Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Update

Merry Christmas! I pray that you and your family are having a blessed holiday season. I know that this time of year is so special to me--celebrating the birth of Christ and plenty of time with loved ones! I hope that despite the hectic holiday rush, you are able to take the time to truly reflect on all that Christmas means. One thing that I have been reflecting on is God’s goodness and faithfulness, but I’ve also been thanking Him for the faithfulness of all of the people that have prayed for me and supported me on this amazing journey called Liberia.

I wanted to take a minute to give you an update on all that has been going on with me and Liberia. As you might remember, I traveled to Liberia in the spring for three weeks. The whole story takes more than a few sentences, but I left Liberia having signed a three year lease on a house to be used for the community center! This was a huge leap of faith for me (I had no plans to sign a lease and had $150 in my pocket!) and is such a testament to God’s faithfulness and provision! 

I left Liberia with a renewed passion and vision for the community center and began the process of starting a non-profit organization. The process has been tedious, and I’m learning so much, and I cannot wait to have all of the paperwork complete! The name of my new ministry in Liberia is Red Meets Green. Red symbolizes Liberia’s past--death and bloodshed--while green symbolizes growth, life and hope. The community center will be a beacon of light in the Cooper Beach community and will provide Hope to so many Liberians who desperately need it.

Red Meets Green, Inc. is currently registered as a domestic non-profit corporation in Georgia, and our 501(c)3 tax-exempt papers have been submitted to the IRS. Even in the last few weeks, we have continued to make progress by having our first board of directors meeting and opening a bank account. What does all of this mean? It means that once the paperwork is approved by the IRS, all donations to Red Meets Green will be tax deductible! It also paves the way in Liberia to register as an NGO (non-governmental organization). 

As far as Liberia goes, we have a house waiting on us! The house will serve as the community center, as well as my personal home. We signed a three year lease, and have already paid the first year’s rent. The greatest need right now are the funds to pay for the remainder of the lease ($3,500 already raised!!!) so that the much needed repairs can begin. I hope to be able to travel back to Liberia in early 2014 to pay the remaining balance and oversee all of the work. I also will use the trip to gather quality photos and videos to use for fundraising, as well as to meet with community members and get the word out about what the center will offer the community.

The past six years in Liberia have been incredible! Time and time again God has provided exactly what was needed in His perfect timing, and so I’m trusting that He will provide again. Please consider partnering with Red Meets Green in 2014! Whether you give a one-time amount or want to make a monthly giving commitment, every donation matters! This truly is a team effort, and Red Meets Green cannot exist without the generous support of people who have a heart to see change and provide hope in Liberia. Please use the enclosed card to make a donation today!

Also, take a few minutes to connect with Red Meets Green and share us with your friends! You can contact me anytime at my new email:
Twitter (@RedMeetsGreen)

May you have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope and the peace of His love this Christmas and always! I am so grateful for your encouragement, prayers and support and join me in being expectant for all that God is going to do in this new year! Happy 2014!


Prayer Requests
  • That the IRS paperwork would be approved quickly (they are very behind); put on the top of the stack and no more information needed.
  • That God would raise up an army of prayer warriors in 2014!
  • God’s provision for financial needs--paying the remainder of the rent is only the beginning of upcoming expenses.
  • Opportunities to connect with new potential donors in the upcoming year.
  • The people of the Cooper Beach community, and everyone who will come to the community center--for God’s protection, provision and for good health. That God would prepare their hearts, even now, to experience His love in new ways through Red Meets Green.
  • Continued wisdom, discernment, direction and creativity with things like fundraising, expanding our circle, the website and social media outlets.
  • Everything that we do as individuals, and as Red Meets Green, would be done out of selflessness, service and love. And that above everything else, it will all be for His glory--in Liberia and in the U.S.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you had a day full of family, laughter, good food and thanksgiving. I know that my day consisted of those things. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the things that I’m thankful for. Topping the list were thing like: grace, forgiveness and my family. And then there were other things like clean drinking water, an education and access to healthcare. And then my mind drifted to a common prayer of thanksgiving in Liberia--”thank you God for life and breath.” Yes, God, thank you for life and breath.

But as I laid in bed this morning, thinking about things that I’m thankful for, my mind kept wandering away from the good stuff. I couldn’t help but think about the bad, hard and difficult. Times over the last few years where things seemed impossible, or I felt like I couldn’t take any more heartache. I thought about sickness, poverty, unfairness, loss and death. Faces of dearly loved friends, who have passed away without any explanation danced in my mind. Things that don’t or can’t make sense, or that prove just how much evil is in this world.

At first, I wanted to go back to the things--happy, good things--that I am incredibly grateful for. I wanted to celebrate with thanksgiving about God’s provision and protection. Or remember the miracles that have happened in my own life, or in the lives of those around me. But then God began to reveal something unexpected.

He began to speak to me about all of those bad, hard and difficult things. He began to whisper--be thankful for ALL things, because it ALL comes from Me. Once you make it through trying times, you eventually get to a place where you’re able to turn around and look back and see how God was present every step of the way. And that’s what I found myself doing this morning. Rejoicing in and thanking Him for the bad. I am able to see His presence in those difficult times. And I’m continuing to understand that He is always with me. And I’m continuing to believe that He does work all things together for our good. 

I am thankful for the difficult, hard and messy because I am continuing to learn that all of it is for my good and for His glory. I am able to find joy and thanksgiving, even when the good is missing. It’s a huge lesson to learn, but it’s also one that will wreck you and draw you closer to the Father at the same time. He is my good and faithful Father. And for that I am thankful!

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, November 18, 2013

Announcing My New Ministry--Red Meets Green!

Liberia, West Africa is a beautiful, lush country with a violent and bloody past. After fourteen years of brutal civil war, no Liberian went unaffected. Poverty, disease, orphans and widows, those are the stories of Liberia’s people. Just recently, Liberia celebrated ten years of peace, and the people are at a place where they can hope and dream again. However, they still face so many challenges in making those dreams come true.

After spending four years in Liberia working with orphanages, God began to do something new in my heart. He gave me a deep desire to minister to my neighbors--to empower them and to help them achieve their dreams--and to help preserve families. That’s where Red Meets Green was born. Liberia’s past is stained in red because of all of the bloodshed and death, but the people are desperate to encounter green---life, hope and Truth. The people of the Cooper Beach community experienced terrible things during the war, but also in the four years that I have lived there. They will now be provided with the opportunity to ‘meet green’ at a community center in their own neighborhood. Red Meets Green is my new ministry in Liberia, where a community center will serve as a beacon of hope. Through building relationships and serving the people, it is my prayer that anyone who comes to the community center will meet and know the hope that can only be found in Christ.
Cooper Beach Community
In order to meet people right where they are, we will begin by offering adult literacy classes, as well as tutoring, art and sports for children. The literacy classes will be the start of relationships, as well as helping to assess the needs of the community. Over time, we will expand to vocational and business training programs and anything else that the people need. Red Meets Green is about the life-change that can only happen because of God’s mercy and love, and how that change affects individuals, families, a community and a country.
The Green House Community Center
Your continued prayers and support are incredibly important to me and the ministry in Liberia. I am currently raising the needed funds to open the community center, and hope to be back in Liberia full-time in Spring 2014. If you would like to be a part of all that God is doing in Liberia, please contact me!

I will continue to use Love in Liberia for my personal communications, but everything else will be under Red Meets Green. Check out the Red Meets Green website ( to learn more and find out how you can get involved!

Prayer Needs:
- That God would miraculously put my Tax-Exempt papers on the top of the stack at the IRS and that there wouldn't be any problems processing the paperwork.
- Miraculous provision from our Jehovah-Jirah! The balance due on the rent is roughly $7,700 and I would love to see it come in before the end of the year! That's the first 'chunk' needed...but there are many financial needs after that.
- Wisdom and creativity when it comes to fundraising!
- That God would stir the hearts of people to pray, give, get involved and go.
- Divine appointments with people, companies and organizations that we can partner with.
- Personnel needs: CPA, photographer/videographer, graphic/web designer and fundraisers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day of the Girl

In case you didn't know, October 11th is International Day of the Girl Child. What is that, you ask? It's a day set aside by the United Nations to recognize girls' rights and the challenges girls face around the world. Today, people around the world are talking about the theme,"Innovating for Girls' Education".

From my time in Liberia, I have seen first-hand the challenges that girls face. Unimaginable things. Unfair things. Girls who desperately want to go to school. Women who are survivors of abuse and rape. Mothers who have beaten the odds and survived the birth of her children. Teens who so badly want to make a difference in their community and country. And yet, I've met so many young girls and women who are warriors--the strongest women I know! These girls are my heroes!

