Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Only 3 weeks till I leave my beloved Uganda. I think I have moved past grief to acceptance. I am defiantly sitting in the wonder of it. I got to live in Africa with my family. A dream come true. So now the dream I can surrender.
How amazing that God sees us and knows us.
When I got married at nineteen, I still believed in dreaming. At the age of twenty four with four kids, I started to let go of my dreams. When I found myself turning 30 with seven children, I gave up dreaming because I was stuck in a nightmare.
God has awakened my heart to dream.
He is giving me the courage to see beyond myself.
Past me I find HIM. The reason for dreaming. The one in whom I hope. The giver of all good things.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
It is so challenging to me in so many ways. I am grateful for the challenges. I don't want to be the same. I love it when I have to think about why I do what I do, and is there a different way? To live, to love, to celebrate, to worship...
Christmastime in Uganda is so very different than the States.
1. It is HOT.
We got here in the summer (July) and it is getting hotter each month. We are NOT having hot chocolate or sitting by a fire. We are sitting in front of a fan with cold water!
We do have a mall. We go there sometimes for a bite to eat or to the "big" grocery store that is there but NEVER would I buy clothes there. For clothes we go to Owino Market. Picture a garage sale/flea market/salvation army X a million. Cause that's how many people are there... There are no Carols playing or beautiful displays, just shouting and shoving and very bad smells.
3. No Holiday programs or Festivities.
I saw a couple of Christmas tree's in a grocery store but other than that there are no Christmas tree lots. No Lights or lawn decorations. No kids singing Happy Birthday Jesus...(lol Melissa) No nativity out on display. Our schedule is not crazy with parties or events.
4. List for Santa.
My kids have not asked for a million things for Christmas this year. I am sure it has something to do with the fact that all of their friends have tattered clothing and live without running water or power. But also, We have NO television. No commercials. No Target. No mall Santa. We are so removed from all of the pressure to buy. I am praying we find a Santa to take a picture with but only if he is black! I want an African Santa in Africa!
5. Our family.
We are far from our family. That makes it feel like its not Christmas. The internet is amazing, but it is not the same as gathering for a meal, or baking cookies, or caroling. We love you family. We miss you so very much! Thank you for sending gifts and showing us love while we are far away. We will see you soon!
that’s the sound of God denying himself
Taking on the form of man in flesh
Can you see the virgin weeping?
That’s the pain required for keeping God’s great promise
to deliver us from death
Merry Christmas to all mankind
The King is coming just in time
Into the dark, His light will shine so bright and beautiful
Merry Christmas to all
Can you hear the angels singing?
Oh that’s the sound of freedom reigning and ringing
Like a bell declaring peace, the war has ended
Can you see the shepherds coming?
Like a prophecy, a symbol of His prodigal, returning
to the father who, so humbly, condescended
Merry Christmas to all mankind
The King is coming just in time
Into the dark, His light will shine so bright and beautiful
Merry Christmas to all
Can we hear the nations crying?
Or have we closed our ears? Somehow justifying
how we celebrate the humble birth of Jesus
Do we see the poor and hungry?
Will we meet their needs? Or close our eyes and spend our money
on things we know will never satisfy us
Merry Christmas to all mankind
The King is coming just in time
Into the dark, His light will shine so bright and beautiful
Merry Christmas to all
words and music by ross king ©2010 ross king
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
We trust you all are doing well. Thank you so much for all the prayers and kind words and financial donations that have supported the ministry we have been doing in Uganda. Our lives will never be the same because of what we experience on a daily basis here.
For the next two months, we plan on continuing what we have been involved in... feeding the poor, helping the children, and supporting other believers in Kampala. We have really been searching the Lord’s will for our lives, through prayer and fasting and asking some people much wiser than ourselves for some advice.
What we have come up with is the following: We are flying home in January to relocate to Las Vegas. We are actively looking for areas of town to minister to. Jeremy is going to work tax season to get us back on our feet, and then begin a faith community in the neighborhood we will live in. Beth will be planning a mission trip back to Uganda that will occur in August. We will continue our ministry we have begun in Kampala. We are in the process of putting into place an organization that will continue to feed the street kids we have been interacting with and continue helping them get an education. Our website now has a section for child sponsorship so a family can pseudo adopt a child who needs help.
We have really struggled with this decision, but feel it is what is best for our family. We do not view our stay here as a waste of time, effort, or money. We have lived through things and learned things that we never would have were it not for us heeding Jesus’ call to come. Uganda will always be with us, and we will have an ongoing relationship with the people here. We covet your prayers through this transition. We so appreciate your friendship and support. We love you all.
Monday, November 15, 2010
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I just lay here.
Sometimes I surf the internet or read blogs.
I pray ALOT when I can't sleep.
When I lived in Vegas and couldn't sleep I would redecorate my house in my mind.
Since I have been here, I worry. I just lay awake and worry. I worry about my homeboyz, I wonder if they are staying dry while I listen to the rain fall outside my window. Most of them live in shacks with no real roof. I worry about my kids and the issues they face because of fetal alcohol syndrome. I worry about our oldest son, because he is 16, and driving. I worry about the future because I have no idea what will happen. Even though it is a sin...I worry. So tonight I am choosing to meditate on this:
Matthew 6:34 (New International Version)
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
and this one
1 John 4:18 (New International Version)
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I guess if you don't need me to help you. I will go to bed now.
Thanks for taking care of everything. Please do a miracle and keep the kids dry through this storm. I pray that the Holy Spirit would comfort me and them and give us all peace. Thanks for healing my babies a little more each day and for keeping Matty safe. I sure do love you.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I sat there on the wooden bench, tears streaming down my face. I could barely take the bread from the passing tray. My vision was blurred and my heart was aching. I didn't expect the emotion to swell up and spill down my face. It took me by surprise.
My sin cost Jesus His life. But because of His blood I am able to approach GOD without guilt or shame. It's too much.
Jesus knew. He knew what He was facing, and He chose to follow through.
Recently, I have lost sight of my purpose. I have been feeling lost. The last couple of days I have been having a hard time seeing anything clearly.
Taking Communion with my African brothers and sisters in a small hillside church has helped me to remember. It doesn't matter which continent I live on. Or which ministry I am serving in. What matters is Jesus. His sacrifice. His love.
My life is but a vapor.
I want to use my limited time loving God.
I want my life to be a response to His great love for me.
I love this song. You have probably never heard it...unless you are old like me.
One day a plain village woman
Driven by love for her Lord
Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
Disregarding the scorn
And once it was broken and spilled out
A fragrance filled all the room
Like a prisoner released from his shackles
Like a spirit set free from the tomb
Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on Thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee
Lord You were God's precious treasure
His loved and His own perfect Son
Sent here to show me
The love of the Father
Just for love it was done
And though You were perfect and holy
You gave up Yourself willingly
You spared no expense for my pardon
You were used up and wasted for me
Broken and spilled out
Just for love of me Jesus
God's most precious treasure
Lavished on me
You were broken and spilled out
And poured at my feet
In sweet abandon Lord
You were spilled out and used up for Me
Saturday, November 6, 2010
This is Opika.
Opika is a thief. At least thats what all the other homeboyz tell me.
Watching him color at my kitchen table you would never guess that. Today he is just a kid. Making a picture. Probably as a gift for someone he loves. When he is done he will show it to me proudly with a big grin. He will say,"Mom, look at my peekcha." Just like my own kids have so many times.
What you can't see in the picture is Opika's story. His father has many "wives". It's allowed here, he is a Muslim. The one Opika lives with here in our neighborhood is his step mother. She is a drunk. A fall down, belligerent drunk. I like her but still, she is a raging alcoholic in a world with no AA. Opi's dad has a good job. Two in fact. But there is never any food or school fees or new clothes. He spends it on women. A raging sex addict in a world with no SA. SO Opika lives a life of survival.
I guess that is why I am rooting for him.
He started school last month. It was so amazing to watch him grinning from ear to ear in his new uniform. Jeremy cut his crazy hair so you can't even see the fungal infection that causes him to have a bald spot. He was doing so good getting himself up and out to school. He has no one to wake him up or make sure he eats a healthy breakfast. Yet, he was still an enthusiastic learner. Until this week. He got sick. His sister, who has her own tragic story, woke him once but his dad yelled at her to let him sleep. He has missed a few days and he is already behind. I am worried. I want him to succeed. I see his potential, yet I realize the odds against him. My prayers sound more like pleading for this child. I am desperate. He needs more than I have to give. I am so grateful he has a Savior. Even if Opi doesn't know Him yet. God knows his name. God knows every hair on his balding little head.
I am sure your neighborhood has an Opika. A kid who never looks clean. A kid with bad manners and no parental supervision. You don't have to move to Africa to help kids like Opi. Look outside when you call your kids in from playing. See who is last to go home. Don't keep your kids from playing with the kids whose parents are drunks. Invite them in. Love them. Tell them with your actions about the love of Jesus.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Friday, November 5, 2010
Down right repressed.
My hands feel like they are tied and I am useless.
My vison, my plans, my burden is right in front of me. Yet I can do nothing.
So I sit paralyzed.
I am not sure if it is complacency.
But here I sit.
And it SUCKS.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Since I have been in Uganda, I rarely read blogs. Before I came here, I stayed up all night going through blog after blog.
Usually it was stuff that had to do with Uganda or adoption but I could really get lost in any of it. I guess it is the voyeur in me. I am kind of a freak. I don't read fiction, I never had a great imagination, I prefer biography's and documentaries. So this whole blog world is like my crack!
It started as soon as I got here. One day, I was out for ice cream with one of my kids and there was a guy with like seven white kids doing the same. It is hard to not stare at white people here, they are few. So as I am checking out this large crew I recognized a random child from one of the blogs I read. He is like 6. I knew his name. And his favorite food. CREEPY! Seriously. I felt like a stalker. But wait it gets worse.
