Jean Wise and Her Journey from Adult Orphan to Beloved Child of God

Today’s guest is Jeanie Wise. Jeanie’s dad died when she was 16 and her mom was gone by the age of 26. She has been an adult orphan most of her life. She is a firm believer in the practice of going on retreat – spending time with God. It was on one of her retreats where she faced her issues with abandonment and with God’s help – and a scene from the movie, “Bambi” she knew for certain, God would never abandon her. She now knows that she is a beloved child of God, always in his care, and will share her story in today’s episode.

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SHELLEY. Welcome back to the Broken Crayons Still Color podcast! I’m your host, Shelley Hitz and today’s guest is Jeanie Wise. Welcome Jeanie.

JEANIE. Thank you Shelley, thank you for having me here today.

SHELLEY.  Really thankful for you to come on I think you’re going to really be able to provide some great insight for our listeners and I just want to share a little bit about you as we get in to today’s episode.

Jeanie’s dad died when she was 16 and her mom was gone by the age of 26. She has been an adult orphan most of her life. She is also a firm believer in the practice of going on retreat and spending time with God, amen for that (LOL).


SHELLEY. It was on one of her retreats where she faced her issues with abandonment and with God’s help – and a scene from the movie, “Bambi” she knew for certain, God would never abandon her. She now knows that she is a beloved child of God, always in his care, and she’s going to share her story in today’s episode.

So as we get started today Jeanie, just share a little bit about what the broken crayons look like in your life.

JEANIE. Well like you said Shelley it was my dad died unexpectedly when I was 16.


JEANIE. I grew up in a pretty good solid reliable family you know mom and dad and I had two older brothers they were 6 and 8 years older than me and everything was fine but it kind of all fell apart from about the age 16 on on that, dad died when I was 16 less than two years later both my brothers were serving in Vietnam.


JEANIE. That kind of the worst part time of Vietnam 67 and 68.


JEANIE. They came back broken men both dealing with alcohol issues and one is specially got involved with a lot of drugs.


JEANIE. And until today I am still a strange from both my brothers that they just can’t emotionally engage with their kid sister anymore. Things went along pretty good for a couple of years then my mom died when I was 26. Now in between that time I did fall in-love and I married the man I’m still married with today so God did provide a piece of stability in my family.

But yet you know my dad wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle and my mom wasn’t there to hold my babies, I didn’t have kids till after she have died. So like I said in when we first talked it was like I was an adult orphan and we moved up to where I live in now north-west Ohio in to a small community. Everybody had cousins and extended families and mothers and fathers and they just started to really bring that hurt more in my life that you know that you know kind of almost a jealousy and a loneliness but I couldn’t quite name it.

And it was about in 2005 is when I begin studying as a spiritual director and one of our requirement was to go on a silent retreat. A silent retreat.


JEANIE. I learned is about that practice that is so blessed is that you become very vulnerable, you take off your mask, you quit hearing all these other noise in the world and you can really hear your voice and God’s voice and it was on a silent retreat that I think God started to take my mess and and turned it into a masterpiece you know and that.

So, what happened was I met with a spiritual director on that retreat and she said something that I thought was so odd. She said what about that little child inside of you what is she saying like that’s a really strange thing I’d never thought about that to listen to the child within me that was hurting.


JEANIE. And then I went for a walk and to this day I can picture this – I was walking in between these large pine trees and it was just beautiful and the trees were rustling in, the sky was crystal blue this was early March. And it was one of those early late winter days you know early spring and it was just beautiful and I took the quarter and I was in the edge of the meadow and I just kind of stood there and got huh gasp you know it was just, it was like I was immediately in to the – my favorite movie when I grew up was Bambi.


JEANIE. At it was like I was in the scene that Bambi where after the winters would have to be about that time of the year. Bambi and his mother goes out to the meadow finally find some fresh grass to eat and they’re out in that meadow and all of the sudden her head goes up and she said run Bambi run and they run and you hear the gun shot and Bambi’s mother died. It was like I was Bambi there for just a little bit and he crawls out for his mom and his alone and he’s there and then his father appears and he says your mom is not coming back follow me and it was like I heard God say that.


JEANIE. Yeah – that He said you have me now follow me. Shelley I would tell you he sensed him saying and I will never abandon you and I love with wild abandonment. So he took this mess.

SHELLEY. I love that.

JEANIE. And twisted it in such a beautiful way. He took that messy horrible feeling so that whole experience allowed me to name the feeling that was actually experienced which I did name most of my adult life about feeling abandonment but he took it in me and made something beautiful out of that and since then I know I’m a beloved child of God so.

SHELLEY. I love that and you know I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling of abandonment whether or not its been physical or emotional or other ways that that abandonment has come in but I love how God turned it around for you (LOL).

JEANIE. Turned it around.

SHELLEY. And He said I love you with a wild abandonment and He changed the perspective of what that word even meant, He named it for you too but you know in the bible He even talks about you know He’s adopted us as His sons and daughters – Galatians 4 talks about that. And you know what would you say was the result like after that moment after God touched you at that retreat, did you see fruit from that after you left?

JEANIE. I think one of the biggest things is is that you know like I said I grew up on the church I was active in our church and I knew in my head that God loved me – but it was almost like it shattered through into my heart at that moment and every cell in my body knew then and knows still today that I am a beloved child of God it was literally a turning point in my faith and how much He loves each of us.

SHELLEY. Wow! And I that’s a really key thing I think somebody needed to hear that like how you know God is able to move things from our head to our heart.

JEANIE. In our hearts and like I said in every aspect, every part of us that He loves us that completely and He wants to be with us and He won’t desert us.

SHELLEY. And what I love about your story is you had your turning point at a retreat while you were training to be a retreat director now you are leading retreats and helping others have turning points in their lives. Tell us a little bit about how God’s now using you as a retreat director?

JEANIE. Well God is just amazing Shelley you know. I lead retreats and I write the books and I give to talks, a talks to different groups and I think one of my core messages is that we are children of God and that God loves us beyond our wildest imagination. So often I’ll used that story as an illustration co’ again a lot of people know it says that but they don’t really know deep down and so it brings deep deep healing.

SHELLEY. I love that. Is there a verse that God has really used to speak to you through this transformational time?

JEANIE. There’s a couple of verses I’d like to share – one is Deuteronomy 31 it says “Be strong and courageous don’t be afraid for the Lord your God goes with you and He will never leave you nor forsake you.”


JEANIE. Either that really I think describes what wasn’t, what I experienced. And the other one is similar to what you mention when Colossians is 1John3 is “see what love got father has for us that we should become a children of God” and that is what we are that’s what the bible says and it isn’t to know that like that its just its like I said that its deep and its healing and that brings a lot of peace in our lives.

SHELLEY. Yeah, and if someone has had situation of an abandonment you know whether it’s physical or emotional whatever experienced they’ve had and their struggling they know that they know that God love them they know their God’s child but it just hasn’t really penetrated their whole being – what would you, what advice or encouragement would you give to them today?

JEANIE. I think the advice is to the inner work you know that it takes some courage to that, takes time that’s a really great time to see a counselor or spiritual director but I also find a great peace in the practices of journaling and going on retreats something about that silence and solitudes when we kind of get out our normal settings God will meet us there wherever we are on that path and we’ll us in that inner work and bring healing.

SHELLEY. I completely agree with you I’ve had a few turning point moments in my life they happened on silent retreats (LOL) and I’m an extrovert I resist it because I don’t really like being alone but I told my mom the other day I said its almost like when you resist exercise and then afterward you feel better you know you may resist the inner work, you may resist the journaling or the silent retreat or whatever it is God is leading you to do coz’ He leads us all differently but on the other side it’s like oh why didn’t I do this sooner or thank you Lord for doing this work in my life.

And just like you I had a moment when I was on a silent retreat I can vividly still picture its when God really moved my heart and allowed to forgive my grandma’s murderer. I was on this gravel road I can still picture it to this day and it happened on a silent retreat. So you’ve written some books you have some resources – if people is interested and maybe pursuing this or you know pursuing the journaling or some other things how can they get connected with you and your resources?

JEANIE. Well I encourage you to check out my blog coz’ I do a talk a lot about journaling and a lot of this sturdy things at the blog and its And one of the books that I have on Amazon is called Spiritual Retreat its a guide to a being with slowing down. A guide to slowing down to be with God. And that might help them a lot especially if they’re hesitating a little bit and not sure what goes on in a retreat that I think that little booklet would help them a lot.

SHELLEY. Yes, and thank you so much for sharing your gifts in a greater way with the world through your blog, through your books, through this interview and I just really appreciate you sharing your story today – and your story is just another example of how God can turn our mess into a masterpiece.

JEANIE. Yes! And we are – I am masterpiece.

SHELLEY. Amen. We are His masterpiece. Masterpieces in Christ and I still, I just love that picture of Bambi and the father saying follow me.

JEANIE. Follow me.

SHELLEY. You know Jesus said to His disciples follow me and that I just believe is such an encouragement to whoever is listening today, your Father is here He’s speaking to you, His sheep hear His voice and He wants to continue to do the deep work to help for you, heal you, to help you truly know that He loves you coz’ you are loved today.

JEANIE. That’s right.

SHELLEY. And if any of you have a powerful story or know someone that has a powerful story to share, we’d love to feature you on this podcast you can apply at and we’ll see you next time bye!


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