Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Last Known Fear

As I had prayed about leading the GO Team I knew the Lord had whispered that I
needed to head there early, ahead of the team.   That sounded like a great idea,
except for one thing.   My heart squirmed as He whispered the "early" part.

Because friends, I have faced many fears and challenges over my lifetime but I had one final fear that I just couldn't didn't want to face.

The fear of flying alone internationally. 

I had always flown to China or Uganda with at least one of my treasures.

Yes, I know many have flown alone internationally.

And I celebrated their bravery and courage.

"Wow!" I told my friend who went to China alone last year, "You are so brave!"

But I just couldn't.

It was too, too, too big for me.

The thought of being alone in an airport in Europe freaked me out or being alone on a plane somewhere in the world.  {I faced the fear of flying domestically alone many years ago.}

And yes, I understood perfectly what the fear was rooted in {bad things happened when I was little and alone}.  However, just because I could talk myself through it in my head, the brain just couldn't get there.

I wasn't afraid to admit it either.


The bath chair's box wrapped in that stuff that just won't budge on carpet.



Last year Dw and I even had a discussion about it.  Okay, so I was the only one talking.  He was just listening. He wasn't even trying to give me a pep talk about it, he was merely sitting, listening.    I even remember sobbing as I questioned him, "So?  I can't fly alone internationally??  I'm a chicken. Do you really think in all of life it matters that there is this one place that I am fearful and I just can't get over it?"

He had assured me it was okay to not travel alone internationally.

And then I heard the Lord's whisper a few months ago about this trip.

And the Lord's whisper changed everything, because I willingly submit to His leadership.

And He was definitely leading me to GO alone.

So now it became an obedience thing because He was asking me to do it.

GULP.

It came down to this:

Obey?

or

Pretend I didn't hear?

I prayed for courage and made the reservation.


Seven pieces of luggage: a bath chair, a Stander, Medical supplies, Gem Stuff...


I was actually even excited!

I was about to conquer my last known fear!

Until the day before I left. 

I couldn't even get a grip as I sobbed my eyes out in our room.

I sobbed till there was nothing left.

And then Dw prayed with me about it and asked the Lord to divinely place people in my path on the trip.  He prayed very specifically.

I had peace again.

The next morning the kids and Dw dropped me at the airport with my seven pieces of luggage.

I could do this!

And I did.

And guess what Our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God did?

He divinely placed a.m.a.z.i.n.g. people in my path - 
so much so that my heart is still beyond giddy! 

Wait till you hear!!

But until tomorrow....


 Took these amazing photos of farmland over the midwest
and prayed for rain....


I know there are some of you who have fears you haven't faced.

I get it.

Maybe some have even been paralyzed by fear?

I get that too.

Today's a new day.  Face your fears with me.

Obey what He asks you to do.

It will set you free!!

I loved it so much I may even become an International Flight Attendant.

Just kidding.

I did love it that much!

For real.

He set me free!


Always wanted to be a farmers wife.  
This is where I would live. 
Right here.
 Just have to find it.
And make Dw put on bib overalls.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Do You Want Mommy To Come Home?"


Anyone who knows Ruby, 
knows that she loves to suck her left index finger.

A few months ago when she and I were out alone, 
she was sucking her finger and
I asked her, "Hey Ruby, would you please pull
your finger out and talk to me?"

Of course I had no idea what she would do.

Less than 10 seconds passed and she pulled her finger 
right out.  I was giddy, 

"Yay!! You want to talk to Mommy!"

From that day on, I regularly ask her to take
her finger out so we can talk.

And each time, with little exception,
she takes it right out.

Ruby-girl is so stinkin' smart!

Anyway, so a few minutes ago I was
Skyping with home.  

{I miss them so much!}

Ruby was sucking her finger
and, of course, I asked her to take her finger out 
so we could talk.

She immediately did.

And although the connection was very pixilated,
it was clear enough for that little miracle-girly-girl of mine
to make one thing perfectly clear.....

I asked Ruby one question,

"Ruby, do you want Mommy to come home?"

Turning her head to the side and flinging it straight at the
computer she emphatically shouted, 

"YEAAAAH!"

Liberty was sitting beside her
and we both exclaimed, "Oh my gracious Ruby!
You told Mommy you miss her!"

We went on and talked a bit
and because it was so much fun the first time
around, I had to ask her again,

"Ruby, do you want Mommy to come home?"

Without hesitation,
she flung her head again and shouted,

"Yeaaaaaaaah!"

Check out her sweet smile!



Ruby was being quite rowdy -
and before long, 
she was playing with Liberty's finger
and reached down to take out a big ol' bite...

