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The Mercy of Resilence
Monday, June 28, 2021 by Debra Kornfield

The Mercy of Resilience

Resilience: the ability to navigate difficult experiences, building capacity for future challenges.

In my life, resilience has been less about me “bouncing back” than about God’s grace, faithfulness, and presence day by day.  

Thinking about this during a recent seminar on “Resilience through Covid,” I remembered the following event from my childhood.

From our missionary home in the Guatemalan highlands in August 1960, we drove sixty miles (3 ½ hours on treacherous mountain roads) to pick up my three older siblings at their boarding school. But after celebrating my eldest sister Linda’s graduation from eighth grade, we didn’t return home. We drove north, with whatever we could jam into our Jeep around Mom and Dad and six children. Our objective: to reach Independence, Kansas in time for the new academic year there. 

In 1960 the Pan American Highway reached only halfway through Mexico from the U.S. Thus, once we crossed the border from Guatemala, the eight of us rode in our Jeep chained to a flatcar of a noisy train. The sweaty, cramped, diesel-fumed miles through the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca to Veracruz seemed endless. Dad, Mom, girls fourteen, nine, five (me), three, and one, and a boy, eight, soon found ourselves not only train-sick but sick of each other. 

Whenever the train stopped to trade off passengers or freight, hawkers swarmed us, vending bananas and tacos, trinkets, toys, and warm sodas. “Please, Daddy, please!” But no. Mom had meticulously planned every calorie we would consume on that trip, just as Dad had calculated how many quetzales to exchange for pesos at the border. What if we ran out of pesos in the middle of Mexico and couldn’t buy gas?

Mom’s quest at each stop was clean water to wash baby Shari’s diapers, which she then draped from the windows of the jeep to dry. We kids ran around as long as we could before cramming our sweaty selves back into our smelly vehicle.

In my corner, I mentally escaped by planning my birthday. I would be six in a few days. In our family, six was the birthday designated for a party! Remembering my older siblings turning-six parties, I plotted the games, the guests, the gifts.

How would my mother achieve this vision in the middle of Mexico? I didn’t know. But of course, she would. It was family tradition!

By August 16th, we had left the train behind and driven north for several days, the Texas border our next destination. I woke that morning in a tingle of anticipation.

“Happy birthday,” said my older sister Marsha as we washed our faces. So, I had the date right. But no one else mentioned my birthday. Not during breakfast or while making sandwiches to eat in the Jeep for lunch. Not when we stopped by the side of the road so Mom could heat our supper on our portable gas single-burner stove. Nor as we drove on through the night, the heavens spectacular with stars.

In fact, not ever. The only party was my pity party. My anticipated sense of status as a six-year-old shriveled away, as insignificant as I often felt in that tangle of children. Mom didn’t comment on my birthday even when she wrote Age 6 on my registration for first grade in the strange world of Independence, Kansas.

The bigness and richness of that new world, though, distracted me from my moping. I marveled at how people moved, dressed, ate, and talked. Everyone spoke English! I gazed at shiny cars and parks with playgrounds. Fancy churches feted my parents, as Mom enthralled audiences with stories of Guatemala. I gaped at the mountains of food at the ensuing potlucks.

Many “firsts” brightened that furlough year. Multihued autumn leaves, crunchy snow, houses lit up for Christmas, matching red dresses for us girls… Spring brought us a darling new brother, and summer the gift of a Chevy Carryall: a vehicle large enough to take us all back home to Guatemala.

Happier experiences don’t magically cure hard realities, no. But resilience offers us the gift of time: time to grow up, to mature. Time to develop new skills and perspective. Time to understand how God has walked with us. Time to let him heal our wounds.

Whether we’re six, sixteen, or sixty, when tough, tragic, and traumatic things happen, God in his mercy activates our resilience.  It’s what makes possible the “though, though, though, yet!” attitude Habakkuk expresses in 3:17-19: Though the fig trees don’t bloom… though the olive crop fails… though the flocks die in the fields… yet the Sovereign Lord is my strength!

In my memory, God first granted that mercy to me the summer I turned six.

 

 

 

 

Debra Kornfield grew up in Guatemala and lived much of her adult life in Brazil. Though she’s always told stories, she published only nonfiction, mostly in Portuguese. Writing her daughter’s memoir, Karis: All I See Is Grace, hooked her into creating her first novel, Horse Thief 1898. While she seeks publication, she’s writing Book Two. She can't imagine anything more delightful than listening to her characters and telling their tales. 

