Tuesday, December 24, 2013


As I sit in my living room right now and look out on the back yard, my mind is filled with wonder. Wonder that God has beautifully allowed ice to form on the trees, so that the snow that followed would perfectly sit on each branch and allow His beauty to be reflected in creation. I stand in awe of how creative and majestic God is and how He wanted to give His children beauty.

But the beauty didn't start in an ice storm, or the snow that followed. The beauty started over 2000 years ago when an angel appeared to a nervous teenage girl and told her she was going to give birth to a very special baby. The beauty came as her fiancĂ© heard the story and accepted that his first born son wouldn't be his son, but the son of God sent to save the world, sent to save him. The brilliance of the beauty became brighter and fuller as the story played out. A tiny child born in a stable. A king whose throne was a manger. That is the beauty that I truly stand in awe of.

My mind and heart focus in on Mary. What was this she thinking and feeling? Did she know that the baby that she would hold in her arms would be the same man that out stretched His arms to save the world? Did she know that the tiny hands and feet that she kissed as she counted each finger and each toe, would one day have nails driven through them? What was she feeling? What did she anticipate?

Each day my heart and body experiences many different emotions. I usually wake up and lay in bed dreaming of what my life will look like in two weeks. When I get the courage to get up, I get excited about hearing the laughter of the children and the joy of the staff. I look forward to running from house to house meeting all the new children and hugging all the ones that I already know. I look forward to the stillness of evenings on the porch with a guitar and the brilliant stars that are so bright and beautiful. But then at some point in the day, I think about what I have to do in order to experience those things. Saying goodbye to family and dear friends who mean so much to me. Saying goodbye to clean water and warm showers. Saying goodbye to the freedom of getting in my car and going to a store and finding exactly what I want. But as my heart races and my eyes fill with tears, I remember the feelings. The feeling of a child's fingers wrapped tight around mine. The feeling of a child's hug. The sound of children yelling for me and running to me knowing that within my embrace is hope. My heart then remembers that as hard as it is to say goodbye to home, I have another home that is waiting for me.

I wonder if Mary felt that anticipation. Anticipation for a child that she knew was special. Anticipation for a whole new chapter in her life. Did her heart race? Did she experience fears and joys? Did she dream?

Today as I sit in my warm house looking over the perfect Christmas landscape, I pray that everyone around the world will have moments when they know their life was worth more than a young mother's dreams for her son.

Merry Christmas friends. May you feel God's warmth and love wrap around you today just like Jesus' hands wrapped around Mary's fingers and held her tight.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Honest Conversations

I always have been pretty open with my nephews and nieces about what I do in Africa. They do not need to know the specifics, but they know that their auntie goes to Africa to help kids who don't have an auntie. Following the calling God has placed on my part, means my family must sacrifice their time with me. My munchkins (as I call my youngest 2 nephews and niece) are realizing that their auntie will be leaving them soon. In their eye, this means there will be no more Starbucks dates, Tulip Time traditions and sleep overs where they decided everything we do. They love looking at photos and hearing stories about "auntie's kids."

Yesterday I had conversations with my nephews that made my heart happy, because I feel they understand that everyone in the world needs friends, but also made my heart sad, because I understand how much they value my time with them.

Conversation with Jake (age 8)
Jake: "Auntie, are you speaking about Beautiful Gate any time before you leave?"
Me: "No bud, I am done, so I can spend time with you guys."
Jake: "Oh. (pause) I really like listening to you talk about the kids. I want to go some time, so I can be their friend. I think it is wrong that people are mean to kids with brown skin. Everyone needs to have a friend."
Me: "Me too Jake."
Jake: "At school I try to be friends with everyone, no matter if they are different from me or not."
Me: (choking back tears) "Great job Buddy."
Jake: "Can you pick me up from school on Friday?
Me: "I will see."
Jake: "Good. I like it when you do that."

