Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Growing up, we went trick or treating every year. I have fond memories of making up fun, homemade costumes and getting gobs of candy.

We have fun doing this with our kids. This year, I've opted not to go out and about, as I am about to burst with our 3rd child, but was active in getting the kiddos all dressed up.

In previous years, Collin had never wanted to participate. Dressing him in a costume seemed to be as if we were skinning him alive. This year was the first year he was EXCITED to participate fully! Though he came home early tonight, he had a good time. We've learned that once Collin has had enough, there is no chance in talking him back into participating. Perhaps it was because he was a dinosaur this year, or because he's come to grasp with the reality that the end results in a bag full of candy, but this year, he is completely diving into dressing up!

On the flip side, our oldest son, Benjamin, fully participates in whatever character he dresses up as. Any one of his costumes has him in full blown dramatic play all day. This year was no different. As the "mad scientist", Dr. Snaggle-Tooth, he has been trying to conduct many experiments as possible this week, along with his wicked laugh. He always gives us so many laughs during this time...I'm sure drama class is in his future :)


So HAPPY HALLOWEEN! From our munchkins, to yours!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What NOT to say to a pregnant woman

Around this neck of the woods, hunting season has taken full effect. I can be ever-so-humbly reminded of that thanks to my permanent goose-like waddle, the creature that is being sought out around here at this time.

I'm 36 weeks pregnant.

The season of be being "uncomfortable always" has fully set in. I've braced myself for this, being this is my 3rd pregnancy.

A girl. Woot!

With feet in my ribs and going potty every 15 minutes, I'm holding on tight for the home stretch.

This pregancy has gone by much faster than my other two. I've also gained considerably less weight this time around and have managed to have more energy overall.

However, ahem, this has not off set the amount of comments that seem to shoot out of mouths of others that make me laugh and shake my head.

For those of you who can relate, I will share some of my favorite comments I have recieved recently. Perhaps some of you will come away with a good laugh, or a good reminder of what NOT to say to a gal who is with child.

#1 "My, you're looking very healthy these days!"

#2 "When are you due, next week?"

#3 "Uh oh. Again?"

#4 "I bet TJ (husband) has to put up with so much!"

Seriously? How do I respond?

Now, I'm not meaning to be mean here, but these comments were all made by men. MEN! Humph! Clearly, my husband knows better that if any of these dripped off his lips, there would be much sucking up to do. Much.

Perhaps you are nodding your head because you can completely relate. Perhaps you have been one to spurt off such a comment. What's your story?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A season's change

Where has the time gone? I've found myself in a whirlwind since I've returned from Kenya being torn between being a mama to my precious boys, a wife to my husband, daughter to my King and somehow managing to work full time. Blogging has had to be on the backburner. Praise the Lord I do not have to "do anything" to earn my Father's favor, huh? I'm thankful for the man I am married to who unconditionally loves me, despite my failures and for the children God has blessed me with.

It has been a difficult road. A sweet journey.

As this season turns over, I feel as though I am doing the same thing. So many changes has happened in our lives since June. I'm excited to share, with the hopes that my thoughts and experiences can be an encouragement to you.

With that, I would love to know what the highlight of your summer has been? Camping? family reunion? Building the _______ you FINALLY got around to? I would love to hear!!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

BEAUTIFUL SLAVE

Here is an amazing song that speaks to the heart of human trafficking. It's real. It's heart-wrenching. It's happening right now. Can you be HOPE for these children?



Monday, June 21, 2010

I had a good cry today

I was driving home from work today. End of the day-a good day. The car was quiet and I was enjoying just being in familiar surroundings again.

It just hit me.

This face.



and this face



and this face




and I cried.

Not tears of sadness. But joy, for the work that God has done in their lives. Tears of knowing that Jesus is faithful and is the same no matter what.

I seem to have a period of awkward transition when I return from Kenya. This trip has been no different. How does one slip between two opposite cultures and just move on?

My heart is in two places and I pray that God allows the two worlds I call home become one.

It's so tough to put into words what was seen, heard, smelled and tasted. A land that millions of fatherless children try to survive in every day.

I know that Jesus is the same-no.matter.what. That phrase kept coming to my mind with each situation I listened to of the suffering, of the joy. Stories of death resulting from the political violence that erupted 2 yrs ago. Stories of hope as Priscillah's son is being nursed back to health. The stories of neglect and abuse the Mattaw kids endured and how now they are rescued and are being restored and are future leaders of their own country.

God has a plan. It may not be our plan. No matter what the cost. Our lives are to be lived in such a way that brings to Him and Him alone-no matter where you live.

And sometimes, a girl just needs a good cry. Growing hurts.

Home again

Well, we have all made it back to the USA safe! We praise God for that. So much to process, so much to think about as we all transition back to American culture. It seems like now I am fighting a stomach bug of some sort, but I am thankful that it is now and not during our trip.

So, for now, I am going to catch up on work for a bit and when I received pictures from one of our team members, I will post.

Thank you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers when we were gone. Thank you also so much for those of you who cared for my family when I was away-having them over for dinner, bringing groceries, cleaning....TJ has said numerous times how blessed he felt to have that when I was gone. I too, am so thankful for those of you who helped!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oloiktoktok

Well, another fun, adventurous day we had! We woke up in disappointment to find Mt. Kilimanjaro was all covered in clouds. Typically, mornings show the full mountain but it has been "June gloom" here in Kenya quite a bit.

We spend the past day in Oloiktoktok right on the border of Tanzania. Homeless Children's International (HCI) was the program I visited in 2001 and 2003 and volunteered with along with my husband for several weeks. We fell in love there and soon after were married. It was so fun to see some of the girls who are living there still all grown up after all these years. They took us into town to give us a mini tour. We started to get hollared at by some locals who thought we were taking photos of them saying "we are not animals" and such-so we left quickly. I don't want to mess with mentally ill or intoxicated, angry locals :)

The drive home gave us views of many gazelle, giraffe and ostrich. I also have a hilarious story to share about one of our team members scouring the Maasai grounds for lava rock from Mt. Kilimanjaro erruption from looong ago, but it needs to wait until I can post pictures to go along with it. It will be worth the wait. I promise.

We got into Nairobi today about noonish and cleaned up and went to Java House for lunch. Boy, that chocolate shake never tasted so good. YUMMO!

We went to an amazing beadshop afterwards called Kazuri. You can check it out online at www.kazuri.com. It's a program that employs around 340 single Kenyan moms-some who have been employed for 20-30 yrs there. Beautiful jewelry and yes, I did bring some home for you!

Later tonight we ate at Carnivore and feasted on wild game meat. I'm not a huge fan of meat, but I was a trooper and tried ostrich meatballs, and other meat anyways. I had a gag a time or two. Eck!

Tomorrow morning I will be going to see Daniel in Kibera with a team member, Ryan. We will take a matatu and go into the slum to see where he is living with Priscillah's sister. I decided not to take Daniel along to Kitale for a variety of reasons and I feel like I made the right decision. We will hit the market for some fun finds in the afternoon and then fly out of Nairobi at about 10:30 tomorrow night. If all goes well, we will be in Minneapolis at 4:30pm Saturday. Pray we have no delays!

Back to the real world I go. It's tough to think I'll be at work Monday morning. Really tough. I thought coming back from Kenya would be easier each time, but it's not. As a team we are looking forward to sharing our experiences and I know everyone will have a different perspective and have learned different things. I don't think anyone has come back the same person as when they left.

Pictures and stories will be coming very soon! Promise! See you when I get to Minnesota!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nairobi

We made it to Nairobi. I found how "OCD" my team is. Talk about the need for organization and diesel fuel-free air. Sheesh. Who'da thunk :)

God has answered prayers beyond my expectations...but I never doubted that. Jesus is the same no matter what happens here-I dunno why that keeps going through my head, but it does.

We are able to hire a private vehicle for cheap to take our group rather than public transport. It may seem like a small detail, but it is soooooo BIG here.

Everyone is healthy. Food is great-or at least we've grown enough bacteria in our tummies to make the food withstandable. :) I think the kiddos are getting a little homesick but all have been such troopers through all of their firsts. Love them.

Ahem...now, pardon me, but I need to finish my amazing chai tea and shower off my crustiness/deisel fuel goo before bedtime.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday

What day is it anyways? Time is completely gone when you are here.

Wow-last day in Kitale and it was UH-MAZ-ING! We took the kids on a field trip in Kitale town-some of us went to the museum and others explored the markets downtown. A few rode a "picky picky" (spell?) around town and got some good pictures. A Picky Picky is a dirt bike/motorcycle. Cheap. Fun. No, I didn't do it. I'm prego, why do you think??? :)

Afterwards, we took the kids swimming at the Kitale club. A REALLY posh place!!! It was a great way to kick back and relax and it felt like a completely different town in that place!

We had a sweet man from Eldoret, about an hour away come to our guesthouse with all of his knick knacks from his curio shop-and some of us got our shopping fix in. Yes, I got a bunch of multi colored paperbead necklaces. So, for those of you waiting for them, they will be in Fargo in a week!

Our plans for the rest of the week will be to head to Nairobi tomorrow. We will be staying at the Mayfield Guesthouse for the night and then renting a matatu (a van/taxi) and driving 3 hours to Oloiktoktok. This is a small, village town just on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, a the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. This is the town I visited back in 2001 and 2003 with TJ (where we fell in love awwwww) and worked with the street children's program there through Homeless Children's International. We figured since we had some time to kill, we may as well see more of Kenya. We will be there only one day and then head back to Nairobi for some more touristy stuff.

Our team has been wonderful. Bud and Kimberly and our fearless team leader, Scott have been wonderful people to host us in Kitale. Many things went unplanned, but that has made this trip more fun and exciting. I hope some of you that read this may one day desire to come and visit as well-whether we are living here or not.

Please continue to pray for our safety. I'm sure that you may have heard about some bombings in Nairobi yesterday during a rally for a pro-abortion movement. This is just a reminder that we are in the hands of God's mercy and grace and that living in a 3rd world country means that things like this can come up at anytime. Jesus is the same no matter what.

Oh, and did I mention I was in my first "earthquake" yesterday? I was sitting and the room began to shake and outside it sounded like a big truck was rolling by-very common here. Well, it turns out I had felt the after shocks/tremors of an earthquake that measured at a 5.0 in Lake Victoria, about 130 miles away. It's never a dull day here in Kenya. Oye.

I'm not sure how much internet access I will have from here on out. I will try to update as much as I can. I'm looking forward to seeing Priscillah's son, Daniel this week and having some fun, chill time with the team before we head home.

I miss my sweet boys and it was great to speak to them today briefly. We fly into Mpls Saturday around 4:30pm.

Looking forward to seeing lots of you when we return to Fargo!!! Love you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday

Today is Sunday and it's a day that is filled with the people of Kenya dressed in their best clothing-which varies between prom atire and holey jeans and a cut off tshirt. Many start their day early to walk to church or take bikes and motorbikes to go and worship.

This morning we spent our last Sunday with the children at Mattaw. It was precious and I was overcome with emotion to see such young, small children praise and cry out to God who they believe wholeheartedly has a plan for their life. He has a plan for your life sweet children.

The past few days we have spent playing with the kids at Mattaw. A family who has travelled, the Quandts, sponsor 2 of the boys that live at Mattaw and have seemed to have formed a bond with them. It's sweet to see the meaning sponsorship has to these children. It is way more than receiving a check or bringing gifts, but rather a relationship with someone across the world.

We spent a bit of time at In Step Foundation baby home, run by a couple from Washington State. There, I held tiny, weeks old babies, one of whom was found in a bush being eaten alive by ants as she screamed. Today she has the scars to prove she is a survivor and I'm looking forward to watching her grow up.

I have spent many hours with the missionaries that live here. It doesn't seem like "missionaries". It is an amazing group of families that come from all over Kenya with a love for the people of Kenya. I have come full circle-the rose colored view of Kitale and Kenya have definately worn off and I truly see and understand the life that my family could live if we made the committment to live here.

It's worth it all.

I have no doubt that God is working in both the hearts of my husband and myself, as well as our kids. There is meaning as to why we are not here yet-because it is not HIS time or us to come.

I am so encouraged by our team who has maintained flexibilty, joy and pursued meaningful relationships with children and adults they did not know 2 weeks ago. I believe their hearts are changed for the rest of their lives.

We have laughed, cried, and have seen God work in ways we could not have imagined. I am excited to get some pictures up next weekend when I finally have a computer that will allow me to do that.

Thank you for praying and following us on this journey. It's not over yet. We spend one more day in the community with the kids and then we return to Nairobi Tuesday - Friday for some fun.

Though Kenya weighs heavy on my heart, I am looking forward to returing to some of the luxuries of America-flushing toilets, warm water always, nobody stealing my internet or phone line, fast food and my bed. I am most looking forward to seeing my boys again and being a family. God only knows where we go from here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Giveaway

Another great day-no words. Just a fun quiz for you guys and a sa-weet giveaway!

Answers to this can be found on google, and the websites www.mattawchildren.com and www.huffmansinkenya.blogspot.com

Ready? If there are several people who get the answers correct, I will go to random.org and randomly choose the winner. Winner receives a soapstone sculpture that I will pick out later this week. All comments/answers need to be in by noon on Friday.


1. What is the capital of Kenya?

2. How many children live at Mattaw Children's Village?

3. What does "Mattaw" mean?

4. What is Kenya's #1 export?

5. What are the Kiswahili words for:
a) I'm sorry
b) come here
c) chicken
d) you
e) thank you

6. Name a slum in Nairobi.

7. Where is Mattaw Children's Village located?

8. What are the names of the Huffman's 2 children

9. James 1:27 says what?

10. What is name of house #1 at Mattaw Children's Village?


Good luck!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I think I may eat the turkey....

....if the turkey doesn't shut it's trap, I may eat it for dinner tomorrow. PU-LLLEEEZE! At least the cell phone tower and duck squawking-or whatever was gone. Thank you Tylenol PM :)

I posted a bunch of pictures on my facebook account if you want to have a look. I will try to post as often as I can.

It has been another incredible day! We brought out some books that we brought for the kiddos. Boy, did they go wild. Dr Suess is popular wherever you go. Everyone pitched in with the laundry, which is done by hand Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It can take anywhere between 2-4 hours to complete.

I'm thankful for my washing machine and will NEVER complain about laundry being behind again.

Adam is doing better-he still did not make it out to Mattaw today and stayed behind, but now seems to be able to have soup and water and not have it come up again.

Did I mention I forgot a bag at the airport...oh, it arrived on time..but I just FORGOT to pick it up. Well, another miracle is that today, we got through to the baggage claim and it turns out it is still there. It will arrive in Kitale tomorrow morning. Kim, it was your bag. SORRY!! I am praying now that all the items inside are still there. My rain gear, shoes and loads of school supplies were in there. That is just one of the things I seemed to have forgotten this week...am I prego or something??

Guys, I dunno if I'm coming back. This trip has had a much different feel. I've been completely relaxed and at ease with my surroundings and feel more of a sense of getting to know other families in the area. So, I'm doing just that. I'm picking the brains of other missionaries about how they came to Kitale and what they wish they knew before they came from the US-or wherever. There are some incredible people who live here. Not only that, but I strongly feel that God has made me wait-made US wait for our family to come for many reasons. It just wasn't time yet. As impatient as I feel, I know it is God's timing at play and not mine. Please pray for discernment as TJ and I try to figure out what's next.

Oh! I found out that it takes only 3 1/2 hours to get to Mt Kilimanjaro (by Loiktoktok) instead of 11+ hours like it did in 2001 when I traveled. So, our team may have the opportunity to see Southern Kenya as well. It depends on what they would like to do.

I can't believe it's Tuesday. I hope Salem VBS is going well. OH, how I miss my sweet boys back home. My baby is kicking a ton inside me and I"m thankful for this new life--I can't wait to meet him/her!!!

Please continue to pray for our health and safety and provision, as "TIA" This Is Africa and anything can change at a moment's notice. God has been faithful thus far. No matter what, my Jesus is still the same during good times and bad times. We are all thankful for His Mercies given on this trip.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I have a turkey outside my bedroom window.

