"Love Ben" Pic of the Day
by Jen Hatmaker on July 2nd, 2011

What am I going to do with all of yall?? ("All of yall" is an agreed upon phrase in Texas. Can be shortened to "all yall" in a pinch.) Love Ben poster pictures have flooded in from state after state, from camps and vacations, from back porches and beaches, and as of today, Ben is an international sensation: We got our first picture from Australia. You could argue one jpeg file from Down Under doesn't make Ben an international phenom, but my response to that is, "Why do you hate orphans?"

Because I evidently have a bunch of Type A friends (read: Must.Be.First.Place.), Love Ben has turned into something of competition. You know the kind of Christian competition I mean, right? Like Sixth Grade Regional Bible Drill Finals when the announcer calls out Habakkuk 1:5 and you cut a sideways glance at the girl next to you like: So help me, you beat me out last year on that Nahum debacle, and if you get there before I do now, I will cut you.

I mean, I'm not like that, but I know people who are.

Oh sure, at first everyone was keeping it simple, sending the standard markers-on-a-poster-board-from-Walgreens pics. But recently it has started getting fierce. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you equines:
The signs say "Praying For You Beniam"...only elephants can top this.

I hope Ben doesn't assume horses are a part of the American Package, even here in God's country. The best we can give him is a lazy Springer Spaniel who eats airsoft gun pellets and chases lizards until she runs squarely into our fence.

And I don't mean to brag, but we have garnered celebrity attention with Love Ben. I mean, I wasn't even going to mention this, but since you just WON'T LET IT GO, here...feast your eyes.
Billy Graham is totally into us.

But the pic of the day goes to one of the simpler submissions, one with great meaning. When Brandon and I traveled to Ethiopia for our court date in early March, we had the privilege of bringing a beautiful little girl her very first care package from her new family. Her name was Nazeret. (That's right. As in "Nazareth." As in Jesus' hometown. Bestillmyheart.) She had not yet laid eyes on her parents or her two new sisters. Like most older orphaned kids, she had waited far too long for a family. We got to bring those precious first gifts, that hopeful first touch. We got to say the words, "You are so wanted. You are a beloved daughter."
I have a real problem respecting personal space.

We have felt connected to Nazeret ever since. I am so happy to tell you that she and her beautiful family sailed through court and Embassy, and she arrived in Texas three weeks ago forever and ever, amen. She'll never know another lonely night alone in this big world. Jesus be praised.

But just three weeks ago, she lived with Ben and Remy, one of 40 or so older kids orphaned by poverty or disease, young victims of an unjust, broken world. Those kids are like a pack of very, very cute wolves, closely knit and unified by survival. (Another adoption friend recounted a "goodbye" last month between the two oldest boys in the TH as one was leaving with his family, and she said the boys cried and clung to each other for 20 minutes. I came utterly undone.)

That is why the 'Love Ben Pic of the Day' is an easy choice. Because I know when he sees this picture, he will lean down and kiss the page. I know his heart will leap for joy when he sees his friend Nazeret, home forever in the very state Ben is headed for. I know this picture will communicate to him: "You are next, my friend Ben." This is the other side of abandonment; the side the kids dream of, pray for, hope to find. Ben will see this picture of one of his own, liberated from the despair of poverty and coloring barefoot on her back porch with a family who adores her...and hope will rise.

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Jamie Ivey - July 2nd, 2011 at 11:06 PM
Oh gosh now I'm bawling.
Brandi Fowler - July 2nd, 2011 at 11:08 PM
April - July 2nd, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Lots of tears and prayers for another miracle!
jeanine - July 2nd, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Beautiful. I can hardly stand it.
Christa Gerber - July 2nd, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Debbie Pisana - July 3rd, 2011 at 5:38 AM
Sweet story! Praying for Ben!
[email protected] - July 3rd, 2011 at 6:28 AM
So, so many tears. How gorgeous.
cece cox - July 3rd, 2011 at 8:39 AM
wow! what a beautiful end...beginning for NAZARET! Praying Beniam home too!
Amy Daniels - July 3rd, 2011 at 9:26 AM
Give us one or two or three!!!!! We could start a revolution
Nicole - July 3rd, 2011 at 9:27 AM
So beautiful.
Kate Youman - July 3rd, 2011 at 9:58 AM
Absolutely beautiful! I am continuing to pray.
Shelly - July 3rd, 2011 at 10:21 AM
Now this is MY favorite pic too! Love the story!!
Lana Joy Hatmaker - July 3rd, 2011 at 12:41 PM
His Aunt is sobbing for him from Rome!
Michele Nordine - July 3rd, 2011 at 6:53 PM
more tears...and our brand new church community got to hear about Beniam today. love this pic, can't top it!! Picture coming soon.
Mia Brown - July 5th, 2011 at 9:27 AM
This is beautiful beyond words. Thank you for having a heart for orphaned children. Blessings.
Marla Taviano - July 5th, 2011 at 4:27 PM
I'm giddy that you're blogging, and I'm tearing up over EVERYTHING these days. Nazeret is so beautiful.
Tori - July 13th, 2011 at 10:39 PM
...aaaaand cue the tears. I have a friend who often says, "Well that was sweet, God!" I'd say this is a million times sweet! What a gracious, generous abba father we serve to give such meaningful connections as this!
Carmen D. - July 15th, 2011 at 8:33 AM
Margaret - May 31st, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Omg. Sobbing. I am sobbing now. I predict I will be up all night reading your blog. I LOVE this. I want to make a sign for Beniam now!!
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