I'm so glad you found us! We love to share our story of what the Lord is doing in and through our ministry in Kenya. If you are a reader, please click the link on the right-hand side and "Follow Along!" And stop back by anytime! Karibu sana!

Friday, September 30, 2011


"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (John 13:34)
Sometimes I am overwhelmed with love for others. Sometimes I am not. Sometimes that love is accompanied by emotion. Sometimes I feel no emotion, or even find it hard to love. When I look into the faces of my babies, into the eyes of my beloved Julia, that love comes freely and naturally.

But other times, when I stand in line in a government office and deal with the bureaucracy and negative attitudes of others, that love does not come so naturally. But still, God commands us to love ~ to show love ~ even in those hard time. Agape love, the love that is referred to most in the Bible, the love that is a quality of the fruit of the Spirit, is not a feeling, but an action. Though it may accompany a warm, fuzzy feeling, it is an action that is in response to God's command.

My prayer is that I would grow more and more in my love for the Lord that it would radiate from me in my actions, that love would be evident in all I do. Even in times when I don't feel so loving, may my actions always be proof that God in me, and His love therein, is greater than all else.
"Now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love."
(I Corinthians 13:13)
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A sneak peak....

Julia and I spent an hour this morning with the awesome Kara, of Kara Bryant Photography. Here are just a few glimpses at the beauty she captured in my sweet baby girl.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

One Year Ago Today.....my amazing mom

My mom's accident was one year ago today. She has come so far and I am so very proud of her!

After three weeks in the hospital, three months at home, nine months with a walker, she is plugging away and is almost back to normal. She is a picture of persistence and endurance! She works so hard. Now, she is working half days, going to therapy four times per week, and hopes to start driving again soon....with her physical therapist's approval, of course. :-) I have no doubt that she will be restored to full health very soon!

It was so hard to be so far away from her this past year. So many times I have felt so helpless and like the worst daughter in the world, depending on so many wonderful people to do the things I should have been here to do. Honestly, one of the biggest blessings for me in this trip home is simply being with my mom, doing the things I wish I had been here to do all year....picking her up from work, taking her to therapy, to doctor's appointment, to run errands, shopping and cooking for she and my dad. So many blessings in the "little things." We are living life together. I am not taking this for granted! I am soaking up every minute of it, adding each little thing to my blessings count.

Julia and my mom already had a special bond before we even came home. They Skype often and talk on the phone almost every day when we are in Kenya. But having Julia here in person has made a world of difference! The change in Mom since we have been here is HUGE!

How great is this picture on SO many levels?!?!
Mom & Julia together....in America! A little piece of heaven on earth.
Mom at a water park
Julia at a water park
Mom with a smile without a hint of headache in her eyes
Mom kneeling down - no walker anywhere in sight

She has gotten discouraged at her rate of progress, still not being back to normal, but I just see the amazing progress she HAS made! We never dreamed this road to recovery would have been so long, but it is a road in the right direction. God is faithful.

We are so grateful to all the people who have helped my parents through this year, to all the people who have prayed. My mom is blessed with some wonderful friends!

I love you so much, Mom! I am so glad I am here with you for these few months, and I am thankful for who you are in my life.
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Friday, September 23, 2011

New Shoes...and gifts for boys remembered

When I taught PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) we had a class book called "New Shoes." Each time a child got new shoes, we took pictures of kids with their shoes. Little kids love new shoes and it was one of their favorite books!
Big Kenyan kids are no different. They LOVE new shoes, too! All the boys have gotten new shoes since they came to live with us - school uniform shoes, everyday shoes and slippers (shoes for home). But this time they got NEW, new shoes...from America! I measured their feet (actual American shoe sizes are so hard to figure out there), got new shoes ~ in America ~ and sent them with Adam & Melody a few weeks ago.
Our boys are blessed to have great friends at Trinity Vineyard in Houston who always remember them specifically and send things for them whenever someone comes to visit. This time, Adam & Melody came bearing gifts from Elizabeth and Megan as well. They are so proud of their new things and they feel so special when they realize that people know and remember them. Such good, handsome boys.

Patrick was visiting extended family when these pictures were taken, so here he is sporting all his new duds. He is such a kind, gentle, handsome young man.
Thanks, Elizabeth & Megan!
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Little Man, William

My boy. I am missing him!
This serious little man is really developing a personality. I love this little guy! Something just draws me to him. Of course, I love all our babies, but William was definitely my little buddy in the few months before I came home.
I think there is a deep wisdom in his face. He likes to take in everything around him, and one day it will all come out in a powerful way. Even his facial features show it. I even think he already has his grown up features in his face. Can't you see it?
William will be one of our first babies, if not the first, to be placed with his forever family once I get home. Everything is ready for him to be placed with his family; I just cannot let one go unless I am there to read family profiles and bios myself and meet the parents in person. Choosing families for our adoptive babies (or discerning God's voice in determining the families He has chosen) is one of the biggest decisions I make. I am not willing to do that from such a distance. It is one of the things, maybe the thing, that I most look forward to doing when I get back to Kenya! I cannot wait for William to meet his forever family! Please be praying in advance for this family, that the Lord is preparing their hearts for receiving His wonderful gift of a son.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I want to be a bell sheep

I pass through herds of sheep and cows every day on the road from my house to the baby house. Well, from my house to anywhere, but especially going to the baby house. And yes, that is generally through, not just passing by herds of animals.
Yes, on my road taken on my iPhone
I have noticed that there is always one or two wearing a bell. I had wondered how the shepherd chose that one, but without thinking too much about it, just assumed that was maybe the strong-headed one that he needed to keep track of.

I think I learned the answer in a book I am reading, Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. The shepherd does chose that one specifically. The shepherd, knowing his sheep, will notice the one who naturally follows him, who keep an eye on him and stays close by.
On that one, he puts the bell. It is the "bell sheep." The other sheep will then begin to follow the sound of the bell, even if they are not intently watching, intentionally following the shepherd. It makes perfect sense. I see this every day (that I am home in Kenya, that is), and it is something I can relate to, something that will now be a reminder to me.
As a mom, that's what I want to be, a bell sheep. (I guess I could also relate to the cows since I see even more herds of them, but being a "bell cow" doesn't sound so sweet.) I want to be so intent on watching my Shepherd, following my Savior that His marking, His bell, will be on me. As I grow in love for my Father, the Shepherd, I will naturally follow Him and it will be evident in my life - my words and my actions. That is my desire, that my bell will ring in my words and actions ~ and that my daughter would hear. 

We know that children model what they see and hear. I pray that my daughter will see and hear the sound of a bell worthy of following. I want to be a bell sheep that she can follow, one that will lead her to the Shepherd.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
(Deuteronomy 6:5-7)
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just Shop for a Just Cause

Our first show of Cherished Handworks craft was this past Saturday. It was so great to participate in Just Shop, a fair trade show sponsored by A Just Cause. A huge success.
Our first booth:
Our product:

We sold little girl/baby hats, headbands and scarves with interchangeable flower pins, all made by our Cherished Handworks ladies. (You can meet them via the link above: Our Mamas.)

What a privilege to share these ladies' lives with people! They are such wonderful ladies. They have learned a new trade and are using it to provide for their families. This is their only means of income and I love the fact that they can use skills and abilities that God has given them to feed their children.
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Where does time go?

Whoa! I have NOT been doing good at posting lately. Maybe that tells you a bit about our time in America the past few weeks. Julia and I have really enjoyed spending time with friends. It has kept us quite busy. One of the big reasons we came home for an extended period of time is because we want to see friends and meet with the friends of HCO who make it possible for us to be in Kenya, doing what we do. It has been SO fun for Julia to meet my friends, as well as having the chance for us to catch up with each other. We love having the opportunity to share what God is doing through His Cherished Ones! What a blessing to be a part of it, and what a blessing to tell others about it!

