"I believe in the love of God, it is an orphan's wildest dream, it is a Narrow Little Road, it is an ever widening desert stream" ~ Red Mountain hymn

"This narrow little road may be filled with both abundant joy and humiliating sorrow; surely, even its promised Divine acceptance cannot assure it's travelers absense of profound rejection. Indeed, this narrow road may be filled with a great many things, but the one thing it truly lacks is regret!" ~Debbie Sue

Monday, February 28, 2011

You restore our souls (song)

song written in March/April 2010


Though we've crawled through some seasons of darkness
and the raindrops still pour from our eyes
We've put our hope in Your unending mercy
for You've promised the Son/Sun will arise

Oh You came down and You made our lives blessed
You brought so much joy our hearts found rest

And so we sing to You Jesus
For Your love has been our fortress
You restore(d) our souls
And now we bow before You Father
knowing there's none other
in our hearts, You alone are God

As we kneel through some seasons of waiting
for the day we'll rejoice in our land
We put our hope in the truth that You've called us
every season is led by your hand

Oh oh you bent down
wiped every tear from our eyes
You brought so much joy
now we will boldly draw nigh

And we will sing to you Jesus
For your love has been our fortress
You restore(d) our souls
And now we bow before You Father
knowing there's none other
in our hearts, You alone are God

Oh in our hearts, You alone are God

This song is about struggle, and it's about the pain that we endure through different seasons of life; seasons of loss, disappointment, and waiting. It's true, this song is about those things. However, more importantly, it's about the hope that doesn't disappoint us despite many seasons of heartaching disillusionment. It's about the peace and the joy that settles in our hearts during gut-wrenching moments of pain and struggle, and the restoration that invades and transforms our souls in Christ. It'a about a God who feels our pain; a God who came from Heaven and became a man to know our grief. A man who bent down, and ultimately humbled Himself unto death to truly and deeply know the hearts of His children.

We were never created to be faced with such glory, such unbelievable love, and not respond; henceforth the response in the chorus...

"And now we sing...and now we bow...(and we declare)You alone are God!"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

a month and a mountain

Do you ever feel like life is happening so quickly around you?; like the waves of life are just crashing over you, and yet you hear that still small voice in your heart saying, "why are you so down cast, oh my soul, raise your voice and sing, put your HOPE in Him!"

There continues to be so much beauty and assurance of all that God is and promises to be in my life, so much joy as I walk forward one step at time into His wonderful plans, and yet I also see constant reminders each day that there is an enemy that is actively seeking to depress, divide and destroy myself and those around me. Oh if ever we need Him, my friends, the time is now!

In terms of beauty and blessing, God has been overwhelming me with special people and memories during these last moments in Liberia. Just a few glimpses... a few days ago, I got to be the co-pilot in our SP Chopper as we flew over the gorgeous Liberian jungle, and I got to capture that experience through video (it's on facebook). I have had the privilege of having so much time and beautiful space (at my beach house) to process and write out all that I have learned and experienced on this amazing journey in Liberia; I have posted over 250 pictures on facebook, 60 entries on my blog, and filled up an entire journal full of memories, truths written on my heart, and prayers during this season. I pray that you will all have time to journey in and out of my blog over the next couple months and see how the faithful hand of God has led me through this season in West Africa!

I have continued to be overwhelmed by the love and kindness of the women in my house and on ELWA compound- I have been learning so much from them through their devotion and dedication to God's calling and the amount of work that they joyfully accomplish each week- man those ladies work super hard for God's Glory!

Last night I was overflowing with joy at drama practice. I read with the youth about Jesus the King, the suffering Servant, who forgives all our sins, heals all our hearts, and carries our deepest pain and diseases out of the pit of despair (Isaiah 53); and we just revelled in His love and His presence in our lives. We were all drawn into a deeper love and understanding of this Yahway Rophe (spelling?)- Almighty God the One who heals. I stood in the middle of all their sweet resounding voices with utter delight in my heart and tears rolling from my eyes as we all were singing,

"the nails in Your hands, the nails in Your feet, they tell me how much You love me...the thorns on Your brow, they tell me how, You bore so much pain to love me...oh when the Heavens pass away, all Your scars will still remain, and forever they will say, just how much You love me...so I want to say, 'Forever my love, heart, and life is Yours, Jesus.'"

So I have a little over 1 month left and one very large mountain to climb. It turns out that I won't be flying out of Liberia till April 4th, in order to participate in Franklin Graham's Life Festival in Liberia, and so I will be able to be here as well for the kids drama performance at the end of March. That's such a huge answer to prayer!

Also, I went to get my ticket yesterday and prayed right before I walked in that God would perform a miracle and get me a ticket for 1,100 dollars- an absolutely unheard of price, yet all that I have to give. I don't have time to start crying in thankfulness again right now, so let me just tell you that I'm coming home for $1,124! Oh sweet Jesus, if ever I love thee, my Jesus tis now!

I'm learning to ask specifically, to tell Him my deepest needs and desires, and then to trust purely and wholeheartedly that He will reward those who diligently seek His heart and His will in faith.

If we are truly delighting in Him, then He truly delights in giving us the desires of our hearts... and that my friends has been the greatest truth adventure in Liberia!

Monday, February 21, 2011

the flashes finish: top 10 things

Written today ;)

So here's the Top 10 things I miss about the States

1. Community/family – good conversations with friends and family, local
church family, bible study group, Progressive Nursing staff, sleepovers, long talks with friends about Jesus

2. Dreaming about Africa ;)

3. A good mattress- one that doesn’t create a big hole in the middle of
my bed “carrying me down”, or have a net over it that needs a daily
cleaning off of the bug carcasses

4. Certain foods- fresh spinach, avocado, bbq rotisserie chicken and steaks, fresh vegetables and fruits, momma’s concoctions

5. The season of fall- it is my favorite season and I’m truly sad to be
missing its magic! Pumpkin patch, pumpkin spice, hot buttered rum,
brightly colored leaves, crisp fall air, apple festival… so when you are thoroughly enjoying one of these seasonal moments, think of Debbie Sue and respond to Jesus and His beauty with heartfelt gratitude =)

6. Local hangouts and dates- coffee shops, brew pubs, beautiful parks,
Boise River, riding bikes, farmers market, first Thursdays, picnics,
Bridgeport, Coopers, Java and Hartman’s treehouse

7. Roaming around a safe city by myself (Especially Portland, Boston, and Boise)

8. Being involved with mentorship of College students

9. Leading worship with a beloved team of people on Sunday mornings
(praying together)

10. Having all my friends and family only a short flight away for less than $500

10 things I’m learning to love in Liberia and going to miss one day

1. The beautiful dear friends that have deeply impacted my life and taught me about the Lord in ways I never dreamed possible

2. Riding motorbikes almost every day in Ganta

3. Hearing “white woman hello” or wheeplu yelled at me everywhere I go

4. Looking in the eyes of small children who have no parents and still
seeing them smile and shine like the sun

5.Eating fresh fruit that just came straight from the tree (or the
ground if we are talking about pineapple) and made itself at home in my belly

6. Watching Liberians put on skits, singing in staff meetings, dancing at most events, and worship services at MCF.

7. Rice and soup (especially green soups),pepper sauce, fried plantains, and echecke with pepper sauce (guess i like pepper ;)

8. Buying food, household items, and clothing out of wheelbarrows

9. Sushi, Ethiopian, Chinese and Lebanese Restaurants in Monrovia

10. Driving in monster trucks through mud ravines that are supposed to be "roads"

More memories and words to come... no doubt!

FLASH: home with a bang!!

Written on 2/17/2011 (4 days ago...)

Let me start by saying that this has been quite the journey of praying and waiting these last several months, but I'm so thankful because Jesus has been more than enough in the midst of the journey.

When we are forced to wait before Him, forced to sit silently in His Presence, forced to get on our faces in solitude and surrender, it is then that Jesus is able to invade our continually occupied minds and hearts; it's then that He is able to get our full attention, to shine His light on the path before us, to teach us His ways in the quietness of our souls, and just to delight in our presence with Him.

I have been reminded lately of the scripture "pray without ceasing."

That whole "present your requests" part I have down, but oh how I struggle with that constant state of submission and humility before the Father. I'm incredibly thankful that His Spirit intervenes on our behalf during seasons when we feel without words- seasons where we are groaning and crying out before God for Him to see us and hear us and not turn his face in our distress.

I'm one of those individuals who can ramble before people and before the
Lord (no comments please ;) and so most of my prayers these days happen sitting in silence and trying with all the strength of Christ to just listen and quit speaking for once- definitely a discipline I am not used to. Oh but He has been meeting me in those times in special ways that I have never experienced; taking me deeper into Himself, and filling me with a joy and a peace I never thought possible, and I am left just utterly speechless- thankful and in awe- of His goodness and mercy towards me a sinner.

| ο θεος ιλασθητι μοι τω αμαρτωλω
Oh God be merciful to me a sinner!

Yesterday I had a good meeting with Kendell (my SP Country Director). We discussed the movement forward on the rehabilitation of the school project I am managing and I was so blessed to hear him say,

"Debbie, you are doing an amazing job with this school, but you are running faster than I can keep up!"

We start the renovations Monday and you can all expect to see some before and after pictures at the end of February... yay!

So here's the big news. We also discussed the upcoming projects and possible positions coming available and I...wait for it...as for now... wait for it....hahahah... I will be coming home!!! Probably mid to late March is the current plan. As of now, there are two interns and I that Kendell has sent proposals to Headquarters to hire but they haven't responded to any of his requests in the last 2 months.

So, for now I'm happily coming to the States, and if anything changes or opens up, SP will pay to change my tickets.

I have so many emotions right now. I LOVE Liberia, I have sensed God's
nearness and grace here in inexplicable ways. I have tasted of His abundant kindness and provision in the depths of my soul. I have been filled with passion and utter yearning to do His Will, and I have been made a more giving, truthful, and steadfast servant as I fervently prayed, waited and trusted in Him alone.

I am absolutely DELIGHTED to be coming HOME, but the hard part is definitely praying about where "home" will be.

Please pray with me and for me during this season of transition. Pray for my heart and for the hearts of those that I will be leaving behind; I
have come to dearly love so many of them.

Parting is truly such a sweet sorrow, isn't it?

Pray that I will also remain present this next month as I prepare to leave Liberia with a bang!!!

FLASH: when the music fades

Written in 2/15/2010

Mornin O! How was the night?

This morning I woke up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and my new smiley and exhausted roommate Joni. She has been up country for the last two weeks (common for all the ladies in the SP house) and was home just for the night before she heads back up.

When I sat down with my fresh cup of coffee next to her, prepared to do my daily morning Bible reading, she turned to me and said, "Do you mind if I put on some worship music?"

Hmmm... sounds like a normal question, at least for those of us who listen to this type of music on a regular basis. But for me, it struck me deep down in my gut, and threw me way off guard.

Music is a huge part of my life. I'm not a musician persay but I love to sing all day long, write songs and lyrics, and dabble in instrument playing. However, in the last 6 months, the only music I hear is AKON and Rianna and then a few local African artists on the radio, the humming in my own head, and the congregational worship music on Sundays.

Shortly after, I arrived in Liberia my computer died from excessive currant with lack of ventilation (that's my diagnosis). This means that all the music that I brought that encourages my heart when I'm hurting, leads me in worship to my Creator, and repeatedly fills me with joy was taken away- out of the blue. Then not too long after, my camera was spoiled. I just woke up one day and it didn't work.

Taking pictures is also something that brings me more joy and comfort than I could ever express. so, why do I share this?

Only because in the last 6 months, I have seen God repeatedly stripping me of the things that normally draw me into His presence, and there's an intentional lesson that He has for me in it.

I began working over this thought in my brain before church (thanks
Joni ;) and a few songs into the service, we sang these lyrics...

"When the music fades, and all is stripped away And I simply Come!!! (maybe this is what He is desiring)
Longing just to bring, something that's of worth
that will bless your heart, Jesus
I'll bring you more than a song (?), for a song in itself,
is not what you have required
You search much deeper within through the way things appear
you are looking into my heart!

I'm coming back to the heart of worship where it's all about you Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it but I now I know
it's all about you Jesus"

So today, maybe it seems like something has been taken away. I know a few things in my heart that I feel that way about currently. But maybe in all those things, those hurts, or those things we've been clinging to for so long. Maybe He's bidding us to come once again, wanting more than the little sacrifices we give or the songs that we sing (and often don't even realize what we are singing); just maybe He's looking so much deeper within and calling us to give him our hearts.

FLASH: waiting IS the blessing

Written on 2/12/2011

How de body? How was the night? We tell God thank you o!

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you couldn't possibly be more full; like you've had so much interaction, such full and meaningful conversation, and such delightful experiences that you could just burst into a million pieces at any moment, or beg Jesus to take you home right now- while everything is so wonderful? yeah that was my day.

I think I counted 12 friends in Liberia that I got to go visit with today and 10+ friends and family from the states that I got to chat with for over 10 minutes each. WOW! In one day, I've talked to 5 friends who have either just had a baby or are about to have one, and I've discussed 4 upcoming weddings, one of which I'm delighted to be in! YIPPEEE. Man, I wish I could go take some jumping pictures right now to get out some of this energy.

It's midnight here and I feel like I'm preparing to run a marathon, not preparing for sleep.

So here's my current status...

Thou shalt WAIT upon the Lord thy God!!!

Wish I had more news than that. My mind is endlessly spinning, definitely with excitement and all the what ifs and plans of trying to figure out what's happening next. Even though the place is not yet set in stone, the season is becoming clear. God has certainly been taking me on a journey of steadfastness during this season.

I have experienced tremendous trial in Liberia and yet I have had one of the most truly beautiful, powerful and joyous seasons of my whole life. It seems like the years just keep getting better, and I LOVE that!

I feel so much passion in moments that I purposely look for a rope to tie my foot to the ground lest I fly off a cliff. And yet there are moments when I feel like I need to swim in the ocean with an air tank nearby just in case I forget to breath for too long.

It's only been 6 months, and it's been wonderful, but I have been running and serving hardcore, non-stop, and I've definitely been needing a breather. I've needed some time to really process the woman I've become and who I want to be in the future. I've had to explore what's happened in my heart, what kind of life I'm being called to and where I'm going from here. And praise God, SP and ELWA have totally been that for me this last month or so.

Also, I have been able to relive my experience through writing and to take others on this journey with me; and this journey has manifested itself in this blog: http://thethree-ls.blogspot.com

I started it back in June 2010 and then hid from the blogosphere because I
couldn't download anything in the bush my first 4 months in Liberia.

I definitely feel like I'm standing at a cross-road watching all the cars pass me by, staring at the multiple roadsigns, and thinking,

"any road would be wonderful", "how am I to choose, Lord?"

Well, God definitely gives us a map of where to go with these questions (namely His word, fasting and prayer), but He doesn't necessarily give us the answers we want, or in the time frame that we demand.

I just have to laugh at myself sometimes. It can be so easy to try and wait for some imaginary Divine Arm to point you in a direction, or to pick the easy or most fun or most safe road among the choices, but it's rather difficult to trust and believe in something that's unseen and often really quiet-

like peace or a whisper.

Most of us have to be screamed at to get motivated or to slow down or "to get the picture."

But God would love to be able to have children who are quiet enough and still enough to respond to his whispers. I don't imagine Him anymore as the disapproving mad dad that's ready to slap me for every bad choice, or even honest mistake. That's a miracle in and of itself.

Do you ever imagine Him as the Dad that actually delights in us?

I telling you oh (Liberian phrase), He truly wants to lead us and guide us, He longs to give us wisdom, and He loves to give us His peace and provision. We don't have to try to manipulate him into it either, because
He honestly and wholeheartedly delights in us knowing and loving Him.

Hmmm...let's think about peace for a minute shall we? The Bible uses this word a lot when it comes to following God in faith. I think of this verse,

"And the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Do you ever wonder how peace has the power to "guard" our hearts?

I don't know about you, but as a lady, I have spent countless hours going over the meaning of this verse in my head; primarily because it is used as the token slogan to inspire most Christian girls to wait and date wisely.

The conclusion that I have come to at this point is: if peace can guard, then doesn't it also protect? And if it truly protects then it brings the right kind of security we are looking for. And if real security can only be defined by truth, and truth is something that should be trusted, and trust is declared by "submitting to" and "delighting in" the honor, provision and value of another, then, when you truthfully honor someone or value something, there is an utter feeling of freedom in your heart and thus this peace both guards and guides your life (yes, even your dating).

But we are afraid to put our trust in something that can't always be seen, or touched, and because of that very few of us really understand this "freedom" that certain "others" talk about.

But Helen Keller said it quite well my friends-

"the best things in life can't be seen or touched, but must be felt with the heart!"

That's rather profound coming from a gal who couldn't see or hear her whole life. I mean how did she know what was better if she hadn't experienced the other? I believe it's because that peace that she felt through her heart and not through her eyes, it protected her, it "guarded her heart" as the Scripture says. It carried her through a world of unknowns and unseens. It became her teacher and her guide. She learned to believe and trust in the things that she felt; the things that had the power to teach her and change her life for the good. I want to experience
the good things with my heart, and not just my eyes. I want to let those things that I've felt deeply and experienced fully empower my life to be on a mission that is meaningful in the lives others.

With all that said, love and PEACE to each of you!

FLASH: an honest moment

Written on 2/3/2011

In an honest moment, I will tell you that I love being a full-time missionary.

Most of you will hear this statement and assume that I mean living overseas in a warm climate and having others pay for me to be serving God full-time in a country that is not my home. The truth is... if you are a Christian, we are all called to missional living; to be lovers of Jesus who reflect who He is in all the areas of our lives, including where we work. For me, I'm on mission to love the souls that dwell in my house as well as the neighbors and individuals in my communities connected to my church and Samaritan's Purse.

Though I do believe this thought to be true, I also stand by the truth from Scripture that there is difference between missionaries and those who are living missionally. 1 Thess 5 talks about respecting and honoring those who labor and lead among us (those on the front lines serving God) in a special way- to esteem them highly. Yes, to those of us who are working hard in the marketplace and are truly serving God wholeheartedly, I honestly commend you. However, I simply must look at my life with a different esteem when I consider those believers who have given up everything to follow Christ; those who are being burned, bruised, beaten and even put to death for the sake of the Gospel.

In an honest moment, sometimes I don't feel like NGO work is what God has designed me for. I went out to another orphanage the other day, and for the first time, I felt a strong understanding that starting an orphanage as a kid was the only version I could think of to express the vision I was
feeling in my heart, but I don't sense in my spirit a calling to that kind of work after being deeply connected to it here. I don't know what it's going to look like and please pray with me, but I believe deeply that God is calling me to use writing, teaching and the arts in Africa in a profound way and I don't know which step to take forward from here.

