I have to laugh at how my life has turned upside down in so many ways. This Epic Journey is beyond any dreams I had, and yet incorporates so many deep desires built into my heart by my Creator.
It is hard to believe now, but I am a home body by nature. I like to be “home”. Yet, I find myself being a nomad. I stepped out of the boat a while ago. I continue to live outside my comfort zone and have to daily lean not on my own strength and understanding but live by faith. Last week I again stepped out on faith and boarded a United flight to Austin, Texas. The Paul and Sue Barber family so graciously opened their home and family to me. I had “met” them on the internet through our common bond of the orphans of Taraz. They adopted a precious boy from Taraz in 2006 (a couple of years before I moved over full-time). Their hearts remember those children left behind and long to be part of J127 Ranch to give these children an opportunity to build productive lives as part of their community.
The morning I woke to start my Texas adventure I began to feel those familiar stabs of anxiety I used to feel long ago. Fear used to be my constant companion. Most days that seems several life times ago. But every now and then, those familiar feelings can creep back. My thoughts began to wonder down the old rabbit trails. Thoughts like: “I don’t even know “these” people! ” ; “What if they don’t like me?” ; “What if I don’t like or feel comfortable with them?”; “How will I make all the connections I need to make down there and get back to the airport?” . This trip was very loosely arranged with many details up in the air. Kit and Cindy (my ex-husband and his wife) had donated frequent flyer miles for this trip. With the Barbers opening their home it seemed silly to be worrying about those other issues , when it was clearly evident that I was supposed to go. I had to let go of my control and turn my focus on what I knew was the call on my life. I started thinking about all those children I knew by name in Kazakhstan who desperately needed a place to call home. A place where they could learn life skills and heal in order to build their futures. They needed someone who was willing to advocate for them. No, actually they need a community of people dedicated and committed to pouring into their lives. A community of people who realize their lives are not whole either and together we will all learn to ENGAGE with one another in ways that ENRICH each of our lives to EMPOWER all of us to be who we. In order to spread the word I have to step way out of my comfort zone. That morning my “assignment” was boarding a plane to Texas. I needed to choose to look at the opportunities ahead of me for that very day. I am only promised one day at a time.
A peace settled in my heart and off I went for the next chapter in my story. Sue, Josh and Caleb picked me up at the airport in their black Kia they affectionately call “the Skunk”. Sue smile put me to ease at once. Josh and Caleb, though 6 and 5 years old respectively, charmed me right away with their smiles, questions and calling me by name right from the start. This family has 6 precious children. One of the Barber kids was in Ecuador on a mission trip but between stories and pictures I felt like I got to know her too. Their family is rounded off with two sweet pups – Pepper and Sasha. If you know me or have followed me for long you know I love children and love animals so this home was a perfect fit for me. Paul and Sue had 4 children the old fashioned way then the last 2 children came through the gift of adoption. They are great resources for other families thinking or who have adopted. You can follow their blog – Half Dozen Scrambled
. Paul and Sue have many gifts and talents which they freely gave to help build J127 Ranch from tech support to word smithing. They are such a blessing. I loved each moment with this family, from hanging out at their home while little boys played in an appliance box from the stove that was delivered, jumping on the trampoline, swimming, to visiting the Zoo. I saw parents who love and are committed to all of their children. Who comfort, laugh with, push, and are consistent so each of them can reach their fullest potential. Josh and Caleb had lives of trauma before joining the family, which have required some extra work, patience and love. Yet when the family talks you not only hear some of the hard things you hear what great gifts and blessings these two boys are and how they have greatly enriched all of their lives.
I love to share about the children in Kazakhstan. I also love to see how lives are being woven together in order to accomplish this vision. Two different nights they invited friends and family over to hear about J127 Ranch. My heart was touched by the questions and interest in the children and J127 Ranch. Then my heart was totally blown away when the Barber’s 16-year-old daughter shared she wanted to regularly support from her earnings from her part-time job. WOW. There is no gift to small or to large but my heart was deeply touched by her gift. We now have a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old giving a percentage of what they make to J127 Ranch- to children half way around the world. With each gift I am humbled to be part of something so much bigger than me. This is a community but it takes individuals to step forth and join for the community to work.
On Monday Sue, two of her children and I drove to Austin to meet Katherine K, her three children – one from Kazakhstan and a friend of Katherine and her two children. Katherine and her family had recently moved to Texas. It was great to see her children especially her son from Kazakhstan. I love seeing former orphans thriving in their families. He and Josh are about the same age. The food at the cafe was good but the connections were the dessert. Our shared hearts for orphan children and how to help them over come their difficult beginnings, enabling them to have bright futures, wove our hearts together.
Then, to top the whole trip off, I got to spend time with my sweet step-sister Elizabeth and her family. It had been quite a long time since I had seen them. I was not expecting to be so blessed by Todd, Elizabeth and their sweet family. The time was way to short but ever so sweet with an aroma I will not soon forget.
On Tuesday, Elizabeth took me to the airport and as I woke that morning I remembered back to the previous Thursday. I had woken with fear trying to grip my heart and now my heart bubbled over with great joy and so many blessings from my time in Texas. J127 Ranch had new supporters but more important the community, who feel the call to be part of caring for the precious children in Kazakhstan, had grown and my heart had been deeply touched.
The community of those who are called to care for orphan children in Kazakhstan is growing and I’m blessed to be a part of it.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance dear friends.