Sunday, February 12, 2017

Straining Towards What's Ahead

I want to post an update with fun pictures of Christmas and birthdays and our first snow, and I will, but I have so many heavy thoughts running through my head and weighing on my heart, that I want to start there.

We left an amazing community when we moved last summer.  It was one of the biggest reasons I did not want to leave.

I can honestly say our lives would look so very different if it weren't for Summit Church in Orlando and the work that God did in our hearts there. 

Many of you have heard about our God ordained second visit to Summit Church on Africa Sunday 2008 that literally changed the course of our lives forever. It was in that service that I clearly heard God say that our children were in Africa (which was a little surprising seeing as we had just decided to adopt from Korea the night before and we had only planned on adopting one child).  Eight years and five kids later and I couldn't be more thankful for that word from the Lord and the support that we experienced at Summit and through our friends and family.

Which is why it is so confusing that the Lord would move us away from it all.

We are starting to find community, but it is not the same (please do not take offense if you are our new community, we are thankful for the many ways God has provided relationships here).  

Soldiers speak of a brotherhood with other soldiers that is unmatched in civilian life and that is how I can relate what we are experiencing here.  With our Florida friends and family we've been through some stuff.  We've walked the highest, happiest days and the lowest, darkest days together.  

There is an unspoken bond and understanding and we miss that.

The culture at Summit Church in Orlando lends itself to being a place where taking your next, often wild and crazy next step for the Lord is embraced and encouraged.  

It is a place where we could walk into the doors and our family looked "normal" and it didn't matter that we had eight kids from all different backgrounds and places.  We knew they would be loved and welcomed and treasured.

This is the the Church.  

This is Jesus.

We experienced a little bit of heaven each week in that place.

So this morning as I laid in bed praying for God to show us just why exactly we are here now and not there, God showed up, like he always does.

We've been praying and thinking of a name for our little farm.  We wanted it to be something significant.

We dream of the day we can make a little profit from our ventures and be able to pour into the ministries that God has laid before us, particularly in Ethiopia. 

As I continued to struggle through this moving process, I decided that this year, I would focus on joy.  Finding joy in the little things, seeking joy in the Lord and returning quickly to joy.  

I want to be joy-filled and I want to trust Him.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

So we settled on the name Desta Farms 
because Desta means "joy" in Amharic (the working Ethiopian language).

and we're claiming Pslam 126:3
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Our friends' church here sponsors a care point in Holeta Ethiopia with Children's HopeChest and they still have 30 kids that need sponsors.  As I scrolled down the list of kids this morning I thought to myself, "how do you even pick one."

They are all precious and they all need someone to step out on their behalf.

I got to the very last picture and this sad little face was starring back at me:

She captured me and once I read her name, I knew why.

Meet Desta

Our newest sponsor child.  We love her already and pray that through our sponsorship she will find the joy of the Lord and that it will be her strength.

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Don't miss this verse:  "send some to those who have nothing prepared"

Desta has nothing prepared, but through sponsorship she will now receive food, basic medical care, schooling and discipleship.

I am praising the Lord that he still speaks to his children and that he has chosen our family to partner with Children's HopeChest and the Holeta community to sponsor Desta.

We had decided to stay home this Sunday and listen to a sermon from Summit Church Orlando on podcast.  Wouldn't you know that the very first sermon on the list was this year's Africa Sunday message and that this annual message would once again directly affect our family.

I invite you to listen to the message from lead pastor John Parker.

And when you are done, if you are looking for a way to plug in, there are still 30 children waiting for their sponsor families.

click on the link and then select "unsponsored" on the "status" tab

I still do not know exactly why we are here or why this transition has been so hard for me, but I do know that God is faithful, his promises are true and I can trust him.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philipeans 3:12-14

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Special Request for a Special Lady

The computers were purchased and have been received by Ayne.  Thank you to all who donated!

Beautiful Ayne is the founder of I Care for the Nations, one of the care points in Ethiopia where we sponsor a child.

She is an absolutely amazing woman with a servant's heart who is a true example of a community leader.  

She works tirelessly to support and encourage the kids and empower their moms and care takers at I Care.

This is not only physically exhausting, but also mentally draining work.

The trauma and loss that most of the kids at I Care have experienced is overwhelming and she is on the front lines each day working to make a change for these kids and their families.

I had the opportunity to take a surprise trip to Ethiopia in October (nothing better for my soul than spending time in this country that I love).  

Visiting with Ayne and hearing updates about the kids and women and learning more about the income generating projects that have been put into place this year was an absolute 
highlight of the trip.

