Thursday, March 31, 2011

Parking Lot Billy


That's what his sign said when I passed him in the parking lot. Laura was following me in the other car. 5:00 Atlanta traffic was swallowing us so I was cutting through a parking lot. I just wanted to get home to go run.

When I looked in the rear view mirror, Laura wasn't with me. I pulled over to wait and as she pulled up beside me and her window came down I could see the tears on her face.

"I only had a banana to give him... I don't have any money..."
She could barely get it out through her tears. And I knew I wasn't gonna make it home to run.

Immediately my mind started racing... "what if that was my daughter? what if that was Meron?"


This picture flashed in my head... and my stomach dropped. I would do ANYTHING to help if that was my daughter on the side of the road.
"Alright... let's go back."
She was wiping her eyes as I said it and she was smiling. We whipped the cars around and next thing I knew I was shaking Billy's hand.
"You have a beautiful wife sir..."
That's what he said to me. And he is so right. Inside and out, I have a beautiful wife.

We ran to the closest ATM and then headed back to where he was. I hopped out and gave him the money. He looked astounded and said:
"Sir... can you guys afford to do this?"
I wanted to say "Can we afford NOT to do it, Billy?" But I didn't. I just gave him the money and he shook my hand vigorously. We asked if we could pray for him and he said:
"Only if we can hold hands."
We did and Laura busted out an awesome heartfelt prayer. We chatted with him for a bit, introduced him to Meron and told him he was a blessing to us.

And then we were off.


But I couldn't shake this mental image. Holy cow - what if that was Meron?

And ya know - I don't think I wanna shake that image. I have prayed and prayed for God to give me His eyes (if even for a second) and I feel like this is how he sees ALL OF US. As His children. And if it drives me to get involved - then it's how I wanna see them too.

1 John 3:16-18 says:
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
This is exactly how we want to live. What a great experience for us - a great lesson - a great thing for Meron to be part of.

God - please help Camp Hoffman to not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Dinosaur In Our Mailbox


Meron and I pulled this dinosaur outta the mailbox this afternoon. I didn't even think it was real and she didn't even know what it was.

Upon further inspection we came to the conclusion that yes, this was indeed a handwritten letter created by pressing the rudimentary tool known as a "pen" on a thin sheet of wood, also known as "paper."


Meron was pumped to learn of and actually touch this ancient form of communication...


And there - in the middle of this artifact we had unearthed - were the very words that we at Camp Hoffman have been needing to hear for weeks, months even. In this letter from my friend Nick, he said:

"Life has been hard and my faith is kind of shattered right now. But after reading y'alls blog and seeing the joy, happiness, sorrow and humility I'm reminded of just how Great God is and how when you place everything at His feet and let Him do everything His way it works out."
Wow. That is exactly what we have been needing to hear. And not just hear - but to believe.

Not the part about our blog silly... the part about trusting God with EVERYTHING and really putting faith in HIS timelines.

Don't get me wrong - I am all about our blog having an impact and we try to be as authentic and real as we can be. But to have it go out and come back full circle to fill us up right when we needed it... well... come on God. That is just cool.


Thanks more than you know Nick... you thought you were getting fed here but you just fed us more than you could ever imagine...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Her Prayer Is Our Prayer


We've been talking to Meron lately about prayer and how we can be specific with God when we pray. Plus... ya can't live in this house without hearing lots of talk about orphans, adoption, etc.

And hey - she's 3 and a half - she may or may not be retaining ANYTHING we say to her...

But her prayer tonight was this:

"God.
Please be with all the kids in Africa who need mommies and daddies.
Please bring them mommies and daddies.
Jesus name.
Amen."
Uhh... God... Ditto that for us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

We've Got The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy...


Meron's smile sums up how we are all feeling tonight. We've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in our hearts...

I know we haven't talked about it much on here - but the last 3 months have been a real test of faith for us. At times it has felt like God has been silent and we have had some serious moments of struggling.

BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL ALWAYS.

We got some GREAT news today regarding some of the barriers that were in place and stopping us from moving forward on getting LH3 home. The wheels are back in motion!

We have a SPECTACULAR prayer team and we are so blessed by you guys - THANK YOU. We do most of these kind of updates via an email to that team so if you wanna get in on that prayer action with us - just drop me an email or leave a comment here.

We'll probably be upping the ante on prayer as we move in to these next few weeks. Our minds were blown at the power of prayer during the journey to Meron so we're not leaving anything to chance on our next girl!

Seriously though - big thank yous to everybody for your willingness to walk with us - we have needed it more than you know!

It was a happy night at Camp Hoffman tonight - lots of prayers of thanks!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Starbucks Sally


At a corner Starbucks in Arlington, TX we got to meet Starbucks Sally.

Sally went on last year's EthiopiaSmile dental mission trip and is a friend of Team Alexander. We told her who we were, where Meron was from and who we were out there to visit.

She immediately reached across the counter, grabbed our hands and said:

"I'm not supposed to do this here... but let's pray."
And proceeded to bust out the most awesome prayer for us, for LH3 and for Ethiopia.

Uhhh... awesome. I mean - seriously - I basically ordered a grande cup of tears after that cuz she caught me off-guard.

The world needs more Starbucks Sallys.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Running For Brighton - Race #20


I hit the road EARLY this morning to drive 2.5 hours to the mountains of TN for my next Running For Brighton race. It had been a while since my last one so I was looking forward to it.