Liberia is full of beautiful, strong heroes, but there are still thousands and thousands of girls in Liberia (and millions worldwide) who continue to be trapped in the vicious cycle of living in a place where being born a female isn't a good thing. Take a look at a few statistics from Liberia:

It's because of girls like the ones above that fuel my passion to continue the work in Liberia! Jogma, in the middle, is one of my true heroes! She was a straight-A student who looked forward to going to college. In 11th grade, she found herself pregnant and kicked out of school because of it. She had her precious baby boy, Joshua, after four days of labor and started school less than 2 months after giving birth. She just completed her senior year and is enrolled in a nursing program at a local Bible college. Jogma wants to help herself and her family by continuing her education, but she dreams of helping her fellow Liberians as a nurse. She has also been a huge help and encouragement in helping my dreams come true in Liberia! Jogma is already planning on being heavily involved in the community center and I cannot wait to spend my days with her, teaching young girls how to sew and bake with plenty of laughter!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support during this transition and new chapter! I hope that you will continue in this journey with me--let's do it for the girls!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

30 Day Challenge Results

Thirty days ago, I gave a challenge to my family and friends. I challenged 30 people to donate $30 in celebration of my 30th birthday. If 30 people gave $30, it would cover two month's worth of rent for the community center.

You guys, I was blown away!
God is so good and He continues to provide!

Donations came in from: Georgia, Washington, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington DC, California and the Netherlands! Some people gave more than the $30. One friend wanted to give enough to cover a third month of rent for the community center!

So...the results went alittle something like this:
30 Days
24 Friends
15 Cities
$1,230 Raised
($900 was the goal)
3 Months of Rent Paid For
(1/4 of Year Two's Rent!)

I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift!

Every time you give, it is one step closer to getting back to Liberia and getting the community center up and running!

In other exciting news, I filed my Articles of Incorporation paperwork with the state of Georgia this past week! It will hopefully take about two weeks to hear anything, but you can be praying that the papers will be accepted and approved right away without any problems!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

School Supplies Needed!

As you begin your back-to-school shopping, I wanted to make you aware of an opportunity to get involved with the community center. I'm sure that within the next few weeks, you will stroll the aisles with your children looking for needed supplies. Stores are already running great sales on basic supplies--last week I picked up packs of erasers for 10 cents, and this week there are some great penny and dollar deals!

The community center in Liberia is in need of some supplies too! Listed below are some basic supplies that we will need in Liberia; many of these supplies cannot be found there, or are very expensive. Most of these supplies will be used on a daily basis, so we will always need these supplies on hand.

I have made lists in order of priority--high, medium and low. All of these supplies are needed, but if you're already picking up supplies on the 'high' list (or see the big back-to-school display at the front of the store), consider throwing a few extra into your cart for Liberia!

High Priority
- washable markers
- pencils
- erasers (pencil top & "the big pink block" kind)
- glue sticks
- colored pencils
- crayons
- handwriting paper (paper w/ red & blue lines)
- pencil sharpeners

Medium Priority
- scissors (child and adult sizes)
- Elmer's glue
- rulers
- ink pens
- watercolor paint sets
- craft paint
- paint brushes
- educational flash cards
- craft supplies (glitter glue, stickers, etc.)

Low Priority
- construction paper
- index cards
- loose leaf paper
- pocket folders

**We do not need any notebooks**

Also, you can always donate cash or gift cards (Target or Walmart are best) and I can pick up anything that's needed (I'm a bargain shopper, so every year I wait until school supplies are markdown and become a crazy lady and stock up at Target!)

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

The 30 Day Challenge

On July 8th, I will be celebrating my 30th birthday!
[Where has the time gone? Geez, I feel old.]

In celebration of my 30th birthday, I am asking my family, friends and total strangers to join together for the 30 Day Challenge!

What's the 30 Day Challenge?

It's simple!

I'm looking for 30 friends who want to give $30 to celebrate my 30th birthday!

I don't need anything for my birthday, but there's a community center in Liberia that needs lots of things! ALL of the money will go towards the community center!

If 30 friends donate $30, that will cover two months of rent. If more friends give, then that's more money towards the community center! Feel free to pass the challenge on to your family and friends! The more people that give, the sooner the community center can open its doors to serve the people of Liberia!

You can donate with cash, check or PayPal. Just let me know which method you prefer and I will pass on the appropriate information to you.

Ready, set, GO!

[P.S. This photo says it all--the road is long, and sometimes messy, but the journey is beautiful. And, the photo is a hint for what's to come!]

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday's Textiles

Today I'm featuring a few textile items that are for sale in the Good Gifts Market! Each item is made from traditional Liberian lappa fabric and created by local artisans in Liberia (except for the yellow purse, for which I'm the artisan). Maybe you need a gift for someone, or perhaps you just want to treat yourself. All of the proceeds go towards the community center!

To place an order, leave a comment or send me an email.

*Prices do not including shipping*
(but I use the most affordable shipping possible)

African Aprons: $20
Features pockets, a strap to go around your neck and a tie at the waist.
[Apron #1: two available]

[Apron #2: two available]

[Apron #3: two available]

[Apron #4: one available]

Shoulder Bags: $20
Zipper closer and inside pocket.

