One year ago I started a new job…but it isn’t work. In the last year I have been to Guatemala, to what has become my second home at Casa Bernabe, 9 times. Over the course of the last 12 months I have become a collector, a collector of stories, of memories, of photos, a collector of tears and heartache, of side-splitting laughter and giggles. And I needed a place for all of it. A place to process it, a place to give voice to the good, the bad, and the ugly. A place to foster hope and grow justice, even within my own heart.
Let me introduce, For Esperanza. Because of love.
Part travel journal, part love story, where we look at the work that’s being done when we roll up our sleeves and push for justice on behalf of the most vulnerable.
For me this has never been about politics. It’s about doing what is good, and just, and right. Yet, I find myself being forced into a divided arena, driven towards the political and polarizing in this quest and we’ll tip-toe into that a bit as well.
I can assure you that when I first stepped foot on Guatemalan soil back in 2017, I had no idea where this train was headed! As a Run and Be Still follower, you know this! And yet, this is where I find myself today and it feels like it’s time for the next chapter. I am not abandoning my home here, however, these days you will find me much more frequently at our new online home.
Please join us as we transition. You can follow along on all of our adventures (like the time Mae and I were on a medical emergency flight back from Guatemala last March.)
For all of the stories and photos, take a look at the new website For Esperanza and if you subscribe, all of our adventures, shenanigans, and captivating stories will be delivered right to you inbox. You won’t miss a thing! We’d love to have you as part of our For Esperanza community as well.
In the meantime, here is the latest post, Heartbeat. (Just click to read it in it’s entirety.)
Tucked snugly into the machine for a cardiac MRA, these are my instructions over and over and my thoughts scatter across recent days into weeks.
“But what’s going to happen to them?”
This is the question my brother implored me to answer and has continued to haunt me.
I had just answered the requisite “How was your trip?” question with my experience of heading deep into Guatemala City with the Families United* team visiting a young aunt for a possible family reunification and checking up on some of the families and children already enrolled in this program.
My brother’s daughter, the same age as the youngest of these sweet boys…these boys who over multiple Casa Bernabè visits I had come to know. Their smiles so infectious and contagious, tucked into the pages of a photo album sitting on my coffee table. The new reality of their situation, reunified with family 3 months ago, weighted his question and made the answer that much more important.
“If not for the work of our Families United team, the city would swallow them. And even then, it still might.”
That was the best answer I could give him. In a country where more that three-quarters of the population are living below the poverty line, Satan’s attack on family is not easily defended. He stands in defiance against the very thing God is committed to restore. This is a life that most of us cannot even begin to fathom but, I saw first hand as we traveled deep into this city. A city, where, as my daughter has said, God has turned up the saturation all the way. A city filled with slums that are beautiful in a perverse way.
“Hmmmm…we haven’t ever had problems finding this pulse have we?”
And in those terrifying seconds everything that I had forgotten about “being sick” came rushing back in breath stealing, heart-pounding, clarity. The pulse in my ankle couldn’t be detected, a new symptom, that had it’s roots in active disease. After a few long minutes it was found, just not where it typically should be. In the meantime my thoughts sounded something like this. No no no no no no no no! This can’t be happening. This can’t be real. No no no no no no no no no no no no! Please God, no!
But, that’s partially why I find myself holding my breath, literally and metaphorically today.
After traveling for more than an hour and half through the city, we pulled to the side of the road. Our first visit of the day was to an aunt that a judge had deemed as a possible guardian for two children living at Casa Bernabe children’s home. The team was uncertain of the home’s location and because of the known danger and violence in this area, our best option was to wait for the aunt to join us and guide us deeper into the depths of the city.
My heart twisted for this young woman as we filed out of the vehicles and followed her into her home, a second story room, tucked at the top of a steep set of stairs, carved out with tarp walls and ceiling. The room, down to the vase of fake flowers next to the bed, had been meticulously cleaned, with nothing out of place. I can only imagine this young woman’s nerves as 7 of us traipsed up the steps behind her for her interview. As I huddled in the corner, sunshine from the “window” warming my back and the small space, my heart broke and my eyes welled with tears as she cried in helplessness and despair over her obvious inability to take in anymore children. With a two-year old of her own and a new baby due in just weeks, the task that a judge set before her, was just too big.
Laying there, strapped down, holding my breath and letting it out, eyes mercifully covered, I begin tallying all of the life stuff from the last weeks…being here, stuck in this machine, a child with a concussion, two freak, not serious, only annoying, car accidents in the span of a month, the recent waterfall feature pouring from our bathroom ceiling caused by the ice dam in the gutter and then the rain and 90 degree swing in temperatures, the sink hole where our air conditioner used to be because the previous owners “forgot” to disclose how they “fixed” the water problem in the basement, an extra bedroom addition stuck in what feels like a permanent holding pattern…fire-y darts meant to steal joy.
BUT, bodies can heal, cars can be fixed, as can leaks, holes can be filled in, and someday, the construction will not only begin but will also be finished and please, God, filled with a child.
Attacks before blessings…my mom always reminds me not to be discouraged in these days. There will be blessings to follow….some day. And why would I think that we should escape unscathed in this battle we have engaged in. Plus, we have a question we ask in our house in an effort to keep things in perspective, tragedy or inconvenience?
And this sweet boy and my desire to bring him home is always roiling just below the surface. I just want to make life easier on his heart. I want him to know how much he is wanted. I want an everyday relationship.
We have some new developments… Please pray that, as the Guatemalan government is making some changes in leadership, they would place a sympathetic decision maker in power over adoptions. God is moving visibly again and I can’t help but feel my heart leap in hope and possibility over the changes in recent weeks…This could be so big. Please, please, continue to pray for our growing family.
And these song lyrics that keep repeating over and over, because the sun was shining and the volume was turned up on my drive to The Clinic and they seem oddly appropriate…an MRI sermon, in my mind, over and over, sung by Kenny Chesney…
I hate waiting, ain’t no patience in these hands
I’m not complaining, sometimes it’s hard to change a man
I think I’m stronger than I was, I let God do what he does
I breathe in, I breathe out (Right?! These are my exact instructions in this moment)
Got friends to call who let me talk about
What ain’t working, what’s still hurtin’
All the things I feel like cussing out
Now and then I let it go
Around the waves I can’t control
If it’s working I don’t know
When I get done the thing may not flow
But I’m learning how to build a better boat
Family is something that God holds near and dear to his heart. That means that the enemy stands in defiance against the very thing God has committed to restore. In the days since my brother asked me his dogging question I have realized that the answer I have today is not good enough. This is a war. We can’t think for a minute that these families, or our team, or my heart, will escape unscathed without some bruises or battle scars.
So, bruises and scars be damned, I will fight for my son and these families and our team serving them “on the front lines” in the only way I can from 1200 miles away. I will tell their stories and beg you to join me in praying for them. God is the author of their story, it does not have to end in the same way it began.
Will you join your voice with mine to see a nation changed? For God’s glory…
*Families United is a pioneer ministry committed to reconciling and restoring broken families. Through years of experience, Casa Bernabe has found that many times children are taken from their homes because the families lack the emotional, social, and economic support needed to keep the family in tact. CB has put together a team of dedicated professionals, committed to working directly alongside each of the families of the CB children. Working with the Guatemalan government, through extensive visits, evaluations, and interviews, a plan is prepared that would once again unify the disintegrated home. The team provides follow-up and supervision once they are all re-united. This program is currently severely underfunded and if God would move your heart to partner with us in this endeavor please ask me how you can partner with us in sponsoring these families.
The first Sunday of Advent and the lighting of the candle of Hope…but man, hope is currently a scary and dangerous thing. Hope has my heart on the line, risks having it broken in two, risks disappointment, and sometimes it’s just easier, safer certainly, to protect that hurting heart rather than let the candle of Hope burn it to the ground. I am sharing this today because I am certain I am not the only one struggling with a hopeful heart this season.
