Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Power to the Peeps

The last few Easters.... I have been deprived and not happy about it.

The peeps drought has ended.

And blue to boot!! Thank you mom.

Yippee for empty, delicious, calories. Now if they would hurry up and get stale.

*** BIG SMILES ***

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hope Giver = Life Changer

I’ll be honest; I’ve been a little discouraged.

My friend and I started with a dream to work in Africa together. Then the dream became huge as we decided to try and build a school for a place we have come to feel incredible urgency and passion about, more and more so as we continue to research the issue of child trafficking. I’ll admit it – I am a skeptic at heart. While I know nothing is impossible with God, too often human reason clouds my faith. When JD mentioned raising $30,000 for the school, I thought she was crazy. (I already knew she was crazy – this was just another bit of evidence) I thought I would be doing great to raise $2,000 feeling that number already stretched my faith and the resources I had available. I remember praying that night, “God, help JD raise $28,000.”

Then slowly, words came together and ideas began to form of ways to raise this money and I began to believe in the miracle. This might just happen and I can be a part of it. Blog post were written and emails sent to every person I knew or maybe even just vaguely knew. The way I figured it should work would be a big response initially and then a lull in the middle months with a big push at the end. I even talked about the project at doctor’s appointments. Several days after one appointment I received a thank you card in the mail – from a doctor I’d been seeing for years – and was frustrated about the money spent on a stupid card I threw away that could be used for something better. The initial response left me feeling a little deflated. I’ve had some very wonderful people donate or commit to donate and I’m elated to have their support and involvement. But we need more – a lot more.

I began to doubt.

Last weekend I stumbled upon another heartbreaking situation about a young boy who desperately needed to be adopted. His picture so unlike those of the children in Africa radiated with his hope of believing someone would come for him – that he would be chosen despite being passed over for others again and again. This boy while living in eastern Europe, this blonde haired blued-eyed boy might not look like the African children, he does have something in common with many of them. He is HIV+. While reading about this child, I came to learn something that emotionally crushed me and defied all my sense of logic.

Apparently, in many Eastern European countries (probably elsewhere as well) the children in orphanages with any sort of special needs, regardless of their health, literally age out of the “system” around age 6. They are taken from the orphanage and sent to mental institutions of various kinds and left there for the rest of their lives. Their location is not disclosed. They can no longer be adopted. Perhaps one of the saddest statistics I have ever read was that an estimate 50-80 percent of these children will die within the first year. The message: Your time for hope has run out. The thought of this little boy’s hope for a family being ripped away any day now simply breaks my heart in ways I cannot explain even to you.

I am not a mom, so from a biological sense I have never experienced that “connection.” But I desire to be one. Most days, it’s simply a dream tucked away in a special place of my heart, an empty spot I walk around with but have gotten used to. Every now and again something will poke that spot and it inflames and swells. This would be one of those times. I feel the urgency to do something about it, anything… but what. I don’t have thousands or even hundreds who read this blog. I don’t even know all that many people when it comes down to it. Is this about adoption? Should I be actively pursuing that, even as a struggling single? I have the room, I can sacrifice to come up with the finances, and I’m sure I have enough love, but is that what God is saying right now? I was confused and frustrated and desperate to understand why God would save some and not others. Trying to understand how these abandoned children could ever know there is a God who is Love and Hope living in a completely hopeless situation. I still don’t have the answers, but I have a new perspective.

I can’t give this boy a home right now but I can pray that his family to step forward and not let fear and doubt hold them back. Even more than that, I can hold onto hope for these kids and all the millions of orphans out there. For me and you, even situations and dreams that seem impossible and hopeless are actually so full of hope and possibility it seems silly to be discouraged.

I know there are causes and companies pulling on our purse strings constantly and from every direction it seems and sometimes it’s just easier to not give at all, but the truth is money that changes a life will be stretched farther than anything else you can use it for. I know God will help us build this school even if it isn’t raised before the fall. I will keep going until it is. It doesn’t matter to me if you donate to this project, but find something you feel passionate about and makes a difference in someone’s life and do something. Give $10. I know 99.9% of can do at least that. Volunteer some time or sponsor a child.

Give hope to someone before their time for hope runs out.

In less than 200 days I will be flying to Ghana to meet kids who have been given redemption by others who have felt like me. I will also meet children who are in desperate need of hope and love. Even though I haven’t met them yet, these are my children - The ones God has given me responsibility for even if just for a short time. I will do everything I can to redeem them.

I will give them hope before time runs out.

Will you be a hope giver?

Friday, April 15, 2011

I was about due for some X-rays

Yesterday, I had an appointment with a sports med doctor about an issue I've been having with my knee for about a month now.

There is something to be said for being a unique person and not fitting "the mold." But when I go to the doctor and more often than not they look at me and say, "I dunno... it doesn't really fit anything..." it's not what I want to hear.

The possibilties seem to be a stress fracture, which seems potentially likely based on the fact that I am the type of person who ran a 5k despite the pain and injury. Or possibly it could be a foreign body such as a loose piece of cartilege. Or it could be neither and we may never know what it is or was.

The course of action was to send me for some x-rays (despite the fact that a stress fracture may not show up) and to start a few weeks of therapy. Which I assume is going to be like having a personal trainer tell me what to do but only focused on one body part.... but my knee is pretty lean already. I'd rather be concentrating on other body parts, if ya know what I mean.

