August 29, 2010

August 9

Bill's downstairs working on his timesheet.  I can't wait anymore.  One minute later, because I couldn't wait for three:

I thought this might be the case, but seeing the word YES+ makes it a little more real.
As I walk downstairs it's hard to hide my smile.  Bill's sitting at the kitchen table.  I walk over to him and stand there waiting.  He's doing math and adding up hours so I just wait.  He looks up at me.
"We're having a baby." 
"Yes, I wouldn't joke about this!" 
His face lights up and he gives me a hug.

We're gonna have a baby.

August 6

No.  That's what it said.  I'm not convinced.  I'm never late.  We've talked about it.  What if?  He says, "I'm as ready as I'll ever be."  I agree.

August 4

It's 'that time of the month.'  Well.  It should be.  But it isn't.  Not yet.  Could we be?  I'm wondering. 


42 That's how many days I've been back from Ghana  

6  That's how many Saturdays I've missed feeding and loving on kids at The Father's House

4 That's how many teenage boys from the Banini family have been working at the site, painting and getting it finished up.

8 That's how many precious 5-8yr.old boys will be living at the Fathers House this fall.  Rescued from a life of slavery on Lake Volta.

3 That's how many dreams I've had about Ghana since I've been home.

1 That's how many savings accounts we've set up to help us reach our dreams.

August 10, 2010


So now what?  I've been to Africa.  It stole my heart.  I came back. 

Now what?  
I continue to love living my life in the States with my amazing husband and our adorable 'babies'.
I continue building relationships with the amazing @Freepeeps.  I continue spending time with all my friends, laughing, playing and having fun with them and their amazingly cute little babies.
 I continue taking mini-vacations with my husband, growing closer to him and growing closer together to God.
I continue to love, care and pray for the country that stole my heart, and the people. 
 I continue to think about them, communicate with them through the glorious internet and save for the next time we'll get to see their beautiful faces.

Are you back to 'normal' yet?
This is a hard one to answer.  In short: no.  But that's okay.  I won't ever be 'normal' again.  My journey to Africa has changed my life.  Yea, a LOT of people say that after a mission trip.  But seriously.  It has for me.  Maybe this will help-
My life in summary before:  I had every day planned for at least a month in advance, if not more.  I went shopping about once a week, maybe twice, but would always wander over to the non-food section to browse the clothes or shoes, or housewares.  I was a sale hunter, if there was a huge sale I would be there.  I was a liar.  GASP!  I know.  I would tell people I would pray for them, but would usually forget.  I wasn't intentionally lying, just to be clear.  I was just so planned out and organized that I would forget if I didn't write it down.   I was a neat freak - my house was almost always spic-n-span, picked up, not cluttered.  My yard was always mowed, bushes always trimmed, flowerbeds always weeded.
I live life a day at a time.  In the next month, I only have 4 things on my calendar.  I'm not a hippie or anything, some things kind of have to be planned. :)  Every morning I wake up and pray for what God would have me to do that day.  When we go shopping - which is once a week at the most, usually once every ten days or two weeks - I have no desire to browse the non-food stuff.  I get in, get what we need and get out.  I just don't have the desire to 'shop'.  Even if there's a big sale.  I don't need more stuff.  I've got more than enough.  I pray unceasingly, expectantly and boldly!  If someone asks me to pray for them, I do it right then and there.  I am always in prayer - it's like a conversation I have with my Father all throughout the day.  I also pray with my husband now.  Every. Single. Night. We pray together and I love it.  It's brought us so much closer together, not only with each other, but with God too.  I am still a neat freak, I like things to be neat and orderly.  But I am not OCD about it anymore.  Case and point: my backyard with three weeks without being mowed.  We had weeds back there almost as tall as me.  Seriously.  It was bad.  We just had better things to do - hang out with friends, grow our own relationship, and plus it had been rainy and we all know you can't mow the grass in the rain.  :)  If you just drop by my house, it will mostly be in order and clean, but chances are there will be a stack of mail on the table that needs going through, there may be some throw pillows on the floor instead of neatly placed on the couch.  There will probably be a few dirty dishes in the sink.  You might even see a small layer of dust on our shelves.  I'm okay with that.  Because it's life.  We all get dusty houses, we all get junk mail mixed in with real mail that needs to be sorted - why put up a front like I've got it all together?  It's just not worth it to me anymore.  I'd rather be real. 

