I’m quite positive the year 2014 is one for the books. And as I reflect on the days and months that have passed this year, the words “thank you” hold a place of purity and beauty in my heart that I want to share with so many of you; because YOU have journeyed through this remarkable year with me. And through that journey I’ve learned so much – so many things that I hope will help me journey with you as 2015 unfolds.
I can’t speak about the year without saying I have the most amazingly wise, godly men and women in my life who have surrounded me, prayed for me, held my arms up (Exodus 17:11-12), held me accountable, allowed me to cry, and celebrated victories with me. One has sent me an email every single morning since June 2013, telling me how they have prayed for me that morning. They ask me the hard questions and challenge me to be more like Christ; and nothing more. If I could give you anything in the world, it would be friends like these.
Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down.Exodus 17:11-12
Then there’s family. Many of us are in this sweet season of life where we’re trying our best to be the grownups to our children but we’re also the children having to pretend to be grownups for our parents as they are aging. For me, that has meant moving a child into a learning differenced school and moving parents into highly skilled assisted living facilities. Those are some of the hardest things I’ve ever done but the experiences have added a depth and richness to my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And as much as I have learned and will learn, I want to share with friends who are only beginning similar journeys.
Sweet Sleep… What a blessing this ministry is. It all started when I gave beds in honor of family for Christmas years ago. At the time, I prayed God would equip and use me; now I laugh and suggest I should have been more specific, perhaps less broad, with that prayer. I didn’t have the breadth of imagination to pray that God would invite me this far into His work. And now, I’m here at “such a time as this”, as a mentor recently said to me. Sweet Sleep, and its family preservation initiative, Heart For 1, is breaking new ground, while remaining loyal to its legacy. We’re responding to the complex challenges faced by Eastern European governments and we’re going deeper into the unreached villages of Northern Uganda and communities of Ethiopia, seeking ways to provide not only a bed for every head, but a family for every orphan.
We’re challenging the notion of what is sweet sleep. Is sweet sleep a child, rocking himself to sleep in an orphanage, not crying because no one will answer? Or is sweet sleep a child, resting in the security of a family, with parents who prayed over him as they tucked him in at night?
I cannot wait for 2015! God has been so faithful in showing His plan for this ministry. I’m prayerful for the Christian couples who will be trained to adopt this summer in Moldova, for the families in Ethiopia who will be equipped to start their own businesses, so they won’t have to abandon their children, and for the 2,500 HIV+ orphans in Northern Uganda who are waiting for beds that will protect them from diseases that could take their lives. I’m prayerful for the volunteers and missionaries who will participate in nearly a dozen Sweet Sleep mission journeys this year, to provide hope and Christ’s love to these beneficiaries. And I’m prayerful for the staff, leadership, and old friends who have been so very faithful to this ministry. It is so clear that God has called you here and I am thankful.
It’s my hope that within these pages we can share stories, we can know that others have gone before us, and have friends to hold our arms up. I pray that within these pages we can discover ways that God has called us to serve the least of these. I hope to cry together but even more so, to celebrate together. Because there’s so much life out there; it’s best to do it together.