When A Hungry Girl Crawls Into Your Soul. Because Of Beatrice!

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Today Brandi is telling her story about Beatrice. Oh Brandi, I love you.

They wrapped her tightly to my back with fabric, like I was a real African mama. She didn’t know me from Adam and yet she snuggled her little face against my back and my heart soared with joy. I didn’t know in this moment what this little girl would do to my heart, how she would rip me open to a new depth of love and a new pain that would take my breath away.

Her name? Alaso Beatrice.

Even now, I whisper it with reverence and wonder if you will read it with the care it deserves. She is beyond special. She is the epitome of the Biblical phrase “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

After they placed her on my back for a few hours of good, solid African mama work – I slipped her out of the fabric and brought her to my hip to hold. It is here that I first saw her dimples. Dimples for days and a shy little smile that will make your heart soar. Oh, I was in love. Just like that. Head over heels.

Don’t get me wrong, I love fairly easily. I have a son adopted from Liberia, West Africa and, as any adoptive mama will tell you, it’s not as hard as some might think to love another child as your own. I have traveled to Uganda multiple times. I run a non-profit there (Beauty For Ashes Uganda – you can pause and go like it on FB if you need too ). I know what it is to love the Ugandan people and to have your heart fall a little more in love every time. But this? This was different from any time before.

This hungry little girl crawled into my soul and settled there, staring up at me with her dimples, shy smile, and sparkly eyes. My soul felt something that can only be called holy and sacred.

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I spent the rest of my day in her village, Odukai, with her on my hip. She was my little shadow. We worked together and I snuggled into her little neck, sending her into fits of giggles whenever I had the chance. I painted her little nails, along with 100 others, and watched the little girls beam at their new pretty hands and feet. I even left her dig through my backpack, looking for snacks. I shared my banana with her and handed her any food that was handed to me.

After we spent time in the garden, digging up the cassava and piling it all together for all of us mamas to peel, I set Beatrice down next to me. She immediately reached for the sharpest blade she could find and I gasped, “Oh sweet girl, little ones shouldn’t play with knives.” She looked at me, a tad incredulous and grabbed a piece of cassava and quickly peeled it. The other mamas laughed and one leaned over to me and said, “It looks like she’s been preparing her own meals for a while.”

I sat back stunned ~ in both wonder and heartbreak. Beatrice is four. Four-year-olds shouldn’t play with knives…not just because it’s not safe, but because four-year-olds shouldn’t be responsible for their own meals. Littles shouldn’t know how to peel
cassava, or anything else, because they should be too busy playing to worry about making sure their bellies are fed.

Beatrice is four, but she’s the size of a two-and-a-half-year-old. Just a little peanut that fits perfectly on my hip or snuggled into my back or on my chest for a quick little nap.

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As best as we can put together her story, here’s what we believe has happened: Beatrice’s sweet mama was just a young teenager when she had her first babe. Five years later, Beatrice was born. Sometime when Beatrice was a babe, her father was poisoned and her mama ran away. Beatrice and her sister went to live with their grandma. Grandma, however, had late stage AIDS and was not doing well. From what her great aunt told us, at this point, Beatrice almost starved to death. This thought alone is so unimaginable to me that I can barely write the words. The one who my heart adores almost starved to death, while my babies beg for snacks every hour and eat until their tummies are more than full every single day. A mzungu (white person) came along and took her to a hospital or care center of some sort for a time, nursing her back to health before bringing her back to Grandma.

Now, Grandma lives in Odukai village. She is still very, very sick and can’t work. From what we have heard, Beatrice lives there along with a few other kids (possibly 10 total). Since Grandma can’t work, the kids go from house to house (mud hut to mud hut) asking neighbors for food or if they can have a piece of cassava. No worries, they can peel it themselves. Sometimes, they find enough food. Sometimes they don’t. A mama from the village told Rita (our field director) that sometimes Beatrice sleeps on the path on the way back home because she’s so weak.

The day I heard this news, I was on my way to a meeting at Chick-fil-A. I got into line and when the young man asked for my order, I wept. Here I was, eating lunch while Beatrice went hungry.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do with a heart that weeps over the hungry. Every night when my family sits down to pray over our dinner, I get choked up, “Father, thank you for this food. Please provide for those who are hungry. Amen.” And my children and I look at each other and whisper, “especially Beatrice.” All I know is that this heart, this broken, weeping heart of mine cannot stop at crying for the hungry. If I simply cry that there are children who are hungry, I will have done nothing to ease their hunger. My tears over their trauma must move me to action.

