Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tio Mark and Tia Lori...

Well they've come to town...Uncle Mark and Aunt Lori and these kiddo's are so doggone excited they about can't stand it. Last summer when we had first brought the kiddo's home from Casitas Mark and Lori invested themselves and got connected to our kiddo's. These sweet kiddo's fell in love with Uncle Mark's roughhousing and tireless playing with them and with Aunt Lori's lovin's and the fact that she let them do her hair and climb all over her and they've been hooked ever since. The kiddo's ask about them often and they have prayed for them literally every night since last summer. When they hear they are coming to town it is erupting hoots and yay's around the room. They are much loved by this house for sure.

They are staying on the property so they're getting lots of time with them and that's sacred stuff for some kiddo's who've never gotten to be real connected to anybody, at least some of them. So we're enjoying the week with them for sure. Not to mention the fact that it's a treat for us cause they are just quality people who make you better for Jesus.

We've been way spoiled lately with people being here that we love. It's one of my very favorite things about living here and working in this ministry. You get to meet so many neat people whose hearts are sold out to the cause and are passionately following Jesus and you grow so much by watching and being with them. It is a gift!!

Keep running toward Him. I'll do my best to do the same. Blessings.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Just Sharing...

Ok so I am well aware that some of these posts I write more for myself than for anyone who reads them and this is one of them I feel quite sure. This is more a journal entry that someday I'll go back and read and understand that it meant something. That being said, I made a promise a while ago on this blog that I would attempt to give you the entire story of my journey here...realizing that I can't give you every single detail and that even in my telling of the stories you miss so much of the experience, but that I would not attempt to hide the up's and down's and paint an inaccurate picture of the journey. We do that sometimes to each other, we try to make it look and sound good, and perhaps in some ways in my own life I have done that, and I am nothing if not real with you and so I offer this weak entry as one you need to read to show who I really am in some moments on some days.

And so with a kick to my pride I need to tell you about what happened the other day. As a preface please allow me to throw a disclaimer out that this is in no way a pity party and I think if in searching my heart my motive is to create an awareness of how undeserving the tremendously kind comments are about how well I'm doing this most days. It is to show you that it doesn't take the super spiritual to do this, God took this broken ordinary girl and plopped her way outside her comfort zone and said ok I will show you how to grow here. Way ordinary.

I did something on Sunday that I have NOT ever allowed myself to do before while I've been here. I cried. I don't mean a few tears on my cheek, that happens once a day at least. I mean really cried. I cried from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed that night and at lots of times in between I sobbed. I got down on my knees and I cried out to God, not in some desperate moment when my life depended on it (because there have been moments earlier in life when I've done that) it wasn't that, it was this heart having some David moments with God and saying, I CHOOSE YOU, I still choose you in this, I will follow you and whatever you ask me to do with my life, but parts of this really hurt and I need you to hear my heart say that out loud. I need to just have permission to say it out loud.

See I think what happened was that (and perhaps you're familiar with this), we get this mindset in our heads that in order for us to be spiritual we must be stoic in some ways. I must never admit that some days walking this calling out takes every ounce of strength I have not to get on the next airplane and go home and throw my arms around my nephews and do life with them again, watch their baseball games and go to the school plays and just be there. I must never break down and cry when my sweet little neice gets on the phone and says to me "jen, mere, need you, lap," because I just plain miss her sweetness. It takes lots of talking with God sometimes to settle down in a worship setting that is so different from what we know and not run home to worship beside people who taught me how to passionately love Jesus. It takes a whole lot of heart muscle sometimes to not decide to move back to comfort and sitting around the dinner table with my family at important times like Christmas and birthdays and ordinary Sunday's when I'd just like to be near them. I have to talk myself out of being green every single Thursday night when I know some of my favorite people on the planet are getting together for a deep time of bible study and prayer and I cannot be there and I miss it sooooo much!! But in all of these moments I must appear to people to be spiritual, to convince them that I am doing this well (cause that's the most important thing you know), that yeah sometimes it's hard but Superwoman can handle it, and I think I just got tired of myself on Sunday.

I'll tell you what started the avalanche in my eyeballs. I watched these two sweet ladies get on a plane after they'd spent a week here loving on our kiddo's. Watched them bend down and tell the kiddo's goodbye after they'd been here being grandma's all week and I just got sad. Cause if these were my kiddo's and we were around home, I would be intentional about getting to be around them and letting them invest in my children's lives and I know that best case scenario it will only happen once a year at most and I hate that cause they invest way good. One of them you've seen me blog about before and affectionately refer to as Momma Grose (and to the kids "Grandma Kay") and the other lady has now become known as "Grandma Joyce" in this house.

It was a terrific week, the kids got spoiled rotten, but it was so hard to watch them leave. It represented all of those people that you desperately want to be a part of this. The ones you wish could be here with you to experience this instead of just relying on my tremendously inadequate stories. It just made my heart ache for people and for the first time I curled up in a ball and told God so.

You know what happened. I gave God permission to hold my heart. I'm learning that about real with God. Stoic doesn't impress Him. Pride makes Him sick. And I think sometimes our attempts at being spiritual serve only to blind us to what really is.

Perhaps I'm learning that spiritual means inviting God into right where your heart lives in the moment and letting Him meet you there whether on a day when you need to cry from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, or on a day when all is well in the world and your face couldn't look more happy. In an hour when you are mourning what happens to children in some parts of this world or in an hour when you're cuddled up beside their pj'd selves and your heart feels so full of love you think it might burst. It's making your heart available to him in every one of those moments. I like that way better than trying to be something I'll never be and feeling pressure to make you think good of me.

With everything in me I am so desperately wanting to end this with a disclaimer telling you how I am absolutely certain that this is where I need to be and that I'm content here (because I am), and perhaps you might get the wrong idea and think I'm miserable and it would be horrible for you to think that because I am supposed to be spiritual and that wouldn't appear very spiritual and we can be so ridiculous sometimes. Forgive my pride Lord.

Instead I'm just gonna end with a prayer in my heart that I might live a life with a heart like David who allows himself to rejoice and mourn with His Father and considers it all spiritual with no thought to what everyone else thinks and a heart bent toward running toward Jesus!!

Yep I spent all day crying on Sunday and it was ok!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Well my parents since I wasn't able to go home this year for Christmas generously gave me some hoolah moolah for Christmas and tonight I decided to cash some of it in for a night at the Mariott. Now there are not entirely spoiled rotten motives for this. I honestly just needed some quiet time with God. Am reading this book right now called Celebration of Discipline, by Foster and there is a chapter in there about solitude, about taking retreats with God for times of quiet and listening, and to be honest in a house with 10 kiddo's there is rarely quiet. I also want to put some time into planning and direction for the ministry for the next year and some of that needs to be done in uninterrrupted moments of thought process ( and there are no uninterrupted moments in a house with 10 kids) so thus I stole away.

So I got here and had supper came up and put my pj's on and listened to the presidents speech and then filled the bath tub up with water put some bubbles in lit a couple candles that I brought with me turned on the praise music softly took my bible and a good book and took a bath. I had a bath...in a bathtub, now for the rest of you that probably sounds like NO big deal, but I LOVE hot baths, and I have no bath tub. I've taken showers everyday for months, which is fine, but I delight in a good bath. Fixed myself a cup of hot tea and yesterday they had for real cherries at PriceSmart, which happen to be one of my favorite foods, and so I'm having tea and fresh cherries. Then I climbed in this HUGE bed with these pillows that make me want to sleep forever. Anyone want to buy me a great gift next year for Christmas, find out where the Mariott gets these pillows...HEAVENS!!! They have down comforters on their beds, I love down comforters. So needless to say this is spoiled at it's best for this girl.

You know what's hilarious. I have been thinking about a night or two by myself for weeks, and how much I need it, want it, etc. I've been here now for a couple hours and it was about bed time and I thought man I miss the kiddo's. Miss Mario's sweet little kiss on my cheek as I go over to hug him goodnight. I miss Katty saying "Tia Jen with me" wanting me to lay down with her. I've heard so many people say it and I guess tonight I'm feeling it. When you become a momma a part of you will never be able to have alone time again cause even when you really want to be alone and you leave them you can't really leave them. It's so crazy, cause I've become a momma, oh not in the ways I've prayed for all of my life (yet and maybe ever if that's not His will) but this heart is a momma all the same. It happened in much the same ways it did for you probably. I took one good look in their eyes and something gripped this heart and I knew I was responsible for their care and I have hugged them and kissed them goodnight and I have bandaged their boo boo's and I have prayed every day that God will bandage the hurts and wounds we can't get to to put a bandaid on, the ones that won't heal that quickly, and my heart just moved past the point of return. I've watched their little hands wrap around mine and their cries settle when they found their way to this shoulder and I've now heard them call me mama and I'm whipped. I am head over heels in love with some little people who need loved. I am head over heels in love with a God who would allow me to have them as a part of my life.

So I'm gonna stay for a day or two, cause more than anything else, I want to stay diligent about my time with God and listen to Him and what He wants for this ministry and I've come to believe that these times are important and I will enjoy it. But I'll also be glad to get back to those little arms and grins that have stolen this heart. There are days when the noise gets crazy and the needs are plentiful and my heart feels a bit overwhelmed, but I can honestly say there is nowhere in this world that I'd rather be right now then right there loving them.

So thank you for your prayers and your support so we can do just that!! We couldn't do it without you.

Christmas Morning...

Well this is Christmas morning, thanks to so many of you who gave so much of yourselves without needing one ounce of the credit and let us mask you behind the name of Santa Claus. Melissa showed up with gifts upon gifts and never one time needed her name on a single one of them. A sweet lady from home and her 3 precious daughters, who are way near to my heart sewed a set of pj's for each one of our kids and one of my favorite Christmas memories is when Cindy opened her pj's and looked at her tshirt that had each kiddo's name written on them, and she screamed, "AND MY NAME." That someone knew her name meant something. Anyway, to watch kiddo's who worried where the next meal was gonna come from not too many months ago and now have the blessing of a few gifts under a tree was soooooooooooooo much fun to witness. Thank you for helping us help them!!

More Holiday Pics...

So I'm in the city tonight and hoping that more of these pic's might go through from this internet service. Want you all to be able to see how you've blessed our kiddo's. These are pic's that were taken when Marc brought shoeboxes filled with kind gifts for each child, that they loved.

Thank you so much for taking the time to bless the Christmas of some kiddo's whose faces lit up because someone thought about them.

You blessed us all by your giving.

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Monday, January 08, 2007


So imagine 10 little people all sitting around the table waiting for their meal to begin and every single one of them wants to say the prayer, we are to the point now where we have said it before every meal enough times that they have the hang of it and they all want to play a part, which I love. So every meal we choose one of them and ask them to say the prayer for that meal. They bow their little heads and put their little hands together and on a good day they're quiet. :)

It has now become standard procedure to make sure that whoever is praying prays for everyone in the house (also a practice that I am glad to adopt) and love it that they're starting to pray for and love each other and treat each other like family (also happens on the good days). :) Anyway, so whoever is praying starts going through the names and in this precious little 3 year old voice after every single name until he hears his own, Francisco says "and me", and another name is said, "and me" until he hears his own name and then he stops. Just reminding the one saying the prayer that he doesn't want to be forgotten.

One day I was so tempted to stop him and tell him that wasn't respectful during a prayer but it's so doggone cute I just can't. And I thought about how sweet it is that it matters to him that his name gets mentioned to God. Now I know in his 3 year old little mind, he's not thinking abstract at all and so he really probably just doesn't want to get left out...but...I've thought often over the past couple of weeks how I want to be like that in some ways. Am doing a Beth Moore study right now called When Godly People Do Ungodly Things and she says in there if you don't have some prayer warriors that you know pray for you daily, you need to recruit some because we are in a time when we desperately need to battle for one another.

So I think about Francisco's sweet little voice now and I think "AND ME" oh yes dear ones, please pray for me, please mention me to Father every time my name comes to mind, cause I need Him that much, I want His protection that desperately, I am nothing without Him. "AND ME" please keep praying for me.

Oh the lessons I learn from these sweet little hearts. Keep me soft Lord, please, so that not one passes that I should take notice of. You are way kind, you're just way kind!!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Karen's Vacation :):)

So Karen's stint of hmmmm how shall we say this, of true Central American living is about to come to a close. For two weeks now I have laughed at her from a distance thinking about her being hmmm ok again trying to be kind, in situations far different than what she is accustomed to. Ok let me just get to the point, she has been visiting Dorian's mother and getting to know her (yes for all of you who are at this point going hmmm this must be serious, it is) but my favorite part of the story is that she's been using the outhouse and taking a bath with a bucket. I don't know if that sounds funny to the rest of you, but I've gotten one HUGE kick out of it. Given her a mighty hard time about it as well...because see the first time she heard about it, it was baths in the backyard and well I about fell out of my chair laughing. Accused her of joining the nudist colony you know things like that. Anyway, she's coming back to Casa de Esperanza tomorrow and we've all missed her around this place for sure.

I am heading to the Mariott for a night or two of quiet and retreat time with God, I've already forewarned her and I'm sure she'll let me as soon as she's able to potty inside and take a hot shower. hahahahahahaha yep still laughing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Years Resolutions...

You know I am usually a firm believer that New Years Resolutions are stupid, ok maybe that's a little harsh, but you know what I'm saying, we begin fresh (great concept I'm with that part) and we set these goals (that we tend to know are unreasonable) and then within a few weeks of feeling busy and stressed again our resolve that we began the new year with crumbles and we have given up our new years resolutions again until next year. Ok well at least that's been my history.

It's just that I can't quite seem to let them go this year. I guess perhaps because I know that even if they somehow get broken somewhere along the way, it is good for me to review the past year and think about what I'd like to do differently this year, especially in my walk with God. It's a good time to reflect and review I guess in attempting to look forward. I always see merit in that.

So I suppose instead of giving them up all together, perhaps I'll just change the way I do them. Instead of making a list of 20 things, like I usually do, I'll choose 3-5 that really mean something to my heart, that I feel passionately about and I'll stick to those. I'll not set unreasonable goals that sound super spiritual but will end up making me feel like a failure, because they were way lofty. I'll spend some time in prayer asking God what these should be, the things I vow to stick to this year and what needs some dedication from His view point.

SO maybe this year they're not even new years resolutions, they're just goals set with God. I like that a WHOLE lot better anyway.

I'll let you know if I come up with any good ones!! :)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Being A Momma...

So getting ready to pillow our heads last night and it's almost calm in this house, (which happens to be a rare thing with 10 little ones full go most of the day) and I'll be honest I'm looking forward to some quiet in the apartment before bed because Dilcia was here last night, and I'm laying in bed with Francisco and talking with the boys and we're goofing and laughing a little bit before bed, (which happens to be some of my favorite times of the day cause they're way tender before bed and some of the neatest conversations happen then), but Marvin leans down over his bunk to give me a goofy face and slips right off the top bunk onto his head. Didn't have any time to catch himself with anything else, no arms, no knees, only his head and it split wide open. Now let me just remind any of you who may not know, I am the queen of the weak stomach, I have children all around and blood is spewing everywhere, AND LOTS OF IT, never witnessed a head wound up close, but for any of you who may need to know in the future, they bleed ALOT!!! Am scared to death and yet required to remain calm, because if I don't who will, and so we gather him up put a towel on his head, Carlos is my happy helper these days and so we're off to the ER yet again (we are starting to become first name basis friends at that place.)

This is all new territory you know cause I'm now having to watch kiddo's I love like my own hurt and I am NO GOOD at it, I must confess. When the doctor stuck the needle for the anesthesia into his wound last night I thought oh dear no see momma's should never have to watch this. Then they scrubbed it, oh well you all know what they do, and then put those stitches in his little head and I stood there and thought, I have no idea how God ever did it. Watched His Son be hurt and not just hurt but humiliated while being hurt by people who wanted to hurt Him. It was a needle and some stitches last night and I wanted to bawl. Some nails and hatefulness would have been unbearable and yet He endured it for me. I was so humbled by that as I stood beside that bed last night watching this little guy be sutured up.

He seems to be doing just fine today, and as soon as he woke up this morning wanted to go find his brother Yovani, because he was afraid he might be crying because he was worried about him. Have I mentioned lately how much I love doing life with these kiddo's?? (Not so much the bleeding falling out of bed parts...but I love most parts to the depths of this heart)

Would appreciate your prayers of protection over this place, should have thought about how much children under 10 get hurt and get sick. :):):)

Blessings on your day!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Gospel Through Monica...

So I don't know about you, but over the past year or so and especially over the past few months, I've been trying to come up with the way I would explain the gospel or even more simplistic than that how I would explain this whole being a Christian thing to someone who doesn't get it. Think there's sort of a push right now to do things differently as far as presenting the gospel and leading people to a relationship instead of bringing them into an organization that they end up walking away from because there wasn't anything worth staying for because they didn't meet Jesus, they met our doctrine and quite honestly it was more disturbing than appealing.

