Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nehemiah's Not-So-Much-Fun Time

On Friday morning, not long after waking, Nehemiah mentioned his stomach
felt gross.   Hmmm.  He didn't even want to eat.  I stared at him as I laid my
hands on him to pray.   He actually seemed "green around the gils".   Kind of
made me take note.  

And well, the not wanting to eat thing, that got my attention too!!

An appetite is not something that this handsome young man of ours lacks!!
He threw up a few times throughout the day.

Friday night he slept on the couch as he was just feeling yukky.  I had massaged
some of my YL Essential oils on him through the day and night.  And then
during the night when I checked him I noticed he had a fever.


Saturday morning was our long awaited Hope Kids day at Bumblebee
Ranch.   Bumblebee Ranch happens to be our family's our all-time favorite
event of the year...so I suggested we take two cars, in case Nehemiah
wanted to leave early as he was still feeling pretty yukky.

Of course, I had been thinking some random 24 hour thing and maybe
if he would just get to Bumblebee Ranch, out in the warm Arizona sunshine
he'd feel so much better.

Or not.

Nehemiah actually sat uncomfortably, not wanting to do anything.  I was
growing concerned.

We decided to head for home and as we walked to the car, he was gingerly
holding his right side.  Dw questioned him, "Does it hurt here?" and pressed a
bit on his right side.  Poor guy! He almost went through the roof!!

Sure enough we ended up in the ER and the CT scan showed his
that his appendix were "BIG".

Many of you began to pray when I posted what 
was going on on Instagram and on Facebook.  
Thank you all so very much!! 

Not sure why, but the surgery was scheduled for this morning - at 10:30am!!

After wrestling the hospital chair all night, praying and praying for
our son's appendix to stay intact, at 6:30 am I began advocating for a sooner
surgery time cause that 10:30 thing just wasn't really flying with this mama.

But my best efforts didn't work.

Bless their hearts.

And unfortunately or fortunately {whichever way you want to look at it}
I learned  a lot through all that.   Again, bless their pea-pickin' hearts.

Quite truthfully, some days I find it so dang annoying to be silver-haired
and still learning a lot about dealing with medical things.

Anyway, Nehemiah had surgery.  His appendix were definitely making
a statement!  And we have pictures to prove it!!  {Not kidding.}




Not for the squeamish...






And you can bet this guy, when he gets feeling better
 is gonna' have some fun
showing his brothers and sisters his 
"trophy" pictures!  

Lord willing, we will head for home tomorrow.

And as bloggy friend Elizabeth P. mentioned on 
Facebook...Yes!!  So very grateful that he waited till
we were back from Africa!  

Faithful God.

Always, always, always faithful.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Two Very Real Possibilities

Happy Friday Friends!

Autumn and Everlly arrived a bit ago and
we have some fun stuff planned
for the week-end with them!

We haven't seen them since they were here for
Thanksgiving so we are super excited!

This Mimi definitely does not think it's fun
to have her grandtreasures living all over the States.

So Mimi is tickled to have our only blue-eyed of the bunch
 here with little Everlly!

Anyway....

Over the course of time, 
I have heard people say,

"I'd like to do something for the orphan,
but I'm not sure what."

Here are two very real possibilities:



Spring Cleaning Just Started!! 

All prices have been reduced!

Flat rate shipping of $5. per order applies.

Orphan Wares is a ministry
where artisans and crafters dedicate 
and donate their 
wares to enable 100% of the proceeds
to feed the street children and 
orphans.



Orphan Wares is a ministry of 

Orphan Wares is the only place {I am aware of} 
that donates 100% of the money raised
to the orphan.



All involved in the ministry of Orphan Wares 
are volunteers.
Extra special gratitude to all who craft 
and create for Orphan Wares.
Your tender hearted service is making 
a difference in the lives
of the most vulnerable in Uganda and India. 



Orphan Wares recently expanded and
now feeds treasures in India.


Special thanks to Kala and Leah who volunteer
behind the scenes enabling Orphan Wares to exist.
And Lastly....



We could also use a little help with our 

Facebook has changed how people see pages and as a result not many 
of our friends are seeing our posts.   
Facebook is willing to promote our page for a fee. 
{Bless their hearts! haha} 

Instead of us paying to promote, it would be great if you could 
take a moment to like our page (if you haven't already liked OW!) 
and add our page to your interest list.   

Please spread the word and help us clear out some inventory so that 
we can feed the orphans together and make room for new items!  


**********


The other possibility is to order a Tee-shirt 
for The Gem Foundation.

A sweet friend of the Gems, Casey,
designed a tee-shirt which can be ordered

 


I love Casey's tender heart for the orphans.
She wanted to do something to raise money to help 
care for the precious Gems
and within hours had this tee-shirt designed and
set up!

Wouldn't someone you love enjoy a Gem Foundation
tee-shirt?




Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rock Solid

Well the Bossman and Liberty have returned home

Liberty was gone just about 3 months...
the beauty of online schooling!!

The kids were thrilled to see her.

I mean.

They have barely let her out of their sight
as evidenced by what it looked like as I sat down
to do Bible with them yesterday morning!


They were oblivious to me taking their pic,
which is my favorite kind of picture to take.  

You know - just a nice normal candid shot of the two boys twapping 
each other
and the rest hanging out.

A few minutes earlier, Elijah and Isaiah were wrestling
and beating each other. 
As long as no one ends up bloody, we're good.

And what does Liberty have to say about her three months there?

Liberty remains rock solid that when 
she graduates she will 
be heading to serve the Gems
alongside her BFF.

Emma told me, over the last three months,
that whenever she wasn't sure where
Liberty was, she would just head to 
the Gems and would find her in the
midst of them.

They loved Liberty so much!

In the meantime, 
Liberty has begun fundraising
to go back in May. 

And I'd say that pretty much sums it up.

Our hearts rejoice
that soon we will have two daughters serving together.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Another Milestone for Ruby!!

Awww friends,

That girl of ours is up to it again...

Her story, as you know, is marked with milestones...

All praise, honor and glory to the King!  He is good and His plans for Ruby are miraculous!!

We have squealed, cheered and celebrated her latest accomplishment -

and now -

finally -


we have it on video to prove it to the world!



So the other day I tried to record her for you guys to see.  Only thing was that as I was recording
with one hand and helping her with my other hand, I inadvertently hit the edge of something
{still not sure what} and dumped her entire bowl of food everywhere.

The kids knew I had been trying to record for all of our bloggy friends to see,
so a day or two later, when I went outside to take the garbage to the street,
I returned to find that the kids had helped me out and recorded Ruby by themselves!

How cute is that??

Soooo Happy Monday Sweet Friends!!

Enjoy this short video made by Isaiah and Elizabeth  as Ruby continues
to display the miraculous healing power of Almighty God!



Special note:  And remember that nasty ol' Doc who said she'd never see?
Mmmm-hmmmm.  Right.  Check this chica out!!


Friday, March 20, 2015

What Was I So Worried About Anyway?


When Emma and Josh began planning their wedding
Dw and I started some mighty big prayers going!

The biggest:

Who would watch our treasures?

Having a severely medically fragile little one presents 
a bit of  a challenge to that question.

And having the wedding on another continent 
added another component.

We prayed and prayed and prayed some more!

Seriously, the whole thing was making me sweat!

I look back now and say, "Why was
I so concerned? He totally had it all covered!"

We finally decided that I would go early and leave
immediately after...

Dw would come right before and stay beyond
for a couple of weeks to care for one
sweet little man while Emma and Josh honeymooned.

We would overlap the wedding time.

And so it would work out to be just about a week
{with travel time because of it being in Africa}.

Abi said she would come and watch them,
but Emma really wanted her to be in the wedding.
{Abi opted to be their photographer instead, 
which tickled Emma and Josh to pieces!}
It was extra fun having another sister there!

Then Sarah said she would happily fly and watch them!
But, of course, she would bring her two little ones
and that sounded really overwhelming to this mama, 
since Ruby's care is round-the-clock!!
But Sarah was determined - 
it would be great and they would do wonderfully!
What a blessing - a big sis who loves her little sibs! 

Lindsey, Ruby's caregiver and BFF,  said she was willing
to help out in any way she was needed! 
We were so thankful!

And then one day, 
out of the blue,
Graham and Savannah said
they had worked it all out and they would not only 
be willing, but were excited to do it!
Savannah works basically full-time and is in school
full-time.  Graham works full-time too.
But they had figured out how to work around all of that.  

We were elated.  

The kids were thrilled.




Basically all of our kids {and most spouses} 
were able to 
watch the wedding via Skype! 

 That was amazingly wonderful
and the connection worked beautifully!


So this is kind of our own Memorial Box story...
because the Lord really took care of all the concerns...


And the kids?
Well, when I arrived home,
they basically said, 

"We're happy you're here Mom,
but really, if you'd stayed longer, 
it would have been okay.

WOW.

I love when my kids feel like that!

Unbeknownst to us,
Graham and Savannah had planned all kinds of crazy fun things to do...

A trip to the zoo...





with Savannah's friend Jeanine...



The zoo is one of their favorite places!



They took them to the pool!  





Savannah took them shopping
and Ruby learned to ride in a cart - 
her own self!!






My sweet friend Shelby and her daughter Lyndsey came 
to cover some lapses in Graham
and Savannah's schedules and 
took them to the park and out to eat! 
So very thankful for them!
And clearly, from the pic, 
they had a blast!

Lindsey came and helped with Ruby several days!
Such  a blessing!


Then night, after dark, Graham and Savannah threw 
our unsuspecting kids in the car and took them to our 
vacant home {that we are in the process of selling}
to play hide-n-seek in the dark!!  

Talk about a kid's dream!! 




Then after hide-n-seek they took them out for Ice Cream!


Like I was saying,

"What in the heck was I worried about anyway?"

No wonder they wouldn't have minded if we'd stayed another week.

He really did have it all covered....


Do not be anxious about anything, 
but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 
present your requests to God.  
Philippians 4:6

We are so grateful for not just Graham and Savannah watching the kids, but loving them and making it a doggone blast!!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An Unexpected Loss

Needing to get home to relieve Graham and Savannah
{who did such a superb job watching our treasures - more on that later},
I left for home the day after the wedding.

Overlapping the wedding together, I had gone early to help with the wedding prep
and Dw would stay longer to care for one sweet Little Man.  There's nothing quite
like a Bompa to wrestle you to the floor!! His squeals are contagious!

Having a long layover on my return {which afforded me the opportunity to
write most of the post about Emma's Decision}, I landed  in Phoenix Thursday night.
Moving swiftly through the re-entry process, gathering my luggage I was on my way
in record time.

Stepping outside the terminal to wait on the sidewalk for Savannah and the kids
to arrive and literally outside less than a minute my cell phone began to ring.  I thought,
"How odd. That's a Skype number. It's the middle of the night in Uganda and the middle
of the night where Emma is honeymooning. "

Answering I could not even tell who it was or what they were saying.  The hysterical
sobs were unrecognizable.  I shouted, "Who is this?? I can't understand you!!"

It was Liberty.  She was trying to tell me that Elisha had stopped breathing
and Daddy was doing CPR and Daddy was trying to drive him to the hospital!

Elisha??!!

Elisha??!!

OH NO - NOT ELISHA!!!


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  

This can't be happening!

I had just wrote about him just two weeks ago right here, friends!

