Thursday, January 24, 2013

Longing for Him

I'm blogging again...I actually have something to talk about and share.  I feel like I'm coming out of a wilderness or a desert.  One that I'm thankful for!   It was so good for my soul to pull away from the crowd, so to say, to be desperate for the Lord. To be fed manna from Him - my daily bread.  Each day He gave me enough grace for the next.  Never more than I needed and never less that I needed.  He taught me each day to trust Him.  Trust that He would show up.  Maybe not in the "big" ways He did before, but in the everyday things..the things that normally could go unnoticed, or taken for granted.

The other day I had a couple of hours away from home while my sister in law babysat.  I went to Starbucks and then just sat in the Kroger parking lot sipping my soy latte and listening to worship music.  I turned it up and just sang along to the Lord, my soul empty and desperate for His presence.  It was one of those times, when you start to cry, because finally, You feel His presence and it's been so long and you have SO much to say and so much you want to express and you so want to finally be heard. And the best part is that you realize, what you are expressing to Him, is actually originating from Him.  I began to miss the days where He seemed so big and prevalent in all the "great" things He was doing around me and in spite of me.  I began to desperately ask Him to please be that big in my now little every days. The days I spend all day at home with the precious child I love.  Why can't He be as big in my everyday at home, caring and nurturing and learning to discipline my little one?  That's truly where I want Him to be big.  I want to feel His presence in the beauty of those times with my longed for son.  Oh, there have been and are times that I do, but they seem so small compared to the "big" things of my past.  But they aren't...and I long to see them as big or bigger than those times.  This is the BIG time in my life.  This is what I have waited for.  "Lord, be magnified in my life no matter where I am serving or to whom... May you be BIG and me small.  I want to be SMALL Lord."  In Jesus' Name...

Friday, June 08, 2012

In the Morning

My little one, Jordan, gets up in the 5 o'clock hour EVERY day. He has done this since he was maybe 3 months old or so.  He would wake up in his bassinet and coo loudly and play with his hands.  I remember it was so endearing that my husband said, "I need to start getting up earlier each morning any way, so I'm just going to get up with him."  I warned him that this might start a "bad" pattern, but I couldn't help but love how much Simon, who can usually sleep pretty late, wanted to get up that early before work just to spend time with our baby.  So, the routine began...and continues...NO matter what we do. :)

This has been the main topic of every prayer I pray lately.  I beg God to please change this in Jordan.  I condemn myself for not doing any "sleep training" with him each morning to get him to sleep later.  I did try it once and yes, it might have worked for that one day, but it was NOT the way I wanted me or my son to start our day.  Emotionally worn out...hearts sore from the struggle and confusion.  He always wakes up bright and happy and just ready to go and it hurt me to think that that day it was not so.

I usually have to get up sometime between 2 and 3 AM to nurse Jordan.  After that last feeding there have been early mornings where all I do is check the monitor off and on and just live in anxiety, depleted of sleep, wondering and begging and hoping that this one morning, he will sleep later than 5:30 AM.  I took the advice of our Physicians Assistant who said to start putting him down an hour later and give it two weeks.  "Eventually, she said, it will change his internal clock and he will start sleeping later."  So, I've been putting him to bed later for the last month...and there has been no change.  He's just missing an hour of sleep now.

So, I've come to realize that again, there must be something in this for ME.  Honestly, if you know me and Simon and our lives, having a baby who is this eager to start his day each day would not surprise you.  Especially when you know that Simon is the one who greets him each morning and gets him out of his crib.  You see, Simon is the "life of the party" kind of guy.  He is FULL of joy and fun.  It's what initially attracted me to him.  And he spends every morning before work with Jordan.  Of course Jordan can't wait to get up and see his daddy.

