Hello Thirties, Hello Freedom

Birthday Cake

This stinker/sweetie used my middle name on my cake to tease me about turning 30

I just turned 30! Eeeeeek! To be honest, I was dreading it. Thirtynot flirty (no time nor bachelors) and sometimes sinking instead of thriving. But my girls put it into perspective for me. “Most people here are thrilled to live to 30!” After being humbled, they also then gave me the best birthday party ever and I can say with joy that this year just might be the best year yet! So, YES, bring on the thirties!

My life in Swazi used to be full of stress, sacrifice, heartache, confusion, and exhaustion. If ever I was sad, upset, angry, lonely, etc., I would feel the need to escape. To get away from the girls, from the girls home, the ministry, the duties, and even Swazi. But not now. Now the girls are my comfort, my healing hugs, my delights, my joy, my go-to’s when I need pick-me-ups. I don’t need to escape anymore; now I run to them.

Recently, I’ve been told by two different visitors that the girls are transformed. “I’ve seen and been to many children’s ministries,” one Swazi woman told me, “But these girls, Mary-Kate, are different. God has formed their character. They stand apart.”

Indeed they do. And I am amazed to tears because of it. How did God choose me to be a part of this? I feel unworthy to be a part of something so miraculous. To visibly SEE and LIVE through transformations. To see miracles DAILY in the hearts of these girls. To see God turn their ashes into crowns of glory. It is impossible to meet one of these girls and NOT see or feel the presence of Jesus. Amazing.

Their performance to "Dancing Queen"

Their performance to “Dancing Queen”

They left signs for me all around the house!

They left signs for me all
around the house!

And they made me feel just that on my birthday. Kalli had been planning my party for a month. She surprised me with a cake she bought (from saving her money from the workshop) and planned party games with balloons, water balloons, trivia, charades, and performances from all the girls. Though they certainly spoiled me, there was one present that surpassed them all.

A new creation!

One of our girls who has troubled me and stressed me and broke my heart when we had to send her to a rehab program, Teen Challenge, shared all the things she had been learning, the counseling appointments, the revelations, the freedom. Then she left me with a packet in which she had written down an extended version of her testimony. “My whole story hurt me for ages, but now I believe it’s a healing story to tell,” she said. Holding the stack of papers was like holding the hand of Jesus himself. Every word I read set my hair on edge and built tears in my eyes. The Holy Spirit has taken over this girl and spilled out into the pages. This is the greatest gift. Indeed, “There is NO greater joy than to know that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)

I believe God will also transform others’ lives through her inspired words. So with no further ado, enjoy the presence of Jesus in the power of these her words:


“I am a testimony, I wanna heal the heart broken. I was once lost but I am found, I had nobody until He came with his arms open wide for me to be crowned a crown of beauty. I lost peace when I was four. I was not aware, I had pain but it got lost. I was rejected, no love found…

To tell you the truth, the wounds made by sexual abuse are not surface wounds. They cut deeply. They destroy your sense of safety, your faith and your trust in love. As for my story I will express in this way: safety was falling asleep at night with the covers over my head and my hands hidden underneath, shouting, “please don’t touch me!”

To everything that has happened from me; the losing of a father, a granny, a rape, and a rejection of a mother was a lot for me to carry and also hard for me to believe that there is a God. I had a lot of questions for Him. But to all my questions there was one answer. ‘I was there, when all the things happened.’ All my bruises were washed away and scars were left to remind me that I am human. It was hard for me to believe him when I would look at myself and see the scars. But I got healed, my father healed my soul and he still is at work. I now call myself a seed of greatness. None of us in this world deserve his grace but he gives us his love and grace. I’ve gone through a lot but I chose to tell myself that whatever was said to me in the past, I’ve rejected it. The truth is I am not my past but I am a product of my past. I asked God to crucify my flesh and He did.

I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, Jesus will straighten the crooked places in my heart and make me completely whole. When I allow him access to every area of my life I will never be the same broken person again.

I do believe there is power in praise and worship. I take it as a weapon against spiritual strongholds. My mother Mary-Kate used to say to me, ‘You must be careful about the type of music that you allow to enter your soul. If you want your body to heal, get some music that speaks healing into your body.’ By that time, though, I didn’t know. Unanointed music was my thing and I would dance to it. But guess what? Now I dance with Him! I will never stop loving Him.

But my journey to this point was nine years in the making. I deceive the habit of taking responsibility for everything that went wrong. Although this was a painful way to live, it seemed easier for me to believe that I was not lovable than to believe I was not loved. (The following are my words: WOW! I can’t believe how profound that was for her to identify that in herself and past.)

Grace and Mercy stepped into my life when I was 19. I moved to Hosea’s Heart and was surrounded by people who showed me the love of God. I found a place that was true and beautiful and gave me what I needed most: love, security, and a relationship with Jesus. It was the first time I found love.

The decision to forgive my mother and the rapist was the act of the will. I had loading the burden of shame and of being a victim long enough. I decided to choose the freedom and joy that comes from forgiveness of Jesus.

Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”


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