One of my friends is well networked into this whole adoption group from facebook and we have had a great time meeting families over here adopting. One such sweet friend had been here for quite a while so we have met up a couple of times. As we were talking I quickly realized she is the best friend of a blogHer I read religiously. Oh my word! I am going to jail!I know all of the stories she is telling me about her best friend from home. For real! This just seems so wrong.
But wait it gets much worse!
Last weekend we were traveling and wanted to "run into" a bloggy friend we have never met in real life. We all think, we would totally be best friends with this person if we could only meet. Our driver takes us to her gate, which was open, so my friends go to say hi. By this time, I am looking over my shoulder for police. I know I have crossed a line from being an interested friend to a class 3 felony stalker. For the privacy of all I wont tell the end of the story. Just know it is BAD.
All this has got me thinking about privacy and honesty and stalking laws....
I don't meet many people who follow my blog. And when I do I admit, I get
a little embarrassed. I use my blog to let people know what is going on with us.
Sometimes my post are very honest and I feel vulnerable putting myself out there to the world wide web.Other times I feel like a fraud. When I look at our cute little website with our cool family photo up on top. Then I look down from my keyboard and see myself still in P.J.s, at 1 in the afternoon, my kids running around like crazy children because they need some structure I'd rather not give. The trouble with blogs are you get to share only the parts you want to share. You can delete and edit the parts that don't sound right or might make you look bad. I have tried to be real on my blog. But I do not share everything. There is no way I am going to post an accurate account of who I really am. If I did that my blog would be really boring...
It is his MAC BOOK.
He is so in LOVE with her he is delusional.
She is temperamental.
She has refused to work most of the time we have been here in Africa.
So even though I am very proud of my man and his website,
I am coming back to the blogger world!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
There is some people I didn't get to say bye to that i really wish i could have. I wish I could bring them with me. But I guess goodbye is a part of life that most of us wish we didn't have to do.
I an really happy that god has an unbeatable plan. If I had the plan for my life it would stink! I can barley manage my Facebook! I totally trust god and I know that he has a perfect plan which is always really good to know. I think that I worry about everything too much... and here I am writing about trusting god. I think that is one of the things I need to work on. I pray for that to happen daily.
I know it sounds kinda weird but I use to think asking God for stuff was selfish when there are sooo many orphans in the world who have nothing but recently God has showed me it is ok to want stuff. And lately God has givin me soo much but I remember this verse that said ask and you shall receive and it goes on ...
Luke 11:9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
I am glad I have a God who knows my wants and need.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Thank you for my Jeremy. You really out did Yourself there. Can You help him too? He is doing a great job caring for us but I'm a little worried about him too. Give him what he needs. Speak to Him through Your word as he leads our family. And please be with the children. My heart hurts for them. Each one of them is dealing with their emotions differently and sometimes I don't know what to do or how to help them. Please be their comfort and strength. Give them the grace they need to get through this transition. Protect them God, physically and mentally and spiritually. Help them to keep their innocence Lord. This seems like too much for them but I trust You and Your will for our family.
Thank You for Your provision. Thank You for Your peace.
I do so love You.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
My poor husband.
Wow, his day sucked today! His life in general is quite hard, though I may never tell him that. It started with a sleeping in wife and three loud children, and quickly progressed into a complete redo of yucky paperwork for the secretary of state, a couple hundred dollars in fees (that shouldn't have been because he did the paperwork before), and sprinkled in was a trip to the locksmith, 3 calls to tmobile for phone problems, a cranky wife, and seven kids.
The day ended great. We had a combined birthday party for our July babies. It was so much fun! We are really blessed beyond measure with friends and family who love and support us. Our kids were spoiled rotten and our non birthday children celebrated without much envy or tantrums. (in our house this is no small miracle!)
I keep trying to enjoy every second of everyday that I am here. It is not so easy. Life is hard. It always makes me think of Jesus. It cracks me up that people thought He was a drunk and a glutton.(Luke 7:31-34) I love that about Him. But Jesus did not have a life of luxury or laziness. His life was hard. Right up until His even harder death. I have a hard time "taking up my cross daily and following Him" but I want to be a disciple. I really want my life to reflect my commitment to and love for Jesus.
I am never sure who reads my blog. I don't know if you are familiar with Jesus or the story of His life but I am changed by it. Hopefully more and more and more and more until people don't really see me, but see Jesus in me. If you read this and consider yourself a Christian, or someone who follows the teachings of Jesus, will you read this passage today? And will you ask God what it is He wants from you?
Luke 9 (New International Version)
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
1When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3He told them: "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." 6So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
7Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
10When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
12Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here."
13He replied, "You give them something to eat."
They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." 14(About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." 15The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. 16Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. 17They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Peter's Confession of Christ
18Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"
19They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."
20"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "The Christ[a] of God."
21Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
23Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I have promised to be 100% honest on this blog. I think for the most part I am. I mean there are somethings that are private and nobody's business... but I just read my last couple of blog posts and realized they may not be an accurate representation of Beth Howard.
I get angry often.
My kids make me CRAZY!
