A season of growth

I’m finally doing it.

I’m sitting down to write.

I’ve missed writing and sharing with you all from the crevices of my heart poured out on a computer screen. The truth is, the words have been sucked right out of me for several months. Like, there just weren’t words to string together that could possibly take you where we’ve been in this last year. When I reflect, it’s painful and daunting.

We had a brief de-brief with CMF personnel recently and as I prepared and thought through our last term in Ethiopia I realized that it seemed to start and stop early the morning of May 14thwhen I picked up the phone and heard my sister in law crying. “Amanda, Nicky shot himself.”

Gut-wrenching details poured out following those 4 life-changing words as if those words weren’t painful enough.

I have to really dig deep to remember that there was SO much work and SO much good done in that term, I just haven’t been able to see it.

The truth is that phone call sent me into a spiral of fear. Just the word “fear” is an understatement (I’ll save you all the synonyms) but essentially the enemy had me in a choke-hold. It was deeply stemmed in my past, growing up with a single mom and 3 brothers. I am the 2nd oldest and the only girl. I “mothered” my little brothers the best I could alongside my mom as she did her very best to work, return to school, and regain so much for our family that had been lost at the hands of an abusive and manipulative step-father.

But I didn’t do a good job. Look how it ended… I remember so many nights telling myself, “He (my brother) will be fine. Don’t worry. Everything turns out fine.” But it didn’t this time and so my fears and worries unleashed and  ended in, “Everything DOESN’T turn out fine.” My fears and worries became wrapped up in what could push my very own children to choose the same ending and it’s an unbearable thought at which I’m trying to prevent from every angle. Every time I try to shut the thoughts down I hear, “Not everything turns out fine…”

Then, we said good-bye to our work, our team, our friends, our church family, and so much more in Ethiopia. We truly felt the Lord leading us elsewhere. We prayed and pursued and sought another foreign ministry KNOWING with all certainty He still wanted us in the field.

Just before Leo’s birth, that rug was pulled out from under us. It was truly out of our hands. In that moment, I remember feeling an incredible peace. Truly one that surpasses all understanding and I was confident that the Lord had a greater plan.

After Leo, we took time (a few weeks) to be a family of 6 before we started seeking. Our minds quickly became consumed with constant thoughts of the future and “what’s next?” In those few short months after Leo’s birth I had a longer than expected time of healing and battled a super nasty case of mastitis 2 weeks post-partum. Leo entered into long exhausting evenings of fussiness and crying and just as that was dying down, Nick had a 2 week vision trip planned to 2 other countries. Exactly 1 week in, I got very sick.

I’ll spare you the gory details of just how sick but by the 2ndtime I went in to the ER, the abscess in my abdomen was 9×12 inches. I was in more pain than I’ve ever even experienced even with child birth and intravenous morphine was about the only thing that could cut it. The infection has tunneled into my GI and was simply too much for my body to manage at that point. This is when my blood pressure began to drop to 70/38 and my lactic acid rose to 3.6 which landed me in the ICU. This entire fiasco lasted from the 8thof August until the 23rd.

But wait… there’s beauty from ashes…

I cried every night in the hospital. So many of my fears had manifested into that hospital stay. I had a fear of being away from the kids and Leo not breastfeeding. I had fear of taking antibiotics and getting scans. I had a fear of going septic. These are all PREVIOUS fears. Fears I had acquired before any of this became a reality.

Who can add even an hour to his life with worry? I know I can’t.

Forgive me but I can no longer delay Him praise.

Here is what the Lord has done and what He’s teaching me:

I needed to be released from fear. I needed to recognize my fear and put it in its place. The only way to do this was to face it. I realized I can’t do anything about my fears until I’m facing them, so why bother spending even a second thinking about them? This was such a reality check for me. Such a needed one. I am taking fear captive. I’m recognizing my worried thoughts and saying, “no more!”

My mom. She was with me every second of the way. We’ve had a strained relationship for many years due to my childhood and questions that went unanswered. I deeply questioned her love for me. It was a painful ache I’ve had for years. The Lord renewed our relationship through this experience. We had some important conversations but more important than words, she was there for me in a way far beyond what I could imagine. Thankyou Jesus.

More recently, I’ve wanted MORE of the Lord in a way different than I have in a long time. I’m truly hungry for His presence. I’m asking Him to use me in ways far beyond my own capacity and I’m thrilled to see what He does.

In the midst of this deep desire He revealed something else to me, “You don’t know who you are.” He made me aware of a pain that I’ve acquired and carried from long before the field… but that was solidified by being a missionary;

I don’t like myself.

Now hold on before you go diagnosing me or worse yet, complimenting me lol…

The field can be a tricky place because you’re daily dealing with things you don’t in your home culture. Let me reiterate, DAILY. They are small at first but mount on top of each other to become a looming tower. One that comes crashing down at something so little as a “poke”. I felt anger in ways that I hated. It disgusted me that I could be so angry at people we came to serve and so the enemy used that disgust. I gave him an “in”. My guard was down.

Here is the Truth, here is my shield:

  • “I am born of God and the evil one does not touch me.” 1 John 5:18
  • “I have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor. 2:16, Philippians 2:5
  • “I am merciful, I do not judge others, and I forgive quickly. As I do this by God’s grace, He blesses my life.” Luke 6:36-38
  • “I am chosen by God who called me out of the darkness of sin and into the light and life of Christ so I can proclaim the excellence and greatness of who He is.” 1 Peter 2:9
  • “I am healed and whole in Jesus.” Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24
  • “My life is rooted in my faith in Christ and I overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done for me.” Colossians 2:7

Do I wish none of this had ever happened; My brother, our plans falling through, getting sick? Yes, definitely. I wish they had never happened. 

Am I grateful for the ways in which the Lord is working through them?

So grateful.

 

 

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