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Chapter 9 - Feed the Good

The long winding highway was lined with tall, lush, trees that were blowing in the breeze on both sides of the road. The white SUV approached the bend revealing a deep blue lake sparkling off to the right and small green hills off to the left. The sky was crystal clear blue with not a cloud in it. 

“I love this drive to your parent’s house” Isabella said looking over at Nathan. 

“I know. It’s so beautiful, isn’t it? He gazed at the incredible landscape as he drove the shiny white SUV down the road.

Mesmerized by the scenery, Isabella sat in quiet contemplation, reflecting on all the changes that had taken place in the last ten years. Glancing back at her two kids, she smiled in appreciation. Gracie was the spitting image of Isabella. Now ten years old, she sat in the back seat listening to music, her seat belt securely fastened; curly brown hair bouncing about freely. Spencer was fast asleep.

“Aw, what a precious little six-year old I have,” she said appreciating how angelic he looked. 

Emma, Nathan’s 16-year old niece, was seated in the middle of them.

“How’s my favorite niece doing?” Nathan said looking back at her through his rear view mirror.

“I’m okay.” She answered halfheartedly.   

Isabella and Nathan looked at each other. The tension was palpable. 

“Emma, don’t you think you ought to talk to your parents.” Nathan encouraged. 

“No” Emma said abruptly. 

Just then Michael’s Magic Box began to shimmer. Isabella opened it to let its message play:

Before you judge me, try hard to love me.

“I think that message was meant for you Emma.” Isabella said lovingly. 

“Why?” She answered defensively. 

“You’re judging your parents. You didn’t give them a chance to explain. You don’t want to understand.” Nathan said bluntly. 

Emma folded her arms and became very quiet. She started remembering the events of the last few days that lead her here...   

There one was last container left on the shelf in the garage. Emma stood on a wooden step stool so she could reach it. She grabbed it off the shelf then dropped it down on the floor. Her mother - Nathan’s sister – asked her to go find the box with all the photos. She had sifted through every other box in the garage. This was the last one. 

“Ugh” Emma bellowed as she moved the box with her foot. “If those pictures aren’t in here, I’m done!” She opened the lid and saw hoards of pictures wrapped in rubber bands.  She reached in and grabbed one of the stacks, took off the rubber band and started sifting through them. She smiled as she reminisced through every picture. Then her smile turned to a frown when she came across a photo of herself standing arm in arm with her two sisters.

The photo revealed something that has always bothered her, how she looks so different than her sisters. They have long straight hair. She has short curly hair. Their skin is dry, her skin is oily. Those were just a couple of the many obvious differences the pictures highlighted, but she shrugged it off as usual. She put the rubber band on the photos and placed them into the storage container, then grabbed the red lid to put it back on, when suddenly she noticed a manila envelope sticking out at the bottom of the pile. She was intrigued by it so she snatched it out.  

Carefully, she opened the envelope to discover its contents. Inside were legal documents. She pulled them completely out and started reading them. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she scanned the document. At the top it said “Adoption Agreement.” The first line of the document read “Adopting Parent.” In the space provided, her parent’s names were listed.

Adopting Parent: Jim Slater

Adopting Parent: Cindy Slater

Below that were address, city, state, and telephone number. It was the next line that sent shock waves through her. Her jaw fell open and her knees buckled as she read it. “What the?” She said stopping abruptly before finishing that sentence. She couldn’t believe what her eyes were looking at.  

Child’s name before adoption: Eva Thomas 

Child’s name after adoption: Emma Slater

“Oh my God. I feel sick.” She bent over holding her stomach with her left hand. Her entire body started to shake inside at the realization of what she just saw. “I’m adopted?” She whispered.

“Emma?” her mom called out from the house through the garage door. “Did you find the pictures?”

No answer. 

“Emma?” she yelled louder. 

Her trance was broken by the sound of her mom’s voice. “Yes mom.” Saying that word suddenly felt foreign to her, like it didn’t belong in her mouth.

“Will you bring them inside please? I need to go through them so I can copy a few for Isabella. Gracie needs them for a school project.”

“Okay” she said quickly putting the forms back into the manila envelope. She put the lid back onto the container and carefully tucked the envelope under her black hoodie.

At dinner that evening, her entire family was seated at the table. She waited for just the right time to reveal the papers, looking at every one of them through new eyes during the meal. So many thoughts were going through her mind. She noted the color of her parent's eyes. Brown. Her eyes are green. She looked at both of their noses. Her nose didn’t resemble either one of them. She wasn’t just seeing them in a new way from a physical perspective. Now she looked at them through the eyes of distrust.

“What else have they lied to me about?” She pondered.

She glanced over at her sisters wondering if they knew. 

“Is something wrong?” Her mother asked, noticing Emma’s incessant staring. 

“Yeah” Emma said furiously. She pulled out the envelope from the side of her chair and plopped it down on the table. 

“What’s this?” her father said picking it up. 

“You tell me!” She said angrily. 

Her father opened the envelope and dropped his head to his chest. He passed the envelope over to Emma’s mother.  

“Where did you get this?” her mother asked.

“In the box of pictures.” Emma said folding her arms as if to keep her family at a distance.

One of Emma’s sisters spoke up. “What is it?”

“It’s the papers that reveal my whole life has been a lie.” She said yelling at her sister. 

“Emma let us explain” her mother pleaded.

“How could you? I can’t even look at you right now. How could you do that to me?” Emma yelled, pushing out her chair. She grabbed her purse said “I don’t belong here.”

“Emma wait” her mother pleaded, trying to get her to stay and talk to them. 

“No I’ve gotta get out of here. I’m going to Uncle Nathan’s.” The door slammed on her way out. 

Emma was jolted back to the present when Nathan swerved to miss an object lying in the road. 

“Sorry about that guys!” He said slowing down the SUV. 

“So how is school going?” Isabella asked Emma, trying to lighten things up a bit. 

“It’s fine.” She replied. “I’ve got an English assignment that I’m kinda struggling with.”

“Oh really? What is it?" Isabella turned around in her seat so she could look at Emma directly. 

“I have to write a poem and recite it to the class.”  

“What kind of poem?”

“A poem about love.” Emma rolled her eyes. 

“In what way?” Isabella wanted more detail. 

“A poem about what I think love is.”

Isabella looked intrigued. “Interesting. So what do you think love is?”  

“Honestly, I have no idea anymore. You tell me.” She said with a nod of her head. 

Before Isabella could answer, Michael’s Magic Box began to shimmer. She opened it to this message:

It is the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation.

“There you go.” Isabella said smiling. “Love is the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation.”

“I don’t know what that means.” She said dismissively. 

Nathan looked over at Isabella with a smile as if to say “Good luck explaining that one.”

“It means that love has power!” Isabella said with a strong emphasis. 

They drove up the long paved driveway that led up to the gate of Nathans’ parent’s ranch. He stopped at the gate and entered a code. The wooden doors magically began to open. Nathan stopped the SUV in front of the house. His dad was sitting on a wooden chair on the patio waiting for them. Gracie unbuckled her own seat belt, flung open the door and ran over to her grandpa, giving him a big hug! Meanwhile Isabella helped Spencer get out of his car seat. He jumped out and ran over there too. Grandpa swept him up in his arms and swung him around. “Hi Bud!”

“Hi Dad” Nathan said giving him a hug. 

“Hi son. Good to see you.” 

“Hi Emma” He said lightly touching her chin.  

“How are you Isabella?”  

“Great, thank you.” 

 “Where’s mom?” Nathan asked. 

 “She’s in the house. Should we go in?”  

 “Grandpa, can we go look at the horses?” Gracie asked excitedly.

 “Sure honey.”

 “We’re going to go in and say hi to mom while you take the kids to the barn dad.”

 “Okay kids. Let’s go.” Grandpa said clapping his hands together. 

 Gracie and Spencer took off running toward the barn. Nathan, Isabella and Emma walked to the house.

 When Isabella walked in, she was overwhelmed by the beauty of Nathan’s parent’s house, as she always was. It was made entirely of golden logs. The cabinets in the kitchen were the same color as the logs. The large refrigerator stood out in silver and black. The bar was made up of shiny petrified wood; the countertops, dark granite with tan colored specs in it. Right in the middle, was Nathan’s mom baking some cookies. 

 “Hi mom.”

 “Oh you’re just in time.” She said taking the cookies out of the oven. 