If you live in Africa, you are to assume that you will have many experiences that are unique to anywhere else in the world....at least to the United States.

I have a turkey living outside my bedroom window. A big one. Not far from this turkey is another turkey that attacked one of the Mattaw staff at this guesthouse not long ago while he was brushing his teeth. White turkey is now locked up...it's huge, and I'm thankful for that.

I went to bed last night AND woke up today to turkeys gobbling, a flock of ducks honking, and a cell phone tower alarm going off at such a piercing high pitch noise. Maybe the power will go off today. Maybe not. This is Africa. It feels like home.

Today, we are at the Mattaw Children's Village with all the kids. Wes is dressed to the nines looking like Indiana Jones and is wife, Teri, is almost a replica of a Maasai warrior's wife. It suits her, as their family lives in a grass roof hut at the guesthouse-

We are learning how to cook-Kenyan style and slowly learning that time isn't a big deal here as we all adjust to the relaxed lifestyle. The sun is so hot and I'm trying to remember the new names of kids that were not there when we visited Mattaw in 2008. Everyone is doing amazing. We have met and chatted with folks all over the world and listened to the journey they have been on and how they came to live in Kitale. It is an amazing community.

Today, one of the Lutz boys woke up with a serious stomach/intestine bug that has laid him out for the day. We took him to the clinic that confirmed it was a bacterial infection and not malaria. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

We will be visiting a baby house later this week and taking the Mattaw kids on a field trip.

It takes a while to post pictures here, so I will try to get some up if I can...we have some fun ones :) I spoke to my husband and kids last night and it sounds like they are doing well. Thank you to those of you who have invited them for supper. It has been a huge blessing to them.

I will try to be posting as regular as I can.


Love,

Lindz

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kenya!

Hello!

It has taken some time, but I am so excited to announce that ALL of us have arrived safely in Kitale, Kenya. We left 8am Thursday morning, went through a back injury, eye injury and a flat tire and we arrived at the Minneapolis airport an hour before our flight took off at 3pm. Do you think someone didn't want us to be going??? ;) Bring it.

We're here! All of our flights and bus travel were great. It rained cats and dogs on us (chickens and goats?) yesterday, as we are in the midst of the rainy season, but we arrived safely.

Traveling with this team has been an amazing journey in itself. I see God breaking down barriers in every individual and it brings me back to the first time I traveled to Kenya in 2001.

When we left Nairobi, I got a surprising, unexpected visit from Priscillah. Wow, was that a sweet moment. When we arrived, it didn't appear that meeting her would work out. We sent her off to school on Friday and she just hugged me so tight and said 'thank you'. Work hard sweet girl. Your son is so worth it and we love you so much!

The smells, sounds, feelings, smiles and hospitality that I dearly remember are surrounding us again. We were able to get to Mattaw Children's Village this morning for church and love on the kids a ton! We got our "Kisses For Kenya" sweets out to many adults and children. Of course, the kids tried to trick us into receiving a few more than just one, but I think I would too.

Some of the youth in our group went in front of the church and played guitar and drums and lead some worship songs. Time was spent praying over those needing healing.

We have settled into our guesthouse and are feeling at home. Thank you everyone for your prayers thus far. We truly have felt them as we have walked each step of the day.

I will continue to keep you posted as we are here the next 10 days.

Love you!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Feeling........

I have logged in here several times-started a post, saved it, and logged off. So, bear with me. :)

I have so many random thoughts going through my head.

I leave for Kenya with 8 FABULOUS people on Thursday. Robbyn, Ryan, Trevor; Wes, Teri, Jordan, Adam, and Ally.

I have all my stuff sprawled out on the floor-but not in my suitcase.

I'm wrapping up last minute work details and spending as much quality time with my family as I can.

I feel peace moving forward with this team-I've never lead a team before, and I'm completely relying on the Lord to give me the wisdom and assurance I need to bring them.

I feel similar pangs of attack the enemy used when TJ and I went to Kenya without our children back in the Fall of 2008.

I feel JOY from the phone call I received this morning from a sweet Kenyan woman informing me that I will be able to hug my sweet daughter, Priscillah and her baby boy, Daniel on Saturday morning, as they intend to meet us at the bus stop before we head to Kitale.

I feel apprehensive as I feel our third child kick me inside my womb as I have never traveled pregnant before. Grateful for the life God has given this baby and anticipating his/her delivery and be witness to the purpose this child has been given (Psalm 139) and the honor of being her/his mom.

I pray for safety and protection for our team.

I pray for God to break our hearts for the least of these and for the team to be sparked a passion that can only come from God to be a catalyst for change.

9 people. 1 country. 14 days. 18 hands, 18 feet. God, multiply our works and help us run this race for the least of these!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Daniel

Oh, my heart! I woke up today and went through my normal routine-shower, drop off kids sans makeup (I do NOT care now), come home and snuggle with Collin through Dinosaur Train and then start my work day. Today, when I was checking my email, I received the GREATEST news!

I have often spoke about Priscillah where you can read all about her here. She is such a blessing and joy in my life. Since leaving Kenya in Oct 2008, Priscillah gave birth to a sweet little boy, Daniel. Having a baby at her age-still in Secondary School- in Kenya means she is forced to drop out. Priscillah has spent the past 18 months it's been since I've hugged her living in Kibera slum with her son. I've received 3 videos and a few emails from her always in a very happy, upbeat tone and lots of smiles. She is proud of her son and loves being a mom-but she struggles, a lot.

It breaks my heart.

I spoke here about how we were going to try to get Priscillah into a program in Kitale. To make a long story short "this is Africa" is all I will say, and we were disappointed to learn that it just was not going to work out due to various barriers that came up. I was disappointed. Very. But, I still believe that God has a purpose and place for everyone-everyone....and Jesus is still the same yesterday and today-no matter what.

Last week I learned that Daniel, being almost a year old, is extremely underweight and is not developmentally on track with milestones and needs medical help. With the care of Homeless Children's International, Priscillah starts school on Monday. Daniel will also have all of his medical and nutritional needs met through sponsorship.

Priscillah has to leave her son in Kibera so she can go to school. Her sister, Anne Wango, will be caring for Daniel when Priscillah is in school. It's a huge responsibility for Anne, being she already has 2 kids of her own.

Homeless Children's International gave me permission and blessing to take Daniel for the 2 weeks we are in Kenya and travel with him to Kitale.

I'm stunned, excited, overjoyed by this opportunity. I've never met him, but I am looking forward to getting to know him more next month. I have a lot of fears-has he seen a white person before? How sick is he? I also have will have the opportunity to visit Priscillah in the school she will be at just north of Nairobi. I hope to take him there also to visit his mama-since she will only be home for 30 days every 3 months of school. I can't imagine how hard this much be for her.

Wanna help our team who leaves June 3? We are collecting various school supplies and are looking for crummy suitcases/dufflebags to put all the donations in that can be left in Kenya. If you have any of these to give, please let me know!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This should be a no brainer

If you have linked up with HopeChest since our launch of Bukedea last December, you may be familiar with their campaign fighting against human trafficking.

There is a massive Facebook, Twitter and blogging campaign going on right now to boycott Craigslist as a way to show that supporting a site who rakes in such a massive amount of money from sex ads will not be tolerated.

Tom Davis writes on his blog that 33% of Craigslist's income is a result of sex ads.

One third.

Sex ads exploiting children for prostitution in the UNITED STATES. Yes, in our own backyards.

This, for me, is a 'no brainer'. Why would I choose to participate in shopping for merchandise that supports such a horrific real-life issue?

Think about this and consider blogging/facebooking/twittering about this very issue to bring light to one of the most horrific forms of child abuse happening on our own soil.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The value in investing in children

Psalm 138:7-8

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.

8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.


I cling strongly to these words in the Bible when I feel myself become overwhelmed with the needs of orphans across our nation and around the world. I am moved by the numbers of Christians who have decided to adopt are who have taken orphan care points under their wing, called them their own and have become the voice for the voiceless.

