Friday, November 22, 2013

Big Dreams, Little Me, Big God

Within the last year, I decided that I wanted to start a women's counseling center in Ethiopia.  Why not, right?

I don't know when this dream was originally planted, but I think it was growing long before I realized it.  It blows me away how hindsight gives us a view of our life that seems less chaotic and more seamless.

A few things have come together over the years to create this dream:

  • I saw the movie 58:The Film (see the full post here) about eradicating extreme global poverty
  • I've been frequently reading Isaiah 58 in its entirety and daily reading verses 6-11
  • My heart beats for the poor, broken, hungry, homeless, and oppressed
  • I adopted
  • I fell in love with my daughter's birth country of Ethiopia
  • My heart is torn daily wishing Feven's birth mother could be a part of this amazing little girl's life
  • I wonder who is counseling the birth mothers who have relinquished their children in Ethiopia
  • I wonder who is counseling pregnant women in crisis in Ethiopia
  • I wonder who is supporting women who are victims of domestic abuse in Ethiopia
  • I wonder who is helping to heal victims of rape in Ethiopia
  • I wonder who is crying with birth mothers on the difficult anniversaries of when they gave birth to their child, dropped off their child at an orphanage, or abandoned their child in desperation

I believe there is an unmet need.  I believe there is a way to assist women who have been through difficult situations in life to enable them to process what has happened to them and begin the road to healing.

But there are a few problems.  I don't know how to start a women's counseling center in Ethiopia or even if that would be helpful.  I don't know how to fund a counseling center or even how much it would take!  So faced with these questions I did the only thing I could do.  I started praying.

As I began praying, I remembered a children's book idea I had a few years ago.  I thought maybe I could get that published and the revenue from that would fund the counseling center.  The problem with that was that I don't draw.  During prayer one day I remembered that I had a friend who had illustrated a children's book one time.  I decided to contact him.

Amazing God Thing Number 1
Within 48 hours of contacting the only person I know who illustrates, he agreed to illustrate the book.  For free.

I continued getting excited about the counseling center and kept sharing my ideas with Zac.  I was also incredibly overwhelmed with life and was crying a lot during this time in my life.  Zac, being the truly amazing, protective, and thoughtful guy he is, advised me to stop working on the counseling center idea right now.  I had too much on my plate and it wasn't a good idea to add something else - especially something else that big.

So I kept working on it behind his back.

I wish I could say "just kidding" after that statement, but it's true.  I continued my slow work on the counseling center and stopped talking to him about it.  Not a shining wife moment.

I knew I could not do this on my own, so I decided to put out some feelers to one of my Ethiopia Adoption Facebook groups.  I was praying for 5 people to come alongside me to help research what it would look like to open a counseling center in Ethiopia.  I also prayed that at least one of the people would be a guy.

Amazing God Thing Number 2
Within about 3 days, I had 3 women who showed interest.  And one of them "happened" to be a travel agent who frequents Ethiopia, another "happened" to be a licensed counselor, and another happened to be 100% awesome.  So I had my 3 people interested + me making 4.  It wasn't 5, but I was pretty happy nonetheless!
By this time I was feeling awfully guilty for continuing my work when Zac was assuming I had laid this project down for a time.  One night after we crawled into bed I said, "Uh, Zac.  I have something to tell you..."  I told him everything and was expecting him to be (rightfully) upset with me.

Amazing God Thing Number 3 
Instead of being upset, he was energized by all the good ideas the team of people had come up with, he was amazed at how God was working, and...

Amazing God Thing Number 4
...he wanted to be a part of it.  He went from encouraging me to drop the project for an indefinite amount of time to supporting me continuing with it AND wanting to be a part of it. His interest made him the 5th person that I had asked God for.  AND Zac joining the research team made him also the "at least one guy" I had prayed for.

A few weeks later I was out weeding in the front lawn with Feven.  A lawn service solicitor walked up the street, saw me in the yard, and began chatting with Feven and I.  Quickly into our discussion he realized that I was not going to purchase his company's services, but we continued chatting anyway.  He was a good-natured man, kind, and had the build of an NFL player.  A few minutes into the conversation, he looked at me and said, "Are you a Christian?"  I was taken aback by this forward question.  I said yes and he said, "I thought so.  I am too."

Amazing God Thing Number 5
He then shared that he's an ordained pastor who is not serving at a church right now and wondering why God has him pounding the pavement for this lawn service.  He told me of 4 different mission trips he's been on and for some reason I told him of my dream to open a women's counseling center.  After I shared my dream with him, he quoted Matthew 18:20, "Where two or three gather in my name, I am there with them." and he grabbed my hand and said, "Let's pray over this dream."  So he took my hand in his big paw and we stood there in my front lawn and he prayed over my dream to start a counseling center in Ethiopia.

We talked a little more after that, but then his cell phone rang and he had to go.  His ringtone?  The chorus of "My Savior, My God" and I heard these words, "My savior loves, my savior lives, my savior's always there for me."

Indeed, my Savior lives!  He is listening to my prayers and He is moving in this world in ways I can't fathom.  He is placing big dreams in my little heart and moving to build those dreams for His glory.  Amen!


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