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Africa Bound {My hearts and worlds are about to meet!}

She blew out her candle in her smash cake when it first began. A love relationship a world a way–that I needed far more than one that needed me.

I had everything a girl could dream of. Yet…there was something missing. MORE.

A beautiful marriage. A boy. A girl. And running a photography business where I made my own hours so I could be a stay-at-home mom AND use my passion and talents while getting a little break from diapers and Barney. What more could there be? Oh–there was MORE.

And in just a few weeks–we were about to meet MORE without even realizing it. We would go in thinking we were helping. That they needed us. But we were mistaken. It was us that needed them. And our little girl would never know life any different–without these precious ones in our lives.

THIS…is how it began–for us–and TOMORROW…I board a plane-with our little girl. For the first time, she will come face to face with the precious ones we have poured our hearts and souls into for the last 8 years of our lives…almost her entire life.

I put her to bed after she turned one–a Santa party that December full of fun and friends. I rented a Santa for entertainment–BAD idea;). Think of those babies crying on Santa’s lap at Christmas–and imagine THAT for your very first birthday party. Thank you mom;). I remember rocking her that night (hoping she wasn’t completely traumatized;)…and feeling my heart pulled for MORE. Oh–I was DONE having kids. My first two babies just 14 months apart–I was certain our family was complete–but…He was calling us to more.

Just weeks later–we met Kevin at a missionary fair at our church where you can learn about ministries to get involved with. He was there–behind a table wearing an awful Zambian hand-made shirt with zip-zag patterns and shared about his recent trip to Zambia. I went home that night and couldn’t sleep–so we invited Kevin to our home to share more about Zambia.


We felt led to give what the Lord was blessing our family with through my photography business–and just 4 months later–Richard and I hopped on a plane to Zambia with Kevin and his son to see the place we were investing in. At the time there were 200 kids showing up to a mud wall church–for school each day. When it rained, school was cancelled because the roof leaked so badly they needed umbrellas inside to keep dry. But still, it was an amazing thing to see with 200 children who were orphans off the street showing up each day to learn. (It was also here that the Lord opened my heart to growing again…and through adoption. I knew when I held these children that it wasn’t blood that bound us–but love. And I longed to grow again for the first time when I held her. Thank you sweet one for opening my heart–oh how I needed you far more than you needed me. You changed me and because of you–we grew again…and again…and again.)

Back to the beginning…

I will never forget the next day what happened. We were sitting in a business meeting with Kevin, his son, me, Richard and Labstone (our precious friend who is now in heaven–my husband held his hands in his last breathes and had the honor to bury him…oh the lives we lived together since then!) We had just finished Labstone’s bar-b-cue over a small grill–surrounded by a stone wall with barbed wire and broken glass secured on top. We huddled together going over numbers and how we could help in new ways–who in the world funds this–200 kids coming each day…what large organization is Wiphan connected to??

“It’s us. The four of us.”

Talk about grassroots–and…SHOCK.

Kevin knew that if he had told us in the beginning it was just him that we might not have joined him. But after holding these precious children and knowing their faces–we were 100% committed…for life.

Our worlds were completely changed. I was certain the Lord would care for them without us as He had thus far–but my heart was pulled…and I knew…they were our MORE.

We needed them far MORE than they needed us.

And so–our journey began.


For the rest of our lives everything would be filtered through these eyes…these faces…their stories–and our lives…together.

We came home–and asked my sister and her husband to join us. They did–and they have been running faithfully with us–YET my sister and I have NEVER stepped foot on African soil TOGETHER. That will change THIS week too.

As our hearts re-entered America, we shared with all my photography clients more and more–and one of the couples I took pictures for–the Bowens–joined us in helping building the first school complete with 4 classrooms, a kitchen and library. So much has changed in the last 8 years through countless families joining Wiphan and 200 faithful families supporting these children. (Thank you for being a part of the Wiphan family!) Today-Wiphan operates 3 schools. We have 750 orphans attending our schools AND 150 widows in our trade school.

It’s truly amazing to see all that God has done.

We have almost 200 sponsors AND we have some pretty amazing friends who have stepped up to run hard with us…the Elphicks, the Davis crew, the Wirths and so many more. Oh how we need each other. The last couple of years after bringing home Zeke has been a season for me to send Richard to pour into Wiphan and I’ve had to step back a bit to really be where I needed to be as a mommy. Zeke, our youngest, has now been home for two years and is 4 years old and able to understand mommy does come back now—so it’s finally time again. Richard has been going for us–and I’m getting my feet wet all over again.

And I’m beside myself to return. Because this time–I’m taking my daughter…

She has dreamed of meeting Beatrice–our precious sponsored daughter and who she refers to as her only sister. Beatrice is in the 8th grade now–and they’ve been writing letters to one another since Laney could only make a handprint. (below: Richard and Beatrice together looking at family pictures when he was there last month)


Our little Laney has watched us travel back and forth for so many years–and I can only imagine what it will be like for her putting faces to the stories we have told…the only life she has ever known with Wiphan being a part of it.

One of my favorite family Wiphan stories…

Because of Wiphan–Laney knew that she was going to be a big sister again before her daddy even did!

I’ll never forget the spring break I was heading to the beach to be with my sister and nieces because my brother-in-law and Richard had gone to pour into Wiphan together. I got 30 minutes into the drive and Laney threw up in the car–and then I joined her. Little did I know I was 8 weeks pregnant!!! I tried to call Richard for DAYS to tell him the news–and service to Africa was so spotty we could never talk, and Laney was so worried about me being sick that week. We prayed together and I shared the news with her–and finally I got in touch with Richard. I made him promise not to tell anyone but before he said OK–I heard him shouting the news to our 250 kids…following by shouts and cheering. I shook my head and laughed realizing they probably weren’t going to share our news with anyone locally so I was safe;)

Our children have loved being a part of Wiphan–and they have dreamed with us ways to love bigger there–and in just days–this little girl will be dancing with our other children for the first time…and I’m so excited to see how God will use it. She was stubborn enough to tell me she was going and would buy her own ticket—and God was graceful and amazing to provide her way through 25 amazing friends who bought art in her online art auction which single-handedly funded her ticket. I’m still amazed at that!

And did I mention my sister is going too? Yes I did! Eek! Can you believe almost 8 years running alongside Wiphan together and we have NEVER been together?! Along with 3 other amazing women–our team makes 6! I can’t believe I get to be in Africa with the girls I love—for the first time…and tomorrow we leave! It makes my fear of flying or the fact I’m allergic to anti-malaria meds not that big of a deal at all:).

The bags are almost packed…the prep for home is pretty much done–and Nana is keeping my baby Zeke (the one little bug that still needs to work on swim skills) so I can rest easy while we go. (Pray for her!! She’s keeping Z baby and my nieces–and Richard is rocking the boys! Thank you Lord for art camp:).

Please pray for us that we will be safe, well and that we will be open to the reasons the Lord is asking us to go. I believe that the Lord asks us to go for many reasons–and I believe it’s also so important to pick a place to plug into and not give up.

While the story looks beautiful from a quick article–it’s been a long, hard journey and one that some days I’ve wanted to run from. But isn’t anything worth it like that? Where ever He calls you–don’t give up even if it means stepping back for a bit and then re-engaging. Ask Him to guide you to a place where you can visit over and over and over again–so you can develop forever relationships and begin to really see what He has for YOU…as you do life TOGETHER. #weneedeachother And you see that when you choose to invest in the same place…forever–or as long as He calls you there.

I’m so thankful to go—to run with you–and oh how we would covet your prayers as we go! We would also love for you to pray about joining us. With 750 kids and just 200 of our loves sponsored–we would love to have you on Wiphan’s team.

Wiphan Child Sponsorship from Wiphan Care Ministries on Vimeo.

I’ve been terrible at blogging these past few years–but these next 2 weeks as we journey and trust the Lord on this adventure–I’m going to do my best to bring you guys with us:) Thank you for your prayers as we go!!!




3 Things It Took Me Awhile To Finally Understand…

A few things I’m cherishing as I come nearer to my 40s are the simple things…

1. Whatever that dream is on your heart…be brave–and jump when the opportunity presents itself.

For us…it was–

The farm.

Just wished we had followed our dreams sooner…but following them is better than not…no matter if it took a little bit of faith and far too long to finally jump.

I see now why it was on our hearts. Far more than just a dream. But where we would connect…grow…be still…and really find even “us” again.

2. Argan oil.

Hilarious right? This stuff is am-aaaaaaaa-zing!

No pyramid plan, scheme or sign up under anyone required. Just buy that liquid gold at Wholefoods or Amazon Prime…this organic goodness is my favorite thing over coconut oil. If you want healthy skin, strong nails or longer-strong hair…it’s liquid gold I tell you. Trust me and buy a bottle. It will be your new best friend.

3. Slower, wiser–older friends.

Friendships with friends 30 years ahead in life as you.

Cherish these friendships…and embrace slowing down enough for them.

They ground you and bring such sweet wisdom and joy to your world. They teach you that 90% of what you worry about or fill your time with…really isn’t that necessary at all.

If you don’t have them–be intentional and seek them out. They won’t mix well with the busy world and you can’t check your phone in their presence without being properly put in your place…and you learn and remember what the simplicity of life and friendships are supposed to look like.

And their sweet tea and ‘nana pudding is superior…to be learned from;). Thank you Pat and Hugh for the kiddos there;) And the 2nd batch of cilantro seeds after I didn’t correctly follow your directions on my first batch;)

Thankful for these days…where you might not be hearing from me as much unless you happen to stop by and sit a spell on the porch. Life as it should be.

Blessed!! And blessings back to you!




June 2015… {here lately}

It’s official.

I’m the world’s worst blogger;)

But here lately–a few fun things…

Parker and Laney just got back from a week of camp–and it was Loo’s FIRST overnight camp experience. They both had so much fun…white-water rafting, tubing behind the boat, horse-back riding–and lots of fun worship with their friends.

And we left camp with more than just our kids:)


The camp cat had kittens! And we left camp with two of them!! They still don’t have names but they are sweet–and the kids are LOVING having kittens!! This is a sacrifice for me and Richard…both allergic to cats! BUT–as long as they stay outside…the hives stay at bay;)

Every farm NEEDS barn cats–and although we just have 13 acres–we have field mice that like to try and swim in our pool or swim in the goat’s bigger water bins…and I’d much rather the cats get the mice than our kids find them in the morning during morning chores after they didn’t survive their swim:)

June has brought so many sweet things…

Like Richard going to Africa and getting to see our precious B…we have been sponsoring her since she was little–and she’s looking FAR too big for my liking;) So proud of her!


I hate to fly. Like you don’t understand. Like the last time I flew to Africa for Wiphan I told the Lord-NO MORE. I rationalized how it made more sense to donate the money it cost for a trip to go (despite the fact His Word makes it clear we are to visit)…but I told the Lord what I thought and how I felt about it–and that I would appreciate it and be forever grateful if there were NO MORE flights or trips…and I could support from America:) I did leave a “clause” in the prayer;). I told the Lord I would fly on a long international flight if it meant I was bringing home a child.

So Richard just got home from Africa–and his excitement sharing about his trip stirred quite the fire in our girl. She asked when she could go. I told her she could go on the July trip or a future trip when she was old enough to pay for her own ticket. She took left over wood from her daddy’s garden project and got to work. And I watched. Holding my breath…


She asked me if I’d put her work in an album on Facebook for an art auction. I obliged. And in 24 hours the auction ended. With just 19 pieces–she raised $2200. Her art was beautiful–and so were the hearts of so many who wanted to participate.

And that meant. That momma was going too. And Richard reminded me of my prayer…telling the Lord I would only fly around the world if it meant I was bringing home a child–and IN FACT…I would once again be bringing home OUR child with me when we came back. I guess I need to be a little more specific in my prayers;). Amazing though how He listens and how He knows exactly what we need–and that for some reason…He does call us to go and visit…and be in relationship with each other…because we need each other. Our friends in Africa need us…and we need them–and if we are missing out if we settle for anything less.

This month has also brought Father’s Day!!! Wiphan ran a campaign to raise money for the unsponsored kiddos. We have 750 kids in the schools in Ndolda. Less than 200 of the 750 are sponsored–so extra fundraising helps support the other loves. It was so sweet to see different friends and family make their donation honoring their father for the fatherless this Father’s Day!! Here is silly Zeke our FOUR YEAR OLD…honoring his daddy this Father’s Day!!

June also brought our 12th wedding anniversary! Yes we left on a golf cart:) BEST part was when the golf cart tire ran over my dress and almost threw me out. Just 3 more seconds and we could have won the jack-pot on America’s Funniest Home Videos!


This Tuesday we welcome 4 more chickens to our farm!!! So…we will have 3 goats, 11 chickens, 2 cats and 2 dogs…and I think we need…a pig–and a few more goats:)

This is definitely a lot more work than neighborhood life–but I wouldn’t trade it and I’m so thankful we are slowly growing our farm!! We are in the middle of updating our front porch–so as sons as it’s one I’ll post lots of before and afters!!!

Hope you all have a great week ahead!!!




To my first loves… {your life was almost normal}

Here I sit. Again. With what feels like crazy–radical before me.

And. As always…I think of you.

We were *this* close to being “done” after our 3rd child was done. I think the 3rd child tips the scale a bit in our culture of being normal.

And then we tipped it.

We grew and grew again.

Here I sit with 5 children under 10–and we are anything but “normal”.

Every where we go it’s…”you have your hands full”…and I smile…because really–it means my heart is full too.

And while I wouldn’t change anything about our big–in the moments of prayerful consideration…of crazy–radial before us…I think of you…the children whose lives were almost “normal”.

Vacations without people looking.

Grocery trips without strangers asking if your siblings were siblings or friends.

Fewer meltdowns. Less healing. More average.

Less help. More survival.

No more private school. More togetherness meant homeschool. Instead of a variety of sports–everyone can pick just one.

But then.

I watch each of you.


And you take my breath away.

You have walked in orphanages with us.

You have seen connections happen…not overnight but weeks and months of pouring out.

Together…we have missed…A LOT…of what the world might think is normal. But we have been together through it all. And I realize…in our world–this is not normal either.

I have watched your hearts change from such a young age…focused on greater things…and I know—this…is not normal.

I have watched you sacrifice and give up things…willingly…with joy…because you saw the purpose or heart in the sacrifice…and I know–this is not normal.

How thankful I am that the Lord has led us…

How thankful I am for how you challenge me…

How thankful I am for the sacrifices you don’t even acknowledge or know you are making…

Because we want to be–anything but normal.


The Find – Nicaragua {Light Gives Heat}


Tomorrow morning Dave and Morgan Hansow board a plane with a film crew and with their two children (8 and 10) to leave for Nicaragua. Their goal? To film The FIND: Nicaragua and tell the stories of hope, love, redemption, and beauty that await them. They will be traveling with Love, Light & Melody, Beauty From Ashes, Club Hope, as well as LaCrosse the Nations.

The production quality is top-notch and the impact potential this show could have on the world is grand! But here’s the catch, the doors for Nicaragua opened quickly and with a narrow travel window. The Hansows said ‘yes,’ and committed without knowing how the funding for Season 1 would come in. They board a plane tomorrow morning in faith the funds will come in by the time they land in Nicaragua! They are currently in the final hours of a Kickstarter campaign to raise the complete production funds for The FIND: Nicaragua. It’s all or nothing! They are still $17,500 away from their goal and the campaign ends at midnight (MST) on Friday, June 5th (tomorrow)! Pledges over $125 are tax-deductible since LGH is a non-profit. Would you please consider pledging and then sharing? The world needs more stories of the hope, love, redemption and light!

Short link to the campaign:

Dave and Morgan founded Light Gives Heat (LGH) in 2007 after moving to Uganda to adopt their daughter, Jadyn. For 6 years they provided weekly consistent income through the SUUBI and EPOH product lines to over 120 women. Two years ago they handed over the operations in Uganda to the company All Across Africa which freed the family to ask the Lord what was next for LGH. After creating the award-winning documentary, Moving On, Dave and Morgan felt their hearts being drawn to storytelling.

Last year they went to the Realscreen Summit in Washington D.C. to pitch a show concept to Network executives. The show was The FIND which would include the Hansow family traveling the world finding world-changing people, people who are putting love into action and bringing hope into communities.They sat down with Discovery, TLC, National Geographic, A&E, and The Travel Channel amongst others and were told that while the footage was beautiful, it was ‘too earnest’ and unfortunately Americans wouldn’t care about such content. Morgan even had someone suggest that she could add drama to the show by worrying about her hair and nails while in the developing countries! What the…? Dave and Morgan realized pretty quickly that if they were going to walk forward with the The FIND, it wasn’t going to be in the traditional cable television world.

Last September they did a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for production and an online release. The Hansow family traveled to Northern India in November to film Season 1 with the Murray family. Mel and Dave Murray run JOYN and a custom-made guitar company. Their story is inspiring and the diverse community they have cultivated in India is bursting at the seams with love, hope, redemption, and healing! The 6 episodes of The FIND: India are family friendly and available for viewing here for free: