Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Excitement verse Wonder

I have to say, that the older I get, the less excited for Christmas I am. Now before you all conclude that I am depressed, let me elaborate. As a child, I was super excited about Christmas. Who wouldn't be? It is a day or multiple days filled with getting new toys, pajamas and of course the treasured bubble bath in my stocking. (Seriously every year my parents would give us bubble bath that came in the shape of a cartoon character and I LOVED it!!) My brother and I were so excited about Christmas that sometimes we couldn't wait and we would unwrap our presents before Christmas day, when mom and dad were gone and then carefully wrap them back up. (Don't worry we confessed this a few years ago.) As a child, Christmas is so exciting. Maybe I am the only one who feels this way, but as an adult the excitement is overtaken by all the things that need to get done. You stress over purchasing the perfect gift for someone or at least a gift they won't want to return. You get overwhelmed by the amount of parties you need to go to or you feel pretty poopy when you are sitting alone hearing about how everyone is so tired from all the parties and you have none. Or maybe the doctor just said the one word you fear the most and you are trying to be brave for those around you, but inside you don't have the strength to face the people and the questions they could ask during a get together. Let's face it friends, sometimes Christmas is hard to get excited about.

But...

it is very easy to get lost in the wonder of it all.

It is Christmas Eve. I just enjoyed a great dinner of sushi and in the stillness of a quite house, my mind turns to the very first Christmas Eve. What was going on?

Were the shepherds ready to take a new journey?
Was Joseph stressing over Mary and feeling pretty lost as to how to deliver a baby?
Was Mary scared?
Were the angels doing vocal warmups, to make sure that everything sounded perfect?

What was the first Christmas Eve like? I wonder, if it was a little like our Christmas Eves? When you think of it, as Christians our journey is founded on a pretty scandalous event. A unwedded teenage girl giving birth in a cave or stable. What would people say if that would happen today? How many of us would judge Mary and call her names behind her back? How many of us would close our doors to them, if Joseph came knocking? On the first Christmas Eve, I can only imagine people were rushing. Caesar Augustus made everyone go their home town to be counted. That meant people would be traveling and most likely staying with relatives that they hadn't seen in a year. I am sure people were stressed, trying to make sure every thing was perfect for their out of town guests. Couples were probably snippy at each other because if we are honest we all know that family reunions can intense. Think of Joseph's family. How many of them would have wanted to welcome him and his pregnant teenage fiancé into their home? What would with neighbors say? When we try to wrap our minds around it, it just seems wrong. But was it?

God chose an innocent, pure girl to birth a warrior. He chose a time when people's lives were busy and overflowing with to-do lists to send a savior to wipe away every sense of "measuring up" that was taking place. He chose to make people stop their over scheduled daily tasks in order to see the innocence a baby in a donkey's cereal bowl. How many of us would just keep on walking? "Don't stare" is what we would tell our children as they asked why someone so young was having a baby. It all is pretty scandalous and yet, perfect. Perfect, because in order to find the joy and mystery of the moment, one needs to stop and be overwhelmed by the wonder of it all. In order to find to find the joy, one needs to let go of the lists and gifts and look to an unwedded couple and their bravery to care for the savior of the world.

I am not sure where you are at this Christmas Eve. Maybe you are overjoyed to be with those you love. Maybe you are lonely. Maybe your life couldn't get any better. Maybe you feel so weak you are just trying to hold it all together until everyone goes to bed so you cry. No matter where you are at, stop...take a breath...and think about that first Christmas Eve. Was the world ready for a savior? And then ask yourself...

Is the world ready for a savior today?

No matter what your answer, remember that the baby is Immanuel, God with us, so no matter where you are spending your Christmas Eve, God is there, holding you. Embrace the wonder of it all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meeting Needs

This time of year is always overwhelming. Everyone has a list, not just santa! There are things that need to get done, gifts that need to be purchased, people that you desire to see and work that needs to be completed before the end of the year.

In October, Bryan (Director of BG) sent me an email about a new child that they received. This child had a special need that BG could help with and didn't think twice when they came to the campus. The need was simple, hearing aids. The price was something that BG didn't have, but they won't allow this child to miss out because of a dollar amount. Bryan went ahead and covered the cost of the hearing aids from the budget and then sent me a note. "Can you raise this money?" Because of the growing interest of BG in my home town and the out pouring of gifts from people there, I didn't feel comfortable contacting anyone that already gives to BG, because they already give so much. I sat for a week and just prayed, "God I know you can fulfill this need. Show me who you are going to use to do it." The next week I was presenting at a new church. I was reassured time and time again to simply present the need. I chose not to share the exact amount, but told the congregation that there was a child who needed to hear and they could help. At the end of the night they counted the offering for BG and it was $600. The cost of the hearing aids were approximately $600.

THE LORD MET THE NEED!!!!!

I share this story with you today to let you know that all around you there are lists and needs that need to be met. There are moments when we feel pressured and want to help, but there are so many good causes around us, how do we chose which one is right. It is a tough journey. I feel it too. In moments like this don't give up and do nothing, because you are overwhelmed. Simply take some time to quiet yourself before God and allow Him to show you which need He is choosing to use you to meet. Somewhere in the world there is a need created specifically for you to meet. Don't allow it to go unnoticed.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Orphan Awareness Month

This week, the United States stops and focus on giving thanks. What happens when you have no one to celebrate this holiday with? Is your heart still grateful if your table isn't full of people and contains no turkey but only a bowl of cereal? These are hard questions, but children who are in the foster care system or who are orphaned don't find a family when they turn 18 years old. They still find themselves alone and jealous of those who do have families.