She thought she was so funny
and was giggling...
she especially enjoyed the shriek as 
Liberty pulled back her finger!



I told Liberty that I think Ruby is probably trying to say,

"Give my mom back or I'm going to gnaw your finger off!"

Not to worry Ruby,
Mommy will be home soon
and then we can snuggle
till the cows come home.

And since we live in the city of Phoenix,
that's a really, really long time!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Courageous or Terrified?

I love, love, love Africa.  

One of the lovely and beautiful perks 
about being here is the joy of meeting wonderful people 
whose very lives challenge me. 

Recently I had the amazing joy and rare opportunity 
of spending time with such a person.  

Emma had actually told me bit and pieces of her story, 
but meeting this woman left the most powerful impression on my soul.

I have only ever read stories about people like her 
and 
to look at her, one only sees the precious, gentle and soft-spoken woman 
that she is,

But let me tell you  - 
under that tender God-fearing, God-honoring
 soul is the most courageous 
woman I have ever met! 

Although for safety reasons I am unable to 
share her story, I was forever changed 
by meeting this hero of the faith who did the 
most daring thing I have personally ever known. 


Isn't she beautiful?? So honored to have a picture of us together. My hero. 

As she shared her story, my mouth was gaping and I 
was "on the edge of my seat".  

No one would ever guess that this woman would possess unprecedented 
courage that would outdistance each person present when the situation 
suddenly was upon them.

There were many present, but one by one, each person around 
ran terrified saying, 

"I can't do it" 
or
 "I won't do it"
 and 
"No way! I am overcome with fear."

One woman.  

Alone.

Her words left a lasting impression on my soul...

In hushed tones she spoke to me, 

"Although each person around me was terrified to do anything,
I lifted my arms toward heaven and looking up cried out loud, 

'Oh God! You must give me the strength to do this!'

And at that very moment, with my arms lifted toward heaven, I felt the tangible strength of our powerful God overtake me
and I ran to do what had to be done."

With undeniable God-driven, holy determination 
she ran literally toward 
"the very gates of hell."

She refused to shrink in fear like everyone around her - 
she found her strength in the powerful presence of Almighty God 
and 
He very literally gave her the fearless strength and willpower to persevere
with audacious courage that would leave people completely astounded. 

Oh sweet friends -
I'm positive that there are only a few 
as brave as she, that have ever lived,
but all of us could be!!

And although I would love to share her story,
that's not the point here.  

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

He gives courage to the weak.
He gives power to the helpless.
He gives strength to the weary.

And He does not fail.

He does not disappoint.

He will not leave us.

Even if we "are at the very gates of hell" doing rescue work.

He is completely trustworthy!

How?

Lift your arms toward heaven and cry out to Him.
He is willing to give you His strength and power that will enable you 
to move any mountains that would seemingly stand in your way ~ ~ ~

Bar None!

"If you fail under pressure,
your strength is too small.  
Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
save them as they stagger to their death.
Don't excuse yourself by saying, "Look we didn't know."
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve."
Proverbs 24: 10-12



Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Gem Shower!!!

Thank you!

Thank you!

Thank you
sweet bloggy friends!

The Gem Foundation Shower was such a joy!

The anticipation was in the air from Gems
to Nannies....the 
kids loved their presents.

Those who gave backpacks awhile back
will be happy to know that some left from back then
were used to bless these precious Gems - 
each received their own with their name written
on them!!

The pictures speak volumes - 
see for yourself!

{I worked hard to get pictures of all the Gems,
but looking now, I definitely missed some.
Please forgive!}



Jackson 
and his nanny are getting ready to par-tee

Joram 
{and Macey}



Hudson can't wait for the party to start!



Justin



Elisha 



Joram


Hudson




Joey
{and Emma}



Shafik




Nehemiah



Anita



Caleb

and his bff
Collin
both were thrilled - 
do they totally rock the smiles or what?




Joey






Johnie



Nehemiah's joy says it all.


Thank you so much all who made it possible ~
from the shower hostesses:
Rebecca
Robin
Kathryn
Kimmy
You guys were amazing!

And all the attenders - I grin at your 
kindness and generosity ~ thank you 
for being His hands and His feet!

May God bless each of you a bazillion fold!!

"Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of
the least of these brothers and sisters
of mine, you did for me!"
Matthew 25:40 niv


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Stuff No One Talks About

This post is difficult to write, however, it is definitely necessary.  

It's about the stuff that no one talks about.  

In all my silver-haired years, I've never heard 
anyone talk about this nor have I read anything about it.  So I kinda' 
feel like I am to share the truth in an effort to raise awareness and hopefully, 
help people understand the importance of praying for those who have 
dedicated their lives to serving in a land far from the support of family and friends,
and most likely on the other side of the world.

