Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Christmas Time

It is Christmas time!  I love this season.  I love the family time, I love the decorations, I love the cold.  Yea...I do.  Mostly because I LOVE having a fire in our fireplace.

Just like the rest of you our Christmas season can get busy and hectic.  Broderick's birthday is the 1st, Rob's is the 8th, our anniversary is the 30th and then we have all the other Christmas things added in.  We always love to do the "extra" activities.  In our area, as I am sure in most, there are ALL kinds of  "extras".  Sometimes these extras can become a distraction.  Especially for us.  We feel like we have to do it ALL.  That can be overwhelming and add stress.

However, this Christmas season, Rob and I agreed we needed to shift our focus.  While doing those extra things are fun and not bad, we just needed to really check ourselves.  We found a family advent study to do which has been great.  We have also only picked a few things we really wanted to go and see.  Of course we took the kids to see Santa...
We have gone to the same place for about 4 years.  It is a park in our area where you drive through the light display and then at the end they have an indoor play area, Santa land, carolers, snacks, and a train display.

We celebrated Broderick's birthday of course.  This year he had his first sleepover.
And the family came over a different night for cake...
We did a new thing this year.  We have an old Pioneer Village in our area that does a candlelight tour for Christmas.  It was really cool...freezing, but neat.
We finished this night in a near by town that also had a special Christmas event.  We ate at a little mom and pop restaurant with home cooked food and walked around the town.  It was a fun night.
We celebrated Rob's birthday by staying home hunkered down by the fire with movies, games and family time.  (This is becoming a Sunday tradition around our house.  We LOVE chilling by the fire all day!)

One thing I have done, this Christmas season, is started Ann Voscamp's new advent devotional "The Greatest Gift."  It has been amazing.  If you are friends with me on Facebook you have seen my daily status updates have been quotes from the book.  I can not tell you how much this book is speaking right to my heart.  God is using it to speak truth to real life things I am facing...daily.  Every single day there is something she has written that God breaks me with.  If you need a devotion for next year, or want to start now...I encourage you to get it!

So far this Christmas has been different.  It is so nice to slow down and focus on Jesus more, and enjoy and not be stressed by all the stuff.  I am looking forward to the next couple weeks.

Praying your Christmas season is blessed too!

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Thoughts in Song Lyrics

Sometimes I can't find the word to express how I am feeling or what I am thinking.  Now would be one of those times.  To put into words all I saw and experienced is really hard.  Then to express my feelings and thoughts about those things are even harder.  The Lord has been using song lyrics to help me sort out my thoughts.  I thought I would just share a few of them with you...

"We go a thousand miles an hour, and we don't look back.  We go a thousand miles an hour and never stop to look around.  This is life.  This is love.  This is breath filling my lungs.  I've never felt this way about life, until I saw your love with my eyes.  There has to be much more to life than just these hands spinning round.  If our time is spent inside the lines we'll be alone standing 'round.  This is life. This is love. This is breath filling my lungs.  I've never felt this way about life, until I saw love with my eyes.  I want a live, I want to breath like it's my last before I leave.  I want to sing. I want to dance with your symphony.  If there's no pain in the offering than how can I say I lived.  When sacrifice is just daily life then joy and peace will be mine."  ~Carrollton Band

Okay...I am going to tell you a crazy story about this song.  When we got back from Mexico I heard it on a local radio station.  I immediately LOVED it.  I searched for the band and could not find it.  I figured they had to be local or something.  I heard the song like 2 more times over a couple weeks.  I almost called the radio station to see how I could get a copy of this song...I love it that much.   When I hear it, I think that my love...the breath in my lungs that he sings loving the orphan child, that it is serving my Lord in another country.  Ok...back to the story.  So we went to Africa, got back and a few weeks later we went to a Digital Age concert.  We walked in and one of the bands opening up for Digital Age was the Carrollton Band.  I seriously about started jumping up and down.  Of course I bought the CD!  Turns out they are a local band and used to be called Mosteller.  Recently they changed their name and got a record deal.  That must be why I had trouble finding them.  Now that I have the CD I listen to it ALL THE TIME!  Seriously...they kids beg me to turn it off.  If you want to hear it live go won't regret it.

