Man Up

My Hubby Shares: Compassion. From The Grinch To Mother Theresa

Posted on 18 March 2013

In June 2012, Kari and I started our mission-adventure. Dedicating the next twelve months in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Nicaragua to Simply Love on the mission field. I didn’t set any measurable objectives. I’m not building churches or homes or orphanages. I’m not setting up a sponsorship program or trying to get sponsors for an area. I’m not researching any programs. Kari and I just simply wanted to live Out Loud for Jesus! But, what does that look on the mission field? I imagine Mark 12:30-31 gives us a good snapshot … Love God, Love People!

Honestly, it’s not easy. I mess up a lot. Actually, it’s more like every day and many times throughout the day! Unfortunately, I don’t exactly fall into the Mother Theresa category in compassion. In fact, when Kari and I were first married we took a “marriage test” to find areas of compatibility and areas of potential conflict in our relationship. After we took the test, the counselor met with us and highlighted how extremely compatible we were according to the test. But, he went on by asking me a question, “Roger, when you see a cat in the middle of the road in front of you, do you slam on the brakes or push the pedal to the metal?” At first, I was like uh … uh … uh and then I heard Kari laughing. After she caught her breath, she blurted out to the counselor, “Well, he just ran over a bird on the way over here.” There were a bunch of birds in the middle of the road and I figured, as the car got closer they would fly away, but one didn’t make it. All I saw in my rear-view mirror was a poof of feathers. The counselor laughed and proceeded to say that Kari and I were as opposite as a couple could be in our levels of compassion. Kari scored in the “Mother Teresa” range. Me … “The Grinch.”

After that, I kind of just accepted that was the way God designed me. Yet, I’m called to be a follower of Jesus (Eph. 5:1) and in His ministry here on earth He demonstrated compassion daily. His first miracle, he demonstrated compassion by refilling the wine jars. He didn’t want the wedding party to be embarrassed, so He filled the jars back up with the best wine any lips had ever tasted and He saved the day for the bridegroom from shame (Not to mention that would be a horrible way to start off your honeymoon first night.) Christ demonstrated compassion everywhere He went: weddings, in the city, out in the countryside, and even at His own death.  He took the burden of our sins even though He was without sin and paid the ultimate price. He knew the path that was before Him – PAIN! But, He cared enough to take those punches to the face, being spat upon by many, lashes from a whip, a crown of thorns pressed deep into his scalp, and a gruesome death on a cross. Why? Just because He loves you and I.

It wasn’t until I experience the brokenness in my heart, that I grew in compassion for others. My first experience in Ethiopia was for our adoption of Zoie. Immediately, when I came off the plane in Addis Ababa and smelled the air, I was ready to go get Zoie and get out, but God had different plans. Shortly after we had our “gotcha moment” with Zoie, I learned that we would have to stay longer in Ethiopia because I passed court as “Robert Gibson”, not Roger Gibson. We were told, “If the courts cooperated and all went well, we would be on a plane quickly.” I asked, “How long is quickly?” Three weeks.” If not, we would be there long enough to become fluent in Amharic. (Read our adoption Gotcha Day experience here and here.)

Gibson Family // Adoption Blog

During those three weeks on the ground in Ethiopia, God peeled back the layers of my heart. He uncovered a lot of embarrassing things in my heart: selfishness, pride, comfort level, etc. It was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. To have my heart fully exposed; to have all my “junk” rare its ugly head, at a time I should have been compassionate, loving, and protecting the fatherless. You can read the full story here. To love BIG, God will often bring us to a place of brokenness. James 1:2-4 is a popular passage for us to grab onto when we are going through tough times. But, for me the beauty is in verse 4 “ … that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The Greek word for “perfect” is teleios, which translates to being “fully equipped.” I didn’t know it at the time, but God was getting me ready for missions. I needed compassion. I needed to raise my score from the Grinch range to at least Father Murphy range. I may never attain Mother Theresa level, but I know God is always at work in me to grow in maturity for who He wants me to be. Not in knowledge, but in my heart. Just like the Grinch.

Today, as I look back on that “repulsive” moment in my life, I’m grateful because that was the catalyst for Man Up & Go. God uses people just like you and I, but we need our heart to be ready. If not, here is the formula to get your “heart” ready: brokenness + humbleness + loving God + loving people = compassion. Without compassion, it’s really hard to just Simply Love.

