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The best time for moms to go on mission trips…

One thing that has shaped our children’s heart the most is going on trips to Zambia to Wiphan…without them.

Yes–there is a time to go together.

Yes–it’s hard to leave…but there will never be an easy time to go.

Yes–I’m a wife and mommy…but not first.

I believe there is nothing greater that I can show my kids that I’m the daughter of a King first and a follower of Christ.

Just as I want them to see how much I love their daddy…

I want them to see that I want to serve Jesus and follow Him most of all.

I will never forget seeking wise counsel about hosting a teenager or inviting a birthmom to live with us…”you are a mom to your babies first so I would say no”.

I’m so glad I didn’t take that advice and followed Jesus first.

Putting His voice first…

inviting brokenness into our home…

and teaching my kids that Jesus’s voice is the one we can trust even when it doesn’t make sense to the world…

Letting them see His faithfulness in our following…

Going when He says go…

Letting them see that mommies leave to serve but they also come back…


has changed them more…

Than staying right here and being safe ever could.


Dear Freshmen (a post after my 20th reunion)

This weekend I attended my 20th reunion. I signed up 2 days AFTER the deadline. I wasn’t sure if I would go. I almost didn’t. I’m so glad I did.

I left feeling like I could write a really inspirational, poignant senior commencement speech. And then I thought, “No–that’d be too late. They need to hear this in the beginning…” So…here goes—

Dear Freshman,

I just returned home from my 20th reunion, and I’m so glad that I went. I hope that 20 years…wait–24 years after today–you will go too…that you’ll WANT to go too.

I wish that I could impart to you the wisdom you will have at your 20th year reunion to take into your 4 years of high school. But…

That’s impossible.

If only you would read this slower–maybe twice–and take it in even if it doesn’t make sense now or it doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal.


Trust me.

It does.

And I promise–you’ll be glad you did.

1. Be kind.

You will walk into those high school walls wanting to be accepted. You are not alone. You will be tempted to say things or do things to be accepted…and some times you will tempted to even forget the preciousness of your heart–and you might be tempted at times to hurt others. But–BE KIND. You are not alone. Every single soul you pass–also wants to be accepted. Be different. Look hard to find something you appreciate and can love about every person you pass in the hallway. When others laugh or choose to be cruel–be different. BE KIND. (At your 20th year reunion–you will thank me.)

2. Have fun.

Life should always be fun whether you are 15 or 40. Look for ways to make the boring things fun–and don’t be afraid to take chances. So the drama club isn’t cool? Who cares;). Be confident. Try new things–and just have fun. I was terrible at Spanish. Hated it. But at my 20th reunion I ran into a classmate who shared with me how she looked forward to it–because I’d walk into the class and occasionally fake a fall to make everyone laugh. I totally didn’t remember this until she reminded me, but in that moment I was thankful as I remembered 20+ years later that I had made the hard things fun and funny. Create memories and have fun. There’s no reason school…or the memories you make during the next 4 years…should be boring;) But–don’t tell your teachers or your parents I said that if you choose to fall down tomorrow after sharpening your pencil or you decide to be silly and do something that we are still laughing about at the 20th reunion;)

3. Save the romantic relationships for marriage.

It was so much fun connecting with classmates without having any long-term dating relationships there to make things…with my husband present–weird. I was thankful my memories were full of funny friendship memories. You know those people who always had to have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Well–you will meet them soon and oddly enough–they weren’t at the 10 or 20 year reunions. Know there’s value in pouring into friendships now most of all. If you spend your high school time just hanging out with 1 person–you really have very little reason to come and re-connect because you just spent your years absorbed with 1 person…um–no fun;). It rarely works–and if it does…if he really loves you girls–he’ll stick around for after high school and college…and let you have your friends in high school too:).

4. Live for others and put others first.

Young people–you have such an opportunity in your schools and communities to shine brightly now. Serve in the little things–just letting someone in front of you in the lunch line or reaching out to be friends with someone who looks more afraid than you are–might be what you are called to do tomorrow. Look for someone hurting–and just be there to listen and walk with them. This can be beautiful practice for much that is ahead–in friendships, marriage, parenting, work…the list goes on. Befriend someone you think is completely different than you–because trust me–they might just be someone you look up to 20 years from now. Look for the best in every single face–and put them first…considering their interests or needs before your own.

5. Dream big now.

Dreaming big can feel like such a distant “when I grow up” or after I go to college goal…but it starts now. Know that the Lord has a plan for your life. Remember that He has a great big plan as you make decisions–both big and small. Make decisions you will be proud of in 20 years. Be honest with your parents–and if you don’t have parents that really care about the nitty gritty–find a friend’s parents you can be honest with and ask them if they will be mentor/accountability parents for you. Dream big about how God might use your gifts for His glory–and never ever let anyone stomp those dreams that He places in your heart.

6. Be brave.

Be brave to put yourself out there over and over again no matter how many times your heart gets hurt and no matter how many times you fail. Both will happen–and it’s the getting back up and learning from the falls that will shape you. The world can be cruel–but it can also be beautiful. Give to the Lord what is just too much for you to carry–and rise each day knowing He has a plan. Take chances with your mind and heart and dreams–and know that while the world might laugh–He loves you. So be brave.