Right now, I'm getting involved with a drama team through my church and am preparing to teach classes on script writing and the basics in drama production. Acting is not a problem for them (they are amazing), but the technical pieces is what they don't know- its the same with rythm and music for many of them. Natural talent but small training. I believe so strongly that this culture has so much to express, so much light inside them dying to come out, and so much healing that I believe God could do through discipleship of leaders, and sustainable art outlets. I don't know what all of this means but I guess I just processed it all out loud with you ;)

FLASH: lessons from a wannabe surfer-girl

Written on 2/2/2011

Hmm, I know it's hard or maybe even painful for some of you to imagine
90 degree weather, and 80 degree water, but that's what I'm "enduring"
everyday ;) No, actually I'm loving the warmth.

So yesterday, I went out surfing for the very first time. Wow, what a
rush. I mean literally. Fast waves coming at you and then throwing you
onto the shoreline if you are not careful. Not to mention the rush of
salt water that went in every orifice of my head. Now my mom always
taught me to gargle with salt water when I wasn't feeling well, but I
don't think this is what she had in mind. I wasn't feeling to well but
I decided to join in on the exhausting adventure anyway. I've been
fighting a cold but I thought, nah I'm going to be "that tough girl"
that just defeats those waves anyway.

Well, lets just say I got thrown around a bit. Don't get me wrong, it was an absolute blast, and I will be going again, but I just need a few days of recovery. It was a bit like trying to surf in a washing machine. I think I swallowed enough salt water to fill a small saline pool. I started to feel a little nauseous after about 45 minutes in the rinse cycle and took a small break on shore. Well, about 10 minutes into my break, I felt a wave of nausea and lo and behold I started vomiting all over the shore.

Yeah, real classic. Cute and hard core, for sure.

I learned a few lessons though, both for surfing and for life... you know me, always looking for those lessons- for the bigger picture behind it all.

#1 If you don't risk getting away from the safety of the shore, you
will be repeatedly knocked down and weakened by the white water before
you ever get the chance to truly enjoy the ride...

#2 Paddle hard and fast, keep your eye on the wave lest it knock you
down by surprise, study each one carefully, and don't let the best one
pass you by. Catching the right wave at the right time is an art form
in itself. Once you catch it, your focus changes from "looking ahead"
to being wise and quick on your feet in the moment. You have to be
fully present, connected and dependent on that board until the ride

#3 Wear the leash that goes around your ankle!!! It is your only
assurance to stay connected to your board when you get thrown off time
and time again. Ps. You WILL get thrown off... many many times, especially when you are first learning. Don't sweat it, and DON"T GIVE UP! The best thing you can do when you get knocked off your board is to jump right back on, cling tightly, catch your breath if you must, and then head hard out for those waves again.

Note to self... All that God has allowed mankind to enjoy (including
surfing) has the power and the purpose to be used for teaching,
training, and learning how to love him deeper and to live this life
with intention and adventure. Heck, He captured my heart with a skittle! More to come concerning that story... guess you will just have to keep on reading ;)

Be Blessed today and pay attention to those lessons happening around you...

Share some if you'd like!

FLASH: living beyond the limits

Written on 1/27/2011

Samaritan’s Purse (SP) has graciously put me up in a lovely home, and is giving me a stipend for the month to pay for groceries and bless me with a little extra for the volunteer work that I am doing. The country director and I (who is a large caring football-coach of a man who deeply loves Jesus and others) have signed an agreement for me to be with SP through the end of February. After February, only heaven knows. His clearly intended goal is to get me connected with a paid position in the upcoming Agriculture Empowerment Project for Women or Child Protection Program Manager for a Unicef Proposal Project that will be stationed up in Nimba (where the Ivorian Refugee Crisis is).

Throughout February, I will be working on 3 projects for SPL which I'm very excited about. First of all, I've been asked to write SP Liberia's new Vision and Mission Statement for their Website (I've been asking that God would grow my writing skills and give me opportunity to do so, but I never expected something like this).

That's my Jesus though. He's always giving us earthlings what He knows we can't do on our own, but making sure it can't destroy us if we are clinging to Him. I love that about Him; it's what makes my walk with Him such an adventure of faith and trust.

I have been put in charge of managing a $5,000 project to go and furnish and rehabilitate a school on a quaint little land called Cooper's Farm. Also totally over my head, but the thought is totally invigorating to my soul. To think of all these little ones that will be able to be trained and taught once again in this community just brings a smile to my face as I imagine the heart of God bursting with joy for these little ones. Thirdly, I will be compiling a yearend report for all the major programs to submit to Headquarters in Boone, North Carolina. That's the only project that makes me feel a little dizzie even thinking about it.

I've been reading a book called Living a Life Beyond the Limits. It has been shaking my soul and drawing me ever nearer to Jesus. I'm committed to stirring up my soul for Him alone through all seasons of life and reading God's Word and truth filled books is what keeps my eyes and my heart focused on the King of Kings and His great redemptive plan through all things. There has continued to be many struggles, trials, broken hearts, deaths, sickness, poverty, and abuse (not of me) around me. But in all these things I look to Jesus as the source of hope.

His Word says, "Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting the redemption of our bodies..." This Jesus knows our situation. He knows our weakness. He knows what He's called us out of and what He's calling us to. Don't be surprised if it's something more than you could handle! Consider Him. Consider His Mighty strength and the wonders He has performed through incredibly weak vessels all throughout history. Think of the disciples, even the prophets, and the sons of God who were called as His kings to conquer kingdoms; do we not model the same struggles that they professed (inadequacy, sinful choices, selfishness, anxiety, and even downright despair)? If He chose these vessels as kings for His Glory in the past, then can’t we (His broken and even weak servants today) also glory in the strength and power of Christ in us?

~26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not
many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential;
not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of
the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to
shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the
despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that
are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him
that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from
God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore,
as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”~

In God's Strength, let us live for Him!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

FLASH: some changes with the new year

Written on 1/25/2011

For those of you who missed the last few letters, I have been living in
downtown Monrovia with a Liberian family since December 21st.

I was waiting to hear on a job opportunity with Samaritan's Purse
International Relief Organization. During these past 7 weeks I've poured out my life into my neighbors (4 major family-16 kids) in one of the
pourest and downtrodden communities in Monrovia. It is located right behind one of the Nations most populated prisons, in a high crime area, and the community is probably somewhere near 90% muslim.

To be honest, many of you might cringe after reading that description, but for me, it has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life to be living among these beautiful people- eating, drinking, bathing, sitting, laughing, praising, crying, and traveling by taxi. I have had the chance to be Jesus, for real, to people who are literally dying to know about Him. To experience the true day to day life of Liberians, experience people's trials, embrace hardships together with Christ, and to faithfully run with joy and thanksgiving after the hope that we have in Jesus with these amazing families has been the highlight of my experience thus far.

In the last 6 weeks I've also gotten really involved with teaching Drama, and training up leaders in my church's drama dept. What incredibly gifted,
passionate and talented group of young people! I've also begun investing in an Art Discipleship Program with the young adult creative-types in the drama and choir departments of the church. When I'm with these youth, helping them to know God deeper and encouraging them to grow and heal through their creative hearts, I feel like I'm doing what Im made for!

I have fallen in love with not only these families that I was living among but with several dear families from my church. The Pastor (Momolu Dukuly and His lovely wife) and his younger brother Alex' family (including his wife Patience). Patience has become one of my dearest friends in the world. No words could possibly express how deeply I have fallen in love with this precious daughter of God. Whenever I'm with her I feel like Jesus is literally sitting right there with us because He is just so delighted in every moment of our interactions.

Do you have those kind of people in your life? If you don't I'm telling, find some ;) Be the type of friend that YOU desire to walk with and you just might find yourself surprised by the people that you meet along the path of loving others without expectations. I can only say this because less than 5 years ago, I can remember several conversations with amazing women in my life where I literally bawled my eyes out before them telling them how lonely I felt even though I was surrounded, and I mean surrounded, by some of the most incredible women on the planet.

I was completely de-railed when I realized the reason I was lacking the depth in relationships that I so desired was because of the walls I had built around myself to protect from being seen and hurt. I had no idea that I was running away from being truly loved and seen by others (others who would love me dearly) and into the arms of my own selfishness and to individuals who were also loving very selfishly. We have to risk, and pursue, and love first, and yes even ache deep within in certain moments to truly experience the depths of life-giving relationship.

All of that to say, things began to change when I began to truly love- just for the sake of loving not for the sake of gaining a friendship!

It has been quite the process of waiting these last few months. God has been teaching me so much about steadfastness and trust as I feel that I have been waiting in almost every area of my life (where to live, job, relationship with Austin). I'm learning that it's through the waiting in the midst of the storm, the opening and closing of doors, and the humble submission to His will in the midst of it all that develops the steadfastness I've been praying for. The bible says that after you have suffered for a while and endured with the strength of Christ that you will experience the true deep steadfastness of the Lord. Let me tell you, it's true, and it is the most incredible peace you will ever know.

With all of that said, here are the changes. I just moved into a house
on beautiful ELWA beach with 4 single ladies. I've been given an
opportunity to work alongside Samaritan's Purse on several projects in
exchange for housing, transport, and groceries, and a small stipend.
They are giving me a trial period through the end of February to see if a full-time project manager position will become available with one of their upcoming projects. Please pray with me that God will clearly show me if SP is where I'm supposed to be for the next 1-2 years. It's a big commitment with lots of time, energy, and travel in the bush communities. It's exhausting but fulfilling work that pays really well in a beautiful and supportive community. It's not perfect but it would be a blessing and a great opportunity. My biggest hesitation is the fact that I deeply want to be investing in Liberians, and not just living the typical white expat life. You can have both, but it takes extreme devotion and intentional discipline, neither of which I'm incredible at but I see it as a great chance to learn (you know, that steadfast theme again).

As far as Relationship, all I can really say is that Austin and I have
decided to go separate ways during this season of our lives. We don't know what God has in the future but we both sense wholeheartedly that our hands need to be open to let God give and take away as He chooses. Yes this has caused me grief and pain, but we can rest and find so much peace when we allow God to show us His character and His promises through every season of our lives. I have nothing bad to say about Austin, and I will continue to honor and respect the man that God has made him to be.

I can't thank you all enough for the loving support and encouragement that so many of you have offered me all throughout our relationship.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

FLASH: hope of winter

written on 12/15/2010

As I sit here overlooking the beautiful West African shoreline listening to the comforting sounds of the waves while breathing in these restful moments of my 3 day retreat in Monrovia, I am reminded deeply of you.

I can’t help but sit here in my Liberian Utopia and imagine the fading colors of the Northwest and the coldness that must be settling in. The thought of winter is one that I can’t help but ponder even from a land that never seems to grow cold. I’m reminded nonetheless because once a year everything around me must die in order for new life to spring forth- in the States we call it winter, and here it is called dry season. Either way winter, dessert, and dry are all words describing seasons and lands most often associated with a certain amount of loss, death, confusion, and wandering.

Think of the Israelites who wandered through the dessert time and time again, eagerly wondering what hope and life awaited them in the land that God had promised. They longed for a manna that they had never known previously, and God in His loving sovereignty promised manna to their families and their future generations that would meet every longing in their souls, not just their physical hunger. And through this wilderness He promised that He allowed them to be tested, to wander and hunger so that they might know what’s in their hearts and whether or not they are willing to please Him; that ultimately they would know that man cannot live by manna alone but must live by every word -“the true bread”- that comes from the mouth of God. (Deut 8)

So for you it’s winter, and for me it’s dry season but perhaps it’s possible that He longs for us to be learning the same lesson through these seasons even as we are separated by an ocean. What things around you seem to be dying and what could be gained by submitting yourself to His plan through it all? What is the loss that comes forth from your heart time and time again during this season?

This year as I watch the roads get dryer, the dust fill the air in the streets, and the land lose a bit of its green beauty, I’m struggling deeply with the death of my independence and my insecurity- the giving up of myself to become one with Christ, and also joyfully uniting daily with a man who will one day, lord willing, be one with me in flesh.

Just as the land must die in winter to give birth to spring so must my independent life and insecurity die to give birth to a healthy united growing relationship.

I find myself more aware each day that my life is not my own and I have been bought with a high price before God through His Son Jesus. And likewise in a marriage I am called to live a life of joyful servitude outside myself and to not grow weary or burdened in the giving of my heart, my time, my energy, my service or my love. It’s such a hard concept to leave your Father and Mother, and to ultimately forsake all others, to join yourself with one person for the rest of your life. It’s even terrifying at moments to consider giving up or reshaping certain dreams, habits, ideals, beliefs, and insecurities to live peaceably while courageously trusting another with your heart, and to walk forward with them into your future with all the unknown days that lay ahead.

Sure you will always have friends and family, but God specifically reminds us that our spouse will be the greatest representation of His faithful love and secure pursuit. However, our spouses can never do this perfectly but with marriages driven with this intention in mind we can find the greatest satisfaction for our souls, both spiritually and in our physical relational lives.

I find it so easy to cling to my insecurity as an often subconscious excuse not to risk my heart or expose all that is unlovely about me to another. Sometimes it seems easier to remain unseen in my own darkness then to boldly admit that I feel lost, broken, afraid, hurt or undesirable and risk the possibility of being rejected for what feels like “ugly” weaknesses, rather than “human” weaknesses.

The truth is, if we are releasing these pieces of ourselves to Christ, and to those who are committed to imitating Him (even if it is imperfectly), then we will always be met by a God who is infinitely aware of our insecurities and yet remains unceasingly steadfast in His love and pursuit of us. And He will so often show Himself to us in this way through the faithful lovers He has brought into our lives (whether spouses or trusted friends and family).

Nonetheless, through this pursuit, we can all be drawn in closer to a divine lover who is captivated by our beautiful vulnerability and desire for righteousness before Him and others. Oh friends, He simply doesn’t heal what we deny exists, but if we trust Him with every piece of our hearts, He will faithfully refine us, and prune our dead branches for the sake of our souls, and yes even for the sake of our relationships as well.

I pray that your hearts will be encouraged as you experience the refinements of winter while eagerly anticipating the life that lies ahead with the changing of the seasons.

FLASH: thanks for the gifts

Written on January 6th, 2011

I pray the peace and joy of the season has been filling your hearts
each day. I wish I had more time to write but I am currently using
someone elses net and I don't have much time.

I received your gifts for Christmas and tears rolled down my face as I
gleefully imagined each of you thinking of me so specifically as
packed and sent things that are so special to me. There is a chance to
mail things to me through a friend that is coming around March so
please feel free to mail anything you are hoping to send to the
previous address I mailed out in Oregon. I will forward the address
again soon in an upcoming email with a list of needs. Thank you for
taking such good care of me while I care for God's children here in
Liberia. Lately, I have been reminded that even though the son of man
had no place to call his home he was dedicated to the ministry of his
father. I have seen God's faithfulness as I have waited upon him and
continued to pursue him relentlessly despite the trials this season.

Currently, I am living with a dear family in downtown monrovia. I am
sharing a room with their five kids and God is teaching me tremendous
things about life and this culture through this family. Words cannot
express the delight I feel in my heart to be here in Liberia honoring
God's will for my life.

I am looking for an apartment. I'm more than welcome where I'm at so I
feel the freedom to find the best place possible in God's eyes before
moving. I'm going lots of small outreach ministries, odd jobs, getting
involved with music and drama at my church, and pouring out my life
into one specific little precious girl that Jesus has put on my heart.
Oh she is a treasure and I know God has such great plans for her life!

FLASH: a new year

Written on 1/3/2011

I'm sure I'm not the only person looking through my journal for the year, pictures and letters that I've received from others, little momentos reminding me of all the places I've been, the people I've seen and the lives that have touched me in a special way.

At the beginning of each new year we all have certain traditions. Some
of us make lists about what we will do better. Others of us get
overwhelmed by the responsibilities that the new year ahead promises
to bring.

Some of us look back over the year and feel thankful for all the beauty, the events, the people, and the trials shaped the year and we think about the changes that we want to bring into the next year.

For me, I have a tradition that started my second year in college. Every year around this time, I write down every big event that marked the seasons for me. After I've done that I sit down and carefully fill in as many details as I can regarding the people and specific moments that profoundly affected my life. Then I write down the person I was at the start of that year and all changes I've seen God bring in and through my life.

After I've intentionally thought through the past year, and thanked god for each and every blessing, I am left with one question that I ask regarding the next year.

Papa in Heaven, who do you want me to be at the end of this year?

Yes I might make a list or write down goals that I hope to accomplish,
but I focus primarily on what type of woman do I hope to be when the
year ends.

Our goals might change, events happen we have no control over, responsibility never lessens with time... so I ask you, at the end of this year, what do you want to be true about the type of person you are? What growth in your character, in what specific areas, do you plan to see change.

Change never happens accidentally, and it's a waste of our lives to walk through a year just letting life happen to us.

I'm praying with everything in me, and making daily choices to be a more honest and giving person who is faithful to love and serve with a steadfast heart. That's the woman I want to be. I want to know Jesus
in a deeper way by pursuing Him more intentionally on a daily basis. I
want to choose to be thankful in all circumstances, to wake up with a
joyful heart that chooses to cling to what is good. I want to know
that through every trial of the year 2011, I have stood as a woman who
is steadfast in hope, patient in tribulation and constant in prayer.

I pray that each of you sense the deep deep love of Jesus for those
who trust Him!

FLASH: rebel crisis and christmas

Written on 12/16/2010

I am well and safe, truly. And so thankful to Jesus for His faithful
hand of provision and protection.

I have been in Monrovia for the last week or so because I came to have an interview with Samaritan's Purse International Relief Org. I had the
interview and it went really well but I wont be finding out any
results until next week at the earliest. I promise to keep you all
informed about that.

I am currently up in Ganta retrieving the rest of my things and saying goodbye to the beloved friends that I have made.

This has been a hard and interesting season, but I count it all joy
when I consider the work done in my heart and relationships that have
been built. The trials are nothing compared to the glory that is
revealed when we surrender all circumstances to His purpose of shaping
and forming us to be more like God's Son Jesus.

This is what the Season is all about. Knowing and understanding this
Jesus who came down among men to allow God Himself to be known in the
flesh. He came as a babe, born humbly among the dust and animals of the earth to experience all the beauty, trials and emotions of the people He created. I count in the greatest love story and I will not consider any other form of Christmas in my heart.

That is why, even though I am half a world away from all the family that I have shared this season with for years, I can delight in the goodness of God and the precious gift He has offered through His son. I can rejoice and
find peace and utter rest for my soul. Oh and He has proven it so!

