The Best Lesson I Learned

(originally posted 10/2/12)

Life is hard.

This is what Sentayehu D told us one day after Man Up Bible study. My hubby studied the book of Daniel for 3 1/2 months with about 35+ young men living in Korah, a slum community in Ethiopia. Every single day they came and learned together how to live a life of courage, faith, and prayer like Daniel.

The Bible tells us Daniel lost his home, family, friends, and community…everything he knew, but the Babylonians never could take away his relationship with God. The guys all understood Daniel’s heartaches and his loss and his battles. Most of them had lost everything, too … they are fatherless and motherless and familyless.

When I look back over my life, the past 45 years … I agree, life is hard. I have experienced great loss, but nothing can compare to losing your family, your dad and mom. The conditions are heartbreaking living in Korah, living on a trash dump. The boys and girls living at the shelter with Great Hope Charity and Project 61 ministry have lived through death, rape, or abuse.

Trust has to be earned. Roger and I showed up every day. We had to prove (at first) our loyalty to the community and children, that we loved them unconditionally. I met Sentayehu two years ago on a 2-week mission trip, but it took showing up daily and taking long walks, for him to finally open up and share his history, his story.

It was easier for him to write the painful memories in letters, and finally trusted me enough to share the details of his mother’s death. Steady my heart, my broken mommy heart; there are really no words to say to comfort this beautiful boy who had lost everything. Why is life so messy? Why is pain a part of us? Nothing ever goes right. Sometimes it just hurts so much.

Roger and I made a commitment to Senti that we. are. family. We gave him the blessing and security that he will never be alone again …. this young man has many people that love him, but knowing he has an Abate (dad) and Enate (mom) and a big brother and two little sisters is healing to the soul.

I learned from the children, the importance of family. I had the great honor of being a mommy to the motherless in Ethiopia. I took on the role of protecting and loving and cuddling and hand-holding and parenting and teaching and feeding and caring for children that desperately need a mom in their life.

In Ethiopia  a mom is called Enate (Amharic). I will never forget the first time I heard the kids call me this affectionate name. It melted my heart. I love being a mom to Michael, Hannah, and Zoie, so it was very natural for me to “mother” the children we served in Korah. I wanted so much to give them this precious gift, I wanted them to know what it means to have a family, but most importantly, I wanted to ease, like only a mommy can do, their pain of loss.

Teaching them that in life … what’s good and what gets broken happens just the way that You [God] plan. They taught me through their suffering, that God is real and is the Healer of my scars. 

Here’s the truth behind my craziness for missions … for years, I lived with the false belief that leaving my children behind to go on a mission trip was bad. It was irresponsible for me as a mom to spend money on a mission “vacation” to love orphans. My belief system was messed up because I used this as a barricade to hide my real fears of travel, or death, or spending time away from my children.

How could I ever sacrifice motherhood for kids (out there) I didn’t even know. On my 41st birthday, God helped me to TEAR down all my fears of missions and clearly see the truth. I celebrated this victory and went on my 1st mission trip to Haiti with my church family. It changed my life and I’m grateful He never gave up on me.

He was the only one who really knew my heart’s deepest desires. I think this is why I’m jetting full blast ahead making up for lost time. It’s my passion now to obediently live life wholly for Jesus. To die to self, knowing God will do a greater work through me. (John 12:24)

Now, here’s my challenge back to you … pray bold and act fearlessly to visit the widows and orphans on a short term mission trip. Stop making excuses, using your children or lack of money as a barricade to NOT do what God has CALLED us to do in James 1:27. There are so many wonderful churches and ministries out there that lead mission trips.

We are currently planning 4 amazing Simply Love and Man Up mission trips this year. It’s your choice where, when, how, why … pick one and go. I made a decision to live my life full-on, as if it’s my last day, to share the gospel to the unreached people groups and inspire others to GO and love big on the fatherless and motherless and familyless.

It’s our responsibility to love like Psalms 89:1 Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the story of your love— What is your barricade holding you back from loving radically on a mission trip? Be honest and let’s pray and support one another.

I want to hear from you (seriously) It’s been my joy and daily renewal to blog and be your friend through the years. I read every single comment you leave, but we need to re-connect after my month+ bloggy sabbatical. If you take the time to read a post, please let me know how it changes you or inspires you or challenges you. I’ll take the good, bad, and crazy!

Just for you: Have you ever considered sponsoring a child from a third world country? What impact has it made on your family?

{Steady My Heart by Kari Jobe}

Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here
You’re real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart

I’m not gonna worry
I know that You got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What’s good and what gets broken
Happens just the way that You plan

And I will run to You
You’re my refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
Cause of everything You are

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