Tag Archives: healing

A Lesson from Life on the Prairie

A Lesson from Life on the Prairie-2Over school breaks, my family likes to binge-watch some of our favorite television series. We are a bizarre mix of interests: everything from science fiction to historical drama. We are huge Doctor Who fans, and recently, I introduced my two younger children to LOST. At the time that show first aired, our family had made a decision to accept a temporary post in the Marshall Islands for a few years. LOST became a reality to us in more ways than one, but that is a story for another day. My tween son really enjoys The Flash.

When she can manage to find the time, my daughter loves following Little House on the Prairie, which takes me back to my childhood. My mother and I have vastly different emotional wiring, but the end of a Little House episode was one of the few times I would see her shed tears. As an adult now, I think I understand why. The wholesome, Christian values presented in every crisis on the show are the end goal, right? They show what we should aim for, more or less, but also where we currently fall short. Whatever he was in his personal, real life, the actor who played Pa Ingalls brought an ideal into our living rooms each week.

And Pa regularly weeps.

My stoic daughter sees this as a bit overdramatic at times, and perhaps it is. But for me, Pa’s tears are a huge relief.

Life hurts. We fail at times. We can’t control other people or outcomes. And wayward children/teens/adults often have to learn the hard way.

We have made our way (after many years of intermittent watching) to Season 9, the final season, and in it, Pa’s adopted son Albert starts experiencing negative behavioral changes. He is hanging out with the wrong crowd, needing acceptance, and in the city life, he falls prey to a morphine addiction. Pa does what he can to change the environment to give him a new start; they temporarily move out to Walnut Grove again, but taking the addict away from the temptation does not produce a cure.

When I entered our family room, I caught a scene where Pa locks Albert Read the rest of this entry »


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Journey to Joy: How Giving Back Brings Hope and Healing to Hurting Hearts

Journey to Joy-How Giving Back Brings Hope and HealingI am so thrilled to be able to share another part of Rick and Tammie Wommack’s story here at Espressos of Faith. I know these dear friends from my time spent in the Marshall Islands, a time when their world shattered into unbearable heartache. For anyone knowing or currently mourning tragic loss of any kind, this blog is for you. It’s also for others to understand the journey the heart takes in these hard circumstances—and the hope and healing that come through giving back. Thank you, Tammie, for being vulnerable so that others know where to get their bearing again and what life looks like on the other side, each day offering a choice as to how we will let ourselves be used for good. Tammie’s honesty and humility are so refreshing. What she offers us here brings my heart to this exact place, and I can’t wait to bring yours there too, if you’re willing to give it a read:

Psalm 27:3, King David speaking, NKJV 
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.

[After losing their son to suicide, Tammie and Rick made a choice to forfeit regular income and steady jobs to travel around the country volunteering. For Part 1 of this story, please refer to “Honoring Josh: A Mother’s Heart in the Aftermath of Suicide.”] 

Bonnie Lyn Smith, author of Not Just on Sundays


Here’s Tammie….

The Interview

HOPE through FAITH and SERVICE to Others

Most of us travel through life just trying to get through it, not really realizing how what we do impacts others. We would like to think we are kind, generous, trusting, and all the things the Bible tells us a good and godly person should be.

The reality is we are busy: with work, families, finances, commitments, appointments, shopping, daily chores, and so many things on our to-do list that we are too tired to even think about how our actions, words, and deeds might be affecting others. I am confident that if you really contemplated this question and took the time to think about it, as I did this morning, you would find that most all of us impact others in our daily lives, no matter how busy they seem.

The questions then become:

Are we impacting them in a positive or negative way? 

Are we showing them an example of Christian love?

Can they see Jesus in us?

The other day while we were traveling through Iowa, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to write an article about Rick and me. They wanted to know how we got started on our Volunteer Journey: how we find volunteer jobs, what motivated us to choose this lifestyle, how we fund what we do, etc. Most of all they wanted cute, heartwarming stories about the people we helped—something that would really tug at the heartstrings of the readers.

I didn’t have any of those—heartstring stories to share. We do not really see the impact of what we do, but we know it does not diminish the importance to us on our journey.