Brokenness is the beginning.

How has God re-shaped your heart?

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    Giveaway, Missions

    The Winner of the Mission Trip Give-It-Away …. Watch Video!!!!

    Posted on 11 March 2013

    We are SO EXCITED to announce the winner of the Project Hope mission trip Give-It-Away!!!!! We had so much fun drawing the winner’s name right in front of Monkey Island today on Lake Nicaragua!!! I hope you enjoy ….

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      Missions, My Life Is Crazy Too

      Guest: Mission’s Story – Just Obey

      Posted on 07 March 2013

      My Life Is Crazy Too is a series of reader submissions. Your life is a story … this is your opportunity to share your stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. “Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the STORY of your love.” Ps 89:1 If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is Rachel Rodgers and her blog is called Walk By Faith.

      Coming from a family with two adopted sisters, one special needs sister, one little brother, and two precious parents, I have NO Simply Lovedoubt God purposely knit our family together to bring glory to His name. I continually thank Him for my family and how they each show me how to be the hands and feet of Jesus everyday.

      Throughout life God gives us tasks to fulfill. Some of these tasks may be simple like doing chores, others my be slightly harder like babysitting your siblings, and some may be extremely difficult like adoption and require more faith and trust in His will than you thought you had. No matter the level of difficulty, each task is important to God because they each require us to OBEY. Quite often it’s harder to obey when He asks small things of us. Maybe we feel the small tasks are not as special or are an inconvenience. However, we have all heard the saying, “It’s the small things that count.” I LOVE what Kari recently said in her blog. She said, “ I’m learning what might look like through my eyes, as an inconvenience,…it’s really an opportunity to love big.” So true.


      Because my parents have strived to obey the Lord and trusted Him through raising my siblings and me, through marriage, through adoption, and through a myriad of other small and life altering tasks, I’ve grown up learning to obey and follow His call. God started breaking my heart into a million pieces for the orphan when my parents began the process of adoption of my now two adopted sisters, 6 years ago. My parents saying yes to this very life altering request from God is what first stirred my heart.

      After years of struggling to obey and go visit orphans, I finally said yes. I went on my first mission trip this past October. Haiti is where God took me and now my heart beautifully aches everyday for the people of this country. Because of my trip, God has stirred my heart and started something in me. Something I can NOT just brush aside. Something I can NOT simply ignore. Something I do NOT wish to ignore. The Lord calling me to serve in Haiti ignited a desire in me that is so unending, yet welcoming and full of opportunities to draw others closer to Him. I must share this desire with others by JUST OBEYING AND SIMPLY LOVING. Jesus will not leave me to sort this beautiful knot of desires out on my own. He will not quite me. I’ve seen His eyes staring back at me in the orphans of Haiti. I have witnessed the hurt, pain, and beauty of His precious ones. I must devote my life to serving others in any way I can and anywhere I can. Because of Haiti I see easier where Jesus lacks around me.


      I love the orphan, my heart breaks for them. I also love photography. God, in His perfect timing, fused these two loves together. I now have a fulfilling little photography business. God allows me to use this business to share His gospel and serve the least of these. The name of my business is One Twenty Seven Photography which was discovered through my love for the orphan. This love led me to James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” I feel so blessed to be able to give back by donating a percentage of each photo shoot to a non-profit organization or ministry that serves foster children, orphans, widows, & the desolate. I am grateful for God allowing me to use my passion for photography to serve. Every photo shoot is an opportunity or “task” God has given me to share His gospel and heart for the least of these. When we love the least of these, we LOVE Jesus. Through One Twenty Seven Photography God has blessed me to serve the following non-profits with donations, blog features, and advocating for their causes: Simply Love, Ordinary Hero, Visiting Orphans, 147 Million Orphans, Focus on the Family, Wiphan and local charities in my hometown. I would love one day for One Twenty Seven Photography to grow and add a non-profit ministry that is strictly devoted to serving the least of these. A ministry similar to Simply Love, Ordinary Hero and all of the others I listed above. A ministry that fundraises for food, water, and medicine for orphans and widows. A ministry that advocates for sponsoring and adoption. A ministry that takes ordinary people from my hometown to serve in Haiti, Africa and other countries needing His love. A ministry that serves locally at homeless shelters, hospitals, and soup kitchens. A ministry that holds events and gatherings and a ministry that becomes a vehicle for others to hop on and serve. A ministry that changes peoples’ hearts. If God sees it fit these things will happen. Ask and you shall receive.


