Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lifesong Mission Moment

14-04 MM email
Lifesong Farms. We are thankful, with the help and expertise of our friends at Plant Sciences, Inc., to have active strawberry farms in Ukraine and Zambia. Our hope is to not only create jobs & self-worth for orphan caregivers, but also  provide future employment opportunities as orphans grow into adults. Eventually, we aim to establish sustainability to help fund on-going orphan care. Hear the stories behind the farms...

Bearing Fruit in Sergey {UKRAINE}
Like each and every child our Ukraine team reaches out to through Constant Christian Presence, Sergey was full of potential. Coming from a life of hurt, God breathed hope into his heart and life.
Through the team's support, mentorship and love, Sergey came to know Christ while developing relationships and life skills that is leading him towards a fruitful future.

Now, he and another orphan graduate are involved in helping manage a nursery, as well as play an important role in Lifesong Farms-Ukraine.

Listen in to his story...

Strawberries Help Send Kids to School {ZAMBIA}
Last month, Lifesong Farms-Zambia team were pleased to present the first check to the Lifesong School at a special ceremony. As the farm continues to grow and show profits, we hope to have many more check ceremonies in the future as we grow towards sustainability!

zambia farms
Farm team presenting $5,000 check to Lifesong Zambia School

Read More...
Story of Lifesong Farms - Learn how Lifesong Farms got started in Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video

Impact on Farm Workers - Listen in to our Quality Manager, Pilijah, as she shares how her job has impacted her and her family. Watch Video
Christian Alliance for Orphans CAFO2014 {May 1-2; CHICAGO} - CAFO2014 inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. Register today! Learn More & Register


Celebrate Life Tour - featuring Cheri Keaggy & Zambia Children's Choir! Buy Tickets Today

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My kids are people, too.

It's a fact. One that I sometimes forget.

But, my kids are humans. Albeit, little ones, but still they are people.

They have feelings, moods, and react to things. They're really not all that different from adults. Sure, they can't contain their emotions or their reactions all that well, but its not like you or I don't react to things too differently from these pint-size youngsters.

I forget this simple fact sometimes in the midst of guiding and reprimanding them. I forget that, though are small, they are people.

And just like other people, I should treat them with respect, kindness, and love. I should treat them how I want to be treated. Not just because its an awesome coin-phrase, but because it is biblical. (Luke 6:31)

How many times have I tried to work a certain angle with my kids, or tried to find biblical references specifically to parenting? When in fact, the Bible is a resource rich in instruction on how I should interact with my kids not simply because they are my kids, but because they are PEOPLE.

I read a great blog post about this recently. Jen Wilkins was so kind to remind me, through her blog, of this simple fact, and how ample the bible is to give us instruction on how to love and serve our children well. Not just through the scope of motherhood.. but through the lens of the Gospel.

Gloria Furman's latest book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, has also radically transformed my outlook on motherhood as of late.



Being a Mom is part of my identity now. Christ's salvation of my life, and all the beautiful ramifications that it entails should also bleed into that part of my life as well. His grace covers me as a believer, a daughter, a sister, a wife.. and as a mother. His love should be so evident and seeping out of every facet  of my existence no matter my current season or schedule load.

The wisdom printed on the pages of this book are deep, insightful, and resounding with Truth. This book released me from the grasp of self-focus and set my eyes on Christ. Through her encouraging words and biblical references, my focus has been re-set on eternity.. rather than the here and now. It's like a nice breath of fresh air and a nice re-charge of the batteries to be reminded to savor Jesus in the midst of the chaos and business of motherhood.

"As we treasure Christ in our motherhood, it causes us to be heavenly minded, thinking often of the Lord who has brought us into his forever family and empowering us to live for his kingdom as we serve our family." (Gloria Furman, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, pg 154)

That is my prayer as a mother.. and for my Mommy friends that are trudging through this joyously tiresome season of life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Special Spot

Her tired hands have done much work throughout the day, and her aching back echoes the same sentiment.

The morning came too soon. She joyfully sends her eldest off to school, entertains another precocious one into the afternoon hours. And her midsection grows every minute, carefully housing and growing another precious blessing.

After a bustling morning caring for her beloved children, she rests on the couch. She lays on her side, with her legs bent just so. There's a perfect little nook of space between those arched legs and the back of the couch. The precocious preschooler climbs up into that special spot and settles in for an afternoon of rest with his Mommy.

It's one of our family's favorite childhood memories of my husband. His mom recounts how late into her pregnancy with her youngest, her body would tire out in the afternoon. Most afternoons, she would play a movie for her little boy, and he'd watch the movie in his Special Spot.

When my kids were old enough to start enjoying movies, we encouraged them to take residence in the Special Spot.

And the Special Spot has taken on a life of its own, almost. It is no longer reserved for the parent to encourage the little ones to enjoy.

You can hear little voices quickly instructing the others to climb in the Special Spot.

I love how this one special memory from my husband's childhood, and my kid's KK has been passed down to them. It not only encourages them to be loving to one another, but adds so much depth to this simple act of kindness. What a joy it is to share in precious memories of the past and of making new ones for the future!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Best EVER

"You're THE BEST MOM EVER!!" She exclaimed.

And if the excitement in her voice wasn't convincing enough, her spindly arms constricting my mid-section only made it that much more believable. The consistent bouncing of her little tiny frame from the balls of her feet only added more emphasis to the words she had just shouted. A broad smile proudly showing off a missing expanse of teeth on bottom was plastered from one ear to the other.

It's an expression I hear often from our eldest fair-headed one. The brave one who isn't afraid to voice her emotions or let us know how she's really feeling.

But of course she was excited. Of course, I was THE BEST MOM EVER!

A package arrived in the mail that day containing a dress she'd only been pining over for well over a year.

The ever lovely maxi-dress. 

I would be lying if I tried telling you I haven't fallen under its illustrious charms. So flow-y, so pretty… and so mischievously modest.

There has been much talk of The Dress since it arrived in our home. There has been much planning and deliberating as to when The Dress will be worn. And each time The Dress comes up in conversation, the same amount of enthusiasm escapes from that precious girl's mouth, like it has a will of its own.

But it's an expression I rarely hear from that lispy little voice when we're in the throws of disciplining. There's no tightly wound limbs around my pudgy middle section when we discuss what shenanigans were had with her little brother and sister while she was busy learning at school. The balls of her feet don't encourage the rest of her slender frame to bounce with joy when we don't cater to every request.

Sometimes, there's weeping and gnashing of teeth and all things un-pretty you can imagine coming from a child who has not gotten their way. Sometimes, there's a sorrowful nod of the head as if merely saying the words "okay" is putting forth too much effort. Sometimes, she buries the hurt and doesn't react nearly at all on the surface.

And it got me to thinking….

How do I react when my requests to my Heavenly Father are not answered in the fashion I fancy?

Is it my automatic response to leap with joy and proclaim, "You are God, and YOU ARE THE BEST EVER!!"

Or do I act like a foolish child struggling with inner-turmoil? Or do I act like a foolish child and put on a production that is sure to give any Broadway number a run for its money? Or do I act like a foolish child and answer with a solemn nod of my head?

There are a myriad of reasons why I don't automatically cave and cater to my child's every want or desire. Sometimes, its an issue of money. Sometimes, its an issue of convenience. But more often than not, its an issue of knowing it is for their good.

Now, doesn't God, who is infinitely Better and infinitely Wiser and infinitely Perfect,  have the right to refuse to cater to my ever flimsy wish or withering craving… not out of hateful spite.. but out of Loving GOODNESS?

May I be so bold and unwavering in my Faith in a loving God to joyfully exclaim "You are the BEST EVER," when He lavishes things aplenty on me.
May I be so bold and unwavering in my Faith in a loving God to joyfully exclaim "You are the BEST EVER," still when He chooses to not appease my appetite for things out of His loving kindness and for my good.
He truly is THE BEST EVER.