I was able to go to two beautiful musical Christmas services that filled my heart and my feet with singing and dancing. I have spent several days at the incredible ELWA beach here, and I feel like I'm having Christmas in August, it's quite a different feeling than I ever imagined.

I'm staying with an incredible Liberian host family for the holiday season and I'm experiencing the real Liberian life- rice and soup most meals, sleeping in one room with 5 of us kids, taking bucket bath twice a day, and
traveling by foot or taxi everywhere. I LOVE it and feel so alive! I'm
looking forward to seeing all that God has for me in this next season
in Monrovia.

Also, the gifts from all of you are on there way to Liberia as we
speak. I can't thank you all enough for blessing me in such a way!

FLASH: pray for liberia

Written on 12/2/2010

Liberia desperately needs your prayer right now, today. My fellow brothers and sisters, co-workers, and friends are imploring for you to send this to as many people as possible who will stand with us in prayer, and not remain silent.

I live in a community along the border of Guinea and Ivory Coast in Northern Liberia. In the last two weeks, both bordering countries have had elections and the results were not favorable and have brought about rioting and horrible forms of violence. Today we were informed that several rebel leaders are recruiting and kidnapping fighters all along the borders, and from Liberia. In the last four days, we (EQUIP staff) have been out in the trenches providing food, shelter, medical care and protection for over 1000 refugees from these two countries combined, and in the last hour 1000 more have crossed. We are one of the only NGO’s and governmental agencies that have stepped up to assess the needs and take any form of action and offer protection. We also just received news today that a good 70% of the people we have interviewed underground fled because of perceived threat and 30% because they actually witnessed people killed. We have a strong response system at EQUIP and the Liberian government is going to do everything they can to promote peace and avoid civil war.

Please know that I am being smart and safe and not doing anything outside of the protection of Jesus and His call on my life. I’m not afraid, but I am asking for prayer. Consider Philippians, I just shared this passage a week or so ago and now we all have a chance to be living it out… “DO NOT BE ANXIOUS for ANYTHING but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving present your requests to God…and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I don’t know how long I will be in the field so I will try to keep you all updated as much as possible. We have currently been rotating as the senior staff out in the field because we have to have people steering the ship at the office with cell coverage. I promise to keep you all informed. I love you and I’m so grateful for you and your faithfulness to support and pray for all of us!

*As of Feb 15th, 2011 there are over 30,000 refugees in towns along the border. You will hear more in future updates and you can read more information through BBC News online if you are interested!
In good Hands!

FLASH: broken ankle

Written on 11/29/2010

So I’m sitting here at my living room table, on a Liberian holiday (President Tubman Day), with my roommate Patty and we just watched a handyman break open our front door, permanently removing a chunk of the wood from the frame, to fix our lock that has been bolted shut for a week. I said “hmm now that door frame will always be kind of ugly and broken” and her response was unintentionally profound…

“Well Debbie, sometimes you have to break things to fix things”…

Maybe this doesn’t seem profound at first but there is a greater truth behind it that I think all of us need to hear. Recently I shared a short story with you about the crippling affects of shame on a person’s dignity, well being, and ability to conquer their own fears and rejection. Often times when people experience such deep rooted pain or trauma they only know two responses; shut down, repress, withdraw, internally medicate/harm (which in my opinion all fall into one response) or they act out physically, harming themselves, becoming angry, externally medicating and intentionally hurting others emotionally. Let me just say that the “they” in that sentence is referring to all of us.

When any of us come to the realization that some or all of our actions have been hurting ourselves and/or others and we truly want to change, our first and most common response seems to be “I’m going to fix this.” This carries over into how we deal with others who are struggling with similar problems of pain, sadness, illness, rejection, or anger; we try and come up with a solution to “fix” whatever “it” is, right?

The only problem with this mindset and attempted solution is that it doesn’t work; otherwise it’s a great thought. You know, something’s broken, fix it. Easy solution, easy fix; at least when it comes to wood or a broken lock. In reality, people’s hearts, emotions, or problems cannot be healed or fixed by being manhandled or treated like inanimate objects that just need a simple repair. Sometimes what we really need is to be broken in order to be fixed.

Hmm think about a broken ankle with me for a moment. Your foot gets partially ran over by a car breaking your foot and your ankle in two places, and the driver yells at you and drives off. You have both physical and emotional injuries. When you go to the hospital, they offer some PTSD emotional care options (counseling) along with two options for your broken bones; get a cast, hope it heals well, and have an 80% chance at a possible limp for the rest of your life or have the ankle re-broken and reset and walk away with a 98% chance at a full recovery.

Emotionally, they’ve offered you the same two options; temporarily put a cast over being physically hurt, abandoned, rejected, verbally abused and emotionally wounded and spend your life merely surviving each day (with a limp) or do the painful hard “broken” work and experience a recovery you never thought possible. So let’s say, you choose to avoid being broken and sure enough a permanent limp settles in. You’ve ignored it for years because sure it’s inconvenient but you can still get around “good enough.”

Well, I must admit, for a good portion of my life, I didn’t want to take the extra breaking and extreme re-living of pain in order to heal and experience a life of walking without a noticeably crippling and embarrassing limp; a life of “good enough”. But today I feel differently. Hard things in life still happen; people really do get hit by cars and have permanent limps, dying abandoned babies get left on your desk (yesterday), hurtful broken people do hurtful things to break you, and well-meaning people try to “fix” your problems in unhelpful ways.

But you know what? None of us have to walk around with an emotional limp because of past hurts or other people’s problems. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had to learn the hard way, or how many years you’ve chosen to walk with a limp that you ignored or refused to fix; what matters is that the breaking is worth it, and we all have a chance at recovery!

Loving you and praying that you are finding comfort in the daily journey and that you find yourself not settling for a life that is “good enough”.

FLASH: thanksgiving day and prayer

Written on 11/25/2010

Oh Father, I’m sorry that my heart has been so weary and my eyes have been drawn to almost everything and everyone but You lately. I’ve allowed myself to distance my sight from Your Glory and Your greater purpose through trials to refine my life and my heart daily to look more like Your Son Jesus. But as I’ve crawled back into Your Presence the kind tender Words you spoke to me have given me hope and once again made me so thankful! Once again I claim Your Word as truth and the very source that brings life to my soul. This morning you spoke straight to my heart and all of my circumstances with this truth from Your Word…

Phillipians 4:4-9 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to all. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about such things!”

So here’s the “whatever” I’m rejoicing about and what I feel most thankful for… A continually growing love relationship with Jesus that is sweeter and stronger than the year before, a faithful companion who has pursued my heart and treated me with the utmost love and respect, a long awaited answered prayer and dream to live and serve in Africa, small babies and children who are capturing my heart daily with their smiles, having the chance to be a loving support to my roommates and Liberian co-workers, fellowshipping with a kind giving exuberant church, giving of my resources and being incredibly blessed in return, overall body health not failing, growing in spiritual disciplines, healthy relationships with family, strong supportive loving friends, a beautiful house to live in, delicious food to sustain my strength, and a resilient strength from Jesus to keep running the race of life passionately and on purpose despite the many attacks of the Enemy!

I pray that you all are finding great joy in this season, even in the midst of the struggles, and that we can unite in one voice in thanking God for His faithfulness over this last year and boldly entrust Him with the year ahead. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

FLASH: before thanksgiving

Written on 11/23/2010

Wow I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is here already. As the holiday season has officially arrived, I can’t help but think about all that has transpired in this last year and all that is to come. Do you ever have days where you just wake up and think “how on earth did I get here?” I don’t mean, “How did I get on earth, or how are babies made?” Those are legit questions but not what I’m processing. “How did I get to this moment?” is more like it. I’ve just been pondering how I’ve become this person, making these choices, with these feelings, and developing this character.

For whatever reason, the holidays are always the season when I am most aware of all that I am thankful for, and also keenly noticing what needs to be changed in the year to come. A lot of us make lists during this season, some of us make new rules or resolutions, and others of us just feel reminded that as others are making these plans for change we feel stuck in the same old habits and hang-ups.

I must admit, I’m usually that girl who is really excited about the chance to dream up a new year; to make plans to live better and healthier, work harder, conquer challenges, love Jesus and others better and just to be a better woman in general.

However, the last few months have felt a little different; ok a lot different. This year I feel more like the one who is stuck and just surviving each day. I have barely even thought about the holiday season and every time I do it just makes me sad, and I fight the urge to crawl in a hole. I’m not telling you this because I need to be rescued or because I want you to feel bad for me or worry about my mental status. It’s just a reality I don’t want to ignore or pretend like I’m not feeling anymore. I just plain need the people I love to be praying for me and knowing my real life feelings during this season in a foreign land.

In light of all this, I can’t help but look at the status of my own heart. I’ve been realizing that the incredible joys that have beautifully altered my life in this last year have been slowly choked out by the cares and worries of this world in the last few months. As my declaration of thankfulness and my attitude of gratitude have begun to dissipate, so my frustration and depression and even bitterness have increased. Through this process, I have had to re-evaluate how I’m going to deal with these stressors in my life. I’ve had to re-write a lot the lessons I’ve been learning and believing lately, and let Jesus take the rightful ownership He deserves over my life.

Even as I begin to acknowledge the emotional ranting and running I’ve been doing recently, I feel an incredible load lift and a gracious strength invade the parts that I have not been proud of. There’s something in confessing corporately that brings freedom. We’ve all been hiding since Eden (at least in some way), and we can’t cling to both our own desires for vengeance and our debilitating fears and to Jesus at the same time. As my roommate Patty would say “So what’s the way forward?” The way forward is repentance and forgiveness and claiming the power that has been given to me in Jesus Christ to live a godly life and escape the corruption of the world (2 Peter).

The way forward is to expose and replace the dark feelings of anger and rejection with the promises that are already engraved on the tablet of my heart. The way forward is “to let our spirit man rule over our emotion” as my gracious man so lovingly encouraged me to do last week. I promise next week that you will receive an email about all that I’m grateful for and the ways that Jesus has met the prayers of my heart this morning!

May we all sense His nearness today in a new way!

FLASH: day of remembrance

Written on 11/13/2010

Today is a day that many people in my family will stop for a few minutes and reflect over the life of someone we’ve lost.

Two years ago today my Father passed away from a very invasive and aggressive form of lung cancer. It was a painful reality that many of us never intended to suffer; a mother never expects to lose her son before she herself passes, children don’t suspect their parent will never reach their 50th birthday, a wife doesn’t plan on losing her husband 2 weeks before his birthday and a month after sharing their 5th Anniversary, hurt or angry family members never imagine that their painful last encounters would be their final memories with this man, and nobody truly wakes up knowing that today will be their last day on earth.

These horrifying realities have been incredibly hard to swallow; realities none of us are prepared to face by nature but have the ability to survive if we have a sustainable source of strength and a hope that won’t disappoint us.

I must admit that I have so many emotions running through my head that I’m not sure I can write with a sound mind. However, I’m willing to share my raw feelings because I believe that ignoring the emotions that come with grief and death are devastating to not only our own bodies, but our families and even our cultures at large.

Immeasurably, our whole planet is deeply impacted by our human inability to healthily endure grief on our own. I choose to share only because I want people to know that they are never alone or wrong for their wide variety of emotions in this uncharted path of grief and loss; there is no perfect way to handle grief, no thoughtful way to escape or ignore it forever, and no clean easy way to endure it, no matter what religious beliefs you carry.

To be honest, my last few moments with my Father were incredibly heart-breaking. After years of separation and neglect of relationship, because of his own choices and abusive behaviors, I got a phone call from an extended family member informing me that he had cancer. He endured treatment and 6 months later, I was told he was cancer-free. After several months of clean scans, suddenly one night I got the phone call that changed everything.

“Debbie, they found 20+ lesions in your father’s lungs a few days ago, he was immediately hospitalized, and yesterday he went into kidney failure; if you want to say goodbye, you need to come now.”

I don’t think I need to list or relive the abuse I survived to express why I felt overwhelming relief and utter devastation all at the same moment. If I’m committed to being honest I would have to tell you that I had no desire to feel sorry for the man that had wrecked my family and left incredibly deep scars on my heart. I was not ready to release a man to death when sadly in part I believed he deserved to suffer. But mostly I was not ready to say goodbye to my chance at reconciliation; my chance to receive a truly repentant apology and offer genuine forgiveness in return.

However, in that moment, I was invaded in my Spirit by Jesus Himself. As He walked into the house of my heart and glanced around, the look of sadness and compassion on His face caused me to tremble. As I felt him tenderly grab my hand, I began to burst openly with tears.

“Jesus, please, what would you have me do?”

As I imagined Him reaching to put His tender Hand on my face and lovingly wipe away my tears, I caught a glimpse of the beautiful wretched scar on the palm of His hand. Something in my soul snapped, and the large crack in my heart was filled completely with a powerful healing strength and an unshakable unexplainable confidence. However, the pain and process that lay ahead still remained and I knew that I couldn’t run away from it.

Though I was quite weak in body and spirit, I took myself in hand and jumped in my car and I drove to Washington to say goodbye to my Father. I listened to Scott Olsen's music the whole way to WA while I thought through the long thought out letter I wrote to my Father- a letter offering him the forgiveness that has healed me from the inside out; a forgiveness that I’ve never deserved myself when I consider the choices I’ve also made and the utter depravity of my own soul.

I had no idea that more pain awaited as all my family in that room disregarded my letter and in their anger permanently rejected me from their lives, but this same forgiveness is what carried me once again.

Oh friends, the reality that is so much bigger than broken relationships, my personal grief, or my desire for a heartfelt apology, is that Jesus offers this undeserved grace and forgiveness unreservedly time and time again whether any of us repent or not; if I truly want to reflect His love to this world then I must become intimately acquainted with grief and able to remain unceasingly steadfast in the midst of unrequited love and even profound rejection.

For it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached me fell on Him.”

I can’t ignore the fact that He daily pursues me with this immeasurable love and offers me new mercy each morning whether I respond in love or not; He will always act according to this kindness and character and I can be assured that His love will never be based on my behavior, reaction or response.

Oh how I long to grow more and more to be a lover such as He!

So yes, today, I do sense a reminder in my heart; a reminder of my earthly father for sure, and even a bit of sadness for the loss of relationship that was never recovered in the end. But most deeply, I am reminded of the character that is built through grieving with the grace of my Heavenly Father as my truth source of hope and strength, and I am increasingly reminded that this life is short and I want every moment to be counted for His Glory alone!

FLASH: not running away (eyes of justice)

Written 11/11/2010

Wow where do I start? I can’t thank you all enough for your continued encouragement. Words cannot express how grateful I am for your prayers, your heartfelt truth-filled responses, and your encouraging affirmations that my writings are a blessing and my work here is useful. I carry each of you in my heart daily and I am very aware that I could not continue on this journey here without you!

There are a lot of changes happening all around me and so far I am welcoming them with great delight. It’s been a hard last few weeks but trust me when I tell you that the struggles I feel are universal and running away to the States will not cause any relief for my body, mind or my spirit. Besides it’s a really long run anyway ;)

Let me flush this “not running away” out a bit and perhaps we can all learn a little something through the process.

The shame and devastations that I shared in my last letter are troubles that I have been keenly aware of in most of the 6 communities I’ve lived in over the last 5 years, and the emotions are likewise a familiar experience. I promise you that injustice, malnutrition, loneliness, abandonment, rape, insecurity, drugs, trafficking, grief, disease, poverty and death are not realities for third-world Africa alone; in fact every one of you diversely has probably faced an incredibly painful experience with at least one these life-altering tragedies recently.

But the truth is, I can’t help but notice these painful “ugh” realities and boldly expose them because I see the world through eyes of Justice and Hope. These eyes can’t help but acknowledge the pain that people endure and often suffer around me- the lives that remain unseen and the cries that linger unheard; I could have written volumes and shared with you the truth regarding the pain I saw in all my communities in the States, but the stories and timing would have impacted you differently.

I can’t help but be compelled to fight for justice and invest in eternity wherever I’m at, but this just happens to be the first time I’m writing about all that I see and feel so frequently and candidly before others.

I assure you there are certain challenges, beliefs, internal messages, fears and pains that don’t just vanish because some of your dreams come true or you move across the country (or the world in my case).

I’ve been forced to face myself in many new ways in Liberia, and sometimes what I’m seeing is painful and certainly far less than beautiful (Just sharing reality not fishing for compliments).

However, I know I’m not alone and that we all must face ourselves; for it’s the only way forward into true freedom. Trust me; none of us want to crawl through hell by running around ruining our lives and damaging others around us before we’re forced to stand in front of life’s mirror naked. For when we do finally brace ourselves to stand and take a long rugged hard look, we just might be dismayed when the glass shatters on the ground beneath us. Nonetheless, I assure you, even then, there is hope.

It’s never too late for any of us to have a chance to rebuild the broken pieces of our glass life or to completely start over with a brand new mirror. Life is certainly fragile but this is the hope I’ve found in walking with Christ; being called “new creations” and being given a “new life” with sources of strength like “endurance, assurance, faith and the encouragement of the Scriptures”. We all can have Hope.

All of this to say, dear friends, we must all face ourselves; in the US, in Africa, and across the globe… “The time for change is always right now!” (Thank you Great Debaters)

I will continue to share honestly about these struggles and all that I’m learning but I want you to know that I am quite content facing these obstacles in Liberia, and God’s call for me here remains steadfast. I’m aware that this “steadfast” word seems to be coming up a lot lately, perhaps it’s a theme.

May your hearts be filled with a love for justice and your feet filled with steadfast love!

FLASH: hope for the scars

Written on 11/10/2010

I've been processing a lot about all the poverty, the brutality of
war-related trauma, sickness and death, and human trafficking that
happens here daily and I feel compelled to share an allegorical short
story I've written to give you a piece of not only the pain that these
individuals feel, but also the voice of hope that I intend to bring to
all those that I encounter in such devastating circumstances. It
starts off with the voice of the afflicted and the black bolded
responses are the voice of Hope (for me the voice of Jesus that has so
tenderly met me in my own pain.)

Read the short story and consider the words and questions that follow.If this was the little girl we encountered on the street, instead of her shell- the girl sold into trafficking or the woman daily selling her body,
the young confused bulimic girl, the homeless runaway, the cutter, the
teenage drug addicted thief, or perhaps even the prostitute or the
promiscuous pregnant woman, would we still pass by them and quickly turn our heads as if we might guilt ourselves into caring or helping them?

I can’t help but apply this reality to my everyday life here in Liberia. Would we offer them the same compassion that we would lavishly poor out on this broken child, or would we meet them with a list of rules, Christian books and programs, or severe behavior modifications? When I think about my life, this is not what led me to Redemption. Certainly they may have been tools to help me along the way, but it was the kindness of the Lord that captured my heart and led me to repentance. It was the compassion that I met and received in the body of Christ that allowed me to take hold of the hope that will not let me go.

