Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"successful" loving

I directed the taxi driver towards one of the worst slums in Kenya…he questioned, “You want me to drive through there??” “Yes.” The car stopped where the streets turned to small tunnels of rusted sheet metal; the same ‘streets’ that turned into rivers of sewage when it rained. Ducking under clothes lines and stepping over waste, I squatted down and entered the tiny and dark one room home that houses orphans. I had spent the previous day here with the Mt. Bethel young adult team--it was the day of their departure back to America.

We could hear the distressed cough coming from behind a sheet that divided the sleeping area from the sitting area. It was the precious 8 month old baby, Marion, who I had met several weeks earlier. She was coughing excessively and had a fever… her mom said they had been to a clinic and were given medicine 2 weeks ago: no change. I planned with her mother to come and pick them up the following day so Marion could be seen by a pediatrician. After an hour in the waiting room, we were taken back to triage. When getting her vital signs, the nurse called a doctor in. Two minutes later, we were moved to the E.R. and baby Marion was put on oxygen. This was the first time (of about a million) that I was in a hospital with a sick child and the doctor’s actually decided to admit. Even when I have begged when Carol was so ill I expected her to die in my arms on a moment’s notice, admission procedures are nothing like those of children’s hospitals in America.

She was admitted—as I signed the paperwork as the benefactor for this child’s care, I inwardly trembled as I recalled that my bank account was nearly empty (as I was leaving Kenya the following week). Severe pneumonia is the diagnosis we received and were told again and again that she might not have survived another week in this condition. As darkness approached, I left the hospital to take David (who insisted upon coming along for the adventure, you may remember him from a previous post) back to Mathare and to pick up clothes for Marion and her mom, as they were not expecting to stay the night.

The doctors called me every couple of days and updated me on Marion’s care as I was in a different city, spending my last week in Kenya with the kids at HOREC. She was improving and would be ready for discharge on Sunday, the day I departed for America. I spent that morning at the hospital holding Marion and rejoicing that her smile and sweet personality had returned. She was wearing the same clothes we brought her in 10 days before—a cute Elmo dress that the Mt. Bethel team had given her the week prior. I was concerned when after spending 15-20 minutes with Marion, I heard the same, choking cough that had concerned me so much the day before we brought her to the hospital. After speaking with the doctor, I was handed the bill that almost matched the amount of money I had lived off of in Kenya for the past 4.5 months. I am embarrassed by this reaction, but my face turned red and I had to go to the bathroom and cry a couple of angry/frustrated tears before proceeding to the financial department to pay this huge sum. I could feel the injustice in my bones… a sick baby from one of the roughest places in Kenya—unable to access quality health care unless a wealthy foreigner was there to put the bill on her parent’s credit card and pray that it will be paid off sooner rather than later. Yes, an incredible hospital (one of few with reliable pediatric services), but completely out of reach for 99% of the NATION it resides in. How do they see such great need in their country and continue to close their eyes to the poor and only treat the rich? I was mad because she was going home with the same symptoms I had brought her in with. At the same time, I was assured that this sweet baby girl was worth the money spent… yes, she was. She was ALIVE. Glory.

I heard several weeks after returning to America that baby Marion had died. In the slum… she died. She was dead. Really? Because I took her to the hospital and paid that humongous bill so she would live. Right? I was looking for that result—LIFE, when I took her there. I walked away thinking that result had been reached and was okay with paying any cost because her life was worth it. But now she was dead. I was crushed…

The enemy was quick to bring up the idea that this love I showed Marion and her family was a complete failure. I could literally hear the taunts… It was easy for me to believe she was worth it when I imagined her future years and gave myself some (ridiculously unmerited) credit for her making it there. It was easy for me to believe she was worth it when I saw the joy on her mother’s face as they walked with gratitude out of the pristine hospital with freshly carpeted floors and back into the slum reeking with human feces and rotten food. It was easy for me to believe she was worth it when I was praising Him for letting me be a part of His demonstration of love for this family. I am publicly repenting of this to you—hoping that you can learn from it as I have.

Was this an unsuccessful attempt to care for the orphan and widow (hey, in one foul swoop too)? Was this an unsuccessful attempt at administering justice in a small, small way by enabling a sick child to receive the care she deserves? Was this an unsuccessful attempt at living out His Word? Was this an unsuccessful attempt at LOVING both Marion and her mother?

I heard about some girls in Uganda who had taken in a 35 lb young woman (Nabakosa) who was dying of malnutrition. They fought so hard for this sweet woman. Long nights of holding her in their arms to keep her warm, hours of concocting varying meals that would hopefully put some meat on her weak bones, countless hours of devoted prayer to the Lord on her behalf, broken hearts after begging hospital after hospital to care for this woman medically, their HEARTS poured out. She gained weight, she smiled, she responded to their love, she grew stronger. I followed their blogs and was prayerful and hopeful and thankful that the Lord was using them to speak His love into her life. And then, a week or so later, she died. She died. She was dead. Did they fail? I honestly asked myself that question... did they need an encouraging email "Hey, at least you tried, girls..."?

Even with Lucy and raising money for her treatment.... I have not the slightest idea whether or not she will live to see tomorrow. I don't know that the minute after her gigantic bill is paid, she will not die. That's scary to me... scarier than it should be. I worry about asking you to come alongside of us and joining with us as we do what we can to provide her with the medical care that can perhaps save her life. I worry because financially, I cannot truthfully tell you this is a wise investment. Financially, it's probably pretty stupid to put your money towards this knowing the chances of survival....

But this is what HE is saying to me through all of this... He is saying that loving is worth it. It's worth the tears, it's worth the pain, it's worth the money, it's worth the sacrifice, it's worth the sweat, it's WORTH IT regardless of the results. ALWAYS..... (trust me, I am preaching to myself more than you with all of this because He is longing for me to believe this every day). If His life and death do not teach us that, without even taking into account His WORDs, I think we are deaf and blind and dumb to His character... He IS this love. There is NO greater love.

Marion was loved and that is what He asked for. Nabakoza was loved and that is what He asked for. Lucy is being loved and that is what He asks for.

We are loving our sister who does not know the Lord and we long for her to lean into Him and receive His love... We are opening our wallets and putting money towards giving Lucy the chance to receive treatment and we long for her to be healed and to continue being the mother to her 3 sweet children... We are offering our time and energy to pour into those around us who need to know how deeply He cares for them and we long for them to believe it... all of these scream SUCCESS SUCCESS SUCCESS regardless of outcome. I believe He gave us our longings so we would love them hard and well and persistently... whether our longings are met or not, we are walking in obedience by extending that Love. It's worth it.

I will say more later about Lucy and how we are really just living out Luke 6 and Mark 2 by loving her in this way... but for now just believe with me for a second that He is glorified when we "spend ourselves on behalf of the poor" (isaiah 58), and He is honored when we obey the command to "love others as ourselves"(matthew 22) and "love others as He has loved us"(john 13), and He is magnified when we "lay down our lives for our brothers"(john 15), regardless of the outcome or results or 'ending'.

"The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.” – Mother Teresa

Thursday, July 22, 2010

urgent--beautiful LUCY

(sorry ahead of time. i did not proofread this and understand it is way too long... just trying to get it out asap because of the urgency! sorry)

Mmmm, it is time. Finally time to tell you just a little bit about four people who have become a huge part of my life over the past several months.

First, there is Lucy… beautiful, joyful, faithful, believing Lucy. A portion of her beauty can be explained by the tribe she belongs to, which is known around the world for their riveting features. But the beauty that far outweighs any other Masaai woman I have met is a result of her joy in the Lord, who is her strength and her song. She is in her 20s and has been very sick for months and months now. When she first became ill, her husband moved out and left her alone—still sick and with three young children to care for. Mercy is 11, Pinky is 3, and Obama is 1. Once she finally had scrounged up enough money to get herself to a hospital, her sickness had progressed to such a degree that doctor after doctor after doctor sent her home to die, saying they could do nothing for her situation. Her bed in the district hospital, where she lay dying as her children watched, was soon seen as wasted by this woman whose death was eminent. She was moved to the floor(yes--a dirty, dusty, stone floor of a crowded hospital) and told that she could no longer steal a bed from someone who might actually live through their illness.

When the good Samaritans (and yes, I think they absolutely deserve that title) found her, she was trying to catch a ride—wasted away, barely standing, and with three small and weary children in tow. They soon learned about her predicament and that she was trying to reach her mother’s home, just adjacent to the Mission (please take a moment to check out their website... sooooo many needs you could help them with also!!!), where these people live and love. They took her in and made a home for her in their clinic… blessing her with company, friendship, a comfortable bed, medical care, and just love. Her children stayed with their grandmother and were able to visit their mom whenever they wanted. She grew stronger and stronger and stronger in both her physical strength and her spiritual strength. I met her soon after this time of restoration began… I sat on her bed as she told the story of her past year. We listened with tears in our eyes and those smiles you get on your face that only God needs to see as she told about His glory. She was like a broken record (a beautiful one) that sang and shouted and whispered and laughed and cried of His glory… what she knew of who He was and His deep care and concern for her. I learned quickly the Kiswahili words for “I’m healed!” because she could not stop saying it as she clasped her hands together, smiled wide, and looked towards Heaven.

Though she continued to proclaim healing, I abhorred my doubting eyes and mind that emerged when I saw the tumors on her foot and leg and reviewed the discharge papers she left the hospital with. We prayed and prayed and prayed that night and rejoiced for what He had done--what He was doing--and what He was still going to do. As we sat on her bed, amazed and rejuvenated by her childlike faith, she shared her concerns about her children. To maintain dignity for this family and only say what I know to be absolutely true, I will just share that she worried about the situation her children were in while she was away from them. I will eventually tell the stories of her beautiful children, because they are very much a part of her (and me), but now is not the time—or rather, this is not the avenue I want to use.

Since cancer was always supposed, never confirmed, we went to the closest city (multiply the most ‘middle of nowhere’ place you’ve ever been by 5000 and then you’ll have an idea of how far out in the bush we are) and got a biopsy of her tumors. I sat there next to her, holding her inquisitive 3 year old as the doctor bluntly told us in both Swahili and English that though the results would not be in for 10 days, she probably had several more months to live. She could not beat this cancer that had ravaged her body without any opposition for so long. Both of us held it together until we got outside of the hospital… Lucy hobbling on crutches, being drained of more and more life with each step; me trying to hold both a 3 year old who refused to walk and a pile of medicines the doctor had prescribed to subsidize the pain that Lucy was enduring. We all sat on the grass just steps from the hospital entrance and cried with abandon. The same door we walked into with hope, we exited with significantly less. The doctor’s “If only you had come to us sooner” rang through my ears. The echo was louder -- “If only her husband had taken her to a doctor instead of leaving her for dead. If only her community had joined together and offered a portion of their earnings to pay for her to be seen by a doctor when this issue first arose. If only the good Samaritans had found her sooner.”

Lucy cried. I cried. Pinky wondered and sat in silence, her eyes never leaving our faces. I looked at Lucy sympathetically (because though the pain I felt in that moment and moments to follow was extremely intense, I know it paled in comparison to her own and so calling it empathy seems deceptive) and reminded her of the promises I knew of our God, though they seemed so much fainter than they were just hours ago. I held onto the hope that we had not seen any biopsy results and until they were in our hands, we had no reason to believe this doctor was correct in his bold assumption. Her tears did not lessen and I think mine increased, but He held us tightly.

We waited, though plans for the future were being discussed and while we said we held onto hope, our actions and attitudes contradicted our words. Mercy. Pinky. Obama. What would come of these little ones who are most precious to a woman who has been told she is leaving this earth momentarily? What would come of these little ones whose earthly defender and protector was exiting the battle prematurely? The results came back and confirmed cancer and all that the doctor had spoken. I regretted how easily I let this news enter my ears… was my hope so easily distinguished? We prayed… alone and collectively. The Mt. Bethel young adult team was able to meet Lucy around this time and the night we spent praying over her was one of the most incredible things I’ve been blessed to be a part of. Ever. When my belief was small and my hope was crushed and my heart was weary and my cheeks were stained and my heart was shattered and my anger was broiling, they were there to counteract it all. They were there with fresh hope and unhindered belief and overflowing compassion. They prayed over her and I was able to be silent, sitting at His feet as I echoed the prayers that I was too weak to speak myself. Lucy was being held by her maker as a room of warriors were face down on the floor begging Him to heal her, BELIEVING Him to heal her. Life went on, but with an increase in expectance and belief as we trusted our King with a renewed and reckless faith.

The children were moved to HOREC and they became a part of my family immediately. As a sister to Lucy, I was (and AM) committed to do every single thing in my power to love and protect them in her absence… forever. Let me explain (and maybe make way too broad of an assumption in trying to do so), when you struggle to feed your children one meal a day and you struggle to find water for your family that will not do more harm than good and you struggle to afford an education for your children and you struggle to keep a roof over your head—you don’t expect to be able to do much else… you don’t expect to be able to rise up and BEAT the cancer, like we do here in America. You accept your lot. You cope. Not to say these people are not fighters—I know no one who fights more diligently, but some battles are not even something they can imagine engaging in. I took the children to say goodbye to their mom as I was leaving the country in just a week and needed to get them settled at Horec. It was surreal… and I don’t think because of the nature of that sort of visit, I think because it was not a justified farewell.

Fast forward a bit (through lots of kid stuff I’ll share eventually)…I get a call my first night back in America. I saw that is was from the Mission, so did not answer—expecting that I was being alerted that Lucy had died. It was not a conversation I wanted to have, so I deferred it and waited to hear that news over voicemail instead. When I listened to the voicemail hours later, I was speechless. A good 6 weeks after Lucy’s biopsy results had been read, a visiting cancer specialist randomly (ha, I know better) happened upon them and looked them over. He called the Mission immediately and relayed that the results were misread, Lucy still has cancer, but it is a type that generally responds very well to radiation therapy. WHAT!? I had to listen 5 or 6 times before it sunk in. Oh me of little faith. “Do you believe that I am able?” He was asking me all along… now He was saying “Really? Still you don’t believe I am bigger than a couple of tumors?” Humbled.

Now we are here. (Cannot believe you made it this far if you’re still following—congrats!) Lucy is currently lying in a hospital bed in the only hospital in all of Kenya that offers cancer treatment. Most Kenyans do not even know that such treatment is available… it’s expensive. Between $10,000 and $12,000 is the amount we have been given… I’m guessing that’s more than Lucy would make in an entire lifetime. We need help. $700 has already been paid and has brought her this far (she’s been there about a week), but they need more money to move forward in her radiation therapy. Hope is not lost!!!! Not because this tumor is not as vicious as some, but because we serve a God who is able to do immeasurably more than my tiny brain can fathom...more than the most brilliant doctor can fathom.

Please pray with me for Lucy and for Obama, Pinky, and Mercy.

Please pray about contributing to the costs of Lucy’s treatment.

Please pray that He will receive utmost GLORY through every bit of this… that Lucy’s unfaltering faith in this God she trusts will be a proclamation to all of His goodness that cannot be contained.

if you want to help financially--please send any contribution (seriously, ANY size... fifty cents is half a dollar more than she has now!) to :
Mt. Bethel UMC
Finance Department
4385 Lower Roswell Rd.
Marietta, GA 30068

and write "Annie Coppedge--Lucy" on the for line.


One last thing... I want you to be able to imagine this, what I expect to be the picture though I cannot see it with my eyes right now:
A young Kenyan woman (who appears far too young to be afflicted by such) laying on her bed in the corner of a dirty and busy and desperate room of people hurrying towards hope. She lifts her head slightly as the nurse refills her IV bag and gives a weak smile--weak in energy, full in warmth. The nurse wonders at her peaceful existence in such a heavy and burdened environment... her peace does not leave her even for a moment. She cringes as she is moved about the bed, but her smile returns to replace the undesired grimace quickly. She is alone, but surrounded by the greatest company. It does not bother her that Jesus is her only companion in this moment... she has enough praise to sing to Him to fill every second of the day. Her fragile hand grasps a songbook that aids her in putting words to her Great Affection. She sings. Not quietly so as to avoid offending any in her presence, but loudly to proclaim her confidence in a Living God. She smiles as she sings... her whole body reveling in His goodness. She is overtaken. For a moment, the pain seems so secondary--a joy if it increases her dependence on her Maker--the one who crafted her in His great and tender hands. He knew she would undergo this pain but He also knew His grace would be enough for her to endure it. He knew He would not leave her for even a breath, but would pull her so close to Himself that she could breathe her breaths in sync with His. She sings. Her smile grows and she looks around to see the smiles around her. She puts the songbook down and returns to her Bible, reveling in the fact that she is stunned by His character upon every single word that lifts from the page. She is His. She will proclaim His glory until her last breath, whether two days from now or 60 years down the road. She trusts... not because of anything in herself but because of His residence in the depths of her. She knows Him and that is why she believes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coming home

I know it has been a long time since I posted… I think as soon as I realized that my plane ticket said I was leaving Africa in one month, taking out my computer and stealing time to update moved to my last priority. Anyway, I come back home tomorrow so I figured I should touch base a bit before I board the plane.

Maybe I am being dramatic or making a bold statement that sounds exaggerated to everyone but me, but I have never felt so much pain in my entire life … I’ve experienced more heartache in these past four months than in my 23.5 previous years combined. The joy I have experienced has been free and exhilarating; the pain I have experienced is raw and abrasive. However offensive or pleasant they are to me, they are REAL and pure. I have never felt more alive. I go to bed each night exhausted and fully aware that I am living… I am alive. I finally know firsthand how love IS vulnerability. When I love, I am putting my heart in someone else’s hands and of course it will be wrecked and wrung, but it’s how I know I am on the right course. It makes me feel alive, like I have a pulse and my heart is not beating for myself alone, but for others thanks to His amazing grace.

All that to say, I will not be able to wrap my ‘experience’ up into several happy words when you ask me ‘How was Kenya??’ in passing. It might be possible, but I am not interested in finding out how to summarize 4 months of life into a sentence. I don’t see this as an ‘experience’ whatsoever…. this is just life. It does not need to be categorized as a defined “event or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone.” I don’t need to be characterized as ‘someone who is passionate about social injustice’ or ‘someone who enjoys international mission experiences.’ I want to move away from loving deeply--whether in Africa, East Cobb, the moon, or Guatemala--being an isolated event. It is just life. So while I’d love to sit down and talk about what He has been teaching me and how He’s been allowing me to take part in His ministry over the past few months, I don’t want to sit down and talk with you about my “Kenya experience.” The people I spend my days with here are forever a part of me… they’re not part of an occurrence that left a mark on me, they are my brothers and sisters and children.

