Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blessing Uganda

I am getting SO excited about my upcoming trip to uganda. 8 weeks to go.  This has been such a God-orchestrated trip.  It has been 12 years in the making.  I have always wanted to go to Africa. I even told my parents in high school- which may have scared them a little. Fast forward 8 years and There I was in the passport health clinic in Atlanta Georgia.   My 2200$ was raised to go to Kenya to work with 410 bridge through our church North Point. I stood there as she gave me Hepatitis a, hepatitis B, typhiod, tetanus, polio and meningitis vaccines.  Then she gets to the last one on the list... yellow fever- required by the CDC to travel to Kenya. She says.. is there any chance you're pregnant? "No ma'am, we are using birth control and i am breastfeeding still."  She explains to me that if I am "sexually active" i need to take a test before getting the yellow fever shot.
That's silly.
I couldn't be pregnant, I have a 9 month old baby and I'm using backup!

One pink plus sign later I was a flood of emotions. Disappointed, sad, guilt-ridden for feeling that, excited, nervous and totally overwhelmed at the thought of being pregnant again so close together. I called out to God...SERIOUSLY GOD? I JUST WANT TO GO TO AFRICA?


Wait I heard. Ugh, that was not my plan, not my timing. I should be used to it by now, but God's and my timing rarely lines up.

Here I am 4 years later with a beautiful son to be so grateful for God shifting my plans around. And who knew we would be in the midst of adopting two from Congo and I'd be well on my way to Uganda!

I have a feeling God will do something BIG on this trip.  I have been praying BOLD prayers for God to speak to me through this trip to show me my part in the orphan crisis.  I am also excited to really see orphan life and understand our kids' stories that much more.

We will be working with several ministries there, all worth checking out, praying for, and supporting.
Canaan's Children's home
Sixty Feet

These ministries feed the hungry, provide for the orphan, and come to the aid of the oppressed children wrongly put in prison. Can you imagine seeing a 3 year old behind bars?

Please consider helping out one of these ministries, or at least praying for them.

If you would like to help me finish up my fundraising all while giving someone (or yourself :) the gift of a necklace, earrings or shirts that all give back to the women in Uganda, please visit
There are awesome products like these necklaces


and shirts

If you like, you can click to donate to either my fund (Uganda April 2012 and type team member Kylie White) OR just put it straight to the orphanages and ministries we will be working with while we are there. You can put Uganda April 2012, then orphanage fund in the blank. What a great way to tell the story of the people of Uganda as you wear the jewelry they have made!

We are also trying to take over 1000 headbands to kids there!
They love the crochet headbands with big flowers attached.  There are some cheap ones at
Please consider buying some and mailing them to me (email me at for my address). We would also love to take toothbrushes and toothpaste if you would like to send some of those as well!

Please also visit a friend's etsy shop who is going if you would like to order one of these, with the proceeds going to the orphanage we will be working with.

Most of all, please pray for our team. We will be in Uganda April 14-23.  Pray for the ministries we will be working with. The people in the slums of Masese, the child prisons near kampala, the children who live at Canaan's, the orphans of Uganda.

Thanks for blessing Uganda and blessing me as I serve and love on the orphans of Uganda.  It is such a privilege to just be able to hold each child and tell them they are valuable, a treasure, bought at a high price by their King.  They have an amazing Father who has a heart for the fatherless and oppressed. I will not make that much of a difference in Uganda I am sure.  I wouldn't be so arrogant to think I will go over there with all of the answers or to change the country.  But I just pray God uses my small obedience, I pray he uses it to brightens one person's situation. I pray he impresses on my heart what my role in all of this is, and I pray I can just be his hands as he loves on these children, brings a smile to their face, and a reminder of how great is our Father's love.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

living the unsafe life

John showed me this video and I had to post it. It is exactly what the Lord has been stirring in my heart! I do not want to life the comfortable life. 2.4 kids, living in the "christian" circles, filling our savings account, going to church on Sundays...
Check out this video!

Friday, February 17, 2012

small prayers to a BIG God....

Over the last 10 months, my world has been rocked in regards to prayers.  I haven't always been consistent about reading the Bible, but I have always prayed.  Through high school and college I always left my prayers open-ended, so I could get back to where I was in a few minutes.

But they were always small prayers,

self-centered petitions,

a "can you really handle this prayer" prayer,

weak prayers about silly issues.

And while, yes, I believe God cares about anything that is concerning us, God is not Santa Claus, and God is not small.

I treated God like Santa until about 9th grade.  Give me this, help me not be sad about this, I want a better this, whatever. In 9th grade my prayer life transitioned to a more this is who I am God and this is how I love you prayer. I still littered my prayers with selfish requests and vomiting my worry (aka mistrust) that God would come through.

In college I broadened my perspective when it came to prayer, what do i do here God, how can i be a better witness to this person God, is this the major/career/person you want for me God?

Yet over the last 10 months my old prayers have seemed so small, ineffective, not world changing, power unleashing prayers. God has revealed to me so much about the world that we (Christians and non Christians alike) choose to just ignore so it doesn't rain on our parade.

I have a feeling that once I get to heaven, I will be embarrassed by the teeny tiny prayers I have been praying.  When we are faced with the fullness, able-ness, and BIG-ness of God, I think I will have wished I would have asked BOLDLY for bigger things.  He tells us to approach the throne in boldness.  He tells us in John 15:7 as you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask WHATEVER you wish and it will be done for you.

Now this could be twisted into the prosperity Gospel. Ask for a Ferrari in Jesus' name, a bigger paycheck, whatever.  But it is coupled with dwelling in the Word.  The scriptures have come to life to me in a whole new way lately. I realize I have just skimmed the Bible and said, "Wow, that's a cool thing to do Jesus, invite people who can't pay you back to a party? way to go Jesus, feed the hungry and care for the orphan? Good idea Jesus, I'll have to tell someone else to do that ". No, this is an example of how we are to live.  Once we dwell there, in the good places of scripture and the hard places, then our prayers start to be BIG, for HIS glory not ours.  Then we can ask for ANYTHING in his name and it will be done.

Prayer unleashes Gods power in a way that would not happen without us.  God could wipe out world hunger right now regardless of our actions, but he chooses to use us. He doesn't lightning bolt down salvation typically, he doesn't come sweeping through the clouds and move an orphan from an orphanage to the perfect home.  Sometimes yes, but more often than not, he chooses to use us. He moves in our hearts for us to act. But if we aren't praying BIG, if we aren't even leaving time to listen to him during prayer, then we miss this.  We miss unleashing the power of the Holy spirit into a situation he is waiting to act on.  Look at the miracles Jesus did, almost all were humanly initiated by a bold request. Like, come heal my dead daughter, just let me touch you because I can't stop bleeding for all the years of my life, heal my blindness, fix my lame legs.  These are not small, weak requests.  I pray I can boldly approach the throne and then be ready to act as God uses any obedience I have to change the outcome of people's lives, eternally and physically. If not me, then who?

On my prayer list these days...
God to reveal to me what I am supposed to do about the orphan crisis....

God to show me what I can do about the 26,000 who die each day from hunger. I pray for God to meet them and reveal himself to them as they cry out in desperation.
 (pictures from Google)

Like this little one year old who weighed six pounds and now she is a growing 18 month old in a loving home...

 (pictures taken from

There are big things going on in the world, a 26 billion dollar sex trafficking industry, marriages crumbling, kids dying of preventable disease, 163 MILLION orphans. Are we just going to sit back and wipe our hands of it, saying its too Big to make a dent in it? Or will we first pray, then Obey?? I am working on both, leaning hard into trust that God is a Big God who wants to use his children to redeem and impact the lives of others.
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Monumental day in our household....

Well today is a day I have been praying for for 6 years.  I just read a prayer I wrote in my journal when I was pregnant with Reese-
It says this:
Jan 20,2006
There is so much I want you to know! I continuously surrender my plans and hopes for you to God because I know he can dream and write your story a lot better than I ever could.  I pray God will do miracles, and change many lives with your little life.  I pray and wait anxiously for the day God captures your heart forever. What a beautiful thing! Oh how deep my desire is to be a good mother for you little one!
Love, your mom.