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Comments

Kathy Thomas From Tallahassee, FL At 9/9/2021 2:17:22 PM

Wow, Deb. This hits the top of unique ways to spend a sixth birthday! I'm so glad you survived. While unpleasant at the time, I'm sure your experiences have shaped you into the amazing person you are today.

Elsie Bowman From FL At 8/28/2021 10:36:37 PM

Love this story! I know it was the Lord that lifted you out of the disappointment and hurt you must have felt and turned your attention to higher things.

Roberta Sarver From Maryland At 8/18/2021 9:35:14 PM

I can hardly fathom all your family went through on that long trip. And you survived to tell about it! Your writing has unique perspectives, Debbie. You should write a book about your times in foreign countries.

Terri Miller From Alabama At 6/28/2021 8:59:46 PM

Lovely story! Thanks for sharing.

Eva Marie Everson From At 6/28/2021 3:19:20 PM

My gracious! What a story! Thank you for sharing with us!

Debra K Kornfield From PA At 6/28/2021 3:13:39 PM

Thanks, Patricia!

Pat Tiffany Morris From Iowa At 6/28/2021 1:29:08 PM

Way to go Debra! Cheering you on my fellow Page 29 critter! I'm proud of you.

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Tina Yeager
11/8/2017

Faculty Interview with Zena Dell Lowe
Bethany Jett
11/6/2017

Faculty Interview with Eva Marie Everson
Bethany Jett
11/3/2017

Images and Promoting Books
Karen Whiting
11/1/2017

Faculty Interview with Courtney Lasater
Bethany Jett
10/30/2017

Faculty Interview with Cindy Sproles
Bethany Jett
10/27/2017

Get to Know Novelist Julie Cantrell
Andy Lee
10/25/2017

Faculty Interview with Tamela Hancock Murray
Bethany Jett
10/23/2017

How to Win a Writing Contest
Leslie DeVooght
10/20/2017

Is It Worth the Risk?
Eva Marie Everson
10/18/2017

Faculty Interview with Athena Dean Holtz
Bethany Jett
10/16/2017

An Author in the Making
Jaimie Engle
10/13/2017

Faculty Interview with Linda Evans Shepherd
Bethany Jett
10/9/2017

An Acquisition Editors Thoughts on Writing, Teaching, and Acquiring
Deb Haggerty
10/6/2017

The Joys and Challenges of Writing for Children
Crystal Bowman
9/29/2017

Two Secrets to Setting Goals
Andy Lee
9/22/2017

Cross-Training to Become a Better Writer
Andy Lee
9/15/2017

When Publishing Doesn't Go Your Way
Edie Melson
9/8/2017

It's That Time Again! Time to Register for FCWC 2018!
Eva Marie Everson
9/1/2017

The ABC's of Driving Traffic to Your Blog
Andy Lee
8/18/2017

Steady On!
Penny Hunt
8/11/2017

Compelled to Write
Andy Lee
8/4/2017

Letting Go of the Numbers
JoAnne Macco
7/28/2017

Freelancing Offers Freedom a "Real Job" Can't
James Watkins
7/14/2017

Six Tips from Literary Agents
Eva Marie Everson
7/7/2017

What Writers Are Really Worth
David Brannock
6/23/2017

Wisdom in Knowing When to be Quiet
Eva Marie Everson
6/16/2017

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
Lori Hatcher
6/9/2017

The Winner of our Flash Fiction Contest
Andy Lee
6/2/2017

When You Want to Quit Writing
Meg Gemelli
5/26/2017

Blogging for the Bible Study Writer
Katy Kauffman
5/19/2017

Boomerang Stories
Belinda Grimbeek
5/12/2017

What's Holding You Back?
Tina Hunt
5/5/2017

Using Flash Fiction to Test Your Ideas
Tez Brooks
4/28/2017

How to Prepare for Your Book's Release
Ginger Monette
4/21/2017

When God Gives You Manna
Sherri Stewart
4/14/2017

Why You Won’t Submit that Piece I Asked For
Lori Hatcher
4/7/2017

How to Decide When to Self-Publish and Advice from One Who Has
Diane E. Tatum
3/31/2017

Faith In Process: Why Prayer is Essential to Our Writing
Terri Rhoden
3/24/2017

Writers Are a Strange Lot
Lori Hatcher
3/16/2017

When Balance and Writing Don't Co-exist
Heather Iseminger
3/9/2017

Six Blogging Trends for 2017
Andy Lee
3/1/2017

Six Things to Do When You Want to Give Up
Maresa DePuy
2/24/2017

Faculty Interview with Heather Iseminger
Bethany Jett
2/22/2017

Faculty Interview with Susan Reichert
Bethany Jett
2/21/2017

Faculty Interview with Linda Gilden
Bethany Jett
2/20/2017

Faculty Interview with Tina Yeager
Bethany Jett
2/19/2017

Faculty Interview with Beth Patch
Bethany Jett
2/18/2017

Faculty Interview with Karen Ball
Bethany Jett
2/18/2017

Faculty Interview with Erin Taylor Young
Bethany Jett
2/17/2017

Faculty Interview with Dawn Anderson
Bethany Jett
2/17/2017

Faculty Interview with Dan Walsh
Bethany Jett
2/15/2017

Faculty Interview with Nancy Lohr
Bethany Jett
2/14/2017

Faculty Interview with Natalie Gillespie
Bethany Jett
2/13/2017

Faculty Interview with Shana Asaro
Bethany Jett
2/13/2017

Faculty Interview with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley
Bethany Jett
2/12/2017

Faculty Interview with Bethany Jett
Eva Marie Everson
2/11/2017

Media and Promos with Punch
Kathy Bruins
2/11/2017

Faculty Interview with Lindsay Brackett
Bethany Jett
2/10/2017

Faculty Interview with Michelle Medlock Adams
Bethany Jett
2/9/2017

Faculty Interview with Eva Marie Everson and Mark Hancock
Bethany Jett
2/8/2017

Faculty Interview with Edie Melson
Bethany Jett
2/6/2017

Faculty Interview with Eddie Jones
Bethany Jett
2/3/2017

Faculty Interview with Hannah C. Hall
Bethany Jett
2/1/2017

Faculty Interview with Cyle Young
Bethany Jett
1/30/2017

Faculty Interview with Kristen Stieffel
Bethany Jett
1/28/2017

Faculty Interview with Bill Watkins
Bethany Jett
1/27/2017

Glimpses from the Writer’s Glossary
Linda Gilden
1/23/2017

Faculty Interview with Torry Martin
Bethany Jett
1/20/2017

Faculty Interview with Marti Pieper
Bethany Jett
1/18/2017

Faculty Interview with Shellie Arnold
Bethany Jett
1/16/2017

Writing a Standout First Page and Blurb
Shana Asaro
1/11/2017

How to Evaluate Your Options
Cheri Cowell
1/9/2017

Faculty Interview with Linda Glaz
Bethany Jett
1/6/2017

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Continuous Critique Track?
Shellie Arnold
1/4/2017

Faculty Interview with Lora Zill
Bethany Jett
1/2/2017

Faculty Interview with Laura Petherbridge
Bethany Jett
12/30/2016

Interview with Katy Kauffman
Bethany Jett
12/28/2016

Interview with Kristen Hogrefe
Bethany Jett
12/26/2016

Faculty Interview with Ben Wolf
Bethany Jett
12/23/2016

5 Reasons to be a Word Weaver
Kristen Hogrefe
12/21/2016

Finding Your Tribe
Katy Kauffman
12/19/2016

Faculty interview with Angela Hunt
Bethany Jett
12/16/2016

Faculty Interview with Alton Gansky
Bethany Jett
12/14/2016

Faculty Interview with Cheri Cowell
Bethany Jett
12/13/2016

A Silent Retreat
Laura Petherbridge
12/12/2016

How to Get More Readers Using Libraries and Magazines ( A Class Offered)
Susan Reichert
12/9/2016

Platform is Not a Four Letter Word
Andy Lee
12/7/2016

Writing for CBN.com
Beth Patch
12/5/2016

Nonfiction A-Z
Edie Melson
12/2/2016

Blogging for the Soul and Making a Difference
Andy Lee
11/30/2016

Will I Ever Be Published?
Linda S. Glaz
11/28/2016

Conquering Mountains
Erin Taylor Young
11/25/2016

I've Written a Children's Book . . . Now What?
Hannah C. Hall
11/16/2016

To Plot or Not
Nancy Lohr
11/14/2016

Writing to Satisfy Our Insatiable Longing to Feel God's Pleasure
Lora Zill
11/11/2016

