Thursday, 5 May 2011

Will you celebrate your Mom on Sunday?

As Mother’s Day approaches there is a different feeling and emotion in here in Guam. We won’t be there to celebrate with our moms. We won’t be there with our friends to celebrate the great moms they have become. We won’t even be there to celebrate with the women who have been like moms to us.  But that doesn’t keep me from reflecting on the moms and the children whom I have had the experience of sharing life with.

Many of you know just how Ryan and I grew up.  We both come from homes with loving parents, plenty of food, encouraging atmospheres, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, and siblings to share after school adventures with. Christmas celebrated Christ’s birth with us receiving presents, birthdays were stocked with gifts and a cake glowing with candles, Easter complete with dyed eggs, chocolate bunnies, and all the Peeps you can eat. Winter promised snow days spent sledding with cousins with the only break for a hot dog and lays potato chips. Summers were packed full of hours spent at the pool, weeks at camps, and family vacations. Fall came with new backpacks and the perfect trapper keeper and Friday nights spent at Pizza Hut and the local football games.  Weeknights included being shuttled to dance class or football practice, Patch the Pirate or AWANNA at Wednesday night church, tutoring or a variety of other event.  Weekends promised time with friends, church activities, adventures with grandparents and memories to last a lifetime.

We could not have asked for better childhoods. It is the ideal way to grow up. As many of you know, there are millions of children who do not have moms. They do not have parents. If they do have parents, I can promise, they are not parents like Ryan and I have. As Mother’s Day is just around the corner I sit and think of those I have loved on, prayed for, and cried with. As you celebrate your mom or are celebrated as a mom, please say an extra prayer for those who have no one or no reason to celebrate.

We all know I am not a mom (and no there is no thought of that coming any time soon, sorry moms) but what I have shared with a few of these children makes it feel like they are my own. They are children who have impacted my life, I see their faces when I close my eyes, I have carried them across streams, picked them up with they have fallen, felt that knot in my stomach as they leave from camp, been thrilled beyond words to see them open Christmas presents, rejoiced in sharing ice cream on the front porch, cleaned their injuries, and have been totally devastated as they fall into the temptations of the world. May I share just a few of these children with you? Can I give you a couple of faces to think about as you celebrate your mom?

Alex is a little boy who was in my second group of children while working for Livada Orphan Care (LOC) in Romania. Alex just turned 3 when I had him at camp. He was precious. His smile is contagious, his blue eyes intoxicating. He was abandoned by his parents and was living in a group home with 10 other little boys. He was the first child I fell in love with. I remember getting back to the city to email my mom and asking (in all seriousness) “if I stick him in my suitcase, will you help me raise him?” I had the chance to chase him around the playground, clean his face and hands after meals, tell him bedtime stories, and have him fall asleep in my arms. Childhood moments his mom will never experience.

Grant and I have a wonderful relationship. We have never questioned if we are actually related, or if there is another one of us out there somewhere. But that same week of camp, another one of my little guys, Ionuts (4 years old), was reunited by Bruce Thomas (founder of LOC) with his 9 year old sister, Ana Maria, after 3 years. Ionuts is the youngest of 7 children who were taken from their parents after the father had abused them. The reunion was breath taking.  They spent every waking moment for the next 3 days together. Since then I have wondered why their mom didn’t protect them. Why she didn’t see the value of the sibling relationship and the preciousness of her children.

Catalina is a beautiful 10 year old little girl whom I fell in love with the first time I met her. She quickly became my favorite the first week I was in Romania. All summer I spent sharing the love of God with her. It was week 8 when I heard her come running out of the building screaming my name. She ran across the field, jumped in my arms and started screaming with joy at me in Romanian. A translator came over to tell me, as she continued to scream, “I’m going to Heaven, I am going to Heaven. Jesus is my heart”.  I hugged her as tight as I could and she asked “are you really my sister now?” Yes, Catalina, I am your sister. You now have a Father, and a family. As heart breaking as it is to share, Catalina has since chosen to leave the care of Livada and (last I heard) is living with her boyfriend. My eyes are full of tears as I write this, I couldn’t speak right now if I had too. My heart breaks for this little life that doesn’t realize the value of her self and has walked off the path God has planned for her.

Neosporin, and place your favorite band-aid over it? Did she prepare you to share the good news through all the pain and challenges that have made you the person you are today?

As you celebrate your mom I ask, how can you change the life of just one child? If I have impacted the lives of the above mentioned children by just a fraction of how they have impacted me it as worth all the sacrifice. Quoting C. Thomas Davis in Fields of the Fatherless “Proverbs promises ‘he who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what He is given’ (19:17).  A lifelong blessing will attach itself to your life when you follow the instructions of the Lord and join Him at work in His favorite fields.”

Mom, thank you for keeping me. Thank you for providing a safe place to sit with my brother in front of the picture window. Thank you for loving me even when it was tough for both of us. Thank you for cleaning my wounds and sending me off to change the world. I would not be the woman I am today without your unconditional love.

Mom (Leslie Cassell), I thank you for loving me and taking care of me through my younger years.  I am missing another Mothers Day, but I am proud to brag about the mom you are.  Thank you for the godly ways you live and have taught me to live. You are the best mom I ever had!  Happy Mothers Day.

To all the women who have been like mothers to Ryan and I we say thank you. May your day be blessed for investing in our lives and growing us into the people we are today. Know we are celebrating you from our rock in the middle of the pacific. 


  1. That was beautiful Emily!! Definitely brought tears to my eyes (no actually streaming down my face). Thank you!!!

  2. I came back from Kenya and read this. I totally understand. You expressed that way better than I could have. Thank you...

    Love and miss you!