Monday, April 09, 2018


The last time I posted was in January! And here we are already cruising through April - I can hardly believe it! I have wanted to update our blog so many times over the last month because there has been so much happening and God has led us down some very twisty roads that we never could have imagined He would. And I know so many of you would love to know more about it. I just haven't been able to find the words. It's been hard. More hard than I thought it would be.

So let me back up. In January, we focused the month on praying over our future and where we would return once the time came for us to go back to the mission field. July/August is fast approaching and that is the target time that we would like to be heading back to ministry with South Sudanese on the African continent.

February was Mission Month at our church so we had a lot going on and in the midst of preparing sermons and presentations we got the call we've been waiting for all year - an expectant mama wanted to place her baby boy who was due in a week for adoption - and she chose us! It was a crazy few days as Eli and I prepared to drive to Kentucky where the baby would be born. On March 1, a beautiful little boy was born and we got to hold him and name him when he was only hours old. He had to be in the NICU for almost 2 weeks due to some health issues and we got to stay with him day and night, rocking, feeding, and loving on this precious baby that we fell in love with instantly. But after 11 days, his mama changed her mind. She decided she wanted to try to get her life back together so she could parent him. We knew he was her son and so all we could do was pray over him, say our goodbyes, and pack up to head home to our three boys in South Carolina.

The next few weeks were a blur of grief and tears. We wrestled with why God had opened doors for us to begin the adoption process this year - only to have this baby taken away. We wondered what to do next. Do we keep hoping for another match or close up our adoption profile since our time was running out? Only 2 weeks later, our same lawyers called us with a new baby - due in only 3 weeks in Philadelphia. We were so totally excited but terrified at the same time. But:
What if this mama changes her mind?
Could we go through another heart breaking loss?

We prayed and believed God was telling us to step out in faith for whatever He had in store. We've now been waiting for about 2 weeks. We have a plan for Eli's parents to come stay with the boys again and Eli and I will head to another state to meet another precious baby. We have no idea what will happen but we are trusting that God has us and this baby in the palm of His hand and HE IS IN CONTROL.

We have also decided that once this adoption situation has resolved - whether we get to bring baby home or not - we need to then set our hearts and minds on our future and what is next for our family on the mission field. Eli wants to travel to Uganda, hopefully by the beginning of May, to scout out several places near the South Sudanese refugee camps. We also need to decide which organization we will be seconded to since SIM doesn't work in Uganda. We will still remain with SIM, but seconded, or working under the "umbrella" of another organization. We are excited about the options in front of us and we believe that God will take care of all the details in His time.

It definitely feels like there are a lot of crazy and intense things going on in our lives right now. I can hardly believe this is the story God is writing for our family! I'm thankful for all that He's taught us and the growth He's allowed to happen not only in Eli and me, but in our boys too.

I'm also very thankful that just this last week we were able to enjoy a week jam packed with special family memories! It was the boys' spring break from school so we asked the boys what things they still really wanted to do while we're in America. That was easy: the beach and camping. So we spent 2 days at the beach in the sun and 3 days camping. Eli and Isaac did a fun 34 mile canoe trip by river along the way with our neighbor and his son.

Tonight as I was tucking the boys into bed, preparing for the beginning of another school week beginning tomorrow I reminded the boys of what a special gift God gave us this week: He filled our tanks with special family moments to fuel us through the rest of this month, whatever it holds!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

God is working in the Waiting

If you were to read through my blog over the last 10 years, you would see a recurring theme and that is of WAITING. However, I realize that I'm not the only one who deals with seasons of waiting. We all do. Waiting for just the right job. Waiting for the perfect spouse. Waiting for a child. Waiting for guidance in our next step in life etc. As I've shared before our family is in another season of waiting. But I feel like the Waiting intensified when the New Year 2018 rolled around. We're waiting but we also see a "deadline" up ahead. The deadline is a little scary because it's a deadline to figure out our next direction in life but also a deadline for our adoption to finalize. Making a decision about what is next for us in our missionary career I have some control over. We're praying, seeking advice, emailing opportunities in Africa and moving towards our goal. But with our adoption there really isn't much we can do...but wait.

