Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter thoughts

Lives again our glorious King,
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once He all doth save,
Where thy victory, O grave?

Easter is my favorite holiday.  Every year, I am more moved by the sacrifice Jesus made so that I might be reconciled with God.

In our line of work, we deal death.  It is, in fact, our livelihood, which is strange in so many ways.  But because it is what we do, I think about death perhaps more than the average person, and I believe that is why Easter becomes more precious to me every year.  

Death is ugly.  It is wrong.  It is a corruption of our Father's plan for us, and it touches us all.  You don't have to be in the funeral business to know that the sights, smells and sounds of dying and death are hard, and sometimes horrific.  Our culture may in many ways market and glamorize violence and death, but the truth is that when a life ends, it is a humbling and heart breaking experience.  

Part of our job is to take death, clean it up, dress it up and make it seem somehow...less dead.  It's a strange business, and while I totally believe in the value of our services in providing closure for those left behind, we cannot change a thing.  Our best efforts cannot change the reality of the grave that waits for us all.

But Jesus did.

Because of Easter, death is defeated.  Our physical bodies will fail, but we do not need fear the grave.  Every single year when I sing these words, a get a lump in my throat and my eyes well with tears.  My mind fills with images of people I have known and loved,  whose weak and broken bodies have failed them, and I know that the grave cannot hold them any more than it held our Lord. 

Where, O death, is now thy sting?

Happy Easter! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

When a mom goes to Haiti

I am such a wanna-be blogger.  I love writing, and I often have ideas for things that I want to blog about, but by the time I get through a day of homeschooling, cooking, dishes and laundry, I am barely hanging on long enough to get through bedtime stories.  I may glance at the computer wistfully on my way to bed, but that's about as close as I get.  This glamorous life I lead is exhausting.  And I need my beauty sleep.

But I've been home from Haiti for not quite a week, and my head just won't stop spinning. So I'm hoping that by putting some of the jumble of thoughts here, maybe I can get some clarity.  And stop crying at random times.

First things first:  Katie is doing great.  Better than great.  She's had a rough year in some ways, but she is growing closer to God and closer to her missionary family through the trials.  She is surrounded by incredible people.  It is exciting to see the people of talent and passion that God is gathering into that little corner of Haiti, and to think what that community will look like in ten years because of the people he has called to serve there now.  She is amazing in her classroom.  Her students spoke not a word of English when they began school, and many of them had never held a book or pencil.  Now they know their letters, alphabet sounds, numbers, colors, days, months, three languages!   She loves them dearly and they adore her.  There is not a doubt in my mind that she is exactly where God has called her to be.

Just look at her with those sweet faces.  I am one proud Momma!

It's hard to understand Haiti.  Hard to describe it.  I was prepared for most of what I saw: the poverty, the garbage, the crumbling buildings and total lack of infrastructure.  I can't say that I really experienced culture shock.  Still, when you see with your own eyes and smell with your own nose and step over filth with your own feet, it provides a perspective that others' words and photographs just can't give.

But here are a few pictures to give an idea, anyway.

What haunts me most, however, is not the garbage I saw.  It's the people.  The ones I really saw.

Let me try to explain.

It came to me this morning in church. Our sermon text was Mark 10:17-31, the story of the Rich Young Man (and no, this is not a blog post where I announce that we are selling everything and moving to Haiti).  In verse 21, it says that "Jesus looked at him and loved him."  He looked at him.  Really saw him, saw his heart, his hopes, his desires, and loved him.  Certainly Jesus, being God, had the ability to see people in a way that I never could. However, when we are intentional about looking at people, when we make eye contact, when we connect with them and engage them, things change.  For both the seen and the seer. 

Port de Paix is a congested city, with people everywhere in tap taps, riding taxis, standing in the street, walking, sitting on porches, looking out windows.  It is easy to let the faces of the people there blur together. It is tempting to look away from the scenes that are ugly, and sometimes strangely difficult to remember that those women leading donkeys and men pushing wheelbarrows are not just part of the third-world scenery,  but real people living their very real, very hard lives.  Walking down the streets, it is possible to see many people without really seeing any of them.

