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Sunday, December 31, 2017


what. a. year.

i rappelled off a building. i faced someone who crushed my family. i grieved the loss of my grandpa. i ran my first 5k. i learned about infancy loss and heartbreak from a friend who openly and bravely grieved the loss of her son. i took a promotion at work. i was part of a birth team and watched my nephew come into the world. i turned 30. i applied to go to africa. i got accepted. i raised 3500 in three months. i joined a small group at church. i celebrated. i mourned. i praised. and i struggled. i grew.

all i can concentrate on now is being ready to go to uganda in just a few weeks. i can only pray that 2018 is as full of life, adventure, challenge, and fearlessness as this year was.

cheers, 2017. you were a wild one. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

november news

some really cool things happened this month that i don't ever want to forget about.
i had an appointment at the beginning of the month to get my yellow fever vaccine. i made the appointment about a month before that, told them what i needed and why, got all the details about what to bring with me, took sick time from work, and off I went. i sat in the waiting room for over an hour, which was annoying, but would have been okay on its own. however, went i went back and was able to see the doctor, he informed me that there is a national shortage of the yellow fever vaccine and they no longer offer it. um... okay, that would have been really good to know when i made the appointment a month ago, and before i took off work and sat here for over an hour. he gave me a list of places i could call to get the vaccine, gave me several other recommended booster shots, and sent me on my way. i called tulsa because it was the closest option and they couldn't get me in until december 21st. which made me stupid nervous because it was so close to when i was supposed to leave. but i made the appointment anyway just to be safe. i ended up calling the little rock clinic and was able to get in on black friday, november 24th. i called dad and we made plans to drive there and back that day, him so graciously offering to ride along in case i had any reactions (or just to spend time with me, that's up for debate). i put it out of my mind and didn't think anything else about it. fast forward to sunday the 19th, the weekend before we were supposed to go to little rock. mom was talking to jill, because we were spending the weekend after thanksgiving together, and said that we weren't coming until saturday now because of dad and i driving to little rock. jill says hold up, parsons is an international hub and we offer that shot here, so let me call on monday and see if they have any vaccines left. um okay cool god, if this works out i'll cry. she calls me back and tells me that they had 6 left, but a group of 6 were scheduled to come in on Monday and get them. dang, okay, worth a shot and still cool that it was a possibility. but then, she calls back to say, only 5 of 6 showed up and they have ONE vaccine left. ARE YOU KIDDING ME GOD?  so i cry, like can't believe that it's in parsons and i don't have to drive to little rock and okay now when do i need to get there during the week and oh crap its also thanksgiving that week so the health department is closed so whatever i need to do just let me know. jill works her magic, (ps. jill worked at the health department for many years and just recently, like in the last 6 months, left her job there, so she knows everyone really well), and her old boss Debbie agrees to meet us up there on a Saturday, when the health department isn't even open, to give me the last remaining yellow fever vaccine they have for the next year. Again, ARE YOU KIDDING ME GOD?? So now not only do I not have to drive to little rock, i don't even have to make a special trip to parsons, she is just going to meet me there over the weekend when i was already going to be there for the weekend. okay, god, i see you, and if i ever doubted you wanting me to go on this trip, it's loud and clear now that i'm supposed to be going. so i roll up to parsons kansas to see my friends (read bonus family) and get the one vaccine i really need and then receive a donation from her boss on top of all of that. debbie, you are a heaven sent gift. god, you are crazy cool. i can't believe this is the story you are writing for my life.
also- i met part of my team this month. i was stupid nervous, because you know, anxiety. but it went really well. I'm feeling anxious still because it seems like everyone else on the team has a really defined role and clear expectations of what they'll be doing, and i don't and my a-type brain is having a hard time with that. i keep saying "even if i go and only love on kids for the time we are there, it will still be an incredible experience" and that's true. so i'm trying to just be content. its way harder to do than it is to say. 
one more thing that didn't happen in november, but i don't ever want to forget and it's related to uganda and going on this trip. back in april i had to work after school care unexpectedly because my staff called in last minute. i was ticked off. so annoyed that i had to work a 12 hour day last minute because of irresponsibility on someone else's part. i didn't want to be there, but since ASC is my program at work I had to cover it. so, away i went. it was a beautiful day that day, so we spent most of the afternoon outside with the kids. a grandparent came around 4pm to pick up their grandson, and since it was so nice she asked if it was okay that she stay and let him play for a little while. i said sure, and went back to my business. i was sitting with two kiddos on a blanket and she came over to chit chat. (side note- i hate chit chat. especially at work. i have a job to do and i need to focus so chit chatting makes me bonkers.) so here comes grandma lady wanting to chat it up about the work we do and how incredible it is and how special we are to work with kids with special needs. i agree, yeah, yeah, they're cool kids, yada-yada. then she starts to share about a random experience she had a few years ago, was supposed to be traveling with her friends and one ended up sick and unable to go so their plan was altered a bit. they ended up a a place in africa that works with kids with special needs. she proceeded to talk about how cool it was and how it changed her views on things and gave her a new perspective of being engaged with people with disabilities. i kind of laughed and asked, "you said this was in africa? did it happen to be ekisa?" and she starts crying. (side note 2: know what i hate more than chit chat? crying strangers.) she says yes, and i tell her how much i love Ekisa and have wanted to go for several years and it just hasn't worked out. and she says "i just got goosebumps. i want you to know that you'll be going to Ekisa this year. and i'll help fund your trip because you need to be there." and i'm like.. uhhh hold up lady tell me what your name is again? who are you and how did we get here? she tells me to call her and we can talk more about the trip and how to get funded to go. (fast forward to november now- i can't get ahold of this lady for anything, so she didn't help me fund my trip- but funds were never an issue and god provided. just cool that back in april before i even applied to go on this trip god was working and knew i would be going and put this lady in my path to light the fire in me again.) 
so. god writes cool stories. he does cool things unexpectedly and doesn't forget our dreams and wishes and works them all together for his good. and it's really cool to see the details be worked out like this. for it to be so clear that i am supposed to be on this trip. thanks god, for the story you are writing right now. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