 She gave Nathan a kiss on the cheek and waved to Isabella. 

 “Hi Vicky.” 

 “Hi Grandma” Emma joined in. 

 “Hi Honey” she said giving her a hug. “It’s so nice to see you.”

 Emma grabbed a cookie and started eating it. “I’m gonna go see what Gracie and Spencer are doing.”  

 She walked over to the big honey colored wooden building with a pitched black roof. The doors were already opened so Emma walked inside. “Beautiful, magnificent creatures” she uttered to herself upon seeing the horses. She stopped to pet one on the head. Suddenly, she heard Gracie’s voice around the corner. She quietly walked over to the sound of her voice to see what was going on, but didn't let them see her. Grandpa, Gracie and Spencer were sitting on bales of hay. Gracie asked Grandpa a question. 

“Grandpa, how come you are always so happy?”

“Oh I don’t know.” He said shrugging his shoulders. “Probably because I feed the good.”  

Gracie scrunched her face. “What does that mean?”

“Let me read you something.” He pulled out his wallet from his back pocket and retrieved a piece of paper that was folded inside. He put his elbows on his knees and held the paper in his hands. Both kids stared at him in great anticipation of what he was about to read. Emma was still hidden behind the corner listening.

"Are you ready?" Grandpa asked.

"Ready!" They both said in unison. 

He began reading. 

He smiled when he finished. Both kids wriggled in delight. 

“Cool” Spencer said enthusiastically. 

“I love that story.” Gracie added.  

Then Spencer got a confused look on his face. “So there’s a good wolf and a bad wolf inside all of us?” 

Grandpa laughed. “No. It just means that we all have a choice to see the good or the bad in every person and every situation in life. If you choose to focus on the good, it will give you power. If you choose to focus on the bad, it will take away your power.”

“What kind of power?” Gracie asked. 

“The power of love.”  

“Love has power?” Spencer asked, cocking his head.

“Yes, because love is the energy of God. Have you ever heard the phrase “God is Love?” 

“Yeeaah” Gracie said enthusiastically, standing up as she said it. 

“Just flip those words and you’ll understand why love has power.” 

“Love is God.” Spencer said swiftly following his direction. 

“That’s right” he said happily. “Love is God – and the great thing about this energy is that it works through you.” He said pointing to Gracie’s heart. 

“How?” She asked. 

“All you have to do to let the power of love work through you is feed the good.” 

“But how will I know if I’m feeding the good or feeding the bad?” Gracie asked.

“When you’re feeding the good, you will feel strong, confident and courageous” he said lifting his arm in the air as a symbol of strength. When you’re feeding the bad, you will feel weak, insecure and jealous, like it said in the story. When you experience emotions like joy, hope, peace or compassion, you’re feeding the good. When you feel fear, insecurity, or hatred, you’re feeding the bad. You can choose to focus on the good or you can choose to focus on the bad. One makes you strong, the other makes you weak. If you focus on the good, you will always feel blessed. If you focus on the bad, you will always feel stressed”

Gracie jumped up and wrapped her arms around his neck.”I’m always going to feed the good. Thanks for telling us that story grandpa.”

“You’re welcome sweetie.”

“Me too!” Spencer said following Gracie’s lead.

“Let’s go play Spencer.” They ran out of the barn, laughing and playing joyfully. 

Emma quietly turned around so that grandpa wouldn’t know she had been standing there listening. 

“Emma” his deep voice called. 

Her face turned a slight shade of red when she turned around. “Hi grandpa.”

“Come sit with me and tell me what’s going on.”

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“I can tell something is bothering you.” He said putting his arm around her. 

Emma sat down on the bale of hay. Grandpa sat across from her. 

“Do you know?” She asked looking directly into his eyes. 

He shook his head. “Yes I know.”

“How could they not tell me?” She asked sadly. 

“They had their reasons Emma.” 

“Why didn’t anyone else tell me?” 

“Because it wasn’t our place.”

“When I found those papers, I was devastated. I suddenly realized why I’ve never really felt like I fit in with this family. Why I look so different than my sisters. Why my name never felt right to me. They let me believe my whole life that they were my real parents. If I hadn’t found those papers, I would never have known. I feel betrayed. I feel unloved. I don’t know who I am anymore. It’s like my entire identity has been stolen from me.”

