Bug-Collecting and a Mother’s Heart: Lessons in Compassion

picture of great-grandmother with three children

Carly, Beth, Ayden, and Baby Casey (Plus an Awesome John Wayne Photobomb)

What Hearts Remember

I read this amazing story the other day, I say to my mother-in-law. She and I sit in Denny’s, lingering over the last bites of our pecan-banana pancakes.


Yeah. It was a blog post. Your kids caught bugs when they were small, didn’t they? And they brought them home in jars? She nods, smiling. She is happy, on this morning. I had come early to fetch her, to drive her two hours to Redlands, where a brand-new great-granddaughter waits to meet her. But then, she’s usually happy, thanks be to God.

Well, I continue, this woman was in Africa with the organization we sponsor Sammy through, and a little girl brought her a bucket of bugs she’d caught, burning a candle to attract them. And the woman asked her what she would do with that bucket of bugs she’d caught, as she remembered her own children bringing home bug collections. 

The child said, We’ll eat them. 

My mother-in-law looks at me, fork paused, pancakes stranded midway between plate and mouth. We study each other for a moment, her and me, two women bound by being crazy-in-love with her firstborn son.

We finish our coffee in silence. I pay for our breakfast, and  we climb back into the car.

What day was Carly born? she asks me.

Carly was five on July 29, Mom. The new baby’s name is Casey. Casey Renee. She’ll be four weeks old on Monday.

Oh, that’s right. 

When we arrive, Beth heads for the playroom with the big kids, Carly and Ayden. I hold my newest grandbaby and chat with Rachael and Kevin. We talk about sleepless nights and sweet new-baby breath and burping strategies and the velvet that is the skin on a newborn’s cheek.

Smitten, all of us. 

After a bit Beth joins us and I pass the infant into her arms. I watch as she cradles the babe, supporting her tiny neck and rocking gently back and forth as she whisper-hums a lullaby to little Casey, a secret tune for the two of them to share.

Some things a mother’s heart never forgets. 

Rachael’s eyes ask: How is she today? 

We had a great drive out this morning, I say. She nods.

What day was Carly born? Beth asks.

Casey was born on August fifth, Rachael tells her.

Oh, that’s right.

The baby dreams on, safe in my mother-in-law’s arms. I watch, listening to the crooning, lulled myself by her rhythmic rocking.

Some things a mother’s heart never forgets. 

On the way home, my mother-in-law asks me: So those poor children really collect bugs? To eat? 

They do, I tell her. That’s why Rich and I sponsor Sammy. He sends us letters. We sent him money for his birthday. Do you know what he bought?

She waits, sensing a punch line.

He bought a goat. 

Back at her house, she’s tired and happy, telling my husband all about how beautiful baby Carly is.

Casey, Mom, he says, so gently it breaks my heart.

Oh, that’s right, she replies.

Then she tells him the story I shared that morning, about a little girl in Africa who catches ants for her family’s dinner.

Because some things a mother’s heart never forgets. 


Friends, September is Blog Month at Compassion International. I’ll share some stories here, this month, about the difference you can make in the life of one child trapped in poverty. Our goal is to find sponsors for 3,160 children during September. For $38 a month you can lift a child from the grip of poverty. Won’t you pray on that possibility? And if you’re so moved, then jump on over to Compassion International to choose a child.  They’re waiting for you.

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

Hebrews 13:16 (MSG)



  1. Well told … and bittersweet.

  2. There is a lot of unsaid things within this writing. I really like the way you weaved the stories. Baby is precious… I too love the soft sweetness.


  1. […] Seiler Lagrand | Bug-Collecting and a Mother’s Heart: Lessons in Compassion – We study each other for a moment, her and me, two women bound by being crazy-in-love with […]

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