 [Shoulder Bag #1: one available]       [Shoulder Bag #2: one available]

Purse: $30
Magnetic closer and inside pocket.
[Purse #1: one available]

There are so many other great items available in the Good Gifts Market. All of the proceeds go towards the community center! Let's raise some money to pay the rent for year two and three!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

One Year.

12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 31,536,000 seconds. 

One year.

A year ago today marked the beginning of a new journey. A year ago today, I stepped off the plane from Liberia, excited to meet my five day old nephew. I was tired [exhausted] and ready to be home. But coming home was scary. I was leaving Liberia behind. I was walking away from the life I had known for the past four years, and stepping into unfamiliar territory. I was scared, alone, worried and unsure.

When I left Liberia, I knew that I would need the time, space and freedom to come home and rest. My bones were weary and my heart was heavy. I also knew that I needed time to grieve. I didn't know what that meant or looked like at the time, but I knew it was necessary. I knew that I needed time to curl up in a cocoon and hibernate. I needed the freedom to almost rediscover myself--who was I outside of Liberia and ORR?
It has been a long, painful and beautiful process. My cocoon has been my safe place. I've spent oodles of time with my family and loving on my nephew (who turned one last week!). I have explored my creative side and experienced new people and places. I have had time to recuperate, remember, heal and move forward. I have learned so much over this last year! But I think the most important thing that I've done is grieve...and forgive.

Through the help of a fantastic ministry called Restoring Your Heart, I have grieved my losses. I have also learned that I have to chose forgiveness--forgiveness is for me! I've grieved losing Liberia and the children who became my own children. I cried over losing the life I had known. I grieved lost expectations and hopes for the future. I've shed tears over the loss of life, the unfairness, injustice and hopelessness that has filled my life for the last six years. The hardest, and most important, thing that I did just a few weeks ago was forgive Liberia. I wrote a lengthy letter to Liberia, laying everything out there--telling her how she's hurt me, what she's stolen from me, the grief she's given me, and how she's impacted and changed me. I wasn't very nice--I told Liberia that I hated her!
I ended the letter by proclaiming Truth and forgiving Liberia. It's hard to forgive an entire country that has done so much damage, but the freedom that comes with that forgiveness is incredible! I actually had to read the letter to my small group, and it was very emotional--my heart was racing and there were tears--but as the words came out of my mouth, the heaviness lifted. Because I chose to forgive Liberia, I was able to move on. To get up out of the muck, and focus on the journey ahead. It nearly took a full year, but it was time to move on. [Maybe some other time, I will share pieces of my letter]

As days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, I am focusing on getting back to Liberia. I am still overwhelmed and fumbling around this whole "setting up a non-profit" thing. There is so much I don't know, yet I've already learned so much. The thoughts, ideas and dreams in my journal are fleshing themselves out and becoming a reality. I have a house in Liberia! I have so many friends praying for me, encouraging me and building me up! There are so many friends on the other side of the world anxiously awaiting my return. There is a community of people who don't even know what's coming and how their lives are going to change because of Love! Through it all, I know and believe that God is with me every step of the way! I know that He's guiding and orchestrating, even if I can't see it or feel it. I still feel like I'm storing up energy for what's to come, but I know that it. is. good.
Thank you so much to all of you that have been a part of this long and winding journey! God is my Strength, but you all are extensions of Him! I would greatly appreciate your continued prayers as I'm delving into the not-so-fun paperwork side of things. I'm still feeling out of my league, but God continues to give me clarity. I'm also aware that time is of the essence, adding alittle extra pressure...which is both good and bad. I'm just so ready to be back in Liberia living out my calling (well, I'm ready to be back with the people I love, and living each day purposefully...but I'm still enjoying home and all that comes with it!). If I'm totally honest, I'm not ready for all of the hardships that come with Liberia...just thinking about it makes me tired! But I know that God's timing is perfect and He will strengthen and equip me for all of it!

I was talking earlier today with my best friend about how it's been a full year since I left Liberia. Neither one of us could believe how fast time has gone by...and then I laughed and said, "I wonder where I'll be on June 5, 2014? Probably Liberia." Probably Liberia is right, but I'm trying my hardest to keep my gaze ahead, while living in the now.

