Why I Blog: Still Morphing …

I have a list of posts I hope to write … someday. This one wasn’t on the list. When I posted last week’s BEST tablescape ever (click HERE if you missed it, because this post won’t make much sense otherwise), I really didn’t intend to write anything else — at least for quite awhile — about the kids at Hope Unlimited for Children in Brazil. But your comments and private emails have caused me to think perhaps one more post is needed.

Before I say anything else, let me thank those of you who blessed me (and Renaissance Man) with your encouraging and supportive comments.  Many of you have said you prayed for us and for the children — and that you’ll continue to do so. I hope you will … every time the kids cross your mind.
I was a bit uncomfortable, though, with some of your praise. I believe in blogging (actually, living) with integrity, and as I read some of your comments, I couldn’t help but feel that Renaissance Man and I were being elevated far above anything we could possibly ever deserve. We’ve always been just two people who want God to use us. If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know that I occasionally allude to my faith, but it’s always in conjunction with who I am. I write from my heart, sometimes (like today) with a great deal of transparency. But I don’t write a “religious” blog — and nothing about my blog is changing. You’re just getting a broader view of who I am, and today you’re getting a clearer view of why I blog in the first place …
For many years, Renaissance Man and I were content with his career in Christian college administration. He was an excellent fundraiser, and I enjoyed the entertaining that went along with the job. It seemed the career path was “set” (we’d certainly been on it for a long time!), but about four years ago God began to give us glimpses of some “stretching” He wanted us to do. We were listening and trying to be obedient … when one day everything changed — and we were given a chance to see a side of the world we’d never seen with our own eyes before … a world that was far beyond our comfort zone.

A world where raw sewage runs freely, cutting a path between plywood shacks.

Where a tattered piece of cardboard or a filthy foam pad is called a “street mattress.”

Where children are daily exposed to hunger …

disease …

… and a culture that exploits and endangers them.

Now we live in that world — the EASY way. When Renaissance Man joined the staff of Hope Unlimited for Children, he was hired to lead the U.S. side of the ministry. To raise awareness and funds for the organization. To be a shoulder-to-shoulder partner with the missionary/co-founder in Brazil. But we were NOT called on to leave the comfort of the old house we’d just “finished” renovating … or the proximity of family.

Even so, much changed in our personal world. Rather than Renaissance Man putting on a suit and tie every day and heading to the office, we now have two different types of days.  When he’s home, he dresses more casually and walks upstairs to a guest room-turned-office … or he works on his laptop downstairs in his study.  He’s home all.day.long. We have conversations — or I overhear phone calls — on topics like sexual trafficking, pre-adolescent prostitution, runaways, desperate needs we can’t afford to address … God’s faithfulness, a family reunited, another young life saved (literally and spiritually).

But on many days, he’s traveling. I often drive an hour to the nearest airport to drop him off … and the hour back home. And then he’s gone … for days or weeks at a time. The days are long. Peaceful. Productive. Eventually … too quiet.  We Skype at all hours of the day and night (depending upon the time zone/country/continent where he is). And then it’s time to make the return trip to the airport … to start it all over again.
After three years, I’m still trying to get used to it.  I’ll admit that I didn’t always like the constant “command performances” that are expected of a college administrator couple, but I loved the routine of the calendar. There was a comfort there … much like the cycle of the seasons. (Repeat with me: Spring IS coming! Spring IS coming!) There was a constancy … a dependability … and yours truly, who sometimes seems to think flexibility should be planned (think about that one!), grieved over the loss.