This is the Jesus that I want to encounter. This is the Jesus I would
willingly lay down my life for!

“Hidden Scars”
By Debbie Young

Heavy chains where no one can see; I quietly bear this burden!
Imagine the blackness of a storm faced alone…
How mortified is the one who hides beneath this black clothing (deeply grieved).

This dress is called SHAME my friend! It is not as lovely as it may seem.
It may be better than being seen, for a while but eventually your bleeding wounds will soak through that black dress!

Oh but this dress is black,
And so.. no one can see the scarlet red stains I carry on it!

My sweet dear, please believe me. When you truly hug another, or even rub shoulders with them, Your blood WILL be seen!

I must NEVER get that close then!!! For I could never reveal the scars or the bleeding wounds that cover me… Or people would run…No one would stick around… And surely no one would ever love me!

Oh my darling, who taught you to dress yourself in that message?
Who bought those wretched garments for you?

Many people I tell you! All kinds of souls purchased these garments for me!
I didn’t even ask for them.
I’ve tried many times to take them off before, but they’re STUCK!
I can’t even rip them off because the seams have gotten tighter and tighter.

Oh sweet child, you cannot remove that dress, Without the HELP of another.
Don’t you want some new clothing, perhaps some with lovely colors?

I had colorful clothing once- (pause)
A whole closet full in fact…But…

But what my dear? Oh please, do tell me!

It was STOLEN!!!

Stollen!!! Whatever happened?

Well, I didn’t expect it, you see?!
People I know, and even people I…I…LOVE…
They took all my colorful clothes,
Even the lovely bright dress I was wearing.

Oh how terribly awful it must have been for you… And people you trusted too. THAT is the most wretched part of it all!!

Do you see now? Do you see? I was robbed, and beaten, and they left me bleeding… I was naked and all alone. I desperately needed a covering, and I found this small black dress in our family closet.

Oh.. I do see what you mean my child. Of course you had to wear that black dress, It’s all there was left for you!!

But I should’ve kept looking…
If I had searched longer or even… or even…

FOUGHT BACK?!! Oh come here child and let me hold you, and I will tell you the greatest secret I know.

(narrating) I hesitated as I walked over to her with my head down.
And then I looked into her soft eyes and I found myself climbing onto her lap. She looked at me with COMPASSION and said…

THERE IS NOTHING you could have done differently that day..don’t you see?
You were a young child, ALONE in that terribly cold house, and there was just too many of them.

But WHY, why must I have been alone at all? They never should have left me.. And all those people who just…walked by. I DON”T UNDERSTAND!! You see…
That day, I grew up. And I stopped thinking about those colorful clothes,
And I forgot about the lovely pink dress I wore that day! You see, people saw my black dress and thought, “She must not care to wear colors- or perhaps she is poor and only has one.” So, many people began to buy me black garments! I just decided to keep this dress on, because it’s the only way that people won’t see the wounds I have from that day!

Oh sweet child, your heart is like none I’ve ever seen.
Come along with me and I will clothe you in my finest linens…
I do my own sewing, and I could make a lovely pink dress just for you!!

FLASH: daily partaking

written on 11/8/2010

Today was such a beautiful restful day filled with peace and confidence and awareness of why I’m called to serve here in Liberia.

Oh dear ones, I have so much to be thankful for! One of my good friends- the wife of our house security guard- gave birth to a beautiful baby girl today; just the shine on her husband’s face was enough to bring a tear to my eyes. My dear friend Olive celebrated her 30th birthday with us today, and if you knew her incredibly painful but beautifully triumphant life-story, you would understand that surviving another birthday in itself is enough of a reason for us to praise God with this lovely lady for the rest of our lives.

Another special friend of mine came back to our office compound today after being gone for two weeks on bereavement leave; Angeline lost her Father and she has become very thin and gaunt, but as I came and shared a meal with her today, the tender smile on her face and the look in her eyes was a reminder to me that God is ever so close to the broken-hearted and He will not abandon their soul to the grave.

After a long day of proposal writing and event planning, my sweet little Aimee who has looked quite sick recently, came and jumped into my arms (half-naked of course) and she giggled her little heart away while I scooped her up and kissed all over her little cheeks as she slobbered all over my arm. My roommate gleefully rejoiced with me and smiled as she exclaimed “Aww, you’re little Aimee is looking much better today Debbie.” I couldn’t help but respond “Well, she has a very good Father.”

Kristen knows that Aimee is an abandoned orphan and she knew exactly what my words meant as she gave me a very sweet thoughtful smile in response and confessed “I suppose she does Debbie Sue.” As I saw the sparkle in Aimee’s precious eyes again and the healthy color back in her skin, I quietly came to Jesus in that moment and thanked Him for seeing this precious child and taking care of her so much better than I ever could.

I thanked Him for all the ways that He spoke tenderly to me in my own wilderness and for carrying me all throughout my life. And I also thanked Him for the ways that He is relentlessly gentle in pursuing my roommate Kristen’s heart. She has been coming to church with me the last few weeks and we have been having many open conversations about our faith and the truth that we are seeking out.

God is graciously making Himself known to me and through me in so many ways despite my many mistakes and weaknesses; but this is always His way of relating for “He is who He is”. He is able to shine far beyond what we are capable of giving and that’s why we are always reminded that what we bring to Him and to others is only by His Grace.

All of these experiences are intentional reminders and even whispers of His intimate awareness and compassionate love for us- His deep concern and care for us in all circumstances of life. In all these precious moments, and all those that you are experiencing like them, I pray that each of us are evermore reminded that every good and precious gift comes freely from His hand alone, and that we are merely vessels daily partaking of His boundless grace.

I pray that we will all see clearly this week the deep ways that He is expressing His intimate love for us!

FLASH: feeding the masses

Written on 11/5/2010

I’ve been avidly processing how we as humans can so easily and continually choose what so clearly has caused deep pain for another or even for ourselves in the past. Perhaps it’s the human condition that lures us into what one of my dear professors called “temporary insanity”. However, it’s also possible that we all experience the depths of God’s mercy when we meet the end of ourselves in a profound way. Unfortunately we so often come to this reality by facing our own failures rather than others, and if we’re being honest we don’t always succeed with much grace. Sometimes we watch others struggle and we choose what seemingly appears to be the better road, but more times than not, we choose to touch the fire ourselves. Perhaps I’m the barley seed God speaks of in Isaiah 28 but I’d like to think that even the dill seeds feel the same way. Though dill is slightly beaten with a rod and becomes a delicious seasoning, barley is meant to feed the masses and must be repeatedly crushed and threshed by a massive cartwheel. I don’t always love being barley or the anvil that is crushed to save someone else’s finger from a hammer, but I do however love the result- “feeding the masses.” And I find it profoundly encouraging that the One who knows all of His seeds well (by name in fact) and what crushing they need to provide and survive without being destroyed is also the One who holds the rod and threshes with the wheel to make this food for world. And I trust this disciplining farmer- like God because He is One who calls himself “Gracious and Compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness” and He certainly lives up to His Name.

I know it can be entirely painful to watch others suffer and even make bad choices as they fight and choose their way through this imperfect sinful world, but whether we are merely watching or rather experiencing these struggles and realities ourselves, if we commit to doing it with Christ, we can be made evermore like Him in the process- we can become strikingly more aware of the deep need in our souls to long for something so much greater than this world has to offer. It becomes impossible to ignore the fact that we ourselves are not the great cause to live for. Oh beloved, may we never settle for the soul-defying pleasures of this earth but rather be caught up in the unsearchable riches and incomparable mysteries of an extravagant Lover- namely Christ. I pray that our sweet Jesus be our peace, our joy, and our greatest desire each moment that He’s breathed for us. For we know that we are destitute apart from Him and nothing else compares to the hope of Glory that He has prepared for those who love Him.

Apart from the Word of God and humanity, I see nothing of true eternal worth in this world compared to His Glory, yet I continually look to Him to bring purpose, meaning, and beauty to all that I see and touch this side of Heaven. For I truly believe that nothing we invest in His Kingdom or His Eternal Word will ever be wasted by God.

My dear friends, my greatest desire for us is to be made holy and to be drawn ever nearer into His presence- His beauty and majesty that can never be compared. He is truly a God of matchless worth and ineffable love; all His attributes are magnificently infinite. May we join one another confidently and proclaim with one voice that He is all our hearts are longing for and all that we need this week to live godly lives before Him!

Missing you all like crazy but increasingly thankful for the journey. Here's some song lyrics that I've written lately... hope you enjoy them.

As we look ahead in through the darkness
Though the raindrops may pour from the sky
We put our hope in Your unending mercy
For You’ve promised the sun/son will arise
Oh you came down and You made our lives blessed
You brought so much joy our hearts found rest
And now we sing to you Jesus, for your love has been our fortress
You restore our souls
And now we bow before You Father
Knowing there’s none other
In our hearts, You alone are God
Oh in our hearts, You alone our God

FLASH: a tribute and a birthday

Written on 11/3/2010

Happy Birthday baby brother!

It’s amazing how quickly time flies, isn’t it? One minute we are
walking our siblings to class for their first day of first grade and
the next minute we are thanking them for the wonderful stay at their
beautiful house for the weekend.

I guess there’s a reason why life has so often been compared to a mist or even a breath, because if you even blink without intention you could spend your future talking about the forgotten or wasted years.