Back to the lyrics.

This is has been a song I pray...
"Burn bright in my life.  Burn away the things I hold tight.  Give me, Eyes to see,  Your kingdom the way you want it to be.  What can be worse, more than you?  What do I have I wouldn't lose?  If it means you and I look more alike that's what I choose.  I'd give up the world to find my soul.  Pour out my life, give you control.  I just want to be what you want me to be.  I just want a heart's that true, a heart like you.  
As your waves, take shape.  All my guilt start to fade.  And your love, takes their place.  I become a well of your grace, your grace. I'd give up the world to find my soul.  Pour out my life, give you control.  I just want to be what you want me to be.  I just want a heart's that true, a heart like you.  I don't mind the price it costs. When this fades away what's true remains.What can be worse, more than you?  What do I have I wouldn't lose?    I'd give up the world to find my soul.  Pour out my life, give you control.  I just want to be what you want me to be.  I just want a heart's that true, a heart like you." 
~Love and the Outcome

This is just two of the songs God has been using to help me sort through all this.  However, there are more...maybe I will post those another day.

Monday, November 11, 2013

This is Not My Home

This is a hard place to be...stuck between worlds.

Let me make something very is not about Africa.  It isn't even about orphans.

It is about the Lord and must always remain about the Lord.  The second it becomes about Africa or orphans is the second it becomes an idol.  It is easy to focus on orphan care, the Bible tells us to care for the orphan.  It is easy to focus on the next trip, the Bible tells us to go into all the world and make disciples.  But, the Lord must always stay at the front of our mission, our calling, our purpose.  And that is hard.

God uses Africa daily to remind me that I long to be in a different place...a place that is my home.  And it is not Africa that I long to be in.  I long to be in Heaven with my Father.  I long to be in a place I was created for.  The Bible says we are aliens in this world.  I have never really felt that way or understood that.  But I do now.  I look at all the hurt, hunger and heartache and know the only thing that can fix that is the Lord's return.  I may feel stuck between Africa and here, but the truth is, I am stuck between here and Heaven.  My earthly goggles have been removed and I long to be with my Lord and Savior in a new way.

When I am feeling frustrated or angry about what I saw and can not fix, 
my Lord whispers..."this is not your home."  

When I long to hug those sweet babies I can only look at in pictures, 
my Lord whispers..."this is not your home."  

 When I feel like I can't do anything to help those I love, 
my Lord whispers..."this is not your home." 

God continues to use this place...this remind me,
"this is not my home."

 And then my heart aches to be HOME.  
I longs to be with the one I was created to worship...Jesus Christ, my Lord.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What I Would Have Missed

I almost didn't Uganda.

My initial answer was no.

When I think about that, I get sad.

When Rob and I found out about the trip in May we talked and considered it up until the deadline to sign up, which was in June.  Then we just decided the details weren't working out and we said we couldn't go.

To be honest, it wasn't just about the details.  I was afraid.
(If you know me this should be no shock to you.)

It was a dream of mine to go to day.  I just never dreamt it would be so soon.  I came up with all these excuses of why I couldn't go.  But God kept putting things in front of me saying I want you to go. There were a few things that happened that kept prompting us to entertain the idea of going. One of them was listening to this sermon that I came across on Facebook.  Listening to this was just the beginning of letting go of some of my fears.  (If you have about 30 minutes and struggle with fear listen to it.  It is great.)  It is based on Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right. The kingdom of God belongs to them." Now I know what you are thinking, suffer?  Did you really suffer?  Not really, but something  Kyle said convicted me to my core, "That we have a comfort zone, but what is that right outside of our comfort zone is God's blessing."  Whoa!  My comfort zone is here, with my family.  In the "safety" of my home, my community.  My comfort zone is where I have "control" of my surroundings.  Then Kyle says, "but many of us don't experience that blessing because we want to be safe and secure and comfortable."  That is so much how I feel most of the time.  I am worried about what will happen outside of my comfort zone.  After listening to that message and really seeking what the Lord wanted, I had this thought...what if I stay in my comfort zone.  And then that thought became even more scary than leaving my comfort zone.

For many years I have been a slave to fear.  I am the girl that stays up past midnight to keep an eye on the weather to make sure we aren't going to have tornadoes.  I am the girl that panics if my kid's bus doesn't pull up right at the time it is supposed to.  I am the girl that freaks when I call Rob and he doesn't answer the phone while he is at work.  So the thought of flying on a plane for 16+ hours and landing on the other side of the world without my kids, in another country, was terrifying.  I just kept feeling God say, "go."  And it got to a point where I said to Rob, "If I don't go, I am being disobedient to what God is asking of me."  After we bought the plane tickets I really felt a peace.  I know, you have heard people say that before and it sounds cheesy, but it is the truth.  I felt at total peace.

I don't want to be dishonest...
Was it hard to leave my kids for 12 days? yes.
Was it difficult to coordinate who was watching them? yes.
Was it completely scary to think about flying over the ocean? yes.
Was it uncomfortable being surrounded by a different culture? yes
But then God laid this verse in front of me, "See I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you."  (Exodus 23:20)  And every time I would start to get a little worried God would remind me of this.  He still reminds me of this.

When I think that I said no first, I think of all the blessing I would have missed out on.  I think of all those beautiful eyes I looked into.  I think of all the beautiful smiles I saw.  I think of all the hugs I received from those children.  I think of how God proved Himself as faithful time and again.  I think of how serving with my husband has deepened our marriage and purpose.  I think of the friends that I have made that I will forever have a bond with.  I think of how He patiently nudged me out of my comfort zone and took me to a place where blessings overflowed.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How was Africa?

This is the most commonly asked question.  And the most difficult to answer.

It is vague.  Which leads me in all different directions with my answer.

I could say, "Incredible!"  Because it was.  It was incredible meeting children I have seen in pictures so many times and longed to meet.  It was incredible to buy food for two orphanages and watch God multiple the money we had to spend.
                                            (before)                                          (after)

It was incredible to have church in the African bush.

It was incredible to go on a boat ride in the Nile.  It was incredible to walk through villages in a place I dreamed of being.  It was incredible making new friends that I feel forever bonded to.
It was incredible.

I could say, "Heartbreaking."  Because it was.  It breaks my heart to see people living in such poverty.  It breaks my heart to watch 100s of kids walk miles to school with no shoes.  It breaks my heart to hold a sweet boy in my arms and know that the next day I go home.

It breaks my heart that even though we got to fill the pantry for two orphanages, I know that food will run out. It breaks my heart that people die from an illness caused by a bug, that can be treated and prevented.

It breaks my heart that kids are basically thrown away.  It breaks my heart that people go their whole lives and don't know about the love and grace of Jesus.
It was heartbreaking.

I could say, "Terrible."  Because it was.  It was terrible to walk into a mud hut smaller than my bathroom and realize that is were a family lives.  It was terrible to see that children sleep in the dirt and lay on the ground when they are sick.  It was terrible to look into the eyes of an orphan and so badly want them to know that you love them and God loves them.  It was terrible to have a child come up to your car window begging for money or food.
It was terrible.

I could say, "A Blessing."  Because it was.  It was a blessing that God asked me to go show love to the people of Uganda.  It was a blessing to give a child on the street $10 and watch his eyes light up and then run home.  It was a blessing to pass out pillows that Carys organized to have made for the kids at Ebenezer.

It was a blessing that I got to spend 3 days with Georgie.  It was a blessing to see a place that my husband ached for.  It was a blessing to pray over woman who care for orphans everyday.  It was a blessing to watch the same women sing and clap after receiving a a small gift.  It was a blessing to be a part of Ebenezer purchasing land to build a permanent home on.
It was a blessing.