      …a mission trip to Haiti, a crushed heart from sweet orphans hugging and kissing me, a beautiful humble little photography business and more ideas and desires of how to serve than I know what to do with them…all of this from simply saying “yes” and just obeying!

      You can find me on FB: (personal)
      & (Business)
      Instagram: RLEIGH86
      If you would like to read all about my trip to Haiti and other tid bits of my life and how God shows up visit my blog.
      If you would like to see my work visit: www.onetwentysevenphotography.blogspot.com


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        Home Sweet Nicaragua (New Crazy-Adventure Begins)

        Posted on 05 March 2013

        We have lived in Nicaragua for 3 weeks and I’m starting to feel at home. It was not an easy transition for me leaving Haiti and the quickie visit to Branson, MO staying with my parents, before heading straight to Nicaragua. I miss the village of Pignon, the crazy, IMG_8875bumpy roads, the critters, the stunning sunsets, our maison, my friends, our ministry with the orphans, the people who captured my heart at clinic, and everyone living at Haiti Home of Hope. I had to basically stuff my emotions of packing and leaving and moving on to the next mission adventure. The welcome to Hope Central was wonderful, and we had to jump right into the action with 2 teams back to back. It felt good to get back to work and learning the new ropes! Roger and I are the host and hostess to the American mission teams who will visit here and serve with Project H.O.P.E. It’s our job to make sure every person who comes through the red gate feels like our personal, private guests. We want teams to really feel like they are visiting our Casa (Home.) I’m also really excited about the new friendships I will make here in Nica. We were very blessed to have a family, the Stearns pave the way and move here (for a 3+ year commitment) in January and open their arms wide for our family. I’m thrilled to have fellowship living next door. Someone asked me on the last mission team if I missed my stuff. “Yes,” I gulped. Thinking about all our stuff packed away in boxes tucked away in storage. I honestly don’t even remember half the stuff, but I miss it sometimes. I miss the house that God sold, shopping at Target down the street, and especially living near my family. I guess I’m learning that home is where my heart settles and grows.

        Hope Central (our new home) is located in Managua, Nicaragua and was founded 14 years ago to serve the community and local pastors. Project Hope, a Springfield, MO based 501c3 ministry have built over 1,100+ homes and villages in Nica. They provide education, feeding and children programs, clinic care, ministry to women and at-risk girls, including a special ministry, Furia Santa (Holy Fury), a rehabilitation home for young men who were former gang members and in the prison system… and many more ministry projects. We are newbies here, so we are learning day to day what makes Project H.O.P.E tick and go. I’m sure it’s not easy for the Nica staff to open up their home to a new family, but they have been gracious and patient! We’re all in this together … serving and loving big!

        Simply Love Nicaragua  IMG_8868

        Our casa is an adorable little 2 room cottage and this time, we are not all sleeping together in one big room with bunkbeds. Rog and I have a lock on our bedroom door … need I say more!!!! The girls share a room with 2 twin beds and our son, Michael who arrives on the 28th will stay in one of the dorm rooms. We have a big kitchen with an open plan, which basically means one bigIMG_8867 space with a couch and 2 rocking chairs. The authentic Nica tiles on the counters and floors are really beautiful. We have an air conditioner (yes!!) fridge, microwave, toaster, and our french press. Life is good. There is even a TV, something we have not had for the past 8 months. I didn’t take the time to turn it on, expecting only Spanish speaking channels, but much to my surprise there are a few channels from the US. We watched the Oscars with Spanish voice overs, but the music was live and Hannah and I had a blast singing the Les Miserables song with the ensemble. I even watched the Today’s post-Ocscar Show, but the next day that same channel was gone. It’s going to be hit or miss entertainment. The city of Managua is unique in every way: markets, parks, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, a high end shopping center with a stadium seating movie theater ($3 per person) and all the things you would expect to see in a 3rd world country. Nicaragua is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere.

