Clarity

I’ve been trying to clarify my thoughts on what happened 2 weeks ago for awhile. I wanted to write a blog post about it, but then, in my head, I was like “Who am I to write about it?”

Who am I?

What happened?

MikeAmyRidderingFriday, January 15, 2016 a man I met while I was in Burkina Faso was killed in a terrorist attack. I had just arrived home when I received a text from a friend from work letting me know about a tweet for Westerners to stay out of Ouga, the capital city of Burkina Faso. I thought it was odd and texted him back saying I’d known there had been a strike a few weeks back…so maybe it was related to that?

Then I jumped online. My feed was blowing up with news of Burkina, the terrorist attack and the fact that know one could find Mike. There’d been a phone call to Amy, Mike’s wife, from a pastor who ended up with his phone, but then it went dead. Mike’s wife was at the orphanage they run together in Yako – 2 hours from Ouga.

The group I went to Burkina with texted and Facebooked each other while we awaited news. The more we read the news stories coming out, the more grim it seemed. Yet we held out hope. Mike is a man of God – doing AMAZING things for the children, widows and families of Burkina. There had to be a miracle.

But there wasn’t. In the midst of our prayers, our searching (okay – truly my fervent searching of Youtube amateur footage and tweeting random news folks ‘on the scene’)…through it all Mike was already in Heaven with Jesus. Saturday morning we saw Amy’s post and suddenly the heaviness of grief was upon us. It hits everyone in weird ways. I’m not a crier…but when it comes to daughters missing their fathers, or really any child without a parent – it hits home to me. I feel like I grieved when Princess Diana died…not because I knew her (I didn’t!) but because she had two kids who were growing up without a mom they loved dearly…and here we are again…not only are Mike’s 4 children growing up without him, but the dozens and dozens of children whom he impacted on a daily basis – the kids who called him Papa…now they were feeling the pain, I’d once felt.

It sucks.

Saturday sucked.

Then Sunday came. Things were not better. Tears were still shed. Yet, we had an immediate reminder that our hope is not found in the now, but in what is yet to come. Mike did amazing things with Amy at the Yako Orphanage…Amy is going to continue the amazing things they did together. That makes me overjoyed!

Prior to this attack I’d already been talking to Tim about going back. He really wanted me to go to Haiti first because he fell in love with the country and her people when he went with Revolution…but I feel the same way about Burkina. I imagine we’d both feel the same way with our roles reversed…and so I want Tim to come with me. The next trip hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m praying about my part.

Lincoln is still intent on going as well:) He wrote our Compassion child, “See you in 4 years!” That is when he will be 12 and we will do a Compassion family trip. I know I freak a lot of people out by talking about going back, especially in the midst of terror that is so fresh, but I can’t help it. It was part of our discussion as we awaited the news of our friend. We’d only just met him, but the impact was profound. We all agreed, trips are in our future. Not everyone will agree with it and that’s okay. God puts a call on our life that we have to answer and no one else can make that decision. Wisdom plays a part (our church bumped the last Burkina trip in October to Christmas due to issues within the country) and we will take all of it to heart.

YakoOrphanageAt the end of the day I want to look at my kids and let them know that there was nothing that would keep me from doing what God asks of me…just as my prayer for them is that they will always follow God’s will for their life. I have several friends who are doing a mission trip called “World Race”. They are traveling across the world and going to 11 countries in 11 months. I imagine their parents were a bit freaked out to find that their children were traveling to Asia, Africa and other countries…not for a few weeks, but for an entire year! It’s scary – but so is being outside of God’s will…and that’s a place I will never ever want to find myself.

I do not know what God has planned for Tim and I  – in Burkina Faso or in Haiti – but I know we will continue to seek God’s will for our lives and the lives of our boys…and we will go where He leads us.

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Santa’s Coming! Santa’s Coming!

SantaKellenThe boys are at my in-laws until Christmas Eve. I have to admit, I was bummed when I realized that the boys would be gone right up until Christmas Eve. Tim thought I was crazy;) Truly though, with Christmas being my favorite holiday, the idea that the boys would not be with me up until the very moment of Christmas had me a bit sad. The laughter and the craziness makes me feel right at home – considering that’s how I grew up – a big family brings lots of noise and fun so this quiet time before the big day is something new.

While the rain is slowly starting to fall on this side of Georgia, I’m reflecting on how I want 2016 to be…The post yesterday shared some of my expectations of what 2016 can hold…More focus on those in need and less focus on the materialistic items – both for myself and my family.

Today I went to the bookstore and found myself perusing the social issues section. I love reading about others who have inspired and met challenges around the world from inner-city high schools to 3rd world countries. I found the companion to 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson which I’m excited to begin reading as well as a few others that I’ll be mentioning in the coming weeks. I’m so grateful for the life God has given me and I want so much to be able to share my journey with others. It hasn’t been easy – the last few years since Tim left full time ministry has been difficult. We have both been learning to face the new reality and while I’m confident that God moved us from our former church, it does not make it any less painful. It’s been slow going, finding our footing. I found that I took just as much ownership in Tim’s former position as he did and while my identity was not his job – a portion of it was that job…that calling. So to find us both navigating the corporate world has been both fun and frustrating. I haven’t talked about that journey except with a few close friends. It’s similar to my journey at work and dreams of the future. Some are hard to vocalize because in stating what you want might make people question the path that you are on…I’m hoping in 2016 I’ll be able to share more of what we’ve learned, what I’ve learned. We haven’t navigated everything perfectly, but we’re not perfect people.

It sounds crazy, but a few years ago I am very confident God provided me with a vision of our future as I drove down I-285. It was the second time in 2 years I had felt God audibly speak to me. I debated whether the vision was exactly what the future would be or whether it was just a vision of what opportunity lay ahead. I’m still not sure, but I hold onto it and I believe that 2016 is the year I will begin to see it unfold.

I have to admit – I’m pretty excited!

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Family Service Project

We did our family service project today  at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. I found the project through the Hands on Atlanta website.

I envisioned is waking up early. I envisioned us having a wonderful family breakfast together and then getting into the car and heading out with plenty of time and maybe even singing together in the car…can you see the cartoon bluebirds following our car?!

So…instead we wake up late…20 minutes to get up, get the kids up and dressed and get in the car…keep in mind, my brother and his kids had a layover in Atlanta last night so our family had dinner at the airport. That meant we did not get home until after 9pm. The sacrifice was well worth it BUT my kids were tired this morning…and tired kids 9 times out of 10 are cranky kids.

So we rush around getting kids dressed (we may have bribed them with a drive thru stop at Dunkin Donuts), trying to print waiver forms (they ended up having them there) and then jumped in the car – kids bickering, adults bickering…yay! Family Service Project Day had commenced.

Let me pause hear to say that I really feel like anytime you are trying to do something positive – family bond building, relationship building, etc. there is going to be some friction. Chalk it up to whatever but I feel like whatever can glorify God will bring Satan out to mess with it a bit…and lack of sleep, rushed chaos, leading to pour attitudes is putty in his hands…As we pulled into the ACFB I asked Tim to pray for the family. It wasn’t fancy. It was short & sweet and in we went:)

The place was pretty packed with the majority of folks headed to the sorting center (special note – we only ended up being 15 min late so thankfully for us – nothing had started yet because people were still arriving). There were 2 other families with kids under 8 and we all headed into the main office area to work on our canvas bags. The kids were excited and started coloring. Lincoln, of course, started with a dolphin and when he felt like he messed up Tim came to the rescue. It’s projects like this that bring out those hidden skills God has blessed us with – the ones we don’t use everyday and Tim’s artistic skills are one of those skills. My man can draw!!


 In the end the kids made a ton of bags, but being kids they got bored about 3/4 through the 3 hour project. So while some of the adults finished the last remaining bags, Nicole our Hands on Atlanta rep. led some games for the kiddos. At the end we got to see the inside of the Project Rescue Center and took a group pic (which I’ll post once I get it:)

For our first project, I’d call it a success and we’ll definitely be back! If you are interested in doing a family service project check out the Hands on Atlanta website. They have lots of filters (age, type of project, etc.) and many projects can be signed up for on the day of so you do last minute projects.


    

Thanks for following along on our journey!

– Courtney