Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Once was blind...

Warner Bros. new horror movie Orphan is despicable. But as Tom Davis said, "rather than cursing the darkness let's put the truth on display". So, that is what this blog post is all POSITIVE experience with an orphan. And this is just my story...there are so many more. Be sure to check out the comments section of Tom's blog to read some of them.

But as for me...I have fallen in love with one little orphan in particular - my little boy in Ethiopia who I've yet to even see a picture of. For all I know, he may not even be born yet. But, oh how I love him! He is ever present in my thoughts, prayers and heart. He has changed my life already. He's all my children talk about..."Mommy, when is baby brother coming home?... Let's pray for baby brother...that he has food to eat and doesn't get mosquito bites...Can I give him a bath when he comes home?...Oh mommy, just don't say baby brother's name because it just makes me miss him so!" And that is just to name a few of the precious sentences that are passed between my girls.

Before my little boy my life was full, but now it is filled to overflowing and I haven't even held him yet. How? Because the eyes of my heart have been opened thanks to this precious little boy who I will soon call my son. I never spent much time thinking about all the orphans in the world. With around 147 million of them, why would I bother? It was too big and depressing. I don't think that any more. I recognize that staggering number as an unprecedented opportunity for people just like you and I to step up and pour out LOVE.

As I have opened my heart to embrace the pain that comes with the recognition that 147 million children go to bed without a mother or father's presence, I have been changed. There is no turning back. Nor do I want to turn back. In fact, I want to RUN to them. Because as I run towards them I am running towards God. This is why my life is now filled to overflowing. God has revealed Himself to me in more real ways than I have ever experienced as I have opened my heart to these children whom He loves so fiercely. My days are no longer spent with my eyes shut...they are about loving, caring for, advocating for, praying for these 147 million orphans. For years I was blind to them. But now I see them. I mean I really SEE them.

To this beautiful little girl...


To these precious boys...


To this little boy with the sad eyes...


To you sweet little ones with the untold story...


Not only do I see you..I am indebted to you. For you have changed my life by bringing me passion, a deeper sense of purpose and a completely transformed walk with God.

No wonder Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. Why in the world wouldn't we??

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Kind of Dinner Does God Bring You?

Reckless Faith - Beth Guckenberger - Joel's Story

Beth Guckenberger wrote Reckless Faith in 2008. She and her husband Todd serve with Back2Back Ministries in Monterrey, Mexico and have an incredible ministry to orphans there. I heard her share this story here in Cincinnati last year and was excited to find it on video to share with you.

Beth says "I'm learning to let my back get pushed against a wall because that is when I cry out for my Rescuer. Most days when I see the wall coming I angle myself so I don't get anywhere near it. I decide not to say something that I should or not to take a risk that I've been dying to take. I realize now, more than three decades into my life, that the only new things I try tend to be those I'm already good at or capable of. I'm slowly learning to get in over my head so that God can save the day - or at least pick up the pieces. I want to take risk so that I can't bail myself out, so that I am even more grateful when God shows up."

Wow...that was an eye opener to me. So often I can convince myself that the things I'm doing in my life require faith when in reality they are often things that I'm already good at or capable of. They don't really require faith. Francis Chan tells a story in his book Crazy Love about how he was sitting in class one day and his college professor asked the question "What are you doing in your life right now that really requires faith?". He couldn't answer it. There was nothing in his life that required faith. Man...I have often found myself with that same answer. I set myself and my life up so that I am SAFE - so that I am in control. So that I'm comfortable.

I don't want to be in control anymore. I want to trust God so much that I am unafraid to put myself in situations where I will be in trouble if God doesn't show up. I want to be like Edgar who encouraged the children to think trust that the God of the Universe so loves them that He will bring them steak for dinner. If I had been Edgar in that moment, I would have just picked up the phone and called Todd & Beth to come bring tortillas and eggs for dinner - because that was a sure thing. But Edgar had faith to step out and encourage the children to ask God to show up.

How am I doing this in my life? What am I doing in my life that really requires faith today? What kind of dinner have I decided that God will bring me tonight? Am I asking for steak or just settling for tortillas and eggs? God help me move beyond myself and my fear to that place of total trust in Your character and Your plans. They are so far better than anything I could do on my own.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I went this morning to get my yellow fever and typhoid vaccinations for our trip to Uganda in September and realized that this trip is finally just around the bend!! I am beyond excited for this opportunity to meet all the precious children and widows that God will put in my path. I know that God has opened doors for us to be on this trip in September and that He has things in store for us that we can't even begin to imagine. I've dreamed of being in Africa for so long that now I'm on the brink of this trip I find myself experiencing something I didn't expect - fear.

