2010…50 Years Old – Part 1

I eagerly embraced my 50th birthday, walking into “the 50’s” with hopeful anticipation. In hindsight, this decade brought about its share of difficult times. It also gave rise to much personal and spiritual growth, including freedom from childhood perspectives and coping mechanisms that were no longer working for me.

Gregg and I committed to volunteering at a 2010 summer English Camp in Hungary. Having never taught English as a Second Language, we began volunteering at the International Learning Center teaching English to refugees. It was a win-win – helping our community while learning new skills. On mission trips, I loved developing relationships with the local women. Even so, I hadn’t anticipated how deeply my heart would be drawn to refugee ladies.

In another area of my life, God was facilitating deep emotional healing through the ministry of Mending Hearts. My heart was stirred to attend SALTS (Survivors-of-Abuse Leadership Training Seminar) in April. This week-long intensive training in Michigan was a step towards becoming a MH small group co-leader.

SALTS is not a “how to” training, but a guided opportunity for personal growth and healing. I roamed the beautiful conference center and shoreline of Lake Michigan during free time. Being in nature helped me talk to God and courageously process my childhood perspectives and survival techniques. The week was full of pain, joy, healing, tears, laughter, new relationships, and God holding me closely. In hindsight, I see that this week had an eternal impact on my life, kindling a journey towards profound healing and growth.

August arrived, and we were off to English Camp in Hungary. Sitting in the airport, a text divulged that our local church had abruptly discontinued Mending Hearts and similar ministries. I was stunned and grieved. A safe place had been amputated. In my experience, the remaining counseling model seemed helpful in the moment, yet kept me in bondage to “try harder,” “disregard feelings,” and “readily accept the ramifications of other’s actions.” I had beaten myself up under that theology.

I had a pit in my stomach wondering how we would respond. What were we to do?

Birthday cake and pizza rolls!
Sandy was an amazing mentor as I “helped” in her classroom and accompanied her on home visits.
My precious Grace Group for the week and leaders, Elaine and Silvia.
The daffodils were a sweet Jesus-gift to my heart!
Had to stop jogging to capture this cheerful color!
Being around water soothes my heart. Seeing new life budding from trees brings hope. And Francesca Battistelli in my ear provided encouragement to give Jesus My Paper Heart, take “a giant leap of faith, Trusting and trying to embrace, The fear of the unknown, Beyond my comfort zone,” and allow God to “make my life something so Beautiful.”
“You said…To put my faith
In what’s beyond my eyes

And to believe You
I have to come as a child
So help me to rest in the mystery
Of what I can’t understand”

Francesca Battistelli – Unpredictable from My Paper Heart
“When you need a reason
To help you keep believing
Let my love be your blue sky
Your blue sky…

Don’t you know that I know
Life can be so hard, it makes you wanna give up?
But don’t you know over the horizon
The sunny day you’re looking for
Is waiting right here in my love?”

– Francesca Battistelli – Blue Sky from My Paper Heart