Saturday, May 2, 2015

Slow down

As I sit here rocking my baby at 6am because he won't go to sleep but doesn't want to get up, I'm reminded that sometimes the Lord gives us these moments as a reminder to slow down. It's Saturday morning. I don't have to be anywhere until 1pm. I had ideas of what I could do today before 1pm but none of them were urgent or, in fact, even important or necessary at all. They were "fun" things I'd concocted to make my kids happy.

I think I spend so much time trying to have fun with my kids and go take them places that I forget to stop and realize that watching cartoons on tv, snuggling with mom, and laughing about Mickey Mouse's laziness (because, as my older son pointed out, Mickey relies way too much on his "handy helpers" and would be better off just doing things himself) might be just what we all need.

The pace is so fast here.  "Here" as in consumer-driven, child-centered U.S. of A.  I'm guilty too. My kids have school, swimming, baseball, music lessons, play dates, drama club, and more things that I'm too tired to think of right now. It's so easy to get caught up in everything that everyone else is doing!

But with summer fast approaching, I'm going to do something different. I'm going to NOT sign up for summer camps and summer swim teams and summer activities. And if my family gets a vacation, it'll be to relax, not to go, go, go. You here that, sweetheart? I know, I'm the one always pushing us to go, go, go, but here's my admission of wrong. I'm going to regret putting that in writing...

A couple days ago I rushed off to grab dinner before baseball practice. We pulled into the drive-thru, ordered, got the window, and I realized I didn't have my wallet. [Where are those pay-it-forward drive thru cars when you need someone to surprise you with free food??]  I had to leave without dinner and take my kids to a practice where they'd be running and playing for an hour and a half without food! Luckily, I scrounged up $1.07 in change from the mini van carpet and, even more luckily, McDonald's had their double cheeseburgers on sale for $1. I had enough to feed the one kid who had to practice and Stephen grabbed the rest of us food, you know, since he had actual money, and brought it to practice a few minutes after we arrived.

And then... right after we got to practice I saw lightening. The mostly clear sky got dark out of nowhere and gray clouds moved in, pouring water all over us. Practice got cancelled and we went back home. I was driving home frustrated about "wasting my whole evening" when I looked up in the sky and saw a rainbow.  A beautiful rainbow.

I pulled into the little beach area of my neighborhood (have I mentioned this neighborhood is amazing?) and jumped out of the car to take a picture with my phone when I noticed the rainbow was actually two rainbows!



We could actually see the colors of light hitting the water. There wasn't a pot of gold, no, but it felt like a smile from God. It felt like a reminder that He's got everything beautifully, perfectly, completely under His control.

I need to slow down.
I need to believe Him, not just believe IN Him.
I need to be still and know He is God.

And I'm so excited to see what God can show me in those quiet moments.

Two hundred and fifty

Two hundred and fifty.
250.
Two hundred and fifty.

That's the number I saw in my dream last night.

See, it's been in my head for a while. My friend Alli came from Cambodia and talked about the work they are doing there. She mentioned that the boys center, which had a regular attendance of less than 20, sometimes a few more and sometimes less, when we lived there, just after they opened their doors has grown. She said they have over 250 boys who they now know. There are more that come, too.

But that's the picture I see in my mind that just doesn't go away. It makes me smile to think of it. I get chills and butterflies in my stomach when I try to picture it in my mind.

I can hear their little feet running up the stairs in the building where the concrete walls amplify every sound. I can hear their laughter from every room as they play games and play with toys. I can imagine them standing outside the doors waiting for it to open each morning and running in, throwing off their shoes, and grinning at each other as they race for the room and hug the staff.

And last night I dreamed I was there with them.

I saw two hundred fifty faces, two hundred fifty smiles, two hundred fifty little hearts thumping with joy, five hundred little hands, and five hundred little feet. I could see it and smell it and hear it and my heart was full of joy.

I was there in my dream. I was right there with them all, laughing. And I woke up from it at 3am with my heart both heavy and joyful at the same time. I began to pray for these little souls. These little boys who have found a safe place to be little boys. A place to play. A place to grow. A place to be loved. A place to learn of Jesus. Of the God who created them and knows their struggles and knows their joy. Of the Jesus who gave his life for their lives and asked for nothing in return.

Somewhere in the depths of my sleepy mind, I saw this as a promise from the Lord that I will see this soon. I'm not ready to talk about that yet since I'm still processing it myself, but I knew at that moment it was true and it brought me incredible joy. I also found an overwhelming desire to pray for them and the leaders there. And I did at that moment. Sometimes it feels like all I can do for them from here. And then I realize that it is no small thing. The God who is here listening to my prayers is also there holding their hands. He loves them and loves for me to pray to him on their behalf.

