The Children

The children we got to work with weren’t just kids needing something to do in the hot afternoons. They weren’t just faces we took pictures with and took back to show our friends and family how many wanted to hold our hands. They weren’t a number we needed a certain amount of crafts for. No. These children were God’s Children. They had names and futures in His kingdom.

Like Lucia, the shy but compassionate girl who patiently helped me with my spanish.

Lucia

Or Luis Fernando, the small but charming boy who loved unconditionally.

Luis

And then Jueniel, the one who remembered and loved and taught us a lesson when he turned the other cheek when being mistreated.

Jueniel

Oh, and none of us can forget Kendry, the one with no loss for words. (but he didn’t just say them, he sang them.) (watch him HERE)

Kendry

And then there’s Elito, the one who chose me and looked past the dirt and the grime of the worksite and called me beautiful. God has given me the incredible opportunity to continue a connection with this child through sponsoring him and watching God work in his life as he grows into a young man.

Me and Elito

Before going on our trip I think some of us thought that the children we were going to work with were so lucky to have us visit them, to make them smile and laugh and to have us, the amazing americans, take time to interact with them. But we were wrong. We were the ones who were blessed. We were the ones that they made smile and laugh.  And they are the amazing Children of God who willingly took time to interact with us.

DR VBS game

 

(Photo credit Chris O'Neill)

Elito. The eleven-year-old boy who chose me.

 

He wasn’t smiling like all the other children when he came through the gate. His reply when I asked “como estas?” was not “bien” like all the other children. He was frowning and feeling “mal”. As all the other children skipped off, excited to go to VBS, he walked slowly, so I matched his pace and let God show a little piece of His love through me. I prayed this little interaction would somehow impact his life for the better.

At craft time he insisted on writing my name all over his craft, and by song time he didn’t want to let go of my hand. When it was time to say goodbye, his frown returned, and he told me he was sad about me, that I had to say goodbye. “Tomorrow, “ I said, as he hugged me tight and I fought back tears. What if he didn’t return tomorrow? I walked him to the gate and he turned to hug me again. I reminded him “Tomorrow…please come back.” His sad eyes connected with mine and then he turned and didn’t look back as he began his walk home.

The next day I waited at the gate, but only a few children showed up. I searched each face and smiled, but he was not there. We opened the gate; VBS was about to start and he was still nowhere to be seen.

I searched the road with my eyes as more children made their way from their homes to join us one last time.

And then, there he was, smiling this time, and I began to think that maybe I had made some small impact on this young boy. He came through the gate and hugged me tight, then took my hand as we walked towards the main building.

The day continued much like the last one, though this time with added smiles, more words, and maybe even a skip in his step. Once again he told me he loved me, once again he wrote my name, once again he held my hand, and once again we found ourselves back at the gate, needing to say goodbye. We hugged three times, not wanting to leave. This time he flashed one last smile before he started on his way back home. I waved goodbye and watched til he disappeared, then looked in my hands where he had left me his craft with “Moriah I love you” covering the front and back.

But the story doesn’t finish there because this little boy chose me and this couldn’t be the end.

Curious, I asked the sponsorship coordinator if this boy had a sponsor to support him and found out that no, he didn’t. He’d been waiting for me. At this point I had no say in the matter; no, it wasn’t up to me. Because you see, Elito, he chose me.

 

Me and Elito

 

(Photo credit Chris O'Neill)

Hello Blog

Wow.

It’s been awhile.

I practically feel like I’m starting a new blog!

So far 2014 has looked like this for me:

January- I housesat 14 days, we celebrated my parents 25th Anniversary (woot!), and participated in a Civil War reenactment across town.

February – I started leading our HighSchool worship team on Wednesday nights and went with Jordan to Pheonix for 5 days to participate in a Justice For All training and outreach.

March – Enjoyed fellowship around a bonfire, as well as at our Church picnic a couple days later!

April – Performed with a band in our homeschool group’s talent show and celebrated Joshua’s 7th birthday on the 10th along with my Dad’s birthday at the end of the month. AND we went to the Grand Canyon and stayed in a trailer (but that’s a long story for another time)

May – Choreographed Musical Bootcamp and taught 50+ teens in one week!

June – Left for the Dominican Republic on the 6th, Jordan’s 22nd birthday, and had an amazing 2 weeks there working hard, building a great team, reaching out, loving on children and sharing God’s love. I missed Father’s day with my dad, but made him this song. 3 days after arriving back in the states my Dad and I drove my sister to Kansas, her new home! She is now working as an intern with Justice For All!