God has given me this beautiful book to encourage my heart as we wait. It follows the life of David and how He had to trust God's plan to take him from being a shepherd in the pastures, to the battle field, to the THRONE. He had so many twists and unexpected turns in his journey and his words in the Psalms have been so comforting to  me as I see them from a new perspective.

God also brought me some really special friends. These mamas are all waiting with our same agency, Quiver Full Adoptions and are in our local area. We have met together several times to encourage each other and we have a group chat where we text almost daily to check in with each other and offer words of encouragement and prayer. It has been one of the sweetest surprises of this waiting season!

As far as our adoption goes, we've also received so much support through our T-shirt fundraiser that we did to raise money for the big chunk that will be due when we bring baby home. A friend of mine from high school even hosted a special Book Selling Party announcing that all her commission would go towards our Adoption Fund. Folks, we feel the love and it is what is pushing us through.

Wearing our special t-shirts
They say: "He chose us in love for adoption. Eph. 1: 4-5"
Many of you may know that Eli and I are taking the month of January to very specifically and intentionally pray about our future plans. Our original thought was to return to the field by July or August of this year. Isaac will be starting at Rift Valley Academy in the fall so we wanted to get back and settle so he can start school at the beginning of the school year. So with that only 6 months away, we are asking God what He has for us next. The encouraging thing is that as we've been more intentional in praying, God has given us so much peace and we know that whatever He has in store for us, it's going to be good. We have been sending out a lot of emails to many different organizations working in South Sudan and with South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries to see where we might fit best. With so many possibilities in front of us, Eli and I are enjoying an almost daily walk around our neighborhood to discuss what new opportunities came up that day.
* For the record, we are still continuing with our mission SIM but since they are only based in one place in South Sudan we might team up with another organization.
* We are also preparing for the possibility of having to delay our return if we are in the midst of finalizing our adoption.

Yesterday I was out shopping and came across this adorable little newborn outfit:

We have been trying to wait to buy baby things until we're matched or bring a baby home, but I couldn't pass this one up. WORTH THE WAIT was just the sweet reminder I needed yesterday when the wait was feeling impossible! I realized that was something I need to hold onto, not just as we wait in our adoption journey but also as we wait to see what God has in store for us next. I know I can say that no matter what it is, it will be WORTH THE WAIT. I am confident that since we have bathed this whole decision in so much prayer and wise counsel from others, it will indeed be GOOD and be worth all this waiting.

Now that I know it will be worth the wait, I am trying to focus my heart on being JOYFUL in HOPE and CONTENT with all God has in front of me now. You know how sometimes you can get so caught up looking forward to something that is coming that you miss what is right in front of you? I have been so convicted of this lately and my prayer has been:

Open up my eyes to see all that I have to be grateful for. 
Live in the present.
Don't miss what's right in front of me.
Wait with hope.

This is one of Satan's oldest tricks. He tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden into thinking God was withholding something good from her. That one lie somehow made Eve blinded to all the wonderful, beautiful things He had given to her.

Friends, let's not be tricked like that. Trust God with what you're waiting for. He knows.
And open up your eyes to ALL that He's blessed you with.

*If you're in a waiting season, I'd love to hear from you and pray with you. Email me at

Monday, January 08, 2018

Major Update

Dear Friends,
    It's been way too long since we've updated you all on our blog. I'm so sorry. Perhaps you will understand shortly when I tell you what's been going on with us since October 2017 which is the last time we posted. In October we officially began the adoption process with a wonderful agency called Quiver Full Adoptions based here in SC. Adoption is something we've felt called to do for many years and have hoped it would be possible while we live and work overseas in Africa but so far that hasn't worked out. So since we had an extended time here in the States we decided to go ahead and see what God does. It's been quite the journey and though we haven't been matched with a baby yet, we are hopeful that 2018 might be the year!

