Ayanna’s Birth Story

In my typical terrible fashion, I completely forgot to announce to our friends and followers on this site that Ayanna Marie Wasike is here. She’s actually been here for over a month (smh)… six weeks, to be exact. She was born at 11:30 pm on December 27, 2017 at 3.5 kg and 51 cm.

When I last shared about my experience with being pregnant in Kenya, Ray and I had a tentative plan for where our daughter would be born, who would help us bring her into the world, and a general idea of what would go down throughout the process. Pretty much none of that happened. Actually, none of it happened. Ayanna’s arrival was incredibly different than anything Ray or I could have anticipated.

A little backstory

Let’s start with the previous plan, for those of you that don’t remember or didn’t read the last post. We live in a small town called Kitale. The next biggest city, Eldoret, is about an hour and a half from where we live. Throughout the pregnancy we were driving to Eldoret on a monthly basis to see my OB, one who had come highly recommended by other missionaries and Kenyan friends.

The idea was that we would go to Eldoret about a week before Aya’s EDD and stay there until she decided to make an appearance. That plan was initially foiled when I asked my doctor at my 8 month checkup the likelihood that she would be the one to deliver my baby. She told me it wasn’t likely since she would be on vacation the month I was due. I wish I had known that sooner!

Rolling with the punches

At our 9 month visit we returned to Eldoret and met with another doctor, one I knew nothing about. It was at that appointment that we discovered that Ayanna was still breech — something we had known since I was 31 weeks — so we were instructed to make plans for a C-section. This particular doctor approached the situation by urging us to schedule for that same week (I was 38 weeks at the time). Completely rattled by the speed at which everything was moving, we asked for alternative options that didn’t require immediate surgery. She told us there were none, but we pushed to wait until I was at least 39 weeks and scheduled the cesarean for December 19th.

Now, two years ago, when I had to go back to the States to see doctors about some health problems, I met two OB/GYNs that have been lifesavers throughout this pregnancy. I believe they were divine connections. Dr. Amy Hogan was there for me when we first found out we were pregnant. I emailed her right away, and because she had previously tested me and discovered a hormonal imbalance, she knew exactly what supplements I needed. Thankfully, my OB in Eldoret took Dr. Hogan’s notes and wrote me the prescription that I needed. Dr. Molly Carroll, the one who had performed my laparoscopy and hysteroscopy, also gave me great advice regarding Aya’s delivery. When I reached out to her via email, she immediately responded and advised us to wait until I was at least full-term, among other things. So we cancelled the appointment.

More divine connections

Knowing we didn’t have much time left before Aya would be here, we started looking for other options. We were referred to a midwife here in Kitale whom we instantly liked. She examined me, explained the type of breech Aya was to us, and gave me a bunch of exercises to do to try and coax our baby girl to turn, though by that time there really wasn’t much we could do. If Aya had turned, we would have had the midwife deliver her, but Ayanna stayed where she was, so we had to find someone to perform the surgery.

Initially, we had no intention whatsoever of going to a hospital in Kitale. We hadn’t heard many pleasant things about hospitals here, and we didn’t want to risk any complications with Aya’s delivery. But on the recommendation of our midwife and a trusted friend, we met Dr. Kasembeli. Aya was due on Christmas but still hadn’t shown up, so the following day we decided to get a sonogram to see if she had turned at all. The place we normally frequented for ultrasounds was closed, so we decided to try Dr. Kasembeli’s hospital and see if they were open. By the miraculous grace of God Dr. Kasembeli was in his office only because some plans had fallen through (he was also supposed to be out of town on vacation). He did the ultrasound and sat down with us and discussed our options. We really liked him and immediately trusted him, so we scheduled surgery with him for the 28th.


Thinking we had a day to prepare before we met our little girl, we took it easy the next day. When I had gotten up that morning I noticed that Ayanna had finally lightened or dropped into my pelvis, but that can happen weeks before delivery, so I wasn’t alarmed and spent most of the day in bed watching movies and napping. Throughout the day I kept experiencing cramping, but I assumed it was Braxton Hicks. I was expecting the actual labor pains to hurt a lot more.