"You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures," James 4:3

"LORD, all my desire is before You, and my sighing is not hidden from you," Psalm 38:9


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Friendly Friends

I'm going to let you in on a little secret..something. I'm a loner.

Yes, we've discussed this a time or two, I know.

I am naturally independent and don't mind spending time by myself, or not being overly social.

When something happens, I'm not the type to normally call my girlfriends about it and gab for hours on end to process through the range of emotions. Most often, I retreat somewhere quiet to think and contemplate, and of course pray.

Because of my natural introvert and loner tendencies, I've believed the lie a time or two that "I don't have any friends."

I challenged myself on this recently. Surely it wasn't that I didn't have any friends….I do in fact have friends.

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones that not only invest in your life.. but care so much to invest in your marriage and your kid's lives. One of my dearest friends not only comes to grunge it up in pajamas and be lazy on my couch and watch movies, but she sometimes comes over to play with my kids and sends me off on a date with my amazing hubs!

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones you can send silly selfies to after a haircut. And they laugh with you at the ridiculousness of the thought of an-almost-30-year-old standing by herself in the mall taking a selfie.

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones who take you out for your birthday and buy you the most beautiful mound of nachos you have ever seen in your entire life!


The best kinds of friends to have are the ones that go with you on not-so-crazy adventures to play with some refugee kids in the city .. and then eat at a really interesting Bosnian restaurant afterwards. 


The best kinds of friends to have are the ones who go out and do fun things with you. And then they don't even make fun of you for your lack of painting skillz when doing said fun thing. 


And the absolute best friends to have? Those are the ones that the Lord has beautifully woven your stories together through shared conversations here or random text messages there. The ones that can laugh with you over a simple mishap from some time ago. The best friends to have are the ones that the Lord has placed in your life.. no matter what age or stage they're in, no matter the differences or likeness you share, no matter the closeness of your relationship.. or the not-so-closeness.

I am so thankful for the friends I have… thankful to pray for them, and to be prayed over. Thankful for the opportunity to pour into their lives, and be blessed in return. Thankful to serve Him together, no matter how that might look in our current seasons.. from big things like ministry outside the home.. to big things like investing in our ministries we've been entrusted with in our homes.

I love my friends, and I refuse to buy into the lie that I don't have friends.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Compassion Experience

The kids woke before daybreak. The sounds of train tracks being re-arranged, lego towers being made, and book pages being flipped made this house a home this morning. Excited voices and stomping feet turned a restful house into a lively one. It was a morning that mirrored so many mornings just like it.

After filling our tummies with a nutritious breakfast, we all got ready in a flurry of flying fabrics and managing of mangled manes. It was finally time to embark on our adventure for the day.

Little voices chattered with curiosity for what the day might bring, and Momma prayed in the front seat for hearts to be softened and minds to be changed.

I pray for my children often. And most often, my prayers are filled with desires of my kids' hearts to be captivated by and with Jesus. That they would LOVE Him and desire to follow His commands. I want them to LOVE His word.. but not just be lovers of the Word.. but DOERS of His word, too. (James 1:22)

I want my kids to know that life isn't about them.. but about Him. And today, I wanted them to see one small, but big, way we could serve Him and be DOERS.



We already sponsor a child (through another great organization) in Ethiopia (the country we originally felt called to adopt from, and that still holds a special place in our hearts.) But, we wanted the kids to get a more tangible feel for how kids their age(s) live around the world.

"We think sometimes that poverty is only meaning hunger, naked and homeless. The Poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty," Mother Theresa

As we waited for our instructions, my eyes swept over many quotes hanging on the walls.

And then it was time for us to journey with Julian through her life.



 We saw her replicated house that consisted of two chairs… one to use as a lock on the door. It helped keep the drunken men from a (very) nearby brewery from stumbling into their home. She and her brothers and sisters would take turns sleeping in the other chair at night. We learned that her mother wed at 14, and her grandparents were paid a handsome dowery as part of the marriage agreement.