But what about me?  Again, what is in this for ME?  That's the question I am now asking and the prayer I am praying.  I began to realize that I needed to change my expectations about Jordan's wake up time.  Every day I would wake up upset and discouraged because Jordan, once again, did not sleep until 6 AM like the "books" say he should.  Maybe I should just start expecting him to wake up every day in the 5 o'clock hour and if for some amazing reason he should sleep until 6 AM, I can be wonderfully surprised and blessed?  :)

God also reminded me that a few years ago He gave me a revelation about how much He, Himself, loves the morning.  Throughout the book of Psalm, you can find scripture after scripture declaring how wonderful the morning is.  How God answers prayer in the morning.  In fact, a wonderful christian artist I once knew named a CD after this revelation...So why wouldn't God give me a son who so LOVES this early morning as much as He does?!  Don't we desire and pray that our children will be like Christ?  What's so bad about starting our days that early?  Maybe each day God has something special for us in that early hour.  Maybe the son I've prayed for all my life has something special for me. Shouldn't I be the one who can't wait to get up and spend time with him?!  Ah...the selfishness of the former perspective...how we so want everything to conform to our convenience.  So I've resolved to set my mind to relish these early mornings, each day walking by faith, that one day, in His grace, precious Jordan will desire to sleep later.

Psalm 30:5 For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but REJOICING comes in the morning.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Walking the Line

It's been awhile since I've blogged. Mainly due to lack of time or a belief that anyone will care, or maybe some will care too much. Maybe some will judge me...or even be happy to see that I struggle. But at the end of it all, I don't care anymore. I'm tired of Christianity being about wearing a mask and looking and acting like everything is perfect. Only celebrating and sharing the good stuff. Let's be real. I want to, so here it goes.. My life as of the last 7 months has been about how to be a mom. I had NO idea how hard being a new mom would be. And I have been ashamed at how hard it has been for me. Embarrassed, sad, disappointed...but mainly ashamed. Ashamed that I could let this seriously AMAZING baby boy be anything to me but wonderful. But it's not him you see..it's my own struggles, my own insecurities, my own places of woundedness that are now being exposed through this new mommy hood time.

You would think that after leading and sending out hundreds of mission teams that one would be cool with not having a daily agenda and life being interrupted whenever. But then I realized, I was the one planning the trips, leading them, making the calls, setting the schedules, choosing each day's itineraries. Yes, I did submit them to God while planning them and also while on the trip, but usually each day worked out the way we planned and when it didn't, one or two days out of ten, it was fun to let God rearrange things and see Him work. But being a mom to not just a text book baby, but an extraordinary one, leads each day to letting this little guy make the calls. I could plan each day that he is going to finally sleep those predicted 2 two hour naps that he SHOULD be sleeping these days, but we are far from that goal. Or, each night for that matter could be the night that he sleeps all night, or even only wakes up once, but again, we are far from that goal.

You see, I have read probably five different books on the subject of baby's sleep and how to "make" them sleep like they should. Honestly, I should be an expert now about sleep training. I even implemented the Baby Wise technique with an infant when I was a nanny years ago and it was truly EASY. He cried 20 minutes the first day and only 5 minutes the second day and from that day forward we were on a perfect schedule. I have tried the techniques in these books probably 3 or 4 different times with my baby. I believe they do work...I did see some difference in my baby's sleep the last time I did it...but at what cost? The cost was that he would cry for an hour to an hour and a half and lost his sweet little voice. For two weeks, his gorgeous squeals of delight, were replaced with sqeaks and instead of his sweet "bababa'ing" he was instead silent. And I was unable to continue the "gentle" sleep techniques I had set out to do. My heart was broken. The lactation loving Physicians Assistant we see for his medical care even said he must have been in distress to have cried hard enough to lose his voice. Can you imagine the pain I felt hearing those words?!

I honestly don't like the idea of letting him cry so he can sleep "independently", but on the other hand, how else will he ever learn to sleep? Isn't that where all us new moms are? I am trying to walk the line between what these books say is proper and appropriate for his sleep and trying to just be led by the Holy Spirit in how He designed MY baby - who again, in MY opinion is EXTRA - ORDINARY and DESTINED for Awesomeness!!! :) So, here I am...I have no answers. Each day I struggle with my own emotions. Will it be a good day because my baby "slept" the way "they" said he should or will I have FAITH and trust to believe that GOD is in control. That He has not forsaken us. That He will finish what He started and perfect that which concerns me? Can I just relax, surrender and LET God be in control? Can I be at peace even on the days that my baby decides to fight each nap or on the mornings that he wants to wake up at the literal crack of dawn to start his day? Can I forgive myself each day when I am unable to have the heart to "teach" my son how to sleep at night or nap? Believing that I am NOT doing him a disservice? Can I walk that line of peace and that line between what God says and the books say? 

