The Lenhart Family

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Change is inevitable... except in a vending machine

Can’t believe it’s been since March since I last updated my blog… So much has changed in the last several months. Both Jake and I made some “minor” career changes, we moved into a new house, the kids all start new schools this Friday, and the only constant seems to be that change is inevitable. It seems like life has been so busy, I haven’t even thought about updating my blog. Not that I would have anything worth saying (as if I ever do) or even have the mental capability to articulate thoughts.

Slowly but surely, we have made the transition into becoming a family of 7. Chaos is eerily normal now. I love the reaction I get from people when they ask me “how many kids do you have?” I have close friends who have had the challenge of blending families of children and step children. Some of our struggles have been similar to that with the added element of blending two cultures and trying to learn to be parented when you have grown up most of your life without parents. I’m so proud of the progress the new boys are making and the sacrifices our other kids have made in order to love on their new brothers.

Summer is by far the busiest season in a youth pastor family’s life and with 5 kids this summer was more challenging than most. Over the last 12 years in youth ministry, we love all the bonding and memories that come with summer camps, conferences, and mission trips. But we dreaded the time away from home and family (so much so I have joked about putting Jake’s picture on missing person milk jug) that goes hand in hand with creating those memories. This summer was bittersweet because we knew it would be our last summer serving as youth ministers. Loving teenagers and ministering to them has been our lives for over a decade and knowing that God is calling us to do something else has been exciting but filled with a lot of soul searching and some blunt conservations with the God who first called us into ministry.

After spending some teaching nursing students on labor and delivery floors, I decided that I missed working full time with laboring and new moms so I am putting teaching aside and accepted a new position at a local birth center. It’s been such a long time since I worked in the hospital setting so I feel like my nursing skills and physical body are more than a little rusty but I feel blessed to be where I am at and even more blessed to see the miracle of new life come into this world almost everyday.

Our precious church family is going through an intense time of transition the last few months as our senior minister left. Because we would want to love our church family through this time of healing and because our newly adopted sons have some intense counseling and therapy to walk through the next few years before they will be ready to go back to Haiti for even a short visit, we felt like we needed to put our plans to move to Haiti on hold indefinitely. Jake has accepted the position of lead preaching pastor and is enjoying his new role within the church. I know I am biased but he is really an anointed preacher so I love seeing him serve in this way. This is not the path we would have chosen but we have no doubt that this is where God wants us right now and know that His timing and His plan is always so much better than ours. We had planned to be packing up moving to Haiti right now but instead we are settling into a new role God has led us to. It’s funny how we can keep brainstorming options and plans, but GOD's purpose prevails. Proverbs 19:21 says “many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” We were convinced that God was calling us to be full time missionaries to Haiti last year… never in our wildest dreams did we foresee the boys coming to live with us here BEFORE we went to live there. The January 12 earthquake changed so many aspects of our life and our calling to Haiti. We feel like we ARE full time missionaries to Haiti right now and right here in Oklahoma. We feel that loving our 3 adopted sons and raising them to be solid Haitian Christian men can impact Haiti in ways that we can not even imagine. Our prayer is that one day they will share our passion for Haiti and we can all serve full time there full time but God continues to use us, prepare us and equip us until the timing is right for us to move to Haiti.

So there have been a lot of changes in our lives the last several months. Change is inevitable. Change is VERY uncomfortable for Type A personality people like me. But I can not find anywhere in the bible where the word “comfortable” is found. I’m learning to live in a constant state of being “comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Does that even make sense??

I love this quote from Donald Miller about change and waiting on God’s timing….

“It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.”

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Health Care Reform According to the Haitian Church

My blogs have been few and far between these days (as I'm sure you my imaginary readers have noticed lol) because at the end of January, we welcomed two boys we were in the process of adopting into our home. Blogging has taken a back seat to connecting with my two newest precious Haitian miracles. In all area's of my life, I am trying to say "no" more so that I can say "yes" to what matters most (which is my children in the present season of my life) But in light of the massive amount of political mud slinging in regards to health care reform, I can't resist throwing my two cents in the mix and share a story about health care reform through the eyes of my 13 year old son Jedone....

