Saturday, April 27, 2013

"One Less" A Call for Help in Ethiopia

What would the world look like if each of us made it our responsibility to see one less orphan without an less orphan without a growling hunger... or one less orphan without a bleak future of poverty?
In the next 45 days, our goal is to find a sponsor for every single child who has yet to be sponsored at our school in Lifesong Ethiopia. (Gulp! That's a tall order! See below how YOU can help.) We are asking for an investment of just $19/month that will result in a future leader for the renewal of Africa from the inside out.
Invest in a life of a child. Invest in self-sufficiency. Invest in bringing hope to one more orphan.

Together we can get EVERY child sponsored! Will you help us?

How can YOU help each child find a sponsor:
  • PRAY: Join us in praying for the 587 children who are unsponsored in Ethiopia. Pray for the thousands that will be given the opportunity to sponsor--that hearts would be open to helping a child in need. Pray that God will raise advocates to help spread the word!
  • ADVOCATE: Maybe sponsoring a child isn't an option for you at this time but you have a platform and a voice to let the need be known! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and share the One Less campaign with your friends & followers.
  • SPONSOR: Commit to sponsor a students at Lifesong Ethiopia School long-term for $19/month to help ensure that they get the incredible education, spiritual mentoring and food that they need to break the cycle of poverty. To see the children yet to be sponsored, please visit:
To learn more about the Ziway + Adami Tulu Project and details of sponsorship visit

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Today Hannah is 5.

As I feel on every one of our kids' birthdays, I can hardly believe how the time has flown.

And now, here she is on the brink of Kindergarten.  She is so ready to go. Sniff.

Hannah is our artistic soul.  In song, in decorating, in drawing, in creating.

And she loves to give it all away.  As her grandparents can attest to the many letters they have received in the mail and the gifts they get just about every time they see Hannah.  And little Noah in Africa, the boy that Hannah's preschool sponsors, would be getting gifts weekly if it weren't for the outrageous postage.

Hannah goes through life singing and skipping.  Literally.

She enjoys Hello Kitty, spaghetti, picking out multicolored outfits, painting and coloring, and Jesus.  She is always testifying at dinner devotions about Jesus living in her heart. Love.

Hannah, Happy 5th Birthday!  May you grow up into the young lady that God desires you to be, and that your life may bring Him all the glory!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What I have been thinking on lately...

Photo: Cassie Bertsch and Aaron Gerber's wedding
Life is so fleeting.  And only what we do for Christ will last.

I've known for quite some time that I am introvert.  But for as long as I know, I have felt bad about it.  This book has been very inciteful, and has helped me realize that not all of us can be extroverts...and that is OK.

Things I Don't Do by Shauna Niequist
One of my core fears is that someone would think I can’t handle as much as the next person. It’s fundamental to my understanding of myself for me to be the strong one, the capable one, the busy one, the one who can bail you out, not make a fuss, bring a meal, add a few more things to the list. 

For me, everything becomes a lifestyle. Everything is an addiction.

And then better. Better is a seductress. It’s so delicious to run after better, better, better. Better is what keeps some women decorating and redecorating the same house for years on end, because by the time you get the last detail of the finished basement home theater just right, your countertops are just ever so slightly outdated, and so you start again. Better is what makes us go to a spinning class — or maybe two, or maybe three today, just for good measure. Better is what makes us get “just a little work done,” after the last baby, you know, or just to look a little bit fresher and more well-rested. 

Better is a force.

The three together, DO EVERYTHING BETTER, are a super-charged triple threat, capturing in three words the mania of modern life, the anti-spirit, anti-spiritual, soul-shriveling garbage that infects and compromises our lives.

