Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What're you lookin' at?

by Carole Towriss

     My family and I recently returned from a visit to Disneyworld. We always stay at the Fort Wilderness campground in the cabins, mostly because that’s the only place where all six of us can stay in one room. Actually, its not really a room—it’s more like a tiny trailer with one bedroom, a murphy bed in the sitting room, and a kitchen, but anywhere else we have to get two rooms.
     One of our favorite things about Fort Wilderness is the boat ride from the campground to the Magic Kingdom. It’s about a twenty-minute ride and is usually full of other families. I love watching the little kids, probably because I am gratefully past the double stroller and backpacks-full-of-stuff stage. One afternoon there was a pair of little girls sitting a few rows in front of me with what I assume was their grandmother. The older of the two had mild Down’s syndrome, and was about a year older than her sister. What I noticed first, though, was how much alike they were. They shared the same blue-green eyes, the same slight build, and the same silky, dark blond hair as their grandma.
     Grandma was putting sunscreen on the face of the oldest and she reared her head back and batted her eyelashes, just like my kids did. She, however, did not fuss or push grandma’s hands away – unlike my kids.
     Many people would have focused on the girl’s differences—her almond eyes, short neck, small ears. While I did notice them, I was drawn to the similarities, both between her and her sister, her and her grandmother, and between her and my kids. Or even her and all kids.

[caption id="attachment_260" align="alignnone" width="640"]Carole's kids my kids[/caption]

Maybe it’s because I have four children who look so dissimilar. We adopted three of our four children from Kazakhstan. The two girls are Central Asian, and the boy, our youngest, is Russian. Kazaks were a Turkic people conquered by Genghis Khan and his Mongols, so even our two Kazakh girls look different—one looks more Turkic, one more Mongol. Most people say our youngest looks just like our college bio-daughter Emma, which is weird.

     Our four children share not a shred of DNA, and it makes our house a loud, chaotic, wonderful, loving mess. And even though they all look so different, they are all ours. And like any family—or church, or city, or country—we can focus on the differences or celebrate the similarities. 

What similarities do you celebrate in your family, church or town?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV


  1. Beautiful post, and you have such a beautiful family! We've been to Disneyworld twice, and although we loved the atmosphere and rides, we weren't a huge fan of the crowds. ;) Your cabin sounds lovely!

    For our honeymoon, Steve and I went to the Big Island in Hawaii, and the resort we stayed at had a gondola (is that the word) that you could ride from restaurant to pool to hotel complex. It was lovely.

    It's funny, I think our family is in a flipped stage. Our daughter desperately wants to be *different!* I can't help but wonder if that comes from her being an only child, or if maybe that's just part of growing up and figuring out who she is. And yet, I know from all the parenting and teen psychology books I've read, she also needs to feel a part of. Hopefully we're doing ok with both ends of this spectrum. :)

  2. What a beautiful family! I have four children, as well - and they're all biologically mine, and yet.... From the beginning, I've been amazed by how different they all are, personality-wise. There are definite family resemblances on the outside, and of course, they have personality similarities as well. But they're very clearly individuals, and have their own personality quirks and traits. I love that - even if it makes understanding them four times as difficult! lol

    Great post!

  3. My fifteen-year-old wants to be "different," too. I think it's just a phase they go through. :)

  4. Understand? What's that? lol

  5. Carole, your family is beautiful! I, too, have four children. While they do share DNA, they do not look alike at all, and their personalities are even more diverse. Sometimes I wonder how four kids raised in the same family can be so different. Still, I celebrate that they are very much alike when it comes to being children of God. We have also taken in youngsters over the years who, for various reasons, needed a home. Biologically related or not, they are ALL my children, as different as they may be from each other. In the end, we are all family--God's family. Thanks for sharing your kiddos with us! :-)

  6. Tearing up looking at the picture of your kids. How wonderful that you've illustrated through your family life how God lovingly and willingly embraces us as His adopted, chosen children in Christ. Thanks for the post!