The Problem with Procrastination
Andy Lee
11/9/2016

Tips for Mastering Dialogue
Dr. Dennis Hensley
11/7/2016

Self-Editing: The Key to Better Writing
Bill Watkins
11/4/2016

Poetry: Cross-Training for Prose Writers
Lora Zill
10/31/2016

Issues Writing That Matters
Bill Watkins
10/28/2016

7 Trends in Book Publishing
Eddie Jones
10/24/2016

Ethics for Christian Writers
Marti Pieper
10/21/2016

Ministry Multiplied
Alton Gansky
10/17/2016

Guidelines for Effective Networking
Deb Haggerty
10/14/2016

Stay Current: Keep Italics Out of Your Fiction
Dr. Angela Hunt
10/7/2016

To E-Book Or Not To E-Book: That is the question
Cheri Cowell
9/30/2016

Is My Writing Good Enough?
Tina Yeager
9/23/2016

Look Who Is Teaching the Fiction Continuing Class
Eva Marie Everson
9/16/2016

The Difference Between a Dream and a Call
Andy Lee
9/2/2016

Lose the Parts Readers Skip
Dan Walsh
8/26/2016

How to Let People Know Your Book Exists
Natalie Gillespie
8/19/2016

Advice from an Editor Regarding Your Manuscript
Fay Lamb
8/5/2016

Through the eyes of an acquisition editor
Ramona Richards
7/29/2016

Be a Book Influencer
Deborah Raney
7/15/2016

Finding Value Through Faith
Denae Haas
6/24/2016

Never Discredit Anyone (Especially God)
Eva Marie Everson
6/17/2016

The Quote for the Quarter Hour
Robert Benson
6/3/2016

Thank a Military Family
Andy Lee
5/27/2016

The Benefits of a Small Press
Eddie Jones
5/20/2016

12 Steps to Prevent Writer Burnout and Nurture Balance
DiAnn Mills
5/13/2016

Write Thoughtfully
Diana Flegal
5/6/2016

3 Keys to Writing Bible Studies that Sell
Andy Lee
4/29/2016

The Benefits of Writing Devotions
Ava Pennington
4/15/2016

A Different Perspective in Crafting Fiction
Steven James
4/8/2016

Some Miracles Take Time
Andy Lee
4/1/2016

A Tribute to Mary Sue Seymour
Andy Lee
3/25/2016

How to be an Influencer
Deborah Raney
3/18/2016

Why Platform is Important--Now I Know
Andy Lee
3/11/2016

4 Resources to Help Writers Write Well
Andy Lee
3/4/2016

What's in and What's Out in Publishing Workshop
Blythe Daniel
2/24/2016

How to Write for Children . . .
Michelle Medlock Adams
2/19/2016

Mistakes Made After Meeting with Agents & Editors
Blythe Daniel
2/17/2016

10 Secrets for a Great Writers Conference
Bethany Jett
2/15/2016

A More Than Enough Kind of God
Michelle Medlock Adams
2/12/2016

For Want of a Hook
Dan Walsh
2/10/2016

What Does a Writers Conference Chaplain Do?
Marti Pieper
2/8/2016

Author Marketing
Edie Melson
2/5/2016

Move Over Clark: The Basics of Journalism
Michael Ray Smith
2/3/2016

Tips to Get the Most Out of the Critique Track
Shellie Arnold
2/1/2016

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Critique Track?
Shellie Arnold
1/29/2016

An Introvert's Best Friend (Live Streaming)
Bethany Jett
1/27/2016

Who am I Writing For?
S. Kim Henson
1/25/2016

The Day I Decided to Keep Writing
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
1/22/2016

Invest in Your Writing
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
1/20/2016

Your Writers Conference Checklist
Andy Lee
1/18/2016

5 Reasons to Launch a Blog
Andy Lee
1/16/2016

Craft Fiction with Vivid Emotion
Tina Yeager
1/13/2016

Thoughts on being a Submissive Writer
Edie Melson
1/9/2016

How Fast Should Your Blog Grow?
Edie Melson
1/6/2016

The ART of Exceptional Editing
Deb Haggerty
1/4/2016

Happy New Year
Andy Lee
1/1/2016

Finding Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Mary Keeley
12/28/2015

