Rebels From the Womb

It’s hit.  It hasn’t even been 24 months yet, and our darling, precious little bundle of joy is showing off her rotten side.  Deliberate disobedience, screaming fits, refusals….all those behaviors we swear that our children will never have before we even birth them…

Meal times are a battle.  Esther wants to stand up in her chair, dump her food, throw it on the floor, climb on the table, climb up and down from her chair, crawl over our laps, eat what’s on our plates rather than her own, and then screams when we discipline.


Time outs are a joke.  This child will pick up a rock and throw it, sit screaming and crying in time-out, and then will go back and do the same thing 10 times (no exaggeration) before she will redirect.

Let’s talk about walking 50 yards down the road…I feel so out of place in our stroller.  We get so many funny looks, and I would just assume strap her to my back and be like the locals.  But forget it.  We walk one way and she runs the other.  Strap her to my back and she’s screaming and wiggling her way out and down.

It sounds humorous, and Alan and I often just look at each other and giggle in the middle of one of her fits or when she shows her stubbornness.  But many times, when dealing with so many other cultural frustrations around me, I miss the humor…and the grace.

Our parenting strategies are finally being tested, as well as communicating our strategies to each other and making sure we are on the same page and being consistent.

Sometimes I think that this is payback as I remember my horrendous temper tantrums and deliberate disobedience through my teenage years.  I can only imagine all the stress and heart ache I put my parents through.

Daily, even hourly, we are perfectly reminded of the state we are in from birth.  Born of Adam, we are innate sinners; depraved and hopeless, in need of a Sav*our.  The desires of our flesh trumps what we know in our minds to be right.  We are rebels from the womb.

Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

– Psalm 51:5-6

I am not guiltless while disciplining our daughter.  I have found myself lacking grace out of frustration, anger, and fatigue.  While I completely believe that there is a just anger and frustration, and a righteous way to discipline, I so often miss the mark.  I forget to show love through discipline.  My anger builds each consecutive time my daughter disobeys, and then when she is not disobeying, I am too frustrated to show her attention and love.

How does the Father do it?  How does He discipline justly, righteously, and consistently?  How does He show us the same amount of love when we are being disciplined and when we are not?

Don’t get me wrong…I love my daughter unconditionally…when she is being rotten or sweet.  I have the same amount of love for her consistently and I believe it even grows day by day.  BUT, how do I SHOW her that I love her ALL the time and still discipline effectively?

Give thanks to the God of Heaven,

      for his steadfast love endures forever.

-Psalm 136:26

We are all in the same state from birth.  Hopeless sinners.  I praise the Father, that by His grace I was able to seek Him and accept Him and follow Him.  He has given life to my Sp*rit and a desire to do what is good rather than what is wrong (although so many times I give in to the desires of my flesh!).  I pr*y that one day my daughter will profess the same thing.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

-Romans 5:6-8

What a responsibility we have as parents to teach her and show the way.  We screw up so often, and we will screw up many many many more times.  Thankfully it is not ultimately up to us that she finds eternal life through the *Son.  She would be doomed…we all would be doomed.  We can teach her and show her, but only the Father can make her eyes open and give her new life.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. “

-Ephesians 2:8




Much In Common, Distinctly Unique; Faces of Grace Centre

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to go on home visits with one of our social workers here at the center.  I am ashamed to say, that after visiting 10 or more homes in a single week, many women’s stories run together.  But to say they are all alike would be like saying all chocolate tastes the same.  On the surface, many of the women who come to Grace for help have the same story…”I came to the city for work.  I had a boyfriend.  He left me when I became pregnant.  My family won’t accept me because I have a child without having a husband,” or, “I was raped.  Now I am ashamed to go back to my family.”

But within the common threads of these stories, there is a uniqueness to each one.  Each individual woman has different memories; different chains of events leading up to their abandonment.  Each woman has different hurts, struggles, and fears.  What’s ironic is that they all say the same thing when asked if they have any “heart” friends; “I don’t want any.  I don’t trust anyone.  Women gossip and spread rumors.”  It continues to baffle me, that they have all been hurt in many different ways, resulting in a very similar situations at present, yet they cannot find camaraderie in what they have in common.

Many of these women left home when they were 12 years old, to find work in the city.  At the young age of 20, they have already endured years of “servanthood”…working long days in a home, slaving away for mere wages.  They have been married off at 7 years of age to a man 20 years their senior.  They have endured beatings, friends setting them up for rape, parents turning their backs to them, sending their children off to aunts and uncles because they are too poor to care for them.  They’ve been ostracized  by their community because they are infected with HIV, kicked out of their homes, begging at churches….


