The magic of showing up

Sometimes just by showing up, you’re leader by default.

It trumps anything else we’ve got to give and everything we think we’re not.

We disqualify ourselves for this reason or that, always waiting on something before we’re somebody God can use. Forgetting we’ve been invited now just as we as are.

Angel is 16. She manages an evacuee camp housing 300 weary people waiting out a volcano.
With little notice, Dawndra grabs beads and string she has on hand and heads in to hang out.

These kids from a local middle school show up at camp to “play with little kids and make people happy.” They made my day!

What are we waiting to become before we’re willing go out?

We all walk with limps and talk with lisps. It’s ok. Our healing often comes along the way.

Hurting souls don’t care how old you are or how’ve you’ve failed, they just know you came when qualified people stayed home.


Empat Belas – Education Obsession – Dirk

It’s possible I’m obsessed.  Likely, even.  I don’t know if there was a time when my obsession began, or if it’s always been there (even if seemingly dormant, at times).  I love learning.  I don’t always love schooling, but I love to learn.

And I love teaching.  Again, not necessarily schooling… but teaching.  I crave all of the little teachable moments that swarm our lives as parents.  It thrills me when the boyz latch onto a concept.  Seeing their wheels turn.  Hearing them apply some new thing in their new way.


Some days, learning looks like this
Most days, learning looks like this

And not just my boyz.  When I visit with children in various areas of Indonesia, most of whom don’t speak much/any English… my limited Bahasa skills are just barely enough for me to teach them some English.  Which is awesome, because that’s my happy place.  Get a word right, get a high five… it’s the best part of their day, and of mine.

Club High Five, at the Desa Les Posko (relocation camp for those displaced by Mount Agung)

Levi is an avid reader.  Oh, dear goodness, that kid devours anything about nature.  He can tell you everything about any animal, alive or dead.  But he didn’t start out that way.  He just reminded me yesterday about the time when he was just a little bugger and he spent like a month to read this really long Dr. Seuss book, Are You My Mother?, all by himself, because I promised to pay him some money as a reward.  That was a bit of a rough month… like 2 pages per day, sitting together, sounding out every word until he got it just right.  Rough, but so very sweet.  Because that victory propelled him immediately into the reader he is today (seriously, like the next week he was reading like crazy on his own), and it is a shared victory.  Something that we will both always remember and cherish.

I want to be a part of hundreds, thousands of such shared victories.  Those little sparks of recognition and understanding.  They only learn each thing once, after all… why let some random teacher have all the fun?  🙂

When we took our RV trip around the country, us parents were desperate for conversation topics to keep the boyz from crawling out of their skin on our long drives between campgrounds.  At some point, maybe a month into our trip, I started asking them math questions.  Dear heck, they loved it (and so did I)!  By the end of the trip, my little 5 and 7 year-olds could do simple multiplication and division.

Shared victories.

Our biology dictates that we learn.  Children are little sponges… they will learn!  They may not love school, they may not want to learn whatever it is that they are ‘supposed’ to learn… but they soak up knowledge of some sort at every turn.  I think our job, as educators, is to figure out what motivates each kid.  How do they learn best?  What do they love to learn?  What will make them crave learning the ‘right’ things?

This year in Bali we are home-schooling.  And it seems to be going fabulously, so far.  We are letting the boyz go as fast as they want, and they keep saying ‘give me more!’  As of today, October 6, Levi is 74% done with his 4th grade math.  Jaxon and Luke have both finished their Typing courses for the year.  October 6!

Again, learning is not just about schoolwork.  Right now, for instance, our boyz are obsessed with learning how to play video games.  YouTube.  It’s really weird to me, and even weirder because they don’t even have most of the games that they watch video tutorials about.  Even they can’t explain why they like this stuff.  I’m not exactly a fan of the video game videos, but it has made me aware that they have a capacity to learn even more than the knowledge fire-hose we’ve got aimed at them… it’s just got to be fabulously interesting to them.

Sounds like a challenge.  I’ve got this.


Til the last drop

I’ve been trading reigning in for venturing out and hanging on.

And where it leads surprises no one more than me.

Like into crowded evacuee camps and alongside a rescued girl coloring pictures and in conversations that change everything and among people I can’t believe I get to call friends.

I’m learning there’s a difference between praying and hemming and hawing. Between being responsible and being afraid.

Love takes us as far as we are willing to go for the sake of others. And if we fall on our face trying, so be it.

That knowing of the need is invitation to meet it.

That material needs are the easy ones and imparting dignity begins by learning her name.

I am learning that waiting til I’ve got it figured out means I will likely never start.

And that healing comes as we go and sometimes not before.

That journeying with God is not geography. It’s mindset, and matter of the heart.

It is rarely ever easy, but we were made for hard things.

When the days are heavy, but weight feels feels light. It is the provision and mystery of God.

When the days are heavy and the weight is too, it is His strength and grace that carries us through.

Just one life and I want to live it.

Pour it out loving til the very last drop.

The refuge of God

 Suffering space is holy ground. 

Entrusted even just for a moment, with the care of a vulnerable heart, the highest honor heaven bestows.

I haven’t always understood this, but it’s becoming the truest thing I know.



Sometimes knowing of the need is invitation in itself.

We don’t need to know it all or even where it all will lead.

Sometimes it’s about just one step and the courage to take it, 

repeated again and over again.


Into places we never heard of and moments we never imagined.

Into camps of beams and tarps housing people who are shelter to each other.



Looking into her eyes, I see for the first time again,

That we all long for home.

And maybe till we get there we can be there for each other.

I’ll give myself to shelter you and you will be my home.

And together we will be the refuge of God.

Singapore, volcanoes the fullness of God

I’ve been in Singapore with Jaxon and Levi. Our visa arrangements require us to exit Indonesia regularly and then come back and start over again.

So we pick a nearby country and go scurry up an adventure.

With Dirk and Luke in America, it left the three of us behind to venture out on our own this time.

Our experience in Singapore was a little dizzying. We explored a pristine, very orderly, sparkling city island, towering with skyscrapers and oozing wealth (not Indonesia).

I looked for poor people. And I couldn’t find them. I know they are there.

One night we visited a very popular landmark.. the Merlion Statue looks over the city hallowed as the “Guardian of Prosperity”.

I walked passed a guy wearing a t-shirt with the words “I make more cash in a day than your credit card limit” emblazend across his chest. I double checked, sure I couldn’t have read it right the first time.

Heading into a hotel I honestly thought we’d stumbled into a fancy car show, turns out it was just the parking lot.

I’m going away wondering how disorienting this must be for my boys. They play with kiddos from communities of the poorest of the poor one weekend and stroll between Lamborghinis and Porsches the next.

And then, there’s the earthquake that rumbled off the coast of Bali an hour after we left it, and set off sirens of concerns about a volcano that’s been awakened and will likely blow its top again soon.

I’ve heard 35,000 people had to leave their homes too close to the volcano and are camping in tents and school gymnasium. I’ve heard they need food and water and maybe even a new home by the time it’s all over.

Now we are heading back to Bali to rejoin Dirk and Luke and an island on edge. And all I can think is, Wow, and really, Lord?

And I keep asking God to fill me with his fullness and He keeps taking me to empty places He wants to heal. I keep looking around for who and how and realizing it’s you and me.

I woke up today and read, “He (Jesus) didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.” Romans‬ ‭15:3-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

So I don’t have to wonder where he is or wait for permission to join him there. I remind myself it’s when wading turns to over-my -head, he teaches me how to swim.

I wonder if the guy in the shirt knows he’s worth much more than he claims. And if our guardians of prosperity are really wardens of our prisons.

Cause a billionaire still bleeds and a child in the cemetery still has dreams. And when your home is blowing up you’ll grab your children and leave your cows too.

Truly, we are the same.

It’s surreal to kiss my boys goodnight while reminding them what to do if the earth shakes them awake at night.

I often wake up praying and realizing how fleeting it all is.

We’ve been given the gift of a turn on this earth and receive it most fully when we give it away.

And I’m learning more and more what that means. It requires everything but leaves us lacking for nothing and ruined for anything else.

This to me, is the mystery and fullness of God.

The life I want

I am reading the newest book from my favorite author. And I love all of it. But sandwiched in between big thoughts and inspirational stories, almost as if a side note, there is single sentence that has haunted me since I saw it.

I can’t get away from it. It’s my first and last thought of every day and swirls around in my brain every moment in between

And it’s not because I’ve never thought of it before, but because it is everything I’ve ever wanted but sometimes have forgotten.

I want to live the kind of life that cannot be lived without the fullness of Christ in my life. -Erwin Mcmanus, The Last Arrow

The fullness of Christ. Is that even a thing?

It hurts my brain but compels me to come in closer and explore. And so I am.

One thing I’ve learned, fullness cannot be squeezed or contained or packaged with a bow. I know cause I’ve tried. There was a time I thought I had it figured out, you know. Then life blew up all my boxes. Set me free and left me with only Love.

And it’s been enough.

And grace, my greatest failures have delivered me into her arms.

The fullness of Christ

It fits nowhere because it is everywhere.

It’s wild and alive and boundless and dynamic.

It is abundance upon abundance upon abundance.

And yet offers itself to me.

It’s not a challenge to try harder or do more,

It’s an invitation to open my arms wider and wider to an expanding embrace, so big and round my fingers never meet on the other side.

