Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

It was celebrated how typical Suvar birthdays are celebrated around here.

Not a lot of fanfare, but most assuredly the celebrant feels special by the time the day is out.

Their pick of a meal (she chose spaghetti, of course.  The only Suvar to not pick Cabbage, Bacon, and
 Noodles.)

Their choice of cake (Cherry Chip!)

A chance to sit in the birthday chair at dinner.

And a few small, but carefully chosen gifts.


Hannah, we love your heart for the fatherless, your continual prayers for your missionary friends, and your creative spirit.  I know God has great plans for you.  Our prayer is that you can trust your life to Him, and allow Him to direct your paths.



 Happy 6th Birthday, Hannah! (a day late, yeesh, I know.) We love you!




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of broken glass and rocks

He was just being a boy.

Curious.  Discovering.  Playing in the dirt.  Finding cool rocks.

He just wanted to crack the rock open and see what it looked like inside.

He just needed a smooth patch of concrete to throw it down on.

He didn't think about the fact that it was right next to the house.

Right next to the large front window...



Initial reactions:

Unbelief - the contractors were literally finished with the house as of yesterday

Anger - how could you not think through that?  Didn't you realize the rock could hit the window?

Frustration - more unexpected money going out the door.  I feel like we are hemorrhaging cash right now.

Tears.  His and mine.  He was so sorry.  He's been gifted with that quality.  Instantly feeling bad for messing up.  For disappointing.

We talked.  We hugged.

He offered to make more glass.  He knows how to do that because glass is made from sand.  He offered to help pay for it - giving $4.57 of his birthday money that he's been saving.  He said he wished he had a time machine to go back in time and change the whole thing.

Between his multiple "I'm sorrys" and his tears I knew he genuinely regretted his actions.

Yeah, that window is gonna cost us.  It's gonna pinch.  But truly, what is more valuable?  A 36 square foot window?  Or a child's heart?

There were parts of the incident that I could have handled better (aren't there always?).  But I think if anything we all learned something from it.

How many time have I messed up?  Came to Jesus with my broken glass and my apologies.

Only to go out and throw another rock.

He's right there every time.  To take us in.  Tell us we are forgiven.

Tell us that we, his children, are more important than that window.

I grieve at my two-faced vision.  I come to Jesus, hoping for grace for my sins.

But so quickly get frustrated and upset over accidents and honest mistakes by certain little individuals in my household.  I have so much to learn.  So far to go.

To remember in those moments to choose grace.  To extend love.  To hold back the words and reach out for hugs.   

Create in me a clean, clean heart
Create in me a work of art
Create in me a miracle
Something real and something beautiful


Create a miracle in me

You're not finished with me yet
You're not finished with me yet

By Your power I can change, I can change
'Cause You're not finished with me yet
Create in Me, Rend Collective 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lifesong Mission Moment

14-04 MM email
Lifesong Farms. We are thankful, with the help and expertise of our friends at Plant Sciences, Inc., to have active strawberry farms in Ukraine and Zambia. Our hope is to not only create jobs & self-worth for orphan caregivers, but also  provide future employment opportunities as orphans grow into adults. Eventually, we aim to establish sustainability to help fund on-going orphan care. Hear the stories behind the farms...

Bearing Fruit in Sergey {UKRAINE}

Like each and every child our Ukraine team reaches out to through Constant Christian Presence, Sergey was full of potential. Coming from a life of hurt, God breathed hope into his heart and life.
Through the team's support, mentorship and love, Sergey came to know Christ while developing relationships and life skills that is leading him towards a fruitful future.

Now, he and another orphan graduate are involved in helping manage a nursery, as well as play an important role in Lifesong Farms-Ukraine.

Listen in to his story...

Strawberries Help Send Kids to School {ZAMBIA}

Last month, Lifesong Farms-Zambia team were pleased to present the first check to the Lifesong School at a special ceremony. As the farm continues to grow and show profits, we hope to have many more check ceremonies in the future as we grow towards sustainability!

zambia farms
Farm team presenting $5,000 check to Lifesong Zambia School

Read More...

Story of Lifesong Farms - Learn how Lifesong Farms got started in Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video

Impact on Farm Workers - Listen in to our Quality Manager, Pilijah, as she shares how her job has impacted her and her family. Watch Video

Christian Alliance for Orphans CAFO2014 {May 1-2; CHICAGO} - CAFO2014 inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. Register today! Learn More & Register

Celebrate Life Tour - featuring Cheri Keaggy & Zambia Children's Choir! Buy Tickets Today

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Romans 12:9




 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Romans 12:9a

When I saw this would be the verse I would focus on for April, my first thought was that it should have been put in February to go along with Valentine's Day.  All that lovey-dovey stuff and such.

Then a few days ago the thought came to me.

This year, this is the month that embodies love. Romans 12:9 speaks of loving from the very core of who you are.  True authenticity.

This isn't fake love.  Pretending to love someone. Pretending to care in hopes and gaining something in return.

But, we may argue, some people are hard to love.

I could not agree more.  I have seen some of them.  And some have even asked me why I care.

And I have to tell them honestly. The only good thing coming out of me is Jesus.

I love you because of Jesus.

To authentically love someone, regardless of their actions towards us, takes Jesus.

And we are now into the week that showed the true, authentic love.  There is no greater love than a man who gives his life for another.

I know such a man.  My Jesus did that for me.  And for you.

He loved us DESPITE ourselves. 

Christ has regarded our helpless estate,  
and has shed His own blood for our souls
(It is Well with my Soul)

Easter is the culmination of true love.  And it doesn't get ANY better than that.

Are you having trouble loving someone?  Turn to Jesus.  Give it to Jesus.  All of it.  You will be amazed with the results.



To see past posts, click here

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Here it is.

Last summer I mentioned burnout.  I had been feeling a certain way for awhile but didn't know how to identify it.  Then I read this article.


Listed below are the signs of burnout listed in the article:


1. Your motivation has faded. The passion that fueled you is gone, and your motivation has either vaporized or become self-centered.


2. Your main emotion is ‘numbness’ – you no longer feel the highs or the lows. 


3. People drain you. Of course there are draining people on the best of days. But not everybody, every time. Burnout often means few to no people energize you anymore.


4. Little things make you disproportionately angry. When you start losing your cool over small things, it’s a sign something deeper is very wrong.


5. You’re becoming cynical. 


6. Your productivity is dropping. You might be working long hours, but you’re producing little of value. Or what used to take you 5 minutes just took you 45. That’s a warning bell.


7.  You’re self-medicating.  Your coping mechanism has gone underground or dark. Whether that’s overeating, overworking, drinking, impulsive spending or even drugs, you’ve chosen a path of self-medication over self-care. Ironically, my self-medication was actually more work, which just spirals things downward.


8. You don’t laugh anymore.


9. Sleep and time off no longer refuel you.


I had found my answer.  THIS is what I had been feeling.  But what do I do with it?  We had just committed to another year of houseparenting at Gateway.  

I was exhausted.

I cried way too often.

I was burnt out.

Last June as I looked at that list I could identify with all of them in some form or another - especially 2, 3, 5, and 9.  Paul read it and felt the same way.

Not good.  You can't both be burnt out at the same time!  Right?

Well, this year has been a year of more stretching and growing and learning.

I have wrote several times about valleys and how we are asked to walk through them.  This year has been a valley for sure.  Continuing to press on despite the sever burnout we were feeling was a challenge for sure.  But don't we learn the most when we go through those hard times?

Well, if you read that sentence a few lines up you will catch that I said "another year of Houseparenting."


Ummm, that year is about up.

After 5 1/2 years of this work, Paul and I and our kiddos are moving on from houseparenting.

I knew this day would come.  I didn't think we had it in us to be lifers here.  Some days it couldn't come fast enough.  Other days I thought we could do this for years to come!

We have struggled with this decision for quite some time.  We are not quitters.  But sometimes we feel like that is what we are when we say we are done as Houseparents.

But truthfully, struggling with those 9 issues listed up top?

I think I need a rest.

And then I feel guilty for resting.  I should just keep doing this, right?

This is the vicious cycle running through my head on a daily basis.  Welcome to my brain.

Some are going to ask the question so I will answer:  We do not know where we are going from here.

We just know that we are supposed to go.

God has made that clear to us.  We had our doubts after the house fiasco in January.  And I've been doubting as any job for Paul is still hazy on the horizon.

But, there isn't much trusting when you know all the details and how it will all work out.

So, we step out trusting God's got our back.  He's got a plan and when we need to know something, He'll tell us.

We're still here.  We're still in it.  They got us through May whether they like it or not.


And I've just got to hold on for the ride, wherever it takes us.
1. Your motivation has faded. The passion that fueled you is gone, and your motivation has either vapourized or become self-centered.
2. Your main emotion is ‘numbness’ – you no longer feel the highs or the lows. This was actually one of the earliest signs for me that the edge was near. I wrote more about emotional numbness here.
3. People drain you. Of course there are draining people on the best of days. But not everybody, every time. Burnout often means few to no people energize you anymore.
4. Little things make you disproportionately angry. When you start losing your cool over small things, it’s a sign something deeper is very wrong.
5. You’re becoming cynical. Many leaders fight this one, but cynicism rarely finds a home in a healthy heart.
6. Your productivity is dropping. You might be working long hours, but you’re producing little of value. Or what used to take you 5 minutes just took you 45. That’s a warning bell.
7.  You’re self-medicating.  Your coping mechanism has gone underground or dark. Whether that’s overeating, overworking, drinking, impulsive spending or even drugs, you’ve chosen a path of self-medication over self-care. Ironically, my self-medication was actually more work, which just spirals things downward.
8. You don’t laugh anymore. Nothing seems fun or funny, and, at its worst, you begin to resent people who enjoy life.
9. Sleep and time off no longer refuel you. Sometimes you’re not burnt out; you’re just tired. A good night’s sleep or a week or two off will help most healthy people bounce back with fresh energy. But you could have a month off when you’re burnt out and not feel any difference. I took three weeks off during my summer of burn out, and I felt worse at the end than when I started. Not being refueled when you take time off is a major warning sign you’re burning out.
- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/07/9-signs-youre-burning-out-in-leadership/#sthash.teDexJV5.dpuf
1. Your motivation has faded. The passion that fueled you is gone, and your motivation has either vapourized or become self-centered.
2. Your main emotion is ‘numbness’ – you no longer feel the highs or the lows. This was actually one of the earliest signs for me that the edge was near. I wrote more about emotional numbness here.
3. People drain you. Of course there are draining people on the best of days. But not everybody, every time. Burnout often means few to no people energize you anymore.
4. Little things make you disproportionately angry. When you start losing your cool over small things, it’s a sign something deeper is very wrong.
5. You’re becoming cynical. Many leaders fight this one, but cynicism rarely finds a home in a healthy heart.
6. Your productivity is dropping. You might be working long hours, but you’re producing little of value. Or what used to take you 5 minutes just took you 45. That’s a warning bell.
7.  You’re self-medicating.  Your coping mechanism has gone underground or dark. Whether that’s overeating, overworking, drinking, impulsive spending or even drugs, you’ve chosen a path of self-medication over self-care. Ironically, my self-medication was actually more work, which just spirals things downward.
8. You don’t laugh anymore. Nothing seems fun or funny, and, at its worst, you begin to resent people who enjoy life.
9. Sleep and time off no longer refuel you. Sometimes you’re not burnt out; you’re just tired. A good night’s sleep or a week or two off will help most healthy people bounce back with fresh energy. But you could have a month off when you’re burnt out and not feel any difference. I took three weeks off during my summer of burn out, and I felt worse at the end than when I started. Not being refueled when you take time off is a major warning sign you’re burning out.
- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/07/9-signs-youre-burning-out-in-leadership/#sthash.teDexJV5.dpuf
1. Your motivation has faded. The passion that fueled you is gone, and your motivation has either vapourized or become self-centered.
2. Your main emotion is ‘numbness’ – you no longer feel the highs or the lows. This was actually one of the earliest signs for me that the edge was near. I wrote more about emotional numbness here.
3. People drain you. Of course there are draining people on the best of days. But not everybody, every time. Burnout often means few to no people energize you anymore.
4. Little things make you disproportionately angry. When you start losing your cool over small things, it’s a sign something deeper is very wrong.
5. You’re becoming cynical. Many leaders fight this one, but cynicism rarely finds a home in a healthy heart.
6. Your productivity is dropping. You might be working long hours, but you’re producing little of value. Or what used to take you 5 minutes just took you 45. That’s a warning bell.
7.  You’re self-medicating.  Your coping mechanism has gone underground or dark. Whether that’s overeating, overworking, drinking, impulsive spending or even drugs, you’ve chosen a path of self-medication over self-care. Ironically, my self-medication was actually more work, which just spirals things downward.
8. You don’t laugh anymore. Nothing seems fun or funny, and, at its worst, you begin to resent people who enjoy life.
9. Sleep and time off no longer refuel you. Sometimes you’re not burnt out; you’re just tired. A good night’s sleep or a week or two off will help most healthy people bounce back with fresh energy. But you could have a month off when you’re burnt out and not feel any difference. I took three weeks off during my summer of burn out, and I felt worse at the end than when I started. Not being refueled when you take time off is a major warning sign you’re burning out.
- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/07/9-signs-youre-burning-out-in-leadership/#sthash.teDexJV5.dpuf
1. Your motivation has faded. The passion that fueled you is gone, and your motivation has either vapourized or become self-centered.
2. Your main emotion is ‘numbness’ – you no longer feel the highs or the lows. This was actually one of the earliest signs for me that the edge was near. I wrote more about emotional numbness here.
3. People drain you. Of course there are draining people on the best of days. But not everybody, every time. Burnout often means few to no people energize you anymore.
4. Little things make you disproportionately angry. When you start losing your cool over small things, it’s a sign something deeper is very wrong.
5. You’re becoming cynical. Many leaders fight this one, but cynicism rarely finds a home in a healthy heart.
6. Your productivity is dropping. You might be working long hours, but you’re producing little of value. Or what used to take you 5 minutes just took you 45. That’s a warning bell.
7.  You’re self-medicating.  Your coping mechanism has gone underground or dark. Whether that’s overeating, overworking, drinking, impulsive spending or even drugs, you’ve chosen a path of self-medication over self-care. Ironically, my self-medication was actually more work, which just spirals things downward.
8. You don’t laugh anymore. Nothing seems fun or funny, and, at its worst, you begin to resent people who enjoy life.
9. Sleep and time off no longer refuel you. Sometimes you’re not burnt out; you’re just tired. A good night’s sleep or a week or two off will help most healthy people bounce back with fresh energy. But you could have a month off when you’re burnt out and not feel any difference. I took three weeks off during my summer of burn out, and I felt worse at the end than when I started. Not being refueled when you take time off is a major warning sign you’re burning out.
- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/07/9-signs-youre-burning-out-in-leadership/#sthash.teDexJV5.dpuf