Although these thoughts are filled with great emotions, it seems that somehow 
writing about it all will help me process life as it has unfolded in the recent weeks.

*******

As I planned this GO Team trip, I had felt that I should arrive early, a few days ahead 
of the team {something I had not ever done}.

Which, of course, was the Lord.  

I had originally thought that arriving early would be especially helpful as Emma had 
been grieving Arthur and I guessed that we would be able to talk more than the usual 
snippets we are able to sneak in when I am in the States. 

But when I arrived the Gems were very, very sick.  Emma had been at the hospital 
with them and although they were all sent home with medicine, their condition 
was desperately concerning.  

Backing up a bit....
a few months before The Gem Foundation had officially opened, 
Emma had been out at Watoto and had met a precious little guy who had 
stolen her heart.  She told me about him at that time. His name was Jason and 
oh how she loved him and longed 
for him to come home to The Gem.

As the Lord would orchestrate it, 
Jason did come home to The Gem and I was thrilled to meet this 
little guy who had stolen Emmy's heart.  
He was adorable.  
Very sick, but adorable.  

I prayed over him and digging some of 
my Essential Oils out of my suitcase, had applied them to the soles
 of his sweet feet {as well as any of the other sick ones}.

The next day Emma felt that Jason and Elisha needed to go to the hospital.  I agreed.  
Anyway, the days passed quickly between visiting the two boys in the hospital and all 
the other needs of the rest of the sick Gems at home.
Besides preparing for the team.
We slept little.

By the day the team was to arrive, the word was that Jason and Elisha would be 
released from the hospital.  We went to pick them up and as soon as we returned to 
the home with the boys, I left to go to the airport to pick up the team that 
would be arriving shortly.  

The team was awesome, I was thrilled to see them!!  The next morning Jason still 
did not seem better. Emma had him moved out to the 'family room' as is the 
usual daily routine with all the Gems...but even more so for sick little Jason -  
he needed to be right near everyone at all times.
He was being loved on well.    

The staff meeting was about to start right after lunch and I was asked
by one of the staff if Jason should be moved back to his bed.
I told them, "No, let's leave him here." 

One of the staff reminded me that the drums and worship are
really loud as the staff worships together and they wondered
if I still thought it best to leave him 
out in the family room with all that going on.
{The rest of the Gems were napping.}

To be honest, in my spirit I felt that Jason needed to be in the hub of it all because 
he would actually be more comfortable with everyone worshipping and I was 
concerned that he was not doing well. 

The nurse was checking his vitals often and he was on oxygen but in my heart I knew
he was fighting for his life.  

During the staff meeting Emma announced to her 23 employees that the next 
Thursday there would be a special Birthday party
for the only October birthday
Jason!!
 Jason would be turning 7!!
She told how there would be presents 
{thanks to you amazing bloggy friends who 'showered'
the Gems with all kinds of clothes and gifts!}  

Excitement was in the air - 
a birthday party honoring Jason
and cake and presents for all the Gems!!!!  

Emma had asked me to share a devotional, which I did.  

When the staff meeting was over, all the Gems, except for Jason, went outside to 
spend time on the lawn with all the Nannies.  

All I wanted to do was hold Jason. 

My heart was breaking for his labored breathing.  So I scooped him in my arms 
and spent the next hour or so telling him all about our family.  I told him about my 
treasures and how I knew that they would love to know him.  Then I pulled out my cell
phone and one by one, starting with Abigail, went through my sweet pile, showing him
pictures of each of my kids.  Actually when I showed him Liberty's picture,
he raised up a speck. 
 I laughed, "You think she's beautiful, don't you?? 

I told him how thankful I was that God had made him.  I sang worship songs over him 
and I told him all about how much God loved him and how beautiful heaven would be
someday and how his body would be healed.  

Unbeknownst to me, Kevin snapped a picture of us as I held Jason close
 and whispered God's truths to him.  



Since I had no clue that Kevin had taken that picture, 
I actually took a selfie with Jason.

Now, this silver-haired Mimi just doesn't really do selfies, 
however, I was so concerned in my heart about his health and 
I wanted to have a picture of this precious Gem and I. 




After probably an hour or so, 
Emma came and sat down and said she was going to spend 
some time with him.

I went outside to see what was going on with the Gems and others
on the lawn.  I held a little one and walked around the yard with him.
He picked a flower which we brought in
for Emma and immediately she held it for Jason to smell.



We headed back outside again and within a minute or two,
Emily from the GO team came running out the front door and with a 
terribly panicked look shouted,

"He's not breathing."

