Saturday, February 26, 2011

Outrun Continues

As part of One Word 2011, I'm committing to running 100kms between now and my first 5k race. The race is on March 26th in Michigan. I'd also like to ditch another 11lbs along the way, bringing the total lost to 90lbs.

I'm also planning on running surviving a half marathon in October. The training and fitness challenge will help me be in the best shape possible for our mission trip to Africa this fall. I don't quite know what my goal will be for this one, perhaps I'll choose one after my race in March.

What are your short term goals?

Would you be willing to share them in the comments so that they can be added to this post? We can pray for each other's progress, encourage each other, help keep track of our progress and hold each other accountable.

While you do that... I'll get started!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Top Ten -- Letters & Life

Compassion International recently asked which Compassion blog posts were our favorites. It's hard to choose. That's like saying pick only ten flavors of ice cream or something.

I like a challenge, so I started looking through blog posts, and decided to split the topics up into two. The letter writing process, and the life of the sponsored children.


Honduran boy with precious letters from his sponsors.

The letter writing process is near and dear to our hearts. With 76 letters sent out last year, and that number expected to increase to over 120 in 2011, we are always eager to read the 'behind the scenes' posts on the letter writing process.

1 -- This one is specific to Ghana. Ghana is where Ato Sam lives, and where we're heading this fall. It's also the country we write to and receive letters from the most often.

Letter Writing: Ghana

2. Here's another letter writing post, but from a translation point of view. It highlights Honduras, where I traveled in June-July of 2010 and spent time with two of our sponsored children. Jackie was one of our trip guides -- I miss her so much!

Translation: Honduras

3. I also loved this one based in Thailand. I love the care and attention given to each letter, and I can attest to it -- the letters we get from Suwanna are very well done. I'm so grateful for translators... I could probably manage with the Spanish, but not Thai!!

Translation: Thailand

4. Kids really do say the funniest things! Ato Sam once told us that he had to cut his letter short because his project worker needed a break (he writes 5-8 pages at a time!)... and he signs all of his letters with "End Of Message". This post highlights all the funny things other sponsor's kids have said over the years.

Funny Things Kids Say

5. Then, there's the other side of letter writing... the children whose sponsors have never written. I can't think of letter writing without thinking of Wilson, the boy we met on our first day in Honduras. In the 9 years he's been sponsored, he has never received a single letter, card or note. I know this post isn't on Compassion's blog, but it was a favorite from our time in Honduras.

Power Of The Written Word


Justin, June 2010

Posts that offer a glimpse into the life of the children we sponsor are especially appreciated. Although some are very difficult to imagine as we sit comfortably elsewhere in the world, it doesn't make their reality any less real. These reminders are what keeps us advocating for these precious kids.

1. Although this may be one of their hardest posts to read, it's at the top of my list because it hits home. The extreme poverty we have witnessed in developing countries may be unique to those countries, but the difference with this story is that it's also happening right here in North America, and it's not limited to the rough end of our towns and cities, it's in your white picket fence suburbs, your affluent neighborhoods, it's next door to each of us.

Behind The Facade

2. This wasn't on Compassion's website, but it was a post written by Brad Ruggles during a Compassion Blogger trip to Kenya, and offers a glimpse of the strength and beauty that can arise from one of the most desperate places to live. Compassion Blogger Kristen Welch compared this slum to visiting "hell".

Father to the Fatherless -- the story of Eliud

3. Another unforgettable post from Brad Ruggles written during his Compassion Blogger trip to Kenya... it shows how little it takes to break the poverty cycle. Overwhelmed by too much neeed? Why not start by helping one? See how $6 made a difference in the life of this entire family!

Breaking The Cycle of Poverty

4. The reality for many woman living in India, and the hope that survives.

Hope Breaks Into A Tortured Life

5. Last but not least, my favorite post from my trip to Honduras. Meet Justin, and learn about his reality.

Powerful Reminder

What are your favorite Compassion blogs or posts?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Extreme Heart Makeover: Submit Or Suffocate?

With one single observation, she changed everything.

"How can your husband learn to be the leader and head of the family if you give him no say and no opportunity?"

We should all have a best friend brave enough to speak the truth boldly.


The truth hurts. I had done it again... I hadn't been respectful of my husband's role as the leader and given him an opportunity to learn to lead, and she was calling me on it. She knew me inside and out.

A few weeks back, I had expressed my concern to her about my need to become more disciplined with my priorities and my time. Balancing family/kids/adoption, church & Bible Study, a full time job, mission work & fundraising, advocacy and writing/photography... it's a challenge many of us face, and one I had been praying about.

So imagine her surprise when I excitedly called her last Thursday to tell her about a ministry opportunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Africa, where we both feel led to work. This organization covered so many interesting opportunities; micro-finance, sponsorship, orphans & widows, education, health care, and so much more. They needed someone bilingual to help create a Canadian chapter of their organization. I understood their vision, loved their Christian foundation, I already had a heart for Africa, I knew how sponsorship worked, and I speak fluently in French and English. Perfect, right? They thought so.

My husband had been away on business for a few days, and I hadn't had much of a chance to talk to him about this opportunity. In the meantime, I decided to keep meeting with the head of this organization to learn more while my husband was away. The more I learned, the better it sounded, and the more my excitement grew.

Until her statement stopped me dead in my tracks.

I'll admit that I felt a little defensive initially. If I talked to my husband about it, would he actually listen? Most of the time, he didn't seem to, so was there much point? Would he really understand? What if he said no? Is this something he'd consult me about if the tables were turned? I'll be honest, getting involved with this organization was something I wanted to do, and I briefly felt somewhat resentful that I had to ask his permission.

The more I prayed about it, the more I realized she was right. My attitude and actions in this did not honor my husband or our marriage. What I needed to do was to submit to his leadership and yet lead by example -- needless to say, it's a very delicate balance that requires an incredible amount of faith and courage for a woman like me.

Ask any abuse victim -- they'll tell you that the word submit is a difficult one for them to swallow; a word that until a few years ago sent chills down my spine. I could die to self for God, for my children, for my friends... but for a man?

I spent the first 18 years of my life controlled by a man determined to destroy me, I was forced to die to self for him until I died on the inside... and that led me to spend most of the next 18 years determined never to trust another man with my life -- my husband included. As you can imagine, that has made for a very difficult marriage. Being under his secular leadership has been very difficult, and my reaction was to attempt to protect myself by keeping him at arm's length and digging my heels in even more. In the end, my determination to not be hurt had managed to hurt me by robbing me of a healthy marriage.

By not submitting to my husband, I was seizing the life out of our marriage, suffocating his potential as a leader. Men need to feel respected and adequate in order to feel loved and wanted, and my actions did the opposite. I felt remorse.

I desperately wanted a husband I could trust to lead me in the ways I needed to be led, but I kept getting in his way. How can I complain about his leadership when I haven't led him in the way I want to be led? When I haven't respected him the way I want to be respected?

When I haven't given him a chance?

Wouldn't he be more responsive to my needs if he knew that I had his best interests at heart too? It had to begin with me, again.

If I want him to be a Godly husband and leader, it starts with me. I need to become a Godly wife in every aspect of my life.

"Change ME, Lord, into the woman you need me to be for him, so that you can change him into the man You need him to be for You."

I knew the "change me" prayer very well. It's been a process I've been walking for the past few years. God has been generous with opportunities to put it into practice, and I recognized this as yet another opportunity. I'm not worthy of the patience He bestows, and yet He richly blesses me... I didn't want to waste this precious lesson.