He's the one we all praised God for regarding  a vital piece of equipment,
which Kenya didn't always have and Uganda had been unable to get...arriving by God's
divine grace and orchestration for his feeding peg!!





But an hour of so later we would find it was true...
after a long effort of CPR administered by Dw,
Elisha went to live with Jesus 
in the wee hours of Friday, March 13, 2015.  


Our hearts are broken.

Dw went to buy a casket,
Elisha's body washed and dressed
for burial.  
Handsome and dashing, even in death,
wearing in a special outfit Macey had 
bought just for him
when she had last been in the States.
Never guessing it would be used for his burial.

Sweet Macey, 
such a Godly young woman,
unbelievable blessing this precious assistant is to Emma,
a passionate lover of the most vulnerable orphans.

Remembering Emma had left her Bible behind,
{concerned she might lose it and knowing she could read from Josh's}
Macey found it and 
they were able to place in it 
Elisha's footprint...
to accompany the ones already there:
tiny baby Arthur,
and
precious Jason.

By God's grace,
Emma had wondered if she should leave her Bible.
She asked me what I thought?
No doubt, the Lord had orchestrated this concern of hers.

Before leaving for her honeymoon,
Emma had made Macey promise that if there were any 
emergencies, she would tell her immediately.

Yes, even on her honeymoon.
And yes, 
even though there was nothing she could do.

We prayed that God would not allow Dw and Macey to
reach her so they would have some time!

And so it was that they were unable to connect until the
following day.  Over Skype and through weeping,
Daddy told Emma that they
had lost Elisha.

Oh the grief!

And friends, maybe it is hard to grasp,
but these Gems are valued.
They are so very loved.
They are desperately wanted!!

Emma wrote me yesterday and said that she and 
Josh have cried buckets of tears.  
They cry off and on all day.

Yes, honeymoons are even times of weeping 
when you 
love the most vulnerable of all treasures.

When coming for the wedding, I had arrived at the Gem Foundation
in the middle of the night.
I confess, I went in to peek on one little one.

Elisha.

He was my sweet little buddy.

Hoping he was awake so I could tell him
Mimi had arrived.
He wasn't.  
Yet I whispered through his mosquito net that I was here
and we would play in the morning.

He's the only one I stopped to see.
He reminded me so much of my precious Ruby.

Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy
Hydrocephalus
Non-verbal but tried desperately to form sounds
Full of personality
He loved my hair 
{and I would lift his hand up to rub it through it over and over}


I spent a bit of time with him just before I was heading to the airport to
leave the day after the wedding.  
I asked Dw to get some pictures, which he did {below}.

I could tell Elisha wasn't feeling good.
I prayed over him and anointed him with oils.



As I was leaving the Gem for the airport,
the Lord clearly whispered to me,

"Go kiss Elisha one last time.
I'm calling him home soon."

I didn't want to believe it and
I prayed furiously!

But God's word is true:

"He whispers secrets to those who fear Him."
Psalm 25:14

And I knew I had heard Him.

There are many thoughts whirling around
in my head at the moment. 

It is not ours to question the hand of God.

We humbly submit.

I did not sleep for three nights upon returning home
as I interceded for Emma, Josh, their honeymoon,
asking God to comfort them when they would have to hear,
Macey, Dw, Liberty, The Gems, the staff..

The loss of Elisha is so profound.



Elisha was an unending smile and a sweet joy to know.

My heart aches to hold him one more time.

Oh for one more hug, 
to allow precious little Elisha to rub his tender
hands through my silver hair. 

If The Gem Foundation should cross your mind,  
please pray for God's comfort and peace
for Emma, Macey, Josh, Dw, Liberty 
and all the others.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Emma's Decision

Over the years I've thought about the day when I could finally share this story.

It's a seldom mentioned topic.

Why?

Because it is so rare and unheard of.

And it's so very contrary to much of the world's view.

The kind of thing that many dismiss as "old-fashioned".