 As she grew, Julian feared she too may be married at a very young age. But she was courageous, and knew that her dowery would help provide a better life for her younger siblings.


Julian did not attend school, but stayed home to help with her siblings. She also helped her mother sell items in the market to earn money. On a good day, they might make $1 for their fresh produce.

But her mother always hoped for a better life for her, and put faith in Jesus for that to happen. One day, her mother came to her, tearfully joyful. Julian received a sponsorship to take part in the Compassion program.

 Julian was able to attend school, where she not only received an education because of her sponsorship..
 but she also received a hearty meal,

 and received the Good News of Jesus.


 She memorized scripture, and the Lord would use one scripture in particular to keep speaking His Truth and Goodness in her life.


Her home (neighborhood) became increasingly dangerous. So, Julian's mother sent her to a boarding school for her own safety. Unfortunately, not all the schooling could be paid for. Julian was sent back home. But she put her Faith in God, and rested in the Truth that Scripture provides.

She was able to return to school through His provision through believers in the States. She went on to finish High School, and even graduated from College.



 Julian and her older brother eventually bought their Mom and younger siblings a nicer home in a safer neighborhood.



 Julian dreams of coming to the United States and attending Baylor University. She wants to earn a degree in Social Services to minister to the children of Uganda.

I don't even want to let my mind wander into the darkness of what Julian's (and countless other children in the world) life would have turned out had the family not sponsored her. But if you want to take a stab in the dark how it could have turned out, just turn on any international news station… or pinpoint almost any article and it might give you a vague idea of some of the possibilities.

 We wanted to make a difference. We didn't want to just be hearers of this precious lady's story.. we wanted to be DOERS of making a child's dreams come true in another county. So, we are.

We are so excited to add Rhoda, a beautiful girl in Ghana, to our family! We are so excited to provide Rhoda with the opportunity of an education, hearty meals, the Gospel of Jesus and basic medical care!

And WE WOULD LOVE FOR YOU TO ROCK SOME KID's SOCKS OFF, too!

Here are just a few AMAZING organizations that provide you with the chance to change a kid's life through sponsorship:

Compassion

Lifesong



Thursday, March 20, 2014

In case you were wondering...

It's been a while since my fingers have typed on ye old blog. But alas, here I am again. In my comfy little corner of the inter webs, settling in as if I were catching up with an old friend over a delicious cup of hot joe. I love this little space of mine, and it makes me sad that I haven't had a moment to properly articulate everything that has been happening in my world and in my heart over the last few months.

As you may recall, the wonderful Mr. and I were taking foster care training classes through a local orphan-care ministry. Our hopes and dreams were to take the classes (and the 500 other necessary) steps needed to adopt a waiting child. The one small, but huge, hiccup is that there are virtually no waiting children (in the foster care system) for the age group we had hoped to adopt. Nor would the state be likely to place an older child in our home for straight adoption based on the amount and ages of our biological children.

As with any fork in the road, we prayed. We sought God in our decision making. Were we just being stubborn about foster care? Was foster care to be a part of our adoption story and providing a family for a child in need?

And after time in prayer, we still did not feel at peace about foster care at this point in time in our lives. Do we believe in foster care and the need for it? Definitely! And maybe one day down the road we might be able to open our home for that.. but at this point in time, no.

So, we are back to actively waiting for a precious boy to come home to his forever family. We joyfully support our friends, and encourage those in the adoption process- no matter what stage of that process they may be in. We are praying for discernment on timing, type and location.

Thank you to everyone for all your sweet emails, texts and comments. We appreciate all the encouragement you have offered to us on (what seems to be a never-ending) this journey!

We will excitedly share with you any fun little twists and turns our adoption journey may lead us on.. whether that might be an international adoption, or whether we might open our home to foster care with the hopes of adopting a child very locally.