I called my husband and specifically told him that I wanted to talk to him about this opportunity when he returned home. On the way home from the airport, he honored his word. We talked... and he listened. Really listened. I explained what I knew of the organization, how it worked, what they needed, what our potential roles might be... there was an opportunity for him to do some architectural design work, and for me to work in various roles. I asked him if he had any thoughts, concerns or objections. He agreed to meet with them about the architectural project, and voiced his concern about the investment of time. He pointed out that he already struggled with my commitments to various Christian activities, such as two Bible studies and church on Sundays, and add to that time at the gym, he felt I was away from home quite a bit already and that he would find it difficult for me to spend even more time away from home.

Taking time to pray over our conversation, I began to realize that not only would I need to meet with this organization several times a week, but once it took off, it would require even more of my time.

How much time would that take away from our three children? Would it be fair to our family for me to continue with this commitment? What would become of this commitment once we got the call about our adoption? Would it be fair for the head of this organization to keep investing time in me when I may have to drop everything in a a few weeks/months when we finally get that call?

Thinking back to the conversation I'd had with my best friend a few weeks ago about praying and surrendering my time to God and let Him help me set my priorities, I realized that by speaking to my husband about this, God was helping me answer those prayers.

What would I have missed out on if I had refused to submit?

I approached my husband about it, and explained that although I had a passion for what this organization was doing and that I knew I had a lot to offer, I had made the decision to heed to his leadership and step down as a potential candidate. It was important to me to honor his feelings and respect his concerns about time commitments, and I made sure to let him know that this was a decision made intentionally with him and our family in mind. I needed him to know that he was right, and that I agreed with him. (I may or may not have grinned and told him he might want to have that in writing...) I also explained that I wanted to be careful not to give him a negative impression of Christian mission work, that there were ways to be involved in Christian mission work without it compromising our family relationships. Last but not least, I told him that if I wanted him to be a good leader, if I wanted him to also respect me, I had to be the one to lead by example. It was important to me to communicate all this to him because I wanted him to understand the reasons for my decisions.

It was obvious by his response that he was appreciative of how I had handle this and of my decision. I could tell that he didn't take it lightly, and that he understood how significant a turning point this was.

In the end, God showed me that when I struggle to trust others, I need only to remember to trust Him. When I struggle to submit, I need only to remember that by submitting to my husband, I am submitting to God's plans for my life. I saw evidence once again that leading my husband to become a leader by submitting to him is possible, and the only way I'll lead is by example -- by changing myself so that He can change everything else through me.

Submitting to him had answered my prayer to protect establish priorities and protect the time I was given to take care of those priorities.

Ironically, where submitting once felt suffocating, like a death sentence... it has become the extreme opposite. It has given life to my marriage and liberated me from the chains of my past.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eternal Nesting

The emotional intensity of the adoption journey had recently been replaced with a calm period of time, a calm that soothed the spirit and brought peace, a stillness much appreciated.

The all too brief stillness has given way to restlessness. I immediately knew it felt different from the intensity of the past few months, a different kind of urgency, but I didn't understand why right away. I couldn't explain it.

Reaching out to a few close friends, I began to recognize the familiar in the unfamiliar... this restlessness, this new sensation, was one I had felt before, long ago.

It was the urge to do something, to mark the time in significant ways, the urge to move forward in preparation.


An urge that animals and humans have by instinct to prepare a home for the upcoming arrival of their newborn(s).

It left me dumbfounded.

The only experience I had as a mother was in preparing for newborns, babies, and for the most part, I had the advantage of knowing when the time would come, what I would need, and how to prepare.

How do you prepare for a child who won't be needing a crib or a car seat, a child whose size and age you won't know until the day comes, a child whose homecoming is so... nebulous?

When I was pregnant with Jillian, I began to put together the nursery with an urgency in mid-July. She wasn't due until late October... but my spirit knew, my heart knew.

Jillian was born five weeks earlier than her anticipated due date.

Nesting is a preparation for what's to come. I think of a nest, and I think of home, comfort, protection, nurturing, love.

Nesting also brings to mind sparrows and God's promise that we are more valuable to Him than these, and yet His eyes are on the sparrow at all times, and when sparrows made nests in the temple, they weren't turned away. God welcomed them into His presence. So how much more than this must God welcome us into His presence?

3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God. (Psalm 84:3)

What was significant about sparrows building nests in the temple? The sparrows were only doing what they did by nature; preparing a nest, laying eggs, taking care of the eggs, raising her babies, singing in worship... but all of this was done in the presence of God. Near the altar of the Lord Almighty.

Just as we long to welcome this child into our presence and into our family, God longs to draw us into His presence and His family. He too is nesting. He wants us Home, and as such, He is always preparing our hearts for our homecoming and preparing a place for us in His Heavenly Home.

What a beautiful picture of God the Father, restlessly nesting to bring His adopted children home.

While our hearts are being prepared, both for our homecoming and for our child's homecoming, I find comfort in trusting my God-given instincts. Nesting comes near the impending arrival, at a time when the long wait bears fruit.

She'll be home soon.

Soon, the days that seemed like thousands will turn into a thousand that seems like one.

We are choosing to wait until she's home to completely makeover the room that she and Jillian will share. This will give her ownership and help her feel included, and it will be a bonding experience all around. We're choosing to wait until she's home to purchase clothes, we don't know yet what she'll need or what she'd prefer, and the fun of shopping together will be yet another positive experience.

There is little else to do.

We certainly won't be needing these for a five year old...

Or this....

There is something she'll need, though, something so important that it is the very first thing I chose to purchase for her. This one-size-fits-all treasure will help us in this journey, bring comfort through the transition, and it will do what the sparrows of the temple did... it will prepare a nest close to His altar, close to His presence, preparing our hearts for our ultimate Homecoming.

Just like her big sister's.

As several close friends suggested, I'll also begin to write letters to her regularly until we welcome her home, a way to journal my heart as the day approaches. Someday, I will give those to her to let her know how much we longed for her and loved her, long before she came home to us.

In similar ways, God provided letters to us in His gift of the Bible, showing us that He longed for us and loved us, long before we come Home to Him.
Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Gift of Ann {Giveaway}

Thank you for your entries in this giveaway! A winner was chosen via Random.Org, and the winner was #4, "Chris".

Chris, I'll be in touch with you shortly for your mailing address!

I'll likely be doing this again in a few weeks, keep checking in :o)


Like so many others across the world, I have been reading "One Thousand Gifts" by the beloved Ann Voskamp. I can only recall counting down the days to the release of a book three times in the past decade -- twice for books by first time authors, Ann being one of them.

Even though I had anticipated reading this book for months before it became available, I have to admit that I had it in my hands almost two weeks before I opened the cover. This wasn't going to be the average book to be read casually in one sitting. Even the name of her website hints of what's to come in those pages -- "A Holy Experience".

As expected, Ann's words are exquisite, urging us to slow down and savor the truth that pours out of the pages she has penned -- truths that release us from darkness.

Truths rooted so deeply in His word.

Much of what I've read in Ann's book is familiar; I'm not surprised. Having also been through a very difficult past, I too had come to many of the same conclusions -- gratitude is a way of life that gives life beyond measure, and the ability to experience gratitude in the smallest of wonders often comes from the cost of having known the deepest of pain. We choose to either stay in the valley, or climb the mountain of gratitude.

I found myself cheering her on silently, praising God for the ways He redeemed the pain and the past, and for how many lives were being changed by this book right now. Perhaps it is because it was all too familiar that I held my breath in excitement as Ann shared in the process, the journey, the learning and discovering... all woven together so beautifully. Reading it, I feel as though I'm on her farm in southern Ontario as she and I walk through fields and forests as she recounts the story of her journey, a quiet conversation with a familiar friend. It is uplifting and encouraging to see how she stumbled upon her discoveries through the careful study of God's words to us and to learn about each connection she made along the way.

A classic from the very start, this book will become the gift for all occasions, for many, many years to come.

