Wednesday, December 17, 2014

some holiday thoughts from the homegoods' aisle

{a short encounter from earlier this month ...}

i survived a cart crash today.
car(t), not car.
a shopping cart, to be exact.

she turned the corner and -- smash!
our plastic carts collided in the aisle of homegoods.

it wasn't that black friday frenzy, just a normal first thursday in december.
i'm not sure about her, but i was only minding my own business ...  looking at bath towels, if you must know.
there was no mad dash for a must-have purchase, nor was i in hot pursuit of an unbelievable deal.

but we crashed and, for a quick moment, she looked crushed.
a frazzled woman and her very full cart.

"i'm sorry," she said, "it's been that kind of day.
actually ...  it's been that kind of month."
(i refrained from pointing out that it was only the 4th of december).
"so sorry, just hoping to get it all done ... you know..." she laughed at herself.

a shoulder shrug and she steered around me, away in a rush of holiday hurry. and that was that --
my brief encounter with yet another december-wild-woman amidst the mayhem of merchandise.

"it's the most wonderful time of the year," piped from the intercom above, accompanying our little scene.
i stood watching her push into the weight of her ladened basket and, despite the
lilting music swirling around our aisle, i felt her heaviness.

i didn't know her and had no idea her story, but, still, could almost feel her hopelessness.

(we don't have to chalk that up to my being incredibly intuitive, more likely, just a little bit weird).

her words, "just hoping to get it all done ..." traveled with me the rest of the day.

and she wasn't the only one. i've sensed it elsewhere this week --- yes, even in my own home.

this feeling of false hope.

this: it-will-all-be-okay-if-i-can-just-get-it-all-in-the-basket-and-push-it-all-to-the-checkout-line-or-finish-line-or-whatever-line-of-christmas.

it will all be okay ... IF. I. CAN. JUST. MAKE. IT.

the race toward the 25th
the rush of the holiday.
the run of our december.

a countdown to the coming of christmas.

a hopeless hope.

everyone nodding and gathering and decorating in hopes that maybe this year - this year - it will all be right. it will all be beautiful. it will all be - surely - the most wonderful time of the year.

if we can only make it to christmas ...

kind of like that game we played at parties when we were children: the race where you carry an egg on a spoon across the backyard.

some of us are treating christmas just like that: eggs on spoons and finish lines.

all will be right with the world if we can keep focused, stay fast, be balanced and brave.

heads down and feet in motion. joy to the world and jingle bells.

and we hope.
with anticipation.
teetering on the very edge of our december toes ...

for christmas to get here ... for hope to arrive.

and the funny thing is, we're not that far off.
finding hope in christmas is kind of the point, right?

we just have our human way of messing up the holy wonderful.

Jesus came down, heavenly babe to lowly manger, in the name of hope.
Jesus traded the wood of cradle for the wood of cross because He is hope - the only hope.

it's not about getting the presents bought or the tree decorated or the parties perfectly planned ...
it's not about getting to christmas ... it's about getting christmas.

getting it.

getting what it really is.

Jesus in the manger.

Jesus who became a gift that we might get grace.
Jesus who became human that we might have hope.
real hope.
not just our casual crashing in the homegoods aisle hurried kind of hope.
but, the real thing.


hope doesn't come from making it to christmas.
hope comes when we make it to Christ. 

and when we make it about anything else, we make it harder. we make it less about hope in Him and more about hope in our hurry and that's exactly what leaves us feeling heavy in a season which should be all about finding light.

oh dear ones, were you scrambling today?
was your list long and your time short?
have you been going full-throttle since thanksgiving?
does your holiday hustle have you hard by the throat?

what is it that you are pushing around today in your race to the christmas finish line?

my suggestion: crash that cart of hurry and walk away from that version of hopeless hoping.

sit by your tree.
tree not decorated yet?
then sit by someone else's tree.
or go outside and find a tree.
or forget the tree ...
and just sit somewhere.

but be still.

spend some time in true advent.