And lastly,
this: The Gospel of Flea Markets
I'm a collector of the discarded and the worn. I've paid cash for five defunct sprinklers because they're quirky and I'm fond of their rust. I don't mind taking the quilt that's fraying at the edges - I prefer it, in fact. The flower pot is chipped? Hand it over. The knob is broken? Sure, because it tells a story.
I've chosen to decorate my life with things that someone else has rejected. Things that aren't done living, things that can be bought for a song. They still have something to offer and maybe I can provide the context to prove it.

Why is it so different with people? My instinct is to back slowly away from the broken and the hurting. Why do I strain to see the beauty in their chips and dings?

For years I've convinced myself that my love is earmarked for the broken like me. I'm more cut out for middle-class heartache, thank you very much. My solidarity is with people who think/act/talk/smell/live like me.

I'd really rather forget about the dead streets covered by canopies of oppression. I'd like to never know in the first place about the boys who lurch down them at dusk.

I want to look away. To hide. To pretend life could always be what it was when I was eleven.

But I'm learning the beauty of meeting the eyes around me. I'm forcing myself across the busy street and I'm doing it with precious cargo, not because it's natural or even because I always want to, but because I suspect it's the only way I'll learn that we're all the walking wounded.

I used to think God gave me a particular heart to love the tattered things that other people pass over. Only now do I see the incompleteness of that belief.

I am called to love broken people. Loving broken things is just a hobby.
 My childhood was a dream. It shaped me. I see no fault in it and I'll always thank my lucky stars.

But my kids were called someplace different.

My hope is that everything that jars my senses and makes my heart lurch will become their ordinary wild. My prayer is that they'll walk with ease to their neighbor's table and notice early the way shards of amber glass can catch spring's light.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lifesong's Mission Moment

The Forgotten Initiative (TFI), foster care ministry of Lifesong for Orphans, is bringing joy and purpose to the foster care community by LEARNING the needs, SHARING the needs and EQUIPPING the local church to meet those needs. 

Check out what TFI is doing to serve the foster care community...


Project Sunshine: Foster Home Edition is a fundraiser & service project all in one!
After foster children are removed from their homes, they often wait for hours in agency rooms. These same rooms are also used for weekly visitation between the birth parents and their children while they are in care. Project Sunshine was birthed out of a desire to create friendly spaces for kids during this dark time in their lives.

Project Sunshine: Foster Home Edition simply takes the Project Sunshine concept and applies it to a foster parent's home and at the same time raises funds for The Forgotten Initiative!
Check out this video to meet the families we are serving this year in Peoria, IL on May 17-18 and click here to see how YOU can play a part in serving the foster care community!

How can YOU help Project Sunshine: Foster Home Edition?


Watch our new vision video to get a better idea of how The Forgotten Initiative, as a whole, seeks to minister to the local foster care community by bridging the gap through Forgotten Advocates.


Mentors Needed: Step into the lives of children of vulnerable adults affected by foster care through relationship building, tutoring, job/life skills training, etc.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
6 - 9 PM
Richwoods Christian Church, Peoria, IL

Read more from The Forgotten Initiative... 

Project Sunshine: Foster Care Edition 2012 - "My home looks so beautiful. The impact of being gone and coming home to see this is almost unbelievable. I just don't know how to say thank you enough." Watch the Video
American Orphans - "Only a life contemplating the love of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ. And love always moves. Loving first and foremost Christ. And loving others." Read Full Story
Perspective from Foster Care Caseworker - A caseworker's job is heart-breaking, challenging, and can be extremely overwhelming.  Read as Jenna shares her heart with us! Read Full Story
Impact of Journey Bags - "Last night at midnight three precious little beauties showed up on my doorstep. They each had with them a blanket, a stuffed animal, and a book bag, their Journey Bags of course..." Read Full Story

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hope for the hopeless

A phone call from the detention center

A letter from a treatment facility

A hard face on the 11 o'clock news

This week was full of reminders of the past.

Unfortunately they all brought the news that some kids aren't doing all that well.

Poor choices.  Wrong environment.  Rotten pasts.

The thing is, all three of these kids did well while here.  The GOT it.  They showed us that they knew the right choice, could even MAKE the right choice.

But somewhere between there and now, a wrong choice (or choices) was made.  And the consequences followed.

I don't know how to change it.  The world just needs Jesus.

It gets heart-heavy when I take it on myself and think that it is my job to make sure these kids succeed once they leave our home.

I pray those seeds that were planted, though they may lay dormant for a time, will eventually grow into something worth a heaven-harvest.

I've wrote before of this heartache I feel heartache over these kids who leave here and fall victim to the lies that this world has for them.  But I also have to remind myself that I am just like them.  Although my choices don't land me in a detention center or get my face on the evening news, my sins are just as black and dark.

I am no better.

In God's eyes, we are all sinners in need of redemption.

A need to be washed by the Blood and covered in His righteousness.

I'm going to keep beating that drum and living for that hope because we are all down here in this miry world together.

We need rescued.  Whether it's from a jail cell with real concrete walls or a cell we've built with our own pride, we all need pulled from that pit.

And as long as we have life, there is hope.

And wherever we are at, He can still find us:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you  Psalm 139:7-12

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day of the Kites

 Haven't done it in quite awhile.

But today I did and it was so sweet.

Kinda lifts the spirits and relaxes the soul.

What is it about flying kites that does that to me?

Maybe it had something to do with the first in-the-60's degree day that we have had this Spring.  Or the little peek of sunshine through the clouds.  Or the joy of family visiting.  Or the stretching the legs out on the grass and enjoying the fresh air.

Could be a combo of those things.  But there is something about sitting and watching a kite flutter it the air.  That little thrill in the chest as the kites lifts out of someone's hands and takes to flight.

I think we can all relate to that a bit.

It looks like freedom.  Soaring through the air, gliding on the breeze.

But only so far.  Because it has a sting.

An anchor.

We can flutter in the different gusts and breezes of this life.  It can try to toss us this way and that.

But we have the chance to put our kite string in the Right Hands.

Because in the right hands, that kite can suddenly soar upward, even if the wind suddenly dies, or it can swoop to the right as another kite careens in from the left.

If the kite is in the wrong hands, it can fall to earth pretty quick, the hands could let go, the string useless.

But in the Right Hands, that string is secure, and it can help guide that kite through the wind.

There's freedom, but the string only goes so far.

There's freedom with limits, boundaries and that's OK.

I think that has something to do with why I like flying kites.

Friday, April 5, 2013

March Lookback

 March was a month where we eagerly awaited Spring, and it's warmer temperatures, but barely got a glimpse.  So, instead we worked with what we had.  And finished out the month with the greatest holiday of all.
 Shoveling sidewalks and building snow forts.

 Coming back in to warm up with hot chocolate...and a photo op

 Having friends over to made Pla-doh cakes and forts

 Celebrating March and April birthdays

 Recovering from a sprained ankle thanks to a basketball game (this only shows about half the damage)

 Reading some Bears on Wheels

 Craft time

 Taking naps in random places

 Hunting for polar bears (I think they found them in the sand box)

 Only way we get a picture is if we take it ourselves...

 Up bright and early for Sunrise Service on Easter

And finish it out with an Easter feast (next year I am getting a spiral cut ham, good grief.)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Turning 31

Two eggs, an English muffin, bacon, coffee, and Cap'n Crunch with Peanuts (thanks Owen) made for me by Paul breakfast while I slept in.

3 handmade birthday cards and a love letter

A phone call from mom

Texts from dad and siblings

A surprise coffee and gift from a friend

A chance to read in the quiet (for 15 minutes, but I'll take it!)

A round of Yahtzee with Owen

A handmade gift and card from a friend

Chicken curry for dinner

No back talking, all compliant teenagers for one day

Sweatin to the Oldies with Maria, Hannah, and three 13-year-olds

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

A cup of tea to end the evening

Not a bad way to spend a birthday.

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.  Psalm 90:12