If you don't yet have a copy of this book, I'd love to bless one of you with one of my extra copies. Simply leave a comment introducing yourself and including the best way to contact you. The winner will be chosen on Sunday evening, Feb 20th, 11pm AST.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Extreme Heart Makeover: Career Edition

The conversation on Sunday night was unexpected.

First, he was awake.

Wives, women, you very well understand that having a man awake during conversations just makes things go so much more... mutual. In our marriage, bedtime conversations are rare; he's usually asleep before his body is horizontal. This alone made the conversation unexpected, but it's really the topic that took me by surprise.

What I might have expected (other than snoring, that is) was "let's go somewhere this weekend and do something..." or perhaps "what are your plans for tomorrow?"

Not "I want to go back to school and completely change career fields."

(**cue screeching halt and chirping crickets **)

My husband has been in the architectural engineering field for so long that in many ways, it has become a part of who he is. For years, this identity consumed him and fought for first place in his life. Too much weight was placed on his workplace successes in order to compensate for the lack of control or successes he felt in other areas of his life.

He recalls the years when work was an escape and admits that it was a vicious cycle; life at home was difficult because of his workaholic ways, and the difficulties at home only served to further his devotion to work. It matters not as much what came first, the chicken or the egg, as much as it matters that the cycle has been broken.

When I began to pray for Christ to change me, everything changed, especially our home life.

Gone were his 70 hour work weeks and the identity so intertwined with his profession that one did not know where work ended and life began.

Although he still enjoys his job and takes pride in working hard and being respected in his field, his heart is changing. Where work was once life, life is now lived with family, seeking more meaning, more depth, more truth. Peace was found.

I had held the power to push him away, but when I gave up that power and surrendered to Christ, Christ gave me what I needed to draw him closer -- an extreme heart makeover.

The changes in my heart have changed his heart, and evidence of his heart's softening has been growing over the last few years. Although it has become evident in big ways, such as his desire joining mine in wanting to grow our family through adoption, it's often noted the most in little things, the ordinary miracles. No matter how little, they take me by surprise and aren't taken for granted. Remember the crayons? Or how about the dying moose?

The source of the changes is evident; I am awed by how gently and sweetly Christ is moving his heart. I can't help but wonder if he is aware of what's happening, if he notices the changes in his life, in his heart, and if he knows the difference is Jesus?

Even if he's not aware of the changes, I'm noticing.

Last night's conversation was evidence of that change.

"I'm no longer satisfied working in an environment designed to make someone else rich... there's so much more to life. I want to make a difference, to do something meaningful... I want to do something that helps people."

"I've been thinking about my father, how he grew up with dreams of becoming a pilot. Whether through circumstances or choices, those dreams went unfulfilled... those dreams died when he did. I don't want to follow the same path. Life's too short to waste it doing something that doesn't have meaning. I grew up wanting to be a policeman, and although I'm successful at what I do in the design & engineering field and I've enjoyed my career... more and more, my heart is longing for something else. I think it's time to consider making some changes and following through on those dreams before it's too late."

I've always known about his dreams to join the police force. Truth be told, I had apprehensions all along because I had doubts that his motivation was in the right place. Now, although his dreams are the same dreams he had as a child, his heart has changed his reasons and erased the doubts I had.

He is searching for truth, truth that is stealthily taking a hold of his heart leaving him hungry for more. He wants to make a difference in the life of someone else. He wants meaning and purpose, he wants to help those in need.

Remarkable... remarkable for a man whose response years ago to those in need was "that's not my problem". Especially when it came to helping people in developing countries. "Their government should be helping them, not us. It's not our problem." Finally, something we agreed on -- it isn't our problem...... but it's our opportunity -- our opportunity to help, to be His hands and feet.

He sees things in extremes, in black and white, without middle ground. People who see things only in black and white and extremes are more prone to depression and negativity. In his eyes, if he can't help them all, he won't help at all -- helping just one frustrates him and overwhelms him because rather than appreciating the miracle of helping one, he looks around and only sees the ones not being helped.

Sometimes, the sheer magnitude of problems faced: the lack of clean water in developing countries, 147 million orphans, over 20,000 children dying daily... the overwhelming magnitude stuns him dead in his tracks and stops him from helping. The difference between he and I is that while he sees only problems that are insurmountable and hopeless, I see only God through Whom nothing is impossible or without hope.

Our focus is simply different.

I knew that underneath all of the tough exterior was a big heart, I just didn't know how to help him, how to change the situation, how to reach his heart and rescue it from being buried alive.

The key wasn't in changing him, it was in changing me.

1 Peter 3:1 -- Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.

Surrender gives life to change. The more we surrender to Him, the more we change. The more we change, the more everything around us changes. The more everything around us changes, the more our life is changed all over again.

ALL in His ways, not ours.

ALL in His time, not ours.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Be On Time, Valentine!

Valentine's Day has come and gone, all that's left are reminders that love should be celebrated daily, and of course, a sea of pink and red in the clearance aisle at your local department store.

Have you ever tried to find Valentines cards in December? Take my word for it, it's like trying to find the remote when you need it the most, or the keys when you're running late. Or some peace and quiet in the kitchen between the hours of 5 and 7pm :)

If you sponsor a Compassion child, you likely know that it takes roughly two months for the children to receive the letters. If you are planning to send them Valentines for February of 2012, pick them up on clearance this week, and tuck them away with your correspondence supplies.

They'll come in handy in, oh, December or so.

Makes you wish you picked up some Easter stickers last year, doesn't it? Because you know what they say about finding Easter stickers in February...


This "Works For Me Wednesday" tip is part of the blog carnival
hosted by Kristen, Compassion Advocate & Blogger.

works for me wednesday at we are that family
Monday, February 14, 2011

Outrunning Poverty

Eighteen year old Emilda has never been a stranger to hardship.

Born into extreme poverty in the Philippines, Emilda's life was already difficult enough, but it was about to get harsher. At the age of 2, she developed a high fever which soon led to convulsions. The convulsions were too much for her fragile brain.

She was unconscious for six days.

As parents, most of us can't imagine what Emilda's parents faced 16 years ago. We can't imagine what went through their minds in those desperate hours as they watched and prayed over their 2 year old daughter, not knowing if she'd recover or even survive.

She did survive, but she didn't recover in the ways that they had hoped and prayed for.

Emilda's brain suffered from the trauma of the fever and convulsions. Her parents hoped that she would overcome these challenges, but after five years of attempting to complete Kindergarten without success, tests determined that Emilda had suffered irreversible brain damage and had been left with the mind of a 3 year old.

Unable to count, memorize scriptures, read or write, struggling to communicate, Emilda found herself unable to complete an education that would have provided a way out of poverty. A way out of her poverty stricken neighborhood on the edge of this dangerous landfill where families scavenge for food, scraps, and survival.

While the brain damage affected her capacity to learn and communicate, it didn't affect her spirit.

There was something extra special about Emilda -- her ability to outrun her challenges. Literally, and otherwise.

Her ability to run was fostered and encouraged. She worked hard, eventually competing in the 12th Philippines Special Olympics in 2009, where despite a fever, she won a gold medal, two silver medals, and a bronze medal in track and field, qualifying her for the international Special Olympics in the historic city of Athens, Greece.

It was already a significant challenge to travel to the track for practice twice a day. They can't afford transportation, so they walk several miles, twice a day. They are determined to give her every possible chance...

... but Athens?

They can't walk to Athens.

All her life, Emilda has been a survivor, she has outrun each challenge to the best of her abilities.

This one seemed too great to outrun.

Except nothing is impossible for the God that we serve.

Emily is part of the Compassion program. In light of the special circumstances, her Compassion project brought this situation to the attention of Compassion international and an intervention proposal was submitted. Once approved, a fundraising initiative was set into motion for Emilda, her mother and a Compassion worker to travel to Athens, Greece, where Emilda will compete in the Special Olympics.

