About Me

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Abingdon, Md, United States
Director of Operations & Sponsorship Engagement for Remember the Children,Serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for Compassion International in Md, Va and DC. Avid Disney lover (OK- I am a kid at heart!) but my focus is reaching out to the lost and least of these. My heart belongs to our sponsored children in Romania, Honduras and now Tanzania!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

His Story and My Story


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Several years ago my church did a study on "The Story". This book takes the bible and places it in a historical/chronological order to tell God's story. It takes the key points and characters and and outlines it from Creation to Revelation in a narrative form. What is God's story? It is basically the plan he had to have a relationship with his creation. We were created to commune with God. He is our Lord and master but he wanted to be able to have a relationship with us and to dwell among us. That is amazing. That is how everything began and yet we managed to mess it up.
One of the things I learned was an interesting concept which is what this post is about. You see in the story there are two stories. The Upper Story and The Lower Story. The upper story is God's story and plan. The lower story is our story. In the beginning these two stories would be one story running together in Eden. However, as I said we messed it up and the two stories diverged. However, they are still intertwined until the very end where they will join once again as one.
Let me give you an example of this through the life of Joseph. In his story, he is abused by his brothers, sold as a slave to gypsies traveling to Egypt, becomes a servant to Potiphar, falsely accused and thrown into jail, interprets dreams for the Pharaoh and becomes second in command and finally creates a conservation plan that saves both Egypt and Israel. Interesting story filled with ups and downs. I am sure many times Joseph was wondering what was going on and where his life was leading him. In God's story, He has a plan. He is going to make Israel into a great nation. Israel would be his chosen people and a would redeem the world. They would be an example and the path to salvation. This is the overall Upper Story-God's plan to bring us back to Him. The Israelites would need to survive a famine for this part of the story to continue. God put everything in motion through the Lower Story to keep things intact for the Upper Story. Do you see what he did there? The Upper story is written all the way through to the end. The Lower story interacts and intertwines with it to bring it to conclusion.
How does this relate to us? It is important to remember that every one of us has a story that is being written and that it relates to God's story. We may feel lost, afraid, unwanted, unloved and not worthy. However, that is not true. God loves us and is using us to bring His story to fruition. This is something that I am trying to remember now on a daily basis. "How does my lower story relate to His Upper Story?" I may not understand it fully but as I meditate on it I can begin to bring my story more into line with His. Each day I need to pray that I am growing closer to what He wants with my life so that as I finish I can end being blessed and knowing that I have done what He wanted. That my story has contributed to His in the way He wanted.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nelu

It was December 2013 when I first encountered the village of Santandrei in Romania. A common Roma gypsy community on the outskirts of the town it was there that I would discover what “being relational” could truly mean. I have always stressed the importance in child sponsorship as not being as much about the dollars but rather the hope that can be brought just by writing, communicating and showing that you care. We arrived in that village to bring coats and food bags to the community. It was everything you would expect from a village of “outsiders”. Luckily the chief of community, Nelu, was there to help keep things under control. My first impression of Nelu was that he was respected by the community and even if he wasn’t people listened to him. Danny is the local Romanian pastor who has been working in that village to bring the love of Jesus to the people. He is a light in a dark area. He told us that the local churches were fine with him bringing the gospel to the gypsies but they just didn’t “want those people in their churches”. That is the most vivid memory I have of that trip- those words broke my heart. Seriously what part of the gospel speaks of shutting a door?

I have been back to the village 5-6 times since that first village and have begun to see changes especially in Nelu. Often, he stood to the side watching unless he was needed to keep things organized. Over the years he has invited Andy and Danny into his home for coffee and to listen to their words. As a construction worker, he began to show pride in his home and creating upgrades that are certainly not typical in a Roma village. Danny makes weekly visits to the community to spread the word and deliver food bags, school supplies, and other items which sponsorship dollars help support.

