roadside flowers

Ringing in the 4th looks today with doctor visits and cough drops.

We celebrated lots this week; in a rainbow of ways. It started off with a staff birthday and frozen cake. Watching as little bodies ate big pieces and sang an off-key song.

I live next to a house of five kiddos, the three oldest are girls, 4-5 years old who have become my little shadows, helping with the simple things, like cooking dinner or hanging up laundry on the line outside.

Their little hearts are reminders of wildflowers; how beautiful and resilient they are. It’s precious to watch them bloom forth. As shoes were put on and we set out for a walk around the neighborhood, I sensed God smiling down, admiring the beauty of His children, picking flowers and learning about aloe plants. I think pride flushed His dusky cheeks and turned them a vibrant pink as my little ones braved the barking dogs and kept walking forward. The thought came to mind… How much of the time do we spend worrying about what’s ahead; fearful of what could come, without ever taking a step? How much of the time do I do that? These little ones have walked through unthinkable pasts. Have had their hearts broken or beaten by those meant to hold trusting roles in their lives, yet joy radiates through their bones as another purple flower is found among the thicket.

I’ve started to walk everyday around the block – soaking in the sweetness of a podcast, listening to worship music when my heart has nothing else to share or sometimes simply admiring the clouds rolling in or the birds singing their hymns. These walks have been a remedy to the infecting sin that seems to be a constant.

Later on in the week, we received four new children, three siblings and a little 3 year old with burns covering her body. As the sun beat down and the children climbed out of the cars, all my heart could say was, “Hold them Jesus. Protect them and keep them safe.” Little did I know, that would become my anthem for the days ahead. Taking the older two of the siblings to the clinic and seeing how malnourished and under-developed they were, my heart broke and I found myself whispering the prayer again, “Hold them Jesus. Protect them and keep them safe.” At times, it has been a challenge to have compassion for the parents/guardians involved in these kiddos lives. How could they be so neglected? How could such depravity happen to a child this young? Why does it even exist in the world?

As these thoughts have circled the drain of my mind, I have found myself going back to the Cross. Thanking Jesus that no matter how bad the sinful infection is, the amount of trauma or abuse that has taken place, He has already walked through it. He has overcome it. And He prays to His Heavenly Father for all these little humans’ lives.

As the week progressed, one little 18 month old baby got sick with a dangerously high fever. The night was spent rotating cold washcloths on her neck and forehead, praying fervently, “Hold her Jesus. Protect her and keep her safe,” as I rocked her back to sleep every few minutes. She has since made a full recovery to what was thankfully only a 24-hour bug.

I am still recovering – seeing the doctor today after waking up with swollen lymph nodes and a nearly gone voice. This week’s recap is being typed in bed with cough drops and hot ginger-lemon tea in hand. My heart is full with new friends and furry pups, painted pottery and farmer’s markets after church. The prayer continues to resound in my head as our sweet little 3 year old went to the wound clinic today; where her burns were re-dressed for her to start properly healing. These days are long and full – where the tears seem to become ever constant – yet the evidence of God’s faithful is seen all the more.

Celebrating the moments of picked flowers and wounds being tended. For hearts that are healing and for such beautiful skies – a reminder of His handiwork, beyond my own imagination.

Prayer requests:

  • For healing over my body from this sickness
  • For my heart to forgive and have compassion towards the parents/guardians of these children
  • For my boss to feel all the more poured into as the demands of this job continue to build up
  • For clarity of mind over the judges and social workers involved in each case

-Kyra Mariah

Hope in the Heart

Hello from Joburg!

As the smoke on the horizon seems to never leave – there is much that has happened. I pray that a storm will roll in and clear the air of such debris, in my own heart as well.

Since being here – God has been reminding me of His constant pursuit; regardless of circumstances, trials, joys or even in thunderstorms – amidst it all.

These weeks have been some of the lowest mentally. Wrestling with the Lord on what would glorify Him while trying to uphold boundaries; it’s been a hard fight. I have felt called to South Africa, yet due to a variance of reasons, the initial ministry did not work out. This left me needing to leave but not knowing where to begin or even what to do. Do I fly home and call it a day? Do I try to find another ministry? Is this it for missions?

