The Gift of an Open Hand {Cupping Glory}

June 29, 2012 | 23 comments

It’s June, in Iowa. I am here on a beach, on a little lake, remembering one  spring afternoon on a Haiti beach.

It was three months ago. But I can’t forget the faces or the  bare legs of 80 orphans. I see them now, all splashing and laughing. I cry, remembering the sheer joy of it all — watching parentless, broken children laugh in utter delight over their moment in the sun.

The rays winked off the ocean like it was a necklace, studded with a million shimmering diamonds. And the children, they swam among the jewels.

I sat down on the beach by one little boy named Job. He had such small hands, pink Crocs and these enormous, pleading eyes. He had a protruding belly and thin, bony arms, having endured his own horrific Job-like plight in just three short years on planet Earth.

And now he was safe, right here on this beach. He now lives in a good orphanage where every child has a pair of jammies and three square meals a day. They each have a bunk, a blanket, a pillow. And occasionally, when visitors come by, they are all given the treat of a visit to the nearby beach.

Job was all boy, wanting to turn that shore inside out, to excavate shells.

He found tiny shells no bigger than a fingernail. He handed them to me and to Renae.  He said words, in Haitian Creole, that meant: “One more shell, white person?”

At first, he said it like a question — One more? Can I uncover just one more?

We held out our hands, and soon, his words became a command, an exclamation point on the beauty of this moment he’d found himself in: “Look! Another! Another! One more shell, white person! One more! One more!”

We held out our hands for one more and then another, letting that tiny boy press tiny shells into our hands. It was one small act to let a child know he was loved, that he mattered. This is the gift of open hands. We hold them out, to let a child know he doesn’t have to ask the question, but that he can know the answer and exclaim it unreservedly: “Yes, I am loved! And again, one more time, I am loved! And once more!”

We held shells, cupping bits of glory. 

Some people say that Haiti is a sort of hell, with its vast and abject poverty, the voodoo, and political corruption. And it’s true, the horrors make you want to shield your eyes. And run.

But I looked. And I felt. We must.

I touched the swollen bellies. I knelt on their mud-hut floors. One more; one more. Around the corner, one more. 

But I saw slices of Heaven, too — a sense that someone had peeled back the sky’s edge, so we could glimpse the holy. That day, my hand and heart utterly brimmed with the extravagant beauty of having spied the face of Christ — of having looked and felt glory in the open hand.

It was the Bible’s Job who said it long ago: “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.”

I feel that Scripture beating in my chest today, here on an Iowa beach. I think of the Job boy who begged the gift of a person’s time, and an open hand, and one more and one more, and just another, please?

And I pray for him now to know it, once more and again, and again, and for always, that he is unreservedly loved by a Father, and by his fellow man.

Pray for Job? That he finds a home? It’s a long process, but friends here in our community are working toward adopting this child.

“I know that my Redeemer lives.”
— Job 19:25

by | June 29, 2012 | 23 comments


  1. Duane Scott

    Oh, you’ve captured it again, dear Jennifer.

    I don’t have words but I’m thankful today, for people like you who hold hands open to the unnoticed.

    You’ve been there for me that way too.

    Now… *making you squirm* How cool would your story be if you also adopted one of these little children? Your little girls would love a brother. 😉

    • dukeslee

      I’ve learned in my years so far here on Earth to never say never. We don’t believe that God has called us to that right now, but would be delighted if He did. 🙂

      Is Haiti still in your near future? Send me an update.

  2. Jon

    WOW Jennifer!
    I honestly just cried reading this post!
    Thank you for writing this and helping us know Job more! We haven’t even met him but through you and Renae he is already part of our family!
    God Bless you!
    Keep praying for Job everyone!!

    • dukeslee

      One step at a time … God will be with you and Anne, as you well know. We appreciate you, and your obedience in walking through the doors that God has already opened. With you in this, my friend …

  3. Chris

    Without speech!

    • dukeslee

      God does that to me, too. That’s kind of a big deal for talkers like us, right Chris? 😉

  4. Gma Pam

    And you, Jennifer, are also a jewel. Thanks for sharing. I hope to meet Job or someone so sweet.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Pam! How fun to have you here in the comment box. Won’t that day be grand, when we meet the one whom God has already determined to be their child? Oh, Glory!

    • dukeslee

      Yes … the country needs many, many, many open hands. Thank you, Jennifer .

  5. Gramma T

    How badly I want to hold out MY hand to him today! But we will wait and the day will come. Thank you for more of Job through your eyes. (sniff sniff)(smiles)(Prayers)and as Al says “We will love him more than there are stars in the skies!” Also that scripture is a good one to repeat in prayers. My eyes cannot wait to see this little man face to face.

    • dukeslee

      Gramma T … He is Praying with your family. xo

  6. Eileen

    So beautiful…your words and that little boy.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Eileen. He’s a sweet little guy.

  7. laura

    I am contemplating the story of the Samaritan woman at the well this evening. After she shares her story, the people say, “We no longer believe because of what you told us but now we have seen…” Powerful. There is evidence every where…

  8. Lori

    Beautiful post Jennifer, having the experience you did would surely change your life forever. As I read the story I could see all those beautiful children….You made a diffence!

  9. Diana Trautwein

    Thank you for telling the story of one small boy – somehow that humanizes the enormous disaster that somehow equals Haiti. Every disaster on this earth is made up of individual people – each and every one precious to God. May the doors of opportunity continue to open in the effort to find a home for this one – and many, many others. LOVELY story. Thanks so much.

  10. floyd

    I love the story and the heart behind it. I also appreciate that it’s the heart of God, proven by the fact that you’re thinking and praying for the world you left behind three months previous… You are a part of that world now. God has used you to touch their lives… and He has used the children, including Job, to touch yours… You’ll never be the same.

    We can’t close our eyes to the reality of this life. Thanks for reminding me of that, and thanks for standing in the power and heart of God to make a difference… I’m praying for Job.

  11. Sandra Heska King

    Only five months plus maybe more, I will meet my own little Jobs and cup their little glory faces in mine. Thank you, Jennifer, for letting me leak a little now so I can hold more then. xoxo

  12. Audra Krell

    Standing with you in praying for Job to come home. God’s glory right here in your memories and the pen you write with. Thank you!

  13. Lauren Stoltzfoos

    Thank you for loving that little boy Job on a beach in Haiti. Thank you for offering the gift of an open hand. My husband and I just got home from working at a children’s home (around 70 kids under 6)in Uganda for six months. I can still feel their tight hugs.

  14. Alicia

    Oh, I’m in love with little Job. And all of those sweet beauties on the beach. Thanks for sharing this memory and the hope that it carries. Praying for your dear friends and their “Job Jar.”

  15. tonia

    I’ve never been to Haiti, but we have two kids we sponsor through World Vision from there. We also have kids from Africa, but their faces are always wide open magic, like you could tip right into their smiles and find a pool of laughter. But our Haitian children are somber, wary. I can hardly look at their pictures without aching. Our littlest child writes me the same thing every time: “I have no mother, please pray for me.” I am thankful to think of people who might come into his life for a moment or two and hold his hand, find delight in his treasures, give him something to be proud of. Thank you for going, for sharing. God bless you.



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