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


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:


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. 


Monday, May 30, 2016

2 Weeks and NOT counting... What's next?

Some days I can believe it... I breathe in the dust of the road as I drive to school and think... "Will I forget what this feels like?" 

I bought talk time the other day and thought "Will this be the last time I need to buy talk time?"  (it's the minutes for a cell phone)

So many things I thinking, "is this the last?"  

Just today, one of our students said "How are you?" and I said "ok, but i could cry."  He grabbed his heart and said "Me too.  I want to cry too."  So we decided we would wait. Wait until next week. We glanced at each other and could even see the pain together.  

Yes, in 2 weeks we will wrap up life as we know it here.  When we will return? As soon as possible.  

But the main question is "What's next?" 

Here's the answer:  trying to survive.  No, i'm joking, kinda! 

Our family is a Lifesong Family.  They are our family.  We have never felt released from Lifesong.  My hubs will continue to work with Lifesong in the home office in IL.  We will remain on missionary support for at least the next year to 18 months.  If you would like to join our support team you can click here.  He will be helping to develop new projects and advocacy support.  

As for me?  Well, our family is under going some pretty huge transitions... shocker, I know.  I have a huge desire to be available for our kids and my husband while remaining involved with this so called amazing place... Zambia.   While I have some employment options available, currently I've already partnered with a pretty cool wellness company that promotes family health on a budget.  It will allow me to work from home if I so choose.  This will help the hubs some with finances, while allowing me the flexibility of being fully available for my family... and for volunteering in the areas of ministry I am passionate about while figuring out my new capacity level on the other side.  The best part is that part of the income that is generated will go directly to our ministry! #bonus I am super amazed at what a huge blessing and timing this has been for us. 

As for our kids?  Well, mixed emotions.  They are starting to see that it is coming SOONER than later... and even the littles are starting to show signs of grief.  At the same time, we try to focus on what we have in front of us, while being grateful for whatever is behind us.  sigh.  This lesson we could all learn over and over again. They are processing, and will be processing for a long time.

So... 2 weeks... we will get on a plane... and forge ahead into something new... different. 
 I've decided that THAT is the word i'll use.  it will be different.  
But I'll trust the process of grief that we are in... 
I'll trust the God of healing and good things... 
It will all be ok.  
We will be ok. 


Friday, May 20, 2016

How do I let go?

I'm laying here under my mosquito net... all quiet in the house... 
I star gaze through the space in my curtains. 

the barking dogs that once kept me awake and felt so unsettling are now like lullabies. 

How a place so strange becomes so ...YOU... I'll never know.

A weekend pass from boarding... that's what I asked for today.  I needed to be with them.  I need them.  Maybe more than they need me. How do I let go?  warm tears flow. 

Tonight one said "your boys have grown into men."  I looked around and saw that it was true. Once skinny, small frames with broken English (Engrish) Now tall, strong, intelligent, loving. 

This place... so written upon my heart... and it will remain. 
 Every sound, smell, laugh. 
I am a sponge, soaking in every last ounce of Zambian goodness... while deep inside I am wondering how in the world I shall ever let go. 

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord."  
Ps 27:13-14


Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Story about LOVE...


Love is a funny little thing…  It’s written about, experimented with, it breaks young hearts, it drives people to do courageous things.  LOVE.  

And for a Christian, it is the center of all we do.  Love God. Love others. Love self.  That’s it.  Love is powerful. Love changes people’s circumstances.  
Love changes both the one receiving and the one loving. 

Love is crazy. It is risky. 

It is painful.

But if one thing I’ve learned, it is this: 

To hurt deeply, means you have loved deeply.  And there’s no greater privilege on earth than that. 

With one, comes the other. To accept one without the other isn’t really love, it’s just comfort.

Why all the talk about  this little thing called LOVE? What I’m about to share with you is wrapped up in love.  Love is weaved in and out and through it.  There’s no story I could share now, if it hadn’t been for LOVE. 

A long time ago… I met a young man.  He stole my heart.  
We dreamed of life together. We got married.  

We chased dreams, and dreams chased us.  
We had babies, both with surprise and plan.  We were in love.  

One day our dreams were exchanged for God’s. We adopted a little boy from Ethiopia. We moved to Texas. Hearts changed and grew through pain of leaving family, but seeing that God’s family is BIG and His love was BIG.  We made friends and loved our little life.  3 years later, God did something else. 
This love  grew in our hearts to the point of explosion. 
The burning was deep, and the calling was clear. 
We had sleepless nights, and long conversations.  Sometimes we were sick to our stomachs with fear of the unknown. . 


Without doubt, we sold almost everything we owned.  God loved us through people who went above and beyond.  Their love enabled us to go.
With tears, 3 small children and 13 bags… we walked through the security gates in the Atlanta airport and I waved goodbye to my family and everything familiar, and I followed that young man I married, who was now fully man.

While it felt scary, the LOVE was greater than the fear

HE was with us.  
I hung onto every promise and truth, and I found that it was exactly that.  TRUE.

The African dust settled, and things that were so unfamiliar and uncomfortable quickly became comfortable and normal.  
I followed this man around, and trusted him to show me the “hows” and the “whys”.  He did that.   We were able to LOVE and be LOVED.   
The people from the community began to see that our LOVE was real, and deep, and helpful, and strong, and from Jesus Christ himself.  Our love grew, and so did theirs. 

We kept loving, even when we didn’t know how.  

We made the choice to love.  

And so we did.  We loved each other when it wasn’t easy. 
 We loved others when we wanted to quit.  
He loved me when I was in despair.  I loved him when he was spent. 
Somehow, Love was also crazy.  
And this crazy love brought us the gift of 2 more sons.  Not in baby form, but in the form of preadolescent bodies.  
And Love kept us fighting for them.  
HIS love is relentless, never gives up, and is full of HOPE. 
 That’s the place we must love from.

 Together, we have loved over 370 students… their caregivers… our staff… our team.
 LOVE has come in the form of sitting with grieving parents as they mourn their children on the dirt floor of their home.  
LOVE looks like holding ones crying from the grief of loosing a brother or sister.  LOVE advocates for those who can’t… and gets them the care they desperately deserve.  
LOVE speaks life giving truth into a child’s mind, not once, but continually until they believe it. 
LOVE is allowing your family to become theirs.  
LOVE takes a risk… and forgives that child who has messed up… AGAIN AND AGAIN…
LOVE scoops up the sick off the hard ground and carries them to the doctor.  LOVE corrects and disciplines the children going astray.  LOVE forgives… quickly and fully. 
 LOVE goes after the ones who have lost their way.

We’ve seen the power of LOVE transform… hearts, minds, behaviors.  We’ve seen the courage of LOVE literally change the entire future of a person.

All of that with a little thing called LOVE.  The greatest thing about true LOVE is that it is never a ONE WAY STREET.  

The LOVE that I’ve received, is by far the most valuable of it’s kind.  

LOVE in the form of letter, or paper watch,  or art.  
LOVE in the form of a student giving me an encouraging word from the Bible, LOVE from those across the Ocean who were willing to do almost anything to love us.  
LOVE in the form of visiting and LOVING the ones WE LOVE.  
LOVE in the form of note by your own son.  
LOVE through giving whatever they have.  
LOVE through acts of service. 
And the LOVE of my husband when I wasn’t really LOVABLE at all.

Never be confused that LOVE only flows outward.  It is a continual river running, being fed by LOVE so that it can run with LOVE.  That’s God’s creative way.

And now, LOVE is asking me to do the hardest thing of all.  
5 years of deep, deep LOVE.  
Something that no one could ever explain unless you have walked it yourself.  To me, 5 years seems so small.  But the past 5 years have taught me more about LOVE than the 31 previously. 

This man, whom I adore and will spend the rest of my life with, is being led to walk down a new road.  Only, this time… He feels it, and I do not.  That is a first for us.
It is like my head knows what my heart is incapable of feeling.  

So, in June of this year… our family will once again be selling the small items we have acquired… and once again leave the place that has now become so familiar, so much a part of WHO WE ARE… The place where God did miraculous and wonderful things, and we will start to look forward to yet another adventure.

And I will follow this now life-experienced and seasoned man.  The one who kills snakes and navigates the African countryside.  This man who was so brave to say YES to God and YES to LOVING in such a crazy way!

I will follow that man.  

I will continue to trust the same God who has been with us through snakes, malaria, medical evacuations, adoption roadblocks, ever-growing and changing projects, the God who spared my sons life…

Yes.  I will trust THAT God. 

The coming was hard.  The going unbearable.   

I can’t speak for the road ahead, for it is unknown.  It is the first time we have walked this way.  We can only hold on to what we know to be true…

(HIS) LOVE never fails.  LOVE is always worth it.