Venezuela over the last 20 years.

I felt led to write this post since there is so much unrest in Venezuela and it is difficult to follow the news of all that is going on. I hope this will give a summarized picture of all the events that led to Venezuela in crisis today.

1980- Venezuela a Democracy and an oil rich country. 

Venezuela used to be considered a miracle country. Until the early 1980s, it was one of the only four Latin American countries certified by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income economy. It was also a stable, center-left democracy, quite an oasis in a region plagued by authoritarianism, insurgency, or unrest. Today, Venezuela is in ruins. After the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, the nation quickly built its economy on back of black gold – and even today, Venezuela leads the world in proven oil reserves with 300 billion barrels.

1998- Hugo Chavez becomes president and implements socialist programs.

After a failed coup to overthrow the government in 1992, Hugo Chavez is democratically elected to power in 1998 and he remained president until 2013. 

Chávez focused on enacting social reforms. Using record-high oil revenues of the 2000s, his government nationalized key industries and implemented social programs to expand access to food, housing, healthcare and educationChávez's populist policies eventually led to a severe socioeconomic crisis in Venezuela.


2013- Chavez dies and Nicolas Maduro is elected to power.
Nicolás Maduro was first elected in April 2013 after the death of his socialist mentor and predecessor in office, Hugo Chávez. 

Things got much worse.

Hyperinflation of 200-300% between 2016-2019. There have been food and medicine shortages, soaring infant mortality, and one of the world’s highest violent crime rates.

Public health is just as bad. As hospitals have run out of imported antibiotics, surgical supplies and spare parts for medical equipment, infant mortality rose 30 percent, maternal mortality 65 percent, and malaria 76 percent in 2016. 

A poll released in Feb 2017 among Venezuelan nationals found that 75 percent of Venezuelans reported losing “at least 19 pounds” in 2016, while 93 percent of Venezuelans said they do not have the money to secure three meals a day for themselves.

2019- Juan Guaido is a self declared interim president

January 2019- The Assembly of Venezuela (outlawed by Maduro) elects Juan Guaido as the legimitate interim president of Venezuela. 

A lot of international support for Guaidó. 

Guaidó is supported by the United States, the EU and other countries condemning the Maduro regime and questioning the legitimacy of the elections that gave him his second term of office.

US President Donald Trump announced shortly after the swearing in to recognize Guaidó as interim president. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, says that Trump's government will ask Maduro to resign "in favor of a legitimate leader who reflects the will of the people". 

Maduro states that the opposition is trying to carry out a coup with the support of the American authorities, who in turn want to take part in the Venezuelan government. He has called in the help of the army to preserve "unity and discipline" in his country. c

February 2019- Humanitarian aid is attempted to be delivered to Venezuela by the U.S and Canada. President Nicolas Maduro refused to accept the aid and sent troops to every border to prevent the trucks from getting through. There are reports of some trucks getting through and being set on fire before it reaches the people of Venezuela.

March 2019- The main Guri water power plant in Venezuela goes out. This plan supplied over 80% of the country's power. Due to years of lack of maintenance, lack of engineers, and the capital to restore the plant, it is unclear of when it will be back up and running.

This creates a major blackout for most of the country along with lack of water as well. Hospitals are in the dark, food spoils in refrigerators, people are not able to go to the shower or bathroom. There is a great unrest and looting across the country.

Currently this is week 3 of no power or water and it is not clear of when it will come back on.

Please pray for the people of Venezuela. They are in desperate need of a savior and a mighty powerful God to come through and rescue them. Please pray against oppression, injustice, and for the country to be restored to the beautiful land it once was!




Serving God in the Ordinary

These past 6 months have felt very quiet and routine. And I have wrestled with my lack of excitement of serving God in the most ordinary of places- being a stay at home mom. The truth is some days are filled with hugs and kisses, and other days are exhausting and not-so-glamorous. There are moments when my six year old cups my face with his hands and says ‘I love you so much. You are the best mommy in the whole world!’ And moments when I haven’t slept all night... and my two year old throws a temper tantrum while the boys won’t stop bickering with each other (and I’m wishing I was in a far away beach sipping on a margarita!).

Often I think I should be doing MORE for God, more to serve outside my home, more to help our family financially, more to make an impact on those hurting around me. And I have wrestled with that this year. I want to do all those things… yet I find myself today pouring myself into our children and knowing this is where I’m called to be.

