Tag Archives: Healing

The Christmas New Year Lull

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I had to check the calendar. “What day is it?” Tuesday, Sunday I’m not really sure. Somehow the six days between Christmas and New Years feel like a strange time warp, a bit of a prolonged blur. But, I actually really appreciate those days because I’ve come to see them as a chance to slowly pack up the Christmas decorations, reflect on the past year and think ahead to the new one just around the corner. Do years have corners?

I managed to give out a few Christmas cards to friends on Boxing Day (see how organized I am). I got the salt dough Christmas ornaments, that my friend gave me, decorated during that six-day lull. It took a couple days to finish them, and we did markers instead of paint because I didn’t feel up to cleaning up a paint mess. My 3 year old colored one, and I made a cute one for our daughter’s first Christmas. With the final two, I used them to reflect back on 2019 and look forward to 2020.

I find that years often have a theme or a word that keeps popping up. I noticed this particularly in 2013 after getting through a particularly rough year (See To Butterflies, 2013, and New Beginningsthat was tainted with the sudden death of a close friend and a car accident just before Christmas that landed my grandma in the hospital with a broken hip and eventually cost her life. I felt completely stuck running a newspaper in a small town that I had opened not because I had wanted to do it but because other people had wanted me to do it. I battled some serious depression that year until I finally decided to stop living other people’s dreams for me and to go out and live the dreams God had tucked deep into my heart. 2013 was a beautiful year. I moved to the amazing city of Saint Louis, worked as a nanny, travelled, met the man who would later become my husband, and got the privilege of parenting 19 beautiful kids in Kenya. After one of the hardest years of my life, it was one of the best. Through out that year butterflies (a symbol of freedom and new beginnings) kept popping up. Sometimes it was a butterfly sticker on an envelope. Once it was the mom of the little boy I nannied for buying a butterfly shaped cookie for me as a way of thanking me for giving her the peace of mind that her little guy was in good hands while she took a few days a week to pursue her dream of opening a coffee shop. Those butterflies that popped up were always little unexpected reminders of God’s love throughout the year.

This year it was during a retreat in April that the word Healed was impressed on my mind as the word for 2019. At first, I thought it referred solely to physical healing. At the time I was in the midst of recovering from a painful wound that had resulted from an abscess steaming from mastitis that had burst and took several months to heal. Then, mid way through the year, I got a deep cut on the back of my ankle that at first seemed to be healing but then became very infected and took months to heal. Both those wounds have healed now although the scares remain. As they healed, God has used a variety of things throughout the year to show me that He longs to bring emotional healing not just physical healing. I struggle with anger, people pleasing, a constant fear of losing those closest to me. I struggle with feelings of bitterness and feeling unseen as I pour many hours into taking care of two little people who seem to constantly need me when emotionally I just want some space. This past year God has shown me my emotional wounds of anxiety, insecurity, and rejection; and as we have journeyed together this year the healing process has begun. There are still scars, but God has shown me that for anxiety- perfect love casts out fear. I no longer have to live in that place of fear but can settle my heart in a secure love. For anger rooted in the chains of legalism, insecurity and feelings of never being enough- God has shown me the beauty of living under grace and I pray as I continue to grow in this area, I can pass that lifestyle of grace on to my children. For feelings of being unseen- God has shown me that He sees me even when no one else does and that I need to let go of unnecessary burdens and duty and just sit at His feet.

So Healed is the word I wrote on the salt dough ornament surrounded by some PNG inspired designs that almost hide the word. Healing is such a slow, intimate, messy but needed process. What is the word for 2020? I asked, and the word JOY came. Joy? I was a bit skeptical. I tend to be a more of a glass empty type person, a realist I guess. But, yes, I would love for my life to reflect more joy. So that is the word I wrote on the last salt dough ornament and hung it on a push pin tacked to the shelf in my room. This coming year I choose to look for Joy. I read Psalms 43 after the impression of the word joy came verses 2-4 resonated with this search for a joy filled life. “Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God- the source of all my joy.”

I got a message from my sister on Sunday. My aunt, who recently had a stroke, was taken to the hospital with water in her lungs and heart. “How I thought, in that moment, “is this going to be a year of joy?” It is so hard at times being on the other side of the world when difficult things are happening in your family over on the other side of the world. But joy does not mean a year without trials. I have the verse from James 1:2 on my wall- “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

So JOY- joy in trails, joy from the one true source of joy, joy in each day of 2020. May 2020 be a year of joy for you as well.