But there were moments when God opened not just my physical eyes, but my spiritual eyes as well, and I had the humbling experience of really seeing the beautiful Haitian people.  One of those times was a visit to House of Hope, a children's home near Port de Paix.  Some of the children were shy at first, but within a few minutes they were basking in the attention of total strangers.  They had a craving to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be played with, to be held, to have their picture be seen.

I know all too well that a visit from some Americans will have no impact on these kids' circumstances.  They still live where they live.  There is still not enough of anything for them.   But you can see by the looks on their faces that they rejoiced in our brief attentions, in being seen. 

 If we are the hands and feet of Jesus, aren't we also his eyes?  Isn't he El Roi, the God Who Sees Me?  And how can we be his hands and feet if we haven't first seen with his eyes those he loves and would have us serve?

But as I said, seeing changes the seer, too, and this is one of the reasons why I have been reeling through my first week home.

It is one thing to know there are poor people and another thing entirely to know poor people.  To know their names, to kiss their sweet cheeks and have their fingers braid your hair.  And when you see them with Jesus' eyes, you also love them with his heart.  "Jesus looked at him and loved him."  He loves them and now I do, too.  It's so hard to come back to my comfortable, over-indulged life, knowing the situation of not just these children, but others that I came to know and love during our trip.  

I'm trying to figure out how I live here after I've been there.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yesterday, most of the people in my household sported red Xs on their hands.  And this morning, at least two people woke up with a red X on their cheek. :)

The red X is a visual reminder of one of the ugliest truths about our world today.  27 million people live in slavery.  More than at the time of the Civil War.  More than at any other time in history.  The End It Movement is a coalition of abolitionist groups that are seeking to raise awareness of this shameful truth that most of us would rather ignore.

I would rather ignore it.  Statistics are kind of abstract, and numbers are fuzzy for me, so even though for much of my life I've heard phrases like "slave labor" and "sweatshops" and "human trafficking" thrown around, I never really gave it much thought.  Not much real thought, anyway.  But over the last couple of years, God has continued to confront me with the plight of the poor and powerless all over the globe.  He cares deeply for, women and children made in his image...suffering in bondage and disease and poverty.  And because they are his passion, they should be my passion, too.

It is so hard to think about, and some days, I don't.  I get so wrapped up in my own glamorous life of dishes, laundry, and driving to umpteen different activities that I don't give it a thought.  But more and more often, I do think about it.  And I know I'm not alone.  I have this small circle of friends whom God seems to be calling on the same spiritual journey and we keep encouraging (or daring) one another to read these books, to check out these websites, to learn more and it is getting harder and harder to not think about it.  To not think about who made the clothes my kids are wearing.    To not wonder what little child's hands mined the mica so my eyeshadow can sparkle. To not think about who harvested the coffee beans or cocoa beans (chocolate.  why chocolate?)

I have this sick feeling a lot, and I'm not sure if it's a fire in my belly or a developing ulcer, but I the more I read  and the more I learn about 27 million people enslaved, some right here in the United States, the less I can bring myself to ignore it. And there is so much more.  140 million orphans.  22 thousand children who die every day from hunger and preventable disease.  34 million people with HIV, including 3 million children.

It is overwhelming and I feel helpless.  My sphere of influence is so small:  my family, church friends, homeschool group, a couple hundred friends on facebook, and the three or four people who read this blog.  That's it.  I have no great platform, and I am not at all sure that any of my "audience" wants to hear this, anyway.   But as I was reminded in Bible study last night, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22).  And it says over and over again that we are to help the poor, care for the widow and orphan and seek justice for the oppressed.  

"Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern slavery, but nothing will EVER happen until we are." -Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission President & Founder

Anything I do is a drop in the bucket, but if you've ever put a bucket under a dripping ceiling, you also know that drop by drop, eventually the bucket fills and spills over.  All of our drops in a bucket can make a difference in the lives of real people around the world.

A great place to start is

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Doing Christmas Differently

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

We had the best Christmas ever.

Not a "perfect" Christmas: the kids were sick, the cards are late, the house was a mess, the decorations were minimal...but the best Christmas, because this year as a family, we really changed our focus.  Christmas was way more about Jesus than us this year.

We did a couple of  things differently.  We started a new tradition.  A couple of years ago, I heard of a Jesse Tree: an advent activity that uses a different ornament with a corresponding devotion for every day leading up to Christmas. I thought it was a great idea, so last year I found a set of patterns for ornaments and started making them.  This year I finished them!

Our Jesse Tree

Isaiah 11:1-9
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;   from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,    the Spirit of counsel and of might, and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
  He will not judge by  what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears;  but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.  Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.  The cow will feed with the bear,   their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.   The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord  as the waters cover the sea.

Our Jesse Tree devotions were not perfect.  Some nights we got home too late.  At least one night,  we just plain forgot.  But we doubled up, got back on track, and Christmas morning put Baby Jesus at the top of our tree.  I loved pausing at the end of each day with the kids and remembering what we are really celebrating this time of year.

 One other thing that we did differently this Christmas was our gift giving.  It was eight years ago that we decided to scale back our kids' Christmas gifts.  We were about to have baby #4 (sweet little Eleanor), we were living in a very small house on an even smaller budget and it just seemed like a good time to start reigning in the holiday spending.  We went with the "three gifts" idea--Jesus got three gifts, each of our kids got three gifts.  That year I was afraid the kids would be disappointed, and that I would be disappointed, too.  I love giving presents!  But it was really wonderful.  Knowing that they would only get three things, the kids were much more thoughtful about what they asked for, and shopping was much less stressful for me.  It worked well for us.

This year just felt different, though.  I couldn't really put my finger on it, but I am sure it had something to do with this.  We just moved into this house three months ago, and already we are filling it to the brim.  There is so much of our stuff left in Oakland and Chrisman that I need to sort/toss/donate that it makes my head swim everytime I look at it.  My older girls could not give me even one idea of something they would want.  Not one.  I think the lessons they learned about material possessions in Haiti are still working on them.  Elijah's list would be #1 Legos, #2 Legos and #3 Legos, but if you've visited his bedroom, you know that he probably has a sufficient number of plastic blocks already.  Even the little girls were short on gift wishes, and they already have more toys than they can keep picked up.

It was weighing on me...this idea that we must bring all this stuff into our home that we don't need and maybe don't even really want just because it's December 25.  In addition, although this year we could afford to buy presents more easily than we have been able to in other years, is it the best use of what God has blessed us with?  Do we really best honor the gift of Christ by spending a bunch on money on gifts for ourselves?

So Dan and I talked and prayed about it, and came up with what felt like a radical Christmas idea.  We would cut what we normally spent by two-thirds, give each kid one gift plus a stocking, and use the rest of what would have been our Christmas budget to bless others.  When we presented the idea to the kids, their response was overwhelmingly positive.  I have amazing children.  Don't ever let me tell you differently.

On Christmas morning, our tree looked like this:

So someone else could have this:

We found a lady  through WBGL's Random Acts of Christmas who is raising two grandchildren and two nephews.  We had so much fun shopping for them.  I don't know her name, and she doesn't know ours.  That's okay.  It's not about getting credit.  It's about God getting the glory, and my prayer is that she knew from our gifts that God sees her and that he loves her.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

I almost didn't write this because I am afraid it will come across wrong.  The last thing I want is for anyone to read this and feel like I am showing off or judging how others spend their Christmas.  Far from it.  I would be  dishonest if I didn't admit that as I looked at the little line of presents around the tree, I was a bit let down.  Old habits die hard.  But there is so much to do during this time of year, and many, many years I have found myself stressed out, strung out and freaking out about things that really don't matter.  Doing Christmas differently this year really helped our family keep our focus on Christ. It helped me keep my focus on Christ. If anything about your holiday this year made you uneasy or stressed out, I encourage you to pray that next year, God will lead you to ways that can make Him the center of your family's celebration. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Open Hands

Living life with open hands.

That is what has been on my heart lately.

