Monday, October 20, 2014

The Stuff No One Talks About

This post is difficult to write, however, it is definitely necessary.  

It's about the stuff that no one talks about.  

In all my silver-haired years, I've never heard 
anyone talk about this nor have I read anything about it.  So I kinda' 
feel like I am to share the truth in an effort to raise awareness and hopefully, 
help people understand the importance of praying for those who have 
dedicated their lives to serving in a land far from the support of family and friends,
and most likely on the other side of the world.

Although these thoughts are filled with great emotions, it seems that somehow 
writing about it all will help me process life as it has unfolded in the recent weeks.


As I planned this GO Team trip, I had felt that I should arrive early, a few days ahead 
of the team {something I had not ever done}. Which, of course, was the Lord.  

I had originally thought that arriving early would be especially helpful as Emma had 
been grieving Arthur and I guessed that we would be able to talk more than the usual 
snippets shared here and there that we are able to sneak in when I am in the States. 

But when I arrived the Gems were very, very sick.  Emma had been at the hospital 
with them and although they were all sent home with medicine, their condition 
was desperately concerning.  

Backing up a bit, a few months before The Gem Foundation had officially opened, 
Emma had been out at Watoto and had met a precious little guy who had 
stolen her heart.  She told me about at that time. His name was Jason and 
oh how she loved him and longed 
for her to come home to The Gem.  As the Lord would orchestrate it, 
Jason did come home to The Gem and I was thrilled to meet this 
little guy who had stolen Emmy's heart.  
He was adorable.  
Very sick, but adorable.  
I prayed over him and digging some of 
my Essential Oils out of my suitcase, had applied them to the soles of his sweet feet 
{as well as any of the other sick ones}.

The next day Emma felt that Jason and Elisha needed to go to the hospital.  I agreed.  
Anyway, the days passed quickly between visiting the two boys in the hospital and all 
the other needs of the rest of the sick Gems at home.   Besides preparing for the team.
We slept little.

By the day the team was to arrive, the word was that Jason and Elisha would be 
released from the hospital.  We went to pick them up and as soon as we returned to 
the home with the boys, I left to go to the airport to pick up the team that 
would be arriving shortly.  

The team was awesome, I was thrilled to see them!!  The next morning Jason still 
did not seem better. Emma had him moved out to the 'family room' as is the 
usual daily routine with all the Gems...but even more so for sick little Jason -  
he needed to be right near everyone at all times.  He was being loved on well.    

The staff meeting was about to start right after lunch and I was asked by one of 
the staff if Jason should be moved back to his bed.  I told them, "No, let's leave him here." 

One of the staff reminded me that the drums and worship are really loud as 
the staff worships together and they wondered if I still thought it best to leave him 
out in the family room with all that going on.  {The rest of the Gems were napping.}

To be honest, in my spirit I felt that Jason needed to be in the hub of it all because 
he would actually be more comfortable with everyone worshipping and I was 
concerned that he was not doing well. 

The nurse was checking his vitals often and he was on oxygen but in my heart I knew
he was fighting for his life.  

During the staff meeting Emma announced to her 23 employees that the next 
Thursday there would be a special Birthday party for the only October birthday
Jason - who would be turning 7!!  She told how there would be presents 
{thanks to you amazing bloggy friends who 'showered' the Gems with all 
kinds of clothes and gifts!}  

Excitement was in the air - 
a birthday party honoring Jason
and cake and presents for all the Gems!!!!  

Emma had asked me to share a devotional, which I did.  

When the staff meeting was over, all the Gems, except for Jason went outside to 
spend time on the lawn with all the Nannies.  

All I wanted to do was hold Jason. 

My heart was breaking for his labored breathing.  So I scooped him in my arms 
and spent the next hour or so telling him all about our family.  I told him about my 
treasures and how I knew that they would love to know him.  Then I pulled out my cell
phone and one by one, starting with Abigail, went through my sweet pile, showing him
pictures of each of my kids.  And actually when I showed him Liberty's picture,
he raised up a speck. 
 I laughed, "You think she's beautiful, don't you?? 

I told him how thankful I was that God had made him.  I sang worship songs over him 
and I told him all about how much God loved him and how beautiful heaven would be
someday and how his body would be healed.  

Unbeknownst to me, Kevin snapped a picture of us as I held Jason close
 and whispered God's truths to him.  

Since I had no clue that Kevin had taken that picture, 
I actually took a selfie with Jason.

Now, this silver-haired Mimi just doesn't really do selfies, 
however, I was so concerned in my heart about his health and 
I wanted to have a picture of this precious Gem and I. 

After probably an hour or so, 
Emma came and sat down and said she was going to spend 
some time with him.

I went outside to see what was going on with the Gems and others
on the lawn.  I held a little one and walked around the yard with him.
He picked a flower which we brought in
for Emma and immediately she held it for Jason to smell.

We headed back outside again and within a minute or two,
Emily from the GO team came running out the front door and with a 
terribly panicked look shouted,

"He's not breathing."

It literally not been that long since I had been holding him....

I ran toward the door of The Gem and met the nurse and 
Emma running while carrying Jason toward the door.
Inside I remember seeing Kevin standing there and shouting said,

"Kevin!  Please would you go with them??!!"

Kevin ran behind them..the oxygen was still attached and
I actually yanked the taut tube that had been pumping oxygen 
just seconds before.

I was shaking and running back to make sure that no little
ones were behind the car as it would be backing up 
in a second.

It was awful.

Just awful.

The emotions.

I phoned Dw to ask him to pray but the sound wouldn't work.

I kept trying to call back.

It was so awful.

The reality of living on the other side of the ocean.

I kept waiting to hear how Jason was doing or worse
yet for the gate to open, meaning that they had returned with his body.

An hour or so passed.  

Then the gate opened and the car pulled in.

It was just awful.

They were carrying Jason's body.

I can't think of any other words but 'awful, horrible, yukky, terrible'.  

Slowly and gently they laid Jason down right where we had just been 
cuddling with him an hour before.
Only this time, Jason's body was empty....he was dancing with Jesus
and Arthur and my friend Dave and all the others who had gone
on before him.

And we were left to weep and mourn the loss of this loving little guy.

The reality of a missionary's life.

Kevin graciously went with Emma while she had to have papers signed
in order to bury Jason.

When they returned, Kevin and his daughter Mary Caitlin 
went with me to find a coffin for Jason.  

Darkness had settled in and Kevin and I wandered through a giant
market of coffins with only the light of Kevin's cell phone
guiding our footsteps.  

I kept starting to cry - this could not be happening!

Kevin helped me decide which coffin to purchase.  
Emma's only instructions were that it had to be beautiful.
So we found the most beautiful one possible.



A little glass window to show his precious face.

It was exactly as tall as his little six year old body was.
And we purchased a wooden cross for the grave marker
as well as a lovely homemade blanket to drape over the coffin. 

It just all seemed like a very, very, very bad dream.

I confess I was completely unprepared for Jason's death, 
yet there was something that I even less prepared for 
and I've asked Emma if I could share about it.


When we returned with the coffin,
Emma asked for someone to find a bucket and fill it with warm 
water.  Choking back the sobs, Emma remarked, 

"It's his last bath, it must be warm."   

{Warm water is not a regular occurrence.}

And then, slowly, and lovingly, Emma removed his shirt
and began to bathe his little six year old body.

No, there is no undertaker to prepare the body for burial.

It is the family's privilege here in Africa -
preparing the body for burial.
And The Gem Foundation was his family
and Emma was his mama.  

She would prepare the body for burial.  

She'd done it with precious little Arthur
and now she would do it again, just about a month later.

I don't know about you folks, but I couldn't have pictured myself
preparing a little boy for his burial. 

But this is the life of a missionary
and this is reality.  

I stroked Jason's leg and reminded him of how much 
he was loved.  And although he was now safe in the arms
of Jesus, I just had to.  

Emma continued to bathe him, 
modestly changing his diaper,
while her staff sat gathered around softly crying.

I kept sobbing as did Emma and Macey
{who was helping Emma bathe him}.  

It was awful, but painfully beautiful all at the same time.

I was in amazement at how God has given Emma such grace to
do what He has called her to do.  
I am in awe.
I remember the time Emma was about 10 years old and
wearing those wheelie skate/sneakers.  We were in the doctor's office
watching as Liberty had stitches pulled.
I thought, "Why is Emma being so weird and banging into me with
her roller shoes as the nurse pulls the stitches?"
Finally, glancing down to where she was banging into me
I discovered, she was not playing - but passed out cold!

And now, not that many years later, 
Emma lives in Africa and is gently
preparing a precious and very loved little guy
for his burial.  

We cried as we picked out Jason's clothes.
They were lovingly picked out in the States for the Gem Shower
by our orphan-loving friend Kate C....and little did we know that instead of 
wearing them to play and laugh and smile and learn to lift his head
...he would be buried in his first-ever new 
and very handsome clothes!

It was a unlike anything I had ever watched before.

I felt honored to be a part of such a sacred 
and holy time. 

After he was dressed I questioned Emma,

"Could we please put one of the Matchbox cars
sent from the bloggy friends in one of his hands?
Every little boy-treasure needs to be carrying
a Matchbox car."  

We chose an orange one with snazzy sides.

And then we wrote notes to tuck in his new jean pocket - 
cause every little boy needs a pocket full of stuff!!

We tucked his right hand in that same pocket,
just like little boys like to do.

Jason looked so handsome.


My life was forever solemnly changed. 

A fresh reminder that life is short.

And a passionate need to remind others to pray for 
missionaries serving around the world.

We will likely never experience what they have to do on a 
day-to-day basis...

But oh how they need our love, monetary and prayer support!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Crazy Dreams

Recently I was commiserating to the Lord about a crazy dream I had and wanted to do 
again but didn't think there was anyway it would be possible.  

We'd done it before {twice} and there was no logical way we could do it again.  
It seemed to me, as I pondered it all, that I would just have to revel in the thought that 
we had had the privilege of doing it twice before and leave it at that.

But the Lord knew my heart.  It was more than just a longing.  It was a feeling of 
antsy mixed with anticipation. 
 The Lord had to be up to something.  
It was all too crazy.

Surprising to most perhaps, but this particular dream does not involve 
bringing home another treasure.  Although being perfectly honest, it does 
involve a Crazy Dream of orphan-loving magnitude!  

Anyway, after whining a while to the Lord about the prospect of not being 
able to ever do this again, I put the thought out of my mind for a little bit.  
Okay, so maybe for only about 10 minutes, but whatever, 
at least I let it rest in my head for a few seconds.

A few weeks passed of off and on dreaming and longing and 
suddenly and without warning, I came across an email yesterday 
that made this Crazy Dream almost look like it could become another 
Crazy Reality...and I was giddy beyond belief.

Dw was sound asleep in the States and I could not wait for him to wake
up.  I checked the clock about 1,384,281 times to see how much
longer till he should be awake.  I was afraid to text him in case
it woke Ruby...but as soon as that man of mine woke up 
I was excitedly sharing that Crazy Dream with him...
[He actually kind of loved it!!]  

Now, the point of this post is not to try to make people guess 
what this Crazy Dream is, 
because it is not for guessing.   
It's a personal dream at this point.

The point of this post is to challenge every one of you with this:

What Crazy Dreams do you have that you just think are probably 
just a thing of the past?

Is there a Crazy Dream that seems so far-fetched to Dream again??

Have you put the power of God to accomplish your Crazy Dream in a box?

Cause if you have answered 'yes' to any of the above questions - 

It's time - 

Open the box and dare to Dream Again!!

Cause that's what I had to do.  

I had just guessed that this twice lived dream was my Past to rejoice in....
never thinking that He just might like to make this new Crazy Dream another reality!!

Soooooo....sweet friends,

It's time to dream again!!

Ask Almighty God to re-ignite your Crazy Dreams for Him!!

Ask Him to take the Crazy Dreams He planted and light a fire under them and 
turn the impossible into the possible!!

Because it is NOT TOO LATE!!  

His heart is for us to dream Crazy Dreams that require faith and trust and joy and uncompromising steadfastness - and He not only can bring the Crazy Dreams 
to reality, but He delights in doing just that!  

Dream Big cause we have a magnificently enormous God!! 

And trust me in this:  It's so exciting to be dreaming again!!

“The world has yet to see what God can do with one man wholly dedicated to Him.”
     ~Dwight L. Moody 
{who my sweet husband was named after}

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Poem: Two Little Fellas...

 Walking through The Gem Foundation one day....

A little fella was a'screaming away.  

Nap time should be kinda quiet ya' know,

But Caleb had something he desperately needed though....

Both legs in casts and unable to move, twist or bend,

Oh me.  His head by-golly needed to get to the other end,

Scream, scream and scream some more...

Surely someone will walk through that door!

Just why wouldn't someone come and set Caleb free?

So his best buddy Collins he would be able to see!!

It was about then that this silver-haired Mimi moseyed on by

And knew in an instant she had to try,

To settle precious Caleb the other way

Why of course flipping his body just made his day....

After all, the plan, it just could not fail,

Because suddenly their fingers were reachin' right 
through the ol' rail,

Completely and instantly the screaming had stopped 

As soon as Caleb's sweet little body was at the other end plopped

What was once a face filled with bits of fear

Was now turned and thoroughly grinning ear to ear...

Squeezing fingers and playing together

Precious friends they'll be totally forever...

And really, just think with me....

How frustrating it must always be

To be trapped in your body and not ever free...

Until that silver-haired Mimi comes strolling in

And she understands and you start to grin...

Mimi slides the cribs over closer end to end

And you start to move and bend and bend 

The buddy's hands are now touchin' and really sweet

And that's a feeling that obviously can't be beat!!

Cause these two little guys, both smarter than smart.

Sure love each other with all their heart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

To God Be the Glory, Great Things He has Done

Ahhhh, sweet friends, it's a joy to write from the field.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, 
but when I was a young girl, I remember standing during a 
Missions Conference and dedicating my life to missions.

Although I never went to live on the mission field
{that's another story for another day}
I have this amazing blessing to be here from time to time
and to serve where needed.

Of course
who would have ever guessed when this GO Team trip was planned
that we would be here for the loss of one of 
The Gem Foundation's precious Gems?

We could not have even begun to imagine what it would be like
to experience it all...

My eyes well with tears...
such incredible heartache,
yet so thankful we had this incredible privilege.

I will write more about the loss of Jason, 
but need some more time to process it all.

Lord willing, soon....

In the meantime, the team has been working hard 
and blessing the people of Uganda.

One of Emma's dreams was for a small classroom for some of the Gems
to begin to attend to help them work on their life skills.

So the GO team set to work and boy-oh-boy 
 the room looks so amazing!

Miss Mary Caitlin {left} has beautiful God-given artistry skills
which enabled her to paint the outline for some really sweet
animals...and some of the team went on to complete the art...

That's Emily on the right with the sweet blonde bun...
they have worked so hard!

It looks amazing!


And surprise!

Meet Kevin.  

Kevin is on the board of directors 


and is also Mary Caitlin's daddy
and a very close friend of Dw's.  

As the Lord would have it, at the very last minute 
{as in the day before} 
due to circumstances, Dw called Kevin and
asked if it would be possible for him to come along the trip with Mary Caitlin. 

Kevin and his sweet wife Michelle, love the orphan, are adoptive parents 
and are a beautiful blessing to be part of our IVO team.  
Kevin's sudden need to come on the trip has been a great blessing
at this time - although we had no idea what would transpire with Jason.   

We are so thankful to the Lord for Kevin and Michelle's tender hearts
 who love the orphan
and willingly change plans with a moment's notice!

Only servants with yielded hearts can do that.
And without even a word of complaint.  
We love them so much!

So as the Lord would have it, the team was able to meet precious Jason
before he passed away.  

Then Kevin willingly ran to the hospital with 
Emma, Jason and the nurse
when they were trying to revive Jason.

Later that night, 
Kevin and Mary Caitlin went with me in the dark to find a coffin.

Emma and Macey commented what a blessing 
it has been to have a dad 
{Kevin} here for a short time.

Such an incredible blessing.

We are so grateful for this God-orchestrated team.  

Also, please meet Karoline {Emily's mom} on the front left.
Karoline and Emily were on our April 2013 GO Team
and it has been a
precious blessing having them join again.  

They tenderly love the orphan
and Karoline is gifted with ministering to those with Autism -
such an incredible blessing for 

I am so very grateful for the faithfulness of our Mighty God -
who saw just what we would need at this exact moment
 and placed together just the right people to 
serve together and accomplish His good plan.  

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Log Cabin Living: Simple Remedies

I am loving sharing some of our Log Cabin Living
ideas with my bloggy friends.

Just to recap what it is though, in case you missed it...

In my heart of hearts, pre-Ruby, I longed to move to a remote area 
{with the desert weather!} 
where we could enjoy Log Cabin Living 
{like the one pictured above}
as a sweet family.  It would be nestled in an area 
"a hundred miles" from civilization...
{see, I really am an introvert}.   

I am so grateful that I had the privilege of living in our little log home
before we lost it in a fire. 

No doubt, with Ruby's fragile health, there is not even an albeit 
brief possibility of entertaining such a wild and crazy idea 
{unless God totally heals her - 
which is, of course, totally possible!}.  

 In the meantime, we embrace our beautiful home in the city of Phoenix, 
with close proximity to Phoenix Children's Hospital while 
we enjoy to the fullest the spectacularly gorgeous Phoenix 
weather and all the perks of big city living!!

The series will be an on-going and I will share our version of 
large family living, on a very limited budget while practicing Simplicity.  
We invite to share this journey with us.  
As always, there are plenty of ways to do life.  

We humbly welcome you in
to our home.  

Please be nice.    

I have mentioned on numerous occasions how much
I despise meds...

Today I would love to share 
a simple story of our Simplicity approach
to life without a lot of medications.

Recently I shared how two weeks ago 
Nehemiah needed to have a MRI of his brain. 

He had never had one before, but had another similar test,
which was a confining kind of test {similar to an MRI}
 and surprisingly {haha} he didn't enjoy the confinement.  

In order to help him relax for this now needed MRI, I took along some Lavender
and gently gave him a massage down his spine and on the bottom of his toes
as we waited in the little examining room before we went in for the MRI.

He relaxed enough that he even fell asleep during much 
of the 90 minutes of testing.

We were thankful for the relaxing properties of 
the Lavender which proved themselves yet again.

Although Lavender is one of the most versatile 
of the Essential Oils we use it to help us relax every so often.

Then, of course, with Nehemiah's wiggling as he breathed in his sleep 
the doctor ordered a STAT 
MRI with anesthesia for the very next day.

This time I took Peppermint for after the anesthesia.

And it was actually kind of comical....

 the kind-hearted anesthesiologist came to
talk to us beforehand.

He explained the anesthesia to me and then said,
"Oh and I'll be giving you some blah-blah-blah in case
Nehemiah has nausea after."

I just nodded my head.

Of course I was thinking, "Ummm, probably not."

Then he questioned, "Wait!  Does he get carsick?"

I answered, "Actually he does." 

"Oh, I'll just have the nurses give it to him when he 
gets back to recovery."

Oh dear.

Now I had to spill it.

"Well actually, I kind of really like Young Living's Essential
Oils and I use Peppermint for nausea.
Would it be okay with you if I just put some on the
bottom of his feet when I get back to the recovery room
and we just pass on the meds?"

Seriously, it would have been pretty funny to 
get a picture of his kind face at that moment.

His eyes grew so wide, his face almost disappeared.

I think he wasn't sure what to say.

Then he kind of mumbled,

"Ummm, okay."

I smiled and thanked him for his kindness.

I had explained to him and the nurses that
Nehemiah had had a lot of trauma in his life
and if it was okay with them, I would need to 
hold his hand until he was anesthetized.

Everyone was great with that.

I also asked if it was okay to have me come back 
to the recovery room before Nee even woke 
up so I could be the first face he saw when he awoke.

They all were great with that as well and said, "Sure."

So before Nehemiah was even awake
I had gently massaged his sweet feet and spine
with some Peppermint oil.

And, he did not even have a dab of nausea.


Not one speck.

He drank the apple juice and was feeling
so well that when the nurse offered a little snack, 
he chowed it down.   No problem.  
The nurse was quite impressed.

Not one bit of nausea at any point.

Just two more reasons why I love using my Essential Oils...
natural, healing properties...without the drugs.

Living in Simplicity.

My favorite thing.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oh Our Hearts

No one had any idea when we planned the GO team to come at this time that this would happen....

Minutes before Jason met Jesus.  

I know so many of you love, and pray for The Gem Foundation and would want to know. 

Thank you in advance for your prayers.

The burial will be tomorrow.   

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Where'd Ya Go?

When I began writing our Place Called Simplicity, I meant it to be a journal to my family.  Just a place to share my thoughts about the people I love, the miracles we have seen God work and the things I am most passionate about.   Never would I have dreamed, not even in a million years, that God would turn it into a ministry.

There is no one more surprised than me.  Promise.

Of course, being a mom of 12 treasures, nine adopted from around the world,  there would be no way that adoption and the orphan crisis would not be a topic as I wrote for my family.  It's who we are. It's what we live.

It's what we've been doing for almost 30 years. 

Being perfectly honest, it was very exciting just a few years ago to have so many talking about the orphan crisis, going to bat for adoption and being outspoken for the needs of the vulnerable around the world.

Yet in the recent months my heart has been pondering, wondering, confused -

To be straight up, it almost seemed like suddenly, without any warning, the orphan crisis wasn't mentioned very often anymore.   One could almost think that the need had passed to serve the orphans or perhaps there were no longer orphans in the world.

And many of us who have been in it for the long haul have been left to wonder,

"Where'd ya' go?"  

Was it kind of just a fad?

[Please say no!]

Could adoption have just seemed like "the rage" that in the end was just too hard
or too expensive or too much work or just not cool anymore?

Cause I've just gotta' share my heart here...

I'm sitting upstairs from some of the most vulnerable Gems in the entire world.  It's 1:04am in Uganda.

One of these precious treasures has been crying off and on.....he's in incredible pain and very sick. His contorted body just seems to hurt all the time.   Barely able to be soothed.

His needs are significant.  But what a sweet little lovey he is.

Another whimpers....he can't unknown infirmity that the doctors just can't figure out.  He sleeps much of the day...but in his wakefulness, his eyes follow you.  I wonder what he's thinking as I tell him how handsome he is and how much I love him.

There's another who has completely stolen my heart.  He is probably the most vulnerable of all residing here now.  His name is more than perfect for his situation.  He has much to overcome. He will have to be strong and courageous.

And all the others??

Their needs are so enormous.  

Every one of them.

And at the very same time I am reminded that there are 
orphanages or homes filled with orphans very much like 
The Gem Foundation in places like China, Russia, 
Mexico, Ukraine, Liberia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mali, Ecuador, 
HongKong, Ghana, Korea, the Philippines, Kenya - 

all just for starters.... 

And all I can think of is this:

God's heart for the orphan has not changed.

Neither can ours.