Keys, Walls, and a Coat of Paint

The woman whose writing I get to share with you today has a true gift of encouragement. The words she’s shared with me, slid under the virtual fence as if we were neighbors, have nearly every time taken me back to Him. She’s got a big enough flock to not waste time on unnecessary words — what she says carries weight.

And, friends, this woman loves her man. The light in her children’s eyes, sent from Him, they clearly witness, first, under their roof. Often. There is beauty happening between their four walls and, here, Gillian lets us peek in.

(For the month of May and two weeks into June, I will be pressing pause on my online writing and this space will become a series of testimonies of what He births in the midst of delay, perplexity and pain. Author friends fromaround the country, who love words on a page and Him even more, will share, here, how they have seen Him make the bitter, sweet.)

… “So take nothing for granted.  Stay awake in prayer.”

Years of listening to our Father’s heart, let us know it was time…  Time to pick up the tools of a builder and the weapons of a protector…

For the harvest field of adoption is also a battle ground.

As we prepared to go to Ethiopia, we believed we were at the end of a journey,  a completion of the mercy heart that God had built in our family of six for the lost lambs of His world…  OH, how we were to find, this was only the beginning of LEARNING how to build…

And did we EVER over- pack!!

We laughed as my six foot five inch husband, Richard, sat down on our massive roller suitcase to zip it up. Heart and mind OVERFLOWED with hope and promises  saved up from our times spent with God in adoring, listening prayer during the  year we waited for our babies.  We also bulged with bits of helpful tips from adoption blogs and orphan psychology books…innocent intentions…and some romanticism…

As our plane inclined out of our world and into another, thankful tears rolled down my face.  Awe filled my heart…. In that quiet moment, as the plane’s wrestle with gravity pulled me against my seat, my spirit lifted into adoring prayer. And, a familiar, Fatherly voice spoke in my heart’s ear over and over again…

Words I had never memorized…

Phrases which truly mystified me,

“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” (Isaiah 58:12)

Apparently I was not at the end of a journey but at the beginning of another…

In the meantime…there were…these


For the year after his parents’ death, in the tenderness of his 2nd year of life, he grew behind walls of yellow stucco.

Sweet baby,  grieving…among so many.   Absence of Mommy gentleness or Daddy covering.  He was a favorite in the bustling orphanage…His caregivers would say, “This one is special”…or, “He has a good foundation.”   They hunted that year among the foreign dossier papers for a family for him…And while he waited, he found many arms to hold him… But none to bring round him the shielding love of a parents embrace…

{Here is Bruik, dressed in white}

He grew heart- hungry…restless…  Survival-wary…In an untended season, carefully places stones, placed by a mother’s hand, loosened…Tiny lines formed in this beautiful foundation .  In response to afflictions too heavy for a tiny “wall” to bear, they opened and grow long…

Love came!  And lifted him high!!

“Most of all, Love each other as if your life depended on it.”

{Richard gives Bruik a very high ride!}

Now in the joy and safety of a family’s love,  there was a place just for him.  Fear and many needs piggy-backed all this joy.  In those early days, of “home” the first English phrases he and his sister  learned  were, “Help me Jesus!”‘  from a mama covered in crying babies , crying out with arms upraised to her only source of help.   My “bag” looked pretty empty now…not a helpful tool in sight!!

Who knew that he thought our cat was a giant rat that ran around the house at night?  What images from the past danced in front of him to tease in the shadows until he sweated and screamed out in terror…yet without the words to process…anything.  EVERY tool in our previously overflowing bag of good intentions and psychology and tips was tried out, used up and discarded…TWO sets of “walls” seemed now to be crumbling… Primal wails rose in the midnight hours as we rocked this tiny, scared little boy and began to see common rubble laying at our feet,… his and now ours. As everything else of value or help faded away, only one resource lasted– God’s Presence…  “Go buy oil” God whispered.  Inquiries to Him…Our very survival depended on them. Like African children, we had been picked up, tied  on to Christ in colorful fabric of promise  and carried  close to His heart.

There I found rest in adoring prayer…and I felt safe to ask things like:

Father, tell me your thoughts about this one.”

“What are the keys that will reach his precious heart?”

Mostly, I listened and  was aware of God listening back.  Yet there were these glorious moments of “suddenlies” when I would look down and find a key in my hand.

One key was given in our third year as family.

Our walls now were joined up and contained sturdy dressings and places of beauty.…The Master Builder had taught us daily how He wanted cracks filled… lines smoothed …We sensed a power and beauty in the lines of this structure. Yet, there was this certain area of deadness and wounding.

No parenting technique could reach it. His room was emptied of all the fun stuff and there we sat on the carpet,… my tears raining on his curly hair and running all down to join the streams of his sadness.  I hugged him and hummed, heart lifting to a familiar place.

Adoration. And Inquiry

Prayer flowed in Amharic and English and in heavenly sounds…with tears and groans too deep to express…with the roar of a Mama lion’s heart.

You rock….when your world’s a wreck… there’s time to rock…a lot…

And God came … “Do the opposite”   He spoke to my heart.

“Love covers, love covers, Gillian…

Love covers a multitude of sins.

Paint the walls of his room.”

Now laughing, we stood on tarps.

We mixed paints into something new in the pan. We pushed rollers into all this color.  Dipping in, we dripped to the walls and wrote his name on the wall and drew hearts and other family names and silly things… and as we painted


Was this COVERING..

“We are painting LOVE on the walls, Bruik.”

“Mommy, look!  I’m hugged by love in my room!!”

“Can you find your name under all this love?”

Love makes up for practically anything.

Love covers, Love covers…

Soon the paint on our arms and under our nailed matched…

And I sensed another’s covering over us…His red blood  covering our wall, building us into His own living wall…ensuring our place on His incredible blueprint and making us free indeed…

“Let it be God’s words;  if help, Let it be God’s hearty help.  That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything–encores to the end of time.  Oh, yes!” {Verses in bold print are from I Peter 4:8-11}

When it all boils down, Gillian is simply one who wants to have her “Father’s Eyes”. She desires to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, and to share Him with others.  Her life verse is, “In His Presence is Fullness of Joy.” She has had the delight of lived long enough to find that God’s true Joy is found  in the sweet and in the bitter times of life !  Gillian enjoys dining around her table for eight, singing, creating, loving on friends every chance she can get, and raising up a family who are bright with intimate love for Jesus and a heart for the nations.  She and her husband, Richard, are Intercessory Prayer Missionaries at the International House of Prayer. Richard on staff with IHOP and works with the Orphan Justice Center.

 Gillian’s blog is called, One Thing Only, and can be found at