My Sissy Speaks STRENGTH.
I was snuggled tight in my bed, dreaming the sweet dreams of a four year old while rocking my Alabama cheerleader pjs, of course, when my daddy rushed in my room, turned on my light, and told me to go get in the car. My heart pounds out of my chest even now as I type, because I remember that moment like it was just yesterday. I remember not asking any questions at all, but going straight to to the garage and getting in the backseat of the car. I saw my momma run to the car with Mal in her arms. Mal was thirteen months old at the time and had quit breathing. My mom had performed CPR on her, and after Mal had begun breathing again, they decided to take her to the emergency room. It was February and cold, and I remember riding in the floorboard of the backseat of the car as my daddy drove us to the hospital with the windows down to help Mal breathe easier. After a few days in the hospital, doctors confirmed that she had experienced a seizure. This event is what doctors say may have caused her speech impediment. Stuttering is such a mystery. There is no confirmed cause or cure. My sister has stuttered since she began talking. As a little girl, she talked ALL the time and did not even realize that she was any different. However, when she started kindergarten, she began to realize that she talked differently than everyone else. She began attending speech class at five years old. I would watch her go from giggling about trying to say what she so desperately wanted to say to getting so frustrated she would sometimes just want to give up. BUT, she never has. She defines STRENGTH. Even as a little girl, I knew that my sister was unique and possessed something so different from within. I decided from a very young age that I would always be close by... just in case she needed me. From meeting someone new, ordering at a restaurant, finishing her sentences, I would always be just a nudge away to be her voice.
My Sissy Speaks BEAUTY.
Mal is now completing her Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology in May and is passionate about her future career as a speech therapist. Now from meeting someone new, ordering at a restaurant to giving speeches in front of large crowds, I have watched her grow into a BEAUTIFUL, confident woman who has found her voice and is a true inspiration to so many.
My Sissy Speaks HOPE.
On this mission, I met Sam, a fifteen year old boy, who lives at Pehucci Orphanage in Kenya. After meeting Sam, I knew immediately that he would be a special boy to my family. You would only see Sam's eyes when he was singing. If he was not singing, his head remained down and he avoided eye contact with just about everyone. While talking to Sam for the very first time, I noticed that he stuttered. I encouraged him to look at my eyes, then I told him that my sister talks just like him. He grabbed my hands, and said that he never knew anyone else that talked like he did. He then asked me, "How did she get healed from stammering?". I told him that she continues to struggle sometimes with her speech, but has learned techniques that help her be more fluent. I shared with him how eye contact is very important to her and encouraged him to continue looking at my eyes while he spoke. He then asked me if he could practice "looking at my eyes" and tell me his story. I locked eyes with this sweet face and became completely numb as he told me his story. I listened as my heart and head tried to comprehend everything that he was sharing with me. When he finished, I told him that I would be returning the next day, so if he had any questions at all about his stammering, he could feel free to ask me, and I would try to answer them the best I knew how. Not even thirty minutes later, he returned with fifteen perfectly written questions about his speech. My heart was completely overwhelmed as I read through the questions and remembering moments when my sister had asked the same exact questions. Here are just a few: "How did you feel when you realized that you were speaking different than others?" "Do you believe that it's God's will for you being a stammerer?" "Have you ever blamed God for your stammering?" "Have you ever heard someone imitating you? How did you feel? What did you tell them?" "Do you pray to God to stop making you a stammerer or what do you tell God?" "Does your stammering keep you from doing things you would really like to do?" "Do you get nervous and embarrassed?" I knew that I had to get this boy answers to his questions. So, I took a picture of his questions and emailed them to my sister half a world away. I did not given her any details at all, but just told her to answer them as quickly as possible. She woke up to an email from Africa, answered each question, and emailed her responses immediately. After receiving her answers, I stayed up all night, hand-writing them, so I could give them to Sam the next day. I wept over her answers as I saw HOPE in every single response.
The next morning, after we arrived back at Pehucci, I hopped out of the van anxiously looking for Sam. I spotted him, ran to him, and told him that I had Mallory's answers to his questions. His response I will never EVER forget: "I have been doing chores. I will need to go shower. I must be fresh for the answers." A few minutes later he returned, and he and I sat in a classroom and discussed each question and her answers. After each response, he would just say, "Praise God. Praise God." After we finished, I then asked Sam if he would like to see a picture of Mallory. I showed him the picture, he took it, and began to cry. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "She is so beautiful, and she stammers?" I said, "Yes". He asked, "She has an education, and she stammers?" I said, "Yes". He then asked, "She has a family, an she stammers?" At that moment, I was completely overwhelmed. It was January 1st, the day that Zach was planning to propose. And as I sat in that sheet metal classroom half a world away, I knew that God had used my willingness to go and her gift of stuttering to give this young boy on the other side of the world, HOPE. Mallory and Zach were married seven months later on July 27th, 2014. On that day, I passed the torch of "protector" to Zach who is now the one by her side for her to give the nudge to... just in case. Thank you, Zach, for letting her finish her sentences and being the brother I always wanted. Thanks to the BFR Kids sponsorship program, my parents are able to sponsor Sam, and he is now part of our family.
My Sissy Speaks JOY.
Thank you, Mal, for choosing JOY in YOUR Journey! Thank you for showing me how to overcome adversity with humility and grace. The only thing better than having you for a sister is for my kids to have you as their Aunt Mal Mal. Thank you for singing, dancing, laughing, snorting, eating, running, crying, praying, dreaming with me through this journey. Thank you for pushing me and challenging me to embrace this journey that God has chosen just for me. Thank you for always being just a nudge away to be my voice and speak STRENGTH, BEAUTY, HOPE, and JOY into my life.
Exodus 4:11-12 "Then the LORD asked Moses, "Who makes a person's mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say."
Check out the video here: https://vimeo.com/127513177
Worship in Waiting: