Friday, July 31, 2015

Heavy Heart Today.....

I got on today to write a blog about a soccer game that Peter and I just went to.  I couldn’t do it. My heart was too heavy and my mind racing with all that I’ve been seeing on the news lately.  Abortion.  It’s everywhere.  Honestly, I have no new insights. I feel like everything’s been said. Over and over.  I only have my own thoughts that have been turning in my mind.  For the past several days my thoughts have turned to “where do I fit in this discussion?  Where am I culpable?” 

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how best to “speak out.”  I have many friends that have had abortions and, whether or not they have any remorse, I hate the thought of pouring salt in any wounds.  I think about Jesus and His Grace and how much he passionately loves these women and I don’t want my words to hurt.  But then I think about the babies.  I think about Jesus and His Grace and how much he passionately loves these little ones that He knit together in their mother’s womb….and I don’t want to remain silent on their behalf.

I started thinking about standing before God one day.  I started thinking about questions that He might ask.  “Emily. This was going on.  The thousands of babies that were being killed every year….what did you do?”  And other questions that I might be asked started coming into my mind. 

My answers weren’t pretty.

Emily when you were in high-school and a girl got pregnant….what did your church community do?  What did YOU do?  If a girl in your youth group got pregnant and decided not to have an abortion, how would she have felt? Would she have felt loved and supported or would she have felt judged and rejected?  Oh GOD I know my answer!!  I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face with the weight of my conviction.  The ugliness of my self-righteousness and judgmental heart.  Should the “easier” choice be abortion because the thought of walking through the doors of a church and seeing the stares…is too much to bear?

I say this about myself.  know countless people in our churches who are reaching out to these girls, these women. I have friends who are babysitting their babies while they go to school, collecting baby supplies. They’ve spent their weekends and summers creating fun experiences for foster children.  Some have taken these kids into their homes and some have adopted.  There are people that are doing things!! 

But it seems like we, as a church, should be doing more.  Yes.  People need to know the truth.  They need to know that the “clump of cells” in fact has a heartbeat and a brain and all the other aspects that make a person a “person.”  He needs time and nourishment….just like my little premie boy needed when he was born too early.  He needed time and food to help him grow.  He just did it in the hospital instead of inside my womb. 

But the Truth doesn’t end with what abortion is.  The Truth of God’s Grace should change everything.  His Grace calls us to live radically!!  To spend our lives for the lives of others.  Honestly, I’m not really sure what my point is here.  I guess it’s just that choosing life is hard!!  Pregnancy is hard.  Giving up a baby for adoption is hard.  Being a single mom is hard.  It will always be the harder option.  But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t right.  And as the Church we are called….I am called to come alongside these women and love them radically….the way that He does.  Lord, thank you for your Grace which covers MY multitude of sins.  May it be my great motivator to love and care for the ones that you so passionately love.  Inside and outside of the womb.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Us!!!

On June 28th, Peter and I celebrated our first anniversary.  A whole year. Wow.  Newlyweds, Ebola, pregnancy, NICU….quite the year we’ve had.  I had a romantic getaway planned for his return from Sierra Leone but that got nipped in the bud with the surprise delivery of our son.  The maternity dress that I spent about an hour debating whether or not to buy to look cute when I picked him up from the airport (as cute as a 9 month pregnant lady can look….I mean….let’s be honest) remains unworn in my closet.  Along with my maternity swim suit.  Maybe next time…..

Our anniversary came and went with little fanfare as we were still busy figuring out this whole “newborn” thing.  So when my mom gave us the opportunity to use a family friend’s timeshare at the coast for a couple nights as a belated anniversary present, we jumped at the chance. Especially since she volunteered to keep BOTH of our kiddos!!  While Peter was in Sierra Leone I had some pregnancy insomnia, which gave me some brilliant ideas. One of my brilliant ideas was that we should stop renting our house and….move into my parents’ camper, located in their backyard.  Their very small, weekend camper.  I maintain that it was a brilliant, cost-saving idea but….it’s a little tight.  It was fine when it was just Marie and I but when Peter came home…and then Ben, well.  Snug. It’s snug.  The condo that Peter and I stayed in at the coast was 3 bedrooms.  Just for us!!!  We didn’t know what to do with so much space.

Several years ago I came to this same timeshare with the rest of my family.  Peter and I had just begun dating a few months before and it was the first time we were separated.  Even though Peter had never been to this town, it was filled with memories of our relationship for me.  There was the Subway that I was eating in with my family while they were teasing me about texting Peter.  There was the beach that I used to write a message to him in the sand and e-mail him the picture.  There was the movie theater that I remember sitting in wondering if Peter would enjoy the movie we were watching (The Hobbit) and the store that was having a 90% off sale where I bought Peter his first swimming suit. (Who, when I texted him to ask him his size responded with….”I don’t know. You’ve seen me. You should know my size.”)

One of my favorite things about Peter is his giggle.  Sometimes we'll just be driving around and he'll start giggling.  The first time he saw one of these bikes, I got the giggle. :)  So when we saw people riding around on these, we knew we needed to give it a try.

Peter and I had a pretty un-conventional dating life so in order to make up for that, we did the traditional date of mini-golf for our anniversary. :) 

We were at the coast so....of course we had to fly a kite!!  Since we're not really "kite" people, we got the cheapest (and simplest) one we could find.  Turns out....kite flying isn't really that exciting.  I have such fond memories of flying kites as a kid but since there was such a great wind we literally just let it go and let the string out.  Then what do you do? We stood there for 10 minutes or so....and then we were done.  Good time had by all.

And sleep. Precious, long, uninterrupted sleep.  That might have been the best part!

Thank you Mom for keeping our kiddos so we could have this awesome time together!!

I love doing life with this guy!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Getting Close.......

Two days ago we got Ben’s birth certificate.  I started panicking…just a little bit.  Not because I spelled his name wrong on his birth certificate, which was a very real paranoia for me, but because getting his birth certificate is the first step in the sequence of events that needs to happen for us to return to Sierra Leone.  Which means….we’re going to go back soon!!!  First comes the birth certificate, which allows us to get his passport, which allows us to get his visa. Throw in a set of immunizations that he needs before we go and….we’re out of here.  Y.I.K.E.S.

Every time I come home the same thing happens.  Am I REALLY called to live in Sierra Leone? I can do ministry in America too! The cultures are the same……which means people here get my hilarious jokes!! I spend a lot of time in Sierra Leone just looking like an idiot. 

So for the last two days I’ve been like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in terms of my feelings about going back.  When I think about the work going on over there, the people I love, the potential for ministry, I’ll be so excited that I can’t WAIT to get back.  The next minute I’ll think about this new little baby and be terrified to take him to a country with lots of snakes and weird diseases, but few doctors.  I’ve been away for a while now.  Our two month trip to get married has turned into almost a year and a half.  On the one hand, I can’t wait to get settled into our own house, finally unpack all the wedding gifts that I’ve been saving and really begin our new life as a family.  On the other hand, although our life for the last year has felt very UNsettled, I know that there are many ways I’ve settled in just fine.  I’ve grown used to microwaves, unlimited electricity, good roads and cool weather!  Most importantly, I’ve grown used to having my family close by and talking to them all the time. 
Such is the battle that I have every time I come home. (This extended trip and the addition of a small, fragile human has just thrown in a few extra questions). 

As I start to get myself all riled up with the uncertainty and fear that moving across the world can induce, I start to think about…..Jesus.  I remember how much He loves me.  I remember His promise that life is HARD, but that He will never leave me by myself.  I remember how much He loves my children. 

And then I think about how much He loves Sierra Leone.  Having children of my own has given me a whole new appreciation for how much our God must love His children.  How His heart breaks for the poor, for the orphans.  And now I’m sitting here bawling because I’m in awe of the fact that we get to partner with Him to love on these people.  (I’m also going to still blame some post-partum hormones.  Is there an expiration date for those?)  Needless to say, when I fix my eyes on Jesus, things like fast internet and Subway and air-conditioning, although REALLY awesome, lose some of their luster.  Especially when I remember this

And This

And this

Serving Jesus in Sierra Leone is definitely challenging!  But what an adventure!

One of the biggest hurdles we have before going back to Salone is to complete our support raising. I haven't changed my support since I originally went over 4 years ago, as a single person.  Now we're a family of 4.  I've been really blessed to be able to work while we've been in America to make up the difference, but that opportunity is rapidly coming to a close.  Peter will be taking over the position of Country Director of our organization which was a position previously held by another missionary and is unpaid.  In order to return to Sierra Leone we need to increase our support by $400 a month.  If you feel led to partner with our family and the work in Sierra Leone feel free to contact us via e-mail at or by phone at (541) 220-0737.  

I'll be honest and say that raising support is a challenging and humbling part of working in Sierra Leone.  But so many times, when I was over in Sierra Leone and it was hard and I was discouraged, knowing that there were so many people back home who were praying for me and sacrificing their own money so that the work could  What an encouragement!  Such a great picture of how the body of Christ each has its own part and works together to love and to serve.  So thank you SO much!