So of course he loves it when others pray, too. I need you to join me. Pray to the God who sees.  Pray to the God who hears our thoughts even before we pray them. Pray to the God who died for us. For them.

Let's lift up the staff in Cambodia, the financial supporters around the world, and the children who are receiving just a touch of God's love every time they enter this safe place.

There is power in our prayers. Let's pray now and see what mountains He will move in Cambodia.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My heart is full

As the date that marks 3 years since I returned from Cambodia approaches, I find my heart full to the point of overflowing. My heart is heavy for those in the world who are hurting and joyful for those who've found restoration from dark, horrible places.

What a week I had.

First, I hosted my friend who is the director at Hard Places, Cambodia, where the boys and I would visit each week to play with kids. I can't talk about this without crying and I have to leave in a minute to go to get my kids at school, so I'll save that for later. 

Then it was my birthday, and my boys, who are growing older and wiser and more beautiful every moment, showed much kindness and compassion to me as I had a bit of a rough day. My friends showed up at my door with gifts, one after the other, so I felt a little love throughout my whole day. As I often struggle with the question of why God has me in North Carolina when I say I'm willing to go anywhere, moments like that show me a glimpse of the Father's love for me and remind me of His purpose for me.

Oh. And then we visited the IJM Global Prayer Gathering in Washington, D.C. where we heard stories of injustice all over the world but also stories of rescue, restoration, and redemption. It was such a moving weekend for my little heart that I can't even write about it yet. I wouldn't know where to start, so I'll save that for later, too.

What's on my mind right now, and pretty much every moment of my life lately, is that I want to do more.

I want to use my time more wisely. I want to spend my money more wisely. I want to change the way my kids see the world. I want to celebrate victories against sin and weep with victims. I want to pray fervently and passionately to my God, who I know hears my every word.
I want my eyes to transform into the eyes of Jesus and see others as He sees them.

I want to do more.

And I want others to do more, too.

So, I figure I'll just open up my broken, confused, but joyful heart and share what I learn as I pray Jesus shows me ways to help. Maybe someone will join me. That means I need to get more words on here instead of keeping them all in my brain.

I am working through Bible studies on missions and working with my church to give more to missions, both here in my backyard and around the world. As I learn from this, I feel the Lord telling me to share. To share my weakness, to share my strength, to share my heart.

So here I go.  It's how I'll do more. 
I hope you'll join me.


Friday, September 20, 2013

News Out of Cambodia

I don’t get political.  Like, ever.

To be honest, I read most of my news through links posted on Facebook. 

I hate the news because it’s depressing and there isn't really ever anything I can DO about it.  Plus, my husband is really smart about these things and when I mention my opinion about something, anything, he points out 5,286 other facts and points of view I've never even thought about.  So I would rather just stay silent most of the time.

But I can’t be silent about what is happening in Cambodia. There is very little news here about the news there. It’s not fair that the world doesn't know. 

So, yeah, I don't get political. 

But I do get emotional.  Really emotional.

Let me see if I can explain what is happening in simple terms. If I can understand this, anyone can, right?  And I’m not taking a side because, well, I just really want it all to be fair and just, and I don’t know what that answer is.  I just want to share. 

First of all, we have to go back 40 years to an awful civil war there that, again, my generation didn't read much about in history class. The country took many years to recover from that and is finally free. Since that time, the people have only had 5 chances to vote. This past summer was the 5th.  With each election, the ruling party (the CPP) has held onto control but lost more and more seats to the opposition party (the CNRP). As they voted in late July, many Cambodians saw results being reported with the CNRP winning more and more seats in Parliament. They were hoping they would get the change they've wanted for decades. See, many see the current ruling power as corrupt and were looking forward to change.

In the days after the election, the ruling party reported that they held onto the control, and it seemed to be against what the voters were claiming. The people called it an unfair election and demanded a recount, saying the ruling party had either stolen or not counted over a million votes.

In the following months, leading up to now, the opposition party has been refused a recount and has been staging “peaceful demonstrations,” but in the past week, these have turned violent as police fired weapons at the peaceful protestors and protestors destroyed barricades set up by police. 

The next few weeks show no sign of resolution, and I honestly don’t know what is right and what is wrong.  

I’m just broken.

See, I left half of my heart in Cambodia.  Anyone who knows me knows that my heart is always there. Even with the recent events, I can’t help thinking I wish I were there. While I admit that I would likely be worried about my safety if we were there, there is currently no danger to the safety of me or my expat friends at this time

But the Cambodians...

The little boys and girls we played with each week at the center, they are on my heart.

These “demonstrations” are taking place where many of those kids live and work on the street. When I watch this video, (which is a great 3 minute summary of what’s happening) I can tell exactly where this is happening.






And I can see the faces of those sweet children.

I remember them.
I love them.
I pray for them.

Cambodia is a dark place. I experienced more spiritual warfare there than I even knew existed. God’s angels are there, but they are fighting a very real enemy. An enemy who spreads poverty and prevents education throughout the country. An enemy who convinces families that they must sell one child to feed the others. Or, sometimes, just to buy a new TV. Seriously.  There is darkness there that can’t be described to those who haven’t experienced it.

But, as I posted before, there IS a light in the darkness. The younger generation, especially, is rising up to fight the beliefs of their past and reach to the real God who can heal their land. 

Many of them are praying tonight, all night long, while it’s daytime here in the USA, and I ask you to stand in prayer with them.  Let’s pray for healing, for justice, for restoration for beautiful place.



**** Our God reigns!


May He reign in Cambodia, and may His beloved there know it and turn to Him and change the future of their "Kingdom of Wonder."





(Cambodian friends - please forgive any errors in my post, and feel free to point out any other news or update us on things in the comments section)


Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Itty Bitty Missionary

Tomorrow is a big day around here.  Lots of kids are going back to school and many others are just beginning school for the first time.

I have one of those!

I started this blog when our family left the military and committed to a year in missions. I never changed the words “missionary life” at top because when we returned I became convicted that I was still a missionary.  In every season, every place, every situation, God has a plan and his top priority is for me to tell others about his goodness and love.  That makes me – and my kids, and my friends, and you – missionaries every day. 

We try to teach our children that, too.  God first.  Truly.  Not just in theory or when its popular or when its easy, but always.  Even when it’s hard.  Actually, especially when its hard.

These boys are very fortunate in all they have seen and heard in their short lives.  It has given them a deeper understanding of the whole world that our Creator made.  They have seen how little others have and appreciate how much we have.  Of course, all of us want more.  More toys, more books, more vacations, more “stuff.” The difference in our family is, all one of us has to do is remind the others of the things we have seen – the people who have true needs, not silly wants – and we all change our way of thinking again. Sometimes its me who reminds us, or Stephen, or Jack, but lots of times its seven year old Parker.

Parker has such a big heart.  I have no idea what the Lord has planned for this little boy’s future, but he’s got enough kindness and compassion for the whole world.  I mean, he’s a little boy, and he’s human, so sometimes he thinks about himself first, but he’s also very much in tune to the needs of those around him.

And that’s what we hope others see as he starts school for the first time outside our home.  We hope God uses him greatly to spread his love to the whole second grade and well beyond that, too. 

It’s hard to let him go.  It’s hard to think about what his day will be like without me teaching him and watching him and learning with him.  I feel God gently reminding me though, day after day, that Parker belongs first to Him, and He loves him more than I could ever imagine.  He knew him eons before I existed and has been waiting for eternity for Parker to be here on this earth.  He has superhero sized plans for this boy, and if He’s ready for him to be the missionary He calls us all to be, then I’m ready.



I love this kid.  

My itty bitty missionary.




  • Please pray for him and everyone he meets to know and follow our incredibly awesome God. Pray for us, as his parents, to help guide him and support him as he does so.



  • I'll be praying many other children join him and rise up to change the world as a new generation - a generation who loves Jesus and isn't afraid to show it.  
  • I'm praying now that families would make sacrifices that those of the world might first see as crazy, or radical, or strange, but that would later become a living testimony of our God's love for us.  
  • I pray YOU will join us in throwing out the American Dream and striving to live the life God desires for us.  It's so much better anyway!  Let's share and support each other as we do so.
  • And I'm thanking God for giving us a place to live where we can freely and rightfully do all these things.  

But for now I'm going to go snuggle with my little ones before school starts tomorrow!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Oh, Baby!

Oh, right, I have a blog.

I forgot for a while.  Honestly forgot.

But here’s why I’ve been a little out of it lately:



 Yep, that’s right, (hopefully you figured it out) Baby #3 is on the way!  Stephen and I are really excited, but sweet Parker is the most excited of all. We all went out to eat for my birthday (a while back) at The Cheesecake Factory. They hadn't been there before so they were already excited. Then I pulled out presents for each of them. They opened the bags to find big brother shirts. Parker said, “But wait, why does Jack have one? Oh, right, because of Krypto.” By the way, Krypto is the dog. We smiled and told him, that nope, it wasn’t because of Krypto. He was confused for a few minutes and then broke into a grin and said “Unless... is there a baby in your tummy?!?!?” 

We told them the news and he responded with “I’ve been praying for this since I was five!” (he was six at the time).

So sweet. 

We went on to talk about how they would both make great brothers and asked if they wanted a sister or brother, though we did make it clear that it was up to God, not them, what we would get. 

Jack said he wanted a brother.  Parker said “Well, I want it to be a girl because that’s my lifelong dream, but a boy would be okay too, because three of us could wrestle Daddy faster than two of us can.” He was adorable.  And he's been doing push-ups ever since in hopes of being stronger to hold the baby all the time.

We have since spent time every day talking about names. That always leads to me shouting “Veto!” after every superhero name they mention. Now the name Veto is growing on us all, haha! No, really, Parker insists that he likes Frederika for a girl (oh my goodness, I can’t imagine calling a baby that...) and they all like Nick Fury Schiffman for a boy.  Needless to say, I will likely disappoint two little boys with almost any name we choose unless its a superhero!

But that’s ok. He or She will be adorable and sweet, and totally loved, no matter what name we choose.


After all, look at that sweet baby!  (if you can see anything on this thing...)




And thus, the craziness of life continues! 



Baby Boy or Baby Girl (we are waiting to find out!) will be here in December.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Answered Prayers


I met some new moms today. Well, actually not new moms, but new friends to me, I should say, and we got in to a discussion about how busy life is lately. One of them pointed out that she feels like when people ask her how things are, she says “busy,” but when they ask with what, she can’t really explain. We all excitedly nodded in agreement. Sometimes you just need those moments where another person looks at you and says “I get it!  I understand that crazy thing you are trying to explain!” It was great to know I’m not alone.'

But I do not like it at all.  I don’t want to be caught up in all these busy (usually pointless) tasks. When my friends in Cambodia post news articles about their power being deliberately shut off and rationed for HOURS at a time – like 10-12 hours or more a day some of them – and write things about cities in Cambodia literally running out of water in their reservoirs, I have to stop and think about what is really important in life.  All the things I have that I don’t really have to be “busy” to get.  Like power.  And water.  And internet.  And freedom. 

I’ve been struggling with this since we got back. The “I’m home but this isn't home anymore” feeling that comes and goes at the most unexpected, and often inconvenient times.  Like when my face was wet with in a parking lot because I found some yellow mangoes like in Cambodia. Don’t get me wrong, they were happy tears, but that didn't stop my kids from wondering where my brain had gone!

And then there are things that make me just stop everything busy in life, get on my knees, and pray.
The tears that come with answered prayer are so sweet.


Let me tell you what brought me to my knees this week so you can rejoice with me:

My friend who runs the organization we are walking for tomorrow emailed late Monday night saying that a young girl, 17, who they had been working with for several years, urgently needed prayer. This poor girl left her abusive father at age 12 and found herself working in a brothel.  She’s HIV positive and has been off the medications for 3 years. And she’s pregnant.

The email was to say that she was in labor. A year and a half ago, she was forcibly injected with crystal meth at the park.  And that happened again. And again. The safe house tried to help, as they have been doing for years, and she was clean for two full weeks before she ran away and went on a meth binge and kept taking customers.  Yes, at 36 weeks pregnant.  She showed up that morning, sober but in labor, and a massive plea for prayer went out.

This one got to my heart. 

This girl needed help.
And it couldn't come from anyone but God.

All the things keeping me busy had to stop while I just lifted her and that baby up to the Lord.

The following day, her labor stopped and she ran away from the hospital.  She was being treated horribly there, being HIV positive and a sex worker.  It was 100 degrees outside and she didn't even get an air conditioned room. Or a bar of soap. Or a roll of toilet paper. 

They eventually found her and she went into labor for real this time, when my friend and her coworkers had to fight for a c-section because apparently that reduces the chances of the baby contracting HIV by 50%. They had a lot more obstacles but in the end, my friend found the girl in post op and the baby in the nursery.

Baby was born today, this morning, and the report is he is perfect.  That’s what I heard.  P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

That made me stop in my tracks again and pray. I had tears of joy running down my face and the whole world seemed to stop as I praised God for his goodness and mercy. I felt His presence with me as I rejoiced with Him like he was my very best friend.

The baby still needs lots of prayers as the next steps are decided, but he is alive.  And perfect.

Wow.

What if I prayed that fervently about everything?  What if I stopped being busy all together and just spent time praising God?  You see, He answered my prayer the way I hoped this time.  It isn't always that way.  But it’s His way that is best, even when I can’t see it. What if I started praising Him for just being who He Is? 

Praising God, the creator of the universe, my Savior who died for me, and the Spirit who lives in me.  Praising God for loving me so much that He wants to be a part of my life. 

Not pushed away because I’m busy.  

I want my focus to be on HIM because He truly is alive and working miracles every day. 

And I am grateful.





(And grateful to be raising awareness and money for this organization tomorrow with traffick jam 2013)