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.

Five loaves, two fish, and other miracles (pt. II)

Previously on “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World with the Wasike Tribe”…

Ray and S’ambrosia were finally able to wed after nearly $1,000  of visa expenses,  9 months of waiting, and 1 wrecked car.  By the ever abounding grace of God and the generous support of friends, the impossible was made possible.

(If you missed the last episode, you can catch up here.)

On this week’s episode…

The plan was simple: get married, sell everything I owned, use that money and wedding gift money for plane tickets, find a new home in Kenya, get a new job to work towards paying off student loans, start an organization, and… okay, so in hindsight, maybe the plan wasn’t so simple. Nevertheless, with starry eyes and high hopes, we continued the pursuit of our goals.

Thanks to the help of many amazing friends and family members, my costs for the wedding were minimal. Good thing, because my bank account had become used to being trapped in an empty, cold, dark room, and that season was no exception. We figured the money we got from wedding gifts would cover the cost of our plane tickets, but we ended up being $200 short. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, that was before we realized we had bills to pay before packing up shop, so before we knew it, over half of the money was gone. Part D of phase 3 of our plan was to leave the States from New York after spending the Thanksgiving holiday in Maryland with my mom’s side of the family. The bus tickets would take the majority of the little money we had left, but we decided to use the last of our money to at least secure our tickets to the east coast. We had no idea how we would get to Kenya, but at least we knew we’d be one step closer.

Expect the unexpected

So the wedding money didn’t cover our plane tickets, as we originally hoped it would, but I still had furniture and household items to sell. Surely we would get some money there.

Surely we did not.

No one should ever let me price items for their garage sale if they actually want to make money, because I will sell everything for at least half of what I should and still believe I’m overcharging. Even so, selling some of the bigger items in the home brought in a little cash, but when it came time for the actual yard sale, we barely sold anything. Apparently people were just waiting until I posted that I was giving away all that was left, because droves of people showed up that day leaving nothing but a single box of odds and ends. On top of that, selling my car could have made us at least $1,000 (the cosmetic damage could easily be fixed), but I had the conviction that because we had received so many free blessings via the wedding, we should give just as freely. A friend pointed me to a man who was in need of a car, and the evening before we left town, we surprised him with his very own car… for free. As happy as we were to bless someone who was so deserving of a vehicle, we did go back to our empty house and contemplate our own predicament.

Did we just give away our plane ticket money?

We really needed to pray some more.

Answered prayers in mysterious ways

Well, the time came for us to skedaddle, but before we left, we spent the evening having dinner with my family for obligatory farewells. We never mentioned that we only had like $400 in our pockets. No one asked. Why would they? Who in their right mind would pack up to move for another country without having all the necessary funds in place?

As we were leaving the restaurant, I received a text from some good family friends asking where I was. They met us before we got in the car to give us $200. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had put out a silent “fleece” before God asking for a sign that the step of faith we were taking was actually something we should be doing. He asked for a monetary miracle. The gift that night did more for us than contribute to the small pot of money we had for airfare; it gave us an incredible boost of hope.

The next morning, as we prepared to leave, we got another surprise as we discovered that I had almost double the amount of my apartment deposit coming back to me. According to the landlord, I had overpaid at some point, so a good chunk of change was added to the pot.

Before we went to Maryland, we planned a mini road trip through Topeka and Kansas City to visit with friends. By the time we left Topeka we were another $200 richer, thanks to a friend who said he wanted to bless us. We only needed another $200 to completely cover the cost of both of our tickets.

Arriving in Maryland, we were positive that it was smooth sailing from then on because my aunt told me that since they weren’t able to fly out to our wedding (everything was too last minute to book flights), they would give us some money. For the week that we were with them, they put us up in a hotel. We couldn’t afford a honeymoon, so this was such a sweet blessing for us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Spending time with family I hadn’t seen for years was equally satisfying for my soul. It had been a long time since I had felt such warmth in a family gathering, and it made me so happy to see how well received Ray was by everyone. It was like they had known him for years. My heart was overflowing with that slap-happy kind of giddiness. Things couldn’t have been better.

Enter the plot twist…

That happiness came to a screeching halt the night before we were to leave Maryland for New York, because I realized that the money we were supposed to receive had been spent on the hotel and we weren’t going to make our goal. I thought the only way to meet it was to sell my beloved guitar. My aunts, aware of my plans to sell my guitar, questioned me about our flight plans, and when I hesitantly admitted that we didn’t actually have anything solidified, the fury of my mom’s sisters was ignited! We had a series of long, stern talking to’s, and then they took it upon themselves to help us cover the rest of the money.

I was so ashamed to have looked so immature in front of my family, but my heart was also incredibly encouraged. Without going into detail, my immediate family’s ability to communicate properly was very poor even when I lived in the same city, so I knew that communication would be pretty much nonexistent when I moved over 8,000 miles away. Thus far, my suspicions have been confirmed. Receiving those lectures from my aunts meant so much to me because it showed me that they actually cared about me. They wanted phone numbers and contact information for Ray’s family, they wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed, and they wanted to make sure that we had a proper plan for when we reached Kenya. I could see my mom in every action they made that night, and it spoke volumes of love to my heart. I know God could have easily provided that last bit of money without anyone knowing our predicament, but I truly believe things happened the way they did so my heart could receive a little healing… healing I didn’t even know I needed.

How much more will your heavenly Father give?

The next morning was my uncle’s birthday, and he was ultimately the one that gave us the final $200 we needed for the tickets. He also sat us down and lectured us (who knew I would grow to love lectures so much?) and then closed by commending us on our faith. He shared how encouraged he was by us and the way we just packed up and left home even though we had no idea if or how the money would come. It was quite a stirring word of encouragement, and all the tears I had pent up trying to be a big girl in front of everyone took nose dives down my face. My family prayed with us, helped us book the tickets (with the help of some of my cousins), and sent us on our way.

All of the money that we had went to the tickets, so we had no extra cash for post-departure. We got to New York to spend the night with Ray’s uncle before our flight left, and as he dropped us at the airport, he handed us another $200, not knowing that we were broke or anything about the journey we’d been on to that point.

Let’s do this thing together

In the last post on our faith journey, I shared that the lesson I learned was that sometimes the negative events we face in life are simply blessings in disguise. I would say that is still very much true here, but I also came away with the understanding that a faith journey isn’t something you’re supposed to do alone. Maybe it was pride or maybe it was immaturity, but I believed that we could get to Kenya without having to share our story with anyone. I knew God would provide, so there was no need to reach out to anyone else. The response of my family, when they found out the truth, not only broke down some emotional barriers in my heart, but it helped me to understand that you don’t pursue faith in spite of the ones you love, but you pursue faith with the ones you love.

To tell the truth, the emotional pain I had hidden in my heart was because of a family member acting on faith in spite of the rest of us. He made a big decision and told us God told him to do it and then left us wondering where we fit into God’s plan. I had no idea that I was doing the same thing. I have since resolved to be more transparent about where I am in my faith journey, especially with those nearest to me (hence this blog), and I pray that everyone who reads this will also be encouraged to let others into their faith walks and allow them to help carry the load.