Sparkles

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I have a bed. I have a mattress a church helped us buy, and a castle-sized frame a new friend built for us. I am glad.

At first I thought it would be too high and I would be scared to sleep so I thought I was going to put my mattress on the floor and sleep in a cute cave (dungeon) but instead I have a tiny dungeon library/prayer closet underneath and I sleep in the keep of my castle.

I have been praying about bed frames that would make cozy places for me and my mom and sister to just be.

This whole thing is about God answering my prayers.

-Chelsea

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I’ve kind of always seen my bed as my safe place. It’s my own space where I can read, pray, cry, and my mom can kiss me goodnight.

I have my own castle now. I have a prayer “closet” underneath and I can rest in the castle bed above.

Several months ago a grouchy customer ordered a double 8 ounce extra hot latte. I was glad when he left the store. As a barista part of my job is to learn names of customers to write on their cups. One time he told me his name but I had forgotten it and he wouldn’t tell me again so I told him with a smile that his name would from then on be Sparkle because of his (not so) sparkly attitude.

This grouchy customer, acquaintance, now friend just built me and my mom and sister bed frames.

I have been praying about our own safe place for longer than I can remember. Sparkle has been an unexpected blessing and I still make him his double 8 ounce extra hot latte with a smile and deep appreciation.

-Chloe

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Sometimes answers to prayers come in unexpected ways and times.

I have been praying about furniture many other needs and our own space for a long while now. God has opened doors to the impossible: the miracle of a safe, non-judgmental, Jesus-loving, precious, generous family to stay with for several weeks as we waited in prayer expecting more miracles but not even having answers yet, an apartment with a washer and dryer from the previous tenant, three bikes to get around town, a microwave from someone, toilet paper and paper towels as we moved in, a few donations, advice and help from kind, gentle counselors and low income offices designed to help lift people out of situations they’ve found themselves in, a church helped us buy mattresses, and now a carpenter with hidden kindness built us bed frames with prayer closets underneath. I slept there the first night and felt like a kid in a treehouse.

I remember my daughter talking about this customer who was grouchy and not so fun to be around. The thing is … his heart is actually bigger than anyone knows and I’m not supposed to tell anyone but can’t help it because his kindness has been more proof again to us that God answers prayers when we ask, seek, wait, and keep placing our trust in Him no matter what anyone else says.

I thanked him several times for being such a blessing to me and my girls.

Then – he thanked US for being an answer to HIS prayers as a way he could serve his Lord.

God answers prayers.

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I may not know exactly what prayer answers you’re waiting for – but I have to tell you that God does answer and He does provide in very real ways. He can be trusted and He is faithful. He delivers, answers, heals, redeems, restores, and He cares. I’m agreeing in prayer with you right now for answers to the questions you have. May God bless you and lead you to people who reflect the love of God and add a little sparkle to your life.

-Kerri

It is all about faith

We will (sometimes not so patiently but mostly patiently yet always expectantly) wait on the Lord here in Washington for the Alaska homeless place (we believe will be for sex-trafficked survivor girls) we every day constantly feel Him teaching and preparing us for in the future whatever His timing is. We know He’s got this. He is faithful and He rewards those who wait on Him and keep putting their trust in Him.

I remember a sweet teenage boy once asking me, “Are you JUST a mom or do you DO something?”

The camp showers were 3 minutes for 25 cents.

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My daughters were each in a shower and I would hand them shampoo, soap, or put another quarter in when the water shut off. Probably nobody likes to run out of hot water with foamy soap still all over.

Suddenly my heart completely ached for kids I don’t even know who don’t have a mother to help them through life.

I was moved to tears for them again in that moment.

The Holy Spirit overwhelmed my heart.

When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up all I really wanted was to be a mommy and a wife.

Most of the time when I answered that question I was met with disapproving looks as if that’s not enough of an answer.

But it is.

It is enough.

As it turns out it looks like I will be a mother figure to many homeless teens in Alaska. Who would care for them? Here I am, Lord. Send me.

THAT is pretty amazing and I’m honored that God is doing this with my life. I don’t have to know HOW He’s doing this but I will keep following this dream He’s put in my heart as He keeps opening doors. (You can read more about this in the Alaska Homeless Teen Stuff here.)

I remember a sweet teenage boy once asking me, “Are you JUST a mom or do you DO something?”

SUCH a cutie boy, right?!

I smiled and gently explained that being a mommy and leading, training, and loving children is a very big job and is very something. He smiled back and I could tell he was believing this was truth (and it probably wasn’t meant in a disrespectful way at all.)

There is NO “just” in being a mommy or wife. (I believe that if it was a paid job, either of those would be on the highest scale ever. I know we’re all willing to do these jobs without pay but it’s just something I think about when it comes to the money and finance world and how it would blow the executives, presidents of companies, doctors, and lawyers away if they could all SEE a mommy or wife’s worth written in dollar amounts.)

But EVEN IF I was “just” a mommy and wife, that is absolutely “enough.” Whether people feel Called to adopt or are naturally Called to be a parent, it’s enough.

When did the world turn into such an

I-need-to-be-entertained,

everything’s-a-competition,

if-I-like-cheese-and-you-don’t-I-will-be-offended,

it’s-all-about-me-selfish

kinda place?

(It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus.)

And life is NOT a competition. Your race is your race. Period. And wherever you are is just right for God to use you and your story.

Whatever God put in your heart to “be” when you grow up, I believe it’s enough.  And if people laugh when you tell them you want to be a dancer or singer or whatever, let them laugh.  (The way someone treats you is usually much more about his or her heart condition than it is about you.)

I believe in you and God believes in you.  He created you and knows your most intimate dreams. Sometimes we let the world tell us what we “should” be doing instead of following the dreams God wrote into us.

I heard someone say he wanted to be sure and use up all his talents and gifts so that there was nothing left by the time he meets God face to face. That’s pretty cool.

The job the world says you “should” have and the job God’s put on your heart to do may be 2 different things. (For some people it’s a blessing to have already discovered this and to shake off the world’s opinions.)

Believe in you.

People can go a long way just hearing someone believes in them. We are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (even when we’re thinking about ourselves.)

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

[Note:  I can’t leave this without adding that physical needs being met aren’t the only needs that desperately need met. Emotionally being there and believing in them, modeling integrity in all things and sharing Jesus with the kids in our care are also VERY important. Some kids have physical needs met but are starving for a deeper love that God intended for a mother to provide.]

[More:

Something we do at our house is called, “You are my favorite kid.”

I used to be a nanny and care for many kids. 2s and 3s are my favorite ages (and now, teenagers, too.) At one preschool job the most difficult child in a class of 24 3 year olds I taught was my favorite kid. Actually none of the other teachers enjoyed his company but he just had something special about him and I tried to be sure he knew I valued him.

We lived in Texas before this move to Alaska to open a homeless teen place. When my kids’ friends used to come over and they’d set the table or help in some way I’d say, “You’re my favorite kid.” (And it may only last 5 minutes til the next kid swept the floor or said, “I’m sorry” while looking into someone’s eyes and then that kid was the favorite kid.)

We’ve said this for years now and the other day my oldest daughter and I were talking. Everyone likes to hear that he or she is a favorite and many people never hear this in a whole lifetime. We are excited to get to take this favorite kid thing with us to the homeless teen place. Everyone there will get to hear “You’re my favorite kid.” (Sometimes my kids even say this to me. I love it!)]

Because of Stephen (a very special kid)

God calls us in different ways.

Lisa was one of my roommates from college. She was called by God.

God gave her 3 healthy kids, 2 miscarriages, and Stephen. Because of her experiences she can help people in ways I can’t even begin to know how to.

Stephen is a very special kid with very special needs. He’s been diagnosed with multiple disabilities due to severe brain damage from birth because of preeclampsia; He is deaf, blind, epileptic, has a feeding tube, a shunt for hydrocephalus, non-ambulatory (meaning he can’t walk or sit or feed himself,) and Cerebral Palsy.

~~> When God calls you

it usually turns your world upside down. <~~

People are in their house all hours of the day (and sometimes night.) There’s no privacy.

Some of their house has been turned into a hospital ~ for Stephen.

People stare at him because he’s… different.

He’s a very beautiful “different” with a contagious laugh.

He’s here for a reason. God did not make him by mistake.

God has connected many people together because of Stephen.

If Stephen wasn’t Stephen, the nurses, doctors, therapists, and hundreds more people wouldn’t have been connected with Lisa and she wouldn’t have had this opportunity to share her faith with them.

She COULD have cursed God. But she didn’t. She COULD have said, “No. God, this is too much for me.” (…Because sometimes it feels that way.) But she didn’t. She accepted the assignment that she was called to be his mom as a gift and she loves him.

She accepts help from people she doesn’t know (medical and personal help) because caring for him is a full time job.

I cannot comprehend the faith and energy it’s taken her to learn all she’s had to learn to be his mom. And I praise God for all the people who have been there to help love on Stephen and get to know his family.

I’m writing this ~ because of Stephen.

The truth is we ALL have special needs. Jesus is the answer to them all.

~
Notes from Lisa.

8 1/2 years ago my world was turned upside down. Fear was the theme for the day. I was afraid for my life as well as my unborn child’s.

It was too early, but apparently, it was time.

Some in this world would say it was a tragedy. I call it a true gift. It has brought unimaginable joy, heartbreaking pain, laughter, tears, patience, and humility.

Stephen Sanders was given as a blessing not just to me, but to the world. I would move Heaven and Earth to change things for him, but I would never change him for me.
~
I am thankful for my children in general.

David for being friendly and outgoing.

Micaiah for being willing to work hard even when she doesn’t really want to.

Stephen for teaching me patience by throwing me into the fire.

And Nathan for giving me a fresh look at the world.

God, bless my children as they walk their paths through this life and please take care of my two babies who are already in Heaven with You.
~
Monkey, You are such an amazing little boy. There aren’t words to describe how much I love you. Your strength inspires me to go on when I am worn down. The smile on your face makes me laugh through the tears. And the way you tell me you love me without uttering a word reminds me of what true love is really about. I am so blessed to be your Mommy.

 

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Has anyone told you today that you are important?

Has anyone told you today that you are important?


You are important.

 

YOU MATTER.

 

You should get to hear it.

 

And if you forget,

or if you keep forgetting,

I’m here to keep reminding you that YOU ROCK.

 

 

Maybe…

Maybe…

It’s not the drinking.
It’s not the cutting.
It’s not the drugs.
It’s not the bulimia.
It’s not the overeating.
It’s not the gossiping.
It’s not the stealing.
It’s not the lying.
It’s not the cheating.
It’s not the smoking.

Maybe it’s the WHY underneath it all that we need to care for first.

Prayers are always welcome here (We feel God is calling our family to Alaska to open & care for a homeless teen center.)

You know when someone says they feel called to adopt a child and so people pray for the adoption but sometimes forget to pray for life AFTER the adoption. Then you hear people whisper, “Well, what’d they THINK was gonna happen?!”

Do not think for a second that the adoption wasn’t God-led. It very likely was but satan didn’t like it one bit. Sooo… there’s drama sometimes.

~
You know we pray all the time for our kids to finish high school and college but sometimes we forget to pray for AFTER high school and college. “Well just look at the crowd they fell in with.”

Well from our experience with most churches, a kid leaves for college only to return to their home congregation to find they’re suddenly not welcome in the high school group anymore.

Then churches cry and say, “Where have we gone wrong with the 19 to 30 year olds?”

I have an idea…

~
You know how we prepare for the wedding but sometimes don’t spend as much time praying over the marriage. You sometimes even hear of people placing bets on marriages to see how long they’ll last.

Really? Please don’t be that guy. PRAY over their marriage. Please don’t bet it won’t work.

~
We are moving to Alaska. We get crazy looks all the time. All we know is God is moving us there to love on people who are hurting and we’re a pretty good choice for this so I can’t figure why anyone would doubt it but that’s beside the point.

I came personally online (blog, Facebook, Twitter) to share my faith and to find prayer warriors, connections, financial, and any other support we can find for this move.

If you pray, please start praying for our lives AFTER the move (and still for the move, itself) because honestly it’s a little scary. We’ve never been there.

It’s not like we’ve been saying, “Oh, look. Easy life in Alaska.”

We’ve just shared our faith and that we know God’s moving us.

What should we say? “No, God, that just won’t do.”

Um… not gonna to do that.

We’re moving in faith. That IS the plan. Prayer.

So if you’re skeptical, that’s cool. You can still be skeptical AND please pray for us as we take this step of faith.

Moving my kids to new friends and schools and all that goes with a big move is more than a little intimidating.

Thank you and may God bless you even more than you pray He blesses us.

Coffee, Donuts, and Carnations

When I was a little girl in elementary school my dad would take me to have coffee and donuts sometimes early in the morning before school. I loved it. We’d sit together sipping coffee.  He’d read the newspaper and I got a daddy daughter date.

I remember sitting there with all the business men and thinking how cool that was and what a lucky girl I was to get to do this with my dad.

We weren’t in a hurry.

And I got to get glazed donuts from my favorite donut place.  It didn’t cost much money.   Just a little of his time.  These memories are some of my favorite times I ever had with just me and my dad.

Then when I was in high school my dad would send me a carnation flower for Valentine’s Day and that meant so much to me. It made me feel important.  This was back when the school office would deliver all the flowers to the classrooms.  Many girls would get many flowers and I really appreciate that he took a few minutes to order that one flower just for me.  (Between you and me, I’m pretty sure my mom encouraged dad to do these things and that’s okay.  They created special memories.)

The important thing is that it really doesn’t take big gestures and whole days to make these memories with our kids.  Little girls need their daddies and good, healthy relationships with them.   If there is a healthy, close relationship between a girl and her daddy, then when a boy offers his “love” a daughter makes wiser choices and won’t fall for every boy who shows her attention.

Listen to your daughters speak.  Let them talk about whatever is important to them and engage in the conversation.  Take your daughters on dates to show them how they should be treated.

It just matters.

[Note:  I am a girl so I am writing from a girl’s perspective about her dad.  There are maybe other writers who write from a son’s perspective with mom or dad.  All I know is that a few minutes of real genuine, involved conversation between parents and kids matters.]

Be kind ON PURPOSE.

You do not know the stress someone else is under.

Be kind ON PURPOSE. Just be extra kind just in case someone needs it.

The other day I saw a woman be verbally and physically rude to a check out lady at the grocery store just because the equipment was not working at the self check out. There were other checkers open. There was nothing this worker could do to fix the equipment that second. She sweetly apologized to the rude lady. After the rude woman left and took her poisonous attitude with her I walked over to the check out lady and said, “Please don’t let that ruin your day.” She said, “I have a cancer screening this afternoon. There are bigger things going on in my life.”

I wish the rude person could have heard that. Maybe it would have changed the way she treated her. Don’t know. But maybe…

You do not know what someone else is going through. Just be kind.