Main Pic.

Main Pic.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The poverty of being Unwanted...

"The feeling of being unwanted, unloved, or uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this poverty" - Mother Teresa
I refuse to turn a blind eye to the needs of the unwanted because I believe that we can eradicate this great poverty. It starts in our own homes, in our own lives, in our conversations. Join me as we make a shift from unwanted to wanted, uncared for to cared for, unloved to loved. Purchase a t-shirt and help remedy this great poverty amongst refugees. These precious ones are wanted and we have the chance to show them that they are! 
Read more about the vision behind "Wanted" in the blog post below! 

I'll be placing the first order this weekend! So go the right of your screen right now and order! (if you are using the mobile view you may have to switch it to web view to see order button)  Shirts are now $20 or 2 for $30 and tanks are $25. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

WANTED: Going from unwanted to a place of belonging

The concept is quite simple, everyone wants to be wanted. We want to feel like we have a place to belong and we want to know that there are people who care about us. But while we all strive for this belonging, we are quick to refuse others what we want so desperately.

So how does this apply to refugee relief? Well let's think about this for a second. The refugee crisis our world is facing today has become a major news platform, it has impacted political decisions, and it has become a source of enormous fear in our society. But we have forgotten entirely that the refugee crisis is not a political issue, its a human issue. These people are mothers, brothers, children, doctors, friends, teachers, mechanics, students. They are real people who at their core want the same thing we want, to feel wanted. And yet, our world has in essence turned our back and refused to see them as people but more as a problem that no-one wants around and no-one wants the responsibility to fix.

So my question, is what if we as individuals, not affiliated with any government or political party, changed the way we viewed the refugee crisis? What if we changed our verbiage and refused to act in ignorance or fear? What if we decided to see refugees as people in need of a helping hand that doesn't look upon them with disdain but with love and acceptance? What if we choose to see the human behind the news headline?

How can do you do this? Well you can become informed. You can research and understand what is happening in this world. You can choose to see beyond the problem to the person. You can give, of your time, your finances, and your prayers. You can buy a cool T-shirt!

Add your order to your cart. Choose "continue shopping" to add additional shirts.

You can choose from the two designs on either a unisex soft tee or a women's tank. One time shipping fee of $5 no matter how many shirts you order.

Buy purchasing a "Wanted" shirt you are supporting refugee relief work in Turkey. Proceeds go to benefiting my personal work and efforts on behalf of the church in Turkey to bring relief to refugee communities in need. 

Refugee Efforts your purchase will benefit:
  • Transportation
  • Children's Programs
  • Donation management and distribution
  • Administrative needs
  • Food, Clothing, medical needs, etc. 

The first 100 shirts sold, or the first $1000 raised in efforts with the "Wanted" campaign will go directly to work I will be doing with refugees in Turkey. This will help cover transportation costs, special projects, kids programs, etc.

It is my hope that this idea will take off and we will be able to raise awareness and funds for refugee relief that goes far beyond my personal work. You are the first to hear of this campaign but my hope is that it will not end with you. My prayer is that when you wear your shirt you start a conversation that will start a movement to change the way we think about the refugee crisis. That we would literally change our perspective from "we don't want to deal with this" to "We want to help refugees find a place of belonging again".

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How about tea?

In August I had a conversation. In September I had a heart change. In October I had an encounter. For months I prayed. In April I had an invitation. In May I had tea.

Who knew the fire that a cup of tea could light? Who knew the one it could put out?

With just a small cup of tea, passion was birthed, burden was felt, and fear was quenched. But the real sweetness did not come from the four scoops of sugar that were heaped into the tiny glass; in fact it did not come from the tea at all. It came from the moment, the moment when friendship was somehow created from the merging of a world of privilege and safety with that of total uncertainty and unimaginable fear.

In a single moment, friendship changed my story.

