Friday, July 15, 2016
Our missions trip to Guatemala and the Casa Shalom Orphanage has changed the course and direction of my life. 100 something children, different ages, needs, genders all had a profound effect on who I am and the direction God is leading me. I walked on the grounds of that orphanage as one person and came out completely different. I held babies, played with toddlers and children. I hugged teenagers and I watched the miracles that are unfolding in the lives of those children.
Five children came into the orphanage while we were there. One little boy came in whistling and singing and a bubbly, bright little boy full of hope and sunshine. He captured my heart with his bubbly personality. He was part of a sibling group and they still had the light of hope and a future in their eyes. I do not know if their placement by child protection will be long or short, but they still had hope. Their eyes still sparkled with the magic of childhood.
Three more children came in that weekend. A baby, a toddler and a 7 year old boy. On those sweet faces was written a story far different than the other two children. Agony, devastation and horror were in their eyes. Their world came crashing down and despite all the love that was being offered and that will still be offered as they find their fit in the orphanage, their eyes did not have sparkle. Their eyes were full of pain and sorrow. The baby had the protection of infancy but as I held her frail little body in my arms and felt the weightlessness of a child who was malnourished my heart broke. She looked into my face as I sang Jesus loves me to her in my language. A language she does not know, but she looked into my eyes and she smiled. She knew love when she felt it. Not because of what I was doing but because Jesus stepped into that moment and touched that sweet little baby with a little bit of love the only thing I had to offer.
I looked into the face of her toddler sister, age 2 and I saw pain. Occasionally, a smile could be pulled out of her but her face was so full of pain. I do not know all of what those little eyes have seen. I do not know everything she has experienced but in her two years of life she has known great sorrow and it is written in her eyes. The thing is, she is now in a place that can give her love, love of people, the love of Christ and peace. She has a chance to become something wonderful. She let me hold her and talk to her in my broken Spanish and did not shy away from gentle touch. She was hungry for love. She has house parents and staff at that orphanage who will be able to minister to the broken places through the love of Christ.
I watched as her 7 year old brother grieved the loss of his family. Yes, he was "rescued" but to him, despite his home life, it was not a rescue. His world had just been turned upside down. That's the thing, with abused kids, that I learned back in the day when I worked as a foster care counselor. Just because we as grown ups know we are doing what is best for them, these kids do not feel that way. They love their parents, no matter how good, bad or ugly their lives have been. It doesn't matter to them that they have been rescued when it happens. It WILL matter one day. He will understand one day. The orphanage has a psychologist and staff that is and will continue to help him heal. I watched him at a window, tears rolling down his tiny face, begging for us to take him to his Mama. I watched him make a connection with one of our team members who though she could not speak his language she gave him unconditional love. I watched the staff and house parents minister to him. The last night we were there, I began to see the beginnings of hope blossoming as he found his voice to answer a question or would talk to someone. I held him in my arms during movie night, his frail, body waiting expectantly for his world to right again. He would ask me what time it was, simply because he has hope that at a specific time he might get to see his Mama again. I don't know when or if that will happen, but I do know that the orphanage is helping him.
I watched little children want to keep their party plates because they were pretty. I saw a little boy try some garlic toast. He did not like it, but he ate it anyway because he has learned in his life before Casa Shalom, you eat what you have when you have it.
I saw poverty unlike anything I have ever seen in a near by village and it was one of the less effected areas as far as poverty is concerned.
I enjoyed working on the projects we did and working along side a team whose main goal was to show the love of Jesus in everything, we did, said, sang, touched, etc. Our goal was to show love to not only the kids but the staff and anyone we met. I think through the help of Jesus we did that.
In all of this, God has called me back to working with abused children. I said back in the day, I would "never" do that again. He has called me to learn Spanish and work with abused children. I do not yet know how this will unfold but it will happen. I am on a mission to learn Spanish so that I can work with both English speaking and Spanish speaking families in our communities here in Chattanooga.
I am not nor have I ever been a Grinch, but you know the line where it says and "the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day"(Dr. Suess-how the Grinch stole Christmas).....I feel like my heart grew in Guatemala. I can't explain it. I can't prove it. I can't even show it. I just know my heart, soul and mind changed through this missions trip.
I do know that life is forever changed for me, greatly impacted by the children and staff at Casa Shalom. From the head to the cooks to anyone and everyone that works on that campus, the children and the house parents. It's amazing what one week can do to your life. I haven't even touched on half the stuff I learned or experienced. All I know is God is powerful and He is changing these little hearts and healing them through the loving ministry at Casa Shalom. I pray that this ministry will send out future missionaries, preachers, teachers, doctors and more for the glory of God.
Posted by Thelma Strobl at 1:30 PM
Saturday, June 18, 2016
I think too often as Moms we get on the Mommy train track and think we have to stop at all the "mommy stations" along the way in order to make the best journey. That's just false. We are all making different journeys. My journey looks different from any one else's journey and so does my kids. We are taking this journey step by step, from faith to faith, trusting that God is leading us. It's not about what we do but how we do it with God. I once would have let guilt and shame color my journey, but God healed me of that over the last few years. I do the best I can with what I have to do with and what I know at the present time. I surrender it all to my Father, HE is the one in control. That being said, sometimes I miss the mark and get off a little before the station and have to hike to catch up. That's how it is. I mess up as a parent sometimes, as a sister, as a daughter, as a friend. Then I say I am sorry and move to the next step. It sure isn't always a pretty path. Yet, when I look back God has done something with my screw ups, my victories, my sorrows and my joys. He is weaving something yet to be seen as I do my best to teach my children to trust and follow HIM
Intentions...are hopes not guarantees. Intentions are plans, not rules. So if you don't always get it done just as YOU intended, maybe, just maybe God changed the route up just a bit to bring about an adventure you can't even see yet.
