Esther and Lizzy. Makeovers and a photo shoot!
Because something amazing happens when your hands reach for the unreached for – and they reach in the capacity that you were created for. When I asked them, Holly and Laura immediately got sparkly-eyed. And I hoped and hoped those sparkles, the ones that come from the Creator pouring in and through you, would overflow – or at least dribble – into Esther’s eyes.
Lizzy practically pranced down to Esther’s house. She was READY to be made into a model that day. And, let me just tell you, she’s a natural! And I think that has everything to do with being not just reached for… but being beheld.
Lizzy’s encountered hope. Lizzy knows family.
We practically had to drag Esther up the hill to Lizzy’s house. Her expressions clearly told us that she thought we were ridiculous.
And, for a minute, so did I.
This lady needs formula. And diapers. And medical care. And protection from her husband. And help.
Why were we pulling her out of her shack, away from her never-ending laundry, to do her makeup, paint her nails, and accessorize the outfit her baby had just soiled?
The physical needs are unending. The hope deficit is critical.
The sparkly-eyed artists put their hands to work.
They were unstoppable.
Their hands, their hearts, and their gifts stretched toward these women in full force. They held nothing back.
And we saw a few sparkles. We saw a hope flicker. And we laughed as Lizzy immediately transformed herself into a supermodel – and dreamt of what Esther’s photo shoot would be like one year from now, after fanning those tiny flames we saw.
|Lizzy's "before" photo|
|Beautiful Esther all made over.|
|Lizzy the super-model|
|Esther's, "What have you gotten me into!?!" face|
|But she goes with it!|
|The eyes of the beheld.|
|Do you see the sparkle!?!!|
|My contribution to this day: baby-holding, cat-calling, |
and booty-shaking to jump-start photo session. Oh, and also
providing the Dirty Dancing soundtrack for inspiration.
|Can't even handle it.|
|Neither can Lizzy.... so she tries to teach Esther how to model.|
|And this is what we get...|
But that wasn’t even the best part.
Lizzy and Esther proudly walked into church that Sunday with their makeup done and their new accessories on. They looked and felt beautiful. Esther had a confidence I had never seen. She held her babies with joy instead of burden.
A few days later, we took pictures to the ladies of our makeover/photo shoot day. When we walked up, Esther smiled! And her eyes danced! And then this happened….
|The team minus Carla|
This week, Esther showed up for our feeding program at the church… with her eyebrows done! (That’s when Holly lost her mind.) And then she pulled out the pictures to show the other women. (That’s when Laura lost hers.) And when she saw me, she jumped, screamed my name, and ran up and gave me a KISS ON THE LIPS! (That’s when I lost my mind… obviously.) She stayed and helped wash the dishes before tying the babies on to herself to walk down the hill.
Esther felt beautiful. She felt seen. She felt reached for.
|Esther at the feeding|
And even more than that, she felt like she belonged.
She is a part of something bigger than that shack, those crying, hungry mouths, and the conditions she can’t change.
When Holly and Laura sparkle-reached with their hands, their hearts, and their gifts, Esther experienced Her Maker’s hands, hearts and gifts.
Through their reaching, the King of Kings touched –and beheld- Esther.
He doesn’t need our arms, but we are invited into His grasp and to reach with Him. He gives us full, dancing, sparkling eyes – and plants something in us to spread it around.
Pray for Esther. And use your hands, your heart and your gifts and sparkle-reach for someone around you.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you… Lift up your eyes and look about you… Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy… Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.” –promises from Isaiah 60
EXTRA special thank you to Laura Uechi for the incredible, sparkle-filled photography. All (good) photos in this post by Laura.
Another EXTRA special thank you to Holly Ernst for generously giving your gift to make these women feel beautiful.
Thank you both for reaching and making His glory known through your gifts.