My heart overflows with trust and thankfulness!
Expectant for all that is to come in this next year!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Coconut Jewelry Artist: John Gartau

John proudly displaying is work at the U.S. Embassy Craft Fair
The first Liberian artisan that I want to introduce you to is John Gartau. He is a kind-hearted, young spirited Papie that has been making jewelry from coconut shells for decades! He really is a master craftsman. John began experimenting with coconuts in 1967 and he has grown his business into a family business. His grandchildren enjoy helping him and he wants to pass on his skills to the younger generation. John can frequently be found roaming around near guesthouses and tourist beaches with his small black bag full of beautiful coconut creations.
 He enjoys sharing the creative process with shoppers, and ALWAYS has a huge smile on his face! 
Africa Earrings and Pendants
I have done alot of handi-craft shopping in Liberia, and I have never come across anyone else doing what John does. He uses mature coconut shells to make darker pieces, while younger coconuts provide the lighter pieces. John loves what he does, and he also desires to pass on his trade to the next generation so that it's not lost.. He is 70 years old [I know, doesn't look a day over 50!] and shared with me, as we sat on my front porch, that it's getting more difficult to crank out product with poor eyesight and more stubborn hands. I am hoping that he will do some training at the community center in the near future!
Cross Pendants
John will happily ship his beautiful jewelry anywhere in the world, and he also makes custom pieces. If you can't find what you're looking for in the Good Gifts Market, you can contact him at or +231-649-2853. 
Coconut Buttons!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Good Gifts Market

Wide selection of coconut jewelry.
 With great excitement, I'd like to announce the re-launch of the Good Gifts Market! If you're looking for a special gift for a loved one or you just want a piece of Liberia for yourself, look no further! The best part is that 100% of the proceeds go towards the community center in Liberia! It's a win-win...a beautifully hand-crafted gift from Liberia that changes lives!

The market is packed with things that I brought back with me on this last trip! Each item is carefully hand-selected from some of Liberia's most talented artisans. Whether you're looking for jewelry, wood carvings, textile items, dolls or home decor--the Good Gifts Market has it all!
New Amazing Grace inventory! Jewelry made from recycled glass bottles!
Please take a look at the official Good Gifts Market site, which will lead you to photos of the available products. We're still operating low-key, but I really hope that the market will grow to where we need a real shopping site! I will also feature artisans and their craft in future posts.

Aprons, bags and purses from traditional Lappa fabric!
Now go shopping for good gifts straight from Liberia...and change lives at the same time!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Momo's Story

Stories about Liberia.
Being a storyteller.
Being His storyteller.

Those are all things have been impressed on my heart over and over again throughout the last six years. I have always believed that God sent me to Liberia to listen to the stories, and to bring those stories back to America and share with others. This blog has been one of my outlets, and you all have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of stories. Some stories make us laugh, while others bring us to our knees in tears. I don't always have the right words [or enough words] to say, and that's when I pray that the story  will simply be heard. Today I want to tell you another story.

This is Momo.
[Soko, Momo, Zinnah, Marthalyn, Small Ashley, Yatta and Naomi in front of their house]

If you have heard any of my stories, then I'm sure that you have heard about Momo. He is ORR's chief security guard, but really he is so much more than that! We call each other 'best friend'--we share secrets and clothes--no joke! We can tell each other anything, we can spend hours giving each other a hard time and we do alot of laughing! His family is my family--we've experienced birth, graduations, marriage, death and everything in between together.
[Momo and Marthalyn with Soko and Yatta on their wedding day]
When I lived in Liberia, Momo would come to my bedroom window every morning and greet me with, "Morning Asslee." If you know anything about me, you know that I'm so not a morning person...but Momo's 7am greeting was always acceptable. In the States, I have a post-it note beside my clock that says, "Morning Asslee," which serves as my pseudo-Momo greeting.
Momo is also the best example of a true servant. I have never met someone who tirelessly serves, comes running at anytime of the day or night, always has a smile on his face and literally puts his life on the line for others. He is also the best example of dedication, loyalty and joy! Momo has seen and experienced more than most of us could ever imagine, yet he has this uncontainable joy and child-like spirit. He really is the best!

[One big happy family with constant laughter]
Momo lives in a small two room house [that isn't his, has no bathroom or water source, and his children sleep on the floor] with his wife Marthalyn, along with his son (Soko), sister-in-law (Naomi), and daughters (Zinnah and Small Ashley). His other daughter (Yatta) lives in the neighborhood with their Auntie. He does whatever he can to provide for his family, but it's not easy! After he does his best to 'put food on the table' [they don't have a table], there's school fees, medical bills, diapers for a newborn baby, and clothes and shoes to take care of. It's a struggle!
[Momo and Marthalyn on the beach together]
I could write an entire book on Momo--he's a constant source of entertainment and full of Yoda-like quotes--but I'm sharing this brief story today because I'm asking for your help. Momo's family is packed into a small two room house that they don't own. Momo has always dreamed about having a place of their own, and I have always dreamed of doing my part to help them. Momo doesn't know how much longer they will be able to live in their current place, and is trying to purchase land and start the process of building a home for his family.

