As many of you know, Richard and I have been involved with a ministry in Zambia–called Wiphan Care Ministries – www.wiphan.org. As you may know, Zambia is a small country in the center of Africa–hard to get to and one that we have had quite a time getting folks willing to move to! Currently we have teams that go in to serve our Zambian staff–and we also have STACY an amazing grad in her 20s that has served us in big ways in the last year! We have 2 schools with 450 orphans in our program and 150 widows in our skills training. We also have homes for our children where we hire widows to care for them–so many widows there have joined us in serving the orphans and have a job now for themselves too. We simple visit them–love them–encourage them–equip them and pray the Lord will raise up others to serve with us…and maybe even one day go there!
Zambia has a large HIV/AIDS problem where statistics puts the infection rate at over 40%. This is a major reason life expectancy is only 31 years. There are now 1,000,000 orphans in Zambia.- This is one tenth of the population.
Today I want to introduce you to a double orphan that attends our school. (Double orphan simply means he has lost both his mother and father).
Meet Shadrack Musonda!
Shadrack’s parents are deceased, and he lives with his uncle near the Mapalo compound. He is 18 years old, in the 10th grade and has been a student at Wiphan since the 1st grade. Shadrack is a bright and determined young man with perfect attendance and one of the top students in Wiphan’s Inshila (Discipleship and Accountability) program.
Recently Shadrack discovered a lump on the left side of his neck. He approached Wiphan’s Nurse Becky, who referred him to the clinic for a biopsy. The biopsy results revealed that Shadrack has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. While the diagnosis is scary, the doctors believe the cancer is still in the early stages and are hopeful about the outcome of his treatment.
A cancer diagnosis is never easy, but we are encouraged by how the Lord has gone before Shadrack. The first cancer treatment hospital in Zambia was recently completed in Lusaka, a city about 4 hours away. This new medical facility will allow Shadrack to receive treatment in his own country. He will undergo 6 chemotherapy treatments in the coming months.
The good news is that chemotherapy is free to Zambians, and we praise God for this. However, there will be additional costs for Shadrack’s medical care. He will likely need an MRI and CAT scan as he begins treatment, and the government does not cover these costs. As many of you know, chemo is incredibly tough on the body and Shadrack will require a strict diet and a clean environment to help his body fight this disease. Maintaining both will be big challenges while living in the compound. These costs, plus the cost of travel to and from the hospital, will equal $5000. Wiphan will be working with Shadrack’s uncle to provide the best care and assistance possible.
There are two ways that you can help Shadrack: the first is by praying for him, his uncle, and his doctors as they begin this daunting journey. Secondly, if you would like to help cover the expenses of Shadrack’s treatment you can donate to his care fund at http://www.wiphan.org/donate/donate.html, and enter “Shadrack” in the Comments field.
Thank you in advance for considering helping Shadrack whether it’s contributing toward his medical OR helping us spread the word on this opportunity to help him! We are truly in this together!!!
So last week I got surprised with pictures from the party that was delivered to Zeke’s orphanage in China! Ann from Red Threads is amazing! We contacted her a couple of weeks before Zeke’s birthday once we realized there was no way we would be there by then–and she quickly helped us put together a birthday party for Zeke! She made sure he got his fancy 2nd birthday cake, a present from us and lots of pictures from his special day! Here are a few from the party!
Isn’t our sweet boy just the sweetest thing??!!! Oh I can’t WAIT to have him in our arms! We leave in just 9 days!!! FINALLY in the single digits of our count down!!! I hope to get our day by day itinerary this week from our agency. We’ve been busy getting things prepared, packed and all ready. Getting so excited here!!
The kids are officially out of school for the summer too–so this week ahead we will just be getting the house organized (okay–so the kids will be running around while I’m nesting like a crazy momma). We just finished up lots of sports this weekend–can’t wait to download those pictures of the trophy ceremonies and Loo’s recital! Frank woke us up on Saturday–he was dressed in full soccer uniform complete with cleats to shin guards at 7:30am…I looked over to the side of my bed to see him standing there and he said, “Mommy! It’s time to get up! Wake up mommy. TODAY is the day that I get my very first trophy!” This boy melts my heart! Will post those pics soon too!
I’m sitting here…typing tonight–unable to sleep. In this empty nursery. Longing for it to be filled.
