Sunday 18 March 2012

Sundays with Sofia

Facebook note by Craig Castleman on Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 22:00 ·

I happily spend most Sunday’s now with my nearly five year old granddaughter Ariah. This has been our routine for the past several months. I pick her up from her grandmother, take her to church with me and keep her for the afternoon until her mother (my middle daughter) gets off work. She says to me in the car ‘I sure get passed around a lot, don’t I granddad’? I tell her ‘yes honey, you do and it’s because you have so many people who love you so very much who all want to spend time with you’ (my daughter is a single mother).

A Mexican girl like Sofia
After church we come back to my little apartment complex and she always asks to play with the little girl downstairs named Sofia. Now there’s always been something very special to me, albeit mysteriously, about this precious little Sofia. Ever since I moved in here a couple years ago, whenever I would see her, it felt in my heart as if I were looking at my very own daughter or granddaughter even though I knew absolutely nothing about her or her family until just recently. It was downright bizarre, perplexing really, this nagging sense I had that somehow I already knew her and I would often wonder inwardly, silently ‘what is going on here, Lord, why do I feel Your heart so strongly for this (particular) little girl’? This went on daily without any resolution for the next year and a half. I remained thoroughly puzzled by the whole, unchanging saga and inward impression.

So after church we go and faithfully knock on Sofia’s door and I watch as the two of them do what comes so natural to little children. Occasionally I’ll chase them around or whatever they ask of me. I have since learned a few things about Sofia. That she doesn't have any teeth that aren't already crowned with silver in her little mouth, and that she speaks both fluent English and Spanish which is pretty darn impressive for a six year old if you ask me, and more importantly, but sadly, that she too doesn't have a daddy either, or at least not one that’s around or involved in her little life in any way (he moved back to Mexico long ago) and unlike Ariah,she doesn’t even have a granddad. Sofia lives with her teenage sister from a different father (sperm donor? ugh, sorry) and her mom in their little, two bedroom apartment.

Occasionally, when she got tired, Ariah would take a play break and come sit on my lap, love on me and me on her for a minute or two and then go back to playing with Sofia. Recently, Sofia began doing the very same thing. At first she would come up to me and ‘test the waters’ to see if I was welcoming I suppose (not knowing what the Lord had already worked in my heart toward her) and before long she too had begun climbing her way onto my lap, placing my arms around her, would grab some lovin’ and then dart back off to play just like she saw Ariah do. But not anymore, now she just lingers…and lingers. Nowadays she confidently crawls up in my lap first thing, wraps my arms around her precious little self and lays her head down on my chest…and it’s absolutely heart-wrenching…for me anyways. Sometimes she doesn’t even hardly care to play, much to Ariah’s chagrin, just wants to be held and she isn’t letting go either. So there we are, on the bench together, Sofia and I. Occasionally her mom will crack the front door open just to check on her playing but instead sees her reclined on my chest looking like John the beloved resting on Jesus’ bosom. I just look back at her mystified myself like ‘I can’t explain it either, lady’. Remember, to her mother I’m just the single guy from upstairs in apt #8, a complete stranger. But mysteriously, somehow, like this whole unexplainable saga, she just knows it’s okay, knows that her daughter is safe with me, that little Sofia needs it (and so do I but don’t tell anyone, k?) even like it was always meant to be, and I guess it was. And while I’m the one doing the hugging, yet somehow it feels more like she is, or even that God is the One hugging me though her, strange I know. Now I finally understand, little did I know what God was doing all along, what He’d planned for her, for me, why I felt the way I did and its so beautiful, its so....God.

Last Sunday, her older sister stepped out for the first time and sat down on the park bench next to me. Turns out she’s never even met her dad before and doesn’t have any friends, no one will even talk to her at school, is a real loner, sadly. She hopes to someday meet her ‘paternal relations’ as she called them but wouldn’t even know where to begin. The whole time she was speaking, opening up her heart to me and sharing her story, I could just see the disappointment in her eyes, hear it in her voice, like why, why are things like this, it’s not supposed to be this way…is it?. I almost broke down right there on the bench next to her. And what could I do? What could I possibly say to her in that moment, to comfort her, how could ‘I’ help? I mumbled some half-heard something about God being her ‘real Father’ under my breath and that He loved her very much but it seemed not to ‘take’ so I just went back to listening, to caring, to just being there for her in the moment. That took.

I wonder, do we know? Do we (really) know that when we see them He sees them, has already seen them? Truly His (and our) eye is on the outcasts, the broken-hearted, forgotten, over-looked and under-valued ones and they’re all around us, hiding in plain sight. He will surely point them out to us since He lives in and through us, its His life in us that He's drawing them with and to. Do they know, in a very real sense, that He is right there with them in their despair, sitting right next to them in their seemingly heartless circumstances, how very near He (really) is ‘in the moment’? And that one day He’ll ‘wipe away all their tears' but for now He's given us His very own heart in place of our old, stony ones and what a tremendous privilege and honor and responsibility it is...just to love them and affirm their great and inestimable value to Him. To let them see themselves, if only for a moment, the way He sees them. I wonder, do they know?

So Ariah and I will go to church again tomorrow and no doubt hear some good and ‘theologically sound’ teaching on faith or some such. Then, as soon as church gets out, we’ll race back home eager to get on with Fathers real business of the heart kind, that is spending….Sundays with Sofia.
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    • Irene Kay Clark
      This is such a meaningful story for me. I can feel the pain in my heart for those little girls. I grew up alone without a father in my life. It is such a lonely life. I was abused physically, mentally and sexually. It meant so much to ...See more

      11 hours ago · · 4

    • Craig Castleman Thank you Irene for sharing your experiences. I am sorry that happened to you but I praise God for who you are now, you bless us all so very much indeed, are radiant in Him. Blessings dear sis.
      11 hours ago · · 4

    • Carol Lucas Winkler Thank you Craig! Love...more important than anything! :)
      11 hours ago via Mobile · · 3

    • Craig Castleman Amen, Carol. Blessings dear sis.
      11 hours ago · · 2

    • Carol Lucas Winkler Thank you my friend! Blessings to you too..and to the little girls God put in your life! :)
      10 hours ago · · 2

    • Judy McLean Love this real love! What a very beautiful way you tell this, I am with 2 of my grand loves today, one is a 5 yr old girl, she is very active & it is hard for me to imagine her lingering on her dad's lap but she knows she is loved!
      10 hours ago · · 3

    • Craig Castleman Ha, that's precious Judy, thanks for your comments. Enjoy those precious, God-given kiddos! :)
      10 hours ago · · 2

    • John Collings Life is made of these miracles when we walk with our eyes open, then we've become the miracle because we walked His path and been obedient to his voice. You are blessed.
      10 hours ago · · 3

    • Craig Castleman Amen, John. Thanks for reading it and for the wisdom word comment. PS...let's do lunch again soon!
      10 hours ago · · 1

    • Judy McLean How precious that you share your great heart with these wonderful children that would seem to be abandoned, but He is there for thru you. How He showers Love on you thru them also. Thank you so much for sharing this!!
      10 hours ago · · 2

    • Barbara Allen How very precious.....
      10 hours ago · · 3

    • Irene Kay Clark Craig, all of our journeys have some rough spots. It only makes us stronger. I knew as a little girl no one could hurt me as I had a voice telling me I would survive and be in a better place someday. The abuse made me a strong lady and a much more loving mother.
      10 hours ago · · 3

    • Joan Reilly Every kindness a person receives in their lives add up to something significant enough to "live on". Feeling rejection or lonliness as a child is something I remember well. I also remember every act of love and kindness as if it were yesterday. Sofia will never forget your love. God will make sure of it.
      8 hours ago · · 5

    • Sandi Shaffer
      Craig, I love this story.. it touched my heart strings inmore ways than one.. I share part of Irene's testimony: and I have never known my father . When you mentioned Ariah and Sofia loving to sit in your lap...even that image was once har...See more

      8 hours ago · · 4

    • Craig Castleman Wow, thank you for sharing that with us Sandi. God is love indeed. What's so amazing to me is how He invites us to 'co-labor' with Him in His...labors of love! And what an absolute joy it is. Blessings, and thanks again dear sis.
      7 hours ago · · 4

    • Craig Castleman Thanks, Joan. Its His love, He is love...we just get to be the containers He 'tips over' pouring Himself out through! :)
      7 hours ago · · 2

    • Chris Kimmell OH MY!!! OH MY!!! Brother,,,, I would say something here normally,,,, but after reading this,,, you already know what I would say,,,,, i had to stop several times to clear the tears.
      6 hours ago · · 3

    • Chris Kimmell Had to share this brother,,,, wow!!
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Craig Castleman Blessings bro, we are lovers of God, lovers of people, amen.
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Chris Kimmell now I cant get through the comments,,,,
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Craig Castleman It's a little long, wasn't really sure people would care to stop down and read it but I'm glad it touched hearts. Mine the most, ha.
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Chris Kimmell Brother I wish Texas was a little closer to Kentucky,,,, we could share in some "Living"
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Chris Kimmell No I know, I have to get down to Texas again even if just for a visit,,, I had no idea you knew John!!!! Brother John has seen me tear up more than once.
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Judy McLean just want to say it was not long or boring, did not skim at all, great write!
      6 hours ago · · 3

    • Craig Castleman Thx, Judy. You're a dear!
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Nancy Gilmore You are so blessed, Craig! It's obvious to see the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord... you are His sent one. You may like to read the 139th Psalm regarding all of your lives. I really like the living translation. It will bless your heart.
      6 hours ago · · 3

    • Craig Castleman Ok, thx Nancy. I will do it before bedtime for sure, ha. Blessings.
      6 hours ago ·

    • John Collings Just waiting on your call Craig. Let's get together soon. I just sold my moms house and I'm moving to Rockwall. Chris we've got lots of reasons for you to come to Dallas.
      6 hours ago · · 3

    • Craig Castleman Amen, John and Chris! I look fwd to it guys.
      6 hours ago · · 1

    • Jamie Fields I have felt the same inner impressions for complete strangers many times.
      5 hours ago via Mobile · · 3

    • Cathy Rheeder Thanx for sharing with me craig, i also live alone, & live the Fathers heart to people, precious treasures, especially the prisioners! GOD'S HEART IS FOR EVERY MAN,ESPECIALLY THE WEE CHILDREN. THANX FOR SPREADING FATHERS LOVE. GOD PUTS THE LONELY IN FAMILIES.
      4 hours ago · · 1

    • Craig Castleman Amen, Cathy. Thx for your wonderful words dear one. Blessings :)
      4 hours ago · · 1

    • Ruth Queale Coleman Beautiful Craig! The Lord living His life as you in your world. I have a class of 30 twelve-year-olds and my heart aches for them and their challenges and hurts. I trust that the Lord ministers to them through me. Thank you for sharing, challenges me to go deeper with them.
      4 hours ago · · 1

    • Craig Castleman Thank you, Ruth. Yes, I know He does, amen.
      4 hours ago ·

    • Cathy Rheeder ONEderful SONday craig, im off to spread the Fathers love.
      4 hours ago · · 1

    • Annalize Mouton Craig, thank you for sharing and letting yourself being loved by these little ones. That also is a divine mercy. So many men feel uncomfortable with that. Request: Please could we have a serial "Sundays with Sofia" please! Love you.
      2 hours ago ·

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