The Lights Just Went Out: Ebola, Sierra Leone,& my Heart. #holyfast

I’ve been pretty quiet about this whole Ebola thing. I mean, what can be said that hasn’t already been said. Like you, I’m sad and have felt helpless. When reports first began to surface perhaps I was a little naive. It seemed isolated. It seemed that this West African outbreak with fingers barely scrawled across the border of Sierra Leone would keep it’s distance from my heart.


But it has not. 

First, I’ve been pretty quiet about this guy. This little love that stole my heart 16 months ago. Ibrahim. Remember how I shared with you our first encounter. It’s still so sacred to me.

A lot has transpired since then. Last October I received word that another family had stepped forward to begin the process of adopting Ibrahim and his two older sisters. I need to be real here and tell you that this was very painful. It felt like a miscarriage to me. A baby I believed was destined to be my son.

I had to let go.

I had to trust that my prayer for God’s sovereign will over this boy would be made whole. And so, I mourned the loss of my hope and in time was able to celebrate for him. In the process, I’ve made a new and lasting friendship with a dear family.

Meet my friends Amber and Tyler. Together with their four kids they are currently fighting to adopt Ibrahim and his sisters.

The initial purpose of this update was to rally adoption support. But, as we all know there is this diseased cloud looming over the nation of Sierra Leone and it needs to move on, dissolve, and disperse itself into the abyss. Oh Lord, we pray.

On Tuesday the orphanage announced that they are going into a state of lock-down due to the Ebola virus. What does this mean? It means minimizing the staff to slow down the volume of traffic in and out of the center, stockpiling food and supplies for a period of 6 to 9 months, no outside schooling, church will be closed to the public, and monthly Skype calls have been suspended.

Communication has been halted. It feels like the lights just went out.

So what can we do while we wait? I have an idea.

“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly.” – Joel 1:14

This is a summon to all who abide in the house of God. A gathering of His people to cry out in one accord, on one single day, for one single purpose.  A holy fast. A time of public abstinence from food or drink. A demonstration of sorrow, a plea for God to breathe His breath across the West African plains and spare the nations.

“…Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?” – Joel 2:17 

Let us gather together on MONDAY, AUGUST 18TH for a #holyfast. The day may seem dark but, He is the hope of the future. The God of light. What can we do? Join me as I…

Pray for Ibrahim.
Pray for the orphanage.

Pray for the city of Freetown.

Pray for the World Vision villages in Bo. 

These are the people we are fighting for. Let us take up the torch. We are the ambassadors.

Who’s with me?

Crazy Chickens Create Traditions #GIVELIVESTOCK

I love this picture.

It was June of 2009. The 2nd annual Livestock Music Fest. We were a hot mess! No really, it was 110 degrees outside, with an added 20 fleecy costume degrees. At days end we’d lost our marbs. We had fun, yes! We did it for purpose, yes!

Raising money for livestock animals like chickens, pigs, cows, and goats is no easy task.

Photo Credit: World Vision, USA

What I love most about that “crazy chicken” picture is the small onlooker in the background. I’ll bet you missed seeing her. My daughter. She was three years old and taking it all in. As the years pass with intrepid speed and another Livestock Music Fest is planned and commissioned, I look at this picture and my heart slows. It’s always the small things. Often overlooked. These are the moments, the pictures of life that make the biggest impact. It’s how traditions are formed. Quietly and unrealized. They are the organic things that we do, make, and celebrate. Over and over, again.

This is it. This is what it’s becoming. A tradition. For her, my daughter now 9 years old, a legacy of learning how to give to those in need. A legacy of creating fun and celebration because God is so good. 

But, there’s more.

This community. It is becoming. You and your families and your children. Together, each year gathering as one to celebrate through music, food, and festivities. Each year a tradition of giving cows, chickens, and goats to help give a hand up to someone in need. These are the things that bind us in unity.

Photo Credit: World Vision, USA

What are some traditions you’re noticing in the corner of your life’s frame? Your chicks are growing–grown. It’s never too late to do something new.

LIVESTOCK MUSIC FEST — SATURDAY, JUNE 21ST — ST.PETER, MN

Eyes Wide Open: Bicycles for Girls

Do you have 3 minutes? First, watch this. 

This is real. It really happens, everyday women disappear.

Why? It’s a business. A booming business. 27 million are caught up, bought up, in the slave trade industry. The criteria: VULNERABILITY.

Last spring I visited four remote villages in Sierra Leone, Africa. During our stay , World Vision staffer Rosa schooled us in the ways and means of village life. The information was like drinking from a fire hose. I recall traveling between villages on a narrow dirt road and noticing, very unexpectantly, women and children emerging from the crowded bush.

“Where do they come from?” I asked.

Rosa explained that they had probably just finished up their work in the fields and were heading home.

Fields? It didn’t look like anything was nearby.

“That’s why the bicycles are so good.” Rosa stated.

Bikes? As she explained, my eyes were opened.

World Vision has a bicycle for girls program that provides a bike to a girl that meets a certain criteria. The criteria: VULNERABILITY

Interestingly, on my way home from Africa my eyes were opened to workings of this sort of business and I believe I was moments away from being a victim myself. I blogged about it here.

Knowing that this booming industry is lurking I ask you to consider a young woman whose spent an entire day in the field and is now traveling towards home on a quiet dirt road, alone, near dusk.

A bike to a girl can mean beating the clock and making it home before dark. 


A bike to a girl can mean safety to and from work or school. 


A bike to a girl can mean hope for a bright future. 

Maybe this Christmas a shiny bike for a girl is the one last gift you need to get! Make it bright.

Oh, I’m sure the video is still haunting you. Feel like you could do more? World Vision has a whole page of ways you can do something to help END IT! Click here.

*****

{THE GIFT GIVEAWAY}

This week I’m telling stories with World Vision that #sharejoy. I’m also giving away this gift package!
The Hole in our Gospel book, Zakale Christmas Ornament set from Kenya,  Artisian necklace, and Staci Frenes Wise Men & Angels CD. 

{HOW IT WORKS}

1. Share this post using #sharejoy and you will be entered into the drawing. That’s it… just SHARE and you’re entered! No strings attached. 
2. Give a gift or sponsor a child. If you respond by giving, leave a comment on my blog with your families gift, and you will again be entered into the drawing.
3. Throughout the week your Sharing and Giving will accumulate, giving you more chances at winning the gift this Christmas. **WINNER will be announced Saturday, December 21st** 
{Disclaimer: This post is not a paid advertisement. World Vision pays me nothing. I support and promote World Vision through this blog because I’ve seen first hand the life changing difference a gift can make to ONE family through the gift of ONE generous person.}

The Day I Met Rich Sterns #Sharejoy

A few years ago I met the President of World Vision, Rich Sterns. He was speaking at an event in Minneapolis so I went armed with several copies of his book The Hole in our Gospel. His book, this book, is so good. No, great! I blogged about it a few years ago here.

There is something about putting a face to a name. After the event, I eagerly marched up to him and thanked him for his book. Then, I began telling him all about my work with the Livestock Music Festival. I handed him a Livestock branded cap and stood a little taller. Yep, I was that girl. Just another lemonade-stand fundraiser gushing, but isn’t that what passion does to us. It makes us giddy and overflow. We can’t help it, we’re caught in the tide, and when the surf is great we want others to join in. I wish you could have seen the look on Rich Sterns face when I dropped a dozen books on his table and asked for a few signatures.

This book, The Hole in Our Gospel, is the one I’m giving away this week. And yes, you’re copy is autographed!

There is something about putting a face to a name. It’s like putting another piece in the puzzle. It connects the eye to the heart. Putting a face to a name is about relationship.

Like the day I met Abdul.

{Abdul in Sierra Leone World Vision ADP- 2013} 

Sitting under the canopy of an African hut. This boy, his tear streaked face, put a name in my heart. Abdul’s story confirmed the truth, the reason for my passion and purpose. Upon my return I blogged about it here.

I know you. You have your own passions and gifts. You have your very own lemonade stand going on. What are you collecting for? To give. To make a difference. Did you know that those gifts were meant to be a lifeline to others?

What if, what if this Christmas you put a face to the name? What if, what if this Christmas you and your family adopt a child through sponsorship? Sponsoring a child means bringing hope to an entire village. It means more than food and clothing. It means hope for the future.

