Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nobody's Favorite

Sometimes I throw myself a pity party. Not consciously, really. I just feel sorry myself.

Sometimes I feel like I'm nobody's favorite person. That the only person who would rather be with me than with anyone else on the planet is my four-year-old brother. That I'm nobody's best friend. That nobody likes me best. I'm always second best. Or even last.

And then I catch myself. I have a ton of friends. I have a family who loves me. I am blessed beyond measure. I am blessed more than most people in the world. In fact, I am first.

But that knowledge doesn't necessarily take away the feelings of self-pity.

I'll tell you what does.

Thinking about the different definitions of nobody's favorite. To me, nobody's favorite is having nobody come up and talk to me at church. Or not being the first one to get a hug from Evan when she wakes up. Or not being the one that somebody has to talk to.

But I think about Carmencita. She's nobody's favorite. She's the one that nobody understands. No one wants to take care of her, let alone talk to her and know her. She doesn't have a best friend, a confidante. The other kids don't want anything to do with her. She's nobody's favorite.

I have friends. I have family. I have so many people who love me. And Carmencita? She has no one. She is nobody's favorite.

Sometimes I wonder if she feels alone. Does she feel helpless? Like she's swimming in a deep, dark pool and no one is there to help her stay afloat? Does she want to have friends, want people to understand her, want people to know her? Does she feel like she's nobody's favorite?

And it is then that I miss her so much it physically hurts. It is then that I want to get on the next flight to Lima. It is then that I want to go and live at the orphanage.

Because Carmencita deserves to be somebody's favorite. She deserves to have someone be proud of her and proud to know her. She deserves to have someone tell her each and every day how much they love her. She deserves to know how much she's worth.

When I feel like nobody's favorite, there's always someone to speak a word of encouragement, to make me feel better.

But does anyone encourage Carmencita? Does anyone tell her that she's their favorite? And it is then that I hold onto God with everything in me, and pray that somehow He can show Carmencita that she is His favorite.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Calling

Written while I was in Luoyang, China, staying at Maria's Big House of Hope and had just visited a place where the children, especially kids with special needs, were in dire conditions.

Almost a year ago, God placed a calling on my life. He said,

"You will fight a battle, and you will fight for the children who cannot fight for themselves."

Until now, I never thought I'd question that calling. Orphan care was always my haven. The place where I was most comfortable. Where I felt God move most powerfully. I felt next to no discomfort because, in a sense, orphan care was just "who I am".

This week at Maria's Big House of Hope in Luoyang, China I have been challenged more than ever before. Looking into the faces of these precious children who have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other special needs and knowing that they will not always be in such kind and loving environments, where there needs are met. Knowing that they most likely would not live long after they left Maria's, let alone into adulthood, broke my heart more than anything before.

As I watched the smiles and saw God's light in the eyes of Gianna and Tabitha and Audrey and Bryan and Charlotte and countless others, my heart felt like it was going to explode and tears ran freely down my face.





Would none of them live? My body was literally clenched and racked with pain because the thought of these precious children that I had fallen so hard for would not live simply because of a deficiency in their care and an ignorance in the world of their beauty simply crushed me.

And I struggled with my calling. Was this what it meant to fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves? To watch the ones that I love the most die untimely deaths or waste away in places where they were not loved or cherished? I didn't want that. I didn't want my calling anymore. Not if it meant so much pain, so much anguish. So much of my heart feeling like it was going through a garbage disposal.

Then He spoke to me again. He said, "You will be hurt deeply by the losses, but in the end all losses will be turned to victories."

I was comforted by that, but I still struggled. Just because pain was turned to victory didn't mean that the pain wouldn't be just as devastating. And I pushed back at Him. I wrestled with Him. I argued with Him.

Why me? Why did I have to be the ones to feel the losses so deeply? Why did I have to be the one to fight for the ones that were the hardest to fight for? Why did I have to be the one to love them even though their lives might not last long?

And He spoke to me on the roof of Maria's Big House of Hope, as I was looking over the city of Luoyang, surrounded by the names of all the children that had passed into the arms of the Father at Maria's.

He said,

"Look up! Look up, my daughter! Can you hear the orphan's cry?"

As I felt the wind through my hair, I could distinctly hear a single cry on the wind. A heart-piercing cry. One that cannot be ignored as hard as you might try to ignore it. How could I? How could I turn my back on such a voice? A voice so pure, so helpless, so in need of the love of a Heavenly Father?

"Do not turn your back on the work I have given you. Do not turn your back on who you are."

I understand that watching those I love most pass before my very eyes in conditions that are destitute will be gut-wrenching. I understand that it will be a life-long struggle. I understand that it will be the most painful and yet the most joyful thing I have ever experienced.

Pain and all, I have decided to accept my calling.

And when I hear that orphan's cry...

I will be ready to run in with the sword of God in my hands.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

God's Faithfulness in China

About three days into our stay at Maria's Big House of Hope, I started feeling dizzy. I'd be standing up, and I'd feel like I was going to fall over.

I excused myself from a few team activities just in case, but dismissed it as being really hungry from not eating a lot of the Chinese food.

I woke up the next morning completely congested with a pounding headache. As I laid in bed in the early morning, watching all the other teammates go and play with the kids, I thought, I'll just rest for this morning. Then maybe I'll feel better this afternoon.

We were going to Downtown Luoyang that morning and, despite my protests, our team leader sent a nurse to check on me and make sure I was okay to go. While I adamantly said that I was fine, he told the nurses and the other team leader how I had been sick for two days in Peru, and hadn't told anybody. I gave up. I couldn't argue the truth.

Thankfully, the nurse said I could go as long as I didn't push myself too hard. Excited, I left and went to visit the beautiful Downtown Luoyang. But about halfway through, I started feeling worse. It took all my focus and energy to walk. Just get to the end, I thought. I took a nap when we got back, and was feeling somewhat better, but still didn't want to play with the kids if it meant them getting sick.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt like death itself had come for me. I was so congested I couldn't breathe through my nose. I was coughing so much I was having trouble breathing. My throat hurt so bad that I had to clench a pillow tight in my fists to offset the pain every time I swallowed.

And silent tears dripped down my cheeks.

Why me? Why me, God? At this beautiful building where I can care for special needs orphans all day, every day. Where I'm living out my dream. Why now? We only had a short time here, and God had made me sick.

Suddenly I felt completely useless. Why would God want me on this trip if I was only going to get sick? If I wasn't going to be of any help to the team or to the orphans?

It was then that God revealed to me a truth that I had refused to see for a long time. Simply because I hadn't wanted to see it. Physically loving orphans isn't the only way to love orphans. I realized that because my only way to love the orphans of Maria's while I was sick and weak was to go room to room and stand outside, praying over each of the children individually. And it struck me that I was loving these orphans. Maybe they couldn't feel it. Maybe they couldn't see me. But God could. And God could use my prayers to love these orphans.

I was laying in bed, sick, for two days, and by the time I was sort of well enough to play with kids, it was our last day.

I had to be very careful not to breathe on them, and I had to wear a surgical mask. I sanitized frequently. With my mask on, and my voice completely gone, I realized that the only way I could communicate with these kids was through my eyes. I had to convey all my love and joy and passion through my eyes.

Would my kids recognize me? Would they be scared of me? As I visited my little boy Bryan, I could see the confusion in his eyes at first. But as I looked into his eyes, and focused all my love for that boy through my eyes and into his, his face lit up. His smile covered his entire face, and his eyes returned the love.

While I was angry at God while I was sick, I am learning to realize that getting sick in China was God's faithfulness to me. I needed to be taught a lesson, and through His Hand in my China experience, I was able to learn it so that I would never forget it.

I think about how much it pains me when I have to hold Levi down at the doctor when he gets a shot, and how much it hurts me to watch him scream in pain, not understanding that I'm doing it because he needs it and because I love him.

How much more must God hurt for us when He has to do things to us that we don't like or understand in the moment. So I thank God for being strong and "hurting" me when I didn't want to be hurt. Because through that small amount of pain, I have gained a small amount of wisdom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bright Side of Orphan Care

China exceeded my expectations in every way.

I went expecting to be broken beyond belief. To fall so deeply in love that I sobbed my guts out when we left. To feel like my heart had been ripped out and stomped on.

While I did see things on this trip, situations of orphans that broke my heart completely, I didn't leave crying.

I left laughing, and full of joy.

All through the trip, I kept wondering what God was teaching me. I didn't feel broken. I didn't feel like I had received some kind of huge calling like last time. What was God showing me?

I took me until the very last day to find out.

For once, God was showing me that I could focus on the bright side of orphan care. Every mission trip I'd been on, I'd come back complete devastated for the plight of orphans.

But this trip gave me incredible hope! Seeing Maria's Big House and the joy of all the orphans there, gave me such hope for orphan care!

Who's to say that Maria's is going to be the only bright side in orphan care? Who says Maria's has to be the only place like it? Who's to say Maria's is going to be the only Big House of Hope?

It was unbelievable how much hope I was given through this trip! I was full of such joy the whole time! I thank God for the opportunity to go to China so that He could show me that just because I work in orphan care, doesn't mean I have to be continually devastated, but that I can be equally filled with joy and hope for these precious kids!

This song was stuck in my head and on repeat on my iPod all week long!

What joy we have in orphan care if our hope is in the name of the Lord, and what peace if our confidence is Him alone!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It seems surreal that I'm leaving for China tomorrow.

Six months ago, I didn't even want to go to China, and now I'm getting ready to board a plane to Beijing!

It was the thought that I could meet another Levi or another Evan or another Carmencita that initially made me say "yes" to the trip.

And, over time, that yes grew and grew and grew until I had absolutely no doubt that God wanted me to be in China for a few weeks.

But, what scared me more than anything else was the thing that made me the most excited.

What if I met another Carmencita?

What if I met another precious baby that stole my heart, ripped it out of my chest?

Loving people is hard. Especially when they live across the world. Loving Carmencita has been incredible, but it has also been difficult. Difficult to know that she might never have a mom and dad. Difficult to know that she could be suffering and there's nothing I can do about it.

In some ways, I wish I didn't love her so much. It would take away so much heartache. It would take away so many moments of embarrassing tears. It would take away hoping for something so hard, and that watching it get smashed to pieces over and over and over.

But I just can't help it. I love her, and I will never stop loving her.

And part of me is absolutely terrified that this will happen in China too. Some little boy or girl, probably one of the shy ones that people aren't normally drawn to, is going to steal my heart right out of me. And then I'll have loves on opposite sides of the world. Peru. China. How will I balance it out?

How can I show my love to each child when they're so far apart?

So as I leave for China tomorrow, I pray that God will give me a heart that is open to love these children. That my heart won't close simply out of the fear that loving people hurts sometimes. I pray that God will force into me the knowledge that, yes, love is hard sometimes, but it is full of laughter and joy and so much more. And every single one of those children is worth being loved. I pray that He will lead me to the children that need me to show them that love. The love that I have in my heart, placed their by God himself. I pray that I will be only the instrument of this love, that I won't choose to hold it back or give it to whom I want to give it to, but give this love to whom God wants me to.

Mostly I thank Him for giving me the incredible opportunity to go to China and to be His light to the special needs children there. Please keep my team in your prayers for the next two weeks.

I may or may not be able to post from Maria's Big House, so keep checking the blog for possible updates!