Mar 302010

Some days are just too hard to write about. Like today. Today’s my baby Sister’s birthday. Tomorrow she leaves me for Rwanda for 9 months. Where she’ll use her law degree, her courage, and her faith to fight to protect brutalized little girls for whom noone has ever fought before.

So instead of writing, I sit here and think. Or try not to, rather. And I stare at pictures of her on my computer and I swallow hard. I have no clue where to start, or what to say, or how to even pray. So I think, I’ll just write nothing. It’s too hard. Everyone will understand. Sister will understand. And so I close up the blog. Nothing today, friends.

And I open my email, and this message is waiting from Lou. My Lou, your Lou. The Lou we all met through Momastery. And she writes this:

I’ve been thinking about Sister too. I hope you are posting the prayer for Sister this week. I still like that prayer, G. Usually whenever I go back and read something I wrote, I want to edit it. But I don’t have that feeling with that prayer.

Here’s Lou’s prayer. It’s by my bed. I am going to pray it every morning and every night until my baby sister is back in my kitchen. Cooking, preferably. I would love it if you would pray it once too. Just reading it today counts as praying, of course. Everything counts as praying.

Dear God,

I’m scared. About Sister. I don’t want her and her family to be scared all the time. I want them to be able to sleep at night. And wake up with hope and faith and excitement. And have peaceful hearts throughout the day. I lay all my fears down at your feet. Pick them up and take them away from me. So I can be strong and fierce and continue to pray for her work in Rwanda. Where they need her. Those who are oppressed. Who live in fear daily. Hourly. Those who have been treated unfairly. For Sooooooo Loooong. Thank you for all the experiences in Sister’s life that prepared her for this time in this place. Rwanda. Protect her and keep her safe. And healthy.

Provide her just-in-time emotional, physical and spiritual rest, energy, and stamina. Sufficient and abundant preparation in all aspects. Safe travels. Safe shelter. And MORE SAFETY for God’s sake. Not too many bugs! Good companions… relational and professional. Someone who makes her laugh! Someone particularly blessed with whom she can share her burdens! All the expertise needed. God-given slip ups on the part of the oppressors and God-given contacts from the oppressed with people at IJM. A flannel pillow or some other cozy thing. Bravery and courageousness for her and all those working with her and for all justice seekers and for all the oppressed. Sunlight, stars, and the beauty of God’s creation! That the right people will be placed in the government and in power to do the right thing. That the laws are in place and changed as needed to rescue the oppressed. The sound of children laughing and singing! That hearts will be touched and changed because of the truth and light God shines through her on these situations in Rwanda. Beautiful hearts and good memories! That those who are rescued will be healed and comforted with bandages, and people, and rest, and the Lord. The smell of coffee or tea or some other lovely thing! That oppressors hearts would also be rescued and redeemed. Some justice here on earth! Just the right amount and kind of contact from home that she requires and desires. Powerful prayers continually being lifted up for her. Seeing and feeling God’s presence powerfully every day! Did I mention safety, Lord? Keep her safe and secure, not only in your love and faithfulness, but in one piece, because G needs her back home here when she’s done. Amen.


I love you, Baby Sister.

I’m glad I still have a little Amanda to hold while you’re gone.

She can’t cook, though, Sister.


Apr 072010

The night before Sister left for Rwanda, she gave me a letter, along with a very special gift. I’m offering them to you today because Bubba always tells us: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Today you’ll get to read her letter and tomorrow I’ll send you to her blog, where you can become her partner on the great adventure that she and God, and all of us, are on together.

My hope is that you will be as encouraged and inspired by her as I am, everyday.

Here goes.


March 24, 2010

We can do hard things.

Slow and Steady.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12


I think I first gave it to you in 1999. I was in my second year at UVA, you were in your fifth year at JMU. I was worried about you, about your eating and drinking and health. But I knew that if you believed in you- believed that you were worth fighting for – you could be well. That you were strong. So strong. That you would need to be strong to struggle toward health.

I sent you a long letter and these little black boots with fire red laces. The boots, little kids’ hiking/combat boot type things, had the label “Rebel” on them and those bold, defiant laces. I loved them. And I loved the word Rebel to describe what we needed to do. To defy the powerful forces that made you feel so desperate to match the image of acceptable thinness, the same that kept me the year before, and a few years beyond, in the crazy-making cycle of bulimia. To defy the temptation to believe that you were what alcohol had made you. They were an invitation- those little Rebels – to put on our badass boots and courageously hump through our battlefield toward the peaceful clearing where we belonged. By one step. Then another.

That was the first time those laces and we met.

In 2001, you gave a boot back to me. The other had long since disappeared in the muddy trenches, but you gave one back to me in 2001 when I left for law school. You told me it would be hard, but we could do hard things. It was hard. I hated it actually. But we did it.

Close to midnight in January 2003, after I got the call that it was all happening, I carefully unlaced the sacred red string and packed it – together with every desperate prayer and joy in my heart- and drove from Charlottesville to Fairfax to deliver it to you as you delivered Chase. It was in the room that changed the world- when you were ushered into motherhood and family and the greatest challenge of your life.

You gave the lace back in 2006 as I was being ushered out of what I believed was my most important role. As I recovered- in your basement and in your care – from the divorce, the only thing I could do was take the hump – one step at a time – with faith that a clearing was ahead, even when I could not see a sign of peace anywhere in the distance. The image of those boots – the belief that what saves a person is to take one step, and then another- was the only way I managed to stumble, solemn and grateful and defiant, onto the clearing where I could breathe easy again.

Each one step. And each another. These are all life is. Every day a million courageous or grueling one steps; each crisis the will to step instead of crumble, each joy a grateful skip. This is what is required of life.

But the joy of life- the privilege of life – is these boots, these laces. It is the comfort and peace in knowing that each step we take is accounted for by each other. Knowing that the other is walking each step with you – would take that hike for you if she could – and will not let you fall. Will never let you fall except into her arms. These laces signify the privilege of knowing we walk with each other through everything, and that is because we are two united and with God three – we can do hard things.

These next many months will be no different, except in proximity. You will be with me through every step I take, every person I meet. I will be with you through every writing session and bath time, through your recovery from Lyme and your small town adventures. We will miss nothing. But that might be difficult to remember at times. So this lace, this lace will help us remember. I will wear mine everyday to remind me how blessed I am to walk this world together.

We can do hard things.

Slow and Steady.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12



These are the bracelets Sister had made out of the Red Rebel Shoelaces, which we will wear each day that she’s gone.

Cords of three strands.

Good story, huh?

Apr 082010

There we are, the Doyle Sisters, the night before Amanda left for Rwanda to help some other sisters.

Please head over here and sign up on Sister’s blog as a follower. Maybe you could even leave her a little note. Just let her know you’re thinking of her. She’s brave, but brave people get lonely, too.
Thanks, Monkees.
Love, G