Do you remember the last time you were down and out? Laying cold, shivering with worry. How would you make it through? Did anyone see you, really, did anyone see you? And then, that lifeline was thrown your way. Someone saw your face, they noticed you, and your off kilter world realigned. Vision restored. Hope renewed.

This year for Christmas you can begin a relationship with someone who really needs you. For $35 a month {thats like $1 per day} you can do this. You’ll get letters from your child, you can send care packages, and online through MyWorldVision.org you can login and track what’s going on in your child’s village. Really cool!

So let’s do it. Take the first step. Click here and select a country {I’m partial to Sierra Leone}. Then choose a kiddo. It’s thats easy. Let’s make Christmas merry and bright this year!

Share Joy Holiday Campaign – Sponsorship

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{THE GIFT GIVEAWAY}

This week I’m telling stories with World Vision that #sharejoy. I’m also giving away this gift package!
The Hole in our Gospel book, Zakale Christmas Ornament set from Kenya,  Artisian necklace, and Staci Frenes Wise Men & Angels CD. 

{HOW IT WORKS}

1. Share this post using #sharejoy and you will be entered into the drawing. That’s it… just SHARE and you’re entered! No strings attached. 
2. Give a gift or sponsor a child. If you respond by giving, leave a comment on my blog with your families gift, and you will again be entered into the drawing.
3. Throughout the week your Sharing and Giving will accumulate, giving you more chances at winning the gift this Christmas. **WINNER will be announced Saturday, December 21st** 

In Honor of Grandpa #Sharejoy

This Minnesota girl knows a thing or two about the farm. If you’re from the midwest I’d venture to guess you do too. I know that bouncing on hay bales in the hot July sun can trigger an onslaught of asthma attacks, cows are generally boring unless they escape from their pen and run rampant through grandma’s garden, a load of soybeans make great play, and chickens dance even after their heads are cut off.

I didn’t grown up on the farm. Nope. I was the city kid coming to play on grandma and grandpas farm for the weekend.

{On the farm with Grandpa Roy, Grandma Dorothy, and brother Matthew. Circa 1979.}

Grandpa was the farmer. He raised cows for beef and dairy, chickens for eggs and poultry, pigs, and sheep. Farming was his livelihood. It was the way he provided for his wife and 10 children. Life wasn’t easy, farming is hard work, but God blessed his toil with sustenance.

In 2009, my grandpa Roy died. Leaving the farm to his sons, his legacy lives on. That summer during the annual Livestock Music Festival my mom pulled me aside to share that she desired to give the gift of a cow in honor of her dad. Later on she was able to give my grandma a special card sharing the gift she had donated in his honor.

Are you looking for an easy way to give a meaningful gift this Christmas? Is there someone whose legacy you’d like to honor this year?

World Vision’s gift catalog is the perfect way to express your hearts desire. Giving a gift from the catalog does more good than you can imagine. The animal you choose is distributed to families and community groups in need. Each animal comes with its vaccinations and feed. Families are trained in animal care and agriculture so their children have healthy diets. Soon, when the livestock produce offspring, they have the power to sell for income or pass the gift onto another family. You see, the gift multiplies.

So, who do you want to honor this Christmas?

Keep it simple. Here are a few ideas:

A pair of chickens = $25

Share of a cow = $50

One pig = $205

Farm animals = $531

Or browse the entire World Vision gift catalog for more gift ideas.

Once you order, you can have them send a personalized card directly to your honoree.

*****

{The Gift Giveaway}

This week I’m telling stories with World Vision that #sharejoy. I’m also giving away this gift package!
The Hole in our Gospel book, Zakale Christmas Ornament set from Kenya,  Artisian necklace, and Staci Frenes Wise Men & Angels CD. 

{How it works}

1. Share this post using #sharejoy and you will be entered into the drawing. That’s it… just SHARE and you’re entered! No strings attached. 
2. Give a gift. If you respond by giving, leave a comment on my blog with your families gift, and you will again be entered into the drawing.
3. Throughout the week your Sharing and Giving will accumulate, giving you more chances at winning the gift this Christmas. **WINNER will be announced Saturday, December 21st** 
Are you ready? Let’s #sharejoy this week.
Share Joy – Gift Catalog – For Bloggers