I don't mean this to be insulting in any way but...quite honestly I got the affluent, white, republican, version of God and to be really honest that version is gonna speak to the people I'm coming into contact with right now about as well as a square peg in a round hole. So I've had to search myself hard and figure out what it is that makes God/Christ/Christianity appealing regardless of whether you are living a life of affluence where you feel as though justice is being served in your world, or whether you are a 17 year old teenager who has watched your mom work herself to death to attempt to provide for her family who is living in poverty, or a woman who has been left more times than she can count by men who promised to take care of her and it's been one lie after another in an attempt to find security, or...the list goes on and on.

So today I had one of those moments I'm sure you're familiar with that sort of just lock themselves in your soul somewhere and you pray they never escape. Think in some ways it spoke to me of what I really want to share when God gives me the opportunity of sharing why a relationship with Him changes your world. 3 of our kiddo's have a mother who doesn't show up for visitation. It's not so much that she doesn't want to I don't think...I want to believe that's the case. It's that she is so poor and so uneducated that she's unable to literally. In order to get her to the city ever to sign papers or do anything related to her children they have to give her directions like...you need to come when the first rain comes, or you need to come when the corn is ripe, because she has NO idea what month it is or what day it is or any of that. Can you even imagine??? Totally illiterate. Never really had a chance to learn and now can't come to see her children because she is mentally uncapable of knowing how. The children had made up names when they came to us because she never named them, never got a birth certificate, we have no idea when their birthdays are, no idea, but they'll have one!!! :) So anyway, today we're sitting in the living room and one of the ladies that works for us asked about visitation last week and if everything went well. Then she asked that question that made my heart break, she said did Fernando, Monica, and Katty's mom show up? Monica overheard and answered the question for herself...she said, "no and with this pathetic look on her face she said, I don't have a mommy." I said Monica when you were in Casitas Kennedy did your mommy come to visit and she said no. I said the only thing my heart would allow me to say in the moment, and I said "Monica would you like for me to be your mommy? Cause I'd really love to be a mommy to a little girl like you." I wish I had words and wish you could have witnessed what happened next...she threw her beloved babydoll on the ground and started jumping up and down and shouting si, si, si, si, si, si. Katty came over and said what and Monica jubilantly said, Tia Jen is going to be our mommy. Yep tears again!!!! Thought honey you didn't know it but when you came here we committed to being your mommy's but today you needed to hear it, today your heart got it.

And then...I thought yep and today your heart got it, cause that's really the beauty of the gospel isn't it. You know whether you're affluent or dirt poor we all sort of come to this place where we realize that we don't belong here on this earth and in a sense we're orphaned and when we realize it we kinda look around with this pathetic look on our faces and say, "nope the guy didn't give me security, nope the money never gave me hope, yes I'm desperate and feel oppressed in this life, and I need someone to come to the rescue here and love this weary heart" and then it's as if in that sacred moment when we truly are seeking it, you can almost hear this voice say, "Jen would you like for me to be your Father, cause I'd really like to be a Father to a little girl like you" and when we finish being humbled by the invitation and it finds it's way into the recesses of our heart, we throw down the other stuff, have a little celebration jump around and say yes yes yes yes yes yes, for all the days of my life yes!!

Guess today I just saw a new side of presenting the gospel as His invitation instead of our acceptance. For so long it's been about what we do, how we respond, and at least for me most often I think I've missed the point. Just want to make sure when I talk about the whole process the most important part is portrayed as his offer with hand outstretched to take us in and clean us off and love all over us. When that gets put in perspective, it's a whole lot more difficult to reject I think. It's the offer of a lifetime.

Saw Him today in Monica's eyes. Thought about how much I looked like her sweet self at one time, before Jesus moved in and said hey Jen, I'd love to love you...and when I finally got that, couldn't help but say YESSSSS!!!! Thank you and YES!!!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Holiday Season Part 1...

Ok so we've had a great holiday season with these kiddo's we really have!! I suppose in some ways the urgency of not knowing exactly how long all of these kids will be with you makes you diligent about attempting to make memories with them that last and so we tried to pack in so much from the stockings I posted earlier, to the Christmas tree with lights that played Christmas carols (which they loved), and then...we asked our cake decorating spanish speaking friend jen to come out and make sugar cookies with them one day...it was sort of the beginning of Christmas week for us and the kids loved helping and then later icing the cookies and it was fun.

Will someone please send us down some Christmas cookie cutters though because all we had were hearts and mini ginger bread men so we're gonna need more of a variety for next year. :):)

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