I am also a mom. But tonight my house is quiet…as the four little ones are split up in two by two tonight–half with Gigi (Rich’s mom) and the other two with Nana (my mom). On Mother’s Day Eve. How fitting, huh?
Yet it’s not because they are gone tonight that my heart longs…it is because he isn’t here–yet.
I don’t know where YOU are reading this…but for many this is a day that can be a reminder of what is yet to be. Or what has been lost. Heartbreak. Wanting. Longing.
I get that–kind of.
Not really. At all. I can’t fully understand–so I can’t lie and say I do. Yet–I do get the longing right now…desperate longing and wanting.
Maybe in some way…different–but the same…maybe you are waiting too. And it’s wrapped up in some way in the word MOM.
I have 4 precious children–and another child waiting across the world. Months and months of paperwork, home study appointments, waiting and waiting and more waiting. And finally–today…the flights were booked. Happy dances have been had. On June 2, 2013–my sweet boy will be in my arms. And even with 4 of the most precious children in the whole wide world–even with our travel dates oh so close—tonight, these arms of mine–they feel so empty.
And some how–this Mother’s Day for me…is a reminder that he isn’t here.
And I’m longing.
Yes! We have SO much to look forward to! Yes! (Thank you for that most beautiful reminder;). He is waiting, and we are ALMOST there. But you know if you are where I am–on this Mother’s Day–you are most certainly not be thinking or feeling those things. Because…well, he’s not here yet. And the longing–oh, it’s real…and it’s still there until that crib is filled. Almost unbearably–still there.
And sitting here in this quiet nursery. I also can’t help but think of her. The sweet baby we lost last Fall. Almost 12 weeks. The heartbeat I heard more than once over an ultrasound. Seeing that little peanut move all around–and I was already in love. And some how–this day…the first after this loss–makes me think and be reminded of her too. This is my first Mother’s Day after this loss–and even 10 months later…on this Mother’s Day–I can’t help but think about this loss. Nothing can ever replace this love. It was a life–a loss–and a love only a mommy’s heart can understand yet never fully explain.
It is just so precious.
Each–and every little one…no matter how they come to us…no matter how they are taken away—ARE MIRACLES.
I remember after our loss, hearing the song Blessed be Your Name. I stood. I moved my lips. But I couldn’t sing it. Not yet. Trust me–as a daughter of the King–I wanted to. And maybe you–reading this on this day…I don’t know…maybe you get that. Because either you have been there–or in some way you are there right now.
I don’t know why hard things happen in our stories. Do I believe the Lord is big enough to stop all bad things from happening? Of course I do. So why doesn’t He? That’s a question books have been written about. But from my own walk–I see a good God that allows us to make choices–and some times bad things happen from bad choices. But what about loss? That had nothing to do with YOUR choice? There are fewer books I’m afraid written about this. Because there really are no black and white easy answers. Or answers that makes sense at all for that matter. What I do know is that God is good. I do know He can turn brokenness into beauty. AND HE DOES. I do know that He can and will be glorified as we cling to Him–as we wait on Him–as we trust in Him. The hard won’t always be hard…there is hope around the corner. As you make the decision to hold fast to Jesus and wait with hope, beautiful joy–will come in the morning.
I was reading Isaiah 40 tonight. Maybe there are some things in here for your heart today…
3…A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God…
4 Every valley shall be raised up,every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together…
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
9 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
12-15 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spiritd of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust…
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
That is truth.
Here I sit in this empty nursery. And the Lord–this year has already done such a miracle in this momma’s heart. Through our wonderful surprise that we were expecting–and then our difficult loss–He created in my heart a deep longing to be a mommy…again. He put my husband and I on the same page–wanting to adopt a little boy…who we have fallen head over heels for. And I just can’t wait to have this boy in my arms. Oh so soon it will be.
Longing. Yet so humbled. That the Lord called us to also grow our family through adoption. I’ve heard some refer to adoption as the “unnatural” route. That’s true. It’s not the natural way the Lord set up families to grow. But I have to say–that if there’s a difference in a momma’s heart–this heart doesn’t know it. All of my children–they are fiercely and forever “my own”. There are little miracles in each of them. And even miraculous similarities…mannerisms also shared by my children that I didn’t birth–that make me smile when they happen. Frank and Isaac both having the same crooked grin. Zeke having chubby baby cheeks just like my Frank. I’ll never forget our discovering Isaac had reflux–like all my biological babies–and when I told the pediatrician, “OF COURSE that makes sense because ALL my babies have had this…”–he gave me a funny look…and grinned–as he saw for a moment I sincerely FORGOT my African American son wasn’t mine biologically so it actually wouldn’t make sense for him to have the same medical issues. That label of natural or unnatural–my heart knows not. Sure the beginnings were hard and completely different–but the Lord has done beautiful things. While it can all be so complicated–I’m not letting it be…not now…because right now I’m just shaking my head in disbelief of how He writes our stories…brokenness to beauty and humbled that I get to be so much apart of beauty. BLESSED. So blessed.