They call them the nation of the displaced. The stateless. They are spoken of in generalizations as if they are not mothers, brothers, friends, people. They have become the issue that needs an answer instead of the sister who needs a friend. Debates, so hot they could boil water…it’s a shame, if only they could make tea.

It’s truly amazing the sharing of tea. It’s the life stories, games of tag, wedding photos, kickball matches, bracelet making, hair braiding, song singing, hopes prayed, tea drinking, and eggplant eating moments. It’s sharing life around a glass of tea.

Since I left that tea drinking culture, I have ached for those moments. Oh to sit and have tea again. Because there is power in the sharing of life and struggle. There is deep kinship created in just a few moments. There is conversation that has the power to shape eternity. I long for those moments. I long for a displaced people to know the place of belonging. I refuse to be quiet about those moments because eternity rests in moments of shared tea.

The needs are great, but the greatest need can only be met in the place of shared tea, in the place of friendship. The greatest need is that of love and support and conversation. The greatest need is to learn to live again.

My heart and mind has been stuck around the teacup since last May and now it’s time to return. I have the deep honor and opportunity to go have tea again. This time in a different city, with different tea drinkers, from different nations, with the same expectation. To go, to love, and to drink tea.

This June I will be moving to spend a year in Turkey. I have the honor of joining an amazing team and loving a city that has a timeless beauty aging back to Acts 13.  I will again have tea with the displaced and learn to share life with them. I hope to be able to partner with efforts to bless the refugees in the area and use my experiences and passion to broaden the work that is being done already.

Through becoming a student of language and culture, I am thrilled to start a new adventure. One that undoubtedly will create spaces, like the moment over shared tea, that will shape eternities and change lives, mine simply being the first.

Come and join this journey. If you would like to sow into this year just click the donate button on the right. You can even become a monthly partner but making your gift reoccurring. Let’s watch and see how a cup of tea can change our lives, because I promise yours will never be the same.

Feel free to email me with more questions about becoming a partner or more details about my plans. (

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mourning Goodbyes

I have heard it many times. This life path I am choosing. This taking Him at His word and going. This persistent reluctance to settle. This saying "here I am...send me." This beautiful adventure is filled with many things but mostly goodbyes.

I've sat through classes where a visiting lecturer living in the furthest corner of the world would speak of great adventures and miraculous encounters. They would speak of the great rewards. But also the great goodbyes. This commitment to going comes with a great commitment to goodbyes.

There is a difference between acceptance and enjoyment. I did not realize this difference until recently. I have said a lot of goodbyes and if we are being honest they have not all been graceful. Just ask the kind Malawian man who slowing handed me his crackers on our flight leaving that tiny African nation. This gesture was his nonverbal effort to ease the sobs coming from the crazy white girl he got stuck sitting next to.

It's almost become humorous. I convince myself that this goodbye, I'll do better. Then as I feel the lump in my throat thicken I attempt to force my growing emotions to subside. I almost always fail. I sob. On airplanes, on I-10 North...and South, on trains, on buses full of strangers, basically on any transport you can imagine. This oh so familiar throat lump that no matter how hard I try nearly never goes away. I fail at not feeling.

And each time I fail and the tears flow and my heart deeply feels the goodbye, I subconsciously lessen myself. Degrade that weak emotional girl that just can't seem to stay strong. How dare I not enjoy the sacrifice? He has called you away. You am walking in obedience. Why am are you mourning? Oh you weak one, suck it up and rejoice for this is the day the Lord has made. I sale myself sort on account of uncontrollable emotions. If I am called to a life of goodbyes, each time I fail at feeling them, I count myself out. I can't do this. I can't continue this way. Oh weak little girl if you could just get over it, this would be so much easier for us.

But...since when did sacrifice become easy. Since when did my emotions become irrelevant. Since when did God tell me to stop feeling. Because if I stop feeling then I have quit loving.

But still how can I manage this if I am called to goodbyes and goodbyes ruin me.