Meanwhile, while we hear of different situations and hope a mama will choose us, Eli continues to work diligently in his doctoral classes and has loved them even Statistics which was very stretching for him. He has also completely renovated both of our bathrooms in our home which has been a lot of work but very rewarding.

Our 3 boys have also kept us very busy! Though I'm not home schooling this year, they are working hard at a great private school and trying all kinds of things for the first time. In the fall Isaac ran on the school's cross country team and did a great job improving his time in each race.

Then in November the boys started wrestling season which has been another great learning and stretching thing for them. Joshua also recently joined a wrestling club because he was too young to join the team at school.

Evan on the mat

Let me tell you: competitions are tense!

I got to do some very special traveling in October and November due to an awesome husband who does so well holding down the fort here in SC. I got to spend a week with one of my dearest friends, Nan, in Washington state.

I then got to fly to CA to spend almost a week with my sweet sister who is now expecting another baby boy due in April!

With my sister

As we neared Thanksgiving we packed our beloved van and traveled north to Illinois where we got to speak at 2 different support churches outside of Chicago and then we headed to Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving with Eli's parents, sister and her family and even a few cousins and their kiddos.

An afternoon in the park in Illinois

Thanksgiving in Michigan

Kids with cousins!

We had a few weeks at home and then when the boys' Christmas break rolled around from school we drove down to Florida where Eli's parents have retired and celebrated a very special Christmas with grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins!

Christmas in Florida
So yes, that's what we've been up to and where we've been. 2017 was a year of many unexpected things but God redeemed it for us and brought us many joys amidst the tears.

We are now committing the month of January to very intentionally praying for our future in ministry in Africa. We're excited about the options and we trust God will give us wisdom as we're asking Him and will guide us clearly to what is next for us. Thank you for following along in our journey.

When we turned the corner and stepped into 2018 both Eli and I felt a new sense of hope and expectancy as we look ahead. We have no clue what is coming but we're excited for it because we know God does have it all planned for us and all we need to do is obey and step forward.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Taking Courage in the Waiting

These months in the United States have been such a healing time for our whole family. Though a part of our hearts is still in South Sudan, God has confirmed to us again and again how much we needed this year in America. It's been a season of stability and rest, healing, processing, fun, growth, and sweet family time. It hasn't all been smooth and easy. We're two months into the new school year and STILL trying to figure things out - still getting into the groove of homework, sports events, and making friends. But it's been beautiful.

Y'all know how much I love music and often the Lord teaches me and encourages my heart through a good song. Lately the song I'm dwelling on is called "Take Courage". I'm going to paste the lyrics here and hopefully will figure out how to also put the link to watch the video on Youtube with the music and lyrics.

"Take Courage" by Bethel Music:

Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He'd reveal what's to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He'll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He'll finish all He's begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory
And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He's never failing
He's never failing!

He's in the waiting...

Over the years I have found that it's in the waiting seasons that I draw near to God and feel Him come close. Those are the times my faith and trust are tested and refined and the relationship that comes through the process is beautiful, sweet, and better than anything I could have experienced without the waiting.

So... Take Courage. He's in the Waiting.

Click on the below link to listen to this song:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's OK to be Needy

As you can see by the cartoon above and what is communicated in many movies and love songs, being needy is a negative thing. I too have always tried not to appear too needy. I don't want to be a needy wife. I try not to be a needy friend. I want to be able to do things myself and not have to depend on anyone else. But today as I was cooling off from a nice run and walking through my neighborhood, I was pouring out my heart to God in prayer and suddenly realized how NEEDY I sounded!  And that felt like a bad thing. But then a 2nd thought hit me immediately after and that is this: Being needy isn't a bad thing. At least from the Lord's perspective. He wants us to recognize our need for Him and bring our every need to Him.

For some reason this seemed like such a light bulb moment. One of those realizations that I think will change my thinking for the rest of my life. Yeah, I know we're supposed to trust God and depend on Him in everything. But He also wants us to realize how much we need Him. It's actually a good thing to be needy. Because then we realize it's not about us fixing our problem or trying to have it all together. It's about realizing we actually don't want to be in charge. Rather WE NEED CHRIST. We need Him in every situation - for our friend's heartache, the sick woman in our church, my latest hopes and dreams, my marriage, you name it.

So I've decided I'm not going to be ashamed of being needy.
Instead I want to acknowledge how much I need the Lord in every aspect of my life because James 4:10 encourages: "When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him, He will lift you up and give you honor."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Peak into our Journey of Loss

Written by Eli

How do you deal with it all?  Loss.  Grief.  Sorrow.  Our family is struggling with leaving South Sudan.  We realize that we are not alone.  So many people have suffered or are in the midst of suffering from loss.  Each one of our family is processing the loss of team, friends, home, ministry and dreams in their own way.  

Here are some of our reflections and things that have helped us through this time.  

     Expressing my Doubts to God
Psalm 73 has been powerful in my life these past few months. Asaph admits his doubts and near hopelessness as he looks at what is going on in the world. His words reflect my own doubts and struggles.
Psalm 73 ends with a declaration of hope in the Lord who holds eternity in his hand. It is a declaration of faith...something hoped for but not yet seen.  Our hope in Christ is sure.

What is this thing called grief?

Our family has learned a lot about the process and mechanics of grief through this clever story.  It has been very useful to help our kids to make sense of the sadness in their hearts and how they can deal with it.

Processing Together

How do you walk through the grief cycle with your kids?  We used this book for devotions for a while and it helped our boys understand that loss is part of everyone's life and it relates the grief cycle as moving from village to village, something our family could relate to.  

Being Self-focused

Oh man, this has been hard. We knew we needed to just hide away for a time and just be together as a family.  But how could we be so selfish?  We have been stretched in the number of times we said 'no', left things undone, and were focused on our needs...for a time.  

Peeling the Onion

A few of us in our family are going to professional counseling.  We need to peel back the cover of our daily lives to get down to the feelings and emotions that lie a little deeper inside.  We need to let the tears flow and process what is going on in our hearts.  I believe the LORD uses everything in his economy.  I know he will use what we have gone through for his kingdom.  We want to grow through this so that, "being comforted, we can better comfort others" (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Rejoicing in Victories

Our teammates in South Sudan are witnessing unbelievable growth in numbers, depth in faith, and witness by believers to the communities around them.  
Here is a picture of the JumJum church which has doubled in size since the fighting at Christmas.  The believers from different tribes are visiting each other despite continuing tribal conflict.  

Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together by [Tippetts, Kara, Buteyn, Jill Lynn]

The Comfort of the Body of Christ

Bethany has enjoyed reading this book.  The premise is that often we shy away from people who are suffering because we cannot relate or we don't know what to say.  This book encourages to simply be present.  We have felt the loving hugs of so many people over these past months.  The body of Christ has prayed for us faithfully.  We have had 2 vans donated to us.  Many people have given financial gifts to us.
Our home church stocked our kitchen shelves and helped us move in to our home.  A friend helped fund-raise so that our children could attend a Christian School this year.  We were able to cross the United States by car and were welcomed in many, many homes. What a blessing to be a part of the body of Christ!  We have been greatly comforted by the presence of others.

Loss is not something you "get over".  It becomes part of you and your story.  It is not about getting over it but rather allowing it to make you a better person.  We are by no means over our issues but we are on the right road of growing through it.  We hold on to the truth that nothing is in vain.  There is a purpose, albeit often hidden, to the hills and valleys, sun and storms of this life.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4:12-13

So we are holding on to the promise that His glory will be revealed...through this journey and because of this journey of grief and loss.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our Love Story

RVA Banquet 1999
Since we are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary today, I can't help but feel a little nostalgic after going through hundreds of photos that represent our marvelous life together so far. So in the spirit of the occasion, I want to share some of our love story. 