This morning, as I was doing my devotional, I thought about her questions and my response (I’ll share my response later). I still couldn’t really think of any heartstring-tugging moments that are a result of what Rick and I do. Most of what we do is rarely even seen by other people.

It does, however, have a impact on us. And that is the real story.

We are healing and growing in Christ, learning every day to be more like Jesus and to help others just as Jesus would if He were living an everyday, “normal” life.

We are simply living a lifestyle that allows us to find joy again—a joy that we thought would never be ours.

In our hearts, we believe that we are saving lives when we teach water safety to young children.

We are keeping God’s house clean and getting it ready for visitors when we are working at the campground.

We enjoy doing all the little, behind-the-scenes details that have to be taken care of so that ministers and counselors can share the Word of God and lead children and adults to Christ.

So many of our volunteer jobs are just that: jobs. But in the work, we find hope and healing, God’s grace, and, yes, joy. We find joy in everyday living and in the wonderful people we meet, in the places we visit, and in the personal and quiet knowledge that what we are doing makes a difference and is part of God’s path for us.

By societal standards, we are not successful: We live in a camper, drive a very old truck, own few possessions, have very little money, and, yet, we find ourselves happier than we can ever remember being. We are rich in the knowledge that we are saved by grace and are following God’s plan for our lives. Through this grace, we have found:


So my response to the interviewer that day was more or less:

“This is not that kind of story. We are not outstanding people on a mission to help others. We are not looking for praise for all the wonderful things we are doing. We are certainly not missionaries.

It is not a story about the people we have helped. It is a story about how giving back has helped us.

We are simply ordinary people who have suffered a tragic loss and found healing through giving back. The story is really just that simple! We did not start out feeling that God had called us to go forth and help others. Our journey is one of evolution; we started out just running away from home and memories, not really sure what we were seeking but still very much stuck in our grieving. We finally realized (not both at the same time) what we were doing each time we were volunteering was actually helping us to move forward through our grief in to a life filled with purpose and hope. We began to heal and find joy again. It was not overnight; rather, it was a gradual process. We are still traveling that journey but believe that if we have any kind of story to tell, it is one of hope through Jesus Christ and healing through giving back.”

2 Samuel 22:29, author unknown, ESV
For you are my lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my darkness.

I suspect that our story was not what she was looking for, although she did say she would send it to her editor. We are not looking for the spotlight to shine on us.

Isaiah 66:2, Isaiah the Prophet speaking, ESV
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

The only story we have is how this journey has helped us and, in turn, has helped others. That is what we hope to share and what we would like to spotlight for other parents and family members who are lost in the grieving process. Hope through faith and service to others will help you heal and find your joy in life again.

1 Timothy 4:10, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.


A great resource for suicide prevention is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

To find out more about Tammie and Rick, you can read part of their story at

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PUBLISHED! My Heart in 332 Pages.


Today, “Espressos of Faith” celebrates the publication of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (available now at!) with a little reflection on how it feels to hold that book for the very first time.

Thank you for being on this incredible journey with me. Your readership has made me strive to use my voice in better ways. I surely hope I accomplish that most of the time, but I so appreciate your grace on the days I fall short.


I hate the mail. I really do. And when my kids bring it into the house on the way in from the bus stop, I feel immediately anxious. Part of this comes from being conditioned to only receiving mail twice a week when we lived in the Marshall Islands. When we did get mail, it was essential mail only. No junk mail. But not here. In the U.S., two-thirds of the mail is advertisements, political campaigns, and credit card/insurance offers. I can’t stand that stuff coming into my house and claiming real estate on my countertops, which is what happens since someone else sets it down, and it might be days before I notice it. So, yeah, I have issues about my mail. Our postal worker must hate me because I personally only collect it twice a week. She gets very creative about how she stuffs my standard-size mailbox. It’s almost a game at this point.

But I was expecting my book proof for two days, so the mail was starting to seem a bit more exciting. And the mail usually comes at 12 PM. But, of course, this time it came at 3 PM. I must have gone down to the box about 10 times yesterday. I think I wore a path in the lawn. The mailbox even started just opening as I approached it, like a big yawn, because it was so happy I was finally taking an interest. Okay, that last part was a bit of an exaggeration. But it did spring open with a bit more enthusiasm than usual.

And then it came.

That box-wrapped-around-a-book thingie.

I had about two minutes alone with it before the kids piled off the afternoon late activity bus. I quickly went inside, ripped that thing open, and cradled it. Several decades of wanting to be a published book author, and several years of actually writing it later—

—and here it was.

There would be time for checking headers, footers, pagination, blank pages, and overall formatting and content in a few minutes. But at that moment, my book and I danced. I wept. My heart grew five sizes bigger inside my chest. It was real. It was here.

And it was mine.

But I didn’t just shed tears for joy. I shed tears for healing, for hope, for health, for heartaches, for all of the stories wrapped deeply into those pages. As I opened it to take a peek, I felt so many things want to leap out, ready to spill into other lives now. Things I had kept close to me. Things that were begging for release.

Ready or not, here I come.

I had prayed my words would be a comfort and a hope to others. That nothing in there would poke at anyone else’s hurt, but only serve to show the way to the light at the end of the path.

But it’s also me word-naked before the public now. Before friends, family, and complete strangers who otherwise didn’t know the ins and outs of my mind and life to that great extent.

I was standing in front of the book mirror with my pages open. And everyone could read me now.

That is exhilarating



all wrapped up in one bow—or box, as the case may be.

And in my prayers as this book came to publication, I asked God to please let it be a message of hope, healing, encouragement, and faith, and that it would give people a glimpse of His amazing love for them. I asked that nobody would misunderstand or be hurt by anything written, and each time I read it through, I tried to read it from a different perspective, wanting to feel the hearts of those in my potential audience. I prayed that His words would go deep into the people who need to hear them. I prayed He would show me any places where I was not reflecting Him correctly, where I was too edgy, too snarky, too negative, and take them out—that He would only let me write and keep in what was edifying, to build up others. That can be a challenge when hitting topics that are sensitive, like abandonment or relational struggles. Those can be so hot-button that everyone thinks it is written about them (even if I don’t know them!). But, actually, it is. Because it’s written about all of us, myself included.

So, I hold my breath now, trembling a little at the thought of letting this long-term project go out into the world—no matter how limited the audience. I have held it for so long in my arms, and pushing “publish” set things in motion that now cannot be reversed. Me—real, raw, tender, vulnerable, and a little quirky—I’m out there. But beneath this tiny voice trying to get out is a bigger, more important one that I so desperately want people to hear: the voice of the Father’s amazing love and how it speaks so patiently, mercifully, and compassionately into my very imperfect life. How He speaks to all of us, if we’re listening.

As I read some of my own shared struggles as well as those of other writer/blogger/author friends of mine, I keep coming back to this: The written word is a tremendous responsibility.

  • It’s a responsibility not to lash out (there are ways to express frustration and pain without cutting anyone).
  • It’s a responsibility to be honest, even through fiction—not always that the situation we present is our own but that we know how to present a situation because we’ve done our research and listened deeply and attentively to those in that particular struggle.
  • It’s a responsibility to share our own lives, when appropriate, with integrity and in a way that is not dishonoring to anyone.
  • And it’s a responsibility to have hands outstretched in love, opening up our audience instead of excluding or polarizing people.

I pray I have done that in Not Just on Sundays and will continue to do so through the next few projects I hope to accomplish. It’s important to write well and to regularly receive feedback. It’s equally important to love and respect your audience and those in your story. Without that, our stories are in danger of becoming sour, distorted, and cynical.

Thank you, fellow writers/bloggers/authors, for inspiring me with the way you beautifully maintain that balance.

And thank you, readers, for your willingness to participate in the flawed-but-ever-growing journey.

I love that we have a God who is with us, who saves, who takes great delight in us, and who rejoices over us with singing. Wherever the journey takes me, I want to remain close to understanding that deep in my heart. I hope that you can too.

Zephaniah 3:17, Zephaniah the Prophet speaking

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”


Not Just on Sundays published today, October 1, 2014. It is currently available at and


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Slice of Freedom: Eating Pizza for the First Time


I was at a meeting at the dance studio the first time he said, “Can I have some pizza?” I had to ask him to repeat what he said because I was incredulous. He had been set free, through prayer, of his dairy (and other) allergy for a while now, but fear still sometimes prevented him from trying to take in too much. He had been medically tested to back up (for school purposes) what happened through prayer, and we took a cautious approach, introducing a small amount at a time. A tiny smear of cream cheese here, a piece of shredded cheese there. But pizza had not been of any interest to him up to this point.