‘’God had been teaching me the extraordinary strength it takes just to be ordinary. To dwell knowledgeably and hospitably in this place He has given me with my people is, in fact, an extraordinary call. He has shown me the beauty of being attentive to one person, in the mundane, again and again.

In a full life of trying to do great big things for God and see His glory in great big ways, He showed me He is glorified in the small too.’’  Katie Davis Major- Daring To Hope.

These words jumped out at me when I read them in the book 'Daring to Hope' a few weeks ago.

There are days when doing laundry, changing poopy diapers, making meals, cleaning the house, etc. doesn’t feel that important or life changing. It doesn’t feel like I’m bringing God glory in doing this day to day. Sometimes it is hard to do it over and over again with joy. But I am learning that even in the most mundane and routine of places, in the unseen places of everyday life, God is still there. 

I’ve felt God whisper to me this year to love the people around me well. To not love them half-heartedly, or give them half of my attention while keeping my eyes somewhere else.

‘’What really counts will be the quiet devotion practiced in our own homes. What will matter most at the end of our lives are the people right in front of us who get to see all of it- the happy stories and the tragic ones, the pretty good parts of us and the ugliest part of us. At the end of time all that will count is that we lived the gospel with our very lives, that we paid attention to the people God gave us.’’ Katie Davis Major- Daring To Hope.

Yes I want to serve God in an extraordinary way. He seems to be calling me to serve Him in the ordinary. And while He may call me to something else in the future, today I will find joy and excitement in this very place!

In the Valley

Life has felt pretty steady lately.  We’ve had our regular ups and downs as normal, but no big news or life changing events. For the most part it has been good and we have so much to be thankful for. God has abundantly provided in so many areas of our lives.

But I know it’s only a season. While I’m not living in fear of what could go wrong next (trust me I’ve done plenty of that in the past) I’ve lived long enough and seen enough to know that sooner or later life will be hard again. Sickness will come. Death of loved ones will take place. And I will wrestle again with God questioning his goodness when life doesn’t go as planned.

This past week a little boy from Jack’s school was in an unexpected accident and passed away a few days later. I visited his parents for a few minutes while they held on hope for his life at the hospital and vividly felt the pain they were walking through. I was angry and sad at all of it. And desperately pleaded with God to spare them from the pain of losing yet another child. Surely a good God would never allow this to happen, or at least He should intervene to make it all better.

Yet the answer seemed to be ‘No’ to some very VERY desperate prayers. From some very hurting people.

How can I teach my children that God is a good and loving God when such unthinkable things happen? Why would I teach them that Jesus came to ‘give life and give it abundantly’ (as he professed in John 10:10) when He would allow such hurt and pain to take place?

I’ll tell you why. Because I’ve had the privilege to see first hand that God does indeed give life and give it abundantly from the most broken of places.

For seven years Steve and I attended Celebrate Recovery and we had the privilege to hear story after story of how God had taken the most broken of circumstances, and He somehow brought the most beautiful things out of it. I met countless people who had no hope, no joy, and had walked through the most unthinkable of circumstances- a child who died to cancer after many years of fighting for them, abuse of an innocent child, divorce, addiction, etc… and God over the years wrote the most beautiful stories I had ever heard. Ministries and purpose that were birthed from the very loss of life. Joy restored. Hope breathed back into the lives of these people.

Maybe, just maybe, the greater miracle takes place in the making it through the darkest of valleys without falling apart.

Maybe, God sees the eternal and we can only see the temporary. And he is working towards life that will last forever, even if it means going through some very painful circumstances in our earthly life.

Maybe, we can trust God knows what he’s doing even during times when we can’t understand or make sense of it all.

The truth is I have a hard time reconciling a good God to all of this. A God that would allow children to be orphans, parents to bury their children, rape, abuse, genocide, etc. But I will speak this truth to my children: God can be trusted. He is trustworthy. He is true to his promises. He is good. And He loved us so much that he found a way to reconcile us to Him so that we could be in His presence. And it was all His plan and idea… and nothing that we did on our own.

And I can say all of this with confidence because He has been all of these things to me.

Most of our friends know about Andrew and the valley we walked through after losing him. But that  hasn’t been the only time Steve and I walked through valleys, it has only been the most public. There were many other valleys before and there have been many valleys since- more private of course- that we wish we would’ve never walked through. And each time God has come through and restored all that was broken from each one of those.