Here are some things to do to help support families in the adoption process or who are serving through foster care.

1) Bring a meal or gift card to a family serving in the foster care system
2) Write a letter to a child in the foster care system. This letter can be dropped off at the local foster care service in your town and then delivered to the children.
3) Make a donation to an orphanage or child care center.
4) Lend a hand to a family in the adoption process or faster care system. Shovel their driveway, clean their house, do their dishes, etc.
5) Pray. Pray for a family. Pray for belonging.
6) Educate yourself. Watch these videos and then pray and process what you learned.
      http://vimeo.com/111774825
      http://vimeo.com/112428627

Have a great thanksgiving.

     

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Orphan Awareness Month

Hi all. Sorry for not blogging the last few days, I left Michigan Friday morning and spending the weekend with dear friends in Mississippi. In light of that fact, here are multiple ideas of how to support orphan and foster care ministries.

1. Make a donation to a family who is in the process of adopting. The costs are overwhelming and sometimes are the one reason people do not adopt. That is so hard to hear. Let's help people who want to grow their family.

2. Offer a date night to a family with is in the adoption process (or post adoption) or foster care.

3. Send a note to a child whose family is adopting. Being a child watching your family walk through the adoption is hard and at times hurtful. Make sure they know they have an important part to play in their family.

4. Educate yourself. Watch these videos and talk about them to people. http://vimeo.com/channels/833231
http://vimeo.com/channels/833231/110928979

Have fun being Jesus to the families you reach out to.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Orphan Awareness Month - "Mother"

There are thousands of people around the world that work long hard days in Child Care Centers (orphanages) and care for children that are only temporarily theirs. To them, the children are theirs. They help them grow, give them love and say goodbye when the forever families come, sometimes never to hear an update from them again.

Today write a letter to an Child Care Center care giver. If you would like to send them to the care centers at Beautiful Gate, you can email them to me and I will pass them on. Let them know that there are people who see their endless love and appreciate what they do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Orphan Awareness Month - Normalcy

To live on God's journey means to live in community. There are mounts when pursuing His call means the "normalcy" of the day gets put on hold. Today find a way to bring normalcy to a family who is in the adoption process.

Bring a meal or gift card to a restaurant to someone who is or has adopted a child.

We all have a part to play.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November Orphan Awareness - Foster Care

The fact that there are children around the world today without a warm place to go to, should not come as a surprise to you. But why are we always so shocked when we hear the number of children in our own communities that have no where to lay their head? The fact that you could wake up tomorrow and see a child sleeping in your swing set, because they found a shelter from the elements. Wherever you live there are children who need homes.

Being in foster care is a selfless way to serve. You give up your space, your time and your heart to and child, and you give them warmth, food and belonging. Foster care just like adoption is giving a child hope, but you never know how long that child will be with you. The emotions of children coming and go have to weigh heavy on the hearts of the families, but the joy they experience when they see a child succeed is priceless.

Today send a note to a family who serves through the foster care system. Let them know that you see how they are changing the world and that you appreciate it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Orphan Awareness Month

School can be a very hard time for some students. Children in foster care and children who have been adopted may feel as though they stand out. Let's face it friends, kids can be mean.

Here is a great blog to read. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachael-quinn-egan/teach-your-children-about-adoption-before-releasing-them-on-the-playground_b_6061714.html

Spend some time today praying for kids in who school is hard because of their journeys. Then spend some time tonight talking with your kids about it. Let them know how hurtful their words can be. Encourage them to reach out and make a friend with kids who are different from them.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Orphan Awareness Month post 6

Today plan a playdate for children whose family is serving thorough foster care. Giving "mom and dad" time to get projects down without "extra" help will be very appreciated. Your few hours of service will mean the world to these families.

Friday, November 7, 2014

National Orphan Awareness Month post 5

Educate yourself today!

Here is a great article to read http://frankpowell.me/what-church-needs-know-adoption?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=facebook_page&utm_medium=Frank%20Powell&utm_content=What%20The%20Church%20Needs%20To%20Know%20About%20Adoption

Read it.
Pray through it.
Do something for someone!

"At the end of the day, we are not heroes in a Marvel comic book. We are broken people striving to live in the footsteps of Jesus." Tiffani Powell

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Orphan Awareness Month Post 4

Today your task is to encourage those who care for children before they find their forever family. Send a note to a missionary working in an orphanage. The days get long and the things they experience are sometimes too hard to explain, so they would rather tell you that everything is fine. Their eyes see so many children that need a family, yet because of red tape they cannot provide that for them. Their hearts live in a new "normal" that most days is just plan hard.

Pray for them today. Pray they can find joy and laughter in their everyday lives and they know they are not alone in this. Also pray for teams of people to come around them in support on a regular basis. This work can be lonely, so having a team of people that email or call for no reason and invite you over when you are home, means the world to them.

ps. If you need names and contact info, I know a lot of missionaries that would love a note today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Orphan month post 3

Today's task involves reaching out to the people behind the scenes. Everyday in every community there are people who are working hard to provide a home for children who do not have one. Their job consists of paperwork, meetings and lots of phone calls. It requires a lot of energy and strength as they serve. Find time today to bless those who work in an adoption/foster care organization. Bring flowers and a note to the office or send over some lunch. I ensure it will make their day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Orphan Month post 2

Today's task is upholding the cause of the orphan, abandoned or neglected child is simple yet very profound. For people walking through the adoption process there can be days of long waiting that is discouraging and agonizing. I am sure they would admit there are moments when they check their email about 20 times a day just to hear anything. When they walk through their day and people ask, "How is the adoption going?" it is difficult to say, "We are waiting" because in the wait there is absolutely nothing to do but pray.

Today's Task: Send a note to adults who are in the adoption process. Encourage them to keep their eyes focused on their heart's desire to grow their family through God's redemptive plan. Let them know you are praying for them through the waiting and are there for them if they need anything.

If you don't know of anyone adopting, let me know. I know of a few families who would love to get a note. 


Monday, November 3, 2014

Orphan Sunday or Orphan Day?

Yesterday in churches across the world, followers of Christ came together to observe, pray and remember "Orphan Sunday," a day set aside in churches to remember the millions of children in orphanages  foster homes and living without families  As I sat in my home church, worshipping with God's family there, my heart was so encouraged by the "volume" of God's love and passion for fatherless children. This morning I woke up craving that same worship experience, but felt defeated that the same people who stood and prayed yesterday, have moved on with the normalcy in their life and haven't thought about praying or advocating for the million children around the world who long to call someone "mom or dad." As I sat and thought about that, I discovered maybe people don't understand the amazing role they could play in a child's journey or maybe they simply don't know how. 

Katie Davis once said, “The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.” This fact terrifies me. Are we truly reaching out to the fatherless if 8% of Christians have not opened their hearts to God's call? Now I do know that by simply adopting all the children that need homes, the issue of children being abandoned will not end, because the root of this issue is sin and until Jesus comes back folks, we will have sin in our lives, but we DO need to do something!! 

So, for the next 27 days, check back to my blog each day for practical ways to reach out to children who have been abandoned, orphaned, who are in foster care and the families that reach out to them. A big part of orphan/foster care is adopting and fostering, but a even bigger part is supporting. Supporting the families, who are in the process. Supporting the children and give them hope. Supporting God's plan to reach out and show hope. 

Day 1: PRAY! Pray that God will break your heart to these kids. Pray that He will keep you focussed and ready to accepted the November challenge. Pray that every child today knows they are loved and has  father who gave up EVERYTHING for them. PRAY! 

Join me in changing the lives of children around the world without leaving your neighborhood. 


Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Old, Old Story

With each day, there is one thing that I need to know and that is the story I base my life upon. No matter if the day ends in victory, defeat or a tie, I need to hear and know the gospel story. It is a story so rich, so deep and so powerful that even if I heard it multiple times a day, it would never old. The reassurance the story brings fills my spirit when I feel defeated and alone. The hope it gives on days when everything has gone right, makes my heart so excited about what Heaven will be like.

Just imagine Heaven. Imagine a place where there is no more competition. No more measuring yourself against someone else. No more doubting that you are not doing enough for God and the people in your life. No more moments of wanting to give up, because the numbers are just too big and the time is so short.

For me these moments of fear and anxiety are all too real and frequent. The other night I laid awake trying to discover what I needed to do to make sure everyone I pass knows the story and that it isn't just a story, but life. My mind drifted to a photo I have of a tiny little hand trying to wrap it's fingers around one of mine. This child's life was too short and filled with so much pain, but as I stood in an Africa hospital and was ask to pray, all I could think of was to encourage this precious baby to let go and enter into a life filled with joy, hope and worship. A life based upon the old story I love to hear. The other night, I was reminded that we all need to be told to let go sometime. To let go of the pressure. To let go of the worry. To let go of the doubt. We need to be reminded that the battles we face here are not what our lives are suppose to be consumed by. We need to know the grace, mercy and forgiveness offered to us everyday. And we need to know who offers us that grace, mercy and forgiveness.

"God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM." (Exodus 3:14)

We need to know that the Creator of the Universe created it for us. We need to know that the same person who led Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Rahab and so many others, leads us. We need to put trust in the One who answers every question of "how" and "why" with "I AM." We need to let go of the fears because of "I AM." We need to put away work and met with people because of "I AM." We need to be in community with others and hear their stories of "I AM." This week I was reminded through texts and emails how important it is to share how we have seen "I AM" throughout the day. As we share the old, old story, we encourage others to let go and embrace "I AM."

May I never live through a day in which I do not have an "I AM" experience to share.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Southern Trips

With each trip I take, I am always blown away by the goodness of the Lord. There are moments leading up to a trip where I stress over getting every presentation and meeting just right. I go over the PowerPoint countless times making sure that each detail is covered. I research the churches I am at to see where their heart is and how they worship the Lord. I want to make sure that with each presentation, I can make a personal connection with the church I am at. I could not tell you how many times I have given a BG presentation, but I can honestly say I am learning that each time I do, the Lord shows me His face in a new way.

Recently, I was able to head to Mississippi and meet with members of Getwell Road Church. This church did a mission trip to Lesotho in March and stayed at BG. From the moment they were on the BG campus, you could feel their heart and excitement for the people of Lesotho. They desired to get into the community and reach out to those in their path. They didn’t come to experience a new place, they came to leave God’s fingerprint on the country. With each day leading up to the Mississippi trip I grew more and more excited. Not only was I going to get to share BG, I was going to go and see friends. A great side factor of this job is that I get to meet people around the globe. The whole time I was in Mississippi, I didn’t feel like Christina Terpstra, representative of BG, but I felt like Terp. Yes I was given multiple opportunities to talk about BG with people from the missions committee, the youth group and the whole church, so I did represent BG, but I was also given opportunities to simply do life with my friends who I know see as family, which included a moments when an impromptu worship time started with multiple people on guitars just jamming. I could have stayed in that moment all night!!! The whole trip was such a breath of fresh air. I truly struggled saying goodbye, but rejoice that it is only a "see you later."

After Mississippi I headed to Gainesville, Florida, another stop on the journey that was about sharing BG with people who have gone and experienced God’s love there. I was able to share at multiple churches and enjoy the stories of those whose lives have been impacted by Beautiful Gate. I loved talking with a woman who had been at BG a few years ago and still knew the children by name she had worked with and was eager to hear how they were doing.  It was great to meet with a few ladies who are planning a trip this year to head to BG for the first time. I stayed with a great couple whose mission in life is to bring Christ to others. They serve so many in their community so well. Saturday when most people were in front of a television watching a football game, they were scraping paint off a house and digging up an old flower bed and planting a new one. I had so much fun serving the community of Gainesville with them. It was a joy to dig in the dirt and get dirty for the kingdom. The home owner was so fun to talk with. She was elated to see the “face lift” that was happening to her home. My hosts filled my schedule with opportunities to share BG with many people in multiple locations. After serving on Saturday, we worshipped at a church in the area. I wasn’t scheduled to share BG, but after attending the church and seeing their heart I feel like it would be a great place to get connected with. I have to say, that southern hospitality still echoes through the community of Gainesville. 

Days before I leave trips, I feel pressured and stressed to be represent BG well. After Mississippi and Florida, I am feeling a greater urgency to represent Christ well, because that is where my identity is found. Is it fun meeting people and introducing them to the children and staff at BG? YES!! Is it important? ABSOLUTELY!!! Is it where God has placed me? YES. Do I feel the urge to go onto something else? NO!!! But I feel it is more important to GO and represent Christ well, and offer opportunities for people to serve Him and reflect His love to those they meet. I pray that the Lord will use me to show others what it means to be a worshiper of the King of kings and how that place others needs before your own, so that His name is praised.


May He receive all the glory and honor and praise!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

O Canada!!

Last month I had the privilege of spending some time in Vancouver, Canada. This trip was focused on reconnecting with many former BG children. I cannot explain the feeling I had seeing children who once came to BG scared and withdrawn now in a family, running, dancing, playing and so full of life. I was able to connect with Sunrise Adoption Agency, and a potential church support of BG, but none of that compared to an afternoon of Lego building or a 5 year old's birthday party, a preschooler's school performance or many get togethers with multiple families just being with each other.

The redemption that takes place through adoption is one that always grabs my heart. I can't help but remember that we all are adopted and have experienced that same redemption and one day we will be able to meet our Abba and sit on His lap and play Legos. And everything that happened here will be ignored. The good, the bad and the ugly, because above Jesus is Better!!!




Monday, September 22, 2014

California Trip

Thank you all for praying for the political situation in Lesotho. Things remain peaceful and people are going about their regular business, but things remain unstable. The parliament has not opened and no one really knows when it will. Keep praying for God's peace to rule through this country.

As for me, I am in the middle of a 10 day trip out West. Currently I am in Chino, California meeting with supporters and friends of Beautiful Gate as well as presenting at churches and schools. It has been great few days of seeing God's love for BG. There are so many people here who have impacted by the work God is doing at BG. Yesterday I was at one of our supporting churches and I had the ability to speak with a teenager who went on a trip in April of 2013. Even though it has been over a year, she still had excitement in her voice and tears in her yes when she spoke about her experience. It was great to sit and hear how God used trips to BG to changes people's focus and hearts when they got back home. I am continually humbled by the work God has called me to do and the people I get to meet. The Lord is so good.

Wednesday I leave California and head to Vancouver Canada, to do the same. I am looking forward to being with former BG children and their families in Vancouver and sharing BG with a few churches.

Trips like this are so good. Yes they are draining and my body still likes to wake up on Michigan time even though I stay up late talking with people, but it is such an encouragement. I am staying with great hosts and who want to do anything they can for BG. Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with a former BG volunteer. She and I have emailed for years, but yesterday was the first time we could just sit and update each other in person. What a great afternoon of fellowship and encouragement. Even though she is not in Lesotho, she is actively serving BG in her own town. She gives of her time and energy in prayer and researching ways to help.

I pray that as I continue to travel and share BG with others, I pray I can reflect Christ the way I have seen Him in those around me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Update on the Political Situation in Lesotho

I know I have been updating Facebook a lot the past few days, but I thought I would update the blog as well. Early Saturday morning, the army of Lesotho over took multiple police stations and tired to apprehend the Prime Minister. 

Here is a link to a great article describing all the happenings since June. 
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/09/fear-prevails-lesotho-streets-201491103912267311.html

Here is an update as of Tuesday afternoon (Lesotho time)
The Geurinks (directors of BG, from Zeeland, MI) remain at Beautiful Gate with their 3 children. The other volunteers have gone into South Africa as a safety precaution. Everyone at BG, children, staff and volunteers are safe. Currently there is no police presence in Lesotho. Continue to pray for safety and God's peace to overtake the situation there. 

I keep praying Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." We need to keep praying for God's peace to overtake the situation there. He is the only one that can bring fix the root of this situation. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Need...

"We were built to meet a need." (Jennie Allen). 

For the past few months this quote has always been on my heart and mind. I recently read Restless by Jennie Allen and am currently in a study with some great ladies through the book. After reading the book I spent a lot of time just praying through what it means to meet a need. 

Everywhere you look there are so many needs. Lets face it folks, people are hurting and they are not sure how to explain it or how to get help. I know this, because there are many days I feel this way. Days when I wake up and just don't know how to focus. It is on those days that I have a choice, myself or God. When I choose myself, let me tell you the rest of the day is gloomy and not fun. When I choose God, the day is filled with purpose and joy. Being that I know this, you would think I would always choose God when my mind is filled with doubt, but honestly that doesn't always happen. Sometimes I just can't overcome the doubt and I choose me. Lately that has been the case. Lately I have struggled with purpose and passion. This has led me back to the quote from jennie Allen. 

