Tag Archives: 2014

On the Road Again

I’ve been a bit lax in the writing department. I started a post, came back to it a couple weeks later, stared at the first three paragraphs for about 30 minutes, and then just gave up. I guess it’s time to just make a fresh start. So much has happened over the last 12 weeks that it feels like an entire year has gone by, but it’s still 2014 so that must not be true.

It’s been quite the year full of unexpected journeys, life changes, incredible memories, and painful ones as well. But, overall I have to say that I am blessed—so very, very blessed. Each day I see God writing more pages to my life story. It’s amazing just to see pieces falling into place. He has taken me places that I never expected to go and allowed me to meet so many amazing people along the way. Each step has been a step of faith, but I’m learning to hold on and trust God more and more as I see that He knows me even better then I know myself.

The last several months in the US were wonderful being able to rest, see friends, spend time with family, and be apart of my sister’s wedding. Just before leaving the US I got engaged which was a wonderful way to end the trip. I’m so glad that my fiancé was able to come and meet so many of my family and friends. We did a lot of road trips while he was here and now we’re in the UK preparing to celebrate his graduation which takes place later this week.

New pieces of this journey called life. I’m learning to enjoy each piece as it comes and trying not to think too far ahead. Living in the moments big and small. That’s my goal. Each day is such a gift that I don’t want to waste it worrying about tomorrow. God has it all taken care of and even when things don’t always make the most sense there is a reason and a purpose for everything.

I realize this post is a little different then most—more of a life update then contemplative thoughts—but that’s where I’m at right now. Hopefully now that the dust has started to settle from all of this traveling, I should start falling back into a routine and be more consistent with blogging. Thank you all for your patience, and for being apart of this lovely journey of life.

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Seasons

I was sitting in her living room with the voice recorder rolling and so many feelings running through my mind. It was my last artist interview. I was about to turn 26, move to St Louis, and hopefully start a new job with the plan of saving up money and moving to Kenya.

She carved beautiful, intricate gourds, another incredibly talented artist hidden in the small town where I had run a newspaper for the last two years. She told me how sorry she was that I had decided to close the paper. I sympathized but knew that God was calling me to a new chapter in life, and to be honest the last two years had been the hardest two years that I had ever lived through. After the interview she gave me a parting gift—a delicate gourd intricately carved with tiny butterflies. She had fit a small light at the bottom of the gourd so that the butterflies glowed softly through the shell.

“Butterflies,” she told me. “A symbol of new beginnings.” I smiled and embraced the idea. I needed a new beginning and a symbol of hope as I was about to take a step into the dark beginning a journey that was going to take me across the world and require a whole lot of faith.

The butterfly theme kept popping up through out the year of 2013—stickers on a letter, the gift of a butterfly shaped cookie, the exquisite little insects themselves fluttering across my path at unexpected moments. All signs from God that He had me on this adventure. It really was a year of freedom, beauty, and adventure the compete opposite of what the last two years had been.

I just turned 27, and as I look back over the year I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better one. I met my boyfriend in Northern Ireland on my way out to Kenya. I’ve had the privilege of become a parent to 19 amazing Kenyan kids who have absolutely captured my heart. I’ve learned what it means to trust God every day and to simply rest in His presence. I’ve gotten to work with an incredible team of people as we’ve learned what it means to live in community and serve God and these kids even through the hard days. I’ve learned true contentment and what it means to take each day as it comes.

Honestly, I couldn’t be happier. God has blessed my life so much and every day I am more and more amazed by His goodness. He loves me. He has held me through the hard times and brought me to new places. I’m exited for what this next year will bring as I open my hand and watch the year of the butterfly flutter away. I feel refreshed, free, and expectant as I wait for all that God has in store for this new year and this new season of life.

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It Hurts to Love this Deeply

I woke up the next morning with a throbbing toe. That’s when I realized that I had kicked some of the loose rocks in the driveway a lot harder than I thought I had. I was heading to town when he called. “You have to let them go,” he told me.

Let them go! How do you “let go” of two of your kids? How do you go from kissing them goodnight, braiding their hair, and helping them with their homework to possibly never seeing them again? God, I’m just not strong enough for this.

We’d made an exception when a mother with a paralyzed husband begged us to take her youngest daughter along with her granddaughter who was being raised by a single mother with epilepsy. We don’t normally take children with parents at the children’s home where I work, but in this case Pastor Simon had made an exception. An exception that was now causing all of us a lot of pain.

A year later the mother changed her mind. She wanted the two girls back. She didn’t like the fact that she couldn’t come and take the girls whenever she wanted to. She was threatening to cause trouble if we didn’t return them that week so that they could start school where she lived. That’s when I realized that it’s possible to love someone so much that it hurts.

I wanted to fight. Take it to the courts. Legally the children were under our guardianship, and I didn’t want them to go back to a home where they wouldn’t be taken care of like they had been over the last year. But, the decision was not mine and while everything in me wanted to fight it deep in my heart I knew that a judge would end up rewarding the children back to their biological relatives, so was it best to go down that road?

I felt like a robot packing a backpack for Esther while Richelle packed one for Michelle. Their toothbrushes, dolls, jump rope, shoes, and clothes. This was it. Our family was being split apart. I tried to hold it together for the other kids , but I wasn’t doing a very good job. I love my girls. Sometimes when I would be cooking breakfast on a Saturday morning Michelle (who is usually very independent) would come up to me, jump into my arms and hold on to me like her life depended on it. Esther is not much of a cuddler, but when we walked down the road she loved to hold my hand and when I’d tell her that I loved her she would always flash me one of her beautiful, bright smiles. I loved her giggly laugh, her cute cubby checks, and her sweet personality. When I told her that her mom wanted her to come and live with her again her eyes immediately filled with tears, and then she got very quiet. The brightness in her eyes disappeared and was replaced with a vacant stare. How do you explain to a child that you have no control in some situations? How do you say goodbye to one of your children knowing that if you do ever see them again everything will be different. They belong to someone else now. My mind still can’t fathom that.

I cried a lot—confused, desperate, angry tears. I felt numb, powerless, and broken as I watched the car drive away. “I’ll come back when it’s over,” Michelle had said quoting a line from “The Call” one of her favorite songs.

“I hope so,” Richelle had told her.

“What is hope,” she asked.

“I want you to,” Richelle said.

Ruthann had the hard job of riding with the girls and Pastor Simon to give them back to their relatives, and then it was over. At least as over as something like that can be.

I sat with little Kevin and held him as he cried over the loss of his sisters. Later, I sat with my arm around Niko when I found him sitting on the edge of the driveway in tears. I had no words, no answers, nothing to give but my presence and at that moment it didn’t feel like enough. The rest of the day is a blur.

One of our older boys gave me a pep talk about how God sees everything and knows everything. “I know,” I told him, “But, I’ll never see them I again.”

“Two mountains never meet,” he replied, “but people, people will meet again.”

Maybe we will meet again. I have no guarantee but maybe. In the meantime we are all still praying for God to get us through this, to hold us, to bring some good from this heartache. He sees. He knows even when we don’t. That doesn’t lessen the pain, but as least it is a whisper of hope. Right now, by God’s grace, we’re surviving one day at a time. Sometimes people think that working in a children’s home in Africa is some kind of romantic adventure full of wet kisses and fun little adventures. Some days that is true, but other days it just plain hurts. It hurts to love this deeply.

My beautiful Esther

My beautiful Esther

My precious baby girl Michelle

My precious baby girl Michelle

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