        I want to ask you to continue to pray for me specifically, as a wife and mommy. I’m working hard with homeschooling and giving my children the opportunities to learn real-life education in a class without walls. It’s difficult sometimes finding the balance with parenting and ministry. I don’t want to sacrifice either, but I also know my family will always come first. It’s my responsibility as a mom to make sure my three beautiful children feel loved, and nurtured, and safe, and protected. I’m thankful God is doing that in my life! I’m praying specifically for their spirits to grow and stay open to what God has planned for their lives. (Pray for Michael, Hannah, and Zoie)


        I want to keep letting you know, we could not be here serving in Nicaragua without YOU!! Thank you for praying for our family, and believing in our ministry, Simply Love. I love it when you are actively reading posts and connecting with me. Your comments are like “happies.” We have only scratched the surface of missions, but so honored God would allow us to serve Him in a brand new country. We were called into “missions” and grateful with all our hearts for the ministry opportunities that have literally been handed to us this year. I love this post written by one of my favorite bloggers, We are THAT Family, sharing who the “real” missionary is on the field. Kristen, you have noooo idea how much your post ministered to my heart as Jesus has challenged us to simply love and go. (thank you sister!)

        Roger and I are praying that you, our mission-hearted friends will continue to support our mission-adventure OPERATION: IMG_8873NICARAGUA. We have raised 50% of our goal, and need your prayers and help to stay here and serve with Project Hope. We are responsible to raise 100% of our financial support. Please consider contributing to Simply Love with a one – time gift or monthly contributions. We have a special GIVE button that will allow you to pay with a credit card or PayPal. You can also give with a check- information here. (your donation is tax deductible) “Let’s not just talk about love, let’s practice REAL love.” I John 1:8 MSG

        I can’t wait to share stories and real-life photos of our life here in Nicaragua. I want to share the real-stuff going on in my life as a wife and mom with you. What it really feels like to pick up and live around the world with your family (some days are crazy!) I hope you will fall in love with a new country, right along side of me. But most importantly, it’s my hearts desire to inspire you to GO … right where God is calling you to serve big and love big!! For hard-core missions, check out Live Dead.

         United we love each other, and together we change the world.


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          My Life Is Crazy Too

          My Hubby Shares: Man Up And Go For Your Smokin’ Hot Wife

          Posted on 04 March 2013

          To Man Up it begins in our relationship with our wife. Besides our relationship with God, the 2nd longest relationship we will have is with our wife. My good friend and pastor, Ted Cunningham shared with me the importance of prioritizing my relationship with my wife. King Solomon, IMG_4671a man who definitely knows his “stuff” about women, marriage, and life states in Ecclesiastes 9:9 “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.” He had many, many wives and concubines, but at the end of his life he wished he could have spent all his waking moments pouring all his love into the wife of his youth. From a man who had many wives and lovers he was not speaking of many, but ONE. A wife whom you would call your best friend, tell your deepest secrets to, share dreams with, and party together.

          We have only one shot at life! Life is always going to be hard, full of work, and unfair. The richest and wisest human to walk on planet earth says: enjoy your smokin’ hot wife. When Ted pointed that out to me, it really changed the way I looked at my relationship with Kari. What does it mean to truly ENJOY my wife?