Emma had tears streaming down her face. 

“Emma” grandpa said comforting her. “You were standing there listening to the story I just told Gracie and Spencer…right?”

“Yes,” she said hanging her head down. 

“Then can’t you see what you’re doing?”

“What?” She said confused. 

“You’re feeding the bad. All you see is the negative in this situation and that is making you feel angry inside.”

No it’s not!” She said emphatically. “It my parents that are making me feel angry inside. It’s what they did to me.” 

“I understand.” He said shaking his head. “But honey, you have the gift of choice. You might not be able to control what happens to you, but you can control how it makes you feel. You can choose to look at the bad in this situation or you can choose to look at the good. One will make you feel bad. The other will make you feel good. One will take away your power, the other one will give you power.”

Emma looked at him through her tears. Grandpa continued. “Do you want to feel good or do you want to feel bad? Do you want to be empowered or do you want to be disempowered? Do you want to feel peaceful or do you want to be angry. Your feelings will always tell you whether you are allowing love or denying love. So ask yourself, 'Am I allowing love or am I denying love?'”

“Hmmm” Emma responded. 

“Ask yourself in every situation, what good exists in this?” Grandpa said patting her knee. “If you can find that, love will set you free.” He got up and left her to her thoughts. 

Later that evening, Isabella put both kids to bed. She pulled down the pink covers filled with white snowflakes. “C’mon sweetie” she said motioning to Gracie to get into the twin sized bed. Gracie plopped into her bed. Isabella pulled the covers up around her shoulders then nestled a hug from her while securing the covers tightly around Gracie’s body. “Snug as a bug in a rug” Isabella said. Gracie smiled. She gave her a kiss and said “I love you princess.”

“I love you too Mommy” Gracie replied with a sweet voice. 

“It’s your turn” Isabella said tickling Spencer. He giggled, pulled away from her and ran into his room. 

“You can’t get me” He teased playfully. 

“Oh yes I can! Isabella said grabbing him from behind at the waist. Spencer started playfully kicking and screaming. Isabella dropped him on his bed softly. 

“Okay, time to get under the covers.” Isabella pulled down his blue comforter filled with yellow half-moons and white stars. Spencer climbed under the covers. “Love you my sweet angel” Isabella said giving him a kiss. “Your dad will be in soon to say goodnight.”

“Okay, love you too mommy.” 

Isabella blew him a kiss and winked at him as she left the room.

“Isabella?” Emma said approaching her in the hall as she closed Spencer’s door. “Would you and Uncle Nathan mind if I stay here tonight? 

“Of course not. You can stay in the guest room.”

“Thank you” she said exhaling in relief. “Would you also let me keep Michael’s Magic Box in my room tonight? Maybe it will help me.”

“Absolutely. Let me go get it.” She said lightly caressing her left arm. 

Isabella gently placed Michael’s Magic Box on the nightstand in the guestroom for Emma then sat down on the bed next to her. 

“Thank you Isabella, for everything. You and Uncle Nathan have been so good to me.”

“Oh, you’re welcome Emma. That’s what family is for.” She said emphasizing the word “family” on purpose. “So how are you feeling?”

‘I’m still really upset at my parents but grandpa gave me good advice today and I’m going to try to heed it.” 

“Really? What was the advice?” Isabella inquired.

“He told me to find the good that exists in every situation, because then I will feel blessed.” 

“Ahh…those are words of wisdom.” Isabella affirmed. 

“I don’t really see how that's going to change the situation though.” Emma replied. 

Just then Michaels’ Magic Box began to shimmer. Emma’s eye lit up. “Open it” Isabella said motioning to it.

Emma reached for the box and opened the lid. She heard this message.

You gave me strength when I wasn’t strong. You gave me hope, when all hope was lost. You opened my eyes when I couldn’t see. Love was always here waiting for me.

“That reason it can change the situation is because it will ignite the power of love. Isabella affirmed. “That power will give you strength and hope that everything will be alright like Michael said. You’ve got to be open to finding the good in this situation so that your heart can be touched Emma. Then the power of love can work through you to heal your family. That's when you'll know that love was always here waiting for you.” Isabella patted her on the knee. “I’ll leave you to think about that.” . 