Lead on Lord, Lead on. My life is YOURS , lead me on the path You have planned. If I get a little of track some times, guide me back and help me do it YOUR way. Help me realize that sometimes my intentions are not Your intentions and that as long as I am trusting You, following you, that I will not get on the wrong track but the detour is part of a bigger purpose. If something comes along and seemingly derails us, let me trust You to put us where you want us to be in order to heal, recover, grow or what ever the purpose might be in YOU.
Posted by Thelma Strobl at 9:29 PM
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Summer started officially yesterday. We picked up Jennifer's report card which was awesome. (The other two report cards will be mailed). Then we went to the park and met our neighbors for a play date. It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect.
Later in the day my sister, Mama, niece and nephew arrived for the weekend. We have a house full of teens and tweens. It is going to be an interesting weekend. We are starting off the day with movies and donuts.
We haven't all been together in a year. I have seen Mama and Theresa and the kids for a short time when my sister had surgery. This weekend we can just hang out and enjoy each other's company.
I have lots of plans for the summer to try and cram stuff in on my days off. This is my first summer as a working Mom. It's surreal. I love summer with my kids. I will miss being free to come and go as I wish.
The biggest thing happening for me this summer is a missions trip to Guatemala. I can't wait. I plan to keep a diary while there and blog it later.
So glad summer is here. Hopefully...I will find some interesting happenings and stories to share along the way...time will tell.
Posted by Thelma Strobl at 9:21 AM
Saturday, August 29, 2015
I watched the movie War Room last night. It spoke deeply to me and it ministered to my heart in ways I can not even explain in words. If people take it to heart, the message behind the movie, it can be life changing.
Posted by Thelma Strobl at 9:18 AM
Monday, May 11, 2015
I saw these lone 3 flowers on a bush in my backyard. One Sammy, has not yet decided to eat, since it has thorns. The beauty is not even a good representation in the photo. The deep burgundy colors are rich and warm and silky but has many layers of color. The beauty comes with thorns. Thorns than can prick and make you bleed. That is so much like life. Life is beautiful but it comes with thorns. To appreciate their beauty is to respect and be careful of the thorns.
Life has to come with thorns and beauty, how else would we appreciate the good moments. It doesn't matter what part of this life you walk, who you are, what you have, what you believe, life comes with thorns. It is what we do with getting pricked that matters. Are we going to stop enjoying the flowers because we might get pricked? Are we going to stop living life because, sometimes, frankly life is hard and has no explanation. We are all going through things, good things, bad things, somewhere in between things. We laugh, we cry, we hurt, we love, we live. It is all blended in to our lives to make a depth of color and beauty the Master is weaving through our lives.
Through it all, in my life, there is one thread that keeps me all together: It is the love of my Savior. I want to make Him pleased with me. I want to spread the true love of Christ, the one that says, For God so loved the WORLD. He didn't give of definition of who He would love. He came for whosever believeth in HIM. I want to spread that kind of love. He walked, talked, ate with the ones society would not. He loved the "unloveable" by society's standards. That's who I want to be. My legacy in HIM, is love. I want to be so filled with Jesus that His love is evident to everyone I met.
Posted by Thelma Strobl at 6:42 PM
Friday, March 6, 2015
Life is passing by faster and faster as the days go by. I can't even fathom how fast. This week alone we helped Chris plan out his schedule for high school, talked about Hannah's graduation from middle school and watched as Jenny took huge leaps towards being an older kid as she struggles with some math concepts. Where oh where did time go?
I find myself wanting to hang on to their childhood a little harder. Jenny is still very much a little girl but we get glimpses of the big girl to come. She is all about Junie B Jones, ribbons, bows, ruffles, lace, patent leather Mary Jane shoes, and cow girl boots. She still likes dress up and cuddles and kisses and the magic of snow. Then suddenly she says something so profound and so grown up, you gasp.
Hannah is so much a tween. She has a crush on a boy and asks about make up. She wants older girl clothes without all the bows and ruffles.Thankfully she still is about the glitz and sparkle. She has grand ideas about what love is all about and what "romance" is too. I am like you are too young to worry about romance. She smiles and blushes and says "okay mom, but I will be old enough soon".
Oh my, be still my heart, it can't handle the thought.
Chris also has a secret crush or two. He is very closed mouth about it. I was always his one and only. I am going to marry you Mommy, he said when he was 3, and we will live together forever and ever he said. Now, he talks about what he wants to do. He is into computers and technology. One minute he is silly, not thinking straight teen boy and suddenly morphs into a young man with maturity that will blow you mind.
So here I sit, wondering.......all about life and how fast it is going.....can't it slow down just a bit?
I pray for the Lord to give me more wisdom to handle the changes and the fact that life, never ever slows down and we have to take time and appreciate the little things.
Posted by Thelma Strobl at 1:53 PM
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Posted by Thelma Strobl at 5:36 PM