let’s make our presence present

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I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. What I assumed would be my first post in Greece wasn’t, isn’t that how blogging goes? Expecting to be able to write about something but when you start it takes you in a new direction? Can any other writers/bloggers relate to this?

I’m writing from Limnos, Greece a place where my dad’s side of the family is from, a place where I spent most of my childhood summers and a place where we spent quality time with ou Yia-Yia who is no longer with us. To say we miss her, her warm and welcoming spirit, her laugh and loud voice and smile behind her large eye-glass frame would be an understand. Limnos isn’t the same without her presence, we will always remember and cherish our times with our Yia-Yia. She was one of the most loving and generous people I knew who would do anything for her family that she cherished most in her life.

For anyone who doesn’t know Limnos is one of the geographically bigger Greek islands found in the North Aegean Sea located 20 miles from Turkey but it’s not a tourist hotspot. That always made me appreciate the simple beauty of this island where I feel so connected too. A place where I came as a child with not a care in the world.

Returning brought back a flood of feelings and emotions that my brother and parents can relate to.

Being back on the island after ten years has stirred up many emotions. Has it really been ten years? This place feels the same and different at the same time. It’s given us a chance to look back on our past ten years and talk about everything that has happened. Deaths in our family, accomplishments, hard times, good times, life. 

I cherish so much about this place, and will always return when I can, feeling a strong connection to the simple and local culture, feeling again far removed and at home all over again.

Being older and have traveled around the world you really appreciate each experience as unique and treasure the present moment, or try your best too. I’ve tried to become more intentional about not getting caught up in the future but trying to be present exactly where I am today. Too make our presence present. A friend of mine shared this quote that truly resonated within my heart. Imagine if we could all appreciate and be grateful for where we are today. Externally and internally and not look around us to compare ourselves to other’s lives, adventures, experiences, but appreciate the beauty in this fleeting and current moment.

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” Mark Strand

We are all on our own journeys, and we each have the opportunity to make this moment a place we’ve never been. That’s inspiring. We are not even technically promised a tomorrow, or a next month not knowing what change may come but we can be hopeful in enjoying the beauties, dealing with the pains and appreciating moments of today with a grateful heart. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

When we landed in Athens I switched my phone on only to be have told of something that broke my heart and left me feeling completely helpless and out of control of the situation. Not really what I was expecting to happen the day my vacation began. Wishing I could turn back the hands of time, but knowing this was not a possibility. But that’s life. Leaving me with no power to do anything. I realized in that moment you can travel the world but you can’t expect to run from your problems. There is nowhere you can go where your troubles will not follow. There is nowhere you can escape where life will not reach you.

In that moment I had a choice. I could have broken down and worried myself and ruined the time with my family with “what if’s” and dwell in the future which I have no control over. Or I could choose to have peace knowing that on this particular day life happened. And it hurt. A lot. 

Naturally I tried to keep my cool, but the emotions of this surprising situation kept surfacing to the top. I knew I had to deal with it somehow, someway, I had to do something when I had absolutely no power to do anything. I had to relinquish control and be intentional about my reaction.

Those two words kept popping into my mind, control and intentionality.

Our layover in Athens had ended and we boarded the flight heading to Limnos. A short enough flight to get through, but it seemed long enough to dwell in the sadness of what had happened.

I rested my head against the window of the small old-fashioned plane flying over the North Aegean Sea with amazing views of the mountains. Hearing the flight attendant tell us we had 10 minutes until the plane would descend, hearing the Greek brought a rush of familiarity and feeling at ease knowing I was heading home after so long. Looking down out my window the beauty overwhelmed me as I gazed over mountain tops peaking through the clear blue Sea, the clouds and the sunset that made the water turn gold and sparkle.

I didn’t want to use my mind as a flush of memories of the situation that had left me feeling devastated, confused, and heart-broken. 

I wanted to be intentional about my reaction. I grabbed my notebook and wrote how I felt I looked back of my favorite bible verses I had jotted down in the first few pages. I ended this particular entry with this…

This is a testimony in the making, and I choose to trust in him, even though it hurts, a lot.