Feeling deceived and struggling, the Lord broke my heart to show me hope is in Him alone. Not in a ministry, a destination, or even a certain people group. A specific prayer before I came was to be broken. To see more of His face – yet it seems to always be in a different way than I had expected – leaving one dependent on Him when my heart cries out.

My dad; cheerleader over his family and lover of buildings and Jesus – is one of my favorite people. He loves intentionally and laughs easily with a chai tea in hand. By stepping away from growing his own name in the architecture realm, He chose to obey God, moving our family cross-country and opening our eyes to missions. He loves kiddos with a passion and believes in the underdog.

More than anything – He fights when my own faith has fallen short and hope seems like a next-door neighbor.

Embracing him one last time, these words were written:
We sat at the gate;

tears filling the cavern of goodbyes

as last embraces occurred

and hearts were torn

as steps were made

to the place of deep desire once again.

In the pitfalls – in the heartbreak of hope and seeing the passionate desire to work with mama’s and babies overseas, God saw it all and was cultivating something new. Like my dad, He was watching attentively to it all, as the tears and restlessness were felt.

Something beautiful and heart-healing was being made, as the tears continued to stream down and land on the empty platter of my heart, His glory was shining through, just not in eyesight quite yet.

Taking the first step and sharing with my parent’s, community of mentors and trusted friends what was happening – it was decided that I needed to leave – whatever that meant – trusting that His faithfulness would not waiver as my own heart did.

While in the midst of it, my heart poured this out:

I’m learning more and more that grief is a friend.

a twisted-sweet friend.

One who adds salt to old wounds

and yet comforts in the still of the night.

I’ve learned its presence is not solely found in seasons but rather in the constant.

In every decision.

Every yearning.

Every passing – there is death of one and life in another.

Yet, You are the outlier –

the standout – defeating death and bringing new life.
My dad is on sabbatical as he takes time to dream and heal, quieting to the gentle whisper of God, before going anywhere next. Yet, he set it all aside to help me figure out what to do. Grateful for my community made up of my sweet mama, friends, mentors and prayer warriors, who walked with me through the questioning.

Spending the in-between time with a couple I met on the flight over, God sufficiently provided. It was a weekend abundant with dogs, visiting the wife’s art pieces at the local gallery, rugby games and even connecting with their family friend who’s a practicing Trauma Counselor. God used it all to remind me of His love, as He was creating new possibilities amidst the sour situation.

I am now working with Hearts of Hope, who provides a beautiful safe home for vulnerable children. Initially purchasing a home and taking occupation in December 2007, they currently care for 43 orphaned and vulnerable children, aged between birth and 18 years old.

Days are filled with holding babies, comforting, laughing and simply doing life loving on an abundance of kiddos. Already, this place will be a hard one to leave; sensing that great healing will come, not just in the kiddos lives. Little bodies are waiting back at home to go for a walk and help with the next thing as the afternoon sun dries up the raindrops of last night’s storm. God provided amidst the drought of my own faith – bringing rain as a reminder of His faithfulness. Again and again – being all that is needed and so much more.

If you’d like to check out the new ministry and learn of all the Lord is doing in and through them, here is the link! https://heartsofhope.org.za/

Prayer requests:

  • For my heart to believe that God will provide regardless of changing circumstances.
  • For all the house mamas at Hearts of Hope to keep loving these kids from an overflowing cup of strength and joy.
  • For home-sickness to give way as it is still very present.
  • For the initial ministry, to be blessed in all that they are doing.
  • For safety over my previous team.

Until next time,

-Kyra Mariah

16 months

Welcome back friend, stranger or simply someone who stumbled upon this page!

It’s been sixteen months since my last post.

A little over a year, watching as God refined my fleshly heart to sprout wildflowers of child-like wonder again. It was painful, yet oh so beautiful.

My last post came days before unexpected heartbreak. Walking through the trenches of confusion and grief while unknown health conditions arose again. God faithfully whispered in my ever-doubting ears the goodness He had in store if I simply would take His hand.

So I did, stumbling as I held on.

Young mama’s and babies hold an especially tender spot in my heart. Through praying where the Lord wanted my next steps, a sweet ministry has come about in the heart of Johannesburg that specifically works to come alongside and counsel mama’s, minister to locals, rescue abandoned infants and provide adoption. I will be moving overseas for the summer as an Intern for the ministry, Impact Africa, to Johannesburg, South Africa.

God has walked me through valleys of confusion and mountain peaks of clarity, to gain a greater understanding of my own story, through the gift of counseling. It has been used to expose and uproot parts, to see more of the Father’s heart, and has been the biggest help and hardest challenge. With a combination of love for young mama’s and counseling, I hope to come alongside those who have been at the hands of sin and shame, helping to end generational patterns with the clients I’ll interface with. In August, I’ll return to the States and move to Florida, starting Grad School at Palm Beach Atlantic University, studying Clinical-Mental Health Counseling, with an emphasis in Trauma & Crisis Therapy.

These directions didn’t come from dreams. Or even wishing.

More honestly, from lots of heartbreak and grief; but I would not have it any other way.

It was all God.

I knew sacrificial love is the laying down of personal wants to become one with someone else; but as God removed the relationship I was in, He opened my eyes to the fact that missions was not one He had asked me to lay down. This was something that never faded, but rather, I locked it up in a closet, dark and isolated, as I chose to step forward more into unison with a man who did not have the same desire.

When I was seven years old, a ministry visited our church, ever since then, I have had a special place in my heart for long-term missions. Gratefully, through my dad’s ministry, our family has been blessed to travel and live for a period of time in developing countries.

Through tears and sorrowful hearts, unexpected heartbreak led the Father to opening that door again.

Ever so gently.

Ever so tenderly.

Showing that that is where He is calling me next. As He removed a person, who I saw no end date with, He has asked me to step forward into a new season across the globe.

It has been in the droughts that I have come to see more of His face; how sweetly twisted.

In the moments of hardships, I see more of Him. His love and tender-graciousness; He steps in. Holding my tear stained face to His chest, as He continues to remove the weeds of sin growing in my garden of love, for His glory and mercy to be evident.

So with a few nerves, but honestly, more excitement and joy than anything, I am stepping forward.

First, to Johannesburg.

Prayers for my team’s safety as we fly from various places. For our minds to stay alert and humbled. Lastly, for my heart as it grieves and rejoices about going forth.

-KM.

s p a c e s.

My hands timidly hover over the keys.

Dusting off the cobwebs that grew over the past year as the Father bound up and redeemed.

Oh how He is gracious, faithful & just.

Returning to this platform to share of how He moves in the unseen and seen.

Telling of the ways He grows and strengthens.

And more than anything – the sweetness that comes from His presence.

I think that’s why wildflowers mean so much;

they have to have deep roots to survive hard seasons.

Isn’t that the beauty of what God does time and time again;

burning away the corrosion for new life to form?

Without the refinement, there would be no room to flourish –

how beautifully sweet.

Even if; He is still here, present and active.

So it may seem a bit awkward…

The pages containing more s p a c e s; a sense of quietness

because, something I have learned this past year, is that intimacy with the Father comes when my heart sits; laying it all at His feet and asking to simply be held.

May these words resonate with you, however the Lord crafts them to,

thank you for being patient –

-Kyra Mariah

drylands.

“Pursue me in the drylands.” is what I’ve heard God whisper over my soul this week.

It’s been full of weariness. Unease sets in with new vaccines and a new President in office. My heart has been weary of the future; of my mine, Our Nation’s and of my loved ones.

I haven’t turned towards Him when I should have, sitting in the drylands of this week, throwing a fit for myself instead of seeking His waters of redemption and surrender.

Drylands. That’s what these past few weeks have felt like. I personally struggle with the new vaccines and Our Nation’s new President’s ethics make me uneasy, but the Lord has a plan through this and no other earthly possession or thing will bring the kind of nourishment that my heart can find in Him.

With a homemade London fog tea in hand, Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and sister hammy-down stripped pants with bee socks, I look back on last year.

My word was confidence. By the end of the year, I realized that my confidence of the unknown cannot come from solely me. My confidence has to be rooted in Him before I can gain any confidence in myself, if the other way around, it will lead to self-conceitedness and corruption.

There will always be seasons on Earth where the soil is drier than others, while other seasons will be wetter. No matter the climate, there is still nourishment and nutrients that can be found in the soil; bringing about new life.

I used to nanny 5 boys of a single dad in the Air Force for several years. This week, their new mom officially adopted them as her own. Not because of her and their dad’s marriage or out of obligation, but because from the deep parts of her heart, they are her boys. It was beautiful watching as the judge approved of the adoption and made the boys hers. These past few years for the sweet family has been a dry-land, but this week that dry-land turned into a plentiful field of redemption, love, tenderness and wholeness. Those boys gained an inspiring new mother. One who will love them and hold their hearts in her hands.

My word for this year is fulfillment. I’m already learning that what I had envisioned is different than what the Lord is trying to teach me. Already, He’s opened my eyes to areas that I have become numb. Areas that I would rather avoid, subjects I don’t talk through due to past pain, to ways I study His Word and don’t absorb what He’s laying out in-front of me. What I’m learning is, God’s a really patient teacher. Eager to always teach me new things, grow me, strengthen my headspace, encourage prayer, and yet, I don’t take the time to sit and listen to His teachings.

Fulfillment. Confidence. Drylands. In all of these facets, God is reminding me that my heart and emotions are valid in all seasons. Yet, in order to feel relieved and fully seen, known and treasured, I have to turn towards Him.

I’m not sure what the future holds for Our Nation, for the side effects with the vaccine, with our hearts through all the unrest and change of life’s pace. Friend, as I remind myself, may I also encourage you, to seek Our Father’s well of nourishment, grace and teachings. He is always willing to teach and hold you, may you have a beautiful rest of your day. Jesus loves you and so do I! I’ll leave you with one last question.. What does it look like to seek His fulfillment in the midst of your own drylands?

-Kyra Mariah

filled up & full.

Thanking Jesus as I wrap up fall semester of my Junior Year. Crazy to think I’ll be graduating in 2 years, December 2022, with TWO majors!!!! Can I get a hallelujah?!

As I stirred homemade soup in a big bowl on the stovetop, I started thinking back on this past semester. Filled to the brim, full of such vital ingredients and moments, that without the others, would make for it being bland. From moving into a house with three other girls and my dog, Kia, saying goodbyes to the Penley’s, Jon and I traveling to the Mayo Clinic for answers with him meeting my extended family, 19 credit hours, new job at a senior living center, CNA State Certified, weddings, a new church, and all the new friendships formed, it’s been filled to the brim. It’s been a beautiful picture of a tree growing, evolving and forming with fullness over time.

This semester has been full of newness and change, something that I’m learning I struggle quite a bit with. It’s been in the moments between all the newness and transitions that I’ve questioned my identity in the Lord as His daughter, doubting my confidence in the One who sees me in His eyes, and trying to hurriedly rush to the next to-do item on the list.

As I sat, on a cloudy afternoon, chai tea and homemade soup in hand, classical music in the background and completing schoolwork with my sister, Anna and roommate, McKensie, tears begin to rush in. It’s been a whirlwind of a semester, and even a year, yet the Lord has been so gracious in the way He loves. Showing me areas I need repentance, early morning devotions, walks to the Open Space with Mrs. Christy, dessert dates with the roommates, intentional times with family and framily (friends that are family) and befriending quietness.

I’ve been one to fill my schedule full, to the brim, and yet God has so tenderly taken away pieces of my schedule, and keeps asking me to draw nearer and nearer to Him instead. Taking Kia on walks, early morning devotionals and hot showers after a day have become the most intimate of times with my Savior.

It’s crazy to look back on who I was a year ago, the turmoil and season of grief I was facing head on, and yet to still be in a season of grief, knowing more confidently, that my Father delights in sitting with me.

As I enter into the Holiday Season, waiting to hear back on Jon’s health and gearing up for Spring semester with 22 credits, my prayer is that the quiet moments stay intimate and a priority.

Enjoy a morning with some hot tea, walking your dog in silence or begin repenting out-loud in the shower, as God’s love washes away your sins. He loves you friend, and so do I.

Friend, I pray in the midst of this roller coaster of a year, you are able to have intimate moments with Our Father. He who delighted in making you, wants to have a relationship with you too. That you would be filled with the patience to watch as God crafts a beautiful, full of life tree out of you and the life you are living!

-Kyra Mariah

lonesome & a wreck.

Since getting back from Florida, at the Mayo Clinic for Jon, then seeing my extended family for Thanksgiving, life has been a blurry painting of busyness and longing. With school coming to a close, my heart aches for the past, wishing to travel back in time, when hugging loved ones was not seen as a risk.

This time last year, my older brother, Kelvyn, was involved in a multiple rollover car accident. I remember where I was that day. Sitting on the couch watching “Princess and the Frog” after church with one of the kiddos whom I used to live with, hearing Kelv’s sobs over the phone as he cried out in agony, confused to what had happened. Walking into that room that day, seeing my brother’s broken body in bed, I thanked God for keeping him alive.

This year things are different. Kelv has since had neck surgery and fully healed from his injuries, and I now work at a Senior Living Center, where the day’s are full. Pulling long hours, with 3 face masks and full PPE some days, my bed seems to be a stranger for the time being. I remember the feeling of loneliness when I first got that phone call from Kelv. Wondering what had happened, who could I call; and then I think of my residents. Those unable to see their loved ones this Christmas due to potential outside exposure. Sitting in that hospital room with Kelv, tears of gratitude flooded down, as arms of comfort surrounded me from my sister, Anna, to Jon and his sweet mama, Mrs. Ehresman to Mrs. Christy and my parents to my younger brothers, Kaden and Blake.

This past week we had a resident test positive with the virus. I took care of her in full PPE, waiting until the ambulance came to transport her to a special facility designed to treat elderly positive patients. As I held her hands, with full PPE on, 3 masks, and double gloved, the look in her eyes reminded me of that day last year when Kelv said he was in the hospital, unsure of what had happened and had broken his back and neck in several places. Pure fear and terror. Staring into her eyes, I told her over and over that, “we love her and will see her soon.” Watching as she was loaded into the back of the ambulance, completely isolated and fearful of the unknown, I began to pray for peace and comfort to fill her heart. I cannot image how Kelv would’ve felt if no one could’ve been with him, having no one to hold his hand or perform the macarena on a chair at midnight.

With work hours building up and watching as those dear, beloved resident’s are lonesome in this Holiday Season, my heart aches for them. God created us to build community with one another; I struggle to see the fine line between inhumanity and safety when it comes to this virus, but as the days continue to be full, please be praying for those who are not allowed to hug their loved ones amidst this scary time. This year, I’m grateful Kelv’s still with us, and I get to hug him extra tight this Christmas. Growing up with him as my older brother and best friend has been a treasure, one that I will hold close to my heart. May this Christmas be one to look back on, and remember to cherish the time when you can still hug your loved ones.

-Kyra Mariah

cracks in the floorboards.

The Lord has recently been teaching me to take in the little moments and find life within them. More days have ended in despair and turmoil than in joy, yet the Lord has so clearly said, “keep pressing into me, for I am your refuge.”

I’ve found myself going through the motions recently, numb to the touch as I have neglected my Bible and have clung to earthly possessions instead.

One day, my counselor had me write out three lists, “what fills you up?”, “what drains you?” and “which is taking up more room in your house?” I felt punched in the gut, knowing this season of life has been more draining than filling. I forgot about the lists and remembered as I pulled into counseling the following week. Quickly filling them out and running in. With a mix of grace and truth, she told me to take a second look and to be really honest with myself.

That night I climbed into my shower, the place I feel closest to God and wept. Tears streaming down as I repented to my Father who has desperately wanted to hold me through these past months of trials.

In the early mornings, as the sun begins to rise above the tree line, Kia sits at the foot of the bed, watching peacefully, intricately and full of anticipation as the new day begins. Just like God does. Waiting for us to wake up, yearning for us to reach out and communicate whatever is on our hearts, patiently wanting to speak with us like He did with His disciples in the early mornings.

I’m grateful for a man who’s an example of life and joy. Through his health struggles and the grief in my life, he has remained rooted in God’s faithfulness. He’s reminded me to go dancing on the beach, watch the sunshine pour in through the window shades, and to start my mornings with sweatpants, duck socks & peppermint tea, knowing these are things that are soul-healing; taking note of the life that’s encapsulated. Taking note of the little moments and letting them fill up the pages in my journal, I began to notice more and more of God’s posture for me.

I’ll be honest, I’ve failed many days, even weeks with seeing the life within. Finding it easier to return to the numbness and not press into Him.

I’m learning it’s the cracks that God fills; nourishing each one of us in areas that truly fills our souls and drawing us up into His tender-powerful arms. Friend, you are seen, you are valued, and God wants to meet you in the cracks.

-Kyra Mariah