Mushy Ground

After a really extra long, extra cold winter here in Buffalo, spring has finally arrived!

Yesterday, I parked in my usual spot to pick up my munchkins from school. I started walking across the grass area I always do. This time though, I got really muddy. The ground was super soft and wet from all the melting snow. And it got me thinking…It’s usually after the first big thaw that the ground is the mushiest and messiest. The ground is super soft, and pliable, ready to receive the seeds in spring that will grow through summer and yield harvest in the fall. I think it’s how God uses difficulties and storms in our lives. After the winter and during the thaw:

  • We are the most pliable and soft to hear from God.
  • We are fertile soil for Him to plant in us what He is calling us to.
  • When we feel we are at our messiest, it’s the perfect time for God to shape us.
  • Many times the weeds are dead and there’s less competing to distract us from growth.

Life is all about seasons. For now, I find myself in a winter as I am waiting on God for our adoption, but there are signs that spring is coming!

If you are in the joy of summer, make sure you don’t allow the soil of your heart to harden and get you to a place where you aren’t relying on Him.

If you are in the harvest of fall, enjoy the blessing and fruit of how God is using you and immerse yourself in Him because you know another winter is coming.

If you find yourself in a cold, long winter, remember that spring is coming. Lean into Him in the long, cold nights.

And if you find yourself in the growth of spring, keep the soil of your heart soft so that God can mold you and plant in you Kingdom callings!

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” 2 Corinthians 4:17

It’s a BIG deal!

My kids frequently fight over who gets in the car first and where they sit. Honestly, it drives me crazy!

Recently, we had an exceptionally dramatic morning over this issue. My youngest was especially upset that he had to be the last one in. So much so that he threw a bit of a fit, and fell out of his seat, while I was closing the door. Luckily he wasn’t hurt. But the fact that he could’ve been made me even more upset at the ridiculousness of the situation.

“It’s just getting in the car! Who cares who’s first! What’s the big deal?” I reasoned. It was at that moment I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the tears streaming down his face and I realized to him it was a big deal. For his little life of five years, that was the biggest thing happening. To him it was everything.

I wiped his tears and dropped him off and he went skipping into school.

After, driving to work it I began thinking: What issues in my life am I freaking out about and throwing a fit about? To me it’s such a big deal. Even now I find myself in a situation beyond my control and I’m freaking out. But in the driver seat of my life is a Father who is all knowing, all loving. He holds the world in His hands and sees every situation. He knows the number of the hairs on our head. I wonder if He’s looking at us, wiping our tears smiling, saying, my beautiful child, I’m here, calm down, come to me and rest.

I hope today that no matter what situation you find yourself in big or small that you will be encouraged that your Heavenly Father sees you, you matter to Him and He will see you through! If you let Him, He will wipe your tears so you can go skipping on into the life He has planned for you! 

When Death is Beautiful

My absolute favorite season is fall. As a Buffalo girl, it’s another hopeful start to the Buffalo Bills season (naysayers don’t even haha). I love the crispness of the fall air, and comfortable temperatures. I love the general “coziness” of the season: apple picking, pumpkin farms and warm apple cider. Most of all I love the beautiful colors of fall. Every day I awake to a new beautiful color display as if God repainted the canvas of the trees at night while we were all asleep.

Recently while driving I reflected on the “why” behind the changing colors. I was reminded that the changing colors are actually the process of the leaves dying. The leaves must die in preparation for winter and eventually for new growth in the spring. If it weren’t for the death of the leaves we would miss out on the beautiful splendor that comes with the changing colors. And even after the death of the leaves we know it is not the end, after some time, past the cold of winter, new leaves will bud once again.

I think this applies to our own lives. Sometimes good things must die to make way for the new. We might fight against the process, but if we were to let go, we can actually learn to appreciate the beauty in that process. Sometimes I find myself letting go of something only to try to take it back again. It reminds me of those last few leaves that hold on to the trees, the ones that are there during the first snow. The problem is, those leaves freeze, and weigh down the tree, damaging it.