Three weeks after the yard sale, I am still in awe of how God moved in response to our feeble efforts to obey Him.  And I am still in purge mode.  There wasn't nearly enough time to sort though all the excess in our home before the sale.  Bags of items have left the house this week and last, and there is so much more to sort.  It is frustrating and it is freeing.  I do not want to live a life encumbered by stuff.  I am convinced that God is calling our family to simplify, to trust Him for our needs, to give and share all that He has given us.  To live with our hands and our hearts open wide to Him.

Certainly the concept of living with open hands applies to our material possessions.  I am working through that slowly but surely.  However, as I have contemplated this notion of "open hands," I realize that while it is about material possessions, it's not only about material possessions.  God wants us to offer everything in this life that we cherish to Him with open hands.  That encompasses many things, including the people we love.

So while I'm still picking and poking through all our stuff   (almost ready to give it all away all away at this point)  I feel this gentle nudge, "Will you give me them, too?"


I shared a few days ago that my oldest daughter is preparing to graduate, and about her plans to attend school in Colorado this fall, and her desire to return to Haiti as a missionary.  These decisions were not impulsive;  they are the product of much thought, prayer and discussion.  She has asked me many times what I thought she should do, and it would be dishonest if I didn't admit that at least sometimes I was tempted to encourage her to stay home, stay safe, stay with the familiar--not because I think that is where God wants her, but because that is where I want her. But God has helped me to loosen my fingers, open my hands and let Him have her future.  She belongs to Him, not to me.  And as much as I love her, He loves her ever so much more.

My brother deployed to Afghanistan in April.  This is not his first deployment, but it is always hard to see him go.  When people ask, as they often do, if I worry about him, my answer has been pretty much the same...along the lines of "God is God in Afghanistan, just like He is in America.  Not one of us is promised another day no matter where we are or what we are doing. He is in the palm of God's hand no matter where he is. Nothing can happen to him that doesn't pass through God first. "  A good answer, and I meant it.  For real.  And then something happened to him.  Our family received word that my brother had been injured in an explosion.  By God's grace and mercy, his injuries are such that he should make a full recovery, but in those first moments , my instinct was to clench my hands, and to grasp for control of what I could not possibly control. But almost immediately after that, I sensed God moving me to let go, to trust Him with my brother's future...whatever that might mean.  Because my brother belongs to God, and as much as I love him, God loves him ever so much more.

Yesterday a dear friend posted a status on facebook that made me cry for her and made me cry for me again.  She had to say goodbye to a young woman who has been in her home for two years, who she has loved and cared for like her own, and who is now leaving a a hole in their family and a hole in her heart.  My heart aches for my friend as she watches with hope and concern as this beloved daughter-of-her-heart charts her own course.  And it broke my heart all over again for the one who shared a place in our home and family some years ago, and who still holds a large place in my heart and my prayers.  I remember well the pain when he left, and the fear I felt over his future.  I have cheered his successes, but more often  agonized over destructive choices, grieved over lost relationship and spent far too many days filled with  anxiety and worry, my hands in white-knuckled fists as I desperately wanted to fix, to manipulate, to control...when all the time I am being called to let go.    His time in our family was a gift to us, but he wasn't given to me to keep.  He belongs to his Creator, not to me.  I cannot finish writing his story, only his Creator can, and I must trust that His ending will be so much better than I am able to imagine.  So I open my trembling hands, and give him over to the One who loves him ever so much more than I do.

And, as we serve three families this week who are f saying their final goodbyes in this life to ones they loved so dearly, I am reflecting on those in my life whom I love.  I am grateful for the blessings that they are to me, but I know they are not truly mine.  I want to learn to hold them close to my heart, but with open hands; trusting them to our good and gracious Lord, who loves them ever so much more than I ever could.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

On my daughter's graduation...

In the summer of 2000, Dan and I took a step of faith and chose to homeschool our daughter, Katie.  Many people (including myself sometimes) thought we were crazy.  We didn't know anyone else who homeschooled.  We didn't know how to homeschool.  All we knew was that God through many ways and circumstances clearly showed us that it was His desire that we keep Katie at home for her education.

I thought we might homeschool through fourth or fifth grade.  Certainly we would send her to school before I had to teach her anything nasty like algebra.  

Fast forward eleven years, and the Krabel Academy has its first graduating senior.

Until last year, Katie planned to study music at EIU.  She is incredibly talented, and would have likely had a good shot at a scholarship.  She played in the orchestra there for the last three years and loved the experience.  However, last summer she began to sense that God might be calling her in a different direction.  She decided to attend Ellerslie, a mission training school in Colorado.  Then in January, she went to Haiti, and since then her heart's desire has been to return to Haiti for a season of full-time missionary service.

It seems surreal to me that Katie is old enough to be graduating, to be leaving for school in Colorado this fall.  I am so proud of the woman she has grown into, so proud of the choices and plans she is making, but at the same time, my heart is breaking as I think of how quickly the time has gone and how I will miss my girl.

 Friday evening, our homeschool group held its annual graduate recognition.  It has been a tradition in our group that the parents of each graduate will speak briefly about their child both in honor of their achievements and as a charge to their future.  I would like to share what I wrote for Katie's graduation.

Philippians 1:3-6 
            I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

            This scripture seems appropriate on this occasion, and especially when I think of Katie in particular, for a number of reasons.  When Paul says that he always prays with joy because of your partnership with the gospel from the first day…that reminds me so much of how early and enthusiastically Katie accepted the gospel.

            Katie has always possessed a spiritual maturity and passion that far exceeded her years.  Her family members will recall that even when she was as young as three and four, she would preach “sermons” from her booster seat in the car about how Jesus was going to step on the devil (although she pronounced it “debbil”).  I think she was five when she first asked to be baptized, and we put her off, convinced that she was too young to really understand the implications of that decision.  But, by the time you were seven, after her continued pleas and many, many deep discussions about sin and salvation, it was evident that God was behind your desire, and we watched with joy and wonder as you gave your life to Jesus and never looked back.

            It has not been easy to be the mother of a daughter whose spiritual maturity constantly threatens to exceed your own.  For as much as I have tried to nurture, train, lead and disciple you, God has used you in many, many ways to challenge and stretch me.  My own walk with Christ is deeper because he allowed me to be your mom.

            I am so proud of the woman you have grown into.  God has gifted you in so many ways--your amazing musical talents, your bright and curious mind, your artistic and creative nature—and we have watched you lay each of these gifts at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to use them for His glory, not your own.  You have been an example of purity, integrity and steadfastness to your family, your friends, your church and to many others that you didn’t even know were watching.

            God has indeed begun a good work in you, and I am confident that He will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

            Exactly how He will do that remains to be seen.  You have always had a tender heart for the lost and the poor.  I remember when you drew a map for your friend at daycare who didn’t know Jesus.  Just telling her wasn’t enough-you needed a visual aid.  I remember when you went to downtown Chicago with your cousins, and they told me of how you wanted to give all your money to every homeless person you saw, and how the poverty you witnessed broke your heart, and even made it hard for you to enjoy your day.  I remember how as your 16th birthday approached, you asked if it would be okay to ask your guests not to bring you gifts, but instead to bring blankets for Christians living in refugee camps in Sudan.  And just a few months ago, when you came home from Haiti, you brought with you a picture of a little girl who stole your heart, and who will now have an education, food, medical care, and most importantly discipleship because of the commitment you made to her.  It really should come as no surprise then that you are hearing and answering God’s call to a live of service to others in His name—wherever that call may take you.

            I have to confess that as your mom, that’s a bit hard for me.  It’s hard to see you grow up, hard to let go of the little girl I still think of you as sometimes.  Hard to think that you might go very far away and how I won’t see you often, and how much I will miss you.

            But as your sister in Christ, I am so very excited for you, and for all the amazing experiences that await you as you set out in life seeking nothing but to be in the center of God’s perfect will, prepared to go wherever He may send and do whatever He may ask.

            And in light of that, my prayer for you is the same as Paul’s prayer for the Phillippian church, which comes just a few verses later than those I began with:

Philippians 1:9-11
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
That is my hope and prayer for you, Katie, and for the rest of our graduates as well.  That from now until the last, you will continue to love Him more and know Him more.  That you will be able to discern what is best-His perfect will and live to the glory and praise of God.

I am so grateful that God called us on this homeschooling journey.  I am grateful for every day that we spent working and learning together. Through all the good times and all the hard times, I believe that the Lord has brought us closer to each other and closer to Him through homeschooling.  I am grateful that he brought Samantha, Camille, Lauren and Lindsay into your life.  One of my concerns when we began homeschooling was if you would have friends, and He answered my prayers in that area far more wonderfully than I could have ever hoped for.  It has been a blessing to watch your friendships grow.  I am grateful also for the encouragement, friendship and support of my fellow PATH moms.  Without you all, I am not sure we would have made it this far.

Congratulations on all you have accomplished.  I love you, I am proud of you, and I am blessed and privileged to be your mom.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Oh be careful, little eyes, what you read...(part 3)

Who would have thought that a yard sale would be one of the most faith-building experiences of my life?  But is has been.  I have seen a glimpse of what is possible when we really surrender our wants, our possessions and our lives to Him.  And this was small stuff.  A yard sale, for Pete's sake!

And it wasn't altogether easy.  I sold things I would rather have kept.  It was harder than it should have been.  (Katie lamented that selling good books was like selling good friends.  I totally agree!)  
Why are we so attached to our material possessions?  I cringe at the thought of how much time I spend managing the "stuff" in our home.  The clothes, the toys, the dishes, the nick-knacks, even the books take up so much space in our house and in our schedules.  How often do I feel overwhelmed at the prospect of just finding a place for everything?  How much better could my time be spent than cleaning and organizing all this stuff?  What if I could redeem even part of that time and invest in relationships with my children, my husband, neighbors, friends, church family, or the Lord?  Isn't that worth unloading some of the load for?  I think so.

I also struggled with some doubts.  We sold some big-ticket items like furniture that we aren't going to move with us.  Sometimes I would think about those things and wonder if we should really donate all of the money...after all, we have a daughter who is planning to attend a really-excellent-but-not-cheap missionary training program this fall.  Couldn't we keep some of the money to help pay those expenses?  Wouldn't that be worthwhile, too?

The answer is yes, it would have been worthwhile.  Yes, it would have been okay to keep some of the money for that or for any other good purpose, really.  But the question I found myself asking, or maybe (probably) it was God asking me was, "Do I really believe that if I sell all of this stuff and give the money away now, that when Katie is ready to surrender her future to the Lord and seek a life of missionary service, that He won't provide the funds for her to do that?"  I am ashamed to admit that my gut reaction to that question was not immediate and complete trust.  I feel like I have to plan, to control, to secure my own future and the future of my family.  And while we are to be wise, and we are to be good stewards, scripture clearly teaches that the Lord is our hope and our security.  If we surrender to His will, He will meet our needs.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 
~ Matthew 6:25-34

Over the last several years, I have sensed the Lord teaching me to live with open hands, to hold on to the things of this world loosely.  Possessions come and go.  Fortune comes and goes.  Power, position and prestige will come and go.  Even health will come and go.  Chasing them is like chasing the wind.

 People are forever.  Souls are forever.

The souls of my family, my friends, my neighbors, and beautiful adolescent Haitian girls are forever.
These things are things I can hope to take to Heaven with me.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~ Matthew 6:19-20

I am so grateful and humbled that God called me on this adventure with Him.  I am so thankful for all He is teaching me.  I know there is so much more for me to learn, and I know that the lessons will not be easy.  

I am also so thankful to the many people who gave generously.  I continue to be amazed at how the Lord not only gave me a vision to get rid of my excess to bless others, but how He spread that vision throughout so many others in my church and family.  It is encouraging to see the family of God come together in His service.  

When two days of yard sales netted over $2900, I knew that only God could have accomplished such a result.  However, He wasn't done yet.  Over the weekend, a most incredible gift was given.  A gift intended to complete the safehouse project. are reading this right.  This little yard sale has raised $6000.

We built those girls a house!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21