In the Sob. On the Inhale.

In the Sob. On the Inhale.


“Put your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly and feel your breath.”

The class room in the community center was filled with little children, shoes off and lined up on yoga mats. They were refugee children from the crisis in Syria. They ranged in age from 4-12. They were the kids group. I got to teach them yoga yesterday and I think I’ll never be the same.




“I’m going to teach you two words in English today,” I say as a translator shares…”Inhale and exhale. Inhale,” I say, taking a giant breath and filling all the corners of my lungs, motioning the balloon like nature of my belly and kidneys and ribs.”Can you tell them to breathe into their backs and feel their ribs draw apart?” and she does. And they do.

A little girl, braid over her shoulder and down to her belly button. The tassle like end of braid rises and falls with her breath. She closes her eyes.  A little boy in blue jeans and blue and green flannel hops on one foot and blows out air like he’s before a birthday cake. An older boy, maybe 10 who clearly wishes the kids could settle so he could find his breath tunes out the room-noise and finds it none the less. They have run for their lives. They have hidden at night. They’ve been sprayed with gunfire and bombs and chemical weapons. They have all lost everything, their homes, their homeland and their people. They have slept at refugee camps for over a year. And now, they are here.





“Inhale and exhale.”

Arabic is a tough language. I’m trying to learn and so I practice “Inhale and exhale” in Arabic. Inhale: Zafar  Exhale: Shhq. I had learned a different word for “inhale”, aistanshaj. But the translators and children agreed. That wasn’t the right word.

That “inhale” meant “to sniff or whiff or inhale, while zafar…it meant to sob or inhale. Yes. Zafar. Sob. Inhale.


“Good,” I said as they softened onto gentle twists an searched for their breath again and she translated with near angelic grace with perfect eyebrows and tiger stripped hijab. Each inhale you grow taller. Each exhale you twist a tiny bit more” and the little ones grew taller before my eyes and spun their brave hearts open. “Good, inhale unwind. Bring your hands back to your heart and your belly.” A calm had fallen over the room, a joy, a peace. It was clear to everyone. To the medical students from Wayne and Michigan State who volunteering their time at this wellness outreach to the recent refugee of Metro Detroit. It was clear to the event organizers from Syrian American Rescue Network ( who brought together nutritionists and grief councilors, an art therapist and me. It was most importantly clear to the children and their parents.

“Feel your feet on your mat. Feel the backs of your legs on your mat. Feel the steady support of the earth beneath you. Inhale that steady support into your heart.” and they closed their eyes inhaled peace and it was beautiful.





An artist named Jason Gray has an album who’s title I love “Everything Sad in Coming Untrue”…genius, right? But I swear, it is. I am a witness. I saw hope crash in today.

I saw Jesus move. I heard him in the sob…on the inhale.

For more information on the monthly wellness outreaches to the Syrian refugee community through Wayne State and Michigan State Colleges of Medicine contact Dr. Ayesha Fatima, or to make a donation to support the refugee community as they resettled,


Shannyn Caldwell is author of The Healing Season: How a Deadly Tornado Wrecked and Reshaped My Faith



She Said the Unthinkable


“Would you like to keep my baby?” she said in her thick Ghanaian dialect.

“I would LOVE to!” I said, not knowing that she…she actually meant it.

She wasn’t really asking if I’d like to. She was asking if I would.


It’s breaks my brain…shatters it, to think of how a mother could lovingly come to the conclusion that the BEST case for her baby is to hand her to a stranger, but this…this is the scope of a mothers sacrificial love.


I was quickly told from a kind Compassion worker that I could under no circumstances, take the baby. That it would be an international incident. So I said, “We need to pray right now.” And we did.12697227_10207770079643770_3771096754116292391_o

We prayed for provision, food, water and long health for mom and her family. We prayed for them to see Jesus in a real way. We prayed for an education and for protection over her life.

We prayed for a sponsor.

Maybe, just maybe, we were praying for you.

I know…it’s hard. The problem…it’s massive and I want to run and hide, too.

But the love of God calls us to change that thinking…calls us to repentance.

To stretch out minds past the hard bone of our skulls and stretch our hearts past the cage of our ribs and set them free to soar and dream  big dreams, impossible dreams.

To remember who God IS…a good Father, who seeing out disaster reached out and said, through Jesus, “Take my baby”.

Coconut Buttermilk Pie (GF)


This pie is adapted from Char Bolthouse’s Famous Butter Milk Pie

Her Recipe Here

Now, Char’s recipe is perfection. It’s also…like the opposite of healthy so, I tinkered with it a bit in an attempt to sooth my spirit of it’s never ending desire for healthy AND YUMMY FOOD!

This #healthhack is not 100% healthy exactly, but it lives in the neighborhood and came out PERFECT!

{Read: Best Pie Ever}



1 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

1 t vanilla

1 cup organic butter milk

3 eggs 1 egg white

1 cup raw unsweetend coconut

1/2 cup gluten free baking mix (we used ancient grain)

5 t and 1/3 t melted coconut oil

Use mixer to blend completely.

Pour into greased (coconut oil) pie tin and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool.



#iamachristian #prayforsyria


I cried a lot today.

My friend, Michael, who just 6 months ago said, “I’ll never leave Syria. As long as there is any chance of news getting out of Syria, I will stay and translate it.” left Syria today.


Today, I went to church.

Today I sang worship songs again and again to help me remember who God is.

That He continues to be a God of wonders and miracles, who works all things together for good.

Even this. Even this.

He won’t stop. He hasn’t stopped.

Our lives are not our own.

God is patient. He’s patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

He’s waiting for a repentant heart.

When I can’t even see a photo of ISIS, our Father sees one lost soul, and another lost soul. He see’s evil all over someone He made in His image and He wants that boy He made to repent. And He is patient.

Today we serve a God who has defeated the enemy.

And I know it doesn’t look that way.  I know.


Today we watch cities and nations collapsing by the weight to hatred,violence and fear.

Shootings…in schools.

And we wait.

We wait for our loving, kind, patient God to move.

We say our prayers and wait for God to move.

And Michael gets on his knees and faces Mecca and prays for God to give him safe passage.

We wait for God to move.

And I hold hands with church-ladies and pray for God to give Michael safe passage and for salvation…so He could know our God, our Savior the comforter of our souls.

And we place our trust in Him.

And we burn in our bones till it hurts because He lives in us and justice screams and wails for satisfaction.

And Michael sends a message on IM “It is well, lady. God goes with me. Pray for me.”


Are we know that He is moving even now.

And we know His ways are not our ways. And we know His ways are higher.

And we dare to reach out and reach out again until the one who is moaning for shelter connects with the open door and in that time we meet the face of God and look Him in the eyes.

Filthy face.

Dirt under our nails.

We see the kingdom.

We do not disrepair.

We. Believe.



To donate to boarder camps:

To open your home to a Syrian refugee contact Lutheran Social Services International Foster Program or on twitter #wewelcomerefugees