I first laid eyes on Eli Fader as a new 9th grade student at Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school in Kenya for missionary children. He was on the soccer field and the reason my eyes were drawn to him was his neon pink Umbro shorts! I remember thinking, "Yikes, ok, so he's interesting..."
Though Eli and I knew of each other through high school, we didn't really start getting to know one another better until our senior year. He was actually better friends with my roommate and so he started coming to our dorm room window after lock down in the evenings. One night she wasn't there so he and I started chatting and next thing you know, he was showing up at our window to talk to ME! (Yes, this was very much against the rules.)

At the beginning of 1999 for the Junior/Senior Banquet, the event of the year at our school, Eli asked me to be his date. I was so excited because I knew I'd have a good time with him. Everyone loved Eli - he was kind to all and a lot of fun. It was after that Banquet night that my feelings for Eli began to change. I'll never forget the day I was on my way to 7th period and I heard Eli call my name. No joke - my heart started going nuts and I remember thinking, "What in the world is going on???" He was just asking me if he could borrow a pencil for his class, but boy did I feel special.

A few months later we finally had the DTR conversation (Define The Relationship). Eli said he wasn't interested in starting anything if we would just cut it off at graduation in a few months. I agreed that that would be silly. But I was in. All in. So we became a couple - May 1999.

I was a faithful fan at his rugby games

As graduation neared, I remember feeling dread, knowing that we would soon be on different sides of the United States. Eli had been accepted at Calvin College in Michigan and I was going to Multnomah Bible College in Oregon. We had no idea what lie ahead for us but we were determined to stay together. I remember sobbing with Eli the night before graduation.

Graduation day - July 1999

For the next 2 1/2 years we persevered through a long distance relationship. Every six months we'd find some way to see each other - at Christmas and during the summer. We spent many hours on the phone...

It meant talking on the phone whenever we could

Halfway through our sophomore year of college, Eli asked me to marry him. We had known by graduation day from high school that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together but our parents had cautioned us to finish college first. Eli had been trying to convince me to transfer to Moody Bible Institute where he had transferred for his sophomore year - both because they had a great program for what I was majoring in and so we could be together finally. With both of our parents' blessings, we decided to get married and finish at Moody together. I'm so thankful we took that huge step, as scary as it was at the young age of 21.

Our Wedding Day - June 22, 2002

Totally thrilled to start our lives together!

 Life as a couple was sweeter than we could have imagined. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that we never had to say goodbye, just goodnight. We did have to be a little creative - working part time and finishing school part time but we did it and graduated in 2004, two years later.

Oh and did I mention that we received a special surprise only a year and a half after our wedding? The double pink lines on a pregnancy test! We were pregnant with our first child. So when I walked across the stage to receive my degree, I admit that I waddled a bit - at 7 months pregnant! (hmmm, I wonder why I don't have any pictures of that?!)

On July 20, 2004 we welcomed Isaac Amani into our family! 

Life changed quite a lot when Isaac was born. Now that Eli and I had completed our undergraduate studies, only a month after our baby was born, we moved to Columbia, South Carolina so that Eli could continue with his studies - now at seminary. We already knew at this point that we were heading for the mission field, specifically Sudan, so we wanted to be well-equipped.

In 2006, a few months before Eli finished his Master's degree, our 2nd son came along and we were thrilled to be a family of four.

Eli's graduation
Once we started having kids and our schooling was finished (for the meantime), life seemed to fast forward a bit. We went through a rigorous 2 year missionary training course with our church and joined SIM to be sent to Sudan.

Our Commissioning service at SIM in 2006

Raising support was a whirlwind but God provided quickly and only a year later we were in the air heading to our new field - Yabus, Sudan. I honestly don't know how to sum up those years of schooling and preparing for the mission field but it was a beautiful season for our marriage to grow and for us to practice stepping out in faith and supporting one another as we did so.

Arriving at the Yabus airstrip, June 2007
Landing in Sudan after so many years of praying and preparing was a dream come true. Though overwhelming in many ways, especially with 2 little boys ages 1 and 3, we couldn't wait to learn Arabic, find our place and see God move. It was a very steep learning curve and even though we'd been married for 5 years, we saw new sides of each other and were pushed to our limits on a daily basis. The most memorable thing about those first years on the mission field for us was the nearness of God. Because we knew we could not get through a single day without His strength and empowering, we learned to depend and trust on Him more than we ever had before.