These women seem happy to chat with others.  They often have a smile on their faces and give the warmest greetings.  Many times their neighbors come and go as we chat in their homes.  They are usually so thankful for what Grace Centre has done for their lives, to help them care for their children, to have a place to sleep and food in their bellies.  But when we dig deeper and ask these women about the true state of their hearts, they are still hurting.  They still feel alone. These women are living for their children.  That is often all that keeps them from giving up.

It has been such a blessing to come beside my dear sister and visit these women, to hear their stories and share a cup of tea.  I’m not sure why the Father chose me, a white foreigner with the needs of the world at my fingertips; a child who has suffered nothing in comparison to any of these women, to fly to the other side of the world and hold their hand as they cry.  To share a story of the Father’s great love for them and to encourage them with scripture.  I have no empathy to offer.  I have no idea what it is like to live the lives they live or endure what they have endured.  But somehow, I know the feeling of being alone.  Even though I have always been surrounded by friends and family, I remember the feeling of “hopeless” before I knew the Father.  I know what it feels like to be apart from Him and to feel alone in the world.  That feeling is the same whether you are rich, poor, white, black, young, or old.

Please lift us up as we continue to go out into these homes, as we discern who’s hearts are ready to hear the Good News, as we search for words to encourage and to comfort these women, and that they would know the hope that is in Him.  #Privileged to be here

Playing With Flour

While running the supervisor meetings for the Center last week, I glanced down at the notes of things that needed to be discussed.  I had to scratch my head a little bit when I read, “It’s okay to play with flour,” on one of the lines.  There was no faking it…that I knew what I was talking about, so I had to probe to figure out where the comment had come from.  I knew it had to be something significant to be brought up in a supervisor’s meeting.

In America, we therapists, “Montessori moms”, homeschoolers, teachers, and pinterest addicts are all about some sensory play.  Pudding, jello, corn starch, paint, noodles, rice, slime, play dough, flour, water, shaving cream…you name and we’ll think of some creative activity to play in it.

In Ethiopia on the other hand, where people are knocking on doors to beg for food, people gasp when any amount of food is wasted for any purpose.  There is no concept of “play”, playing with children, and especially not of playing with food.

So the story goes, our children who are in temporary/full-time care with us all stay together in one compound.  There are about 35 kids in all, 5 of whom are the oldest at about 7-8 years of age.  They have a tutor who comes daily to help them with homework and engages them in different learning activities.  One activity included writing letters in flour dumped out on a tin tray.  Using flour in this way did not seem to be big a deal, as it is a small amount that they always regather and use again.  On this one particular day, an accident happened that turned a routine activity into a burst of laughter and cackles, and probably quite the chaotic scene.

As one boy accidentally knocked the tray of flour, a cloud of white puff went up into the air and soon all the children were covered in a white dust.  The nannies, horrified at the scene, promptly cleaned the children up and probably gave them quite a scolding.  Although they were likely more upset of the mess they had to clean up rather than the wasted flour, the nannies insisted it was cultural issue and simply could not encourage the kids to play with food like that when people are outside of the gates starving.

I get it.  When I go back to America, I cringe at all the waste we produce.  However, “It’s okay to play with flour,” keeps ringing in my head.  Generally I am laid back when it comes to Esther getting dirty.  It’s kind of a lost cause here in the Horn.  But still, I think of all the times I stop Esther from exploring and making a mess simply because I don’t feel like cleaning it up.  I’m not saying this is necessarily a good idea all the time.  Children need discipline and boundaries, and there is a time and a place for everything.

However, I forget that when I decided I wanted to become a mother, that also meant putting my own wants and comforts aside.  It meant sacrificing so much of myself, simply out of love and care for my child(ren). I often forget that I am called to a life of sacrifice, obedience, of constant giving and loving.  Not only of my own child (future children), but of all people.  Ironically, I forget the joy it brings me when I am obedient and sacrificial, and I fool myself into thinking I am entitled to things that make my life easier and more comfortable.

What an example the Son has given.  He sacrificed His life for a bunch of people that He loved so much even though we all have disobeyed Him.  Even more than that, He tells us that we bring Him joy simply in our relationship and obedience to Him.  He gives us the freedom to explore and to make messes and to play with flour…all so that we can learn more about Him and glorify Him through our sanctification.