Archive for the ‘abandonment’ Category

There is a lot more to write about the ministries we saw in Kenya, but it is time to move on to the Uganda portion of our trip!

20130725-133140.jpg Adventure Village
Our first stop was Adventure Village, an orphanage our church helped build and has worked with for many years (I think we’ve sent teams there every years since 2007). We spent a few days there, helping to distribute backpacks and clothes that were collected and sent over by generous folks at our church. It didn’t matter how organized we’d been in collecting the goods (life groups were assigned different homes at the village–group members all picked one child to “sponsor”). But, unbeknownst to us, there had been a bit of a shuffle at Adventure Village, with most of the children living in different homes.

So chaos reigned, as it is so apt to do in Africa, but a joyous chaos it was as children received their gifts from afar.

20130725-133331.jpg A happy camper, waiting for his new shoes!

The highlight of our visit to Adventure Village was spending time with Resty, a young girl sponsored by our oldest daughter (who met her on that first trip in 2007, shortly after Resty had come to the orphanage). We’d met Resty three years ago, when Greg and I flew over for our youngest daughter’s wedding. In fact, Resty and a teacher from Adventure Village were able to attend the wedding and join in the fun. Resty regularly sends us letters about her life at the village–she even sent a short version of her life story recently.

20130725-133707.jpg Eating my first beans and posho with Resty

Not all of the children at Adventure Village are true orphans, Resty included. According to her account, her mother and father separated when she was young. Her mother remarried, and her husband did not want the children from the previous marriage. He beat the children (Resty had two brothers that I know of) and life was so miserable it was decided that they would go live with their father. The details are a little sketchy at this point, but their father was murdered around this time. And shortly after that, their mother brought them to the orphanage.

Losing both your parents would be a terrible trauma, but my heart breaks at the rejection and abandonment experienced by Resty and her siblings. Resty has mentioned to me several times how much it meant to her that my daughter chose her, closely following the heels of her own mother’s rejection. Even though Lindsay hasn’t been back to Africa or seen Resty since, there is an incredibly strong connection there. Such power in being chosen!

20130725-134556.jpg Resty and her brother Michael, enjoying ice cream!

My prayer for Resty–and all the “orphans” of this world–is that she would know she is chosen by her Heavenly Father. And that this truth would fill and heal her heart. It hit me hard on this trip that all the backpacks, all the shoes, all the ice cream couldn’t fill the empty part of their hearts. Sometimes I wonder if the stuff we give them even makes the emptiness worse.

There is a song that we often sing at my church, “Only You can Satisfy.” Every time I hear it, I think of Resty and all the little children I met on our travels and pray that the love of Christ will satisfy their hungry souls.


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not ashamed

I turn 54 on Friday.   Senior discounts are just around the corner . . . as is the amazing title of “grandma.”

One gift I give myself every year is the luxury of looking back over the previous 12 months and noting achievements and milestones.  This has been a particularly blessed year!

Greg and I married off our two remaining daughters and found out that we’re going to be grandparents this fall!  I climbed my first real mountain, traveled to Africa and grew my first tomato.

On top of all that, I began my exodus out of shame . . .

At a Genesis Process training I attended last September, God showed me clearly that the root of most of my unhealthy (sinful) behaviors came from a deeply ingrained sense of shame.  At this seminar, I learned that our limbic system (primitive brain) equates shame with death–and will do anything to suppress that toxic emotion.  Addictions, compulsions, isolation, rage . . . all these can be covers for shame.

While it might surprise you that it took me 53 years to identify this poison in my life, I now understand that shame is about as difficult to spot as a cockroach in a dark room when a light is turned on–the dirty rascals scuttle under the nearest shadow to avoid detection.  My shame would disguise itself in all manner of ways–from eating disorders to anger issues to panic attacks–and I’d end up focusing on the shadow and not the actual culprit.

But when God turned on the light and removed all the hiding places last fall, shame had no where to hide.  I had to face this deep, dark secret of my heart. And by facing it in the light of God’s love and truth,  shame’s death grip on me was broken.

Perhaps I should define what I mean by shame.  I’m not referring to healthy guilt or conviction over sin.  I’m talking about the pervasive sense that “there is something terribly wrong with me.”  It’s what Adam and Eve experienced after they fell from grace in the Garden–when shame first entered into the human race.  They grabbed fig leaves to cover themselves–and we’ve been scrambling to cover our sense of nakedness ever since . . .

I’m not sure why shame has always had such a grip on me.  My grandma once told me, laughing, that my mom’s first words to me were: “That baby is so ugly it can’t be mine–there must have been a mix-up in the nursery.”   She told me the story as if it were a great family joke.  Swollen and bruised from a nasty breach delivery, I must have looked like an alien life-form when I was presented to my mother.  No wonder she didn’t want me.

The nurses finally persuaded my mom to take me home, but I’ve often wondered if my newborn soul was shamed by her rejection . . . there’s something wrong with me . . .

Wherever it came from, I’m sure shame will raise it’s ugly head as I continue on  my journey.  But now that I’ve got some tools to help neutralize its venom, I shall travel with a much lighter heart.

And I am shamelessly anticipating my 55th year of life!

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For whatever reason, I don’t remember much of my early years. But every now again, something will jog my muzzy brain and a childhood memory will clearly surface. I experienced such a jogging yesterday as I was cutting up old books to recycle into journals.

The book I’d chosen was filled with old classic poems and bits of prose–and I was carefully extracting samples to put in the journal. Some I recognized, others I picked because of interesting titles or subject matter. When I got to page 15, I was startled by the lyrics of a favorite childhood song–one I used to beg my mother to sing for me.

Little Boy Blue (Eugene Field, 1911)

The little toy dog is covered with dust, but sturdy and staunch he stands.
And the little toy soldier is red with rust and his musket moulds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new and the soldier passing fair–
And that was the time that our little Boy Blue kissed them and put them there.

“Now don’t you go ’til I come,” he said. “And don’t you make any noise!”
So toddling off to his trundle bed, he dreamt of his pretty toys.
And as he was dreaming an angel song awakened our little Boy Blue
Oh the years are many, the years are long–but the little toy friends are true.
Ay, faithful to little Boy Blue they stand, each in the same old place
Awaiting the touch of his little hand, the smile of his little face.
And they wonder, as waiting these long year through in the dust of that little chair
What has become of our little Boy Blue since he kissed them and put them there?

I experienced a sort of emotional deja’ vu as I read the old poem. The bittersweet ache returned, as sure as if I were leaning on the old piano, listening to my mother sing the melancholy tune. I wiped away a tear as I remembered the love/hate relationship I’d had with the song–loving the loyal bravery of the abandoned toys and hating the harsh reality that stole the little boy away.
Reading the poem yesterday, the mother in me wept for loss of little boy blue. (How ironic that there’s an engraving of Little Boy Blue on Jonah’s headstone!) But as I read the last stanza, I realized that my young heart ached more over the bewilderment of the toys than the child’s premature death. Something in me had resonated deeply with their sense of abandonment.
I don’t know when or how the fear of abandonment took such deep root in my life–if there was a particular event, it remains locked up with my shadowy childhood memories. But I think those abandoned toys helped me be brave through my early years as I wondered what had become of the ones who loved me and then quietly left me . . . either emotionally or physically.
Interesting, isn’t it, the little things that will jog such grand epiphanies?
And, no, I didn’t put that poem back in the journal I made. I may just have to frame it or tuck it away in some extra special spot . . .

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