Backing up…a lot of people who are bold in their faith of healing prayer encouraged us to have him chug glasses of milk. Actually, we had him rub it into his skin first, on the day of the prayer, and then let him swallow a bit of milk. At that point in time, before prayer, he would break out into hives just from his hand touching spilt milk and projectile-vomit any swallowed milk. On the day he was prayed for, he was fine on both counts, but we did not press him to take in more than he wanted to. And while other people’s faith seemed greater on our behalf, and I’m so thankful for them, we ourselves were only just starting to not clench too hard to the epi pen in moments like this one. For better or worse, we needed more faith history in this. And for a while I beat myself up for not wanting to feed him a dairy-only diet for the days following to prove something to myself and to strengthen my faith, but I didn’t need to prove anything to God. He knew my slow unclenching of the epi pen and testifying to each brave new step we took was me yielding, submitting, and learning to trust Him more. Had I rushed into it, I would have missed steps along the way where I needed to learn more about Him. Others may embrace this boldly because their lessons were already learned. For us, there was a story of trust and deep faith being written, and we were the main characters in it.

Back to where we were on the day that changed dietary history in our home with just a simple slice of pizza: We had broken from our event planning meeting (for an upcoming fundraiser) to order some pizza. And Little Man decided this was the day he’d like to try it. I have to admit, 7 months after being released of these allergies after years of them ruling our lives, my first thought was to look to see if the epi pen bag was with us. Knee-jerk reaction. If that shows a lack of faith, I guess you could consider me still a work-in-progress then. I’m just being honest. We lived in fear for years. We were still pushing fear out the door. God had taken it, but we still thought we saw the phantom of it taunting us for a long time.

So, with two of my good friends as witnesses, Little Man took a few bites of that cheesy goodness. Nothing. No belly ache, no vomiting, no hives, no difficulty breathing. I actually think we started with crust, but he convinced me to move on to the cheesy part—my reluctance and not his. This is how I knew in that moment that God was offering peace. Because my son not only expressed interest but was peaceful and eager to ingest something formally seeming like poison to his physical body.

So, I think we let him have two pieces that day. I’ve never seen a kid so happy about anything—not Christmas morning, not a vacation, not the swimming pool opening for the season. He had just discovered pizza at 7 years old for the very first time, and he was head-over-heels in love.

What followed were about 10 days of nonstop pizza eating. I admit that I indulged it. I gave it to him anytime he wanted it: at breakfast, Ellios frozen pizza, Dominos, local pizza places, etc. Every few days we tried a new topping. He was caught up in some kind of heavenly experience. He talked about it at bedtime: “Mom, what kind of pizza can I eat next? Should I try sausage or pepperoni?” It was so fun to watch.

But what also followed were 10 days of his body learning to process the pizza. Mostly our house just needed a lot of air freshener and open windows in those days. I’ll leave it up to your imagination. He wasn’t sick. I liken it to a new baby trying a new food, and for a few days, the bowel does some funky things with it. I told my kids to be patient, that this too shall pass (excuse the pun), and that this is an amazing victory in our lives.

It also meant not packing a special lunch to go to pizza birthday parties with. It opened up a whole new world.

What can be celebrated in your house today? It might not be of this magnitude every day. But any time we can do something we couldn’t do before, it’s an amazing moment for thankfulness. Running that marathon (or half-marathon). Strengthening those abs. Conquering that Rachmaninoff piece. Having something taken off an IEP. Or going off the IEP altogether. Getting through that tough year with a teacher/instructor you didn’t jive with. Training those puppies. Learning better food intake self-control. Choosing not to rage in traffic. Making that career change. Choosing not to gossip when the rest of the room is.

In our family, we thank God for these moments because we feel incapable of making such amazing changes in our own strength. We feel it all comes from Him. We are responsible for our choices, but at the end of the day, we like to look up to thank Him for guiding us.

Which victory in your life can you celebrate today?

James 1:17, James, brother of Jesus, speaking

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah the Prophet speaking

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.


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