I could tell you 100 more things and show you 1500 pictures, but if you want the short was life-changing.  (I like to give the long answer too and go through all my pictures often, so if you want the long version let me know!)  I will never be the same.  I will never view anything the same.  Part of me will always long to be there.  I will pray and depend on the Lord in a way I have never before.  My heart will ache each day for the people I met and the things I saw.  God used a place with red dirt and brown faces to change my life forever.  And for that I am thankful.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

1 WEEK PEOPLE!!!!!! one week Rob and I will be leaving for Africa.  It seems very surreal.  Part of me feels like I am living in a dream.  And shockingly I am at ease about the whole thing.  I have woken up twice in the middle of the night having a freak out moment about the flight and my mind is whirling with all the things I need to prepare for the kids to be left for 10 days.

other than that, I feel good.  I am not nervous.  I am not worried.  I am not stressed.  Just thinking and planning.  I am REALLY excited to get my feet on that African soil and love on some sweet babies!

I am holding fast to this verse....
"See I am sending an angel before you and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you" 
 Exodus 23:20

Our itinerary while there is as follows...

Dates of trip: October 10-19
October 10-  Depart late afternoon
October 11- Arrive at Entebbe Airport, staying at Entebbe Airport Guest House
October 12 -AM Drive to Jinja, PM serve at Sangaalo Babies
October 13 - AII day at  Sangaalo Babies, worship and lunch with them
October 14 -  AM serve at Pillars Of Hope and Home Again School
                   - PM drive to Mbale
October 15 - ALL DAY serve at Ebenezer Childrens Ministry
October 16 - ALL DAY serve at Ebenezer Childrens Ministry
October 17 - AM serve at Ebenezer Childrens Ministryr, PM drive to Jinja
October 18 - AM at Healing Faith
                    -PM travel to airport, leave Entebbe 11 :30pm
October 19 - Arrive home in afternoon

I would LOVE if you all would pray over this.  It would mean the world to me.  Prayer is the most important piece to this trip.  If you would even be so kind to print it out and put it on your fridge or mirror....that would even be better.  Then it will be a constant reminder to pray.  And remember, we will be 7 hours behind you in time.  

Thanks friends!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prayer...Do You Take It Seriously?

Think about that question.

There are over 300 verses in the Bible about prayer.  If it is in the Bible that many times, I think it is pretty serious and crucial to our relationship with the Lord.

I heard on the radio today that it is the one year anniversary of the arrest of Saeed Abedini.  If you haven't heard of this man, he was in Iran visiting family and doing some work on an orphanage.  He was arrested because of his Christian faith.  He has been sentenced to 8 years in prison.  This is not eight years in an American prison...this is eight years in an Iranian prison.  He has a wife and two children here in the states.  The story of Saeed make me think of Peter in Acts 12.  Peter too was in a prison for his Christian faith.  We read in Acts 12:5, "So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church."   Have you read this story?  Do you know what happens? Well, if not, let me tell you what happens.  God sends an angel to release him from prison!!!  Now I am sure if you don't believe the Bible this seems ludicrous.  I do believe the Bible and even I, have doubts when I read this.  Do I believe God sent an angel to release Peter because the church was praying for him?  Yes.  Okay, so if I do, why am I not earnestly praying for the release of Saeed?  Do I believe God is the same yesterday, today and forever?  Yes.  Then he can release Saeed the same way he released Peter.

I don't know about you, but I need to be on my knees in earnest prayer  I encourage all you to take drop what you are doing.  Take sometime and just pray.  Talk to the Lord.  About whatever...just talk to Him. 

Our church is doing a serious, starting this weekend about prayer.  I am so excited because I know my prayer life needs to grow.  If you are not in the area and would like to listen you can go here.

Let's be a people that prays.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Can You Help?

With Uganda quickly approaching there is a major thing you can do for me.



Here are some specific things I need prayer for...

Traveling.  I don't like to fly.  At. All.  Like really at all!  So the thought of being in a plane for 8 hours over the ocean and then getting off just to get on another 8 hour flight is a little terrifying.

My kids.  They will be staying with 2 sets of Grandparents and my sister and brother in law over the course of  the ten days.  Pray they do not get sad about us being gone but look forward to spending some great time with these people.  Pray that there will be excitement about going with someone else instead of them feeling like they are being bounced around.

My Mom and step dad, Rob's parents, and my sister and brother in law.  (See above!)  They are going to be responsible for Broderick and Carys.  First thank the Lord that they agreed to help us with them.  Seriously, without them this trip would not be happening.  My mom and step dad will have them over the weekend and all day Monday because they don't have school.  This can be exhausting.  Bob and Terri will be traveling from out of town so pray for their safety.  Since they are from out of town and not very familiar with the area getting around could be a little tricky.  Also, they have the school week coverage which means more structure and routine and...homework!  This can be a daunting task.  I know...I do it  (Do you think if I tell the teachers we are going to be in Africa they won't give them homework?  Pray about that too!  Seriously.)  Pray for Kelly and Justin because they have the kids the last  night.  I am sure Broderick and Carys will be excited to go with them, because they always are.'s the last night. 

Rob and I while we are gone.  (I will post our itinerary as we get closer so you can be praying over specific things.)  For now...pray for health, safety, sleep, unity for our team, and all the logistical details.

That God will use us in the lives of all the orphans and care givers we encounter.  That everything we do will be a deposit into their lives for the glory of God.

Hope Grafted In (the organization we are going with) is raising money to buy land for one of the orphanages we are visiting.  (Ebenezer Children's Ministry - where my sweet Georgie is)  They are currently renting a small building where 26 children plus the care givers live.  The goal is to buy them their own land so they can move and build on it.  You can go here for more information.  Pray that Hope Grafted In gets enough money to buy the land.  Also pray if God wants you to be a part of that giving.

Will you commit to praying for these?  I would greatly appreciate it.  Prayer is the most important part of this trip.

Friday, September 13, 2013

It is Happening!

I have thought and thought about how to write this post.  I wanted the title to grab your attention.  I wanted you to read the first couple sentences and wonder what the rest was going to say.  The truth is, I can't think of any poetic, creative way to tell you so I will just say it.

I am going to Africa!

Yup!  In just four short weeks my feet will be on Uganda soil!  I am just as surprised as you. 

We found out back in May that a team through an organization we are kind of connected with was going to be taking this trip and that they would be visiting the orphanage Rob went to while he was there.  Immediately his heart was tugged to go back.  We started asking the question... Is this possible?  Over the last couple months, through much thought, prayer, conversation and A LOT of help, I felt God repeatedly say, "go."  I tried to come up with every excuse not to.  Why, you ask.  I really didn't want to leave the kids for 10 days and burden other people with watching them.  It just seemed to difficult to work out all the details.  We would get one thing worked out and then another thing wouldn't.  But I still felt like God was saying, "go."  It was little things, like Rob getting an email from the couple that runs the orphanage saying, "We really hope that you and your wife can come soon."  They didn't even know we were considering this trip.  And things like this happened on more than one occasion.  I began to feel if I didn't go I was being disobedient to the Lord.  And I did not want to do that.  After all, our family motto this year is, Say yes before we even know what He is asking.  I found myself saying no and I did know what he was asking.  About 2 weeks ago the final detail with the kids got worked out and we bought our plane tickets.  It is REALLY happening!

I will get to go to a place my heart has longed to serve in.  I will get to hug sweet kids that I have prayed for and only dreamed of meeting.  I will get to experience something with my hubby that will change our marriage forever.  I will leave my kids in the trusting hands of family and most importantly my Savior for 10 days.  I will do it all with the help of my God.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Little Espanol

Guess who is going to be teaching Spanish!?

You got it!  ME!

No, I don't really know Spanish, but I am super excited to learn.  I came back from Mexico wanting to learn.  When I found out the preschool I work at was still looking for a Spanish teacher I said, "Sign me up!"  It's preschool right?  How hard can it be?  Not very.  Until you have a fluent parent come up to you speaking Spanish and expects you to know what she is saying.  Yeah...that happened. 

Here's the deal y'all...
I love preschool aged kids.
I want to learn Spanish.
I have a great support in the director of the preschool.
It is a no-fail situation!

Today will be my first class and I am super excited! 
I have all my plans. 
I have Spanish books. 
I have activities. 
I even have songs to sing.
I am going to love it...and so are these kids!

Aquí a un gran día!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Kids on Mission

"Where are you going for your mission trip?"


"Oh.  And you are taking your kids?"


"Oh.  You know Mexico isn't safe?"


"Well, be careful."

This was the usual conversation leading up to our trip.  Like I said in my previous post, I had lots of fears about going. But I can say, now that we have gone, that not only going on mission, but taking our kids was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Our family learned things about ourselves and our relationship with God that we could not have learned in the comfort of our everyday life.  For example, serving others is a blessing and serving ourselves is not.

Broderick (9) and Carys (7) worked their behinds off for 6 straight days.
They were staying up late for worship.

 They were waking up early to eat, do devotions, and serve breakfast.

They were playing with kids.
They were making bracelets.

They were serving food.

They were singing songs.

They were cutting craft materials.

They were caring water jugs.
There were doing whatever was asked of them.

I do not tell you this to say, "Look at my kids.  Aren't they awesome!?"  They are, but that is not the point.
The point is, that my kids served our Lord in another country for a week and your kids can do it too!  It was such an awesome experience to serve as a watch my kids eager to help hear them share their "picture of the day" (this was a something that happened that day that stuck out to you).  Nothing can top those experiences.  NOTHING!

Sometimes I feel like as a parent I can put my kids in this safe little bubble and say they can't handle this or that.  But the scripture tells us different.  It tells us, adults, to have child like faith.  Remember I said the first night we were debriefing and Amy asked about our fears for the trip?  My answer was a mile long.  You know what both my kids said?  "I don't really have any fears."  That is what God wants us to have.  He wants us to go into this world, living with fears, and serve Him.

I encourage you to look into a family mission trip.  I know Back2Back allows it, because that is the organization we went with.  There are all different organizations and all different places.  Last year we went to Pikeville, Kentucky with Youth on Mission.  Do some research.  I would encourage you to start with Back2Back.  I was highly impressed.  (If you have any questions you can always ask me.  I LOVE to talk about our trip.)
Going on a mission trip with your family is something you will NOT regret!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Te Doy Gloria

 We are back from Mexico!
To say it was amazing and life changing is an understatement.
We woke up around 4am and traveled all morning.  We arrived in Mexico around lunch time.
We ate, had a couple minutes to get settled in our rooms.
We met with the lovely, Amy (our debriefer) quickly.  She asked us 2 questions...
"What is your biggest fear this week?"
"What are you expecting?"
If you know me at all you know I had a list a mile long of fears.  Even more than I let on before we left.
I thought of every worse case scenario.
From my kids being taken to getting bit by or even seeing a tarantula!
So I simply said, "I have a list of fears."
My expectation was a little different.  I tend to think of expectations as bad.  Which they aren't always.
So I really tried to go into this trip with no expectations.  I just wanted to see the Lord at work and join Him.

Soon after we arrived kids from 2 children's homes started showing up for swimming, games and a cookout.

While swimming with the kids it hit Rob and I that we really couldn't communicate with these kids through words.  We both were a little unsure of what to do.
The kids jumped right in...literally.  They just started playing.
We quickly learned that we could commincate love and laughter without words.

 The cookout was a lot of fun.  It was a great time to see people on our team reconnect with kids they met last year and get acquainted.  We ate hot dog/sausage things in a tortilla with guacamole and pico de gallo, with hot sauce of course.  Whatever you have heard about Mexican people liking hot is true.  
Even the little kids would put hot sauce on everything!
Every flavor of chip I ate had a little bit of kick to it. 
 (Queso chips and Chili-lime Frito's were my favorite.  I am trying to figure out how I can get some!)

Sunday we toured the Back2Back campus and got some great information on what they do.
(If you don't know much about them I encourage you to look into their ministry.  It is AMAZING!)

Then we went to church.
Before we left, Antonio the director of Monterrey, said to me "It isn't like American church."
He was right!  People were dancing and singing LOUD, clapping.  They were just so excited to be worshiping the Lord.  I stood there and watched and listened, moved to tears, and thought... I love that they have no reservation.  They just give God all the Glory that he is worthy of.
I literally sat there listening to these people sing and thought, "You can take me know Lord.  I am good."

Speaking of glory, we have a new favorite song in our house. Te Doy Gloria.  It means, I give you glory.
We love it!  Every time I hear it I go right back to church on top of the hill at Casa Hougar Douglas.

 Carys jumped right into the dancing with a friend she had made while swimming the day before.
After church we went to Imperio De Amor.  This was the children's home we would be spending the rest of our week at.  We picked up the kids and headed to a park.  Yes, park.  My panic and fears began to surface.  Taking my kids to a park that is semi crowded where I can't keep an eye on them is nerve racking.  And you want me to go to a park in Mexico, where I don't speak the language, keep track of my kids and another child.  Not cool with this.  At all!  But I decided to pray and trust in the Lord.
Then we get to this "park."  It was MASSIVE!
breathe Amy, breathe.
I get paired up with 12ish aged girls and follow the crowd.
Antonio says, "This will be our meeting spot.  You have until 4 and then meet us back here."
Huh!? Did I hear him right?  Now you want me to walk around here by myself.
I immediately found Rob and said, "I am staying with you.  Don't leave me."
If only it were that easy.
The boy he had wanted to go one way, the girls I was with wanted to go another and Carys thought we were going to a play ground and she wanted to play.
I kept trying to get the girls to come with me so I could stay with Rob, but they wanted none of it.
 And since I couldn't talk to them that just added to the frustration.
Then, very clearly, I heard the Lord saying, "Amy, what if I want you to just say yes to following these girls through this park.  By yourself."
It struck me.  If I can't say yes to the Lord for this, I am not going to say yes to Him for much else.
So I said yes and began following the girls.
And guess what?
I survived.
I found my way back to the meeting area.
No one was kid napped.
Everyone was just fine.

We spent all week at IDA helping them put on a VBS for the community.  Yes, you read that right.  The children's home was doing a VBS for the community.  It was awesome too.  They had games, crafts, snack, Bible stories and puppets.  I even got to play Goliath in one of the stories.
Each day after VBS we would eat with the kids that lived at the home and then play with them.
Carys took her rainbow loom and her and Broderick made bracelets for them.
It was so great to watch my kids give to and serve others.

Tuesday we took a break from VBS and went to an impoverished community to serve.
To say I was not prepared for this is an understatement.
I had read books, seen pictures and heard stories of people living in a trash dump and making their homes from the trash. I truly think that part of me didn't really believe it was real.
Oh, it is real.  Very real.
And God used this place to change my life.
I saw kids living in trash.
Broderick saw a baby getting a bath in a Home Depot bucket.
I heard a baby crying from inside one of the houses.
I saw a street orphan.  That is a child that lives on the streets.  
A child. He doesn't have a birth certificate so he can't be put in a home.

This day quickly turned from the worst to the best.
We served food to some of the people that live in these homes.
It was so great to see these people smile and be so thankful.

Carys met Esmeralda and became great friends.
She also became my friend.  We got to play ball, color, make bracelets and we even taught her a song.
We spent the entire afternoon together.
When we left we gave big tight hugs.
When Carys and I got on the bus Esmeralda was standing right outside our window waving to us.  I opened up the window and grabbed her hand.
I don't know if I will ever see this sweet girl again, but I am so glad I met her.
One of my fears was that Carys and I would get lice.  Lame, I know.
I tell you what...
I would have lice everyday if it meant I could share the love of Jesus with Esmeralda on a regular basis.
I truly and genuinely love this little girl.
I told her she was beautiful and wonder if that was enough.
I miss her everyday. 
I think about her often.
I pray for her every night.

After we played for a while we took the left over food and delivered it door to door to some of the people in the Rio.  I honestly wish we had more left overs.  

Just one of the houses in Rio 3.
For a moment, imagine your family living here.

Day 4 brought more VBS prep and fun.  Thankfully I am a pro at prepping craft projects.  I am a preschool teacher assistant.  It is what I do.  And apparently it runs in the family.

We also got to take a tour of the dorms where the kids live.
I love the way they set it up.  Each dorm is set up like an apartment.
There is a living space, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.
There is roughly 8-10 kids with one "parent."
Girls are in several dorms and boys are in several dorms.
These are some of the girls making a blanket fort out of their beds.
Blanket forts are universal!
We also got to take part in a baptism of one of our team members, Angelica.
It was such a blessing. 
Afterwards we all jumped in the pool with her and celebrated. 
Complete with a belly flop contest.
Carys asked me Saturday night at church if there was going to be a baptism.
I said, "I am not sure but if there is we can't jump into the baptism afterwards."
Or maybe we could...
What do you think Apexers!?
Our final day we took the kids to get ice cream at the mall.
Little Rosa did not want her picture taken this day.
I stole a few anyway.
Especially when she fell asleep on my lap on the bus!

This experience was absolutely amazing.  I encourage everyone to get out of your comfort zone and go on a trip.  It will change your life and the lives of the people you serve.  If you have kids, take them.
Our family is different because God used this experience to show and teach us things we couldn't learn here.
I met people that will be life long friends and some I may never see again.
I can not wait to go back!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trip to Pennsylvania

We recently took a trip to Pennsylvania to visit Rob's side of the family.  The kids were so excited to see their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
It is funny to me how time doesn't matter to kids.  It doesn't matter if they saw each other yesterday or a year ago...they just pick up and start playing.

Little Emily is the sweetest thing.
We were all laughing at this moment because she was sharing her snack with Rudy.

We also got to celebrate Carys birthday while we were there. 
Grandma made a delicious ice cream cake.

These five had so much fun together.
It is a shame we don't get to see them more.

We celebrated the 4th there as well with a cookout and a fireworks show.
It was a great trip and we can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

God is Driving a Truth Home Today

This morning Broderick woke up with a fever.

Not a big deal.

He gets one every summer.

The thing I am struggling with is...
we leave soon for Mexico and we are taking a typhoid fever vaccine pill.

We started Sunday and we take a pill every other day.  The fever could be a side effect or he could just be sick.

My first question was whether or not to continue the medicine.  After consulting our doctor and a pharmacist I received my answer which is to continue.

Did you catch that? "After consulting our doctor and a pharmacist..." 

I sent an email out to some friends to pray.  Which I did.  Quickly.  I didn't fully stop and seek Him on the matter.

Then I read this.  (seriously this ladies blog posts get me every. single. time. But that is another story.)

I mean, for real!?  (If you didn't read Ann's post go back and do it.)

So I stopped what I was doing called the kids in and prayed.  For healing. For protection. For faith.

My #1 struggle in my walk with the Lord is lack of faith.  I worry. I get anxious. I think of the worst case scenario.

I need to have faith.  (Oooo you gotta have faith, a faith, a faith! Sorry...couldn't help myself.

I knew that there would be some spiritual battles as our trip neared.  I figured it would have to do with me lacking faith.  I am ready to surrender to the Lord.  He's got this!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Birthday Girl

It's hard to believe this little cutie is going to be 7 on Thursday. 
We had her party last week and it was very fun.
We did a spa theme.  Which seems to be the "thing" to do for a little girl turning 7.
That is what the princess wanted so that is what the princess got.
My sister came and helped a ton.
We turned the play room into "Carys' Spa".  This is where we did nails and facials.
Carys had a great time and loved having all her friends here to celebrate with her.

Of course Lainey was here to celebrate with the girls!
I can not tell you how blessed I am to have this little sweetie in our family.
(I type this as she stands next to me and yammers on about anything and everything.)
She is full of joy, love, kindness, and sympathy.
She is laughing or smiling most of the time.
She loves to be with her brother.
She is a cuddly little monkey.
She loves to help others.
She is 100% girly girl.
She is smart.
She is a blessing.

Happy Birthday my Sweet!