Well, God answered a prayer I started praying that day in January 2006 TODAY.  February 8 at 7:08pm!
Wow! What an amazing thing! We had just gotten in bed to read a story about a raccoon solving mysteries and finished that one up and Wheeler (to my surprise) said he wanted to read their Jesus Storybook Bible. I flipped open to the story about John the Baptist and we were all laughing about how he ate bugs and his name is the same as daddies name.  Then I finished the story about when he baptized Jesus and closed the book.  Reese said "Did going in that water make sure that God said he loved Jesus?" So we talked about how the water isn't what saves us but it is that Jesus is in our hearts and we know and understand what he did on the cross for us that saves us.  Then she said "i know that mom, you and dad have told me that. And i heard it at either school or church or somewhere" I laughed and said something about yes, it is the best news we could ever get so it is fun to talk about a lot.  She asked me if she had asked Jesus in her heart before.  I told her I didn't know, that would have been something she would have talked to God about.  Then she said "well can I ask him in my heart now?" and I started to tear up and said sure! (Meanwhile Wheeler was doing donkey kicks on the other end of the bed so I started saying Oh so Holy mom prayers like -- God please let wheeler be still and hush for 2 minutes or I may hold his mouth closed!
So I asked Wheeler if he wanted to pray (key word) quietly along with Reese as she made a big decision and he said yes. So Wheeler, Reese and I sat holding hands on her bed and she prayed something like this...

God, please come into my heart and clean out all of my yucky stuff and stay there forever so that you can love me forever and we can always be together.  Please don't leave my heart so that I can always have you in there. Jesus name, Amen

And that was it! We celebrated and called some family and she was so excited! I tried to stifle my excitement a little because I didn't want to be the reason she thought it was a good thing! Although of course we did some jumping and hugging and picture much for stifling! 
I am so bummed John wasn't here.  He is at a dinner with customers at the store, so I am anxiously awaiting his arrival so she can tell him, but I had to write it all down right now before I forgot all the details!

This has been such a neat process of her learning about him and loving him from a young age.  About a month ago we read through the Lion, the witch and the wardrobe and I could tell she was locking those truths away in her heart. Each night we would talk about how Aslan was like Jesus and how Edmund didn't want Aslan in his heart and how Lucy loved Aslan. And how he died and came back to save them.  She had said one night after the chapter where aslan dies and returns, she had said that it was just like Jesus and she knew it was true and she believed that Jesus did save us! But I didn't push the whole asking thing because I didn't want it to be driven by me and not her, plus I knew it didn't have to be this glorious moment. Then I had been chatting with my dear friend Ashley about this very thing a 2 days ago and prayed about it and let it go and then here we are two nights later she tells me she wants to ask him into her heart! 

Go God! Thank you for coming to die for us! And For coming to save my sweet Reese McNeil. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Battle of Excess

The last 8 months has been a spiritual journey for me that I have been praying for for years.  After a really growing time in high school and college, I felt like I went on spiritual cruise control for the next 6 or 7 years. There were moments of growth and closeness, but generally speaking, I was not vastly different faith-wise than in college.  I have prayed to grow, to gain wisdom as I got married and became a parent. And God answered has answered those prayers in many ways. But since God calling us to adoption and our journey of obedience, I have never experienced growth and revelation like this, so deep and so steady. 
I think at the root of it all has been the uprooting of my stronghold of my comfort. Not necessarily physically or financially, although that is a part of it. But more so, just my idea of what a comfortable life looks like. God has been showing me my idea of a comfortable life and his idea of a life surrendered is not the same.  Not in the way that following what God says means I sacrificially give up everything I like for a life of being painfully stripped of everything. That has been the most amazing part of the process, is that as I am stripped of things, it actually feels better, free-er, and like I am actually finding the purpose and the life I was made for.

So thus has begun the battle of excess.

I have realized that even tithing 10% and living "responsibly" (debt free, spending less than we make, house payment meeting the debt to income ratio, whatever) is not the definition of "Having life and having Life Abundantly" that Jesus was talking about. For the last 5 years (the first 2 of marriage not so much, because we were nearly living under the US poverty line on missionary raised support;)  we have lived comfortably.  From my point of view, it wasn't excess. But as God is doing this work in my heart... I am becoming more and more aware of the excess that has subtly worked its way into our life and I have justified, even spiritually, over the last several years.

If you make over 50,000 combined household income, we are in the top 1% richest people in the WORLD. Over 75,000? The Top .6%.  This is insane to me.  Just because there is always someone with more income, bigger house, more toys, nicer cars, doesn't mean I am not living in excess.

Being vulnerable here, I counted the amount of items in my closet (Shirts, coats, pants, jeans, dresses, skirts, sweaters, shorts, etc) and sadly the grand total came to 335.  I have had some of these clothes for 5 years or so, but mostly in the last 2-3.  If I spent an average of 25$ on each item that would be a total of $8,375.  Dresses,coats and jeans may raise up that average a little, so if I average at 35$ per piece that is $11,725. That means over the last several years, I have spent anywhere from 8-12,000 on clothes for ME. Just me. There are 3 other people in my family. 
The average congolese family makes about 75 cents per day.  Per year that would be 273$. That means on average, my clothing budget for 3 years would cost the average Congolese family 36 years to purchase. That is disgusting.

