There are those moments that tend to mark you. Seared into your memory, it is difficult to escape them when they rise to the surface. I remember lying on the floor of the small chapel at Woods Chapel Church many years ago. I still feel the texture of the carpet against my cheek as I laid flat with my face pressed into the floor and my arms covering my face. It was the best attempt I had at hiding the liquid that was threatening to drip out of my eyes. I was feeling a huge tension, because I felt so pulled into so many directions internationally.

At that point, Russia had already been very deeply embedded into who God had created me to be. Visiting my friends was not only something I felt called into, it was also such a strong Kingdom awareness that I had to maintain a consistent and encouraging presence in the lives of my friends. It wasn’t even an option in my mind to NOT show up and NOT be present to encourage my friends in school, their friendships, and catch up on all the news. My heart is so closely tied to genuine discipleship and walking alongside people as they dive into Kingdom life that any opportunity to be present with my friends is one I take. Every. Time.

Also, in that moment with my emotions preparing to pool themselves on the chapel floor, was the realization that God had started something in me in China by proving to me I was created to be comfortable in places that make others uncomfortable. China will always be a constant tug on my heart, since it was what God used to form my missiology. With the powerful connection God made between our group and our friends in China, as well as the intense love I have for them, has never gone away no matter how long it has been since I have talked to them. China was a part of my life that will forever mark me, and the calling in my life that was affirmed through that summer has continued to guide my life.

Doing my best to hide not only from other people, but honestly from God, as I created a puddle on carpet of the chapel, I was incredibly confused to why God had finally allowed me time in Liberia, West Africa, yet was not sending me back. I had felt very much at home in that culture and challenges that I faced while submerging myself in a brand new culture stretched and molded me. That fulfillment of calling had been 10 years in the making as I landed in Africa, and I could NOT shake the feeling it was a part of something bigger.

Three years after being in Africa the first time God brought Haiti to the forefront of my mind after the earthquake and I couldn’t shake the pull to BE there. I couldn’t explain it, and I couldn’t make it stop. And I didn’t understand why because honestly, I didn’t want to be one of ‘those people’ interested in a place people were only aware because of the latest disaster and the most urgent need in the world. However, if anything is true in my life, it is I will choose to be obedient if I feel led by the Lord I serve to be his servant…even when it seems completely crazy. So I chose to be obedient. When I landed in Port au Prince, the earthquake damage I saw was exactly like the war damage in Liberia and somehow immediately created a connection that I was somewhere familiar and comfortable. I still say that if someone had blind folded me, put me on a plane and took off the blindfold in Haiti, my first question would have been, “Why are they speaking French in Liberia?” Those first couple of short-term trips to Haiti can make me cringe at memories for what I learned and what I know now, but had I not gone on those first two trips to Haiti, I do not think I ever would have said an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to moving there.


My years in Haiti were unequivocally part of God’s plan for my life. Haiti has transformed my life and affirmed my calling in ways that would only have happened while living there. God poured so much love and affirmation out for who he has created me to be while I lived there that I know I will never be the same person that moved down there over five years ago.

THAT pull. The one you cannot explain why you feel it. The pull that you know will challenge you. The pull that speaks simultaneously to adventure, fear, calling and radical love. The pull that can immediately put you into some of the most uncomfortable, yet comfortable, moments at the exact same time. THAT is the string that ties the Kingdom of God together for so many of God’s people…it is unavoidable. It relentlessly chases you until you turn and face it with all the courage and grit you can gather…and then…then it demands your obedience.

In that moment nine years ago on the chapel floor…I felt intensely fractured into pieces that made no sense and left me super pissed, because I just wanted to be with my friends in so many different places around the world.

I think, then, I honestly believed God would stop fracturing me and that the God of restoration would somehow make me whole again.

As all of staff was leaving the chapel, my friend stayed behind and patiently listened as all this poured out. His choice and ability to be present in that moment is something I have never forgotten. I was a mess and not many would choose to stick around for that.

I’m sure he was much more eloquent than what I remember, but he told me I needed to embrace the fracture. I was so frustrated when he said that, because the fractures I was living with were so incredibly painful. I wanted to be able to pour into my friends on a regular basis, but the fractured feeling I had was ripping my heart into pieces I was uncomfortable with.

I cannot help but smile now thinking about how much more fractured my heart is with so many more friends around the world. It has been a year since I saw my friends in Haiti, and those are relationships I feel intensely committed to walk alongside. I just received a message last night from one of those friends, “Fok ou ta vini Haiti pou mwen t ka di ou sa ki ap pase.” Which basically means, “Get down here and tell me what is happening.” My apologies to Kreole speakers, because I’ve lost some of my language ability. But the core meaning stays the same…you are with me, I know that, but I need help and I trust you.

Let’s take a 5 hour coffee date to talk about feeling the fracture in THAT conversation, but let’s not avoid talking about how to be healthy in relationships internationally, because there are right and wrong ways of being present. I will not be hopping on a plane simply because my friend is in distress. Empowering friends and encouraging their local communities is incredibly important.

IMG_8981In the last three years, God somehow thought I would be able to handle more of the fracture and introduced me to a phenomenal group of people I get to work with in Guatemala. I am definitely not short on passion to champion their ministries and support them in the healthiest way possible through partnership with local churches in the States. God has built us for community and he pulls us into those communities in some of the most creative ways possible. The ways God has allowed me to get to know these leaders in Guatemala and in the States, to pray with them, and be saturated in the Holy Spirit with them have been countless over the time I have been gifted to be with them.

“Embrace the fracture.”

Those words echo in me, and for good reason. If I had sat in that moment and told God ‘No! No more fracturing me!’ like an unruly toddler when it just hurt too much…I would have missed so many opportunities to serve and be used for God’s Kingdom around the world. Opportunities that had I missed them, I would not be who I am today and I would have missed out on so many friendships. God meets us in the frustration, confusion and pain, but he also rejoices in our joy and freedom when we live out who he has created and called us to be.

God will continuously enlarge your heart and your capacity to love deeply and intentionally those he is asking you walk alongside. God would never have made relationships the currency of his Kingdom without giving us the capacity love well all who enter our lives. That is the core of the Kingdom for God to make his people present and available for what is needed for restoration and to right the wrongs of this world.

Embrace the fracture, and watch the Kingdom explode in vibrant color. Then IF you happen to find yourself in a puddle on the floor of a chapel, and need someone to sit alongside you, I would be happy to volunteer.



Our energetic friend was bouncing around us yelling, “You are here! You are here!” as the tiny muscled arms wrapped tightly around my neck, as if I was going to disappear, while warm, humid air embraced us in a cocoon meant only for our hearts to recognize each other once again as the familiar scent of boy sweat drifted to my nose, it was then that three small words floated to my ear through a breathe of a whisper intended only for me, repeating over and over again…

“Mwen sonje ou.”

“I miss you.”

As if the plane landing in Haiti hadn’t already given me overwhelming realizations that I was home, just a few hours later, I was instantly at home in every aspect of the word.

Oh, my heart, that is so fragile with this small one that holds every corner. I would never be able to put into words how much I miss him. There are not enough variations of “I miss you, too” in Creole to adequately convey them all. I put up a strong front, but when it comes to my buddy…I’m a puddle. I would do anything for him, and it’s reciprocal as evidenced by his blatant defense of my honor in any given situation or misused word sent in my direction. 

My time in Haiti was a plethora of conversations about what I remember, who I miss and will I forget. Although, the second most common conversation was:

“Are you back here to stay?”
“I’m sorry, no.”
“You are not working for Global?”
“Are you married?”
“Are you engaged?”
“No!” while I completely lost it laughing. 

This was quickly followed by confused looks wondering what the hell I’ve been doing in the States if not remedying that particular situation my Haitian friends have a definite opinion about. Apparently, my friends all thought I was going to the States to gain a significant other, then come back. They will suffer a long wait. 

I digress.

It’s been almost a year since I left Haiti, and it shows in my restlessness Stateside and the insane welcome my friends have given me over my visit in Haiti.  

It was an absolute honor to accompany some friends, who have become extended family over the last three years, from South Carolina to the northern villages partnered with Global Orphan Project in Haiti. While I was back in March, I didn’t have an opportunity to go north, which meant I hadn’t seen my friends up there for an entire year. 

We spent a couple days at one of my favorite places in all of Haiti up in the northern mountains. As we prepared to leave, I had sent our visiting friends on to the bus when a hand caught mine and held me back under the shade of the school porch.

“Èstefani, do not forget us.”

Choking back the multitude of emotions overwhelming me, I replied, “Why do you think I would forget? I remembered your name when I got here and I pray for all of you all of the time. You are Lovely’s brother! I will never forget. I do not forget any of you here.”

The normally stoic, serious, quiet eldest sibling who is constantly taking care of others, ducked his head while allowing the corner of his mouth quirk upwards into a half smile. Which then led to a mass photo of all who had heard my answer and wanted one ‘last’ photo before I left.

As he grabbed the opposite hand of the one his sister clung to while we started toward the bus, he said, “Walk slower.” 

“Walk slower?”

“Yes, we need to walk slower.”

“Okay, we can walk slower. They can wait for us,” I replied, grateful the mirrored aviators were firmly in place as my eyes were tempted to leak. 

I walked incredibly slow, savoring and implanting every step in my memory. Even as I think about it right now, I am right back there with my friends. Lovely on my left and Ronelson on my right as the rest of the kids trailed behind us to the bus. 

