Word of the Week

So many of you who read my posts are known for your justice work.

You march.

You write op-eds.

You give money to organizations that bring wholeness and healing to the world-- causes of all kinds.

I'm so proud to be among your tribe!

However, when it comes to orphan care, foster care and adoption, I’ve noticed we don’t talk as much about this kind of work. Nor do we as people of faith, especially those of us in the progressive camp, direct much of our advocacy work in this direction. Though current stats tell us this story of a great area of need:

When Kevin, my husband, became the head of a global relief and development organization in 2012, our family began to see this need right in front of us. We met children from all over the world who not only struggled to have enough food to each, but who also were living without one or both parents. We saw children who might have had big dreams of going to college without any adult in their life to support them. We learned so much about how a child or teen never outgrows their need for family.

While we were open to adoption (and eventually did become adoptive parents), a new calling stirred in both of us to be a part of orphan care even outside of our home or paid jobs.

This new thing in my life grew to have a name: Our Courageous Kids. It's a foundation incorporated with the full blessing of an IRS 501(c)3 status that is raising funds as we speak to give grants to kids growing up in international orphanages to allow them to go to college or graduate school. It also seeks to support other special experiences with the intention of raising a child's hope like special field trips or Christmas gifts.

I'd love for you to go over to this website and learn more about what I've been up to the past year and/or consider partnering with us as one of our donors.

But most of all, this is what I want to most tell you today: the work of orphan care needs you!

Children need to be fostered domestically!

Children need to be adopted domestically and internationally!

Children living in foster homes or international orphanages need to know their stories are valuable, their dreams are important to somebody and that they have more family than they realize that are cheering them on!

Such are overwhelming asks, I know. But, I believe the answers to these needs often lie somewhere in our communities. And baby steps of action begin when we connect with organizations like Our Courageous Kids and countless other groups who are pioneering a movement to champion some of the most vulnerable children among us.

If you're a church person, one easy way to plant the seeds in your congregation would be to observe Orphan Sunday as we will be doing this Sunday at The Palisades Community Church in Washington, DC this November.

Orphan Sunday is a national emphasis sponsored by the Christian Alliance of Orphans geared toward helping churches remember the calling of James 1:27 which says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.”

If you observe it, it’s a great day to share statistics about the need for foster parents in your community. It’s a great day to have folks who have adopted domestically or internationally share stories about this faith journey in their lives. It’s a great day to speak to God’s heart for the vulnerable children in the children’s time or in the sermon.

If you would like more information about planning your own Orphan Sunday, you can read more here or feel free to contact me.

Dear readers, know that orphan care is work you'll hear me talking a lot about for a long time. For me, it's one way how the faith I teach and preach about finds action. If you're up for it, pull up a seat with me and join the ride as I learn. Consider following Our Courageous Kids' blog if you want to have a front seat for the adventures that lie ahead. I know it will be fun. 

Since I've last blogged, I've literally been to the other side of the world and back. Literally.

Our family traveled to Kenya to support the work I'm doing with Our Courageous Kids. I attended an orphan care conference in Nashville, Tennessee. And then last weekend, the book tour for Birthed took me to Birmingham, AL to talk about grief and its good news: we can rise from the worst things that happen to us! I was so thankful to Baptist Church of the Covenant for hosting me!

I loved all of it! Travel is so life-giving for our household. Not necessarily for the adventure of experiencing a new place or seeing something new (though these are wonderful side effects), but always for the people. We love maintaining relationships with friends and family all over the world. The people in our lives in all their diversity make us a better human beings.

So, when you've literally been to the other side of the world and back you don't know how to begin. You don't know exactly what to say. Or what to highlight. Or what details of what you've seen matters the most. So I've been quiet for a couple of days.

A wave of exhaustion (or maybe just jet lag?) hit me on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (and maybe even still today). You don't go to the other side of the world and back (with a 10 month old in tow I might add) and not feel tired. 8 hour plane rides repeated (times 4) with a baby are not for the faint at heart.

But here's some things I know for sure from all of the ways we've been on the move lately:

When it was time to leave for our Kenyan trip, I started to panic. I mean, packing enough formula, clothes and toys to meet baby girl's needs for 9 days felt overwhelming even for people like us who travel all the time. I told Kevin over and over again how naive we were for even attempting such a big adventure. I have to say the word crazy came out of my mouth more than a couple of times . . .

But, even though the travel was as hard (or harder) than I imagined the journey was worth it. It was worth it because showing up means so much. To the children we met with again. To the old friends we hugged. To the new friends we had a chance to spend more time with! It was a joy to introduce our daughter to her Kenyan brothers and sisters! Joy that overflowed from our hearts in being together. Presence means everything! 

Last weekend, I worked with a group of deacons in their pastoral care ministries with family groups in a Birmingham, AL church. During our last session together, I took a risk. I taught on something I'd never tried before. SHAME.

I brought up the topic of shame because I think it has everything to do with how we speak of grief. 

I did so knowing my audience, I thought, pretty well.  But what I found as we began our conversation with one another is that SHAME is so hard to talk about even among friends. It's so personal. It's like the garbage we want to take out and forget ever came in our home. Yet, like it or not, it's in all our stories. We all struggle with feeling unworthy, unlovable or an outsider in our own communities (even if we not ready yet to say it aloud). We all have our own version of "the worst mistake" stuck in our heads somewhere. But this I know: we help one another heal as we begin to talk about it!

One of my favorite parts of the Christian Alliance of Orphans (CAFO) conference in Nashville this year was a workshop led by Jedd Medefind, President of CAFO and Kathryn Joyce author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption. 

The session started with Kathryn introducing herself saying she was a liberal feminist atheist AND an award-winning journalist. What was so astounding about her introduction is that it came at a very conservative Christian conference. (As one of the only non-conservatives in the room, I wondered if someone in the audience would either try to shame her or convert her after the presentation). But she was there because Jedd had lovingly invited her, even though she wrote a book that was highly critical of many aspects of Christians in the adoption community. Over the next hours, together, the two of them dialogued respectfully and openly and no one got hurt.  Their talk was a great example of what beautiful moments look like when we talk honestly with one another about what we believe. I felt so encouraged that maybe CAFO has a place for me in all I'm trying to do with the orphan care organization I'm seeking to build.

What about you? What have you been learning lately?

P.S. I'm glad to be home for a while!

As many of you know, over the past year, I’ve been in the process of going through the necessary paperwork with IRS to establish a foundation in support of orphan care.

After spending so much time from 2012-2015 traveling the world and learning from kids living in residential centers, I felt a new calling to do something . . . to use my voice . . . my resources . . . to challenge my friends to include vulnerable children in their family.

I’m so happy to report that in July, Our Courageous Kids received it’s 501(c)3 status and we’re up and running.

Our Courageous Kids was born!

The vision for Our Courageous Kids is simple: to help orphans thrive the same way we would do for any child growing up in our family.

We don't want to be in the orphanage business ourselves BUT want to pool our resources together to provide grants for educational and life enrichment projects for kids in already established residential centers. We want to say to kids without parents, "Dream big for your life! You have a global family cheering you on!"

You can read more about the mission of this work here at our website

Currently, I’ve forged partnerships with three orphanages— an all-girls home in Kenya, a boys and girls home with many special needs children in Kenya and all-boys home in Honduras. These are places I’ve personally visited many times, vetted and trust completely. 

Thanks to the generosity of some of our first donors, our first two projects we’ve supported came in connection to the Christmas holidays. Two weeks ago, 40 boys in Honduras received Christmas presents thanks to Our Courageous Kids and a joyous Christmas celebration complete with a very special Christmas dinner! Soon, Christmas presents will be delivered to one of the orphanages in Kenya. And the other center in Kenya is completing it’s grant application currently for it’s first project to be awarded in January. 

The smiles in the pictures below came this week because of Our Courageous Kids. 

As you are making your plans for end of year giving, Our Courageous Kids would love to have you support!  

In 2017, we look forward to empowering several children with their school fees and establishing a counseling center at one of the orphanages to help the children examine their own stories and move forward with hope. 

Checks can be made to Our Courageous Kids Foundation and sent to PO Box 41054, Arlington, VA 22204. Or you can donate online.

If you have any questions about our work or how you can be a part of supporting particular projects in the future, don’t hesitate to contact me. Happy holidays! 

Sincerely yours,


Founder, Dreamer and Administrative Guru for Our Courageous Kids image1-2