Then I flipped to the beginning pages “DO NOT FEAR” written in all caps were the first words my eyes glanced over and it hit me.

In that moment I realized this, that we ultimately have no control over our lives. Of course we can control our attitudes, and our efforts but the major things in life we are out of control. I didn’t want to get caught up in fear. I wanted to have peace knowing that I have no control. This might sound strange or weird to many people.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be in control of a situation? To be the pilot of our own lives? Isn’t that what society teaches us? To always have it all together, or when we don’t have the power to make it all better? But ask yourself, what do you really have control over? Can you promise yourself a tomorrow? That you’ll be in perfect health in ten years, that your loved ones will live forever? That your job will never fail you? That your home will always be safe?

The truth is we don’t, we can try, but in the end we have no control over what happens or what life may bring. What we do control is our reaction and we control our decision to be intentional about that reaction. 

In that moment I accepted what I didn’t have control over and chose to trust God with this situation. He is the author and he works things our for good. He see’s it from a different perspective than me, and I know I can trust in him what I have no control over. Even when it makes no sense, even when it hurts. I want to choose peace. I want to choose to not loose minutes or hours of my day worrying about tomorrow or what my future may or may not hold.

The things we value most like family, relationships, health, job, our futures, our governments, the state of this world, our security, if you really think about it we don’t have control over it. Anything can fail us at any time, and these things are things we have no control over.

“In You I find my rest
You are in control”

Lyrics from In Control by Hillsong

Today I want to be intentional about choosing peace over fear, and trust over worry. I want to cast my cares on to the Lord. I don’t want to be the author of my life, I trust the one who created it to complete his story in my life. I want to “not get caught up in things I have no control over.” I want to enjoy my time in the island that I’ve dreamt of coming back home to for the past ten years and face tomorrow when it comes. I want to make my prescene in this moment present. I want anyone who is reading this to know it is okay to not be in control, it is okay to trade it in for something much better, peace and cast our fears, hopes or worries on God.  Even if you forget everything you’ve read up to this point I want anyone who is reading this to remember what God tells us

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

“Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You are all loved,

Dev

 

1 1/2 till takeoff!

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It’s about that time where I pack up after three weeks at home, and head off, only this time not straight to Ghana. I’ll be in Europe with my friends and family (blog post coming soon about that) It felt so strange to walk past the flight boarding Accra, part of me wanting to just jump on, but in two weeks time I’ll be flying back to Africa.

Being here at JFK setting off for another summer away with so many new adventures it makes me reminisce about leaving and setting off for Ghana last year jumping into so many unknowns, and trusting God to take me through it all! side note- he did! as he always will, even when we doubt and have fear, he never fails to take us through!

As I sit here I still feel as if this summer holds so many unknowns, which holds within itself a new journey and a new adventure that I am excited about

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20

A year ago I started this blog, unsure of what I’d be writing about, how often I’d use it, or who would come along this journey with me, or be reading on the other side of the screen. And then an hour until takeoff I wrote this…. a blog post of everything I was feeling jumping into the great unknown boarding that flight with my dad

To read or look back on that post click here  

Somewhere along the lines I started to love “blogging” and reading about other people’s experiences all around the world and connecting with so many new friends.

I got to connect with people living all over the world who have felt a strong burden on their hearts for orphans, particularly in Africa. I’ve spoken to some of you with dreams of starting a non-profit, and have been invited on other adventures occurring all around the world.

And it inspires me. So much.

To hear from you, to hear your dreams and read along with you, feeling like I was in Asia, East Africa or other parts of the world with you through your posts.

My first blog post was called “Home” about a year ago I was packing my bags to head off to Europe to explore 5 countries with 4 of my best friends. Then I came home unpacked and started putting my life back into a suitcase this time for the big move, to Africa, not knowing how long I’d be there.

to read that first blog click here

Where is home for you? I’d love to know! Comment down below 🙂

My first blog post I talked about home. What exactly that word meant to me, and looking back on it, I feel the same way. Home becomes the people you are surrounded that make “a place” become “a home.” And now a year post starting my blog I’m back where I started yet everything has changed. I leave today for Europe (my best friends the same 4 girls are coming next week) and and after I’ll  be heading back to Africa for a busy and exciting summer of new experiences as God is continuing to take me places I’d never imagine going.

It’s amazing what 365 days can do. What you can learn from them, how you have full circle moments of relearning the same lessons you have in new contexts and situations.

so many lessons. the good, the bad and the ugly, they are still lessons, and God will never stop using them for OUR GOOD!

So cheers to one year on the blog, and many more sharing adventures, stories, lessons good and bad, sharing God’s story and connecting with many more awesome and inspiring people. I look forward to so much this summer!

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Hopefully I’ll have time to blog about what my next two weeks will look like and why it is so exciting/special to me personally and how awesome God has been through it all.

Next stop Greece!

You are all loved,

Dev

will you not forget the forgotten.

12:50 am, a little past my bedtime. late night blogging = the best blogging… sometimes, I’m trying to be brave + going out on a limb here + share some thoughts, hopes and new dreams…this late at night, can you tell I can’t sleep + have something on my mind? i’m deciding to overcome my fear of being judged of sharing my heart by knowing this.
there is something powerful that happens when people unite, things change, and our world changes too. and if i care enough about this, then someone out there does too
ref·u·geeˌrefyo͝oˈjē/
noun
plural noun: refugees
  1. a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
    “tens of thousands of refugees fled their homes”

What is a refugee, what does it feel like to be forced to leave your country? What does it feel like to live in a constant state of fear of a war, a bomb, hunger and the displacement of friends and family members. What does it feel like to run away from home and never look back? What does it feel like to have your family killed by evil people? What does it feel like to see your home burned or destroyed to the ground? What does it feel like to have no one show up for you? What does it feel like when other countries don’t want you either? What does it feel like to watch thousands around you die? What does it feel like to starve to death? What does it feel like to be persecuted for your faith, what does it feel like to be a forgotten people group? What does it feel like to be a forgotten person? What does it feel like to be a refugee?

Maybe you want to click away, maybe this is going in a different direction than you thought. And that is okay, I am not pushing any political views or opinions. I am simply sharing the deepest burdens on my heart. I am just sharing my vision I have for the future. I am just sharing hope in knowing among this evilness,  God still reigns, and God can always interfere in a bad situation, that God can turn things around. That God can bring rain to a dry wasteland. From my heart to your screen, I’m sharing something very different today. And different happens to be a good thing from time to time. 

These questions weigh heavily upon my heart as I sit behind my screen reading stories from different ongoing civil wars around the world that have left millions of innocent people misplaced, forgotten and in severe devastation.

I am not sure what I can do. My heart says go, but I know this is not a logical answer at this exact moment. Sitting on my bed writing this blog from a safe and comfortable place not living in fear I want to do something. I don’t want to just sit back and not do anything. So I’ll write, and spread awareness in hopes that this ignites the interest of one other heart, we we can join our hearts and pray for these nations experiencing this together in Christ.

I wish I could show up and be there for them, to listen to their hardships to provide them with a meal, to show them love. To show them that they matter, and that I care about what is happening in their life. I wish I could physically hug them, or hold their hands and give them promises of hope, unspoken promises of a change in their lives. I know I can pray and I will be praying for these people all around the world who suffer hourly, who live in fear, and who struggle to keep themselves alive.

Refugees are people like me and you. They are no different, we are all people. We all deserve to enjoy the same rights no matter where we are in this world. We don’t deserve this, and we shouldn’t allow it to happen in this day and age.

What has caught my attention and has weighed so heavily upon my heart, which brings me to tears and I am not even sure why is what is going on in South Sudan. But it has truly been on my heart, for some reason I love this place and I believe in these people. I want to see peace and I want to see victory for them.