Emma rubbed her hands on her face in frustration. She lay on the bed and fluffed the three brown pillows that sat on top of the bed underneath her to get comfortable. The bed was covered with a tan and brown comforter. 

Deep in thought, her grandpa’s words came into her mind. It is your choice. Do you want to feel good or do you want to feel bad? Do you want to be empowered or do you want to be disempowered? Are you allowing love or are you denying love? 

She focused on that last sentence for a moment and repeated it out loud. “Am I allowing love or am I denying love?” She sat up and laid her head down into her hands, already knowing the answer. Quietly she said, “I’m denying love.” In that moment, it all made sense. 

“Knock, Knock.” Nathan poked his head inside her door. “Can I come in?”

“Sure!”

He sat down on the bed next to Emma. “How are you doing?”

“Better. I’ve realized that grandpa is right.”

“About what?” He questioned.

“I have been feeding the bad.”

“Ahh… so grandpa told you that story, huh?”

“Yeah, do you know it?” She asked.

“Oh yeah, I heard it many times growing up. It’s a great one.”

“I didn’t want to see the good about my situation because I wanted to stay angry at my parents. I felt justified. But now I can see that by feeding the bad, it’s me that I am denying love.”

 “That’s right” Nathan affirmed.

“Suddenly, I see my parents with different eyes; the eyes of compassion. I can see that their intentions were honorable, not deceitful.  They didn’t tell me that I’m adopted because they wanted me to love and accept them as my true parents. They might not have given birth to me, but they were given to me; given to me as a gift from God. That’s the good about this.”

Nathan nodded his head in agreement.

 “My eyes have been opened to the truth about love. It's always here waiting for me. All I have to do is feed the good.” 

 “I’m glad you finally realized that.”

“Thank you Uncle Nathan, for everything.”

“You’re welcome” he said giving her a hug. “Well, I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing.”

Just then Michael’s Magic Box began to shimmer. She walked over and opened it. This is what she heard:

Now I’ve learned that love needs expression.

She closed the box gently. “Yes, it does Michael and that’s exactly what I’m about to do.”

She jumped off the bed excitedly and grabbed a note book that was sitting on the dresser across the room. She started feverishly writing. Everything she had learned over the last few days was coming out in full force. When she finished, she found she had written a poem - the poem for English. Emma powered up her laptop and typed the poem into her word program. When she was done she printed it out and read it out loud to herself.

 

Feed the Good

They say that God is Love

And those words are profound

Only will you comprehend

When you flip them around

 

These words reveal a power

Don’t think of them as flawed

Reversing them will help you see

That love is really God

 

Love is the creative source

It works through you and me

Requiring from us just one thing

To simply let it be

 

This is a force of life itself

Its nature is to flow

If you deny its energy

It cannot help you grow

 

Ignite the power of this force

By changing what you view

Just find the good in everyone

Especially in you

 

This force is very powerful

But it must be expressed

Appreciate the good in all

And your life will be blessed

 

The good is not that hard to find

Though you might not agree

But that’s because the negative

Is all you’ve tried to see

 

To let this power work for you

You must feel joy inside

Just let love be your faithful friend

And everlasting guide

 

In every situation ask

What good exists in this?

Discover that and you will find

The magic of the bliss

 

This power sits awaiting you

But you must do your part

So choose to always feed the good

Then God can touch your heart

 

“Now that…is a masterpiece!” She said proudly.

Michael’s Magic Box began to shimmer once again. She opened the box to reveal its message.

Lift your head up high and scream out to the world. I know I am someone and let the truth unfurl. No one can hurt you now because you know what’s true. Yes, I believe in me. So you believe in you. (Help me sing it)

Emma closed the box and said, “You're right. It’s time to lift my head up high, because I am someone. I am Emma Slater, daughter of Jim and Cindy Slater.”

She silently acknowledged what she finally understood. When you know the truth – that love is always here waiting for you - nothing can hurt you. All you have to do is feed the good.

A feeling of peace came over her. She picked up her cell phone and dialed a number.

“Hi mom…I’m coming home.”

 

Linda Higgins

Director of Community Development

linda@michaeljacksontributeportrait.com

© 2012, Linda Higgins, All Rights Reserved

 

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