Iraq Journey

Compassion Bloggers: Guatemala 2010


Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

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August 1, 2010

This is my boy.

My oldest one.

(I have two.)

Tonight, while pulling covers over jammies,

tucking stuffed animals in their proper sleeping spots,

and kissing sleepy brows,

we started talking about when he was tiny.

We snuggled close, noses touching,

as I told him of the day I discovered he was there,

tucked under my heart.

We pulled close the soft golden doggie his grandparents gave him that day,

months before he arrived.

He giggled

and asked me to show him how big my tummy became.

I told him of the first moment I saw him,

gazing into his bright blue eyes,

stroking his blonde hair,

stealing glances at his adoring daddy beside us,

blinking back tears.

You were just a kid before I was your baby, Mama,” he whispered.

And then you saw me and became a mommy!”

My lips formed a slow smile before moving to kiss his cheek.

I know something he doesn’t yet understand;

that I had been a mommy twice before,

to two little ones moving from my womb

to Jesus’ arms before they were–and before he was–born.

In many respects, he is right.

Until I held that bundle,

four and a half years ago,

I had no idea what it would mean

to give everything I had for an eight pound armful of sweetness.

I didn’t know how to bathe that bundle,

nor how to feed a hungry little one.

I hadn’t been up in the wee hours rocking,

nor bleary eyed in the mornings.

To many onlookers, I hadn’t yet become a mother.

But I was.

Because I had loved a baby.

And called her my own.

My heart is wrapped up in the two little boys

who fill this house with shrieks and laughter.

I ache with the love that overflows for them.

But I thank Jesus every day for all of my babies.

The two who call me mama today.

And the two who made me a mommy.

Sometimes I realize I don’t know much about my online buddies’ families unless I meet them in person.

Tell me… who lives in your house?

And also… who lives in your heart?


The walls of my home hold me and two little boys: four year old Troy and two year old Merritt.

Half my heart is currently spending a year deployed to Afghanistan.

And we have two precious ones playing with Jesus these days, always living in our hearts.

If you’re hurting today, a mother with empty arms, for any reason, know I hold you close in my heart.

And if you’d like to share your story and would prefer to send me an email, I’d be honored to hear it.

Some Days…

July 28, 2010

Some days the weight of being alone sits heavy, a yoke upon my shoulders.

Some days my heart cries, realizing how much life he’s missing, that Marine of mine.

Some days, my eyes cry, too.

Some days the boys wake from their naps, crying for their daddy.

Some days, their mommy is helpless to console them.

Some days, their little shouts of joy bring ache to my soul.

Some days, I wonder if absence really does make the heart fonder.

Some days, I worry that we’re all going to grow apart.

Some days my fingers entangle the roots of my hair and my teeth grit until my jaw is sore.

Some days I stomp my own feet on the tiled kitchen floor, hearing the hollow beneath me.

Some days, I feel the hollow in my heart.

Some days, my heart is steeled with guilt, because we saw him. A stolen treasure, that.

Some days, I’m angry it was just a trip.

Some days, the five months he’s been away seem to have sped away, fast as the mountain lightning.

Some days, my eyes squint, straining to see the end of the eight months ahead.

Some days, I’m proud of his service.

Some days, I want to hide it, away from critical eyes and wagging tongues.

Some days, I shake my fist that this isn’t over yet, that we’re closing in on year nine.

Some days, I wonder why we signed up for another four years, and another.

Some days, I remember all the reasons.

Some days, crayons and coloring sheets make day-brightening presents, sent across the sea.

Some days, the mail brings gifts of gold, letters written in his hand.

Some days, we see him on a computer screen.

Some days, the telephone grows warm with hour long heart talks.

Some days, we remember what a gift this is.

Some nights, our little boys fight exhaustion, calling from their room that they can’t sleep without daddy.

Some nights, I send them back to bed fifty times, exasperation on my lips.

Some nights, I curse the television and its common scenes of lovers and gentle kisses.

Some nights, I drift away into sleep, on the couch, rather than face the cold, empty bed.

Some nights, I pray for dreams in which his hand holds mine, his arm encircles my shoulders.

Sometimes, I lay, face on the carpet, begging Jesus for strength to stand.