It literally not been that long since I had been holding him....

I ran toward the door of The Gem and met the nurse and 
Emma running while carrying Jason toward the door.
Inside I remember seeing Kevin standing there and shouted,

"Kevin!  Please would you go with them??!!"

                                    Kevin ran behind them..the oxygen was still attached and
I actually yanked the now taut tube that had been pumping oxygen 
just seconds before.

I was shaking and running back to make sure that no little
ones were behind the car as it would be backing up 
in a second.

It was awful.

Just awful.

The emotions.

I phoned Dw to ask him to pray but the sound wouldn't work.

I kept trying to call back.

It was so awful.

The reality of living on the other side of the ocean.

I kept waiting to hear how Jason was doing or worse
yet for the gate to open, 
meaning that they had returned with his body.

An hour or so passed.  

Then the gate opened and the car pulled in.

It was just awful.

They were carrying Jason's body.

I can't think of any other words but 'awful, horrible, yukky, terrible'.  

Slowly and gently they laid Jason down right where we had just been 
cuddling with him an hour before.
Only this time, Jason's body was empty....he was dancing with Jesus
and Arthur and my friend Dave and all the others who had gone
on before him.

And we were left to weep and mourn the loss of this loving little guy.

The reality of a missionary's life.

Kevin graciously went with Emma while she had to have papers signed
in order to bury Jason.

When they returned, Kevin and his daughter Mary Caitlin 
went with me to find a coffin for Jason.  

Darkness had settled in as Kevin and I wandered through a giant
market of coffins with only the light of Kevin's cell phone
guiding our footsteps.  

I kept starting to cry - this could not be happening!

Kevin helped me decide which coffin to purchase.  
Emma's only instructions were that it had to be beautiful.

So we found the most beautiful one possible.

Simple.  

Wood.

A little glass window to show his precious face.

It was exactly as tall as his little six year old body was.
And we purchased a wooden cross for the grave marker
as well as a lovely homemade blanket to drape over the coffin. 

It just all seemed like a very, very, very bad dream.

I confess I was completely unprepared for Jason's death, 
yet there was something that I even less prepared for 
and I've asked Emma if I could share about it.

*******

When we returned with the coffin,
Emma asked for someone to find a bucket and fill it with warm water.  
Choking back the sobs, Emma explained, 

"It's his last bath, it must be warm."   

{Warm water is not a regular occurrence.}

And then, slowly, and lovingly, Emma removed his shirt
and began to bathe his little six year old body.

No, there is no undertaker to prepare the body for burial.

It is the family's privilege here in Africa -
preparing the body for burial.
  
And The Gem Foundation was his family
and Emma was his mama.  

She would prepare his body for burial.  

She'd done it with precious little Arthur
and now she would do it again, just about a month later.

I don't know about you folks, but I couldn't have pictured myself
preparing a little boy for his burial. 

But this is the life of a missionary
and this is reality.  

I stroked Jason's leg and reminded him of how much 
he was loved.  And although he was now safe in the arms
of Jesus, I just had to.  

Emma continued to bathe him, 
modestly changing his diaper,
while her staff sat gathered around softly crying.

I kept sobbing as did Emma and Macey
{who was helping Emma bathe him}.  

It was awful, but painfully beautiful all at the same time.

I was in amazement at how God has given Emma such grace to
do what He has called her to do.  
I am in awe.

I remember the time Emma was about 10 years old and
wearing those wheelie skate/sneakers.  We were in the doctor's office
watching as Liberty had stitches pulled.
                            I thought, "Why is Emma being so weird and banging into me with
her roller shoes as the nurse pulls the stitches?"
Finally, glancing down to where she was banging into me
I discovered, she was not playing - she was passed out cold!

And now, not that many years later, 
Emma lives in Africa and is gently
preparing a precious and very loved little guy
for his burial.  

We cried as we picked out Jason's burial clothes.
They were lovingly picked out in the United States for the Gem Shower
by our orphan-loving friend Kate C....and little did we know that instead of 
wearing them to play and laugh and smile and learn to lift his head
...he would be buried in his first-ever new 
and very handsome clothes!

It was unlike anything I had ever watched before.

I felt honored to be a part of such a sacred 
and holy time. 

After he was dressed I questioned Emma,

"Could we please put one of the Matchbox cars
sent from the bloggy friends in one of his hands?
Every little boy-treasure needs to be carrying
a Matchbox car."  



We chose an orange one with snazzy sides.

And then we wrote notes to tuck in his new jean pocket - 
cause every little boy needs a pocket full of stuff!!