The incessant desire to not be forgotten is constant in most of the kids the world calls orphans. Desperately wanting to be known, is a common characteristic that I always tell those partnering and engaging in the orphan window to make a point to speak into each of the kids. Remembering names. Remembering faces. Telling stories of the past visits. Joking about things that were inside jokes from previous years. Remarking on how they look healthy or taller or more beautiful than past visits. Comparing how much they have grown in old photos. Showing the kids you kept something they drew or wrote to you. Maintaining whatever contact you can when you cannot be physically present. It is imperative to speak worth and love while reinforcing memories of time spent together, because there are not a lot of people in their lives that can point that out.

Which also speaks into consistency regarding those God has called you to love. It’s not about hopping around to different places, and taking the photos to show everyone you were outside the States and with orphans. It is about intentionality. It is about sacrifice. It is about consistently being present. It is about building God’s Kingdom through fighting with those the world casts aside. The default of the kids to assume we always forget about them stems from the abandonment and neglect. Yet, at the end of my week, remembering became more than just about my little friends and also about the team I worked with for two and a half years. 

After some rest and time with some friends at the beach, I was sitting next to my friend who came to pick us up in the back seat when the conversation turned comical. I was wearing my “Pose” t-shirt to get across my ‘chill’ vibe, and remarked it was that or “Jwi Lavi” to communicate ‘enjoy life’ as I had to choose when I got dressed that morning. Then I heard my friend say under his breathe “bleu pose.” I laughed and said, “I love that nickname!”

Surprised, he looked up and said, “You remember ‘blue pose?'” Adamantly I said, “Of course!”

Rewarded with his megawatt smile, I was left to ponder why everyone thought I would forget while I am away. 

It continued the morning I left as we journeyed through traffic to the airport, a tap tap, the public transportation, pulled weirdly in front of us on the wrong side of the road. My friend who was driving said nothing. 

I asked, “Why didn’t you call him a ‘monkey?'”

“You remember that?”

“Of course, you always call bad drivers ‘monkeys.'”

Laughter, followed by, “I always do that. You remember me?”

“Always, I always remember.”

I’ve been trying to reconcile why one of the themes of this Haiti visit was remembering and missing each other, and not forgetting. The reality is, I’ve come across it every year in Russia, and have worked years to reassure the kids they are not the only ones that remember. The kids are always surprised when I remember not only things from the year before, but many years past. It is all of the things I listed above that have worked against their human reaction of being forgotten. While that explains my little friends, it doesn’t explain the overall responses I was getting. 

What is it about our humanness that our default belief is that people will forget us and could never miss us as much as we miss them? And where do we step into that tension to create assurances of the opposite?  

How similar is it to our feeling that God forgets about us? We think ourselves small and inconsequential, yet our God says he knew us before we were born. He says, of COURSE I KNOW you, you are not one of billions to me…you are the only one. Somewhere in my brain I hear, “Will you believe me THIS time, you lovely idiot?!?!”

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” [Psalm 139:13-16 MSG]

Yet our God also says he knows every hair on our head.

“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” [Matthew 10:29-31 MSG]

Our hearts crave to be known. We crave to know we have worth in this world. We can’t stop wanting to hear that from others as we have it consistently from the One who created us. It truly is in our humanness that we fool ourselves into thinking no one cares, people forget and our value is minuscule. None of those thoughts are from God. God loves unconditionally. God loves consistently. His love for us could NEVER run out, and he has created his people to be an extension of his love. 

That is the opportunity we’ve been given to step into the life of another beautifully imagined son or daughter of the Creator.

The real question is more about what is holding us back from loving with the radical, unconditional love we’ve been given freely? That we didn’t even ask for. What are we so afraid of? What is stopping so many from pouring into lives of others? 

Choosing to step in is hard…and painful…and heart wrenching. Especially when the physical distance is massive or circumstances pack a painful punch. Yet…I wouldn’t trade it for the world when it comes to seeing a friend smile, be encouraged and know that they have incredible value and worth. 

Speak love. Speak worth. Never forget. 

And God’s glory will burst out like the sun rays escaping from a ceiling of darkened clouds. 


normal, pt. 1

On my first Sunday in the States, during prayer I was stunned when I realized my brain was automatically translating the English prayers into Creole. That’s not ‘normal’ in the States, yet my brain was so used to working hard every Sunday to help me understand the Sunday services that there was no hesitation that translating into Creole was the expectation while I was hearing English.

Last week when I was sitting in traffic, my default reaction was park the car and walk to the front to see if the roadblock was getting cleared or if it would be a long time before it was removed. When I realized that was CULTURALLY INAPPROPRIATE FOR COLORADO, my next default was, ‘Ok, wave someone down going the opposite direction to find out what is causing the problem.’ Which was ALSO wildly culturally inappropriate for the States. Though who wouldn’t want to see the crazy redhead waving her arms to get someone to stop, then get arrested and tossed in the psych unit. Again…not ‘normal’ in the States.

As I’ve been driving around Colorado Springs looking for an apartment I had expertly spotted an ‘apartment complex’ in the distance around an area I liked, then threaded my way through the streets to get to it. Only to find…it was a big house. Not an apartment complex. Being startled by moderately sized, yet large, single family homes is not a ‘normal’ thing in the States. Certainly mistaking them for apartment complexes is way outside normal thinking.

I had spent two and a half years training my brain to understand enough Creole to communicate with my friends, instead of using a translator. Imagine the relationship difficulties in having to use a translator every time you want to communicate…not really effective to make real friends for the long-term. That’s a lot of intentional speaking that doesn’t get turned off with the simple flip of a switch, so when I am told, ‘We don’t speak that here,’ it hurts. True confession, of course sometimes I do it to be ornery, so sure, be sarcastically mean back, however there are dozens of times a day I think in Creole first, and sometimes the filter is not excellent, leading to speaking Creole out loud. I do find it ironic that the youngest of my friends finds this the most normal, and actually responds to me in English as he guesses what I am saying in Creole, with no comment like ‘what did you say?’ I am controlling it the best I can, there is no reason to be hateful about it, especially since I am not actually trying to offend by not speaking the ‘normal’ language of the States. My new coworkers could have all the reasons in the world to be annoyed by my Haiti life, yet I am the blessed recipient of laughter, joking and grace.

While I muddle my way through retraining my brain to what is ‘normal’ in the States, there is a lot of freedom I have gained. I love that I don’t have to put toilet paper in the trash instead of the trash can. I love that I can brush my teeth with water from the sink. I love the smell and feel of clothes fresh out of the dryer with fabric softener…instead of hand washed hanging from the line on the roof. I love the plethora of choices in the stores…yet I am also paralyzed by them. I love that I can drive myself…at ANY time of the day and I’m not restricted by a compound wall. Freedom is a word that keeps running through my head constantly quickly followed by thanking God it exists here in the forms it does.

I knew there would be things that caught me off guard as I sunk myself back into the ‘normalcy’ of Stateside culture. I knew there would be things I liked and things I didn’t like. I knew there would be people who would be full of grace and support, and those that wouldn’t understand. I knew that there would be challenges I hadn’t even thought about, and really, only three weeks fresh off the plane, I know there will be many still to come.

Within all of that…I’ve come to hate the word ‘transition,’ and maybe it has to do more with the overuse of the word. I know people genuinely care, and are asking to check in, but to me this isn’t a transition. It is simply a different placement within the same calling and Kingdom lived life. It’s not a different adventure…just a different city. I am in Colorado, because I choose to live as a believer surrendering to the life-giving call of being an advocate for kids around the world that are told they are not worthy, they have no value and lack the steady financial support of family due to a myriad of reasons associated with majority world traumas. They are faces and specific names. They are NOT strangers. They are my friends. Some of those kids love Jesus with all they have in them, and others aren’t freely given that opportunity. I choose to live as a believer that accepts God will send me where he needs to use my voice and stories.

Which makes the most real challenge of all how to maintain the abnormality that God has renewed and created in me while figuring out how to not become captive of the ‘normal,’ but to find the balance, because the most real answer of all is…I am not the same.

The acceptance into another culture. The lack of struggle to navigate unknowns. The things I have seen. The stories I’ve heard. The places God has immersed me. The people I know. The sacrifices made. The pain that has been experienced and observed. The friends I have gained. The respect gained as a woman in patriarchal societies. The arms that have been wrapped around others. The love received and given. The every day reliance on the Holy Spirit. The constant knowledge that Kingdom is real, and it is our responsibility to answer our calling as believers to fight for that restoration.


My buddy. My heart. He handled my leaving much better than I did.

The ache of leaving and answering ‘why’ a thousand times, while being fractured emotionally over and over, because as much as it would have made leaving much easier, I just can’t stop myself from intentionally pouring into relationships I’ve been given. It is how God has wired me to live.

Each of those has made their mark on my life, and I don’t want that mark to get blurred or erased. God never intends to blur or erase those markings, he intends them to shape our story, and my story is definitely not normal.


Lovely looked at me with a glimmer in her eye, she had a plan and was not going to be deterred. She grabbed my hand and we rapidly climbed the stairs up to the top of her mountain home in Marmelade, Haiti. As others sent a ‘good morning’ my way, she didn’t even let me stop to properly greet my Haitian friends with a handshake and reply.

We promptly arrived at the cafeteria at the top, a young man and one of the mamas were finishing some rice in a bowl. She didn’t even stop to ask for some…which is incredibly unusual for her, further exhibiting her single-mindedness.

We walked straight through the cafeteria to the other side, and then she walked out the side ‘door.’ It’s only likeness to an understanding of ‘door’ in my context is limited to the shape and openness, because outside the ‘door’ is straight up or straight down.

Yet she walked out.

I stopped at the door and looked up to her, literally five steps outside the door and her head was already above mine displaying the steep incline. This waif of a girl, who is a dear friend, gestures to me, ‘Come on.’

I reassessed.

Straight up. All loose dirt. Corn planted, no trees or rocks to grab onto and pull myself through the loose dirt. I can’t even see how far it is to the top, because all of the corn is so tall. I look at her again, expectant eyes, unwavering smile and holding out her hand.

“Lovely, this is a bad idea.”

No words from her, as she comes back down to the cafeteria level and yells through the window in her high pitched, soft voice.


I immediately think, oh, good, he will talk some sense into her.

“Wolking, I need help. I want Èstefani to come to the top.”

Our identical stubborn, obstinate nature collided in that moment, and immediately I found his lack of words disturbing, which was quickly followed by Wolking walking toward me and taking my hand.

“It’s okay,” he whispered.

Taking a deep breath, I leaned down and tightened the straps of my Chacos, all while praying I wouldn’t hurt myself in the middle of nowhere mountainous Haiti, while entrusting my clumsiness to my 8 and 13-year-old friends…and then I took the plunge out the door of the cafeteria embracing the adventurous side of my friend.

Lovely would run ahead and then run back. Her light, tiny body flitting around the mountain side in and out of corn stalks like the energetic sprite she resembles.

Wolking never left my side. I would hesitate, and he would say, “Put your foot there.” The earth would crumble beneath my Chaco clad foot, and he wouldn’t even flinch. Realizing, this is what it would be like all the way to the top, I resigned myself to having a lot of dirt moving in directions I really didn’t want it to move on this journey.

IMG_0490Once we were at the top, I stood there, basking in what I know to be the beauty of Haiti. Palm trees, rocky sides of the mountains and mountains beyond mountains. Wolking posed with the paper and pen he had been carrying on our journey up, then I caught a photo of my friend as he leaned against one of the many palm trees while I took photos of Lovely with the mountains beyond mountains as her background.

When he sat next to me I said, “Do you come here a lot?”


“Do you like that it is quiet?”

Big grin, ‘Yes.”

“Because this is where you don’t have to be around the other kids and can sit in silence?”

Bigger grin, “Yes.”

“Do you hear the voice of God when you are up here?”

IMG_0494“I see God up here. I hear God up here. This is where I love to be.”

I get it, friend. I really do.

In that moment, there wasn’t any memory of the struggle up to this mountain top. There was only the realization that I’d been invited into their real space. Not their home, per se, but the space they seek and find their Savior. The sacred space of their hearts. And I was speechless.

As we stood up, Lovely started darting back down the mountain, and that was when God put two images of friends from vastly different cultures next to each other.

“Love! Stand still!”

Which made her stop, and look back at me.

I had a massive, excellent camera around my back and in that moment of being simultaneously in two places, I only had the wherewithal to take the image on my iPhone4. I’ve chastised myself multiple times over since that moment. Why didn’t I pull the camera around to the front? Why didn’t I use it?

Adventures in Orphan WindowThe reality was that this camera obsessed, photo nerd was so completely awe struck at the similarity of moments and images nearly a decade a part that I was lost in the moment. I saw Alyosha walking alongside the train tracks on one of our infamously numerous adventures in Kurlovo, Russia, and simultaneously I saw Lovely stop and look back at me as she progressed down the mountain path in an identical photo composition.

It startled me.

It 100% took me off guard.

It is the same image.

They have so many characteristics that are similar that I’d never thought of before. Spunky child in unfortunate circumstances. Living in a group home with other kids with just as unfortunate circumstances. Seeking adventure. Craving friendship. Aching to be known. Wanting to share life with someone who will care and remember.

Nearly an entire decade apart, in two places that couldn’t be more different than the other, with two friends that had I not chosen to be obedient to my calling into the orphan window of this world…moments I never would have shared…friends I never would have met.

This is my life. This is my calling. This is my obedience.

These are my friends.

My life is not about a physical place. It is not about a certain city. A friend had to remind me of that last month.

My life is about serving the one I call Savior, and being obedient to my calling into the orphan window. It is about knowing that God has uniquely gifted me to connect with and love well those the world classifies as orphans. And to draw others into the purity of those moments within the orphan window, to point to God’s presence and stir them to draw others. It is about God inspiring his people to be within his Kingdom through his children. It is about the discipleship that it takes to get to those moments, the growth beyond that submerged time and above all else, knowing some fantastic kids that need friends to be loyal in remembering and encouraging. It is about Kingdom community. We are not divided. We are meant to be one community.

My friends are not sub-humans. These kids are not to be exploited to gain an end goal. They are not lesser.

Quit the opposite, actually, they are more…and I am less than. They are whole. They are loved. They have dignity. They are redeemed.

I will never be able to identify with their pain, abandonment, neglect and memories of death. But God has given me the honor to love them. I do believe God will purify the Stateside church through his children, but does the local church in the States have the ears to hear?

The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”

He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:

Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing. The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them.

“But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance. [Matthew 13:10-17 MSG]

As I stood on that mountainside, reflecting in the adventures my young friends have taken me on over the last thirteen years, my heart burst with love for my friends, and commitment to know and love them well as they continue to get older.

“She runs very fast,” I said to Wolking as Lovely raced down the mountainside.

“I can’t run that fast,” he replied in awe starring at her.

“I can’t run that fast either,” I told him laughing.

And in ten years, when she is aging out of the home she has grown up in, and is faced with making choices for her future. We will stand on that mountainside and I will remind her that when she was eight, she was so fast Wolking and I couldn’t even keep up with her.


2016.2.21 Abby needing near while nene sleeps (2)My hand was on his arm and my voice questioning what was wrong today, when I saw the first tears silently run down his cheeks and drip onto his shorts as he stared across the yard, refusing to look me in the eye, yet unmoving from my vicinity. Thanks to our younger friend, who was oblivious while slumbering in my arms making sleepy sighs and toddler snores, I happened to be firmly planted on the step with nowhere to be.

I kept tossing questions at him, trying to figure out what to do and how to help.

Eventually, his head ended up in my lap, desperate to hide his tears from other peering eyes that would laugh and judge in a culture that doesn’t look at tears as a good thing.

Silence. It’s all I got as I continued to press my friend to help me understand the why as his tears soaked the fabric covering my knee, and empathetic tears threatened to roll down my own cheeks.

Why today? Why this minute? Why so sad?

Everyone has a bad day, but I know him well enough to know there was more going on than just a bad day.

Being an orphan sucks.

And some days, being the friend of an orphan sucks.

It’s not fair. Whatever family catastrophe that brought that child to that moment of being alone is not fair, and it is definitely not God’s heart for their young lives to grow up around 75 other kids.

Many years ago, I had a translator say to a child living in an orphanage, “You did something to deserve being here. You did something to deserve your family not wanting you.”


No child should ever hear it is their fault, and no child should ever be made to feel less than simply based on where they grow up. The label of ‘orphan’ should never command the future of a child and whether they can get a job, or a spouse that would marry someone without a family to help support them. Yet these social stigmas follow them as they become adults.

The pain in the orphans of this world has become very tangible to me. Not through any tragedy of my own, or enduring the suffering of knowing I was alone in the world. But through my deep, genuine love for my friends. My friend’s tears dripping onto my shorts as his head lay surrendered to my knee, brought tears to my own eyes…eyes that rarely leak. His pain brought about righteous anger in my heart to right the wrongs around him.

The reality is children get their choice taken away. Their age eliminates their choice, and more often than not, poverty holds captive any future hope of reuniting with family.

I champion the orphaned children of the world, because God has called me into their world. He has called me to be faithful to that call, loyal in my friendships and present in their lives to speak, to love, and to actually give a damn about their life. This is not the way it was supposed to be.

Why is there so much apathy in this world? Why don’t more people care?

Why is the fight for restoration and reunification of the least importance, while we choose to live under the oppression of technology, wealth and selfishness?

I don’t have the answers. I can’t solve every problem. I cannot stop the tears from flowing. Even in the moments I am desperate to see them disappear.

But I can choose to be present and make room in an already full lap. I can brush away those tears and say, “I am here. I am praying. I love you.”

I can use the resources God has given me to support those who are funding their care. I can help fund their education so the cycle doesn’t repeat itself as they grow into adults. I can purchase things from businesses that are creating jobs to keep families together.

I can use my God given voice to call out those that refuse to hear our God who is calling his church to stop rebelling against the things of his heart, and fight against the injustice of this world.

Because our silence has made us rebellious against God.

Because our apathy has made us rebellious against God.

Because our inaction has made us rebellious against God.

Because our impure motives have made us rebellious against God.

Because our misuse of resources to help others has made us rebellious against God.

And while rebellious nature is ingrained in who I have been created to be, I refuse to be the one rebelling against the one who redeemed me through the blood of Jesus, brought me into Kingdom life and where my hope is placed in seeing this world restored to rightness and every tear wiped away.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be morning, nor crying, nor orphans or widows, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ [Revelation 21:3-4, with bolded addition by me]

Because that is a future I can fight for, to know that my friends who the world calls orphans will have no reason for tears to escape their eyes, and their young lives will never again be impacted by death and poverty.

Because we should give a damn. Because we must refuse to let apathy and distraction dictate our God ingrained calling to actually be a community of people that love God so intentionally that we choose to fight for a world where people are loyal in their friendships to orphans, to speak worth and value into those hearts, and to fight for those kids to be in families.

Because each time I see the tears of my friends falling relentlessly, I choose to not be silent, I choose to be obstinate against apathy and I choose to be rebellious for God…not against him.


Silence is deafening.

I moved to Haiti almost two years ago. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long, but when I think about the healing and purifying of my soul in this place, God has been hard at work in those years. My soul, heart and mind needed a strong, refreshing cleanse and thankfully God has provided it in Haiti.

Through that cleansing has been a lot of listening, many moments of sinking deep into scripture and even more moments with my friends who are in the care of a local pastor while living in a children’s home. My small friends have taught me it is ok to be still and the value of being fully present, among much more I’m sure I am not even aware of yet.

Over a year ago, God imparted a thought on me that I have struggled with since. Over that time, we’ve argued back and forth with a solid amount of avoidance on my part and equal part overt denial. The reality was he had sent me here to restore my heart, mind and soul…to live fully within my calling and who he has created me to be…and now he has poured into and purified those three pieces of me to the point he wants to use them for his church in the States.

For me…that’s scary.

I don’t feel I have a voice that is useful.

I don’t feel like anyone in the Stateside church would listen to anything I have to say, or am given to say.

My apprehension is that I won’t fit back into that world well, because I have fit so well within this world. And friends, they are not the same. They should be, but they are not. There is a freedom of Spirit within the Haitian church that I haven’t ever experienced in Stateside church. There is a freedom in this reality that makes Stateside life seem unrealistic. There is freedom within the all encompassing Kingdom culture that is inspiring and life giving.

A couple of months ago, God brought me to Acts 18…

One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream, ‘Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens I am with you, and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.’ That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians. [Acts 18:9-11]


I am a scripture doodler, and I just happened to be doodling when the image of the flower and petals pour into my mind.

The image God gave me within those words is one of a flower with petals missing…scattered, but instead of the typical ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ of pulling petals off of the flower, instead this visual was that the petals had chosen to be separated and were actively choosing to stay separated when they have a Lord whose desire is for all to be grafted together as one whole flower.

Too many times, the local church chooses to stay separate from each other and chooses to not cross denominational lines. One of the best examples working against that separation I’ve seen recently is GO Project’s CarePortal where many local churches are making small, simple choices to assist social workers and foster kids with needs that come up, despite their differences. (to learn more about CarePortal go to But in order for believers to fully be a Kingdom community and embrace our calling within the Kingdom…we cannot be separate. We have to be one. God’s heart is for us to be unified as his people, all fighting to right the wrongs of this world. Instead we get caught up in religious and political differences. When we choose to let those things motivate and move us, we choose to allow silence on the things that matter to give a stronger picture of who we are as believers. Our silence becomes our inaction. Our silence continues the status quo, and gives us no gains for the Kingdom. And frankly, the status quo sucks. I’m not content for people to go hungry, kids not be education, parents to give up their kids, kids who have lost everything to be alone and injustice to be swept under the rug.

As most of my friends and family know, I am not good at silence. Constantly, my mouth does not have a filter and it gets me in trouble. Constantly. And I think that inability contributes to my thoughts that I won’t be able to fit in well with Stateside local church. God has changed me in Haiti. I like to think for the better. He has intensified many things I have always been passionate about, and he has directed me into new territory. Though, I do have faith and confidence that God knows what he is doing and that ultimately, his way is best and most life giving for me. Basically, I’m just too stubborn sometimes.

But I choose to not be intimidated and I choose not to embrace silence on the things that really matter within the reality of God’s Kingdom and his unconditional love and grace.



My morning rhythm has various OCD tendencies, and the most important of all is grabbing one of my Papillon mugs and putting creamer in it before walking upstairs to join the myriad of visiting Americans sating their java addictions at the coffee pot. One morning last week was no different…Bible in hand, mug in the other, walking across the parking lot, eyes blinking against the intense Caribbean morning sun, up the stairs and straight to the coffee pot. No eye contact. No talking. Just trekking. Ugh. Why does my mind and body have to hate mornings?

Resisting the urge to yawn yet again while holding my precious elixir, I walked to the upper deck for devotions with our group that is in town visiting the Pastor’s kids. As I sat, I was jolted awake with captive interest at the Bible verses for this morning from Isaiah 1. I could have bypassed the coffee pot entirely this morning had I known conversation with friends, bouncing perspectives off of each other and digging into Isaiah 1 awaited me on the top deck. This paragraph alone should tell you how thankful I am for people to talk Bible with are in country. Contented sigh and heart full of community.

The book of Isaiah ignites my natural passion to fight the injustice of this world. Isaiah 58 will always be imbedded in my calling. Actually, passion is a really tame word for what God ignites in me. Injustice makes me f-ing angry, and no one ever wants to see a redhead angry. Trust me. There are so many things that are just not right, and if I do not use the life I’ve been given to fight for those are stuck in a hopeless cycle of injustice or those who feel their voice doesn’t count and use my voice to make sure they know their worth…my life is wasted.

A good Biblical definition of injustice is this:

A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away. [Proverbs 13:23]      

Injustice is not fair, and while living outside of the States…it is overwhelming the amount of injustice you are assaulted with on a daily basis. I am given a front row experience on what real injustice is in the majority world.

It is not fair that people are hungry.

It’s not fair a 5 year old girl bears the raggedy scars of abuse up and down her arms and back.

It is not fair that parents drowning in their lack of basic needs like food, water, clothes and education feel no choice other than to give their children to an orphanage for someone else to take care of them.

It is not fair that a lack of health care for the general population results in unnecessary deaths and diseases of ALL ages, some easily preventable or curable.

It’s not fair the unemployment rate is 70%, stripping dignity of the people to earn a living wage and provide for their families.

It’s not fair that when they are employed, yet they are not earning a living sustainable wage.

It’s not fair that politicians are so selfish and corrupt they are immune to their countries’ needs.

It’s not fair those that lead the country cannot seem to get their shit together for the good of their people.

The injustice is overwhelming.

Seared into my mind is the day God brought me to the words of the prophet Habakkuk. I was struggling with a wide array of opinions surrounding my choice to go to China during the summer of 2001. By that point, I knew who God had created me to be, but the opinions around me were not forming the same consensus. I’d been sitting on a bench, at a lake I typically escaped to north of Des Moines, when a deer approached me. Stunned, when the deer left, I dove back into the word and there was a deer photo on the book of Habakkuk in my study Bible and I started reading. Habakkuk was not shy with what he said to God, actually I imagine if he used current world language there would have been a healthy dose of cursing. He saw the evil, the sin taking over and the injustice that overwhelms the poor in the world that comes with both of those factors. He was pissed, and felt it was God’s role to do something. When I read Habakkuk in 2001, he knew where I would be living 15 years later. And when I think about all of the things that are unfair in Haiti, it would make complete sense for me to echo Habakkuk who was confronted with the similar visuals:

How long oh, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?

Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. [Habakkuk 1:2-4]

These words are so pertinent to Haiti right now, and it would take me 4,000 more words to help you understand why. I don’t even know the half of it, but it continually makes my heart ache.

When Watson got sick, he was taken to 2 hospitals that denied him and was at a third being checked in when he died in the arms of his caretaker.

When Watson got sick, he was taken to two hospitals that denied him and was at a third being checked in when he died in the arms of his caretaker. He has come into care of the local church about 3 months prior so malnourished with his twin that they had to be immediately hospitalized. His twin sister didn’t live beyond that hospitalization. A group snapped this photo the previous weekend when I was at the Pastor’s church with some visitors.

There are many in the States who are passionate about justice, and confronting injustice. A lot of social campaigns, a lot of social media words and so many conferences devoted to the ‘battle.’ It is a Gospel truth, and I am very grateful it is resonating among those in the States God is moving among. Believers and those that don’t believe…God is the core of that movement. But how much of their passion is hollow? How much of that passion really has follow through? Are they empty words and promises?

But the thing I keep thinking about is that they don’t know the small girl with eyes filled with a blank deadness, marks of pain all over her body, flinching at every small movement around her, the skinniness of her frame after it had suffered her entire life and craving the enormous gift of protection. They don’t know how her joyful, spunky personality that has exploded once that protection was given.

They don’t know the names and faces of the people who rescued her from that certain death.

They don’t know the names and faces of those that are helping support the people who gave her that protection.

They don’t know the names and faces of people who give to that entity that supports them.

But do they need to know their names and faces?

God calls his people to fight injustice, to defend the oppressed, to cloth those that need clothes, provide a living sustainable wage, to stand up to bullies and to support those that are on the front lines of that fight throughout the ENTIRE world. The States included, because God calls his people to all facets of this world. The reality is God is calling his people to participate in EVERY aspect of that fight. Some are never meant to be on the front lines. I know I am not on the front lines. I am close, but I am not on the front lines. That is where the pastors and their congregations are called to minister. It will always be a million times more effective for Haitians to minister to Haitians in a culturally effective and honoring way. I do know the names and faces of those on the front lines, and I call them friends. I get to encourage them. I get to be sad with them. I get to celebrate victories with them. This is where God has called me to be.

The question is where is God calling you to step into his heart? Where will you use the gifts and talents he has given you to help fight injustice?

These are questions you need to wrestle with, because it isn’t always going to be like this. God is moving. God has promised. God redeems and restores. It is exciting that each of us is grafted somehow into his victorious story. It is exciting to see him show up, yet still only have a small piece of the massive redemption story of this world.

Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. [Habakkuk 1:5]