Sunday, March 16, 2014

Part 2.

So. Here I am, drinking my amazing Colombian coffee (come over sometime, we can share!). Staring at the screen.  A heart full and overwhelmed, yet no motivation for this post.  I guess like Mary, in the bible, I have been "pondering these things in my heart"-(uh, no I am not insinuating I am close to holy or consider myself like Mary...except for pondering). I want to shout and sing how excited we  are, to share with all of you the amazing beauty that is Medellin, Colombia, and take you there with us!  On the other hand, I don't want to bore you with miniscule details (although to us they are not miniscule).  SO.  Here I am, drinking my coffee-(seriously, come share with me). 

That is one part of Medellin.  I have been a few places in this world, and have never seen a more beautiful city.  So many elements I love all rolled into one; mountains, city, landscape, lots of people, fresh air, authenticity.  Thank you Lord for sending us here! 

There are several stories that gave us a general confirmation of our calling (miniscule details, in a later post, maybe), but the actual confirmation came after meeting the staff, seeing the organization and mostly....meeting the boys on the farm. 
Loved them and prayed over them before we knew them- meeting was just a formality ;)  We only knew a little Spanish, but it didn't matter.  We had  SO much fun with them.  Kids don't always need words, they need love and attention.  If my own two kids weren't in 'The States I don't know if I would have come back. HA! (but seriously). 

We saw all aspects of Open Arms, Medellin and Mr. Bill (founder) shared his vision with us.  Our faith has given him faith.  Didn't see that coming-- he has been in "the field" for over 20 years, has seen God do AMAZING things in Colombia, and yet, a young couple that knows nothing except God wants them here, working with him, has given him faith.  Pretty cool.  God's plan, not ours!  He knows what you need and when.  He knows what we need, and when.

What is next.  Fundraising, moving, learning Spanish, sharing Jesus along the way.  We know from my previous post (and Romans 12:5-8) that we are all part of one body, but we DO NOT have the same function.  We work together, each with our own task to be the complete the body of Christ- doing HIS work.  For us, our specific job is to go.  And we need YOU to work with us, to continue praying for God's good hand, but also to financially send us out.  We are completely depending on the generosity of others for this mission work. Knowing God will provide completely- if He calls, he will provide. 

I was texting with a sweet friend this evening about coffee (shock), we were admiring how God didn't place coffee trees in only one area of the world.  They grow in several different regions, and how different soil, temperature, fertilization, harvest, roasting process, etc can affect the taste...all of that goes into one tiny bean that produces a very similar outcome regardless of where it is grown (dark, delicious, easy to share no matter how you prefer to drink it...or NOT drink it, Stephen).   Think of how much God puts into you.  We are from different regions, environments, families, income levels, and I think we all have different harvest & roasting processes...all of that makes us unique.  All unique, but not alone.  Just like coffee beans work better when there is more than one (even if it is chocolate coated, more is better!), the body of Christ is BOLD, and full of FLAVOR when we work together. 

Ok, can't say I have ever been compared to a coffee bean...but I love coffee, so I don't mind at all.  Do you?? :)

We are still putting together our budget and needs- this is God's time line, but we are hoping for this fall, 2014.  When we have all our funds, we will GO!  SIDENOTE: Stephen has knee surgery, finally, at the end of the month- so we need to get him healed and rehabbed before we go. 

Give us one week and we will have an opportunity for you to give, to support us financially if God leads.  We are SO excited you are on this journey with us, to make HIM famous. 

MEDELLIN IS READY....the harvest is ripe, but the workers are few.  God could be sending YOU, too.  :-)   :-) 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Here goes...

" in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts according to the grace given us.  If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve, if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously;  if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."
Romans 12:5-8

Here goes....Stephen and I have been called into the International Mission Field.  Not really sure why I capitalized those letters, maybe to seem more official??  Either way, we are called, and we are going! 

We are leaving a week from today (Wednesday March 5) to check out an organization (Open Arms Foundation) down in Medellin (pronounced Med-E-yin), Colombia.  Yes, Colombia, South America.  That was my first thought too.  "God, you want us to go where??  Ha, you are funny.  I think you forgot we have children to keep safe and family here, in our cozy Knoxville, TN.  We don't mind being out of our comfort zone, God, but Colombia is beyond comfort comprehension.  It's off the charts!  Try again."  Isn't funny how we think we know what's best for us and where we should go and what we should do?  More concerned with us then with people that need the love of Christ.

Well, it only took a couple days (probably less than that), for my heart to be at peace.  To know, where ever HE leads, HE will be there too.  Sure, there were times when I let my imagination run wild with all the bad things that could happen-- I mean this is third world, drug capital of the world (my own deduction), prostitution is legal and 12 children are kidnapped every week.  This can't be right.  He wouldn't call us to a place we could die, or lose our children, right?  Whenever I do indulge in these worthless thoughts, without fail hear a gentle reminder "They need Jesus, too." 

Now, I am so excited to be on this journey with Stephen, our kids and the one who goes before us (God).  He is our guide, our protector, our provider.  I have experienced this (his guidance, protection and provision) SO SO many times in my life, our life, and it NEVER, NEVER gets old.  It still amazes me that God loves us so much, he is involved in the big and small things, sometimes little tokens or notes that no one else ever sees, but it is a reminder, He is here, always.  He overwhelms my heart.  I'm also excited YOU get to be a part of this, too!

Open Arms Foundation (OAF), has a home for girls, most have been rescued from sexual exploitation or slavery.  Some have children and some do not.  They get counseling and help learning to be mothers, and members of a community, all while being ministered and shown the love of Jesus.

They also have a Farm for boys, ages 2 - 18, most of these boys are/were street kids (no home, just living on the street) or have been abandoned.  They go to school and are taught to work, along with counseling.  After their 18th birthday (if they stay that long) they move to another house to integrate them permanently into society, to get jobs and become productive citizens.  Also, the love of Jesus is shared through out the entire process.

What these kids need most (besides Jesus) are examples of godly men and women, ANNDD family life.  Most of them have never seen functional families (mom and dads who love each other, love the children and even love them too) .  That's where we are hoping to come in.  Providing a picture of Christ's love, displayed through family life.  We have never met any of these boys, yet our hearts are full of love for them.  I know it will not be easy, they probably have a lot of trust issues (among other issues).  We need for YOU to pray for us, as much as possible. 

Our pastor talks about areas in your life/ministry that are so vulnerable and dependent on God, that if he removes his hand, the whole thing will fail.  For us, that is now.  If God is not with us, if he does not go before us, I do not want to be there.  We will fail without him.  We need you as well.  So, please join us in prayer- for physical protection, continued peace, mental clarity, and victory over spiritual battles- that we will daily put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6), that we will find rest in Him.  Let us know if you will join us in praying, we would love to thank you, and keep you updated!!

You can check them out on facebook: OAF  for more info!!  :) 

I have asked the foundation for a list of needs for each of the homes,a small token of love we can give to them.  Here is a list-- if you have anything you can send with us I know it will be a blessing.  This list is NOT exhaustive, if you have anything else you would like to include, we will graciously take it to them!  :-)  The number of kids change often- some are added, or run away, etc.  ANNND The Colombian people are a lot smaller than Americans (yes, we know we are already taller than average Americans, so this is going to be pretty interesting).  :-)

GIRLS HOME- 13 Girls, 8 Babies. 
Clothing for babies from 0 to 18 months
Towels for babies
Blankets for babies
Shoes for pregnant girls that are comfortable (Sizes 35 a 38)  - Size 4 to 7.5 US
Maternity pants and jeans (size 4 a 10)
Maternity shirts (Size Small)
Anti-diaper rash cream
Vitamins for pregnant girls (Iron sulfate, calcium, folic acid)
 BOYS FARM- 10 Boys (ages 8-16)
Flip-flop style shoes
Pants (size 26 a 30) - Size 5/XS to 12/Large in boys
Shirts - 5/XS to 12/Large in boys

SO excited to see God move, using each of you on this journey with us.  Thankful for your open hearts and willing hands. 


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." 
 Romans 15:13

Monday, January 6, 2014

Teachable Moments

For a long time (probably about 3 years) I wanted to "have a job"--let me rephrase that.  I wanted to get a pay check.  Just an FYI for anyone who isn't a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM), or is delusional about what really happens in a day in the life of a SAHM.  We work. Hard.  It's messy, and emotional and no set guidelines on how to do the job well.  Stephen (my sweet husband) and I had this conversation the other day (a few weeks ago), "No one in their right mind would continuously do a job over and over just to see your hard work be messed up again & again, and work with people who continuously do not listen, and often do opposite of what you ask them- [we call those "teachable moments"-- although, I'm pretty sure I get more out of these "moments" anyway].  Do all of it with no days off- often working night and weekends- no vacation time, no sick days, no paid overtime, no lunch breaks- nap time and bed time are the only rest periods, and those are optional.  Who would submit themselves to that kind of abuse stress, for no immediate return on investment???  Some people may not always like their job, but at least can relax on their days off, with that nice wad of cash just deposited.  Ugh.   I just want to go work for someone, and get a pay check, and a lunch break and adult conversation and be able to leave work at work...and not clean my kitchen 3 times a day.  Jealous of moms/people that had "a real job" - not everyday, just on the "hard" days.  

And then one day I got sick.  Really sick, for the first time ever.  I had the flu (the real flu, influenza B, not the "flu" people get every winter with their runny nose and coughing- I'm talking ER, thought I would die, cannot move flu), I also was dehydrated and had strep throat.  Sick.  3 days later, I got a 24hr stomach bug.  Worst. Days. Ever.  About the 5th day into it I was laying on the couch (as if I could go anywhere else) watching cartoons with Brynnen while Graycen napped.  It wasn't a big revelation, or flashing sign, it was at one of my lowest, weakest moments God opened my eyes.  I am so grateful I can lay here on this couch, with this little girl, wearing sweatpants, looking all kine-a crazy.  No where to go, no using "time off," no missing out on pay, or having to work late to catch up (well, besides that darn cleaning- but that will always be there).  Over the next few days God really opened my heart and eyes to what a blessing it is to stay at home with these kids.  Sitting in Graycen's room letting him crawl all over me, coloring with Brynnen, cuddling with both of them, wow, this is amazing.  I get to do this every day- uh, yes some days I wish I didn't have to get up and be "mom"- but those are days that God teaches me the most.  About me, about Him and about our purpose here on earth (for HIS glory, not mine).  I am not at all a perfect mom, most days I strive to be a "good" mom.  Honestly, Brynnen is crazy, and loud, and doesn't always listen, and has an attitude like her mommy, and a hard head like her daddy-- and I want to pull my hair out (or put her in her room and go hide under the covers until Stephen comes home), and then the most amazing thing happens.  She will say something so simple and sweet, "Mommy, I love you" "Mommy, I'm sorry I had a bad attitude" that will remind me why I love her so much, and that she is 3.  She has only been on this earth 3 years and 11 months.  I don't even have this figured out and I have been here 30 years 8 months.   Teachable moments, huh?  Graycen is still my perfect child :) for now...
I have learned the "hard" days are usually when I have an agenda.  I want to get this clean, or that organized, or if I can just finish this, or catch up on that real quick.  Most of those things have absolutely no eternal value, and will be there later, and get dirty again, and again.  I want clean house (one: I like it clean, two: germs), mainly because SAHM's are suppose to have clean houses, perfect homes- I mean honestly, what do we do all day-- besides bon bons and soap operas...those are a given.  Some where, I picked up the notion that if my house is dirty then what is my value?  If my home is a mess, I failed.  I took pride in making sure my house was spotless when guests came over.  I was under the impression that if my house wasn't clean I could not have people over, I mean- how can you minister if your house is a mess.  UM, HELLO-- we are all a bunch of HOT messes that need to see not everything is perfect all the time.  We need each other, we need kind words and hugs, encouragement and JESUS, not an "on display" type house that does not show hospitality.  This is not saying SAHM's that have perfect houses are not hospitable-I know several that do, and they are super sweet & I love them dearly--(send me some tips girls)!  I'm simply saying "Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord, not for men..." Colossians 3:23-- So, if you clean your house, do it for the Lord (and be grateful for what you have), but if cleaning your house gets in the way of serving the Lord (raising kids or loving on others), you may need to rethink priorities.  I did and it feels great--most days I still have my inner clean freak screaming about how awful it is, and laundry that will never get folded-- I just remind myself, I'm here for Jesus- not laundry. 

SN:  This is not to be used as an excuse to completely let your housework go, I believe we should work hard with our hands, and not be lazy--but if (like me) your house becomes an idol (noun. something adored, often blindly or excessively, something seen but without substance) remind yourself- people are important, not things.  :-)