Five weeks ago on Sunday morning, 5 days into my 2.5 week Guatemalan adventure, a weak warm breeze moved across my face as the ceiling fans twisted and turned, struggling to keep the stuffy, sun warmed air moving. Blanketed by a language I don’t speak, my mind continued to wander back to my very first experience in this place. A phone call made from the bottom of a bunk bed, undecipherable words uttered though broken-hearted sobs. An internal promise made for forever without any idea what that was going to cost, emotionally and spiritually and even less of an idea of what that was going to look like. I am still learning the depths of my heart, the passions it can carry within it. The very essence of who I am continues to be written. I find myself mixed up in something I could have never imagined, and it would be untrue if I said I wasn’t afraid of where God is leading in these flashbacks and passions ignited.
Eighteen days. A long time to be gone but I was blessed with the opportunity to spend this time working and loving and building relationships in what has become my second home. We shared meals, celebrated birthdays, played countless games of UNO and soccer, fumbled through the language barrier, laughed, and cried. Eighteen days I was given the chance to show up at the door of a very special house on the hill, creating memories, giving life to the promises I have made. My momma heart just wants to wrap them all up and level their path, take away their uncertainty of the future.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalms 37: 4. The verse of the day delivered to my phone bright and early on a Tuesday morning. I am trying so hard to delight in God. I am rolling up my sleeves and making this my job, delight, worship, praise. I know this is what you do in the in-between, in the waiting. As for the desires of my heart, I was again reminded on this morning that none of this was my idea in the first place but now it feels like it is literally breaking my heart. I am broken because of the desires that I fully believe God placed there.
For the last month my right eye has had this fantastic little twitch and two weeks ago I found myself in a completely ridiculous argument that ended with a complete meltdown (think toddler tears and snotty nose) on my part, not at all comparable in magnitude or topic to the disagreement that brought it on. I just want to go back to feeling like me, except not really either because I LOVE THIS KID and I wouldn’t undo that for anything. But I can’t figure any of this out. How it works, when (IF?) he can come home. And anyone who could help, tells us the same thing, there are no adoptions happening between the US and Guatemala. EXCEPT I KNOW GOD IS MOVING AND THERE IS LIGHT IN THIS TUNNEL NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY!!! So this is where it gets messy.
Hope. This first Sunday of advent. I identify with the words of Ann VosKamp and Jason Hague,
How do you hope unlikely things because you love someone to death?
We all need to believe that things can change.
Sometimes believing in a miracle feels like living in a mirage. You can feel like a fool, walking around with your pitcher. Really, God? Really?
YES! I have asked God that, a lot lately. REALLY?! And every letter I have sent out seeking answers has been like seeking water in a mirage.
It seemed to me I had two choices: I could either live in perpetual sadness, or I could lower my level of hope.
Living in this land of the unknown, the waiting, the land of unanswered prayer, your heart throbs, maybe with anger, maybe with hurt, but almost certainly with disappointment.
Yes! Everyday, my heart carries with it the burden of helplessness. I feel crazy and that pendulum can swing from righteously crazy to flat out delusional. Crazy. My orderly, logical mind, struggles everyday with seeing the way, seeking an answer, continuously chasing it’s proverbial tail.
But, I know. Faith in things unseen. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
I know that when Noah built the ark he had never seen rain but he picked up his hammer in obedience. Can these stories be true for me? Today? Am I grasping at Biblical straws?
We are building an ark, actually it’s a bedroom, but if we are going to have faith in things hoped for and live in what we believe to be obedience, then we need to be ready for another child. So, in what some days feels like insanity, hammers are being picked up.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
In the land of unanswered prayer, we follow His lead.
The Lord taught me how to sigh in pain, how to weep in gladness, and how to trust during days of hope deferred.
It was not an easy road to walk. It still isn’t easy, and it isn’t safe.
Rather, it is a confounding country full of myths and mirages. Here, faith resembles denial, settledness looks like surrender, and hope is the scariest creature of all.
We (Mae, J and I) had the gift of sharing a “normal” day together during our last visit. An opportunity to spend the day together in Antigua (his first time,) breakfast at one of our favorite places and shopping in the marketplace. The opportunity (and struggle) for him to pick something out for himself. And lunch at his choice of places, McDonalds, where we ate ice cream first. Life is short…eat dessert first! The gift that these few hours were, not just for him, but for me as well, to watch these two together, knowing what my heart longs for, having a peek into what life could look like, the day was as beautiful as it was heartbreaking. This is a day you relive over and over and over.
