A 5-minute interview with Maureen Owino of Mercy House
A 5-minute interview with Maureen Owino of Mercy House
Some days music is the only thing that keeps me going.
When there aren’t words or I’ve used too many, it’s worship I need.
I’m feasting on music this week, letting it seep into my soul.
I’ve been listening to Chris Tomlin long enough to make me old. His new album Burning Lights does not disappoint. It’s rich and beautiful and it’s like a vehicle that drives you right into God’s presence.
Listen to this song with guest Kari Jobe:
It might be exactly what you need too.
Within minutes of hearing of the seriousness of my sister-in-law’s condition, I had regret.
While I packed bags and arranged flights, I prayed and cried and wished for just one more chance to speak to her.
It had been just over a week since we’d talked last. Why couldn’t I remember my last words to her? Did I tell her I loved her? Why did we choose a family vacation at Christmas over a family visit? She knew we loved her, but I could have done more…been a better friend, sister.
Maybe it’s the road of grief that asks these questions, this place is foreign to me, yet is fills our home and my husband’s eyes.
It’s been said that grief doesn’t change you, it reveals you.
It has uncovered much in me.
And while I can’t change the past, undo or redo moments I didn’t know I would regret, I can let this sea of mourning change my future. In the past few days, I have learned the intimate power of grieving with a spouse, answering hard questions of confused children, holding onto the hope of God.
Grief is changing the way I live:
I will say what’s on my heart more and not let it be assumed.
I will follow thru with the urge to call or write.
I will make tough decisions (update my will, create a living will, etc)
I will hug and touch more.
I will be quick to forgive.
I will not put off tomorrow what God is prompting me to do today.
I will not regret.
I will choose love.
I will let this grief be an anchor in my life.
“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place.” -Sarah Dessen
Life is precious. In this moment.
Live it to the fullest.
I love being with my family. We are a crazy, loud lot. If you’ve got an imperfect family too, I think you’d feel at home with us. We love each other, even when love sounds a lot like disfunction. Ahem.
Finding family-friendly activities we all enjoy is getting harder with a teen, tween and kindergartner. Lately, with our oldest being on the junior high basketball team, we’ve loved sharing this together. And by sharing, I mean, my husband and I screaming like insane people. Turns out we are fans.
So, when the Harlem Globetrotter people asked if my family would like to attend a game, we said yes! I went as a kid with my family and I can’t wait to share the experience with mine in a couple of weeks.
How do you bring your family together?
Consider a family night with The Harlem Globetrotters.
The Harlem Globetrotters love seeing families laugh together during our games, and would love to see your family when we come to a city near you. If you’re looking for an awesome event the whole family will enjoy, get your tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters “You Write the Rules” tour.
Your family’s smiles will start before you even get to the game because this year, your family can vote at harlemglobetrotters.com, and decide rules for the game like two balls in play at the same time that could affect the final outcome. After the game, Globetrotters will stay on court to sign autographs and take photographs with your kids. The only thing better than finding an event the whole family will enjoy, is getting a great deal on it. Save $7 per ticket* by using the promo code “TOGETHER“. Get ready to experience a show your family will remember for a lifetime! *Discount available on select ticket levels”
Family fun works for me!
- Our first Mercy House event and luncheon of the month was amazing with guest Maureen Owino. She is so well-spoken and passionate. And very sassy. Check out the video clip here.
- She read this beautiful letter to the crowd, written by our precious girls at the maternity home.
- Maureen had her first trip to Hobby Lobby.
- Someone’s going to get her first throw pillows!
- We spent the morning in the cold Mercy House building organizing and Maureen got a taste of what I do several days a week. One of which would be falling off a chair I was standing on to reach a shelf. Call me Grace (and sore).
- Kenyans aren’t used to freezing weather. She asked if it would snow (Houston, Texas and my kids wish).
- We visited Chick Fil A again (and were blessed with a free lunch)! The employee just happened to hear Maureen speak the day before and wanted to bless us. She did.
- Maureen only woke up 4 times last night (jet lag is for the birds).
- My kids were telling her about roller coasters and she said they are like “death and resurrection.” And followed that up by my favorite question of the day:
- “Why does the government allow roller coasters??”
- She watched her first episode of America’s Funniest Home videos (and loved it).