          1. I need to hold Kari more than my golf clubs. I love golf! Going out and trying to hit a little white ball for four hours is a lot of fun. But, I can’t expect her to be “in the mood” if I’m too busy working on caressing a golf club and not her.
          2. Life sucks sometimes. A mean boss, friends spreading false rumors, difficult in-laws, or adoption roadblocks can create unwanted tension in our lives. Unfortunately, I’m a stuffer. I would rather think and not talk about “it”. A part of enjoying life is experiencing the hard times together, not alone. I have an amazingly, encouraging wife and I need to take advantage of her by communicating more.
          3. Party! Yes, life can get very busy … especially on the mission field. I’m not talking about date nights, such as dinner out talking about our kid’s upcoming schedules, or a movie and popcorn. I’m talking we need party nights. Truly connecting and doing stuff that make us smile, laugh, and even romance. My parents have been a great example to Kari and I in enjoying life together. Taking dancing lessons, season tickets to the symphony, attending wine & art shows, and cruising the rivers of France. That’s what I want. Enjoy life with my wife.
          4. Pray, worship, & minister together. A Christ-centered life and marriage. My primary responsibility is to Man Up and lead my marriage and family. The benefit of leading in a loving, understanding way … answered prayers (1 Pet. 3:7.) Result: Happy wife.
          5. Kari’s love language is words of affirmation. I suck at telling her daily how much I appreciate her. I’ll just be honest and say I’m too busy thinking about me to say, “Wow! The house is sparkling. It’s amazing how you clean the house plus be the helper at Zoie’s preschool, look at Pinterest with Hannah, fill out Michael’s financial aid forms, and make a gourmet dinner. You are incredible!” Telling her words of appreciation is like putting a million dollars in her bank account. That reminds me … I need to go make a deposit. Do you know your mate’s love language?
          6. My wife is smokin’ hot! Dudes, sometimes we just forget how lucky we are. Let’s Man Up and tell the world how much we love our wife. Let’s Man Up and tell the world how much we desire our wife, not porn. Let’s Man Up and tell other dudes how cool it is to love our wife. How? Purchase a My Wife is Smokin’ Hot tee by clicking (tee sold out)

          Glenn Wolfe is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most married man. He had been married a whopping 29 times. Glenn had numerous children, grand children, and great grand children, not to mention a lot of ex-wives. However, on the day of his funeral not one person attended. In fact, no one even came to the hospital to claim his body. At the age of 88, Glenn passed away. I would guess that Glenn didn’t enjoy life very much. Always, searching for the next best thing. Expecting the grass to be greener on the other side of the fence.

          Men, one of the greatest gifts we can give back to the world is to just simply ENJOY our wife.

          P.S. Wives, you can purchase a My Wife is Smokin’ Hot tee (tee sold out) for your man. Just tell him it will put you “in the mood” every time he wears it out in public.

          new man up

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            Giveaway, Missions

            Mini Giveaway + 1 Free Entry + 1 Free Tee {2 Days Only}

            Posted on 27 February 2013

            [UPDATED WITH MINI WINNER] Congrats Charlie H – you won 1 free tee + 1 free entry to win the grand prize!!!!! #4 comment Powered by RANDOM.ORG *Charlie H: Shared it on FB and I have your button on my blog.

            I honestly could NOT do this mission trip Give-It-Away without your support and help spreading the project on your blogs and Mission Trip Giveawaysharing with your mission-hearted friends. My passion is simple: to ignite a passion in YOU to go and serve, love, and minister on the mission field. The best part, this mission trip is on me … a free scholarship for the winner! *We need your help to sell a minimum of 70 tees to Give-It-Away.

            During the next 2 days, you can win (1) one free tee shirt and (1) one free entry to win the grand prize mission trip to Nicaragua 2013! I need you to be the fire and spread like crazy the Give-It-Away to YOUR blogger friends. I will randomly (random.org) choose a winner from the comments in 2 days and post the winner’s name on this post. Here’s what you need to do to enter … you pick (2) two and leave a comment what you did to share the Give-It-Away. Mini-giveaway ends midnight Friday, March 1st!

            1. BLOG IT- You can copy the Give-It-Away post link and share it on your blogs.
            2. SHARE IT- You can share the Give-It-Away post on your Facebooks, Twitters, Instagrams, Pinterests …
            3. GRAB IT – add the My Crazy Adoption button on your blog & stay in touch!!
            4. PRAY BIG – Join us praying for the mission trip winner, Nicaragua, Project H.O.P.E. ministry, and our family serving on the mission field.

            Remember, let me know in the comments what you did to share the Give-It-Away. I will announce the winner [here] on Saturday, March 2nd!!

            Don’t forget to purchase your limited edition Simply Love & Man Up tees located on the (store closed.)

            Blue Superman Man-up tee Dark gray tee with graphic "My Wife is Smoking Hot" Simply Love tee shirt

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              Guest: Lifesong India – God Sets the Lonely in Families

              Posted on 25 February 2013

              Faith. Family. Home.

              In caring for orphans, our hope is to instil faith, family and a sense of home deep into the hearts of every child we are blessed to serve. Please enjoy this month’s Mission Moment highlighting the fruit of God’s work through us.

              Baptized in the Name of the ONE True God…

              In a country where the worship of many gods is commonplace, lives of children are being changed and transformed by the working of Jesus Christ, the ONE true God. Lifesong India provides homes for almost 600 children who are all being exposed to the gospel of our loving, merciful and kind Father God.

              Baptism has always been a powerful symbol of Christianity. This symbol is especially notable in this culture because through this outward testimony of faith, children are publicly turning away from false gods to rely only on Jesus! Witness the baptism of the girls from one of our homes below. Learn more about Lifesong India >>

              “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38

              Building Children’s Home in Guatemala

              It’s exciting to see the progress of our new orphan care initiative in Guatemala. Construction has started on the family homes that will one day invite orphans with special needs into their doors to give faith, family and a future to children in need. Thanks to many of you for your support in this exciting new project!

              GUAT Progress

              Please continue to pray for safety and wisdom as construction continues. Learn more about Lifesong Guatemala: Village of Hope >>

              Read more about Faith, Family & Home…

              Orphans in Ukraine Find Forever Families – Through Adoption with Borders, like-minded families and churches in the USA connect with Christian families in Ukraine who are seeking to adopt.  Read Full Story

              Planting Spiritual Seeds in Liberia – Our aim is to help children develop a personal relationship with the Lord and to keep that relationship growing.  Read Full Story

              Mehesh, A Life Changed – “I don’t want to think about what my life would be like if I didn’t have the opportunity to live at that home (Chitty Memorial Home in Lifesong India)…” Read full story

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                Mommyhood, My Life Is Crazy Too

                Guest: Mommyhood Story – A Mom’s HIV Healing

                Posted on 22 February 2013

                My Life Is Crazy Too is a series of reader submissions. Your life is a story … this is your opportunity to share your stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. “Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the STORY of your love.” Ps 89:1 If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is Shanna Lehr.

                This is Shanna’s story …

                It was April of 2005 and I was a newly pregnant woman as well as a nurse. I could not have been more excited to be having our first child. God had called my husband and I to start a church in Raleigh, North Carolina, so we would be moving in a few months -16to begin our preparation. I went in for my first “routine” prenatal exam at my Obstetrician’s office. At the end of the appointment, where I had blood drawn and a sonogram to look for our baby’s heart beat, my Doctor said that he would see me in about four weeks, as long as all of my tests came back ok. As soon as he said that, I suddenly had a pit in my stomach, but chalked it up to “new mom jitters”. I walked out of the doctor’s office that day excited to have just seen a tiny heart beating and amazed by the miracle of life.

                Several days later, my Doctor called. He began the phone conversation with things like “I’m so sorry…. I don’t know how to tell you this, (long pause) but…. your lab results say that you are HIV positive.” I was stunned. I sat there on the other side of the phone. I knew what he had said, but did he really just say THAT?!  All I could muster was a breathless, “What?!” I couldn’t breathe.

                I was driving in busy Dallas traffic when I received this phone call. It was all I could do to get home. I knew my husband would be waiting for me there and I had no idea how I would tell him this news. I cried the whole way home and begged God not to let it be true. But, my doctor had just told me that the anti-body test had been repeated several times and then, the Western Blot confirmed that I indeed was HIV positive.

                In the first hour after finding this out and having to break this terrible news to my husband, I said to him, “How can we start a church? We need to move to an island where no one knows us.” Yes. I said that. It’s amazing how irrational we can be in moments of crisis. I also said, “I’m so sorry for this baby. How could we do this to a child? Why did we get pregnant?” There were so many unknowns and the more I thought, the worse my view of our future became.

                This was life altering, as you can imagine. It stopped us in our tracks and forced us to make a decision. In those days, between redrawing my blood to retest it, we fell before the Lord on our faces in tears, buckets of tears. We told God we believed He could heal. We told Him there was no other place we would turn. We knew He had the words to eternal life and we knew that we would follow Him with our lives no matter what He allowed. There were many conversations during those days. Many big prayers prayed in the quiet of my heart as well as with my husband and many scriptures were read that were foundational to us believing the truth, instead of the lies the Enemy would have loved for us to believe.

                Later that night, after crying loads of tears and calling my parents to tell them what was happening, we began to search the scripture. It was just all we could do to ask the Lord for a word. My husband began reading in James 4:2…”we have not because we ask not”. “Shanna” he said, “We are not going to have HIV, because we didn’t ask God to take it away.” I loved that he was saying “we”. I knew I wasn’t alone in this. We prayed. We begged God for a miracle.  Then, we asked our dear friend Marc, who is a pastor to come over. He laid his hands on me and prayed that God would fill my body with new blood. I remember that prayer like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget thinking, “Wow! I wouldn’t have thought to ask for new blood!” If you have never been through something so life altering you may not understand. If you have, then friend, you know exactly how much I anticipated new blood running through my veins!

                “We have not, because we ask not.” So we asked.

                We understood that God didn’t have to heal. In fact, at the time, being only in our late twenties, we had already experienced enough life to realize that sometimes God chooses the very difficult things to bring glory to Himself. I think this is a terribly difficult concept though. It’s easily said, but not easily lived. Because, when you are the one whose life is about to drastically change, your real concern is not often “God’s glory”, but rather, for your comfort. I understand this and I wrestle with it still.

                The Lord used one passage of scripture very powerfully for me. It is found in Mark 9 where a father brings his demon possessed son to Jesus. He must be at the end of his rope, after-all he has a son who literally couldn’t be taken out in public and when he was, it was dangerous. I think I have it bad when my children grab grape juice off the aisle at the grocery store and it falls down in slow motion and breaks. This man had a son that was throwing himself into fire and getting burned and then into water and almost drowning! I imagine this man felt a little like we did. He was shocked, tired and probably a little mad about his situation…but he had hope. He brought the little hope that he had and placed it before Jesus. Their conversation went something like this…

                “Jesus, my son is demon possessed. Look at all he is doing! If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”
                Jesus: “If I can? Everything is possible for one who believes.”
                Immediately the father responded, “I believe! I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!”

                I was there. I believed that God could heal me, but would He? It was all too big for me. I was a young woman who was pregnant for the first time. I was already in love with a little baby that had just begun growing inside of me. I feared for her future. I feared for mine. But I had hope, because I knew God. I laid the hope I had before the Lord and begged Him for healing. I had determined that no matter what the outcome, God would get the glory.

                God did choose to heal me!  After further testing, the new vials of blood came back negative for HIV. The lab was so confused by all of this that they went back to my old vials of blood and they too came back negative!  I have been retested several times since then, because this is standard protocol in pregnancy.  With each of our other 3 children, I have been reminded of the great big miracle God performed in my life. Each of their lives screams of His amazing grace. Praise Him!

                Looking back almost 8 years later, I see God’s hand all over my life. I see how much more I love Him. I see how hard church ministry really can be and how much we needed to know the strength of the Lord in such an intimate way. We needed to know that nothing is impossible for the Mighty Healer. I thank God continually for His grace in my life and will certainly never get over this miracle. I also see that Christians have a great responsibility to love those with this disease. There are HIV+ orphans who need to be adopted into a loving family and there are many others who simply need to receive life-saving medications and some who need to hear the hope that is still offered to them through Jesus. The church can make a difference here! We need to be a safe place for those whose life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. Jesus didn’t shy away from the sick, in fact, he touched them and shared the hope he came to give. So, how will you respond?

                To God be the glory, great things He has done!

                Our life verses:
                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

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                  Missions, My Life Is Crazy Too

                  Guest: Mission’s Story – Family In The Gap

                  Posted on 21 February 2013

                  My Life Is Crazy Too is a series of reader submissions. Your life is a story … this is your opportunity to share your stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. “Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the STORY of your love.” Ps 89:1 If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is Charisa Knight.

                  This is Charisa’s story …

                  In working with Project HOPEFUL’s Fig program we have begun a sponsorship style program that provides the following for sponsored children- some of which live at an orphanage in Awassa while others live alone or with family in the community in and around Awassa.
                  FIG stands for “family in the gap”. We desire our sponsor families to develop a relationship as much as possible with their sponsored children. We would like them to commit to praying for their children and advocating for them. We would love for families to take trips over and see their sponsored child and their families. We want to extend hope and encouragement to children and families.

