Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Everything about our family just changed. And it’s so cool.

Last week, Lifa tucked himself away with a box of Legos and a vision. Throaty engine revs, constructive schemings, and the occasional worship song resounded from the other side of his bedroom door. Important stuff was happening in there.

When I went in to check on him, Lifa roared, “I’M MAKING A MACHINE!” He looked on his creation with pride, oohed and ahhed a little, and then declared, “It is so cool, and it does stuff.”
(Insert endless boy-sounds.)

We sat down together that evening for some sweet potato-peanut butter soup and one of our best dinner table talks yet. We had GREAT news – the greatest news our family has ever had. Lifa squeal-guessed that Chris’ dad was coming to visit us, and then got too excited to guess anymore. We shared with Lifa that God had told us to do something, and we are the kind of family that shapes our whole life around doing that thing.  We were made to build the church, and it’s time to start doing that.

We are saying sweet goodbyes to the incredible ministry of Children’s Cup in order to begin a journey of planting and pastoring a church. Big deal, y’all. BIG. DEAL.

Such a big deal that it took me 6 hours to write this; I instantly lost every single phone charger I’ve ever owned; and I put the milk away with the cups and spent an entire morning looking for it. That’s what we’re working with over here. You could say I’m losing my ever-lovin’ mind, but I’m going to call it consumed with the joy, magnitude and goodness of a God who would call us. Our minds and hearts are full - too full to remember where the milk goes. It’s capacity-stretching, faith-leaping time. And it’s a big dang deal. 

It’s a BIG DEAL when God trusts you with His family, His house, and His dinner table.

That night with our family, in our house, at our three-bowl dinner table, we felt the depth of it begin to set in. We declared the church to be our family’s mission, and God’s story to tell. This was the very beginning of making space for a lot more bowls and a lot more filling.

Chris and I have had the overwhelming privilege to enter some of the most hopeless stories, places and circumstances in the world during our years of serving para-church organizations in Africa. We’ve encoutered the darkest of darks and experienced firsthand how brightly the Light shines there. Darkness flees and the world changes the instant Light enters the room.

The Church is the Light of the World. We get to be a part of arming the nations with Light until there just is no more dark. We’re thankful because we know, and we’ve seen. We’ve been trusted with the few who’ve gathered around our dinner table and who we’ve fed in local communities around us. Now we get to be counted trustworthy for more. 
Potential, purpose, and celebration rose up in our family that night as we let Lifa’s questions flow ad nauseam.  He was ready for details:

“Dad, are you going to be the guy who stands up in the front and teaches stuff?”
“Where are me and Mom going to sit?”
“Is there going to be tea and coffee?”
“Are you only going to go to work on Sundays?”
“What are the kids going to do?”

We told Lifa that our church is just like our dinner table. We’ll have more placemats and more people. And just like dinner, it happens every day.

Our first night of church-building was a lot like Lifa’s afternoon of machine-building:
I could almost sense the Vision-bearer on his hands and knees with every piece He possessed spread within His reach, revving creation's sounds as His plans for something great began to take shape.

I think Heaven even had a soundtrack to that fateful three-bowl dinner. I have a feeling it sounded like Lifa’s room had earlier that afternoon - filled with impassioned, constructive schemings, enthusiastic building roars, and spontaneous worship. Just like Lifa and his machine, I believe the Creator beheld the family that became a church, oohed and ahhed a little, and then declared, “I’m making a church! It is so cool, and it does stuff.”

A few more details:

We are especially thankful for the work Children’s Cup is doing and for the role we got to play in serving their mission. We will be finishing our season of service with Children’s Cup on October 28, 2016, and they are graciously allowing us to continue processing our donations with them until we establish other arrangements. Children's Cup's integrity and security has enabled us to steward our finances well, and we will continue receiving our funding through them until we establish an equally reliable and secure system in order to protect your investment.

Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming 3-month sabbatical, including what a sabbatical is. We believe God spoke it to us, and it’s the next step toward establishing a healthy, life-giving church.

We have no plans to leave South Africa, but we are still uncertain about where our church will be. 

Most importantly: We love each other. We love you. We love His Church. Thank you for reading, praying and partnering with us.

If you want to join in this great adventure in a practical way, you can start investing now by donating through Children’s Cup by clicking here. We will notify you when we change our avenue of giving.

To subscribe to our newsletter for updates and announcements, click here.

It’s gettin’ real, y’all. Let’s do this together!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Let's Be Miracle Families

A miracle is something that happens in this world but doesn’t follow the rules of this world. We are bound with all kinds of rules like gravity, time, space, probability and logic. A miracle reminds us there’s something more and Some One bigger and better than that.

We want to be a miracle family. 
No, scratch that… We are a miracle family.


We started with a miraculously outlandish order of events and giraffe hoof-prints on our wedding aisle. It's only gotten better from there. We love each other more than this world could explain, and we celebrate that miracle every night around the dinner table.

Recently, we agreed that there’s more to it than that.
We decided to become a miracle family that expects and calls down God’s miracles. We don't need to see scars to believe or require seas to do the splits to have faith. We have been charged to build heaven on earth, and we want everyone who's weighted down to see that gravity doesn’t stand a chance.  

We set the table and expected a feast. 
We renamed our street “Miracle Lane”. 
We set up checkpoints around town to agree in a specific prayer every time we drive by.

One day, while we drove down Miracle Lane, our 8-year old miracle in the backseat made his own claim on heaven. Lifa had become obsessed with huskies and voiced how badly he wanted one. He’d obviously been ruminating on this for a while, and it HAD.TO.BE a husky. (Yes, that’s the dog made for snow. And, yes, we live in Africa.)

Never one to beat around the bush, Chris laid it out, “Lifa, you better pray for a miracle because that’s the only way we’re getting a husky.”

As responsible parents do, we had a list of good reasons why we should not get a husky: Huskies do not live long in our region because of the heat. They are hard to train, too loud, and typically hard to deal with in general. Lifa had his own list of reasons why we would be getting one: His mom and dad told him he lives on Miracle Lane, and he kept watching their prayers get answered. (Who do you think is going to win this one?)

What we did not want: A husky.
What we did want: A kid who ruthlessly believes in God’s power and love for him.
What we did: Prayed for Lifa to see a miracle.

We rallied as a family for Lifa’s husky. We helped him guide his prayers, and every night he would beg God to bring the perfect husky for our family – one that we could “crain” (train) and would be healthy. His faith rose and so did ours as we overheard him boldly telling friends at church, “I’m getting a husky because I’m praying for one.” One afternoon, I asked Lifa if he had named the husky. It wasn’t long before he put on his cape and bound into the kitchen, triumphantly shouting, “KRAVEN THE HUNTER!” “My husky’s name is Kraven the Hunter!”

Nightly, we prayed for Kraven the Hunter to come home. When Lifa left for the 3-week trip to his biological father’s house, he assured us he would keep praying for Kraven while he was away. He knew we would too - we couldn’t help ourselves. The momentum of a child’s faith was rising all around us, and even our friends and family were jumping in. 

A couple of weeks later, Chris called and let me know the SPCA was coming over to do a home visit. My response: “WHAT!?!” My charming husband took advantage of my staring and stammering to explain that, somewhere in the middle of praying for Lifa’s faith to be built up, his own heart had changed.

Chris wanted to participate in Lifa’s miracle with him, not just watch from the sidelines. With a burgeoning fathers heart, he wants to have an active role in this boy’s walk with God. To agree with Lifa’s prayers, Chris asked specifically for a mixed breed husky for increased lifespan, as well as a puppy cared for by our local SPCA. Lo and behold, three days later, Michelle from the SPCA was sitting on our back porch with goose bumps after hearing the story of Lifa’s prayers. The next day, Kraven the Hunter was home!

He looks ferocious, doesn't he?

Exploring his new backyard
We picked Lifa up from his dad’s house a week later. He was exhausted, lacking in nutrition, and too run down to do much more than eat and sleep... a lot. We pulled on to Miracle Lane, and he perked up at the thought of hugging Khaya (the puppy he already knew), getting back on his bike. He was already dreaming about going to bed that night in his own super-hero room with a belly full of Mom’s cooking (and his favorite pumpkin cake for dessert). I took him straight to his room to set down his bag, and then this happened:

That father, who wanted so badly to participate in his kid’s joy, scooped up the miracle and placed it in the arms of his unsuspecting son. Lifa didn’t know what to do as his answered prayer licked his face. He stammered, stuttered and was painfully awkward when it came to interacting with Kraven the Hunter. But that night, with a miracle sitting under the dinner table, Lifa feasted on Mom’s cooking and basked in the love of a family that stands together.

We aren’t a miracle family because the SPCA happened to get an ultra-rare husky-mix pup three days after my husband prayed for it. We are a miracle family because we know that God moves on behalf of his kids, and we choose to ask for a lot of moving.

We named our road.
He named his miracle.
We are a miracle family.

Kraven the Hunter is ridiculously cute, and we call him our miracle pup every day. But the real miracle isn’t in the collar. It’s never about the physical evidences we see. 

The real miracle is a weary child coming home to find out God hears him and moves on his behalf, even when he’s far away.  

Authentic miracles happen in a father’s heart when he exchanges his desires for his child’s.

We don't need proof, and we didn't need a husky. We need our hearts constantly shouting and being shaped for what shapes God's. We need to know it has nothing to do what we are capable of, and this earth's way doesn't stand a chance when it comes to the King of Kings. We call huskies home, and we know the true miracle happens when heaven’s heart replaces our own. Let's be miracle families. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Tube Full of Heaven... Ok, it's Neosporin

A baby sits unattended, in the furthest corner of the yard, and cries. She’s had a fever for days, and her mother just cannot handle the sound anymore. She puts baby as far out of ear’s reach as her small plot would allow.

There’s a free clinic less than a mile away.

A child limps into the CarePoint with yesterday’s dirty clothes clinging to the infection of yesterday’s run-in with a rusty nail.

There’s clean, running water at the Children’s Cup CarePoint, as well as a free government clinic within walking distance.

Open wounds, broken bones, and senseless infections are accepted as just a part of life. It’s as though affliction is just another stage of development in the fray of South Africa’s rural villages. It almost looks like this just is just the way it is as you bump along the dirt road to Dayizenza.

But there is another way, and it is so accessible.
You pick up that baby, and you walk to the clinic.
You turn on the tap, and you wash that wound.

So why are babies still feverish and wounds still untreated? Why don't they see and use what's available?

The volunteer cooking mothers at the Children’s Cup CarePoint in Dayizenza battle disease and decay in their own bodies. They take children into their homes, and sick children are dropped off at CarePoints because no one knows what to do. Not even them.

But they are watching.

They see mission teams come and hold babies. They watch touch, prayer and affection saves little, endangered lives. (Read Benji’s story here.)

They see us come to wash wounds and administer first aid to sick and injured children. They watch health restored to better than before.

They take a look, ask a question, and dare to believe there’s more than what their eyes can see.

“Mama Kacy, we don’t know how to take care of our children.”
They poured out their most vulnerable longings. “We want to help them, but we don’t know how. Can you show us? Will you teach us?”


The sheer risk in looking for more than what’s there could turn those hole-ridden dirt roads into hope-filled streets of gold.

We practiced putting on Band-Aids, washing injuries, and basic hygiene. I taught them about our bodies being temples of the Living God. We discussed burn care and prevention. They stared in shock when I told them it was ok… and expected… to tell the children to stay away from the cooking fire and hot kettles. I showed them how to use the medication in their first aid kit, labeling everything with appropriate usage, dosage and age. They aced the quiz at the end and loved it!

The most dramatic first aid practice of all time. So good.

They felt so empowered, capable, and strong. Hips swung and laughter roared around the yard as they modeled their faux-sprains and pseudo-slatherings of Neosporin. They were like little kids playing doctor. We laughed and celebrated as we were all healed of our imaginary afflictions.

The mothers learned how to use their hands for helping others, and touched hope in the process. They saw suffering doesn’t have to be the standard, and they could do something about it.

The gold and sparkly hope of heaven squeezed out of them with a tube of Neosporin and the most basic first aid training.

That day began a beautiful and ongoing journey in Dayizenza.
Week by week, we are gathering around thankfulness, stockpiling on knowledge, and strengthening our arms so we can lift heavy.

Boot Camp at the CarePoint! It's a highlight of our week! 
We are bracing ourselves and bulking up.

That tube of Neosporin and that fateful first aid training was the day we saw that heaven is at hand… our hands. We aren’t just here to fill bellies and wait passively for heaven to come. We will be the ones to lay the bricks that pave the path of heaven on earth.

First Aid trained and ready.
The beautiful women of Dayizenza will wash their hands, wash wounds, and renovate the roads from dust to glory. With clean hands and ready hearts, they are building the highway to heaven right where they live.

I remember the way I felt the day the ladies in Dayizenza asked me for help. How much more would heaven hoop and holler with a sparkling and undignified, “YES! YES! YES!” if we asked for more too?

There’s more. It’s free, and you just might already be fully equipped for it. Wash your hands, wash your hearts, and bust open that tube of heaven. Don’t hold back.

Let’s use what we have, and ask for more. Squeeze out every last drop until we’ve replaced infection with affection, disease with delight, and until heaven’s promises are complete on this earth, starting right where you are.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Secrets from the Sweatbox: How to become a Next Level Ninja

I have a hero for a husband. 

Lifa, our 8-year old, constantly watches and listens, trying to absorb Chris' super-powers. On the heels of our household hero, Lifa is discovering his adventurers heart. Just like Dad, he is developing a love for animals, camping, hiking, fire-building, and 4x4’s you can do man stuff in. My guys are awesome adventurers. 

Look at what we do:

Lifa's first camping trip. Kruger National Park.
That’s the Defender. The icon of rugged adventures, manly manliness, and a movement in itself in South Africa. We love that thing. It screams CHRIS LADD, and it makes his wife drool and want to go off-roading for dates. Lifa has built at least a jillion Defenders with his Legos. It’s become a thing in our family. We are those people. 

Well, we were those people. Until the fateful day my handsome husband climbed into the hammock with me and the afternoon sun. He told me it was time to sell the Defender. WHAT!?!

Chris told me that the Defender is his adventuring dream car, but now his biggest dreams are for family adventures instead of his own. His dreams still include rooftop tents, 4-wheel drive, and lots of manly words I don’t even get. But now they include the ability to talk to Lifa in the backseat while we adventure, and to eventually expand as a family. (Swoon.) 

Yesterday was the day. We dropped off the Defender and said our goodbyes. 
We swallowed our emotion, gave thanks for new adventures ahead, and headed back home in my car.

Until we broke down. Less than a mile later.

Boom. Just like that. 
We went from a 2-car family to a no-car family in less than 5 minutes.

Can you feel the tension potential as we sat on the side of the road and stared at each other with question marks in our eyes?

Lifa wasn’t even wearing his cape. We simply were not prepared for this. 

Luckily, I married a hero. 

Chris jumped out of the car and started dad doing stuff - the kind of stuff dads do when cars break down and there is not a back-up plan or a cape in sight. I looked at Lifa and told him we’d better pray for Dad. He closed his little super hero eyes and asked God for Dad to feel His peace, for our protection and that everything would be fine. As soon as we amen’d, an angel in a little red car pulled up and offered to help. Chris locked Lifa and I up safely in the broken car while he went in the little red angel car to get help. 

Luckily, it’s winter in South Africa… which means the high that day was only EIGHTY DEGREES Fahrenheit.

Let me set the scene for you: 
We were baking inside of a broken car on the side of a road in notoriously un-safe South Africa. With no cars left in our family. I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before. I was existing on nothing but prayers and crazy. It was 1:00pm, and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. Lifa only had 1 of his 4 giant meals that day. We had no water. And did I mention the sweat? I don’t mean a forehead glisten… I mean armpit fountains and vertebrae rivers. A ROADSIDE SWEATBOX. Oh, and we had just said goodbye to our beloved Defender.

So that’s what we were working with... 

I looked at Lifa and said, “This is awesome Lifa. This is like we are inside a big, giant secret.” He wiped the sweat out of his eyes, leaned in, and we took it from there.

First, we created a reality TV show about ourselves, taking turns commentating and creating save-the-day scenarios. Then, as he began to wilt and worry, we started talking real talk. 

“Lifa, who’s job is it in our family to save the day and solve the problems?"
“Who’s job is it to take care of us and take care of our cars?"

“YES! So our job is to listen to what Dad says. And his job is really just to listen to God so he can know how to save the day.  If we do our job, Dad can do his job, and God takes care of us all."

Lifa beamed and relief filled the seat-belted sweatbox. “That’s pretty cool."

Instant freedom. It replaced the sweat spews and hunger groans. It filled up every nook and cranny that could have been a cranky space with radical thankfulness. 

I leaned in to my sweaty ninja-child and told him that this was actually a secret training sweatbox. God was giving us a chance to become Next Level Ninjas for Him.


“Oh yeah. Are you ready for the next level, Lifa? Can God trust you with His next-level secrets?"

All 8 years of him were IN. I was just as eager to hear what would come out of my mouth as he was! 

I explained to him that true training only happens when it’s hard. You get really strong when your muscles - or your super powers - have to work really, really hard. We assessed our situation and made an action plan of how we could do the very best at our job of helping Dad. 

We made a pact:
  1. No complaining about anything. Ever. Even after we finished sweating and had all the water we could handle, we would never complain about how hot or thirsty we were. 
  2. We would be thankful. Not for the stuff we wanted to happen, but for the stuff that was happening. We would be thankful for God trusting us in the sweatbox and for giving us a chance to become Next Level Ninjas for His Kingdom. 
  3. We would pray. For Dad, for our circumstances, for all of our needs to be met. 
It was our sweaty secret. 
We felt so empowered. SO joyful. So sure of God’s presence. 
We practiced for a little while. And then we did the only thing left to do: We took Next Level Ninja photos. 

Moments later, that heroic husband of mine showed up IN OUR (former) DEFENDER. 
Lifa and I winked at each other, put on our smiles, and listened to the series of events and problem solving my husband had been busy with while we’d been praying, playing and flexing in our sweatbox full of secrets. 

We ended up using the Defender to tow my car, and Lifa lost his ever-lovin’ Ninja mind. “THANK YOU GOD! THIS IS GOD’S PLAN! HE KNEW THAT I ALWAYS WANTED TO SEE THE DEFENDER DO THIS AND WE SOLD IT BEFORE WE EVER PULLED A CARRRRRRR!” (Read that really fast and loud and with outrageous ninja-like giggling, and you’ll be close.)

Totally an appropriate time to take pictures. They call me Mamarazzi for a reason.
“This is awesome Lifa. Now get it together and play it cool. Next Level Ninja style. Ready?"

Game faces. ON. 

We smile at the handsome hero as he continues to sweat, save days and solve problems. Lifa goes deep into this next level thing, and I can almost tangibly feel the Holy Spirit equipping our family for any and every form of future sweatbox we’ll face. We keep whispering to each other: "No complaining. Be thankful. Pray for everything.” And we did. 

Lifa having one last goodbye while the men did men stuff with my broken car.
When our friend picked us up, we played The Thankful Game. Lifa poured out his thankfulness for the adventure, for the talk with Mom, for Dad saving the day, and for everything good he had seen. And then he leaned over to me in the backseat, whispered, and winked, “I made sure not to talk about the sweating.” 

We exchanged a solid thumbs up, and that’s when I knew: Lifa was a Next Level Ninja. 

We let God change the shapes and sizes of our adventure dreams, and we run after them. He loves that. Yet even in the middle of that obedience, we break down. With no backup plan. Because He loves us. 

Because when we break down, wait and have to remember what our job is, we become strong enough to live out the dreams we were chasing and to dream bigger ones. 
We enter into secret, sweaty, hungry, thirsty spaces, and we find nothing to complain about and everything to celebrate.

We find out that angels drive red cars and that when we all do our jobs, nobody is on their own. We keep secrets deep inside of us, only occasionally winking them out in the backseat - the good kind that swallow up sorrow with joy. The kind that make super powers swell up and stress dry out.

I never want to stop sweating and secreting and needing to remember my job:
No complaining. Always pray. Be thankful.
I want my plans to keep breaking down on the side of the road, so He can save the day and pave His way.
I want to be a no-car family that goes places. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

What's In Your Hands?

I pulled into the Dayizenza CarePoint on Tuesday morning while the afterschool meal was still cooking. The preschool next door was learning songs, and their tiny voices blew in with the breeze. The volunteer cooks for the CarePoint sang along to the kiddies songs and lounged between their dish-washing, salt-shaking, pot-stirring tasks. We sat and chatted casually about their families and weekends.

The previous Saturday, some of them had attended Blanche’s Kid’s Club Training. The CarePoint volunteers are local mothers who come and cook everyday for the children. They also facilitate a discipleship program created by Children’s Cup every week. Hundreds of children learn stories, memorize Bible verses and learn how to actively engage in God’s Word. Blanche is an incredible part of the Children’s Cup South Africa missionary team, and she put her whole heart into hosting a Kid’s Club Training for the cooking mothers to create an experience they could own and recreate for the children.

Blanche after completing a Kid's Club Training in Thubelisha.
To stay in touch with Blanche, click here or follow her instagram at bkonmission. 
As we lounged that Tuesday morning, I asked the ladies how Kid’s Club Training had been for them. Suddenly the lounging was OVER! Edith, the leader at the Dayizenza CarePoint, turned on the hip-swaying sass as she shared with confidence how good the training made her feel about herself. She was proud of what she was doing and happily boasted about Nokthula’s participation.

“Blanche was calling on us to help her teach, and we learned how to teach our children.” Edith’s enthusiasm and pride pulsed. “You should have seen Nokthula. She did a PRESENTATION.”

Nokthula beamed. A beautiful beaming smile from a mother living in two tiny rooms with her 4 kids and another teenage girl she just took in. A mother dealing with a family in conflict, an injured child, and burdened with mental health concerns for another child. She beamed.

Nokthula tells me, “I can teach the Bible with anything. Look for anything you see, and I can teach you.”

They excitedly recounted their Saturday training, where they had learned and practiced object lessons. Blanche showed them how anything around them could be a teaching tool, and it opened up a whole new world.

Edith re-recounted the training in their native tongue, SiSwati, to GoGo and Edna, the other cooking mamas who had not attended the training. Suddenly, that lounging, lazy Tuesday morning turned into a energy-charged classroom.

Edith commanded her class (GoGo and Edna) where to sit and how to participate, including the sound effects they should make and when they needed to respond. The giggles and the genuine interest were equally astounding.

Nokthula grabbed a matchbox and taught the class that Jesus is the Light of the World.

Edith, Edna and GoGo appropriately cheered, clapped, giggled and responded. I sat in awe.

Nokthula proceeded to share that she could do this with anything, from a mirror at her house to the cooking oil, cell phone, dishes and shoes that were in her direct line of sight. 
She was so free, so empowered, so capable.

She’s never had a place to teach something, so she’s never wanted to know anything.

Suddenly, because of a Saturday morning demonstration of object lessons, Nokthula had eyes to see and was constantly scanning for a way to teach God’s love. I told her that the more she read her Bible, the more she’d be able to teach it. Something had been unlocked in this mother, despite her incredibly difficult life circumstances.

Edith was next. That's right; this show was not over, folks.

Edith held up the keys in her hand and taught about the Kingdom of God.

Mind. Blown.

As Edith shook her hips and shook those keys, I listened, videoed, cheered. And then I looked. Edith had just made the Kingdom of God reachable for those ladies and for all the children she cooks for everyday.

I looked around us and saw a vegetable garden to feed their families. I saw outdoor toilets and a water tank where people fetch water to live on, a few liters at a time, because there is no running water. I saw a giant pot of food cooking on a fire the mothers had built that morning, and all the trimmings it took to spend a whole day preparing a meal. I saw a broom made of sticks for sweeping the dirt yard, buckets for washing dishes, and tires half-buried in the dirt for sitting and for playing. And in that key-shaking, hip-swinging moment, I saw the wealthiest place on the planet.

Tuesday morning came to life with the confident joy of these empowered women, and then Life Himself came and left an eternal stamp on that place.

I looked at Edith’s hands with those keys. And Nokthula’s with those matches.
I watched those strong, well-used hands clap in celebration and grab onto each other’s in overcoming joy. Hope was at hand for them.

Someone had shone Light, and now they could see what was around them. They see the same things everyday, but now they have sight beyond the matchbox and they key ring. Their everyday jobs became tools to build the Kingdom of God.

I looked at those hands. I looked around.

“The Kingdom of God is at hand,” Jesus said.

And I felt a question, a challenge, an invitation resound through me…

“Kacy, what is in your hands?”

Many days it is keys and a box of matches. Some days it’s a steering wheel heading to soccer practice. Some moments it’s a sick, hungry child, and some moments it’s the most smokin’ hott husband on the planet. (hubba, hubba)
Just in case I haven't said it yet,
Every day, every moment, whatever is in my hand, I pray that I remember…

The Kingdom of God is at hand. And my hands have everything to do with that.

We can lounge and look, or we can stand and shake. The Kingdom is coming.

Are you going to use what is in your hands to build it and bring it?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's not your fault.

White mom problems strike again.

Did you see my last post about Lifa being embarrassed about having a white mom?

[Side note: My sister won the blue ribbon in Best Blog Response for the last post when she responded that she was also embarrassed for Lifa, but it was because of his white dancing and not his white mom. Please stay tuned for proof.]

This time, I have more of a “white mom problem” than Lifa.

Lifa is eight. He cannot possibly eat enough rice and beans, tuna fish or corn on the cob to keep up with the rate his legs are growing. He wears capes and plays with his puppy. He’s learning how to throw a frisbee with Chris and lives for Saturday mornings, when he’s allowed to sprawl out on the couch with a cup of tea and Tom and Jerry. He eats dinner INCREDIBLY slow because he loves having the family sit at the table, and, sometimes, he falls asleep between bites. He is thriving and so full of joy that we often catch him happy-dancing by himself when he thinks no one is looking. Lifa is perfectly eight.

He is also beginning to understand things that are different and things that don’t feel right. He sees the missing element of family and safety in the culture he was born into, and he doesn’t know how to reconcile the two types of families and cultures he belongs to. He cries in his room when he realizes he’s behind in his new school and cannot understand what the other kids understand. It’s starting to weigh on him when adults speak about adult things to him instead of us because he is the one in our family who understands their native language the best.

Chris and I tell Lifa all he has to do is tell anyone asking him to do something that's not a "kid job" to please ask his mom or dad. He does not have to translate or make sure that we understand anything. “It’s not your job Lifa.”

That is the reigning truth and reality in the Ladd household: We love God. We love each other. We take care of our marriage and our kid. Lifa obeys his parents and gets really awesome at knowing how to be a kid. There is a whole other reality and truth, however, in this world and in this country we live in.

South Africa has 11 national languages and calls itself the “rainbow nation” because so many cultures and colors co-exist. All these side-by-side languages and people have crossed wires but not paths. They have oppressed each other, and there is a lot still to overcome.

People often don’t look so they won’t see each other.
They don’t speak so they won’t be spoken to.

It’s not respect. It’s not language barriers. It’s not culture preservation.
It’s fear. It’s shame. It’s bondage and lies.

This weekend, Lifa and I went on an exercise outing while Chris was out saving the world. (It’s his actual day job.) Lifa rode his bike while I jogged to the gym just down the road. When we arrived, a gym employee began speaking to Lifa in SiSwati. I told the employee I could not understand what he said to my son and asked how I could help him. The man was visibly uncomfortable, looked past me and said, “No, I was just speaking to that boy,” and begun to walk away. Once he understood that boy was my son, the employee explained he'd been telling Lifa where to ride his bike. I thanked him and was able to help Lifa make an alternate bike track. It was no problem, really. Except my heart was pounding.

“Lifa, just remember, if someone is ever speaking to you in SiSwati about grown up stuff, you can always tell them to go ask your mom or dad. It’s my job to make sure you know and follow the rules, so I have to know them too. It’s not your fault I don’t speak the same language as you do.”

“It’s not your fault that people think they should talk to you instead of me. It’s not your fault, Lifa. All you have to do is say, ‘Will you please go ask my mom and dad?”

Gratitude flooded his eyes. He zoomed off on his bike while I did burpees and thought about that “It’s not your fault,” pounding through my heart.

Lifa didn’t choose to have a white mom and dad or to straddle two cultures.
Lifa didn’t choose what language he speaks, the nation he was born into, or how the history of that nation would ravage personal dignity, the right to safety and the value of family systems.

Lifa didn’t choose to be born in a rural government hospital and then to be abused, malnourished and abandoned. He also didn’t choose to be made different from the other kids like him and get scooped up by a Texas lady who hugs, kisses and cooks too much. It’s not his fault.

And it’s not just Lifa.
There are stories, struggles and pains we do not choose.

You did not choose to have the parents you had or be raised the way you were raised. You did not choose the lifestyle you were born into – whether you are the one with the picture of the sponsored African child on your refrigerator or you were the child on someone’s refrigerator.

You didn’t choose to be touched there, treated that way, or to see what you saw.
You didn’t choose to lose a family member too soon, to deal with the medical conditions you deal with, to be left alone, or to be in the exact situation you are reading this post from.

My mama heart reflex is to protect my kid.
I want to throw a big, fat “It’s not his fault!” frisbee at life and at God. I want protect him, cover him, hide him from all the broken.

But Lifa was made to be a warrior and not a victim.
And I’m made to be a mom and not a Savior.

We tell Lifa to say, “Please go ask my mom and dad,” because he’s covered. It’s our job. We’ve got him. Whether he does something wrong, is afraid, or just doesn’t want to deal with the stuff that’s not his job to deal with.

Jesus came to say, “Please go ask my Father.” 
He’s got us. When we do something wrong, when we are afraid, and when we think we just can’t bear the burdens of it all anymore.

I want my kid, my household and this nation to know they are covered, protected, and that they matter. Not because of a mom or a dad or a circumstance change, but because of the Father who sent His Son to cover us and carry the grown-up sized burdens. I want you to know that too.

I want you to know that it’s not your fault; it’s your victory.

It’s not your fault; it’s your platform to find your freedom.
We were made to step up and stand tall on the things we didn’t choose. It’s from that vantage point, we find the freedom to race wildly beyond the world, the things that weren’t our fault, and the things that were.

You weren’t created to be a victim to life’s circumstances.

You were created to be a kid in God’s family.
You were created to be a kid who knows he’s super, who wears a cape and does super stuff with his family because he belongs there. 

You were made to know the feeling of a cape flapping in the wind.

When the urge to save, hide, protect, lash out or lose hope creep in on us…
In the lowest of lows when the lies get so loud…
We were made to look at those lies and tell them, “Can you please go ask my Father?”

Now go put on your cape and fly.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Two Kinds of Normal

Lifa’s teacher asked me to come to his new school in a couple of weeks and do a Bible lesson for all the third-grade students. I’M STOKED.

Lifa, on the other hand, is slightly less enthusiastic. (He almost rubbed his entire face off in 8-year old horror when he found out.)

When I taught his second-grade class last year, we talked beforehand about how to keep appropriate boundaries and not embarrass him. He ended up loving it, so I started up the same conversations on our car rides to school again… Only this time I had to clarify that it was my job to do what’s best for him, but not my job to cover up the tall tales he’s told to his new friends. The jerk-mom deep down inside is super tempted to show up and say, “Hi, I’m Lifa’s mom, and we do not have a pack of dogs or an airplane.”  

Don’t worry guys… I promised to be good.

Mental note: Perhaps the Bible lesson should be on lying. Or how not to be a jerk-mom.

This invitation came out of a meeting I had with Lifa’s teacher to find out what was really going during school. Lifa’s imaginations and exaggerations had become full-on lies, a coping mechanism that squeezes out people and real life one slipped-in story at a time.

There’s a reason he’s stretching stories and embarrassed, so I started asking questions on that short ride to school.

“It’s a little bit embarrassing because my mom is white, and I’m normal.”

Ok. Good starting point. Control your face, Kacy. Focus on the road.

“Lifa, what does normal mean?”
English is a second language, and it’s especially tricky when you live in a nation with 11 national languages and deep levels of cultural conflict.

I shared with our sensitive boy that when he says that he is “normal,” it sounds like he thinks there’s something wrong with me. I told him it hurt my feelings, and asked if that was what he was trying to communicate. Lifa quickly said no, and then I felt a heavy silence fill our car. He didn’t know what to say or do from there.

“Lifa, have you ever thought about what it’s like for Dad and I to live in South Africa and have you as our son?”


Thoughts whirring.

“Dad and I don’t speak the same language as a lot of people here, and we are treated very differently because of the way we sound when we talk. We have to use South African money but use banks and pay taxes in America; we only see our parents every couple of years; and even after living in South Africa for a long time, it’s still very hard for us to understand why some things happen the way they do. We love having you, but sometimes people don’t understand why our family looks like it does or why we cannot travel with you. For Dad and I, nothing is normal about living here. Everything that used to be normal for us is far, far away, and we don’t want that life anymore.”

Whoa. Thinking. Silence. Whoa.

“Want to hear a secret, Lifa?”

And we’re back. Because secrets are awesome.

There are two kinds of normal.
There are two Kingdoms with two different normals.

There’s the Kingdom of earth and the Kingdom of heaven. On the Kingdom of earth, all the people around you tell you what’s normal and if you’re good enough. They decide if you should be embarrassed, what you have to say, or how you should act. Other people give you power or take away power.

In the Kingdom of heaven, you still live on earth for now, but you have secret power. Jesus already came to pay the price for you, and that means you’ve been made good enough. It’s finished. You already belong, and you have super-crazy-stronger-than-you-can-even-imagine power that never runs out, just for choosing to live there.

The cool thing about these two kingdoms is that you get to choose which one to live in and to fight for. And, at some point, you have to choose.

Here’s the catch:
If you choose the Kingdom of heaven, you still live on earth around people who may not know about the super-powers of God’s kingdom yet. They will almost always think you are not normal and always think you should be embarrassed. They might even say and do mean stuff. You can see everything in the Kingdom of earth, but heaven has a lot of invisible powers. Some people think it’s easier to just choose what they see and hear. To do stuff that feels normal.

“Lifa, Dad and I made a choice to live for heaven’s Kingdom. Because we made that choice, earth lost it’s power to embarrass us. Now, instead of being upset about all of the earth-normal things we don’t have, we can see that we have THE BEST LIFE EVER. We love the way our family looks and loves, and we love that we get to live in South Africa. When God invites you to do everything that seems not-normal and embarrassing to the Kingdom of earth, it means He’s giving you EXTRA powers for the Kingdom of heaven.”

Earth is just what you see today. And then it goes away.
Heaven is forever.

And YOU get to choose.

We pulled into the schoolyard that morning as he tried to process where he fits in with all this kingdom and normal talk. As he swung his backpack on, I turned around, looked at that handsome boy and told him, “Lifa, Dad and I don’t EVER want to live a life that the earth says is normal again. We choose heaven’s normal, and that means we get to have you in our family. You are one of the very best parts of our life. We love you Lifa, and we are thankful for you.”

I caught a well-loved grin as he bounced out of the car, and I prayed.

Let this be the day that stretched stories and fantasy stop trying to create an in-between Kingdom. Let this be the day that Lifa finds overwhelming satisfaction in the God that loves greater, deeper, higher and wider than his wildest dreams could even fathom. Let this be the day where the Spirit of God fills up that kid and gives him eyes to see the two different Kingdoms.

Lifa, your mom is white. And I hope you don’t stay normal.

It may not be a white mom or a faraway country, but we all feel know the tension, tragedy and trials that Lifa was wrestling with that morning. When two kingdoms collide, conflict is normal.

May we all have eyes to see our lives the way they were written in the original script: Abundant. Complete. Whole. Full of power that is sharpened by others and rejoices in oppression.
May all the not-normals you stumble upon, crash into or get thrown at tell the grandest story of limitless power and happy-ever-after.

May our children understand there are two kingdoms and become warriors for heaven, increasing in number because they know they belong.