Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Year Gone By....

A year and 20 days ago..... 

We left. 


No words or amount of sympathy could make it better. 

The pain of leaving my people, my community, my children (because surely by now you know there's more than 7) was beyond me. 


I honestly didn't think I would have the strength to do it... or at least people on the plane would surely be convinced of my insanity. 

But He strengthened my every step. 

I believe I talked quite a bit about the pain of leaving the place where my heart beats freest... 

And if you haven't read this post, do that now.  

That stupid toenail.  
(I'd insert the photo I sent to Zambia to show them so we could laugh together but I'm thinking TMI)

What an unbelievably tangible way my Father has given to continue teaching me. 

 I know ya'll are gonna think I'm crazy (maybe its too late?) But... 

10 days after our 1 year of returning "home" .... 

my silly toenail fell off again!!

We were all a little shocked... and amused. 
(because of course the boys haven't let their dad live down the fact that he ripped it off in the first place)

But you know what I noticed?

This time... it didn't hurt as much.  

It had clearly worked hard this past year trying to look "normal."

 I even disguised it with nail polish thinking maybe this Summer it wouldn't be quite so noticeably...

 different... 

damaged... 

broken... 

But, despite our great effort

I just couldn't keep the nail on.  

It is never going to look like it did before.  

To many eyes, it is pretty ugly. And that's ok.  

I'm never going to have that perfectly pedicured foot any longer.... 

and....

 I'm kinda embracing my imperfect toe. 

It is my alter stone. 

 The remembrance. 

Of what? 

Once, there was something really beautiful... but my identity wasn't attached to it as I once thought. 

When that something beautiful was ripped off of me... the pain was more than I could bare. 

But He spoke in it.  

Yes it  looked ugly, different, and imperfect.... 

But I can't be who I was before this beautiful thing.  

I can't hide it under fake.... 
or...
empty and meaningless words... 
or... 
  "culture" norms
(Cause we all know Jesus was really good at that... ahem)

Because while the pain is nothing as it used to be,

 the reality that it's really never going to be like it was is ok.  

There's beauty in the hard... 
in the pain...  
in the imperfect.

No... I'd choose to look as if nothing had ever happened. 

 Its easier that way. 

Its more comfortable. 
(for others more than me)

Less risky. 
(because only calculated risk seems responsible  acceptable in the church)

But that's not my reality.  

My eyes can't unsee... 

My heart can't unfeel... 

My mind can't undo... 

He's shown me way too much of Himself for me to wallow in what used to be. 

So, the second year begins. 

There's really no promise that the result is going to be this beautifully, perfectly manicured life 
(or toenail)... 

But I will see God's moving. 

I will not ignore His voice. 

I will pray that His love that so generously flowed out in a land strange to so many around me, will continue to overflow to those He has placed me before now. 

He is the same... I am not. 

I don't have to be, because He is. 

So this year, I'm embracing the imperfect.  

The things that didn't quite turn out the way I'd hoped for. 

Trusting completely in the one who takes all our crazy brokenness 

and lets His light shine brightly through the cracks. 

 And in that... 
I sense the healing... 
the purpose... 

and choose to not fight against the pain anymore...
but to feel privileged to have experienced it. 

It's actually really beautiful. 


"I saw what I saw and I can't forget it.
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your pain has changed me
your dreams inspire
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
and what I know of love."

                                                                  --- Sara Groves

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Friday, May 12, 2017

That time I was the Commercialized Mother... (in my dreams)

As Mother's Day has been approaching, I've been tuning my ear to all of the advertisements... they are everywhere... TV, Radio, my mailbox. 

This is my first Mother's Day in the US in 5 years.  
(Maybe I hit one on furlough once, but that doesn't count because furlough is simply your brain fried.) 

Is it just me or are these advertisements really putting on the pressure?  

It could be the fact that when I think about my mothering (not to be confused with my MOTHER), I'm in a struggling phase right now.  



It's ok.  If you have only come across the sweet messages, let me help you with some of the ones I've come across. 

"Life doesn't come with a manual, It comes with a Mother." 
(So, I guess that means I should know what I'm doing or have answers to stuff???)

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them."
(Unless you are a teenager and then you fear her arms... )

"The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother." 
(So, my heart is HIS greatest masterpiece. eish... I'm thinking it's pretty messy. Ok, yeah, maybe once upon a time.)

"Most mothers are instinctive Philosophers." 
(Great, now I have to be intelligent)

"Moms are like buttons- They hold everything together." 
(Well, that explains why everything is a mess)

"Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There's no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving." 
(It's ok moms... who aren't having this blissful experience... )

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he created mothers." 
(Oh Good, now I'm a substitute for God Himself.) 

Anyone else feeling the pressure?

That loving, kind, mother making that yummy favorite all the time and greeting you with goodness.  

Sigh. 

I"m not that.  



Maybe instead of celebrating some falsehood, I'll simply celebrate the reality.... 

 that we actually MADE it through the year and we are all still TOGETHER.  

I dream of those fantastic commercials actually reflecting my reality. 

I want to be that... eventually. 

But for all of those mother's that don't fit into the commercial version of Mother's Day... You're not alone.  (Plus I keep telling myself that its only a facade. If people actually think they are that good, they need a dose of insight I'm sure. hahahahaha) 

Much love and Happy Mother's Day 
to the tired, worn out, 
can't find a dang thing, 
grumpy, 
trying as hard as she can mother, 
or aunt, or grandmother, or foster mother... or whatever title you find yourself under. 
(because sometimes just that is a mystery, too)   

(And don't soak into the lies, the great thing is that for the children who love you as the mother... you really are like a dream to them)

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Oh deceiver...

Oh deceiver... you are good at what you do. 



You run thoughts & replay words through the mind ...

creating... 

doubt

insecurity

frustration

isolation

the second guess

the not enough

Yes, you are the author of all of these things.  

And Oh.. deceiver... how you use the ones we love the most to wreck havoc on the pieces of a broken heart. 

Yes, you are good at what you do. 

But you see.  I see you for what you are.  

You have always been the liar.

The doubt causer.

The one who isolates his prey in hopes for a kill

Just to capture one down trodden soul on their journey

Oh deceiver, I know your plan.  

You've been using it since the beginning.  

And yet, somehow, power is given over to your stupid little lies. 

But you see, deceiver, I know The Truth.  

And that... that is what will set me Free. 

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Growing roots....

Well, it looks like I didn't forget how to write after all.  Ya'll, there is SO.MUCH. to say and process, but the time simply isn't right to share with the world.  You know, sometimes you need to walk through things without the world watching.... or knowing... but just pondering them in your own heart and with a few close friends. 

But... That's not the point of this post... so blah blah blah on that.  (looks like someone hasn't lost her sassy).  

It's been 9 short and long months since leaving Zambia.  It feels like yesterday and it feels like forever.  As we went through the debriefing process, they spent a lot of time talking about viewing your transplant like an actual plant.  The uprooting process .... the transplanting... and then the security of making your roots strong in the dirt where God has placed you.  
Over the past 9 months, I've *tried* to put some roots down.... I'll give myself a C+.
During this time, some things have become more clear for the hubs and I.  

1. We aren't really subdivision people anymore. (I never was for the record)

2. We want more space to grow, not just our children, but stuff... like food and maybe a pig (and chickens) 

3. We see value in small town living, and hope to find community there. 

We realize that our life seems like a ball of chaos.  That's not our goal.  

But our goal is to never be so tied to what we have that we can't hear God's voice and have the courage to let go and follow. 

 I am so tempted to have this dream that this will be "it."  That this will be the home where our children come home to, and bring their children to, and where we grow old together.  

But then there's this other side.  

I never want my roots to grow deeper in a PLACE than they are IN HIM.  

I want my roots, and my children's roots to be in HIM.  

Everything else is an illusion. 
 