In July I began a mantra. Every letter, every visit, I make sure to remind him, as much as myself, what we know to be true. This has become the rudder of our relationship as the months have passed and I believe that he is maybe, hopefully, finally trusting the truth in the words. How many promises has his heart held, only to be broken? These words, our promise to him, have to be lived out continuously though our actions because without that they are empty, they are worth nothing.
We are a family. We don’t look like a normal family but God creates all sorts of families and we belong to each other, all five of us.
I promise I will be back – forever and always. I will always come back.
God has a plan and we can trust it. (This one I must remind myself of, as much as him. It is so hard to see the hurt and not be able to fix it in the way that my heart longs to. As much as I love him, God loves him even more. I know that in my helplessness and disappointment over every passing day I need to lean into God as the sovereign one, trusting He knows best. Comfort at the foot of our Savior. I know this, and it terrifies my heart, because what if…)
Everytime, in both English and Spanish…Somos una familia, volveré, lo prometo, y Dios tiene un plan y podemos confiar en él.
It’s the first Sunday of Advent. Hope candles are lit everywhere.
God is giving you Hope.
Hope — for you.
Christ who comes to give us the gift every one wants more than anything — a future and a hope.
And my prayer must be, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Postscript- I stumbled across an old post, apparently I have been here before, just not with the same passionate desire. I could say that the life situation that birthed this post also birthed the one I find myself in today. Be encouraged by these words written in 2015 if you are struggling with hoping in the impossible today. Today, I feel an even closer connection to Sarah. I understand better what the longing and waiting for a child can do to a mother’s heart. Laughing along with Sarah…
In less than a week I am headed back to Casa Bernabè in Guatemala. The following video is something my daughter put together from our family visit in July. The beauty of Antigua, the city of Guatemala, and of course the kiddos at Casa Bernabè…it may leave your head spinning a bit with its speed but she covered a lot of ground and our cumulative days.
(If the video doesn’t load for you it can be viewed here.)
As I prepare to head back we are looking at the projects we would like to accomplish while we are there.
One of the things that was most amazing to me when we were there in January was the opportunity to bless the house parentsand check some much needed items off of their wish list (you can read about it here.)
We would love to be able to do the same this time. As you can imagine living in a house with 10-15 children will cause things to wear out quickly.
These house parents are all amazing individuals who are serving on the front lines everyday, standing in the gap for the children God has placed in their homes, praying for them, guiding them, loving them as their own.
Would you consider partnering with us on our quest to bless those living at Casa Bernabè? Tax-deductible donations made before 10/24 will be doubled through Love Runners. Learn more or donate here.
Thank you for being part of the Run and Be Still community! Hope you enjoyed the “quick” look into our July trip!
Here I sit, again, suspended above the earth in this in between place. In between families. In between realities and cultures. This frozen place in time where I have to leave one to be with the other. This is an impossible place to live.
As I gaze out my window I realize the clouds look like my thoughts feel, some banks looming large and other, wispy, fly away pieces. If I try to grasp any one of them they simply slip right through my fingers. Disconnected…disjointed…I can’t quite put any of it together.
I heard the seven most beautiful words earlier this week. “Today was our last day of school.” This was the very first English sentence that He has ever spoken to me. (I am so proud of him. Learning English is so hard!) This began a quiet conversation that allowed me to ask him things – what he likes- what he wants – and he was able to answer me without the need for anyone translating. Together we planned an end of school ice cream party for his house. A celebration of a whole lot of things. Big picture…I cannot even begin to convey how precious these words were and the effect that they had on my heart.
But I am terrified that this is where I am going to be stuck, in between. Hope is getting thin as my heart fills fuller and fuller, with a love I didn’t even know was possible, until I feel like it will burst or break. I try to see beyond our circumstances, beyond the bureaucracy, but the reality is hard. The reality terrifies me and so faith and fear do battle within me.
I don’t want to have to choose any more. I don’t. I want my entire family around my breakfast table on Saturday mornings. I want us all tucked in under one roof. I want Christmases, and birthdays, and boring old Tuesday afternoons. I want to share the life experience of every picture we went through on my phone after our ice cream party.
I don’t want to have to look into a set of eyes and say I love you and I will be back soon. I don’t want any more goodbyes on either end of the flight.
This is what life looks like right now and it’s taking its toll. I don’t know how long I can keep doing this and yet I don’t see any other way and I need to be both places.
Please continue to pray for God to move quickly. Your prayers are carrying us through. The tiniest spark of activity continues while the clock is ticking ever more loudly. I dream of the day that he is sitting next to me watching the landscape pass by below us, heading home.
Yesterday, for the first time in recent memory, I didn’t have words. I always have words, and zipping thoughts, on most days too many probably. But yesterday they failed me. We received word from our adoption attorney that the government said No. Hard stop. Just. No. We can’t do anything more. They hold the power, maybe when he’s 18 we can do something, but that is a long way off and presents a whole other set of hurdles. The attorney that I had prayed would be the answer bowed out. And I was left holding this hurt with no plan, no idea what to do next, nothing. My brain shut down. And as the questions came in over the afternoon of “Any news?” I didn’t know what to say and I knew even less how to respond to your kind words of encouragement. I sat and stared for long periods of time at my blinking cursor, not wanting to appear short or unappreciative but just without the words to respond.
On the same day that we received our bank approval to add an addition with another bedroom and bathroom for our growing family, on the same day that a box of adoption books and materials arrived in the mail we were told “No.” Stop. Give up and leave us alone. We are not doing this. We will not even look at this or consider approving this. And so a kid sits, alone, waiting and praying for a family who are waiting and praying for him. What is wrong with this system…
And my heart right now feels perilously close to the same way it did 17 years ago when my prayers for my son weren’t answered and the only thing we have of him are our dreams for what would have been, and a baby laid to rest next to his great-grandfather.
My prayers feel ineffectual. My heart is breaking. And, for what? A child who I can never tell how badly I want him. A child who I will never be able to mother the way my heart longs to. This was not my idea. I didn’t dream this up, I didn’t choose this. But, there is no doubt that God placed this squarely in our path. It was a hard yes to say, it was scary, and while I didn’t expect it to be easy I am having a really hard time seeing where we go from here and understanding why? Why did God pull us into this? And I know the fight isn’t over. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I know this and I know that this isn’t over. This can’t be over. I know that God can do the impossible. I know His promises, but today I am having a really hard time feeling them. Today, this feels so final and I feel so defeated.
Before I could even get this posted a shift began to happen. An “accidental” phone call from my sister early this morning that turned into words that I needed to hear. A reminder that my heart began to embrace. This is how God works and these are your prayers in real time .
Be Still. It’s something I should be intimately familiar with by now (Run and Be Still.) Dear wrestling and wiggling and fidgeting child, be still. Get out of the way, rest, and watch God work. And I look to my past experiences as a reminder of what I know to be true of God today. And I throw myself at His feet, shedding my pity party.
So it is with every attempt to do something significant for God. It is never simple. Whenever God stirs us to establish His Kingdom in a new place, the enemy is sure to taunt us. The devil always tries to convince us that we’ve tackled too much this time and we’ll soon be humiliated.
“The longer the blessing is in coming the richer it will be when it arrives. That which is gained speedily by a single prayer is sometimes only a second-rate blessing; but that which is gained after many a desperate tug and many an awful struggle, is a full-weighted and precious blessing. That which costs us the most prayer will be worth the most.” Charles Spurgeon
My eyes began to be opened to something that is so much bigger than one child. What if the very words that have failed me are meant for bigger things? What if they are meant to advocate for an entire group of children waiting and praying? What if they are meant to bring God’s voice to a group of people frozen by 10 years of corruption and inaction?
What if this really isn’t about me (duh!) and instead about using my heartache, my passion for the kids sitting and waiting to age out of homes, to bring about change. What if I refuse to sit down and be quiet, refuse their no for my child or any of the rest of them? What if…
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
And so it goes, as it always has, that an old song comes to mind, my prayer…
Just a quick note to say please keep praying. We are still fighting for this young boy. I never, ever, ever want to look back on any of this and wonder could I have done more. Here is the latest…
You have to love a question that begins with “I don’t want to offend you but…” One of my very dearest and bestest friends in the world and I were having a conversation and I had just shared with her our newest-big-news which is – We officially have a Guatemalan attorney who is going to petition the court and make this whole process official. No more dancing around it, we are just going for, it in the biggest way possible. The attorney was described to me as a “big gun who can get things done” and she was more than happy to help us. I was literally a puddle on the floor after my conversation with her. There is so much more to the story, but it’s long, so just know this, God continues to weave this story together in ways that humble and amaze me. He is doing things that only He can do.
Anyway, back to the offending question. It was finished with this “Do you ever wonder what you’re doing?” Ummmm, yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. We have looked at each other and asked that very question many times but we continually come back to what God is doing. None of this makes sense yet it is 100% right. We are trusting Him to direct our steps even when we have no idea where it is leading. Any doubt that I have is negated by what God has already done in putting all of these moving parts together and what He has done, not just my heart, but all of ours.
I want to share two more things with you tonight. First this video, I can’t tell you how many times I have watched this. (He was thanking us for a surprise that we had sent down to him.) You have seen pictures, but this is the smile, this voice, this kid, oh my…As you pray for him, I want you to know him too.
Second, this song. I recently heard it, not for the first time, but with new ears, it stopped me in my tracks. So many layers, my prayer, my wish for my boy who has given up hope for a family. Tell your heart to beat again…
This boy knows I love him. I have told him so many times, but he has no idea how fierce, and protective, and strong that love really is. He doesn’t know what it is to be loved by this mom. One day, hopefully very soon, he will begin to see…Please, please, please don’t stop praying for us. God is on the move.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, you can get the scoop here and here.
Two weeks ago or so I watched an almost 15 year old blow out candles on his cake. It was supposed to be a celebration but instead it carried the weight of finality with it. A last “adoptable” birthday, a marker of time passing, a milestone for sure, but not one for celebration. I sadly didn’t realize this until the candles were lit. And while we smiled and sang, reality washed over my heart, and I came to see how one so young can fail to be strong on days like today.
What did you so seriously and intently wish? Someday I will ask you.
Today I carry in my heart two pictures, the beautiful smile that most of the time so readily appears and the boy whom hope has left behind.
I struggle with whether to even share this much as I want to tuck our story away, protect it as ours, hide it from the harsh judgment of the bright light of day, but in it there is a reality that we all must face. Within it is a call to love that will break our hearts.
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deut 31:6
Last night we received word that we have been granted an audience and an ear in front of key decision makers within two different governments beginning on Monday. As the weekend closes in around us please be praying that hearts thousands of miles away will be aligned with God’s will, that He will go before us and move this mountain, and that He will bring this sweet boy home as our son. I am awestruck by what God has done thus far, to be standing at this place. Adoption has been closed between our countries for 10 years. We stand in a position to possibly make history and it’s humbling to be playing even the tiniest part in this enormous story by just making ourselves available. Please, please will you be part of it too? Can we storm the gates of heaven with prayers over the next four days, prayers that God will do the impossible and officially and legally make us his family? He has already transformed our hearts to recognize it. We need the courts recognize it as well.
“Are you going to be ok if this doesn’t happen?” my husband asked me last night.
“I guess I’ll have to be.”
“That’s not really an answer,” he said.
This was never my idea in the first place so if God has turned my heart from fear of opening our home to the terror of a homecoming never realized I have to trust that He will heal my heart from that prayer left unanswered as well. This is not about me at all any more if in fact it ever was. This is about a boy who is hurting. This is about a boy for whom God must have a mighty plan. I am finding that the weeping hot mess of a woman from February and March has been fortified, is filled with passion, fiercely strong and ready to fight.
Wouldn’t this make a magnificent, holy, 15th birthday present from his Father. The knowledge that he is no longer alone in this world. The Day, this Tuesday, is circled on the calendar. I know He’s able. I know He can. Will you join us in praying that He will? Our son needs brought home.
