Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dreams, passions, and Africa.

I love children.
I love the beautiful way they see the world.
I love the way they grasp God's love.
My heart beats for children, to see them grow up fully knowing their identity in God, for an entire generation to grow up being deeply rooted in God's love for them. Wouldn't that change everything?! Wouldn't that change their struggles? Wouldn't that change the world around them? God had given me faith to see this happen. I know that these children are going to change the world in incredible ways.
Sometimes, I feel like my heart is going to burst.
On Sunday mornings, I watch dozens and dozens of children of all ages flood the Stirring Kids hallway, and I am overwhelmed by God's love for these little people. I am overwhelmed by the incredible opportunity I have to help shape them. I am overwhelmed by how perfect and beautiful and powerful and wonderful they all are.
For a long time, I felt called to the children in my "backyard" as I like to say. The kids who are overlooked here in Shasta County. I felt called to pour out all of my love on the little ones I see each Sunday. It wasn't until about a month ago, when I heard of a team heading to Africa to serve in orphanages, that I felt God begin to tug on my heart to go. To leave, and serve His children in other nations. To experience his heart and his love for these kids, too! Once the idea invaded my mind, I couldn't stop thinking about it. About Africa, about the children there. About the kids with no moms and no dads, who needed this love that God has infused in my heart. So, that's exactly what I'm doing. For 12 days, I will be going to Africa to experience God's incredible love for the children there. Words don't do my excitement justice. I truly feel like God has been preparing me and my passion and my heart for this moment. Everyone keeps telling me that I will come back changed, and all I can say is I sure hope so. I can only hope and pray that God changes me in the greatest way possible.

As you can imagine, I was feeling so overwhelmed... and still kind of am, but I've begun to get some of the practical stuff taken care of. I got all of my paperwork submitted to the organization we (there are 6 others from the Stirring going on this trip!) are going through, Visiting Orphans. I have an appointment to get my passport all squared away. I am going in next week to begin chipping away at the long list of vaccinations I need to get in order to go, and return, healthy. I got my support letters out a few weeks ago, and am still trying to get them all delivered. If you're at all interested in supporting me through prayer or finances, I would love to get you more information! I still have about $2,500 to raise. $2,00 needs to be turned in by the end of May in order to book our plane tickets. Having faith with finances is a whole new world for me. I've always been able to provide for myself and the things I need, so depending on God and on the generosity of others is difficult, to say the least! But I can't even begin to tell you how INCREDIBLY generous people have been. I'm so thankful to be surrounded by people who not only love me, but love and support the dreams and passions God has given me.

I hope to use this blog to keep people up to date on my trip status, so keep checking in!

OH, I forgot to mention that my trip leader has selected me to be one of the group leader at the orphanages when we go. We are still figuring out what, exactly, this will look like but I'm so excited to have a bigger role to play with the children.

Wow, I can't believe I'm going to Africa...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Today is autism awareness day

I knew this little girl. I worked with her in her first grade class room. She was wild and passionate and kind and generous and sweet and sensitive and loud and playful and silly and wonderful. And she had autism. I will forever be changed by that little girl. She would greet me with the greatest hug each and every day. Some days were harder for her. She would struggle and stumble and cry and disobey and make poor choices. But my love for her never stopped growing. The way she fought. The way she never gave up. She was only 6 years old, but she taught me what it meant to persevere.

Did you know that around 1 in 88 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder? Did you know that more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined? Did you know that autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S? Autism has gripped my heart. This little girl, along with other boys and girls with autism, have captured my heart. And I will not stop praying, stop crying out to God, stop fighting, until I see autism gone. Each week at church, we read the Lord's Prayer. When we get to the part in it that says "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" the faces of these little ones come to my mind. I beg God, I plead and cry to him to let HIS will be done in their minds. To let Heaven come in their lives. I have faith that I will see it happen. I have faith that I will see autism-free schools and playgrounds and classrooms. I have faith that Heaven will come, and it will mean no more autism. Until that day, I will spread awareness. I will talk about the kind, goofy, lovely first grader who captured my heart. I will talk about the handsome, funny, darling little boy who I see every Sunday, full of life and hope. I will keep praying.

Today is autism awareness day.
Images by Freepik