it isn't what we say or think

Considering Anthology by its Disguise

Um, yeah, I just “Thesaurused” the whimsy out of the old saying… “Judging a book by its cover.”

But I have good reason.

There may be a million and one blog posts out there with that title, and I didn’t want mine to get lost in the muddle by having it judged on an overused saying. And now you’ve come this far…

One of the burdens of my dyslexia is that I cannot process old English text. It might as well be in Portuguese or Swahili. And believe me, I have tried and tried.  When “Pride and Prejudice” came out in 2005 I saw it four times in a row.  Relieved I finally knew what the fuss was all about, the Cliff Notes had hardly done it justice, I was both elated and quite sad.

I know the movie hardly did Austen’s work sanction.

But it is what it is, and struggles make us stronger.  Still, when I saw my daughter’s copy of her favorite literary masterpiece, I fell in love.  I ordered a beautiful copy for myself and tried to read it again.



And failed.

So never judge a book by its cover lest you own a fanciful copy of a literary masterpiece that simply looks lovely on your desk.

And not to enrage, but merely to engage, yesterday in a Starbucks, my cover was judged.  The same old song and dance.  I entered the coffee shop with my toddler sons – my dark skinned Sam and my towheaded Charlie, lugging a bulky car seat with a blue eyed baby girl inside.

An older man made eye contact with me.  I smiled.  He rolled his eyes.

I don't want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them. Jane Austen

I heard his wife say, “My she has her hands full.” And he scoffed and said, “Yeah, and looks like she’s popular with a few fellas.”  And they laughed.  He continues, “Glad our tax dollar can buy her a $6.00 cup of coffee.”

Again, they laugh.

By all appearances, it is safe to assume my children have different dads. But, I don’t know what makes him think he’s buying my coffee? I am slightly disheveled, but I hardly look homeless?

I move on.

Diaper changes, hand washings, and a head injury later, Charlie is bandaged up, and I apologize profusely for the damage to the Carmel Macchiato display. We head back to the car to continue our 5-hour journey to see my parents.  As luck would have it, the older couple who have decided I am the welfare whore of Babylon, are on our heels.

Pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked... Jane Austen

I plead with my sons to stay close, I awkwardly balance coffee while I haul the bulky seat to my car.  I can feel their eyes on me. And I hear him say, “She hardly needs to be eating scones.”

I dislike this guy.

And! I don’t have a freaking scone??? 

As I herd the boys, we are squished between cars and Sam proceeds to Karate chop and kick a blue Honda with his tiny fists and feet like an insane little Ninja.  I bark, “Samuel Michael! No sir!” 

Yeah, it is their car.

I make my apologies, and they just stare. I get to my car, and I hear the man say, “Well, that’s our society for ya!”

Arguing with a fool only proves there are two. Jane Austen

And he would be correct.

Our society judges by what we think we see and what we hold as truth when we have no idea what in hell’s bells we are talking about.

The vandals and the baby finally fell asleep, and I am left to ponder as I drive.

I am guilty of the same behaviors.

Know your own happinesswant for nothing butpatience -- or give it a morefascinating name- Call it HOPE.1

And melancholy is my companion the rest of the day.

I am sad for that man.  But I don’t want to judge him. Who knows what made his demeanor the way that it is?  And sure, my four-year-old did violently abuse his 90’s model hatchback, but he’s just a little boy. And I pity anyone who can’t see the grand folly in that.

He didn’t do any damage, and I certainly didn’t let him get away with it.

And I can’t shake the hurt.  And something else lingers, somewhere in the back of my mind.  As I wearily climb into bed, and I received a text from my college roommate, turned cousin, as she introduced me to her cousin, and I married him.

“Can’t believe it has been six years. Love you…”  

Half agony, half hope

There’s the cover… and then there is the book.

Yesterday was the anniversary of a catastrophe that sparked the revolution to live our lives differently- the tragic accidental death of my husband’s older brother and business partner.

The grief and hardship drew us closer to God.  We clung to Jesus and grew in our need to make Him center in our lives.  We decided to rewrite our story and teach our children that, in the midst of our suffering, He is enough.  We would not let affliction curse us.  We would choose joy – we would open our home to those in need.

We would foster, and we would adopt.


And I am again sad for the butthead in Starbucks. And I am sad for all the times I have been a butthead – when I have judged a book by its cover.

And the events that brought me to this Starbucks with my mismatched family are a story that goes well beyond skin color and genetics.

It isn't what we say or think that defines us... (1)

At my core, I want to be a good shepherd to those in need, that they might experience the love of Christ.

But, like the grumpy man in Starbucks, I often fall prey to my senses.  I think the worst of people or I write a creative story in my head about how and why they are in the messes I am witnessing from afar.

But the profoundness of humanity and our condition go so much deeper than that which we can see with human eyes.

As I tried to sleep, I couldn’t shake the image of the man from Starbucks face.  His disgust for what he believed my situation to be… and I am most horrified that I know I have looked the same way.

she hada lively playfuldisposition, whichdelighted in anything ridiculous.Jane Austen

And I never want this to be said of me.