It was within the past year that we heard Nelu had attended a revival and decided to accept Christ as his personal savior. Talk about a WIN! Here was the leader of the community deciding to make a decision that could be an example for everyone. He has changed his lifestyle and wants to make a difference in the village for Jesus. He has told Andy that he trusted Remember the Children and Danny because it was always “about the children”. This June he asked Andy over coffee why Andy had “never invited him to church?” Wow- that brought home a point and was quickly resolved. I was blessed to be in Romania on June 4th when Nelu got on the bus with us (and his daughter) and went to Impact Church. He worshipped and was welcomed. I noticed a difference this summer as he was very engaging with the team and hugged us as we were leaving. It just goes to show that taking the time to be intentional and relational can be life changing. Danny’s weekly visits, Andy’s coffee chats and Remember the Children’s ministry to the children made a difference. I have seen it firsthand and know that God has been glorified.
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As a postscript Andy made sure that Nelu now has a Romanian Bible to read and study with. I can’t wait to return in December and see my “brother in Christ.”
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

One of the Few by Jason Ladd (Bookreview)

 Jason Ladd is a US Marine Fighter pilot that is seeking the truth found through Jesus Christ. Like most of us he is on a journey to find out really what the truth is and how that can make a difference in our lives. I must say that this is not typically the type of book that I would just pick up and read. However I can totally recommend it for anyone (Christian or Non-Christian) that is willing to take some time and truly explore what is important in their lives.
    For the Non-Christian Jason provides a strong argument for the Gospel and Jesus Christ.  Going point by point he makes a very strong case and at the very least should provide some insight and thinking about one's worldview. For the Christian it is powerful and serves to re-enforce our Faith. We are constantly in Spiritual Warfare and his comparison of our battles to that of a Marine's training and duty really brought the point home to me. I related to his personal journey and insights. Though I am a Christian I have my own fears and doubts and this book served to strengthen me. What a blessing.
     It should be noted that I as given a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a favorable review (only the TRUTH) and I was not compensated. The comments are mine alone. The book is available at many retailers and in different formats. I encourage you to challenge yourself.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

We have a child!

      Several weekends ago Karen and I were asked to facilitate and staff the Ignite 2016 conference in Wildwood, New Jersey by Compassion. Expenses paid we were looking forward to a nice weekend away (at the beach) doing what we love (getting children sponsored). It was a rainy weekend but we still had fun. Sponsorships were going well and then Sunday came......
      This couple came up to our table and had decided over the weekend that wanted to sponsor a child. They had lots of questions that were easily answered and then they made our day. This was both of theirs second marriages. Their children from other marriages were grown and gone. They were not able to have a child of their own at this point but wanted to have a child together. They decided to choose a generic child packet. This is one without a specific child profile but rather an indicated country and then you pick boy or girl. They did not even want to do that. They wanted to leave everything up to God. Just as if they were having their own child they wanted Him to choose the sex and everything else. Both were actually crying that they were going to have their own "child" to call theirs. I gave both of them the premium for the event ( the t-shirt) and they ran to the bathroom to put it on. I grabbed them as they came out and asked for a picture. You can just see the joy and excitement that they had. I wish I could be there when they get their child packet. Three plus lives changed and this is just the beginning. I love that I get to do this and experience moments like this.
      Interestingly enough, after a weekend of rain, the sun started to come out and shine. I take this as one of those special moments where God is really pleased with His church. <><

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Look into their eyes....(Shared from RtC blog)


   You walk into the village overwhelmed by the poverty and the living conditions. One room homes with a single bed that sleeps five. A fire pit for cooking and a child’s swimming pool to do laundry in. Food graciously placed out as an offering but with flies swarming around. You wonder are you really making a difference in this place? Can anyone make a difference?
    I just returned from ten days in Romania meeting with several of the partners that we are working with. Our goal is to bring faith, hope and love to the children of Romania. All of our strategic partners work at spreading the gospel message through afterschool programs, vacation bible schools and discipleship programs. Monthly in the villages of Santandrei food bags are given out as a gesture of love. Simply the message is that we care. We are not asking anything in return except for chance to be there and to pour into their lives. By showing them the love that Christ first showed to us we begin to offer them hope in something better.
    Allow me to share a visit with you. As a group we pulled into one of the poorer villages. The children are the first to come out to see what we are doing or perhaps bringing. They readily great us with hugs and hand holding. The parents stand off to one side just watching us. We gather the children around and begin to sing some simple songs. Our partner here, Danny, has visited many times so they are familiar with the songs and readily join in. They enjoy the movements and laugh at some of our clumsy attempts to dance. Next we tell a Bible Story and share a memory verse. The children are anxious to repeat the verse and receive a treat. Next we have them do a simple craft to reinforce the story and then end with some games. If you look past the poverty you could be in any neighborhood in the United States. These are children just looking to be loved and embraced. If you look into their eyes you can see that. All they really want to know is that someone cares for them. Simply by spending some time with them you begin to build a level of trust and hope. You begin to be an agent of change in their lives. This is what our partners are doing in Romania and why we are coming along side of them.
     We recently opened a new sponsorship program in these villages. The picture above is Vanesa and she was our first sponsored child there. I had the privilege of presenting her a letter from her sponsor Melissa. All of the children gathered around as Danny read her the letter in Romanian. Slowly a smile crept onto her face and her eyes began to light up. She felt valued and you could see it in her eyes. A connection had been made and change was beginning. This is what our ministry is and it is making a difference in Romania.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Five Days / 8 Connections

      We specifically headed back to Honduras this year to see our 4 sponsored children and our LDP student.  We also wanted to host our final Quinceanera (for now). We decided to break from the norm and instead of staying at a typical "chain" hotel we tried a small boutique type hotel. It had only 23 rooms and is a little off the beaten path.  The neat thing was it was right by the Compassion country office and we got to stop in for a quick tour. From our arrival to departure it was a blessing. Our host Scarlett and her daughter Goldie made us feel right at home. In fact the best part of the trip was connecting with everyone we ever sponsored or were sponsoring. God made those connections happen.
Meet Sandra~ our newest sponsored child! We have only been sponsoring her for a year and she lives way north- close to Guatemala. We didn't think we would be able to meet her since she was so far from Tegucigalpa. Compassion made the arrangements and we had an amazing time with her. She has attitude and spunk. We ended up taking her (and her Dad) to their first movie ever, "Finding Dory". Great day!
From left to right> Jorge! Our 4th visit with him and he is growing into an amazing young man. Proof that sponsorship works. Fabiola is in the center. She is our LDP student, 24 years old, beautiful and about to graduate the University in accounting. Last but never least is Nataly. We choose her from a project center that is close to our hearts. Though we have been sponsoring her for about two years this was our first meeting. She just never stopped smiling or giggling.
Sophia and Jeyelly- If you read the prior post this was our opportunity to host the Quinceanera for Sophia. We last saw her three years ago and she has grown into quite the young women.  Our biggest surprise was getting to see Jeyelly after she had left the project two years ago. Such a God moment to have closure and know we were blessed.
Linda! Need I really say more? Those that know me understand she is the reason for my passion of
child sponsorship and my ministry. Without her, there would not be any volunteer work with Compassion or my actual work with RtC. She changed my life and we are blessed to be able to continue having her a part of our lives. She is getting married and we were fortunate to be able to have lunch together and meet her fiance. They make a great couple!
Finally Kellyn~ she surprised us. She has graduated from the program and we were only her Correspondent Sponsors for about about a year. We did meet her in 2013 and we are connected on Facebook. She found out we were in Honduras and messaged me. She wanted to come see us. She and her whole family took a bus into the city and we had a great dinner together. She just wanted us to know how important we were in her life and how much she appreciated us. Talk about humbling.

    So again~ a simple trip to be a blessing and we end up being blessed more. Sponsorship is truly about changing lives though it often is the Sponsor that gets changed the most!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Closure!

   Three years ago we last traveled to Honduras. Besides going to see our sponsored children we were going to host the Quinceanera for Jeyelly. She (on the left) was our second sponsored child ever and we were excited to provide this for her.
    Fast forward about nine months later and I got that dreaded call from Compassion. The one that every sponsors fears~ Jeyelly had left the project and the program. She had decided to leave her family and move in with her boyfriend. Our hearts were certainly broken. We obviously did not know the reason for her decision and could only pray that we had planted seeds in her life and God was in control.
    When a Compassion child graduates out of the project you have the opportunity to write a final letter. Sometimes you even get to stay connected in our social networking world. However in a case like this it is over and there really is no closure. You can only hope for the best.
    Fast forward to this year. We returned to Honduras to host the Quinceanera for Sophia~Jeyelly's half sister. (Note: The 12 year old girl we remembered has turned into a beautiful princess!) We kind of hoped we would see Jeyelly.  However we did not even know if she was in the same area now. Well Sophia entered and our eyes were on her. All of a sudden we got hugged from behind and there was Jeyelly. She had come but most important we were able to have some closure. Lots of hugs and tears were spread around. She was glad to see us. We were thrilled to say hello and remind her how important she was in God's eyes and ours. She is now married and pregnant and we are reconnected through Facebook. God is good!