Love in Black, White and Brown (Our Story and a Box of Crayons)

I was pregnant with our first baby, due a month before our first anniversary.  You know the saying . . . a baby changes everything.  What a surreal experience, beginning to feel life inside of me! A plethora of emotions and decisions would lay ahead for me knowing I wasn’t just a wife of a wonderful man.  I was about to be a momma.  For the first time.  And the stakes were high.

Let me go back.  I was fresh out of high school and 18 years old.  I did have an idea of where I was going . . . a classical piano career was somewhere up ahead, 5-6 hours a day of intense practicing, working, homework were all about to fill up my days.  I was driven and focused.  I had a Jesus center and wanted to ignore all distractions as I rushed ahead.

Through a set of several bizarre circumstances I ran into this guy during my first week of college. In fact, as we look back, the whole thing years later looks like a movie script.  After major ups and downs, very, very tough moments, and a lot of excruciating soul-searching, a few years later I was walking down the aisle to the man of my dreams.  Many I loved didn’t understand, but I felt peace.  And joy.  And the anticipation of watching God pull out a lot of miracles I needed so desperately.  We were heady with the belief that yes, “two people can change the world.” The cusp of adventure through riding the bus of God’s mission for us was ready and waiting.  Little did I know all that lay ahead.


June, 1995. The beginning.

So back to baby.  I was due about a year after we got married with our I was about 6 months pregnant and trying to enjoy every moment. One weekend Zo and I watched the movie “Losing Isaiah.” It probably wasn’t the best choice for the hormonal and emotional pregnant girl I was at the time, but we did it anyway.  If you have a chance, go back and watch it.  I won’t explain it in detail, but in short, it was a story of a little abandoned baby and the NICU nurse who helped bring him back from death. The mother never surfaced and the nurse fell in love with this little boy and eventually she and her husband attempted to adopt him. The conflict: the couple was white and the little baby was black.  Then, the biological mother came back into the picture.  I won’t divulge more, but needless to say, it was a tear-jerker and rocked me for so many reasons.

I remember weeping that night, all the baby feels in my belly, wanting to protect and guard this little human from all the evil of the world.  From a primal stirring deep in my gut I was resolved to forge ahead, come hell or high water, hoping against every hope for success in simply helping this little person know who they were. . .from the inside to the outside. . . full of courage and trust that God had them here for a beautiful purpose.

In the middle of a troubled sleep that night, I dreamed a dream. To this day, it has been the most crystal clear dream I’ve ever experienced:

I had given birth to a little baby girl, and saw her in our house as a 5-year-old or so (I did not know the gender or name of our baby when I dreamed this.)  She came to me and said, “Momma, someone told me my daddy is black. I said, “Hannah, go get your box of crayons for me.”  She came back and handed me the box.  I said, “Honey, does this crayon (I held out the black crayon) match Daddy?”  She said confidently, “No.” I responded, “Ok, does this crayon (the white one) match momma?” And she again said matter-of-factly, “No.”  And I squatted down to look her in the eye and said, “Honey, that’s because everybody is brown. God made each one of us a different shade of brown.”  

And then the picture abruptly ended. To this day, I get covered with chill bumps repeating that dream. That is an exact account of it and I still remember it perfectly. It was such a treasure for me as I repeated the whole thing to Zo. We felt such a thrill sensing God’s answer for lots of possible explanations up ahead for our children.  Another preparation for our parenting journey was checked off the list.  No. . . it’s not been that easy, but it truly did meet our heartfelt need before our first little one was even born.

Scan 7

Our first little one, Hannah, at six weeks old. She was the little girl in my dream.

From that day forward, we began to use the words “light brown” for me and “dark brown” for Zo.  (By the way, astoundingly, this exact scenario actually occurred when Hannah was five. She came up to me and asked me this question and I told her the answer I’d been given in my dream.)  It became ingrained in our everyday conversation and still is to this day. In fact, I rarely say “black” or “white” even in my writing as I did in the beginning of this blog.  Those around us who love us know this same lingo we’ve “adopted.”  And most of them use it, too.

Am I an idealist? Well, yes.  Probably.  But here’s the deal.  Couldn’t all of us get past this by now?  Yes, I was young and inexperienced when we began, and yes, there’s been a lot of heartache along the way, and likely more to come.  There’s been moments when I thought I couldn’t breathe, full of injustice and betrayal.  There’s been disapproving looks given to me and my husband and there’s been terrible things said and done. But those moments have been tempered  with indescribeable peace and ecstatic happiness, knowing we’re in just the right spot. Beautiful births, sweet little ones arriving, landmarks as they’ve grown older, blessings overflowing, growing as a couple, even through the toughest of problems and the harshest of realities that do exist out there.

J and L 4th of July

2010, just past our 15th anniversary.

So again I ask, am I the idealist to say, “We all bleed red?” Or, “We all came from the same original people in the garden?” How about, “There’s only ONE race, that’s the HUMAN RACE?”

Or, am I just simply telling the truth?

Thirteen beautiful children later (with one waiting in heaven), I am convinced.  God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.  He is good.  There’s evil here, but He is good.  And His heart is for a family.  All of us.  And more than I ever have, and more than I ever thought I could, I understand those who didn’t know if we would be ok.  And I love them all the more for it.  Truly.  And the beauty God has restored back to me and my family has been worth it.  Every bit of it from the past and every bit of it up ahead that I can’t see.


2016, almost Christmas of our 21st year. Our oldest, holding our youngest, are hidden a bit behind me and Zo. 🙂

I am richer for the path I’ve traveled.  And I am grateful for it.

Jen 🙂


The whole crew, pre-River (our first grandbaby) and Galilee Kate (our 13th baby). This is Hannah’s wedding to Thad in 2017.

10 Comments on “Love in Black, White and Brown (Our Story and a Box of Crayons)

  1. Sooo very blessed to read your article and see the pictures. Been out of touch with you too long.
    Sooo not ready for Hannah to be married! She is GORGEOUS! Am identifying more and more with Methuselah!


    • Hello Lovely Lady! So good to hear from you and I’m so happy your following my blog! Thank you for such a compliment! 🙂 I know what you mean, time stops for no man! It’s too precious! Praying blessings for you.
      Jen 🙂


  2. What wise words from a lovely wife and mother. I praise God for the beautiful family He has blessed you and Lorenzo with. I know you are touching lives daily for Him. I still remember your beautiful wedding! We love You


    • Oh my. You were, and still are, so instrumental in the way God blesses me with our family. I looked to you for so many insights and wisdom and you were a wonderful example! I especially always loved the obvious amazing relationship you have and how much you love each other. Love and miss you both so much. 🙂


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