Sunday, April 16, 2017

"Because People Need Jesus"

Happy Resurrection Day friends! Paseka E Monate!!

It has been long time since I blogged, and it isn't because there hasn't been anything going on in my life. It truly was because I couldn't find words for it all. I could have never planned the almost 10 months. When I stepped off the plane from Lesotho in May, I knew life was going to change, but I had know idea how my heart was going to react to it all. The past 7 months really have been moments of deep grief, confusion, joy, guilt, celebration, mourning. I could go on and on. I knew God had called me to leave Beautiful Gate, and I knew the transition to life in America was going to be tough, but when you mix that with the loss of your best friend, it was all too much at times. For me, everything in life is different and I do honestly mean everything.

My day to day activity...different.
My relationships...different.
My communication...different.
My worship...different.

The cloud of sadness and loneliness and new-ness made everything I looked at different. I always told people, imagine packing up a bag and leaving for a long period of time. While you were gone, no one ever went in your house and moved things around, so everything was exactly where you left it, but when you walked into the room everything felt out of place. That has been life for me since September 15, when Lynette entered eternity with Jesus. I deeply miss my person. There really are no words for it. I also deeply miss BG and the children and my relationships in Lesotho. For a long time, I felt like where ever I went, I was walking around naked. My emotions, thoughts, feelings, everything was on display and I just wanted to hide. I will be honest, there were many times I did hide and I was completely okay with it. There were also many times I would lie to people when they asked me how I was. The truth be told, I didn't know how to explain how I was and because of that I just said I was okay, but my insides were yelling, "I am not okay!!! I am not okay!!! My arms are not holding precious children. My person/best friend is gone. Every job I apply for I get turned down. I am not okay!"

In January I started a new job at the Holland Rescue Mission. It was the 25th job I applied for since being home. I don't know about you all, but when you get told 24 times that you were not what someone was looking for, you start feeling like you will never be what someone is looking for. Again through the whole journey, I would say I was fine and God had a plan, but honestly, I questioned His plan everyday. But then when I started at the Mission, I started to see things come together. I can honestly say there have been many days when I say that God and Lynette must have had a conversation about what job He was going to give me, because my role at the Mission is exactly what she wanted for me. By having a routine again and something to get out of bed for again, I started to see hope through the grief. There still were and are moments I want to hide and there not a day goes by when I do not miss Lynette deeply and want her back, but my grief is different now. I am learning to breath and do what Lynette told me to do. You see, Lynette gave me clear instructions a week before she past away on what I was to do with my life. She knew I was struggling and I now know the Lord used her to speak exactly what I needed to hear. As we drove home from what became our last doctor's appointment together, she grabbed my hand and in between some long shallow breaths she said "Terp when I die, you can be sad, please, be sad. But don't be sad too long, because people need Jesus." She then gave me some instructions on how I was going to serve her in her last days. Looking back now at that moment, I know it was God speaking to me through Lynette. There was no way she could have known that was our last time together just her and I while she was still able to speak.

Seven months later, I have hit a point where I am starting to do what she said. Today as we celebrate our RISEN KING, I am able to do so, knowing that because of His death, Lynette and I will be reunited again. Because of Christ's journey to the cross, my friends in Lesotho and I will one day sit at His feet together and do life. Because of Resurrection Day, I no longer need to hide what emotion I am feeling, because the tomb is empty and Christ conquered it all. The last seven months for me have been learning how to live again. Anne Lamont puts it this way. "You will lose someone you can't live without and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up. And you come through. It's like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly - that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with a limp."

I am learning to dance with a limp, because the tomb where Jesus was laid is empty! Are there still days I want to hide? Yes. Are there still days I want nothing more than to see Lynette and go on a car ride? EVERYDAY, in fact. But I am learning that people need Jesus and I need to introduce them to Him, so through my limp and unsealed heart, I step out to love, to serve and to point people to the cross. Why, because no matter who you are, or what your journey has been like, we all need Jesus.

"Death could not hold you.
The veil torn before you.
You silenced the boast of sin and grave.
The Heavens are roaring the praise of your glory.
For you are raised to life again.
You have no rival.
You have no equal.
Now and forever our God reigns.
Yours is the kingdom. Yours is the glory.
Yours is the name above all names."
(What a Beautiful Name it is)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Empty Room

For months I have been trying to figure out what to write here. My life has changed and I am not sure what to do. On September 15, I lost my person, my best friend, my sister (not by blood but by heart). The weeks leading up to that day were rough, but we made the most of each of them. I treasure the days spent in bed just being us, the many trips to different doctors appointments that allowed for real honest conversation and the many everyday things that we called "adventures." The first few weeks after Lynette's heavenly home coming were really tough, but then things felt a little lighter until this past weekend when grief stood up and smacked me hard in the face and it all centered around an empty room.

One of my goals is to have my own house. In preparation for this, I decided to buy some furniture, so that when I do have a house, I have something to sit on. What a concept, I know! Last week I bought a couch and dresser and this weekend I spent some time cleaning my room before it was delivered, so that I could fit it all in. As I was cleaning I became really overwhelmed with missing Lynette. I remembered so many conversations the two of us had regarding my own house. She wanted so badly to help decorate it and "make it a home" as she would say. She and I also had a lot of talks about the end of this year and my time with Beautiful Gate coming to a close. She would always say, "Let's not talk/feel about it now. At the end of the year, we will celebrate and walk through it together. I will not leave you alone through this." We had plans. We had dreams. We had more adventures to go on.

So this weekend I found myself laying on the floor in an empty room, just crying. For the first time, my environment, felt like my heart. I was grieving all the memories, conversations and amazing times with Lynette. I was grieving the last four full time years and seven years total of memories with Beautiful Gate. I felt so empty. I felt like I had been striped of everything and all I could do was focus on breathing. As I laid on the carpet, I felt comfort. As I looked at less "things" I felt lighter. But when I thought about new furniture coming in, I felt so heavy and afraid. I didn't want new to come in. I wanted the old to stay. I wanted my friend back. I wanted to hear her voice and feel her hand hold mine. I wanted to schedule pick up times for the next appointment or adventure. I wanted to imagine I was just purging things like I do every year before I leave for Lesotho. But this year, that is not the case. Yes I am purging to make life more simpler, but the suitcase that has been tucked behind my bedroom door for four years, is no longer there. I will not be packing up and feeling the joy of having many children on my lap.

I didn't want the new to come in, because that means the old was gone.
I was in an empty room.
And I was empty.

But then I remembered the words from Isaiah 43:19, "Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" I am entering into a new chapter a new time given to me by the Lord. I need to embrace it and know that in the empty, there is comfort because I am "precious, honored and loved" (Isaiah 43:4). I will be honest, I do not have all the answers and there are huge moments when I just want the old back again. Everyday I ache to go on an adventure with Lynette, but I know that right know she is cheering me on, telling me now to stop. Telling me to keep going. Telling me not to miss the new thing right in front of me. I feel so broken. There are moments when the tears just fall and there is nothing I can do to hold them back. But then there are moments of pure joy. Simple moments of putting on a pair of shoes she so badly wanted me to have. Simple joys of walking around with her family and other friends on Halloween and being silly.

Yesterday the new couch came. After it was delivered, my dear friends staged my room for me, making sure special pictures and books were in places that I would see them. The new is here, but I am learning that that doesn't mean the old is gone. As I type this I am curled up on the new couch. The room is no longer empty, but instead filled with a new normal. This new normal includes moments every day of sitting and remembering the old and cherishing every moment of it. I do not know what lies ahead of me, but I do know the One who has planned the path. I pray each day that as I journey there will be moments in the new that I will remember the old. I never want to forget Lynette's laugh or the last big hug she gave me. I never want to forget how it feels to hold a BG child in my arms and feel that they trust me 110% with every ounce of their being.

The new is here, but the old hasn't left and for that I rejoice!

John 14:27 says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." I am clinging to this peace these days. I am placing my hope in the One who has a plan and will redeem this world! Through the moments when fears overwhelm and I want to crawl back to the empty room and just be, I find that it is in His presence that I feel safe. It is in His presence that I feel whole. It is in His presence that I have peace. The old, the new and the in between are all moments when I can crawl up into my Abba's lap and allow His presence overwhelm the grief with peace.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Moving in the Stillness

The other night I was invited to go on a sunset boat ride with some friends. I have to say that the Lord didn't disappoint us in His creation. It was a picture perfect night. As we zipped (my friend has 2 speeds on his and faster) along the very calm Lake Michigan, you could almost feel the Spirit of God there, whispering in your ear, "my child, I made this for you." The air was clear. The water was calm and the sunset painted God's glory throughout the sky. As we were stopped watching God's faithfulness cover the earth in His sunset, I couldn't help but notice the water. All night, my friends and I commented on how still the water was. There were no waves. One person said that for Lake Michigan, the water was "flat." But as I looked at the water, I saw that yes it was clam and yes there were no big waves, but the water itself was still moving. There were still ripples throughout the lake. At that moment, the Lord spoke to my heart. It was like He was right next to me in the boat and said, "In the calmness, I am still moving!"

You cannot walk through Hobby Lobby without reading a perfectly hand lettered sign saying "Be Still." The crisp black letters on the white page stand out. It is like the letters are yelling God's words through the craziness of life, "STOP and be with me." We connect these verses to Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still and know that I am God." This verse is truth! This verse is hope. But you know what, so many people think the verse stops right there, but it doesn't. The verse concludes with "I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!" Do you see the movement in the stillness? The Lord calls us to "be still" so that He can move. Last year I blogged about the root of the word "still" in this verse as well as Exodus 14:14 (The Lord will fight for you, you only have to be still.") In both cases, still means to "let go."

When we look at Psalm 46:10, it is just like looking at the water when I was on Lake Michigan. In the still, there is movement. In the calm there are ripples. In the stagnate, God is moving. His faithfulness is evident when we stop and focus on the little. The big waves, yes make a splash and are fun to see and play in, but the little, constant ripple goes on and on and on. Also the cool thing is as a little ripple moves, it creates more ripples.

This morning I was the immense truth found in Isaiah 43.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored and I love you." (verses 1-4)

"'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.'" (verse 10.)

"Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down and they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick; Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (verses 16-19)

"I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." (verse 25)

Go back right now and reread these verses. I mean it! It is easy to skim them because we have heard them before, but take time to soak them in.

The redeeming Lord has called you. He has named you. He is there when life overwhelms you. He is there when things consume you and He makes a way. He has chosen you for the one purpose of knowing Him. The things that used to hold you down are gone. The old things you have tucked into the corners of your life, He wants you to let go of, so that He can make a new thing for you. The wrong choices you have made, are gone. He doesn't understand why you are dwelling on them, because He doesn't see them anymore.

He, the Lord and creator of everything, never stops moving, so that we can be still and just be with Him. He longs for moments when we let go of what is holding us back from Him and cling to Him so that we can ripple out His truth to those around us through our lives. Our lives should be a witness to His great power. The way we live and treat those in our path should be a reflection of His glory. All to often, we let the things that God doesn't even see anymore keep us from serving, because we think that nothing good can come out of our wrongs. We could not be more wrong.

Also in the moments of life when you stagnate. In the moments in life when you feel like you are doing nothing to make your Abba known, look around you. The Lord is moving. He is rippling through your life, like a tiny wave on a calm lake. That tiny wave has a purpose. That little movement is a sign that you have surrendered your desire so that God's can move. You have let go so that His name can be made great. It may seem too quiet and too small, but for God's Kingdom it is a HUGE movement of His plan.

It is my prayer today that we can be still, so that God can be exalted. It is my prayer that we can let our lives be calm so that God's truth can ripple through this world. It is my prayer that we can let go the of old things and be ready and willing to embrace the new that the Lord has for us, so that His name can be made great.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


the state or quality of worthy of honor or respect

Each person has been created, designed and established with dignity. As David said in Psalm 139, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Each person ever created was knitted together wonderfully with honor and respect BY GOD ALONE!! Lately my heart has been overwhelmed with the thoughts of dignity. This one word has woven its way into my life for the past eight years, but the past five weeks it has paralyzed me and the past 24 hours it has broken my heart to the place where I am crying over my keyboard, desperately wanting everyone in my path to know their worth and honor. 

Unfortunately my walk with dignity has been one of mistakes. I have not shown everyone in my path the honor and respect they deserve from being created as a masterpiece of my Abba. 

I have judged. 
I have overlooked. 
I have shown little honor and respect for the person in my path. 

I let my agenda, to-do list, small thoughts and schedule take over and ignored those that the Lord placed in my journey.  I have allowed my flesh to take over the heart that the Lord has given me and ignored the fact that the person in front of me was a reflection of God's creation for me in that moment. Lately I have thought a lot about dignity based upon my life and work in Lesotho, but honestly what has overcome my heart and emotions is the lack dignity for those in my path, now that I am back in the States. I want so badly to take the real lessons that I learned in Lesotho and have them overflow into the life God has for me here. 