In a few days, my little- rather tall- brother turns 24 years old. I
don’t know why this reality is hitting me so hard and so differently
this year but for some reason it just is. Perhaps it’s because I feel
like we are both actually adults, and I’m not entirely sure when or
how that transformation happened. As I reflect over the last 24 years
of his life I feel that there are some great words and lessons that we
all can learn from.

First of all, let me just say that little Johnny came into the world
too early and very underweight fighting hard for his life, much like
many of the babies I’ve spoken of recently. First lesson- Life is a
gift but its also hard work. Even from the womb so many of us enter
this world with a banner over our heads~ fight to survive.

However, Johnny has taught me that this gift of life, even despite the fight it takes, should not be taken for granted. Secondly, I’ve realized how much my brother and I have connected relationally through adventure.
Oh he’s an adventurous one I tell ya; ninja turtles, tackle football,
jumping off roofs, playing with fire, catching frogs, diving off cliffs, and jumping out of planes barely touches the surface of what Johnny calls fun. This may sound morbid but I’ve always known that if he happened to die on one of his crazy wonderful adventures that he would die doing exactly what he loved. Maybe I’m off-my-rocker but the thought has genuinely brought my mother and I rest at night during many a crazy seasons with that young man.

Perhaps we all can learn from this or at least ask the question; “Is living a life of adventure worth the risk of safety or security?” Lesson two: Many of us answer this question with an emphatic black or white answer but what if it’s just not all that black and white. Most of us would agree that it’s not bad to want any three of these things separately, but why do we so often differ in believing all three desires can sensibly exist together?

Yes it’s inevitable that Johnny’s ideas of adventure far outweighs his thoughts of safety, but I believe it suits him because the risks he takes are a conscious choice and he has no regrets.

This is where the rubber meets the road for most of us. Is it safe to say
that I’m not the only person who’s clung to an illusion of safety while throwing out a chance at adventure? And surely I’m not the first to white-knuckle supposed security while undermining my safety and/or happiness.

Is it possible that we don’t freely endeavor because the risk of failing or falling, or getting hurt, or being safe more than outweighs our desires for adventure; it exchanges or replaces them.

We would all be far better off dancing through life with pains and failures, then living safely and securely with only our regrets to keep us
company. I’m not saying that we should forget about safety or throw
out security; I just don’t think we should value them apart from risk
and adventure.

One thing I clearly remember from high school economics is the vocabulary words “complimentary goods.” The words refer to all goods that benefit or complement one another and should thus be sold together. If Johnny and I were to sit down for his birthday dinner and propose an idea of complimentary goods for you, I suppose it would be over “pizza and beer” while discussing “security and adventure.”

Cheers to all of you and happy birthday little brother!

Friday, February 18, 2011

FLASH: thx 4 taking some time

Written on 10/25/2010

Let me take a moment to thank each of you for reading all 950 words of my last blog-mail. I know it was rather long but keep in mind that it’s only one page of the novel that is already engraved on my heart.

This is the best way that I know how to keep you all close to me in this journey- to share the real life stories and feelings and encouragement that would burst out of me if I was at your kitchen tables.

I hope that you sense that as I write these words, I am writing to embrace you as individual people- people I know and love and call by name- and trust me when I tell you that I am always joyfully imagining your specific lives, faces and responses as I converse through these writings.

Yes I write to process, but mostly I write with a hopeful purpose to remain intentional with my closer relationships while I am slowly making another world my home.

Let me quickly explain how I go about this intentional writing adventure. All day long I ingest overwhelming amounts of live pictures, stories, words, and experiences.

I could never spend time during my crazy busy work day to be writing these letters from the heart; so mostly at night or on weekends, my mind comes alive and I actually have the time to stop and process and put all these pieces together in digestible portions.

Since I only have finicky internet at the office, and it only works during certain hours of the day, I have mastered the art of CTRL C and CTRL V (copy and paste).

For example, currently it’s 11:30am Saturday morning and I’ve already had 5 hours worth of daylight, delightful fellowship and conversation, and delicious food.

I was awoken at 6:30am by my troubled roommate who came to tell me that our guard’s grandson passed away last night after 8 years of chronic seizing.

We processed over coffee for a bit, and then we began to make cornbread cake and fried potatoes for everyone currently at our rehab house (9 total). We just finished making food for our wonderful friends who are loudly banging while building us a “Palava Hut” in our backyard (used for lounging, eating or having guests). Now I’m taking a break in my bedroom, sitting on my bed, with no internet, listening to the sounds of men banging and Lydia sweeping and the grumbling generator while typing out this blog-mail.

As I look down at the left corner of my computer, I see that these paragraphs will soon join together to make up the 26th page of my blog-mail musings thus far. By the time you read this it will be Monday morning at least.

By then, I will have written this letter, hiked to a new waterfall that I’ve never seen, walked to the Guinea border with my roommates, watched several episodes of “The Office”, walked into town several times to buy groceries, attended Inland Church service, along with all of my daily routine activities ;) Wherever you are, it’s a wonderful beautiful crazy amazing life we live, and we only get to live it once…

Hope you are intentionally enjoying the scenery, and the ride!

FLASH: whispered answers

Written 10/26/2010

So I woke up with my first migraine in Liberia yesterday, which inevitably means that I woke up with my first migraine hangover this morning.

For those of you who’ve never experienced such “pleasure”, if you can, imagine the “joys” of a drunken hangover but add to that a scrunched up right side of the face (neurologically it causes a one day paralysis that looks similar to a stroke) and you will be truly empathetic… oh the joys. I’m rereading this last sentence and yes I am keenly aware of my sarcasm, irony and even wee bit of bitterness. Sorry o!

Despite the unfortunate temporary paralysis of my right eye and the annoying bumps all over my body most like due to bacteria in the water… let me share some praises…

Yesterday morning, I was home till 11am caring for my migraine, and these “sick hours” always end up being such a joy. First of all, let me just say that I am so thankful for the way that my body sends these triggers (migraine) when I need to rest or deal with something going on in my heart. Sometimes I’m just “too busy” to listen, and other times I have selective hearing- because the pain of facing a headache seems easier at times than the reality of facing other’s pain or my own neglected beliefs or feelings. Maybe you can relate?! I’m often terrible at getting the picture when my body tries to whisper at me to rest or listen, so eventually it screams… usually the word “migraine” or “sickness.” Then of course I listen, well sometimes… let’s just say I’m learning.

So back to “sick hours” being such a joy. I was awaken and greeted by my dear friend Lydia (our house helper), who came and sat on the edge of my sunken bed and lovingly put her hand on my head with a look in her eye that would cause anyone to feel utterly seen and safe.

“How you comin on ma dear friend?” Um…”instantly healed” I thought to myself.

After popping a few pain pills and washing them down with coffee (no I’m not addicted to either), I pranced into the kitchen, hugged my sweet Lydia, and began making breakfast for us. We had the most delicious grilled breakfast dish with chicken, roasted potatoes, onions, and scrambled fried egg, and after hours of fellowship, we followed it up with Lydia’s amazing tasty dry rice. With each traditional Liberian bite I ate with my fingers, my pain lessened, and my bright smile returned. We were able to just sit and laugh, and talk for hours openly about all the concerns, questions, and joys. We truly delight in learning from one another, and we love spending ours cooking together and talking about matters of the heart.

At one moment, she bursted out singing “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me”- One of my very favorite hymns.

As we sat there singing in harmony, I looked up to Heaven and a tear rolled down my face.

She told me, “everyday I jus love coming to woik (work) an’ wheneva you people leav, I leave too, because now I work for the best, and I not sure I reash (reach or get) dat agay (again) .” I instantly thought about the story of Ruth and Naomi. “Wherever you go, I will go, and your people will be my people and your God will be my God”… I could have leaped right into the arms of Jesus at that moment.

I felt utterly seen by Him and satisfied with His delight in us, His daughters, truly enjoying Him together.

I thanked the Lord for meeting with me that hour through His precious servant. I also thanked Him for answering my prayers for a nearby dear friend to walk with on this journey in Nimba County, Liberia.

He is so good to answer our cries and so faithful and sovereign to provide just what we need, at the right time, when we wholeheartedly depend on Him. For a good two hours, Lydia and I stepped outside our worldview boxes filled with race and class and color and we crossed new borders as we spoke openly about our desires; to be married, to provide for the children in our lives, and most importantly to live beautiful courageous lives trusting in Jesus as our only hope and the strength of our hearts.

We also shared about the joys, responsibilities, and sometimes heartaches of being a woman along with the sadness and grief of losing a parent in your early 20’s.

Oh friends, I will say it again and again “we are all so much more alike than we are different.”

Tangent: Please continue to pray for my heart. November is a hard month emotionally for me. I’ve been feeling particularly grieved in Spirit and quite frankly somewhat depressed and unexplainably repressed for several weeks. As Lydia and I shared stories about our parents we have lost, I felt a release happen in my spirit. In that moment, I remembered that the month of my Father’s passing is quickly approaching and my heart just remembers and aches more during this season. Being able to acknowledge the grief, through the triggers, and be cared for in the process, brought much awaited comfort and restored joy. I truly thank God o!

There is so much more that happened today; the words and lessons and experiences are always endless. So for now, I will go and leave you with these words… Those quiet whispers nagging at your souls to find peace and rest… listen to them. Those ignored whispers that have turned into screams… stop running away from them. And those feelings, those hurts, those memories that cry out in the dark behind the doors we’ve bolted shut…

...perhaps today is the day for each of us to crack open-even if it’s ever so slight- those doors that hold back the light and relinquish the power to truly heal us.