Here’s what I know: I know that Beatrice lives in Odukai village. We are asking the mamas of our women’s cooperative in Odukai to “adopt” Beatrice’s Grandma and allow her into their cooperative even though she has very little to offer to the group. We are brainstorming what needs to be done for Beatrice and the other children who live with Grandma. We may treat their family like we do the “child headed
households” in our program and provide food for them every month. While we agree that mamas should be empowered and given the tools to feed themselves, we do not believe that children should have to work.

So here’s the plan to help make that happen!

I want to help Beatrice’s whole village in her name. The precious mamas of Odukai Peace Group (the name they have given their cooperative of 45 single mamas and widows) need to send their kids to secondary and vocational school and can’t afford it themselves. They need another $1099 to send their kids to school on June 15th ($40 for secondary school, $100 for vocational school). They also have another 6 kids that want to start University in August — at a cost of $500 per student. So $1099 is due June 15th and another $3000 is due August 1st.

Do you think we could come together and help the kids in Beatrice’s village in her name? I want to be able to go to Odukai and tell the mamas that because of our sweet little Beatrice, people all across the world rose up to help her village.

My hope is to endear our sweet little Beatrice to every mama in that group so they will want to rise up and help even more! Do you think we can do it? Would you join me? For Beatrice. To honor her and the pain she has gone through and to bring blessing from that horror?

You can donate at www.beautyforashesuganda.org Put “because of Beatrice” in your comments. Total, for all of the children in our program, we still have to raise $6,856 — so please note in your comments what you would like your money to go towards if Odukai is covered. It can go towards the other school children, or to the fund to help Beatrice’s family and others like hers.

**PS: I promise to tell you what we find out about our little Beatrice and her family and what our staff decides is the best way to help. Together, we will make sure this sweet little precious one doesn’t go hungry again.

If you’d like to share these stories or photos, please do so only with the intent to allow others a window to this world and to allow their tears an opportunity to make a difference. You can use #beacauseofBeatrice if you would like.

When you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You’re a duck!

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20,000 ducks took the plunge into the beautiful river that flows through our downtown. We sat under an umbrella on the bank and watch them start to make their way downstream.

Our family had 12 ducks in the charity duck race that helps employee the homeless. We knew our chances of winning were slim but the excitement of watching the ducks and knowing that we were helping our homeless community was good enough for us.

Firemen stood at the drop site and gave the ducks a start by showering them with the powerful fire-hoses.

They were off!

I noticed that one little duck somehow got wedged under the rock of the river bank and couldn’t move with the rest of the racers.

One of the firefighters noticed too.

He put his hose on that little duck and would not give up. It seemed like it wasn’t going to budge, but neither was that firefighter. He was relentless and kept trying to free the stuck duck.

I wondered why he was wasting so much time on that one little duck. After all, 19,999 ducks made it and were on their way to the finish line.

He didn’t give up.

After most of the ducks had already finished the race that one little duck finally escaped the rocky bank and was on its way down the river.

He might not have been the duck that crossed the finish line first but he had someone who did not give up on getting him back in the race.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:4-7

Like the firefighter who refused to give up on the little duck stuck on the rocks, Your heavenly Father refuses to give up on you. Even as His children run towards the finish line singing His name in glory, if He has one child that is left behind He will go back for that child.

You’re His duck. He will never leave you wedged in a place that you can not escape from. He will rescue you. He will make sure that you are able to get in the race and head towards the finish line.

You are so worthy in His eyes that He could never abandon you in your time of need. That is when He focuses His eyes on you, points the powerful hose and relentlessly tries to free you from the river bank.

He will not leave you.
He will rescue you.
He will never give up on you.

You are His duck.

In the moments when we feel abandon we can always turn our eyes to our Lord and know that we are not alone.

Today you’re a duck.

Let’s pray

Heavenly Father thank you for your relentless quest for our love and safety. Help us rest in knowing that You will never leave us and that even in our deepest moments of despair You always have a plan for us that is more beautiful than anything we could ever dream of. Thank you for the cross. In Jesus name, amen.

None of our ducks won the great race but our girls had a blast and we enjoyed the day together as a family. What I didn’t enjoy was the duck noise makers that my husband proudly bought for the girls..

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The one and only true remedy for sleepless nights. Proven 100% effective.