I guarantee you I am not going to get to heaven and wish I would have made sure to refresh my spring/summer wardrobe each year. 

The more I have been digging into God's word, I realize he is really serious about all of scripture- not just the easy ones to hear.  I'm pretty sure we are actually supposed to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, care for the orphans, come to the aid of the widow and the oppressed. This is not something that some Christians are supposed to do.  He even goes as far as to say he will separate those who did not feed him, clothe him, visit him, bring justice for him, and those will "depart because you did not know me".  Could it be, we get to know Jesus more intimately as we serve the "least of these"?
Tithing used to be the main idea for us, we tithed each month, we could check it off. We spent reasonably wise in ratio with our income, and we felt fine about "spending the other 90% responsibly".  But God did not tithe 10% of his love for us.  He poured it all out. He gave up everything.  
I got an iPad for Christmas, it was an unexpected gift and I was very thankful! John already had one and now I had my own! We went to church this week and I have been loving my iBooks app. I downloaded the Bible on it and it has awesome highlight and note taking features.  I serve in the morning at church so I walked into the service late and John was sitting there with his iPad on his lap and handed me mine to open to the scripture we were going through. Sheer panic struck my heart as disgust came over me in a way i have never experienced.  Here we sat in church with 1000$ worth of iPads on our two laps and 1000$ worth of phones in our pockets and probably wearing about 150$ or more each on our bodies.  Behind us sat a refugee family from Chad. A woman and her 5 kids who escaped Chad as their village got attacked.  She watched her husband machete-d as they fled.  She had acid of some sort poured on her body, and her face and hands bear those scars.  She only has a few non-functioning fingers remaining.  The contrast of it all was right there in front of me.  And I felt shame, sadness and disgust.  I did not feel like this was the life Jesus came to die for, this "abundant life".  No, she had the life abundant, she was praising the Lord with all her might, dancing, shouting, and I sat there with my 90$ jeans and our 500$ iPads.  
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

26,000 people will die of hunger today, tomorrow, and the next and this is my pantry...

Malaria is killing nearly 3000 African children per day. It is a preventable disease, all is takes is 2 dollars at a local pharmacy- no perscription needed. 2 dollars- that is their matter of life and death.

I have missed it. I have been losing the battle. Excess has taken over and closed my eyes to the true vision of the gospel.  No wonder Jesus said it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel to get through a needle.  That is impossible if you hadn't thought through the logistics of it...
With my mouth, I have said "Lord, Lord" but with my heart and finances, I have mostly said "me, me".
Well here is where the battle will turn.  God has impressed the plight of the orphan on my heart so deeply.  You can read more on that on my previous post here from September.  But I know God is asking big things of me, of us as a family.  My upcoming trip to Uganda I feel like God will further explain this in my heart, but I am not waiting until then.  By cutting our clothing budget for the next 4 months, we can send two more Ugandan children to school, purchase school supplies, Bible, mosquito net, etc.
  By cutting back our grocery, babysitting, and eating out/entertainment budget we will soon be ready to accept two referrals for our sweet children that will soon not be orphans! For the next 2 months we will be tight so that I can take over extra money for aid at the special needs orphanage, Amazima feeding ministry in the slums of Masese and the Canaans Childrens home  where we will be working in Jinja. Another awesome ministry that goes directly to orphans is International Voice of the Orphan if you are looking for places to get involved.

This is not about me, this is about how God can advance the kingdom when I actually give him the reins. 

Living in excess is the mirror image of the original sin of Adam and Eve.  They had everything. They did not "need" anything else! But yet, discontentment struck in their hearts as they thought, I wonder if God is holding back something better for us. I wonder if our lives will be better if I just have that one more thing.  
That sort of desire brings about our own destruction.  So here I am, on my own personal journey to really evaluate what God means in the Bible, what he is really asking of us. How he wants us to surrender our savings even to his kingdom.  

This has been a hard and wonderful journey of horrible stuff coming to the surface in my heart, but at the same time, it is so free-ing to be in a place where I am moving towards obeying and understanding God so intimately in all aspects of my life. 

If you are looking for books to read on this topic, please read Radical by david platt, Kisses from katie, or 7 by Jen Hatmaker. All have been the perfect storm of books as I have journeyed through matthew and John and studied what Jesus really calls on our life. Thanks for listening to my journey, as messy as it can be.