Archive | My Life Is Crazy Too

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Guest: Mission’s Story – Just Obey

Posted on 07 March 2013 by Kari Gibson

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)
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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:


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

Posted on 04 March 2013 by Kari Gibson

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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Guest: Mommyhood Story – A Mom’s HIV Healing

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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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Guest: Mission’s Story – Family In The Gap

Posted on 21 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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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The Greatest Lesson I’ve Ever Learned About the Mission Field

Posted on 18 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

Like most international adoptive parents, we ate up anything that had to do with Africa. Especially, if it had anything to do with Ethiopia, we bought it: t-shirts, coffee, bracelets, baby blankets, baby clothes, jackets, headbands, wristbands, and even cookies that were in the shape of Ethiopia. Right before we were leaving to go to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter Zoie, Kari and I attended Missionary Roger Gibson and his daughter Zoiean event featuring a Rwandan pastor. Unfortunately, I don’t really remember anything he said during his presentation, but what he said afterwards … I have never forgotten. After he wrapped up his message, Kari and I made our way up to the front of the auditorium to where he was standing- there was already a long line of people waiting for their chance to talk to him. We waited patiently as the crowd thinned out and then we finally got our chance to meet him. Kari and I wanted to tell him “thank you” for the work he is doing for orphans and that we would be heading soon to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter. As our conversation was wrapping up, he turned towards me with a serious look on his face; he put both of his hands on my shoulders and pulled me in closer to him. At first, I didn’t know what he was going to do, but his eyes were locked in on mine with the intensity of a Marine Drill Sargent. He said the most powerful words that forever changed the way I looked at the needs of orphans, widows, and the oppressed.

We are well aware of, Rwanda’s devastation by the 1994 genocide that resulted with an estimated loss of 800,000 people. It left thousands of children with the loss of one or both parents and no place to call home.  It left severe scars, not just physically, but also emotionally. If anyone could give advice on Africa, this gentleman was qualified as a pastor who has ministered to thousands of orphans. As he began to speak, his voice was very gentle, but his words were filled with a deep conviction. Since that moment his statement has shaped our Simply Love ministry and every mission trip we have led the past four years.  He told me that when I visit orphanages, widows, and minister to communities; the greatest thing I could do for Africa is … TOUCH.

Missionary Roger Gibson with patients at a local hospital in Managua, Nicaragua

For me, TOUCHING (in a healthy way) a total stranger can be a bit awkward. I’m not a natural touchy kind of a guy. I feel much more comfortable giving a “head nod” as my touch, than a hug or a pat on the back. But, Jesus modeled TOUCH! He was always touching people: blind, lepers, sick, children, women, men, demon-possessed, rich, poor, depressed, angry, bitter, and even dead people.  Even science has validated the importance of touch. According to studies, touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health. Touch even works in helping us win basketball games. ABC News recently did a special on the power of touch and how it can boost performance. According to two social psychologists from UC – Berkeley, whom both happened to be big fans of basketball themselves, recently analyzed 90 hours of televised professional play. They looked at every team and every player in the league, taking note of what of they determined to be 15 kinds of touch, including hugs, high fives and even flying shoulder bumps. Their conclusion: teams that touch the most, won the most. If touch can even help us win at sports, imagine what our hands and feet can do in the life of one who has no hope.

On day one of us arriving in Ethiopia, the first place our adoption agency took us to was a women’s hospital called, Fistula. (You can check out a documentary called about Fistula, A Walk To Beautiful here.) This world-renowned hospital is a place for women who have fistula (you can look it up here). To start our tour the hostess gave us a little background on fistula and what the women at the hospital had to endure living with fistula. Many have been abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities, and forced to live in isolation. Fistula was a place that gave “life” back to those who were deemed ugly, dirty, and even cursed. Our hostess then led us into the hospital ward where all the women were laying with IVs etched into their arms. There were about 100 women staring at us and I remember sarcastically asking myself, “Why am I here?” But, five steps later the thought of TOUCH came to my mind. I then wondered when was the last time these women had a man smile and touch them in a loving, healthy way to let them know they are worthy, valuable, a child of the King. Now, it was game time. This was the moment during the tour we could talk to the girls. As I approached my first lady who was lying in her hospital bed, I gathered up enough courage to go up close to her and touch her hand. As I touched her hand and smiled, she lifted up her other hand and put it around my neck to lower my cheek closer for her to kiss me, kiss me, and kiss me. I got three kisses! One cheek, the other cheek, and back to the other cheek.  As I came up for air I thought, “Wow! This women needed some touch!” As I looked down at her beautiful face, I saw a smile and she and the other girls close by were giggling like teenage girls. Our sweet hostess must have saw the sweat coming off of my brow because she came over quickly to explain to me that they don’t get many male visitors. So, needless to say, I was spoiled. I received a lot of kisses that afternoon and I saw the power of touch in their lives and my life. I loved every moment of it.

Missionary Kari Gibson with Ethiopian woman

As Jesus healed the leper he had pity on him, so he reach out and TOUCHED him.  Most of Jesus miracles were done just by his spoken words, but He chose to heal by touching this unclean, unworthy, grimy, filthy, undeserving, disgraced leper by the world’s standards. He didn’t need to, but there were 12 men who needed to see the power of touch. To be the hands and feet of Jesus, are you willing to give a meaningful touch to a leper, an orphan that lives on a trash dump, or a homeless women on the street corner that’s says, YOU ARE LOVED?
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 ESV

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Guest: Adoption Story – Parents With Special Needs + Adopting Special Needs Children

Posted on 08 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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 Brian Snow.

This is Brian’s story …

Consider yourself sucked in. I hope I have grabbed your attention with the headline.  No, it is not an actual headline, but perhaps it should be.  As Melissa and I continue to wait for the call from Ethiopia to visit and meet our three new daughters for the first time, I have been considering and wrestling with adoption in how it relates to the Gospel.