God is great and He is busy everywhere… how I would love it if we could sit down and talk—you sharing what He is doing in your geographical location, me sharing what he is doing in mine, and together rejoicing that He is faithful and true and compassionate and loving and good all over the globe. The same God that is guiding you through loving your coworkers and teaching you how to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the corporate world is the same one riding with me to the hospital with a sick child or holding a child as they say goodbye to their mother who is days from death. We are both learning to abide in Him and asking Him to rid us of ourselves so He can reign in us, our days just hold different things.

Also, random side note—I believe that PA school or whatever sort of medical training I spoke about in my last blog is being postponed. Again, I have no idea and am living literally minute by minute. But it seems He has plans for me to invest in some children here in Kenya right now instead of leaving to begin school. I am ready and willing and eager to see where He leads. I also do not know when I am returning to Kenya… am praying to return as soon as possible, though I will need to spend time earning/raising money before I can come back. I’ll post pictures on facebook soon (faster internet in USA will bring more pictures and videos, too) and will update the blog and introduce you to some people soon.

Sorry that was a really random post…. I am very sad to leave my kids but am excited to see you and spend time with my family (especially Cade, baby Elliott, and my dog). Praying He brings me back just as soon as He can, but trusting Him to sustain me until then.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Some news...

Hi....... sorry it has been ages since I've posted. As usual, things have been CRAZY and I have not been able to get internet (except on my phone). I actually like life a lot better here without internet, I think--but I am glad to have it so I can keep in touch with you guys.

So much has been going on in my heart and mind over the past month and I've wanted to share--but felt like I needed to 'have things figured out' before I posted. I could have told you pretty much the same thing I'm about to tell you now several weeks ago--but I waited. Now I am still in the same position but decided to just share where I am and ask for prayers as I discern His will and learn how to distinguish His voice in this matter.

I thought I was coming to Kenya to love on some children who had been through a traumatizing experience. That was my 1 minute answer when people asked what I'd be 'doing'. I have spent probably at least 100 hours of the past 3 months in hospitals with children... some sick with AIDS, some with common childhood illnesses that have become worse due to lack of medical care, some who are 15 years old and have never seen a doctor but experience seizures daily, some who were covered in pussy wounds that were never healing with the conditions the child lived in, some whose malnutrition has stunted their growth so much they are assumed to be 5 years younger than they are, some whose bodies have been ruled by parasites and worms because they are drinking unclean water or eating badly prepared food. Not a week has gone by that I have not stepped foot in some kind of medical facility. Not a week has gone by that I have not met someone who needed medical treatment but could not afford it. Not a week has gone by that one of my babies at HOREC has not awoken during the night with illness. Not a week has gone by that my heart has not literally ached for the sick here in Kenya. I have fought with doctors to tears about the kind of care they provide these children. I have spent probably the amount I would spend on gas for two weeks in America on buying simple medicine that will remove the worms that are infesting so many children here. I have sat in waiting room after waiting room, knowing that unfortunately--eventually seeing the doctor will not be worth the wait. I have tried so hard to reason with people who have different beliefs about medical treatment and when it is needed. And none of those small acts have been done without God speaking so clearly to my heart and putting a yearning within me to fight with every fiber of my being for the care of these children. He has told me to do something more than loving (which could easily stand on it's own) and to learn how to care for these children myself, medically. To sacrifice the time, brain power, and distance to learn how to allow His love in me to express itself in an additional way.

He has made some things clear to me and I will share them, even though they are not organized in my mind--I trust He will provide that in due time. I will leave Kenya at some point and complete a graduate degree to become a Physician's Assistant. I will, God-willing, follow Him back here (where my heart is) and love these kids who are dying from HIV in a new way. I want to know their names--all of them. I want to remember them--may they never be forgotten. I want to love them when their parents are too sick/have died and are unable. I want them to have a beautiful haven to live in when they are in their last months on this earth. I want love to be their medicine over any other medically prescribed treatment. I have seen how His love heals.

I don't know when I am coming back to start this endeavor and to be honest, I do not want to come back. It is simply an act of obedience and leaving these people seems impossible. The easy thing to do is to stay here forever--I am content here. But He has clearly asked me to trust Him and move in this and I am willing, whether grudgingly or not (working through that but will not lie--I am not joyfully skipping back to America to start this long and strenuous process away from the ones I long to love). I thought I needed to come back in June so I can get started right away, but I'm just not sure. The thought of leaving now has had me in tears daily. I am thankful He has revealed His will to me, but it's not what I wanted. I was not asking for it... I was content being here forever, the medically untrained me. I was looking into adopting children He's put in my path and finding a place to live and invite people to. He told me to wait.

Loving these kids is enough. It's more than enough. But obedience to Him for me is to listen and walk towards what He has asked of me and as painful as it is, I will do it. I have no idea whether I will be starting the prerequisites for PA school on July 6th or August 14th or January 5th or August of 2020. I wanted to wait until I knew that detail to tell you, but I don't know and may not know until the day before I either start school or board a plane. I would appreciate your prayers so much as I learn what it is to obey even when it means (temporarily) tearing my attached heart away (physically) from those I have fallen in love with here.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I generally don’t like statistics because they stay in my head and I have trouble translating them to a language my heart can comprehend. When I hear that 40 children die of AIDS per hour, it shakes me. My jaw drops and I wonder if that number is real or is just a poor estimation used to shock the audience. I try to do the math in my head and the instantaneous spinning that ensues causes me to give up in depression as the number painfully permeates my mind. I don’t want to think about it. I want to remove it from my thoughts so I can enjoy my day and focus on remaining positive in the midst of my own circumstances. 250 children lose a parent to AIDS every hour? Really?? WHERE are these kids because I am not seeing them in East Cobb… in Georgia… in the United States.

Do we know what 40 kids dying in ONE hour even looks like??? You send your child to school one morning and hour by hour, entire classrooms are wiped out leaving no one but a stunned teacher. During the same hour that a classroom is wiped out, 250 children are left motherless or fatherless due to this same disease that killed the classroom next door. EVERY HOUR. This world is big but it is not big enough that we should be able to hide our faces from these children that represent this statistic. Maybe we begin to think of our own families—the kids we babysit, our neighbors, our own children, our nephews and nieces. We try to make it personal, however difficult and unpleasant that is. It is farfetched to imagine the people I know and love in this situation, so I put out the fire that was lit when I heard this statistic and wish whoever it is that represents these numbers the best. It’s unhealthy to stay in the state of intellectual shock these numbers initiated and my mind slowly sinks into a depression (brief, if at all) and then denial and avoidance as I am responsible for just too many things to add this to my list.

But what if the fire that was started when I heard these numbers roared…. What if I let the Holy Spirit continue igniting the flames instead of allowing my mind(which takes it’s responsibility of caring for me very seriously) to distinguish them before I started to feel the burn? What if the flames continued to grow and grow and grow until they began spreading to others? What if we all set out, united and hearts ablaze, to find out just what this ‘true religion’ we hear James talk about looks like? To ‘look after’ the orphans and widows – what does this mean? It means to take responsibility for them. It means to care about ourselves less so we can care about them more. It means seeking them out and finding out how we can encourage and love them. It means believing His words in Matthew 25 that HE is the one we are serving when we serve them. It means not seeing this as a special duty that some are worthy of or some are especially drawn to and others are not. It means accepting that the message is the same in every Bible—this is not just in the ‘mission minded believer’ Bible version. Mother Theresa was reading the same Bible we read. She knew the same Jesus we know. She followed the same Jesus we follow to the best of her ability. This is not a portion of Scripture God decided to include so that pastors would have something to preach about on Missions Sunday or when the homeless shelter down the street needed someone to buy them all beds.

I don’t even believe this thought of caring for our brothers and sisters is so represented in Scripture (and through the LIFE He lived and told us to mimic) because they NEED us so much—because we have oh so much to offer them and without us, they would cease to survive. I really and truly believe we need them far more than they need us (us, the ones who think we have so much to offer them). Maybe this is a controversial thought that will not be well-received, but I don’t believe for one second that the Garden would have collapsed if Mt. Bethel had not stepped up and supported them and I don’t believe that the orphans at HOREC children’s home would not experience His love if I were not there and constantly willing to be a channel of that Love. I do believe that His Spirit is always desiring to lead us and sanctify us and mold us and when we are listening and willing to move, He accepts our surrender and allows us to be part of what He’s doing here… I do believe that He humbly lifted up some hearts that were bowed down and allowed them to be a part of His restoration and renewal at the Garden and here at HOREC. What an incredible gift… but I don’t think He said “hey, you know what the kids of HOREC need right now? Some Annie Coppedge. That’d really do them well…” Ha… that makes me laugh even to consider. I do believe, however, that He cares so deeply for the kids at HOREC and when He sees people who are on their faces begging to be used by Him--yeah people who are bad at loving their family and who are way too selfish for their own good and who would score less than 10% on a Bible trivia quiz and who have no idea what they’re doing most of the time—He rewards that and lets them take part in His loving.