The root of the word passion is suffering. As Allen says, "God often leads us to passions through suffering experienced or perceived." The thing that keeps you up at night and makes your heart race, could be there because of something you have faced in your life. Coming to terms with this, helps on days when the doubts over take your mind and instead of choosing God, you choose yourself. Allen says, "You long to give the world what you failed to receive. But passions are also born out of observing suffering." 

For me when I think about what makes my heart race and keeps me up at night is seeing worth in people. I want everyone to know that they have worth, that they are priceless. I desire for people to see themselves the way God sees them, "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Friends the creator of the universe, stood before the world before it was created and already knew our name. As he created everything, he took time to say it was good, (Genesis 1) but when he created man he said "it was very good." Everything around you friend is good, but you, YOU are VERY good. You were created to radiate the goodness of our God. You were created for relationship and to know those around you. You were created to BE in relationship with our Abba daddy. He gave up everything so that you could experience life with Him. When I my mind is overwhelmed with me I turn to these scriptures...

John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.


Today, take some time and go through each of these verses and feel loved. Find your worth in the  One who created you priceless. Your were built to fulfill a need. I feel that my need is to speak worth in to people's lives. You need to know that you were made to know God to love God. Because of this you cannot do anything without God's presence and strength. He is the One who uses you to fulfill the needs around. As Allen says, "We cannot love. We cannot know God. We cannot know ourselves. We cannot change. We cannot bleed for others. We cannot move without God's Spirit moving in and through us to accomplish his purpose. We are not left as orphans to figure all this out. He is with us." 

Friends we were meant to fulfill a need. Now,  go and do something. Do not waste your life and time on choosing yourself. Choose God today!!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Beautiful Race

Saturday was one of those days when I need to pinch myself and take a deep breath. God is so good. A few months ago I was contact by a race company in Michigan to host a 5K run benefiting BG in Michigan. There have been multiple other 5Ks in California and Vancouver, so I knew it was a good thing to do. I quickly formed a planning team and while I was still in Lesotho they began the process of putting everything together. Let me tell you, the planning team was amazing. Putting on a 5K is way more than what I thought it would be. This team gathered sponsors, insurance, promoted and ran the event with class and honor. It could not have happened without them.

As last week unfolded and everyday something had to be done for the event, I was becoming more and more excited to see what the day would bring. Friday night I couldn't sleep because my head was racing with 5K excitement. The morning proved to be way more than just a 5K run.

It was a time for friends to reunite and catch up.
It was a time for people to serve by handing out water, snacks, awards and registration.
It was a time for people to meet, who had only heard about one another, but never met.
It was a time for churches, businesses, and individuals to give of themselves.
It was a time of laughter...lots of laughter.
It was a time of cheering on people who you didn't know, but had a connection to because of a run.
It was a time to be blown away by God's goodness.
It was a time to unite and show hope to children and staff that you may have never met.
It was a time to acknowledge a problem and do something about it.
It was a time to run, run for children who don't know what it means to have people see their worth.
It was a time to CELEBRATE, God's faithfulness and redemptive plan.

As the morning went on, I felt my smile getting bigger and bigger. With each car load of people that poured into the parking lot, I saw hope; with each volunteer that gave of their time, so this event could happen, I saw love; and with each runner who pushed themselves up a huge hill (twice) I saw endurance and strength.

I was humbled by Saturday. Humbled by people. humbled by a race, humbled by the job that I have. At the race was a former BG child who has been adopted to a family in Grand Rapids. My heart was overwhelmed when at the end of the race she picked weeds and wild flowers and handed them to the runners. She is a normal 5 year old girl who did what she knew to do, and she did it with joy! The whole day was a day of joy. Everyone gave of themselves in a way that pointed to our wonderful Savior and acknowledged His love and acceptance.

For those who were apart of the event, thank you. The amount of money that was raised will do great things for Beautiful Gate and its precious children.

Get ready for next year folks. We will lace up are shoes on August 15, 2015 and do it all again!!!!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Reality of my World

I realized once again today how different my two worlds are. The headlines this afternoon on the local news stations are about a baby that was found abandoned in a wooded area. The baby, whose umbilical cord was still connected, had bruises and scraps. In Michigan this is big news. Children do not get abandoned this way. If a child is not wanted there are steps one can take. People can bring the baby to a fire station and or hospital and surrender their rights to the child. In Lesotho the situation is different. If you do not want your child, you need to go through a huge process that is scary and intimidating. I have heard from people in Lesotho say that it is easier to abandoned your child and risk the penalty of being caught than to go through the correct steps of action. This is why children everyday are placed in trash bags, toilet pits, along the side of the road or even thrown into dams only to drown.

I have to be honest, I wasn't shocked at all about the story in today's news. I hurt for the child and the person who abandoned them, that believed this was their only option, but it didn't phase me, because that is "normal" life for me now. I am used to hearing about children who have been treated like trash and thrown away. I am used to holding them and sharing their stories to others without even thinking that it could be a shocking to someone that life could be treated this way. I am used to speaking worth into a child's life, who has been told they are worth nothing more than an empty candy wrapper.

