Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year from the Chari Family

Dear friends and family,

We have had a wonderfully busy Christmas and New Year season celebrating with our recovery community and children in several orphanages. 

If you would like to read more about that and a prayer request for a special child who was hospitalized for effects of malnutrition, please click here to see our newsletter!

I have included a picture of our kiddos with Santa so you can see how they have grown! Vivi wasn't sure about the whole Santa thing, but Ru tried hard to convince her he was a friend.  Both girls preferred the birthday parties for Jesus that we hosted at several local orphanages (especially because there was cake involved!)

This week we also brought home our "mobile office"-- the camper that many of you helped us to purchase! We look forward to transforming it into a fun, save, dedicated space for children to process their emotions! Watch out for more updates about that!

We hope that you enjoyed your Christmas and were surrounded by loved ones.  Makoroto Egore Idzva (Happy New Year) from our family in Zimbabwe to yours!


P.S. Our work here continues to be funded through the generous donations of our friends and family. If you are still making those last minute end of the year donations and want to consider giving towards our ministry, you can do that here!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What I am reading: A MILE WIDE

Hatmaker’s new book, AMile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith, is a new take on the old saying “An inch deep and a mile wide” and a fresh look at Jesus’ parable of the soils.  He says, “We can’t out dream God.  His desire is that we would each live our greatest story.  A story that only He could author.” His words reminded me that even while living a life I clearly know that God is authoring, I need to allow time and space to remember what it actually means to be a disciple.  I need to allow time and space outside of church services, Bible studies and meetings with church “insiders” to spend time with the people Jesus pursues. 

You will NOT regret buying this book! 
For the past ten years I have been serving as a missionary in Zimbabwe providing psychosocial support to precious orphans and vulnerable children and the amazing people who care for them.  During that time I have gotten married, started the process of adopting a (now) 12 year old and had a baby.  We have worked with countless churches and Christians from many denominations.  We have seen miracles and we have held babies as they have died or wept with parents as they morn the most horrific losses. 

During these 10 years my heart has burst with joy and disbelief that we get to be a part of a life like this and my heart has broken at the injustices we have witnessed.  During all of this, I have tried to balance the life I have had as a privileged American with my experiences in Zimbabwe.  My friendship with the Hatmakers (in my mind--through their books, sermons and blog posts) has made that formidable task a bit less daunting.  

I received an I received an Advanced Readers Copy of Brandon’s book, AMile Wide, in exchange for my honest review.  In the most authentic way, my heart has felt rejuvenated as Brandon clearly articulated biblical truths that I have been wrestling with in my daily life.  I am so grateful for the words he put on each and every page.  A couple of months before I was given this book, my husband and I fell to our knees, wanting to give up, to live a more “normal” life. 

I read Brandon’s words, “To truly present ourselves to God is to give a blanket commitment.  It means we choose his ways over our ways before the dilemma even begins.” We might adopt this to be our family motto for 2016 as we walk through unprecedented food shortages, banks refusing to allow cash withdraws in a cash based society and the increased violent crime rates as people become more desperate by the day.  I needed to be reminded the meaning of the commitment I have made in times that are harder than I signed up for.

Brandon’s new book is a must read for anyone who has grown weary in their busy life or for anyone longing for a deeper sense of community.  I highlighted something on EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE.  I am not even kidding.  It’s just that good.  There is no crazy revelation, just the reminder of who God is, who we are and why we need each other. 


Things are even more difficult in this place we are living today than they were when I started reading this book and yet somehow these words I have read encourage me to keep going, to find my identity in Christ and to share these things I am struggling with in the trusted relationships in our community.  This is the joy of being in Zimbabwe for me: that although I am an outsider in every imaginable way, when I choose to be vulnerable in my relationships here—about my struggles, my fears and my failures; all the differences fall away and deep, authentic relationship is formed.  Thank you Brandon for reminding me why our family is here and why these relationships are so valuable. 

You will not regret buying this book.  Honestly, buy one and read it.  Wrestle with it. Highlight it. Dog ear the pages. This is a book to be lived.  And then buy a copy for a friend that needs these words too, because they are for all of us.  No matter where we are in our faith journey.  No matter what time of soil we are today, there is something for us in these pages! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Psalm 23: My thoughts for us, in this place, today.

This weekend, Nyasha and I had the privilege of sharing the pulpit in our Zimbabwean home church.  This was a daunting task with all that is going on in Zimbabwe this week.  I wasn't able to share everything I had prepared for the sake of time so I edited as we went, but here is what I had prepared:

Nyasha and I are a part of a ministry here at River of Life called Revive.  It’s a recovery program that is centered around Jesus.  Through discipleship we are finding hope, freedom, sobriety and emotional healing.  Some people come because of an addiction: alcohol, drugs, pornography, relationships, sex or food and others comes because of depression, anxiety, rejection or people pleasing!

By weaving together the historical recovery of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Biblical teaching of the 8 Celebrate Recovery principals with tools I have learned through 17 years of sobriety, we are, as a group, finding healing for what used to baffle us.

Anyone who has ever walked into a 12 step meeting knows how daunting and scary it is to face the steps for the first time.  Generally you will see them hanging on the wall.  Here is a peek:
  1. We were powerless over our addictions/compulsions, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
In 17 years, I have never heard anyone rejoice at the idea of living life this way.  No one I’ve ever walked through the steps with celebrated at this concept. 


This week in Revive, we read through the 23rd Psalm together and I was BLOWN AWAY!

In a room full of followers of Jesus who are so aware of their messy brokenness—like David who was also messy and broken, I heard things like:

“For me addiction was the Valley of the Shadow of Death and God is guiding me through!”

“The thing about the Valley of the Shadow of Death is that this Psalm never says that God is going to pull you out—it says that he’s gonna guide you through it!” 

“Psalm 23 IS Revive- it’s the surrender of Step 1 and the turning our will to the care of God in step 3.”

One member said that “restores my soul” reminded him that although God doesn’t allow us to regain the time we lost in drinking, he does allow us to regain our life!

Peace, protection, confidence, comfort. These are the words that I heard from people who walked into a room at some point in the past year- with their true self hidden from God, themselves and everyone else they knew. People who balked, like I did, at surrendering my life and will to God’s care, are now calling that same surrender A GIFT TO CELEBRATE.

That to me is the miracle of Psalm 23- it’s not a Psalm for death- like my culture has set it aside for funerals. It’s not a Psalm to be memorized by kids in a Sunday School class, checked off a list and set aside. Psalm 23 is a song for daily living- whatever may come!

When I need to rest, when I need renewed strength, when I need to be guided to the next right thing. When the days are dark and I need to be brave, when I need protection and comfort. When I need to feel welcomed, when I need to remember who God says I am and that my enemies opinions of me don’t change who I am and are really none of my business anyway. When I need to remember that His loving mercy pursues me every day that I take a breath!

This Psalm- it’s words- allow me to celebrate and rejoice each morning when I wake and make a decision to give my will to the care of God, because He can be trusted through all of this!

The Jesus Storybook Bible which we use at home, in all my work and even at Revive says:

“David was a Shepherd, but when God looked at him, he saw a king. Sure enough, when David grew up, that’s just what he became. And David was a great king. He had a heart like God’s heart- full of love.  Now, that didn’t mean he was perfect, because he did some terrible things- he even murdered a man." 
"No, David made a big mess of his life, But God can take even the biggest mess and make it work in His plan."
“God gave David this song to sing to His people so that they would know He loved them and would always look after them like a shepherd loves his sheep.”
This made me think about what song God would give me to sing to you all (If it weren’t an offense to your ears-don’t worry, I will NOT be singing):

I would sing that He is making things right even when you can’t see it or feel it YET. I would sing that surrendering to His will is the greatest thing I’ve ever done, that knowing God’s love is the most amazing gift we can ever receive and trusting Him is the only way to experience the full life He hopes and plans for us. I would sing that the scary truth we must hold onto is that the brightness of God’s love is seen best in the hardest and darkest times, so we must rejoice in those because without them we’d be missing out. I would sing that my life today: Redeemed Regina is only THIS because I know and try to follow Jesus and I would be a messier more broken Regina without Him.

I wouldn’t be able to sing this song without breaking into tears—probably an ugly cry of sadness mixed with TRUE JOY—because it would be so true-so real-so raw.

And because I would know that my entire life so far had brought me to this moment—putting these words onto this paper and that it had all been for one purpose: For me to know Him, love Him, follow Him, fully surrendered and totally imperfect. One purpose: Relationship between this flawed sheep and a perfect Shepherd. God wants that for me, for you and for all of us!

Friends, Psalm 23 is a CELEBRATION – our people at Revive taught us that! It’s a celebration of the gloriousness of living a life fully surrendered to Christ’s will for our life: in the greenest grass, beside the quietest streams, the darkest death filled valleys, in times of being welcomed by the most hospitable hosts and at six course meals in front of enemies that HATE US.

Surrendering to it all, knowing that His plan for our life is better than the best we could hope for because each experience is hand crafted or used by the creator to draw us nearer to Him.

David, broken, messy, heroic David, got that right and so can each of us today. Right here in this time and place- Harare, Zimbabwe. August, 2016. We can be a people fully surrendered to a God that can be trusted.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Team Chari: Father's Day

Father's Day seems to come around SO fast every year.

Growing up, Father's Day was challenging for me.  It was so hard to find the right Father's Day card when you aren't living with your dad.

Today, I know that I was so blessed to be raised by my dad's parents.  My grandma and grandpa were amazing parents.  The love they showed to my brother and I remains one of the most influential factors of my life.  However, that didn't make it easier on days like Father's Day when I would field questions from others like, "Why don't you live with your mom or dad?" or "Where is your dad?" or the WORST, when making a craft at school or church, "Why are you writing Grandpa?"

Now, Father's day is the day I get to celebrate my husband, the father of our children and it is WONDERFUL.  I love celebrating the way he loves his girls and the fabulousness of his fathering.  It is also the day I get to celebrate my dad, the forgiveness we have experienced and the life we know today.  It's also the day I get to remember my Paw, and the amazing love her wrapped me in for 19 years.  These are GREAT things to celebrate.

For our girl Ru, who has never met her biological father, Father's day brings up some BIG emotions. Emotions that are familiar to me and my history.

This weekend we had they privilege to process some of those with her. It wasn't easy but it was good.  Being sad and angry TOGETHER, is so important.
I read this and Nyasha and I related to this so very much,

Carissa Woodwyck wrote this on facebook:

"uhhh! you know what's still so hard to hear from an adopted person? "why did my parents not keep me?" i think you can be an adult or a teen or a young child and still wonder, still question, still doubt, still ask "WHY?"
it's so hard to understand, to make sense of, the reality that your first parents - the two people who created you - didn't do everything they could to keep you. and maybe for some they did do everything. and maybe for some they didn't do everything. some of us will never know.
confusing. and it's like there's this gaping void consumed with a huge cloud of WHY.

and then you hear:

God intended for you to be with our family.

God planned for you to be in our family.
God wanted you to be loved by us.

a BUT before an explanation will never work, will never satisfy, will never help.
and then adding GOD in the explanation? that will never work and never satisfy and never help either.
because what kind of God does that? to you? because what kind of God makes first parents not stay? not fight? not do everything they could to keep their child, to keep us?
and so our language has to be so, so sensitive and so, so carefully said - not to protect a child from pain, but because a child needs to know that God is IN the pain.
because God never authors pain.
he grieves...for what us...with us.
and that's why as parents, it's our job to do the same - let the confusion and anger and bitterness and contempt and sorrow and questions and doubt long as they need to.
because if we rescue a child from their feelings, they will do what so many do in front of me: dismiss their own pain, tell me, "i don't really care about them, about what happened."
and i'll have to look them in the eye and tell them this:

oh, bud...what happened DOES matter. and, what happened wasn't your fault. what happened to you - the reality that they didn't stay, that they didn't keep you - wasn't your fault. but it DOES matter. you get to feel mad. you get to feel sad. and i'll be mad and sad with you. and, together, we'll find a path through all of the mad and sad, and hopefully find our way to not only naming more of the mad and sad that's inside you, but also, at the very same time, find all of the glad and good inside you (and your first parents), too. and guess what? all that happened? that wasn't from God. that's not the kind of God you have to follow or believe in. and, ahhh! i can't wait to show and tell you about a different kind of God - a God that loved you and longed for you from the beginning of time.
and then i'll get to see a little relief, a little surprise in their sweet eyes.
friends - we must go backwards so we can go forwards, well.

holding the strong and tender hearts of adopted young children and teens and adults tonight."

This is the thing for our family this year: It's ok to grieve those we have lost --even if we lost them before we can remember.  It's ok for our family to grieve with us, they can be sad and mad for our loss even though that loss helped to bring us together.  It's ok for us to acknowledge that God is grieving with us too.

Grief is a part of life.

Grief honors what was and allows us to move more freely into what it.

Dear Lord, Please help me to never be afraid to lean into my the tears of my children.  Let me never feel hurt by their expression of loss.  Let me always remember that before me there was another and that this loss has left everything as it should not be.  Let me always remember that you alone are the Redeemer of the broken pieces.  Amen.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Team Chari: Motherhood Unplugged

"I assumed motherhood was all about balance.  But I am learning it has more to do with discernment--recognizing which proverbial balls to juggle, which to drop and when to sing silly songs on the way to school even though she clogged the toilet and I have a wad of almond butter stuck in my hair." - Lisa Harper

So. It's mother's day.  For some reason this day sneaks up on me every year.  Certainly I have more to celebrate on Mother's Day this year than any other before it.  My heart is full.  Full of love given and love received: by a husband that is worthy of all the bragging I do about him, by children who give me a reason to persevere and by family and friends who are more than I deserve.

And yet.

There is a sadness.   A deep down, quiet sadness that remembers.  It remembers 11 Mother's Days lost.  16 Mother's Days as an orphan.  My heart remembers in the secret place that stays hidden, the place that wants to be healed, but also wants to be left alone because healing hurts.  Healing requires doing the work. Revisiting the saddest places.

The truth is, I lost my mother long before she died.  Before I lost her in a house fire, I lost her to addiction.  11 years went by wondering if she would get healthy.  If she would come back for us. Those years were the hardest.  I can't believe I am typing these words, but it is easier to explain that my mother is dead than it is to explain that she didn't raise me because of her addiction.

I long for that story to change.  For my mother to have mothered me.  To have pictures to post on facebook of me and the woman who gave me life.  I have a few memories of her.  I have a few little girl pictures somewhere.  But bringing them up cause my heart to revisit the loss and the enormous sadness of it all.  I loved her and she left.

My littlest girl Vivienne is 15 months old.  She knows the love of two parents who work tirelessly to keep her safe, protected and loved.  Vivi has known no great loss yet.  And it is evident-- in the way she giggles loudly, moves freely and trusts willingly.

My big girl, Ru has experienced life's greatest loss.  She knows nothing of her first family.  She knows no one who looks like her, No one who can tell the stories of her first moments.  Her heart longs to giggle loudly, move freely and trust willingly and yet something holds her back.  A sense that we live in a world in which all is not as it should be.  The knowledge that there was once a family, before this one, that she has lost.

It is the greatest joy to love these girls.  To be their mother is the best and hardest thing I have ever done.

This mother's day felt different.  Ru was so excited about cards she had made-- at school and church. Treats she had baked at school.  Presents they had made with daddy.  She wanted to give them to me early, each day, not being able to wait!

And still.

When the day rolled around, she participated in all we did.  She hugged me. She watched me with Vivi.  And she was visibly sad.

And that's ok.

While Vivi napped, I cuddled with Ru and we talked about missing our first mommies.  We acknowledged that sadness and grief do not erase the love we have for each other.  That we can miss one mommy and love another at the same time.  I told her stories about growing up with my grandma and how I missed my mommy so much it made my stomach hurt, and yet I loved my grandma so much,

Motherhood is hard.  It requires being present and being ready.  It requires healing.  If I really hid from the work I need to do in the sad places of my heart, I wouldn't be able to be fully present for my little girl in conversations like these.  We cannot take our kids to a place of healing we have not experienced for ourselves.

Motherhood is beautiful. It is special.  It is worth it.

By the grace of God my children will have a different story because I am willing to do the hard work of healing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Revive: Where we tell our untold stories.

"We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom." - Marni Gillard

On Wednesday nights, Nyasha and I lead a group of people who are recovering. Recovering from what? Themselves.We work the steps, similar to a 12 step program for any and all hang ups, habits or hurts.

Unhealthy relationships.
Drug Addiction.
Eating disorders.
Sex Addiction.


I have been sober from my alcohol and drug addiction for 17 years now.  SEVENTEEN YEARS CLEAN.  I never, ever, ever thought I would say those words.  

People ask why I keep working the steps, why I stay involved with 12 step programs.  The answer is simple, "I still have A LOT to work on." Drugs and alcohol were never really my problem.  They were a symptom of a much larger problem: MYSELF.  

So I am working on myself.  Baby step by baby step.Character defect by Character defect. Sometimes these changes occur quickly, sometimes slowly but they are always in progress.  Be patient with me, I am learning to be patient with myself.  Oh how I have longed for a quick fix.

So on Wednesday night, we gather together, a group of imperfect followers of Jesus and we share our stories.  In the honest telling and retelling we find our way, we find our healing and we find our strength.  In the telling, we are able to clearly hear and see what the Holy Spirit was revealing all along-- it is in our weaknesses that God's perfect strength is revealed. 

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul wrote, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

When we share our story; our weaknesses and God's gracious redemption, we give others permission to do the same.  Paul did that, as did Bill W. and Dr. Bob (the founders of AA.) And that is what we try to do each Wednesday night from 6-8 at River of life Eastlea.  Join us if you would like!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Team Chari: HUSH

On Friday nights Nyasha leads a group of men seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus.  This means that he gets home later than normal and I have a little bit of (very exhausted) down time after I put the girls to bed.  Tonight, Ru was at a sleepover with her cousins and Viv fell asleep early after a busy day of playing with her friends.

I decided to take the little bit of extra time to veg out and watch a movie on Netflix.  Nyasha really dislikes scary movies and since I was alone to choose whatever I wanted I got sucked into a movie called Hush.

This "thriller" was about a deaf, mute woman who lived alone in the woods.  A man with a crossbow decided to kill her best friend after she stopped by to visit.  He then came for the deaf woman.  This movie is NOT a thriller.  It is a 1 hour and 21 minutes of PURE TERROR.

Nyasha often calls me in the middle of the day for some random bit of information.  This week he called to see how to spell Amish for some odd reason.


I often ask Nyasha how to maneuver some ridiculous situation that hopefully would never happen.

Tonight when he got home I had about 15 minutes remaining of stomach wrenching viewing enjoyment.  I asked him, "Babe.  If a killer were to come to our house, what would I do? I am so unprepared."

SERIOUSLY. WHAT WOULD I DO?  I find a healthy fear of the killer is imperative.

He looked at me as if this were the most normal of all conversations (for which I love him dearly) and he said, "Nothing, Lucy would protect you."

(Lucy is a 9 pound Jack Russel that is afraid of clouds.  I am not even kidding, she is so afraid of rain and thunder that if it is even cloudy she will hide under beds or in closets just to be protected.  She in no way makes me feel safe from the killer.  Hopefully no killer is reading this because now he will know that the dog's bark is worse than her bite!!!)

I laughed and pressed, "No seriously, what would I do?"
He replied, "I think what might be a better thing to consider is why on earth you insist on watching scary movies and tv shows about killers."

Honestly, I am so attracted to shows like Criminal Minds (which I happen to think is one of the most well written shows of all time, except for the decision to kill of Shemar Moore, but I am a few seasons behind so I haven't gotten there yet.) and movies like this ridiculous "Hush."  They cause me great distress while I am watching, but I am so intrigued by watching things about killers.


But now it's bedtime and I have watched a scary movie about the killer and I am too wound up to sleep.  Nyasha is right, I may need to reconsider my choices in entertainment.

What is your go to tv show or genre of movie if you are in control of the remote?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Farewell Dear Mentor: Good-bye to Dr. Purvis

Dr. Karyn Purvis.  Her name is mentioned in our home as often as the name of our children's grandparents and with as much fondness.

When I decided to call Zimbabwe home, I knew that I would need help honing my skills.  Yes, I was a social worker.  Yes, I was a therapist.  Yes, I worked with kids who struggled deeply with their addictions and emotions.  But Zimbabwe was new territory for me.  The losses that the kiddos here had faced was not new territory for me personally but it certainly was professionally.

When I emailed some former professors and mentors about what to read and who to let shape my work, one name was consistently first on their lists: Dr. Karyn Purvis.

In 2007, I picked up that first brand new copy of The Connected Child and highlighted every page.  Within a couple of years living in Vic Falls, it was tinged with red soil, highlighted in several different colors and dog eared.  That book passed through countless homes, huts and offices from Monde (a small village about 13km from Victoria Falls) to Kadoma (a small town about 130km from Harare.)

As I sit here early this morning, mourning the loss of Dr. Purvis, who is with Jesus after a long battle with breast cancer, I know that I am not the only parent or professional who is grieving today.

Almost exactly eight years after my feet touched the red dust roads of Zimbabwe for the first time, I was blessed to spend a week learning and being trained by Dr. Purvis and her team.    A few years before I had attended an empowered to connect conference and after a brief conversation with Dr. Purvis and a few emails I knew that I needed to carve out the time to be trained in TBRI.

In God's perfect timing, Nyasha and I got married 6 days before that training was to begin.  Less than two weeks before we had been trained by the Monroe's, who are deeply impacted by Dr. Purvis.  We were trained in Empowered to Connect at Tapestry and the hopped in the car to drive from Texas to California to get there JUST in time for our Tuesday night wedding!  I will never forget Dr. Purvis's sweet acknowledgement that I was spending my honeymoon in a room full of practitioners, all wanting the same thing: to offer healing to the kiddos from hard places.

Before Nyasha and I headed back to Zimbabwe, my feet touching Zimbabwean soil for the first time as a wife, she pulled me into a strong but gentle hug and affirmed me in a way I will never forget.  That hug, did what Dr. Purvis did best: it healed.  She said several things that I have tucked away in my heart and then as she let me go, with tears in her eyes she said, "Baby girl, this speaks volumes about your marriage.  The sacrifices you both have made will shape your family's legacy."

Honestly, as much as we would have enjoyed a longer honeymoon... our family needed what she was teaching.  We cling to her wisdom and truth like a life raft in the difficult days.  "I've never met a child who can't come to deep levels of healing if you understand what they need." Those words from Dr. Purvis encourage us to set aside disappointment and frustration in those moments and to keep trying to understand.

Today, we say good-bye to Dr. Purvis.  Today we lose the earthly presence of a mentor, who will be recognized in the cadence of a mother's voice, the bend of a father's knee as he crouches to make eye contact with his kiddo and in the healing sessions of thousands of practitioners around the world that she tirelessly poured into.  Her influence is magnificent, God has blessed her with a legacy of hope.

Today, Dr. Karyn Purvis went home. To Jesus.  To a place where all of us "kids from hard places" experience complete healing.

I will miss you. I am grateful for this life you have lived.  You have taught me so much about being a child of God, a mom, and about being a trusted adult. More importantly, about always pursuing my own healing journey.  Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom with the world.

Wise words from our beloved Dr. Purvis:

"Tell your children 'you are precious, you are valuable, and nobody else is created like you.'"

"You cannot lead a child to a place of healing if you do not know the way yourself."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mommy Might be a Therapist if.... (Lessons of grief from our family.)

So this week when I headed out the door to a training session my girls were curled up on the bed reading a book together.  I didn’t think much about it, but as I started to savor the sound of Ru’s voice reading to her little sister, I had to laugh. 

“It can be hard to say good-bye to someone you love. It is normal to miss them very much.” She read from the book.  I giggled some more at my realization: she was reading one of my work books.  A children’s book for grieving kiddos, called “I will miss you.”  Ruth rarely asks to read these books… usually she will ask to when she wants to have a conversation about her birth mother but doesn’t know how to start.  After I laughed at our big girl, who says she wants to be a flight attendant, but seems more suited to be a counselor, my heart swelled with joy and gratitude.  My big girl wants my little girl to understand her grief.  She was sharing her emotions and it was Sweet. Beautiful. Growth. 

Ru's book choice for today
 This evening after dinner Viv was showing off her shinny pink shoes and her new walking skills. Ru called to her, “Come Vivi let’s connect. I have a craft planned for us.” Oh my very full mommy heart. 

As Viv got tired and a bit grouchy, she started to get frustrated and tried to whack the dog who is constantly tripping her.  Ru said, “Viv is afraid of falling and when she is afraid she is a fighter.  I am not, I am freezer.”

This is a snapshot of a day in the life of our family.  The big sister is simply doing what she has seen for years.  I am so grateful for those who have modeled attachment and connection rich parenting for us.  I am so pleased with the fruit.  Some days are excruciatingly hard but even they are totally worth it!

If you are looking for some kids books to help with grief, loss or adoption themes please check out some of these:

I Miss You: a first look at death by Pat Thomas

The Invisible String by Patricia Karst

God Gave Us Heaven by Lisa Tawn Bergren 

I am Brown and My Sister Isn’t by Robbie O’Shea

All Bears Need Love by Tanya Valentine

A Mother of Choco by Keiko Kasza

How I Became a Big Brother by Dave Moore

If you are a parent of a child that has experienced loss, take heart beloved friend; it is so very hard when you are in the midst of redemption and being a part of the process with your precious child is a gift for both of you.  You are not alone and my prayer for all of us is that God will equip and empower us to just do right by our kiddos.  Thank you Jesus for healing.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

That Time I Felt Like The Worst Missionary Ever.

Ru and Viv outside the church we were ministering in

Sometimes ministry stuff just doesn’t work out the way we plan.  
Nyasha and I had been invited to speak to a gathering of women and youth about 40 minutes outside of town.  We were going to be speaking about addiction, how it impacts the security of families and how people related to or in community with alcoholics can help.
In order to arrive on time, we needed to leave Saturday morning around 9:00.  Since the place we were speaking at was near a game park, we decided we would pack a picnic lunch and take the girls to see some animals afterwards. 

Friday night Vivi didn’t sleep well--she is teething terribly.  Our poor little girl has several teeth coming through and is struggling through the pain.  She is biting all of us at any given moment, she is clingy and whinny and some nights just can’t sleep.  Friday night she was awake from about 1:30-5:30 intermittently crying and wanting to play.  Nyasha and I took turns sleeping and doing baby duty.  I love that man, what on earth would I do without him?

He left for work Saturday morning at 7:30.  Vivi and I were asleep, he decided to let us rest.  I woke up startled and disoriented at 8:45!  FIFTEEN MINUTES TO GET ALL THREE OF US READY AND OUT THE DOOR.  That is an impossibility.  We did the best we could and got on the road a few minutes late and Nyasha got stuck at work and wasn’t able to come with us….

So now we are running late and I am on my own with both girls! We did our best to try to follow the directions, but we made a few wrong turns before we made it to our destination! This could’ve been a nightmare, but the people I was scheduled to speak to were so gracious and wonderful!

Because we were running late and they were running late, I ended up having to speak during Viv’s nap time.  Ru was doing a great job playing with her little sister while I worked, but Viv had enough and I still had about 10 minutes to go.  Ru brought her to me and because she was uncomfortable, in a new place and overtired, she wanted to nurse.  So there I was with a baby trying to rip my shirt off and a room full of people with their eyes on us, listening to me speak.  I apologized, made a joke about how grateful I was that this was taking place in Zimbabwe and not the USA and continued my talk while I stood nursing little miss Vivi.  There was one pastor that was especially stone faced.  I just knew that he was struggling through my nursing on stage!

Honestly I wanted to curl up and die.  I just couldn’t believe this was happening.  We survived the next ten minutes while I distractedly finished up.  Vivi fell asleep and I put her down in her car seat.  There was a queue of people to chat before I left.  One of the first people was the stone faced pastor.  I couldn’t believe it. He affirmed me in such a rich and kind way.  And then THIS:

“You are a real missionary.  In my lifetime, I have met many people here to help, but what you are doing is practical and loving.  I so appreciated how you shared with us.  And I wanted to let you know not to feel bad about nursing your child in the middle of our time.  You were attending to a need without dropping the ball on your responsibility.  That was such a picture of how we must learn to minister to others. Jesus often ministered to people on His way elsewhere. I was really touched by that. Thank you so much.”

I love this picture, I have the same one with Nyasha and Ru!!
The girls and I made our way to the game park and had such a great afternoon.  Ru and I were thrilled to have some time alone to chat while Vivi slept and then when she woke up we all giggled as Vivi squealed with excitement every time Ru pointed out an animal

She wanted Vivi to love this tortoise as much as she does.... but she totally wasn't into it!

Look Vivi! A GIRAFFE!

What a gorgeous day for a game drive!
We had so much fun with the lions! Viv kept roaring at them!

Sometimes ministry stuff just doesn’t work out the way we plan.  Sometimes it is better.