Joscelyn's Journey

A Beautiful Child's Journey Through Hemimegalencephaly

Hinds’ Feet

on July 8, 2012

I love to read!

Some books I read once and then pass along to friends; others have a permanent home on my bookshelf and are read again and again, their spiritual lessons fresh and new with each passing season of my life.

Hinds’ Feet on High Places” is one such “perpetual book”. I first read it when I was a young mother in my twenties, just beginning my journey of faith. In my thirties, I read it almost annually, always gleaning some new kernel of truth from its pages. This year, I am reading it for the first time as a bereaved mother.

To those of you unfamiliar with the book, it is an allegorical novel written in 1955 by English author Hannah Hurnard. “Hinds’ Feet” chronicles the story of a weak and wounded woman named “Much-Afraid” and her journey to the “High Places.”  The title of the book comes from Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

Hinds’ feet (Hind is another word for deer) are uniquely suited for scaling difficult rocky ground. Deer possess a great leaping ability, often jumping 8 feet into the air. The strong muscles of a deer’s hind legs also enable them to run almost 35 mph. The front legs are ideal for pivoting, allowing a deer to make sharp turns.

To develop “hinds’ feet” on one’s spiritual journey then, is to develop the ability to traverse the rockiest of terrain easily and fearlessly.

I have had many reasons in my life to take the name, “Much-Afraid”.

 Maybe you have, too.

If you have ever allowed yourself to be held back by fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of mockery, fear of success, fear of loss, fear of _________, then you know what a negative, controlling force fear can be in a person’s life.

I admire “Much-Afraid”. Though nearly overcome with fear and trepidation, she is willing to undertake the arduous and dangerous journey from The Valley of Humiliation where she lives to the High Places where the Good Shepherd resides because she so desperately desires what He  promises will be hers when she finally arrives there: the healing of all of her blemishes and disfigurements, the knowledge of true love and the ability to finally be free from fear once and for all.

The Good Shepherd provides Much-Afraid with two faithful companions to help her traverse the rocky paths and steep cliffs of the journey.

These companions are Sorrow and Suffering.

Not Peace and Joy, mind you.

But Sorrow and Suffering.

Upon hearing this dreadful news, Much-Afraid naturally asks the Good Shepherd why He does not simply carry her to the High Places.

“I could,” he explains gently, “But if you will climb to the heights this once with the companions I have chosen for you, even though it may seem a very long and in some places a very difficult journey, I promise you that will develop hinds’ feet. Afterwards you will be able to go with Me, ‘leaping on the mountains,’ and be able to make the ascent and the descent in the twinkling of an eye.”

I’ve read that passage many times over the years. But as I re-read it recently, an image of Nick flashed in my mind. He was wearing a huge smile, leaping easily from one rock to the next, bounding effortlessly and joyously, higher and higher, zig-zagging his way up the craggy rocks to dizzying heights while my lame, earthbound feet kept me trapped on the ground below, helpless to follow.

I want desperately to go to the High Places, too!

Sorrow and Suffering have certainly led me through difficult places on my journey before but they have been my constant companions ever since I received the devastating news of Nick’s death. They were already walking beside me when we were told of Joscelyn’s diagnosis of hemimegalencephaly and that the only treatment for her condition was the surgical removal of half of her brain. They waited patiently with me during her surgery, and even today they hovered near me in her hospital room as she battled a fever which may or may not indicate an infection and suffered with occasional unexplained spasms that may or may not be seizures. (We will hopefully know more tomorrow.)

During every moment in the last several months that my heart was broken and I had cause to once again be made Much-Afraid, Sorrow and Suffering have been standing by proffering their cold, lonely hands to me.

Naturally, like Much-Afraid, my first instinct is to shrink away from their terrifying presence. “Bring me peace and joy instead!”, I demand of the Good Shepherd.

But I’ve been on this journey long enough to know that Peace & Joy alone cannot take me to the High Places, for only Sorrow and Suffering know the way through the valley.

“Fear not, Much-Afraid”, says the Good Shepherd. “Only believe. I promise that you shall not be put to shame. Go with Sorrow and Suffering, and if you cannot welcome them now, when you come to the difficult places where you cannot manage alone, put your hands in theirs confidently and they will take you exactly where I want you to go.”

Time and time again, over the course of the last seven months, I’ve questioned God’s will and His direction for my life. Why, when I longed to ascend to the High Places, did He choose instead to continue leading me through the Valley?

Looking back now, I can seen how Sorrow and Suffering have taught me to be more compassionate, more patient, more loving;  in short, infinitely more like the Good Shepherd who I am following to those High Places. I have come to understand that Sorrow and Suffering are valuable companions- but what of Peace and Joy? Is there not a place for them on my life journey, too?

Today, I acknowledge the hardship of this point in my life journey.

I fearfully,



accept the outstretched hands of the companions the Good Shepherd has given me.

Welcome, Sorrow.

Welcome, Suffering.

Teach me your lessons. Lead me where the Good Shepherd would have me go.

But then, when this part of the journey is behind me and we are home from the hospital with what I can only pray is the worst of it behind us, go your way Sorrow and Suffering and leave me to become reacquainted once again with Peace and Joy.

 Then, with those long lost companions beside me once again, I will rest upon a warm, flat rock, admire the view of the Valley now far beneath me, and regain my strength for the rest of the climb.


26 responses to “Hinds’ Feet

  1. Tina Miller says:

    ❤ praying you reach your high place soon. And praying you experience His Peace, Comfort, Strength and LOVE through your valleys.

  2. debbie says:

    completely floored!! Beautiful!! When I reached the part about Nick leaping rock to rock I smiled. When I read of your companions I know you speak truth and yet, I hate it for you!!! This was beautiful!!!!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing. Your insight is profound. Your wisdom is inspirational. Your words are healing and beautiful. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

  4. edens801 says:

    As a fellow a hemispherectomy parent, we are praying for great things for your family and precious little one. Our son also had the fever and some other issues following surgery, but after several weeks things calmed down. Praying that it is nothing serious for yur sweet girl. We are five years out and our son is nine now, the surgery was a life saving procedure for our son. Let us know if we can be any help to you All.
    Marsha Edens-mom to three Amazing boys!

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Marsha! I LOVE hearing from fellow hemi-moms! It’s so reassuring to talk to someone who has “been there”. I hear over and over again that our amazing children are not just surviving post-surgery but THRIVING! I look forward to sharing all of the amazing things that Joscelyn will do as her brain heals and we see the full benefit of her hemi surgery. Thank you SO much for reaching out! I can’t wait to read your blog! Hemi-Hugs!

  5. Gary Wayne says:

    You are a very good writer Jenn. I know in my life sorrow and suffering have always brought me closer to God, but you put it on so much better perspective. Thank you for being so open and inspiring. You are such a blessing to so many people. Nick would be very proud of you, using the love you have for him and Baby Joss to bring people closer to the Lord. May God always bless you.

  6. Becky Hulshof says:

    Amazing! I read another hemi moms post and like them, Connor too had a fever and episodes, it even took awhile for his digestion to “kick” back in and allow him to eat. We were discouraged and afraid, but peace came 🙂
    I love the Hinds Feet, God gave us that verse the day we climbed the mountain by our home to scatter Papa’a ashes. I too have felt sorrow and suffering with me for two years now, but Joy has walked with me once again and it’s strange, sort of like a new deeper joy than ever before. It hurts, but promises so much of what is to come 🙂 I think it is in regard to seeing my dad again in heaven and also Connors restored self one day too. Don’t get me wrong, I am greatful for the hemi surgery and how it has helped him, but I know God has his perfect heavenly body waiting for him too. So I appreciate so much how you are sharing your journey, I really haven’t, and I want to… you inspire me 🙂

    • Thank you, Becky! I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your Papa! What a beautiful site you chose on which to scatter his ashes! I hope that Connor is doing just great now! Please DO tell your story! Our children are amazing and touch so many people with their bravery and determination! Big hemi-hugs to you!

  7. Angel Graziano says:

    Cheers. You do not know me. However, I have been following your story and updates through a mutual Facebook friend. I am inspired. I am sad. I am hopeful. Sweet Joscelyn’s Journey has brought me back to a much needed reality. This morning as I was getting “dolled up” for work, I looked down to see that my toenail polish was peeling. I went into full on panic mode since I was already running behind. I stood and peered down at the polish flaking from my big toe and thought to myself, “this is the biggest problem I have today, so far”. How lucky am I? Pretty darn lucky. I left my toenail unpolished and chipping away. It’s only 9:50 in the morning and I have looked down at it several times already and I remind myself how fortunate I am. Sweet Joscelyn is fighting the big fight and still manages continue. You, Joscelyn’s mother is, I am sure, still smiling while your heart aches for your baby.

    Continue to inspire. I’ll continue to follow and learn…

    Thank you,

  8. Mariellen Barr in PA says:

    This is a wonderful entry. I am lifted up by this. Thank you for being so honest, vulnerable and open to the Lord’s leading.

  9. momslovedirt says:

    Thanks! I love that book. It encouraged me to begin a journey of healing. Maybe I need to retread it too…

  10. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m not even sure quite what to say, but this post is beautiful and you’ve given me so much to think about today. Still praying for sweet Joscelyn and the rest of the family.

  11. Karen says:

    I am completely floored. You are a very gifted and talented wordsmith and today’s entry was no different. I became aware of you and your journey (and writing) after the Orlando Sentinel article. I haven’t the words to describe how touched I am by your words and by Joscelyn’s journey. Thank you for sharing your family’s story, and may peace find its way to your heart.

  12. Andrea says:

    Oh Jennifer, my heart aches for you to be rejoined on your journey by Peace and Joy! You have certainly walked an awfully long way with Sorrow and Suffering already, my friend. I pray that God will strengthen your feet and your heart as you continue to climb the mountains and traverse the valleys with your Good Shepherd.

  13. Joy says:

    off to buy the book…keeping going on your path, God is guiding you all the way and you are guiding us through Him. Blessing to you and your family, and prayers for healing for your beautiful baby girl. Much love xx

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