One of the rules we have at BG is that no photos or videos of the children's faces can be shared online. We do this, because they are not our children. They are someone else's and we want to protect them while they are in our care, so that when they are united with those that the Lord has ordained to be their family, their family can introduce them to the world. We do not want to hide them, but care for them as the precious jewels they are. Just like a diamond miner, who does not boast about the stone he finds but when that stone is placed upon a girl's finger, she and her future husband get to boast about what the precious rock represents. If the miner boasted about the rock, when it was time for the couple to share their news, it wouldn't be as special because the world already saw it. There have been many moments when I have had to ask those volunteering or on mission trips to remove a photo from their social media site because it showed too much of the child's face. I dislike these conversations, but I am very passionate about them, because serving orphans is serving someone's baby. It is not a social justice campaign. It is not the latest trend to do, so that you can get a pat on the back. It is loving someone's son or daughter until the moment they are united and the rock that was once embedded in dark dust, sparkles as it shines God's redemption and adoption for all of us to see. Adoption isn't easy. It isn't always sparkling but it is pure and holy and a moment in which only those involved should be boasting about. If I a posted a photo of every child I worked with in Lesotho, what would that do other than weave into that child's life a deep strand of yarn that represents that they are just a product of a something I am doing, so that my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds can have many "hits" or "likes" and I feel good about myself. Each child I have touch is not a thing to boast about but a soul created by God to make Him known. Because the truth is when the trip is done and your life is back to it's cushiness, that child is still in the orphanage and that child's family is still waiting somewhere. That child's life is still encompassed in the dark soot and dirt of their abandonment. That is something I do not want to brag about but to constantly fight for that little soul that was fearfully and wonderfully made with dignity, not to be an image online but a world changer for God's Kingdom. 

Secondly, one of my "tasks," though it was not written in my job description at BG was to give our children hair cuts, in other words, shave their heads. In 2013, I didn't see this as a big deal. We shaved the children's heads to help with cleanliness and ease of care. But then one day a photo was posted, by someone volunteering at BG of me, shaving a child's head and one of our adoptive parents sent me this reply "(Child's name) doesn't like this almost makes her cry. She didn't like hair cut time in Lesotho." I emailed this parent to not only apologize but also just know why. The thought of a child feeling turmoil over looking at a photo of something I saw as so routine, broke my heart. The mother explained how her daughter would go to preschool in Lesotho and see the other children with hair and she felt ugly. Now most of the Basotho culture does keep their hair short or bald, but as girls grow up, they grow their hair and put it in braids and twists. This BG child didn't think she was beautiful because her classmates had braids and she didn't have any hair. She felt that her beauty, her dignity, was in her hair. She felt like she was still a baby. To some this sounds sad, but you understand the cleanliness aspect and you feel the child should just get over it. I know this, because before I got this email from the mother, I would tell the child who's crying in the chair in front of me that they were okay and that if they sat still the hair cut would be easier. And when their haircut was done, I would pick up the next waiting child and cut. It was a normal thing to do. I saw their tears as a road block for my task, not the reflection of the child's feeling of me stealing their dignity. From the moment I received that email, every time a child sat in front of me for a haircut, I would pray in my heart, as I buzzed. I placed their name and their dignity on the threshold of my Abba's throne. Because no one deserve's to feel ugly or feel like their dignity is being taken away from them. This journey continues as I am home. Now it is not a clipper in my hand, but my eyes on the path. When I am at a store or a restaurant, in which someone tells me their name or their name is printed on a name tag, I use it. I don't just ask for what I want or think need, I use their name in hopes that in this small way, they know they have dignity. In hopes that in this small gesture they know they have worth. In hopes that they know someone else knows their name. Also when I am out and I see someone who lacks something that is "normal" to my culture, I pray that they can be shown dignity and worth beyond their difference. 