Although this Mother’s Day Eve, I am a bottle of emotions–as I think of many of you who are also rocking in an empty nursery chair tonight too…only their aren’t other little ones in your home–and you are waiting. Wondering. Longing. As I typed this last bit–(please don’t think I’m crazy)–but I truly sensed the Holy Spirit whispering to this heart of mine, “Tell her she is not forgotten.”
So maybe that is for YOU.
Not quiet ready to sing Blessed Be His Name out loud–but oh how you want to.
How you want to know and see and feel His blessing…and for you right now–you want to feel that blessing in being a mom.
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
I do not know what the Lord has planned for you. But I know it’s a story only He could write. One that will have you jaw-dropped in awe if you just continue to hold fast and tight to Him. This–I can promise.
I just ran across this most precious Mother’s Day video–and while it was probably intended for moms who are already moms–when I watched it…I was immediately humbled how the Lord has written my mom story. And for some reason–as I watched this…my heart thought even more about my waiting boy than my littles already under our roof. I thought of this sweet love that I’m just dying to get on the other side of the world to hold. I am humbled–that *I* get to be his mom. I get to be the one he will one day say “Happy Mother’s Day” to…year after year after year. And while I’m longing…and wanting…and waiting…I can see the end of this adoption journey on the horizon, and my son will soon be in my arms. I will get to be the one doing all of these things that some may see as hard…but oh how I can’t WAIT TO DO THEM…again and again and again. So sweet from a “child’s perspective” on why we do what we do…(turn off music up top before playing)
I get to be the one. There will be many conversations. Many hard things we think through and wonder together…but I *get* to be the one having those conversations with him. And wow–what a privilege this is.
This Mother’s Day–although I’m longing and wanting and waiting–I’m also completely humbled as I remember back to the times of the “timing charts” as we tried and tried and tried for Frank…and to the times of going back in Laney and Parker’s rooms to rock them at night realizing that I had no idea what gifts I had as these were my two surprises. I realized through being unable to get pregnant this next time–what a GIFT my children really were. I had no idea. I had no idea the longing…until then. And then Isaac. The longing…the waiting…the wanting—the wondering…and now–he has almost been home for THREE years. And over and over and over I have seen the Lord create beauty from broken. And I am humbled. And grateful. And thankful. For how He is writing my story. My beautiful, perfect–oh my goodness story that only He could have written for me. Not easy. Some parts I would never want to do over. And others–I’d relive a million times again. And humbled–because I get to do this again. With another one. And although it’s not perfect. Although it will not be easy. Although it may have started out bumpy for us both–I get to be the one with this little guy too…and that–leaves me speechless.
I made this little video (therapy for this waiting momma!) of all the pictures and videos I have treasured this year as we have waited for our sweet boy. My favorite is at the very end where they have been working on him saying “Mama!” And right there at the very end–you can hear his sweet little voice say it. MELT. All the hard…or the uncertainty…or the moments of being unable to sing–those melt right along with hearing those words. His plans are perfect…not easy are the paths He might choose for us–but they are good, pleasing and perfect. And how perfect is this sweet boy of mine??? I can’t believe I get to be the one…(if the music is playing up top on blog–you will want to hit pause first!)
Really–I just love the words and I wanted to share them with you…what a privilege we have as moms no matter how the Lord brings us here…whether it’s biologically, adoption, foster…
Isn’t he so worth it? Worth waiting on the Lord and His plans!
No matter where you are this day–I pray you know that His plans for your life are good–that He has a plan and even a purpose–yes a PURPOSE–in and through the broken. And through it WILL come beauty.
I think also of my sweet loves and their birth moms on this day. How they both made brave, courageous decisions to give them life. We honor them also on this day. And are eternally thankful for choice to carry them, care for them and love them for the time they did.
In the hard…no matter what it is in the journey of yours surrounding the word MOM…
Cling to Him.
Remember the words in Isaiah as you place your HOPE in HIM.
…But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint…
Wishing all you moms–whatever that looks like right now in your life, waiting moms and moms-to-be a blessed day of JOY, HOPE and STRENGTH.
May you have peace through the hard–a peace that surpasses understanding as much of the hard won’t make sense in this world of broken. May the broken places be tenderly filled with His tender and powerful healing. May the deep desires of your hearts–be filled as only He miraculously can. May you have the strength and determination to trust Him…to write a story that only He could author.
Circa 1982. Happy Mother’s Day to my most amazing momma! Thank you mom for all the sacrifices you have made for us! I love you so!
“Congratulations! The American Consulate has confirmed your appointment for June 10, 2013 @ 8:30 am! Now you may go ahead and book your international flights. Your departure date should be May 30th arriving in Beijing on May 31 no later than 8/9pm. Gotcha day will be on 6/2. Medical exam on 6/8. C/A appointment and Oath ceremony 6/10. Pick up your child’s visa and passport 6/11. Depart for US 6/12.”
Can’t believe we land in China in MAYYYYYYY!!! And I will have my sweet boy in my arms on June 2nd! Are y’all gonna miss my updates?? THANK YOU FRIENDS FOR PRAYING FOR US THIS YEAR!! It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally almost hereeeeeeeeeeee!
And in celebration of Zeke’s birthday…
My friend Chrystal Senter and some of her Georgia peach sweeties! (Guessing her newest baby recently home is in that sling you can’t see!)
My friend Millie Wiginton’s kiddos in Alabama…
And oh my–if you are my Facebook friend you have to see my sweet friends kids singing! Thank you Laura McBrayer, Catherine Besk and Angie Carley!! Y’all are the sweetest!! Now if I could only figure out how to move those over here!!!
Thank you all so much for loving my Zeke and blessing our hearts by remembering him and celebrating his life today. Y’all have turned a day that my heart was hurting not be there into such a sweet day–so dear to have friends on love us and our boy!!! THANK YOU! And OH MY…the LOVE of the LORD! To bring this T/A and consulate confirmation on HIS BIRTHDAY!?? How amazing is HIS timing?! You can bet we are all doing happy dances over here!! God is so good…and I’m walking around on cloud 9 fumbling all my words b/c I’m so excited that I can’t even think straight right now!
On our sweet boy’s BIRTHDAY in China…we got the phone call–that we have travel approval!!! Yep! At 12:01pm it was 12:01am in China–and officially our son’s birthday. Around 3:30pm, we got the news we got our Travel Approval!! We are requesting the first available CA with our agency–which will have us leaving on May 30th and returning home on June 13th! We are so excited, thankful and in awe at God’s most perfect timing. I love that it came on his birthday in China!!! He was delivered a BIRTHDAY PARTY today by Red Threads services…and I can’t wait to see pictures when they send them of our little man and his friends celebrating today.
Today–was a good day! God is good! His timing is perfect. He’s never too late–not a minute late…always on time. Only He could write this story–and I am just humbled…so humbled…to be a part of it!
Happy birthday Zeke! We love you! Mommy and daddy can’t WAIT to hold you…very, very soon!
Momma to Zeke, Isaac, Frank, Laney and Parker!
AND in celebration of MOTHER’S DAY THIS WEEKEND…here’s something to share with your favorite mommas! (pause the music up top before watching!)
If you've ever felt the tugging on your heart to get involved with orphan and widow care but not known where to connect--keep reading! Wiphan (Widows + Orphans) Care Ministry consists of 2 schools in Ndola, Zambia (Africa) where we have 450 orphans and 150 in the program. Our family serves on the board--and we'd love to have you join us! Trips are taken over ever 3-4 months--and we are opening up an summer/year long intern program in 2012. If you would like to know more about how you can get involved with orphan care through Wiphan Care Ministries by serving here in the US or in Africa, please contact us 'cause we'd love to have you join us!
Ever considered adoption, have a heart for adoption or have you already adopted? If you answered yes to one of those--then Created for Care retreats were designed for you! In 2010, we started a ministry for adoption moms--retreats designed specifically to bring them rest, encouragement and Biblical teaching. There are 2 retreats planned for 2012! If you would like to know more about Created for Care or come to one of our retreats (they are AMAZING!)--please visit http://www.createdforcare.org or just click the link under the "Ministries" tab on my blog.