Sunday, July 26, 2015

When the wheels fall off...

When the wheels fall off in life... we often times want to complain.  
We want to believe that we deserve better than this said inconvenience.  
Our minds want to start piling up the unplanned costs or the lost time. 

But what if the timing of the wheels falling off actually SAVED us from something worse? 



This week, my wheel literally fell off of my car.  Well, it really broke off. 
When I saw what had happened to the car... I became OVERWHELMED... 

with thankfulness. (and laughter) 

You see, I drive my kids 45 minutes one way down the most dangerous road in Zambia to school everyday.  It's full of trucks loading things to and from the Congo.  The condition of the roads are horrific, and we see accidents almost every day. Not fender benders... but take your life accidents. Speed and passing also become so dangerous.  
Each night as we pray, we thank God for a safe journey to and from school, and ask that He provide us with the same the next day. 

So... it just so happened the wheel on my car broke off on the road that Lifesong School is on.  Going slow.  Close to help. Safe

If it had broken off 12 hours earlier... going 100KM/hr... on a road packed with trucks... it very easily would have flipped and possibly ended in an unthinkable way. 

Thankfulness.  
Provision in the broken wheel. 

His protection and love shined bright on our family in that moment of "I'm sorry, did my wheel just fall off?" 

I'm thankful that my eyes were opened to the provision that day.  And let's admit... considering the day before I made a joke that "the wheels are about to fall off" ... I found the situation quite humorous. 

Grumpiness and Gratefulness can't live together in the same heart simultaneously.  
You get to choose. 
Choose what you see. 

Sometimes what seems to be a huge disaster is actually His protection from something unknown to you at that time... 
That He chose to love us in that way... 
and protect us in that way... 
that indescribable love. 
 
"Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" 
2 Corinthians 9:15



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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Believe the Beautiful...

How quickly the accuser starts... He's always had a keen interest in our type from the beginning. He starts in the smallest of ways, at such a young age. 

"Do you think I'm beautiful?"  she asks from behind her bowl of mixed cookie dough.  Heart sinks. How early the doubts begin. The first signs of those awful feelings I can so easily remember...


Where did this come from? We live in a world free from the western ideas of "beautiful"...  

But its something deep inside her all of us that longs to be seen as beautiful and yet, a blockage- a lie- doubt is somehow planted into the soil of her soul. 

The accuser... the planter of lies. 


 As we get the fresh cookies out of the oven, I offer a compliment to the chef... "Great job!" The compliment is met with resistance... "you did most of it" or "they're not that great."  The inability to accept a compliment... or the quick deflection and minimization is offered.  Oh how guilty are we to not accept a simple compliment with "thank you."  Because it surely conflicts with that lie planted deep into us that says "You're really not that good... not that special." 

The accuser... the planter of doubts. 

And me- the caretaker of this beautiful garden growing in front of me.  I begin to pick out the weeds that lies have sown. Weeds that I recognize all too well. 

  I tell her of her great value... her great beauty simply because of who she is... which has nothing to do with skin color, the wave of hair, waist size, brain capacity, performance, or bank account.  

Deceiving is the only way to contain the great influence built inside of you... 

because to hold such beauty...
such love...
such compassion...
and grace...
fearlessness...
brilliance and hope...
love for the one who made you... 

it is a most perfect package for being the change...for doing great things... 

Do not be deceived my sweet girl... Hold onto truth... Know that you are enough... God's grace is enough... your life, your hair, your eyes, your laugh... it's all enough.  

Believe the beautiful He has created in you... 
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Saturday, July 18, 2015

The empty seat...

There are some things in life that simply can't be enjoyed without someone in the seat next to you... behind you... or across from you.  


"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work." 
Ecclesiastes 4:9
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Friday, July 10, 2015

6 months in 1 post... Highlight Reel...

How does 6+ months go by without blogging?  

Maybe its being consumed in all things Zambia... 
Maybe it's the frustration of it taking HOURS to load a photo...
the daily 8 hour power outages... 

or just plain laziness... (ok, it's probably this one)

Despite the INACTIVITY of my blog... the life is full of ACTIVITY... 

Here's my weak attempt at catching up... 

Our 3 days of Christmas before the malaria struck... ahhh...

Soccer tournaments that landed my 2 bigs in the Nationals!

Following the Soccer bus early... Enjoying the African Sunrise...

Celebrating with Friends after Z's first U13 Soccer game...

Opening our Student Life Program... 48 kids from G8-10 in boarding facilities...

Ukubyala without any power... Be the Light...

Art of Marriage at Nsobe... Good & Wild times with all our staff at Lifesong...
Awesome time with Phil & Starla... our marriage coaches!


The Purchase of this property in which my heart has desired for 4 years!  It's the new home to Girls Student Life! Ah-May-Zing! Tsangalala... Let's Rejoice!


My Friday and Saturday Nights by the fire pit... debating constellations and listening to NJ the DJ...


My G8s studying before exams in my Guidance and Counseling Class... because I'm nice the week of exams... only. ;)


The next generation of Lifesong Football... Z's best friends...

And all this activity... occasionally I steal away to my room for some juice and Jesus...

Mwaiseni... Welcome to our school... Here's a little peek for those who've never been here (which you are always welcome... )


Porridge for Breakfast... HOT... because it's winter here! 

Ukubyala... Impromtu Praise and Worship with friends near and far...

KG and Benson planning their "song"... which was indeed the CUTEST THING EVER... would love to upload the video but i'm kinda pushing it with all these photos... ha.  They sang together "Jesus Never Fails"... just the 2 of them... still.my.heart.

Us gals waiting on the frittas to finish so we can eat something yummy!  Outdoor kitchen goodness...

This boy... ahhh... how he has grown into such an amazing young man... Serious about school... serious about life...

These, on the other hand, are still enjoying boyhood... to the fullest... Pray for these boys... their smiles cover a multitude of pains...


Me and Skip Bo...


The Crew... Yes, they are out of control and one can't possibly get a decent photo...

Which requires more of this...

And these guys... my life... my heart...

How can one love someone so much anyway?


And that's a wrap...
So... that means I'm all caught up, right? You didn't miss a thing!  We opened boarding, had an awesome soccer season, fun family time, teams, growth... and so much more!  I'd love to promise that I'm back to blog land... but I might be lying.  One thing is for sure... life is full and active even if the blog isn't.  My journal is... and maybe one day I'll be brave enough to start writing again... love from Zambia... 
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Friday, December 26, 2014

And He whispered... Immanuel

You know that excitement that starts to build in a child once the tinsel hits the nearest store, or when the first advertisement of the greatest toy shows, or the first hint that Christmas is near?  We all know a little about that excitement... well... not ALL of us... but the ones lucky enough to have been born into a privileged lifestyle.  (never mind me seeing 2 boys i love dearly planting their garden on Christmas... just another day)
Its so easy for me to have certain expectations of Christmas... even in the middle of Africa.  I know what I want it to be like for my kids, how I want the house to smell... the things I want to bake, the gifts I want to give... the anticipated laughter.  
But, yesterday was Christmas... and it couldn't have been further from my childhood memories... or my expectations.  I found myself spinning in pain, high fevers, and difficulty even staying "present" (no pun intended) So I said "Shane we have to let the kids open presents so I can go to the hospital."  Because of course I didn't want to miss the joy on their faces.  Half way through, I couldn't do it anymore and a sweet friend, Kristie drove me to the hospital (at 9 am) while Shane tried to make Christmas as wonderful as possible for the kids.  (and you were awesome as usual)
After getting there and settled, it was decided that I would be admitted.  On Christmas Day.  sigh.  AFter an amazing show of affection from my friend, I sent her home... after all, who in the world wants to be in a hospital on Christmas? 
I laid there drifting in and out of sleep... there wasn't a sound but the creaking ceiling fan. (because of course there is no AC) I started to let my mind wonder "What are the kids doing right now?"  "Are they going to be sad I'm not there?"  "How is Shane going to cook dinner?" "I wish I was home (like home home... you know where I could dig into some Christmas goodness with my mom, grandmother, aunt, and 2 something like sisters)" and I really wanted to cry.  I glanced over and stared at the empty chair near my bed... and this is what happened:  HE WHISPERED "IMMANUEL...I AM with YOU."  Then I felt like the grinch's heart growing and growing.  Christmas isn't found around a table full of food, or a tree full of presents... or all the many other things we want to make it.  Christmas is about ONE THING:  God becoming our Immanuel. 
Because of Christmas, I can be in a hospital half way around the world on the best holiday ever... away from ALL my family... and still have Christmas.  Because He is with me.  He is with you.  He is ours.  And what else could I ever want?  
So then... I began to cry... not out of sadness, but out of gratefulness that my present came from HIM yesterday... He spoke to me... the most comforting words "I'm with you" and just the right time... and just the right place.  So, despite the fact that I type this with an IV remaining in my hand and my fever starting to spike once again... it's ok, because of Immanuel.  Oh how HE LOVES ME.  
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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Trading dreams...


One of the things I love about Zambia is the spontaneousness in life... and the unpredictability... We usually say that one thing is predictable... and that is unpredictability. :)

This morning I woke up and had one of team mates came in and said "the little boys are outside"... my first statement was "I told them yesterday no playing until Monday, because today is the party!"  
He followed that by... "well, they say their sister is missing. "  My response: "oh!  let me get my shoes!"  

After much search and effort... police reports, tears, and a Lifesong mini search party... She was found!  The things that go through your mind when one of your grade 2 students are missing can down right scare a person!  

I quickly had to move on to decorating and final details of our Grade 7 and 9 party... as well as send my hubs off to the Dr. as he isn't feeling well, possibly malaria.  

The party begins... music... dancing... food... and slide shows... 

I speak.  God's handprint on all of our lives is evident.  

When I first landed in this great place... they were small... dirty... rough.  What I see now isn't that.  They are clean... smart... amazing. 

 I didn't do that... God did that... through Lifesong... through teachers... through our staff families who are willing to do the hard things:  
did you know that At least 4 of our Zambian staff families are fostering kids from our school?  

That this morning it wasn't the police, but classmates who found the girl. 

 It wasn't the student's father who comforted and counseled her, but her teacher and our maintenance man?  

Did you know that we had to TURN AWAY some of our staff from being houseparents in our new boarding program because we don't have enough homes built yet?

Do you know how awesome THAT is?  

Godly Zambian adults pouring their lives into vulnerable Zambian children.  

Today the grade 9s wrote and recited a poem.  
One of the lines said "you are sacrificing your dreams to make ours come true." 

 It's true... our staff could make more money elsewhere... so could our family.  

"you are sacrificing your dreams to make ours come true. " 

Trading our dreams for God's never leaves us with regret... this is worth it.  

It's worth it to witness transformation before your eyes.  

It's worth it to hear the laughs from a classroom.  

It's worth it to be a parent in their lives.  

It is worth. it.  

They are worth. it.  

Jesus is worth. it. 



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Monday, November 10, 2014

When the Tooth Fairy doesn't come...

I'm sad,  mommy"... were the words I woke up to this morning.  "Why?" I asked in a foggy daze at 5:15 a m.  "Because the tooth fairy didn't come."  

Heart sinks.

Epic Fail. 

Chalk another one up for me and it's only 5:15 am. 

"How did I forget?"  

"What kind of mother am I?"

"My parents never forgot."

And the guilt cycle begins before the rooster crows and the day begins.  If you're a mom, you know the cycle... that deeply felt searing guilt.  right?  

For me, as any mom, the guilts and failure stack pretty high.  

I've robbed the kids from their grandparents

They are missing out on so many traditional "American" things

My light skinned blondies are going to get skin cancer in this African Sun

I never got around to.... doing that craft... giving out the ice cream.... reading that book (the list is endless)

They have to share me with so many other kids

I couldn't cut it homeschooling and doing ministry

and now... THE TOOTH FAIRY DIDN'T COME!!!

What's next?  "The Christmas Santa forgot?"

As moms, we all beat ourselves up over so many things.  I only listed about 1/1000 of the guilts and failures I have... pertaining to 3/5 of my kids.  2/5 have a list all to themselves which is probably much longer and more complicated... 

So often times I just think... "Why me?"  Why did God choose me for this job?  Why did He plop me in the middle of Africa when I was already in over my head as a mom in my own culture, with things I was comfortable and familiar with?  Then... HOW am I going to do this well?  How do I erase the memory "the tooth fairy forgot me" ... and all the other times I fail.  

So, it's true... in our weakness HE is made perfect.  In every failure, there is an opportunity to point to one who never fails.  In our second guessing, we can cling to his sovereignty.  

So, today... it's 6:15 am... and I will get up... "shake it off" in the wise words of Taylor Swift... fill myself with his TRUTHS... and pray for the ability to SEE opportunities to love my kids well and let God's grace cover all the past failures... and many failures to come.  
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