In the past few hours, I have heard people's heartache for the child and the judgement for the person who did it. I want to challenge you all with a few thoughts. First Moses, was an abandoned child, so there is a lot of hope for this little baby. Second, I have looked a parent in the eye when they had to say goodbye to their child. The grief and pain, knowing that they cannot give the child the life they deserve so the only choice is to give them up, is so deep I can't get the their eyes out of my head. (I am aware that a lot of abandonment situations are not this way and are because of selfish desires, but please know the facts before you judge and say hurtful things.) Lastly, I encourage you all to pray. Pray not only for this child and parent, but for the thousands of children that were abandoned today and will never make headlines, because that is "normal" in the country they are from.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Life Lately

It has been a few weeks since my last blog and that is mostly do to the switching gears for Beautiful Gate Lesotho. I flew back to Michigan on July 3 and was greeted warmly by family and friends. Arriving back home was very hard last year. I remember having to play catch up with friends and feeling out of place all the time. I vowed to try and not let that happen again this year. I took some steps while in Lesotho to help with this. I stayed connected with friends and family via the Internet and that helped a lot. I was able to already know what was going on in their lives and not feel left out of the conversation. Another big help was having an accountability partner on each side of the ocean. It is always good to have someone who you can be real with and share your honest thoughts, but they feel very comfortable to keep you in check when the doubts and fears come in.

The biggest thing I believed that has helped me transition back to Michigan is God's glory. I didn't want to come back here and feel like I had no purpose. Leaving Beautiful Gate can do that to you. It is hard to go from everyday having people need you to no one needing you. I prayed while I was in Lesotho that God would show me His glory in Michigan. I know He is everywhere. It may seem easier to see Him in Lesotho, but He is just as present in Michigan as He is in Lesotho, it just may take a little more time to find Him. I am amazed how this prayer has brought so much joy and peace.

I have found His glory in...
  • Conversations with people about Jesus.
  • Phone calls from a friend, just because we can do that now.
  • A friend staying late after church, who truly wants to hear all about what is going on at BG.
  • A stranger stopping in and praying with a friend and I while we had lunch.
  • A backyard landscaping project that brought some great quiet time.
  • Participating in worship at Haven Church. (What song did we play? Oh yes, Oceans.)
  • Bible Study on Wednesdays.
  • Family time.
  • Moments with my family that I live with.
  • Walks with the dog.
  • Pizza with a friend.
  • Moments of laughter and joy with people.
  • Hugs.
  • Time on the deck with my guitar.
  • Conversations with people who want reach out to children who need to know their priceless.
The Lord is so good. Being in Michigan the last two weeks has been good. I was already given the opportunity to present to a group of business men and have had multiple meetings regarding Beautiful Gate Lesotho. I am blown away by how many people know this tiny little country and want to be able to help them know Jesus.

Are there days when I miss Lesotho? YES!!! I miss having children in my arms, in my office, in my house, tied to my back and sitting on my lap. I miss my friend and the daily conversations about life and how we never took each other too seriously. ;) But I know that right now I am called to be right here and in being here I want to live life with JOY.

God is everywhere and if I spend so much of our time and energy on focusing on the differences of life in two very different worlds, I will miss Him.

I don't want to miss Him.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

6 Months...ALREADY!!!!!

I am stunned that it has been six months already. I am filled with a lot of mixed emotions as I prepare to fly back to Michigan next week. I am excited to see my family and friends and enjoy the warmth of the Michigan summer, but in order to experience that, I have to say goodbye to Lesotho. It is not fun to do. The staff and volunteers are my friends. The children are mine. The Geurinks are my family. When I return in January, I never know which children will still be here, so I must prepare to say goodbye to all of them. The next few days are going to be filled with finishing up projects, packing and saying goodbye.

The reason why it is so hard to say goodbye, is because BG is a very special place. When you are here, you experience God. You hear His joy through the children's laughter. You experience His love by watching the staff care for the children as if they are their own. I feel as though these children are mine. When one of then gives me a cheeky grin and jokes around, I feel pride in my heart for them. When they are sick or hurt, I hurt and want to do whatever it takes so they can get better. I celebrate the first steps I get to see, but then mourn for the families that are waiting through paperwork and court dates for these children to be theirs. The emotions with this job are full, but they are so good.

We have had a lot of teams over the past 6 months. Through this I have seen how the children truly trust me. The children love new friends, but some of them are a little nervous at first. Knowing that in those moments they come to me for security was such a highlight for me. Also through these teams I learned how much I love sharing the Word. Some teams allowed me to come in each night and open up the Word with them. There is power when brothers and sisters in Christ come together to grow, learn and serve our Abba. Last week we had a team from Holland Christian High School with us and one of the students snapped this photo of me with one of the boys in the house I work at.

 
This child joined us 2 weeks ago. He was found in a trash bag. I praise God for allowing me to be apart of his life. He loves to cuddle and just started showing us his beautiful smile. I pray for him and the other children here that they know they are loved by an Abba Daddy, who will never leave them or forsake them. May God be their father both now and forever more. 

Thank you all for your prayers, support and encouragement. I pray that through the journey God has placed me on, you can see Him and only HIM. All praise and glory goes to my Abba.

"I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.
I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back, no turning back.
The cross before me, the world behind me no turning back, no turning back.
The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back.
Christ is enough for me."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Faithful

There is a team from Holland Christian High School serving at BG this week. It is so exciting to share my Lesotho home with high school students who truly want to serve. Today we left BG and went to the Good Shepherd Center. The GSC is a place where teen moms can stay with their children and receive an education. It also is a place of support for teenaged orphans living in Lesotho. They assist many students who have lost their both of their parents with school fees and tutoring. The HC team was able to be with the GSC students all day. They shared stories, worshipped together and prayed for each other. An HC student shared their testimony of being adopted and another shared her story of losing her mom. The GSC students were encouraged by hearing that students in America walk similar roads that they do. To say the Lord was in the room would be an understatement. The Lord was overflowing out of the room. At the end of our worship, we split up into groups of 10 and prayed over each other individually. Friends, I want you to know, there was so much power in this moment. Students laying hands on students who live an ocean away, praying for similar struggles and peace. The Lord is good!!!

The Lord is faithful.

That is all I could think about today. On June 11, 1996, I was 16 years old and excited about summer vacation, then the phone call came. Two of my friends were in a car accident and one of them passed away. I was so angry at God. I wanted nothing to do with a God who would take the life of a teenager who wanted to give her whole self to serving Him. My friend was going to pursue a life of mission work. She wanted to make sure that everyone knew how much they were loved and that they belonged to a family. My heart was filled with anger and bitterness. If you would have told me then that I was going to be serving God, I would have laughed at you. BUT, through the prayers of many and the Lord's faithfulness, today I stood in a crowded room and led worship. The anger was taken away, and God was using me to do what she dreamed. As we sang "Oceans," I smile and choked back the tears. "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior."

The past 18 years have been a journey and through every step, the Lord remained faithful. As I heard the students today, both American and African, shared their journeys and heart, I was reminded of my friend. She wanted the world to know that they belonged. She wanted people to know they were loved. The Lord is faithful, and it is humbling and a complete joy to know that I get to serve Him by telling people they belong to someone, no matter what their earthly journey looks like.

He is faithful.

"but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

Monday, June 2, 2014

Living in the Tension


Author, speaker Jennie Allen once said, “Life is full and hard, but rich and fulfilling too.” I believe this sentence describes life in Lesotho well. Life here is very full and very rich, there is so much indescribable joy. There are so many occasions where one can clearly see that the Lord is their “Daily Bread” and provides exactly what is needed at the right time. Yet with all the joy and provision, comes deep heart ache and grief. I believe it is because of the deep heartache and grief, that the cause the joy and celebration to overflow from their daily lives. Living in the joy and grief, means living in tension. Living in a way that is always seeking God, even though you firmly believe He is always with you, you still seek to find Him. The tension is a hard place to be, yet it is a good place to be.
The past few months I have felt like I have been living in a huge tension. I desire to be completely obedient to God’s call for my life and in doing that I realize how much I need to be more like the people of Lesotho. I need to trust God more. I need to allow His indescribable joy over take each moment of my day, so that in all things I can reflect Him. There are moments when I feel like I am a horse walking around with blinders on. I am so focused on what tasks need to be done, that I overlook God’s presence in every situation. I am so busy looking ahead to the next team that is coming that I overlook the ones who are right beside me. The biggest tension right now, is that I am so focused on the next journey of sharing Beautiful Gate to those in the United States and Canada, I feel I am missing the beautiful people around me.

You do not have to be a missionary in Africa to feel the tension. There are moments in your daily life where you seek to be in God’s presence more, but the blinders you wear cause you to focus on something else. Today I pray for myself and for you that living life in tension causes us to surrender fully to God every day, so that His mercies and peace and indescribable joy overtake any other emotion we may have. The Lord is so rich and so full, that nothing else in this world can stand against Him.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Light hearted post on my HAIR!

For the past 5 years, my life has been on a journey. Also for the past 5 years, my hair has been on a journey. My first trip to Lesotho, I loved the ease of the short "messy" look. The reddish highlights added personality and spunk. Over the years my hair has gone from the "fun, messy" look to now a long natural look. On days when the water pressure is low or I woke up late, I miss my short hair. It took less than 2 minutes to do. It was easy and very low maintenance. For a few years now I have been a short haired person living with long hair. Because of this, I have made some mistakes. Here are a few...

1. I have learned while brushing my teeth, I must hold my hair back. Toothpaste in hair is not a good look.

2. I still don't know how this happened, but the other night I actually closed some of my hair in the closet door. (It was a long day, okay! Don't judge). Seriously I don't know how that happened.

3. Eating sometimes has it's challenges. The moment when you feel hair in your mouth and get grossed out that someone else's hair is in your food and then you realize the other end of the hair is still attached to your head.

4. One of my favorite things to do is drive with the windows down in the car. Now I need to make sure I have a hair band with me at all times, otherwise the windows must remain up, to avoid accidents.

5. Saturday was a beautiful day. As I rode in the car with the windows down, I saw a cloud of dust ahead. I quickly shut the window to avoid dust in the car and in doing so, my hair got shut in the window as well.

6. 9 out of 10 times I pick up a BG child, my hair becomes their handle and toy.

7. The amount of head bands, pins and other accessories is overwhelming. The sad thing is whenever I need one, I can't find it.

Each day I am learning and each day my long hair is growing on me (pun intended).

Memory Lane
2009
The messy look hair
 
2010
Puppy love hair
 
2011
Ice Cream eating hair
 

2012
Team leader hair
 
2013
Braided hair

2013
Lion training hair

December 2013
The 80's are back!!!!


2014
Superhero hair!
 

2014
Frog catching hair!




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Names

There is a war going on all over this world. The war is one of power, respect and creating "names" for ourselves. Each day some people strive to become better, bigger and achieve more. The war is all over. It is in Michigan, California, Lesotho, South Africa and beyond. The only outcome this war will have is one of heartache and false power. I have to confess, I am a part of this war, but each and every day I desire to surrender my personal pride and cling to the Name that is above all other names.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the power a name can bring. Based upon your name, people can be influence positivity or negatively. Based upon your name people know your family, your tribe, your culture. A big part of my job is making connections for Beautiful Gate. I am amazed at how if I use someone's name people respond. When meeting people, it is often I hear about mutual friends of Beautiful Gate or past volunteers or people who have been to Lesotho before. Names are good. Names are a frame of reference.

But the war starts when the name becomes your "god."

I was reminded of this yesterday as I picked up a baby from the Department of Social Welfare. This little child had a name, but not many people knew it. His name carried no power or fame. As I held him in my arms waiting for the reports, I wondered what his journey looked liked. I wondered how many people heard his cries and acted. Instead of thousands of people flocking over him, like the children of royal or political families only one person acted when they heard the cry. Instead of placing him in a crib or car seat to keep him safe, he was put in a trash bag and left in a village. His name isn't one of fame or power, but to me, he is great. To the family who will raise him and care for him, his name is great. To the people he may one day impact for Christ, his name is great.

When I think about names, I realize there are pressures placed upon people because of their name. If your family is great, you to should be great. For me, I want my "name" to reflect my Abba. I eagerly desire for His name to be great. I feel completely dirty because sin creeps into my life and causes me to want respect and a place because of what I do. I desire to say like Paul, “'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). I am weak and have a lot of weaknesses. I desire for those weaknesses to shine through, so that the joy of Christ may be present in me. I want others to look at me and not see me at all. I want Jesus name on my lips every second of every day.

I confess there are moments in my life when I want to feel important, but yesterday as I held a child in my arms whose was placed in a trash bag, the need to feel important fades and the desire for everyone to know that there is only ONE NAME that matters in this world. And that name is Jesus. He is better than every thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Faithful

I remember, shortly after accepting God's call to serve at BG, a time where I was concerned I wouldn't be able to fill 6 months in the States and Canada with speaking and advocating for the children and staff of Beautiful Gate Lesotho. I prayed that if it was God's will, I would be able to accept any opportunity to shine Him to those I meet, by sharing what He is doing in the lives of the children, staff and families that are being formed through adoption and reunification. As I prepare for my second trip to the States, I am humbled by the faithfulness of the Lord.

A few weeks ago I start getting nervous about my speaking engagements for this fall. There were multiple on the calendar, but not the same amount as last year. I was nervous that this year would not go well. As I laid in bed one night, I asked God to show me His faithfulness. He put on my heart that I would not focus on a dollar amount, but that He would provide opportunities to simply share Him and His faithfulness. When I dreamed of sharing my heart, with no monetary goal in mind, I felt so my peace and joy.

Through all the teams and volunteers that I have met, I continue to see the goodness of the Lord in Lesotho. I am discovering that Beautiful Gate is not for the volunteers, the staff or even the children. Beautiful Gate is a place to experience the faithfulness of God. Yes, we serve approximately 70 children and 45 staff as well as many volunteers. Yes, we take people desiring to be family and introduce them to the child God created for them, but above all, Beautiful Gate is a sanctuary, a safe place where people can meet God. That is what I want to share this fall. Beautiful Gate is a place to fellowship with the Lord and His people.

1 Corinthians 1:8-9 says, "He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

I no longer worry about the fall calendar, because the Lord is filling it up. The past two days I have had two separate emails from people who heard about the faithfulness of the Lord at Beautiful Gate and asked if I would come and share. The Lord is faithful. He provides the right people at the right time that need to hear His story of hope and adoption.

To Him be all praise and honor!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Danforth's

I dislike goodbyes. This is an issue with my calling, because I feel like I say goodbye a lot. Every six months I say goodbye to either my United States family and friends or my Beautiful Gate family and friends. While in Lesotho, I say goodbye to a lot of children, volunteers and teams. With each goodbye I feel as though I am learning how to face them. Each one is different, but they all remind me how big the family of is. He created all of us different and we all have different roles in His Kingdom. Last year, I decided that since I was saying goodbye so much, when I was at BG I would just put my head down and do the work, in hopes that I would not meet to many new people thus avoiding the goodbyes. Sounded good to me, but I realized how much of a hermit I had become. This year I planned to be a hermit again, but that didn't happen.
.
Anita does a homeschool co-op every week with a few missionary families around Maseru. One of the moms and I started talking one day and a friendship formed. It didn't take long for Anna and I to get past the superficial conversations and talk about things that really matter. We recommended scripture, books and movies to each other and spent time talking about the Lord's journey for each of us. Over the past few months the Danforths, Geurinks and I have been able to get out of Lesotho and enjoy God's creation in South Africa. In those trips, I saw their hearts and was encouraged by their love for the Lord and their desire to know Him more fully.

The Danforths truly strive to dwell with those around them, just like Christ did. From Soccer ministry to MAF to ministry at the juvenile correction center to weekends in the mountains, they dwelled with the people they wanted to share Christ with. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 6:16 which says, "I will live with them and walk among them." This is how the Danforths have brought the truth of the gospel to Lesotho. I have been challenged by their openness and encouraged by their hearts. A few weeks ago, Anna and I were able to share our past journeys and see how God has made us "a new creation." What a joy it is to share in each other's brokenness and see the hope of Christ shine through.

The Danforths are leaving this week to dwell in South Africa and share Christ with those they meet there. I am so excited to hear the stories of how God will use them in their newness and allow the story He has written to influence those they meet.

Speaker Shelly Giglio once said that our "yes" to God is extremely important, but it is less important for us and more important for the people whose "yes" depends on ours.

Sam, Anna, Elania and Sawyer, I know the Lord is going to use you to impact the "yes" of other people. He will take your brokenness and allow God's hope to shine through. Thank you for dwelling with the people of Lesotho and showing them the goodness of the Lord. My prayer for you is from 1 Thessalonians 5. "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (23-24). Above all I pray you continue to dwell in the truth of God's journey for you, so that you may see His faithfulness everyday through each sunrise and sunset.

Even though goodbyes are not fun, I am so glad I stepped out and said hello to the Danforths.