My Christmas Will Never Be the Same

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2011 Yei, South Sudan | Photo Credit: Anna Betty Photo

Ten years ago I struck out on the greatest adventure of my life.  I moved site unseen clear across the world to found Iris Global’s presence in what is now South Sudan.  It was a war-torn patch of earth, with some of the most beautiful people I have ever met and had the privilege to share life with.

I got to call their nation home for seven years.  And over a hundred children still remain forever in my heart loved as my own.  On Christmas day 2006, we flung wide the gates of a temporary rented compound with structures falling down from damage from the war. We fed over 1000 people Christmas dinner and welcomed our first 12 children to come to live with us.  On a day that celebrated the birth of Jesus where there was no room for Him, we wanted to open wide our doors to all whom He brought us.

These years were filled with beauty and heartache, joy and radical decisions to trust in the face of seeming impossibilities. Miraculous healing grew up along side devastating loss.  I dealt with overcoming odds I’d never knew I’d face (the business end of Ak-47s for example) and eventually seeing the collapse of my health after 18 grueling infections of cerebral malaria (and that’s not counting likely typhoid and other crazy tropical bugs).  It cost me everything in the end and I would do it over 1000 times without hesitation.  I got to see a new nation be born and thousands of lives impacted with what started with a simple yes.  There is no end to what Jesus can do with our yes. No end.

In a few days, my family in Africa will celebrate 10 years of God’s provision and faithfulness.  It seems like yesterday and forever ago at the same time.  I was hoping to join them in person (and prayerfully still will as soon as I am strong enough and the timing is right), but I am there in heart and spirit and could not be prouder of how they have grown and love each other, as well as their whole community.  They are beacons of God’s heart, an outpost for heaven and His Kingdom.

My Christmas will never be the same because He’s allowed me to hold a nation in my heart.

Because of instability currently in South Sudan, they had to move unexpectedly to a community in a neighboring nation.  This means they are having to rebuild from scratch. If by chance you’d like to give and help them start again in a new place, please go to their giving page and give hilariously from your heart.  I know the leadership well and can tell you every penny goes directly to help the children.

Things have been mostly quiet here for the last 3 years.  Honestly, it has taken that long to even begin to get back to a very fragile state of minimal health.  There is still a potentially long road ahead for me.  And I didn’t think you’d be all that intrigued with a running monologue of all my medical craziness or chronicles of me feeling like a pin cushion.

2017 is a huge year.  I finally have the go ahead from Jesus to start diving in again with the things He has called me to.  I have so so so much to share about that.  Finally.  I have the release to do the only thing I really know how to do in the face of crazy obstacles: dive deeper into God’s heart and GO for it with all I am. I can’t wait to take any of you who want to come along with me.  You are so loved!