So, I take myself over for some x-rays. The only good part about all this is that means it's a little longer before I have to go into work. The cute male x-ray technician takes me back and asks if I did something to my knee. Well, actually I just wanted to meet you so I had the Dr. write me an x-ray script and I didn't want be in the gown so we picked my knee... cause my legs are pretty hot (some guy in a Canadian office said so). Of course that's just how I answered in my head - but maybe the x-rays would have been a lot more interesting had I said that.

As I was lying there staring up into blinding lights, I was trying to think back to the last and only other time I think I ever had x-rays and I think I was under the age of 10. At least 25 years.

So for now... I've been forbidden to run or kickbox. My choices are basically the elliptical, bike, or swim. The one thing the doc was confident on was this will heal and I will be running again soon.

Who ever would have thought I'd be anxious to get running. Go figure!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ghana - April Update

I will be writing an update post each month, sharing with you what's been happening, opportunities coming up, and also any prayer requests we have along the way.

It was suggested to us to set up an option to make small monthly donations over the next 7 months to help with the school, school supplies and our other expenses. We loved your suggestions, and have created a monthly donation option via Paypal. As of today, there are 7 months left until the trip, so this option will give you the choice of donating $5, $10 or $20 monthly for 7 months. If you'd like to subscribe for a different amount, let us know, and we will add it to the options.If this is something you can do- here you go...

Gift Options

(once you exit the subscription page you will be redirected to the original post over on my friend JD's blog - so don't get worried)

Also, we are so excited to have already raised over 1% in just over two weeks. And we are fast approaching the 2% mark. There is still a long way to go, but this gives us great hope that this will be successful. Thank you to those of you who have donated already or helped pass the word on!

Finally, please keep us in your prayers - not only for our efforts to be blessed and successful, but also for our health and personal finances over the coming months.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 1 John 3:21-23 (New International Version, ©2011)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Two Hour Tired Tire Adventure

Actually, the adventure began Thursday morning. It was the first morning this week I woke up feeling rested and ready to face the day. I even got out of the house a few minutes early so I could swing by McDonalds for a morning $1 diet coke.

I headed out and a little ways down the road, my low tire pressure light came on. I figured I'd get my pop and then stop at the gas station to take a look. As soon as I passed the gas station, I could tell the tire was completely flat. So I u-turned back into the gas station parking lot. Luckily for once I had some actual money on me so I was able to get change for the air. At 6am it's still pretty dark here so there was no way to check what might be wrong with the tire. All I could hope for was to fill it and hope it got me to work. Then I could check it later to see if it was flat again. When I went out a few hours later, it was easy to spot the bulge in the tire side wall. Not good.

There are perks to my job - like having a team of mechanics right there. So they took my car and put the spare on so at least I could drive home safely.

I knew I was going to need new tires, but I was hoping to be able to wait until May. Still, I wasn't too upset. I had my tax refund money, which I had set aside for Africa, that I could use some of for new tires. But things are rarely ever that simple for me...

Friday morning, after getting my other errands completed, I landed at the tire store - tired, sinus issues, and shivering. The really cute nice man agreed that all 4 tires should be replaced. No, I didn't want the same expensive tires that were on there.... Yes, these good but cheaper ones would be fine....

Sit and wait for an hour while I was quite entertained by a little 3-3.5 yr old boy, Lucas, and a little girl maybe 4, Chloe. Lucas liked spinning on the bar stools and Chloe went around counting everyone's shoes, hands and heads. She even hugged everyone in the shop when they left. Then another cute, but super nice man comes in with the wheel.

It's never good when they come looking for you before the car is done. The one with the leak... The rim of the wheel was bent good in 2 places.
(This is where I remember a few weeks ago I hit a huge chunk of concrete on the highway and was amazed I didn't see any damage to the car.) He gives me my options:

1. They put the new tire on the wheel, but more than likely it will continue to leak.

2. I buy a new wheel. New at $348 or refurbished at $175.

The car needs to last me another 7-10 yrs or so. Reluctantly, I go with the refurbished wheel. Agree to come back on Monday for them to put that on the car. Watching my Africa fund dwindle away. And so, I go back to waiting for them to finish the other 3 tires.

Did I mention that I am tired and not feeling great?

An hour and half in, cute man comes back with another wheel! (Stupid piece of concrete!) This one isn't as bad. I could get away with it, but I might feel shaking at higher speeds. Next set of options:

1. Leave it and pray it doesn't cause problems and have to come back anyway

2. Buy another wheel for another $175

3. Buy 4 new wheels for $380

Now I want to cry. There goes my entire refund as I purchase 4 new wheels and tires. (and not that it matters what the wheels look like, but I happen to think they are kinda ugly) Then I start to think about how I will probably need to get the breaks done in a couple months too. The money woes begin to choke me a little. Finally, after 2 hours I get to drive my car and its new wheels home to do 4 hours of laundry.

It took a while for the peace to return, but I realized that maybe God didn't want me to have money for Africa in reserve. Perhaps, He wants to stretch my faith that every cent will be raised - and I'll have to depend on him to provide it. He's my one and only option. There is no backup plan this time. I'm going to trust him - he hasn't failed me yet.