Each and every person on this earth was created with dignity and I do not want to be a person whose actions, thoughts or words steal that dignity, because dignity is a amazing gift and one that should have it be trampled on. Dignity is looking at someone in the eyes rather than looking at their difference. You see everyone's eyes, no matter the color, shape or size are the same. If we stopped looking past each other or looking each other up and down, like girls in junior or senior high school, we can focus on the eyes. Someone's eyes are a reflection of their heart. Since being home I have discovered that I sometimes dislike texting and emails, because I cannot read someone's tone they are using. I have found myself texting a friend and asking "Okay. I do not want to miss something. Are you really okay?" We all want to be okay, but the fact is sometimes, life is not okay and when your life is not okay, I want to be there. I want to speak truth into you. I want to place your name on the threshold of the throne of God and let you see your worth, honor and respect. Every person in this world has dignity. We all need to let go of ourselves and look each other in the eye, to say "I see you. I am no different than you. You have worth!" 

I am a work in progress, when it comes to dignity, but I pray each day I can be a beacon of hope in someone's life, so that they know their worth!

Monday, June 27, 2016


It has been 5 weeks since my last post. If you are someone who reads between the lines, you could tell my last few posts were about letting go of my "Lesotho side" of the job. On May 26, I secretly boarded a plane and flew home to surprise my family and friends. After the indescribable goodbyes at Beautiful Gate to the staff, other volunteers and precious children, the surprises at home were a good way to have something joyful to look forward to. Beautiful Gate honored and celebrated what the Lord did through me with a humbling and amazing goodbye celebration. I was so honored to hear the speeches from the staff and the dances and many songs that went into their goodbyes to me. At the end of the ceremony I was able to commission Tyler into this great adventure by washing his feet. The position I have carried is one of complete service, so the only way I could think of "passing the baton" to him was to serve him.

The last five weeks have been full of many emotions. Looking back at March 2015, when I submitted my resignation to Beautiful Gate and requested to leave Lesotho a month early, I could never have imagined the things I have been able to be a part of because of this month of furlough. Things that no one could have imagined when I gave my resignation, other than God. His timing is always the best and I am so glad I followed His footsteps in having this time in Michigan before gearing up for six months of introducing Tyler to the supporting churches, organizations and families of Beautiful Gate Lesotho in the United States and Vancouver, Canada.

The past few weeks there has been a song on the radio that has hit my heart. (For those who know me and have been reading this blog, you know that music always speaks to my soul.) The song is called "If we are Honest" by Francesca Battistelli. The first verse and chorus are...

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I am a mess and so are you
We've built wall nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do 

Bring your brokenness and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest

My heart has opened to what it means to live in community with other people. My heart has been shown what it means to be "adopted" into a friendship that is family. One where you lay everything out on the table and you can be honest about your fears, your doubts, your joys and those things that you hang on to when you know you should not. These open, honest relationships helped see me through some dark days in Lesotho. I know that this year I didn't blog as much as past years, but that wasn't because of a lack of things to write about. Honestly, it was because of a lack of words to describe the feelings and emotions my heart was going through because of the events that were taken place. I am grateful for the relationships in my life that were able to receive an email full of hardship and find ways to encourage me to keep my eyes on Christ, for strength and perseverance. We all need people who will hear our heart and then walk into the brokenness with us. Not everyone in your life is there to hear the hard, but those that are, are there for a reason. Open up your heart to them and learn how to be honest.

Here is the thing readers, we all have walls in our lives and if we choose to live behind those walls we are not fulling living into the truth and hope of Jesus Christ. We need to step out of those fears and embrace the adventure that the Lord has us on. The road is not easy. The road is hard and has many exits that we can choose to take or not take, but the truth is no matter what path we are on, God is there with us. Also He has placed people there to walk the journey with you. People who will encourage you to be honest with yourself and with them. This encouragement can come in a pat on the back, or an arm around the shoulder or it may come with a hard "get over yourself" conversation. Either way, you know that the conversation is one that you needed to hear.

For example, this weekend I was hanging out with my closest friends spending the day on a boat and beach enjoying the shores of Lake Michigan. Boating is something my family never did growing up, so I will be honest, I was a little nervous. The boat ride was great. I loved every minute of it. I also loved just hanging out on the beach talking with my friends. BUT then the dreaded tubing conversation came up. I did not want to tube at all. I know myself and the word graceful is one I would never use to describe myself, so the thought of being pulled on an inflatable circle behind a boat, never really sounded exciting to me. I imagined myself hitting a wave and flying through the air in very ungraceful positions before slamming into the water and coming up naked. (Yup this is where my mind went. I was literally going to be the butt of everyones jokes.) But my friends were "encouraging" me in their own special way to get over myself and do it. So two of my friends and I got on a three person tube and set off. After about 1 minute I realized that I was so dumb for not doing this before. Thankfully we had a great driver who knew he was not allowed to flip us or he would die (and quite possibly loose his job.) The ride was great! If my friends would not have pushed me, I would have spent the day only on the shore, which was nice, but not as fun as the tube. The tube was full of bumps and there were moments you had to hold on tight and other moments when you could just let go and trust. I saw the tube like my life. Yes there are moments when sitting on the shore is nice, but honestly, it is very safe and God didn't call us into the safe. He called us into the real. He called us to grab some friends and hold on because even though the adventure maybe bumpy, it will be full. Even though it may seem scary, it will contain joy!

And if you do it with friends you are 100% honest with, and they are with you, there will be jokes and you maybe the butt of them, but do not worry, they will still love your butt.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Reflections on 4 years

This week I was able to take a few days and drive to Johannesburg to drop off my friend Anita's brother at the airport. Anita and I decided to it would be fun to not just drop him off but have a two day getaway to show him some more of Africa before he left and to give the two of us some time together, since it would be the last time we could do that before I leave at the end of June. It was an amazing time of laughter, deep conversations and just plain silliness.

We stayed over night at a Airport En Route. It is a cute little B&B that I use every year and know the owners well. As Anita and I were laying in bed chatting I couldn't help but think of January 2013 when I was laying in the exact same bed. I remember not sleeping at all that night. I was so scared and questioned what I was doing. The day before I just had said goodbye to all my loved ones and I was headed out on an adventure that only God knew about the details. That night I remember crying and feeling so alone. I didn't think I had the strength for the journey of living a very split life in Lesotho as a missionary and then in North American as a traveling speaker and promoter of Beautiful Gate, at times being treated as a celebrity. Since I was the one creating the job and the first one in this position I had no idea what to expect and that night all the fears and thoughts of not being good enough came out. A big part of me just wanted to go home. The night before I left as I was saying goodbye to my family, my littlest nephew was not pleased with me leaving. At one point my brother had to take him out of my arms so they could go because my nephew was not going to let go. My heart broke for what this job was going to do to my relationships both in my family and friends. After one night at the B&B, I got on a plane and headed to Lesotho where I was warningly greeted by all the staff and children I love and I knew I was right where God wanted me. My heart felt full and ready to do whatever He wanted. He proved 10 days after I got to BG that it was Him alone that I needed to find strength in with the deaths of three children in four days.

The last four years have been ones of extreme ups and downs. Each day is full of moments of joy and moments of grief. Someone once said, "Adoptions have to be the best day of your job." I will agree that adoptions are great days. They are a physical representation of God's adoption of us and a child that I love gets to have a family, but I do not think they are the best. For me the "best" day on the job is when seeing a child trust. Most children come to us scared and very nervous. Some are very withdrawn and others just look at you like a deer in the head lights. Every child is different at how they respond to their first few days, weeks or months. Sadly some children stay withdrawn from others. The trauma that caused them to end up at BG was too much and they just don't understand any other type of life. Some children have no issues at all with the transition and it is hard to tell that they are the "new kid" have a few hours. So the best day for me comes when one of those children who is withdrawn and distance themselves from people, grabs your hand or sits on your laugh without you prompting it. The best day is when a child who has shown any joy, smiles and/or laughs with the other children. The best day is the day a child realizes they are a part of a family.

On the opposite side, the hardest days have been those when a child realizes that their life is not the way it is suppose to be. We call these "orphan days." It is when a child's whole personality just changes. They are extremely sad and sometimes act out and want nothing to do with anyone. It is those days, that I just pick them up and hold them. It is those days that I want so badly to get rid of the red tape of adoptions and give them to a family. It is those days that I find myself searching for answers and needing to spend extra time with Jesus, because it is those days that you discover there just are no answers. Nothing about Beautiful Gate is normal. It is a beautiful place created to bring love and hope into the lives of children and staff, but the truth is it should not exist. Orphanages, foster care, children homes, are names for a bigger problem that no one can fix except for the Lord. That problem is sin. When your life consist is living in a place that was created because of sin, it is understandable to have "orphan days" and honestly, I have also experienced a lot of orphans days myself.

There are so many things going through my head and heart right now. So many emotions and feelings. So many thoughts and reflections. May has been a slower month for my job at BG because we haven't had any teams, so I have been able to take time and just reflect on the past 4 years. Someone once asked me, "Now you know what you know and have experienced all the highs and the lows, would you do it again?" That question is easy...YES! As I think about the scared woman in a B&B in Jo'burg in 2013 and I think of that same woman four years later laying in the same bed, I cannot help but thank God for all the experiences I have had. I have been a part of adoptions and reunifications. Some of those adoptions have been families that have adopted twice from BG. I have experienced God's family in many child becoming a part of the BG family. I have experienced grief through the passing of 6 children, five in 2013 and one a few weeks ago. I met amazing people whose hearts have been affected by BG through mission trips and presentations. On another note, my waist line has also changed because of these great people who have fed me well when I am with them. (PS there is NO other place for BBQ than in Mississippi!!!)

I can honestly say, I am no longer the scared person I was in 2013. I have changed... a lot. My heart knows how to feel deeper joy and it also knows how to feel deeper pain. BUT through it all, the Lord is faithful. He was faithful to me before 2013 and He will continue to be faithful in the years to come. On my first trip in 2009, I prayed that the Lord would break my heart for what breaks His. There is no doubt, that is what He has done. My heart has been broken and rebroken and rebroken and yes, rebroken again for His people and I pray that no matter where the Lord leads me after December when I finish my responsibilities with BG, I will continue to be able to work with His broken people.

"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." 
1 Thes. 5:24

Thursday, May 12, 2016


A few weeks ago, I was having "one of those days." It was a day at BG when everything did not go as planned. We received three new children on three separate cases and I had an unexpected trip in to town that took me away from my normal duties. Most of the time, I can handle days like this, because they happen a lot, but this day something wasn't right. I struggled to focus on anything and it felt like I was being pulled in about 15 different directions. There were many times I found myself looking at the clock hoping for 4pm to come so I could go home. I am not proud of days like this, but they happen. No matter how long you are in a different country, sometimes days of culture shock just happen and there is not much you can do other than to just put your head downed get through it.

At 3pm, I went into town with some volunteers to treat some children knowing that when we got back, my day would be done. While in town, I enjoyed the one on one time with a special little guy. As we pulled into BG, my phone rang and it was someone looking for me. They needed a driver to pick up one of our children who was in the hospital recovery from surgery. Like most days, even though the clock says 4p, the work is not done, so I quickly jumped into the car. I was frustrated. The events of the day paired with the fact that I would be driving through the busy part of town during the busiest part of the day made my attitude pretty negative. When I got to the hospital I realized that through all of the hustle and bustle of rushing out of BG so I would get to the hospital in time, I forgot to bring the clothing for the child with me, so I had to call BG and ask for someone to come and bring it. While I waited for the clothes to be delivered, I just sat and held the little baby. I tried to calm my heart by praying and looking at this precious bundle that was trusted into the care of BG. My insides were still upset, but holding this precious one made things a little better. Those moments reminded me why I do what I do and that no matter what the events of the day are, I am wrapped in the arms of my Abba, just like the child was wrapped into mine. The clothes were dropped off and I was able to get home around 7pm that night. There was no energy to process the day, I just went to bed.

Last week, God chose this little child to enter eternity with Him. They are no longer wrapped in our arms, but the arms of an eternal, hopeful, sovereign Lord who never left them while they were on earth. This fact is not only true from this precious child, but for all of us. There may be moments when we feel abandoned and like many of are children here, so of us have been abandoned, by earthly people, but God NEVER abandons us. He is always with us. He was with this baby for their first breath and He was with them for their last. On days when you feel frustrated and it seems like the world is "winning" each moment, God is right there with you in that moment, loving you through it. During those moments when your heart is bounding and you just want to give up, He whispers in your ear, "I am holding you in my righteous and compassionate hand. I love you my child. You are not alone." It has been 3 years since we had a child pass away at Beautiful Gate. Each moment of those years, the Lord was with us, whispering in our ears, "You are mine. I am here." And last week, He wrapped His arms around us tighter and said, "I am still here and I am grieving with you."

Please pray for the staff at Beautiful Gate. This child's life may have been short, but they had weight. No matter the situation of how they came to BG or what the person felt who could no longer care for them, they mattered to us.

On the same day Beautiful Gate laid this child to rest, a family from Canada picked up their new daughter. All in the same day we experience sadness and joy. I personally am so excited for this family and child, since I have known them for years now. In both of these situations, the Lord has and continues to wrap his arms around all of us and hold us close to Him.