october tidbits

some things that happened in October...
-we went to the pumpkin patch and it had the most beautiful field of sunflowers
- rex was dedicated at church
- ruthie had her 5th birthday, full of all things princess and dress up
- tracen got all 3's at school so we had a special date filled with Ricks bakery donuts and the arcade. the man working there gave T a free pass to come back next time he has good "grades" again and he was pumped
-Dewey played t-ball, and you could see his courage grow each week which was really cool
- we took the kids to Dewey's fall festival at school and ended the night with a chickfila date
- 99 Balloons held their 10 year celebration and I was able to be a part of it. really cool to see what God is doing with the organization and how he is weaving my story with it
- i went trick or treating with my class at the walmart home office, and it went off without a hitch. which is almost a miracle considering how overstimulating and loud and chaotic it is
- i had my first overnight babysitting gig, and it also went off without a hitch
- painted and carved pumpkins with Tracen
- shared my blog on Facebook to tell people about my upcoming trip
- was crazy surprised how supportive and encouraging people were
- i met my fundraising goal of $1000 in October
- baby Will was born and went to be with Jesus. i watch my community in Columbia surround the Colemans and celebrate during tragedy and it was such a beautiful picture of the gospel at work
- work was really challenging, a lot of hard things happened and pushed me way out of every zone i have ever been in. several people got fired. i cried a lot. but i survived. and learned a lot about being a manager and a lot about myself.
- my anxiety was off the charts this month. it lead to some really challenging things, my feelings getting really hurt, crying a lot, canceling plans, staying home. god redeemed it and when things didn't work out one way like i anticipated, he provided other plans that were fun and good for my heart. ruthie loved her bracelet and special date day. i have to figure out how to manage my anxiety when things are so tough, because october was a hard month.
- discover group continues to go well. i'm enjoying getting to know some people and hopefully growing a community.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

fearless mission

I'm going to Uganda.
I'm going to Uganda.
I. am. going. to. Uganda. 
I have to keep saying it out loud because it seems so unreal. its hard to believe that a 5 year, far fetched dream is going to happen. so i keep saying it out loud. i am going to uganda.
now that it is a dream coming true, i thought i needed to share a little background about 99 balloons and Ekisa. where my heart is at with this trip. why it's such a dream.

99 Balloons ( is a local nonprofit organization. It was started by a family, the Mooney's. The Mooney's had a son, Eliot, born with Trisomy 18. Eliot lived for 99 days, and at his funeral they released 99 balloons to celebrate each day of his life. They founded 99 balloons in 2007 to serve children and families with special needs. Their first initiative was rEcess, the capital E being no accident. During Eliot's 99 days, the Mooney's were on the receiving end of so much assistance so they were able to better care for him. They founded rEcess in order to serve families in ways that better help them care for their own children and families. 99 balloons has grown to be an organization that serves both locally and globally. I first got involved with 99 balloons when I  started volunteering for rEcess about 4 years ago. Being able to provide a few hours of respite for children with special needs while their parents were able to rest, have a date night, go to the grocery store, or just have a quiet moment... that was incredible. Some of the families we served during rEcess hadn't had a date night since their child was born until they started coming to rEcess. Some families hadn't ever left their child with anyone before and they put their trust in us. volunteering for rEcess filled my cup, I loved it.

Ekisa ( is a nonprofit organization in Uganda, Africa. It was founded in 2010 and officially opened its doors in 2011. In Uganda, people having special needs and disabilities are considered outcasts. Families often do not have the knowledge or resources to provide the care needed. Ekisa was founded to try to change that stigma and provide families and communities with the resources and knowledge needed to provide care for their families. Ekisa now serves over 100 children with special needs through their residential, community, and special education programs. They are able to provide education, medical assistance, therapy, and counseling to families throughout the region. I started following Ekisa's blog shortly after they were founded and since their doors opened I have dreamed of being a part of their organization. My heart has always been drawn to Uganda. I don't really know why, or have a specific reason, but every time I did research on orphanages, adoption, mission work, every time I found strangers blogs and fell in love, followed strangers on social media... it always came back around to be related to Uganda somehow. I have loved Ekisa's mission since the very first day, and I can't even believe that I get to be a part of it for a short time.

99 Balloons and Ekisa are both incredible organizations. When God partnered them up, I thought it was too good to be true. How does a little nonprofit in northwest arkansas end up partnering with my dream nonprofit in uganda? like really god, that's some good handiwork. when god started to open doors, it was pretty clear from the beginning that i would be going on this trip. i officially committed to go on september 7th and paid the deposit. on september 9th i shared about the trip for the first time on social media because i had to start fundraising immediately. i had my first deadline to meet... by september 22nd. for those of you who are also not good at math, that's less than two weeks. less than 14 days to raise $1575 so i could purchase a plane ticket. i laughed, like no way this is going to happen, thats a lot of money and i have less than two weeks, how in the actual heck could this work out, but okay god if you want me on this trip I'm trusting you to help me raise the money stupid fast. and wouldn't you know, on september 17th, 5 days before my deadline, and only 8 day after i started my fundraising, i met my goal. ARE YOU KIDDING ME GOD YOU HELPED ME RAISE $1575 IN JUST OVER A WEEK YOU ARE CRAZY AND BY CRAZY I MEAN CRAZY GOOD. like how does that happen? how do i have people in my life who support me so generously and freely and without hesitation? i can hardly believe it.

so my heart. it's always loved everything special education and disability related. it has always loved orphan care and nonprofit missions. it has always dreamed of doing something big and bold and scary and exciting. it was always a dream i kept tucked away and only shared with those i really trusted. it was something i never really thought would happen but loved to dream about. and right now i still can't believe its not just a tucked away dream in my heart and that it is a real life actually happening dream. my heart is overwhelmed because i have no idea what the trip is actually going to look like. i have no idea what my role will be when I'm there. i really don't know any details other than where i am going, and that is so hard for my control freak heart to accept. i'm trying to trust god in the details and keep telling myself that he is working it all out and i am going for a reason and even if i only love on kids for a week that will still be worth it. im being fearless by saying yes to this trip and not knowing any details. im being fearless and trusting the god who helped me raise $1575 in 8 days and said "you are going on this trip emily". trusting and holding on for the wild ride ahead.

thank you jesus for knowing my heart and my desires and loving me so deeply that you provided this opportunity. i am so undeserving and so unbelievably grateful.

(ps: in october i have to raise another $1000 to meet my next goal. i'd love your support if you are able, and would also love prayers and encouragement as i prep for this adventure)