Celebrate with me as you view these amazing pictures!

What was only a dream last year  is now a thriving reality.
Last year at this time so many of you donated to "Change Their Stories" and you truly have done just that with these income generating projects.

cotton spinning machines

weaving machines

Barista training room

daycare training room

Below, hanging on her walls at I Care are pictures we sent from our team trip in June 2015 (so cool to see that she has saved these photos and displayed them).

During our visit, Ayne shared some of her struggles.  She asked for nothing, but one thing she did mention is that the computers they are using in the I Care office are old and very slow.  She and the staff at I Care use these computers to send updates and pictures about the kids and programs. They are so slow in fact that they often stay late into the evening in order to complete their work.  

This woman goes out of her way to sacrificially serve others everyday.

Here she is below translating a letter that my friend's sponsor child wrote while we were there.  She made a point to meet with us so that we could have the letter before we left.

I would love to bless her with two new laptop computers for the I Care office to make her life a little easier.

So here's my idea for a little Christmas surprise for her.

My friends just got word that they are traveling to Ethiopia to complete their adoption in early January.  

Could you help me by donating a few dollars to Ayne's computer fund so that we can purchase these computers before the end of the year?

We are hoping to raise $450 to provide 2 Notebooks and adapters.

They would then be ready to be hand delivered just in time for Ethiopian Christmas
 (which is January 7th).

As you've seen with the many other fundraisers we've done, when people join together and give a little it adds up to a lot and we are able to make a difference in people's lives.

If you'd like to join me in making a difference for this amazing lady who has given her life to serving others, 
click on the "donate" button 
at the top, right hand corner of this blog.

***Also, please leave a message of encouragement in the message box when you donate.  I will compile these to send on to her as well.***

You will be helping to partner in the work that Ayne has started at I Care. 

Thank you for your continued support!

It is truly changing lives.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Animal Farm

When we moved here, the house came with 3 hens and a barn cat....apparently that's a thing.
Binky the Barn Cat

Well the hens are old so they were only laying an egg here and there and since we are experienced farmers, Nick decided to picked up a box of chickens on his way home from work so we could eventually have more eggs.

Now our old hens stay in the field and every night they walk back to their hen house.  We thought all chickens did this.

Not so.

The new chickens immediately flocked to the woods.

So we spent the next 2 hours catching them.

We got 8 out of 9 back and counted it as a success.

Then we read about chickens and learned you have to coop train them and so we did. 

This stressed the old girls out and they stopped laying altogether. 

Since it was going to be some time before we'd get eggs from the new hens we decided now was as good a time as any to order baby chicks.......which come in a box in the mail.....who knew?

I was so scared I'd get a box of dead chicks, but all 26 were alive and well.

Nick and I built this brooder (and felt pretty proud of ourselves)

The new chicks were a novelty and the kids did school in the barn for a few days....until they realized how much work baby chicks are.  Rahel and Caroline were official chick care takers and did a great job.

Around this time, still feeling super sad about our move and missing family and friends, I had the brilliant idea that we should adopt a dog....because we had nothing else going.

We found the sweetest hound mix at the animal shelter and brought her home at the end of September.

Meet Mali aka "the best dog ever" (at least that's what we originally called her until she started leaving surprise puddles on our she's just "the averagest dog ever" but we still love her).

The only animal we had when we moved here was our rescue cat Wally.
He is such a trooper.

Wally:"help, he's got me again"

He's the most tolerant cat and allows even the little boys to scoop him up.

Which they do often.
Feeling the love.

Wally: "Seriously?"
Then Colton found a turtle.  His very own pet!  We kept him in a flower bed for a few days before turning him loose.

We marked him in case we ever saw him around again.

As if one turtle wasn't enough, Colton rescued this injured turtle at the playground one day.  Luckily we were near the local zoo and they were able to take him in.

The animal farm adventures continued when we realized that 4 out of our 8 "hens" that Nick had brought home were actually big fat roosters!

We separated these boys out and eventually found them new homes where they could do what roosters do.  The 5:20am rooster crow added to the farm ambiance, but we surely do not need any more chickens around here.

The baby chicks grew and transferred into the hen house.

These black and white ones are my favorite.

And then finally, after nearly 4 months of raising and feeding chickens, we got our first egg.

We affectionately named it the $500 egg because that is about how much we've spent to this point feeding and brooding our little flock.

We now have a grand total of
 30 hens
8 kids
2 cats
1 dog

and now
all we need is the partridge in the pear tree!