Shortly after returning from Haiti post-earthquake, Jake (my husband) got really sick requiring a 6 day hospitalization. After consulting Oklahoma city's closest version of Dr. Gregory House MD(really a semi- retired infectious disease doctor with knowledge of tropical diseases and medical mission work), we ruled out everything from malaria to dengue fever to hepatitis B and finally concluded that his temporary liver failure was due several different nasty strains of mononucleosis.

Because all meaningful deep conversations with my children usually occurs within the four walls on our mini-van... leaving church one Sunday morning(when Jake was still in the hospital)Jedone looks up at me and asks ....

"Mom did Pastor Kirk (Kurt) give you money today?" (imagine an irresistible heavy Haitian ascent)

"No baby, why would Pastor Kirk give me money?"

"Because Dad is in the hospital. In Haiti, when someone is sick, Pastor Dedro asks for money at church, everybody gives a little money, and then we pray,give them money, and take that man to the hospital."

I didn't have the energy to attempt to explain to him how vastly different health care here is from Haiti nor the abstract concepts of things like insurance and deductibles so we just tabled the conversation for a few days. Later on in the week, some sweet brothers and sisters from our church brought over meals and groceries for us to which Jedone exclaimed...

"OH I GOT IT! In Oklahoma, the church no give money for hospital but when you are sick, they give food!"

Over the several days, I have been a bit bothered by all the division and chaos the health care reform debate has spurred. Let me be clear.... I AM NOT VOICING AN OPINION ON THIS TOPIC. I have not personally read all 2000 pages of the bill (remember I'm all about connecting with my kids and have no time for things don't matter most) and will not allow CNN,FOX news, or any other person or organization tell me how to feel about the issue. But what I will say is this.... I wish there wasn't even a need for health care reform (or other things like social security, welfare, Medicare or DHS). I wish the American church as the beautiful bride of Christ would meet the needs of those around us as outlined in the New Testament. I wish those who are SICK,hungry, hurting, widowed, orphaned, and wanting more would find refuge in the church thus eliminating the need for governmental agencies doing what the church was intended to do. In some ways, the heated debates generated by the health-care reform can be viewed as an opportunity — an opportunity for the church to examine what we are and what we are not doing to care for the sick among us.

I'm not naive enough to think the solution to issues as big as this can be tackled by the church overnight...but I am not foolish enough to ignore the insight offered to me from my son and his experience with Haitian church.

"As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. " ~Matthew 10:7,8

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?" ~Matthew 25:35-37

Disclaimer: My target audience is always my imaginary reader, me, myself, and I. So there is no condemnation or judgment intended for anyone other than my own Pharisee like reflection in the mirror as I journey to remove the plank in my own eye.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

how our family of 5 slowly became a family of 7... OVERNIGHT

Don’t know how to describe the events of our family’s life over the last several weeks but I know many people have questions and there is inaccurate information circling around so here the 411 on how our family of 5 slowly became a family of 7… OVERNIGHT!

It all starts and ends with James 1:27 which says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Our family’s life was turned upside when God spoke to us through this verse about 6 years ago. Our journey down the adoption road began with this verse and God has built our family’s life’s work and ministry on that verse.

Jake and I first visited the island of Haiti in March 2005. I didn’t know if we would EVER recover from all the things God revealed to us during that trip. Our comfortable life was turned upside down by everything we saw and experienced there. Thankfully, we never did “get over” it… God began to change our entire life goals from that point on. After we saw what we saw with our own eyes, we were morally obligated to change and “recovery” was not an option. Princess Diana had it right when she said: “You can’t comfort the afflicted without afflicting the comfortable.” God changed our comfortable life forever during first precious those days we spent in Haiti. We realized that proof of our love for Christ was not best reflected in merely going to church, singing praise songs, going to bible study and prayer meetings, or teaching a Sunday school class (although those things are vitally important), but in genuinely loving and serving the sick, the poor, the weak, and the marginalized. I used to be able to ignore those statistics of extreme poverty but once the numbers have faces and stories associated with them… it haunted us. We began to feel a unique calling and burden for the Haitian people.

