what makes life beautiful?

Happy Tuesday from Ghana! Yesterday I blogged and shared many pictures from what has been going on behind the scenes at PNN! if you missed out click here 

…and for those who have enjoyed it part two is coming soon!

Today as I was thinking about this journey and my life I had this one thought that I knew was worth sharing.

What makes life beautiful is the faces around you.

People that are either so close to you, your family, friends or people that you might not ever thought you would get to chance to meet. What makes my life beautiful is the people I share it with. These people give me inspiration, they give my life meaning, and purpose. They push me to be better, even without realizing it. I can’t explain the level of joy I feel working with these kids everyday. It amazes me to think about our bond, our connection. I grew up in a place where I never lacked, in fact I had everything I could have wanted or imagined. I had a bed to sleep in, a roof over my house, parents that loved me, siblings to play with, not one  worry or care as a child. I was free to just be a child, I had an imagination to play, educational support and opportunity. I had everything because I had a mother and father who dedicated their life to better mine, to provide for me in every way they possibly could. God has truly blessed them to also be a blessing to all around them. My parents taught me compassion. You know compassion is taught, if you raise a child to mock others they will go their life without feeling compassion. To any parents reading this I can tell you that you can teach your child about something, but if you aren’t living it, your child will never grow to accept or understand it! I learned that growing up by learning through my parents actions, which are more powerful than just speaking about something. Both are important, but you must practice what you preach! I am learning how much my kids at PNN absorb and how it is so much action based, and a direct reflection of the attitude you show!

My mom always taught me to think about some of the things people were going through on the other side of the world, and the things going on right in our backyard, in our own country. My  mom was so active visiting me in my school and all the children whose parents weren’t involved in their lives grew to love my mom. She loved them, I think it broke her heart to see kids whose parents lacked and couldn’t give them the love and attention they deserved. She would bring toys and things for them, tell them they are special. She was a light in their life. I saw the way they looked at her, and the joy she brought to their day. On field trips they all wanted to sit with her on the bus, and I always was happy to see them enjoying her, and the attention she gave them. I learned through example, it was never something my parents sat me down to tell me. They lived it.

She would show me clips from the 700 club of them providing help all around the world, I would just stare at the television screen amazed and horrified by what I saw. But experiencing it yourself is a different story altogether. You can’t just change the channel, it is right in front of you, and trust me you can’t turn away from it. My mom encouraged us to think about what we had, and remember and donate to those who had nothing. And as a child

it 

broke 

my 

heart. 

I felt compassion for these children and families, these people I had never met. Every holiday season we would pack christmas boxes, and I would only dream of seeing the faces of the children who would be receiving them. I thought about these children, I wrote notes to them, I prayed for them. Even as a child I cared and my heart ached for those in suffering with no-one or nothing to care for them. To be with them, or love them. My mom would rather donate to an organization than receive a gift. That is my mom, and even those who really know her might not even know that, because it is not something she speaks often about. And I am totally blowing her cover;)

Anyone who really knows my parents knows that they never buy anything for themselves.They don’t feel the need to take for themselves, they feel the need to give. They taught through example it is better to give than to receive. A lesson they might have not even been conscious of teaching us. Yet my brother, sister and I learned just by observation. They encouraged my passion as a young child, they allowed me and supported my short term missions trips. My first trip was in middle school we went to the South after Hurricane damage. We spent the week rebuilding homes and getting to interact and bond with the local community whose lives were affected by the hurricane. This was one of my first and many trips to come. God was preparing me, God was working within the deepest parts of my heart. Giving me such a love for people, especially children. This week was far more rewarding than any trip or vacation I had ever taken. It was all about the faces that surrounded me. I saw people who had nothing, yet we could bond and relate to each other. The thoughts raced through my head thinking about what was waiting for me back in New York, all that I had, and remembered these families who lost everything. This was a thought that would only grow, this was a thought that changed my life as I knew it.

So today I choose to share this thought with you. Life is best lived when you choose to invest your time in other people. To help and give to those who you don’t expect a thing back in return. That is the most rewarding part of this life. That we ourselves can be a blessing and a gift to someone else’s life just by giving ourselves. In the end it will only inspire you and make you better. God will bless and multiple it. What makes my life special are these people. What I am asking of you today is not to drop everything and go on a short term missions trip or move across the world. But I pray for all who read this that God would work in your heart, and not only work but give you the desire of your heart to go out and be a blessing to others. To go out and enjoy life with other people. To sit down and relate to someone who couldn’t be more opposite than you. I can tell you from experience these are the moments that will change your life. From a child in the Southern part of America that gave me his only hat, to the little girl in Mexico whose feet I washed after we played in the mud for hours, to the hundreds of children in Brazil that I had the chance to meet at orphanages hugging and loving them because they were so desperate for affection. Now I am right here in Ghana bonding with children in rural villages, I can tell you where you are does not determine who you can relate to. It should only push you to move to the places that are so unfamiliar to you so you have a chance to makes these kinds of life changing connections.

Life is best lived in the presence of helping and getting to know others

because

what makes life beautiful is the faces around you.

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Like these two beautiful faces, one of my best friends from college and our sweet Vida. These girls seriously make my life bright! They’re bond was so special, Vida loves Mary, and Mary loves Vida. Watching them bond the first day was special. As different as they were and where they came from this is a true and pure example of what life is all about! You two are deeply loved!

More to come, stay tuned 🙂

 

Life Lately

We had a great weekend, we spent all day Saturday at the beach, the kids enjoyed themselves so much! So did I, one of my best beach experiences. (And I have been to the beach a countless amount of times.) Yet this one topped them all. I’ll be sharing some pics soon! Sunday we rested, chilled and watched the Artisocats before bed! Nothing like quality family time. Sometimes Mondays can be some peoples least favourite days of the week so I am adding some pics to add a smile to your day! So get ready for a bunch of behind the scenes pics 😉

Here are the pics to cover up all that time that seemed to fly by 😉

All of our small moments that I was blessed enough to capture.

So you can see what we have been up too in between the blog posts at PNN

Best told by these wonderful pics.

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I met this young girl outside a school. It was a heartbreaking moment. Am trying to do all that I can to find out where she is so she too can enrol in school, and not sit outside hopelessly. Every child deserves an education. It shouldn’t even be an option.

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This was my first morning waking up at PNN. A morning full of laughter, I am sitting with our sweet DaeDae and man can this girl keep you on your feet. She just turned 4! We celebrate her wonderful life! The first day we met she poured water down my back and smiled and laughed. I knew then I was dealing with our wild child and have been loving her ever since.

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Our little Prince helping us unpack the weekly groceries. Fresh fruits & veggies, our favourite 😉img_9100

Sammy is one of our teens, this was after a movie night and he was carrying one of the little ones home. Brotherly love.img_9103

Prosper and I after my corn rows in the summer. I wasn’t sure how I felt about them at the timeimg_9124

Paula rocking my brothers Harvard baseball cap. Seriously these kids love my baseball caps. Next stop Harvard for these kids!

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My first month with one of my best friends Desi! I thank God she was here to experience the hardest moments with me and the most amazing moments! Everything was brand new for us, the staff and the kids adjusting to their new home. This was a time we will never forget. My kids love their Auntie Desi!

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When we finally caught the infamous rooster. Don’t worry we let him free and he continues to roam around PNN.

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Then we caught one of the goats, and well that one… has never come back to visit us… I am not sure he liked being picked up 😉

After one of our lessons, one this particular day we envisioned ourselves in the future! We have BIG stars coming from this Village of Hope! The sky is the limit for these kids. img_9459

Richard and I dancing before worship night. Teaching him how to dip after a little salsa dance, because who doesn’t love to salsa? At our dance parties the kids have really grown accustom to Spanish salsa music, it is so much fun!

IMG_9463.JPGAnd a little bit of this 🙂 He has the most contagious smile and laugh. His joy is infectious to be around. We always have the most laughs and hugs together.

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Selfies from my boys! You can always expect 100s of these if you ever put your phone down!img_9819

After church style, I am not even sure what I am doing but were just relaxing in the front of my house! One of the kids favourite hang out spots to play games, listen to the radio and just chat and goof around. img_0344

What would a good wifi day be without a snapchat filter? They love the dog filter.

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These boys might not be biological brothers but it doesn’t matter. They are brothers! I love watching their amazing bond, just like the other kids. It is really amazing.img_0350

With our Prince! He is an old man in a 3 year old body. This kid is too smart for his own age, seriously he cracks us up and has the best manners ever.

Sammy and Kasme showing off their pictures with their favourite people! I love the connection and bond our kids have with our supporters and donors. It is amazing and they are able to keep in touch through FaceTime calls. Sammy loves Pastor Frank his wife Pat and daughter Christine. He seriously has such a deep connection with them it is amazing and cannot wait to see them again! Kasme to the right really bonded with my brother Alex and loves seeing his soccer pictures, and watching his highlights from his college games. He has his Harvard Soccer shirt and might just be my brother’s biggest fan (sorry mom and dad.) Kasme seriously LOVES Alex and wants to talk about him everyday. These kids remember everything about our partners, donors and supporters from their visit but these two top the cake with how much they talk about and love them!

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This is the photo Kasme is pointing to in his room! I can’t explain the love he has for Alex! He prays for him every night! Alex got him to smile and come out of his shell for the first time and ever since then he is hyper, fast passed, athletic, joyful, hard-working, good little boy self! He reminds me a lot of how Alex was as a young boy! Kasme and Alex you are both so loved by one another! I thank God Kasme has such a great role model as my brother, I have been here to see firsthand the impact my brother’s love and care has made on this young boy. I thank God he had them sit together on the Dedication day!

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Sammy and Pastor Frank! Their bond is real 🙂

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Trying on our school uniforms for the first time! Yay #backtoschool Her smile is EVERYTHING

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My PNN Family after our Sunday Church Service at Arise Chapel.

Our two sleepers, they can never get through a movie, and I always have to snap a pic! Hahaha they are too cute!img_0920

My bus buddy, even if she moves…every second! This was our first field trip:) She always rocks my shades img_0956

Girls makeup party! These girls had too much fun with the makeup. We played music, danced, did arts and crafts, laughed, talked did all the kinds of girly things girls do 🙂 I love my girls.

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Heading to church with my girl! She is too beautiful! Seriously look at that smile. This was the dress she wore on the dedication. We barely knew each other yet she reached out and just wanted to be held by me after she was held by Terry. Such a special moment holding her during the ribbon cutting ceremony. DaeDae and her Aunite Devon 🙂

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Here’s that special and beautiful moment. I’ll never forget it. I was trying to hold back my tears and DaeDae was chewing on my cloth

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Some shots from the market, stay tuned for our future projects 🙂img_1081

Boys pizza party:) Felix in the white ate 8 pieces, thats one large pie. hahah it was many of their first pizza experiences. I love my boys and being a boy mom. A lot different than our girls partyimg_1096img_1099

Visiting other homes in Ghana, this boy was too cute:) I enjoyed my chat with him. Luckily Richard was able to snap some pics so I can look back on this sweet moment.

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I will add a part two, these are small snap shots of small wonderful moments here look like!

Hope you enjoyed these small moments from behind the scenes at PNN! Happy Monday

The Honest Truth…

she will not fail

Here is the post I mentioned in my previous post that I never published…. well until now that is. Just read the other first if you haven’t… it will make more sense. And you will see how God is working in my life… and How he is ABLE in all situations… No matter where you are, how far from home you are, or what you are feeling. He is working for you, and He is with you, always. 2 blog posts in 1 night! All for my mommy, I miss you deeply!

Click here to read the post before this post 😉

Sometimes the hardest things in life aren’t things.

They aren’t your surroundings

or your situation

or your health.

It can be the fight you have deep within yourself.

Sometimes doing God’s work and living out such a strong calling is the hardest part of it all. It isn’t the hardest of days, or the most challenging of situations. The hardest part of all of it is the fight you have within yourself and that is the honest truth. I was fearful of being truthful with the fight in my own heart. The fight of accepting a new life, without forgetting or leaving behind the other side of my life. I never had a clear image of what my life would really look like in Ghana, and then walking directly into this new chapter has been the most amazing, glorious yet challenging time of my life. This only makes me stronger in myself, and stronger in my God. Because I have to rely on him, even when I can feel hopeless, discouraged or far from home. The beauty of doing God’s work and looking like you have it all figured out is not knowing what the next day can bring.

Therefore, all you have is God.

Your internet, phone or power isn’t guaranteed, you can’t just pick up the phone and call home, you can’t express to the kids you work with everyday that you miss home and think about  all the things that you “left behind” for a life that seemed so unfamiliar, more like moving to another planet than across the ocean. When you read about these amazing stories, books, blogs or articles, no one wants to talk about the times you feel discouraged or sick, lonely or isolated, they only talk about how easy and amazing it all is. Maybe that’s a reason I wasn’t posting as much. I didn’t want anyone to think it could ever be hard. Then I was realizing I wasn’t being honest, and who then could relate or identify with doing God’s work if it is all presented to be easy, that nothing ever goes wrong.

Who would want to take up the work if they can’t relate to it? I know I wouldn’t. We all have these feelings in life, and reading about something that seems so perfect is something that could make someone feel isolated or something they couldn’t ever engage in. In fact doing God’s work you can be a target for plans and schemes of the enemy, even more so. That is why you have to cover everything in prayer.Don’t get me wrong this is the most amazing thing ever in my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. God has me exactly where he wants me, in fact I am right in the palm of his hands  no-one or nothing can remove me from this place. I find comfort knowing that. I also thank God that I had such a strong family and home that I can think about so much. Then I see the faces of our children here, and see the way they have bonded and connected with their new home, and I know this one thing. This one honest truth that keeps me going. Everyday.

God has me exactly where he wants me, in fact I am right in the palm of his hands. No-one or nothing can remove me from this place, as hard as it seems. 

I am his. And I am never alone in this work. My God who started something will surely finish it. In fact He will grow it, expand it, multiple it more than our human minds could ever comprehend. And that is exactly what he is doing. 

Stay Tuned:)

Not sure how this happened…

I just spoke to my mom on the phone tonight. (Thank you God for good wifi tonight.) I needed to hear her voice and share with her the many joys of today. Thank you again God. We had the chance to visit another children’s home and it really made my day so special. We met the most precious, sweet children and one especially touched my heart. A young boy named John. I hope to be visiting him again soon, and sharing that experience with you.

Before I hung up my mom had asked me about my blog, and asking me if I had time to post more often since she was enjoying reading it. The truth is, I love writing, but my time here seems so limited, and my days seem so full. I can never even sit down and finish a cup of coffee or tea before running out the door before 6:30 am, sometimes even earlier.  Sometimes these days can be 13-15 hours from the time you wake up to truly rest and go to sleep. I can say I have fully learned how to feel tired every day without anyone knowing it;) and still have the energy to move around with the kids ( THANK YOU GOD) The truth is the first couple of months here my health was really bad. But that too has passed and with surviving two hospital visits I can say that God is good and God is in control. Of everything, especially here at PNN.

When thinking about what my mom had said I had recently wrote a blog post, but never published it. It was a little deeper and honest. Truly honest with sharing my emotions and my mood at that very time. Writing is a beautiful thing to release emotions, share memories and to record history that you can one day look back on to remember the small details of life that make it so beautiful. My last post was on September 30, and it is now October 21st. I honestly

do

not

know

where

the time has gone.

I need to blog more. Seriously.

It really goes by too fast, these moments with my kids have really flown by. I can’t believe I have been in Ghana for four

WILD

CHALLENGING

GLOROUIS 

HARD

LIFE GIVING

DRAINING

AMAZING

months. And I can’t wait for what is next in store for us these next couple of months. The truth is it hasn’t been easy, this is very difficult work. In fact it is work people actually will avoid and stay far away from. It can be very messy work. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I would never desire to do anything apart from this “work”. From this life God himself has called me to live. This life that I wake up in the morning and think “I am finally in the place my heart has longed to be since I was a child.”And I kind of feel so humble that God would call me, even on my bad days where I question that, wondering why me, and then Him showing me exactly why through speaking to me in visions, dreams and His Word. If I could blog about what God has shown me for this organization these past four months I would, but I want to keep these things private. I have journaled them and dated them and surely these visions and dreams will come to pass. There is SO. MUCH. in store for PNN.

This is truly the beginning of a wonderful, beautiful, God filled adventure. And the best part it is just beginning. I can’t wait to look back a year from now. Or look back in six months from now. We have a lot planned and it is going to be awesome.

Well… back to this thing I call “work.”Work that has taught me more about myself than I think I learned through my college career. Work that stretches you and your patience. I even told my mom how patient I have become working with kids all day and their moods, emotions, and all that. She told me this.

God will always equip you for the work he has called you to do.

It is simple, and it is true. It is not always simple to believe or see, especially when your biggest opponent is discouragement, and feeling weak, disable and far removed. But through those moments (and I am sure they will come again) I see how God’s hand is so upon my life and my children’s lives here at PNN. We are walking with Christ everyday and he is so with us, even when we can’t see or feel it. God will equip, God has never failed me.

He hasn’t failed me yesterday, he hasn’t failed me today so I can confidently say he will NOT fail me tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, I hope to be blogging and sharing about mine:)

TO read the post I didn’t think I would publish that comes next, Click Here.

 

Or if you are new to this blog and feel confused about what I am writing about lets move back to the beginning

Click here.

and Click here.