When are you going back?
We, or I, or Bill, will go back whenever we feel the Spirit lead us to.  If it was up to me I'd go back tomorrow.  But that's not God's plan, and I'm all about following Him these days, so until He gives me (or Bill) the go-ahead, we'll hang here in the States.  We might both go next time, it might be just me again, or it might be just Bill.  Again, whatever the Spirit prompts us to do, we'll follow His lead.

What are you doing to save/raise money for next time?
We've set up a savings plan and are putting aside a percentage of our income to go strictly toward our Missions Fund. 
I'm also still doing portrait sessions to raise money.

Any and all money that I get from these sessions goes straight into the missions fund.  I will continue to sell prints as well.  All money from those sales will also go directly to the missions fund.  When we get the prompting from God that we should head over to Africa, I may seek more support, but again (you will notice a theme) we'll follow His lead on that. :)

So there ya have it, those are a lot of the questions I've been getting from people lately.  Do you have a question I didn't answer?  Feel free to leave it in the comment section and I'll get back to you, or publish it on the blog as soon as I get it. 
Thanks for reading and joining me on this journey friends, it's been good!

August 06, 2010

America, Day 2


This morning has been easier than yesterday.  No tears yet, but a big part of me still feels numb.  I sing the Ewe songs in my head over and over again.  I'm always conscious of what time it it in Ghana and what the family might be doing.  I look forward to editing my photos because it takes me back there.
I had a good chat with Tammy today, it's so nice to have someone like her that knows exactly what I'm going through.  It's definitely a spiritual attack and it's definitely hard.  Of course Satan is going to attack me, my marriage, my thoughts - I just did amazing work for the Kingdom of God and I have huge aspirations of how my life in America will change - it only makes sense that Satan would try to take that away from me.  But I' not going to let him. 

Went to Kids Kamp tonight. 

I put on a happy face and did what I was there to do, but I still felt numb most of the time.  There are times it just hits me and I'm overwhelmed with emotions.  There are times I'm numb to it all and there are times I feel 'okay'. 
I just hate knowing that Satan is after me and my marriage.  It makes me mad.  I'm so exhausted anyway, I don't want to waste the energy I do have fighting off Satan.  But I will.  And God is there on my side so I WILL win the fight and Satan will loose miserably. 

August 05, 2010

America, Day 1

First morning in America.  It took some conscious effort to realize where I was and remember there was someone in the bed with me.  I really had to think about what it took to get in the shower.  I had grown so used to the routine I had in Keta - grab shampoo, body wash, and clothes, head to shower room, grab towel, etc.  I just stood in my bathroom this morning going through that list in my head, reminding myself that everything I needed was already in the shower and that my entire closet was filled with clothes to choose from just three feet from the shower.
While I was in there it occurred to me that I wasn't going to walk out and see Jeremiah, Ellie, Celestine and David, not to mention the rest of the kids.  When I came downstairs I looked out the back window at our plastic chairs and just lost it.  I was two-thirds crying, but one-third laughing!
*                          *                          *
We went to the 8:30 service today, for a couple reasons - to see Matt & Tammy and pray over Matt and also because there was no way I was emotionally ready to be around as many people as there are in the 10:30 an 11:00 services.  It felt great to be back at FHC again.  We sang "Liftin' Our Hands Up in the House of God," and I lost it again.  I felt like I was being pulled in two different directions.  The lyrics said, "Doesn't make a difference where I am, as long as I'm with You."  My brain was telling me yes it does make a difference, because I SO longed to be back in Africa, but I also loved being back at FHC, and my heart knew that lyric was true.  I've never felt so torn, but at the same time I felt the Holy Spirit just wrap me in his arms and tell me it was okay.  The rest of the day was a bit of a blur.  I had no desire to go grocery shopping, or balance the checkbook, or even to eat.  I'm very emotional still and physically tired as well.  Just thinking about the trip or about Jeremiah or all the kids at the site makes me want to cry.
*                  *                  *
I've been thinking a lot about what God taught me through this journey, and here's what I've come up with so far:
1 - Slow down!  Being on 'Ghana time', as we refer to it, was so relaxing.  There was no rush to get anything done, there was no need to fill every second of every day, there was no agenda.  And. It. Is. Amazing.  Refreshing.  Peacefull.  Relaxing.
2 - Seek God & Follow HIS direction - every day we spend a lot of time in prayer asking God to make our paths clear.  We didn't ever have a set agenda of what we were going to do and He always revealed to us what we should do that day.  Not one minute of our time was wasted - even though (I think because) WE didn't plan it out.
3 - PRAY unceasingly!  My prayer life before this trip was mediocre at best.  Not anymore.  I am in love with the amount of time we spent in prayer.  We were always praying with each other or for each other and the way that it brought the Holy Spirit upon us was felt physically.  God's presence was always on us.  We prayed for healing a lot too and man, how powerful that is!  My faith level jumped quite a bit with all the healing that was going on through prayer!  The boys even prayed away my fever, upset stomach and headache!  It was incredible, indescribable and so amazing to feel the power of God flowing through Jake, Jeremiah and Matt.
4 - Step out!  I learned a few days into the trip why it wasn't in God's plan for Bill to come on this trip... there is no way I would have stepped out the way I did to form relationships if he would have been there.  There were so many times I stepped out of my comfort zone and the rewards always far outweighed any fears I had of stepping out.
*                    *                      *
Today has been tougher than I thought.  I just feel like I'm not quite ready to jump in yet.  I miss our mission life.  I miss Matt, Jake, Jeremiah and the bond we have.