By late evening I noticed that the contractions were happening more frequently and my whole stomach would tighten with each one, so we decided to time them. To our surprise they were 3 minutes apart. Five minutes is when you’re supposed to report to the hospital with a normal pregnancy… so yeah. It was bad. Can you imagine how bad it would have been if we had still planned on going to Eldoret? I don’t even like to think about it.

We called the doctor and he told us to come in immediately. Within the hour I had been prepped and was on the operating table for an emergency C-section. As much as Ray and I had tried to psych ourselves up on the drive to the hospital and in the waiting room, I wasn’t ready. I knew generally what was supposed to happen during the surgery, but that still didn’t make me ready. I was mostly scared.

Trying to smile through contractions in the waiting room.

As the nurses tried to help me prep for surgery, they mostly spoke to me in Swahili. I can understand the language for the most part, but my mind was racing so much that I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what they were saying. Once they realized I wasn’t Kenyan, some of them spoke to me in English, but others continued speaking in Swahili. With the whole delivery process being rushed already, it was hard not understanding what my part was in it all. Instead of me delivering this child on my own and letting my body call the shots, other people were telling me what to do, yet I had no idea what they were saying or how to help the process along.

Once the surgery had begun, I began to feel claustrophobic. Not being able to feel my legs or get off the table made me want to scream. I felt trapped and nauseous to the point of dry heaving, so I tried to focus on breathing. Though I had managed to keep myself from freaking out, something else was happening inside me. I was becoming detached from the whole situation. By the time the doctor pulled Ayanna out and lifted her to show me the cord that was wrapped around her neck so he could explain how dangerous the situation could have been had we not come in, I felt completely detached. I saw her and felt nothing. I just wanted the whole thing to be over, so I laid there and felt blank.

Disillusionment sets in

Ayanna was taken into a room next door where Ray was waiting. I could hear her crying and the nurses conversing with Ray, but everything was just a blur. They wheeled me out of the operating room into that room and showed me my daughter again, but I didn’t care. I was shaking uncontrollably and in and out of dozing off. Once I got into my private room I continued shaking for an hour or two. Every once in a while I would open my eyes to see Ray holding Ayanna. He looked so happy. She looked so content.

It took 12 hours before the feeling came back in my legs and I could at least sit up in bed and hold my daughter. Ray had taken care of our daughter that entire time. It helped that she slept a lot and didn’t need to eat for at least 24 hours. Still, once I had her in my arms I felt nothing. I searched her face and smelled her and tried to find at least an ounce of maternal connection to the child in my arms, but it just wasn’t coming. Throughout the rest of our stay in the hospital, I did everything I was supposed to do… breastfed her, held her when she cried, and so on, but I did not feel like a mother.

It wasn’t until the ride home from the hospital three days later that I looked down at my daughter and truly felt even an inkling of a connection to her. I saw her beauty in the sunlight as she slept in my arms, and the further we got from the hospital, where everyone had been telling me what to do and how to do it, I finally felt like this child was mine. It wasn’t this big moment or anything like that, but it was an organic start to a process that is still continuing to this day. I still find myself on a daily basis trying to wrap my head around the reality that Ayanna is my daughter.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from all of this, it’s that giving birth to a child doesn’t make you a mother. Even though I technically earned the term mother by growing a child in my uterus and bringing her into the world, that was the extent to which my relationship with my daughter went. To mother, in the verb sense of the word, is to bring up a child with care and affection. During that time nothing in me wanted to care for her; there was no affection in my heart towards her. Ray was more of a mother to her than I was, honestly. To be a mother is a choice. To love a child in spite of yourself is a choice. It’s a choice I have to make on a daily basis. Some days making that choice is harder than others.

Bringing baby home

As I mentioned in my last post, it is a cultural custom to have family members stay with you after a baby is born. They not only help around the house, but they also teach you how to care for your child. Ray and I came to a compromise that allowed us to be alone with the baby for a few days before his mom came for about half a week. She was amazing about allowing me to have my space and time with the baby so I could figure things out on my own. Having her in the house was a huge help, especially to Ray. It was very important to him to have his mother in our home during that time, so it made me happy to see him enjoying fatherhood with his mother around.

After she left we had one of Ray’s cousins come and stay a week. That was also very helpful. I’m typically the kind of person that doesn’t like to ask for help even if I really need it, so as much as I had once raged against this aspect of Kenyan culture, I’m really happy that we have a village of people to help us when we need it. If I would have allowed it, Ray’s whole family would have been at our home in a heartbeat!

Standing in the need of prayer

Since then it’s been a continual journey of learning how to love my daughter and my husband through my service to them while trying to figure out how to heal from the emotional trauma of the C-section. To some it may not seem like a very traumatic experience… I mean, the doctor did everything perfectly and our overall experience at the hospital was great, but as time goes on I’m realizing just how much the process affected me.

Just the other day we were on a domestic flight to Nairobi, and I had a panic attack. I’ve flown dozens of times, sometimes 15 hours at once, and that has never happened to me. Something residual from my surgery has been hanging onto me and causing fear. I felt the same way on the plane that I had felt when lying on the operating table. I can’t explain it, but I knew there was an obvious connection between to the two incidents.

That is definitely something I would love prayer for and something I plan to seek counseling for. We are praying for God to make a way for us to be able to travel to the States this summer so our friends and family stateside can meet Ayanna, and if I’m behaving this way on a 45 minute flight, I don’t know how I’m going to do 15 hours! If anyone knows of anyone that specializes in what I believe to be a form of PTSD post-surgery, I’d love referrals.

I thank God every day for the gift He has given us in Ayanna. I also thank Him for the husband He has given me who provides so much support for me. Motherhood is nothing like I expected, but I’m learning to embrace it all one day at a time.



The tension of the moment: dealing with anger and bitterness

One thing that has always been true about me is that when people get on my nerves, my immediate reaction is to put distance between them and myself.

If you say something that I don’t like, I’ll unfollow, unfriend, block, or avoid you, and I’m good.

If you do something that I don’t like… Bye, Felicia.

Eventually, my relationships with such people fade into the deep recesses of my memory, until I completely forget what caused the tension between us in the first place.

Bad habits become a bad lifestyle

As a single person, this is primarily how I lived my life, so it should come as no surprise that this nasty habit still resurfaces in my marriage. Changing your marital status doesn’t change the fact that you are a jerk. It just makes you more aware of how much of a jerk you are. Painfully aware.

When Ray and I first got married, we stayed in my hometown for a month. I’m not kidding when I say that the honeymoon phase lasted a mere week for us before we entered the “Hey, let’s fight every day” phase. As is in my nature, after most fights I would run away. Whether I angrily left the house and went for a long walk around the block or I went to my best friend’s house for hours at a time, I would cut off the conversation, spin on my heel, and leave Ray choking on my dust.

Moving to Kenya changed that with a quickness. While we were in Nairobi, I used to try to leave the apartment in the middle of a fight, but the howls of stray dogs usually forced me to return home. That removed the walks around the block for me. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t know a single soul outside of Ray’s family, so there was no friend to run to either.

Those dogs did me a solid though, for real. Because of them, I had to learn to deal with my problems.

Making a joint resolution

It was during that season that Ray and I made a commitment to not allow the sun to go down while we’re in the middle of a fight… basically, not to go to bed angry. I’m not going to lie or pretend like that happens every single time, but we generally don’t stay angry with each other for longer than 24 hours. Why? Because he lives with me AND works with me AND does ministry with me. We do almost everything together, and we know that not a single one of our ministries can survive if we don’t deal with the issue of us, since marriage is our first ministry, after all.

This particular trip to the States has definitely been the most trying season of our marriage in a long time. We’ve been living out of suitcases, on the road a lot, still working online and with our video business to make ends meet, trying to raise money for our ministry (which has been pretty slow thus far), and on top of that, we’ve realized that whereas we had gotten into a comfortable groove in Kenya regarding how we work together and communicate, being in the United States as a couple has changed everything.

You see, in Kenya I am dependent on Ray, and in the U.S. he is dependent on me. It took three years for me to be able to accept the fact that I had to rely on someone other than myself (I was nearly 30 when we got married and had been single for all but 9 months of my life), so now that we’re Stateside, I can hear Kelly Clarkson whispering in my ear to become that Miss Independent Woman again, and Ray has been forced to deal with the fallout. I’ve become impatient, rude, and insensitive towards his needs and an overall pain to live with.

I originally intended to write about that whole experience, but as I began drafting this post, I received a phone call that changed my mind…

Old habits die hard

At this moment in my life there is a particular relationship I once had that has gradually declined and bottomed out. It’s a relationship that is supposed to be very important in a human being’s life, yet for this particular human (me) the relationship has gotten so far into bitterness that I feel nothing but hurt, anger, and disappointment.

Maybe someone would say, “Well, now sounds like a good time to apply that sundown policy, eh?”

That would be great, but it’s about ten years too late. There is a root of bitterness so deep in my heart that choosing to refrain from daily anger cannot work anymore. In fact, it’s a lack of doing that in the first place that got me here.

And 800 words later, I finally get to the heart of what I want to talk about.

Red or blue? Choose well.

Whether you’re married or not, you have undoubtedly had those moments of inner tension, when someone has offended or hurt you. Just seconds after the knife has been placed in your back or your gut, your initial reaction will of course be one of pain, but then you have a choice to make…

  1. Do you follow your primal instinct and respond in anger?
  2. Do you give way to the urgent tapping the Holy Spirit is doing on your heart?

We all know that feeling, right? We’ve felt it since we were kids on the verge of doing something we know we shouldn’t. Back then we referred to Him as our conscience, but we all know that there is nothing wholesome and good about our hearts and the way we engage in this world. We need the guidance and direction of someone pure who can teach us what it means to love others. That’s the Holy Spirit.

It is in that moment that we have a very important choice to make… to give in to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and mend things or to allow anger to fester until it becomes a giant, oozing sore of bitterness. All too often, the easiest and most desirous option is bitterness. For some of us there may be an issue that has held us captive for years, and it’s simply because every time we’re given the choice of the red or blue pill, we go for the red one. Every. Time.

I don’t say this to be preachy at all. I’m still in the throes of figuring out how to deal with the deep root of bitterness I have in my own heart. I want desperately for the issue to be resolved and would love to do whatever it takes to make that happen, but here’s the rub. How do you do that when the other person believes that they have done nothing wrong? How do you have a conversation about a problem that the other person cannot see? Trust me, it’s impossible. I’ve tried.

And so I’ve come to this place again where I’ve said, “Bye, Felicia,” and written that person off. I noticed my inclination towards running away once again the other day when said person called me and really pushed on a nerve. As I hung up the phone, I said in my heart, “I’m done. I could care less if I ever see this person again.” And these were more than just words. This is how I legitimately felt in the moment, and it’s how I continued to feel as I sat on the couch for the next twenty minutes chewing on the conversation, regurgitating it, and then chewing on it some more.

Thank God for “yet”

Yet, in the midst of my pity party I felt multiple nudges from the Holy Spirit.

Ray and I have some friends that we spent some time with while we were in Manhattan, and they had talked to us about living “on the other side of the line”, which essentially means to see people and situations as Jesus sees them. That conversation kept coming to my mind.

“Take a moment a check out what I’m seeing,” the Holy Spirit said.

I furrowed my brow and dredged up the most hurtful thing the person had done to me and began to feast on it.

“I know that bitterness tastes so good to you right now, but I can give you something that tastes much better. It’s called freedom.”

When we are in our right minds, we all know what we should do, and yet like me many of us still refuse to change our heart position. Unfortunately, the more that we reject the prodding of the Holy Spirit, the harder our hearts become until we can no longer hear Him, let alone respond to Him. I thank God that my heart is not yet hardened to the point that I can no longer feel those nudges. That would be a truly scary place to be. But even so, I know that if I continue doing what I’ve been doing, that’s where I’m heading. Romans 1, anyone?

So what do we do?

To be honest, I don’t know. I’m still dealing with it myself, so I can’t give you a five-step strategy to overcoming, but I’ve at least got three points that I’ve learned so far.

Fill your heart and mind with Scripture

Put something in your spiritual reservoir for the Holy Spirit to work with. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time you spend in the Word or in prayer and your willingness to respond to the Holy Spirit in the midst of turmoil. The less time I spend with Him in the quiet place listening to Him speak, the less inclined I am to listen to Him when He speaks and all my feels are up in the mix shouting just as loud.

Develop new habits

It only takes a few times of choosing the right thing in order to retrain your heart and mind to begin to do it naturally. You just have to take that first step… then do it again and again until you’re walking, and one day running, in grace and peace.


This is the most important factor. The other steps keep the wall from getting any higher around your heart, but repentance is what tears the existing wall down. I know of people that have testimonies of God miraculously healing a relationship overnight, and I have actually had that happen in my own life, but what had to happen before that was daily confession and repentance. I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t okay in my heart, that I still felt bitterness towards these people, and that I needed God’s help to forgive. For a particular relationship in my life, after years of running the crazy cycle of getting angry and then confessing my anger to God, He literally healed the relationship in one 20-minute phone conversation. True story. I have not had a single ounce of bitterness towards that person since.

I choose to believe that if He did it for that relationship, He will do it for this one as well. I also believe He’ll do it for you, if there’s a relationship in your life that has left you with a root of bitterness in your heart. God desires nothing more than to see His children walking in freedom. So let’s be free, yeah?

Additional shameless plug because… Well, why not?

Ray and I have one month left in the States. We would love to reach the goal that we have for our ministry, but anything helps. We’re going to hit the ground running as soon as we get back, regardless of whether we hit the goal or not.

You can read more about our goal here: A Place to Call Home.

You can visit our general fundraising page here: Gofundme.

You can make tax-deductible contributions or become a monthly partner through our mission page here: Mission Quest.

The latest and greatest marital sensation: grief

Last month I wrote another post over at She Is Set Apart about some of the phases I went through as a single adult. One particular area of focus was the way I typically handled my disappointment or grief in the dating realm.

Now some of you may suspect that I might be one to employ the use of pity parties, but that, my friends, would be an untruth. I actually preferred the use of anti-pity parties and not only sought to find the most optimistic reasoning to help me sort through whatever situation I was facing, but I also scolded anyone who wanted to throw a pity party for me.

Some of my favorite phrases as a single person were things like:

“I don’t think I’m meant to be in a relationship, and I’m okay with that.”

“I’m so happy to be single again. Now I’m free to do whatever I want.”

“I love Jesus so much, and I’m glad there’s no guy to come between us.”

Almost immediately after breaking up with someone or realizing I had been single for longer than I would have liked, these statements would become my mantra. Throwing myself into living out these life mottos, with great zeal I might add, I never allowed myself to really grieve the loss of a relationship. There’s no room for sadness when you’re championing your newfound freedom, right?

History repeats itself

Well now that I’m married, I’m finding another area of grief beginning to surface. No, it’s not the identity issue again.

This time it has to do with babies.

Though Ray and I committed to doing our best to refraining from having children in the first year, there were a few times when we threw the chart (we’ve been doing natural family planning) to the wind and waited to see what would happen.

Regardless of our declaration to remain childless for a year, both of us became so giddy whenever the prospect of a child seemed imminent. We’d talk about how the child would look and what he’d be like and what kind of parents we’d hope to be. But every time the all too familiar “period” would come around signaling an end to that month’s parenting fantasies, we both felt that twinge of disappointment.

But being true to my former self I would immediately say,

“Well, I’m glad. We’ve got so much going on this year that I would hate to do while pregnant.”

“Guess God knew it wasn’t time yet.”

“I’m not ready to be a mom anyway. I just had a little case of baby fever.”

Stuffing is for turkeys

Now none of these statements are false, the same could be said of the statements I declared as a single, but they can be slightly deceptive. In my case, when I immediately snap into “find the optimistic approach” mode when dealing with grievous situations, I’m not allowing myself the appropriate space or time to deal with it. I’m just stuffing. We all know what happens to any vessel, especially one as fragile as the human heart, when it gets over stuffed. It breaks, and usually in a bad way.

Two nights ago I miscarried at 6 weeks of pregnancy.

When it first started I cried simply because I was scared, but once we realized there was no rebounding from the situation, fresh tears of grief were summoned and released. Ray, being the amazing husband that he is, just held me and tried to encourage me to stop crying, but after some time he realized that I needed to cry, as did he, so he allowed himself to add some tears to the mix.

That was all that I needed.

The time we took to just hold each other and cry truly allowed me to come to peace with the situation and continue to hold out hope for the future. Had I not been given that opportunity, I surely would have stuffed it and sooner or later it would begin to seep out in some of the most unseemly ways. Now I can at least use my optimistic statements and know that they’re coming from a heart that’s truly in the right place.

One of the things Ray reminded me of was King David and the loss of his first child with Bathsheba. He prayed and fasted and wept, asking God to spare the child’s life, but when his requests were denied, he got up, washed himself, and went to the temple to worship God. With my husband’s support we were able to actually praise God and receive his consoling truths while allowing ourselves time to grieve.

A season of grief is just that, a season

Throughout this new phase of life (marriage) I’m learning how to allow myself to feel sadness and grief and to learn what those emotions tell me about my inner desires.

Okay, you’re single and you want to be married. That doesn’t make you a bad person. So you’re married and you want to have a kid. You’re not displaying a lack of trust in God if you shed some tears expressing your grief at not having obtained one.

Our sweet Father desires to be the one we lean on when we need a shoulder to cry on. He doesn’t ask us to come to him pretending that our trust in Him leaves no space for the reality of humanity He placed in each of us. Humans cry. Allowing myself to cry and share my disappointment with Him will by no means open any doors to depression, which I think is a real fear many of us have, like once the tears start they won’t stop, but I truly believe there’s nothing healthier than to be able to release emotions as you feel them. I truly believe we’re more susceptible to depression when we refuse to deal with what we’re feeling as we’re feeling it.

Anyway, now that our first year of marriage has come to an end and we’re totally open to the possibility of expanding our family, I’m thankful for this lesson in embracing grief and being honest about its presence in my life before I end up picking up the fragments of a broken vessel.

Claustrophobia and the trap of offense

My brothers and I all have claustrophobia issues. As children, if you tried to put a blanket over our heads, you’d undoubtedly receive claw marks and bruises in the process. Never put a blanket over a Curtis kid’s head.

Fun and games gone wrong

One day my brothers, nieces, and I were playing hide and seek. My niece Jimera was “it”, while the other four of us scampered to find a place to hide. Inevitably, we all ran to the same spot: a 5×5 square foot closet in my brother’s room. Instead of fighting over who would lay claim to the ultimate hiding spot, we all decided to cram ourselves in and shut the door. She would never think that we would all be hiding in the same place.

After some time a few of us became a little… skiddish. Excited, rapid breaths quickly transitioned into shallow, anxious ones. What was taking her so long?

It was time to make the run for “home”.

I was sitting at the door, so they whispered for me to open it. I turned the knob and pushed.


I tried again.


My brother tried.


Suddenly, absolute panic ensued as everyone including myself (the oldest of the bunch) hysterically screamed and cried. I was terrified, of course, but feeling the terror of everyone else in that cramped space was overwhelming. It’s enough to drive a person insane! Covering my ears, I yelled, “SHUT UP! STOP IT! STOP IT!” The shrieks and sobs gradually came to a halt, and only sniffles and soft whimpers remained as I tried to muster up some courage.

“I know you’re scared, but this isn’t helping. Let’s all just call for Jimera together. I’m sure she can open it from the outside.”

Looking back, I’m sure my “come on guys, let’s do this together attitude” came from some Disney movie I’d recently watched. Within a few minutes, Jimera heard us from downstairs and came up to figure out why we seemed to have forgotten the rules of hide and seek. As she opened the door, we all tumbled out and cried and laughed as we shared the story of our misfortune.

Needless to say, not a single one of us ever used that closet as a hiding place again.

Prodding me back into the fire

Last month while we were in Kitale, our new friends Patricia and Bill gave us a copy of the book “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect because after I wrote my last inner healing post, I got stuck. Maybe stuck isn’t the right word. I became unwilling to go further. Any and every excuse I could make for why I needed to skip the time set aside to lie beneath God’s magnifying glass was accepted without question. I didn’t want to deal with the mess I knew God wanted to pull out of me. It was just easier to just try to be a nice person and forget about the “healing process”.

Today, when I felt the temptation to be offended again, I decided to pick up the book. Reading the first chapter, I was encouraged to see that John also shares the need to lay down our pride and our “right to be right. (Looks liked God was speaking to me after all.)

Then this happened:

“Anyone who has trapped animals knows that a trap needs two things to be successful: It must be hidden in the hopes that an animal will stumble upon it, and it must be baited to lure the animal into the trap’s deadly jaws.”