[Me and Momo with our one tomato]
Momo's story is a common one in Liberia--a devoted husband and father with so many needs and no opportunity to get ahead in life. Momo and his family are my family. He's been a driving force behind the community center (he did all the leg-work to find a place and I can't wait until he can learn how to read and write through our adult literacy classes!). He's the hardest working, most honest and most full of pure happiness person that I've ever met! Him and his family deserve this!

If you would like to be a part of Momo's story, please contact me. ANY donation amount is greatly appreciated--whether it's $5 or $50, it all adds up! I am just trying to do my part--to tell Momo's story and enable others to get involved. And of course, if you are unable to give, you can always pray for Momo and his family!

Will you please help me make Momo's dreams come true?!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I have a problem when it comes to unpacking. I've been home for four days now, and my floor is still covered in the contents of my suitcase. Last night jet lag hit me hard. I woke up this morning and felt exhausted, and now that it's 4:30pm, I'm still in my pjs and my head feels fuzzy while my body thinks it's living an an alternate universe. Combine that with the reality of being back at home, and all the while, Liberia almost feels like a dream.

Sometimes when I get home, unpacking is quick and easy. The evidence of my travels disappears soon after I walk in the door. Other times, the evidence lays strewn about my room for weeks, serving as a reminder of where I came from. I step over my passport or lay in bed and stare at my lime green suitcase that has yet to be returned to the attic. And I wonder if the last three weeks were simply a dream.

Physically, I'm not quite at 100%. There are foggy moments and my body feels drained. And then there are moments when everything seems normal and I'm fully present. I've gone through the stage of talking someone's ear off and being so excited about everything that God did while I was in Liberia. And then there's that stage where you just want to be left alone and you want life to be quiet and still. I left Liberia with so much motivation and with a renewed fire in my bones. It's hard to find that fire today when I'm not quite sure if I'm awake or asleep and I just don't want to do anything. And then I have periods of intense thinking, brainstorming and dreaming. The fire is there, I just need the jet lag to pass.

And then I make lists and think about everything that's going to be required from here on out...and my head can easily start to spin. So then I pull on the reigns, and focus on what needs to be done.

What needs to be done now? Unpack, rest and lose the fuzzyheaded feeling. Remember and reflect upon the last three weeks. Be thankful. Spend time with my family. Kiss my nephew so much that he gets annoyed. Continue to dream about the green house. Enjoy the sunshine. Eat alot of salad. Continue to be in awe of what April in Georgia looks like--I feel like I'm living in Planet Earth--because I haven't experienced this is five years! Soak it all in.

I would absolutely love your prayers! You can pray for adjustment and also for strength, energy and rest. I know I'm about to start sprinting, so right now I'm storing up energy. There is so much that needs to be done--so much paperwork and accounting and lists and planning and sorting and problem solving and networking and brainstorming and figuring and talking and praying--and it's going to be a team effort! I will continue to share more of the dream, prayer requests and needs and I hope that you'll join me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


It's difficult for me to sit here tonight and even begin to tell the story of the last three weeks. Words don't seem sufficient and I continue to shake my head and thank God. I feel like I've been away from all things America for a long time, yet I feel like my time in Liberia has been incredibly short [it's that weird Liberia time warp thing]. When I left Atlanta three weeks ago, I had no idea how things (and my life) would change!

I carried huge dreams here with me and wanted to do 'safe things' like window shop and do some market research. I had no intention to buy, that's for sure! As I waited in the bank for more than an hour this morning, I was sweating because none of the four air-conditioners were turned on. I was also nervous. Nervous to have to stand in front of a room full of people and count out over $4,000. Nervous because I knew what this money meant--a total life surrender. And today, I put a stack of 20 and 50 dollar bills down on a homemade cement table on the front porch, and slid it across, along with my life, for the next three years.

But for some strange reason, in that moment, the nervousness was nowhere to be found. In one sentence, I said something about "my house"...and then I could only think, "is this really happening?!" God provided the resources for me to come here. He knew I would find the green house. He knew that I was going to ask people to give. And He knew that people were going to be moved to give more than what was needed! He knew it all!

And little 'ole me had worry and doubt. It was easy to start second guessing. But, it was also easy to cling tightly to promises and remind myself of truths. I never imagined that I would be leaving Liberia with a place to call home for the next three years. I never dreamed that it would be a fixer-upper with so much potential. I found myself dreaming even bigger dreams just from walking through the house. I could see past the pepto-bismol pink walls in the living room and the trash-littered front yard. I could see a peaceful and welcoming garden with plenty of space for lives to change. I could see it all!

And so tonight, as I listen to the constant sound of waves crashing on the shore outside of my window, I am so incredibly grateful! I am thankful that God continues to provide! I am thankful that I'm able to leave Liberia even further ahead in this thing than what I expected. I am so grateful to the people who read my words, caught the vision and gave from their hearts! I feel your prayers and encouragement, but more importantly, I feel God's presence so immensely. He is here!