Do you have a word going into 2020 or a word from 2019?

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Grass Circle Therapy

We sat on the grass circle in the middle of our driveway braiding hair and soaking in the warm Kenyan sun. I worked on one of the little girl’s hair while the older girls took turns braiding each other.

“Sometimes in the camps we used to not eat lunch until 4 pm,” Zippi said completely out of the blue. We’d been talking that week as a team about trying to help the kids work through problems from their past, so when this window opened I ran with it.

“How many meals a day did you receive? What type of food did you eat? How many people did the food feed,” I asked. As Zippi and I talk her brother John suddenly chimed in “My mom tried to leave me in a sewer,” he said. His ten year old eyes looked hurt and distant. “She was not a good mom.”

We kept talking. John in Swahili. Zippi in English. Zippi told the story of how when there had not been enough food in the house her mom had threatened to feed them kerosene. That’s when her aunt took her and her brother away from their mom, she said. Sadly, her youngest sister stayed with her mom. Zippi vowed to one day find her.

We talked about healing. We talked about God’s protection. We talked about how going through hard times grows you and lets you comfort others. We talked about not judging someone who has hurt you but letting God judge them, and as we sat on that grass circle I thanked God for the opportunity to see a small piece of my kids begin to heal.

I don’t have nightmares at night, John does. I don’t know what it’s like to be abused by a relative or to have to work all day cooking and cleaning then staying up late at night just to get your homework done. Zippi knows what that feels like. I don’t know what it feels like to be abandon, uncared for, or neglected; but I am happy that our kids are here now safe and loved.

“I was so excited the night before I came here that I didn’t sleep the whole night,” Zippi told me the other day. They’re here now. They’re safe. They’re loved and free to just be kids. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so that I can be here for them whenever the kids decide to share their stories. Thank you to everyone who helps support a child at Abba’s House. You are changing lives, shaping hearts, and allowing them to become the people God created them to be—loved, chosen, accepted and whole.

John enjoying the grass circle

John enjoying the grass circle

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Beautifully Painful

During the recent Hunger Games movie craze I talked my dad into going to the movies with me not to watch the Hunger Games but to see October Baby. I had planned to go with a friend but due to some bad planning on my part it didn’t work out, and at the last minute my dad graciously agreed to go with.

I’m the kind of person who believes that watching movies should be a shared experience. On occasion, I’ll watch one by myself, but generally I want to talk about what’s going on, and if you talk to yourself people tend to give you strange looks. I have a bad tendency of talking during movies usually asking questions and occasionally threatening to throw a pillow at the screen if a character becomes particularly aggravating. My older brother and one of my friends from college hate watching movies with me because of my tendency to ask questions. “I don’t know what’s going on either,” my brother will say. “I’m watching this for the first time too. Stop talking and just watch the movie.” I’ll be quite for about five minutes before blurting out “What did he do that for.”

My favorite movies tell a good story preferably one based on a true story like Miss Potter or The Pursuit of Happyness. Although with true stories, I tend to get so interested in the person’s life  that I start reading up on them and often end up disappointed when I find that my favorite part from the movie never actually happened.

But back to October Baby. It was an extremely well done movie and what piqued my interest was the fact that the movie was inspired by the story of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen. What made me actually go watch the movie was seeing an interview with actress Shari Rigby who plays the role of the mother who attempted to abort her child. When the film’s producers asked Shari to play the part, they had no idea that she had had an abortion earlier in her life. She said she got the script and was just stunned at the similarities between her story and the one she had been asked to play. Shari said the movie turned out to be a healing experience for her as she journeyed with her character who ultimately receives forgiveness from her daughter and comes to forgive herself as well.

It was a beautifully painful movie to watch, but those are the kind of movies I love the best because life is often beautifully painful. Sometimes I get annoyed when people try to give simple answers to everything that happens in life. The older I get the less answers I see and the more brokenness I encounter. But there can be a beauty and growth in brokenness and a sense of maturity developed during times of pain. Of course we all wish life wasn’t so  painful and that situations like abortion, genocide, break ups, and terminal illness didn’t exist, but often it is the things that we want the least that, as humans, bring us together the most and develop us into the person we seek to be.

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