“A picture is worth a thousand words,” the old adage goes. A picture tells a story. Everybody has a story… What if little snippets of peoples’ stories made us feel more relevant and inspired us to be more intentional about how we live our story? What if we realized we do not stand alone? What if sharing our stories connected us as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the One, True, Living God? A vision, a thought, a desire burns within me to share…
Dare I step out in faith on this pursuit? Despite feeling like Moses, not eloquent or outgoing enough, I think I must say ‘Yes!’ Wanting to capture the Imago Dei, the very image of God himself, in people, I’m going to start a new creative writing journey. I will go out into the uncomfortable (for me), unpredictable place of community to uncover the blessings of a person’s story. Hopefully I can bring light to The Lord’s hand moving in the lives of His precious children. Hopefully it will link hearts, bring comfort, and reveal purpose. Hopefully, it will magnify God in this place, this little Climate City that can feel so dark sometimes.
My first blessing:
O L I V I A. Brave. Merciful. Humble. She greets me with a comforting warmth that makes me giddy to spend time hearing her story. Before we know it, 3 1/2 hrs passes and when we finally look at our phones, she has 15 minutes to race to an interview for a volunteer position. Graceful and calm, she rises to her feet laughing. She chooses joy. She has fought for it. I’m convinced she bleeds it. She didn’t always have a joyful, warm heart. In fact, as a little girl, she made a conscious decision to harden her heart. She believed a hard heart would protect her from the constant pain of abuse and neglect. Six years old, she had thoughts of suicide. Wanting to be loved and seen, she found deliverance in the arms of Jesus. She gave her life to Him then, and again as a young adult. She is one of the most courageous people I’ve ever met, trusting wholeheartedly God’s good and perfect plan for her. She is a redemption story. The passion and faith she exudes will leave the biggest skeptics questioning themselves.
Olivia, who ministers in Grants Pass to local teen girls, is adjusting to American life after a 3 month stint in Iraq. Saying yes to God, she went to serve at a safe house for women and girls who’ve escaped ISIS. There, called a ‘butterfly,’ she floated around serving wherever there was a need. She counseled girls, taught classes, played games, danced, washed clothes, cooked…listened. The victims who came to the safe house ranged in age, from 10 to late 30’s. All were alone and had witnessed their family members getting killed or sold into slavery. As she described their stories of escape, my heart cracked wide open. One young girl had dressed as an ISIS member, pretending to be one of them until she got out. Another, having learned this from watching movies in her younger years, was able to hide her cell phone from detection devices inside a brick wall by scraping the grout with a bobbly pin. “Tell me that isn’t the hand of God having her watch those movies in order to prepare her for her day of escape!” Olivia says.
Olivia glances back at the wall-sized map behind her. She yearns to travel the world, stealing back souls from the enemy, one precious child of God at a time. “I hate the enemy,” she states, with fire in her eyes. I have no doubt she will do that, as every word she speaks is life-giving. You are pure. You are lovely. You are beautiful. YOU are all those things, too, Olivia. I am so honored and blessed to have spent time experiencing pieces of your story.
**Hoping to fill my insta with more inspiring, extraordinary people soon! @sons_n_daughters**