During our first trip working at GVCM’s all of God’s children orphanage, we felt a divine connection to two little boys there…. Jimso and Jackson. Our hearts were forever connected to those boys (boys that were partners in crime and best buds to their core). After returning home and spending some intense time praying about adoption, our family felt called to adopt Jimso. We continued to love on and pray for Jackson but did not immediately feel called to begin pursuing adopting both boys. After 3 long years, our adoption journey was complete as welcomed Jimso Taylor Lenhart in our home. The journey to bring Jimso home was not easy but I would not change one moment of it. God has spoken so much truth over our lives during this process. I know that each tear that fell and each obstacle that we had to overcome was wrapped with divine purposes. The most powerful lesson we learned on our adoption journey is that He who promised is faithful!!!

Throughout the course of our adoption, we were able to travel to Haiti several times. When the adoption of Jimso was complete and Jake made the journey to bring him home, we learned that Jimso had a biological brother now living at the orphanage named Dieudonne. We were heart broken to learn that our adoption would mean separating Jimso, Jackson, AND Dieudonne.

I visited Haiti to eagerly meet Dieudonne as soon as possible after the dust settled from our first adoption (November 2008) and again felt instantly connected to those two boys. We began visiting the orphanage as often as we could, sharing pictures of Jimso and our family, and just wrapping our arms around these precious boys that had stolen our hearts. We immediately discussed the possibility of adopting Dieudonne and Jackson with GVCM and our family prepared for another long journey to welcome these boys into our forever family.

Shortly after visiting the boys again in 2008, we felt the Lord calling us to full time mission work in Haiti. As we began pursuing that we put our adoptions on hold… hoping that once we got settled in Haiti, we could complete a local adoption first. So prior to the earthquake, we were in full swing of the fund raising aspect of becoming full time missionaries with Christian Service International (CSI).

Life changed for everyone connected with Haiti on Tuesday January 12th… I have nothing to compare it to except for the tragedy of 911. Our hearts literally ached for the nation we loved, the children we loved as our own, and our missionary friends serving there.

There are no words to describe how much we love the people of Haiti. I have read in the book of Ruth where she proclaims to her mother in law Naomi, “Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. YOUR PEOPLE WILL BE MY PEOPLE and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." I do not understand the how’s or why’s of it… but I know that we feel a divine connection and love for the people of Haiti. Maybe it has something to do with the adoption but I know God has placed devotion in our hearts to this nation and its people that will be the foundation upon which we will build our ministry to the people of Haiti.

Jake and our dear friend Belinda (who is a nurse) immediately began making plans to go to Haiti to help provide relief. They were able to leave the Saturday following the earthquake. While they we in process of getting there, I learned that children who were already in the adoption process (and those prospective adoptive parents who had traveled to Haiti and established a previous relationship with the orphan) could possibly be evacuated on a humanitarian parole visas. And the overwhelming sinking feeling in my chest started to feel lighter with the gift of HOPE. The events between finding out that information and Belinda bringing home the 12 orphans that were evacuated are kind of a blur…. It involved days of emails and phone calls from friends and family associated with these children in the States (literal the battery on my phone would be dead by around 11am everyday), frantically gathering the already completed paperwork of several of the families, and TONS AND TONS OF PRAYER!! It involved miracle after miracle leading us down the path God had laid before us. But late Tuesday night, we got word Belinda was on a military flight bringing home 12 precious children to their new families (2 of those 12 were future Lenharts). Jennifer (another adoptive mom from Oklahoma) and I were able to fly down with the Beoughers (another adoptive family from Kansas) to meet Belinda and the kids in Miami. Honestly we were pinching our self’s the entire flight… isn’t it ironic how we pray and pray and PRAY for something and then are awestruck when we see our answered prayers materialize?!

I was able to briefly talk to a weary Belinda as we waited for our flight to join her in Miami… and touched bases with her on how much the kids understood at this point. I wanted to know did Dieudonne and Jackson understand that this was IT and that they were coming home to us?? Belinda shared with me that “they get it!” and our sweet Dieudonne had carried a picture of our family into the Embassy with him confident in who and where he was going!

The first few days following the earthquake I was consumed by the news coverage… somehow seeing first hand accounts of what was happening made me feel connected with the people I love during one of their most difficult hours. Once Jake and Belinda were there, I had to make the decision to avoid the new coverage. Hearing stories of aftershocks and holding my breath until we got word everyone was ok was beyond disheartening.

When we landed in Miami and were moments away from being reunited with our precious children, I walked by a TV monitor reporting the biggest aftershock yet. But again as I had done all week, I had to CHOOSE faith. Earlier in the week, I heard and held onto a MLK quote that said “faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the staircase.”

So pushing the news of the aftershock aside, I was finally able to wrap my arms around my friend Belinda (who had just walked through the valley of the shadow of death literally) and my precious boys!!! Knowing their ages (12,11) and developmentally where my son was at age, I didn’t want to smoother them with hugs and kisses so I had determined not to but…. As soon as they saw me, THEY SMOTHERED me when the hugs and kisses my heart so desperately longed for the last several months since I last saw them. It was one of those moments that can’t be explained with words or pictures but it is completely a heart thing. So after our 5:30am reunion in the Miami international airport hotel, we began the task of making travel arrangements to OklaHOMEa. Over the course of our adventure home with those 12 miracles, I was drooled on, cried on, and peed on. It was one of the longest days of my life but also one of the best days!

I remember when Jimso came home with us… as he sleep between me and Jake that first night, we giggled and cried in awe of this little miracle between us. Because Jake was still Haiti, he missed some of the special “firsts” with Jackson and Dieudonne. And although I wanted him to be there to share in the moment we had prayed for and waited on for years… we wanted him to be where God wanted to be and in that moment that was helping in Haiti. And thankfully I had the help of some AMAZING friends to help our family make this transition once the boys were home.

Sometimes in the moments of sheer joy in seeing these boys finally home with us… I felt guilty knowing what others are still experiencing in Haiti today. I don’t even know how to wrap my mind around the magnitude of loss and suffering there, but even in the midst of that I see God working and good coming from all the hurt. Romans 8:28 promises us that “we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ALL THINGS (even unspeakable tragedies)

One of the biggest questions we have been asked is “are you still moving to Haiti?” And the answer is a resounding “YES!”. The earthquake has changed many things… and the details of WHEN and in what capacity we will serve is still unknown. When we embarked on this journey to become full time missionaries to Haiti, we were really unsure how God was going to work out the logistics of everything. God knew there would be a devastating earthquake when He called us. It was like a Polaroid picture… I knew God had a plan but the final picture was really unclear and blurry yet. Today that Polaroid picture is starting to become clearer and IT’S BEAUTIFUL! Figuring out how the picture ends up and knowing all the details along the way, isn’t my part. My part is just following Him wherever He leads. One day that will be Haiti, but while we wait I have a little more of Haiti (in Jackson and Dieudonne) here with me to love on.

We cannot say thank you enough to our friends, family, and precious church family. The support we have received is overwhelming and just another testament to these Haitian children as to how incredibly loved they are by all of you!!

I know this seems like a long story… but trust me this is the SHORT VERSION. I could (and might) write books full of all the miracles and beautiful moments (mixed with moments of sheer grief) we have had the opportunity to experience over the last 3 weeks.

One of the songs that seems to be on the radio every time I get in the car the last few weeks is “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless and the lyrics could not be more appropriate:

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you are stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

Monday, January 18, 2010

On this MLK day....

I want to discuss that which consumes my heart... the crisis in the nation I love as my own (Haiti)... but I can NOT even begin to articulate how my heart is hurting (maybe later)

Until then, please consider donating to our sending organization at

Here are some MLK quotes that are speaking volumes to my heart today...

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Justice is love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love."

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than programs for social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."

"A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."

And of course all of this.....