I am rejoicing, but I also know that the next leg of the journey has only begun. I am leaving Liberia ready to come home and tell the stories and share the dream. I'm going to be a fundraising fool! I need two more years worth of rent...and then there are things like setting up a home and creating a community center...all of which require resources. If I think about it too much, it makes my head spin. So I'm taking it one step at a time...and I'm warning you now that I'm going to need you with me every step of the way. Actually, I am inviting you to join the journey. This is one story that you want to be a part of!

I failed to realize that I celebrated my six year Liberia anniversary while I've been here...and the story continues! Thank you to everyone who has continued to be a part of the story! The story, God's story,
is only beginning!

Love in Liberia,

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Things to Think About...

[My favorite place to think!]
Sometimes, you just need to think. You know what I mean?

One thing that I've learned about Liberia is that it is near impossible to find peace and quiet. Which makes it hard to think sometimes. I typically find myself thinking on the beach (when nobody is around...which is hard to come by sometimes) or in the shower. Yes, I said it.

I've been trying to think all day, but haven't found the time, space or amount of silence to think. So that's where I found myself tonight. Thinking about the dichotomies of this country in the shower.

How can you never be by yourself, but feel alone? How can your day so quickly take a turn? How can life look so different when we're all people created by God? These are the things I ponder.

There was nothing super spectacular about today, and there was also nothing terrible. The weather was good--not too hot, and a nice breeze--and I went about my day with a fair amount of ease. But there were moments that made me stop.

When I opened my front door this morning, and looked across the Atlantic. Breathtaking views, mighty waves, that salty breeze. Absolutely beautiful. This is my happy place.

And then you venture out onto the highway...the place where life happens. So many people, colors, sounds and smells. Women selling produce, babies taking baths, children walking to school.

A few hours later and I'm heading to an orphanage. My most favorite place in this country on a Friday afternoon--under the mango trees at Frances Gaskin.

But between leaving the house and driving less than 10 miles, there was alot to take in. Things to process and think about. Decisions to make. And that's when memories of my previous life in Liberia came rushing back.

You stop quickly at an orphanage to drop off some medicine. For a child that's burning up with fever. That nobody's taken to the clinic. And he's been this way for two weeks. He looks pitiful and you feel conflicted. You want to fix. Make things better and right. But you know that there has to be a sense of responsibility. You ask yourself if you're helping or hurting. You give money for the clinic, ask that he be taken in the morning, see the body language of someone who could care less, and climb back in your truck and drive away. It doesn't make sense, but you know you did the right thing.

You drive a few miles and see a crowd gathered on the side of the road in the distance. I've decided that a scene like this makes my heart stop. And today my heart stopped. You get closer and see the mangled motorbike lying in the middle of the road. And through the crowd of people you see a pair of white cloth shoed feet not moving. Thanking God that you can't see anything beyond that, but you hold out your hand and say aloud a prayer, "Jesus, Jesus, please be with that boy and don't let him be dead." And my stomach twists. And I take a deep breath. And we keep driving.

Within a few minutes, I'm at the orphanage, under the plum trees, baking with the girls. There is laughter, licking batter bowls and talk about the future. So much joy and contentment. I want to take a snapshot of every moment to carry home with me and pull out whenever I'm missing Liberia. Plums falling, dogs licking my butter covered toes, the charcoal burning in the coal pot that will bake our banana cakes, and just sharing life together.

Then I sit down with the director to talk about a missing child. Oh, my daughter Lucky. This home is not the same without her. My Liberia is not the same without her either. I've been praying for her for months, and praying in faith that I would come to Liberia and find her. And then there was that moment with the director when my heart dropped. When I realized that I won't be seeing Lucky while I'm here. And when my brain begins to comprehend that I might not ever find her. I hold it together, but tonight my tears fall. This is one of those hard moments, when you have to fully trust God and truly believe that He watches over each and every one of His children.

Tonight as I washed away the day's dirt, I was thinking about all of this. I asked God why things happen the way that they do. I asked God why He chose me to come here. Why Liberia? Why not somewhere safe, familiar, with my family, easy or comfortable? Why do I have to figure out how to operate in a place where things don't make sense, life is difficult, reality is harsh, faith is stretched, darkness breaks through, but Light overcomes?

And that's when God began to answer: I make sense. I am safe. I am with you. I chose you. I have equipped you. Delight in me, as I have delighted in you. I am the Living Water; your daily bread. I make all things new, and my mercies are new every morning. Joy comes in the morning. 

And I wash. And ask God for a clean heart and a clear mind. And I hold on to His promises.

I don't know why it's me, or why it's here. But I know that God's plans are the absolute best. And that's where I want to be--right in the middle of His good and perfect will.

