Sunday, May 1, 2011

Afraid to Pray for Patience

I have always been afraid to actually PRAY for patience. I was pretty sure it came only through the hard the very LEAST it would mean long periods of WAITING! Heck, who wants to WAIT for anything? My generation can scarcely remember life before the microwave. is what I have found lately: I don't really HAVE to pray for patience. I am finding that the more time I spend seeking Him...searching earnestly for His will for my life...the more I am willing to follow where He leads and there is no need to ask for is just part of the package.
God really CAN be trusted to orchestrate the details of my life...if I get outta the way...and quit messing it up. It is SUCH a wonderful, peaceful feeling to know that I do not have to "make things happen." My job is to STOP-LOOK & LISTEN.
  1. Stop being so busy "doing" (or in MY case: thinking & manipulating)
  2. Look...into His word! Really? We are missing the obvious when we whine about God not telling us what He wants us to do. He is like a classic parent...saying it several times to children who refuse to hear & comprehend.
  3. Listen! Ok...really....I have never received an AUDIBLE message from God - although that WOULD be WAY COOL! I have, however, had the very blessed experience of a peace that washes over me like a wave during two rather stressful times in my life. Now? I can say I feel a general sense of trust in His timing, in His plan...even when the world would say: "Hey, crazy lady! DO SOMETHING....NOW!" I am getting to the point where "wait" is not necessarily an answer I rebel against. Instead, I am learning to look for the rewards that I would MISS if I rushed past where He wants me at that time.
If you do not know the peace of patience that can only come from the Lord....a sense that He will open the right doors and we just have to be willing to walk through them (and NOT be tempted to get the crowbar after the shut doors!) are missing out. Maybe it's too scary to PRAY for patience. I get that - really - I DO! BUT...I would say...pursue it as a byproduct that comes from seeking hard after Him. Personally, I wanna be huddled up close to the one who cared enough to give it ALL up for ME!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A 3 year old should not die alone. A 3 YEAR OLD SHOULD NOT DIE!

Ok...yes...I am up at an insane hour. I was just about to go to bed when I got a message from the wonderful man we may work with in Ethiopia.

He was asking me to pray for a little 3 1/2 yo girl who is in the hospital DYING! She is HIV+ and her mom died about 2 weeks ago. No one really knew they were kept it a secret until it was too late. Ugh....and meds are free. It looks like it will be too late for this precious daughter. There is a 10 yo brother who is not +....but that is another tragedy. He lost his mom, he will lose his sister and who will raise him? I was told a neighbor is caring for him. But...will they continue? If or when they realize this boy's mother & sister "died from AIDS" will they believe he is safe to be around? The stigma is still there. I know of two women who just recently were turned away from jobs as housekeepers because they were HIV+. College educated young adults do not completely believe me when I explain the facts to them.

Ignorance is killing people.

What can we do? How soon can we do it? Is God calling us to hospice? To step into the emotionally challenging task of loving people as they die? NO one should die alone. No one should be left all alone. Everything in me wants to BE there right now.

What I really wish is that I could get on a plane tomorrow and be there to hold this little she would not die alone. Be there to comfort the little boy who will have no family whatsoever. Can you believe I priced the ticket? Oh, yes - and I have it all "figured out"....'cept the money....because I really COULD just go.

I walked about 4 miles tonight...wrestling with God. I am heartbroken and there is no other way I want to be. I cannot be "okay" with life here - the way we live it, the way we WASTE it - when I know a little girl is dying alone right now...because her mom was too afraid to tell anyone they were sick. I know their names.

How many others? Too many. Why is this something we are able to ignore? Are we okay with this....because it does not affect us? Are we human?

I would go tomorrow.

I know people think I am crazy. I guess I just really don't care.

Their names are Frehiwot and Brook.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Am I brave enough to say: Here's My Life

I want this....I want my life to be laid out for Him...but, I also want the close relationship to be completely honest with Him and able to lean into Him for what only HE can supply!

Am I BOLD ENOUGH to say: I Refuse

Faith Without Works?

Is my faith DEAD? Or is it just stifled because what my HEART desires is OH SO strange and scary to the average American Christian?
What does it mean and what does it look like to give Him everything? Do I trust Him with it? Do I honestly believe it is His and He deserves it...ALL?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Favorite Day

Usually, I am not slow to catch on....really....honestly....I am quite the opposite - unless, of course, God is sending me messages....LOUD & CLEAR! I have joked that I really do not need to know God's WHOLE plan...but, I would love an occasional Post-It Note to drop from the sky.

On November 2, 2009, I had come to the end of my persistent and often manipulative personality.
I was DONE trying to force open the adoption doors that were closing...or slamming shut. But - gosh darn it - God was not taking away the sincere desire to parent more children...and I knew full well I was not birthin' any more babies!
I gave up. In reality, I gave up trying it MY way and God - almost IMMEDIATELY - showed me HIS WAY! I picked up my precious lil brown boy later that day. At that time, I was amazed - but - looking back? I AM FLOORED!

Fast forward exactly one year later...November 2, 2010.

Kari Smalley Gibson was raffling off a FREE missions trip to Ethiopia. All I had to do was buy a t-shirt. Hundreds of people did the same. The winners were drawn over the weekend at a leaders training seminar..but POSTED on November 2. Enough t-shirts were sold for 2 free trips - and 2 names were drawn. Not my name. BUT....oh, BUT! A wonderful family anonymously gave funds for a 3rd free trip....and GOD CHOSE ME! Out of hundreds of people whose hearts' desire was to go and be blessed and BE a blessing in Ethiopia...for some reason - GOD CHOSE ME! And....I found out on November 2nd!

I did not think 45 was "old" - but - now...I may have to go get a CT scan to make sure everything is alright. <jk> 'Cause - DANG - it was only the other day that it finally occured to me that BOTH of these knock-your-socks-off, change-your-life & let-Me-drive-it-home-to-you-that-YES-I-care-so-much-about-lil-ole-YOU moments happened on THE SAME DATE exactly one year apart!!!!

I have never had a "favorite day." Oh, sure....I love my anniversary, and the day each of my kids were born...but, a favorite day? Naw - not really....not for anything but the above "obvious" reasons...and my own birthday is too close to Christmas. Even the day I gave my life to Christ was in August...and it was more of a process - that eventually culminated into a personal surrender - since I grew up in a Christian home. OH, yes...I have a favorite day: November 2nd, baby! I would be lying if I said I was not looking forward to THIS year's November 2nd with excitement and anticipation. Maybe nothing "special" will happen. However, it WILL be a wonderful day because it will be a time to look back over the last 2 years and be hugely thankful. (And...ya never know.....?!)

Bottomline?...I think God is pretty care enough to do 2 things that rocked my world and brought me closer to Him and showed me how much He really cares about me and my puny life...and on the SAME day of the year!

Monday, April 4, 2011

This Picture Makes Me Cry - EVERY TIME!

Here is a photo that expresses the depth of where my heart is. The look on this boy's face crushes me. He is a young orphaned boy who was pulled off the street...and put into a government orphanage with hundreds of other "boys"....ranging in age from maybe as young as 6 up to (gasp) 25! Let's be like most people and not even begin to think of the horrors that may be happening in that place. *sigh*

This precious child should NOT be walking around each day trying to figure out life by himself - or worse, in the midst of so many other lost souls.

He should NOT be going to bed all alone, feeling like no one loves him, no one in the whole world cares at all.

If we can go and love kids like this boy - give them a smile, a hug, a kiss, a meal, a shirt, a pair of shoes...a face to look forward to seeing...a reason to HOPE - it's worth it to me.


Ok...first...let me say: I LOVE MY MOM, too! It's just that the email volley has been between me and my dad after I broke the news that our heart's desire is to move our family to Africa. My sweet mom is just trying to wrap her wonderful heart around it all. However, my mom actually STARTED this whole thing...she was THE FIRST person on BOTH sides of my family to realize that God loved her enough to send His son - his precious only child - to die on a cross for she might receive eternal life with her Abba Father. It's not easy to let your child go and do good things...hard things.

So....I guess you can connect the dots BACKWARDS and see that any of God's children in Africa (or elsewhere!) who are loved by me - or INTRODUCED TO CHRIST - can thank my mom! :)

Anyway...since so many people read our last post, I thought I should share how it has played out so far. In a nutshell, my rational father was....well, loving & rational! Some of my favorite things he wrote:

First --- you are right. Dad would understand. I truly do. Must admit, though, I am not the most popular guy with those sentiments. can I object that I have a daughter who wants to make the world a better place for those living in a world of despair. My “practical” side tells me no way! But my heart tells me that, although painful, if you believe it’s the right thing to do and feel that the Lord is leading the way, you will know by the doors that will open or close.

He went on to share stats with me about risks associated with living in Addis. Still...rational.

You’re probably going to get sick of me, real fast. However, as I circle the globe via Internet, I will share the good and the bad with you. Again, I expect you know these facts. Lori, I am not trying to be discouraging…just passing this info along…

I love my dad's heart! Here is my reply to him...

I will not get sick of hearing from you. Most of it makes me smile. I know you love me and my family. And I think you know I love you AND them, too....and, if I did not believe this was God's plan, I would not pursue it. We have been thinking about this for a long time now...probably about 3 years and slowly but surely God has removed our reasons "why not." At this point, we can weigh two options: 1. Go and serve God as He opens these doors, or 2. Stay and....continue to live for ourselves. We could stay here and serve at church and work with Safe Families and, heck, we could even work with youth at risk around here. All these things are good - but, that is not where our hearts are. I don't know if I can really explain it. Maybe we have just moved past a point in our lives and this is what is next. We are not finding anything biblical that would suggest we not go. On the contrary, what we are reading is compelling and encouraging and convicting. We just really want to live there among people we love and do what we can - through Christ - to meet their needs, make their lives a little better, offer them some hope and share the message of Jesus with them....because it is not this life in this broken world that is our eternal life!
I don't have all kinds of statistics on Addis, but I do know that Ethiopia is a third world country...and I know what that means. I have read a lot about it over the years. We are not fooling ourselves into thinking this will be like living in a midwest suburb. But...that brings me to the last part of this reply. Your concerns bring me to tears because the need is VERY great and there is much pain and suffering. Yet, there is joy in their faces - despite what we view as "so little." They are so rich in the things we have lost in our opulence. They value relationships and time with each other, they take pleasure in the little things, they value friendships and they seek hard after God. I am not saying every person is like this...of course, not.
I know this saddens you and mom because it is far and it seems scary. But, I want to spend my life on something that matters more than what I have found thus far. If my siblings and their families do not understand or if they are against it...I don't really need to know that. They cannot possibly know my heart - but - I know in my heart whose approval I truly seek...and this is what we are feeling strongly led to pursue. At this point in our lives, we just really desire to put feet to our faith and God has seen fit to allow us to fall in love with a place and - more so - a people. Right now, our hearts long to be back there in that place and with those people - but - I want to get my heart to a place that I truly yearn for heaven and CHRIST even more passionately.
If we go - God willing - and if you ever decide to visit us there...I think you will understand!

And - BLESS MY HEART! - here is his reply:

Okay, Lori:
That was the reply I expected and wanted…..Total Commitment!

And, even though I pointed out the bad spots, I still support your heart and what you want to accomplish. I always knew there was something more in your life and am not surprised in the least that this is what you chose to do. It’s hard to criticize someone who wants to do God’s work, even if it means in a far-off land in a place we “comfortable” people find extreme. That’s where Christian work is needed most.

You will not receive any more emails pointing out unpleasant subjects, rather encouragement.

And, yes, I would visit Africa once again!

I guess you and I are stuck with Winston’s wise words:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give!”
I love you!
Did I tell you? I LOVE MY DAD! (And my mom, too!) Now...about that dream to go, as their undeservedly blessed child, to be Mom to some precious brown children.....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How Do You Tell Your Parents...

...that your heart's desire is to move their precious grandchildren....TO AFRICA!?! It was bad enough when we took the two we had at the time 1,000 miles from New Hampshire to Illinois. That move was in 1996 and it was "supposed" to be for 2 years. Fast forward to 2011 and we are still here!

Here is the slightly edited version of how I told my life is an open book - why not share it?!

Mom & Dad,

I have been meaning to call you - but- I have an average of 10 kids in my house now...ranging from 7 weeks old to 20 years old....since it is Spring Break. Before that, I landed home with only 9 days to tell Pete all about my trip before he left. He was gone for 12 days and I was single parenting (with the amazing help of Ali and her sweet boyfriend, Chris) two under 2 and my brood. Add to that the fact that I was staying up late to catch Pete online (8 hour time difference) and getting up early with infants & toddlers. AND....I was finishing out my job - YAY!!!

I don't even know where to start. Maybe I will just start with what I know Dad will say: "I am not surprised at all."

I suppose it makes the most sense to work backwards. We are praying and strongly suspecting God is throwing open doors for our family to move to Ethiopia in the next 18-24 months. We have tried hard to view it as the natural, emotional, hill-top reaction to two amazing, life-changing trips to a world so different from everything we know here. There are three Smith hearts stuck in Addis Ababa. There is no where else I would rather be right now. Pete and Ali wholeheartedly agree. There is so so so much to consider and figure out - but - we are trusting God BIG TIME on this. He is blowing us away sending people to answer our questions before we even ask them. Let me see if I can answer some of the obvious....

Money? We will have to raise support and, I would love to say that would come from Christians through churches, BUT....ha! Individual Christians - sure..maybe....hopefully. However, we are meeting with a dear friend of ours who may offer us the opportunity to return to the states for 10-12 weeks each year to WORK to raise what could be well over half what we would need to live on annually. They provide these opportunites specifically for pastors & missionaries. (ACK! We would be missionaries?! Pete used to bring up that subject before kids and I would CHANGE IT!)

Medical? I spoke to a woman who is already living there. She told me about her international medical policy - said it was non-negotiable! (We know several Americans who live there right now....God keeps crossing our paths!) We would plan to have the kids go for annual doctor & dentist...and scoliosis & eczema & Crohns...visits while we are in the states. I did have to take a couple trip members to the hospital while I was there. That is another story! Sorta funny, but not really. Anyway, I got to see the medical care available to Americans - and what it costs - and it is not bad at all. My friend has already found a great dentist from Germany...since her husband had a tooth issue. I guess, bottomline: Do we trust God? It IS a fairly modern, large city. People DO live and breathe there - including Americans. I will admit, this was my last a Mom.

School? Ok...God has a sense of humor. I may homeschool the little kids. We have friends who are going in August and the wife dreaded homeschooling - but her daughter did not get into the American school there. I told her she could school MY kids and I would school hers...then it would be PRIVATE school, not homeschool. Either way, we may put them on a waiting list for this highly recommended school. We are hoping Ali and Kane will come with us and attend the Youth With A Mission school there in Addis to complete the Discipleship Training School. It is something I would have thought they might like even before this - lucky for us, there is a local branch. Otherwise, they can attend in another location. The program is cool...12 weeks of classes and 12 weeks in the field working in evangelistic outreach somewhere in the world. I love the thought of them doing it together! Their courses can be applied to a degree through the school the program is affiliated with - so that is a plus.

What the heck?! This is probably the #1 question. We have a heart to work with the street kids and the children who age out of the orphanages. I thought I would go there and get my heart set on toddlers, maybe even My heart was captured by the people. The old raisin ladies - the one who cried tears of joy when I hugged and kissed her...and would not let go...telling me with gestures that she would see me in heaven. My precious translator told me people rarely pay attention to her - much less hug & kiss her. The leper men - I love these men! I know I could not work in a nursing home here in the US...but I was so blessed to be with these men. The JOY! No fingers, feet half gone & missing noses...dancing & singing & blessing us. The children...their love and generosity challenges me. They light up just because we smile at them...even if we have nothing more to offer than hugs & kisses. The ache? The older kids. The children who live in orphanages and know they will not be adopted. The kids who can't even cry anymore because they miss their dead mothers too much. The boys who have to move into adulthood with little or no guidance. The young man who told me that - until he was able to call me Mom - there was never ever anyone in his life who cared what happened to him, much less truly loved him.

What will we do there? We hope to work in conjunction with orphanages - like a nice catholic orphanage run by THE most delightful nuns - to bridge the gap for the kids as they "age out." We are not exactly sure what this will look like YET - but God is working overtime to connect us with like-minded people HERE and in Ethiopia....strong Christians who have a burning passion for the same kids! 
There is a man Pete and I both met whose heart is pure and he is so sold out to Jesus. We will definitely consider working with him. That angle got very exciting just the other day because a dear friend of mine - whose husband I knew led short term missions trips to Ethiopia - told me they are going together TOMORROW and they suspect God is calling their large family to move there and work with this man and his ministry. There is something HUGELY reassuring to find out that sound, strong Christians....who are OLDER than us....might be there for us to do life with!

So much of this is still up in the air....but....we have such a peace about it. We want God to use US to love on people there and to show them make a difference in their earthly AND ETERNAL lives.
For FUN - and to further reach children (and their families) - I want Pete to consider starting a softball/baseball little league. They know OF baseball, but no one plays it and several of the people we talked to wanted to learn. We even sent a bat bag full of "supplies" to one of the driver/translators. He is a strong Christian man who loves the children...and they love him. (One of Ali's favorites by far - he looked out for her!) He said he attempted to play with some kids and some Americans the other day. They had a blast - but he said they need PRACTICE....and Pete. (I thought that was cute!) Basketball is another sport they are intrigued with. We have two friends there who play on a league that pays them a small amount. I would love to see Pete - with help! - start something for the kids that would be a Christian outreach. Our kids play Upwards here and it is PHENOMENAL! You have no idea how many hearts you might reach with a little fun and a loving coach. (This is TOTALLY Pete's sweet spot!) I will send you a story about a man who is changing lives all because someone waved at him and spent the day playing Frisbee with him.

What about right now? Well, we are not discounting several factors....and the timing is exciting! We do not think it was a coincidence that Pete and I BOTH were handed FREE trips to Ethiopia...and only 9 days apart. Add to that Ali's trip. We only sent out a "PLEASE PRAY" letter and so much money came in from so many unforseeable sources.

I would not have guessed that my job would be eliminated due to restructuring - yet - I was given severance pay through July. Our 3 year house lease is up in June and Kane graduates in May. Our next child is not even close to entering high school yet - whew! Hezekiah's adoption should be final within the next year. We have a car payment until this October....but, after that...we are completely debt-free. We are on the hunt for a rental home that is considerably cheaper than this place....and I think this poor housing market may work in our favor. We will have a chunk of money from Pete's 401K to hold in an emergency fund. (Gotta be somewhat responsible!) PLUS, the opportunity I mentioned above may start in a smaller form this summer which would enable us to HOPEFULLY start to SAVE!

We are fully aware we will be in Satan's crosshairs. We will be soliciting prayer warriors, for sure! We are actually hoping to be able to do a trial run of 2-4 months. Pete would have to use all his vacation time - and/or - ask for a short leave of absence. There is a company allowance for leaves...just not sure if our REASON would quailfy. Our friends did this and they thought it was invaluable. You really need to live there - as opposed to visiting or vacationing. We may find it is not for us....but we want to go into this with our eyes wide open....with His eyes.

Are we CRAZY?!?! Ummm....YES! Completely! We are crazy in love with the people there. The babies, the toddlers, the school kids, the teenagers, the 20-nothings (my favorites!), the adults who have fully embraced us, the old, the sick, the's a package deal, for sure. Pete even fell in love with a PROSTITUTE! Okay....actually a FORMER prostitute. She calls him her brother and he changed her life just by listening to her. She was pulled off the streets and trained to be a hairdresser to free her from that give her children a hope & a future. There are women who rent 3-sided rooms for $1.20 a day that are slightly bigger than the set of bunk beds they house. These women put their children on the top bunk while they "work" the bottom bunk. These women GREW UP on the top bunk...and so did the men they "service." No one should live this way. We want to offer ourselves to God to change things like this. It is not really all that hard. Someone just has to care...has to bother.

We have an "adopted" 22 year old son in Ethiopia. This young man, Tesfalem (which means "hope for the world") is amazing. He was orphaned at 3 months old. His sister was only 2. They have both grown up in government orphanages - they aged out. (I hate that term...maybe because I can see the faces of it.) He has everything in the world to be bitter and angry about - his life was not fair from the very start. Here is what he wrote today on his Facebook account: "Who is lucky that much i am? I don't care i don't have anything .b/c she is more than things .and she created incredible feeling in my heart after 22 of long meaning less years .don't ask me about it b/c i can't explain and u can't expect . Love you mom. And all my family members (pete,ali, ...............) LOVE YOU ALL"

If being Mom to a 22 year old can change a life...I am in. He asks nothing of us. Just wants to be loved by a mom...and a dad (Pete met him, too!). He was so touched that Pete was asking about the details of his life and what we might be able to do to help him that he could not explain his feelings to me in English. I had him write it out in Amharic & I had it translated. Raw. He was pretty emotional that someone would even think of his needs - much less his wants - and desire to do something to help. He said even if we never ever did anything FOR him, he would love us forever for thinking of him and caring about him. Beacuse he is our son and we love and care for him, we are helping him out a bit financially. Now - for the first time ever, EVER - at 22 and 24, he and his sister have a safe place of their own. I cannot begin to imagine. He sent me photos - he is so happy, so relieved to be able to take care of his sister. He is a good kid. God saw fit to raise up a young man of amazing character - SOMEHOW?! - and we are reaping the blessing. He and Ali hit it off like brother and sister and it was incredibly hard to say goodbye at the airport. Truly like leaving a child behind.

I am telling you all this to let you know that we are in awe of the opportunities to give so little, yet do so much. We have been given SO much and we have used it to amass what matters so NOT AT ALL. We are thankful that God is bringing us to a place in our lives where we truly WANT to let go....and go.

There are so many factors in this. God has been pulling us down this path...and I do not discount that losing the house, disrupting the adoption, etc were all part of the humbling process. I would not trade any of it. We want to wait on Him and follow Him and He is giving us peace and patience....and excitement as we watch things unfold.


Okay....did ya know?! Or are you having to take a heart pill? I love you beyond words and I will be FOREVER grateful to you BOTH for the legacy....if not for YOU and your faith...where would I be now? I could "blame" you for this , but I prefer to see this as a continuing legacy. If you want to know what is swirling in my brain, read "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream," by David Platt. WOW! His book did not CREATE this desire - only confirms it!

With a smile,

Lori Smith


“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming ‘Woo hoo – what a ride!’”

Pouring My Heart Out to My Best Friend...7,000 Miles Away!

Here is a post I sent to my husband, Pete...after an amazing day! were right...saw the face of Jesus here...hugged an old, old woman who would not stop kissing me - told me she would see me in heaven - AND...fed a very old man in a leprosy community who could not use his own hands. He did not speak, just stared into my eyes with tears rolling down his face. It was so easy to kiss his dirty cheeks. How IS that?

Wet Balloons

Here is the Facebook post I threw up after our first full day in Ethiopia:

Wanna know who blows up balloons at a government run orphanage in a third world country....even AFTER the kids have put them in their own mouths?

To which MY DAUGHTER replied:

Who X2 lol! Like mother like daughter I guess. And I didn't know she was doing it too til after I started ha! How could I say no?

Wet balloons and dirty little faces...I wouldn't want it any other way!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More Than Just a CUTE SHIRT

Yes, this kid is adorable. Yes, my husband is a HUGE Dallas Cowboys fan. Yes, his zeal has infected the entire family. (Lucky man...has a wife who loves football.) Yes, one of his all time favorite players is Emmitt Smith. And, yes, our little man is pretty darn cute in that jersey. But...that is not the best part of this "story."
I work at a large church in the childrens area. We are casual and fun and warm and welcoming. I have some really AMAZING volunteers in Registration where we check in each and every child who comes to one of our three weekend services.
Well...there is this one woman.
She usually came to the Saturday evening service with her husband and 4 kids. So many times she would come in and be so obviously m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e! Without going into private details, suffice it to say, there was a lot in this woman's life to be unhappy about...from everyday irritations to sheer pain - the kind most moms do not even want to imagine. I had the advantage of knowing this about her from others who had a real heart for this struggling family.
Because I love my volunteers - and I tend to be a bit protective of them - I would go out of my way to be the one to wait on this mom when she checked in her children. Regardless of her demeanor, I tried my best to be positive and loving toward her. Most of the time, she was able to check her kids in without making eye contact...all the while uttering something painful or negative.
Some of my dear, sweet volunteers were led by their hearts to step up and make a difference. They made it their personal mission to get this woman to smile.
My volunteers usually only stay down in the children's area until about 10-15 minutes after the adult service starts. Our unhappy mom usually arrived after the start of the service and during a time when most families had already checked in...and I was the only one left in Registration. Two or three of my volunteers started to wait each Saturday evening until this family arrived! I no longer ran interference for them...they enthusiastically greeted the family and focused so much love and affection on this women - all jammed in the few minutes spent at check in!
Fast forward....this woman has CHANGED! She signed up to volunteer in the baby nursery. She started to bond with the other precious volunteers who were in there loving on beautiful, perfect infants. My little guy was in there at the time and she proclaimed him her FAVORITE! He was my excuse to get to know her even better. She is now absolutely delightful and her smile lights up the room. Her rich laughter blesses my heart. I love to see what God has done in her life...and I attribute at least some of it to the wonderful people who choose to spend their time serving Jesus and others - by my side.
This mom and I have joked about all the name changes we have considered if we are able to adopt our sweet baby. It has been FUN!
Tonight, she brought me a little gift bag. I thanked her, told her she did not have to buy me anything, and she excitedly insisted I open it. Adorable! Precious...on more than one level. I had an excuse to give this mom a HUGE HUG...the same woman who would barely look me in the eye about one year earlier.
I will keep that little Cowboys jersey forever. It will remind me of a special mom and a Jesus who loved her through me and some very special friends of mine. What an honor!