my heart is so busy

Wednesday night we had the awesome privilege of having Faa Sumitra Choemue as a guest in our home. I fell in love with her the minute she hopped out of the car and bounced up to our door. She is a bundle of energy, yet so poised and darling and wonderful and eloquent. LOVE her.

Meet beautiful Faa, the inspiration behind the title of this post.

As we sat huddled up in our living room (thank you, Bre, Travis, Sean, Megan, Kim, Sharon, Sarah, Doug, Connie, and James!) hanging on Faa’s every word as she told her story (in English, one of six languages she speaks), she repeated one phrase a handful of times. “My heart is so busy!”

I grinned and clasped my hands together, because I got it. My heart is so busy too!! Always thinking of what I can do next, feeling so many things, being overwhelmed by the swirl, overcome by how much Jesus loves me. My heart is so busy!!

I sat between Livi and Ava on our little loveseat while Faa was talking, and I leaned forward the whole entire time. I was so intrigued and so excited and felt so sad when she talked about being #12 of 12 children and 5 of her siblings passing away when they were little. When she shared about how her dad would get drunk and beat her up, how she was scared of all men and even boys because of how her father treated her.

How she grew up in the hill country in Thailand, part of a tribe that originated from China, then Laos, then Burma (or something like that), and that her people were looked down on by the Thai people. She was second-class, less than, a nobody, worthless.

But then she was rescued and sent to a Christian children’s home!

And she hated it.

I laughed when she told us how she didn’t want to be there, she didn’t want to be around all those kids, she didn’t understand why they read the same book over and over and over again. They were CRAZY.

But somehow God began to woo her to him and she couldn’t resist, and before she knew it, she was all about the crazy. She was craving God and couldn’t get enough of him and devoured his word and cried out to him in prayer.

And begged him to help her forgive her father.

And he answered her prayer.

And now she has eight precious children who live with her (six girls and two boys). Children who have been threatened and abused (horrifically). Some of them had big, long seasons of nightmares when they first came to live with Faa. Their needs are so great, greater than Faa feels she has the capacity to handle.

So she relies fully on God to get her through each day.

And he hasn’t let her down yet.

I laughed when she told us about one little girl who came to live with her and wasn’t very happy about it. “Why do you read the same book over and over again?” she asked. She thought these people were crazy.

And then she gave her heart to Jesus.

Faa knows each one of her kiddos intimately. She knows their favorite colors and how they like to wear their hair. She knows what kind of birthday cake they each want and what their favorite games are to play. She knows their strengths and weaknesses and how to make them smile.

She saved their lives. GOD saved their lives.

And as part of the healing process, she prepares them for the day when she will take them back to visit their village, when they will spend time talking to members of their family who hurt them so terribly (many of these kids aren’t orphans–they were rescued from abusive situations, even threats of death).

And they extend forgiveness. And their families see a deep, deep change in their lives, and they want to know more. And many of them have started to follow Jesus.

Faa’s story is one of hope in the midst of brokenness. She is beautiful and bubbly, yet so intelligent and a little bit serious. She is a firm, firm believer in the awesome power of prayer and will bet her entire life on it. She is 100% surrendered to Christ and just glows with his glory.

And now our family is praying like crazy that God will provide a way for us to visit her and her children while we’re in Cambodia. I can’t tell you how full (busy!) it made this mama’s heart to see my girlies interact with Faa and listen to her story and love on her and get loved on by her. No words.

Before she came, the girls and I talked about how we could bless her while she was here. They made washer necklaces to sell, and I had some books and Scrabble magnets, and they made signs to put by them. We planned to give the money to Faa’s ministry, but I wanted to do more.

Then I saw our “Coins for Cambodia” jar on my desk. We save all of our change and then deposit it in our fund when we get a bunch. I’m not sure how much was in the jar. I asked the girls if we could give all the change to Faa.

Two said yes and one said no. “We need that to get our plane tickets!” she said.

“You know what?” I said. “Do you remember yesterday when we helped Elisabeth clean out her basement, and she gave us money for our Cambodia Fund? And remember how earlier this week someone we don’t even know sent us $100 to help us get to Cambodia? Don’t you think God is big enough to provide for us even when we give money away?”

“Yes!” she said, eyes lit up. “Give it to her!” And that little girl was the most excited of all when we presented Faa with the coins.

I felt compelled (in the most joyful way, not in a guilty way) to also give her some money someone had just paid me for some CDs I sold. I reached in my back pocket and there it was. Like manna.

The night passed too quickly, Faa (and James and Connie–you guys are awesome!) left, and I was cleaning up (and licking the bowl of spinach artichoke dip) and basking in the glow of my busy heart when Gabe said, “Oh, hey, your friend ______ left this envelope for you.”

$25. For our Cambodia Fund.

With tears in my eyes, I ran up to the girls’ bedroom and told them what God had done. He is so so so so good.

And then I stayed up until 1:00a.m. poring over Cambodia guidebooks and looking up flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiang Mai (Thailand) and scheming ways to sell the rest of our earthly possessions. I couldn’t go to sleep for all the giddy.

And then a couple hours later, thunder shook our house, and our bedroom built for two became inhabited by five.

And today my heart was half delightfully busy, half incredibly grouchy.

Have a great weekend, friends!

17 thoughts on “my heart is so busy

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » not to us!

  2. Samantha

    What a wonderful post! I’m going to reread this many times I think! I really needed the reminder that God and the world are so much bigger than my own little kingdom. Thank you 🙂

  3. Kelly S

    So neat. Thanks for sharing Faa’s story, and for sharing your own as well of God’s provision yesterday and throughout your journey to Cambodia!!

  4. Laura

    This is beautiful. I’m so inspired by the lessons your girls are learning about God’s provision, and about giving with a joyful spirit.

  5. Jen Hanson

    Oh man – I LOVE the part about her bringing the children back to their village to offer forgiveness to their abusers. ::shivers:: That is beyond incredible. Only God could make coming “home” to face something like that so beautiful!!

  6. Jessica Cardwell

    Thank you so much for sharing this! If I lived close to you I would have loved to come here Faa’s story. I spent 4 months in Thailand years ago and the children there have a special place in my heart. I really hope you get to go to Chiang Mai.

  7. Sharon Meekins

    Yes, Marla! God is so faithful! I’m overcome with joy with how the Lord is using you and providing for you. I love you, friend! Thank YOU for your faithfulness to Him!

  8. Ruth Chowdhury

    In tears while reading this. My heart, too, has been becoming busy lately and I feel like I know exactly what you mean. God is so faithful! Praying you get to visit Thailand as well!

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