I'm postponing my normal First Century Pastor post today to tell you about a little Mexican girl I loved in second grade. Her name was Veronica Rodriguez, and she had tan skin and dark hair that ran the length of her back. ... Back then I was no more Mexican than my Gringo mother and stepfather.
In observation of Cinco de Mayo, some music from a Mexican musician you may have heard of, Carlos Santana, playing along with his buddy from across the pond. Seems the Brit, while he can certainly kill it on guitar, just doesn't have the feel for maracas. You have to have it in your blood. Like the Owens family. Don't be misled by the Welsh name. Mine used to be Esperanza.
I laughed when I read this during my devotional time. Here this woman has been lying in bed with a fatally high fever and Jesus comes and helps her up so she can start making dinner for them.
A lesser known fact about yours truly: my original surname was Esperanza. My father's family probably referred to me as Mateo. I wouldn't know. He left when I was a baby, probably about Micah's age. How a man could turn his back on his son I'll never understand. I wish I knew more about my father's family. I did try to get in touch with him once, after Lindsay was born, but I got as far as his sister, whose name is Hope. Strange: Hope Esperanza. Redundant, actually, for Esperanza means hope in Spanish. I think about my natural father every once in a while. My mother re-married when I was a toddler. So, growing up in a Gringo home, I lost any sense of connection to my Mexican heritage. Of course, I lived in Arizona, so it was all around me. But for a long time I wanted no association with it.
"I'm starving!" the girls cry in unison. Such hyperbole Lindsay and Jacque employ when their bellies ache to be filled with food. For some reason, their exclamations are always strongest on Sunday afternoons after church. So I quiz them: "Did you eat breakfast? Did you eat dinner yesterday? The day before?"
There is nothing more exhilarating than awaiting the first glimpse of your child. All those nights of dreaming of his face, the countless hours spent considering his name, the innumerable prayers for healthy development—it would all come down to this moment. Because Lindsay and Jacque were both born early, this was an altogether different experience, at least for me.
Three years ago, I went to Colorado Springs with our church leadership team for a Wild at Heart retreat, where God little by little fractured my stony heart. First, He put His finger on my father wound, which every man has to some degree. Mine ran rather deep. Second, He affirmed my sensitivity as a dad to my girls. Third, He convinced me I could be a father to a boy. And fourth, He told me I would raise a boy to manhood, one who otherwise would not have had a father. One more day and who knows what else I could have discovered in the mountains.