Our first family road trip!

Right before I returned to work, we took a little family road trip. Every year, we’ve had the opportunity to serve at IDEAfarm, a ministry that is very near and dear to our hearts. I was terribly nervous because 1) until this trip, Ephrem screamed after 20-25 minutes in his car seat, 2) there was no easy solution if traveling went poorly, and 3) while Evan served this year, I would be sort of solo-ing for the weekend. While I love, love, love getting to serve at IDEAfarm, the thought of trying to keep Little Man quiet for a weekend, all weekend, and sleeping in a cabin sounded like a way to lose my sanity.

Anyway, we bravely set out during nap time, so as to best improve our chances that he would sleep during some of the trip. This is how that went:

20120816-202311.jpg

Yup. Eventually (i.e. 45 minutes later), he tired himself out. Thankfully. I mean, I love my kiddo, but 45 minutes of screaming into a 5.5 hour trip? Not how I wanted to live my life that morning.

20120816-202448.jpg

then, he woke up after sleeping for only 30 minutes. I would have panicked, but our dear friend Elmo came along. Now before you judge me for allowing screen time before the recommended age of 2 years, please review the first photo. (I’ll wait.) Okay, so you understand and would have done the same thing, right? I mean, look how peaceful he was.

20120816-202816.jpg

Plus, I didn’t let him watch the DVD the whole trip (I mean, there’s only so much Elmo a girl can listen to…)

20120816-203012.jpg

Well, we stopped for lunch, ate, and then hopped back in the car. About 45 minutes down the road, the tire pressure light came on. We assumed I had a slow leak in one of my tires, so Evan was going to stop at the next exit to refill it. Until we heard the sound and the car started to swerve. The tire blew. And, because it’s no fun to put the donut on in good weather, it started to pour.

20120816-203346.jpg

Meanwhile, the child who was refusing to sleep earlier, had finally settled.

20120816-203504.jpg

Of course this all happens out in the middle of nowhere. We found a small tire place that called all the shops in town because they didn’t have my car’s tire size only to find that no one in town carried that size…except Wal-Mart. So we stopped again.

20120816-203654.jpg

About two hours after the whole incident happened, we were back on the road.

20120816-203748.jpg

We finally made it to the lake house about 8.5 hours after we had originally left. Yup, the drive that was supposed to take 5.5 hours took 8.5 hours. And Ephrem rocked it. He was amazing. ūüôā And then we got back in the car so I could drive another hour to where we stayed.

Im so glad we went. This is where Ephrem’s story began. We have a number of amazing friends who have a big part in his story. It was special to get to introduce him to all of them. Especially to these girls:

20120816-204043.jpg

(Clearly, he was infatuated – he’s got a thing for older women…) Meron and Mebrate had been huge prayer warriors for our during the process. It was amazing that they got to see and touch their answer to prayer. Plus, I love to be around people who get adoption :-).

Even though he played with a lot of very pink toys, we had a great weekend. We met new friends, went swimming, read stories, listened to concerts and just had a great restful time. He didn’t really let Mr. Tymm hold him, by the end of the weekend, Ephrem would high five him. He did let Miss Laura hold him, though.

20120816-204522.jpg

Before we knew it, it was time to go get Daddy again! Ephrem gave him and enthusiastic hug.

Before we left the lake house, we got a photo of our new family standing where the conversations of adoption really began. It’s one of my favorite photos ever. God is so faithful.

A new world

My world used to be so neat and clean. It used to consist of my husband, our little dog, and me. We had a nice little group of friends. We went to church, but didn’t do anything crazy with our faith. We went on vacation and watched TV shows regularly. We had a good little life.

Then, in the summer of 2010, we went to IDEAfarm.

And God turned my nice, clean, neat little world upside-down. Now I navigate this upside-down world as if this is where I really belonged all along.

I’ve been pondering what IDEAfarm really has meant to me over the last few weeks. It’s hard to express in words. But here’s my humble attempt.

I was at an impasse in my faith. I was tired of doing the Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night church thing without it really meaning something. I felt like my life was just on auto-pilot.

And somehow God led us to attend IDEAfarm in the summer of 2010. And, honestly, my life hasn’t been the same. I went for Evan, but it was as if God breathed new life into me through the retreat. It was at Lake Jackson, GA, at this retreat, with 10-ish other crazy passionate people that I discovered what God had purposed for my life (living Isaiah 1:17). Who I was. What my talents and gifts are. How I communicate. How I best do things. And then, how to take all of that and go forward with this dream to serve orphans throughout the world. Before that weekend, I didn’t even know that half of that stuff was inside my heart. Now, I can’t imagine life without the constant thought of the fatherless in my head, or without looking at my son’s beautiful dark eyes.

Since IDEAfarm, I’ve gone on two mission trips to Africa, visiting four countries in Africa (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya). I’ve helped coordinate a mission trip with my church. We’ve adopted. Simply, my perfect, nice, neat world no longer exists. Life is messy and beautiful.

And I know this didn’t just happen to me. I can tell you about so many others who have experienced this same upside feeling¬†to protect the fatherless, or fight for social justice for the “nameless,” or¬†serve in Haiti. We have friends whose dream is to see the end of human trafficking. We have friends who serve God through creative arts. Their lives are all messy and beautiful.

So here’s the point I’m trying to make, if you are a college-aged person out there, if God has placed dreams in your heart, if you feel like your life needs to mean something, you must apply for IDEAfarm. Maybe God isn’t calling you to serve orphans or fight human trafficking, but whatever is in your heart, whatever passion keeps you awake at night or helps you get up in the morning, God will take that and make it explode. You will never be the same.

Here’s an added bonus for all you college students, aside from gas/airfare to get to Atlanta, GA, it’s free. FREE. It’s literally the best investment you can make over your summer. So, go, apply, and see what God will do to your world.