And that brings us to July! The coming weeks are packed for me, so it’s likely I’ll disappear again, though not so long this time! Family coming into town and a lot of housesitting for my sister and me!

Hope that helps get this blog up to speed 🙂 I’ll be posting about a highlight from my trip to the Dominican Republic soon, so stay tuned…

❤ Riahjoy

 

PS How do you like the new blog look?

NaNoWriMo 2013

Yes! It is November once again which means I’m racing to write 50,000 words in 30 days. AND ten days have already gone by, which means we are one third through the month! I was hoping to catch up to par by yesterday, but that didn’t happen… Today perhaps?

My start was a rough one.

Day one was busy and I only got 1,000 words written. And they were written in the car at a quick stop on our way out of town.

in car

I was only able to write at this stop you see because I was driving 😉

On day two I realized I would never be able to continue with my fast paced storyline without more planning. I switched to another idea.

It went well, though writing was still slow (always is in the beginning of Nano for me), until I reached day five…

writing with baby

I got a babysitting job. The picture shows me with “my” lil nine week old girl. What the picture doesn’t show is her twin brother. ^_^ Best job EVER! But I only got 100 words written that day. The babies weren’t that bad, but I was having severe writers block.

That night I was at a friends house and she asked how I was doing for Nano and if she could read anything. I said a very quick “no”, but let her read another story I had started earlier. She loved it and when my mom came in and saw her reading it she suggested I switch to that story.

The next day I began writing on that story which has caused me little writer’s block and much more enjoyment then the other two stories had!

So although I still have lots more to write before I’m all caught up I’m finally on my way. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. Plus I have awesome writing friends that are pushing and encouraging me to keep going!

Housesitting – ALL SUMMER! {Flashback Friday}

Although Bethany and I didn’t live at another house the entire summer we did spend four long weekends, as well as a full week, at a couple different houses throughout the summer. It was fun and we loved getting to take care of DOGS (two at each house)!

Chase

Chase

Jake

Jake

Paddy

Paddy (there was another dog, but I didn’t get a picture 😦 A sweet golden retriever named Bella)

It was an amazing experience for both of us as we learned a lot about taking care of houses, the responsibilities of taking care of ourselves, and how to deal with a depressed dog (Chase) after his pal (Jake) was put down the day before his family left (plus how and when to call the police!).

Yes, this is what you come home to when you leave a sad dog home alone :(

Yes, this is what you come home to when you go to church, leaving a sad dog home alone 😦

ouch!

 

We also got a warning one day about the water being turned off in the neighborhood for a few hours!

 

No water!

No water!

John 4:16 - I loved this verse that hung in one of the kitchens...

John 4:16 – I loved this verse that hung in one of the kitchens…

Chickens

We loved getting fresh eggs from these chickens so we wouldn’t miss our babies 😉 Thankfully no chickens were eaten while we were there, but a few were “enjoyed” between our visits! Yikes! Glad I didn’t have to deal with that coyote 😕

But it wasn’t all hard and (dare I say) deathly…

Yes! I can fly!

Hello there!

Who says you can’t have fun on the job?

Rockn

sleep ;)

Or sleep on the job?

Sleep!

Fell asleep after finishing “Every Waking Moment” by Chris Fabry. It wasn’t even out yet! We got the pre-release copy from our friend the Author 😉

 

In all I want to thank the D and R families for trusting us with such a big responsibility and to Mom and Dad for encouraging us with this opportunity!

VBS! – 6/3-7/13 {Flashback Friday}

Vacation Bible School is always something I look forward to each year. I love getting to shepherd 6-7 kids around while having lots of fun!

My silly boys from my VBS  group

The silly boys from my VBS group

The boys loved making the “Kingdom” themed crafts. The shields below were quite a hit!

Game time was also always a big hit! Especially the day they turned the gymnasium into a giant Candy Land game board!

One of my favorites was music. It was fun to see how much the children got into learning the moves and words. It was also really great to see how worshipful the children could get praising Jesus!

Music

 

Although VBS is an amazing week I’m always glad that it only lasts five days at the end 😉

SetApart Girl Conference – 5/31-6/1/13 {Flashback Friday}

This year’s SetApart Girl Conference was amazing!

IMG_2202

We worked with the Ormand’s church and we’re able to use their building to reach a bigger group then last year in my small living room

IMG_2204

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I am so grateful for the Ormand family and all they did to help grow my vision and share this conference with others!

Plans

I laid in bed last night planning a blog post and, in a way, here it is. It was going to look something like this:

Pretty funny how plans can change so quickly and drastically. Take for example my plan to post some Flashback Friday’s this month to catch up on blogging all that has happened since my last post. On Tuesday though I found out I would be accompanying  a mom as she drove and camped her way to Florida with her 3 young children without her husband. So long story short: I won’t be posting those Flashbacks and by the time I get back I’ll be overwhelmed with all the new stories I’ll be wanting to share!

But guess what! Plans have changed again. Boy am I glad God’s in control! My trip to Florida has been canceled so now things are back to what they were…

Soooo….. I’m not promising anything, but I hope to get some Flashback Friday’s posted! 😉

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosperyou and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

One year older…

(I wrote this 12/17/12)

When December began I started doing something most people do the month of their birthday; counting down until the exciting day or in some cases the dreaded day of growing one year older. I continued to count down the days to my birthday until three days ago when tragedy struck our country. Shock, fear, grief and even anger grew in our hearts. Emotions swelled as we continued with the flow of the Christmas season. I wasn’t able to calm myself and actually wrap my mind around what had happened until the next day. And that’s when God took hold of me, gently by the hand, and pointed out some things I needed to identify. He made me question the way I had been living.

 

Why have I been given sixteen years of life? Why the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes that God has given me one more breath? The answer was clear: God has a plan for me. A broken vessel, a mound of clay. But the questions were not through.

 

Have I used those valuable moments to fulfill that plan? Have I been furthering God’s kingdom? Have I been bringing God glory? Have I been blessing His name in the hard times? Have I thanked him enough for His daily blessings, big and small? I began to plead with God that I would not take my life for granted. I want to live my life with no regrets and fully, no matter how long it lasts. I want to live my life for Him, counting the blessings, even if they come with pain.

 

So today I want to re-dedicate my life to Him, whether it be a few more days, months, sixteen or even eighty more years.

In Memory of Pearl Harbor…

Jackie walked to the mailbox on a bright summers day and finally found the long awaited letter. She dropped all the other letters on the table inside and quickly opened the letter unfolding the paper inside. Her son, Timmy wrote of the weather and some good friends he had made. He then wrote, “Mom, I’ve been thinking a lot about dad and the life that he lived. He gave his life for others. That’s why I’m here today.” He signed off, “You are what I’m fighting for. Love from your son, Timmy.”
She held the letter close to her heart, remembering the first letter she had received 26 years ago from war. It had been from her husband, Edward off in France. He too had written about weather and friends. Even though Timmy could barely remember his father, Jackie saw Edward in everything Timmy did. Oh, how she hated him fighting in a war so far from home, but he knew what he was fighting for.

She sat down at her desk pulled out some paper and wrote to Timmy as she prayed. She wrote that she loved him; of how proud she was of him fighting for freedom, how brave he was and what a good father he’d be someday. She folded up the paper, placed it in an envelope and on the front wrote, Be Safe. After that night she wrote every night just like she had years ago.
As summer slowly changed into to autumn and autumn into winter, Jackie prepared for Christmas. She knew it was going to be a lonely this year, but nothing could have prepared her for the news to come.
She had to shovel a path to the mailbox the snow was so thick, but she had waited a long time for a new letter to arrive that deep snow drifts weren’t going to stop her. When she opened the mailbox and looked inside she saw one letter that looked like it had traveled a long way. She opened it right then and there not even taking the time to go to the warm house to read it. The words stung her worse then the bitter cold she was surrounded by. The writer of the letter was named Josiah and he explained that he had been fighting alone up on a hill, shots were ringing out all around him, and bombs were exploding. Then Josiah was shot down. A man came back for him and though the man was captured he set Josiah free. That man was Timmy. Timmy asked Josiah to write to his mother and Josiah swore he would.
Jackie fell to her knees and prayed Timmy was living. She then picked herself up walked back to the house and sat down at her desk like she did everyday. She kept writing each day. Jackie kept on hoping and believing.
Then two years later a car pulled up running over all the dry leaves on the ground. Jackie knew who drove that kind of car and she fell to the ground. Out stepped a captain who ran over to Jackie.
He said, “Mom, I’m following orders from all of your letters and I’ve come home, safe.” And there in his hand he held all of his letters from war.

(A story I wrote inspired by the song “Letters From War” by Mark Schultz)