Thursday, August 8, 2013
This morning I'm grateful to have a husband with infinite patience, who supports me and loves me despite all of my flaws.
"His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me." Song of Solomon 2:6
Day 8 of our 40 Day Challenge - 6 pledges so far! Please pray with us this morning for our challenge, that people would continue to partner with us in our ministry!
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I cannot tell y'all how excited we are to head to New Orleans next week! So excited I actually decided to write a blog post about how extremely excited I am:)
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
As an adult, I sometimes find myself envious of my kids...I have two little boys, both still in the “baby” stage (although Cruz already seems to think of himself as grown), and man, do they have it made. In general, children have no agenda, no serious responsibilities, no life-altering decisions hanging over their heads, no pressure to provide for their families - they are expected to eat, play, laugh, sleep, cry when they need something, and poop. No wonder they appear to be filled with so much joy all the time! I have had many incredible experiences with the Lord since I became a Christian, but I have never felt as close to God or understand His love as much as I do now that I am a parent; when my kids were born I finally began to comprehend the love our Father has for us. And most children LOVE life - as I stated earlier, they are filled with joy. One does not have to do much to amuse or please a child, they become enamored with the smallest things and are in love with simply being alive. It makes you wonder when we lose our sense of childlike exuberance...when do we forget to be excited just to wake up in the morning or jump in a puddle? Jesus said in Matthew 18 we are all to acquire a childlike faith, to humble ourselves as children before the Lord; “ 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4. For many children it is easy to maintain the innocence, passion, and humbleness Jesus talked about...but not all.
In cities across Africa and other areas of the world, some children cannot remember a time when their days were not filled with worry, sadness, pain, anger, regret, confusion, hunger, bitterness, and violence. They do not remember running in the rain or feeling their mother’s hug or playing with friends. They do remember the hurting, the threats, the long days and nights, the uncertainty of tomorrow. They are child soldiers.
As early as nine years old, children in many countries are ripped from their homes and forced to fight through various tactics (brainwashing, drugs, etc.) for a cause and people which are not their own. Several decades ago, children were discovered as an invaluable commodity during war efforts, and thousands of children have been used in such ways in the years since. Leaders within the armies who engage in child abduction and the formation of child soldiers, choose to enlist children in their numbers for some of the same reasons I discussed at the beginning of this article - children are innocent, infinitely trusting, easily teachable, and very naive. In many cases children can also “go undercover” and gain access to places that adult soldiers cannot...often slipping into dormitories at schools and abducting other kids. Sadly, because they are so easily abducted and manipulated they are also seen as very expendable.
We can hardly comprehend the terrible things these children go through after they are abducted, but what about after they come out of their enslavement? Many former child soldiers have no home to which they can return, no family
or friends to help them deal with their horrible experience and get their life started again. The children are forced back into society with virtually no assistance or counseling or job training; and the people of the community in which the child soldiers live (understandably) do not know how to handle what has happened, so they usually ignore the children completely. Different organizations and programs have started to pop up in these countries in order to help both the former soldiers and the communities learn to adapt better and help one another. The programs offer counseling (most former soldiers suffer from post traumatic stress disorder), job training, basic hygiene skills, etc.
Several years ago my husband and I felt God calling us to help with the rehabilitation of child soldiers and their communities. God has given the world such a gift through children, through the creation of a new human being, and our hearts are burdened with the knowledge of the suffering these particular children endure. Their innocence and exuberance has been stripped away in many cases, and they have lost their youthful energetic approach to life. It is our prayer to live among former child soldiers and join in the healing process in any way God desires. And you can help too - feel free to call us or email us at any time to learn how you can help support our efforts on the mission field in Central African Republic, or for more information regarding child soldiers, our particular calling, etc.
Adam and Cori Willard
For more information about child soldiers, feel free to check out some of these resources:
Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War by Jimmie Briggs
God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir by Michael S. Sweeney
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children by Faith J.H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Then we started seminary and experienced several interesting living situations - we found ourselves living in New Orleans surrounded by amazing houses and dreams of rebuilding and designing our own house (after Katrina there were a ton of houses you could buy pretty cheap). However, we knew we wouldn't be living in the US for too much longer, so it wouldn't be worth it unfortunately to buy any property...instead we settled into a extremely small, kind of ghetto, but quaint one bedroom apartment on campus (I'm being very generous to Willingham Manor for those of you who know what it is). We've moved several other times since then for lots of different reasons, the main one being we needed more space for our growing family (TWICE!). All of this to say, I'm pretty used to packing up our "things" and trying to be as simplistic as possible by getting rid of excess stuff along the way. We moved back to North Carolina in May after graduation and believed after we found an apartment and settled in we wouldn't have to move again until we made our big move to France at the end of the year....or so I thought...
Last week we found MOLD growing in our apartment. Nasty, disgusting, growing like crazy, MOLD. Not only was it in our apartment, but it was making it's home right next to the window where my boys sleep beside each night. Gross. And not liveable. Needless to say, we were pretty upset and went to talk to our apartment manager right away, and although the company is great and this lady is as nice as she can be, they aren't willing to fix the problem completely. So, as parents, there's no way we were going to let our babies sleep in a mold-infested house longer than they had to. We debated and deliberated for days and came up with a solution we think will be best for our family: we're going to move in with my parents again. I know, I know, right about now most of you are thinking we are absolutely nuts, and we probably are, but it seems like the best option. Once we decided that, we only had a few days to sign all of the papers and move our things out (which we're still in the middle of doing)...if you know Adam and I, we aren't for moving slowly, and this is no exception, although this one isn't entirely our choice:) Thus I come to the point of this blog post: boxing up our life again.
But it's different this time. This time I'm not boxing up our "life" and our "things" for a few days or even a few weeks while we drive across the country or move somewhere new. I'm packing our things up for years, possibly. Can I just say I was not as emotionally prepared as I imagined I would be for this moment? In my head and my heart I knew I had almost a whole year to prepare myself to say "goodbye" to our American life: our extra clothes and shoes, our boys having their own rooms and a semi-ridiculous amount of toys, my very own kitchen with my own cooking supplies, etc. Granted, I realize I'm not saying goodbye to American life altogether, we're still going to be here until the end of this year, but still...I admit it, I am completely, totally grieving "STUFF". A day hasn't gone by this week that I haven't shed a tear (ok, several...maybe some sobs too) over all of our things being sold or given away. Don't get me wrong - I am beyond stoked at this new adventure in our life we'll be going on soon...I just didn't expect this part to happen so soon. My parents are still living in a small rental house in Greensboro until they sell their house in Charlotte, so we really are having to get rid of almost everything, or else store it until we return from overseas. I'm having to pack boxes that say FRANCE/AFRICA on the label...oh my goodness. I admit it, I'm definitely more attached to material possessions than I thought I was...this week has been hard, we've had to make a lot of tough decisions, but it has been healing as well. I honestly believe when you make a choice like we have to follow God's plan for us and head overseas, living all of our loved ones and "stuff" behind, there is a grieving period. And I'm in the middle of it...and it will probably not be a short grieving period, throughout this year and while we're gone, I'm sure I'll feel different stages of grief. It is still so liberating and healing to know that God knew this was going to happen - He knows how we feel and even feels with us. Our God is a God of emotion as well and it's just nice to know that sometimes...it's ok to grieve (in a healthy way of course) and that our grief is one step closer to the bigger plan He's had for us all along.
As for living with my parents, feel free to throw up some prayers for all involved...:) But that will be ok too!
Monday, December 5, 2011
OK, now back to what I have learned the last few months:
1. I have the most incredible, considerate, hardworking, amazing husband ever created. I know most ladies reading this would like to argue with me and put their man in the running, but really, Adam Willard is the best around. I thought I knew this before, but the last few weeks have reminded me and I relearned this fact:) After Javan was born, each day was a battle and I really had to fight to make it through - I was convinced for awhile I wasn't going to survive. Literally. Through it all, all my tears and craziness and the boys adjusting (Cruz to a new baby and Javan to life in general), Adam remained calm and steady and was exactly the anchor I needed, although I'm sure inside he was ready to kill me most days.
2. Every thing with a newborn is a stage. One of the positives to having kids so close together is how easy it is to remember things Cruz went through, and while your first kid is dealing with something it seems like forever and as though it'll never end (e.g. sleep training)...once the second kid comes along, it's easier to deal with the rough spots because you realize it really didn't last that long with the first one and everyone is still alive!
3. Community is important. Oh man. For those of you that know me, this is a tough one. I pride (this word = first mistake) myself on being independent and strong, and our recent situation has humbled me in more ways than one. I need people, I need help - and I've had to learn to ask for that the last few weeks and at first it just about killed me. Adam again reminded me we weren't created to do anything on our own...Americans (for the most part) have it wrong. Moving somewhere where we know no one and our New Orleans family was stripped away from us really hit us hard, harder than I ever imagined. We're learning to lean on family and starting to make new friends...community is what it's all about - we need each other! Thank God we both have amazing families who are there for us no matter how crazy I act:)
4. My expectations are always too high. Goals are awesome, performing well is excellent, results are even good but being so stressed out its difficult to function because things aren't happening as you imagined they would is not healthy. I never imagined I would fall in this category, but lately thats how I've lived - stressed to the max, feeling so much pressure to perform or get my family to perform as I believe they "should". I'm slowly relaxing my expectations and ideas...it's harder than I thought.
5. Stop and enjoy the little moments. Yes, it may be frustrating that Javan has a milk allergy like Cruz did, but he has smiled so much since we changed him to formula and I enjoy those smiles! Or I might really really be craving sleep, but I need to enjoy the time I get to spend holding my little ones or watching a movie with my husband instead of catching a few minutes of sleep. Yes life is crazy and most days I feel certifiably insane, but I wouldn't change a thing or trade even the worst moments for anything.
Our world has changed so much recently, but this was a small peek into the Willard World:)