As I reflected on this section, the Lord began to develop the image in my mind to help the application sink in.

Biting the hand that helps you

Have you ever seen an animal caught in a trap? He will flail and ferociously struggle in his panic to get free, but what usually ends up happening is either whatever damage the trap initially did becomes worse, making death  more imminent for the defenseless creature, or the animal will fight until he has spent all of his energy. If someone were to come along and try to help, out of fear, the critter will likely turn on the person. Friend or foe, he doesn’t care. He’s just scared.

God intends to lovingly and gently set me free from the trap of offense, but in my fear, I’ve been fighting to free myself, and I’ve been fighting Him. I want to be free, but I’m just scared.

Of course I didn’t know it at the time, but the Lord taught me a very powerful lesson that day I was trapped in the closet. Call on His name in trust instead of screaming out in fear. Just as my niece heard us and came to our rescue, surely He will come.

I am a fan of reinforcing revelation with song, so here’s a few worship songs for you. Much love!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EboCLdUi44 (Whisper His Name)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RmZFaruXhs (You’ll Come)

He had it coming: laying down my right to be right


I’m a sucker for any movie where justice is duly served. Whether the plot involves the stereotypical high school social pariah exposing the Queen Bees of the school for their evil misdeeds or it’s a movie like the recently released “Non-stop”, where an air marshal has to convince the entire world that he’s not a terrorist. The emotion the actors portray as they receive retribution for the wrongs done against them always demonstrates a certain power to call forth spontaneous water spoutage from my tear ducts, but I’ll admit, it’s also comforting for me to watch the bad guy eat crow. I mean everyone knows: he had it coming.

I said something to Ray the other day about such kinds of movies and how they give us a non-biblical view of justice as we applaud those who do what God commands believers not to do, take matters of vengeance into their own hands (Rom. 12:19), but I was merely saying that to condemn modern society, not because I wanted to stop watching such movies or that I felt any sort of personal conviction. Of course God is always good about turning my hypocrisy on its head, so as I asked the Lord to show me the first step to inner healing last week, He took His handy dandy flashlight and shone it on that particular area of my heart.

(Now let me interject here that I have no prescribed method for this journey to inner healing. Some people reading this blog know a lot more about inner healing than I do and can boil it down to step one, step two, and so on. What I’m sharing is specific to my heart and the way I feel God is leading me to heal, so try not to take it as a formula or anything. If it speaks to you and your situation it does; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.)

Laying down my right to be right

Finally deciding to deal with pain from my past has been pretty overwhelming for me. It’s like peering into the deepest part of my soul and finding a huge mess of dark, dirty clutter. I don’t even know where to begin. There’s so much in there that I can’t tell root from tip, stronghold from foothold. I have a handout from a friend on inner healing, and I recently downloaded a book on forgiveness, but in light of my recent post How S’ambrosia is Getting Her Groove Back, I decided that the best way for me to tackle this issue was to just sit before the Lord for myself and ask Him directly. That’s as good a place to start as any, right?

So there I sat with my legs crossed, eyes closed, and palms open, asking the Lord to show me what to do. The answer came pretty quickly. “Lay down your right to be right.” This isn’t the root of my pain by any means, but it is a facet of pride that keeps me from being able to see the entirety of the situation as God does. Until I can see the situation as He does, I’ll never be able to have mercy and compassion towards the other person as He does. As I sat before the Lord, He began to show me how many times He’s tried to bring conviction to my heart, but I’ve shut Him out because I knew that I wasn’t the one at fault.

The mantras that nag me

“I wouldn’t be in this place if it wasn’t for them.”

“They did this to me, so they deserve that to happen to them.”

“They’re the ones acting ungodly right now, not me.”

These are just a few of the excuses that I’ve repeated to myself whenever that inward tug to extend grace to someone that has hurt me comes to my heart. Essentially, I get around it by maintaining that I’m right and they’re wrong. Holding on to this belief keeps me from being able to see how un-Christlike I am being in dealing with the matter. There may be some truth to what I chant to myself; the other person may have wounded me deeply by their actions, but as far as God is concerned, my refusal to forgive or extend grace to them is just as bad, because I’m setting up my heart for some major bitterness. Just like an open, untreated wound can invite all sorts of nasty bacteria, the way I allow my heart to remain untreated by Christ allows all strains of bitterness, anger, and contempt to take root.