Africa, Day 9

We landed safely in Atlanta about 30 hours after starting our trek from David & Celestine's home in Keta, Ghana.  Ahhh, to be on American soil.  I wasn't exactly ecstatic, but it was nice to smell the fresh clean air again.  We changed clothes and freshened up a bit before arriving at our gate just in time for boarding to begin.  Jake & I were separated from Matt on this flight, but it was a God thing (of course).  Jake & I had a chance to talk about the trip now that we were both more awake and alert.  We talked about some fun times and what we got out of the trip before we both fell asleep for what must have been only ten or fifteen minutes.  After the pilot came on and told us we were descending, Jake & I prayed together and got ready to get off the plane in Charlotte. 
Once we were all of the plane the three of us huddled up at an empty gate to pray, then we headed downstairs to our families.  It was great to see them, but bittersweet, knowing our journey together was all the way over.  We grabbed our bags and then everyone got together in a circle to pray before saying our good-byes and going our separate ways.

August 03, 2010

Africa, Day 8, Part 2

7-16-10  In the airport

From the first customs check we went to the ticket line, which was quite long for us being there 4 hours before the flight left, and it was moving quite slowly.  We finally made it through the 2nd customs checkpoint and to the front of the line.. about 45 minutes later. 
Then we were told the computer system for all of Delta (worldwide) was down and it would be 'a while.'  A while ended up being hours.  Some of the hardest hours I've ever sat through.  In the midst of the waiting Jake pulled out the guitar and we sat on our luggage on played and sang (what seemed to be) our 'theme' songs for the trip - the Ewe song we learned and How He Loves.  That Ewe Song makes me feel closer to the culture and I absolutely love it... even though there were tears filling my eyes it was a comforting song to sing in the midst of the chaos of being stuck in the Accra airport for an indefinite amount of time.  After two hours the Delta people decided to start checking everyone in the old fashioned way - writing tickets out by hand.  So after we got through that fun we headed upstairs and through the other three security checkpoints.  After the last one Jake & I were told we couldn't board yet because our passes were manually written out.  So we sat and waited while Matt boarded the plane.  About 45 minutes later a man came and took our manual boarding passes and walked away, presumably heading downstairs.  Another 30 minutes later I had to ask Jake to just pray.  I was tired.  Emotionally spent and hanging by a thread.  It was thirty minutes past our 1:00am boarding time, our passes had been taken away and we were still not being allowed on the plane.  So Jake stepped into the amazing authority that he has and right in the middle of the chaotic waiting area, he prayed.  We closed our eyes and went to a place where all we could hear and pay attention to was the presence of God and he prayed.  It was such a comforting place and I truly felt the peace of God overwhelm me. 
Shortly after Jake prayed we were able to board the plane!  When we got on the plane, the look on Matt's face was filled with joy, and as soon as I sat down in my seat I lost it.  It was the first time the three of us had been away from each other the whole trip and it wasn't easy.  It was almost two in the morning.  I had been running on four hours of sleep and had been feeling emotions stronger than any I have ever felt before and I just reached my breaking point.  I was so happy to be on that plane, I didn't care if we weren't even moving yet, just being on the plane made things feel better.  But it also made things worse.  It meant we were actually leaving.  The tears just kept coming and it felt good to let it out.  I cried until I couldn't cry any more and the boys were there with me through it all, praying for me and reassuring me. 
I ended up sleeping for about 3 hours of the 10 hour flight.  The tears came back now and then, whenever I would think about Jeremiah, Jake and Matt.  I would think about how thankful I am for our amazing relationships.  I would think about how thankful I am for the peace that God gave me on this trip.