What a blessing for you and I, what an incredible opportunity to serve and be a part of Emilda's success story. An opportunity to give, to give hope, to surround her with love, and to cheer her on right through to Athens.

That fundraising initiative was announced on Valentine's Day, and already 48% of the total has been raised!!

There is still a chance to help -- won't you join us?

There is no amount too small. Emilda's family lives on less than $1 a day, can you match their daily salary and give $1? Perhaps $7? Give what you can.

Together, we can help Emilda outrun the poverty that has been trying to slow her down.

Together, we can help her outrun her way to Athens.

Donating couldn't be simpler -- just follow this link.

For more information on Emilda, click here, or here.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011

How Crayons Can Erase Walls

We have been married almost 17 years, almost half of my lifetime.

Although our relationship began on a foundation of communication, the years that should have made us fluent in each other's language of love have done the opposite. In time, the differences carved a wider and deeper space between us leaving us struggling to regain that space.

That space hurts.

That hurt builds invisible walls.

Rather than to protect, the walls create more hurt, defensiveness, sharp edges...

Like many parents whose time is torn between work, children and other responsibilities, we all too often put our marriage last. We have been deceived into thinking that always putting the children first is best, but how can it be best when what's best for them is to have the living example of two parents who are one with each other, in love, and in tune to each other's hearts?

In an effort to strengthen our relationship and tear down walls, we have begun dating again.

Dating each other, that is.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

With Love, From Ghana

("Letters To Africa" Photo credit: Teri-Adele Roberts)

Our precious Compassion son from Ghana has poured his heart out once again in another wonderful letter. Pages upon pages revealing his heart and his personality, each page drawing us closer to he and his family.

I can't imagine what we'd be missing out on if we didn't communicate with him on a regular basis. It really does build relationships and leads to such a beautiful experience.

Some of the highlights from his letter:

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Favorites

What an incredible week for blog posts...

Here were a few of my favorites:

What really happens when you give to the poor?
Ann Voskamp answers this ever so beautifully. If you have not taken a moment to read it, will you take a moment now?

Does living as a Christian in a world saturated with the secular leave you feeling as though you're straddling a fence? Tracie is journaling her way through the Bible. Her posts always make me pause in reflection and leave me hungry for more of His word. I am blessed to spend every Sunday evening under her leadership in our Bible Study group -- will you spend a moment with her too?

This post on time management is a powerful reminder to put life on "pause" and reflect on who directs our days, our time, our tasks... Us, others, or God? Has being "busy" become another idol?

This one will break your heart... are you willing to brave it and join Jesus on the mountaintop and pray for those living in conditions we may never be able to understand?

This one touched a tender place in my heart... for those of us who have felt like sparrows, or tenderly held one.

I'd love to hear what spoke to you this week, would you be willing to share?
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Celebrating The Unseen

Six years ago, I was preparing for a job interview with a company I had worked with for 8 years in the past. It should have been simple; it was basically the same position I had when I was employed with them years ago. I was very familiar with the company and the particulars of this job.

I went in, did the best I could given their very irrelevant interview style, and hoped for the best.

A few weeks later, I received a letter in the mail stating that while they appreciated my interest in my old job, they had chosen an applicant with more experience.

More experience than someone who had already done this job? How is that possible?

I had been out of work for several years, and we knew that we couldn’t keep living on one income much longer. This job would have been such an answer to prayer, such an immense blessing. And yet, that door had clearly closed for reasons we struggled to understand.

The kids were young; 3, 6 and 8. I stood at the door, rejection letter in hand, and called out for the kids to get ready to go for a drive.

I had a pocket full of change, and given how much we were struggling financially at the time, it may as well have been $1000. The thought briefly crossed my mind to put it toward something of longer lasting value, but I knew that although this outing would cost me a few precious dollars, the opportunity to teach the kids about faith and God would be priceless.

Where are we going, Mommy?