High school can be hard–but it can also be beautiful. You can make a difference starting right now…on your first day–all the way to that 20th year reunion and beyond. I will tell you that every face you pass–one day you will treasure. And those who were kind to everyone will stand the tallest. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. So many sweet memories are ahead! So–take chances and have fun! It’s going to be the ride of a life-time and full of memories you will treasure.

Trust Him for sweet friendships and rest in His grace and love. You WILL make mistakes, but I pray that you learn and grow from them becoming stronger and brighter and more like Him as you do.Do the best you can–and know that everything rests in His hands–and no matter what happens…He truly has a perfect plan for your life!


Pictured above my sweet friends in 1995 and 2015…24 years after our freshman year in high school–and 20 years after graduation:). I love each of you to the moon and back–and so thankful for the sweet memories you blessed me with!!! Thank you for seeing me through the crazy days, being there when I made bad decisions, being kind and being such good friends–and for loving me no matter what. You shaped who I am today–and I’m thankful. So blessed to call each of you friends.



Laura McBrayer - August 4, 2015 - 10:34 am

I’m going to let James and Rebekah read this – so good to hear all of this from someone they love who is not their momma.

Sweet day {overwhelmed with blessing}

I’m a little bit toast from today and not sure I can put it all in words…(I’ll have to really process and write more about each of these later!)

…walking through the compounds to see Beatrice’s family…

…spending a day at school with Beatrice and Laney getting to meet one another…

…holding lots of sweet loves that I ruly love as my own…

…spending time in classrooms…

…laughing with our older students…

So much in so little time as we pack so much in.

And I’m left with the question on my heart tonight, “Why?”

Why does the Lord give us deep desires for something yet we only get tastes and glimpses of those dreams.

If you are a dear friend–you know I always felt called to be a missionary…that works with children. Yes…yes–I know what some of you are saying…that I get to be one as a mommy to my kids. But overseas is always where my heart has been pulled–but here I sit…just flying back and forth visiting. All are called to love these children in some way…but do you ever want to stomp your feet because your heart longs for a different ways.

My head tries to make sense of it. And my heart wrestles. While I hope one day–I grasp and look for ways to make sense of it. Maybe I’m just called to support and visit so I can help share their dreams with those called to sponsor…I don’t know–but my heart…oh how it longs to just be right here.

I know He calls us to places so He may be more glorified–so I’m holding on to that truth tonight while resting in thanksgivings for all that I have gotten to be a part of must just today.

I hope one day we will be full time goers…but for now we just listen and follow…visiting and planting ourselves…committed in these relationships and not giving up no matter how the storms might come and discourage or distract.

I’m thankful that while my heart longs to be here–that I get to come and visit and be reminded why we can’t give up…and let their dreams reignite ours instead. Once again reminded that we really need each other.

Signing off tonight with a full heart. Sponsors–thank you for supporting these kids. I wish you could see them in person–I treasure this privilege and gift and just want to relay to you…God is doing great things in the lives of these children! Pray with us for these loves and more to join us in loving big!



(I chicken pecked this from my phone so please ignore any typos;)



Pure. True. Faultless. TOGETHER {we need each other}

So much has happened since our first day here–that writing it all in just one blog post is impossible.

We have worshipped with our brothers and sisters across the world. Hearing them sing words only our hearts knew were to our same Father in heaven.


We have held hands with the hurting—ones we know well enough to know their hurts because we have relationships that we keep coming back to…that bring so much understanding why we are called to come visit…

…which makes me sit and soak up what it really means in James to “visit” and to “look after” orphans and widows in their distress. I think the most amazing part is what hugs that verse in James 1:27. Chew on that…let that soak in. So good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about who we visit and who we look after. Do you think of strangers? To look after or visit doesn’t suggest something that just happens once but really—something that happens in a relationship. I’m going to visit…I need to look after…both suggest relationships that are known and ongoing. I knock on a stranger’s door–but I visit my neighbor and friend. And I’m beginning to learn what it means to REALLY be friends with our friends in Zambia.

You see–looking after and visiting orphans and widows…this is never easy…especially when you have some what of a “normal” life. Sure we all have our problems–but every day life in a typical family seems to fill our days and our time…and the enemy has really confused us (or me any way) on how the Lord wants us to spend our time. We really have to soak in everything surrounding James 1:27 before and after to fully understand it…and we have to live those verses in order for James 1:27 to be carried out in the spirit He intended. Pure. True. Faultless.

We can’t live being the victim. Or being judgmental. We have to be slow to speak and really listen. We have to hold our tongue and be watchful of getting angry.

Pure. True. Faultless.

We can’t just listen to the Word. But we have to DO IT. Not look to the right or left–but begin to listen for the Spirit–and take brave steps where ever He asks us to no matter how big or small they might seem.

Pure. True. Faultless.

This is where freedom is found. This is where we will hear from God. This is where we stop looking and comparing and worrying and little lies seep in. This is where we open our hearts and say yes to following more of Him and whatever that means.

Something different for each of us–but I will tell you…I don’t know why or how or what it will look like for you if you are a believer…

But we are all called to be involved…to stop by…to invest…to visit…to sacrifice…to love…to hold the hand of…to cry with…to walk beside…orphans and widows.

And if you shake your head or that rubs you the wrong way…read James 1 every day…soak it in…ask Him to make sense of it with you and for you. Because I’ve been wrestling with those words for many years—and struggling to live them out because I believe the enemy sees orphans and widows as some of the most vulnerable…some of the easiest to deceive…and for awhile–I thought it just meant they needed us.

The truth is–they do.

The other truth is–I need my life to be full of visiting and loving and walking with orphans and widows far more than these sacred souls need me in their life. If I don’t say yes–the Lord already has another ready to say yes and there…because I know He cares so deeply for the orphan and widow. When we say yes–He meets us right there…or rather we meet Him in a deeper way and experience Him in ways we never imagined as we hold hands together. And listen. Taking steps together. Encouraging and being encouraged.

Because what you might not know–is most orphans and widows already have a deep sense and understanding of who God is in their worlds…as many have spent years and years processing their losses and trusting the Lord to be their father and their protector and their All.

To dance and sing together…

These past few days—

Has been overwhelming.

And I’m still learning why we need each other.

Why we are called to visit.

To come back year after year.

To sponsor and write letters.

To remember each other and walk together.

It’s one of those beautiful things that no one has all the answers for.

I do know seeing these children grow up–seeing these mommas have more hope–and bigger smiles…gives me more hope…and a bigger smile too. To know their faces and their names…this is worth more and attainable to anyone who wants it.

Walking these streets–I wish everyone could experience these relationships. Almost 8 years of investing here…and you can jump in and join us (or any orphan and widow ministry) whenever you want.

We have laughed with the ladies in our jewelry program…sitting making jewelry with them for hours. They are trained at Wiphan to make jewelry–then they sell them.



We danced and made up silly songs today with the Hospitality students. Students who after program completion will get jobs at hotels and lodges. As I type this–the lodge manager at the very lodge I’m typing in was one of our former students! I’m so proud of Chris! All of our graduates have jobs now!! Truly amazing.


We watched Laney teach the children songs. Then she’d run to me and make sure I knew who Moses, Mark, Veronica and Mary all are–who sweet friends that she doesn’t want to leave in a week. She’s asking to not just visit each year–but “mommy can we please move here!?”


We walked the streets of the compound–and saw many future little students who will in the years ahead be old enough to start our kindergarden and come to school. We passed drugged men, drunk me, red-eyed men—who foolishly and shamefully look for children in the compound. And you know what–WE DO TOO. And it’s our job to get to them first. Get them safely off the streets during the day–and to make sure they have a safe place to go at night. There are many troubles that will make you want to get on a plane and be discouraged and never come back…or even in your own city forget they are around the corner too. BUT. Don’t do that. Oh no…you can’t afford to miss out on all the Lord has for you in these friendships too.


Then we ended our day in one of our Tuli-One homes. They are like foster homes where we give a foster momma housing and money for food–and 3-5 children can live in the home if they don’t have a safe home to sleep in. Today we visited one of the boys homes. A sweet, but strong 14 year old boy came in. He loves soccer. He plays front line. He loves school. He’s smart. And when we asked him about his life–one of the first things he said…

“I go to Wiphan. I don’t have a sponsor.”

Oh my heart. Because when you don’t have a family to come home to and you live in a Tuli One home too…and your heart wants a family–some times you just are brave and with his big eyes and dimples…your heart just takes a chance. It wasn’t a sad response–but a brave one from a brave boy…who I could tell has trusted a BIG God to get him this far. A boy who–although I’m 25 years older–could teach me a thing or two or two hundred–about what it means to trust Jesus and to be strong and to be okay with weakness…and what it means to trust in provision and protection.

We have 750 precious children. And they all want to be sponsored–but just over 200 are. We know it’s crazy to pray for 500 families to join us…but we are praying that God would bring 500 families to sponsor a child. I know not every family can visit their child for different reasons–but will you pray with me…if you just happen to have read this far;)…that God would raise up 500 families to say yes to walking together beside a child at Wiphan?

So much to take in–and it’s only Monday. I already can’t wait to come back. Slowing down each day to JUST BE…and be present right where He has placed me. And I’m so thankful that right now it is with women and children that have changed me more than almost anything else or relationships I have ever had. Our family, our marriage, the way we live–all different just because we said yes to living together–realizing we need each other–and even when it was hard or we wanted to give up…choosing not to…and staying right here. In one place to love…to watch grow…to grow ourselves…and to be changed. In His presence. Shedding lots of stuff so we could…all that stuff in James 1 and daily seeing more to shed.

There’s room for you too. And we would love to have you join us. Together. Oh how we need each other.


More to come…can’t wait for my Laney to meet Beatrice TOMORROW!! Years of writing one another…and tomorrow Laney gets to meet who she calls her God-sister!!! Over the moon and can’t wait for my girls to finally meet!