Conversation with Brayden (age 6)
Brayden: "Auntie, why do you always have to go away?"
Me: "Well, Bubba there are kids in Africa who need an auntie, and I go and be their auntie."
Brayden: "But I want you to be my auntie."
Me: "I will always be your auntie. No matter where I live, I will always be your auntie."
Brayden: "I don't like it when you are far away. It makes me sad."
Me: "I am sorry, Bubba. I miss you very much when I am gone. No matter where I am I love you so much."
Brayden: "Can I sit on your lap whenever you are home? I like it when we snuggle."
Me: (insert tears) "Brayden, you can always sit on my lap."
Brayden: "Good. I love you. Can I have a candy cane?" (insert a huge hug and a candy cane. I am sucker for whatever they want.)

Each day I pray that being obedient to God's plan, allows others to see more of Him. My munchkins teach me so much about valuing the people who are in your life. I am soaking up every second I can be with them before I go.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Daily Bread

This month I have been working on a fun project. I am writing a 30 day devotional tool for teams to use before they get to Beautiful Gate. I enjoy it, because it allows me to spend time in the Word, as well as other books I enjoy reading. Not only am I helping teams prepare, but I feel it is helping me prepare as well.

Here is day 13...

Day 13: Daily Bread

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry”
(John 6:35)

Hunger is both a physical reaction to the absence of food, but also a spiritual reaction to the absence of God. In Lesotho we see people who need food. Their bodies are small. Their bones poke through the layers of clothes they wear to give them warmth. Their eyes tell the story of a body that is hungry for anything to eat, even trash from someone’s yard. They go to bed each night with the echoes of their growling stomach ringing in their ears.
When was the last time you were extremely hungry?

Has there ever been a time in your life, where you had to go without food for a long period of time, because you had none?

The hard thing is, not many of us can say this has ever happened. But as hard as that is to face, there is a deeper hunger, not only in Lesotho, but around the world.
People are hungry for Jesus.
Food will fill their bellies, but it is God who will fill their souls. Each day we face, we must face it with the attitude that it is the Lord who will fill us with all we stand in need of. At the end of the day, it is Him who we want to be full on.
It is God who we should be waking up craving.
Jesus said, that he was the bread of life. He came so that the world would not hunger anymore. There are many times in life in which we try to out plan God. We write out our lists, make our agendas and get what we need.
We stock up for tomorrow.

But what about today?

God wants us to live for today, to desire only what we need for today. People around the world crave food. We see it in Lesotho. They praise God for providing food for each meal. They party when God gives them enough to provide a very simple meal to their families and friends.
Do we celebrate when God gives us what we need each day or do we hoard the extras and keep them for ourselves?

Pray today that God will prepare your heart, mind and your body to live in a world of “today.” Pray for the millions of people around this world that go to bed physically hungry, but also for the people who are spiritually hungry and have not yet discovered that Jesus Christ was sent to this earth to be their daily bread.

Friday, December 6, 2013


One Month...

I leave in Lesotho in ONE MONTH!!!!

My heart is so full of so many emotions. To be honest, I am not even sure how to write this blog post, because my mind is all over the place, so I make lists. I have...

a personal to-do list
a work to-do list
an email list
a shopping list
a wish list
a meet with these people list

I love lists. They allow me to feel accomplished when things get down. Without these lists, I just sit at my computer and stalk people on Facebook, because I am too overwhelmed to do anything else.

Last month I made another list. I sat down and wrote out my Beautiful Gate goals for 2014. It felt so good to sit, pray and seek out what God desires to use me for. I am excited about the goal list, because woven throughout each goal is a bigger desire to know God more, to serve God more and to embrace the crazy adventure He has planned for me. I am so humbled that this is the journey God has me on. I am overwhelmed that He is using me to reach out to His people and simply live life with them. It is a journey that I would not have chosen, but one that I am so glad to be on.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me, "what is next for you?" For most of my life, I have had a "next." Whatever job I was in, I always though about the next step, the next role I could work up to, the next path. Right now, I do not have a next!! I have no idea what I would do instead of Beautiful Gate. I thought that would scare me, but it really brings me so much peace. I feel that Beautiful Gate is right where God wants me, because right now I am depending on Him for EVERYTHING. Each list gets accomplished by His strength. Each goal is made with Him in mind. Each thought is about how I can make Him more fully known.

Lists are great, when they allow you to focus on the present, instead of the next. God is in the present. He is our "Daily Bread."

He is our ultimate goal!!!