Here's Julia with one of our friends, Blake, who happens to be a former student of mine. She LOVED playing with Blake the other night. He taught her how to make music with all kinds of percussion instruments, let her play with his guitars, his keyboard, and even his drum set. She is going to have so many great memories of the people she met in America!
Julia is being a real trooper! It is hard on a barely-three-year-old to have no routine or schedule. She meets numerous new people every day, and we are going from place to place almost all day long. In addition to visiting friends in their homes in the evening, Mommy has been dragging her to Kris's work to see people, lunch appointments, appointments with pastors, and some of my former schools! Granted, she has some moments of shyness or tiredness, but for the most part, she is doing great! I have am proud of her.

We met with my associate pastor who just returned from visiting HCO Kenya (the baby house, the boys and the CH ladies) the other day and I got some of his fabulous pictures of our boys and babies!!!! I will post them soon so you can see how our beautiful little ones are GROWING!!
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

good texts....first steps

I love getting texts like this one from the aunties at the baby house: (in typical Kenyan texting)

"Hi mum. Hope u & Juju r ok n enjoying. Ev'one is fine n guess what...joseph is taking his first steps! Salimia wote. Miss u sana sana."

I LOVE happy updates on my babies, especially when they are such fun milestones! We have been waiting for Jophes (as we affectionately call him, thanks to Julia & Miah) to take his first steps!

Joseph has become such a happy little boy. His Auntie Maggie is definitely the bright spot in his day. They have a wonderful bond. Joseph has been freed for adoption and will be matched and placed as soon as I get back to Kenya.

Here he is on his first day at HOH, one day old...

And today, with Auntie Maggie....
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What happened to the book? I did read it.

Remember the wonderful book, One Thousand Gifts that I blogged a lot about before I left Kenya? Well, I did read it, but I just did not write much about it...on the blog. My journal is full with thoughts as I processed through the depths and layers of the book. As I have thought about it a number of times over the past week and read through some things again, I just can't help but share. You know how it is when God gives you something so yummy, you just want to pass it on!
For those who did not see those earlier posts, the word of the book is eucharesteo, giving thanks. It is a powerful reminder of living in a state of gratitude, an encouragement to slow down and see God in every moment, and a support guide to help move from pain to peace. Don't we all ultimately want to find joy, to live in a state of complete fullness? Isn't that all part of the journey to know God more and have more of Him in our lives?

Eucharisteo leads us to joy by bringing us into the presence of God as we learn to recognize Him, His love and faithfulness, in everything around us.

This is when the simple becomes extraordinary,
the "little things" become remarkably significant,
and the ugly becomes beautiful.

When we begin living the pattern of recognizing the gifts He gives us every day ~ recognizing Him ~ we are able to see Him in our lives, know that He is here with us, know that He has been with us, and we can hold on to the promise that He will be with us.

God never promised us that every day day of our lives will be wonderful ~ but there will be wonder in every day. He does not promise that every day will be beautiful ~ but there is beauty in every day, even if it is an ugly-beautiful.

That is where the training of our hearts and minds brings us close to our Savior. Over time we can look and see that He was there. We saw a blessing (often times the ones in disguise), we gave thanks to Him for it, and we began to build a foundation of trust.

"Thanks is what builds trust." (p. 150)

Developing the pattern of recognizing God in our everyday lives is life changing. It is life changing because it is focus changing. Our focus is taken off of ourself and the struggles of life and changes them into thoughts of God, evidences of Him in our lives and surroundings, and opportunities for giving thanks.

That thanks, eucharisteo, is what leads us to joy, to complete fulfillment in Christ. It is a practice, an active choice we make. In life, we are always in active pursuit, always looking for contentment and fulfillment. But if we go backwards and rather than expecting to see this big, huge answer of ultimate fulfillment ~ GOD ~ with the beaming light or burning bush, and we begin to look for Him and recognize His hand in the little daily gifts and blessings, we will find Him. He is there, in the small things all around us. He is already there.

I write this as a reminder to myself. My surfacy reasons for needing to count my blessings while in Kenya are different from the reasons I count my blessings in America. But the heart of the reason is the same ~ I must recognize God's hand, actively alive all around me. And that is where I find peace and rest and a hope for tomorrow. I pray that you do, too.

Oh, there are SO many more wonderful things I want to share from One Thousand Gifts! Maybe I will get to them over time. Or even better - just go get the book and read for yourself! If you want to read my past posts about the treasures in this book, click on the link "Gifts" in the labels below.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Missing some boys

Julia and I Skyped with the boys the other day, but it's just not the same. They still live at my house, and I am thankful that Rebekah is there to watch over things and see that they are taken care of.  Julia really misses "her boys." We miss them so much!

Collins & Maina

Freddy (& David)


Humphrey & little brother Collins

The boys started school today. These boys, none of whom were attending school this time last year, are all now very happy to be in school, getting a greatly valued education. It is nice to see how much these guys truly do appreciate their opportunity for education.

Thanks to those of you who help us make a difference in these boys' lives!
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Mailboxes & Mail trucks - Julia's new fascination

Well, we have moved on a bit from the fire hydrants. Instead of pointing out every fire hydrant she sees, she now loves mailboxes, mailboxes, and the whole process of putting mail in the box to be delivered and taking mail out.
It is so funny to see the things that excite her. I love seeing how much joy she gets in the everyday things. She reminds me to count my blessings.
We have to check the mailbox every afternoon after we pick Nana up from work. She is quite fascinated. And it is absolutely the best thing in the world when she gets to see the mailman!

Oh, the little things that make life happy. Yep, she's still loving America!
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A great day for the staff of HCO Kenya!

I love my home church! Trinity Vineyard is such a great support and encouragement to me - and to my staff! One of the many ways they have shown this is the amazing gift they gave to my staff this past week.
My Associate Pastor, Adam & his wife Melody, have just been to visit HCO Kenya. One of their primary objectives was to be an encouragement to the ones serving on the ground. Trinity Vineyard has a unique thought toward and approach to missions. They see the value of supporting those on the ground, the ones doing the day-to-day work that makes the change in lives possible. They also have a strong sense of personal, long-term partnership. They are investing in relationship, not just projects. They are in contact with our staff and boys year-round and have real, personal relationships with them.

Last week, they demonstrated their love and appreciation for our staff by investing in that relationship. In order to spend quality time with them, subs were brought in to help take up slack as the staff spent time talking with Adam & Melody, hanging out, and just enjoying time together. On Adam & Melody's last day there, they gave the staff an amazing gift! They took them on safari!
Almost all mission teams go on safari to see the animals while in Kenya. Yet, very few Kenyans have ever been on safari. We have a game park just minutes from the baby house. In fact, Nakuru National Park and Lake Nakuru can be seen from the baby house, yet only one of our entire staff have ever been to the game park. Maggy and Eunice have lived in Nakuru their entire lives and have never been on a safari in our very own game park. This was a priceless, once-in-a-lifetime kind of gift!

The difference this makes in the lives of our staff is invaluable. Showing them how they are loved and cherished is another way we can show them Jesus. Just look how much they loved it! The joy on their faces - and even the fun of dressing in their best for a day at the park!
 I am so thankful to Adam, Melody, and Trinity Vineyard Church! It is wonderful when people come to love on our babies, but these ladies and men need and deserve that as well. Our babies do receive love; they hear about Jesus and are told of God's love for them ~ because of the ones who are there to do it every day. Making sure that these people are supported, appreciated and know that they are valued is key to taking care of our babies. As much as I love my babies and boys, I would say that I spend much more of my time with, and working for, the staff than with the babies - so that they can be prepared to love the babies and boys every minute of every day. What a blessing it is to have a support church who sees ministry the exact same way and are willing to invest in them.
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