To be continued…again
“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.””
Exodus 14:14 NLT
“Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.”
Joshua 23:8 NLT
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”
Jeremiah 32:27 NLT
“Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him!”
Zechariah 4:6 NLT
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
Ephesians 3:20 NLT
““But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
I am coming to you today with an ask that I don’t usually make here but I feel compelled to try to help a dear friend, a woman who is standing in the gap for 13 boys whose mothers’ can’t or won’t. I want to ask for your prayers, and also let you know about a specific opportunity to support my dear friends Luis and Nuvia who are house parents at the orphanage in Guatemala. I have spent many hours in their home over the course of the years that I have visited the orphanage. These are remarkable people who have given up their lives in the care of the boys in their home and I have come to love them dearly.
This has been a challenging year for them because of some medical issues that have come up in their family. About 10 days ago Nuvia fainted and after examining her the doctors think she may have had a stroke. There are more tests that need to be done to determine what caused this and what care or treatment she may need going forward.
One of the biggest needs in this season at Casa Bernabé is to find ways we can better support and come alongside the staff there. The Casa Bernabé staff work incredibly hard doing jobs that are so difficult. They are all there because they feel called by God to this work, and each of them loves the jobs they’ve chosen, but this life is not without its challenges. One of those challenges is that all of them could be doing other jobs outside of Casa Bernabé and earning more money than they do working in a children’s home. The salaries of the CB staff do not currently allow most of them to save for unforeseen medical events like the situation Luis and Nuvia are currently facing. This is something their board is hoping to address and improve in the future, but for now, I want to share this need with you and ask you to pray about helping in any way you can.
There are a series of 10 tests Nuvia’s doctors want to run to figure out what is going on. Yesterday she had a multitude of blood tests done and today she will be having an MRI and an electroencephalogram. (Please be praying for peace though this entire process.) The cost of this testing will be $750, and that amount is beyond what Luis and Nuvia can afford at this time.
If any of you are interested in helping cover part of the cost of this testing for Nuvia, you can do so by clicking here. Your tax-deductible donation will be made through Love Runners. No amount is too small, each dollar has the ability, when combined cooperatively, to have much larger impact. Cooperative giving is how Love Runners accomplishes meeting these needs. “This is what it’s all about for us, serving in the immediate.”
We are also asking for your prayers for Nuvia’s health. Please pray for a clear diagnosis and course of treatment in her next few appointments. The boys love her, and we want to see her restored to her full health as soon as possible.
Nineteen months ago, I got on a plane with my 14 year old and we headed south to Guatemala…the great unknown, an adventure, following a dream and a calling.
By Wednesday, day 5 of our trip, I was pretty sure we would write this off as a “learning experience.” An amazing time but I was ready to be back home, back to my comfort zone, back to my own language. I wasn’t sure we would be back. And then this happened…
Sponsorship…and this…something so much bigger…
I can only tell you that in the moment that he hugged me something happened. A hole that I didn’t even know was empty was filled. My heart was wrecked and overflowing at the same time by this young man who has never known a family outside of the orphanage. His, a heart-wrenching story that we didn’t know until after the fact. At a point when I was wondering what I was doing there, feeling like I was floundering, to get an answer to prayer, and be an answer to prayer…God is so good! I didn’t go to Guatemala thinking this would happen. I would have not believed that a 13 year old boy would so capture my heart in the span of seconds. I would not have thought that now I would worry for him, worry for his future in a country that is so poverty stricken. (excerpt from An aching heart)
And then we were home and time passed, and normal-ish resumed it’s dominion. We wrote letters, mailed gifts, and sent prayers heavenward. We nurtured and fostered a relationship despite the miles and language barriers. We were also smack in the middle of navigating having a senior and a freshman, our lives full of wonderful teenage fueled chaos. And then, because God has a sense of humor we moved for the 2nd time in 3 years. (The sight of moving boxes now causes PTSD and I am pretending our storage unit full of I don’t even know what doesn’t exist.) Smack in the middle of state playoff football, and just weeks before Christmas I was offered an empty spot to go back…
“I’ll go.” “No, I can’t go.” “Ok, I will go.” “No, it’s just not going to work.” This was the back and forth of my recent decision to go back to Guatemala. I had said no to this trip at least 5 times for very valid reasons and yet the opportunity and question “Will you go?” continued to come back around. And then I got an early Christmas gift from Guatemala with a note that read in part “May God bless you for all you have done in my life. I love you very much.” And suddenly none of those reasons mattered anymore. The only thing that mattered was this boy. (excerpt from On Again, Off Again, On Again)
Wheels downs in Guatemala just one year after my first visit…and my number one priority was sitting at the top of the hill. My reason for returning. I couldn’t wait to see him. When he came to the door, here was this grown boy, looking eye to eye with me. Still shy, but with a smile for me that made his eyes shine and my mama-heart melt. As the week went on, from across the church or the campus, his eyes would seek mine out and a smile and wave were quick to follow.
What can I tell about this place except that it will break you. This sickening feeling of broken-hearted-joyfulness is one that I just want to hold on to, to not forget, to not let fade, even as the cover lays closed on the photo album and days turn to weeks. God is doing a mighty work within the walls of The orphanage and the walls of my heart. I cannot escape being overwhelmed by that. This is the collective experience of two trips and many a servants’ heart, not only mine. Tears. Lots and lots of tears. Not sweet, leaking eye tears but ugly, crying sobs. Broken hurts but broken heals. My heart has been mended back together, stronger and patched with the tapestry of this beautiful country, the smiles of a group of boys and love from this woven together family. It changes you, being broken, and not everyone will understand it. This shy boy, who’s simple words have shattered me has also shown me a love within myself that I don’t understand. A love I didn’t know I was capable of, a love that is bigger than me and hopes in the impossible. A love that I wasn’t looking for but now can’t imagine living without, whatever that ends up looking like. (excerpt from How Was It?)
And then a door opened, an opportunity to do what I love, a chance to advocate for all of the children living within the walls of the orphanage, a new job, a new adventure, and another trip south only 3 mo after my last visit. God had been busy in that short span of time. Working overtime on the hearts in our household, moving mountains, opening doors before we even had a chance to knock, doing the things that He does best, and the things that only He can do. And of course, my heart almost bust, when once again I laid eyes on this smile.
Nineteen months ago adoption could not have been further from our radar. Today, it is a constant request laid before the Lord. We would love nothing more than to make this “official,” to bring this sweet boy home, to be a forever family in one place, to share his dreams, his fears, to struggle together, share the monotony, the hard days, and celebrate on the good ones. Right now this is still an impossibility as adoption remains closed and my heart is grieved beyond measure.
I see this sweet little face, just after he arrived at the orphanage, and wonder why he has had to wait all these years only to face red-tape and the declaration of “impossible”and I am frustrated and at the same time amazed at what God has been weaving together for the past 15 years, all that He has done to get us to this point in time, standing at the threshold of the unknown, unimagined, unplanned, that we might play a small part in this God-sized story.
We stand confident that we don’t live under the banner of impossible with God, and that is where we are placing our hope, our faith, and we know that this is not impossible but the clock is ticking ever more loudly these days. I am sharing this today because we need prayer. The only way this will happen is through God’s hand and in His timing and we seem to have hit the wall. Would you join us in prayer?
Orphan care is just as much about pulling a child out of a broken story as it is about you being pulled into one. You will love more passionately, hurt more deeply, grieve more bitterly and celebrate more joyously throughout the process of caring for vulnerable children than you ever thought imaginable. This is the hard reality of where orphan care begins, where it takes you, what it requires of you and how it will break you. We must be willing to walk down this path, for their sake. As we do, our embracing of their brokenness paints a vivid picture of how Jesus embraced ours. ~ Jason Johnson
No matter what, we are family and in two short days, for the first time we will all be together in one place. I am not sure my heart will survive.
To be continued…
Cease Striving…Be still…Know God (Ps 46:10) Sounds peaceful, right? Peace-filled is more accurate. "Still" has little to do with activity and everything to do with state of mind. Welcome to my crazy life!