We tucked his right hand in that same pocket,
just like little boys like to do.

Jason looked so handsome.

Dashing.  

My life was forever solemnly changed. 

A fresh reminder that life is short.

And a passionate need to remind others to pray for 
missionaries serving around the world.

We will likely never experience what they have to do on a 
day-to-day basis...

But oh how they need our love, monetary and prayer support!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Crazy Dreams

Recently I was commiserating to the Lord about a crazy dream I had and wanted to do 
again but didn't think there was anyway it would be possible.  

We'd done it before {twice} and there was no logical way we could do it again.  
It seemed to me, as I pondered it all, that I would just have to revel in the thought that 
we had had the privilege of doing it twice before and leave it at that.

But the Lord knew my heart.  It was more than just a longing.  It was a feeling of 
antsy mixed with anticipation. 
 The Lord had to be up to something.  
It was all too crazy.



Disclaimer:  
Surprising to most perhaps, but this particular dream does not involve 
bringing home another treasure.  Although being perfectly honest, it does 
involve a Crazy Dream of orphan-loving magnitude!  

Anyway, after whining a while to the Lord about the prospect of not being 
able to ever do this again, I put the thought out of my mind for a little bit.  
Okay, so maybe for only about 10 minutes, but whatever, 
at least I let it rest in my head for a few seconds.

A few weeks passed of off and on dreaming and longing and 
suddenly and without warning, I came across an email yesterday 
that made this Crazy Dream almost look like it could become another 
Crazy Reality...and I was giddy beyond belief.

Dw was sound asleep in the States and I could not wait for him to wake
up.  I checked the clock about 1,384,281 times to see how much
longer till he should be awake.  I was afraid to text him in case
it woke Ruby...but as soon as that man of mine woke up 
I was excitedly sharing that Crazy Dream with him...
[He actually kind of loved it!!]  



Now, the point of this post is not to try to make people guess 
what this Crazy Dream is, 
because it is not for guessing.   
It's a personal dream at this point.


The point of this post is to challenge every one of you with this:


What Crazy Dreams do you have that you just think are probably 
just a thing of the past?

Is there a Crazy Dream that seems so far-fetched to Dream again??

Have you put the power of God to accomplish your Crazy Dream in a box?

Cause if you have answered 'yes' to any of the above questions - 

It's time - 

Open the box and dare to Dream Again!!

Cause that's what I had to do.  

I had just guessed that this twice lived dream was my Past to rejoice in....
never thinking that He just might like to make this new Crazy Dream another reality!!

Soooooo....sweet friends,

It's time to dream again!!

Ask Almighty God to re-ignite your Crazy Dreams for Him!!

Ask Him to take the Crazy Dreams He planted and light a fire under them and 
turn the impossible into the possible!!

Because it is NOT TOO LATE!!  

His heart is for us to dream Crazy Dreams that require faith and trust and joy and uncompromising steadfastness - and He not only can bring the Crazy Dreams 
to reality, but He delights in doing just that!  

Dream Big cause we have a magnificently enormous God!! 

And trust me in this:  It's so exciting to be dreaming again!!

“The world has yet to see what God can do with one man wholly dedicated to Him.”
     ~Dwight L. Moody 
{who my sweet husband was named after}




Friday, October 17, 2014

A Poem: Two Little Fellas...

 Walking through The Gem Foundation one day....

A little fella was a'screaming away.  

Nap time should be kinda quiet ya' know,

But Caleb had something he desperately needed though....

Both legs in casts and unable to move, twist or bend,

Oh me.  His head by-golly needed to get to the other end,

Scream, scream and scream some more...

Surely someone will walk through that door!

Just why wouldn't someone come and set Caleb free?

So his best buddy Collins he would be able to see!!

It was about then that this silver-haired Mimi moseyed on by

And knew in an instant she had to try,

To settle precious Caleb the other way

Why of course flipping his body just made his day....


After all, the plan, it just could not fail,

Because suddenly their fingers were reachin' right 
through the ol' rail,

Completely and instantly the screaming had stopped 

As soon as Caleb's sweet little body was at the other end plopped

What was once a face filled with bits of fear

Was now turned and thoroughly grinning ear to ear...

Squeezing fingers and playing together

Precious friends they'll be totally forever...

And really, just think with me....

How frustrating it must always be

To be trapped in your body and not ever free...

Until that silver-haired Mimi comes strolling in

And she understands and you start to grin...

Mimi slides the cribs over closer end to end

And you start to move and bend and bend 





The buddy's hands are now touchin' and really sweet

And that's a feeling that obviously can't be beat!!



Cause these two little guys, both smarter than smart.

Sure love each other with all their heart.