                  • clothing and shoes two times a year
                  • medical checkup twice a year and medication in the case of sickness
                  • basic hygiene materials three times a year
                  • food support (formula/milk for children in the center and wheat for children in the community)
                  • all the necessary school supplies twice a year with school uniform and back bag once a year
                  • annual recreational trip around Awassa
                  • annual get together at Ajuuja Center
                  • sporting goods like balls, soccer shoe and jerseys
                  • regular prayer with men of God invited from different churches at Awassa
                  • Christmas and Easter celebrations with staff at Ajuuja and invited guests from the community

                  God has grown this program in ways that we never would have dreamed or imagined! (just like God isn’t it!!)  We currently have over 60 children with FIG families, have purchased over 30 goats for families (with a bunch more waiting to go over!) and are currently fundraising for a surgery for a sweet mom so that she can walk again.
                  To learn more about our initiatives and see children who still need a FIG family go here: http://forsuchasthese.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-project-hopeful-awassa.html
                  You can also email us at
                  While Greg, my husband, was there this past October he met this woman:

                  Who is a loving a grandmother to her orphaned granddaughters.

                  This grandmother came to us after we met the sponsored kids and families and said that she had a word from the Lord for us. She spoke a tribal language so it took quite a bit of translating from one person to another to another to hear her message. She quoted scripture verses and was very animated and very passionate about her message.

                  She told us how grateful she was for us coming, all of the people involved, how we were doing the Lord’s work, and how God had sent us (all of the people working with Project HOPEFUL Awassa)
                  She gave Him all the praise and at one point had her face to the ground thanking and worshipping Him.

                  It was very humbling to be sure–
                  seeing how lives can be impacted with such a small amount from us.
                  People that months ago we didn’t know existed or even know their name.

                  But God knew their name.
                  And He was faithful to a grandmother’s prayers.
                  All for His glory, Charisa


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                    Missions, My Life Is Crazy Too

                    Guest: Mission’s Story – When I Figured Out That The World Isn’t About Me

                    Posted on 20 February 2013

                    My Life Is Crazy Too is a series of reader submissions. Your life is a story … this is your opportunity to share your stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. “Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the STORY of your love.” Ps 89:1 If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is Kelly Shank.

                    This is Kelly’s story …

                    It took my best friend days to gather the courage to ask me the question because she was afraid of my answer.  “Do you want to go on an international mission trip?”  What I had kept to myself for several years was a desire to go another country.  Cambodia kept coming to mind.  Our church youth group came home from conference excited about a trip to Cambodia and Thailand the -14following year but that trip never materialized.  My husband and I had talked about adoption but just as we agreed that Vietnam was where we were called, international adoptions were suspended.  I still felt a desire to go somewhere.   It just seemed like I didn’t have the right answers to where or when.

                    Fast forward 3 years to that call from my  friend.  I immediately said yes.  She was worried that I wouldn’t want to go.  She started searching for a trip and found Dorie’s Promise Guatemala.  My trip to Guatemala changed me in a way that is irreversible.  My eyes were opened to the reality of the world, away from my sheltered American life.  Every day we met people who allowed us to learn more about God’s very attributes.  Standing in a home in a ghetto that hovers precariously on the side of a cliff, we were loved and welcomed.  As we prayed with families, I knew that God was with them.  They knew what it meant to rely on God to provide their daily bread and yet they offered their home to us.  The other team members we met there showed me how to love even the unlovable just as Jesus would.  I will never forgot Lynn scooping up Lupe even as she said she was too dirty to sit on Lynn’s lap.

                    I returned from that trip a different person.  American success is not the goal anymore.  As I told a friend, work is the means to the greater goal.  We work so that we can help others.  I share my experiences with others so that they too may know the reality of the world outside of this country.  I want to share my-15 love for the people of Guatemala with everyone.  Every day is a chance to think about someone else and how I can change their life for the better.  I want to raise awareness to as many people as possible that there is greater fulfillment in life than what we can buy at a store.  The greatest joy comes from knowing Jesus as my Savior and being where he wants me to be.  As I follow his path for me, I find his love all along the way in those I meet.

                    My change inspired my husband to go back with me to Guatemala last year and this year we will travel as a family to our second home.  I don’t think anyone else in my daughters’ classes will be able to say that they spent their vacation in Guatemala but I can’t wait to hear them tell the stories.  Already one teacher has researched what the weather will be like during our trip.  A child’s enthusiasm has opened the door for someone else to learn about what the world is really about.

                    Matthew 28:19  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


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