Paul. Oh Paul. The great "Go-er". He who counted his life as nothing. He who gave everything for the sake of the call. Surely He was a great sayer of goodbyes. He was strong, sure of his call. He rejoiced in suffering.

Acts 20. Paul says goodbye. With eloquence and assurance. He loved the Ephesians but he, walking in obedience said goodbye. He encouraged his dear friends. And he left...but what's this? "And there was much weeping on the part of all"(vs. 37)

 First there was mourning.

Mourning? They wept? They embraced? They were sad? Paul and the Ephesians were not hindered by their feelings but they allowed them to be felt. The overflow of their love for each other was manifested in tears wept. Paul did not stay because it hurt but he didn't leave before he created space to feel the hurt. He allowed time for the sacrifice to be mourned and then he gladly left.

As believers, whether being sent to the far corners, or to the door next to ours, we all will experience this. We are not created to be kept secure and never feel the pain of leaving. We say goodbye everyday to something. Most of the time the goodbyes lead to great new hellos. But God, in His great gentleness, allows us to feel the pain of a goodbye, to mourn over a season apart. We can surely rejoice in a sacrifice and mourn in it all at the same time.

So next time my throat lump makes an appearance, I will allow it to emerge. Feeling not weak but balanced. Knowing that mourning doesn't mean despising and rejoicing doesn't mean ignoring. And I will thank the Father who created my heart to feel. Because if there wasn't great love than goodbyes would be easy. As the words of the great Winnie the Pooh, "I am grateful that I have those that make saying goodbye so hard".

Thank you Father, I am grateful for the great love that causes hard goodbyes. I'll say goodbye for You as many times as You lead. I'll feel the pain of separation for the sake of unity with You. I'll willingly mourn as I disembark so that others can embark on journey of saying Hello to You. Teach my heart to mourn well. To feel everything to the degree that you desire. But may I never allow my feelings to interrupt my going. May my mourning never cause me to quit. But rather would it thrust me towards the "Far, far better things ahead".

Friday, January 29, 2016

Meeting Chikondi

Several months ago I made a decision that would permanently mark me for the rest of my earthy days. I did not make it lightly, but instead considered it and debated it for months, well actually years. And as I lay on the plastic table and watched a total stranger etch into my skin the word that hard marked my life since the first time I stepped out of my normal American adolescence and into a joyous village on the other side of the world, I had such a peace.

Now I don’t know your opinion on tattoos and to be frank, I won’t be asking you. Not because I don’t value insight and wisdom, but because I did not mark myself with this name for you. I did it for me. I did it as a constant reminder to myself of who I am and what I have been called to do.

I have been called by Love, to love, and to be loved. I have been called Chikondi.

I choose Chikondi, because it was in Malawi that I first learned what love looked like. I watched love in action. I learned how to be loved and how to let my Beloved love me.  Chikondi marked me long before I put the word on my arm.

I knew chikondi, but two weeks ago I met Chikondi.

I have been around Mtendere Village long enough now to recognize immediately when there is a new face in the sea of children running around.  It’s not only that I know all the other faces so a new one stands out, but it’s also the look on their faces. They are a bit more hesitant than the others to run up to the Azungu visiting, but yet they are curious. They are experiencing so much for the first time; family, health, community, school, a full stomach. Chikondi’s face said all of this and much more.

Chikondi was always around. He would come to my porch anytime the other little boys came over to ask to play Temple Run on my phone or carry my torch or Bible to evening devotions. He stayed towards the back of the group for the first few days but his eyes were always so present. He watched me and I noticed.

It wasn’t until one night as we were watching Narnia on the projector in the hall that  it hit me why he was watching so closely. Jaziel, my sponsor son and the love my of my life, had cuddled up next to me for the movie and leaned into my chest as I scratched his back. This was a rare, yet familiar moment. Three years ago you would not have been able to find Jazzy anywhere but by my side, but as he is getting older he has to keep his manly distance, which I respect and only force so many hugs a dayJ So it was as I shared this moment of affection with my son that Chikondi watched in wonder. He slowly etched closer and closer until he was sitting next to Jazzy watching us instead of the movie. When I reached over Jaz and started to scratch Chikondi’s back his eyes widened even further.

This one was named after the very thing he most desired and yet rarely knew. He longed for the affection of love. Chikondi is learning what it feels like to be safe and secure at Mtendere. I do not know what his life was like before October when he arrived to his new home but I can imagine that it was not identified with the same characteristics that define it now. He is making friends and growing strong. He is learning English and being taught by one of the sweetest teachers. And in a moment when all I did was outstretch my arm to practice the word that is written on it, He learned what it was like to be cherished.

I have forgotten what it was like to be Chikondi, so in awe of the love that is offered to me that I stand amazed eagerly waiting for a touch that screams I am chosen and desired. I don’t stand in awe of it anymore. I am more like Jazzy. I lean into the comfort of a love that I know is securely mine. I have forgotten that I was once orphaned and alone. I too was once unfamiliar with how to receive love, much less give it. But my Father, marked with the name Love, stretched out his arm and welcomed me to lean in a little closer and He called my name.

A few days later right before I left to come back to America, I called Chikondi’s name. This time he did not hesitate. He ran right up to me and in his eyes I saw something different. He recognized me, and he no longer felt uncertain on whether I knew him or wanted him. He knew when I called his name that he was immediately welcomed and loved. And as I switched on my phone to take the obligatory selfie, his eyes lit up with love and his smile shook my heart.

I saw a transformation in Chikondi over the two weeks I got to spend with him. But it wasn’t because of anything I did. I simply spent two weeks loving a place that has become so easy and familiar to love. But God wasn’t gonna let me become too familiar with love, because love is abnormal and it goes against our rational thinking to change us. I want to live my life sitting in awe watching as Love pours out and then in turn stretch out my arm to love.

God showed me Chikondi, not only so that I could love him, but also so that I could relearn what it’s like to meet Love for the first time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Understanding and Knowing

A lot of people have been asking me about how I feel about the refugee crisis and the world's response...I'm not sure what they are expecting me to say. Even more, I'm not sure they want to hear what I would say.

There is line between understanding and knowing. Understanding involves knowing all sides of the argument and then, in your knowledge, deciding on an opinion. There are a lot of people who are much smarter than me and they have the intel and knowledge to understand the refugee crisis. They know the answers to how welcoming in thousands of refugees can impact the economy of a community and how well or how flawed the vetting process is. They understand the risks and they comprehend the barriers. They see the benefits and the potential disasters and then, and only then, do they make an opinion. These individuals who understand, I believe they have a right and a responsibility to share their understanding and to share their opinion.

I am not one of these people. And if we are being really honest, most of the people reading this right now aren't either. I am not a politician or economic specialist.  I watch BBC, CNN, and other various news outlets, but I am in no way a foreign policy maker. I do not understand all the components of the refugee crisis, so my opinion is flawed.

But then there are those who know....

The moment we climbed out of our van in south east Turkey I became one who knows.

I know the refugee crisis because I know the refugees. It's easy to have a well developed opinion when it comes out of understanding but all of that washes away when you are sitting on the floor of a tent sharing tea and stories, and you suddnely realize that you have crossed over...this situation has just become personal.

I remember sitting and praying that the lice I saw in the little girls hair next to me weren't in the comb that was currently being stroked though my long curls as I allowed a 7 year old girl to practice her beauty shop skills on my recently shampooed hair. I remember asking my friend to translate as I learned her name and favorite pastimes. I remember when he stopped translating enough to tell me that her dad was killed by "the bad guys" when they were fleeing just a few months prior to our meeting. It just got personal, I now know.

I remember laughing with my sweet friend as we practiced simple English phrases and talked about her engagement to the man of her dreams. I remember seeing the look in her eyes when I asked where he was and when she would see him again. I remember the hurt that came when she said he fled before her and she didn't know when they would be reunited. He made it into Europe and she only dreamed of making it back to him. It just got personal, I now know.

I remember honoring a strong mother who somehow was able to escape captivity with her family. She dressed in dark colors because not all of her children made it. I remember being astonished when I discovered she came and led her family on her own because he husband had immigrated before the conflict. I remember the hope in their eyes as they spoke of being reunified with him again soon. I remember just yesterday when I saw that the very state they were to be reunified to turned red on the 'states not accepting refugees' map on CNN. It just got personal, I now know.

So for those of you that keep asking me to share my opinion. I don't have one. But I do have friends and I do have stories and I do have memories. So I may not understand the entire situation enough to formulate a proper political opinion, but I do know and I'll share what I know. I know that those I sat and had tea with are terrified people who's lives have been interrupted by a conflict so grand that the world cannot stop watching. They are fleeing the very thing that we spend hours debating on, and they are my friends. So I guess I do know how I feel about the refugee crisis. Do you? Because once that switch turns and it becomes personal, it is no longer opinions, it's lives.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Momma's Meeting Mommas:)

I was 16 the first time I ever went to Africa. I jumped on a plane and headed to Malawi with very little international experience and no idea that it would become a place I would return to year after year.  I fell in love with the country and it became part of me. 

I’d come home and share stories of Jazzy (our sponsor child), prayer requests, tons of dirty clothes, endless tears, and the occasional stow away spider from my suitcase pocket, and my mom would listen. As she listened to my stories and followed the lives of my Malawi family, they became her family too. She would ask about them and recognize their faces in photos. Even then I believe, God was preparing us for this moment.

I’ve wanted my mom to go with me to Malawi since the beginning.  You see, it’s her (and Dad’s) heart for the orphan that was instilled in me at a very young age.  Our family began foster care when I was 6 years old.  I saw my mom love on child after child that were not of her womb, and over time adopt some of those precious ones. 

This is why I go and do…it’s all I know. 

So, I continued to travel to Malawi and it began to become my second home and family.  I would tell my Mtendere mommas all about my Mom.  They prayed for our family during some very hard times and rejoiced with us in answered prayers. My families began to love each other from across the ocean.  I continued to pray that one day circumstances would line up for all of my Mommas to meet and these two families would become one.  

Well, the waiting is over…Mom is coming to Malawi with me!!

So here we go. Mom and daughter taking on Africa…full on anticipation and excitement for such a time as this!  We are going to Malawi and we are going soon. This December as the rest of the world is still cleaning up the wrapping paper and pine needles from the living room floor, we will be boarding a plane to spend 10 days in a place that has meant so much to our family for so many years. We will get the honor to visit Malawi at a time of the year when visitors do not typically go. Mom and I will get to spend time encouraging and pouring into the mommas and kiddos at a time that they would not usually receive it.

So here is the plan- Graduation, move out of my apartment, go home for Christmas, jump a flight to Malawi, come home, and figure out the rest of my life (hopefully a job will be lined up soon after). It’s crazy but there is no better way that I could think of to end this chapter of my life and start another.

We are so excited about the potential that our time in Malawi will have. We are already planning and praying. We are excited to usher in the New Year with our Malawian family and to introduce mom to a new culture. God is aligning this visit, for such a time as this, in this season, for us two women, to go to the other side of the world…and only He really knows why.

So we are going and we need your help. We need to raise $4000 really soon. In order to get our flights and visas in time we are trying to get flights within the next week or two.
If you want to partner with this trip visit and donate.
Make sure you choose “Missionary Fund” under designation and then put “Emily and Julie’s Malawi Trip” in the Notes section! 

 Thanks for your support and as always please let us know if you have questions about the trip or want to get more involved!