Friday, July 26, 2013

Partnering with Visiting Orphans


     Some of you may know that Ryan and I are team leaders for an organization called Visiting Orphans (VO).  This is an amazing group of people that we are proud to be a part of.  VO works to send teams into orphanages in all corners of the world with the intent to simply love on children.
     This is especially near to our hearts because we have survived 4 years post adoption with two beautiful boys that started their lives not knowing love.  Eye contact, touch and even direct conversation with my sons sent them into survival mode.  Etienne would snuggle up to any stranger on the street; oblivious to whom it may have been.  Zeke sobbed every time I looked into his eyes.  That is what a lack of love looked like.
     Visiting Orphans does not install wells.  They don't build medical clinics.  They love the least of these.  And that is messy, complicated work.  You may read or hear conversations about whether this is harmful or not: to give kids touch and attention and then to leave again.  Here's the deal.  We are at this point pretty knowledgeable on the subject of vulnerable children.  And we ask you this: what is the alternative?  To turn away?  To do nothing?
     Ryan and I will partner with VO for as long as they will take us.  We love their hearts, their mission and the direction that they allow God to lead them.  Our team from June has launched a foundation, Imana Kids, as fruit from their trip to Kimisagara.  Lives are changed.  People are moved.  God is at work.
     So read the blogs if you want.  But please know that VO trips are with leaders that are trained and knowledgeable on vulnerable children, on the culture and the people of the countries they serve and most especially on the children that often have deep wounds and attachment issues.  It is not easy work.  But it is advancing His kingdom; it's messy and beautiful and meaningful and lasting.
     Our goal for Imana Kids is that as families and individuals sponsor children, they may partner with VO to visit their sponsored child; investing long term in the life of a child.  We are open to questions, to information and even to skeptics.  In the meantime, check out this video.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Saying "yes"

     I can see it in their eyes.  The people that know our family from a distance.  Neighbors or coworkers that have maybe seen a glimpse of the state of stress that our home has (frequently) been in for the past four years.  I sense the judgement; how they believe that we are nuts when we say we have launched a foundation.
     Their questions: Why would they commit to more? Because God has blessed us with a team of resources.   Don't they need to focus on the kids that they already have? We want our kids to learn to obey God even if the world does not. What do they know about a foundation? Nothing.  But we are quick learners.
    I imagine that when Simon Peter threw aside his nets and gave up his life as a fisherman, the guys in the next boat raised their eyebrows.  Don't misread me here.  There aren't plans to quit my day job.  I am just having a new appreciation for what it feels like to say "Yes!" more loudly and bolder than we ever have before.  To not get too comfortable.
     When I was younger, I was the kid that volunteered to host the party, make the extra posters, run for the next class office.  Somewhere between there and here, I stopped saying yes to others.  It was the most liberating feeling NOT to sign up to bring cupcakes or substitute for Sunday school.  I know that is a bold statement but you have to understand that my saying yes was to please those around me.  My identity isn't in whether the rest of the moms think I have it all together.  My identity is in my maker.
     Standing at the gates of Kimisagara, I could hear God shouting at me as I watched my husband hold those sweet faces in his hands and tell them that they had a heavenly father.  I felt God tapping on my heart as my only daughter sobbed as she said goodbye to Rwanda.  And being home to some of the most calm, RAD free days in four years just makes His plan that much more clear.  Our future is with these kids.
     We have some amazing, amazing team members that are doing this with us.  Our family has given us their back yards, their time, and most importantly, their blessing.  Those that know us well-and know that God is the creator of some of the craziest story lines-are right beside us in this.  We are one blessed family to be loved like this.
     There won't be a finished basement, a weekend away or a new windshield on the van.  As Ryan reminded me, none of those are advancing the kingdom of God.  I love it that this is the man that leads my family.  And I'm not gonna lie, he's leading me where I have always hoped to be!  So yes, we are saying "yes."  Besides, Blake, E and Zeke reminded me tonight that if you say no to God, you may end up in the belly of a fish.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


     Today I heard a sermon about worship that focused on Psalm 95.  Part of worship is being in awe of how big God is.  How little we are.  Maybe it's looking at the Rocky Mountains, hearing the waves of the Pacific crash onto the shore or watching your baby breathe his first breath.
     For me, I am living in awe right now.  It's like a light bulb came on in our house after all these years of having it blink on and off.  Let me explain.
     A month ago, when we were preparing to leave for Rwanda, we got a lot of questions about our trip, leaving our former orphan to return to his country, would effect him.  How he would cope and what the aftermath would look like for us.  The first of the awe was that I had zero, zero, worries about this.  I felt totally at peace and there wasn't an ounce of anxiety regarding Etienne or his brothers.  Wow, this felt good. It feels good to feel good!
     Here we are, three weeks after coming home, doing great.  DOING GREAT!!!  Our first night home, Etienne said the dinner pray.  It was eloquent and beautiful and thoughtful.  That first night, he prayed for the kids we left behind.  And since that night, he is still on board.  No lying.  No destruction.  No all nighters.  It's like God had been working Etienne up for this too.
     So I am in awe.  I am in awe that God could take all our years of struggle to shape us for this.  I am in awe that He has given Etienne a peace that only He can give.  I am in awe that us leaving the continent for many, many nights would result in....healing.  I am crying as I type that.
     That is worship.  The awe at my family and what God is doing.  Every theory, every book, every support group; none of it has had the outcome of Ryan and I returning to an orphanage in Rwanda without Etienne. That is God.  That is awe.  That is my worship.  

Goofball is a fish.  The mask is for effect only.

     Wait, there's more.

     Our foundation is taking off.  Imana Kids is the real deal.  I mean, God is moving.  Things are coming together and they aren't stressful or hard or frustrating.  Babies aren't being born while I am on call (more time to work on bylaws and such!), necessary documents are easy to find, people answer their emails, the kids get along while we write.  Who knew a college kid, a couple of teachers and a midwife could figure out a non-profit?  We have 4 kick-off parties with a goal of $10,000 by Labor Day.  It's big.  God is bigger.  That's awe.  It's worship; my life is worship.