In adoption lingo, saying that a potential adoptive child has “special needs” can have a wide variety of different meanings and insinuations.  It can range from an African American infant in a certain part of the U.S. being “hard to place”, to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome on the other side of the world.  It could be a little boy with down-syndrome, or a three sibling set from Ethiopia who might be split up if a family doesn’t emerge to adopt all three.  The truth is that all adopted children have their own gamut of “special needs.”  The simple fact that they are without a family is a huge “special need”.

A couple of weeks ago a friend (whose family has also adopted) mentioned to me that adoption is “not as much about the children, as it is about the Gospel.”  This caught me off guard and caused me to think about what adoption is and what it isn’t.  When an adoption takes place, the children do not initiate the process.  Very rarely, if ever, does the adopted child have any say in who chooses them.  Similarly, when spiritual adoption takes place, the recipient has very little to do with the transaction.  They are not even able take the spiritual initiative.  How could we?  The Word is very clear about our own “special needs” before we were claimed.  We had a certificate of debt against us (Col 2:14), we were dead in our sins (Eph 2:1), we were children of wrath (Col 2:3), separated and cut off from God (Col 1:21), and completely blinded from the things of God (Romans 1:21-23).  In that state we had no means of initiating a relationship with God.  Moreover, we were hostile towards God (James 4:1-4), slaves to our sin (John 8:34), and lovers of darkness (John 3:19-20).  Genesis 8:21 says we were evil from our youth, which I believe means from our very first breath.

However, there is good news.  God saw our “special needs” and He initiated our adoption.  He saw us unable on our own to leave the confines of where we were.  He saw us as humanly unlovable, and yet He loved us completely.  He rescued us and gave us new life.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:4-10

He brought us into His household (Eph 2:19), and now we have a share in the inheritance of that household (Col 1:12-14).  Understanding the immensity of our spiritual adoption is the only way we can have a proper motivation for adopting others.  We love because we were loved.  We forgive because we are forgiven.  We adopt and support adoption because we were adopted.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us inthe Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:3-10

I will admit, when we first began down the road of adoption my thinking was skewed.  It is very easy these days to romanticize adoption; to think about future family photos, Christmases, and adorable, very grateful adopted children who are so thankful for what their super-parents did for them.  I am guilty of that kind of thinking.  However, I now realize those sentimentalized ideas, while not inherently wrong, will not sustain us in the near future.  Sure, we are going to have great and fun times ahead with our six children, but it is also beginning to sink in that things are getting ready to get very tough.  What can we count on to get us through?  It can only be the Gospel.

I found the following on an adoption blog.  It is an excerpt from a book by Dr. Russell Moore entitled “Adopted for Life”.  I have not read it, but I certainly plan to soon.“Imagine for a moment that you’re adopting a child. As you meet with the social worker in the last stage of the process, you’re told that this 12-year-old has been in and out of psychotherapy since he was three. He persists in burning things, and attempting repeatedly to skin animals alive. He “acts out sexually,” the social worker says, although she doesn’t really fill you in on what that means. She continues with a little family history. This boy’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather all had histories of violence, ranging from spousal abuse to serial murder. Each of them ended their own lives. Think for a minute. Would you want this child? If you did adopt him, wouldn’t you watch nervously as he played with your other children? Would you watch him nervously as he looks at the knife on the kitchen table? Would you leave the room as he watched a movie on TV with your daughter, with the lights out?”

Then Dr. Moore writes:“Well he’s you. And he’s me. That’s what the Gospel is telling us.”The distance between where we were, and where God is, was much greater than an ocean or a disease.  It was sin.  The distance between us and God that sin caused cannot be traveled by plane or by boat.  And the debt that sin costs cannot be paid with $20,000-$80,000.

Let me finish with a cost comparison……adoption is costly.  Earthly adoption can be very, very expensive.  But compared to the cost of my own spiritual adoption, $20,000-$80,000 is…nothing.  My adoption cost the Father His very Son; His firstborn.  If you have children, try to imagine for a moment paying for an earthly adoption with your oldest child.  It is inconceivable to me to do that.  Yet that is what God did for me.  The following is from the same blog I mentioned earlier…..I can’t write it any better.

“It’s important to realize, then, that we adopt not because we are rescuers.  No, we adopt because we are the rescued.  And in this way, the Gospel uniquely portrays, compels, and ultimately sustains adoption.”

Friends and family, when things get hard for The Snow Bunch, please remind me over and over about the Gospel.  It alone is what will hold our family together through the tough times ahead. (Adoptive Daddy, Brian Snow)

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Guest: Missionary – From The Field

Posted on 07 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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 Colleen Mitchell.

This is Colleen’s story …

When God started to knock on the door asking for my heart, my life,whispering to me that He was calling us to return to the mission field, I did not think I could say “yes”. It was two years after we had lost our sixth son Bryce to SIDS at three months old in 2009 and then suffered a very difficult second trimester miscarriage a couple of months later in early 2010. I had been grieving and living in survival mode for that long when my husband began to see a new light dawning for us. He led us as a family to form a not-for-profit foundation in our son’s name. I agreed, seeing ahead to where his heart was being called and knowing he was being gentle with me, on the stipulation that I was only interested in domestic outreach. See, I was stuck. I was hurt. I was still confused about God and what He wanted of us. I knew in my heart He was calling us forward, out of the phase of grief and loss to a new phase in our lives, but I was just so scared. Grief had become comfortable for me. I had built a life up around it that was working, that made me feel safe and in which I could have even have a little fun now and then. And I was terrified to try to walk another way.

My husband’s heart continued to be pulled by the call to return to the foreign mission field, where we had served before from 2003-2005. I continued to cling to the security of the life I knew even though it was falling apart at the seams. On a business trip overseas in early 2011, my husband took off for the weekend and found our current mission post in the Chirripo mountains and Cabecar indigenous reserve of Costa Rica. He came home to us leaving a part of his heart in this place. I knew then that the change was imminent. Deny it as I might, God was speaking to my heart too. I gave God an opportunity and hedged my bets. I promised Him that if He provided a miracle that showed me unequivocally that this is what He wanted for us, I would go for six months. And then we’d take it from there.

A few days later, my husband came home from an afternoon outing pale-faced and handing me something with shaking hands. That something was a check. A check from a local church, not our church mind you, a church that had, when he showed up out of the blue and shared with the pastor the struggle we were having coming to unity on this call to missions, offered from that moment forward to support us for the full amount of our living and travel expenses each month. Clearly, God had taken advantage of the opportunity I had given Him and I could not go back from there.

A few short months later I stepped off a plane with my husband and children to re-embrace my role as missionary wife and mother. We have now been living and working in remote communities and the indigenous reserve of Costa Rica’s Chirripo mountains for nearly a year. I cannot possibly describe the myriad ways the Lord has used this time to heal my heart, free my spirit and remind me who I really am. Yes, I am a grieving, hurting mom (incidentally, I miscarried again just four days before our departure), but I am so, so much more. And much of what I am is good, is joyful, is purposeful and valuable to the Kingdom. He wanted to open my eyes to that again, to give me the strength to walk in that again. All He needed was my weak, wavering little “yes”, a crack in the armor I had built around my heart, to let His light shine through.

Now, I spend my days savoring the chaos that is life with five boys, walking in unity of purpose with my husband, and caring for the least of these. My porch is full of students and friends, families in need of material help and women just in need of a kind and encouraging word. I go out to the orphans and share His love. We feed the hungry and build chapels for the poor. We bring the Gospel to an indigenous people who have not yet fully accepted Christ. And my life is full, and blessed, and abundantly beautiful. And every day I thank Him.

I thank Him for knowing my heart better than I did, for knowing the road to healing better than I did, for knowing that a humble and broken and scared missionary may end up finding her way to true joy in the midst of it all. Yes, this life is hard sometimes. And, yes, I still hurt sometimes. But what I know now more than ever, is that God wants to use all that. He wants to use all of us, all of each and every one of us. The broken and ugly parts as well as the beautiful, shiny parts. He wants to use us to tell a story, His story. A story of love and mercy and redemption, of a God who stoops right into the brokenness, tenderly cups a sinner’s heart, and leads her to true joy. Maybe He wants us to tell it right where we are and maybe we wants to bring us to a dot on the globe somewhere to tell it. What matters most is that we do. That we tell that story and sing it from the rooftops, because it is in this that we know our true purpose and true joy. It is in this that all men shall come to bend the knee. When the broken and the beautiful children of God go out and stand together as one, His glory will shine. I am privileged to stand beside my brothers and sisters here in Costa Rica. Honored and grateful, so very grateful.

My blog: From The Field

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Guest: Orphan Advocate – It Is Not OK

Posted on 06 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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 blogger, Nikki Cochrane, committed to advocating for and supporting children with special needs at home and around the world. Her post below outlines an experience at the orphanage for abandoned, disabled children in India that she supports. Go here to read more about her work, or get your blog designed here and support its continuation.

This is Nikki’s story …

“You are living in a society where it is okay if these kids die.”

That is what was said to me during a volunteer meeting in India this summer, when I was spending one incredible month at Sarah’s Covenant Homes. Hard to stomach, isn’t it? One beautiful girl was abandoned in a cemetery. Another, who is so sweet and funny, but has disfigured hands and feet, was left to die inside a rice bag in a field. The kids come to SCH starving, abused, neglected, and forgotten. When I take a step back and think of their pasts, it makes me so sad. Not enough people are able to look past their special needs to see that beauty. I want to share it with you.

Promise is about thirteen years old. She is blind, has cerebral palsy, scoliosis, and a host of issues related to her kidneys and bladder that leave her catheterized. After my first trip to SCH two years prior, Promise was very, very sick. . It’s nothing short of a miracle that she is still here today.

It is hard to get Promise to smile. Promise is mobile, so one afternoon I took her hand and walked around the Home with her. I rubbed her back and brushed her hair into a little pigtail. I tickled her and gave her kisses, but couldn’t get a smile out of her. We sat down on the bed, and one of the other little girls came and sat on my lap. I told her to go play with the other kids, and sent her down the hall to where the group of girls were sitting. Ginger is an outgoing child who gets tons of attention and love, and I was trying to make Promise feel special. I scooped Promise up on the bed beside me and put her in my lap, and then Ginger starting crying, jealous that Promise had taken the spot on my lap. All my tickles and kisses couldn’t get a smile out of her, but in that moment, Promise started laughing joyfully. Whether it was because I had put her in my lap, or because she thought it was funny that I had sent Ginger away, I am not sure, but it sure made me smile!! (Don’t worry, I was sure to find Ginger later to play with her before I left. I don’t think her feelings were too injured!) Promise has had a really rough life. She has always struggled health-wise and has been sick most of her life. I know my thirty minutes of special attention won’t change that, but I hope I brightened her day, and I know that she brightened mine.

Another day at the Home I painted nails. With my bright pink bottle of nailpolish, I went from little girl to big girl and decorated their fingers and toes. It wasn’t perfect; the girls were squirmy and the polish got everywhere, but it sure was fun. Rhoda, who I never knew very well, was my best buddy after I gave her pink toenails, and she was following me with her arms up, wanting to be walked with. Faith (pictured) who is autistic, was squealing with delight and clapping her hands. Felicia tried so hard to stay still while I painted her toes, and then scooted on her bum across the bed when I was done and we had a nice snuggle. I know when I have nailpolish on, I instantly feel prettier. I hope these girls feel beautiful, because they are.

There are so many other stories that could be shared. There is baby Aloe, who has primordial dwarfism and is teensy tiny, but struts around the Home like she is the Queen of the world! There is Cedar, who is blind and lethargic, but who comes alive when we take him to the beach and let the big waves crash against him.  There is Wendy, the big sister of the home, who gives a kiss on the cheek to everyone she meets, and doesn’t let them leave without pointing out the bracelets around her wrists and the bows in her hair, giggling when she gets told how beautiful she is.

It is not okay if these kids die. It is not okay to me. It is not okay to the volunteers that come or the staff that works with them. They have such a beautiful presence and each one is special, from Faith and her carefree dancing, to beautiful Promise who inspires each person she meets with her strength and ability to overcome. It is not okay.

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Guest & My Niece – Dying to Love, Living to Go

Posted on 04 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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 my beautiful niece, Taylor Smalley. She will be GOing to Nicaragua June – July to serve and LOVE big with our family on the mission field. Check out her brand new blog here.

This is Taylor’s story …

Hello My Crazy Adoption Friends!

My name is Taylor, I am Kari’s 18 year old niece.  I am a first year student at the University of Denver in beautiful Colorado.  I am studying math and biology with an emphasis in pre-medicine, with a HUGE, crazy dream of someday going to medical school. Being a math and science major, I am naturally what some people may call a “nerd.”  And let me tell you, being a nerd, although awkward, is so fun!


I recently started my own blog (which was greatly inspired by my aunt’s) called Hashtag Love.  So far, it has been a place for me to wrestle with things in my life, as well as a place of encouragement (especially for myself) to live out each and every day completely sold out for Christ while developing the specific and very much intentional passions/talents he has blessed me with.

So what are some of my greatest passions?  Well, over my short eighteen years of life I have been given more incredible opportunities to travel and fall in love with this crazy beautiful world than most people experience over the course of a lifetime.  I have been given opportunities to travel to Ecuador, China, Israel, and (my favorite) Africa.  Two summers ago, Kari brought me on a Simply Love trip to Uganda and Ethiopia, and ,wholly cow, I completely fell in love.  I have felt a call toward the mission field since I was about 13 years old, and God has continually confirmed that calling in my life with each amazing destination he has brought me to.  Although I am passionate about many other things in my life, this is by far my greatest passion (to hear more about some of my crazy and awkward passions check out my blog).  The thought of loving God wholeheartedly and someday getting to spend every moment of every day simply loving His diverse and beautiful children is literally the only thing that has kept me going through my life right now.

Because, quite honestly, my life has been incredibly hard for a few years now.  I know I am not alone in this, and I know God has a plan through each season He puts in front of me, but I have been struggling more than I can put into words.  School is hard, it’s what I love doing, but it’s challenging and there are so many days I just break down and want nothing more than to hop on a plane to somewhere across the Atlantic and never look back.  I struggle with loneliness, feelings of abandonment, intense bouts of fear of failing, and having to daily lay down my constant need for control while striving to let His peace consume me instead.  I guess I’m stuck in this place of being torn between getting equipped to go, and the heart-wrenching desire to leave my entire life here in the US behind and just go to love the world as Christ did.  The verse that describes the desires of my heart for my life is 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.” And while this verse is good and true, it does not change the fact that my God has a plan for my life, and that even though it breaks my heart every day, He has me here, in Denver, for an extremely specific purpose that I just cannot seem to understand.

So, what do I do? Well, honestly, I don’t really know.  But I do know this, that God tells us in Psalm 37:4 that if we “delight ourselves in the Lord, He will surely give us the desires of our hearts.”  I guess, going off of this, that all we can do when we feel torn or broken down, lost or unfulfilled, is to “delight ourselves in the Lord.”  And simply trust that ultimately He knows the desires of our hearts way more than we do, and even though it’s SO hard to give these up to Him, trusting that He will be faithful with all we offer up to HIm. So, even though I am loving my crazy, fun, awkward, challenging college life, deep down I am really:
  • Dying to love- like really love everyone around me through giving up the desires of my selfish flesh
  • Living to go- living with the purpose to someday go wherever God leads me and being able to look back on my life with zero regrets
  • And Living now- going through each day with the mindset that I am called to LIVE NOW, knowing that God has me in this season for His purpose, and finding joy in that thought alone.

Life is hard, I’m not very good at it yet (and probably never will be…), but it’s awesome to live with the hope and peace that Jesus alone provides me with.  Thank you for taking the time to read about my heart and what’s new in my life.  Keep loving BIG, keep giving BIG, and keep dreaming BIG.  Y’all inspire and encourage me more than you will ever know.

In Christ and His love, Tay
Psalm 16: 6- “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” #love
Check out what else I’m up to at:

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Guest: Adoption Story – Bleeding Heart

Posted on 01 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

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 Tiffany Bluhm.

My name is Tiffany Bluhm. My husband and I are adopting from Uganda and waiting in eager anticipation to bring our sweet Jericho home. This is my story …

Adoption is a wild ride, we knew that going into this, but what we never knew was just how much we would discover the bleeding heart of God.

We’ve been in pursuit of a little boy named Derek, off in Uganda, for over a year. On September 14th we received an email that broke our hearts,only for Christ to mend them together again, and teach us his ways all the more. Sadly, Derek’s biological father refused to sign away his rights, therefore robbing us of any chance to make him our son. As hard as it was to stomach we knew the past year of prayers for Derek have not been in vain. We’ve learned how to love and believe for an orphan, an orphan with a name and face that is forever burned in our hearts. So often we hear the statistic that there are 147 million orphans and we are overwhelmed by the sheer mass of the orphan issue. For Derek and I, we’ve learned how to love an orphan, like a son. As of right now, Derek stands as un-adoptable in the physical but we know our prayers are heard by Father God for him to provide a way for a family, however that may happen.

The treasure in this past year has been the heart we’ve cultivated, one that deeply loves the ignored and destitute. We are prioritizing our lives, day by day, to find new ways to love and serve the hungry and hurting. This past year has been a gift, although difficult at times to receive, but a gift nonetheless. Again and again, Derek and I are reminded of the mysterious, unending, and sovereign love of God. It’s almost too much to take in. His love for us, his precious love for us, whether we live in left coast suburbia or a hut in the jungle of Africa, runs right through our veins and changes every part of us, reflecting more and more of his glory.

With the love of God pulsing through our hearts we do whatever it takes, short of sin, to take his love and lavish it on those around us and those afar. We can’t help ourselves, it’s our call, our mandate, and we won’t stop.

Although we aren’t able to adopt the sweet baby boy we’ve been pursuing, by God’s grace, we are pursuing a second child for adoption into our family. His name is Luke. His eyes are deep brown, his eyelashes longer than you’d expect, and his smile will make you melt. If it’s the Lord’s time we will adopt him before this year ends. We trust the Lord knows who our son is, not us.

So many have commented, “this must exhaust you, I bet you’ll be so glad when this is over. It’s so stressful to adopt.” Of course I’ll be over the moon when my son snuggles up in my lap and not 8,000 miles away. However, this has been a journey, a bittersweet journey, that I would happily do again, quicker than you can imagine. To give you perspective, right now baby Luke has typhoid, which typically provides a 104 degree fever, dehydration, and intestinal hemorrhaging. Yes, I’ll be glad when that’s over, but every ounce of stress is worth witnessing restoration and health for an orphan. Bring on stress if it means seeing orphans restored all for the glory of God.

I know we can’t change the orphan epidemic overnight, but we can do something, YOU can do something. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. Sponsor a kid, help fund an orphanage, foster, or dare I say… adopt.



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Adoption Story: Adoption Completed Our Family

Posted on 14 December 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is Mandy Campbell. Mandy is a freelance writer, editor and adoptive mother. Recognized as one of the youngest adoptive mothers in the US, Mandy provides support throughout the adoption community via blogging and other means of social networking.

On May 10, 2001 my boyfriend of almost one year got down on one knee and ask me to marry him. I was a junior in high school he had graduated the May before and was already out in the work field. We started planning our wedding which would happen 7 days after I graduated high school the next May. With plans of a wedding came dreams of our life together which included babies. We wanted to start a family pretty fast even though everyone warned us we should wait and enjoy life with just the two of us for awhile. We knew every since the day we meet that we wanted nothing more than to be parents. Fast forward one year and on May 31, 2002 we were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony with all our family and friends. As soon as we were married I had visions of what our nursery would look like, what we would name our unborn children and how I would tell my husband that I was pregnant. As we were getting ready to celebrate our one year Anniversary we were both surprised that I wasn’t pregnant yet. All the doctors told us to give it awhile longer after all we were at the young age of twenty-one. The whole month of May I researched infertility and was starting to fear the worse when I decided that we should pursue adoption. I meet my husband at the door one night as he walked in from a day at work and told him “we have to adopt!” Of course he thought I was crazy but I had a fire down deep in me that was telling me we had to do this and we had to do it now. I had never been impacted by adoption or ever really knew anything about it. I knew that I wasn’t getting pregnant but yet I felt like I needed to turn to adoption now and not later. After talking to my husband I did some research and found out that we weren’t even legal to adopt in our home state. At the time you had to be twenty one and married for at least 3 years. Instead of getting upset or down about this I just said that’s okay we will just go to another state. I knew that we had to do this now and not later. I decided to do a little research at the local library and online and I came across a dear birthmother letter and went ahead and typed one up for us that included family pictures, how important holidays are to us and how much we couldn’t wait to become parents. A couple weeks later we decided to tell our families that we were hoping to adopt. We got mixed responses and mostly the “you guys are to young just enjoy life and babies will come.” As we chugged along with research I also emailed everyone we knew and told them we were hoping to adopt. This was before social media had exploded so email and phone calls was the only way to go. Much to our surprise one month later we received a call about a birthmother that wanted to place with us. That call would make us parents to a beautiful baby girl that would be born in less than 30 days. Talk about a crash course in adoption. We had a rushed home study, made numerous calls to find out what the quickest way to get our fingerprints and FBI background checks done and back to us was. Our dreams of becoming parents was coming true and with that came chaos of getting ready for a baby in 30 days. As we were getting the nursery ready it was surreal, I packed the diaper bag and repacked it at least 25 times. I had no idea what all we would need to take care of a newborn in a hotel so I just took everything. I researched adoption in any spare time I had and prayed for the best. After all I was 21 years old and getting ready to drive half way across the USA to meet my daughter. In the midst of all the rushing we had mixed reactions from family and friends. We even had one friend tell us they knew a couple in their church that had been trying to adopt for over 2 years and we should pass the birthmother information on to them because they were older and deserved the baby more than us. We knew this was our baby girl and continued with everything we needed to do before her birthmother called and said it was time. On August 6th, 2003 just three months after we celebrated our one year anniversary we packed our car down and headed on our journey. We were in New Mexico when we got the call that she had been born. I remember the nurse telling us how she had beautiful skin and hair. We heard that her birthmother was doing great and all we wanted to do was drive faster to get to the hospital. The most beautiful baby girl was born the next day and her amazing birthmother placed her in our arms when she was 18 hours old. We fell in love with her at first sight and she has been the center of our world since. I will never forget the moment the nurse handed her to me, I sunk down in the chair and time stood still, and I was a mother. I was everything I ever wanted to be. As we spent our first week as a family of three in the local holiday inn express we were in awe at this beautiful child that was placed with us. We spent our days waiting for the ICPC to clear by loving on a newborn baby girl, getting many questions as to why in the world we were staying in a hotel with a 3 day old infant and emailing pictures back to our family in Oklahoma. Once we got the call that we were cleared to leave we packed up and couldn’t wait to get home. As we turned on our road for the first time as a family of three I seen balloons and signs and people were standing outside just waiting to get their hands on the baby girl they had all prayed for. We settled into life back home and waited for the call to tell us when we would return to finalize her adoption. On the day she turned 9 months old she became officially our child. I walked into that court room with so much love in my heart for her that I couldn’t hold the tears back as we made it official. Standing next to the judge with our lawyer to take pictures was one of my favorite memories! Watching her grow up is the most beautiful experience in my life and I am blessed by not only her but her birthmother who choose us. Over the last 9 years we have became adoption advocates, meet several lifelong friends through adoption and continue to share our story. We love to give people hope that it’s okay to adopt as a young couple we are proof that it happens. We celebrate our daughter’s gotcha day every year with a dinner in her honor and at 9 years old she is a lover of adoption and has several friends she has made due to adoption. Last year she decided to raise money for her adoption day and donate the money to family that was hoping to adopt to help out with expenses. She raised 300.00 selling candy bars and had the time of her life explaining to people why adoption was so near and dear to her heart. In the end we became a family just the way we were supposed to and when we supposed to. Adoption completed our family!

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Adoption Guest Blogger: The Wonder of God’s Plan

Posted on 06 December 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is Katie Daniels. Her blog is private for family and friends.

The “Wonder of God.”  What exactly does wonder mean?  According to Google, wonder is:

  • a feeling of surprise
  • mingled with admiration
  • caused by something beautiful,
  • unexpected,
  • unfamiliar
  • or inexplicable

That definition has some very strong words and it fits with our adoption story perfectly.  The wonder of God’s plan for our family.If you would have talked with me four years ago I would have told you that we were done having kids. . . well, I was done.  We had three beautiful children and I felt that we were good.  Three was enough, right? Then in the wonder of God’s plan, inexplicably, I began to have feelings well up inside me from seeds that were planted years ago.

See, when I was around eight, I saw this baby doll at a craft show and I just had to have her.  Not because of some childish want. . . no, it was as if she were mine already.

Unexpectedly, hundreds of miles away a little boy, also about eight, happened to be on a family vacation with cousins from out of town who had recently adopted.  During this time God planted seeds in his heart as well.  Of course this little boy was my now husband, Dave.  If you were to ask him today, he would tell you that at this young age he knew without a doubt that he would adopt one day.

Isn’t it beautiful how God lays things on the hearts of children and they have the faith to not question? Now, jump ahead to middle school and high school where research projects and opinion papers gave voice to those seeds that God planted.  I would have told you then that I wanted to adopt from EVERY country.  My own little United Nations as my mom recalls it.

Dave and I met some years later on the campus of GVSU both very much certain that God was calling us to adopt one day. As our relationship grew we talked of adopting as well as having biological children of our own.  Well, we were married and did have children. . . 3 beautiful biological children.

What many don’t know about my story is that after our first child, Korah Beth, was born I questioned God’s plan to grow our family through adoption.  I tried to bury the desires I once had.  Why, I’m not entirely sure, but I know it had a lot to do with fear. Those of you who have had children know the love a mother has for a child.  It is unlike any other.  I feared that I could not love a child that I did not carry in my womb for nine months as much as I loved the child I had.  I voiced that concern to Dave.  Talk of adoption ceased.

We had Nathan Ezra twenty months later, then Silas a few years after that.  With each child I was amazed at how one  person can love so much, so deeply.

After we had Silas I felt as if we should be done.  I was able to tell myself this for a while but soon I was overwhelmed with the feeling  that we needed one more….after all our house wasn’t full, something. . someone, was missing.  So, we went about trying to conceive another child.  But, to be honest, something just wasn’t right.  I didn’t know why and I felt somewhat guilty but I realized that I did NOT want to carry or birth another baby.  We took a break from it all and tried to determine if indeed, our family was complete after all.

Time passed.  Then, one Sunday morning, some families who had fostered and adopted spoke at church.  I had feelings of admiration for these families and it was as if those seeds, planted years ago, were bursting up desiring the sun. I couldn’t deny that they were there.  I pondered these thoughts and feelings privately and began doing some “secret” research on adoption. . agencies, countries. . Although this world of adoption was unfamiliar to me, I knew I belonged in it.

Finally, after a few weeks of research and prayer I posed the question to  Dave.  We had gone to bed late but I could no longer hold inside what I felt God was whispering in my ear.  I quietly asked, “Do you ever still think about adopting?”  His response, “I’ve never stopped.”

There was a long pause and I replied, “I think I might be kinda ready.”

You might have expected Dave to be caught off guard – not prepared for what I had asked.  It had been about six years since the two of us had seriously discussed adoption. However, just the opposite was true.  While I had tried, and partially succeeded  in burying what I knew was God’s plan for our family. . . He simply couldn’t.  His daily prayer had been for God to take the desire of adoption from him or to bring the desire back to me.

From that moment until now our adoption journey has contained many moments and feelings of surprise mingled with admiration caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable…. wonder.
And yes, I did find that I could deeply love a child that didn’t grow under my heart . . .  for she grew in it.

I could go on and on about God’s presence throughout our  adoption.  I guess that as they say is another story.

So, my question for you, as children who were adopted into God’s family is. . . What seeds are you carrying that need the light of the SON, God’s Wonder, to shine on?

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Missionary Guest Blogger: An Everlasting Name

Posted on 28 November 2012 by Kari Gibson

I’m so honored to introduce you to my dear friend, Jennifer, the missionary we are serving in Pignon, Haiti. She is an inspiring writer and wants to share her time with us living and loving and serving at Haiti Home of Hope orphanage. Her words will break your heart and inspire you to live James 1:27. This is the first time Jen has shared her life in stories with an audience, so please make sure to leave her encouraging words in the comments. Every Wednesday, I will share a new story from our featured guest blogger (10 stories coming!!)

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is

The events in this story transpired so quickly that Bill and Jennifer never knew the baby girl’s name. Due to the mental condition of the mother, they weren’t sure she had ever even been given a name. Therefore, for this story, we are calling her Baby Girl.

A deacon in our church brought a sick baby and her mom to see me. They called ahead of time but only said that the baby was sick. As soon as I saw Baby Girl, I knew it was bad. She wasn’t more than a year old and suffered from abuse, neglect, and starvation. She weighed maybe ten pounds. Each tiny breath caused her to moan in pain. Whippings had left open, infected wounds on her back. Her little bottom was raw and bleeding from being left in her waste. She had a swollen black eye and numerous other bruises and wounds. Instantly, my heart broke for her.

As I held her in my arms, Bill and I immediately started discussing our options. With no pediatrician at the local hospital, her chances of survival there were slim. The mentally ill mother had inflicted the injuries to the precious baby so we could not send her home. The baby was close to death.

Baby Girl was starving and we knew she needed food. While we talked of where to place her, Bill brought me a bottle of formula. I tried to get her to suck, but she was too weak. We filled a syringe and I placed a few drops of milk in her mouth. She still moaned in pain and struggled to breathe. After a few drops of formula, I began to rock her. I hoped she would rest and keep down the milk. Swaying in my arms, she settled down and drifted off to sleep. I realized this may have been the first time she experienced tenderness and compassion. As she laid there in my arms, as I rocked her and watched her sad face, she simply passed away. I was shocked. Baby Girl was only at HHH for thirty minutes; we hadn’t even had enough time to figure out how to treat her or where to place her.

What an honor to hold her little body as her soul was ushered into Heaven. While her bruised and broken body still lay in my arms, her whole and contented soul rested in the arms of Jesus. Baby Girl’s suffering was over.

We explained to the mom that Baby Girl had passed away and she took the news quietly. Then, as I held the baby, Bill shared the hope of eternal life with the mother, letting her know that Baby Girl was now in the arms of Jesus. He told the mom that she too could have eternal life and one day see her daughter again. The mom bowed her head and prayed. We do not know what happened in that young mother’s heart, but God does.

We could have so easily judged the mom and blamed her for the daughter’s death. However, rather than judgment, Bill extended compassion. Rather than blame, he offered hope. He wanted her to know that God loved her and desired a relationship with her.

The world would condemn such a mother to prison. The neglect and abuse she had inflicted on her daughter would certainly seal her guilty verdict. However, in the eyes of a holy God, her crimes – her sins – are no greater and no less than those committed by any of us. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). Bill’s recognition of the young mother’s need for love, compassion, and hope was a true reflection of the attitude of Christ. Jesus did not look down on us in our sinful state and condemn us to prison. Indeed, our sinful actions had already sealed our own guilty verdicts. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17) and “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). His death on the cross frees us from the prison our sin had placed us in and enables us to experience the love of the Father and the hope of eternal life.

The hope of eternal life also awaits Baby Girl who died in innocence before she was old enough to understand forgiveness and salvation. Although she is remembered without a name here on earth, a new name awaits her in heaven. God Himself says, “I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5).

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God’s Timing Is Perfect

Posted on 27 June 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me. Today’s crazy guest is our SUPER-nanny, Dovie White!!!!!!

GODS TIMING IS PERFECT … It’s a promise that we can stand on.

Kari asked me to tell my story. To tell the world about God’s faithfulness in my life and how he brought me here to Addis.

It really began three summers ago. I was sitting on my bed shortly after school had ended my softmore year, contemplating weather to work at Cold Stone again or try something new, when I started begging and pleading with God that he take me out of the country.I longed to go on an adventure! Then I allowed myself to compromise and pleaded for at least something long term, even if it was still in the country, and eventually just that he would bring me a NEW opportunity. He was quick to answer by allowing me to be a nanny KAA for the Janke family. It was a month long job that ended up being EXACTLY what I needed that summer. It was the perfect amount of time, for the perfect amount of money, with the most perfect family for that time in my life.

What I did not understand then, was that God still heard my FIRST plea to travel the world, it just wasn’t time yet.

Fast Forward to the beginning of my senior year, my sweet friend Alex Snyder asked me to lead a bible study with her, for freshman girls. This is something we had been given as freshmen, and something we wanted to give as seniors. We wanted to invest in younger girls and be mentors, because we had been blessed with that gift by girls before us. However, the beginning of my senior year when Alex approached me about getting a group started, I was not quite feeling up to par. I had heard a thousand times though, “if you wait till you feel ready, you’ll wait forever.” So the small group began and I came to know Hannah Gibson and her family.

Since her brother and I graduated in the same class, I had mingled with them a few times over the years but never got to know them personally. The small group really sparked our friendship and gave us the foundations for a now “family” like relationship. Throughout the year I still felt less than awesome as a leader but was constantly encouraged by Alex, and my family and the girls! We ended up growing really close and meeting weekly to hang out and pray together.

One night probably in March, I ran into the Gibsons at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Panda House. We chit chatted for a while and Kari casually mentioned, “We are really hoping you join us this summer in Ethiopia as a nanny. Oh is that Lo Mein? Well we better head back to our table…” I was sure she wasn’t serious. That sounded too good to be true! But, sure enough, a week later she called me to ask formally  if I would come with them this summer to be a nanny for Zoe and a friend for Hannah, and to help them both with the transition. She told me right up front that they wanted to cover the expenses and that she wanted to meet with my family soon to discuss it! AND, that they had hardly any for sure details and that it would certainly be an adventure!

I was ECSTATIC! I hurried and told my parents who were 100% on board and amazed at such a wonderful blessing!

Then it started getting sticky, one thing after another sent Plan A (Three month adventure living and serving in Addis Ababa) further and further away. The house wouldn’t sell, the job wouldn’t end, the finances weren’t there yet. It looked doubtful. Kari eventually called me to tell me that it wasn’t going to happen. I was heartbroken for them, and sad I wouldn’t get to travel. Continue Reading

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Introducing The Twins … What To Expect When You’re Expecting!!!!!!!

Posted on 06 June 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me. Today’s crazy guest is  Meredith Howard.

Sometimes LIFE is Bizarre.  That is the best way I can sum up our story…..Just Bizarre.  Just God!

In 2010, after the Haitian Earthquake, my husband and I decided it was time to pursue our long time desire to adopt.  We had talked about it for years, but decided it was time to actually DO something…not just keep talking about it.  We spoke with our 3 children (at the time ages 2,4,6) about wanting to adopt.  As best as they could understand, they were supportive.  We began pursuing an adoption from Ethiopia.  Our “plan” was to adopt a little toddler age girl.   No more diapers, we thought, and no babies.  Been there, done that 3 times.

During the process- at my husband’s insistence- we got certified as foster parents as well.  He just really believed that if there were children in the US who needed homes, we should start there.  Long story short, we got a call about our sweet foster daughter- Nancy- and had to make a decision in about 5 minutes (before meeting her) if we would want to be her parents.  Birth parent rights were just about terminated.  This was going to be a “done deal.”  We said yes, and piled our 3 kiddos into the minivan to drive an hour north to meet her.  She was precious.   Our 3 bio children fell in love with her immediately.  I ran out and rented Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair” so I could learn to do African American hair.

After 3 months with us, and her calling my husband “Daddy!  Daddy!” she ended up being taken away from us (that is a whole other blog post in and of itself!).  We were heartbroken.  BUT, in our heart ache we knew this was the confirmation we needed to pursue international adoption. Continue Reading

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A Hard Conversation With Myself

Posted on 13 April 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me. Today’s crazy guest is . {updated with new family photos}

I started thinking about this as we were completing our second adoption. Fund-raising. And can I just say we did a lot of fund-raising, which was probably what made me think long and hard about it—coffee, t-shirts, celebration cards, garage sales, silent auctions—and I’m sure I left something out. Oh, yeah, begging. But that doesn’t count, does it?
With the adoption of our first son from Ethiopia we weren’t very schooled in fundraising, so we didn’t really make any grand attempts at it. Yet we were still blessed to bring Micah home without incurring any debt. I was working part-time, which helped a little. And we had some very special Brothers and Sisters in the Lord make some very generous donations toward our adoption expenses, which helped a lot!!

Even still with our second adoption I think I lost a little faith. God did such miracles to bring our Micah home that I really just expected to have to suck it up with Judah. So the fund-raising ensued.
But something really started to haunt me as we pursued different fund-raising efforts. I was asking others to give toward our adoption, but what was I willing to give?? Or maybe give up is the better question. I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband is a minister, so we don’t have much expendable income that we just blow. Our cars are older, and paid for. We don’t take luxurious vacations. We never spend more than $20 when we eat out. I don’t own a pair of jeans that cost more than $35. So there’s really no where to cut back. Right? Continue Reading

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[My Hubby Shares] What Is A Modern-Day Warrior?

Posted on 02 April 2012 by Kari Gibson

It’s such an honor to have my share his new quest, 127 Warrior with my readers! I have watched God do mighty miracles in his life and can’t wait to see what adventures He has planned for our family. If you enjoy this post or learn something crazy, please go grab your hubby and encourage him join the 127 Warrior movement. We have Man Up mission trips planned this summer (open spots!!) with several wonderful organizations, as well as the Man Up and Go movie, and conference coming soon!! It’s time to Man Up – protect and love the fatherless … living James 1:27 in a radical way.

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me. Today’s crazy guest is Roger Gibson.

What does a modern-day warrior look like? I recently saw the movie Acts of Valor. It was a total dude flick. No Hollywood actors. The actors were real life Navy Seal action heroes. It was the kind of movie where 40 year olds get to live out their warrior fantasies by watching these bad asses pulverize the enemy on the big screen. Hooyah!

Acts of Valor is about a Navy Seal Seven unit that is deployed to rescue a captured CIA agent behind enemy lines and defend the borders of the United States by keeping suicide bombers from entering. For me, a modern-day warrior operates very much like a Navy Seal, but in James 1:27 style. What does a 127 Warrior look like? As men, we are naturally wired to protect! In the book, The Male Brain the author called this hormone “Vasopressin the White Knight.” Vasopressin is the reason for our gallantry and monogamy. It makes us aggressively protect and defend our turf, mate, and children. Along with testosterone, vasopressin runs the male brain circuit.  A 127 Warrior is a man who is able to look beyond his own wall to Man Up for the fatherless. I know as men we instinctively know that we are supposed to protect our home, spouse, and kids but outside of our own very “wall” what does that look like? Unfortunately, four years ago I didn’t have a clue. Continue Reading

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Be A Voice

Posted on 28 March 2012 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a new series of reader submissions. This is your opportunity to share stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. If you would like to submit a story to this series, email me.  Today’s crazy guest is Kara Vassar.

When we were on our adoption journey, we wanted to feel connected to Ethiopia during our wait.  So, we got our hands on a Yezelalem Minch documentary. We heard that our adoption agency helps this orphan/widow care ministry in Ethiopia.   My husband and I watched it. I cried! We were amazed, in awe, saddened, and yet hopeful. In the movie, the visionary Birtukan and founder Nesibu were such an inspiration. They are truly the Hands and Feet of Christ in Ethiopia. The very next day, I sponsored a boy from Yezelalem Minch (YZM).  I knew in my heart that I would help them spread their ministry someday. But, at the moment, our adoption journey was 1st priority.  Within 6 months after we brought our 2 children home, I was offered a FREE pass for a week long Christian music festival (a festival that has been in my town for years, yet NEVER attended).  At this festival the Lord spoke to my heart saying, “it is time to help Yezelalem Minch and be their voice”.  I had NO idea what I was doing but I felt I could start by sharing their story on facebook.  To move people’s hearts, you have to show them a need and how they can make a difference.  I thought sharing the Yezelalem Minch documentary was the answer.  After contacting the director, I had copies made and started sending them out free.  The response was amazing!  I was overwhelmed by how so many people stepped up to help these Yezelalem Minch children in Ethiopia.  Now, there are so many YZM advocates throughout the US that children are being sponsored on a more regular basis.   Praise God for this miracle.  Nesibu, Birtukan and YZM staff do all the hard work by making sure their 1300 children are cared for, loved and valued as our very own children are. Continue Reading

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“I Can’t Believe I Won The Mission Trip” (Alexandra’s Story)

Posted on 27 March 2012 by Kari Gibson

Alexandra won the Mission Trip Giveaway!!

Back in January, my friend’s mother (whose church sponsors the Ludlati carepoint in Swaziland with Children’s HopeChest) posted about a trip to Swaziland that was going on this summer. I did some research on Swaziland and saw the high number of orphans and the AIDS infection rate. The life expectancy in Swaziland is only around thirty years. All of this astounded me and I felt this huge push to go on this trip.

There was also a spiritual side to my desire to go on this trip and it’s explained in my post called Jesus on Purpose ( It’s a bit of a long post but explains a lot of important things about my heart and God.

When I learned how much it would cost for me to be able to get to Swaziland, I was slightly terrified. However, the team leader assured me that he had seen God provide for everyone who was truly interested in these service trips. He had faith that the funding would come through and so I decided to commit to finding a way to go.

I told my friends and family and got immediate support. They encouraged me to start a blog so I could journal my experiences before and after the trip. Within a few days of learning about my trip, I had people doing bakesales for me and selling jewelry. People were sacrificing their time, energy, and resources to make my desire to serve in Swaziland a reality. Continue Reading

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