Separated After Birth

Popular trends govern, or at least influence parenting styles. You have probably heard of what is referred to as “helicopter parents”; where parents constantly are hovering over their children monitoring their every move ready to smooth the tiniest hair that dares to move out of place.

My husband and I were parents of a one-year-old (our first child) when we moved to Ukraine in 2004. Starry eyed young kids (well, my husband was 30), we were ready to step into a foreign land and share the gospel. Over the course of 11 years while serving the church there, our little family grew from three to six.

As a mother of three very independent boys, the helicopter style of parenting was doomed from the beginning, which turned out to be a good thing for my sanity. We were barely there when we realized that the “helicopter parent” was either invented or perfected in Ukraine. My husband would take Benjamin to Karate at 6 and 7 years old and watch grandmas putting on coats and shoes of boys older than him! We quickly developed a serious allergic reaction to this style of parenting.

I truly believe adapting helped my boys. We developed an approach that might accurately be termed “crop-duster parenting”; occasional swoops int to make sure things were being maintained, everybody was breathing, and nobody was bleeding, and we took off again. They played on a playground between our building and the one next door, and I could occasionally walk to the window and monitor them.

This style, however, comes with its own casualties. It was a cold winter day, when my husband took our oldest son to get a medical approval to take Karate lessons (needed by law). He was almost six, so I was home with our other two children who were taking their nap. I was enjoying a rare chance to clean the kitchen floor when a phone call from my husband shattered my peaceful afternoon. He had been returning to the bus stop from the doctor and my son who was following him disappeared, seemingly into thin air.

For a moment I listened helplessly while he screamed Benjamin’s name on the other end of the phone, and I heard his heavy breathing as he ran in every direction calling for our son. I called a taxi and for an hour made the driver (who became increasingly annoyed with me) drive randomly through the streets hoping for the impossible: that I would happen across a little five-year-old boy wandering the streets of a large city in the winter all by himself.

What peril was he in at this moment? What was going through his mind? Was he panicked like we were? My imagination ran wild with the possibilities. We had tried to prepare for this moment. Whenever we took a taxi, we always had him give the address to the taxi driver in Russian, just for this very reason! He spoke some Russian, but I knew if someone found him, he would not be able to explain who he was, or that he was lost, or where he had last seen his father.

We called Ukrainian church members who began calling the police, and their friends. Members of the church put on their warm coats and began walking the streets looking for our vulnerable, foreign little boy. We lit up the lines of prayer back to the States, in an hour our family was calling other family praying that we would find him.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  – Romans 8:38,39

Taken from a little earlier in the passage:

Shall tribulation, distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword separate you from His love? – Romans 8:35

Whatever you are going through, God is with you, advocating for you. He is with you through whatever trial you face. One thing that is not mentioned when discussing this passage is that there is one thing that can separate you from his love, and that is you. Everything mentioned in the passage above is an outside thing; something done to you. God doesn’t tell us that our own doubt, pride, or even our lack of self-worth can’t separate us. If you don’t believe that you are worth his shed blood for you, then these will distance you from Him and put you on the outside of that relationship.

Grace is a gift, but it is also an agreement you stepped into when you decided to make Jesus Lord of your life. God loves you unconditionally, he doesn’t stop loving you anytime or for any reason. Anytime you have a relationship with someone, you need that emotion reciprocated or the feeling grows cold. You might still think of that person and love that person or wonder where they have gone. God does not force you to stay in the relationship with him. But the warmth can grow cold if you do not tend to it.

There is a song we sang in Ukraine, It was sung in a melancholy minor key, and usually couldn’t be sung slow enough to satisfy some of the ladies in the church, but the words continue to impact me.

God is easy to seek, he is easy to find. He is in the sunrise, in the first day of the week, he is in the first cry of the baby, he is in the small blessings, he is in rumble of the thunderstorm.”

God is easy to find but, have you stopped trying to see Him?

After a terrifying 4-5 hours of not being able to find our son (It felt like much longer), we did get a call from the police department. A little boy showed up alone in the open market. A seller questioned him, and determined he must be “Polish or Moldovan.” They walked through the market and didn’t find a parent, and so a police officer picked him up and took him to an orphanage. He sat there for an hour, until the orphanage got a call from the police about a foreign boy who was missing. Fortunately, they concluded that the little boy must be ours. My husband was able to go to the orphanage and pick him up. (He wasn’t panicked like us. Just enjoying a lot of candy).

I got a glimpse of what Jesus must feel when one of his little lambs is lost. I was prepared to turn over every rock and look down through every alley and get myself arrested breaking into people’s homes in a desperate attempt to look for my little boy. God is doing the same to break through to you. Sometimes we can put up barriers and lies we might tell ourselves, to keep us from Him, but no matter the depths nor the height he will be there to welcome you home.  


  1. That must have been a terrifying experience, especially in a foreign country with potential language barriers. I am so glad that Benjamin was fine. Quite the illustration to remember that God is there, He will help us in those terrifying moments of life. Thank you for sharing and reminding us that God is our Advocate.

  2. What an experience. Not very fun I am sure. I am so grateful to have a Savior who searches for me when I stray and helps me back to a safe place.

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