God cherishes life. God's plans carry out in and through every child no matter what the journey may be.

The orphan crisis is something that is growing in volumes by the thousands every day. Will we rise up and support God's children who have no one to call their own? I believe it needs to take more than families adopting

It will take churches rising up and adopting a community of orphans to bring change. Can we rise up to that challenge, to THIS CALL?

In order for this to continue to happen, we need to invest our young people and children to the need of orphan care. God has laid this so heavily on my heart as the team I am taking to Kenya is June prepares for departure.

Of the 9 people going to Kenya June 3-18th, 5 of these people are youth ages 12-18. OVER HALF! I didn't think of this until a couple of weeks ago. We have FIVE YOUTH from our church's youth group going to Kenya-spreading their excitement and anticipation of what is ahead of them. We have FIVE YOUTH who attend a local Christian School in town that has gone before their Administrative Board asking for a partnership with Mattaw Children's Village school.

We have the power to change the lives of thousands of orphans by coming together and using the resources we have to impact children who are so vulnerable.

God wants us to be His vessels-to be His hands and feet to defend the cause of the orphan.

Want to start? Please email me at tlkenya (at) yahoo (dot) com if you would like to help.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We're back....long time :)

Are you all still out there??? It's me, remember? I know, I've been gone a long time, but in all honesty, I needed the break. Between working full time, being a mom and a wife to my husband, something needed to give. Blogging needed to be it for a while. I have had a lot going on in my life since my birthday back in early March, some good, some great, some very stressful. But God is good and has used EVERY DETAIL for his glory and we are standing stronger because of Him.

First, we found out we are expecting our 3rd little joy sometime in mid November. I know, I was as shocked as EVER and I think I may have dented our budget just a tish with all the tests I took "just to be sure". Sorry hubs :/ I just couldn't believe it. We are so excited and thrilled for this one to arrive.

So, what about our adoption? This was a struggle. We had started our home study and were and continue to be excited about the adoption process, but have decided to put a hold on it until after the baby is born. This was probably a detail that we struggled the most with, because we were sure of God's timing in this, and still are sure, but it pained me so to speak the words "put it on hold please". As I have started to feel our baby kick and flutter all the emotions of excitement and anticipation have built up again and God has held me in reassuring me that it is HIS plan for our life that we are following, not our own.

Finally, I will be leading a team of 8 people from our church and taking them to Kenya to visit Mattaw Children's Village June 3-18th. UH-MAZ-ING story in how God orchestrated this entire thing. I have lots of things on my mind to share about the joys of letting go and letting God. I've heard that saying over and over and over and truly feel as though I've learned what that means over the past 6 weeks. We have a family of 5 and a family of three. 4 adults and 5 kids ages 6th grade to 12th grade. Incredible people. I can't wait to share with you more about the team going and what we will be doing.

Though I haven't been writing, I have been belly laughing and crying with you and have been so encouraged by a lot of your blogs that I have continued to read. Adoptions, deaths, births, missions trips, mommyhood, orphan care-it's been so fun to read.

It's good to be back.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quietness.

This morning I sit here, in my parents' home. It's quiet. I do not get quiet moments like this very often. In fact, I get quite lonely when it's too quiet. But right now, I am really enjoying it.

We woke up this morning looking into the backyard and witnessing a fox stealing the woodpecker's sewit that had fallen down from the perch a squirrel had torn open. For 20 minutes we watched as the fox hid the sewit all around the yard to prevent other scavanger from finding it. Stepping outside this morning onto the deck brought back so many memories of my childhood. The trees in the backyard, the smell of wet wood, the birds, misty/foggy air, not any sounds of busy vehicles rushing to get to work.

Peace.

Today we are celebrating my birthday as well as my mother's birthday. We haven't done this for years. I'm thankful to be so loved. We are celebrating with a brunch make especially for us by my sisters and a GIRLS ONLY tea. Later tonight my sisters are again cooking Chinese and Thai cuisine.

Birthdays were always a big deal in our family-we'd each get to choose the design of our cake when our birthday came and mom would cook us our favorite dinner. I have found myself carrying on the same tradition for my boys on their birthday.

As I get older and realize that our lives could soon be changing and these treks to celebrate siblings' and parents' birthdays could become fewer and far between, I try to not take these opportunities and weekends for granted.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Barbara's Story


Imagine waking up every morning on a mat that resembles a placemat-maybe a bit bigger-because it was one of your other 8 brother's and sisters' turns to use the twin mattress that also lays on the floor.

Imagine going to school every day on an empty stomach, doing your best to absorb what instructors are teaching you that day and coming home to a meal of rice and a few beans-if you're lucky.



Did I mention you are only 14 years old? Did I mention that not only do you try to go to school on an empty stomach, but you are also at risk of being sexually exploited on your walk too and from school?

Barbara's daily life is just like this. She lives in Uganda and is one of the 2 million orphans that live in her country. Both of her parents are passed away and now she survives on scraps of food and lives in a home with 7 other brothers and sisters.

Despite these hardships, she is described as active, composed, extroverted, friendly an dloves to sing dance and read books.

For $34 a month, you can guarantee her a life where food will come daily, more than once a day!!!!! It will give her the guarantee of going to school each day. As her sponsor, you will be able to have a relationship with her! Through letters, cards, and even opportunities to visit her and hug her.

If you are intersted in sponsoring Barbara, please email me or leave a comment and let me know you are intersted. There are several kids like her -boys and girls of all ages- I have here on my desk waiting to be sponsored.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sisters...precious

I have 2 sisters. I love them both so dearly. I will tell you about one of them first. Noelle is a loving, sensitive, spontaneous, Jesus lover and has travelled around the world searching for where God may be taking her.

As a soon-to-be college grad, she will be venturing out of the Midwest to Colorado Springs *sniff* to find her next adventure.

Introducing my gifted, beautiful, youngest sister, Bethany Noelle (though, call her Bethany and you will find yourself swung on the other side of the cliff she is climbing)

Her newest song (and first to be put "out there")



"What Love Is This?"

V1:
You who did not spare Your Son
But You gave Him up for us
You gave up Your Holy throne
And came to wash my feet, Lord

Chorus:
What love is this
What love is this?
That's poured on me
Despite what I do
What love is this?
Its so pure and matchless
It brings me to my knees in awe and worship!

V2:
What can I say?
For my God fights for me always
My sufficiency and strength
Names me his beloved

Chorus repeat

Bridge:
This love
Cannot separate
This love
Cannot be torn away from you
This love
No man or woman
No ruler, angel
No height no depth
No past No future
No failure no tears
No weakness, danger
No persecution
No insecurity
No stress or hurting
Can separate you from the love of Jesus!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I don't want my children to be happy......really.

Missy sums it best for me in that, I do not strive to be my child's best friend-but their mom. Their mom who will always love them no matter what. No matter what.

Thanks Missy for sharing this.

Dear Shepherd, Sissy, Maggie and Ikey,

Recently we were told by people whom we love and respect why they oppose our plans to adopt. One of the reasons given was that we would not be able to pay for your college education.

It's true.

You all have college funds - college funds which recently took a terrible hit - but "they" say that by the time you're 18, college will cost anywhere between $200,000 to half a million dollars each. You might as well know now, we won't be covering that. I'm telling you now, babies.

The people said that the day would come when you would look at us with resentment because you had to apply for school loans while many of your friends got a free ride from their parents.

Maybe you will. Maybe you'll resent us. I really hope not. But maybe I should tell y'all now why your dad and I have decided to do what we are doing.

I know you're going to think I am going off topic (I do that a lot) but several years I saw a story on a TV show about how the latest trend was for parents to give their daughters boob jobs for high school graduation (I don't know what they gave their sons.) When interviewing one of the moms, she said, "I just want my daughter to be happy." And as I tossed a throw pillow at the television, this really huge thought occurred to me: I don't want my children to be happy.

My goal as your mom is not your happiness, sugars. In fact, I spend at least half my day making you unhappy. If I had a nickle for every tear that falls in this home on a daily basis, we wouldn't need to worry about college tuition at all.

Happiness is fleeting, sweet babies. That means it doesn't last. It's a quick feeling that comes from a funny movie or a heart shaped lollipop or a really good birthday present. It's great. I love to be happy. But happiness is a reaction that is based on our surroundings. And our surroundings are so very rarely under our control. Even when - especially when - we think they are. So no, I absolutely don't want you to spend your life chasing something that has so little to do with your own abilities. You'll just be constantly frustrated.

There are two things I desire for you, precious loves. There are two things that I spend most of my time as a mother trying cultivate in you. Happiness ain't one of them. (This means, sorry, no boob jobs for you.)

The first is, I want you to be content. Being content is so much different from being happy. Being content is not based on your surroundings. Being content comes from within. Contentment is a spirit of gratitude. It's the choice you make to either be thankful for the things you do have, or to whine about the things you don't have.

As you know, because I've told you lots of times, Paul talked about being content. Paul said that he had "learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." And Paul was in some rotten situations, kiddos, really rotten.How could Paul be content whether he was in prison or if his life was literally a shipwreck? Because Paul was constantly seeking to be in the will of God instead of his own, was constantly sacrificing his own comfort for the sake of the gospel, and was constantly being confirmed, strengthened, and blessed by God because of his obedience. He was given a supernatural power - that means something kind of like magic, God magic - to do things that most other humans could not do. And guess what? The bible tells us (in Ephesians 1) that God will give you the exact same power! If you want it!

Which leads me to my second desire for y'all.

I don't want you to be happy. I want you to be holy. That means, I want you to seek that God-power to make you content. I want you to want the Kingdom of God more than your own kingdom. And that's hard, babies, that is so hard. And that usually means passing up a lot of what the world considers happiness. But it means that you will achieve blessings directly from God that most of the world never dreams of because they are too occupied with the achieving the perfect birthday present!

This means you may be poor, 'in want' as Paul said, and that's okay. It will never, ever be okay with the world for you to be poor. So you'll be up against the world. But not your dad and me, loves, because it was never our goal for you to be wealthy - at least not in the way that the world considers wealthy.

Darlings, we love you so much. You will never even grasp how much we love you until you have children of your own, and then you'll get it, and then you'll apologize for the ways you treated us ;) But our goal is not to please you. Our goal is to please our Heavenly Father. And nowhere in the bible does the Lord command that we save our money to send our kids to college.

But the Lord does command us to care for the orphan around fifty times. He does tell us to care for the poor around 300 times. He does tell us that when we care for the neediest, we are caring for Jesus Himself. And in chapter six of the book of Matthew, He tells us to seek His kingdom first, and let Him worry about the rest, like college tuition. Because it's all His anyway.

They said that one day y'all would resent us for using 'your' college money to go and get your sister out of an orphanage in Ethiopia and bring her home to you.

But I know my babies. Even at your tender ages, I know your hearts, and I have already seen you weep for the least of these. I know the prayers I offer up to God that He and not the world would shape the desires of your hearts. I am trusting Him to answer those prayers.

So, sugarbears - I just don't believe those people.

Love,
Mommy

Monday, February 22, 2010

Temporary home, right?

How do you view life today? Do you strive to save and to have a secure nest egg? How do you respond to those you are surrounded to who are desperately in need? This is not written to pass judgement, or to suggest that we should be neglectful of taking care of our family. But what's heavy on my heart today is, am I keeping the real perspective on life that God has intended this life to be for?

We are living in a temporary home. Right? Have you grasped that truth? How do we respond to that?

Music constantly inspires me and when I find a good song, I have to post it.

So here you go. I hope this puts things into perspective as it did for me-again!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

He does it again :: The Ring




Meet my 3 yr old, Collin. Cute, eh? Yeah, I thought so too. But do not be deceived...he is so full of mischief a 24 hour period with him will leave you feeling as if nothing else could surprise you.

Today, he surprised me.

We spent the weekend with my parents repainting the interior of our home. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. However, our ceilings look amazing...our wall, well, they are a force to be reckoned with.....

anyways.....

This morning, leaving for church, I could not find my wedding ring. This was the second time in 2 months this has happened. I'm sure you know the feeling

P.A.N.I.C.

The feeling you get when you do not find your wedding ring where you swear you left it just hours before.

I asked both of our boys "where is mommy's ring???"

"I dunno!" was the response I received from both. I looked over, under, upside down, toppling everything I saw around the area I left my ring at over.

Then it dawned on me. Bribery works.

"Hey boys, the first person who finds mommy's wedding ring will get a homemade blizzard (ice cream blended drink) with any candy you choose".

Collin promptly stands up and states. "I know where it is Mommy...it's in my bank!!! My little boy football bank."

Seriously?

Yup.

My husband took him into his room to empty out his 'little boy football bank' as I continued the trashing of my home. He came out holding my ring.

I do not recommend bribery as good parenting technique, but desperate time equals desperate measures, right? A blizzard is cheaper than the purchase of a new wedding ring-or insurance claim, or whatever and tonight my heart rests easier....

What desperate measures have you taken in your desperate mommy moments!!?!?!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where YOUR treasure is.....

Last night, TJ and I prayed together. Pleading with God to show us clearly the path he wants us to follow. I heard a sermon a few weeks ago from our new pastor regarding discerning God's will for our life. It brought me peace (again) that God has a plan-a clear plan-that He doesn't keep these plans a secret.

WE HAVE TO PURSUE IT!

Fears about moving to Kenya that I have been sharing with people recently have been:

as a mom, will moving to Kenya make my kids hate me when they are older? I mean, what about all the 'stuff' they are going to miss?

will homeschooling be too challenging?

what about retirement...that's what I'M concerned about! What do we do when we are 65-70 yrs old?
I mean, I worked for it, now I should enjoy it, right?

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 16:24-25

I got my answer today. I GOT IT GUYS! Through my tears, I post this. God met us with this. What am I thinking? God knows my needs!

Watch this. Watch it again. Watch it three times and share. Does this change your perspective on whatever it is you may be battling with?

DON'T. WASTE. YOUR. LIFE.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not Me! Monday



Not Me! Monday was created by a dear blogger, MckMama as a blog carnival for all of us mamas to come clean about our inperfections of things we certainly NEVER do.

...like the time recently I cooked a gormet meal for my family..you know, the time when I most certainly did not cut my finger, burn the palm of my hand AND start a blanket on fire in a span of about 5 minutes. Not me! I am quick with my hands, gentle on the stove and certainly do NOT wrap up in blankets while cooking. Especially when cooking gormet...you know...like Dilled Salmon and carrots. That is why when I did NOT cut myself, I was certainly NOT making corned beef hash eggs. Not Me! I always cook major gormet for my hubs as a big thank you for working so hard.

Wanna join? Go here for the offical rules and link up!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ugandan halt on adoptions.

A while back on Facebook, I posted an urgent prayer request for this family as they were "stuck" in Uganda with their medically fragile little girl, about to go home, when they were abruptly stopped due to the way their court order was issued to them. They would be breaking the law by leaving Uganda, as they had guardianship of their little girl, but could not bring their girl to the US. Stuck.

I've read about and spent time with many families who have adopted from all over the US and the world. They all have the same thing to say. "Adoption is hard." "Adoption will pull and stretch you in ways you have never known you could." "There will be many hurdles."

This week has been a bit paralyzing for us as we learned that Ugandan adoptions have now come to a halt. It's a long, hard, complicated story, but I'm sure, like many of you, these kinds of situations are common as we deal with corruption in many forms.

Heartbreaking.

We need to be on our knees NOW praying for God to move this government to allow many Americans who are there with their babies now, that cannot return home themselves, nor can bring their babies home due to language used in a court order.

Heartbreaking.

You can read more here.

There will also be a group of people from around the US praying for this specific country and for the government to re-open adoptions. If you are interested in joining this conference call on Monday night, please go here for details.

I know that this situation is similar to those of you adopting from China, Haiti, Guatemala, or other countries. May this be a place we can lift eachother up in times of joy or saddness, or fear, anger, rejoicing of bringing your babies home. Let us pray for those whose arms ache for their child(ren) to come home and remember that we serve a MIGHTY God, one who heals, and restores.

His eye is on the sparrow!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Details of our adoption.

There have been many questions you guys have emailed me concerning how our adoption could affect our move to Kenya. I thought I would take some time to help you understand how we've been led to this place and where we are going from here.

To make a very long story short, I truly feel that TJ and I were led to this very point in our lives not by our own doing. I'm sure many believe in "the moons lining up" or "stars shifting" or whatever-but I truly believe that God has set HIS timing in perfect rhythmn for us to struggle, grow, and take great joy in knowing how HE knows every second of our life and has the path laid before us. All we need to do is obey.

Obeying is NOT easy. At times, it doesn't make sense. But TJ and I believe that if we feel led, even in the moments of "seriously.....SERIOUSLY...what about???....." remember, that's putting God in a box!

And I've thrown my boxes out, remember?

So here we are.

We are adopting from Uganda.

Why Uganda?

See, Uganda has a very special place in our hearts. About a year and a half ago we took a journey that changed us for the rest of our lives. We toured villages and a baby home that loved on kids that came out of the LRA. The LRA pursues and terrorizes children to do the unthinkable. I cannot mentally go there as I get a huge lump in my throat thinking and remembering the kids we hugged and listened to stories of that lived that life for several years.

Kenya is not an option for us to adopt from at this time due to laws that make it very difficult for us to do at this time. So, for now, we will call Priscilla our Kenyan daughter and Daniel our other beloved.

From my learning about the Bukedea community who's kids are literally starving to death and falling in love with little faces and souls who need parents, we could not hold it in any longer.

How did you come to decide that adoption was the thing for you?

Through reading scripture about the responsibility, I believe, we as Christ-followers have to "the least of these" ADOPTION is the way we feel our family is feeling called to act.

From traveling and learning about the need, globally, it seemed like an easy decision. Life is a whisper in the scope of eternity, right? Making a difference in a life of a child in a culture we love seemed like a good fit.

Our goal is to have money raised by June to travel to Uganda for about 6 weeks with our entire family to live with our future child (ren?) and go through the legal process of adoption. We hope to also visit Kitale, Kenya and see the Mattaw kids along with Bud and Kimberly.


Isn't international adoption expensive?

Yes, but it doesn't have to be. There is a fabulous woman I have never met, but feel as though I know her well that has helped us through this process. She has created a website/blog to help others adopt from Uganda. The site can be found here.

I can't adopt now, but I want to help you, how?

There are ways that you can help us. We have started a fundraising website where our family will receive $5 per bag of coffee sold to go towards our adoption costs. The website is:

www.justlovecoffee.com/TheErhardts

Please consider purchasing and following us in this journey. We need to be saturated with prayer in this, guys, and I know many of you have been praying and that means the world to us!

Another option is that we will have a supply of Ugandan paperbead necklaces-much like the ones we sold for the launch weekend for Bukedea we will have available for purchase for about $10-20 by the end of February. If you are interested in me reserving a specific color, leave a comment or email me at tlkenya (at) yahoo (dot) com.


What about Kenya?

We are completely surrendering this to the Lord. God knows the desires of our hearts and we are trusting that if we keep the "step by step" prospective, what is meant to be will fall into place. Certainly the move to Kenya is not happening in June but there are several other factors that are in the works at this time that will give us some guidance as to what those next steps are!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm an anxiety-ridden fool!

Have you ever had one of those days-or meetings-where you HAD to confront someone or someone HAD to confront you and it completely consumed your mind and filled you with anxiety until the moment it was over?

That was me today.

I prayed and prayed and prayed about a meeting today. Last week was the original meet time, but it had to be rescheduled-I breathed a sigh of relief but dreaded what was still to be dealt with.

I hate that!

All week and especially today, the Lord saturated me with the verse "My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in your weakness."

How awesome is it that God knows ME and MY needs so well that He provides the perfect food to feast on.

And...why cannot I remember that? Grrr....I need to totally work on that.

I'm grateful for the Warrior Girls in my life and partnering frienships locally I have that I can call in an instant and pray. So grateful and you girls know who you are!

Love you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letting go....and gaining

...and no, I'm not talking about weight :)

I'm talking about all of the fear that has been sweeping across my mind lately. The fear of things that I think about as we make transitions towards moving to Kenya.

For me, I think about the dreams I have had for my kids-such as baseball game tournaments, piano lessons, school plays/musicals. They seem silly when I step back and look at the big picture. But, I know God cares about the details of my life as a mama to my boys, so I let it go and leave it in God's hands.

There are times when TJ and I have been on the brink of saying "no"...and I feel a rush of relief come over me. TJ and I start praying "break our hearts for what breaks Yours God" and the overwhelming feeling of "serve me through orphan care" comes swooping back in and we are desiring more than ever to be in Kenya. Then comes the fear again.

I've been praying a lot about this cycle. Naturally, there are a lot of feelings that come with moving such as fear of the unknown, the "how will my kids transition" worry, and "really...ME...homeschool!?!?!?". Many more thoughts come, but you will probably think I've lost my mind.

We are going to Texas in February to speak more with Bud and Kimberly about going on staff with them. Lots of things up in the air right now. It will feel so good to connect with them again!

As we process all of the different emotions of moving overseas, there is one thing that remains firm. Jesus. I'm reminded why we are on this earth-it's but a whisper in the scope of eternity, and I do not want to spend it doing things other than where we feel God calling us-no matter what. We also know that God does not waste one drop of suffering-does not waste one tear we shed or barrier that may come our way because we know God is growing us through that experience. Sometimes, that's hard for me to swallow-especially think about taking our boys for the ride.

I'm human. I struggle. And some days, it is not easy.

I know there is no greater joy that comes with serving others-serving the Lord. So, with that, we are pleading with God to get our debt paid off, in His time. To give us a renewed joy in the work that we do here in our community and the rhealm of Social Services.

We are praying for patience, unity to continue in our marriage and for God to continue to prepare the hearts of our children. Will you join me?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Swagbucks

As I am all snuggled up in my cozy clothes and working from home today, I wanted to take some time share with you something that has been helpful for me living on a budget.

Introducing Swagbucks.

At first I was a little suspicious. But now I ask why didn't I start using them a looong time ago!?!?!
While making swagbucks my homepage on my computer, I use it to search for everything! I even earn bucks when I search for my own blog! I use it as like I was using other search engines-only this one I earn redeemable gifts and giftcards at places I prefer to shop at. It's a sinch to use. With our dual Social Work income, it has helped our budget SO MUCH-especially around birthdays and holidays when we can now afford gifts that otherwise we couldn't.

So, click here and see for yourself how easy it is to earn swagbucks and gifts from your favorite store!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adventures in Dad Land :)

My hubs is going to attempt joining the crazy world of blogging. He is trying to appeal to fathers out there who may be struggling with parenting, marriage and also bringing in a passion for endurance training and orphan care.

I'm really excited for him as he is an inspirational writer and has been for a long time, but has now become comfortable with making it known to others.

Head over to http://www.adventuredadland.blogspot.com/ and encourage him!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hallelujah

Tears. Joy. Hope. Praising God for sweet miracles happening THIS hour in Haiti and as I read tweets about adoptive families being united with their Haitian children-much like how we came to our Father I suppose-traumatized, relieved, unconditionally accepted. Hallelujah.



Friday, January 22, 2010

It took me 29 years

It took me 29 years to realize that....

BECAUSE HE IS ALREADY ON MY SIDE, I can advocate for orphans.

BECAUSE HE IS ALREADY ON MY SIDE, I can never do anything to make Him love me more.

BECAUSE HE IS ALREADY ON MY SIDE, I can love those around me who are really difficult to be around.

BECAUSE HE IS ALREADY ON MY SIDE, I can believe that He will move my mountains.

BECAUSE HE IS ALREADY ON MY SIDE, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

BECAUSE HE IS ALREADY ON MY SIDE, I can.

It took me 29 years to get that. I heard over and over again that "Because God is already on my side, I can love people, advocate for orphans, I can treat other people different than me with LOVE."

When I heard this, it was like rubbing salt in a festering wound because it felt too vulerable. Surely God couldn't love someone like me. After all the mistakes I have made?

Then I heard a sermon that completely changed my heart.

The power to help anybody, to love others different then myself, is a power that flows from the Gospel knowing that we are already accepted.

I have always struggled with not having to "earn" God's love through action. I struggled with it being free. Just a gift I had to receive? That's it?

That's it.

I didn't know how to do that. Until this week.

It wasn't something I was used to feeling.

A lot of my life, growing up, I felt like when I did something wrong, it was taken away and I was left to with an emotional wound -trying again to do the next "right thing" to earn favor in the eyes of people I loved. This left a thick shell around my emotions and my heart that became harder with everything I did wrong.

Thus, creating in me the fear of failing. Craving acceptance. Being saturated in genuine joy. Freedom in being me without shame.

I have found all of those things. My new realization has completely changed my prospective on my relationship with my husband, with my kids, parenting, my relationship with God, my partnership in my marriage, reaching out to those who do not know God.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bukedea update

I have a really exciting update for you guys regarding the orphan care point we did a launch weekend for back in December. Remember Bukedea, Uganda?

I received word yesterday that we received funding at the end of the year for the Bukedea community to be "built out"- meaning, these 250 kids will now have a kitchen, a well with clean water, and a storage facility for food.

IT IS ALL DONE!

Almost.

We still need about 240 sponsors to step up and sponsor at least 1 child so we can consistently be feeding these kids.

Without sponsorship, these children will not eat.

Are you interested in sponsorship? If so, please email me at
tlkenya (at) yahoo (dot) com as soon as you can and I will hook you up with one of the most precious children you will have ever met.

And your life will never be the same!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Box.

I have a confession. Ugh. I hate those. Sometimes.

I've been putting God in a box. Bigtime.

I have been called out on that bigtime. Growth is sweet, but it hurts.

I think I am really good at looking at other people's lives and saying "wow, look at how God moved THAT mountain or brought THAT marriage out of trouble or healed THAT man" but fail to allow God to move in my life the same way because of the limitations I put on him.

Too expensive, my house is too small, my kids are almost out of the house, my kids are all potty trained.....

A box.

This has been very toxic to my faith. I didn't even realize it. I am putting excuse after excuse up in front of faith opportunities not allowing God to work.

God is way too big for the boxes I put him in. I'm learning that if I surrender and give ALL of it to the Lord, HE WILL MOVE!

I'm done putting God in boxes by way of using excuses.

Regarding adoption, this is the most recent example I can think of. TJ and I have been considering this for a long, long time. The excuses we have been using have been "well, what about moving to Kenya", "what about finances", "what about, what about what about....".

We're done.

We found out that our home study will allow us to also be able to be a foster home or potential foster to adopt family if we choose to be that for Haitian orphans.

Wowzers.

My brain-it immediately went to "what about..." but I stopped myself. I'm done using boxes.

I don't know what the Lord is going to use our homestudy for. I'm thankful we are using an agency that supports what we want to do. We are surrendering our homestudy to the Lord with open hands so that HE may use it for how HE wants to build our family.

Have you been stumped by putting God in a box before? This is not a time to pass judgement on others. Share your heart. Where are you really at?

My new "love" is right here. She is precious. She also knows what it's like to put God in a box.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Miracle.

Today I held a sweet baby girl who was born at 24 weeks gestation. She was discharged from the NICU today after spending over 4 months in the hospital. It was a miracle that she survived. It brought me back to the days my 2 boys were in the NICU, though much older than 24 weeks, and all the emotions that went along with that experience. Miracle.

It also made me think of how vulnerable children are and how there are babies just like her born to mamas around the world who lack the resources to help their babies survive.

And they die.

Does your heart break for the children in your community and around the world whose innocence is so quickly shattered because of a natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse, or lack of resources her family doesn't have access to (like water)?

For some reason, God instilled in me at a young age a burden for innocent victims of the world's horrible atrocities. I use my blog to help bring awareness of orphan care to those of you who also may feel the pangs in your heart to make a difference.

I also want to bring awareness to avenues that you can participate in that can make a huge impact. If you follow me on Twitter, you may also find others that I tweet to that are also in the same arena I am. It is JOY to celebrate miracles of healing, a well being drilled, 400 pairs of shoes purchased for orphan's feet and an adoption.

My blog will be taking a new twist, you see. A twist that my husband and I would like to share with you. We would like to invite you into our journey as we prayerfully consider adoption ourselves.

Adoption is something that has been pressed upon our hearts for some time, we just needed to find THE time we felt was right. We are not ready to share where we are adopting from, as some details we need to keep private for now, but we are REALLY excited!

I've spoken to enough parents to say that it is a joyful, yet heart-wrenching experience. A miracle.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families." - Psalm 68:5-6

God sets the lonely in families. I have found that to be true many times as I have seen God complete families through adoption.


Have any of you adopted before? To be honest, I am scared. I need you to help encourage us in those hard moments and rejoice with us in those WAHOOOO moments. We need prayer. Our God is a big God. It's amazing that He knows our future daughter right now (yes, we are hoping for a girl) and is protecting her. His eye is on the sparrow.

And that, in fact, is a miracle :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shirts for Shoes Project

Hey everyone!

Looking for an idea for Valentine's Day? Check out the pink box on the top left of my blog. This will get you to "My Crazy Adoption" site...where you can help give orphans a pair of shoes when you buy a Valentine's Day T-shirt! Will you also post this on your blog to spread the word!?!?!?!


Do Something Now from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blank. Hope. Prayer.

If you are an avid blog surfer like I am, then you have probably seen this button lingering around some of your blogs calling out for help for Haiti.





Have you been numb to what you are seeing on TV or hearing on the news? I feel so distant from it and cannot help but just stare at the TV screen when I see the faces of those who are suffering greatly. I watched a video of a 13 yr old girl being pulled out from underneath a collapsed wall today...alive!

Hope.

Miracles are happening all around there I'm sure and I just pray that more are found alive than lost.

Check out Kristen's blog here. She is one of my favorites to read, and she is giving away a space to advertise YOUR blog on hers for 3 months. If you want your blog to get some traffic, then you want your space on her blog, believe me.

I'd offer you an advertising block on my space...but, you know, I'm not quite there yet...maybe one day :)

If we cannot afford a dollar to give, we all can be on our knees for those in Haiti and those here who are longing for an answer from a loved one.

Prayer is free, and is the most powerful life-changing tool anyone could offer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Love

"In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love." - Mother Teresa 1910 -1997


Monday, January 11, 2010

*Boy-JOY*

I'm sure, like us, you have experienced frigid, bitter cold temps. We have fluctated 60 degrees since Friday the 8th. The past couple of weeks we have seen lows dip down overnight into the -30's and -40's F. This consistent weather has made going ANYWHERE hurt, making some stir crazy little boys and one depressed dog.

See?


But finally, HALLELUUUUUUUUUUJAH! We caught a break, and it is only looking better this week!

We spent the weekend outdoors. Sledding. Boy-Joy.





But Collin, really, I think spoke the loudest about how all of us felt when it was all said and done!



He's gonna kill me for this one, isn't he?!?!?!?

What have YOU done to beat the cold this year?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

6 years.


Six years ago today I walked down the aisle to officially start my life with TJ.

It's been a sweet ride babe! I love you more every day and I am so thankful that because of Christ Alone, we will be His forever! I cannot wait to see what the next 6 years brings and the 6 after that.


From our first trip to Kenya, falling in love with God's desire to serve orphans.



To bringing our first son home....



...and then our second










It's been a journey already, packed with a ton of memories,









Memories that make me proud to be your wife and to call you my husband.









Love you!




Saturday, January 9, 2010

Gasp! Could it be!?!?!

....that there ARE people in this world who think there is life outside a Wii, Nindento DS games, PBS and DVDs?!?!?!

Whooooo DA THUNK?

Actually, I'm not being critical, at all. I use all of the above sources as entertainment for my boys, however, I do remember when I was a little girl, we had none of the above and I spent my days playing dress up, hosting tea parties, building forts in the woods then being covered in poison ivy.... and joining an all-girl "biking gang" [you know, we were TOUGH....with our pink Huffies and all].

Ahem.

This past Christmas we received the book A Dangerous Book for Boys. They have one for girls too. Our evenings have now been filled with having paper airplane flying contests, dreaming of the go-cart we will build this spring and researching outter space.

Can you smell the sweat poured out already? *sniff* Oh, nevermind, that's just our bathroom...

...anyways, that's been our life. If you haven't already, I'd highly recommend the book if you have boys in your life. Taking them back to the days where they were milking goats and chopping wood to keep their toes warm is good for me. I hope one day I get to delve into the book Daring Book for Girls. I'm sure, her and I together could combat the stank that comes from 3 boys peeing in the same toilet and putting clothing in the laundry after it has been worn 37 time (or just freshly folded) by wearing pink boas and sipping tea with our teddies and dolls. One can only dream, eh?

It's a joy to have boys. It really is. This book has made the journey more adventerous and create and it that, I am thankful.

Have you jumped into this book? If so, what do you think?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Update on Priscilla

I'd like to share with you a HUGE answer to prayer we have had recently. Back in 2002, I met a dear girl named Priscilla. At the time, she was 15 yrs old, top of her class academically and participated in choir. She had dreams of becoming an air hostess and traveling the world. I became her sponsor.

I saw her again the next year and then once again in the Fall of 2008.

Today she has a son, Daniel, who is 6 months old. She unexpectedly became pregnant and was forced to leave school. You see, in Kenya, if you become pregnant, it automatically disqualifies you from participating in school. Priscilla had graduated from the school I had met her at in Loitokitok and started Secondary (High) School in Kitale when she became pregnant.

In the Winter/Spring 2008, a political war broke out between the her tribe and the opposing tribe running for President of Kenya. Her tribe was brutally attacked and she was forced to flee Kitale for fear she would loose her life because she was Kikuyu.

Priscilla fled for her life and started living with her sister in Kibera. Her home consisted of a constructed square area about 8 x 10 feet. There is a mattress and a box to sit and a piece of tin covering her head at night. Did I mention she shares this space with her sister, who has a toddler?

Priscilla often spends nights on the dirt floor of this space, trading between the bed and the floor she shares with her sister and nephew.

This is her reality. Unfortunately, many girls like her, become pregnant as a result of a consensual relationship or rape and live the rest of their lives this way.

Priscilla is living this way today.

Enter Ernest Ambole.

Ernest is a man who lives the Lord with all his heart, all his mind and all his strength. He worked for the school in Loitokitok when I first met him in 2002. Ernest has since worked for little to no money with the organization and has kept a watchful eye on Priscilla to be sure she was safe. Ernest is married and his wife gave birth to a baby boy around the same time Priscilla did.

Recently I received an email from him.

Hi Lindsey and TJ

Merry Christmas

How are you and family, I trust that you are well and protected by the Good Lord.

We are well, looking forward to Christmas and the new year.

I managed to get to meet with Priscilla. She came to my house on Saturday and we went to visit with her. Her son has been having some health problems we perceive are as a result of teething. He has dropped in weight from 7.4 kgs to 5.7 kgs. He has a low appetite and it seems like it’s a struggle to feed him. However, she had taken him to hospital and the doctor had prescribed something that I cannot really remember for him to eat.

We went to visit her. She lives with her sister who also helps her take care of Dan whenever she goes out to find work to care for her baby. Her sister who is called Wambui however was not in but they live in the same compound with her brother who suffers from some brain related medical situation. Her mother went back to her rural home and because she also suffers the same case as the brother is also not able to assist Priscilla. Her other sister, Wangu also went back to her husband in Limuru.

The house they live in as mud walled and the roof has holes in it. She shares one bed with the sister sometimes one sleeps on the floor. It is quite cold inside even with the sunny season here in Kenya. I didn’t think that environment and I think it is not conducive for the baby and even for her. She uses a tin lamp that is very unhealthy for her as it produces black soot. This is not good for her baby and even herself as both could get severe respiratory complications.

We have started a process to find a suitable school for her. We have been talking about boarding Vs Day School. I prefer a day school that way then she can be with her child daily. Boarding school on the other hand will allow her sufficient time to concentrate. Both arrangements will need day care services. We could also go for a hybrid situation whereby we look for a nice place to house her and get for her some help to stay with the baby during the day and then she takes care of her baby at night but with some support so that she can concentrate on her studies just like you were saying. I wish I had like at least a two bed roomed house then we could host her because now I live in a one bedroom house and we are already out of space. I believe that we can find a suitable house if we look and we could then have Priscilla stay with us for the next one year. By the way, speaking of this house, it could start as an office for our non profit to serve young people in situations like Priscilla and even reach out and do much more youth and community empowerment. I am in the process of trying to meet Lucy and I think that hosting the two of them will be much more convenient and cost effective. We have tried to see who else can assist and maybe the mother to the Daniel’s dad. But this has its own complications.

Hopefully in the New Year, I can manage to start doing more empowerment with young people through the nonprofit but we ll see how it goes.


We felt, and had been feeling, Ernest's call to serve these young women who were forced to drop out of school. Ernest has no resources. He struggled to meet the needs of his own family but was willing to take her and another girl into his home to try to help them. We began to pray for a way we could help these girls who were falling quickly in between the cracks.

I spoke to Bud and Kimberly Huffman last week. Bud and Kim are the Program Directors for Mattaw Children's Village in Kitale where TJ and I are moving forward moving to. They knew of a lady who runs a program for teen girls who need to complete secondary school but have a child and many difficulties fulfilling their goal to finish school. It's called Esther's Home. After we contacted the Director, she stated they would accept Priscilla into the program as long as we could provide the means for her to stay there.

Guess where Esther's Home is!?!?! Kitale, Kenya baby! Could it be that the little girl I met so long ago would have her needs specifically met and live only a few short blocks from us one day???

I wrote Priscilla a letter asking her if she would consider this (the last time she was in Kitale, she was almost killed). I was very nervous. She stated she wanted to go to finish school. She stated she was willing to go.

I'm thankful that a program existed to serve Priscilla and many more girls like her. I'm thankful to serve a God who brings hearts together across the world to work in the life of one child.

I hope that one day, a few blocks may separate Priscilla and our family and not continents and oceans. It's been an amazing journey with her and I know God has big plans for her life.

Can you holler a BIG amen!?!?!?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Prayer for Salem E Free Church

Today I am praying for my church. I am praying for God to stir up a great desire in our church leaders to attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans in Minneapolis, MN April 29-30th. Will you join me in praying for YOUR church to become involved in orphan care in 2010?

Here is a short 2 minute video with John Piper urging people to become involved. Whether it is by supporting a family who is adopting, by becoming a foster parent, or choosing to adopt yourself, there are many ways to be involved.

Invitation to Summit VI from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kenya update and trip coming up!

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted! Sorry about that. It's been kind of a rough transition into 2010 with work and the holidays being so busy. Our Christams was spend with precious family and a lot of awesome memories were made. I hope you also had a great Christmas!

It has been a while since I have specifically posted about Mattaw Children's Village. There have been a lot of developements that have been going on with Mattaw, some of which I can't speak about at this time, however they are very, very postive!

One of the possibilities that TJ and I are looking at right now is coming on board with Mattaw staff while in the US. This would include doing some administrative things as well as working on sponsorships and networking with churches in our area that may want to get involved.

This is where YOU come in! TJ and I are tentatively looking at going on a vision trip in July 2010 for 7-10 days to visit Mattaw Children's Village. We are wanting to invite people who are interested learning more about the ministry, the culture of Kenya, and seeing what God is doing in the lives of so many who are suffering. It will truly change your life in many ways.

So, if you are the slightest interested in coming along, please leave a comment or email us at tlkenya (at) yahoo (dot) com.

We do not know the cost yet, but it will be somewhere between $2500 and $3000, depending on the cost of the tickets and whether or not we do a safari. We are praying for 10-15 people to come along this summer. If there are kids under the age of 18, a parent or youth pastor needs to be present.

So, please pray about this and see if orphan care is an area YOU would like to be involved in and participating in a trip this summer to see what God is doing in Africa.