Linda's Cozy Mysteries

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Home for Hephzibah--by Linda Kozar

“Thou shall no longer be termed forsaken; neither shall your land any more be termed desolate: but you shall be called Hephzibah. . .”—Isaiah 62:4 NKJ

Some families come together naturally in the course of time or planning, but other families are fitted to one another by God with great care--like puzzle pieces. Only He can find all the missing pieces and put them together.
As President and CEO of a national company, Christina worked out of an office in her spacious home. To the casual observer, she was a successful businesswoman who enjoyed a privileged life. There was one thing missing however--children. Two failed marriages had produced none. “I had this understanding with God, that if He wanted me to have children, He would have given them to me.” She shrugged, “I guessed God had other plans.”
Due to her busy work schedule, Christine decided to hire a housekeeper to clean and cook lunch and dinner for her. Soon after the housekeeper started however, she began to bring along her 4-year-old niece, Hephzibah Sarah. Christine didn’t mind. The little girl seemed quiet enough. But her aunt was an “old-school” disciplinarian who believed that children should be seen and not heard. Christine noticed that the aunt would make the little girl sit in a chair all day, still and quiet, as if she blended in with the furniture.
One day, as soon as her aunt’s car pulled out of the driveway for a trip to the grocery store, the little girl hopped out of her chair and ran into Christine’s office to ask for food. The pattern continued over time. Whenever her aunt left to do errands, the tiny girl would scramble from her chair to ask for something to eat. In a meek little voice, she asked for a strawberry or a few grapes and Christine would take her into the kitchen to feed and spend time with her. The minute she heard her aunt’s car in the driveway though, she would scurry right back to her chair.
Curious as to why her housekeeper, a mother with a grown son and two grandchildren of her own, would take on the responsibility of caring for her niece, Christine discovered that Sarah had come to her out of desperate circumstances. The youngest of nine children, “Hephzibah Sarah,” was born to a Christian family in the throes of poverty. Their mother names all nine children from Biblical figures she admired. Hephzibah Sarah, whom she named from Isaiah 62:4, was the youngest. The name, “Hephzibah,” translated from Hebrew means, “in whom is My delight.”  With the exception of Sarah and her brother, Paul, the rest of the children were eighteen years old and above. Sarah and Paul were the youngest, and as it turned out, the most vulnerable.
When Sarah was almost 2-1/2 years old, and her brother Paul 5-1/2, their mother died suddenly, and their father found it difficult to take on the responsibilities of caring for two young children. The family barely scraped by financially, and then only by pooling their money with each other to share a ramshackle place, often relying on help from their church. When their father went to work every day, he left Sarah and Paul in the care of the older girls. The young caretakers were immature and ill prepared for such responsibilities and took care of the children in a haphazard way.
Sarah wandered the house each day, eyes sunken, hair unkempt, nearly skin and bones. Her belly was bloated, a telltale sign of malnutrition. Most of the time, she went without underwear or even a tee shirt to cover her. Her older brother fared somewhat better because he had learned to fend for himself, but he too was struggling.Realizing that Sarah urgently needed help, their father turned to his sister, who though reluctant at first, agreed to take care of her.
“She was stressed out in a lot of ways,” said Christine. The aunt was caring for her brother, who was very ill, as well as an older, mentally handicapped niece and her two children. It was hard for her to be patient with a young child, but she tried and she made sure that Sarah was clean, well-groomed and dressed.”
After a few days, Christine decided to ask her housekeeper to begin serving her lunch out on the cabana by the pool. She casually asked if Sarah could join her. The aunt agreed. “We began to share wonderful times together, singing and laughing.” Christine discovered that no one had ever read to Sarah, so she began to read her story after story. She eventually bought her a jump rope, Barbie dolls and other toys to play with.
From the beginning, Christine had noticed a whitish ring around Sarah’s mouth, but now felt bold enough to ask if she could bring her to a pediatrician. “ The doctor knew what it was right away. He said that the appearance of the ring around her mouth indicated a Vitamin D deficiency, probably from lack of enough exposure to the sun.” Jarred by the diagnosis, Christine said, “I suddenly realized that this child had never been outside of the house to play.”
Worried that the child needed immediate care and intervention, Christine asked Sarah’s aunt if she could be Sarah’s “Godmother.” The aunt readily agreed, so she immediately enrolled her in a pre-kindergarten daycare center. Later, Christine asked permission to enroll Sarah in gymnastics and ballet classes. Once again, her aunt agreed.  Since Sarah’s ballet classes were in the evening, she was allowed to spend the night over Christine’s house. She quietly changed her guest bedroom into a little girl’s room, complete with comforter and dolls. Sarah loved it.
In her kitchen one day, Christine began to think about her earlier understanding with God. “I had always said, If God wanted me to have a child, He would have given me one. Suddenly, there was this big, neon sign going off in my head. He had given me one…and she was sitting right in from of me at my kitchen table!”
Her thoughts seemed to be confirmed one day while driving, when Sarah spoke from her car seat in the back.
“I been thinking since I’ve been looking for a nice mommy with a big house, that you ought to be my mommy. That way,” she added, “you won’t have to be alone anymore.”
Christine, overcome with emotion, had no more doubts. She decided to visit Sarah and Paul’s father. “That August, I finally met him face-to-face. He was a nice man who just seemed to be beaten down by the world.”
He told her, “I promised their mother before she died that I would do right by the little ones. I can tell you’re a nice lady. Please take Sarah and don’t let her forget her family.”
The man allowed Christine to adopt his daughter Hephzibah Sarah and he allowed his son Paul to stay with a foster family for a while. However, Paul was happy to return when conditions improved at home.
“People tell Sarah how lucky she is to have found a new mother like me,” said Christine, “but I disagree with that. I’m the lucky one. I know that God has something special in mind for Sarah and I’m blessed to be a part of her life.”
God heard the desire of a prayerful woman’s heart to be a mother, and the desperate need of a lonely little girl for one. Now they are a family, fitted together by God—a match truly made in Heaven.

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