meet dakota and harvey.

This is Dakota:

She's a terrier mix and will be 8 in June. She's about 40-45 lbs. She's sometimes affectionate, but most of the time she just wants to do her own thing. Like any other terrier, Dakota loves to hunt small animals in the backyard - fortunately for me she very rarely catches anything! Dakota would love to have a backyard to run around in, but she's also lived in a condo where she had to be walked outside to use the bathroom. She is house-trained.

This is Harvey:

Harvey (a girl, despite her name) is a  5-year-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie/Chocolate Lab mix that somehow looks kinda like a Dalmatian. :-) She's about 50-55 pounds and not nearly as hyper as you would think, given her breed mix. Harvey loves attention and when I'm home, she's either lying next to me or where she can see me. Harvey is house-trained, but does pee sometimes if she gets excited or nervous (she can't control it). Like Dakota, she loves to be outside, but mostly just to lay around in the sun.

I'm still looking for someone to take care of one or both dogs, starting in mid-June through mid-November, while I'm loving on kids in Africa. Both dogs are healthy and up-to-date on all of their shots. I'll gladly pay for food, any unexpected vet bills, and if you're not local, I'll transport them to you. Even if you can only take care of one dog, or even for part of the time, could you please let me know by either emailing me, or leaving a comment below?

And just remember - every home needs a Harvey.

support info.

I've written up more information about my upcoming trip to Gabon, including what I'm going to be doing and what you can do to help. Read more here.

email updates.

Did you know that now you can sign up for email updates, so that every post is sent directly to your inbox?

I'm not vain enough to think that there are many people who want to read my random musings on life and faith and decorating, but I'm hoping that there are several of you who want to follow along with me while I'm in Africa. This is an easy way to do it. Then, after you read the email, you can come back here and leave a comment, or reply to me, so I know that you're out there. :-)

There are just a couple steps:
  1. Enter your email address in the box under "email updates" on right and click "Subscribe."
  2. A window will open asking you to enter a text code, just to make sure you're an actual person.
  3. Then, you'll receive a verification email in your inbox. Click the link in that email, and you're done.
And that's it!

seeking adventure.

I wrote a guest post for E4 - kind of a summary of the last couple years. Would you visit there to read it?

why i'm going.

Something Nick said Sunday morning made me start thinking - why am I going to Africa?

If my main purpose in going is to help abandoned and orphaned children, that may be a noble goal, but if that's the only reason, I'll get weary and overwhelmed, because there will always be more kids to help.

If I'm seeking adventure, I'll be disappointed, because adventure and adrenaline highs are fleeting.

If I measure success by the number of people that meet Christ, then I've chosen an arbitrary statistic that may or may not be in line with what God has for me there.

Instead, my goal must be Christ, just more of Jesus.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:7-11

update and prayer requests (#1).

Because I know that I have so many family and friends who want to pray for me (and because I know how much I need prayer!) I decided to post both prayer requests and answers to prayer on a regular basis. This is the first of those updates.

Prayer requests
  • I need to find someone who can take care of my dogs (or one of them, because I can split them up if necessary). Of course, most of the people I know who are dog people already have dogs. Can you please pray that I can find the right person, or people, and quickly? I'd love to put "Find a home for the dogs" in the Done column.
  • If you can help out, or know someone else who might be able to, could you please let me know? Dakota is a terrier mix, about 40-45 lbs, and Harvey (a girl) is an australian shepherd/border collie/chocolate lab mix, about 50-55 lbs. Email me and I can tell you more.
  • I'll start raising money for the trip soon (this week). In all honesty, I alternate between having faith that God has everything worked out, and worrying about this. So, please pray (1) that the funding for this trip will come in, and (2) that I will trust that God will provide.
  • Lastly, in the midst of all the other preparations, I don't want to lose sight of the one who called me (more about this later this week). Please pray for the desire and discipline to keep my mind set on Christ.
Thank you, friends, for standing with me and supporting me in this way.

answering questions.

Over the last few days, as I've told people that I'm moving to Africa for a few months, I've heard a lot of different comments and questions. I thought I'd post some of those here, in case others are wondering the same thing (and because some of the answers are actually requests for prayer and/or information)!

I knew you were going back to Africa.
I love hearing this, partly because it's just one more way that God is confirming his call to me. It's also funny, because for quite a while, I had no idea I was going back to Africa. And until a few weeks ago, I didn't really think that I was going back this year.

What are you going to do with your dogs?
I have no idea. Honestly, if there was something that I was going to stress about, this would be it (but I'm choosing to trust that God will provide for this just as he's provided for so many other things). So - this is both a prayer request, and a request for help - if you know someone who might be willing to host Harvey and Dakota (or even one - I could split them up if I had to) for a few months, could you please let me know?

How will you pay for this?
I have some money saved up, mostly thanks to my tax refund. I'm also selling some furniture, and I'm hoping that selling my car will net a little, even after paying off the car loan. I'll also need to find some supporters (email me or leave a comment if you'd like to help).

What are you doing with your house? Are you going to try to sell it?
If the market were better, I probably would have tried to sell it. Instead, I'm going to be renting it to good friends of mine. This is just one more example of God's provision - it's a win for both of us, and I don't have to worry about a background check for someone I don't know and keeping the house show-ready at all times.

Where will you live and work when you get back to the US?
I'll be moving back to Frederick, and until I can find a job, I'll be mooching living space off my family. Depending on how things go as I'm getting ready to leave Gabon, I'll start looking for a job. Or I'll find one when I get back. Or God will provide miraculously and drop one in my lap. Honestly, there are so many other details to worry about over the next two months that I'm choosing not to think about this yet.

Have any other questions? Let me know!

big news.

I've been fairly quiet here the past few weeks, mostly because I haven't felt able to talk publicly about so many of the things that have been going on. I'm ready now.

Below is the text of an email I sent to friends and family just a few moments ago:

Dear friends and family -

I have some news to share with you, about some exciting changes that are coming up in my life. My apologies for the mass email, but I thought it was the best way to communicate with all of you at once.

Today I submitted my resignation to CBN - my last day of work there will be on Friday, June 17. I'll rent my house to friends, move most of my things into storage in Frederick, then in July I'll be going back to Gabon, Africa, for four months. After that, I'll move back to Frederick and find a job there.

While I'm in Gabon, I'll be working with Hope House, the home for abandoned children in Libreville. My hope is to a gain a really thorough understanding of how things work there currently (how kids come to live at Hope House, how finances and other daily operations are handled, etc.) and also to help set up some processes and policies that will enable us to connect Hope House and their Gabonese supporters with North American supporters.

In some ways, these changes have happened very quickly, but in some ways they've also been a long time in coming. Its quite a big undertaking, certainly bigger than me, and still I am certain that this is where God is calling me right now.

As you can imagine, there are quite a few details that need to be worked out over the next few months. Would you please pray with me for those? God has led me so far in this process, and I know that he will continue to do so - but there is still a lot to do. (And if you know someone who would be willing to take care of my dogs for a few months, could you please let me know?)

I'm planning to post regular updates on this process (including specific prayer requests) on my blog:

I'll also continue to use Facebook and Twitter (@slidingstairs) as a way to stay connected with you all.

Thank you for your support and your friendship.