PAUSE the hopeless activity of hurry and PONDER the hopeful awaiting of the Holy one -- Jesus.

because whatever we are piling high in our carts isn't all that important when we take time for looking low into the perfect manger.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

how do you handle this kind of news and not know God?

it's christmas time and i'm at the beach.
there are palm trees with twinkling lights and garland decorated with seashells.

and i bet if i stopped there, you'd think, "wow, how cool. how lucky. maybe even, how downright lovely to be at the beach come christmas."

at first glance, yes, it might seem that way.

but this weekend i'm not really here for a december vacation or a holiday visit, but to stay with my in-laws for a couple of days --- to help out a little where needed.

a few weeks ago, rick's mom, marilyn, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. just days before thanksgiving, a doctor sat knee to knee with her and said, "i'm so sorry ..." 

and none of us have truly been able to wrap ourselves around this news since. even with a recent surgery to extract the tumor and upcoming chemo, none of us can really believe this diagnosis was delivered  ... that these words were uttered. not to this woman. not to marilyn. not to our mom ... our grandma.

not my mother-in-law who has dedicated her entire life to nursing and serving and ministering to others -- surely, this news wasn't meant for her. she has always been the one bending over the hospital bed, holding the hand of the heartbroken, encouraging the weak, and praying for the patient. always. i've known marilyn for almost 28 years and i'm pretty sure each of those years included a long list of people who she has come alongside -- family members, neighbors, church friends, strangers  --- no one exempt from the realm of her capable and caring hands.

she's a caregiver at her very core.

in fact, the other day, i remembered the first time i met rick's mom she was wearing her nurse's uniform. i don't know why i thought of that, but it's a crystal clear picture.

and now this.

and now there's not a one of us who doesn't want to shake our fists at the heavens and cry out, "this isn't fair. this isn't right. this isn't possible."

she has always been in amazing health -- doing absolutely everything right. appointments and check ups and health scans and lifestyle ... and, well, everything. i know it's a nurse thing, but she's always been on it. always careful, always going above and beyond what was ever required or recommended.

and today, she and i sat, side by side and stared out at a december ocean.
mother-in-law and daughter-in-law gazing at the deep blue, drinking in God's grandeur.

that was her one request when i showed up yesterday. yes, i could do a little cooking and shopping, "but," she said, "what i really want is for you to drive me to the beach. i want to sit in the sunshine and breathe in the ocean."

and so, today, we sat. shared. chatted. talked about a lot of things ... but the most memorable thing she said was this, "i don't know how people handle diagnoses like this without faith in God. i simply don't know how they could do it."

she went on to say, that it was one of her very first thoughts after the doctor gave her the news. "how do people who don't have God hear this and handle it?"

God who understands the heartbreak and the sob and the fear and even the fist shake. God who is sovereign and all-powerful, but completely understands the questioning and the wrestling and the grieving of His children.

God of the universe when our world spins wildly out of control .
God of real peace when our pain seems too much to bear.
God of our days when our doubts begin to dig deep.

how does anyone do this without Him?

this past summer, i sat here at this same ocean and watched my mother-in-law boogie-boarding out in the waves with her grandchildren. it was the week she turned 69 and she was riding waves and body surfing with the kids. laughing in the ocean she loves. loving her time with her family. living life at its fullest.

it was a different kind of day at the ocean this afternoon. the beach was empty, the water was calm and our mood certainly more subdued.

but, you know what? it was beautiful.
and even in the midst of this awful, painful stuff, we both felt the peace and presence of God.

God who holds the oceans in the very palm of his hand (isaiah 40:12), will hold this woman who holds on tightly to Him.

so i share this tonight, asking you to keep my sweet mother-in-law in your prayers.
we love her and we'd like an army of people praying for her!
yes, she knows the water ahead is deep ... but she also knows she's not alone in this ocean.
her hope is in Jesus who holds and heals and has a plan for her.

 and peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” so peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “o you of little faith, why did you doubt?” and when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. and those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “truly you are the Son of God.”  ~ matthew 14:32

Sunday, December 7, 2014

when christmas finds us fragile

 with a few moves in the past few years, it didn't surprise me -- after all, things do tend to break.

most of our christmas ornaments and decorations did okay in our recent (annual) upheaval,
but we were bound to have at least a few casualties.
and this year, opening up the holiday crates, it was clear ... we did.

we can chalk up some of the breakage to our moving and some of it to just our normal mayhem. and of course there's always the few we lose each year because little hands are helping. we could do it ourselves and tell them to "stand clear" ... but that wouldn't be right.
easier, yes. right, no. 
heck, this year, i was the culprit carelessly crushing one of my very favorite ornaments in my hurry -- uugh.
it almost happens daily -- just this morning i found an ornament smashed on the fireplace hearth. it must have, unsuspectingly, rolled off the mantel in the middle of the night. poor thing.

it's what happens when we deal in the delicate.

and ornaments are one thing, but, isn't there a lot about christmas that can feel fragile?

no doubt, it's the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most vulnerable time.

there's nothing better than celebrating christmas when you're in that sweet spot of living. when it's all going grand and everyone's healthy and the children are all happy and the days are both merry and bright. nothing better!

but what about when life isn't going along quite like that?

what about those who have lost jobs or spouses or children or their health?
what about those who are broken and bruised and heavily burdened?

i think it's possible, christmas can feel not festive, but instead, more fragile.

maybe for some, it even seems smashed to smithereens like the ornaments in the bottom of our boxes. 

yes, even like that.

because life has a way of rolling us, unsuspectingly, off of high mantels and onto hard places.

and some years, when christmas comes, we find ourselves not in peace, but in pieces.

sitting here this morning, i'm thinking about the way Jesus came at christmas -- a newborn baby. fresh and fragile. this delicate deity born to a girl, fresh and fragile herself. a girl overwhelmed, unprepared, ill-equipped, vulnerable. probably even pretty darn scared.

can't you see her shaking arms as she transferred tiny babe to feeding trough?
maybe some motherly resistance to this crude-type cradle.
but maybe also a mix of relief on her face to put something so small into something so strong.
dirty, perhaps, but still solid and safe.

baby Jesus laid in a manger of wood. wee babe placed in a box built strong to endure oxen and ass. 
tender meets tough.
frail meets firm.
soft meets sturdy.

God come to His wooden cradle to become God on His wooden cross.

God in His birth and God in His death --- human. fragile. even broken.

but come.


come down from heaven to live amongst the smashed pieces of our sin-riddled world.
come down from the perfect right hand of God to this place where things are far from perfect or right and, let's face it, sometimes way out of hand.


He didn't have to.
i know i probably would have argued that one out with the Father -- (thanks, but no thanks).

but Jesus came.

and because of the cradle and because of the cross we have something strong to hold on to in the weakness of our frail living.

and for you --
overwhelmed mama, out of work man, rebellious child, hard-hearted husband, weary woman, lonely grandparent ...
for your pain and your problems.
for your diagnosis and your disaster.
for your fears and your failures.
for you. for me. for us. for all.

Jesus came.

and this Jesus who left a throne in heaven and came vulnerable in His humanity to the throes of earthly pain, understands our need for something solid in our suffering.

He not only understands it, but was willing to sacrifice Himself to be it.

come laid in wood 
and hung on wood 
that He would 
take our place 
and take our pain.

to be the thing which is both tender enough and tough enough for our tears.

mary laid Jesus in the rough cradle of wood and the angels rejoiced. for this humble place with this holy babe, held the strong Salvation of the world. and those angels, they knew it.

maybe this christmas you are feeling fragile.
{alone. angry. afraid. hurt. hopeless}.

my prayer this sunday morning for you dear one -- and for all of us -- is that in this christmas, we would keep our eyes on the cradle and on the cross. that in the fragile parts of living, our faith might find strength in His coming.

"I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." 
~ john 10:10

a little end note:
i started this blog post yesterday - saturday - and in the middle of my writing, the christmas tree fell over. yep. no reason. no one was in there. just toppled over. broken ornaments galore! talk about fragile. just had to share that hopefully for your amusement. =) 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

starting Christmas simple

it's like this every year.
we finish our turkey and turn our hearts and our homes immediately toward christmas.

and i like that.
i like the order of the events. the expectation. the tradition.

i'm pretty sure i'll never be a gal who agrees to put up her christmas before carving the bird.
(not a thing wrong with that, mind you ... just how i'm wired).

and so yesterday -- the day after thanksgiving -- the trees came in.
two of them.
and the house filled with that heavenly mixture of holiday pine and hollering children excitement.

in classic, chaotic, large family style, we took on the trees.
the littlest ones helped us wrap lights -- assembly line work around all this gorgeous green.
the oldest son sprawled beneath taking orders from his dad.
"a little to the left. back to the right. straighten it out. screw it in. careful now."

the teen girls took snapchats and selfies and instagram photos while offering opinions about the location and best side and the overall effect.

and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
the trees were in.
the lights were on.
and christmas could commence.

and that's all we accomplished -- only trees in and lights on.

my 11 year old must have asked no less than 26 times,"tomorrow mom? tomorrow we are going to do all the other stuff, right?"  tomorrow we are going to decorate the whole house, like everything, like lights and other stuff, right mom? tomorrow?"

when i crashed, tired on the couch, he capitalized on the opportunity to slide his ipad under my nose with picture after picture of grand outdoor lighting displays from houses around the country.
what we COULD do.
"look at these, mom ... can you imagine if we did this, mom? wow. just think if we did all this, mom. wouldn't it be something if we did this, mom? 
... mom, can we do something kind of like this?"

trust me, the griswold christmas house had nothing on these pictures.

but this morning, sitting here with nothing more than some white lights twinkling and a warm fire blazing i am enjoying the simplicity of just this.

and i feel that same strong desire, which comes every year ... to keep it simple.
to add nothing more.
to stop right here.

we have crates upon crates upon crates of christmas stuff in our basement. and yet, for this brief quiet morning, i kind of want to pause at this spot of green tree, white lights and fire blazing.


it's not the grinch in me rising up ... but the grace in the moment showing up.

there's beauty to be found in simple.
there's quiet.
there's calm.
there's peace.

what if we chose to forget the hoopla and the must-haves and the many shopping lists and the multi-colored, glittery gobs of stuff we get lost in?

what if we did it different.

just as Jesus came to us  -- different.

“and this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in 

swaddling cloths and lying in a manger …” ~ luke 2:12

i know everyone was expecting a king in royal robes to show up ...
but, instead, the Savior of the world arrived as a baby in swaddling cloths.

everyone must have imagined the most amazing palace, the most ornate kind of cradle ...
but mary laid his head in nothing more than a rough wooden manger ... in a stable.

and in the start of 2014 christmas, that verse speaks deeply to me.

the swaddling cloths.
the manger.
the stable.

the Savior.

the beautiful simplicity of what really matters.

and, yes, today ... i will begin pulling out some of those crates ... (perhaps not all of them). and we will add some festive ribbon and garland and ornaments. we will embrace and enjoy a little bit of the fun christmas chaos. of course we will ...

now i see you shaking your heads. and you're right. i, too, realize we can only keep things so simple for so long. i mean can you imagine if we didn't pull out the 8 tiny reindeer and the giant inflatable snowman? can you imagine what connor mcnatt might say if we don't cover every single bush of our front yard with twinkling white lights?

no, of course we will.

but right now ... in this quiet, dark morning. 
in this moment. 
i will enjoy ... only this.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

in the backseat {veterans day 2014}

even after a grim cancer diagnosis his buddies were still asking him, "roger, why are you always so happy?"

that's what our guest speaker told us on veterans day this past tuesday. his friends -- even his doctor -- over the years have wanted to know his secret ... wanted to know why he always seems to be so darn happy.

roger wise went on to tell the audience what he tells anyone who asks, "it's because i'm in the back seat. God's driving my car and i'm happy to hang out in the backseat. i'm just along for the ride. that's it. that's all of it."

roger explained that since he wasn't in charge, he didn't have to worry. "if God wants me standing in 6 months, i'll be standing ... looking up. and if God wants me laying down in 6 months, i'll be laying down ... looking up."

i sat in the director's chair with my headset and my tech notes and i began to listen closer to the words of our guest speaker. and though i was the gal who had to be sharp and ready and on top of the next cue, i couldn't stop the tears from running down my cheeks.

what a message to hear on this veterans day. with an auditorium packed full of almost 2500 people -- school children. senior citizens. busy moms and dads. soldiers. heroes. the disabled, the discouraged, the disease ridden. what a message. what a gift.

and me, the chief sinner.
me, the chronic controller.
me, the one who had just spent her last 24 hours stressing over the details of this program and trying to fit all the moving parts into a perfect order and pace.
me, who had left the dress rehearsal the day before, climbed into my car, and wondered how in the world everything would combine in time for a program which hinged on military precision and the fine details of decorum. me, the woman who (because she's weird) has always kinda liked to sit in the director's seat.

"i'm just in the backseat, but God's driving my car." and those words of roger wise tuesday morning, nailed me, right between my control-seeking eyes. this was not in my notes, not part of the script, not even especially what i wanted to hear. but tuesday morning i got the message. loud and clear.

tuesday, our school held its 20th veterans day celebration. for the past twenty years perimeter christian school has been putting on a program to honor the heroes of our country. and a celebration it was! every extra element imaginable was added to the show this year ... including a ballet number, a marching band and a special tribute.

when i was asked to step back into my old position as director, i was quick to agree. i did this for several years prior to moving to minnesota.

no big deal. easy peasy. could do it in my sleep. (not really, but you get the point).

but by the end of monday's dress rehearsal, i'll be honest, i was second guessing myself.
"who did i think i was?"
"what did i think i could handle?"
"why wasn't i better organized?"
even ... "why in the world had i said yes?"
you know ... those kind of phrases which fly willy nilly through our heads when the chaos level and fear of failure has risen to a precarious level.

i left the auditorium feeling defeated.

by the time i got home i had already texted several friends and asked them to pray.

asking a few friends to pray?  --- best director's call i made all day!

please pray.

at perimeter we like to do it right. we like to do it well. we care about the details. and, honestly, i love that about our school. i love that blazers are buttoned and ties are straightened and knee socks are pulled up and cheeks are scrubbed clean and heads are held high.

because on veterans day, we are there to honor people who take that kind of thing seriously.

soldiers are trained deep in discipline. they are raised up in practices of respect and responsibility.

and the last thing any of us working on this special day want is to have them show up to something sloppy or half-hearted. so we all give a little extra to pull it together. i can't tell you the number of people it takes. i don't even know the number ... but it's big including everything from decorations to drum rolls ... from flags to final curtains.

and clearly, in these past 20 years, God has been in the driver's seat. His hand is on this program as it has been on this school. blessing it. growing it. driving it forward.

as a part of tuesday's celebration, our headmaster, bobby scott, invited gayle murray to join us. mrs. murray was the 3rd grade teacher who came up with this idea 20 years ago. she spoke a few minutes about how this all came to be.
"i wanted to do something different on veterans day, but i didn't know what. i didn't know what i could do. but then it occurred to me, i could be thankful. so i began there."

that's how this celebration found its start 20 years ago, and that's still the heartbeat of what holds it together today -- thankfulness. we are thankful to the men and women who have served our country well and it is a privilege to put on a program which shows our gratitude.

from my spot in the tech booth tuesday, i could see veterans out in the audience ... the smiles ... the tears ... the beautiful emotion evident on their faces. and i was reminded of what we do and why we do it. it's not just another program to direct or another chance to perform ... no ... it's about HONOR and GRATITUDE and GIVING BACK to those who have given so much.

and if that means a few extra hours of planning or a hectic dress rehearsal on monday, then so be it. it's worth it. every minute of it. it's worth it when we hear the 4th graders belt out the "armed forces medley" or watch small children wave flags and welcome veterans. it's worth it when we get to listen to a young boy's essay telling why his grandpa is his hero -- a man who once battled for his country and is now battling Alzheimer's. it's worth it to see the faces of these veterans as the colors are posted or their branch is recognized or "taps"" is played. it's worth it and it's humbling.

i am humbled and i am reminded that regardless of our title or our position or even our determination, we are not in the driver's seat. whether we are talking about our precious health or our beloved homeland ... we have no control over the outcome.

roger wise explained that this knowledge is what makes him happy.

it's easy to think (at least in my world) that if i have all my plans in place and all my ducks in a row (and my house clean - let's not forget that) ... it's easy to think THEN ... THEN i will be happy. and though i do not want to discount the immense pleasure of clean floors, i was reminded this week in a veterans day program that all the T-crossing and plan-making and detail-orchestrating in the world isn't going to be what makes any of us happy.

it's surrendering our seat.

soldier or barely sane woman ... school child or senior citizen ... surrender.

no matter our rank or our responsibilities ... no matter our medals or our mistakes ... we belong in the backseat.

got to catch a quick glimpse of this little american proudly waving her flag!

the JCVA posted the colors this year -- an honor to work with these men.
our headmaster, bobby scott, is presented an award for leading our school these past 20 years in this program.
ballerinas danced beautifully to "we will not forget." 
veterans stand and are honored when their branch song is sung in the medley.
6th grader, asher, explains his poster. a soldier bowing to the cross. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice.
essay winners
mr. levon stack blew the roof off the house singing "the star spangled banner" acapella.

think of what our country's freedom has meant to these girls ...
a couple of these pictures are mine. 
 thank you for these beautiful pictures talented ladies!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

the promise concert recap on orphan sunday

"religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: 
to look after orphans and widows in their distress ..."  ~ james 1:27

it’s taken me a few days to get my act together. okay ... maybe more like a whole week.
last weekend was the promise686 concert and i have yet to post a blog or add an album of pictures from the event.

but today, on this orphan sunday, i’m motivated to share what took place last saturday night.

we had 14 of these canvases around the pool/patio area.
just some of the kids who have come home with the help of promise686.
the ministry, promise686, which helped bring bella home 4 years ago, has been growing steadily since we’ve been in minnesota and when they called and asked if i would help lead a fundraiser for the ministry, i couldn’t say no.

and just like that (haha) ... we put on an outdoor dinner and concert under a big white tent on a beautiful night in october. good music, good food, good wine and good people gathered together to hear about what God is doing in an anything-but-good-situation.

promise686 is committed to helping children in crisis.
through adoption and foster care, promise686 helps families raise money for grants to bring home kids.
promise comes alongside families both financially and physically – huge areas of need when dealing with kids who have no one.

kids who have been abandoned, neglected or orphaned.

i've actually had a few different people tell me that word makes them uncomfortable.

yes, that's what they've said, "uncomfortable."

well, i would hope so.


but for the majority of us, the idea of orphan can be something we loosely associate with a cute red head on broadway singing her heart out about tomorrow.

that's as far as our brains will allow us to go --- just a cute kid, with a cute dog who ends up living with a millionaire.

a fairytale.

except, in reality, there are over 150 million orphans in our world.

and in their reality, these kids don't have much to sing about. the reality for these kids doesn’t provide much hope for tomorrow, because today, they are still orphans.
real ones.
kids living without a mom or a dad or sisters or brothers.
kids who are alone and kids who are lonely.

psalm  68:5-6 says that God is "father to the fatherless ...God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing..."

maybe that broadway dream isn't so far-fetched when God gets involved, right?

when God calls families to the family-less.
when God sets the lonely in loving places.
when God leads imprisoned children out in singing.

i don't know about you, but i'm visual. i love to see pictures in my mind to help make sense of things and when i read that verse i see 150 million kids of every color, shape and size being led forth in singing and it's a beautiful picture because i know that's God's heart.

God – the Father to the fatherless.

and we see it everywhere.

we have lots of friends who have adopted kids internationally and domestically. just this morning we sat in church next to dear friends who adopted both domestically and from the ukraine.  another family was in front of us who has for the past 6 years been waiting and fighting for their daughter in krgystan – they are finally getting close! just behind us was a family who added their 5th child in a recent domestic adoption (their oldest is 6)!

seriously, adoption is all around us.
and i love that.
but there are still so many.
so many orphans.

so many kids who still need to come home.

last weekend, we hosted this fundraiser and invited 200+ people to come and hear. people who weren’t aware of what promise686 is doing …people who had the ability to help make a difference … people who, perhaps, didn’t even realize there was a crisis.

through videos and stories and short talks, the evening was a celebration of what has already taken place and an awareness challenge to what we all can do to continue these efforts.

i was excited about all the beautiful elements of this party … but without doubt, the most beautiful part of the evening was hearing people say, “i want to help. I want to support … i want to give.” what they were really saying is, "i want to help bring more kids home."

we can’t solve the orphan crisis in one evening. but we can do our part … and that’s what God calls us to – just doing our part. whether it be to pray, to act or to give --- we all have an important part to play.

so the word orphan makes people uncomfortable.
i get it. and, personally, i’m so glad.
i’m glad because i know it’s in our comfortable places that we become numb to the nudgings of Jesus.

so, Lord, go ahead ... and make us uncomfortable.

as the person responsible for the atmosphere of our event, my job was to accommodate our guests … to ensure a good meal, good entertainment and good overall experience – to make them comfortable.

And where everything in me wanted to do that and even enjoyed doing that … the prayer of my heart was always, through all of it, “Lord, make us uncomfortable that we would see the crisis of these kids and hear the cries of the orphan.”

"i always questioned if i was ready to adopt and then realized no child was ready to be an orphan." ~ unknown
(stole this quote from my dear friend, diana's post today)! 

each table was named for a child who has been adopted or fostered with the help of promise. the centerpiece had the child's name and picture and at each place setting a little bit of the child's story was shared with the guests. each table told the story of a different child.

this is april and she's amazing. no kidding, she was my right hand or wing-woman on this event! 
love her.

the evening began with a cocktail party poolside! what's not to love about that?

 rose and her dad, jeffery, shared the powerful story of how she and her brother came home from haiti. it was almost the only time in the evening i actually stood still and listened. it's one thing to hear about adoption and orphans from adults ... a whole other thing to hear it from the children. 

that's andy cook up there on stage -- he's the executive director of promise686. he worked tirelessly on the details of this event. i remember the phone call when he shared the vision of this evening with me. pretty cool for all of us to see it come to be.
everyone enjoyed the music of ed roland of collective soul and the sweet tea project.