Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And Her Answer Was?

Over the years of sharing my heart here,
there is no doubt that those who've been hanging around have 
gotten to know our family.  

You've walked along with us through joyous seasons,
days of sweet triumph and victory 
but also some very painful seasons.  

We've welcomed you into our lives and freely most have had 
a sampling of the personalities, wit, 
charm and even "stinkheadedness" of many of our treasures. 

Usually, on any given day there are dozens of 
things I think of sharing.  

But time these days is slimmer than ever
and so I don't ever get to write as much as I wish to.


But clearly, when the day is done, 
with a dozen treasures, 
there is so much "blank space" 
between the posts.

Today I write one of those "blank spaces"
that must be shared.

Because it is a true glimpse into 
one of ours. 

Recently I shared how thrilled our family was that our Emma had
finally been gifted the joy of bringing 11 Gems into 
her home:


Emma had heard God whispering His plans 14.5 years ago and not once
had she deviated from the plan,
even when there could have been a tempting alternative.  

Her heart and mind steadfast on serving the God she loves so very much!!

Passionate about special needs treasures 
who desperately matter to God,
she worked diligently to complete every paper, dot every "i" and cross every "t"
as she opened the only home like it in the entire city of Kampala.

Those in authority over her home are thrilled with 
The Gem Foundation 
and she has had incredible favor.





But serving the Lord is not without a price.

It's been over 18 months since Emma left for her new home
and she has not been home for a visit yet.

We miss her dreadfully,
but her eye is sharply focused on "the prize"!!

 {I press on toward the goal for the prize of the
 upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Phil. 3:14}!!




I remember when she was preparing to move to Uganda and
you may recall Dw ended up in the hospital with an unknown
heart issue and a gamut of tests being run.

It was days till they were to leave, leading a team and
the plan had been that  
dad would help her settle and he would return home,
yet now, suddenly, he was in the hospital.

After a couple of days in the hospital and no closer to getting
out, I remember standing in the kitchen and asking 
Emma, "What will you do if Dad can't go?"

Her quick reply:  
"Mom, I don't want to end up in the belly 
of a big fish.  I'm going even if Daddy can't."  

That's our girl!!

Doggedly determined to serve the Lord.




And the Lord worked and Daddy was able to be released
and they left together to lead the team and
Daddy helped her settle and returned home a few weeks later.




Well something happened the other day that 
I knew had to be included in this post.


First off, 
see, 
today is Emma's birthday!!

And although we had dreamed and hoped and prayed 
that she would be home for it, 
the Lord's plans supersede ours!!

With just welcoming her precious Gems home
there is no way that Emma 
would even want to leave now!


In fact last night as we were heading to bed
we phoned her to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Daddy said, "Emma why don't you go 
get something fun to eat today to celebrate?"

Her response?

"No way Dad!! I'll make something here.
I have to run an errand, 
but I want to celebrate my birthday by 
playing with all our Gems!"


True enough, 
those who've had the privilege of being close-up
with this girl know what her heart is like...











And so this next story will not come as any surprise...

When Dw returned from Uganda the other day
he discovered that he had accidentally forgotten to give
Emma her bank card back.  



We had to mail it to her and fast!!



I was secretly kind of tickled because with her
birthday coming I had wanted to send her a little
something but been unable to get it together in time.
But now we would have to Fed Ex her her bank card.

*giggle* 

Sweet joy!




So I went to the Fed Ex office and asked
how much could I put in the smallest package
since I was going to have to send the card anyway...

They told me that it would be able to weigh this much
and be this small to fit in the package for the same
price as sending the bank card with nothing at all.

Perfect!!

So I thought about it and decided to ask Emma
what would she really, really, really like for her birthday?

I mean after 18+ months of not being home,
there are definitely needs that would minister 
to her soul and perhaps be just really perfect??

I questioned,

"Emma, I am able to stick something in the package
cause I went to the Fed Ex office and asked
what could fit without adding cost to the bank card package?
I want you to have something you really would love - 
after all, this is a very special birthday for you!! 
What Emmy would you like me to find and put in it
for your birthday?"

And in true Emma fashion...
Do you know what her answer was?

"Oh mama!! Put something in for Arthur!!
We do not have any premie clothes and
I want him to have something that fits him!
Please get something for Arthur!"

Arthur, the tiniest of the Gems,
probably doesn't even weigh 6 lbs.
has stolen the hearts of everyone at The 
Gem Foundation.



And if Emma can have something put in her birthday package,
what does she want?

Something for Arthur!



And so today, I wonder if you would be willing to wish 
our favorite missionary
 a 

Happy Birthday?

She truly serves selflessly, sacrificially and joyfully.
And I'm pretty sure Emmy 
would definitely get a kick out of you honoring her!


If you haven't "liked" 


on Facebook yet today would be an amazingly great day to do that!


Thank you for loving our favorite missionary!!

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, 
but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, 
in love, in faith and in purity.
I Timothy 4:12

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nehemiah's Celebration

Yesterday our sweet Mr. Nehemiah Judson 
celebrated his 11th birthday!

{His 2nd birthday home!!}


What a joy this fellow of ours is.

We are hopelessly smitten.

I know I say that about all my treasures,
but seriously,
this guy just brings such joy to our family.

Easy-going.

Unselfish.

Kindhearted.

Tender.

Lover of God.

Quick wit.

Sweet spirit.

Truthful.

Hardworking.

Just love him so much!









As always, we started with breakfast in bed...
waffles delivered by the waffle-bearer....
{seriously this littlest brother always has a different get-up on}




Bacon 
{Nehemiah loves bacon}
and hash browns...


I regret I didn't get a group shot...


But everyone was singing and cheering him on...
including our favorite missionary and LM
singing from overseas and Ruby was giggling
cause Ruby l*o*v*e*s* birthdays! 



The day was filled with all the fun that Nehemiah had envisioned....
including playing lots of Legos!


 I have many thoughts about precious him rolling around my head....
thoughts that need to be verbalized...
and will share those soon as I pray about exactly to share them.

But suffice it to say, 
we cannot ever thank the Lord enough that this 
son of ours is home.

Forever.

He is a delight to everyone who meets him.

And frankly, we get to.

Yes, we do.

We get to love him up close.

We get to show him the enormous love that 
Almighty God has for him.

We get to tell him how loved and wanted he is.

We get to.

Forever.  

How blessed we are.


Nehemiah would love any birthday wishes you would send his way.

He'll grin his sweet, kind of shy grin.

So wish-away - if you are able!

Friday, July 18, 2014

They're Down





With praises on my lips and my heart full of thankfulness,
I went out front today
and untied the yellow ribbons 
that were wrapped around our palm trees.

Do you remember I put them up here to
symbolically remind our friends, family and neighbors that
we are one of the families that waits
for our hero?

With Special Forc*s the times "away" are
"shorter" but more frequent.  
But trust me, they are not easy in any way.

Eight times and the Lord's protective hand remained.

Thank you to all who pray regularly for that 
hero-son of ours.

We are so grateful for your prayers.

Please continue to pray for those who continue to train,
those d*ployed and the families that love them oh-so-much!!



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ruby's Miraculous Debut...



Well that girl of ours, 
who has stolen everyone's heart, 
has been up to something
quite miraculous!!

Actually the first time Ruby did this
{which was way back in early April}
I literally almost fell over....
and I could not stop between giggling and crying, 
all the while worshipping the Lord!!

But try as I might, 
I had not been able to catch it on video...
and even though the video I share today is not
the best representation of what she can do,
you will see for yourself... 

our Miraculous God is at work 
in her sweet little self, 
 big time...

For you who are new to our Place Called Simplicity,
Ruby's story is an almost
unbelievable one of medical
professionals saying that Ruby, 
{who was found in a crib in the 
corner of an orphanage,
weighing 6 lbs. and already one year old}
 would
never be able to do anything.

At all.

And about the exact same time that 
 the medical doctor who had
reviewed Ruby's MRI announced,

 "She will never do anything, forget about her,
don't even bother feeding her..." 

Well right about that exact same time 
our Mighty and Powerful God had 
sent a mission's team who by God's divine plan was 
led by a young woman and her daddy who both 
had a passion for medically fragile
little ones and decided that this little one
was not going to die on their watch...

and even though the medical professionals 
were not believing God or man could do anything,
that young woman and her daddy
knew the power of prayer and the
demonstrative, healing love of 
their mighty and all-powerful God...


And the rest is history....


So a little background on this video 
and the story behind it...


Every day when Daddy was in Africa with fragile and weak little Ruby,
he would spend his moments singing to her, 
the same song, 
over and over and over

"Oh how I love Jesus, 
Oh how I love Jesus, 
Oh how I love Jesus,
because He first loved me.   
There is a name I love to hear, 
I love to sing His worth,
it sounds like music in my ear, 
the sweetest name on Earth.  
Oh how I love Jesus.
Oh how I love Jesus.  
Oh how I love Jesus.  
Because He first loved me."

June 2011- the day Emma found Ruby                             June 2012 - one year later


And every day since going to Africa to bring
our treasure home, I have sung 
the same song.

Over and over and over.

Oh how I love Jesus....

And in early April as I was tucking Ruby in 
for the night, 
after routinely praying and singing, 
"Oh how I love Jesus..."

I turned to leave the room
and walking toward our bedroom door 
I heard the softest, sweetest sound in all the world...

I froze in place!!

Could I be hearing what I thought I was hearing??

In perfect pitch and without missing a beat...

The sweetest hum of

"Oh how I love Jesus...."

If I hadn't already tucked all our treasures
in upstairs, I would have thought one of 
them was hiding in the corner humming, 
because it was absolutely 
perfectly hummed - 
an entire full verse!!

It's a little hard to hear as she insists on banging her head 
with enthusiasm this particular day...
but listen closely and you will hear the entire verse....




I think it is so fitting that Ruby's first song
is 
"Oh how I love Jesus"....

Since April, Ruby has added to her repertoire
{all on her own}
the following: 

Kristian Stanfill's "Always"....

Itzy-Bitzy Spider
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
and
for a bit of European flavor  
Frere Jacques

And truly, doesn't she just look so beautiful in the video?
Her sweet spirit exudes her tender 
love for Jesus.
And yes, we are completely smitten.

All praise, honor, glory to the King of Kings -
for He has done great things!!
Thank you for sharing our joy.

"Sing to the LORD a new song, 
for he has done marvelous things."
Psalm 98:1

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Took Your Advice


 Three months ago in 
I asked if anyone had any ideas for 
my laundry room?

I showed everyone just how
messy, dark and dingy  it looked
and asked if anyone had
any ideas what I should do in it
to make me want 
{okay so "want" might be a 
giant stretch, but at least not dread
to do the laundry.

So many of you gave me some
really fun ideas!!

First off, 
Aimee F. and Paula C. suggested painting the
shelves white...silly me, I'd never thought 
of that, at all.

Thanks friends - they look gorgeous!

Then Aimee F., Erin S., Melissa D,
Lisa C., Halee B, Heather J.,
Beth in Atlanta, Boy-oh-Boy Amy P.,
Lanny and Amber M.
all mentioned a "robin-egg blue"
or an "aqua" type color...
and I had never, ever thought of that...

You guys totally rock!!

When Halee B. sent me some
pictures from Pinterest I was
intrigued even more...
and then my Emmy sent me a
picture that served as my "inspiration"!!

So I started it when the Bossman
was in Africa,
but the fumes in the small area were 
kicking my bee-hind
so I put it aside and 
tackled painting some more open
areas...

When Dw landed
on Thursday night
he asked me what I would love him
to do Friday morning?

He'd been gone for 70 days 
and was wanting to give me
a boost in the DIY'ing....

and shall we say - 

The rest is history!!


Isn't it beautiful??!










I have some vertical storage ideas
and that will be added soon....
and some sweet little decorations...

But in the meantime,
just looking in the laundry room
puts a smile on my face...

and I actually was a tad excited
to put a load of clothes in.

Sort of.







The place has never looked so lovely -
that's for sure!!

Thank you all for your great suggestions!

The inspiration picture from Emma 
via Pinterest...

 via Better Homes and Garden here. 

Have to admit, I'm kind of enjoying Pinterest a tad
and yes, I am definitely way late in the game.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tender Thoughts Through Tears - The Gems Are Home

To be perfectly honest, it is hard to type through the ever-brimming tears in my eyes!!

Tears of joy!

Tears of relief!

Tears of completion!

Each of us have moments in our lives that are forever 
locked in our memories as monumental! 

Today is one for our family!!

It was about fourteen and a half years ago,

when Emma was about this age....




that while tucking our sweet {instigator-at-heart} little treasure in for the 




night that I first heard her pray a prayer that went 
something like this, 



"Jesus, please let me be the one that you pick to 
go to Africa to take care of the orphans...."



I would never forget where I was standing, nor would I ever forget 
the feeling that flooded my soul at that moment.





I knew it was a God-inspired prayer, because although we had read about missionaries
for years, prayed for missionaries for forever and had been huge adoption advocates,
the prayer came completely out of the blue!

From then on, Emma was focused and 
her prayer remained steadfast. 

Not once did she sway, 
even when there were reasons
she could have.


Emma was just an very ordinary little girl,
growing up pursuing a very extraordinary dream
planted by the God of the Universe!!

Over and over and over and over throughout the years Emma would talk of
"someday when I have my orphanage...."  and it was on her
8th birthday that while Dw was recording her we asked,

"Emma, what do you want to do someday?"

I remember distinctly, as if it was yesterday, thinking,
"This way, someday when she is a missionary to the orphans of Africa,
we will have it recorded that it has been on her heart for a long, long time."

When Emma moved to Africa 18 months ago {and hasn't been home for a visit since}
we played the video for those who gathered to celebrate her move and pray over her
as she went.

I have long said that I felt that God had her pray that prayer 14-1/2 years ago to prepare
her daddy, siblings and I.

And today, the dreams long planted by our mighty and powerful God have {finally!}
begun to come to pass...

The Gem Foundation story is completely AMAZING and probably most of you have
heard of the International ministry which upon hearing through the most crazy set of
circumstances of Emma's purpose of being in Africa - they pursued Emma and eventually
asked her to partner with them to care for their special needs treasures....

The pictures speak volumes...

as The Gem Foundation welcomed their first Gems into their new home....

Read the story and see the pictures here....

*******

If you haven't liked the Gem Foundation Facebook page,
we would all love you to do that too!

Most importantly, please pray for all the transitions!

Lastly, if the Lord should move on your heart to help
with this amazing work to these precious gems
{and the needs are many 
including a car to transport at a moment's notice
and sponsorship of each gem}
here's the link...

to 

 The Gem Foundation website.

To God be the Glory - 
spectacular things He has done 
through the heart of very yielded 
and focused little girl with an
enormous God-sized dream!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

He Saw Her

Every now and then something happens that causes me to stop in my tracks.  Perhaps a random act of kindness, a simple gesture that was so unexpected and sometimes it's just an unsolicited smile.

Do you know what I mean?




In fact, sometimes when these simple acts 
are completely unexpected, 
the mere show of unprompted kindness 
becomes the most extraordinary.

A very simple yet extraordinarily beautiful thing happened recently and left a very
lasting impression on my heart.

One that perhaps is likely never to be forgotten.

It was an ordinary day like 99.9% of our days....
 running errands and swinging into Costco to pick up a few items.
Of course I timed it so that the samples would likely be out as the samples
are everyone's favorite thing, right?

And those doing marketing are definitely sharp, since I have bought more than
one sample after tasting it - something that I'm quite certain I would have never
purchased without tasting first!

This particular day as we meandered through the store we slowly made our way to the
back of the store and before long the kids excitedly pointed,



"Mom, they have popcorn!!"

Have you ever seen the big popcorn sample display?  About 8 flavors of popcorn to
sample from and each rather delectable and all completely Gluten Free!
And although we have never bought the popcorn, we surely enjoy a little
sample anytime it's being offered.

As my sweet pile was trying to decide which sample they wanted to try an even
larger crowd was gathering, semi-waiting their turns and I was spanning my
treasures to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing....

and suddenly, I witnessed one of the most profoundly simple, yet amazingly
beautiful acts I have seen in a really, really long time.

The kids were stretching across the length of the popcorn cart and Jubilee
was farthest away at the opposite end.

And truly, Jubilee is one who kind of just waits her turn.

She's observing.

Biding time.

Watching life unfold.

Taking it all in.

Not going to be pushy.

Ever.

She's also not going to usually hurry.

Ever.

She's thinking.

Observing everyone else who seems to know exactly what to do.

And with this steady stream of people wanting their popcorn, they were kind of gently
pushing their way in front of her and in very typical Jubilee-fashion she was just letting them.




And suddenly he saw her.

Yes, one of the young men working behind the popcorn counter stopped completely
and patiently he waited until her eyes looked at his and ever-so-sweetly
he tenderly questioned,

"Would you like some popcorn?"

Friends, there is no doubt that this young man had to have a gentle soul.
He had to have someone with special needs in his life.

The look on his face was honestly, almost angelic.

He didn't rush her.

He didn't rush even one speck.

He didn't look around at the pushing crowd.

He didn't tend to more popcorn hurriedly doing the task at hand.

Nope.

He just waited, his eyes fixed gently on her.

It was profound.

She kind of broke from her gaze and nodded her head, "Yes."

Without moving a muscle and staring intently at her,  he responded kindly,

"Okay, what kind would you like?"

I felt like I was in Jesus' presence as the disciples brought the little ones to Him.

And honestly, in all my years, I don't remember ever witnessing such a tender moment between
a total stranger and one of my little ones.

He truly saw my precious little treasure, Jubilee.

Jubilee paused for a moment and said, "That one."

He gently took the little cup and slowly handed it to her.

I went over close enough and catching his eyes, I mouthed, "Thank you."

He smiled back.

As I gathered my pile of treasures and we walked around the other side of the now
very full popcorn display,  my eyes welled with tears.

It isn't very often that people these days are that tender with anyone, let alone a perfect
and complete stranger.

Often today the idea is "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" but instead of "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" his actions and his eyes had graciously said,

"You're important.  

You matter. 

What flavor of popcorn you pick even matters -  because you matter." 

I walked down a few aisles with the kids and we found ourselves near enough the popcorn display that I had to go say something else.  I told the kids to wait just a second and I went back...the crowd had
thinned and I tapped this handsome 20-something's arm and as he turned my eyes welled again,

"Thank you for noticing my daughter.  Not many would stop their day and 
give her the time of picking something out....but you did and I am so grateful."   

This sweet young man, quietly said, "Awwwww," and gently reached out and pulling me towards him, giving me a long sideways hug, squeezing me tenderly.

I have thought about that young man and what he did many times since that day.

I have decided to be more intentional in my love for others.

To stop and love on people.

To give others time.

To not rush through life.

To forget the urgent and the 'hurry'....

To slowly love those God places around me.

Life speeds by, but the little pauses make all the difference in the world.