Always, I feel His arms pulling me up.

Sometimes, I cry that I can’t do this thing alone for one more moment.

Always, He fills the empty heart and gives warmth, peace.

Sometimes, I rest.

Always, He tells me loneliness isn’t shameful.

Sometimes, I can do naught but weep.

Always, He draws me closer, collecting my tears in a bottle.

Some days, the missing is so strong I believe my body breaking in two.

Some days, I’m but a half to a whole.

From Afar

July 21, 2010

He stood, little bare feet on cold tile, staring at the pictures on the refrigerator.

Mama,” his head tilted. “Where does Ariel live?”

“You remember, baby…”

“No, I don’t mean just in Bolivia. I mean what house does he live in?”

We sat, curled together on the overstuffed red couch, in a house full of matching decor, in a town where people are comfortable and safe, and pulled over the laptop.

A window, filled with glimpses of the world.

Of another world.

And we looked at pictures.

Of houses in Bolivia.

And we looked at people.

In Bolivia.



Simply staring.

Hearts full, so full.

The four year old, as much as his mama.

He ran back to the clean white refrigerator and pulled down another picture.

What about this Uganda baby? Where does she live?”

So we looked at pictures of houses.

In Uganda.

And we looked at pictures of people.

In Uganda.

We just stared.

Us two.

Loving, from far away.

And I wondered.

How can anyone say no?

How can I say no?

The faces.

The hearts of these ones, so loved by Jesus.

I want to be there. I want to hold them in my arms. I want to hear their hearts, their stories. I want to tell them of this Love.

I can’t be there.

Not today.

But someday.

So I sponsor.

And I write letters.

I wear my Uganda beads,


near daily,

holding a piece of another woman’s heart and life


near my own heart.

And I pray.

Oh, how I pray.

And I wonder,

How can one be so homesick for a land to which they’ve never been and for people whom they’ve never met?


How can I say no?

How can you say no?

Say yes.


Open up, open up
And give yourself away.
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay?

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
Cause it’s asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can’t even get out of bed

~Keith Green, Asleep in the Light

(read the rest and hear the music at Ari’s today)

All photos courtesy of Compassion International’s blogger trip Flickr stream, and were taken by the phenomenal Keely Scott ~ except the first photo, which has an unknown source.


July 19, 2010

It is clear.


The name of this enemy. The thing that holds me back.

The one thing, keeping my soul in a pit, a black hole, this mud-filled place, these slippery wet walls. This place where roots press through the watery soil: roots named bitterness, arrogance, judgment, contempt. I find myself grabbing, clinging to them, in a hopeless effort to keep my feet underneath my body in this muck and mire.

Confusing, painful, dark. Not knowing which way is up, which is down. Such darkness, this place.

This place I’ve been unable to name.

I know, I know, there must be a way out. I know, because I’ve heard, that there’s a God, a Creator, a Lover of my soul, bigger, stronger. More powerful than the depths of this hole.

I say I believe it.

But I don’t.

Not really.

I think I know what life is, then. If I believed it. That life, in which I allow Him to pull me out.

I think I know. Because I think of what it was before this pit.

And it’s something I don’t want.

But neither do I want the bitterness, the ache, the condemnation I heap on the ones who helped create this fall, this darkness. I pour it, with vengeance, on my former self, on the ones who caused the wounds, and any who appear to be like them.

I don’t want this, either. The roots might suffocate me. And the pain? It’s still there.

They peek over the edge, the ones who have gone before. The ones who have climbed out. Those who know how it ends.

They tell me, it’s okay. They say, He will carry, hold, embrace you. He will heal. He will keep you close.

There is no need to fear.

And then, in that moment, I see it.

The name, written on the walls of this dark hole.




Fear put me in this pit.

And fear holds me in.

I’m so afraid.

Afraid of what daylight brings.

Will it be what it was… back then?

Will I be hurt, all over again?

Fear paved the way for this grasping, this endless hole. My fear, their fear.

But the mud caking at my ankles? Its very name is fear.

And so, because of my unbelief, my doubts, my wonderings, my hurt,

He pours Love, true, beautiful, pure Love,

down, down, down.

I don’t even know to expect it. But it is there.

Cascading down the walls of my self-made pit. Breaking loose my hold of the roots.

Causing me to fall.

And I land in His arms.


I fear.

I’m petrified of intimacy with Him. Because the reality of truly knowing Him, who He says He is, it is an unknown. Laying my heart bare, letting Him guide, control, teach, remove lies and replace them with truth… this frightens me. I don’t want it to be what it was before. Because that, that wounded, so deeply.

With weeping, in desperation, without anything held back,

I’m falling.

Back into His arms.


I’m thankful for a Jesus who is willing to grow His child, even when it looks like starting over.

I’m thankful that not all is lost, even after the wounding, the pit.

And I’m thankful for the ones who give grace, even when they don’t understand.

Because who hasn’t spent time in the hole, grasping the roots around them?

I’m thankful for Jesus.


May 24, 2010

I hesitate to post this.

Because it wells up from a deep part of my soul that I know will probably cause many (most?) people reading to furrow their brows in confusion.

But I post it anyway, for those of you… who know.

You who know the pain of the Formula Life, the camaraderie of it, the need to find others who understand the journey out of it. Those who know the shattering that comes when a trusted journeyer causes severe pain in the process. The jaded disillusionment. The loss of security. And the black hole that threatens to hold us in its grasp.

This is for you…

Trudging, weighed down, through deep, clinging mire.
Aching legs, sore feet.
Shoulders bent with the heavy load.
Bondage, to a lifestyle thought wanted,
Thought beautiful,
Turned ugly.

Stopped, by one without a load.
You don’t need to carry this. Drop it.

Stunned. Drop it?
Removing the rocks from the bag.
Thrilled with less weight.
Able to move again.

But still carrying the bag
which held the millstones.

It is security.

Walking, faster, toward a new way.
Learning there is truth.
And that the heavy load was not it.
Cautiously, yet happily, skipping now.
With a posse of partners,
all now finding the true truth.

Aiding each other in the beautiful freedom.
Following the One Who Is Truth.
Together. All of us.
This is a much better way.

But still carrying the bags.

Because they are security.

Then, a journeying partner, tired of all of it,
the journey
the journeyers
the load
the freedom
the Journey Leader,
He Who Is The Destination.

This partner crumbles.
In his crumbling,
he pulls, pushes and beats the rest of us to the ground.
He doesn’t choose to think of the pain he causes.

But what of the bag? What of the security?

This wasn’t supposed to happen.
It was security.

Ripped away.
It was not more than a flimsy piece of fabric, some seams, a string or two.
It provided no real security.
It simply appeared to be so.

Pain, again, now worse.
From injury instead of a heavy load.

Aching, sore, wounded.
Glancing around.
There are others, bleeding, wounded.
We crawl to each other on scraped hands and cut knees.

Holding each other, we weep.
For the pain, for the wounding partner,
For the loss of familiar,
for the loss of the bag.

We help each other to stand,
heartache mixed with anger.

How did this happen? What of the security?

We walk slowly, eyes darting,
trusting none but each other,

The Wounded Ones.

We talk about the bag, and the hurt it caused,
upon discovering it was not security.
We fight for survival.
Some make it. Some do not.

The bleeding stops, but the bruises take longer to heal.
The pain is residual.
Time passes.
We walk, watching every step, evaluating.

We see those who are whole, unbloodied, and we scowl.
They must be still carrying the bag.
They believe it is security.
They do not know how it all turns out.
We shake our heads bitterly.

The pain, a common vine, wraps around us,
our hearts,
our legs,
our feet,
our hands,
our heads,

and finally

our necks.

Suffocating us.

Another journeyer comes beside.
Scars cover the hands, the feet, the legs,
the neck.

You don’t need to struggle to breathe.

Leave the vine.


Because it still hurts.

And the pain, the vine

is security.

A gentle, knowing smile,
given to the scar covered journeyer
by the One Who Understands
and Is Truth.

The pain is real

but it heals.

Leave the vine.

Some see the Journey Leader behind this smile
and untangle their limbs
from the vine

Walking Free.

Others shake their heads, vehemently, fire in their eyes.

And they stay fettered

by the vine,

by the pain,

because it is security.

This is for you who know.

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