Anyway, as always I am rambling (true to the title of this blog site), but just want to tell you that He is allowing me to be Him right now and He is allowing me to touch Him everyday through the people that represent these statistics—a very small portion of these statistics. I see their faces when I wake up every morning and until my eyes shut when I go to sleep. I hold their hands. I tickle them until we are both laughing too hard to continue. I tuck them into bed at night. I hold them as they cry about something silly—but far from insignificant in a 4 year old mind. I hold back tears as I watch the face they make as they drink their dissolved, bitter tablets because their bodies are too exhausted to swallow the 17 pills they require each day. I hold them close as they chew their bitter tablets because they’re simply too young to have mastered the art of swallowing pills. I fight off overwhelming anger as I think about how this child was simply passed this disease by their now-absent parent… having done absolutely nothing to deserve this suffering. I ask God again and again, why this precious child must endure such hardship and suffering because of MY sin, because of YOUR sin. I make them put on clothes even when they’ve prefer to be naked-a common desire among preschool boys worldwide. They throw rocks at me when they are angry and do not know how to express it any other way. They kiss me on the cheek and tell me they love me at the most random and wonderful times. They fall asleep in my lap and sometimes we both are wet by the time they wake up. Their sticky hands touch my face and run through my hair and they try to tickle me like I tickle them, but it feels more like pinching. They are kids. They run, they jump, they try to do cartwheels, they can do a million handstands a day and it never loses it’s thrill. They stub their toes, they fall off the swing and skin their knees, they put their shoes on the wrong feet, they spill their drink all over the carpet, they yell really loudly at inappropriate times, they cry when someone calls them a copy cat, they color on the walls, they put their underwear on backwards, they confuse certain words and it is too cute to correct them, they see every single object on this earth as a toy and know no boundaries as to what their creative minds can view as entertainment, they pick the cabbage out of their beans, they lick their plate when they’re done, they somehow manage to add a new stain to their clothes daily…. They’re kids. They are who God created children to be and they’re beautiful. Simultaneously, they ARE these shocking numbers.

David Platt explores James 1:27 in a sermon and he explains that the Greek word for ‘to look after’ as James uses is seen 11 times in Scripture. Time and time again, the word is used to describe the way God came to LOOK AFTER us…to show concern for us…to take responsibility for us..to care for us. And then, it begins to describe the way the recipients of this care and concern rise up to do the same for His people. To top it off—the same word is used in Matthew 25 as He tells us that when we care, have concern for, take responsibility for the sick-the hungry-the prisoner-the poor… we’re doing it for HIM. The opposite of this word in the New Testament means to forget and ultimately, to neglect. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . So, if we are not looking after, showing concern for, caring for, taking responsibility for these kids – should I even say it? We are choosing NOT to seek out and take responsibility for them… and are thus actively forgetting them. I have no doubt that if we could see their faces in our weekly children’s church service or in our own houses we would NOT be neglecting them, we’d be living out this true religion as day proceeds day. But is that a valid excuse? ‘Sorry, God—surely you understand that I would be doing this if these kids showed up on my doorstep. You know that right? If I ever meet an orphan, I promise to give them some new clothes and buy them a meal.’ God wants us to see the 15 million orphans from AIDS and He wants us to touch the 147 million orphans and He wants us to encounter Him as we give our lives for their sake. This is where we will find Him… I just don’t know that we’re looking for Him here.

here He is…
(just a brief, brief preview)


Mary and Tomato



Monday, May 3, 2010

His love is better than life...

Today I thought I was spending all day at a baby home in Nairobi—a home for 55 little ones who have been abandoned by their families. Some were found in trash cans, others in pit latrines, some on the road side, others wrapped in bags, some had been buried alive, others left at hospitals, some dropped off outside the gate of the home, others brought by well-wishers.

Phoebe and I have driven past the home several times and always wanted to stop, so last Sunday on the way to church, we stopped. Of course we could not leave once we were greeted by those precious faces grabbing at our knees, so we missed church. This home is incredible…. it’s a real haven for these babies. I cannot say enough wonderful things about what they’re doing for these kids and how they’re doing it. I am so thankful those babies have such a wonderful, loving environment to live in until they are adopted (another great thing about this home: they really really try to find parents for these kids so they get that family life instead of living their entire lives in a home with 54 other kids.) Anyway, I decided to start coming once a week and spending the day with these babies. It was a purely selfish decision, but one that I was so so excited about.

When I got there, I was given no instruction, but was welcomed and trusted (it shocked me that such an established home did not even need my name before I cared for their babies). I started playing with the little 2ish year old munchkins. I was speaking to them in Swahili (luckily a 2 year old Kenyan and I have the same size vocabulary so I can get by pretty well) until I was told that they only speak English. What? Bizarre, but it makes sense if they are hoping to be adopted by foreigners. Anyway, it was really difficult to talk to these sweet babies with chubby Kenyan faces and Kenyan eyes and Kenyan names in English. They were precious and we had fun and I just kept wondering around until I found a new baby to play with. After about 2 hours, every single baby—1 week to 3 years was asleep (or supposed to be sleeping). I decided to leave instead of waiting until they woke up… the volunteer to baby ratio was ridiculously high, I practically had to fight people to have a little one to myself. :) Anyway, I left and began walking towards a coffee house to catch up on emails before Phoebe got off work.

The fact that I can walk by myself in Nairobi tells you it is a very affluent area—mzungus (white people) everywhere and I felt perfectly safe walking around alone, as I was in good company(ie. if someone wanted a young white girl to harass, they have a large pool to pick from in this area). As I approached my destination, I passed a woman and a baby sitting on the curb. The baby smiled and the mom humbly outstretched her arm in my direction. I looked in their eyes, smiled, and kept walking. So, I did not give them money (my friends who are/have been homeless in Atlanta and Athens have taught me to avoid this type of giving)-I kept walking and said a prayer for them. Maybe .5 seconds later, He interrupted my well-intentioned prayer to tell me to not feel guilty about not giving them my money, but to just give them myself instead. There is FREEDOM in the Spirit! He reminds me again and again (thankfully because I'm a coward) to claim this power and WALK IN IT!!!! I went and bought fruit and got 2 take away chais (Kenyan tea) at the coffee house I was going to. I took it back to them and got to sit down and fellowship with Gladys, Antony, and baby David. David immediately reached for me and Gladys held him back saying “no, no. He’s so dirty!” in Swahili. I tried my best to say “It’s okay. Dirty babies are my favorite. I am dirty too. Come baby.” He came to me and yeah, I guess he was dirty… but there was nothing further from my mind than caring about whether his filth covered me because I chose to hold him and love him and pray for him. Sweet Antony was 6 years old, which Gladys did not even need to tell me – the absence of his two front teeth spoke for itself. We laughed and talked like old friends… dirty little David was the baby God wanted me to spend my day with.

These are the people I want to love—I want my best friends to be these people—I want to watch David grow up into a sweet little Kenyan gentleman—I want to learn from them and stare into His face when I look in their eyes. It doesn’t matter if I look like a fool sitting on a curb laughing with friends who might be a little bit dirtier than me or struggle a bit more to get their next meal… It doesn’t matter if people stare and scoff and don’t want to shake my hand after I’ve held a baby who has not been ‘clean’ since he was in the womb… It doesn’t matter if I am ALWAYS alone—if no one is ever sitting with us… It doesn’t matter if I can’t afford to get coffee now when I go to work on my computer… It doesn’t matter. None of it matters…. It just doesn’t. Truly truly truly nothing matters except that we LIVE like we are given the authority He has anointed us with when He gave us His Spirit!!!!!!!!! He is constantly putting people in front of us to love (and the part we forget is that they have the same purpose for US!) and if we listen to His voice and do it, our reward is higher than any judgment passed for our association with ‘these people.’

I am Gladys (and I actually think she’d take that offensively). “I wonder how she got there??? Did something terrible happen to her or did she get to that place on her own? Irresponsibility. Well, she gets what she deserves. Those poor kids who have to put up with that type of mother. People these days want everything to be handed to them. They know if they stick their hand out on a busy street, they will be able to get enough money to last until tomorrow. That is what is wrong with these people.” YOU are Gladys. If I am correct, she could have done less than one thing right in her entire life and maybe that is something for us to look down upon, maybe that makes her unworthy of OUR love… but what about our Father? Did we have to be clean to come to Him? Maybe you did, but I didn’t and if that was the case… I’d still be furiously scrubbing off the filth (and getting nowhere). He sees Gladys and he sees her humbling herself on a curbside so that her sweet boys can eat. He sees that she is dirty—do you think He thinks twice about scooping her up in His arms? Really? Then why do we? Ah.

God is jealously in love with the three I shared chai with today… He will do anything to gain their love and praise with each day that passes. He doesn’t NEED me, or you, to be an expression of this extravagant love He has for them, but He allows us—He asks us to. The King of Kings, who is capable of all things, asks us to take responsibility in living out what we’ve seen Him live. What an honor and I am continually repenting of not joyfully taking that responsibility daily. It’s not an obligation, it’s a joy. We get to share in His joy when His children release their grip on the things that don’t please and fall into Him… when I see Gladys and Antony and David in Heaven, I don’t expect (or want) for them to recognize me and thank me for the teeny tiny act of love He allowed me to pass to them. I do expect though to pass them at some point as we join in praise for our Father, together, and I believe our praise will become richer as we look into each other’s eyes and have yet another reason to thank Him—for showing Himself to us in others when we display His grace on earth. How sweet He is for giving Gladys, with her tattered clothes and callused hands, the opportunity to display His love to me. How sweet He is for letting me hold precious little David and produce a smile on his face that gave me chills and fulfilled so many desires in my heart. How sweet He is for introducing me to Antony and showing me that his big smiles and happy heart show that God’s shield around Him is thick, so I need not worry about Him.

I love Him and I love loving Him and I love loving His people—serving Him is a true delight and honor.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sweet sweet SWEET John...

When several days have passed and my heart has not been re-broken(upon introduction) for a new child, family, situation, I am thankful for a rest but know my eyes will be opened to something else soon. Even though I have only been living this life for around 2 months, I pray every day that seeing these things/this type of suffering is never normal, however ‘common’ they are. The thought that I would ever get to a place where coming upon an abandoned child or a starving family or a sick baby does not cause the same deep emotions and heart pain I am experiencing nearly everyday scares me to death. The pain is not enjoyable but it makes me feel so close to Him—like we are feeling the same thing together for these people. I will take the fiercest love-induced pain over numbness ANY DAY.

Today, I haphazardly ended up going with a friend to meet a family in the community that he checks on periodically (it’s near HOREC). I had little expectations and just prayed this morning that He would prepare me for anything—expecting to meet another family who is struggling financially and discerning how it is He wants me to respond to the needs I see. As we walked towards their home, I had a poor attitude as the houses surrounding this one seemed fairly nice and I was not looking forward to what I expected in that moment….meeting (and being asked to help) someone who spent all of their money on a ‘nice’ house and now can’t afford to feed their children. We came upon the home—an old mosquito net covering several chickens in the first thing I saw. I thought “okay, they have chickens. They cannot be thaaaat poor. They can sell the eggs and breed more chickens and eat/sell the meat.” When no one answered as we knocked, we went into the house. I felt uneasy about going in while they were out, but my friend insisted. When we went in, I would have guessed no one lived there—that it was abandoned. Surely no one lived here, we had the wrong house and that is why no one answered. But then as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw John. My friend greeted him and as my eyes continued adjusting to the pitch black, I walked over and sat on the bed next to John-I could finally make out his face. We greeted each other…. Me by looking in his eyes and holding his hand, he by touching my face and making a groaning noise.

He was the size of a 5 year old but his eyes suggested he was older. He was wearing a dirty sweatshirt and nothing else. As I sat next to him and took in his gaze, I noticed he was tied to the bed. It soon made sense as I learned quickly that it was not just his mind that was affected, but his body too. He had little muscle control and could hold his head up for only around 15 seconds before it would drop. He was covered in drool and if you could see my arm now, you would think I had been attacked by a cat as his way of communicating with me was grabbing/scratching my arm and touching my face. His eyes never diverting from mine, they showed a bit of pain but more joy than pain. A small girl came in (Wangeshi-his sister who is 3 years old) with orange cornrows. I used to always think it was so cute that some kids had orangeish hair, but then I learned it is a sign of extreme malnutrition. After Wangeshi, a teenage girl arrived (Susan-14 year old sister)—she had been fetching water and apologized for not being there to receive us when we arrived. The excitement that filled John’s entire body when she walked into the house brought tears to my eyes. He cannot hold his head up by himself, but this boy can dance when he sees someone he loves! Also, I got to see the most beautiful smile appear and not depart for the rest of our time there.

Susan and I untied him from the bed and dressed him—it was obvious he was eager to be moved from the bed. We held his arms and he showed off by standing tall and strong and then we danced some more and laughed a lot. He became tired after several minutes of this, so Susan took him outside and placed him on the ground. Here he ran around (or scooted on his butt) the sun-covered yard with such delight. Every second our eyes moved from him, we found him eating rocks, trash, or chicken poop—he needed much supervision but it was clear he received so much joy from this small act of freedom. His mother later arrived from working in a field nearby and graciously offered us tea. The poorest people are absolutely the most generous—I see that every day. We were luckily able to blame full stomachs to resist the generous offer that would surely leave them just a bit deeper in poverty than they were when we came. Grace, the mother of John, Susan, Ruth, Joyce, and Wangeshi exemplified just what her name suggested. GRACE. Since birth, John (age 15—yes. 15. The size of a 5 year old.) has been unable to walk/mentally unable to communicate. She told me he has never seen a doctor—I clarified about a million and five times because this shocked me. He has never been to a doctor, but she told me he has epilepsy which is to blame for his physical and mental condition. I have no idea of the accuracy of this, but it is all I have heard so far.

Imagine your first born is in this state-then you have another child to care for. And another. And another. And another(the first 4 children are all within 4 years of each other). Your husband eventually left you because you produced this sort of baby (who is usually abandoned to die and not provided for as it is an embarrassment to the village/sign of a curse). So now you are alone and caring for 5 children-one special needs. How is she supposed to work? Even when the children are older, can she leave this boy alone by himself? Can she work hard enough to provide for them AND afford to take him to see a doctor? And what if the doctor prescribes medication? How in the world will she find a way to pay for that? He needs a wheelchair? If getting food on the table is this big of a problem, how will the family be able to afford this large added expense. Well, this woman-Grace, has been given enough grace to take care of this sweet child for 15 years. No, he is not in the finest occupational/physical/speech therapy and yes, he is usually covered in drool and is not living the life she wants for him, but she has given her life to care for him. She works SO hard and I know this because my friend has watched her for years and been amazed with her determination. She is willing to do any and every thing to enable her children to survive.

I did not have my camera with me because it’s big and bulky and I just don’t like carrying it with me… feel too much like a sight seer. But, next time I go to visit John and the family, I will take pictures to share. I will show you his sweet smile and hope to video tape his precious dance. :)

I want to take him to the hospital—I know of one here through a friend that specializes in pediatric orthopedic cases. I am hoping to take John as soon as I can… does anyone want to help with this? Right now I have no earthly idea what the medical plan will be – What is his diagnosis? Is treatment even available? What does treatment plan look like? I have so many questions right now but there are so so so many things that can be done to help this family. Even if no medical improvements can be made for John (though I am praying that something can be done), we can help to clothe their children-assist with food so that little Wangeshi can have black braids instead of orange ones-improve the living conditions so John is in a safer environment-approach the throne on their behalf. So much. I refuse to believe we are helpless because his legs might never work and his brain damage is too severe to reverse… that is a lie. It is a lie to believe that nothing can be done, we just have to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it. That is what I am doing here—I am seeing the needs because He is peeling back my eyes and I am seeing things that need to be shared with other believers. We are all called to care for the poor, hungry, sick, orphaned and if I keep what/WHO I see here to myself and try to do this alone, I am doing you a disservice as my brother or sister in Him. Perhaps you will never feel John touch your face and receive his love in that way and perhaps you will never meet his precious family… but actually, I was thinking about how I think he will be able to run and jump and talk and play and whatever else he’s been missing out on during his time on this earth once He is with the Lord—what an incredible reunion he will have with those of you who pray for him; those of you that contribute to help me pay his medical bills; those of who share God’s affection for him. That is not supposed to be a corny slogan to put at the end of a blogpost so people feel guilty and decide to give their prayers, their money, their things… He SAYS again and again we will be so highly rewarded in Heaven when we care for these people on earth and I truly think the greatest reward I can imagine will be the reuniting of us with these friends in Heaven—where all of the pain, injustice, fear, suffering is GONE. Where we are together singing, in every tongue, praises to the Father who has brought us to Himself, despite all of the crap any of us were subject to on this earth. Just thoughts. Will post pictures/more info as soon as I have them. Thanks for caring, because I know you do and I am really thankful for that.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I was in Mathare slum yesterday visiting a children’s home I had been to the week before. We saw incredible needs last time we were there, so planned to go back as soon as we could to take food, supplies, and medicines for the children. We found the children in a similar state yesterday—young ones who were crawling, toddling, or running around half naked (surely to avoid the wet pants as diapers are a true luxury here); stomachs distended in malnutrition; barefoot and torn up feet (keep in mind the common scenery in slums is scrap metal, trash, and sewage—both animal and human); worms, open wounds, scabies, parasites, measles, malaria far too common.

I had planned to spend the day walking around cleaning/bandaging wounds, giving out de-worming and antifungal medicines, rehydrating, and just trying to check each child to see how they were looking and if any needed medical care as well as playing with the children and showing them as much love as I could squeeze into a day. I did do some of that but my day changed drastically when the police arrived in the slum with a sad, lost, tiny boy. His name is David.

All we know of David is his name. He was abandoned by his mother and was found by the police and referred to this home. His lips were swollen and cracked, his eyes were sad and tired, his body was lethargic and weak, his spirit was crushed, his pants were soiled, his body was filthy, his stomach was empty. I am guessing he was around 3 or 4 years old. I picked him up and instantly knew putting him down, ever, would be so difficult. His pants were changed; I did my best to bathe him with baby wipes; he guzzled the rehydration solution I gave him and somehow his teeny tiny body made enough room for two full plates of food that I fed him bite by bite; and he clung tightly to my neck the whole time. I don’t know how long he had been alone but his eyes told the story for him. He was lost, confused, and weary… at a point of complete exhaustion as he seemed to give into his recent fate.

His eyes were curious—he watched as life spun on around him. He received the humble offering God allowed me to give with silent thanksgiving and I am still learning how to receive the immense love that God allowed him to show me. I have never in my life seen Jesus so clearly as I did in David’s eyes. It gave me chills. The Lord allowed me to touch Him and hold Him tightly and wipe His snotty nose and let Him rest His head on my shoulder and pray for Him without ceasing as I rubbed his back. I am eternally grateful that He allowed me to be with Him so intimately. Since meeting David, he has not left my thoughts for even one minute. Please pray with me that He would speak clearly and allow me to discern how it is He wants me to love this child. Right now it looks like visiting him as often as I possibly can (I usually leave HOREC about once a week to check on other kids/go to church/run errands/etc.) and praying for him every second of every day. I am so willing to do more though and am praying that He allows me the opportunity to love HIM by loving David with my everything. I got to see him today and he's already looking so much better after food, water, sleep. I got to hear him laugh for the first time... incredible.

Please pray for his sweet heart. His undefiled heart that already knows what it is to be abandoned by those who are supposed to care for him in this world… something that most of us will never know. Let the Spirit direct you how to pray but I just ask that you approach the throne for Him and pray He can feel Psalm 27:10(my mother and father may forsake me but the Lord will always receive me) in his bones. May the Spirit of the Lord come down… may the power of the Lord come down from Heaven and shake the earth.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hey guys—I wanted to clarify some confusing things about my last post:

1. There are already guards in place at HOREC—since the last attempted
break-in (the one I wrote about two posts ago), people stepped up
immediately and hired the guards to start the night following the
incident….incredible!! So, the money anyone gives for security at
HOREC will be used to maintain the guards (we’d love to be able to
keep them permanently rather than just for this month that they have
been paid for) and to finish funding the electric fence that was
started in November.

2. If it is security you are interested in funding, you can go
directly to www.brightpointforchildren.org and click on “Donate Now.”
Then you can check ‘general donation’ and write that you wish for it
to go towards HOREC (or Strong Tower) in the comment box. They will
send you a tax receipt in the mail. Also, check out their webpage and
look around—there are numerous children who need to be sponsored, some
of whom are my kids at HOREC.

3. If you wish to send a check, let me
give you the address of my church there:

Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church
4385 Lower Roswell Road
Marietta, GA 30068

Write Annie Coppedge/Kenya on the for line of the check and you will
receive a tax receipt in the mail. Contact Gaylyn Kelly if you have
questions. Gaylyn.kelly@mtbethel.org

4. If you wish to send a package to Kenya, you can send it to my
friend Phoebe. She suggests the best/safest/cheapest way to send to
Kenya is through DHL. You can send any packages to:

Phoebe Muthoni Maina
Nairobi, Kenya

**please let me know if/when you send one so that I can know to be on
the lookout for it’s arrival. Thanks so much! annie.coppedge@gmail.com

5. Feel free to contact me with any questions… I might be a little bit
slow to reply, but I promise it will be within 3 days or so.

Thanks so much everyone for your generosity…. I am so very thankful!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to help

This is going to be long, I can feel it. If you do not want to read it all—at least read the second half please. Ha.

I have major pride issues and asking for help with ANYTHING... even just accepting help is so difficult for me. It always has been. There is nothing good about this... please do not mistake it for humility or any other noble characteristic-it's all pride. Trust me, I've tried my hardest to convince myself otherwise. I did not work instead of raising support when I decided to move to Kenya because I love to answer phones and work in concession stands... I worked because I would rather take the time and energy to do things on my own than to humble myself and accept the support of those who are willing and CALLED to advance the kingdom in this way. Some of you gave anyway and I see that as God's infinite grace displayed to me despite my heart in need of so much refinement.

Anyway, things have changed... I still struggle with debilitating pride that prevents me from asking for help for myself, but now I am asking on behalf of those whose voices are muddled as they aim to travel from this continent to the next. There are so many barriers between their voices and our ears. Now I am living it--my eyes are peeled back, my ears cannot silence the cries no matter how hard I try, and I am touching the pain with my hands. Now instead of asking for supposed needs of kids I have not met, I am seeing the extremity of needs and begging for your assistance because I have realized very quickly that Acts 2 does not happen without accepting assistance from members in the community. I cannot just set out to provide assistance for the community as ONE. Not sure if that makes sense... it is all just a big mess in my head, but I wanted to try to explain it before the paragraphs that follow this.

The needs here are limitless. The most urgent is the need for LOVE; but the incredible thing is that there are so many ways to show this Love. I don't want you to just read this blog or keep up with my facebook statuses or listen to me talk about these kids... I want you to be a part of this with me. So many of you already are in the hugest way--prayer. I cannot tell you how much peace I receive daily from knowing that you all are praying for these children with me.... that I am not the only one God is hearing their names from. These children do not have parents and I know that each of you with children put so much love and care into constantly speaking to the Father on their behalf. I know it's true--I've watched it and admired it and yearned to be a part of. It is enough that the names of every one of these children is inscribed on the palm of His hand... that is MORE than enough. But, for these children to be covered in prayer like yours are--the thought of that brings tears to my eyes. Eventually I will need your help setting these kids up with people to pray over them specifically--by name. I want you to know their hearts, their dreams, their fears so that you can pray best for them. I am praying for them but there are so many, thought I could spread the wealth. :) Or just accept the help of community... Also, your prayers are the greatest gift you can give me and I will never be able to thank you enough.

So now, I am asking you (and most of you do not need to be asked—you have been asking ME how to help since day one… and no, I have not and will not stop praising Him for your willing and generous hearts) to be a part of this, or continue being a part of this. I am going to be telling you of the needs I come into contact with as they arise. I have been here for 2 months and have already seen enough needs to last me a lifetime if I intend on fulfilling them with my own means. God has asked me to respond to the needs He shows me here and I am doing my best—but He has shown me how foolish I was to believe that this is something I am supposed to do by myself. Right now I will briefly describe some current needs and will be in contact as soon as more arise, trusting that nothing will be given as an obligation—just returning what He has given you. Also, one of my greatest pet peeves in the world (and I know I will offend some people with this… sorry) is when support letters end with “and if you don’t feel like you can give at this time… please at least pray.” Please please please, I pray, know that no tangible gift you could give to me or to these children is more coveted than your prayers. Truly. I mean that with every ounce of my being… I would rather have you approaching the throne for these motherless and fatherless children than have you paying for each and every one of them to be fully fed, educated, and housed for the rest of their lives. Believe me, please. So here we go….

-security guards (2 armed guards at night to protect the home from gangs that have repeatedly attempted-and once succeeded- to break in during the night)
-electric fence (razor wire is in place, we just need help funding the electric wiring)
-medical fund for kids (the HIV+ children at HOREC go to a free clinic that provides their antiretrovirals and medicine to combat the opportunistic infections that arise; however, when the children need to be admitted/need special lab tests and further care/get sick on the weekends, funds are extremely limited.)
*also, I feel very led to explore other homes where HIV+ children reside and find out how we can be of assistance in taking the best care of these kids. I am trusting that eventually He will provide the means for a children’s hospice center and/or rehabilitation center to care for these kids who are dealing with AIDS in unfavorable circumstances. Until then, I will pray He provides ways to help these children whether by paying for their hospital admissions/stocking a medical cabinet/etc.

Things to be sent:
-underwear (honestly, the more you can provide the better. Not just for my kids--it is a huge need in every children’s home and I know that I could find a grateful recipient for even a million pairs. As far as HOREC goes, we have already received some from the Young Adult ministry at Mt. Bethel which was a huge help. They covered most of the little kids-but we could still use some for 5-6 year old boys*about 6 boys total, 9-10 year old boys*2 boys total, and 10-15 year old girls*about 15 girls total.
-Socks (all sizes)
-handwash/antibacterial gel *probably easiest for me to buy here, though it is cheaper in America…
-medical supplies (bandaids, alcohol pads, gloves, Neosporin, etc etc etc…. anything you’d find in a first aid kit, really—very limited supplies here and they are expensive. I think those weekly medicine containers would be helpful too for those on HIV meds.)

-security guards for Strong Tower home for rescued street boys and girls (**urgent need that I will explain more to people who are interested in helping)
-medical supplies
-school bags (small bookbags/backpacks—used are fine!)**somewhat urgent as well… there is a children’s home that could really really use new bags before going back to school in May. I took pictures that I will post soon… their school bags are a mess. I can get each one a new bag for around 5 dollars….16 children. $80
-bed sheets (again, used are fine--twin sheets are best)
-personal Bibles (English OK)

those are priorities…. There are also some things that the kids would love, but definitely do not HAVE to have. These are probably all the things you actually are excited about sending/providing.

-clothes(especially for preschoolers because they wet themselves like 5 times a day. Also baby clothes are helpful.)
-toys/games (the only problem is that they need to either be for groups or there needs to be enough for each child in a home)
-art activities:beads, paint, paper, markers, crayons, stickers, etc.
-pictures/letters… they LOVE getting pictures, even just of your family or something random.
-kids dvds (as I write this, my little ones are all watching Shrek-thanks Brennan and Grant Kelly!)

now these are ideas of things you could provide for the kids to experience if you choose:

-a trip to the pool (it’s about a dollar per child…. So, for HOREC I am hoping to get about $30 dollars to take the kids before their holiday is over on May 2nd)
-a trip to see the animals that live in their country (most children have never even seen the animals our kids see at the zoo, even though the animals actually LIVE in the wild here)
-any other fun thing you can think of… they love to get out every once and a while. Now is a good time because they are out of school for two more weeks. Their next opportunity to go away for a day is probably not until August.
Even with just $20 dollars or so, I think I could figure out how to throw an ice cream Sunday party for an entire children’s home. Be creative. ☺ I also think $10 or so could provide an extremely rare event—sodas for all.

These are all just ideas because people have been asking and I WANT to provide a way for you to help… I am responsible to these children and GOD to share their needs and let Him do the rest of the work—leading you to respond however He chooses. The books you donated have been the HUGEST blessing... multiple children's homes now have stories to read before bed and His love is sung over them in a new way. Also, those of you that gave clothes--every single item has a new and grateful owner. Thank you :)

Gaylyn Kelly has been extremely generous in offering to help arrange all of this on the American side of things. An account has been set up through Mt. Bethel United Methodist church in Marietta, GA so that any monetary donation can be given with my name on the ‘for’ line. Some of the money will be sent through BrightPoint for Children (an incredible child sponsorship program that you definitely need to check out if you have not) - ie. security needs (HOREC and Strong Tower) and medical fund for children’s homes that are already being sponsored by them. If you contact Gaylyn, she will be able to give you more information and advise you on how to give. If you have other ideas, PLEASE share them with me or run them by Gaylyn if you’d rather. We want you to be able to respond to Him however He leads you… these are His children and I trust Him to direct you how to provide for them, whether by your prayers (that I allow the Holy Spirit to lead), your money (which I will watch in awe to see how He moves you to give), and your possessions (cannot wait to hear about a sweet child who decide to give up one of her dolls so a child in Kenya can have one). Before I go on for 5 more pages, let me give you my contact information and Gaylyn’s as well. Mine is annie.coppedge@gmail.com and Gaylyn’s is gaylyn.kelly@mtbethel.org. This will be a constant work in progress and we might not always have answers, but things will slowly but surely be figured out. Thanks so much for even reading this and I pray He overwhelms you with generosity so that you can in turn, be generous with Love.

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.” ~1 Chronicles 29:14

and all of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. . . . . . incredible passages about generosity/love/service.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I am going to start telling you about each of the kids He is letting me love… I want you to pray for them with me. I want you to know them. I want you to praise Him for what He is doing in their sweet lives.

He has changed my heart so much in just this short time and I wanted to share before I begin that I don’t think He wants us to be sorry for these kids. I don’t think He wants us to see them first as victims, I think He wants us to see them as blessed RECIPIENTS of so much love and grace from the King who calls them His own.

It seems simple, and maybe it is, but my heart is most often inclined to ‘pity’ the ones whose stories break my heart. Sometimes I watch 10 year old Mary care for little 7 month old Medrine so so lovingly and get tears in my eyes as I remember that she will never be a mom because of this brutal disease. I have so many questions for God when 6 year old Joseph shares that he would love to be a doctor when he grows up—and what an incredible doctor he would be, if this disease would stop tearing down his body. I am often furious when I hear a youth service at church telling children how dirty they are if they have sex before they are married, knowing that I can pick out at least 10 girls (and boys) in the crowd whose hearts are hurting as they recall the evil events that they presume place them in this category. BUT… He has redirected me lately and asked me to open my eyes that are tightly shut as I try to praise Him even when my mind is asking ‘why why why?’ He’s asked me to open my eyes and SEE HIM BECAUSE HE IS THERE. He was there during the hurt. He is there during the healing. This hurts Him more than it hurts me-more than it hurts them-but no evil can thwart His ultimate goodness. He was good then and He’s good now and if I open my eyes, I can see it. I can touch it. I love that the only times I remember that two of my girls were raped just months ago is when I am praising Him after I got to watch them sing their hearts out during worship or after we laughed until our stomach hurts and our eyes were full of tears…

If I am not looking for His face in the brokenness, I will be crippled by the deep pain of others. I have had this conversation with some of you because it has been a constant question as I have been face to face with evil and suffering so much over the past couple of years. I ask myself when I will stop seeing my sweet Nepalese girls as victims of sex trafficking—forced to work in the brothels of India as young as 8 years old. When will I first see them as beautiful, chosen, REDEEMED daughters of the King who have been washed whiter than snow by His blood… when will I forget what they’ve been through and more, when will they forget? Maybe forget is the wrong word. I don’t wish for it to escape our minds fully, but I want “those that sow in tears to reap in joy”(psalm 126). They do. He is faithful to that. The problem is me… the one who simply sees the pain and wishes I could take it but am constantly unable. Carol said (pretty randomly) the other day that she is not afraid of dying—she WANTS to be with Jesus. Holy moly. He picked me up and looked me in the eyes and said ‘see Annie! I AM good. Do you believe me? Look for it. Look for it and and expect it and you will see the depth of my love never changes.’

I am rambling, sorry. My point is just that as I tell you the heartbreaking stories of these kids and show you their faces, I am praying that we are able to rejoice in His promises for them. That we can still shout from the rooftops ‘HE IS GOOD!’ even when our eyes are open to their heartache. The thing is, because of His limitless and fully sufficient grace THEY are able to do this so I need to be also. I need to trust God enough that they might see their worth in HIM and not solely in their circumstances, unfortunate past, sad stories, or current situation. I’ll be back to write more later today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Leaving HOREC

Just wanted to fill you in on the events of the past couple of days—a lot has happened/changed. I spent Easter weekend, Friday through Tuesday, running all around Kenya doing various things—taking a friend to the hospital, getting over food poisoning, checking on some children in a dangerous situation, visiting the child I sponsor through Brightpoint, and spending time with my Kenyan family (Josphine, Faith, and Lenny). I got back to HOREC right at dusk on Tuesday night. I missed the kids so much over the weekend and it was so wonderful to see them again! We had a great night of fun and catching up. The kids are out of school for holiday, so they are able to stay up later and the older kids have more time for playing, as they have less schoolwork to do.

I am not sure if you remember/I ever told you about what happened at HOREC in November of 2009, so I’ll copy a blog post that was written about the incident immediately following:

“With terrible grief and heartache I must share terrible news concerning HOREC. On Thursday morning around 1 a.m. approximately 15 thugs broke into the orphanage. They were on a rampage coming from two neighbors’ homes that they had ransacked, beat and cut the people. All the people survived with multiple wounds. HOREC staff and children knew nothing of the havoc going on down the road until they too became victims. The men must have been watching the property because they waited until the night guard went into his house (just a short distance away from the dorm) to escape the rain. They quietly approached the dorm, cut the electricity supply, broke the lock to the front gate and made their way to the corridor of the bathrooms. Between the bathrooms and the girls' room the wall does not go all the way to the roof. Two of the thugs found the space and climbed over the wall landing in the girl’s bedroom. They then got the door open so that the rest could join. With flashlights shining directly in the kid’s eyes that were awake they told the children if they screamed they would be killed. They were carrying axes and machetes. Some of the men cut through the boxes of supplies, some were yelling at the staff to hand over money and cell phones, and others dragged two of the girls to the storage room and raped them. One of the girls is 14 years of age and the other is 10. Both have come from sexually abusive backgrounds. The housemother was being beaten mercilessly as some of the children were climbing under beds to hide. Miraculously some of the kids slept through the whole ordeal. Then, as fast as they had come they left. Their whirlwind was like a hurricane that ripped through bodies, hearts and minds leaving a shattered mess. It wasn’t until they left that the housemother found a cell phone they had hidden and frantically called Christine. Everyone was praying it was a nightmare from which they would awake. Christine, her husband and the police arrived to find the chaos of screaming children. Both the girls were taken to Nairobi Women’s Hospital and treated then sent back home. One feels helpless at the situation. Questions go through our minds and frustration feels like a heavy weight.”

This is what I read in December that changed the course of all of my plans for moving to Kenya… when I heard about this incident and these precious children who are not only orphaned, abandoned, and sick-but now traumatized in this way, the Lord made it so clear that I was supposed to move in with them and love them with every fiber of my being. Counsel? Yes, maybe eventually. Be a Child Life Specialist to? Yes, maybe along the way. LOVE? Absolutely yes--with everything.

Anyway, around 2am on Tuesday night, we received a call from a neighbor saying there was a gang of thugs moving through the community. They were beating people, breaking into homes, and stealing anything they could find. The adults were all woken up, myself included, but we did not wake the children. I was told as I laid my mosquito net covered bed, wide-eyed and confused as to why I was awake but there were no sick children, about the gang and to be prepared that they were outside and trying to get in, that they must have seen me arrive at night and realized I was sleeping at the home. White people in Kenya are assumed to have money so they are common targets for theft. God’s presence was thick in those moments and the peace I felt was indescribable-like nothing I’ve ever experienced or would expect to experience in such turmoil. My heart was at rest knowing that whatever the next several minutes or hours held, He was walking through it with us. Nothing mattered beyond that. I wrote this to a friend several hours after the attempted break in “I was preparing to personally hand them my laptop, phone, camera, and money given that they did not enter the dorm. I will even give them myself if that is what they're looking for. I had such a peace last night .............. Not an 'everything will blow over, no big deal' peace... But an 'I KNOW You are here and nothing will convince me otherwise. I will do anything in the world to protect these kids whether it means giving all of my earthly possessions, giving my body to be raped or beaten, or giving my life. I trust You to be the ultimate protector but if there is any role You want me to play in assistance, I am willing.’”

The thugs never got in… they were scared away by watchmen and probably somewhat intimidated by the electric fence that was installed since the last break-in. Please praise Him with me that the kids did not have to go through that again… that most of them never even heard the screams that echoed through the community all night as innocent people were attacked by pure evil. He is so gracious and I cannot stop thanking Him for sparing their hearts from seeing that evil once again. My brother sent a message saying that part of becoming like Jesus is learning to hate evil as much as He does… He encouraged me to pray that these men, who seem to fear nothing, would fear the LORD and would dare not enter into His home for HIS precious children and bring harm there. Much needed wisdom…

Unfortunately, for the safety of the children, it is necessary that I move out of HOREC. My presence -my skin color- was attracting men with evil motives and though it is extremely heartbreaking to succumb to their threats, the children will be safer in my absence. I am truly not worried for my own safety and trust that if He ever sees fit for me to return, I will hear Him clearly. For right now, I would be staying for purely selfish motives and as much as I want to, I cannot choose to serve myself over protecting the children. My heart breaks that I am not there to worship with them each night, to tuck the children into their mosquito nets, read them stories, pray with them, say goodnight and I love you a million times so that each one knows it is true for THEM personally, listen to them speak broken English in their dreams, check Carol for fever every couple of hours, hold the little ones as they fall back asleep after being woken by bad dreams, feel them cover my bed as I begin to realize it is time to wake up, give them their morning baths, try to sort out their school uniforms as they dance around the room in their birthday suits, and rub their backs as they take their morning and night medicines. Even just writing that was impossible without tears…. BUT, I trust Him. I trust Him to fill the deep holes left in my heart and if He was allowing me to bless any of their hearts like they bless mine, I trust Him to fill those holes too. I trust that He will take better care of Carol than I was. I trust that He knows what He is doing and this hurts me much more than it hurts them. I am waiting to see where He leads—not sure whether commuting will be an option or what. I knew I was supposed to live among them… that was my clear call from Him. I did it… I loved it… is it really already over? Hard to accept if it is, but time will tell.

This is extremely painful, my heart is broken… broken that these evil men have so much power. I must remember, though, that as much power as it seems they possess, it pales in comparison to HIS almighty power. That their small, corrupt power is NOT overtaking His… it never will. His purposes will come to be regardless of how hard they try to thwart them and for that, I am grateful. Please pray for continued safety of the children at HOREC… thank you.

"O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart." ~Psalm 7:9

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Losing myself

There are some days I really miss living for myself… ONLY myself. Don’t get my wrong—I live for myself every day, in some way or another, but He has shown me several ways to lessen the ‘me’ a bit.

When I am up all night with Carol as her body fights an opportunistic infection with the few white blood cells it has remaining…or holding little Thomas as he throws up and then collapses in fatigue…or tucking little Mary into her bed and mosquito net like her mom would surely do if she was still alive—I am not thinking of myself. I am not thinking ‘you are lucky I am staying up with you, Carol, because I am going to be pretty tired tomorrow because of this.’ And as I dry the post-vomiting tears of Thomas, the thought “Great. Now I will probably get the stomach bug. Thanks a lot.” never crosses my mind. When I am tucking in 6 year old Mary, my mind is focused on showing her love in this small way, not ‘I wish you could just do this yourself… I still need to brush my teeth and wash my face and the lights go off in 2 minutes.’

I will be honest, I did not come to Kenya solely for the people here. I did not come here only because my greatest desire in the world is for these children to know and experience the Love of Jesus Christ. That is definitely a large part of it, but in many ways, I fled to Kenya to get away from myself. I was sick of living every day for the good of myself and no one else. I am tired of going to bed each night thinking of how the day went for ME and how tomorrow will go for ME and what so and so thinks of ME and how I can cover up things about myself so people will like ME and so on and so on. I am even weary of praying and praying and praying about ME—begging Him to show Himself to ME, asking Him to refine ME, petitioning Him to continue bestowing blessings upon ME, and anything else I can pray for that all in all, promotes ME. I am tired of taking care of myself alone… of defending my own rights… of fighting for my own entitlements… only looking after myself… of pursuing the fruit of the Spirit for my own benefit… of asking to be filled so that I can hold onto His fullness instead of pouring it out.

I could easily blame this on where I am in life… this time period. I am no longer a child, so the responsibility of my wellbeing has transitioned to me from my parents. At the same time, I do not yet have a family—a husband, children, a household to look after, so that just leaves ME to take care of, right? I have felt so landlocked in this stage of life… longing for people to love and take care of and pour myself into, but going along with society’s role for people in my age bracket by attaining and perfecting self-reliance. I have tried this… I have given this my best effort while simultaneously praying a simple daily prayer for ‘Less of me and more of HIM’. He has kindly kept telling me again and again that I cannot live both for myself and for others. It won’t work. I have to pick one. [Please don’t get me wrong and think I am implying that if you are not living in an orphanage in Africa then you are doomed to Hell or something ridiculous like that… I am speaking extremely personally and have no idea what it is He is telling you—only know that He told me that if I am to live for others, I have to put myself in positions where my comfort is a low priority, because I will not give all of myself unless I intentionally seek these faces and places and stories and situations that demand all I have to give.] In Luke 9:57-62, there are people walking with Jesus who say “I will follow you wherever you go.” He tells them to come on and follow Him, welcomes them to live the life of discipleship and they seem willing….but if you read further you’ll see that they are holding onto things that they want to do first before following Him. One man wants to bury His father (pretty valid request if you ask me) and another wants to say goodbye to his family (again, not a bad thing)… that does not fly with Jesus. Their ‘but firsts’ show their disobedience to His calling, His invitation to follow Him. He says “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” The ‘but firsts’ I have been throwing at Jesus are plentiful… I knew He wanted me in Kenya, but I wanted to get my dream job and have a pay check and decorate a cute apartment and have dinner parties and live with fun roommates and get a new car for graduation and buy cute clothes and do other ‘young adult’ things [not quite as noble as burying my father or telling my family goodbye, but still, not bad things].

Anyway, I refuse to believe any longer that because I am 24, single, and childless—my only responsibility is myself. That is a bold lie that Satan had me convinced was absolute truth. I even believed that crap that I have heard from nearly everyone I know about “this is the time to take care of yourself… do fun things… travel… LIVE… because in just a couple of years you are going to be tied down to a family, a husband, kids running around draining all of your time and energy. GO and do the things you’ve dreamed of now!” To me, that translates to “live for yourself while you can.. it’s about to change because of the new roles you will take on as you grow up.” Do we realize that our days are numbered and every day we awake is designed so that we might GIVE OUR LIVES TO BRING HIM GLORY? I admit that my mindset is far from this when I am in America… I needed to come here, to follow Jesus here, because this is where He shows Himself to me clearest and this is where I most joyfully love myself a little bit less because I love others a little bit more. Because I love myself in a disgusting, self-serving way, I absolutely NEED to cling to these environments where ‘dying to self’ does not seem so farfetched. I commend all of you who are surrendering yourself each day in different settings… especially those without families to care for. It is one of my greatest battles and I need to be in settings where I don’t have a choice about whether I give my life for theirs or not. Not that I am forced to do it but I am face to face with the need and see how giving my life for theirs is absolutely worth it. It is a true JOY to care little about myself because my concern has turned to another. It is the greatest joy I have known so I will continue to follow it wherever He leads. It is not something that I see happening (the dying to self), but when I question the peaceful heart and inexplicable joy I have in these moments, I see it… the scriptures ring true in a way I can touch!

I want this always. I don’t have this always… even here in Kenya. He is teaching me that I must lay myself down each morning—daily. I cannot just do it on the days when someone is sick or there are tears that need drying or hearts that need reassurance that He is faithful. That is my tendency… Carol is feeling so much better—PRAISE HIM! The chicken pox seem to have done their damage and are retreating and giving Mary back her joy. This is truly wonderful—but it is on these days that I am appalled at how easily I return to living for myself alone. On these days I am annoyed with my lack of toilet seat and sick of washing myself in a bucket and tired of sheets that feel like sandpaper and annoyed that I am missing a great Easter meal and family time and burnt-out on cabbage, beans, and corn and frustrated that I cannot sit down and read my Bible, even, without a swarm of kids trying to distract me and mad at myself for thinking they’re maliciously trying to distract me instead of realizing they are just seeking love and attention in that moment. What I am saying is that when I am knee-deep in serving them, living for them is joy. BUT when I have forgotten my only task because it is not as glaringly clear, I can only think of myself.

Not sure if I am making sense… my point is that when I am not ‘in the trenches’ on behalf of these kids, my self love comes in full of force and fury. This love of Annie reminds me what my friends are doing right now and makes me jealous for what I was doing several months ago. It reminds me that I do not have to be sleeping on these crappy sheets and could easily be back at home with my down comforter, air conditioning, and shower to wake up to. It reminds me that I deserve alone time and even parents get more than I am getting, it’s not fair. It reminds me that there are so many other people who would be more qualified for this and if they would just step up and do it, I would not be needed. It reminds me that if I want to be like everyone else I will need to ‘find a husband and get married’ within the next several years and so what am I doing in Kenya? Surely postponing any natural life events. And the grossest look into my selfish heart: It reminds me that I am doing them a favor… it makes me hope that they see the sacrifice I am making… hope that they understand that I have come from far away and left a lot behind to be with them… surely if they saw this, they would give me the space I need and maybe a pat on the back every couple of days would be nice, too. Ugg. Gross, I know.

So, just telling you something I am struggling with… sharing my sin with you. I long for the moments when I am 100% living for these kids, when they NEED me. But when the level of need is assumedly lessened, I find myself again and begin to long for the things I believe I am entitled to. Selfless love is what I have been longing for and He is showing me where I can find it… losing myself in loving Him and thus, loving His children. Re-surrendering each day, whatever it holds (however mundane), is the battle…