There is no security in a place. 
 
There is no guaranteed forever in a home.
  
Not in things. 

Not in neighbors. 

Not in a job. 

The only secure place we can put our roots down is in Him.  

I always want to remain willing to take my roots in Him and GO anywhere He leads.  
There is security in that.  
Our children can find security in that.  
We are TOGETHER in Him.  

So, as we look forward to what this next stage brings of building a home on a little farm, and taking our roots and placing them in a small town... we hold this verse in hand:

"Let your ROOTS grow down into HIM.  
And Let your Lives be built on HIM.  
Then your FAITH will grow STRONG in the TRUTH you were taught... 
and you will OVERFLOW with THANKFULNESS." Colossians 2:7
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Saturday, August 6, 2016

The process of Untangling....


 It's been 7 weeks since I left part of myself in Zambia.  7 weeks.  Yet it feels like a lifetime ago.  

I feel like theres so much to share and yet I simply can't yet... stories of laughter, tears, where God showed up in big ways.  Things that right now are just held deeply in my heart in a secret place. 

Right before we left Zambia, our boarding students and staff gave us an unbelievable amazing party.  And at this party, we had a volleyball tournament, because we used to play a LOT of volleyball.  

During this great and intense tournament (because, in case you didn't know, I'm super competitive and have no mercy.  Ok actually I usually get my face smashed, but I feel like I'm Kerri Walsh Jennings) .... ok back to the tournament... After the McB family beat the kids (I told you no mercy) Then we proceeded to the staff.  Shane and I went up for a block at the same time (which is a site within itself) and He came down with his big ole shoe on my toenail... the edge of it just right.  BOOM! Horrific pain ran up my leg and as I looked down my big toenail had been popped completely off from the root.  woah.  SUB! 

As I sat with this thing soaking in water, and the pain shooting up... God was just like "this... this is what your heart looks like and feels like right now.  Your toe is a visible picture of your emotional pain.  And this will hurt.  And it will take a LONG time to heal.  Actually, it might not ever look the same again.  And that's ok."  

And there it was, a message in my pain.  

7 weeks later... when my grace starts to run out...
When I feel like "why can't I get myself together?" 
...when I feel like I've totally lost myself and have no idea what I'm doing here... 

I look at my toe.  And I laugh.  And cry.  And add a lot of grace to my life and to the life of my family.  

Because my toe still looks kinda yucky.  Thus, it is my measure.  It's ok that I still feel and look a little yucky too.  Because it hasn't been long enough to heal.  

The other day I noticed that theres a nail starting to grow, and I had hope.  Hope that something new is growing in the life of our family.  Hope that God is going to do something NEW in us.  
And it will all take time.  

Honestly, I start and end my day with thoughts of Zambia.  
I drive down the smoothly paved roads craving for a pothole. 
I look around wanting to find people walking or standing on the side of the road... or the smell of exhaust and dust mixed while the wind blows through my hair. 
And let's not even start how I long to be there for the children who call me mom.  

I am fully in the process of Untangling grief.  And there are good days, and bad days.  Our family is walking through this together with laughs and tears and memories and uncertainty... 

" He is before all things...And by Him all things Hold together...." Col. 1:17


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Friday, June 17, 2016

Our Needs made known...

Well, it happened.  We have landed. Delirious and emotional. 

While we do not know for certain when the next time our feet will hit Zambian soil, we know that we can't go that long... 

And while I have a million thoughts and emotions processing through my mind right now, I'm choosing to wait on sharing those. 

However, Here's what can't wait.  Recently we sent out a letter to our faithful support team making our needs known for this transition.  We totally get that serving in the US is much less "glamorous" than serving in Zambia. (I mean, I'd rather be THERE if you weren't picking up on that)

But, to have our needs met here are important as well, and we must let our needs be known.  Here is the letter that we have sent and ways in which many people can help.  Maybe you can only help a little, maybe you can help a lot... That's not for me to determine. For us, we will be faithful in making our needs known. 

Dearest Friends, Family, and Supporters…

We pray that this letter finds you well, and enjoying the warmer weather where you are.  As for us, we are in our winter and the coolness feels nice. 

Our time in Zambia is quickly coming to a close, and the weeks and months ahead feel very scary, painful, and strange.  We are certainly in the grieving process amidst the very busy season of teams, interns, and change.   Things have been given away, sold, and the house is starting to look empty of things, but certainly not children.  The house says “something big is about to happen.”  One room is piled with things that we are bringing home.  That squeezing your life into 14 bags… again… feels familiar but unwelcome.

However, despite our own emotions, things on the ground are going well.  We continue to look forward to 4 more boarding homes being completed by the end of the year, and a total of 100 students in boarding for next year.  Currently there are 74! Plans continue to be made towards growth for the future, and students continue to be serious about their learning and are producing good results.  The forward momentum continues, and will continue.  The program is solid and we have made a plan for the responsibilities to be divided and therefore conquered.  Shane will continue to observe reports and be available to leadership on the ground while he is in the US office.  Next year we will have our first graduating class!  We so pray our family (or at least part) is able to return for that celebration. 

As in a previous email, we will remain on support for the next 12-18 months.  We so desire for you to continue your support as our family transitions.  It is necessary for us to continue with the ministry God has placed us in.  In addition, we have some one-time needs that are coming our way because of the relocation.  We have been very blessed with families advocating for us to collect a lot of things needed for our return.  If you have been one of those who have donated furniture, etc… we are so so grateful. 

We would be so grateful if you would consider a one-time gift to help our family transition back to the US.  Some of the one time expenses we have coming to us are listed below:

·      Immigration Fees for our 2 oldest children ($5,000)
·      A second car/van for our growing family ($7,500)
·      Medical exams/checkups/etc for our children to enter school ($1,000)
·      Plane tickets & school fees for our 2 foster boys: Brian and Webby ($8,000)

We have not made very many requests over the last 5 years.  We’ve rarely asked for an increase in giving to our personal support.  We ask that you prayerfully consider a one-time gift to help our family transition well.  If you are unable to do so, but able to increase giving for a period of time, we ask that you prayerfully consider that.  We look forward to a time where we are able to transition off of support, but we always welcome opportunities to see God’s faith stretching provision. 

Beyond giving, we truly covet your prayers.  There are many many details that must come together in the next couple of weeks.  Pray for emotional endurance, a good ending of a season here in Zambia, wisdom for the steps ahead, and the hearts of our children especially.  Pray we would be wise in making the many decisions necessary to transition from another country.  Pray for the people and children we leave behind.  Pray for the VISA appointments for our foster children, that they would be granted the student visa allowing them to remain a part of our family.  (Surprise! Many of you didn’t know we have more than 5!) Please pray for provision.  Pray for protection for the family we leave behind.  Pray for good, Godly friends for my children as we start a new life in Normal, IL. 

Words cannot express how grateful we are to each of you.  Tears feel my eyes and my heart feels like it will explode with gratitude.  The work that has taken place here over the last 5 years is a product of YOUR faithfulness.  It would NOT have happened without YOU.  God is at work, and I believe that in Heaven… if not before… some of our Zambian children will thank you.  Their lives are changed forever.  And, this is not the end.  My vision remains for this place and these children.  We still have work to do and we pray you will continue that with us!

We will be sending an update as soon as we get settled in the US.  Please feel free to call us or email us anytime.  After June 16th, you can reach us at 423-404-3334.  Our email and giving information is below. 

We love you all beyond words! Nalikutemwa! (We love you!)

          Shane, Mitzi, James, Paul, Zack, Kaytie, & Elijah

Giving information:
Check and Mail: Please make checks payable to “Lifesong for Orphans” and mail them to: 
Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40 Gridley, IL 61744
 *In the memo line, please write “McBride:  97800"
Online Giving:


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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Confessions of a Missionary...


Confession: My greatest fears of living in the USA. 

Before even getting started, allow me to make 2 disclaimers. 
#1:  I love my country. But it is not my only home.  Actually, it doesn't even feel like home to me, nor my children.  Our home is here, in Zambia.  So when you say "Welcome HOME" or "Aren't you glad to be back on US soil?"  It feels strange and disconnecting. Because for a while, the answer is going to be "No." 
 #2: I know that fear is not a place believers want to live... but it is something we experience.  So, I totally get that perfect love casts out fear... and I won't be living with these things forever. But right now, these are thing real life things swirling in m mind. 

So with that disclaimer made, Let's get started. 

Fear Confession #1:

People won't understand us and won't want to talk about our experiences in Zambia because it makes them feel uncomfortable.

Maybe talking about orphans, or other peoples struggles or even victories makes people feel guilty.  

Fear Confession #2:

People won't be accepting of our family, the way it is. 

We are messy.  Everyone is if they are honest. But we are REAL.  

Fear Confession #3:

The Wardrobe Effect: Once you walk through the wardrobe, you start to wonder if Narnia is even real.  I'm scared this life I've lived for 5 years will start to feel like a dream. 

Leaving you want to believe it is, but once you are around others who haven't been to Narnia, it can make you start living as if it wasn't real. 


Fear Confession #4: 

Letting go of life together. Like really LIFE TOGETHER.  African Style.  What if I only can be with others by appointment? We can call it community, but that's not LIFE. 

I dare you to pop in without being announced! It will feel oddly comforting. 

Fear Confession #5:

I'm scared of comfort because it feels good. What if I become self absorbed? 

In reality I know it won't happen because I have lots of kids left behind who will keep me focused. 

Fear Confession #6: 

What if I don't want my kids to be "Americanized?" Will that put them as the oddballs out?

I have so much to say to Africa for it's unbelievably amazing childhoods that it has given my children.

Fear Confession #7:

I'm scared of starting to TRUST in ME more than I TRUST in HIM. 

Let's be honest, Americans are prideful (that's a good thing... so are Zambians!)... and we hold OUR dreams close (again, a good thing), and sometimes we think we are actually the ones in CONTROL (here's the faulty thinking).  I've known better the last 5 years, but I feel this strange magnetic pull to switch my dependency from fully on HIM to fully on ME.  

Fear Confession #8:

I'm scared of all the things that have changed that I'm totally unaware of. 

I mean, I must confess, on my last furlough I didn't know how to use the cards with the chip... OH, insert... not swipe. 

Fear Confession #9:

I won't be needed outside the walls of my own home. 

I remember KG saying 2 furloughs ago as we were walking, "no one needs us here, where are the poor people?" And it's true... you have to go searching. They are segregated in THAT part of town... or let's not even talk about the poor... how about your neighbor?  Can I need my neighbor?  Like for real... if you need a cup of sugar... come on over and I'll probably give you some tea too.

Fear Confession #10: 

Will the hustle and bustle take over the politeness and warmness of relationship?

I completely believe now that God has created us to be in relationship with one another.  Deeply. Sincerely. Not just closed off into the walls of our own family and our own schedule. Greeting someone here can take 5 minutes! But it's genuine.  It's refreshing. People have time for people here. And they will almost ALWAYS drop what they are doing if someone else needs help.  I love that.  We've fallen into that pattern.  Lord, please help us to demonstrate that in a culture so overtaken by schedules, demands, and self consumption. 

And last but certainly not least ... Fear Confession #11:

Do I seriously have to vote in November?

Come now, enjoy my comic relief.  

While I know that some of these fears are just that... fears.. some of them come from cultural differences.  I also know that not everyone is the same, and I believe God is going to address each one of these the same way he addressed each one of mine coming here.  That's the cool part.  I have some experience with this under my belt and He's still the same God... only now, I see Him way more powerful than before. However, I felt it important to post so that even I could remember what I felt at this time... and once again see God's faithful hand as he deals with each one in the future. 

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