Do Writers Need a Blog or Website?
Edie Melson
12/22/2015

"Second-Fiddle" Characters Play an Important Role
Tom Morrisey
12/16/2015

Let Them Eat Bread: An Editor's Thoughts on FCWC
Jesse Florea
12/14/2015

Preparing for Promotion
Michelle Medlock Adams
12/10/2015

Jesus Believed in the Power of Story
Dan Walsh
12/7/2015

How to Use Hashtags in Social Media
Edie Melson
12/4/2015

Where Writer Conference Connections Can Take You
Lindsey Brackett
12/2/2015

Why Should I Attend a Writers Conference?
Andy Lee
11/30/2015

How to Fight Discouragement... as a Writer
Andy Lee
11/23/2015

An Interview with Acclaimed Author, Robert Benson
Eva Marie Everson
11/18/2015

How to Write a Synopsis of Your Nonfiction Book
Kristin Stieffel
11/14/2015

How to Write a Synopsis of Your Novel
Kristin Stieffel
11/9/2015

Let God Define You
Michelle Medlock Adams
11/4/2015

10 Clues that You Are a Fiction Writer
Taryn Souders
10/31/2015

The Basics of a Book Proposal
Kristin Stieffel
10/27/2015

What To Wear at FCWC
Eva Marie Everson
10/23/2015

The Skinny on Business Cards
Andy Lee
10/15/2015

Just Do Your Part
Michelle Medlock Adams
10/12/2015

A Sneak Peek into a New Class at FCWC 2016
Shellie Arnold
10/2/2015

50 Reasons Why You Should Never Write
Pro Krasta Nation Publishers
9/28/2015

The Best First Step on Your Journey to Published
Eva Marie Everson
9/21/2015

10 "Not-So-Secret" Secrets for a Great Writers Conference
Bethany Jett
2/10/2015

Go Where God Leads
Allison Bottke
2/1/2015

Moving From Passion to Process
Ava Pennington
1/27/2015

Your Last First Conference
Kristen Hogrefe
1/19/2015

What Is Compel Training?
Suzie Eller
1/9/2015

That Agent Meeting
Tamela Hancock Murray
1/3/2015

Three Problems with Point of View
Kristen Stieffel
12/21/2014

How to Evaluate Your Options
Cheri Cowell
12/5/2014

Writing Effective Book Proposals
Jim Watkins
11/29/2014

Do the Math
Marti Pieper
11/21/2014

Becoming More Media Savvy
Natalie Gillespie
11/15/2014

The Perfect Book Pitch
Dawn Anderson
11/8/2014

Moved With Compassion
Diana Flegal
10/20/2014

Splickety In A Flash
Ben Wolf
10/9/2014

Look into Their Eyes: Why Editors Go to Writers Conferences
Ramona Richards
9/29/2014

A Writer's Life
Dan Walsh
2/21/2014

The Good, The Bad, and The Gutless
DiAnn Mills
2/20/2014

I Want 2 Write 4 Teens
Marti Pieper
2/13/2014

6 Things Writers Should NOT Say to Editors or Agents
Jevon Bolden
2/12/2014

Don't Be Labeled "Dead On Arrival"
Eddie Jones
1/30/2014

Imagine. Create. For a More Confident Faith
Lora Zill
1/28/2014

Burnout or Balance
DiAnn Mills
1/21/2014

Money Workouts for Writers
Ellie Kay
1/18/2014

The Tale of Three Authors
Cheri Cowell
1/10/2014

Three Questions, Three Answers
B.J. Taylor
1/7/2014

The Introvert's Guide to the Writers Conference
Marti Pieper
1/2/2014

After Your Meeting with an Editor or Agent
Blythe Daniel
2/23/2013

It's Headed Right Towards Us
Amber Weigand-Buckley
2/16/2013

So, Tell Me About Your Platform
Cheri Cowell
2/11/2013

How Will Readers Find Your Book...
Eddie Jones
2/1/2013

Tips For Coming to the FCWC From a Floridian
Cheri Cowell
1/26/2013

How to Write For Kids When ...
Michelle Medlock Adams
1/23/2013

Why Take the Chance?
Fay Lamb
1/7/2013

Having a Positive Influence
Deborah Raney
1/4/2013

Managing Your Time
Rusty Wright
12/29/2012

Are You Ready for the Conference?
W. Terry Whalin
12/26/2012

Devoted to Devotions
Ava Pennington
12/21/2012

A Different View of Story
Steven James
12/18/2012