And then it begins to make sense. That is why it is me. And that is why it is here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Green House and His Story

I'm showing you this picture tonight, because it's the next chapter of the story.

I've spent the last week playing House Hunters International (Monrovia, Liberia style), and it's been quite the educational experience. I've looked at everything from a brand-new, HUGE and beautiful 5 bedroom home to a simple two room row house. I've walked through empty spaces and envisioned and dreamed--laughter, learning, life together.

And then entered "the green house."

This house has 3 bedrooms/3 bathrooms, a living room, both an indoor and outdoor kitchen, a one car garage, a big palava hut (with bathroom), a huge and awesome yard, a generator house and a water tower (running water!!). It is right across the highway and one block back from the ORR house, so it's in the perfect location! And, compared to everything that I've looked at, the price is right! Also, Momo has known the owner since he was a little boy and vouches for the man, which speaks volumes!

Leasing in Liberia works alittle differently than in the States, so it's making things alittle complicated. You typically pay a full year's rent up front, but the owner has requested that I pay 6 months rent before I leave Liberia. This would guarantee that the place is mine. Then he wants the balance of the first year's rent in a decent amount of time after I get home. The house needs some work (and some deep cleaning!), but the rent money would go towards the repairs. With a one year lease, he will paint and clean the inside and outside, send in a gardener (it's like a out-of-control tropical garden!) and fix small things. If I sign a two year lease, he will replace the zinc roof with good quality zinc. If I sign a three year lease, he will use that money to complete the cement block fence (the back and one side are fenced, but the entire perimeter has a thick bamboo 'fence'). 

Please join me in praying about the green house being THE perfect place...God's perfect place! I have been talking alot with God, and I've asked Him to provide the finances for the half year rent before I leave Liberia. God has already surprised me--I have over 4 months of rent already spoken for! I need $750 more dollars...and nine days for God to do His thing!
Would you consider giving $5, $20, $50 or $100...or perhaps you'd like to give to cover a full month's rent?!

I'm asking Him for provision. I'm asking Him for miracles. I'm asking Him for BIG.

If you would like to make a donation, please leave a comment or email me! 
If you can't give now [don't worry, the rest of the first year's rent will be needed shortly], please just continue to pray that God's dream will become a reality here in Liberia!
[I'm trying to coordinate things so that only one money wire will be needed.]

Thank you all for being a part of THIS story! 
HIS story!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Joe's Smile

This is my friend Joe.

He's 12 years old.

He has the most incredible smile, and his laughter is infectious.

When I last saw Joe, he was in tears, and I was giving him the best pep talk I could muster. You see, they were removing Joe from the boarding school he had been attending to send him back to his family in the interior. He had only been at the boarding school for one year, and prior to that, he had been living in one of the worst orphanages in Liberia. He loved his school, and loved his friends even more. I remember trying to reassure him as much as possible--I kept telling him that I knew he was strong and that everything would be ok--even though I feared the situation he was going back to, and I thought I might not ever see him again. It broke my heart. And Joe went back to the bush.

One year later.

After some conversations, phone calls and alittle bit of money, Joe's family agreed to let him return to the boarding school.

I was reunited with Joe today. I couldn't wait to see him and his incredible smile!
We sat in the palava hut for at least 15 minutes, just the two of us talking. He told me about how his mother and father were old now (54 and 58), and that his siblings were 'big-big' so he was left to help out his parents. He talked about how he worked on the farm everyday and how his hands were 'getting too rough.' Joe spent a year in the bush, day in and day out, doing back-breaking work in the hot sun. And he wasn't in school. And he wasn't in school when he was living in the orphanage either.

Joe left the boarding school having finished 1st grade, and today he's in 3rd grade. He's so smart that even though he missed his 2nd grade year, he totally skipped the 2nd grade upon his return! He is incredibly smart and loves learning! He asked me questions and we talked about how he's one of the older children now so that means he has more responsibilities. We talked about how 'with position comes responsibility' and that the smaller children need to look up to a good man and not a bad man. He laughed and smiled. And sat up alittle taller.

Joe is what it's all about! Hope. Lost and found. Laughter. Joy.
Joe with his friends, George and Emmanuel.
When I first met Joe, he was starving, sick and his skin was covered in fungus. But he never lost his smile, or that fire in his eyes. I told him today that I knew he was strong from the beginning, and that his smile always makes me smile.

He smiled. And I smiled.

We sat on the ledge and held hands. He's 12, but not so cool that he won't hold my hand. I'm sure that will go, and then he probably won't want to be caught dead hanging out with me. But for now, for today, I sat and enjoyed every second.


And for comparison sake, look how far Joe, Emmanuel and George have come: