Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Local Newspaper

About a year ago, I asked a writer at the Castle Rock News-Press to do an article on Mavuno Market.
She said no.
She said that unless we were doing something to serve Douglas County, she wasn't interested.
Hmmm ....

Well, she is no longer the lead writer.
So, I asked the new guy who has filled her shoes if he would consider writing an article on us.
And he said yes!

Mavuno Market may have its focus internationally.
But Passion for Orphans is also a local, Douglas County ministry.
We are serving our county ... and those surrounding us.
I'm thrilled.
He interviewed me today.
The article will be in the paper on Wednesday, August 6th.

I was relieved to find that Mike was thrilled with our organization.
And he was not concerned with whether or not we were doing anything for Douglas County.
Just the fact that we live here was enough for him!

With our upcoming P4O retreat in October ... I'm thankful for the publicity.
I love talking about what we do ...
and I want absolutely everyone to know!
This is a small step in that direction.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Knowing When to Say No

Ministry opportunities abound at every turn.

The challenge is knowing when to say no.

We are already busy enough trying to manage our home life ...
and homeschool our kids ...
and maintain friendships ...
and run a non-profit ...

This year, I am finally going to be a tutor at Classical Conversations.
This will be our 4th year, so I know most of the material.
It won't require a lot of my time, but it's a commitment, nevertheless.

Steve and I have also started working on our TESOL certification.
For years, I have wanted to do this, and when I saw it on Groupon, I bought two.
It's an online class that requires much reading!
We have one year to complete it.

And recently, a significant number of opportunities have come before us.
Our church is undergoing some BiG changes.
Because of that, the needs are great.
**Community Groups - which we plan to lead one in our home on Tuesday nights.
and more.

I am happy to step up and lead.
But I know that if I say "Yes" one too many times, I'll burn out.
It's a fine balance.
It takes much prayer and thoughtful consideration to know when to say "No".

I see it in the church far too often.
So many well intentioned people say, "yes, yes, yes."
After some time, tiredness sets in, followed by exhaustion, then burn out.
Great leaders fall out of service because they are F-R-I-E-D.

It's critical that we guard our time.
That we are able to serve well, where we feel called to serve.
If we want to serve, continue to serve, and have a lasting impact ...
we must choose wisely.
And so I pray that God will help me know when to say, "No."

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:1-8

Friday, July 25, 2014

Back to School Fundraiser

It's that time of year again.
The shelves lined with dirt, mulch, gloves, and plants
are replaced with pencils, paper, folders, and crayons.

The warm summer days will turn cooler.
The busy days of summer will soon come to a halt as kids go back to school.

As I start thinking about the fall and what books I need to buy and what school supplies we need ...
my mind is also filled with images of the kids at Mavuno Village in Tanzania.
Orphaned kids that now have a home and a mom and dad.
Until they are 7 years old, they are given a Christian education on campus.
After that, they walk about 2 miles to the local government school.

For only $26,000 we can start building a school on site!
That would cover the cost of one building.
That one building would have 3 classrooms.
Three classroom buildings would be enough to educate kids in Preschool - 7th grade.
In addition, a chapel/ library/ kitchen & dining building would be needed.

That's 4 buildings @ $26,00 each ... totaling $104,000.
That's it ... and we could have a fully functional school!

A school that would provide excellent, Christ-centered, Biblical-based education, that teaches and trains students' hearts and minds, equipping them to live with discernment, impact their sphere of influence for Christ, and glorify God in all areas of their lives.

That would be ...

So, this fall, as you are shopping for your kids' school supplies ..
use those coupons, shop the sales and ...
Why not make a donation to help us reach our goal of $104,000?

Join with us in giving the opportunity for a Christian education to kids in Mwanza.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Count it all Joy

Parenting is hard work.
In fact, I think it is by far the most challenging job I have ever had.

Every word I speak matters.
Every action weighs in the balance.

My friend, Andie Davidson, writes Bible studies at Quiet Times for Kids.
We recently started The Peacemaker Study.

As we read through the six principles for peace, I was convicted at #1!

#1 - We must accept every trial, irritation, and conflict as a test from the Lord for our good and for God's glory, and we must give thanks in it!

EVERY trial - - for our good?
for God's glory.
and we must give thanks.

Ok, I get it.
I can apply that principle in the little trials of the day.

I know, it's hard to believe that these cute little kids test me daily as ...
They fight.
Spill yet another glass of juice.
Leave their toys strewn all over my house.
Unflushed toilets disgust me.
A trail of Legos ... just to be stepped on.

I have to choose to accept these annoyances as for my good ...
that is, every time, I have the opportunity to respond with grace.
I must allow the Holy Spirit to help me react in a way that brings glory to God.
And oh how I fall short -- daily, sometimes hourly.
I don't like those irritations very much - and I make sure to let my family know I don't.
Say what?  Did I just say that?  I can't believe I reacted like that.
But I do.

I'd be lying to say that I don't want ..
kids who never embarrass me at the grocery store
a quiet and peaceful home environment
a marriage without conflict
enough money to never have to worry
everything to work out just the way I hope
healing to be found in my deepest wounds.

Where this gets me, and I find it very hard to do, is in the bigger irritations of life.
I'm talking sins against me that are bigger than conflicts or trials.
In fact, they are offenses that have done damage and left marks.
I've written about my story here.

How do you take a horrific abuse and see it as
     "a test from the Lord for our good, and for His glory ... and give thanks in it"
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  ... Keep your conduct ... honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." 
1 Peter 2:9-12

As I allow my trials be for my good ... I proclaim his excellencies and and reflect His glory.

But I believe that the challenge in all this is that I bring glory to God when
... I accept trials as for my good
... and give thanks in them.

If I want my children to learn this principle, I have to live it.
I have to model what I want them to do.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  James 1:2-4

I have to count every trial, sin, pain, suffering as pure joy.
Today, I have to count it ALL joy.
As I do, He gets all the glory.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Although this word is a bit overused, there aren't many words that better describe this concept.
Community is a group people living life together, helping each other, and serving each other.

Years ago, we had the best community we have ever had before or since.
We were involved in a church plant in Kalispell.
Steve and I were leading a community group and were surrounded by dear friends.
Many of them are still friends to this day.

Leeann Stutzman and Lisa

While living in Seattle, God blessed us with another community group that was a close second.
Mars Hill Church knows how to do Community Groups well.
We saw it modeled well and were privileged to be a part of a great community.
We rallied around each other.  We learned and grew together.
Our kids grew to love each other.

Since moving back to Colorado 3 years ago, our community has been lacking.
We've been blessed to have our families.  Our parents are always there for us.
My sister is one of my very best friends.
But beyond our families, we haven't had many others to call upon.


At last, we have turned a corner!
We have dear friends in our Classical Conversations community.
We learn together, play together, and grow together.
Some of my kids best friends are within that group.

We just spent the weekend camping with this great group of people.
We are so very thankful that God has placed these families in our lives!

Shawnie, Liberty, Kezi, Sawyer, and Wesley

Liberty and her new friend, Gracee Babiniec

Noel and Shiloh
We also have community at our church.

Heritage has now become Ridgeline Community Church.
And now, with a change in pastoral leadership... we are excited about what God is going to do!

We've been at Ridgeline for 3 years now.
We found it online before we moved back home.
They had an Awana program and our CC community was also meeting there.

But over the years, we have been disappointed with the leadership and have left a few times, looking for another church home.
Not finding one, we have returned again and again.
Most recently, we returned in April, when I was in India and our friends at Ridgeline rallied around us and helped with our kids and supported Steve while I was gone!

Our membership was finalized in May and we have jumped in with both feet.
We are launching a community group this fall.
Most of all, we are looking forward to building on the community we already have.

Steve, David, Estelle, Chad, Jon

Melissa and Lisa
I am very thankful for this new season.
I am thankful for good friends and sweet fellowship.
Community doesn't always come easily, and is often a labor of love.
So, I will soak in what I have now and thank God for this precious season in which we find ourselves.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


  • Merriam-Webster: “one who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
  • “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”
The key word in the second definition is ANY.
I can't say that I would manage ANY enterprise or business.
So, I don't know that I am a true entrepreneur.
But I am an entrepreneur.
I'm willing to manage (or start) a business and willing to risk the losses that may come with it.

It would be more accurate to say that I love to turn my passion into
opportunities ... or businesses ... or ministries.

From the time I was in my 20s, I was leading small groups, leading teams on mission trips, and teaching in a Bible school.
In 2002, Steve became the director of the Campus Crusade ministry at the Air Force Academy.
He directed that ministry for 2 1/2 years.
I led small groups and planned campus wide events.

In 2006, after having 2 kids, both born naturally, I became passionate about natural childbirth.
So, I took the Bradley Method training and became a certified trainer.
I taught classes for 2 years in 3 different states.  96% of my students had a natural birth!

In 2008, while living in Montana, teaching Bradley classes, I had a vision to start a small business.

I offered classes, workshops, and resources for families, both expecting and young families.
I partnered with midwives, doulas, childbirth instructors and more.
I loved it!  I even thought about becoming a doula, and still consider it to this day.

Prior to this, we had been a part of a church plant.
After the leading pastor walked away, we tried to assume leadership and restart a church.

In early 2009, we launched Enoch Hills.
As much as we really wanted to lead a church,
it was only a short time before we realized that it wasn't going to happen.

Circumstance moved us to Seattle, Washington.
During our time there, God gave us the vision to start Mavuno Market.
We were compelled by the vision of Mavuno Village in Tanzania and wanted to do everything we could to help further their vision.
In 2011, we got our non-profit status and launched our organization.
The idea of creating jobs for people in developing nations quickly became a passion.
I love buying and selling products made by women all over the world.
I love traveling to meet these ladies and learn about their life in their country.

In 2013, we had the vision to start a local orphan care ministry, as a branch of Mavuno Market.

As a result, we launched Passion for Orphans.
We offer ladies retreats, family gatherings, ladies lunches and a network of support.
Our 3rd retreat will be this fall.

And still God continues to expand our vision.
As we continue to work alongside Mavuno Village and support their vision...
as I've traveled around the world, visiting artisans, our vision to start a school is growing.
A school to offer education to orphans ... and a trade school to teach a sustainable trade.

With Steve's trip to Tanzania coming up in November to get a lay of the land,
we are starting the process of looking for grants to build the school.

The first phase is to raise $26,000 to construct the first building with 3 classrooms.
For the full school, we will need 3 buildings, an administrative office, and a chapel/library/kitchen & dining building.

Just the very thought breaths life to my soul!
I am most certainly an entrepreneur.
And extremely passionate about starting businesses, organizations, and ministries that impact the lives of people to the glory of and for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sweet Summer

I'm not much of a summer girl.
Spring and fall are my favorite seasons.
But without a doubt, I do enjoy the lazy days of summer.
I love that I don't have to start school everyday.

I certainly have favorite things I love about summer.


Bare feet


Days at the pool


Road trips
Camping - and extra time with friends

Play dates

Friday, July 11, 2014


Jaynee Hodgkins, Bethel Vatsaas, Amanda Purvis, Celina Baldwin, & me
Not pictured - Karen Sear, Marisa Ala, Jen House, Erin Rowland

In January 2013, just 1 1/2 years ago,
we launched Passion for Orphans as a ministry of Mavuno Market.
A gal who I had just met, Terina, willingly helped plan our first ladies retreat.

We had no idea what to expect, but in April 2013, in Estes Park,
we had 64 ladies from 15 states join us for the weekend.

This past April, we hosted our 2nd ladies retreat with 46 ladies from 6 states.
Terina and her family were living in Uganda at the time, so I did most of the planning.
I had a handful of ladies step up and help with the details.

After doing most of the planning, I realized that we could not continue
... unless I got some ladies to form a planning team!

And so - - seemingly out of nowhere, there are 8 ladies who have done just that!
I am so encouraged - and blessed - to call these ladies my friends.
We have such fun planning this event.
They are filled with ideas, suggestions, and input.
And they are willing to carry this great responsibility with me.

Through much discussion,
we have come to realize that our April retreat needs to become a fall retreat.
There are 3 other major orphan/ adoption events that happen from February - May.
Wanting to see the number of attendees grow, we decided to move it to October.

Celina and Amanda started researching locations and gathering bids.
In the end, we have decided to host it in the Boulder area.
And this week, we set the date!
It will be October 3-5, 2014

Amanda is working on finding the speakers ...
and our next planning meeting is in 10 days.

I love these ladies!
I am truly thankful for who they are and all they do!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


The joy of the Lord will be my strength

Many a day, I lose joy.

Not enough sleep.
Kids that talk back.
Disobedience and discipline.
Bills that need to be paid.
A house that needs to be cleaned.
Laundry that piles up.
Listening to my kids fight.

Disappointment rules the day.
Discouragement sets in.

But I know that joy does not come from my circumstances.
Joy does not come from perfectly obedient children.
Joy does not come from having enough money in the bank.
Joy does not come from having a clean and orderly home.
Although those things might help ...

Joy comes from deep within.
Joy comes from being in the presence of the Lord.
Joy comes from remembering all that He has done.
Joy comes from remembering that I am a child of the One true King.

Joy comes when I lay down my life for another.
Joy comes when I sacrifice much, but gain little.
Joy comes in through hardship and grief.

I loved this story from The Insanity of God.

For seventeen years in prison, every morning at daybreak, Dmitri would stand at attention by his bed.  As was his custom, he would face the east, raise his arms in praise to God, and then he would sing a HeartSong to Jesus.  The reaction of the other prisoners was predictable.  Dmitri recounted the laughter, the cursing, the jeers.  The other prisoners banged metal cups against the iron bars in angry protest.  They threw food and sometimes human waste to try to shut him up and extinguish the only true light shining in that dark place every morning at dawn.

Dmitri was threatened with execution.  He was dragged from his cell.  As he was dragged down the corridor in the center of the prison, the strangest thing happened.  Before they reached the door leading to the courtyard - before stepping out into the place of execution - fifteen hundred hardened criminals stood at attention by their beds.  They faced the east and they began to sing.  Dmitri told me that it sounded to him like the greatest choir in all of human history.  Fifteen hundred criminals raised their arms and began to sing the HeartSong that they had heard Dmitri sing to Jesus every morning for all those years. 

Dmitri's jailers instantly released their hold on his arms and stepped away from him in terror.

One of them demanded to know, "Who are you?"  Dmitri straightened his back and stood as tall and as proud as he could.

He responded:  "I am a son of the Living God, and Jesus is His name!"

The guards returned him to his cell.  Sometime later, Dmitri was released and he returned to his family.

May I choose the same joy that Dmitri found.
May I shout with joy, even in my darkest hour.
Joy is an act of the will ... one I must choose every hour of every day.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible to have that kind of joy!

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, 
shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sedona Fun

We had a super fun week in Sedona.
My parents are always such a blessing to our family.
They give and give and give.
They reserved their timeshare for themselves, and got one for us.
We drove to Albuquerque on Friday, June 27th and stayed with the Drinvilles.
We got to Sedona on Saturday the 28th.
Shawnie flew to Phoenix on Wednesday to spend a couple of days with us.
We drove home on July 5th and 6th.

Other than the fact that we didn't sleep very well....
with 6 of us in one room, and Shiloh coughing most nights ...
we still had a fabulous time!

My top 10 favorite memories from the week were ...

#1 - Spending time with my family!

#2 - A day with Steve, while Shawnie and my parents took the kids to Flagstaff!

#3 - Watching my kids have so much fun!

#4 - Lounging by the pool, watching the kids swim

#5 - Watching the sunset!

#6 - The beauty of the rocks around Sedona!

#7 - All the activities!

#8 - Just enough alone time to have a quiet time, read, and blog.

#9 - Seeing the Drinvilles and the Colborgs in Albuquerque

#10 - Stopping in Winslow, Arizona