It was one of those evenings when I'd found myself needing a distraction, which led to a perusal through the Facebook trail. You know how it goes. You see something interesting, and before long, you're far from where you began.
The photo caught my eye immediately, and then I had to catch my breath. It was a family photo from a reunion, but I found it absolutely brilliant.
And not only brilliant because of the way the family had obviously thought it all out beforehand, but, well, to be honest, I was transfixed by the beauty of it all -- of seeing this big bustling family in all its glory, in all those colors, parceled out by T-shirts with each family "pod" or branch having chosen its own distinguishing color.
This moment in time, which had to have been tricky to capture, became a breathtaking bouquet of people, each connected in some way to the two sitting on stools in the middle -- the ones who'd started it all.
I don't know that I've met the matriarch or patriarch of this stunning brood, though I do know several of their children (one of whom graciously gave me permission to share this piece of their family history). But I'm captivated by this visual and what it says to me: "Trust in God and He will lead you to life in abundance."
It didn't escape me that the main couple chose yellow for their T-shirt color. Yellow, like mustard, or a mustard seed. Or, as Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, "I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, 'Go from here to there!' and it will go. You could do anything."
Anything, like help create a big beautiful family from the simple but profound words, "I do" and a loving God to guide.
Jesus wanted us to know that it only takes a wee bit of faith to create a big, bounteous life. When this mustard-seed couple married all those years ago, they couldn't have fathomed how their family would expand. They simply stepped out in faith, leaned hard on God, and this was the result.
Some in our world would see this as a negative, and say this couple has been selfish. But that would be unfair and wholly untrue. Rather, they have been selfless. Think of how many things they have sacrificed through the years in order to help bring all these souls into the world.
The really cool thing for me is that, though I don't know every single person in this photo, I do know a fair number of them. Several, I met back in college. I once witnessed one of the couples falling in love when I walked into a room at a retreat and accidentally glimpsed them sneaking in a quick kiss. Several have been in Bible studies with me. We've shared pregnancies. Another has a child in my son's class and they've played soccer together. One teaches and brings kids on mission trips to other countries.
There have been many crossing through the years, and I can say with confidence that this is a family with a beautiful, generous collective soul.
I know that there has been hardship in this family, too. One of the mothers has battled and overcome cancer. One couple lost a child in infancy. There have been heartaches woven into this picture of love, but there has been so much joy, too, because this is a family that has followed the mustard-seed model that Jesus presented. They have stepped out in faith, and God has delivered in a prolific way.
Along with inspiring me in terms of sheer numbers and the color, this visual also says something else to me: hope. It says, "Hang on, trust, lean it, let go, and hope for what is possible through God and God alone. Give Him your life and He will bring life to yours in ways you could never have imagined."
Whether it's through our family or in the other ways we move about the world, the application is the same. We don't have to be big, nor does our faith. God can work with just a small amount, and even with that speck of faith, mountains and hearts can be moved, and the world can become a little more colorful and beautiful than before.
Copyright 2013 Roxane Salonen
About the Author
Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website, roxanesalonen.com