To live a life, unexplainable apart for the fullness of Christ in my life.

This is it for me. Not because I have figured it out, mostly because I haven’t.

Christ’s fullness has not despised my empty leaking places. But has come right in and been my friend. His kindness fuels my courage. Wherever he is he goes, I want to go there too.

Birthday and balloons- by Levi

By Levi Bellamy

My whole family went to visit our friends on an island called Java.

The first night there we went to a GIANT mall that had lots and lots of stuff.

The next day we celebrated Jaxon’s birthday at the  Compassion First centers. At the party we had cake, played Uno, and chinese checkers. 

Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed.

The next day we went to the centers and I made balloon swords for the kids, but not many lasted too long because one of the kids started chewing on them.

Two years ago I told mom that one day I wanted to make balloon animals for the  kids in the cemetery and now I did 🙂

This was my favorite part.

We also went and watched kids at their capoeria competition. They can do a lot of amazing things.

The next morning we went swimming and I did a backflip into the pool.Then we came back home to Bali.

It was a fun time and I can’t wait to go back again/

Tiga Belas – Exotically Mundane – Dirk

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I often think about blogging, and then I don’t.  And then I think about why I didn’t blog.  Round and round I go.  It’s a lot of thinking.  I have come to realize that I have mentally settled in to ‘normal’ life here in Indonesia.  Every week we do things that may seem exotic and different from good ol’ American normalcy… but these things have become our own normalcy.

Who wants to write about normal?  Well, that’s pretty rhetorical, but let me answer it for you anyway… I’m sure lots of people have lots to say about normal, but not me.  I’m efficient.  If there’s something to say, I say it.  If there’s not, I don’t.  Not a great attribute for a blogger (and also drives Valerie nuts, at times).  But that’s me.  Sorry, folks.

Here’s a summary of the past few months: We went surfing (again)!  Snorkeled, saw some fish (again)!  Hey, over here, we’re eating something weird (again)!  Traveled to China, Singapore, Malaysia… (again)!

That quick summary belies the fact that our lives are full, both in good and in stressful ways.  Very, very full.  What I think I’ve overlooked in my efficiency is that even when the broad strokes are falling into a pattern of familiarity, the fine strokes are new every day.  We’re continuing to improve our understanding of culture, we meet new people all the time, relationships ebb and flow, the boyz are constantly entertaining, and we’re learning more and more how to live (sometimes just survive) in Indonesia.

So, in summary, I’m going to blog more.  I’ve got a few months of fine strokes to catch you all up on, so buckle up folks!

Beach Aug2017
The Boyz at da Beach, Sometime in August


It might not be like you think.

We’ve come for children often not aware of their need for rescue, have not directly asked for our help, and in 100 percent of my experiences, have not been happy we’ve shown up at all. It’s not exactly a hero’s welcome.

She’s angry and afraid and so so confused. Convinced captivity is the only reality, not able to imagine freedom’s possibilities on the other side of that door. And no way to get there without someone to show the way.

And she cries and fights to go back to the hands that hurt her, to the evil that convinced her she is bad and unworthy of anything better.

And every time

I look at her and see myself…unaware, unconvinced, resigned to my captivity. With no hope and no way out without someone to show me the way.

And so God has come. At just the right time he comes. At any cost he comes. Over and over he comes. Relentless in pursuit he comes. With unfailing love and vengeance for our enemies he comes.

When we know the reach of his ridiculously persistent love….the clank of our chains hitting the ground means someone else’s will soon fall too.

It’s the wonder of our own rescue that compels our pursuit of another’s.

And somehow somewhere in the struggle for her freedom, we become more free too.

And celebrate her rescue just like it is our own.

Because it is.

Taking sides

God takes sides, you know. 

He always chooses the most vulnerable.

Regardless of religion or race or social status or sexual orientation or any other or.

He picks the plight of the mistreated as his highest concern.

I'm not always like that. I spin my wheels and spend my time dehumanizing and disqualifying and rationalizing the reasons I'd rather not.

How many times in how many ways must he say...It's all for nothing if not for love. 

Following Jesus means actually going where he goes. We can know where he is going by remembering where he's been.

And I'm not talking about into the homes of "notorious sinners" or barreling through cultural norms in Bibe days.

I mean, He came for me.  

Stood up

Spoke up

Turned in his priveledges so I could be included too.

Love risks all in pursuit of one.

Every. One.

Because there is no them.

Maybe the more honest question isn't, where is God but will we join him?

Think God is silent? Raise your voice for someone without one.

Think his hands are tied? Stretch out and bring close as many as you can reach.

Can't find God or lost yourself?

Befriend the oppressed, the keepers of his heart.

Always at his side.