That I judged harshly.

That I was unwilling to listen to the intensity of a struggle.

Or that I was so steeped in self-righteousness, I was incapable of seeing myself in the least of these.

And while it is impossible not to sound judgemental of this man, I am grateful to have had him in my path.  I pray whatever burdens him is someday healed.  And I am most joyful that in the midst of tragedy our family increased instead of only decreasing.  And that positive growth may get us looks, and jeers, but we have life and life abundant.

-I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve...-

He is a good, good Father.

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 1 Cor. 15:51




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  1. […] Source: Considering Anthology by its Disguise […]

  2. Catherine Devlin on January 23, 2016 at 6:04 am

    You took me down the path – starting with righteous rage on your behalf, only to realize that I’ve been the one making false and awful judgements, too. I hope I’ll remember this next time I’m tempted to sneer at another human being.

  3. From Where I am Sitting… on April 27, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    […] Jeremiah 17:10  For more beautiful art by Marcia Furman click here… You might also like Considering Anthology By Disguise… And one of my favorites, Fresh HATE and Jesus Fish…. Love to write?  Want to learn and […]

  4. Christine on May 9, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you for your honest testimony. I too have found myself on the judgement end of other’s perceived notions. While their judgement hurts, the most difficult part has been realizing that my judgements of others make them feel exactly the same way.

    • jami_amerine on May 9, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Thank you for commenting.

  5. Stephanie Thompson on September 1, 2016 at 7:49 am

    I appreciate your honesty here and how you took us with you from recepient to offender. The beauty (because truthfully, it is beautiful) is that we all stand in the same place-in need of a Savior. We are all fashioned by the same Creator. It’s so easy to have a “I” vs “you” mentality but then we must remember that we are all “family” in a way. And I loved the Jane Austen references!

    • jami_amerine on September 1, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Thank you Stephanie ❤️

  6. Terry K. on September 1, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Because foster children in Illinois (maybe everywhere – I don’t know) are entitled to WIC benefits, I have been guilty of holding up the line at the store while my kids’ coupons are processed, and been judged in that line when the cashier then checks out my own groceries, which usually include something I really don’t need. Mumbled comments or something directed to a companion, but deliberately loud enough for me to hear. More than once I have faced the offender with a smile on my face (albeit a forced one) and said “Those items are for my foster children. How are you doing today?” Usually met with a red face and another mumble. Not that it is any of their business, but hopefully reminds them not to be so quick to assume.

    • jami_amerine on September 1, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Been there too…

  7. Shaunda Montague on September 1, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Everything you said is true. I’m far too often a judge of book covers, and thank God for His grace; He’s changing me bit by bit. And that man IS a butt head. 😉

    • jami_amerine on September 1, 2016 at 8:35 am

      Amen…. To all of that. Hehe!

  8. Holly on September 1, 2016 at 9:24 am

    We have a similar life history. White adoptive mom to 11 mixed race and AA children living largely in affluent white communities. it ain’t easy. I mostly just wanted to say I liked your blog very much. Rebuked me some so I needed it! I have cut back on my blog reading as the children require more time and I need my inbox clear at all times, but I liked your fb so I can read them when time permits!

    • jami_amerine on September 1, 2016 at 10:06 am


  9. Deidre Nichols on September 1, 2016 at 9:48 am

    I have a story to tell;
    As I sat in church on a Sunday morning in 1994, at the ripe old age of 31, full of righteous indignation, dressed in pearls and my demure Laura Ashley dress, I quietly told the Lord I would have to find a new church.
    The couple in front of me and others scattered about, were poorly dressed: cut-off shorts, flip-flops, etc. as they raised their hands in praise to Him. I told Him I did not like how disrespectful they were being to His House.
    After praise & worship, Pastor stands and says,
    “Ya know, when God saved me, I didn’t look like I look now. It took a long time to get from where I was then to where I am now. Y’all may be looking around wondering why others aren’t on the same wavelength as you. We’re all on different levels with our walk with God.”
    I bowed my head, wondering if God’s Spirit, that had told him to say that, had also told him I was the one who’d been sitting in judgment? I thanked God over & over for gently correcting me, & not humiliating me, as He certainly had a right to do.
    But, even with that life changing moment, I STILL sit in judgment from time to time. Forgive me, Father. I DO know what I do, but I’m stupid and forgetful. And sinful. So very sinful. And He is loving and merciful. So very loving.

    • jami_amerine on September 1, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Grace upon Grace. I love your heart.

  10. Carole Towriss on September 1, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I’ve spent the last three weeks trying to get over comments to a tweet of mine where a man called all adoptive parents child traffickers. Your post has helped me to begin to forgive him. Thank you.

    • jami_amerine on September 1, 2016 at 10:07 am


  11. Glenna McKelvie on September 1, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I have jusged abd I have been judged. We never stop learning

  12. […] that is not necessary the right attitude. These feelings are captured perfectly in the words of a post by my blogger friend, Jami Amerine, of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors .  She writes about her own […]

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