But truthfully, this story must be shared.  And our Place Called Simplicity
is the perfect Place to share it.

Here's why:

For those who have been hanging around our Place, you will remember that each time
we have passed another million visit mark, I have invited those who log on and are
the millionth {whichever millionth we're celebrating} to please take
a photo of the counter with the millionth mark and then send me the snapshot as
well as a selfie to announce them as the winner.

Each time we have done that, there is one thing that really stood out... many,
many of those stopping by our Place Called Simplicity were high schoolers,
college-goers, young adults and there were even some middle schoolers!!

What a beautiful surprise that is and what an enormous privilege to speak
God's truths into young lives.

And so it is with each of you in mind, our sweet young friends, that I questioned 
Emma on her wedding day, to see if it was okay to now share her very personal story....

Emma eagerly responded, "YES! Share it mom!"

First though, let's be perfectly clear:

Emma's story is a story of Hope!  It is definitely not 

meant to bring condemnation or judgment in any way!  
Lord willing, the sharing of her story will provide 
encouragement as you write your own story.

**********

Unbeknownst to any of us, when Emma was very young she made
a monumental and very personal decision, on her own.

I didn't hear about the decision until 2008.



New Years Eve day her friend Josh texted her to ask if he could call her.
Emma came to me puzzled.  Because although they texted often about the little
things in life, they had not ever talked on the phone.   I will never forget the day
in our little log home...Emma came to me,

"Mom!  Josh wants to call me!! 
What should I say?  Should I let him?
What do you think he wants?"

I told her that my guess was that Josh had a pretty good idea that she was extra special
and he wanted to be sure "to get in line early"....in anticipation of her 16th birthday
since we had a long standing rule in our family:

No Dating Until 16
{And by the way, the Rule has since been changed.}

Emma texted him back, "Yes, you can call."

A few minutes later she was heading back into the kitchen with an even
more bewildered look on her face, "I think Josh just asked me out on a date."

I questioned her as to what she meant and she explained, "He wanted to know if I
was doing anything the week-end after my birthday next July.   He wants to come
from out of state to do something with me!"

I laughed, "Yes, it sounds like Josh thinks there will be a line once you are 16 and
he wants to jump start all the other young men!"

To be sure she understood him, she texted back,

'Did you just ask me out on a date?"

"Yes" was returned via text.

It all made me giggle.

Such innocence.

And then Emma told Joshua this:

"Before you take me out, Josh, you need to understand 
two things.  First, someday my wedding invitation is 
going to say, 'Come see me kiss my best friend for the 
first time'.  I will not do anything with you or anyone else
for that matter.  Nothing. No kissing or otherwise.  If 
you have any other plans, then I am not the girl for you.  

And secondly, I know God has called me to be a missionary to Uganda.  I don't know if He's called you, but I know for 

certain He has definitely called me.  I am moving there 
when I am out of school.  You need to understand both 
of these things to be sure you still want to take me out."  


The parameters had been clearly defined and spoken
emphatically by our sweet girl.  She meant every word.

Although these two things hadn't been part of  Josh's plan, he undoubtedly knew
that Emma was a rather unusual and special girl.  He decided both of these things
were okay with him.

And so it was that after their first date and over the next 3.5 years that they dated,
not once did they compromise in any way.   She had set in stone a standard and she was 
not shrinking back!  There would be no waffling.  There were be no slippery slope.
With dogged determination she kept her eye on the prize:

Honoring God with her body, keeping herself pure in every way and a rare and uniquely worded wedding invitation awaited her final destination!

Over the years I have actually heard some say about Emma's decision, "Well that's just unrealistic!"

Actually, Emma and Josh are living proof that it is not unrealistic nor is it impossible.

It is entirely possible!

In fact, think about it, one of the fruits of the spirit is Self-Control.

Why wouldn't each of us want to express our love for the other through complete
self-control?