Saturday, April 5, 2014

March Lookback

 March gave us some more winter weather, despite the fact that Spring was on the calendar 2/3 of the way through the month.


So, we tried to pull ourselves up by those winter bootstraps and enjoy it while it was here.

We saw some improvement on our house (praise the Lord!) and delved even deeper in exploring how our God is in control...always.

Now April is in full swing, Spring Break is just about in the rear window, and we turn our faces to the sky, hoping for that sunshine.

Hannah's 'snowman' she made by herself

Wacky Wednesday at school.  Ironically she didn't dress much different than she does any other day...

 Homemade Bird House/feeder.  As always, Hannah was the architect 
and I was her construction worker

 The month started out with studs

 Drywall was dropped off

 then installed

 and then painted!

 Heading out to Illinois for a family wedding meant a night at a hotel - and swimming.
As we were sitting on the bed eating PB&J's and watching a movie Owen exclaimed, "this is the best day ever!"  We keep it simple around here.


 I managed to get these two superheroes to stop for a photo-op...

 Right before they flew off to save the world.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

I would say, hands down, she was the toughest kid we've had in our house.
She brought chronic disease that affected every part of her life.
She brought years of severe abuse and neglect with her.

It manifested itself with screaming, throwing, name-calling, defiance.

When she lived here she taught me so much about trust and patience and unconditional love.

She lived here for 9 months.

That was three years ago.

And last Sunday I got to witness her stand in front of 200+ people and profess her need for Jesus and His Saving Grace.

I got to be there to see her be baptized.

She was part of my lowest moments here as a houseparent.

And now she is part of one of my highest moments, too.

She is a living, walking example of prayer working.  His Body reaching out to serve and witness.

After Gateway, God brought others into her life to pick up where we left off.  They mentored, loved, and took her to church with them.

I weep with thankfulness when I think that some day I will get to see her in heaven, with all her hurts forgotten, her disease made well, every tear wiped dry.

Don't give up on those cases that seem hopeless.  As long as there is life, there is hope!

Keep loving, keep praying, keep serving.

Because God isn't done with us yet.