We must learn to let things die. Whether its bad attitudes, bitterness and anger, or even some of our commitments that keeps us too busy. If we keep holding on to them, just like the leaves that hold on until winter, we will damage ourselves. When we let go, the death of those things make way for new life. Bad attitudes can be replaced with joy. Bitterness and anger can be replaced with peace. And moving away from being overcommitted can lead to more fullness of life.

Learning to let go is not always, and death can be painful. I encourage all of us to do it. I would even push us to take a step further, to a look for and appreciate the beauty in the process.

What things in your life do you need to let go of to make way for the new?

Spells, Bob Goff & Backyard Bullies

Last week was interesting to say the least. There was weird stuff, hopeful stuff and hurtful stuff all at the same time. My hope is that these stories and lessons learned will be an encouragement to you.

The week started out as a normal week in the let them LOL office. The energy is exciting and the office is always busy as we are preparing for our upcoming Water Gala. Then Wednesday hit. I received a call from one of our Sierra Leone staff that someone had put a spell on me. “What did you say?” was my response. Yes, someone had put a spell on me, but it wasn’t a “bad” spell, it was one that tries to control the heart of the person. However, all our Sierra Leone staff was going to fast and pray for three days for me.  Oh, thanks, now I feel much better. It’s not a bad spell but you are all going to fast and pray for three days? After we hung up, I was definitely feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by this whole idea. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much Wednesday night.

Thursday morning I woke up thinking about the whole thing. I wondered, who do I even talk to about something like this? Then I remembered that Bob Goff, the author of Love Does (one of my favorite books) had experience with this kind of stuff as a result of the work he is doing in Uganda. In the back of Love Does, Bob left his phone number in case a reader wanted to call him. I remembered this but thought to myself: “he probably has someone answering it for him, what’s the point?” I changed my mind though and opened up the book and dialed the number. “Bob Goff here” was what I heard. I put my shock aside and went right to explaining everything, as I didn’t want to take up too much of his time. He said a lot of encouraging things and I will share the key takeaways at the end of the post.

Literally 15 minutes after I hung up with Bob, I get another call from our Sierra Leone staff. This time someone there was threatening our program. They didn’t have ground to stand on, but both our US and Sierra Leone teams were upset. We were basically being bullied so someone could get what they wanted. It took a couple of days, but the whole situation calmed down and was resolved. 
By the end of the week, we were all really worn out.

Here are a few things that I learned this week:

1. Fear is contagious, but so is hope. (Bob Goff) This is the phrase from my conversation with Bob that sticks out the most for me. Once one of our Sierra Leone staff started freaking out about the whole spell thing, then the whole team there was freaking out and then I was. When you face fear, you have a choice about how much power to give it. If you let it overwhelm you, it will spread to others. In the same way, when you allow yourself to be filled with hope that is contagious too. I want to be a HOPE spreader and a fear stopper! Don’t you?

2. Be careful who you give the microphone to in your life. (Bob Goff) Yep. I often struggle with this one. While other’s input in our lives is important, we always need to watch how much influence that has over us. I was reminded on Sunday during a song at church: “no power in hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand.” It is important to seek advice, but always weigh the advice against who you are because of WHOSE you are.

3. Perseverance. We have been so excited to be able to share so many of the amazing stories of all God is doing through let them LOL. But what most people don’t see is the weeks like these. The weeks where we are left completely empty and exhausted. Through prayer and help from God, we press on through the struggles and challenges. Someone once said “I didn’t say it would be easy, but it will be worth it.”

I’m pretty sure this week wasn’t filled with spells for you, but I’m sure many of you faced struggles and trials. What’s one thing you do when you face difficulty?

Hope in the Loss

Yesterday, I learned of the death of my friend Mariamma. She was one of our housemothers at our children’s home and wife to Emmanuel, our former director of the home. During the trip to celebrate the opening the home, we discovered that both Emmanuel and Mariamma were extremely sick. After testing, we learned that they both had a terminal illness. As a result, they could no longer work in our children’s home. Emmanuel passed away nearly a year ago and Mariamma has been sick for a very long time. Her passing was not a surprise but still painful as she is leaving behind three children, and we grieve with them.

During my April visit to Sierra Leone, I searched for Mariamma. I finally found her in a dusty shack, in a small room. When I walked in, the room smelled of sickness. But her face filled with joy when she saw me. Her body was weak and she was significantly thinner than what she was when I saw her last just a few months before. She had multiple, large, painful boils covering her body. I confess given the nature of her disease, I was at afraid to get too close.  Then something happened, I was overcome by love. It wasn’t me it was Jesus in me. I embraced her frail body in my arms; I kissed her face and held on to her hand. It was one of the most beautiful and memorable moments of my life.

What we can learn about Hope in the Loss:

  • The Greatest Hope of All: Mariamma was a follower of Jesus, and we have a great joy in knowing her suffering is over and we will see her again!
  • Hope Takes the Risk: You won’t regret stepping out and giving hope to someone in their suffering and despair: That moment in her small room in a shack in Sierra Leone is etched forever in my heart. I will go back to it time and time again for inspiration and courage to continue to love greatly & give completely.
  • Hope is an Opportunity: We all have opportunities: some big, some small to be hope to someone. Don’t let that those moments pass you by. Don’t be paralyzed by fear, be motivated by hope & love, you won’t regret it.

Have you had the opportunity to give hope & show love to someone in his or her despair, or did someone meet you in your suffering? Please share your story.

I will write & share Emmanuel’s story at a later time, but in the meantime, you can watch this video in his memory.

About

Hi I’m Kate, thanks for visiting Hope & Savvy!

Who I am: A follower of Jesus.
Love: Married to my best friend Joe, who fills my life with joy and laughter.
Kids: I am mommy to 4 awesome kids, one of them through adoption.
Work: Director of Let them LOL.{Follow the link to learn more}
Random: I am a fan of Jack Sparrow and all things Savvy.

This blog is meant to be a place to share the stories of what God is doing, and what I am learning along the way. My hope is that you will be encouraged in your journey.

Follow the links to learn more about the story behind the name Hope & Savvy.

Photos from Africa are by sjbridgeman.com.

Why Hope?

def. desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.

Why Hope? As the Director of a charity working in Sierra Leone, Africa it is rare that a day or two passes without something amazing happening.  As these moments come up I can’t help but share them with others. The more and more I’ve shared them, the more people have been encouraged. It is really fun to see someone’s eyes twinkle when they hear a wonderful story. It is even more exciting to be a part of watching someone’s life turn from despair to hope, as we so often get to see with our friends in Sierra Leone. Hope is truly contagious and this is why I was looking for a place to share these hope stories. May they inspire you to believe you too can make a difference in the world.

What is let them LOL?

A few years ago, my husband Joe and I learned that there are nearly 1 billion people on our planet without access to clean, safe drinking water. And even more heart wrenching, approximately 4,000 children die every day from water related disease.

We weren’t sure what to do, but we knew we had to do something. We weren’t ok with 4,000 children dying every day just because they didn’t have access to clean water. We also knew that there were a lot of other people who wouldn’t be OK with it either.

My husband Joe has a very strange laugh. It’s the kind that turns heads; everyone looks and then starts laughing. So we put his laugh on a ring tone, and sold the ring tone to raise funds and awareness about the water issue. We called it “let them LOL (laugh out loud).” “Let them” because we believe many people in the world are experiencing unjust suffering only because they lack the most basic resources for a better future. By giving them a basic resource like clean water, we are helping them embrace a better future. And “laugh out loud” because we are using laughter to raise awareness about this issue.

When we started it we didn’t have big ambitions to start a huge organization, we just wanted to help people. We underestimated the power of friends, family and communities coming together to change the world. To date we have funded 80 clean water wells! Thousands of people’s lives have been impacted.

To learn more about let them LOL, follow this link.

“We all cannot do great things, but we all can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresea