Monday, August 4, 2014

Leaps of Faith

Leaps of faith have kind of become "our thing." Don't get me wrong, just because I call it our thing, doesn't mean I think they get easier with frequency and we're just as reluctant now as ever.  Nevertheless, we leap.

After months and months (maybe years?) of prayer  we are trying to get comfortable with the idea of home ownership again after the debacle and pain of the last go around.  But, through the prayers and endless number of lessons learned and visions of ministry opportunities, we feel like we are getting the green light to begin cautiously perusing ownership opportunities.

Since then we have been constantly pushing back on ideas that seem to be to "us" focused.  Ideas like, suburbs or country life?  Classic front and back yard or acreage? All the questions became easier and easier to answer with enough prayer. The questions began to change. Now we answered those questions with more questions like, what have we learned and how do we do this and share what we learned at the same time. How do we equally or exceedingly give all whilst receiving?

We don’t have an answer to all the questions yet. But the part of the vision that has become clear looks a lot like a small family farm. You read that right. Crops, chickens, cows, goats and who knows what else.  Our philosophy over the past handful of years has become, if we can grow it, raise it or make it, we should! And we have- albeit in limited amounts. And God has placed all the right and knowledgeable people in our life to help fill in the gaps!  Not only are we looking to become more and more self-sustaining through the land in the short term, the long term vision looks like a place for we people could come and use the land to learn grow and heal. A source of nutritious sustenance when needed, for those other than us who might need it.  The possibilities here become nearly endless.

While the vision has started to become less hazy, the real obstacles have become glaringly clear.  Financially, we are limited to what we can do on some key milestones. Our 5, 10 and 15 year plan is gradual, safe and solidly formed. What we lack is the ignition to get this rocket off the ground!  That ignition, in the mortgage world, is called a down payment!

If you are familiar with our back story, God has taken us through several seasons of financial hardships. Lost jobs, home and car to hit the highlights. Not to mention the strain of big family life.  But we have learned that God provides.  And for us, He has always done so in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times.

So, here is where we stand in this endeavor.  God has given us the ability to dream about this vision so we keep the vision alive by dreaming big for God’s glory.

But physically, we have stopped.

We stopped because it is impossible to go beyond the vision without God's provision. The piece of the puzzle that is missing is the down payment. We hardly want to even look at property and get overly excited about something that is a non-starter without a down payment.  We know that ultimately God's plan for us may once again deviate drastically and we are prepared for that.

What is next, you ask? While praying about a way around this obstacle we were encouraged to fund-raise for this endeavor.  After all, we've relied on God's unexpected and abundant provision many times over.  And of course what better way to be humbled by God than to have to ask for help from a source you would never feel comfortable doing casually.

So we humbly ask for help to see out this ministry opportunity! We ask for help from the body of fellow believers, family, friends and complete strangers alike.  We ask for your prayers.  We ask for your help financially.  We ask for your help in spreading the word about what we are doing.  We’ll take everything and anything, small and large as long as it helps achieve this opportunity.

We've set up a GoFundMe site to fund this endeavor -

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer 2013

As expected, the Looney Bin Summer was anything but boring. (Unless you ask my kids about the last few days. Mom has had to go back to training for work which means no more unlimited afternoons at the pool.)

The whole fam loaded up in our swagger wagon (whose A/C managed to gimp out a week before the trip) and headed out to the East Coast for a visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Maryland.  They happen to live right by our Nation's capital as well, so we spent a few days taking in all the memorials and museums.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you got to follow the whole trip, but for the sake of the 3 or 4 people who didn't see them, here are a few highlights of our Summer trip:

after 17 hours in the car:

boys went fishing:

at Potomac Falls:

at the very spot where MLK stood and delivered his famous speech. I still tear up hearing his words in my head and seeing these kids there, “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” :

Big brother teaching siblings and cousins the finer points of blackjack while camping:

in front of the White House. Showing our true colors...

at the stairs from the movie The Exorcist. Probably the most disturbing pic of Clara, EVER.

At the Air and Space Museum, learning about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen:

Guitar playing cousins:

Doing his part to hold up Washington D.C.:

And celebrating the 4th of July with the extended family:

Hope your Summer was filled with family and fun as well. Stay tuned for more updates and hopefully more news on upcoming efforts to continue Jack's Walk for Water.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Gifts from God

When the photos of the well-digging started coming from Christie Magera in Uganda, it sank in more and more that this was happening, and the divine orchestration of having a Visiting Orphans team on the ground with her and George in Mazzi for the Ceremony to open the well seemed too good to be true- but was just another gift from God for us to be able to share this passion He gave us for this community with 20 other people from here in the States, who would then go back to their homes and pass it on to even more people.  

All because one little 10 yr. old boy trusted God, y'all.  

I wish I could say I have that kinda faith most days.  Truth is, I never thought we would actually fund the first well.  I was excited for Jack to be part of the process of sacrificing to serve others, and about seeing an army of young people join with Jack in believing God WILL use them, rather than trusting God to do something HUGE.  But once again, HE SHOWED OUT.  Because, it is about BOTH!

A fully funded well, over $8400, in less than one week.  

But you know what, God knew I would doubt. He knew my heart, and so instead of just doing that, He did something that would push me a little further- He gave Jack the idea to build 3 more wells. 

And so this mama sighed, and said, "Ooookay, God!" on the outside, but on the inside went right back to my mantra of it being about the journey.

Are y'all ready to be let in on a little secret?  I don't know the exact numbers of how much has been raised (still collecting offerings from two amazing youth ministries), but I do know

Well number 2 is fully funded.

That means that over $16,000 has been raised since late August. And we are going full-force into funding number 3, with lots of cool things in the works and of course, our incredibly awesome T-shirts.  ..(do you have one yet?) 

I hadn't planned on sharing the news this way.  But I also hadn't planned on being knocked off my feet by another gift from God in the form of this video of George Magera speaking at the ceremony to bless and open the first well in Mazzi this past October.  

Watch, be blessed, and even more BE CHALLENGED to say, "YES!," to God in the crazy things He may ask you to do for Him.  He won't ask you to do what He won't help you complete.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why, Hello There!

(hiding my head in shame at how long it has been since I posted.)  Utterly inexcusable, except well, I have a pretty good excuse...5 of them actually. ;)

Life at the Chlebanowski Looney Bin with 5 kids is never boring, and when Mama Loon has tendencies to get distracted (read adult ADD)- well, yeah, blog posts that should have been written 4 months ago FINALLY happen.

So here is a synopsis of our life from October- February in bulleted format- additional explanations given where needed. Pictures and videos too.

- Late September I became a homeschool mom for our newest son.  It was awesome. Then it wasn't. (just being real here) Then I understood why God needed it to be, so it was awesome again. Sorta.

-October 17th the village of Mazzi, in the Nakasangola district of Uganda had a GRAND celebration and blessing of the first ever source of clean, SUSTAINABLE water- a water well that came to be because a little kid didn't believe he was too small to do anything, especially when he has such a Mighty God.  I think the photos and videos below are a pretty good indication of how monumental this day was to the young and old in that village.

the above picture is the one that makes a big lump form in my throat...I mean, seriously...

-November- I spent the week of Thanksgiving leading a Visiting Orphans team in Costa Rica.  Before you cry out, "rough mission trip there, Carrie...a week in paradise," I will tell you it rained EVERY single day, our  first room had a certain odiferous quality that was NOT good, and yeah well there were attack bats.  And yeah, I did zipline 100 ft over the rainforest canopy, but noone said serving God was ALL work and no play. :)

- December- honestly, I remember very little of December. Probably because Papa Loon and I started a new healthier way of eating/living that involves eating less and exercising a lot more.  Enough said.

- January- Our family started attending a new church in OKC and we are loving it.  Can't even say enough about how our souls have been invigorated by the teaching and community there. It's a new family for us, truly.

January 28th- Our son returned to the public middle school.  I got a phone call that afternoon from his main teacher, letting me know that the boy she had in class that day was night and day different from the one who left her in September.  She couldn't believe it was the same child. Praises lifted high to our faithful God for His mercies in sustaining me those three months and for giving us the reassurance that we had done the right thing.  (there might have been some serious high fives happening between me and Joe that night)

February- here we are halfway through the month already!  The family is going strong- mostly just going...lots of different places.  Basketball practices and games, youth gatherings, longboard races, Awana, Adoption support classes, never stops. But God has brought new energy into our family, too.  Bridgeway kids have chosen Jack's Walk for Water as the ministry that all of their offerings will go to through the end of March.  Jack and I got to share his story with all the kids last month and boy howdy are they all supportiveJack's Walk for Water is short just $1400 to complete the funding for the second well at Mazzi.  Jack then plans to keep going- ultimately raising enough to complete a total of 4 wells.  It makes me get teary eyed to think of the little ones (and parents) who have shared their commitment and excitement to help bring clean water to Mazzi and the surrounding villages.

This morning there was even a bake sale to help raise extra money and Bridegeway graciously asked to share our video about the walk with both adult services so the entire church can be in prayer for what the young people there are supporting.  AND, I am SUPER excited to announce the newest fundraiser for Jack's Walk, that YOU can be a part of!  Later today, we will be posting info on how you can get your very own JACK'S WALK FOR WATER TSHIRT!!

Well, that about catches us up.  I can't wait to share more updates about the newest Water well, and of course, try to share more of the hilarious stories that keep our life interesting in this new year... like how Joe and I are signed up to run in a 5K.. or 2.  Are we THOSE people now???

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

10,000 Reasons

What would you do with $20,000?

A new car?

Down payment on a new house?

Pay off student loans or credit cards?

Finish building a home for abandoned children who have no where else to go?

That's EXACTLY what our friends in Uganda, George and Christie Magera and their ministry, Ekubo Ministries, are trying to do! You may remember the name- it's the same ministry we are helping put in clean water wells for the communities they work in.

As is usually the case, there is rarely a time when there is only ONE need.  AIDS, disease, poverty and other reasons contribute to an overwhelming number of abandoned children.  Because of the work they do, George and Christie are often the first people the local police come to for help.  Can you imagine having to turn away a child? When you know the alternative is likely an orphanage offering NO hope of reunification or adoption- just a life in an institution. The home above will make it possible to accept more children and begin the work of pouring into their lives- The Gospel. Love. Hope.

AND, thanks to an AMAZING set of supporters, they have been offered the opportunity to MATCH ALL donations made toward the Baby home up to $10,000! That means they have the possibility of receiving $20,000- the EXACT amount needed to finish the home and protective wall around it.

But the matching grant means nothing unless We all give. There has to be funds to match. See how that works? ;)  There is NO donation too small.  EVERY. DOLLAR. COUNTS.

How about making yours count for this community.  If you would like to read more about the baby home, and for info on how to give, PLEASE visit the Ekubo Ministries blog.  You will be blessed by the accounts of what God has done in their lives in a little village in Uganda, and what He continues to do today!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Stop Believin'

I continue to be humbled by the outpouring of support for the village of Mazzi and the people there who desperately need clean water.  As of today, Jack's Walk for Water has raised $13, 376.

The first borehole/well is nearly complete and there will be a HUGE celebration to kick off its use.  I can only imagine the excitement that will be felt by those seeing fresh, clean water pumped out before them for the first time EVER.  God is so faithful!!
(don't worry, I will be sure to post any pictures or videos as soon as I get them!)

Here are a few of the beginning stages:

The pipes used. 
Check out the number! The well will be deep enough to provide clean water even during the dry season.

The drilling crew.  Praising God for their hard work.  They told George Magera of Ekubo Ministries 
they had never received such a welcome as they did in Mazzi!

Speaking of George, please keep him in your prayers. he is battling malaria and is quite ill.  He works VERY hard day in and day out running not only the ministry but also his large family- alone right now since his wife, Christie is still in the States.  She returns next week, so pray for her safe travels as well!

Until the next update- PLEASE keep sharing Jack's Walk for Water and giving God all the praise and glory for the things He has done!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

An Update You Don't Want to Miss!

Well, we have finished walking, but the fundraising efforts continue! We are absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer and sharing of this video and by the generosity you have shown in your giving!


We have said all along, this walk isn't just about Jack.  It's about a community of believers coming together and being the hands and feet of Christ.  Helping others. Not for our own glory, but for God's. Because he poured out His love for us, we will do the same for those in need.

Make sure you watch this for the latest update on how things are progressing...


Monday, August 27, 2012

Go Lily, GO!

Remember when I said we don't want this to just be about Jack?
Remember when I told you we wanted to hear about your creative ideas for joining in his goal to raise the money for a well?

Well, Meet Lily.

Lily is in 3rd grade in North Carolina.  Her dad is a really cool guy who we met last year at the Visiting Orphans leader conference.  He has led teams to Uganda over the last few years too, and his family shares our love of the people of God there.  When he shared with Lily what Jack was doing - she wanted to join in and help!  Here's what Lily and her parents came up with:

For every 10 gallons of water we collect, Lily will ride her bike 1 mile.  And for every mile she rides, her family will contribute $20 towards the well! HOW AMAZING IS THAT?!!  Jack thought it was SO unbelievably awesome that a little girl over a thousand miles away is working WITH him to build a well because she knows how much the kids in Mazzi need clean water so they can be healthy and learn about Jesus!

And this is the coolest picture of them all.  Look at that smile!

This mama is getting teary at the thought of the HUGE impact these two little people are making for the Kingdom! Stay tuned for more updates about Lily's rides and hopefully we will have even more stories to tell, so send us yours! 

Jack's Walk- from Mom's POV

It's day 2, and I have already learned some REALLY valuable lessons/information.

  •  5 gallons of water is almost enough to bathe every person in our home.  No, is.
  •  5 gallons of water is nowhere near enough to wash a single batch of dinner bowls, cups and utensils. How is that???!?!!
  •  Paper plates and bowls are now a valuable part of my cupboard. :)
  •  Pouring a 5 gal jug of water is difficult. Pouring an OPEN 5 gal jug without spilling half a gallon on the       kitchen floor is impossible.
  • Slate is an excellent, non-slippery-when-wet kitchen floor choice.
  • Drinking water containers with spigots kept in the refrigerator will inevitably not be pushed back far enough before closing the door, resulting in the entire contents spilling into all 3 veggie bins below it.  Awesome waste of over a gallon of cold water. (did I mention Joe turned off the in-the-door ice maker/water? double awesome.)
  • The one mile walk in 90 degree heat with 5 kids and 40 gals of water- yeah, that's the easy part.
We are so humbled by the incredible support and desire of many of you to walk with us.  We welcome all who want to join us, and are really excited to share how some other friends are joining in with Jack to creatively raise funds!   Our pastor shared a statement yesterday that was so encouraging and perfect for this endeavor.  He said, "You can never be too small for God to use, you can only be too big."  I love it!