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Losing Precious Time

My head hit the pillow at 8:24pm and I was sure to fall asleep instantly since I could hardly keep my eyes open since 5:30. Of course by 8:27 my eyes were wide open and my mind was going a thousand miles a minute.

What time does Stiles need to get to practice in the morning?

Did I brush my teeth?

Should I get up and pee now or chance it and try to make it until the morning?

I need to set a dentist appointment for our oldest daughter. Oh dang that reminds me, two of the triplets failed their vision test and need to go get an eye exam at the ophthalmologist. How are we going to pay for that?

How are we going to pay our mortgage, our bills, our child support, buy our groceries, buy the kids clothes, pay for gas?

Our fourth fundraiser packet just came home in the kids back packs. It’s school pictures time. Stiles needs a band shirt, a volleyball shirt, a student council shirt and a safety team shirt. How are we going to swing that.

I wonder if everyone can see my grey hairs? How much is it to color my hair? Should I just get one of those at home box colors?

How much does a tummy tuck cost these days?

I snap out of it and remind myself that I have to get up at 5:00am and need to shut down my brain and get some sleep. I take a peek at the clock. DANG IT! Did I really just lay here for 3 hours and worry about what I have to face tomorrow. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

I have to pee. I should have done it three hours ago.

Back to bed. Glance a the clock again. Serious, I now am four hours away from my alarm going off.

I finally crash.

After what seems like a few short minutes my alarm starts beeping. I cussed at it.

After thirty minutes of snoozing, I fell out of bed to face my day.

The Rising Of The Sun

Much to my surprise the sun came up. The weather was amazing. I stayed home with my daughters and we did crafts. My mom treated us to lunch. We took a walk. We went to church. We all attacked dad and fake karate chopped him. I pretended to be a blind monster and chased the girls around the house. I even got a little work in and paid a bill or two. We all went to sleep with tummies full of food and souls full of faith.

My sleepless dark night of fear was a waste of my time. God remained faithful to me with the rising of His Son.

He tells us flat-out not to worry. He’s got this covered. If He tells us that this is true then why do we do it anyway. Check out one of the most comforting verses.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-28

Take a look at that last line again. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” .

Wasting Time

What a fool I was for wasting three hours of precious sleep time worrying about how I was going to provide. How my husband was going to provide.

Why didn’t I just remind myself that He provides. He takes care of me. He sent His son to walk before me.
I haven’t just lost sleep in my dark hours, I’ve lost days, weeks, months, years.

I’ve spent far too much time stuck in the dark, wondering what was going to happen to me. Wondering how I was going to make it. Stressing about who I was going to become. If I was ever going to amount to anything.

What an idiot.

I Have a Hero

I have a Savior! I have a Redeemer. I have a Caregiver, a Father, a Shepard and a King to walk me through my darkest hour. All I need to do is be still and have faith.

Are you losing sleep wondering what to do and how to do it? Are you losing days stressing about how you will provide? Are you losing years stuck in your darkest hour?

Be still. Have faith. Say prayers. Do not be anxious. Rest.

God’s got this.

Let’s Pray

“Faithful Father thank you for always providing for our needs. Help us to rest in You and have faith that you will take care of us. Let us not be anxious. Take away our fears and light our darkest hours. When we lay in bed at night losing sleep over things that we are afraid to face, gently remind us that You have already gone before us and have already taken care of it. In Jesus name, amen”.

I’m passing on the hair color and rocking the greys with confidence. My insurances will cover the doctors appointments. Our refrigerator is full of food. The bills are paid, not necessarily on time but paid none the less. Most important, my kids are happy and healthy and my marriage has never been better. I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight.

A story of courage, faith and grace in the face of cancer. Channel’s story of bravely living God’s plan for her life.

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I took a deep breath in and exhaled as strong as I could and for as long as my lungs would allow. I watched the virtual candle flicker on the screen as she released her breath into the machine attached to the computer. I desperately wanted the air in my lungs to make up for what her’s had somehow come to lack.

Running track had become difficult for her and gymnastics wore her out so here we were trying to find a reason for the pounding in her chest. As the doctor spoke to me I found myself making long and labored efforts to fill my body with oxygen. It’s strange how our bodies react to what is mentally weighing on us.

At that moment I would have traded my lungs for hers. Give her mine, they work perfectly. I’ll take hers. She’s was only 13 and deserved the good set.

Jordan’s mom and dad weren’t able to take her to the doctor that day so I gladly volunteered. That day would be the first time I would meet her mom. She and I met and talked about the diagnosis of chronic asthma then went over every pill and every inhaler that had been prescribed in her child’s name. We respectfully looked each other in the eyes and carefully went over every detail. I talked while she took notes.

That’s how I met Channel, sitting in the kitchen discussing her daughter’s diagnosis.

Now, over 11 years later, that sweet girl  and her mother are facing another diagnosis and finding themselves taking deep breaths in an effort to understand how they got here and what comes next.

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I want to share Channel’s story with you and ask you to take a minute to pray for her, her family and all the medical staff that will care for her. On Monday she will learn the results fo her latest scans and what she is up against. The prayer is always for miraculous healing but they’d settle for no new spots or growth in the current ones. She is a wife to Tommy and a mommy to Jordan, Weston, Korbyn and Tatum. She’s a daughter and a sister. She is the child of the One True King. Please join us in prayer today and continue to pray for this family.

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First chemo treatment after relapse

On October 18th, 2013 Channel was diagnosed with non-small cell adenocarcinoma and has since faced things in her life that she never expected.

Her story is one of amazing faith and a true testament of someone who is bravely facing God’s plan for her life. I have no idea how I would face what she has had to face medically and mentally but I hope that I would somehow find as much faith as she has and be an example to everyone who knows her and many that have never met her. Through this Channel has touch lives of people that she has never met and shown a courage that people strive for. She hasn’t hidden her fears but has taken great efforts to put her faith first. No one wants to go through what she has and will physically go through but she knows these things are ultimately temporary and that God gave her this test so that she would have a testimony. Channel is facing her test and telling her testimony so that others can find strength in their trials. She is letting God use her the way He planned and instead of rejecting Him and being angry, she is giving thanks and courageously following His plan.

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Here’s Channel’s story told through the eyes of that 13-year-old little girl who is now a 24-year-old amazing woman, daughter and sister.

Jordan takes deep breath in and exhales as strong as she can and for as long as her lungs will allow. She faces the doctors and diagnosis while embracing her mother’s hand in her own. She desperately wants the air in her lungs to make up for what her mom’s have somehow come to lack. At this moment Jordan would trade her lungs for her moms. She’ll take hers. Give her mine, she thinks, they work perfectly.  She’s the mom and needs the good set.

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Channel’s story through her daughter: My mom was sick off and on the beginning of 2013, she would feel bad then get a little better. She had gone on a trip to Costa Rica with Tommy mid July and had a blast! Shortly after this trip she started feeling bad again. Things just started going way down hill and doctors could not figure it out.

All of her Doctors were doing what they could to figure out what was wrong and one of the things that was done was a spinal tap – my mom got the headache from the procedure and went into the ER to have a blood patch done. While she was waiting for her blood patch one of the nurses came in and did a chest x-ray, we thought that was procedure and didn’t think of it. The results came back and she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics and we went on our way. During the next two weeks she was extremely sick – she saw another doctor that convinced us this was a fungus in her lungs (this included being in the hospital 7 days) so again she was on meds but this time it was worse.
During that time she lost 20 lbs, fainted at one point that put bruises all down her body and felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest.

That is when she ended up back in the ER – that night a few things happened. One of her nurses recognized her and told us after she had left the ER last time they realized an error on their part – the chest x-ray that was done was not ordered for her but for another patient in the ER. This was no error – God knew exactly what he was doing! Thank you nurse for making an “error”! Major GOD WINK! Of course the nurses and ER doctor wanted to admit her into the hospital but she argued that she wasn’t staying unless someone would figure out what was wrong with her. She was so tired of being in the hospital with no real results, so that is exactly what they did.

She was introduced to Dr. Ulmer, her oncologist, and his team who have been such a blessing – we all are so sure that Dr. Ulmer is exactly who God picked for my mom. And by the next day, October 18th, 2013 she was diagnosed with non-small cell adenocarcinoma. The diagnoses was the most terrifying thing I had ever heard in my life. My mom has never smoked a day in her life – HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN??????? We were so happy to hear her PET scan came back and that the cancer was only in her lungs! She went on to have half her lung removed on November 1, 2013, and then chemo started. All went as well as I think it could have being this Is the first time ive ever seen someone go through this.

Fast forward to March 2014 and she was officially IN REMISSION!! She went to her 3 month check up and HALLELUJIA she was still in remission. It was when Dr Ulmer called on September 18th after her 6 month check up that our world came crashing down once again – but worse. This time not only was the cancer back in her lungs but it had spread to her brain. WHY? WHY? WHY? Luckily, surgery was an option. We met her surgeon Dr. Bogaev who is absolutely amazing and two days later she had surgery to remove the two largest tumors located at the front of her brain. There are two more spots, one on the back of her brain and one at the top. She had one week of cyberknife radiation for the spot on her lung and one week for the two spots on her brain as well as the “bed” where the tumors had been that were removed. She is getting chemo once every three weeks for 4-6 months and then will be put on a ‘maintenance chemo’ regimen. Mama C completely secluded herself from everyone when she found out it had spread to her brain. She just knew she was going to die and she didn’t want to be around anyone. Thankfully, she has come out of that funk and has been more social and inviting to all of her friends and family. So far she has had two treatments of chemo – this makes her sick for about a week but then she has two weeks of feeling a little better! (so thankful for this) The radiation made her bald in certain spots which meant she ended up shaving her head.

Jordan’s heart: This is extremely hard, overwhelming, sad, confusing, hurtful to me. I feel so sad and mad and I do not understand any of it. The hardest part is watching her fight through this. I see how much she is struggling and it completely breaks my heart. I hate seeing my mom like this and I hate wondering every day how much more time I have with her. The selfish side of me wants her here forever. I want her to be here when I get engaged and when I get married and I want my kids to have a Cici. I want that for me but I also want that for her so bad!!! I think this is so unfair and I want someone to give me an explanation!!!!!! I have had my moments of being mad at God but I’ve truly put my trust in Him. I believe that He has a purpose around this and I believe that He will not only get her through this but me and everyone else too. My biggest prayer is that my mom be present. I want her to be able to spend time with us kids without thinking about everything else that’s going on. It is so hard to be in this situation without thinking about the word CANCER in every single thing you do. ITS DISGUSTING. I also pray that this helps people get through their struggles. When you write about things I may not be going through or have gone through that exact thing but it helps me!!!

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Channel has chosen to live her life with purpose. She does her best to teach the rest of us to love while we can, forgive while we can, hug our family while we can and to carry out God’s will for our lives with courage and faith. Even in her weakest moments she continues to remind us how worthy and brave we all are and encourages people to be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy at her gym aMAZEn Boot Camp.  Today we can honor her by facing each day with grace and mercy for others, love everyone and forgive everything.

In Channels words,

“Love you all big! Muah!”

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And that was the moment when my heart burst wide open.

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A small ladybug charm dangled from the ring on her little hand as she checked each tag for a size. As soon as she found the tag she would proudly call the size out and then hand me the donated dress.I sorted them into piles.

I watched her do this for almost an hour.I could have watched her do it all night.

She was the only child in the room full of college students but didn’t even realize it.

The homeless women began to file in and take their seat. They made their hair appointment and gazed around at all the beautiful dresses hanging on the wall just waiting to be chosen.

The wonderful woman in charge introduced Bella to everyone in the room and referred to her as “A Special Guest”. She explained that Bella was there to pass out Bella’s Blessing Bag, her donation to these women.

Bella was presented with a gift from the college  that was putting on the event and you could not wipe the smile off that little girls face. It took everything in her to not come unglued with excitement. Her little dimples cut into her cheeks and she smiled at me with a look of pride on her face that I had never seen before.

Bella gathered up her blessing bags in her little arms and passed them out to each woman. They were grateful for this 7 year olds servant heart.

One woman who was worn by the sun, blown by the wind and tired from the years, reached out for Bella’s hand and I said a quick prayer that my little girl wouldn’t flinch.

I watched the small ladybug charm dangle from my daughters tiny hand as she reached for the woman’s hand that was extended to her. The woman took Bella’s hand in hers, looked her in the eyes and said “People like you make a difference in the world because you are good, you are good”.

And that was the moment when my heart burst wide open.

This woman is God’s child and for whatever reason He put her on this path. Maybe it was for this very moment. Maybe it was so she could cup my little girl’s soft hand in hers and tell my daughter that she is good.

My little girl is God’s child and for whatever reason He put her on this path. Maybe it was for this very moment. Maybe it was so she could take this woman’s sun-dried hand in hers and remind her that people are good.

As followers of Christ we are called to serve each other, love each other, give to each other, forgive each other and treat each other with respect.

Tonight I learned humility from the women who, even under their circumstance, proudly walked in to that room, held their heads up high and accepted the grace and love of others.

Tonight I learned what a true servants heart looks like. My little girl trotted into that room, didn’t shy away from a single person in there and served these women who most view as the least of these.

My heart is busted. I’m not the same. God is good.

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A Bedtime Prayer For You

My prayer for you before you rest your head tonight.

God, would you please make dessert taste like dirt and give us an intense craving for cauliflower and broccoli. That would be cool or you could just make chocolate a health food that makes us lose weight, gain energy and clear our complexions. Am I allowed to pray for that? If not then forget I said it. Sweet Father please let us lay our heads down tonight and fall instantly to sleep. Take away all of our worries so that we can rest like sweet little babies. Please take away any self doubt that we may have and fill us with the kind of courage that you gave to David when he faced Goliath with just a sling and some stones. God, if there is anyone tonight that has a broken heart will you please wrap your loving arms around them and give them the comfort that they need. Place your hand on the shoulder of those who have a heart filled with fear. You are the Almighty Savior, Healer and Giver, help us to rest in that. Please give that whole chocolate thing some thought. In Jesus name, amen .

Not what He created.

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A Beautiful Place

When my husband and I found out that we were having triplets we couldn’t wait to set up their room. It was a little challenging fitting three beds and enough dressers to hold all of their clothes.

My favorite part was painting and putting the stencils on the wall. We framed tons of pictures of our family and hung them randomly throughout the room. We painted the walls pink and white and hung purple curtains. The beautiful hardwood floors were swept and polished. The room was beautiful.

Then we released the chaos.

We sent three little girls into the room and in a matter of minutes the beautiful room that we had carefully crafted was turned into a circus.

A Mess Of  A Space

We now have a room with writing on the walls and it’s not those beautiful stencils, faded purple curtains, messy beds and some random stain on the hardwood floors that I wouldn’t even take a guess at what it is.

That’s not what we created for them. We created something beautiful. We created a paradise for them.

We gave them a list of rules.

Broken

They ruined it.

They went in there with their free will and chose to write the alphabet on the wall.
They went in there with their free will and chose to scatter toys everywhere.
They went in there with their free will and chose to break a curtain rod…or two.
They went in there with their free will and chose to smash banana on the floor.
They went in there with their free will and chose to break a couple handles off of the dressers.

They went in there with a choice and I would have to say that my husband and I don’t agree with a majority of the choices they have made for the beautiful room we created for them. We created so much more for them and they took it for granted.

A Beautiful Place

This world is not what God created for us to live in.

God made a beautiful world for us. He set us in a garden that goes beyond what we could ever imagine. He took great care in each detail of that garden, from the colors to the textures to the smell. He wanted everything to be perfect. He wanted us to live in that paradise forever.

Once it was finished he stood back and smiled. He was so happy to bless us with perfection.

He placed us in that garden.

He gave us one rule.

Broken.

A Mess Of A Space

We went in there with our free will and chose listen to the serpent.
We went in there with our free will and chose to eat from the tree of knowledge.
We went in there with our free will and chose to do what we wanted instead of what God wanted.

We went in there with a choice and I would have to say that God does not agree with all of our choices.

We are still free to make our own choices. We have free will. It is completely up to us if we choose good or evil, right or wrong, sin or righteousness.

God doesn’t make bad things happen to us.

He has given us written instructions, living words to guide us. He leaves it up to us to follow them or not.

None of us will ever follow Him the way the he intended us to. We will never live on  earth the way that He intended for us to. He did not create this for us. What He created was perfect and with a single flaw, it was our free will that changed that.

We have a choice to make every single minute of every single day. We can follow and obey the word of God or we can do it our way. I’ve come to realize that our way isn’t all that great.

Our way leaves smashed banana on the floor, writing on the wall and broken handles on the dressers.

His way leaves beautiful scriptures written in stencil on the wall, polished hardwood floors and bright purple curtains hanging from the windows.

His way creates beauty and perfection.

I’m done doing it my way. I surrender.
Create in me a beauty that I cannot create on my own.

What’s on your walls?

Let’s pray

Wonderful Father thank you for the beauty that you have made for us. Teach us to surrender to everything that you want for us and help us give it all to you. When we are trying to create our own beauty gently remind us that you are the creator of all things good and wonderful and we only need to put our faith in you. In Jesus name, amen.

One of my daughters, who shall remain nameless, took a stamp that has our address on it and stamped every inch of one of their dressers. She also covered half of a wall with the stamp yet she still can’t remember our address. I give up.

Who Wants My Stuff?!

My sister is crazy

Today’s blog has nothing to do with her, I just wanted to throw that out there. I’m kidding of course. Not the part about her being crazy, that’s totally true, but about my blog not being about her.

We talk no less than 7 times a day and really never have anything new to say. Last night she text me a picture of a baby that she took pictures of the other day.

She’s not a creepy lady who takes random pictures of babies, she’s a photographer. Well, she’s a photographer, sales rep, teacher, bartender, a doctor (thanks WebMD) and the list goes on and on. I never know what her new job is going to be.

Anyways, she text me a picture of the baby and this is what followed.

Her :Look at this little angel, so sweet right?
Me :Who is that sweet little baby. Can I have it?
Her :Probably, I’ll call her tomorrow and ask. I shot her today. Love saying that
Me : Good, I’ll go get a blanket and some baby soap. That’s all I need right?..I love it when you shoot people
Her : Yep, got a bottle? And some Big Red should be fine.
Me :Babies LOVE big red! No bottles but I can just soak a sponge and let her suck on it
Her : An old sponge, she’ll never know the difference.

It went on for another hour but got to an inappropriate level so I’ll just leave you with that.

She’s a nut.

Yesterday she called me with her latest and greatest idea of selling off her belongings, including her home, and moving to a small town near by. It would be perfect for raising her chickens, yep she has chickens. She was going to move and live off the fat of the land, send her kids to small town schools, take care of everyone and their grandma (literally) and I believe she said something about becoming a cheerleader.

She’s the most grounded unstable person I know.

As we were talking we got on a tangent about doing whatever we want. Why don’t we just do what we want to do instead of what society thinks we should do?

Both of us come up with a new life changing adventure every few weeks. But really, why don’t we do what we want?

My friend packed up her family and moved to Nicaragua to do missionary work. That takes guts.

My other friend quit her extremely stable job, moved to a small town and started a dance studio. That takes confidence.

I want to empty our house. I want to give away all the “things” that seem so insignificant. I’m looking around at all the silly things that we spent actual money on.

Here’s the small list: An OU Fathead helmet (don’t ask), an antique key that hangs on the doorknob of our door headboard, three tiny milk jugs that have Live Laugh Love written on them, countless books, vinyl stickers on the walls with cute sayings, a welcome sign with The Curry’s painted on it. I could go on and on.

Did we really spend money on all of this?

There are children going to sleep hungry tonight and I’m buying welcome signs for my house. Sick.

My Job & then my passion

Then there’s my job. It’s a great job with great benefits and an amazing schedule. I am responsible for helping support many little people and making sure that they have food in their tummies.

I sell food for a living but the job does nothing to feed my soul.

I want to run this ministry full time. I want to write a book (I seriously just heard my English major smart friends gasp). I want to travel and speak to women’s groups. I want to open a little boutique/bakery and have sweet women come in there and worship our Savior while they make their own Leave It At The Cross canvas.

Why do I fear going for it? I know for a fact that God will provide no matter what. I know that all these possessions that cluster up in my home mean nothing. I know that I want to do something with my life that my children will be proud of, that my husband will admire and that will help other people.

Jesus had the clothes on his back and the sandals on his feet. That’s it. His life’s work was to minister, heal and lead. I always say that I want to be more like Him and less like me.

So what the heck am I doing? Are you living a life that fills your soul and feeds your faith?

I get that we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed and our jobs are a necessity but what about the other hours in your day? Are you using every second to glorify God, to help those in need, to minister, to bless, to grow His kingdom?

I’m not. I’m a slacker.

I’m excited that the kids bible study starts back up next month so that will give me more time in the ministry but its 2 hours a week and that’s just not enough.

I’m going for it! I’m going to give 110%. Who’s in?

Let’s pray

“Awesome Father take away our fears and reservations and help us to be all in. Remind us each day that You will provide and that Your provisions are enough. Take away our need to fill our lives with stuff. Empty us completely so that there will be room for You to fill us back up with our needs and Your blessings. Help us to walk away from the things that take away from our time with You and push us gently in to the things that help us to glorify You.

In Jesus name, Amen”.

If I give away all of our belongings and quit my job, I can always move out to my sisters and eat chicken and eggs from her make shift farm.