This was possibly the toughest race I have ever run - or at least in the top 5. I am pretty sure the weather played a HUGE part in that. Lightning. Thunder. Down-pouring rain the entire time. Cold. I was soaked to the bone and freezing BEFORE the gun even went off!

And then - around mile 6 - it really hit me. It always does when I am out there - but these struggles, these freezing moments, these painful climbs... they are all temporary. And even knowing that - in the midst of it all - I really wanted to quit. My clothes weighed an extra 50 pounds it felt like cuz they were SOAKED. My legs hurt - the hill climbs were crazy. But then I started thinking about Brighton and the MILLIONS of others out there just like him. And how "quitting" isn't even an option for them.

And that's why I run these things. Me - a goofy former sprinter trying to make myself a longer distance runner. Getting up early and driving 6 hours round trip to run 10.2 miles in the cold rain.

I run these because God uses them to remind me of what He has broken my heart for...


Meron had some fun in the shirt and even got crazy enough to drop some BIG EYES!


You wanna help out an orphan or two (or a million)? It's real easy - just ask us about ways to get involved or connect with us at "Brighton Their World" as we try to bring new and exciting opportunities for EVERYBODY to help brighten the world of orphans around the globe.

Friday, March 25, 2011

From First to Third


You are looking at possibly the only time I will ever be leading two Ethiopians in a foot race...


But pride in their country and their sport is strong - and they weren't about to be had...


In the end... I took 3rd. Which was fine by me.

I'll take last to these two ANYTIME!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Princess In Another's Castle...


Even while staying in someone else's castle, far away from her own - Meron manages to find the princess outfit...


And she rocked it quite well!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Busy Saturday!


Saturday started off like it probably did all over the globe - hanging with friends and watching cartoons!


From there it was off to do some computing with one of her new BFFs...


After that - Meron got all prettied up for Abe's birthday party bash!


The balloons were all squared away...


... and then Meron found herself deep in discussion...


about how to get from POINT A to POINT B. Problem solved!


Eventually all of the kids made their way outside to either jump on the trampoline or play some basketball. Meron stayed right up in the mix.


And then - the guest of honor arrived!


And he was STOKED!


Meron was waiting as patiently as she could...


... to dive in to this!


Moody kicked us off with a prayer over Abe...


... and then we all offered up an awesome rendition of "Happy Birthday!"


On the final note, Meron dove into her cake and ice cream...


Shortly afterwards mommy and daddy headed out to our friend's wedding where we got to see a bunch of friends and teammates from our Africa trips...


... And we got to act nutty.


But the best part of the whole day? Avery snapped this picture and sent it to us right before bedtime. It got passed all over the place at the reception.

What a Saturday! Blessing...!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Intentional Community

When we got to TX on Friday it felt like coming home. There is something incredibly awesome about being around like-mindedness. It just felt RIGHT. We hung out. Shared stories. Filled each other in on the - I dunno - 30+ years we had skipped in what feels like a lifetime of friendship.

There was parks, picnics, sandwiches, ice cream, playing...


And LOTS of this...


And a whole bunch of this...


Meron couldn't seem to stop slapping kisses on Abe!


For some reason I don't think Abe minded!


Around 5:00 the kids all went off to play together and friends and neighbors of the Alexanders started dropping by. See, every Friday night they have an intentional get together of whoever can come for one reason. TO PRAY.

We were so excited to be here for this. They kicked it off by sharing with us a video they had taken of them praying over our girl last year when they were on their dental mission trip. Talk about incredible. I had to keep telling myself to "Keep it together, keep it together..."

Then we prayed for Ethiopia as a whole, for the orphans, for the current and future state of adoption. We prayed for Dube Bute and the incredible people who live there. We prayed for LH3 and for God's will in her life (and ours). We prayed for future EthiopiaSmile trips... there was so much more.

I unfortunately wasn't really able to "keep it together" very well. I tend to get a bit emotional when it feels like God is near and man did it feel like He was there. And I bet He smiled when I heard the tappity-tap of little feet and Meron came and stuck her head up under the rim of the hat on my bowed head and whispered (not so quietly):

"Daddy - we are listening to Justin Bieber!"
And then she just tappity-tapped those feet back in the house.

This WAS Church. This felt more like Church than any day in a big brick drama-filled building. God's people coming together to praise Him and pray. It was a really cool experience.

Thank you so much Team Alexander for including us in your intentional community with like-minded chasers of Christ.

This is something we have been wanting to start doing here and plan on kicking it off soon. If you're in the Atlanta area and want to be part of it - let us know. We're throwing open the doors and inviting everybody. We'll let you know when we kick it off...

Counting my blessing tonight - and friends like this count for a LOT...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Re-Charging Our Spirits


God. Is. So. Cool.

I mean seriously. After a few trying weeks for us - weeks where we were doing our best to live in faith yet hurting daily for our girl to be home - God gave us a gift.

We spent 3 incredible days in TX with this family. They are genuine. Kind. Fun. Loving. Christ-chasing. And best of all - they are friends. Nope - strike that. These guys are like family to us now.

God knew exactly what we needed and He gave it to us. We had our spirits re-charged and our tanks filled back up with the love this family had to offer.


We have a TON of pictures and stories to share from this trip - but in the meantime - go learn the whole story on this family... like... immediately.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cheesin'






absolutely love her smile!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

BigFoot


First - she hi-jacked mommy's running shoes...


The she did the standard "I just hi-jacked your running shoes!" goofy dance...


Complete with sticker on her head...


The girl is straight up goofy...

AND WE LOVE IT!