Yes, I'm scared. Oddly I'm not anxious about my safety or experiencing a different culture or the horrendously long plane ride or the snakes. :) I'm scared of what I am going to see - what my eyes are going to take in and how my heart will be shattered into a million little pieces. In my mind I think I know what it will be like to visit entire areas where there are young children left alone to care for their siblings with no one to help them. In fact, I just saw a picture today of a four year old (same age as my Lily) with his seven month old brother on his back. They have no parents and no one to care for them. I was moved to tears and that was just a picture. What happens when I see these children up close...when I hug them, when I know their names and stories, when I tickle them, when I laugh with them, when I have to leave them?? How can I possibly leave them there alone? Here's where the fear creeps in. I am going to be wrecked. I've known this from the beginning but haven't really allowed myself to think about it until now.

I've been praying for months now that my heart would be broken by the things that break the heart of God. God has been answering that prayer but I know it's about to go to a way deeper level come September. I welcome it, but I have a sense that this trip will forever redefine life for me. I won't be the same - and I think that's the point. I think that when we are moved to compassion we get in touch with what's at the very center of the heart of God. All throughout scripture we see Christ having compassion on those He ministered to. When he saw the sick, He had compassion. When he saw the grieving, He had compassion. When He saw the hungry He had compassion. When He saw the distressed He had compassion. Compassion defined the Son of God. And so when I put myself in situations where I am driven to compassion I am positioning myself for a deeper encounter with God. As God stirs compassion in my heart He is drawing me into a more intimate relationship with Him - where I can more fully experience the depth of His love for humanity.

To think that I feel as if my heart will break in two upon what I will see...and then to realize that those emotions just barely scratch the surface of God's abounding passion and love for His people just blows my mind. It's really only in that thought that I can rest...that God loves these little children who are so alone more than I can ever dream of. That He has promised to be the Father to the fatherless, the Defender of the weak, the Healer of the broken. He will ultimately be their Protector and Provider. But the beautiful part is that I get to be in on it. As the body of Christ, we MUST be in on it. As painful and uncomfortable as it may be to expose ourselves to unthinkable struggles and situations, we will never get to know God fully until we do so.

So, here I am...scared that I won't be able to handle all that I see but confident that God will reveal Himself to me in new ways in the midst of it all and will somehow use me to be the fragrance of Jesus to the people I meet - whether it be by a drink of water, a hug, a meal, a new pair of underwear or a prayer.

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed". Psalm 82:3

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dreams & Responsibilities

Last night Ben asked me what he could do for me to help make my life better. It was a question just asked out of sweetness - not because I was struggling with anything. I had to think about it for a while but the first thought that came into my mind was "make it so that I don't have to work at my job anymore so that I can pursue my passion". God is revealing to me what my passion is - what He created me to be passionate about during my time on this earth. I am passionate about fulfilling the words of God when he says in James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." So for me, the struggle lies in the fact that I am working a job (which I'm very thankful for by the way) that is not fulfilling the purposes I see God calling me to. I've been mulling all this over a lot the past six months or so. I'm trying to engage in advocacy, fund raising etc. for orphans in Africa but it just seems to be something that I cram into the open spaces of my life. When I am engaged in doing that sort of thing with my time it feels right and fulfilling. But I find myself frustrated that I can't engage in doing that all the time as my job.

I was cleaning the kitchen this morning and listening to a podcast by Erwin McManus which was all about how God had created us to have dreams and those dreams are His way of leading us into our callings. He had finished talking and opened it up for questions and answers. A woman asked the following question: "Where do you draw the line between spending time on your responsibilities and spending time on the dream God has planted in you?"

He responded "If those lines of dreams and responsibilities run parallel and are not entwined you're probably living the wrong life. You've got to take responsibilities and dreams and fuse them together so your responsibility is your dream. Because you are responsible to live the life God created you to live - that's your ultimate responsibility."

Whoa! Those three little sentences are still ringing in my ears even as I type this. Earlier in his message he was saying how we associate anything sacred or Godly with seriousness and responsibility, when from the very beginning God has created us to ENJOY our lives and our relationship with Him. In Genesis 2 God takes Adam and Eve into the lush, beautiful garden He created for them and tells them "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden". There they could enjoy the presence of God, they could enjoy the food, their surroundings and each other. Just because I have a good job that pays the bills and is pleasant to go to every week doesn't mean that that's all God has for me. God has created me the way I am and has given me gifts to use for His glory. AND He wants me to get enjoyment from that. I'm realizing that I need to press in to more of what God has for me. Could be that He'll open up a door for me that will allow my dreams and responsibilities to be fused together. The thought of having my "work life" be reflective of the dreams I feel God has placed deep in heart gives me more hope and excitement than I can express.

So, how about you? What are your dreams? Are you living the life God created you to live?