A year and a half ago I felt a burden on my heart for this country and have since been praying that one day things will change. Because we serve a big God who turns things around, and makes the impossible possible.

The world’s newest country, a place where civil war has been going on since 2013. More than 3 million people where half are children are displaced and scattered throughout Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia. I pray these people feel accepted in their new home, isn’t that what we all want. To be accepted and to be wanted. Imagine not being wanted anywhere.

This civil war is not just fighting, it is forcing their own people to leave.

This is a humanitarian crisis. The UN is calling for 1.4 billion to help restore and create programs for the South Sudanese people. Thousands of civilians are being killed for their ethnicity or perceived political views. Schools, hospitals, clinics have been destroyed and abandoned.

People are fleeing from their own homes, from their own countries. Where is their hope, what is their outlook on life? How can they have hope when everything around them is so dangerous, violent and uncertain?

And we have to do something. We have to use our voices for these people, because we are all one, we are all people, and we should all care. 

We have the ability to use our voices through social media connecting the world and making it a much smaller place. It’s a dangerous and cryptic divide of the advantages and disadvantages the internet creates in our lives. But I know for a fact that millennials have experienced what no past generation has before, and I believe that if we come together in a common cause we can make a difference. It has been done before and it’ll happen again, and I pray it happens for South Sudan in our lifetime.

Maybe this means nothing to you, maybe you don’t think about refugees often, or South Sudan, or other countries that are struggling to find relief or solutions for corrupt and unjust situations. And that is okay I am not urging or telling you  what to believe in. I’m just using this space to share the thoughts that keep me awake at night. The dreams of one day going to a place like South Sudan, or the hopes that one day things WILL change. Not only here but other suffering and forgotten people groups around the world. For the unreachable, for the forgotten.

I believe in a day where South Sudan will have peace, I believe in a day where South Sudan will have just leadership and I believe that in the 21st century we shouldn’t allow mass famines to happen, we shouldn’t forget, what if we were forgotten?

If you feel led would you join your hearts with these people, will you remember to pray for them, will you not forget the forgotten in South Sudan. Would you hope for peace to rule over this nation sooner than later.

We are the world, we are created for a purpose. I believe we all have a similar purpose to stand up for humankind, I believe that we were created to love, serve and be evolutions of change and innovation. Let’s make this world a better place before we leave it, let’s unite our hands and hearts together. I hope this inspired just one of you. Let’s make a change, let’s be the change, let’s be changed.

your heart + their hearts = one united people 

Be the change = be the changeD

Romans 12:9-13

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 

Thanks for reading, 

you are all loved,

Dev

we can all be world changers

It is often said that when you change just one person’s life you have changed the world. Jesus talks about when you help someone, you are truly helping him. I included a passage from Matthew 25 at the end of this post and really describes small acts of kindness with great meaning.

This is something I believe, it is something I want to always live my life by, or try my best too. The mindset of helping others we are helping Christ, who gave us the most perfect example of loving others, and helping them changing the world one person at a time.

Today we uploaded our new sponsorship profiles for the newest and wonderful additions to our family. It is really amazing that this program gives people the chance to make an impact in someones life. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world you have the chance to become a world changer. And that is pretty exciting.

What is so special is being on the other side and seeing their faces light up when they hear they received a sponsor. They are so quick to ask where they are from, what their names are. The kids pray for their sponsors every night, some have gotten to face-time with them and receive letters and photos. Those photos which now hang above their bed. The kids talk about their sponsors and tell their friends they have friends in America, and other parts of the world that love them, and believe in their dreams.

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Richard facetiming with his sponsors in America! He got to share about his life in Africa with middle schoolers in New York City and learn about their lives.
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Felix writing a letter to his sponsor.
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Junior givng us his thumbs up approval of his profile!
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Calvin drawing his sponsor a picture.
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Kasme and Edward received letters and photos of their sponsor! This made their day, if not week!

And then I look at these photos, and see future world changers, because people like you who believe in them and their dreams, and know that ALL KIDS deserve to belong in a family and deserve the same rights we have.

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Eric, our future soccer star who is kind, a good listener and extremely talented.

 

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Mabel, our future worship leader who sings so beautifully.
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Bismark, an intelligent and animated boy who gets excited to read and dreams of becoming a lawyer.
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Sweet Joyce who is daring, adventurous, brave and gentle.
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Our future looks bright, bright indeed.

want to meet them or send it to a friend! Click on this link! meet our kids

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless the giver.” – Barbara De Angelis 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. “- John 15:12

“I think one of the best words in the English language is ‘compassion.’ I think it holds everything. It holds love, it holds care… and if everybody just did something. We all make a difference.” – Michael Crawford

Matthew 25:35-40
35 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, 36 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.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“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.’

 

The story of “Mine”

This blog is a little different, I’m sharing a story of a little boy I met ten years ago. I’m sharing his story.

Through my years going on different mission trips and experiencing new places and people majority of the lessons I’ve learned comes down to these two things.

There is power in listening to people’s stories, these are our greatest examples of hope.

Love truly changes lives.

The first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and directly into others lives without fully understanding or comprehending it was my church’s first middle school mission trip. I remember hearing my pastor talk about how this would be life changing and “good for young teens” signing up with no clue what would happen during a week in Mississippi. This was after Hurricane Katrina after many families were displaced and hurting and left in devastation with little or no help from anyone.

Our week there was spent rebuilding and painting homes as well as connecting and bonding with the local community. I remember getting close with the little girl who my group was particularly helping. I remember walking through the rainy streets of a local neighborhood in a small and rural town in Mississippi as she told me the different stories of the families that lived there, one sadder than the next.

Although I was in middle school this impacted me greatly, and everyone else on the trip. I remember nearing the end of the street when a little boy in a white t-shirt stood behind the frame of a broken down door looking at the two of us walking down the street. I asked what his name was and what his story was. I honestly do not remember now, I know his story broke my heart, but I will never forget him, and think and pray for him often.

His name was “Mine” and he eventually came behind the door and we bonded and spent the whole week together. He would eat lunch with my group everyday and we would spilt peanut butter and jelly wonder bread sandwiches, he wore my sunglasses and taught me how to dance to the cupid shuffle with other friendly children on his block. I remember one dance party after lunch in a cracked pavement driveway and just laughing and swinging all the kids around. I’m sure every other middle schooler on this trip could remember that dance party also. Mine and I were together the whole time, he even started to help us repaint the home we were working on and introduced me to his friends that started to come around as well. He also wanted to give back to his community although no one ever helped him. He started be affected and changed by love. His rough and mature exterior started to soften and I could see him smile behind the hurt in his young eyes.

I remember the last day it was raining, we were all in clear plastic ponchos putting the finishing touches on the home. I remember knowing we would leave that day and maybe never return again. This reality shook me to my core. And then it was time for goodbyes, we took our last pictures with all the local kids on our disposal cameras and prayed for each other one last time knowing we might not ever see these people again.

I walked Mine to the end of the street for the last time and my heart felt so heavy not knowing what life would have in store for this young child but holding onto to something that God had our paths crossed for a reason.

I might not ever see or hear about this boy again, but I know his story and his willingness to share with me, and be open to feeling love changed my life. And he holds a very special place in my heart.

This mission trip opened my eyes to so much, and I felt as if I had popped this bubble that I had been living in prior. There were so many people in our own country, and the world living in terrible condition with no one to talk to, to listen to them to open their arms and love them. I remember going home after that trip and hugging my parents a little tighter that night.

I will be sharing more of these personal stories from different individuals on different trips that impacted me in different ways, some that I have the privilege of seeing again some that only remain in my memory. Either way I want to share these stories as resources of hope and inspiration for anyone reading that when we listen and love others we can change the world.

Here are two pictures I found from this trip in my room

Some of the sweet kids we got to interact with that week.
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The only picture I have of Mine.

Thanks for reading,

you are all loved.

Dev

What ever you  do to the least of my brothers that what you do to me. – Jesus

To love is to serve

I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me. John 14:6 

a story of rain, a new thing and full circles

I was reading through my drafts this morning and came across this post. The reason why I am posting this is simple. That “new thing” I was praying for despite even knowing “why” unfolded in God’s timing and I can look back a couple of months ago knowing what I know today and smile. I love these full circle moments.

I also included another full circle moment for one of my best friends that unfolded for her after praying and feeling a burden on her heart for a place thousands of miles away as well that she called home for a long time.

I love the journey for these moments for each of us and how they are so unique and different. So here is a blog post from a late rainy January night in Ghana in early 2017 and I never published:) Enjoy

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19

As 2017 came, and the first month was honestly weeks of struggles, storms and battles I prayed that God would do a “new thing” in me, in the ministry, in this country, in this world. Some of you might be wondering what exactly this “new thing” is, and I cannot even answer other than I pray that God would do a new thing inside my heart, creating me, molding me, breaking me down, stripping me down to be built back up more in his image.

Right now in Ghana we are in the “dry season” in my opinion it is just less humid but much hotter, I cannot tell which one is worse 😉 basically it is like mixture of New York Summer and North Carolina’s humidity creating really bad hair days, and very sticky nights.

For anyone who doesn’t know much about these two “seasons” of weather here, the dry season there is typically no rain, it just doesn’t rain. Something really cool happened a couple of days ago that reminded me of God’s power and sovereignty and how in fact he is doing a “new thing”. Sometimes we feel trapped in a situation and pray scratching our heads if we are being heard on the other side. Like constantly calling someone with no answer, we wonder if they see the missed calls. Waiting patiently, some of us angrily, confused as to why there is no response.

And then there is a breakthrough. The rain comes. It doesn’t just come, it pours.

This moment of a downpour, almost like a monsoon reminded me that in fact God will “open the floodgates of heaven, and let it rain, washing away the old, and bringing forth the new.” And as the rain violently came and went within minutes, as the winds made the palm trees sway and everything got drenched I felt completely at peace watching the rain violently fall from inside my house with some of the kids, watching the intensity of the rain bring cleansing to the place. Hearing the power of rain hit the rooftop, watching the water slide down the windows like small and powerful rivers. We all just sat in silence watching the power and intensity of the rain from inside the house.

I felt like God was showing me that through a season of dryness, weariness, hopelessness or whatever else there is, surely he will make a way when there is no way and he will open the floodgates of heaven. Just like how no one expects rain in the dry season, it sure did come down. Just how sometimes we are waiting, being patient wondering when or how something will happen, and then there is a breakthrough.

Let it rain.

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Speaking about these full circle moments one of my best friends Desiree has returned to her first home for a month to work at a nonprofit and work with youth in Kyrgyzstan.

We met in high school after bio class ended and she was one of the first people to introduce herself and make me feel welcomed. We also sat together at dinner in the dining hall and since have been best friends! What makes Desi so special is her heart and how she is a beautiful person from the inside out. She’s one of those people who truly listens, and listens well and cares about you all the time. Desi has a light and love for people and life that is contagious, and she has a servants heart for the Lord.

For anyone who knows or doesn’t know the youth face a lot of troubles where she is now and Desi has felt called to be a light and learn more about the issues so she can make an impact in the best way possible and spread awareness. Please join me in prayer for her as she embarks on this journey and does a “new thing!”

You can also follow her journey as she is blogging along the way (click link below)

Desiree’s Blog

 

small people = large impact

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Lesson # 3 

Never underestimate the power of a small person with a persevering spirit when all odds are against them. 

This girl lights up my life every. single. day.

I wish I could tell you that from the second I met her we just bonded and were able to run freely together, laugh and communicate. No, it wasn’t that simple, it normally never is when you work with orphan and vulnerable children. Because in this field trust is not given its earned, and relationships are built with time.

Like most new relationships, it took time. I watched the way she would see me playing and talking to the other children. I watched the fear of seeing someone new and different around her behind her little brown eyes. It took a week or two to even make eye contact. I remember seeing small bits of her smile and laugh start to come out but never for too long.

And then one morning she ran into my arms saying “Auntie Devon” even though we both speak different languages, mainly remaining on facial expressions, hand gestures and body language. She was always so quiet and hearing her scream these words and run into me, almost brought me to tears. Her name is Bennis, she has a twin brother, and they are four years old.

When I think about her past I know this. That where you came from does not determine where you are going in life. This applies to each one of us, on every level, on every day, at any age. Your yesterday doesn’t determine your tomorrow. There is new hope to find in each day.

God is using this little four-year old girl who has trouble walking and might possibly need surgery to show me his goodness and mercy, to show me his unending grace and love. To open my eyes to his wonderful and unpredictable plan for all of our lives.

I watch her run freely, as I chase her around her room and soccer field. Until we laugh and fall down because she is out of breath. I watch her run without fear or hesitation of being judged by her disability. I watch her laugh and scream and fall down into the dirt and get back up again without noticing if anyone saw her fall down in the first place. And then I see her fall down many more times, because she has to push herself harder to run and play unlike the other children. I remember this, that sometimes it is the smallest people who hold within them the largest impacts on our lives.

Whatever your fears, insecurities, doubts, hopes or dreams are remember that it’s all a process and everyday we have the choice to grow stronger and wiser, or let the fear of judgment or failing cripple us. We have to find it within our souls and remind ourselves that when we fall we have to see it as a chance to learn to push ourselves harder the second or fifth time, and a chance to persevere. To get back up again without hesitation just as fearlessly as this little girl.

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Have a great day,

you are all loved,

Dev.

 

how fast do you collect sea shells?

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Kind of a random title I know, but last night as I lay my head to sleep knowing it was my last night before I packed up and started the journey back to Africa. Memories with the kids started to replay in my mind like a movie, keeping me up later than I expected.

And for some reason I thought about taking the kids to the beach and collecting sea shells. It was maybe our third or fourth time going to the beach together, and I noticed none of the kids were interested in collecting sea shells. This was such a big part of my memories of my childhood with my brother, sister and parents. I wanted to introduce my kids to this as well.

I took Alberta and Rockson by the hand and starting pointing out the beautiful little broken shells in the midst of the waves and shore. When the wave pulled back we could clearly see all the little white and orange shells. We started walking hand in hand down the beach until ten other of the kids joined us. Some running, some walking slowly, some sitting plopped down in the sand searching in the area where they were. It kind of made my laugh as I found myself chasing one of our kids who had started to jog from shell to shell bringing him further down the beach. He was so excited about seeking and finding these shells. When I stopped myself and noticed how we each have our own way of looking for the beautiful and sometimes broken pieces in life. Pieces that remain right around us, far away or just a few steps away.

It made me think of our paces, and journeys and how they are all so unique and beautiful. How nothing is the same, and no one will ultimately find the same treasures, how God has something in store for us in his timing whether we decide to seek it or not. Regardless it is there, even if it remains undiscovered.

There is so many beautiful things to seek out from the Lord who has everything lined up for us. Sometimes it is right in front of us, and it takes searching for him to find it. Sometimes its uncovered and sometimes it takes chasing the waves and waiting for them to cease while we run quickly to grab it. Or maybe it takes reaching out to a friend and asking for guidance and direction to point you along the search. However it looks for you, I’d encourage you to seek him in all that you do.

Whether your running down the shore excitedly looking for him, sitting down right where you are, asking a friend to take your hand and help you along the way and point you in the right direction, or slowly walking alone along the shore praying you see a sign from him to know he’s there. I promise he has something so unique that no one else would find other than you.

So, how fast do you collect sea shells?

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 

Don’t miss out on what he has waiting for you, seek him with all of your heart and he will NOT fail  you, he has something so unique and special for you whether you choose to find it or not, it is there.

You are all loved,

Dev