On the other hand, I’ve never seen restoration or healing take place without holding on to our faith in Jesus. I’ve also met families who have fallen apart after a loss, give in to addiction, and gone on to live very broken lives for the rest of their years. I know it can go the other way to, and how easy it is to go down that road. The road where we are too angry to pray, cry out to God for help, and surrender our will to Him.

So I will cling on to hope next time I walk through another valley. I have no doubt I will wrestle with God and question what He’s up to, and even feel angry at Him. I will probably hear silence again after some very heartfelt prayers, and feel abandoned I have felt in the past. But I will remember that at the end of it all He is always faithful.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;  his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

On an interesting note, I wrote this post Saturday night, and our pastor at church spoke on this very same thing this morning. Here’s a great sermon on why to hold on to God in the midst of injustice and brokenness. It's the sermon from 6/24/18.

Foster Care: What I wish we would've done

About five years ago Steve and I became licensed foster parents. It was an exciting, joyful, difficult and humbling experience. We took on short term placements for almost two years. I will always be thankful for that time and wouldn't change the experience. But there are some things I would do differently if I could do it all over again.

1. I would pray for more direction before jumping ALL IN

I remember sitting in Panera one night when I clearly felt a leading that Steve and I should be foster parents. I wrestled with God and said ‘Well you’re going to have a talk with Steve because he is never going to say yes to this!’ Just a few weeks later I mentioned the idea to Steve while we were out on a date. Somehow without much convincing he said yes. I didn't even get to finish the whole speech I had prepared for that night. I was so excited that we were on the same page that I started the process the very next day.

Looking back I wish I would’ve taken more time to pray for God’s timing on how to move forward. For example, I wish we would’ve gone through the training with a Christian based organization like A Door of Hope or West Florida Foster Care instead of being licensed through Eckerd. It would’ve made a huge difference to meet other Christian families to encourage us on the journey! I also wish I would've prayed more about the timing of when to start, because I have no doubt that would’ve been different as well. We should've stepped back and taken the time to pray for more direction

2. I wouldn’t be afraid to fail at foster care

I remember when we finally made the decision that we wouldn’t renew our foster care license. We knew that the short term care we were doing was not what we had hoped for, but we also knew that we were not ready for the long term placement of a child in our home.
I was disappointment with our decision and I felt that way for months. I thought maybe we weren’t just ‘good enough’ people to continue with it. Perhaps if we had been more spiritual, listened better to God, or would be willing to make bigger sacrifices we would’ve continued to be foster parents. I felt that we had failed.

Looking back I wish I would’ve known God calls us to different things on different seasons, and I would’ve extended myself more grace. I went on to mentor a young girl in foster care which I really enjoyed. We stepped up to coordinate the foster care/adoption ministry in our church to encourage other families. There are seasons for different things and God doesn't all call us to do the exact same thing. I hope one day again that we will serve in a more tangible way as we did back then.

3. I wouldn’t have the false expectation that because God called us to do it, the journey would be easy.

I used to believe that when God calls us to do something He also makes the process easy and smooth. Now don’t get me wrong there are many when He has done just that… but there have also been times when He has not. And when things get hard I tend second guess decisions, wrestle with God about why he's not helping more, and wonder if after all we made the right decision in the first place.

As I’ve dived into the book of Exodus these past few months, I’ve learned that sometimes God clearly calls us to do something and the journey is still hard. I love, love the story of Moses: a man filled with insecurities and far from qualified for the job God calls him to do. He does EXACTLY what God asks of him, but the journey is still really hard along the way. Moses wrestles with God and asks him multiple times why He's not making things easier for him.

It has brought me so much encouragement to know this truth and know that God is at work even when things get hard. For us in foster care, we had a hard time getting licensed and the process took almost a year. Also there were many times when it was really hard to say goodbye to these little ones. Some were easy but some were much harder.

Last thoughts

I wanted to share these drawings from a five year old girl that stayed with us for two weeks. She came to our home late in the night one day with nothing but a Publix bag with a few of her belongings. Her story I will keep private but it was heartbreaking to hear.

The first day she came in she didn’t say a single word but she loved to draw. She drew countless pictures of sad faces with tears.

After a few days she did talk… a lot! The day before she left she made this picture which I’ve kept over the years. It was a picture of a happy face with no tears. I was so amazed that just two short weeks had made some impact on her. These pictures made me realize just the huge impact that you can have on someone else... even if it's just for a short period of time.