Monday, June 29, 2015

Wrapping Up Bolivia (This Time)

The hardest part of writing this post is trying to figure out where to start.  There is so much to tell you and so much to say that it all collides in my head, so I will hit the bullets for you as I attempt to pull it all together.

Baby Washing
Of course I have to start with baby washing.  Several of you contributed to the bags that we stuffed for the families who came to have their babies cleaned.  If you aren't familiar with baby washing, let me fill you in on a really cool ministry.  Part of Bolivia's indigenous population lives in the mountains surrounding Cochabamba, and without running water or electricity.  On Saturdays, some of them come down to the city square to have their babies washed and receive new clothes for their children.

The missionaries we work with head up this ministry and allowed us to tag along and help.  If you can't quite grasp how humbling of a time this is, I will just say that one of the men on our team was fighting back tears when the first baby was carried in.



Our team prepared for this day by bringing over much needed items for the families.  One team member watched as a mom took her bag of items and held them close to her chest and hugged them with gratitude.  I watched a teenage boy open the baby wipes in his bag and run over to his mom and wipe her face as if to say "Look at how cool this is.  A clean wet cloth!"   When was the last time you saw a teenager rejoice over something as simple as a baby wipe?  Perspective giver.





For the future, I have no doubt that we will continue this component of the ministry so if you live around me, save your hotel soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes, etc.  As you collect a bunch, drop them by the church or my house.  We will put them to good use.

If you want to help in an even bigger way, there is one giant need you can be a part of.  The missionaries have a contraption (best word I could come up with- sorry) that will allow them to make the baby washing ministry more mobile.  It would heat water in a giant container that would be placed on a trailer and allow them to also go to the local dump to care for the people living there.  The one thing they lack to make it work is a generator.  If you are interested in donating funds for them to purchase a generator, you can contact Lifesong for Orphans and make a designated donation to that project.

My Team
I hand picked this team based on specific tasks that I needed to accomplish on this trip.  I knew they were all awesome people (which is why I chose them) but I had no idea just how incredible they would be in this setting.  I chose a group of leaders and what I got was more than servants but also visionaries with a get it done attitude.  They have come up with great ideas for future projects in Bolivia that leave me really excited for our participation with Fundacion Esperanza moving forward.

In the next year, we will be sending more construction teams, creating gardens at the homes, teaching cooking classes for the orphans, hosting soccer clinics, mentoring the older boys and girls through basic life skills and discipleship, and more.



 As I wrap this up and table for later so much of what I want to tell you, I will just say one more thing.  I Love the Quechua people.  I love their culture, their sweet spirits, their colorful clothing,  and their crazy awesome hats.  Bolivia is a special place, being ministered to by special people.  God is moving there and I feel blessed to be a very small part of it.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Bolivia- Day 2

Our team is starting out every morning with a devotional.  Today's topic was giving our all to Jesus and His calling.   As I look back on the day, I can say that is exactly what my team did.  Once again they worked hard, without complaining, and saw God move.

We started our day at the baby house where we played with babies, worked on Life Books, and participated in some staff training. The staff was very responsive to Gwen's training and Gwen did a great job at discerning their needs.  When the morning was coming to a close, we were already talking about the next trip and possible training that could be done to build on the foundation that she had laid there.

Our afternoon was spent at the newest home.  It holds 22 kids who were previously at another orphanage that had to be shut down.  They are now in a better home and getting excellent care.  Shelly and I repeated our program of using the Life Books to help the kids see their value to each other and in Christ.  I don't have many pictures that I can share here as I am trying to protect the privacy of the kids, but here is one less than attractive one of me facilitating a time of affirmation between the kids.


We divided the kids into groups of 4-5 and listened as the affirmed each other.  The little sweet heart that I am looking at here was in the first group but kept sneaking back into the others to tell me what she liked about her friends there.  You gotta love that.

Our men on the team not only finished their shelves but also reorganized the missionaries entire garage to help him access supplies needed for the 5 homes and baby washing ministry.  I was kicking myself for not getting a before picture but trust me that they exceeded expectations here.


Tomorrow we will participate in a ministry called baby washing where the missionaries set up tents in the middle of the city and wash the babies of the families who come down from the mountains.  We stuffed some awesome gift bags for the families tonight and you can pray that they feel the love of Jesus from our time and our gifts there tomorrow.

Pushing on to finish well and thankful for your prayers.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bolivia Day 1- Incredible!

I am sitting in my hotel room and trying to reflect on a full but incredible day.   Here are my observations from day 1.

1. FundaciĆ³n Esperanza is an incredible ministry and God is blessing them with the opportunity to serve more and more children.  When I visited this ministry in November, they had 2 homes.  Since then, they have grown to 5 homes and could use a 6th if the funding were available.  The directors of the ministry pour their lives into these children and do it with excellence.  If you want to learn more about their ministry, you need to visit http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/countries/bolivia.

This is the director of the ministry affirming one of the children while others raise their hands for the opportunity to affirm the child also.  Their lesson today was that God is good and everything he created is good so what does that say about you?  We practiced seeing the good in each other and ourselves.

2. I have an awesome team.  Our men finished their project today so they are going to add onto it tomorrow because they worked that hard.  My friend Gwen had a little bit different day than she expected but she jumped right into her new role without a single complaint or sign of disappointment.   When the rest of us were exhausted and ready to call it a day, Shelly found the energy to go outside and swing boys around.  My team worked hard today folks and spent every minute with a smile on their face.  I would take this crew anywhere.



3. We have a full day tomorrow and could use your prayers.  Tomorrow we will spend the morning in the baby house wrapping up some pages for their life books and kissing some chubby cheeks one last time.  Gwen will have a critical meeting with the psychologists and could use prayers for what material would be best to share.  We will spend the afternoon in the newest home ministering to the kids there with the same material we used in the boys home today.  Pray that God shows up and that the kids are impacted for eternity.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Headed to Bolivia


I am headed, with a team of 5 others, to Bolivia tomorrow.  We will be working with our church partners who operate 3 orphanages there.   It is an amazing ministry run by an incredible family and we are excited to be visiting them again. We would love for you to pray for our team while we are gone.

So here's the deal, you probably only have 3 minutes max to pray for us and I totally get that as a mother of 4 kids myself.  I appreciate anything you got.   So do me a favor and skip the prayers for logistics.  We can wear the same clothes for a week or eat food that doesn't taste good.  If we miss a flight, it was God's will and I am okay with that.  Here is how I need you to spend your 3 minutes:

1. Pray that the psychologists in the home respond well to Gwen's mentoring. Pray that they catch the vision for the Life Books we are bringing over and that they are excited about pouring into the identity of these kids.

2. Pray for the construction team that they have everything they need and can get to work quickly.  Pray they complete their task in record time and are available to do more than they even planned for.  You can also throw in safety for them.  I don't consider avoiding a rusty nail in your hand to be a matter of comfort.  No health issues please!

3. Pray for Shelly and me as we try to teach these kids about God's love for them.  Pray they grasp that concept that God's creation is good and purposeful and that carries over to them.  Pray they make the leap from hearing about a historical Jesus to desiring an eternal relationship with a relational Jesus.  Pray the time of affirmation reaches to their hearts and leaves a lasting impression.  Pray for quality conversations with the older kids.

4. Pray for God's blessing on the pilot program of teaching kids the Gospel through photography.  Pray that the kids will connect with the lesson and that it will go smoothly.

5.  Pray that we will be intentional and ready for whatever God sends our way.

Okay and if you need to pray for one logistic - we need all of the Life Books to arrive intact.

Thanks friends!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Her Father


Theologians (the smart people) say that your relationship with your earthly father sets the tone for how you relate to your God as Father.  For example, if your earthly father is authoritarian, you will see God as domineering.  If your earthly father is relationally distant, you will see God as unapproachable and if your earthly father is the greatest thing since sliced bread then your understanding of God as Father will be pretty awesome too.  Enter, Maggie and her daddy.

How Maggie Will See God as Father if the Smart Guys are Right

1. She will know that following closely behind him will always lead to an adventure and 
walking right beside him will bring her the best companion for the journey.

2. She will find security in his arms and comfort on his chest.

3. She will believe, without question, that she is deeply loved.

4. She will know a father who delights in her and loves to be in her presence.

5. She will trust his words and live her life from his example.

6. And no matter how old she grows, what choices she makes, or where her life takes her, 
she will know that his love for her will never change.




 If the smart guys are right, I don’t worry about my children’s perception of God as Father because God has given them an amazing example.



Happy Father's Day Trent.  We love and appreciate you.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Choosing to Live Well - 6 Necessary Practices

Last week, I spent two hours at the celebration service of a life lived well.  It was two hours of family and friends sharing the stories of a man named Phil Lineberger who not only served God well but also loved life.  It was the icing on the cake of something that has been stirring inside of me for several weeks - What does it look like to live well?

I have narrowed it down to 6 practices that I believe sum it up best.  So here goes...

6 Necessary Practices to Living Well:

1. Value people over possessions
I don't need to go into detail here.  Just think of the last time you asked, "What is that going to cost me" and then chose some measure of comfort over another person.  I do it.  You do it.  We are all bent toward our own comfort and security over the opportunity to serve another.  Each time I place my comfort first, an opportunity to minister the Gospel is wasted.

There is a girl named Meredith whom I friended on Facebook this week.  She is a volunteer nanny in China with an organization called Morning Star.  I was connected to Meredith because she cares specifically for heart babies and a prayer request was sent out for one of her little ones.  I was touched by the sacrifices that Meredith must have made to move across the world to care for those little ones. She appears to be in her twenties, a time when most young girls are looking for a husband or starting to build their personal fortune.  But instead of following the norm, Meredith is whole-heartedly investing in eternity.

Value people over possessions.  I am not going to conquer this one in a year, but I need to keep working at it.  We all do.

2. Find joy in the every day
I find hurry in the every day.  I find a list of to do's and a quest for accomplishment in the every day.  I find frustration and worry in the every day.  What I don't find is joy in the every day.  As I listened to Phil's family and friends share stories about his life, I was struck by how much fun he had.  There were several stories that involved whoopee cushions, practical jokes, and a lot of laughter in seemingly routine places like work and family gatherings.  I found myself envious of how much joy he experienced in his daily tasks and I was challenged to do the same.  Every year our family prays a value over each member.  Mine this year will be joy.

3. Be who God has called YOU to be
I don't know about you but I get caught up in the comparison trap and then that is somehow followed by the lie that I don't measure up.  It is in those moments of feeling defeated that God reminds me that I wasn't called to be that person I am comparing myself to.  God created me to be me and He created you to be you.  He didn't make you to be as skinny as______, or as wealthy as _______ , as smart as _______, or a mother just like________.  He created you (and me) uniquely for a specific purpose.  Be that person.  

4. Live a life that draws people to the Gospel instead of pushing them away
Your thought on this may be "but of course" or "thanks for the obvious" but I want you to think about it from this perspective.  This is not the only example but there has been a lot of controversy in the media this year regarding individuals who live an alternative lifestyle.   My husband and I were visiting with one such person last spring and he responded to us like he expected us to hate him.  It occurred to me then that the global church's greatest threat is not leaving people indifferent to the Gospel but instead actually pushing them away from it.  When we are so focused on our agenda of pushing God's law that we forget to love, we miss the Gospel.  I want to love in a way that makes others want to know Jesus and not in a manner that makes them expect me to hate them.

5. Make memories  
Several years ago I attended another family funeral that changed the way I view life.  It was for my cousin Greg who passed in his 30's and left behind a wife and two young children.   I was moved when a friend of his quoted Greg consistently saying, "You can't put a price on a good time."   Thank heavens he lived life to the fullest.  Trent and I quote Greg about once a month when we are trying to decide if some family activity is worth the expense.

Making memories is not just about splurging on a good time but also about not saying things like, "But you might get dirty," "Not in those clothes," or, "I have too much work to do."   My Aunt Mary has always encouraged me to serve dinner on my good dishes because it is better to use them and break them then never to use them at all.  I want to use my good dishes, let me kids get dirty, splurge on a good vacation, and put down my work to jump in the pool.  I want to make more memories because the opportunity to do it tomorrow is never guaranteed.

6. Worry Less
I had the best conversation with a patient the other day.  We were alone in the clinic because all of my coworkers left for a boring meeting that I volunteered to miss to treat this one man.  We got to talking about the best advice we had ever been given and he quoted his Great Aunt.  He asked her at the end of her life if she could give him one piece of advice what would it be.  She said that she wished she had spent less time worrying.   That's good stuff, friends.  How much time do we waste worrying about things that we can't change or that don't even turn out the way we worried they would anyway.  I am vowing here and now to worry less.

So there you have it.  Ginny's 6 resolutions to living well.   Now, stop worrying, make some good memories, experience more joy, be you, and change the world.

My 3 youngest making memories at a spontaneous trip to the zoo last weekend

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Not Because We Need Another Commentary on This, But...

...because it is stirring inside of me.  Here is how I respond to the Josh Duggar situation and why it weighs so heavy on my heart.

First of all it makes me really sad.

  • I am sad because it gives opponents to Christianity more ammunition to use in their argument that all Christians are hypocrites.  Yes, Josh Duggar is one more name in a long list of Christians who have had their platform pulled out from under them because of their sin.  Unfortunately, they won't be remembered for their faith or all of the good they did, but only for their fall and that makes me sad.  
  • I am sad for his victims.  There is a lot of attention pointed towards Josh and the grace that he needs but I just can't shake the sadness that I feel for his victims long enough to worry about him.  I am sad that his sisters did not choose this road and they certainly did not choose to then have their victimization broadcast around the world.  The prior and continued suffering of his victims makes me sad. 
  • I am sad for his wife and children.  I can't help but wonder if the efforts to protect Josh from the consequences of his actions extended into what was revealed, or not revealed, to his wife.  I am sad that his sin now spills over into new victims who did not even know him at the time.  I believe this compounding victimization is an excellent representation of how our sinful choices can have generational consequences, but it still makes me sad. 

I'll be honest, I am also scared.

I am scared because I wonder who is next.  I wonder what God-fearing man will fall next because he is unable to flee from sin.  I pray it isn't my family but know that no one is immune to the temptation of sin.  The Duggars are good people who had a son who made a really bad choice and then they followed it up with what appears to have been another bad choice.  How many of us can say that we have never made a bad choice where our bodies or families are concerned?  That in NO WAY makes it excusable but it does scare me.  We are flawed people which is why we need Jesus so badly.  It is also why we need to stand vigilant against the lies and temptations of the enemy.   I don't like feeling scared, but perhaps it's a good thing. 


Finally, I am ready.

I am ready for Jesus to come back.  I am so ready that I feel it like a weight on my shoulders.  As I watch the events on the news, hear stories of children tortured, cry with friends who are struggling to save their child from what he cannot control, and prepare for my own child to undergo life-altering surgery, I pray for Jesus to just come back.  It wakes me up in the middle of the night as I feel this great deal of unrest on my soul.  Situations like Josh Duggar's just serve to fuel the agitation of my heart and make me long for a day of no more sin and no more suffering.  I am ready for God to redeem all of the adversity that surrounds me and for the world to see a victory that is found only in Him.