Not surprisingly, when Josh and Emma broke up after 3.5 years together,
Emma commented to me,

"Oh mom!! I am so grateful we never did anything.  
Nothing!!  
I have no regrets!"

Sadly, today's society and even those within the confines of our churches will scoff
and make purity into a silly sounding, pathetic laughing matter - as though the physical
aspect of relationships and virginity is an old-fashioned thing of the past and that
giving away any of this precious gift is not only expected, it's assumed and
accepted with "it's just a matter of time".

Such notions are so contrary to God's best plan for each person!

In fact some time back, I happened on Facebook and saw many sharing a
link written by a popular author.  I don't read this blog, but was intrigued, so I
clicked on the link.  As I read my eyes grew wide.

This very popular Christian author was addressing the topic of birth control with her
teenage child.  It was written with an in-your-face shock humor while making a big
joke of waiting for marriage to enjoy God's beautiful gift of sexual intimacy.
I came to the comments from the readers and became even more sickened...
the comments were agreeing with the author and cheering her on...for her "hysterical"
view to this whole topic.  I was tempted to write and ask what scripture
she was using to base her "hysterical" conversation on, but I didn't.  

It's no wonder so many children and young adults make choices that are contrary
to God's best and downright painful - their parents have no Godly expectation for them!

Friends!!

Let's just set the record straight - God's view of intimacy, sexual pleasure and
marriage is not a "thing of the past", it's not "old-fashioned" and it's definitely
not something He thinks is hysterically obsolete.  In fact, He is the same yesterday,
today and forever.



God set the standard, because of His own purity, 
His own holiness and His own reverence.
His plan for each of us is good.  
He doesn't withhold pleasure because He wants to
ruin our day!!

Instead He instructs each of us to live a life of purity 
so we can live without regrets, without guilt and without painful consequences.  

His best is purity!  

He is not a God of compromise!  

He promises to bless those who obey Him! 

On Emma's wedding day I shared through tears with her how proud I was of her decision many years before.  She smiled as she gently whispered, "Well Mom, every day during family Bible study you would pray aloud, 'Lord please give my children the courage to 
be a virgin in every sense of the word until their wedding day.'  Mom, I never forgot your prayer!"

I melted.  She had never told me that before!!

Oh how we long for our children to take to heart God's best plan for them.
Heed the principle fellow parents - pray aloud over your children.
Do not be afraid to let them hear your heart.  Encourage them daily to stay the course!

I truly had no idea that my daily prayer would be taken to heart in every sense!

True to her word, Emma stuck to her guns in every way!!

So it was that on Emma and Josh's wedding day, 
every person who knew the backstory could not wait 
for their first kiss!

We giggled and giggled with anticipation!

Emma had actually shared with a few of her staff the decision that she had made many
years before and how this would be a monumental day on so many counts!
They were shocked!  Just like the US, this is not something that is heard of in their
culture either.

Later we would laugh as we talked about the events of her wedding day...how the word
had spread among her staff that this "first kiss" would be quite the celebration!
So much so that basically all 25 of her staff flooded to the front, gathering
like a pack of driven paparazzi, cell phones positioned perfectly,
waiting to catch this extraordinary event!!




As Pastor John began the grande finale symbolic pronouncement,
he explained that they had waited in every sense of the word for everything,
even this first kiss.  He continued,

"Joshua, you may now kiss your bride" 

and he laughingly added,

"and take all the time you need!"

Emmy and Josh did not disappoint the crowd gathered!

We cheered and celebrated!

God is a faithful God!

***********

If you missed Josh and Emma's love story...it's here. 


PS.  Should you be one whose path has been a different one, it is not too late.
You can decide today that you want a fresh start.  Talk to Him about your failures.
Then pray with a trusted accountability partner who also believes in purity.  Ask
them to hold you accountable.    Our God is faithful and He is the God of 
new beginnings and fresh, clean starts!  You can do it!!