Today I dropped the "f" bomb more than once. (so not proud of that)
I took a zanax when I had to say goodbye to my mom.
I watch Housewives of Orange County to feel better about myself.
I do not know who reads this blog...there seem to be some serious lurkers. But these are some things you might not know about me. And might wish you never knew.
Our friend preached a message and used us as an example of someone following God despite the cost. He made us sound a lot better than I feel we may be. I mean, we are much better than we were but still.
This crap is really hard.
Some days, I can barely speak, I am so overwhelmed. The moving, the goodbyes, the kindness... it jacks me BIG TIME! I am so scared some days I can't stand it. It really messes with your head. Living life with no plan, no job, no insurance, no retirement, no real savings. I mean, Who does that????
And then in one day God gives us 1600 dollars. seriously?!?!?!
Does He know I just dropped the "F" bomb???
Sunday, July 4, 2010
As I type this everything we own is in the back of a pickup truck parked in our "old" driveway or in the millenium falcon.(our very large 12 passenger van) After garage sales and giveaways, we have finally made it! We are out of our house and on our way. A huge step closer to Africa and a huge step away from our old life.
It has been great to have Jeremy home. We for sure butt heads as we try to figure out our roles as full time co parents. I have noticed a huge difference in our kids attitude and behavior. We all love Jeremy so much. He really is the best.
I am writing tonight from the Barbie Dream House. God has blessed us yet again beyond our wildest dreams. My sweet friend and her awesome husband gave us refuge in their beautiful pool house. Seriously, the kids are in heaven. We came today to get the keys and drop off some bags and then we all just sat in the living room and thanked God for His provision. I LOVE WALKING IN FAITH! Today, anyway.
I am so grateful that we serve a God who loves us. A God who knows us. A God who wants to take care of us. A God who is close to us. I didn't really believe all of that before. I didn't think I was worth it. I didn't think I needed it. I was scared to trust God with some things. But the Lord has won me over with his faithfulness. I will forever sing the Praises of my God. I realize this may sound churchy to some of you who read this. I hate churchy. But I feel like one of those lovesick teenagers at the Twilight movies.
Totally and irrevocably in love with my Savior.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The last ten days have been full of things I thought would never happen.
1. My older children went on a trip with their Grandparents for 7 whole days!
2. We sent off for our visas.
3. We said goodbye to our students and church family and to our dear friends who will be church planting in Vermont. (lots of tears. very sad.)
4. We took our babies to a Geneticist and found out they have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
I never thought my life would be like this. I have grieved this week for my children. The healthy ones, and the "special" ones. I have cried because I am not sure if I can be a good mother to my kids with their many different needs. Jeremy and I chose this life with open eyes. My babies did nothing wrong and yet they will be the ones living with the consequences of their mothers choices. I'm not mad at her... I have wept for her in all of this because she is so broken and sad too. My older kids will also be affected by this diagnosis. It is really scary not knowing what to expect.
I have cried for the loss of normalcy as we count down the days to Africa. While I was packing I came across a picture of my hair when it was cute and it made me cry. Ridiculous, I know, but here I sit ready to cry over it again. I hate change and I just want to stay comfortable!
But I can't.
God has called us on. We will be obedient. For no other reason than this. God has restored our life to us. Jeremy and I have made it through addiction, being a blended family, unemployment, success, and failure...all because of the grace of God. We gladly give Him our lives because He is the one who has helped us to really live.
He will take care of our children.
He will comfort us through these changes.
He will be enough for us.
He will meet our every need.
He will be Matty's father while we are gone.
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Happy Fathers Day to my wonderful husband!
I am so blessed to have you as the father of my children. When we started our family so long ago we were just kids ourselves. There were many fights and lots of sleepless nights, but I never met a dad more devoted. You always worried about the babies getting enough physical touch. You made sure to rub their feet and massage their little bodies. You talked to them and held them close. It was amazing to see you as their dad when I had known you as such an obnoxious teenager.
When we decided to do foster care and to adopt I was again amazed as so many other husbands would not rise up to such a challenge. But after only one meeting you were committed. Through all of the hard times, and times were pretty hard, you loved our kids and never held back your love from them. You were a constant in their very inconsistent lives. I will never forget sitting in the courtroom as the judge terminated rights to 4 punitive fathers for one of our children and I cried so hard. I was so grateful that this child would have a father, a loving father who would fight for them and never leave them. You have changed the course of their life because you are willing to do what their own biological fathers wouldn't or couldn't. Thanks for loving our kids.
P.J., Pastor Jeremy, Dude. There are many kids who have no other positive male role model. I am constantly amazed at you as pastor. The way you love your students is incredible. Dropping off Popsicles for sad kids, rejoicing in the victories of others, you have made your place forever in their hearts. As we move on from this position I know God will bring a new pastor for your students but they will always be a part of our extended family. You have done a great job teaching them about their Heavenly Father and that will stick with them long after we are gone.
I LOVE that you are crazy and funny and thoughtful and compassionate. Thanks for being such a great dad to so many kids. Thanks for never quitting. Thanks for sticking around to be my baby daddy. I love you.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
(sung to the tune of Changes by Black Sabbath)
I don't really like change.
I am totally a creature of habit.
I have been drinking iced venti Americano's since before my children where born. My kids can all order my drink perfectly and many times they do! When there are too many little ones to take out of the car for my fix I send in a big kid.
I use the same brand of makeup from the grocery store that I have used for 8 years.
I have had the same favorite color since the 2nd grade.(Blue)
I am just that way. I like that some things never change. I love having a history with the people at my church. I love running into people at the store even when I have on my ugly clothes and no makeup. I love that my kids go to my old elementary school. I especially love not having to explain myself when I have a freak out because my friends know I will be back from crazy town soon.
I am going to miss my life terribly.
I am so busy lately and I hate it because I don't want to miss one opportunity to drink coffee with a friend, or have a lingering phone conversation. I hated missing church when we were out of town last weekend because I wasn't there to sing with the praise band. I am so frustrated that I have to spend three days next week in a doctors office instead of watching my kids play with their friends at the water park. I want to savor every moment I have left of this chapter in my life.
I am fighting off depression as I am trying to embrace the changes.
I am working hard at using my tools that God has given me through Celebrate Recovery and counseling. I usually just shut people out so leaving doesn't hurt so bad. But I don't want to regret those lost moments. So I am feeling my feelings, as ugly as they are. Surprisingly there are many good feelings too. I am honestly very excited for our new adventure. It is amazing to see the ways God is providing for us, and pouring His love out on us. We are incredibly blessed by our Father. That will be another post, I promise. But change is always hard on me.
I am comforted by the fact that my Jesus felt loss. He understands us little humans. As a man, He felt all of what we feel.
I am so grateful that I can come BOLDLY to His throne of grace.
And Grace is what He is giving me everyday. Perfect grace to finish up this moving process, to get through all the paperwork and red tape that it takes to leave the country. Grace to help my children as they struggle with the change that is here. Thank you friends for praying for us. Thank you for all of your support and love.
Oh, I almost forgot...
I wrote this blog tonight because Jeremy has almost finished our website. It is beautiful and amazing. Actually he is beautiful and amazing! Jeremy has been working really hard at organizing everything and it should be up and running very soon. All of the blogging from now on will be there. I really needed to write a final blog from dangthatsalotofkids before it is another thing that is gone. Did I mention I hate change?
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Things have been super stressful over here at the Howard house. I would normally use this blog to get things off my chest or preach a sermon, but quite frankly I am tired of hearing myself complain.
Here is a trick I learned when going through the twelve steps...It helps me to focus on the good instead of the bad. I am hoping you will all comment with your own version. It is amazing to me how encouraged I feel when people share with me the things God is doing.
My Gratitude List:
1.jeremy howard...the most amazing and wonderful husband. thank you God for jeremy!
2.the shot clinic is opening up an extra day just to immunize my family.
3.my friend let me wash clothes at her house and I got a weeks worth of laundry done and read like 6 magazines :)
4.another friend from nor cal paid us a visit. gave us wonderful encouragement,books, and a financial blessing...THANK YOU!
5.the plane tickets are paid for.
6.we get to visit D.C. and stay with a childhood friend and meet her sweet family.
7.my kids are done with school.
8.i have the most amazing friends.
9.our passports arrived in three weeks
10.God sold our van! it is an amazing story, trust me...i will write about it later.
11.my precious fried took our family pictures and did the graphics for our magnets that we will be mailing out next week.
12.the 'h' family. praying and fasting for us.your support and encouragement is overwhelming!thank you thank you thank you.
13.for my church
14.dmv friends...wow.i hope you are reading this! i cant wait to tell you how many kids will be fed from your donation.
15.GOD. i am so grateful for your tender loving kindness. Your ways that are so much higher than mine. Your perfect plan. redemption- mercy- healing- favor- all for me. a sinner.
See. It totally works. I am already feeling better.
Maybe I will actually get some sleep tonight :)
Friday, June 4, 2010
Things are starting to come together. We have received all of our passports, paid for our tickets, gotten all but one shot, and are continuing to garage sale. Jeremy has been working like a dog to get all of the 501c3 paperwork done and everything that goes along with that side of things. We wrote a letter that will be going out to our friends and family and nearly killed each other in the process. We are both passionate and opinionated...We work much better together when I am in charge! LOL
I am not sure if I have shared this before and I am too tired to read back through my blog posts to find out so if you have heard this before sorry.
Sammy is our 3 year old. He is quite a handful. He was a quiet baby who never cried even when he had pneumonia and had to be poked and prodded and x-rayed. I guess neglect can do that to a kid. When nobody responds to your cries you just quit crying. When we got Sam he was 5 months old. I was sure that love and stability would remedy all of his problems. As he has gotten older I have realized how naive that thinking is. Samson is facing some "issues" due to his genetics and drug and alcohol exposure in utero. Combine that with a household of nine and you have one crazy momma. Things have been a bit difficult for me the last couple of weeks. And you know the saying, "When momma's not happy ain't no one happy." Please keep us in your prayers. We have some traveling coming up and it is hard to have change in routine and structure. Please pray that God will give me the grace I need to care for my sweet boy. He is so smart and funny. He has some concerns when it comes to moving to Africa. He told me the other day...."Mommy, I don't want to move to Afreeeka!Those people with the black faces, they scare me!" So of course I responded with... God made us all different on the outside but on the inside we are all the same. I assured him that African people are just like us, they like to sing and play and worship Jesus. But by the end of my multicultural teaching he was off chasing the wind. His latest thing is telling everyone in Africa he will play in the back yard with Tigers and Hippos. I love my boy. I am so grateful God put him in our family.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
What are you going to be doing?
Where will you live?
I get a lot of questions about the choices we are making. Unfortunately I do not have a lot of answers. I understand peoples concern and I have some serious concerns myself. I just don't have all the answers. I am ok with that most of the time. You see, our life has been a whole lot of crazy. So moving to Africa, although a different kind of crazy, is just another thing that we are doing.
So far we are ok...
We love God.
Our marriage is intact.
Our kids love Jesus and each other most of the time.
We are healthy.
Is there more than that?
Sorry, back to the point of this blog post.
We are leaving July the 13th for Washington. Our amazing friends are letting us crash at their house for about a week so we can see the sites and enjoy their company. They are graciously having a fundraiser and making us a care package...thank you Tamara! Then on the 2oth we will leave for Uganda. Upon arrival we will be most likely staying in a hotel until we find a more permanent residence in the capital city of Kampala. Our fist couple of months will be spent visiting several people and their organizations seeing how we can help or if we can see ourselves working with them more permanently. We will also be learning the language and culture of our new home. We want to make sure that our kids are ok before committing to anything long term. So if you give us money for orphans we will be giving it to people who are already established and know where it should go. We will be spending a good deal of time getting to know people and seeing what their needs are. Jeremy and I are not the answer to their problems. We are just parents who love children and are willing to serve and share Jesus however we can.
So really that's it.
We have no mission statement other than "Here I am send me" (Isaiah 6:8)
and no real vision other than "Whatever you have done for the least of these you have done for ME". (Matthew 25:4)
We are fully dependent on the Lord for everything. And He has provided already. We have the cost of living covered and the airfare covered. So far in some miraculous ways God has provided for our passports, our shots, and our travel expenses. Trust me, with a family of nine these things are all a big deal!
So we are continuing to trust God for:
a safe place to live once we get there,
a church to attend
a water purification system
the sale of our cars and other belongings
I know that Jeremy and I have the same heart in all of this. We want to live a life dependent on God. We want to see miracles and lives restored. So I will close this blog post with a favorite passage. You should read the whole thing if you never have...
7 "Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The Believers Share Their Possessions
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
That's a little harder than it seems.
I want to live this way. One of my biggest desires is to live in community with others. Real community like the way it was done in the early church. Sharing, trading, giving, really looking out for others. Can I just say I have not done a good job of it...
I don't know if it is a poverty mindset or if it is sheer selfishness but I have a hard time parting with my stuff! It is embarrassing really! I am ashamed at how selfish I have been hoarding up junk like one of those people on TLC.
I am very worried about how I will behave in Africa. Will I share what I have or keep my stuff locked up? Will I freak out having so little or be really freed up by it. My sweet husband is the opposite. He is worried about feeding our kids healthy meals while there are so many literally starving. Not me! I am high maintenance. I require some things like a bed and a toilet. And at least two pairs of shoes!
I have been thinking a lot about this as we have been going through our stuff preparing to move. I have cried a lot. Mourned a lot. Grieved the end of this season...a lot!
Here is what I have come up with.
I'm not there(Acts 4:32) yet.
I'm better than I used to be.
I'm trying to live like everything I have really does belong to the Lord.
Without further ado:
You are invited to an Open House
@ The Howard Residence
Saturday, May 22 10-3
If you need it or someone you know needs it you can have it.
If you want to pay for it or make a donation we will have a jar by the door.
All the money we receive will go towards furnishing our hut, I mean apartment, in Africa and a vehicle for ministry.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I do not want to move across the world and leave my son behind.
I do not want to sell everything I own.
I do not want to leave my family and friends.
I do not want to expose my children to malaria and other horrible diseases for which there is no cure.
I don't want to eat rice and beans every meal.
I don't want to pee or poop outside on a regular basis.
I don't want to live without air conditioning.
I defiantly don't want to home school SIX children.
I don't like the idea of no target or costco.
I am grieving the loss of a comfortable life. I am sad. I cried all through church today because I don't want to have a new pastor. I don't want to make new friends.
I love my house. I love my neighbors. I love my kids school. I love that my mail is delivered to my mailbox even though it is usually just bills. I love talking to my mom on my cell phone and knowing she is just a few exits down the freeway. I am sad. I don't know how to condense a lifetime of things to 18 suitcases.
Luke 18:18-25 (New International Version)
The Rich Ruler
18A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
19"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'[a]"
21"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
This is why I am doing what I am doing. It is a response to the great love that God has shown me. I trust Him. In recovery we do a Victory List. It is supposed to help us in the bad times when we feel alone and hopeless. My Victory List is long. God has saved me over and over again. He has restored relationships that I thought were over for good. He has blessed my family with health and financial security. He has given me more than I could list in this blog. And today I am willing to give it all back to Him.
I don't want to go away sad like the rich young ruler.
I don't want to live with an ounce of regret.
I don't want to get to the end of my life with anything left over.
But it still sucks.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Some days are harder than others. This would be one of those hard days. We need your prayers. Mostly for wisdom, discernment, and clarity. I will spare you the details for now...BUT I really want to throw a screaming fit like my daughter does so well. The crazy kind where she balls her fists and screams, "DON'T WANT TO!"
Even though I don't want to. I will.
I will do whatever it takes to honor God. Even if it means Be Still, which is kinda hard for me.
Thanks for the prayers.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Mother's Day is my second favorite holiday to my birthday. It is so great to be catered to and loved on. It is also a time for traditions. My favorite Mother's Day tradition is fairly new but so special. It is a weekend away with my oldest and dearest friend...Love you Jen! After my night off and room service the next morning I came home to my precious family. We had a wonderful morning at church and a delicious lunch of hot chicken fingers and pizza then watched a movie.
Looking back I see now how choosing the Blindside might have been a bad choice. If you don't know it is the story of a young man who is adopted into a family and how his life and the family's life is changed dramatically. So now you are probably asking why that would be a bad choice for a Mother's Day movie...Well because I am very passionate. I probably will have to take something to be able to fall asleep because I am soooooooooooo mad right now. I will call it RIGHTEOUS ANGER. How many people have watched that movie and been so touched by it that they went out and became foster parents, or adopted an orphaned child? Odds are not very many.
147 million Orphans
147 MILLION Orphans
And that doesn't include children who are wards of the state.
I go through these emotions often. It happens when I think of what my adopted children have given me.I became a foster parent to help kids, but my kids have helped me...so much more than I ever could have imagined.
There are literally MILLIONS of kids just like:
Big Mike (Micheal Oher)
Just waiting for you. YOU! They need a compassionate, committed, loving family. Just like yours. And you know what? You need them! You need them to learn more about compassion, commitment, and love.
That is what my kids have taught me. That is what my bio kids have learned even more about.
We have witnessed miracles. Very real and very profound miracles all because we chose to trust God and walk through the process of fostering children.
James 1:27 (New Living Translation)
27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I suppose I should explain a little bit of how we got where we are….
It is super hard for me to keep it short but here goes. I met my gorgeous husband in high school. I would love to tell you we were high school sweet hearts that never kissed or dated anyone else but that is not how it happened. Jeremy and I sang in the choir together and although we did like each other our lives where very separate. Jeremy was very smart and motivated and I was very cute and social. Our circles of friends were very different and while I ditched school and smoked pot Jeremy graduated with honors and a 4.3 GPA. I was having fun and keeping my options open and Jeremy graduated from text books to diaper changing. Yes, it’s true. Jeremy had a baby without me when he was 18 years old. It was quite a shock but ended up being a wonderful part of God’s plan for our lives. Matthew was born to his teenage parents in 1994 and I went off to college the following year.
I am so grateful our story doesn’t end there.
When I came back from a year of dropping out of college I started dating all of my old boyfriends again. What can I say, I am very loyal…Jeremy was getting ready to graduate from college and we had several starts and stops to our relationship. On November 29th, 1997 we were married and our life together became official. Jeremy likes to refer to the next four years of our married life as “the dark times”. It was surprisingly difficult for me to become a step mother at 19 then a mother at 20, 21, and 23. Luckily Jeremy had his education and was a practicing CPA so we could feed all of these children.
While on the outside it looked like we had it all together a beautiful family, our very own home, two cars and even a dog, our life was not so happy. We had much success but we really wanted significance. We were Christians and attended church regularly heck, Jeremy even taught Sunday school, so why weren’t we happy?
We had both brought some baggage into our marriage. Some things that were hidden but God wanted to heal us. We are so grateful that He met us where we were and loved us through a really hard time in our marriage. We decided we wanted to change our lives dramatically and serve the Lord full time. Jeremy enrolled in Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and we began the very humbling journey into full time ministry. Little did we know it would take four years, three jobs, and nine months of living with friends before we would see our dream become a reality.
Those years were a different kind of hard than “the dark times”. God used that time in our life to teach us firsthand about His timing, His provision, and His grace. After all of those years of struggle and hope and healing we found ourselves living our dream. Jeremy was hired to be the youth pastor of our home church. We could not have asked for a better place to serve God.
Our kids were growing up and I found myself a bit lost. What was I going to be when I grew up….I was a bit surprised to figure out that I was doing it. My calling in life is to be a mother, but with my baby fast approaching kindergarten how would I fill my days? I didn’t have to ask that question for very long. After a series of events in our family, and a dear friend sharing her story, I became aware of the need in our city for foster parents. I had been asking God for years why I couldn’t just get paid to be the mom and here was my answer. Over the course of ten months our family went from four children to seven. Sheesh! That deserves its own story but I will keep it short and tell you that our God is a God of restoration and still very much in the miracle business! Our adoption was finalized just this past November and it was an amazing end to our amazing story.
Just when we were finally settling down from all of the crazy that we had been living God began to stir our hearts again. There is this passage of scripture that I have read many times. But suddenly it began to haunt me. It is the parable of the rich young ruler…Jesus tells the man he needs to sell everything he has to be a follower of Christ. Jeremy had been leading a bible study in our home for his youth leaders and it was very convicting. We were trying to teach these kids about discipleship and God was using it to teach us. It became more and more clear to us that God wasn’t asking us to just be willing to sell everything we have but that HE was really asking us to LITERALLY sell everything we have to follow Him.
And that brings us to where we are right now. However uncertain we are of our future we are for certain that we can and will trust God with our lives. Everything we have and everything we are belongs to Him. We cannot choose to share in only the joy and none of the suffering of Christ.
Isaiah 6:8 (New Living Translation)
8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I turned 32 years old this past week.
It was one of the best birthday's I have ever had. I went to the Women of Faith Conference with my mom, grandma, and oldest daughter. It was so cool to have 4 generations of Jesus followers...What an awesome legacy!
Then our youth group brought their change in for World Malaria Day in honor of my birthday. We raised $194.00 and World Vision doubled our donation amount for mosquito nets and medication. So exciting to see kids care! Autum my 2nd oldest daughter gave me three dollars and change for the cause. It was a VERY special birthday gift because she has a very hard time parting with her money :)
We celebrated Sunday after church with Jeremy's side of the family. I love those Howards! We ate sandwiches, my favorite food, and played at the park. It was so fun to play with the cousins and I cant believe I have no pictures to show. Bummer!
It was a busy weekend that was followed up with a very crazy Monday.
The Women's Ministry at our church holds a very lovely tea every year. It is always so much fun. This year I spoke alongside two of my dear friends. I wanted to share it with my peeps who weren't able to attend.
The link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT6pceF0Sas&sns=em
There are two parts so look for it on the side bar :)
There is not too much to report about Africa. It seems like we are in a holding pattern as far as our travel plans go. We are trying hard to be flexible and patient...two things that don't really come naturally. If you are praying people, will you please keep us in your prayers? Hopefully my next blog post will be more interesting.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I am so grateful for what I have learned in my recovery process. Last year I would have just cried and gotten overwhelmed. This year I know how to ask for what I want! I realize many of you already know how to do this but for me it has not been so easy...
I explained to the nice lady we need passports to travel to Africa to be missionaries and she said...No Problem! I will type them up today and send them out first thing tomorrow.
Even though we have had our kids for about 3 years now I can not wait to have their birth certificates! It is the physical proof I need that we are done with the "system" and can move on with our life.
On that note I will shamelessly plug our amazing friends. Ray and Clare Biggerstaff are missionaries to Las Vegas. They have been a HUGE support to us through the roller coaster of fostering and adopting our kids. They have worked very hard to bring this informational meeting to people interested in fostering. If you have EVER felt the tug on your heart for something like this please consider attending. An informational meeting is just that...informational. Bring your laundry list of questions and concerns and ask the people who have the answers.
I pray that many of you will ...
Meet a need.
Share your Home.
Be open to what God has for your family.
Tangibly share the love of Jesus with our cities most vulnerable children.
We are so glad we did.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I have a very LOUD family. Today my ears actually hurt from the noise. We enjoyed our Saturday with no obligations. It was the first time in a very long time there were no games, no birthdays, no youth events....it was heaven. But the Blah's tracked me down this afternoon.
I am a visionary. My dear friend tells me I don't live in reality and that is how I am able to do the things that I do. Some day's it reality hits me like a ton of bricks. This was one of those days.
The reality of moving six children to a foreign country.
Figuring out where we will live.
How our oldest son will visit on his own.
Deciding how we will educate our kids while we are there.
Wondering about transportation and furniture.
What the heck will we eat?
And that doesn't even leave me time to think about malaria, worms, and dirty water......
I went to church tonight with a heavy heart. I was wishing I could be invisible because I feel like a total freak show! But GOD IS SO GOOD. He always knows what I need. A sweet friend stopped me in the hall and told me our family was an inspiration...and he really knows us. The real us. The blended family, the fighting, the dirty house having real us. Not the blog us. He knows that we are real people...sometimes barely hanging on to our sanity.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (New Living Translation)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
This, what we are doing, is all God.
He will have to provide everything!
Passports....(we still have no birth certificates for 3 kids)
Luggage....(we only have 1 real suitcase)
Schooling for the kids
And I am not worried one bit.
I remember tonight who I am...sinner
And who He is......Savior
If He can use us. He can use anybody.
What is He calling you to do?
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