I sometimes feel overwhelmed. By a husband’s constantly changing travel schedule. By the depth of need in our world — at home and abroad — and the seeming inability to make a dent in the problems. By the subject matter we discuss. By cultural differences. By good people … who don’t seem to care about anybody but themselves and their own families. By hard decisions that have to be made.
Ironically, when our world expanded, my everyday world shrank. Gone was the familiarity of routine … of entertaining donors (our donors are now all over the world — can’t really invite them to a dinner party!) … of having work in common with people around me. I realized it was time for me to be still. That’s a good thing … but I’ll admit that I wondered how long the being still could last.
I’m a project person … a “just do it!” person. I like making things happen. I’m not afraid to plan a big event. I’m not terrified of public speaking (just a little nervous). I love to entertain a house full of people (although I do hate cleaning it before they come).  Be still, and know that I am God.
Although I’ve served on committees and done projects over the past three years, my spirit has continued to be still. To reflect. My Daddy jokingly (I think) says I’m getting old … and sentimental!  He may be right, but I hope I’m also becoming wiser. More grateful. More compassionate. More focused beyond my world … and my comfort zone. More obedient.

I tablescape … and launder vintage linens … and blog … for balance. That other world that constantly surrounds me, banging on the doors of my comfortable home … even from long distance … is sometimes hard to invite in. I occasionally need a mental distraction. I need to be creative. I need to play in the dishes …

I’m going back to Brazil in April. That’s a hard trip for me for many reasons, not the least of which are the long plane trip … the language barrier … the poverty beyond belief. And yet I’m looking forward to it — because my destination is the children. When I’m with them I’ll see firsthand the HOPE that is transforming their once-desperate lives.
I’ll see children experiencing family

… and getting an education.

I’ll see life skills being taught …



… and worship proclaimed.

I’ll see joy

… and friendship


… and little ones who are part of our newest preschool venture
* over 500 little ones *
whose tummies get filled with nourishing food,
whose filth gets washed away,
and who experience learning through play.
Whose parents, too, are learning …
to properly care for and protect their children …
because that’s what Mommys and Daddys are supposed to do.

Little ones … whose future is bright with promise because 20 years ago — three American men cared enough about the children being massacred in Brazil to TRY to do something about it.

Philip Smith – missionary and co-founder

Renaissance Man and me? We are the ones who are blessed! We’re just two people at the back of a long line of men and women who have cared. They’ve taught us so much about faith. Each person does what they can; we’re no different. My husband filled a niche in the ministry that needed to be filled. I continue to be still … and pray for him, and the missionaries, and the children …

… and the Brazilian staff …

… over 100 of them … who meet the everyday needs of the children.

Who serve as the hands of God and offer hope … the kind of Hope that transforms.


Whatever you did for one of the least of these … you did for me.
Matthew 25:40

Are you big into Valentine’s Day?

Wish you could send Valentines to the kids in Brazil? Want to get your family … or church … or civic group involved? You can. It’s easy!  And it’s not too late!
Brazil’s Day of Love is in June, so just make a few extra Valentines — or a lot of extras! — when you make your own. Send them to us. We’ll take them to Brazil! For details, just click HERE.
To learn more about Hope Unlimited for Children, click HERE or click the logo on my sidebar.  I hope you’ll also read Hope’s new blog: the least of these
Join me here …
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence
Spiritual Sundays


  1. “Good Bless them all”, I will “Always have them in my prayers”…
    Hugs to you,

  2. Susan..Never feel uncomfortable for the praise that you and Renaissance Man receive..for it is through your words and actions that our Lord works. He is working through you both. Because of what you have you are able to give to those who have not. I enjoy your blog and this too is a gift from God. Your in our prayers. Peace be with you both.

  3. I have finally caught up your previous posts and am so glad I have read all of them, including this one. Thank you so much for sharing your story and the story about these beautiful people. You truly deserve any kind word or recognition that you receive from your bloggy friends and I would love to echo the praises you and your special Renaissance Man have received. Bless you both and thank you! You make the world a better place!

    Best wishes always,

  4. Susan, I serve in my community as an outreach director and am blessed everyday. The children are so important, the future of our world. Matthew 25, seems to be the topic, in many locations today! It is what we are called to do because of his love for us! Blessings to you and your R…Man
    for living a life guided by our Lord.

  5. I am finally getting caught up from being out of town last week. I saw the wonderful tablescape blog post and then this one.

    They have really blessed my heart.
    Well done, good and faithful servants.

  6. I have loved sitting here staring at all of those precious faces, praying for them and you and reading all of the hope pouring off the page. For those of us who just ‘send money’ and the occasional gift through World Vision (‘our’ Juliet is in Uganda) we thank you and your husband for your faithfulness and are so grateful for your efforts. Yes, I know they are through obedience in the Lord and that He did these things through you but we are still grateful that you both obeyed. My favorite photo is of the little boy getting baptised and the look of pure joy and peace on his precious face. Blessings to you all!

  7. s, i’m thinking of you plus the ministry. so touching. those children rescued = wonderful. you do count big in this. very big. without funds there would be no ministry.

    sorry, my computer is wonky. more on my blog re the wonks. but i’ll be gone for some time. dropping by to let you know i’ll see you when i return.



  8. Susan –
    Simply beautiful.
    Blessings and Hugs,
    Linda @ A Toile Tale

  9. That surely must have been the BEST tablescape post (and follow up) ever! Very moving and thought-provoking. I admire you and your husband so very much.

  10. I am a French teacher and my students and I support a school/mission in Haiti, even moreso with the last 13 months they have experienced. During the earthquake, 22 died in worship in our church there. 🙁 Thank you for sharing your passion for supporting those who need supporting most: children and the families that are raising them. And thank you very much for your posting on auctions on Betweennapsontheporch. I found you there, and I am a follower now!

  11. Susan, with tears in my eyes and a prayer on my lips, I want to say thank you for sharing this with us and for putting faces to the need and encouraging all of us to care for “the least of these”. Tonight at dinner we practiced my son’s memory verse from school “we love because He first loved us” and this is the perfect representation of that. Thank you again for being the hands and feet! 🙂

  12. You are a very humble woman. Just today I was talking with a christian co-worker about spiritual gifts. We all have them and are called to serve in various ways. I love Spiritual Sundays, because I have the opportunity to view different blogs and see how others are serving the Lord. It blesses me so much!

  13. God blesses the faithful, and this definitely includes you and your husband. I am praying for you both.

  14. wow. reading this really touched me. You guys are living your faith…doing what He called…I’m trying to remember it’s not about me anymore…but about Him. Sending you tons of hugs….

  15. Thank you for the explanation of the work you are doing. It’s amazing how God uses those he chooses and who choose Him. All your photos are beautiful.

  16. Hi Susan,

    Thank you for writing “with a great deal of transparency.” You share both the joy any challenges you face in moving beyond your comfort zone. As you stretch, may you continue abiding in the serenity of God’s peace.

    Sending Happy Valentine’s Day to you and family.

    Blessings and peace.


  17. Another poinant post. It touched my heart. At the moment God has my husband in a University adminstration position–ha–but I’m willing for God to use us in another way if it’s His will. You have made so many adjustments. I pray God will bless your V-day tomorrow and your life in the weeks to come.

  18. Susan, you’re becoming wiser indeed…looking more and more like Christ each day. It’s all good. As far as needing that mental distraction and creative venting, I too am thankful God gives us balance otherwise we’d explode. It’s all His doing and we are made for His glory, even in the day to day.

    Thank you for sharing this. I have now been given another blessed opportunity to pray. This is amazing work you are doing for His glory. It is a heavy call, but God is with you and what a privilege to serve Him.

    Much love! Look forward to visiting your page frequently. So glad we met through Leslie.

  19. Susan this is a wonderful post and now my eyes are open to what your life is like! I commented on your blog post today on November 11, 2012, before reading this post, which you linked to. Wow, this is a great mission field. You and your hubby are stepping out to help these children, bless you.

  20. Thank you for sharing! May you be blessed always ~