That line seems VERY narrow these days and I seem to fall off it more than balance on it. But hopefully, I am truly learning, FINALLY, how to daily, in EVERY tiny circumstance, to trying walk by the Spirit and maybe even hear His voice more clearly and louder. Maybe this is what God has for me through this time and why He gave me such an awesome child! Maybe that's the real question I should be asking..."What Lord do you have for me to learn through this time. Change ME Lord, not my child."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Mission of Motherhood

Wow..Motherhood has taken me by storm! I've always been someone who takes on a responsibility or role and does it 150%...and with joy as long as it was a passion of mine. I should have known the role of motherhood would not be any different. Some how though I thought I would just have this baby and life would just seemingly go on as normal and he would just naturally warp into what I needed him to be to keep "this life" I wanted to preserve.

All of that changed the moment he was delivered. It's so neat how God has created women so that when their babies are born they have a rush of hormones and chemistry which usually makes them so bonded and in love with their new ones, that they would literally lay down their lives for them and they just met these babies! Maybe it has nothing to do with hormones or chemistry and is just purely emotional and spiritual, whatever the cause, it's intense!

So, my new focus has been being a mom and that focus has brought SO many questions and doubts!!! I have said over and over again that I think this job is much harder for me than running an agency. Running an agency required having multiple people around you all day long with the same calling. People you could bounce questions off of and you never truly had to stand completely alone in the decisions you made, weighty as some of them might have been. Also, there was less emotion in the decisions made. With motherhood it's ALL emotional! That's my little baby boy...what do you mean I should let him cry?! What do you mean I have to TAKE him to get shots? ...so emotional!

But I realized yesterday when talking to a precious experienced mother, that this job as a new mom, is no different than really any other large job responsibility God calls us to in some ways. I remember the first time I led a mission team to Ethiopia about eight years ago...I had always wanted to go to Africa and help orphans but had NEVER been to Africa and had NEVER led a mission trip. I'd actually only been on two mission trips in my life, albeit, one was to Siberia. :) But, I was a firm believer that God calls us into things that are way out of our comfort zone and that He truly calls the ill equipped and weak as He wants to be strong through them. So I agreed to lead it, SCARED out of my mind! I fumbled my way through each team conference call, trying to act like I knew what I was doing. But God provided! He provided a beautiful Ethiopian woman named Almaz who helped be our guide in Ethiopia and he provided great team members who were full of grace and brought their own experiences to the table. But it was hard!! I cried each night when I retired to my room away from the team asking God why in the world would He have called ME to lead this team? People were not just going to Africa all the time back then...it was pretty crazy to do so...and I thought after this trip is over, I am such an awful team leader I will never lead another team again... HAH!!!! I ended up as the Director of that organization just 4 years later!

So, here I am again in the mission of motherhood. It's no different. I cry time and time again because I'm scared. Scared that I'm not good enough and because I on many days have no idea what I'm doing. And like leading a mission team it can be a lonely place. There are days I think I could never have another child or adopt because I can't even get this mothering thing down with the one I have...or at least be more in peace with it and less overwhelmed. But then, on some days, when naps are plentiful and I'm more rested I think, "Oh how I'd love another one..." but that is quickly followed by fear. And now I'm encouraged because I remember it's how I felt after leading that first mission team to Ethiopia. God thinks more of me!!! This is JUST the beginning!!!! Maybe one day I WILL be the mommy director of my own home with a number of little ones and I won't be afraid anymore! But for now, I will just concentrate on making it through this first year with my baby and in time, God will strengthen my heart again and when I least expect it, knowing Him, we will be expecting another one, either by birth or adoption.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Here Come the Mommy Blogs..