- She woke up from a catnap this afternoon to blood curtailing screams from my 6 year old who was NOT jumping off her bed. Her busted lip, gums and pool of blood proved otherwise.
- Maureen cradled my baby and hushed her while I felt faint and woozy.
- She listened to her “sister” play her flute and laughed her head off at our howling dog. (She still can’t believe there are doctors (veterinarians) for pets.
- Maureen did several carlines with me.
- I was photobombed:
- We laughed and joked and talked and I am continually amazed at her big heart and how much she teaches me about wealth, poverty and God.
- We scheduled a health checkup for her at a family doctor’s office.
- She told me stories that made me weep and I realized (again), I can do and give so much more.
- I have been reminded over and over how easy my life is. From laundry to dinner preparation, to shopping and living. I have no reason to complain.
- Perspective is everything.
- We went on a mini shopping spree –first scented candle, sassy insulated cup and much more!
- She has blended into our home and family just like I knew she would.
- I can’t wait for the next 24 hours!
The food kept coming, freezers full. Friends from church and school delivered desserts and veggies, roast and brisket, neighbors created a schedule of meals for my brother-in-law and teen nephews. The food piled high and we vacuum-sealed and froze portions for the weeks and months to come. Toilet paper and napkins, loaves of bread and CD’s of praise music for the family were dropped off all day long.
The hours and days following my sister-in-law’s death last week were the most beautiful display of community I have ever seen.
Her husband and sons are being held by their community of friends and neighbors in the plains of Texas. As my mother-in-law and other sister-in-law cut cake into pieces and I wrote dates on freezer bags, we talked about the beauty of community and how it’s with you in the ebb and flow of life. The joy and sorrow.
I walked away from that kitchen with a deep sense of thankfulness and a longing to create community just like my dear sister -in-law did. If filled her life and brought comfort in her death.
I’ve made it a goal in 2013 to work harder at this real life community thing. It doesn’t come natural for me, but I’ve seen the power of it up close and it’s good.
As women, there’s a tangible, real way for us to create community is thru (in)RL:
I hope you’ll join me and be a part of this opportunity for connection today.
Maureen is in my home.
SHE’S HERE, eating her first bowl of Texas chili at my chalkboard table!
When we drove up to our house from the airport and I opened the garage, she saw our family bikes hanging from the ceiling and asked if we also sold bicycles for a living (since we have five).
I’m seeing my home and things and excess thru her eyes. I think everyone should have a visitor with this kind of perspective. It’s a hard kind of good.
She ran away (in terror) from our 10 lb dog and we are taking baby steps. Pets are rare in a country oppressed with poverty. When she saw our black cat, she screamed and said only witches own cats like that in Kenya. Hey, I’ve been called worse.
And then we visited two of my favorite places and had us some Christian chicken:
Next, a visit to Target’s Dollar Spot:
She’s obviously my daughter.
We returned home and finished some last minute work on a Mercy House event at our local church.
And then she handed me this letter from our precious girls at the maternity home:
Here’s a portion of it:
Dear Welch family,
Happy New Year! We want you to know that we’ve been praying for you everyday. It’s a privilege for us. You have really played a very big role in our lives….
Thank you very much for the things that you have done for us. You are the ones who made us to be the people we are today with our babies. Thank you for saving our lives and our babies lives too. God bless you very much and we are praying for you that God will keep you strong and you’ll have faith in Him….
We want you to know that Mercy House is a very good place with everything we need in it. We really enjoy living here with our babies. We thank God for giving us the best Director, too. She has walked with us until we have reached the place we are today.”
And if I ever wondered if all the work and tears and challenges were worth it… here is my answer.
Well. It was bound to happen.
She turned 13.
To celebrate, she hung out with her teen cousins and siblings to spray graffiti at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. We were there for such a sad reason, but we looked for the joy in the sorrow.
My favorite hoodlums.
She wiped away silent tears at her Aunt’s funeral and carried herself like a lady. She’s deep and soulful.
She wears perfume, saves her babysitting money for manicures and dabbles in eye shadow. She’s taller than I am, her fashion sense puts mine to shame and last week I borrowed something from her.
It’s all happening too fast. I’m trying to soak it in and enjoy the topsy-turvy ride. Thankfully, she still holds fast to “No Boys Allowed.”
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