Family of Five on the Yabus River
 Six months into our new adventure of life in Sudan we found out we were expecting our 3rd, Joshua. We flew to Kenya for his birth and once we had all his papers and passport in hand, we returned to our home in Yabus. During our 2nd year I remember feeling like we were starting to get our feet under us, finally able to communicate a bit in Arabic and figure out our giftings and how to use them. Eli had already been asked to lead our team of different cultures (Ethiopia, Scotland, Nigeria, India, etc) so that was a stretching experience for our young family. I found that my respect and admiration for my husband continued to grow as Eli stepped up in leadership and really shone in his ministry.

A year in Khartoum, Sudan 2011
 We began our 2nd 3-year term in Khartoum so we could focus full time on learning more Arabic. We spent a year in Arabic language classes and immersing ourselves in visits and different cultural experiences.

2012 - Our 10th anniversary

Our Special Arrival in Melut, June 2012 
2012 was a significant year for Eli and I. That was the year we found our "sweet spot" in life. Through a series of events out of our control, the Lord led us to Melut, in the new South Sudan. While we were studying Arabic in Khartoum, fighting and war broke out in Yabus and our compound was bombed and left deserted. After praying, we believed God was leading us to teach at Gideon Theological College in Melut, on the Nile River.

Life on the Nile wasn't easy but it was so obvious that was where we belonged. Eli absolutely loved teaching. We loved the set up of the college. Students were strongly encouraged to move their whole families to campus so we lived on a large compound with families from at least 5 different tribes. Eli taught the men. I visited, taught and lived life on life with the student wives and all our children played together.

This was how we got away on "dates" in South Sudan

Eli teaching his first English workshop

Eli blossomed at Gideon Theological College and honestly, a huge part of our hearts will always remain there.

Graduation 2013 was a big day for us
 Through many hardships, God allowed our class of 16 students to graduate in November 2013, only days before fighting broke out and our whole team had to leave.

We spent 2014 in the United States praying about what God might have in store for us next. We longed to return to Melut but we knew that the new "normal" in South Sudan was going to be tense and unstable. After a whole year of praying and seeking advice, we knew God was holding the door open for us to return.

May 2015 - celebrating one month in Melut again with our teammate Claire
 But sadly, our time in Melut was short and we were evacuated after only 6 weeks because of fighting in Melut. The college campus was also looted and we lost most of the school's belongings and everything in our home. We felt stuck. Our hearts were in South Sudan but we didn't know how much of this our family could handle.

After taking several months in Kenya to process and heal from losing our home and our "sweet spot" in Melut, the Lord guided us to Doro, another SIM base in South Sudan, only four hours away from Melut. Eli and I found that we clung to each other all the more through the unknowns and we were so grateful that God unified our hearts and vision during this time.
Eli teaching in Kaya, a refugee camp in Doro area

Isn't it amazing that even through the lowest of lows, God flamed the love in our hearts! We have had to be very creative to find ways to "date" in village life. In Doro, every now and then our teammates invited our kids for a special evening of pizza and games. Eli and I would take advantage of those opportunities and have a date-in at home. For our 14th anniversary last year, I spent the greater part of the day rolling my own lasagna noodles, making ricotta cheese and putting a lasagna together for my husband and I to enjoy on our anniversary date in our back yard. It was soooo worth it!

Fresh out of the charcoal oven

Badminton doubles at Samaritan's Purse compound
 I hope I'm not painting a Fairy Tale picture of our marriage though sometimes it has felt like that. We have had to work hard in communication, serving one another, and making each other a priority in the midst of parenting, ministry and overseas life and stresses. But all that hard work has paid off. My heart is full as I come to the end of this post about our first 15 years of marriage. I never could have thought that marriage could be this sweet. Honestly, I thought we'd be bored of each other by now. But it many ways, I feel like our adventure is just beginning.

Happy Anniversary to my Beloved!

2017 - still very much in love