Thursday, December 31, 2009

echoing

(** i wrote this post after coming home at christmas and somehow it missed getting posted. hmmmm...)

we just returned from a trip visiting family. i smile thinking about how haven now kneels on one knee when singing 'ring around the rosies' with her babies. and how when we pass a mirror or picture of herself she exclaims, 'that's you!' in a way that you know she thinks this phrase to be her name. time spent playing with grandad and his aging knees and listening to a mama recount over and over again the baby in the pictures with mommy and daddy have left their mark. she echoes what she sees. hears. she clearly displays what we do. are. i wonder what i echo. soon, she won't be so obvious in her mirroring. like me, she'll be inundated with things to reflect back. but, oh, to echo one thing. and to echo it well. simplify my voice in 2010, lord.

i listened to this sermon ten years ago and passed it along to a sweet friend this christmas. you can listen or read, it's lengthy and challenging, but oh so worth the investment.

Monday, December 14, 2009

repeat the sounding joy


may you be filled with peace, granted much grace, and given many opportunities to bless others in 2010

merry christmas

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

giving


(*it's about time for a new post, huh?)

ever since i returned from kenya, my mind has been stirring about giving. y'all, i have stuff. a lot of it. not enough to make it on that hoarders show, but definitely more than one needs. and money. it spills out of my purse, haven finds it in between the cushions and we even keep a little in the bank too. i bet you have some in all the same places. anyways, this week i've really been thinking about this story...

The Widow's Offering

21:1 Jesus [1] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. [2] 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

... and pondering what it means. for me. for now. not that i'm looking to regift the three half-used bottles of body lotion in the bathroom. but what if i gave more like the widow and less like the rich? joyfully. trusting. all. less like the couch cushion fund-- more like the bank account. more like heifer international-- less like best buy.

haven just learned the fabulous new word, that she doesn't just say, she articulates. 'MIIINEEEEE'. as we try to emphasize sharing, it's our hope that she learns nothing is really ours to hold to tightly.

Lord, my prayer is that she, that we, would give as the widow. trusting that you will provide for our needs. giving freely of what you've entrusted to us. not what comes easily, but what takes sacrifice.



Monday, November 09, 2009

the post that almost wasn't


i've been back from kenya for a few weeks now and yet i'm still struggling with how to write about my time there. i'm still struggling with how to process what i saw. felt. lived.

it was a good trip. it was a hard trip. we helped a lot of people-- roughly 2500 saw a doctor, received treatment for a wound, and/or were vaccinated that would not have received help had we not been there; because they couldn't physically get to a hospital, were too poor, or their local medics didn't have proper know-how/ equipment. along with that though, there were so many more we couldn't help. the days weren't long enough. we turned people away.

i saw an old man cry because he hadn't eaten in days and was hungry. i cuddled a baby while his mothered learned she had aids. i held a starving boy, years older than my daughter, and far smaller. i overheard an orphan ask the woman who sponsors him with complete sincerity, if she thought about him/ missed him/ loved him when she was at her home. i guarded a door so that the crowd wouldn't crush those nearest to the building. later, they broke down the door, realizing not everyone would be seen. people like you and me, they were desperate for basic medical aide.

i learned a little more of myself, what i'm capable of and what i'm not. i learned what it means to put your hope in the Lord, what it means to have nothing else to put your hope in. i learned the names of some of the 145 million orphans-- they're naomi, warren, toba...

the need is real. the commercials on tv are real. the reality is emblazoned in my mind and is more than you can imagine.

i had a hard time eating breakfast right when i returned, because i had more than enough. my pantry had more than enough and even if it didn't, i could jump in my car and stare at a store with rows and rows filled with more than enough. this is not the case everywhere. whole communities are hungry without pantries/options/stores.

i look at my little girl and wonder how she and i were so blessed to be born in america. so blessed to have shoes. so rich to have water. forget taxes and mortgages and credit card statements, you and i are rich because we have access to w-a-t-e-r.

i'm searching for what to do with this new awareness. how to live in america with painted toes and decorating magazines with voices of orphans singing songs playing through my thoughts. how to go christmas shopping knowing that people i have sat with may go days without eating.

i haven't figured it all out yet--mostly, i just get overwhelmed with how great the need is and what little i can do to help. tonight, i read haven the story of david and goliath and thought about how the need feels like a towering giant and how tiny my influence looks in its shadow. but, i will not be overcome by fear, i will choose to act. to trust God with the details, but follow in what i know he has said. what his holy words in my worn bible say. love my neighbor. in africa. in america. i will love until it feels uncomfortable, and when i start to get comfortable with that, i'll give until it gets uncomfortable again. because, a $25 check isn't much of a stretch in our household it doesn't really 'cost' us. but a $250 check? a $2500 check? it hurts a little. it means we don't get to eat out for a while. or buy new clothes. or find our security in a bank account. it does mean that someone gets to eat. wears clothes. that i become vested with someone else's worth. and that is love.

could i challenge you to get uncomfortable? allow your heart to break over the reality of your neighbor's need and love them enough to walk with them through it--whatever that means in your neck of the woods?





Thursday, November 05, 2009

pig tails

waiting for the garbage truck
'the mommies on the bus go 'shh,shh, shh'"

ladies and gentleman, we have pig tails. it's taken almost two years, but they have arrived! i couldn't help myself-- posting about hair. this is a big deal folks.

is this girl the cutest, or what?!

Friday, October 30, 2009

poodles scare me





not the little ones-- the ginormous ones. which makes haven's halloween costume all the more frightful. kenya pics to come....i'm still processing the experience.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Changing the world

Just received an update from the leader of the team Jen is serving on...

Jen will be home Sunday night. Thanks to everyone for all your prayer and support!

we are doing well, the medical clinics were amazing, we saved many people's lives...what an amazing feeling! we have helped mabye more than 2,500 patients. it has been life changing for all of us. we are all well and feeling great. about to drive to kisumu for our flight to nairobi where we will take the day to see africa tomorrow, safari and shopping. all the gifts have been greatly appreciated by the children. we just had our final clinic this morning for the last of the children at tumaini and had our game day. everyone was a winner thanks to your generosity! so thank you to each of you who have helped us with this project.

as always we will have many stories of our wonderful time in Kenya, we are deeply toched by these people.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Change the World



There are millions of children orphaned worldwide. Millions who die each year because they lack basic medical attention or enough food to fill their bellies. It's overwhelming, right? Almost easier to shut our ears to it than attempt to change things. But each number represents a name, a child just like mine, a person created in God's image.

I'm only one person. Only a stay-at-home-mom. Only Jen. What could i possibly offer? A lot. Hope. Love. A voice.

I'm joining a medical team traveling to four towns and two orphanages surrounding Lake Victoria in Kenya October 16th through the 24th to help serve the forgotten.

I can't help 10 million orphaned children, or feed an entire country. But, you and I, we could help one mom just like us, or three siblings, or six tiny babies. We might not all move to Africa, or write million dollar checks, but we need not stand paralyzed.

Won't you join me in loving our neighbors? I'm collecting the list below to bring with me and would love your help, no single item costs more than $10, most are less than $5. There are many other ways to meet the needs of these. Take a step. Make a difference. Let me know if you need help.

::80 children's underwear
::40 small umbrellas/rain jackets
::20 boxes of band-aids
::30 packages of Neosporin
::10 soccer balls
::30 frisbees
::15 children's tylenol

Along with meeting physical needs, there are spiritual needs to be met too. Would you commit the month of October to praying for the country of Kenya? Pray for a good crop this year, a peaceful government, a cure for AIDS, enough food for the poorest of the poor, caregivers for every child, others to have compassion.

I'm excited to see how God will work-- both in our hearts and in another land. Thank you for your love and support in advance!

Blessings,
Jen

PS- If you'd like to donate, but don't live down the street-- I'd be happy to send you an address. Thank you!

::Matthew 25:34+ says, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' The the righteous will answer him, saying ' Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of thesemy brothers, you did it to me.'

Sunday, September 20, 2009

18 months






every month i re-decide that haven is at the greatest stage and this month (even with meltdowns and tantrums) is no different. she is such a joy and is learning so much.
:: she says mommy and daddy really well now although she gets them mixed up
::she loves to have a job whether it's feeding beau (read 'dropping his food all over the floor two feet before the bowl') or throwing the napkins away at dinner
::i can braid her hair! okay, that's more an accomplishment for me than her, but i'm pretty proud and thankful that it looks better than i imagined my abilities would allow
::she's starting to like forgotten veggies again
::she's speaking along with her signs for many of them now-- peeze, moa (more), boat, dar (car), side (outside)
:: driving in the car at the grocery store is the highlight of the week
::beginning to interact with other babies at playdates
::loves baby dolls and feeding/caring for them. the latest thing is to hold them to the sky and then put the baby down to tickle them so. cute.
::washing hands at every given opportunity, brushing teeth, and putting on lotion are so fun
:: she's pee-peed in the potty twice now, but for the most part just likes to act it out and flush paper down the toilet
:: she's so aware and knowledgeable of so much more than she let's on to-- she remembers rules we've told her from previous days and adds motions to songs that she saw over a month ago
::she loves reading her storybook bible and having it read to her and even bows her head to pray at dinner with us
::she has beau wrapped around her finger, he'll bring her a ball to throw and play
::the gal has super sonic hearing and points to the sky every time a plane flys over-- even when we're inside. she waits for you to recognize it too, which can get a little tiresome since we live so close to three major airports!
::'mel-mo' and baby signing are still the favorite videos, but when i need to braid her hair (45 minutes +) she LOVES marley and me and waits for the dog to come on screen to point him out.
:: she loves to please and will applaud herself for a job well done and loves to get a high five for recognition

Friday, August 21, 2009

responsibilities

in october i'm leaving the country. leaving my husband and baby behind. for kenya. most would furrow their brow and think if not say, that this is not very responsible of me. have i prayed about it? is this a wise decision? none of these thoughts or questions have been asked without myself first asking them. the answer is yes. resoundingly yes.

my husband and i have made it a priority to teach our daughter of the love the Father has for her. although she is only one, she knows much about love. she can even act out the motions to one of her favorite songs that sings, 'Jesus! he cares for me'.

for as much as i love my sweet girl, God loves her even more. he loves her more than i can imagine with a love that cost him his son. it is the same love he has for you. the same he has for the men and women filling our prisons. the same love he has for the children in africa. children without clean drinking water, without parents, without food enough to fill their bellies. without hope.

that i could steal just a week from my calendar to fly across the globe, give out a few stickers, hold a few hands, and kiss a few foreheads will not make any headlines. it's impact will be so minute compared to the millions in need across the sea. but oh, that it would be a fragrant offering to the One that beckons. and that he would change me into someone that resembles Him more through the process.

it is my responsibility. it is my desire. he has commanded us to go. whether that means out of state, out of country, or out of comfort zone. it is i who is to love you. love that sees you as better than myself, love that sacrifices my wants for others daily needs. it is i who through grace alone am hands and feet of a God who lives. for if not me, then whom? if not you, then whom? if not now, then when?

so, yes, i will leave a dearly loved baby girl safe with her daddy and family whom love her fiercely and will travel to towns where streets have no names. there, i will love-- love lavishly with my whole being so that someday even though bellies go empty and rain tarries someone's little girl might say, 'Jesus?! yes, he cares for me!'. for His glory.

i saw what i saw

africa

i've tried writing this post two or three times already and will surely hit the delete button a few more times before sleep finds me tonight. my head is just swimming and my heart, it yearns. filled with excitement and something else i can't quite put my finger on. i'm trading this continent for another in a month or so. completely thrilled and uncertain of all that kenya contains. but it's less about what kenya has and more about what He does. less about safari, more about sacrifice-- not my own, mind you, but theirs. and His. to minister to the mom who goes without so her children may eat. to join Jesus in loving his people.

i've been reading the bible, words spoken by God himself and found myself identifying more with pharisees than followers of the Way. something about being hearers of the Word and not doers. don't misread me--there's nothing glorious about spending one week of a lifetime along dirt roads in africa--i don't intend that every christian american needs to make a trek to the bush. but what would happen if we all just allowed Holy Scripture to affect our lives more than just perfect attendance at church on sundays? what if it really moved us?

::what does it mean to seek justice for you? (micah 6:8)

::when Jesus reveals the second greatest commandment, who exactly is our neighbor? how are ways that you show that love? (matthew 22:39)

::Matthew 25:34+ says, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' The the righteous will answer him, saying ' Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (emphasis, my own) do you even know anyone that is truly in need? to think that the first fulfillment of this passage that came to my mind was the bag of torn and stained clothing that i donated to goodwill this year. this is what i'm offering to God??

::lastly, are you giving according to what has been entrusted to you? (luke 12)

there are so many more questions to ask, and these i ask myself before others. i don't do a good enough job. there is more for me to be faithful with, more ways to show love and fulfill the commands left. but for now, lasik will wait until hunger is gone, we'll go out of our way to build a relationship with the man across the street, and i'll fly to kenya to leave a part of my heart there and bring back a vision of more that is to be done. for His glory.



Sunday, August 09, 2009

summer nights



h playing with salt dough and eating blueberries while we make pizzas and blueberry muffins


there's a lollipop in between the couch cushions. dvd's strewn across the floor. and flour in both our hair. it's been a good day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

vacation '09 part tres

part three was spent in orlando. friends that we were with have a house there with a pool in the back (and a hot tub too!) we had fun spending hours in super wal-mart (none here at home), getting free slurpies at 7-11, playing adults-only putt-putt, and on our last day--we caved and went to disney world. jon and i haven't been in over 20 years and even though we were worried haven was too little to enjoy it, she had a ball.
jon, h, laura, and braden watching the AWESOME fireworks at cinderella's castle
haven couldn't stop smiling on the carousel-- she 'princess' waved at everyone we passed
stuck inside for a little rain shower
we were a little worried about how to handle naptime, but h took care of that for us in the middle of the haunted mansion-- she just passed out in the dark coolness! here she is on jon's shoulders watching the parade pass by-- she loved dancing to the music and waving at everyone going past.
a pirate's life for me!
our first ride (as recommended by haven's friends) and by far, haven's favorite-- it's a small world. i love being a mom--i got teary watching haven take it all in, she sang along and danced with the dolls. for the rest of the day she'd go back to 'humming' and swaying to the song.
this is our 'before' picture' (*notice, i didn't post the after-- it was hot and sweaty) on main street. we were given 'i'm celebrating' pins which we claim was to mark our 5th anniversary and branden and haven got 'first visit' pins.

can't pass up free chick-fil-a! all the ladies dressed like cows for free lunch. laura and i went back with branden and jon for dinner. it's just. that. good.
after hitting chick-fil-a twice in one day haven now say's "moo" whenever she sees a cow :)

vacation '09 part two

part two was spent in fort lauderdale, fl with jon's dad, pops. we had a blast! mark works at a super swanky hotel with the greatest staff -- we stayed the night (but will surely be back for more!) and felt like royalty everywhere we wandered. :) thanks for the beautiful rooms and the amazing view!!
playing with pops
walking down the strip-- the beach and it's sea turtle nests were on the left
yummy seafood at bubba gump's-- thanks mark!
heading to the mall where haven had her own little dance party outside brookstone
breakfast at the hotel

vacation '09 part one

our vacation this year consisted of three parts, here's numero uno.

we went with two other families to grand cayman island-- thanks to the recession, our little budget went a loooooong way!

haven at the pool

building sand castles
haven is such a beach baby-- she loved the sand and wasn't scared of the ocean at all! everyday, we came back to the room with half the shore's sand in her diaper.
jon and branden are the little heads in the middle, jon's on the left.
daddy and hae 'on a boat'-- we (ALL twelve of us) went out to snorkel in two spots and to stingray city--a sand bar where TONS of stingrays gather for fishermen's cleanings. more pics to come of this stop...
haven loves her drummers! either going in for the kiss or the drumsticks--not sure. j is an excellent three-year-old drummer-- he's playing with branden and us singing worship songs.

an inside-out oreo kiss.
no fear. there were lizards and iguanas EVERYWHERE and h wanted to touch them all.

all the kids were invited to feed the barracuda and tarpin near one of the restaurants at the hotel-- see the splash?
h and her ducky lifejacket
laughing in the sand


'bye-bye'