Well, this blog is most definitely going to take a turn from solely orphan care and missions to be a little more personal. After all, my personal life does not center around orphan care and traveling internationally on missions every other month now. The orphan crisis is still heavy on my heart and always will be and we may or may not be bringing home a certain little girl from Africa (more on this in a future blog) one of these days, but my world and reality today is learning how to now be a full time mom to a precious baby boy.

By far, I've never had what I call "so much turning within". I'm usually someone who can make a decision and stick with it. If you know the Myers Briggs test, I was a J which stood for Judging. I could judge a situation and make a fairly quick decision and stand by my conviction. However, mommyhood, as I like to call it, has brought a whole new element and emotional stress of doubting my decisions.

The most recent turning within is about his napping and "sleep training". I was a nanny once for an infant boy and I read Baby Wise and this little one worked perfectly with this type of schedule. I let him cry it out one day and it only lasted for 20 minutes...and then next day, we were on our schedule. It seemed to be so easy! He was also formula fed. So, I went into this mommyhood thing completely convinced I would do Babywise with my son. And then I fell deeply in love with him and the idea of letting him cry when he hardly ever cried any way broke my heart. So, I decided I now agreed more with the attachment parenting style. Except, I am so not a "hippie" in the sense that I'm honestly not a real flexible gal. So, there were things about attachment parenting that I did agree with but I still felt convicted in my heart that there was something to this Babywise/scheduling stuff.

Recently, once Jordan was 4 months old and now about 17 pounds, my back was really aching all day long. Mainly because now he had preferences about how he wanted to fall asleep. My wonderful husband, who loves to help out with Jordan, liked to walk him around and "jiggle" him until he fell asleep, and this is what he enjoyed the most. I could do this before each nap normally, but in the afternoons, when he was more stimulated, he would not sleep past 30 minutes, unless I got him out of his crib and once again carried him back to sleep. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with the idea that my future might entail putting a 25 pound toddler to bed this way and what if God decided to bless us with another child? I knew physically and mentally this was not going to be easy. So, I wanted to "prepare the way" in some sense for our future and one day after "carrying" him three different times for the same nap, I just "clicked" and was ready to let him cry it out. And cry it out he did. I didn't have a clock with me, but I think it was for like 40 minutes or so. But once he fell asleep, he was asleep for 2.5 hours! I thought, well, great, now just one more day of this and most likely we have arrived and he will no longer wake after 30 minutes and need me to go back to sleep.

However, that was like 3 weeks ago and since then, if left to cry it out, will continue to cry for 45 minutes or more and this mommy's heart cannot take it anymore! The idea of letting him cry is worse than the idea of going into surgery for me. I just don't have the heart to do it anymore. So, I am putting all the stupid books down (for the most part) and going only to the Lord and asking HIM what He wants me to do to parent Jordan. I'm trusting Him with the future of it all....I will not borrow worry for tomorrow. So far, the verses He has given me are:

John 14:18 - I will not abandon you as orphans, No, I will come to you. - This is what I feel God has given me to stand on to confirm that for me and Jordan, I am not to let him cry it out anymore. I want Jordan to grow up secure in the love that Simon and i have for him and that we would not give him a spirit of abandonment but one of adoption where he will cry out "Daddy"...You may disagree with me, but this is where I stand.

Zephaniah 3:18 - He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. - This verse was given to me this morning as I rocked baby Jordan to sleep. He tends to fight sleep more now that he's so social and again, I began doubting that rocking him instead of just placing him in the bed was the right thing. But, there are times when Jordan can not calm down and you can tell he is struggling to calm himself to sleep. But when I look at him with love as I sing over him, it calms and quiets him. I am also to show him great joy when he is awake, no matter what the circumstances...

I think God will show each parent how to parent each child as no two will be alike. But for me and Jordan and this time in our lives, this is how He wants me to do it. He is teaching me SO much about His love for me as well through this time and I hope to share some of this in future posts...

I'm looking for the answers, but I'm pretty sure they will fall somewhere between the attachment and babywise theories. After all, the only parenting wisdom I've been able to get from the Lord lately was in Proverbs:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Transition


As some of you may have heard by now, I decided to resign from the agency Visiting Orphans. My mission and calling still remains the same and that is truly to WAKE UP the church to GO and visit orphans in their distress regardless. But I have a new mission now as well...to love a baby boy named Jordan who God finally blessed us with and to make my family the priority.

This has been a peaceful and joyous time, but also grievous, sad and difficult. I helped grow Visiting Orphans over the past two and half years to what it was with the passion to reach as many orphans as possible and to inspire as many members of Christ's church to get off of the sofa and GO help them. At times through this transition it has felt like I am cutting off a member of my body or something. Leaving something very precious behind yet still feeling it's presence in my life. Trying to learn how to go from calling Visiting Orphans "we or us" to "them and they". Watching all the Facebook status' of all the team members and leaders and not knowing exactly how to comment. Wishing I could just block anything and everything VO for awhile but at the same time dying to know what's going on.

I also wrestle with is it okay for a mom to also want to work in the calling they had before he was born or should I just be a full time mom? Am I cheating my son and husband by not giving them my complete and only focus or enriching their lives for walking out the mission of James 1:27?

Whatever the answers are, I'm so thankful for this time with my son. I pray he grows up to be completely mission minded and sold out to the Father of the fatherless.

I have arrived at a great place of peace in my life nonetheless. Not because I can make sense of everything or have all the answers, but because I know that the God I serve is always faithful and true and I know that His promises can be believed, trusted and expected. That is the most awesome Truth to know. In this world, we truly can expect change and transition, but if we have a relationship with Christ, we can count on Him and this does not change.

"Even if the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; His loving kindness shall not depart from me, neither shall the covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy on me." Isaiah 54:10

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Pulverized


Note: I started writing this blog when my new baby Jordan was 2 weeks old. He is now 8 weeks old.

I was searching for a word today to describe the way I have felt since the birth of our baby boy two weeks ago and I think I have found it.
Pulverized: to defeat or render helpless. To demolish or crush completely. To reduce to powder or dust.

The experience of his birth and the love that has overcome me for this little human being has done just that. Pulverized me. I feel like the Israelites when they finally arrived and habitated the Promised Land. Every day feels like a dream... I feel helpless under the weight of this love for my baby Jordan and for and from the Lord. Totally helpless in the fact, that no matter how hard I try, at the end of the day, our beautiful Savior is the one who holds him. Who sustains and protects him.

I had a moment I will never forget as long as I live. We had Jordan on October 20th at 4 AM. That evening after no sleep in 48 hours, we decided to put him in the hospital nursery so we could get some sleep. I woke up completely awake at 5 AM the next morning. Simon, my husband was still asleep on the cot next to me, so I decided to just walk down to the nursery to see our baby. When I arrived, there were many babies all in individual little portable bassinettes. Probably thirty or so and I did not know where Jordan was. A sweet young nurse, named Kristin, asked me who my baby was and led me to Jordan.

When I saw him, he was the only baby who was awake. He was lying there all tightly swaddled like all the other babies, with only his little face showing and he was just looking all around. And overwhelming sense of awareness enveloped me...He has SO much trust. He could be left right there, with no one taking care of him and there is nothing he could do. And I was overwhelmed with the knowledge of how vulnerable he is. I also immediately recalled my knowledge of what orphanages are like in China. How they have SO many babies in all these beds and they are just, for the most part left alone.. I thought of all the babies who are totally abandoned, how completely dependent in every sense of the word for us to care for them. Each orphan that is found and taken in is a miracle. One only God could orchestrate. How easily they can be forgotten, missed and looked over.

I asked Kristen, the nurse to forgive me as I was obviously having a moment. I was crying and couldn't stop. She was so full of grace and led me and Jordan to the nearby rocking chair. I just sat rocking him, having my moment with the Lord...processing all that had happened through our labor and our story to get here. I waited 39 years for a child, for a promise to come to life...to cross our River Jordan and arrive in our Promised Land.

I Samuel 1:27: I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Testimonial Tuesday: INDIA

Frances, our recent team member to India shares with us the impact this trip has made on her. Her favorite memory? All the love from the children!!!

Can't wait to send out another team to India soon!!! (Hopefully I'll be on the next one). Wonder how many trips you can take a new baby on? ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Controversy - Part One

This blog post has been rolling around in my heart and mind for a few months now. Ever had a topic that meant so so much to you, that to try and put it on paper seems almost to hurt or just exhausts you? In order to do so, it means delving into the deepest parts of your heart to pull out and wrestle your emotions and thoughts so they are more simple and clear…so you can share and finally communicate them with others.

Well, this blog post is one of those.

When I have strong feelings like this, I tend to avoid the conversations that elicit them. I hate defending the way I think or feel or ever trying to convince others of anything. I like to leave that job up to God. Let Him be the Defender. Let Him convince or change others to see things the way He does. I don’t want to enter into arguments or competition.

This blog post though is about the controversy that seems to be erupting and even being fueled by other Christians regarding short term missions to “visit orphans”.

My very first response to this when it started happening was, “Obviously they truly do not know the scriptures or this would not be a controversy. They would not be questioning it. They would know the answers to the questions they are naively putting out there which are causing others who don’t know scripture to respond and react to.”

Yes, we can all know scripture…but do you take the time to really dive deep into them. Have you used a concordance and dissected a scripture that is on your heart? That is one of my favorite things to do as just about always God will reveal SO much through this time of research.

So let’s dissect James 1:27 together in this way. Most of us reading this blog post knows what it “says” already on the surface. We’ve memorized it. Here is what it says at deeper layers:

Vis-it (1980) (episkeptomai - see study of episkopeo from epĂ­ = upon or intensifying already existing idea in verb + skopeo = regard, give attention to, look at, contemplate) literally means to look upon, to GO to see, to examine closely, to inspect, to examine the state of affairs of something, to look after or to oversee. The idea of visiting is more than just making a social call.

As Hiebert writes...
In classical Greek, it was commonly used of visiting the sick, whether by a doctor or a friend.' In Jewish usage, it commonly denoted to visit with the aim of caring for and supplying the needs of those visited (Job 2:11; Jer. 23:2; Ezek. 34:11; Zech. 11:16; Mt. 25:36, 43). The term implies concern and personal contact with the needy; it involves more than a matter of charity by proxy.

This verb expresses careful regard of those in position of responsibility. It depicts one going to see another with the intent to render help. In some context it means to have regard for, care for or be concerned about (Acts 15:14, He 2:6-note). It is often used of visiting the sick. In the Septuagint it speaks of a visitation from God, most often a visitation for good.

So, when God inspired James to write this, He was using the word, “episkeptomai” which means SO much more than just our word Visit. In English the word “visit” sounds like we are just coming to see a friend, have coffee, hang out for awhile. That is NOT what James means. He means to search out, find, meet those in distress (and in this case he means orphans and widows), talk to them, find out their needs and pains AND DO something about them!!

Short term mission trips to visit orphans, like we do at Visiting Orphans are intended to do just that. Our staff at VO prays…asking God to show us those ministries on the other side of the world, orphanages, hurting communities which are hidden. Which need to be found and visited so that we can see what they need and with future teams, come back to make a difference. This difference can be made by future teams bringing donations or financial help, or what I love even more is when a past team member visits those in distress and feels a call from God DUE to that visit and sacrifices current comforts to go help them long term. Or, they return home to adopt a child, or they return home and help promote a cause so that more sponsorships can happen for those in distress.

So, WHAT is the controversy all about? When you ask God … are short term trips really Your will? Will I really make a difference visiting an orphan? You now KNOW that scripture is defining this for you. God is saying, “YES”. Go….VISIT an orphan… Be my hands and feet to them here on earth. Find them, meet them, “check in” on them and make a difference in their lives.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial from a Father & Son Team!!!

Tune in today as we have a live action testimony from Africa with Mark & Luke Vandruff on the Man Up trip...Complete with our News Reporter Extraordinaire, Amanda Herdina and Music DJ, Chloe Jordan!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Enter Into His Labor



I was inspired yesterday to write a blog today on Labor Day by my wonderful pastor, Steve Garrett at our home church, New River Fellowship.

Our staff at Visiting Orphans has had a heavy heart this Fall season. Maybe not everyone as much as me since I oversee everything, but what has been difficult is watching as trip after trip was cancelled this Fall season due to lack of interest while our Summer 2012 trips and December 2011 trips fill up with waiting lists. Sure, we know all the reasons. We understand that everyone is heading back to school and most are focused on this time of their personal lives or family's life. However, it still burdens us as we know how much these children need each one of us.

Autumn or Fall is my favorite time of year. I purposely got married in October for this reason and now God will be blessing us with the birth of our first child in the Fall as well. I love the new crisp chillier weather and the falling leaves and wind. But I also love how this season is considered the Harvest season. Recently I read this blog post entitled "When Visiting Is Enough". The author of this blog explained how one visit to a child can indeed change their life. If you are willing to go, obey and be used, God can use YOU to plant a seed in that child's life. Yes, it can be excruciating to then leave, walk away, not knowing what will happen to that child. But for this particular blogger, years later she was able to actually see what happened to the seed she planted!

As she returned to Russia, to the same village where she told this little girl about Christ, she found out that this little girl, through the help of ANOTHER christian in Russia had and was still being discipled! She had aged out of this orphanage but was now living with the hope of Christ.

So yesterday while I was worshipping the Lord spoke to me and said, this is the Harvest season. If my workers would just GO, they could be the ones to bring in the HARVEST of those who went on all the Visiting Orphans' Summer trips. Those who planted the seeds. The ones traveling this Fall season will be used by God to continue watering these seeds, bringing in the harvest. He wants us to participate in what Jesus has already started in these children's lives through others.

Do you think that investing in ONE child's life makes a difference? Jesus thinks so. When Jesus walked the earth, He was here to die in our place. He has SO much to be concerned about each day and moment. Much like we do this Fall season. However, in John 4, Jesus chose to speak to ONE Samaritan woman. The jews considered the Samaritans lesser than themselves, yet He esteemed her. So she had an ENCOUNTER with the one true Messiah. And through this one woman's changed life and testimony many her in town also chose to believe in Him. (John 4: 39). With all the cares in this sinful world, Jesus chose to spend 10 minutes in conversation with this woman. He chose her. One person and her life changed MANY. Her encounter with Christ reaped a harvest.

"Do you not say "Four months more and then the harvest? (Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec) I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!! THEY ARE RIPE FOR HARVEST. " Even NOW the reaper draws his wages, even NOW he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together! Thus the saying, "One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor". John 4:34-38.

Don't you just love God's word?! We just need you to GO this Fall season.. Please enter into His true labor this Labor Day and choose to change the life of one orphan, one child, and bring in the harvest. That's what this season is about. Let your feasting this holiday season be to do the will of the one who sent Him.

"My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of Him who sent me and to FINISH His work."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Man Up & Dance!!!! Seriously...

As our new Tuesday Testimonial, we just thought we'd follow up on the last one we posted. Stephen Elder, one of the Man Up team members was talking about his skills with dancing in Uganda. I bet you didn't believe him, so we decided to show you!

Honestly though, I can't think of anything more incredible or amazing then dancing with orphans. I know it's as close as heaven you can get..They are the most precious children ever...in the Lord's sight and in mine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial! How to Man Up!

Our Executive Assistant, Amanda Herdina interviews two Man Uppers in Uganda on how their trip has impacted them:


Thursday, August 11, 2011

India as per JohnnySwim...



Our Artist Partners, JohnnySwim (Abner & Amanda Ramirez) would like to share about their upcoming trip to India below. We hope you will join us! You can find out more about this trip here.

The first thing I had to assure my wife about our upcoming trip to India was that the people there DO NOT burn their poop in the streets. This was very important information for her.

India exudes a majesty I have never forgotten, and my wife, Amanda, has had to endure years of my monologued fascination of the sights, sounds and experiences of my first, and only trip. However, somewhere in my all my storytelling, she combined two stories in her mind: one of me seeing someone poop on a public street and another of the smell of burning trash… this led to the afore mentioned fear of bathroom etiquette in India. That fear has now been assuaged.

It was the summer of 2004 when I visited some remote regions in Northeast India. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, our team served in orphanages and played concerts with the children of the local villages. The kindness I felt in serving proved to me yet again that giving is better than receiving. As is true in so many cases, I went to India to give and found I was the one receiving most. I've never forgotten the faces, the food, the smells, or the smiles from that 10 day trip, and I cant possibly begin to explain the excitement in being able to return to India now 7 years later accompanied by my wife and an awesome team from Visiting Orphans to serve, to give, and to love on those who often feel forgotten; to let them know there is so much love for them and that the love that is in them to give can change the world. How would we know to love if we were not first loved? None of us are orphans in the Kingdom of God. I challenge you to come with us for 10 days in India, this September (yep, THIS september) and see the course of your life changed for the better; to give of your heart so freely that to expect any return would be vain; to give the hope that can only be given in an embrace and to see the miracle that is belief occur before your eyes. This life is good, and the best parts of it are what you give away.

And trust me… no one will burn their poop in the street. (At least i hope not.)

-Abner Ramirez

Monday, August 08, 2011

What Is A "Man Upper"?!

































If you are a friend of Visiting Orphans or me on Facebook then I'm sure this is the question you are asking! "What is a Man Upper?!" Currently through the wonderful partnership with our awesome team leader, Roger Gibson, we sent out a team to Ethiopia and Uganda with the whole concept of Manning Up for the orphans...

As Roger and his wife Kari would get together with me and my husband, Simon, one thing we would discuss at length was the trend we saw in our Visiting Orphans teams. Just about all our teams had about 80 to 90% women as team members, with little to no representation of men to be found on these teams. Now, us women are more than happy to REPRESENT in this way, but it saddened and grieved our hearts as it seemed men were just not "getting it"!

We understood that when you think perhaps of visiting an orphan that you think of holding and cuddling babies, and that's it. But the majority of Christian men were not realizing how many young boys and teenage men were orphans in this world! And yes, they loved being visited by women, but oh, how their hearts LONGED to be known by men. How they wanted to be recognized, known, and remembered by men who visited. Most of our trips...I would say 90% of them spend time with these boys, not babies. The babies need us too, yes, but it's those children who are stuck in the system who really need us..and these are the ones this blog post is specifically addressing.

At one facility we partner with in Kampala, Uganda there are usually 200 children there and only seventeen or so of them are girls! The facility is the children's prison which the ministry of Sixty Feet is actively trying to help. All these street boys who get picked up for minor offenses, or none at all...stuck for days behind bars...sometimes for weeks in solitary confinement, only because they are homeless and without a family...

So, our response was to send out a team targeted specifically towards men and it WORKED! We sent out a team of 38 people, 80% which are men to Uganda and Ethiopia this Summer. In fact, they are still in Ethiopia as I write...

At the children's prison in Uganda, these boys got to come out of their bars for hours and SCHOOL our American men in Soccer (futball). :) They learned how to play basketball from Dude Perfect. They worshipped without abandon and taught our men how to do the same! This is the Abba Heart of God...now does this sound like a boring mission trip which is totally out of a man's comfort zone?! No...this is the heart of a man!!!

So, we have another Man Up trip planned next Summer and we plan to send another one in the Spring. But what I want men to remember is that we need them on ALL our trips. That's the point of this whole concept. To Man Up and love the fatherless... to be God's hands and feet as He shows how to be a Abba Father to them. Our other teams need you more than our Man Up teams do. Our goal is to see all our teams with an even ratio of men and women of God serving together. Our God is both male and female...and we are in His image. We need to serve together to be a complete representation of Him.

Please think about signing up next year for one of our trips, ESPECIALLY if you are a man and you "get it"! Join with us as a Man Upper and love on these orphans as only a man can do!

p.s. All photos are copyrighted by Wynne Trippet Elder, 2011.