What true forgiveness looks like

I’ve claimed that I’ve forgiven these people many times over, but I’ll know that true forgiveness has occurred when I can look or think upon them without wanting to see them suffer. True forgiveness is wanting the best for whomever once set themselves against you as your enemy. It’s not rejoicing in their calamity, but actively praying for the goodness of God to transform their lives just as much as you desire Him to transform yours. I never would have called myself bitter before, I just proclaimed myself as a victim who wanted, nay, needed justice to be served so the people could come groveling back to me and beg for forgiveness.

Yeah… how I didn’t realize that that attitude is the epitome of bitterness, I don’t know.

So this is the first step for me. I’m going to spend this week going through some of the most painful relationships I have, bring them to the Lord, and lay down my right to be right. All feelings of deserving an apology or vindication that mask themselves as justice are going to be brought before the feet of the beautiful and merciful judge Jesus Christ. If you’re going along this journey with me, I would encourage you to take this week to do the same. Like I said, this isn’t a step by step guide to inner healing. I honestly have no idea where this will even go next,but I hope the Lord uses this to speak to your heart as He is speaking to mine.

Open hands expose the heart


I admit it. I didn’t leave Kansas to come to Kenya for purely noble reasons.

Ray and I know we’re called to ministry here, so it’s not like I’m living in direct disobedience to God by coming here or anything, but if I’m being excruciatingly honest with myself, there were a bunch of other factors that made it difficult for me to completely negotiate the fine line between God’s will and my own. Maybe He said, “Yes, but not now,” or maybe He said, “Yes, you can go.” I have no idea. All I know is that I was out the door as soon as I heard, “Yes”.

This is the part where you sing the chorus to Taylor Swift’s song “Trouble” before proceeding…

Many times throughout my life I’ve advised friends and family members not to look at leaving any place as an opportunity to flee from trouble, because the trouble will inevitably follow them. Many times I shared that they needed to get to the root of the issue and find healing before they made any decisions to pack up and leave. Apparently I must’ve experienced temporary deafness whenever I shared this advice with others, because I did exactly what I told them not to do. How the plank got stuck in my ear, I don’t know.

When Ray and I decided to get married, I was thrilled by the way our callings overlapped and ecstatic to know that we both felt called to Kenya. I gave the Lord a hearty pat on the back and commended Him for providing a way of escape for me. At that time I was serving in a ministry that had seen better days, and my home life wasn’t all that… homey.

I was convinced that Ray’s family would fill the familial void I felt once I made their home my own. They have that kind of vibe that reminds me of some of the things I miss most about my mom, but I have no idea how to engage with them. This goes beyond cultural differences. This is a heart issue. A heart that needs to be swept clean. Because I never dealt with my dirty laundry in Kansas and instead opted to stuff it in the deepest crevices of my luggage for my journey to Kenya, it should be no wonder that my problems have followed me. Not only is it difficult for me to fully engage with my husband’s family, but all the mess from home continually spills over into my life here. And I’m not just pointing the finger here, because some of this mess came from my sloppy habits. But much to my chagrin, I can’t leave the mess for someone else to clean. I have to take care of it myself, and I better take care of it before the rats and maggots lay claim to it.

Behold! She finally gets to her point

I’ve recently begun the journey towards inner healing… okay, I’m lying. It’s more like I was convicted about it a few weeks ago and asked for prayer, and then I just put it off until the conviction came a knocking again. So let me try that again.

Starting now, I’ve decided to really open my heart before the Lord to let Him do what He does best. I’m going to let the Lord lead me to a place of inner healing so I can love my family, my husband, his family, and others better. I am a strong believer that we encounter and overcome struggles for others more so than ourselves, so I hope to share a bit of revelation about what I discover with you along the way. I promise this will not become S’ambrosia’s personal journal to air out grievances or ramble on and on about Jack, Diddly, and Squat, but I hope it will be an opportunity for me to share the foundational principles of how I’ve learned to wash my dirty laundry (the Kenyan housewife side of me shudders at the thought) and clean house. Maybe I’ll post these reflections once a week or so… and who knows? Maybe throughout the process we can all experience some form of inner healing together.