WFMW: Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

While I’m in Kenya this week, I left my hubby to work and get the kids to school, with the help of my nearby sister. It takes a village. If I’m being honest, I’d tell you my husband is a better cook than I am. But I know the last thing he has time for is meal planning, working, homework, etc, while I’m gone.

I left with a few meals in the freezer, but since my kids are big breakfast people, I knew they would enjoy a breakfast casserole a couple of mornings. We had something very similar over Easter at my in-law’s farm, so I knew they’d love it.

Ingredients:

1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk
1 package (32 oz.) of frozen hash brown potatoes.
1 lb of cooked bacon or crumbled sausage
3/4 pound cheddar cheese – shredded
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Layer potatoes, meat, and cheese in the crockpot in two or three layers.

2. Beat the eggs, milk and mustard, salt & pepper together.

3. Pour over the whole mixture.

4. Cook with slow cooker on low for eight to ten  or until eggs are set and thoroughly cooked.

I hope it worked for them!


The Family Way

So, this happened today –3 hours in standstill traffic:

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[Zebra rain boots are what all the girls are wearing these days.]

Mainly because of this:

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The deluge of rain has been coming for a month and it’s saturated the earth and is paralyzing the city. I am staying with Maureen in her apartment, so travel is slow everyday. (Keep praying for us!)

When I brought my family back to Kenya in 2011, just months after opening the doors to Mercy House, we came loaded down with 1000 pounds of donations of baby and maternity clothes (from many of you), curriculum, books, skills to teach and so much more.

But the greatest gift we ended up giving them was what I least expected: a glimpse at what a family looks like. I later learned that while they appreciated the gifts and tools, it was seeing a husband tenderly love his wife and father his children. It was watching me correct my kids and reach out and grab my husband’s hand. It was seeing a family unit love and live in real life.

This is my first trip to Mercy House without my family and their absence is tangible. I miss them more than sweet tea and have a physical ache. We are all family. This organization doesn’t feel like an institution, it is a home.

Sisters helping each other learn to read:

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Daughters taking turns making dinner:

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Sons learning:

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And a lot of love:

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Our family is expanding. We depend 100% on donations. We have room for you. Would you consider being a part of our family?

Special Announcement:

I’m so pleased and excited to announce that our Executive Director and my beloved Maureen is engaged to a wonderful man. She and Oliver were in Compassion’s Leadership Development Program and have known each other for years. We are proud to add this son to our family! And I love that I got to be here to witness her BIG surprise.

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He proposed in front of the Mercy House family and when he was done, I looked at our beautiful girls and challenged them to wait for the special man God is preparing for each of them. He has a good plan and I encouraged them to pray and believe. With eyes shining, it was a moment I’ll never forget.

*photos by my friend, Suzanne Box

A Portrait of a Miracle

How do you define a miracle?

It comes in multiplying food and raising the dead.

And I’ve seen both.

I tremble at what God has done.

I’ve looked into a girls eyes so void of life, it sucked the life right out of me. I returned to this country to find so much joy in the same girl it’s put breath right back in me.

I see miracle in the roundness of a girl’s stomach, a girl under 16 who’s tried to kill her baby twice and yet her unborn child lives and God says “Child, I Have a Plan For You and Your Baby.”

And knowing I’m here again, desperate and exhausted and seeing The Plan for me intersect with them and you is beyond humbling.

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I see the Divine in eight screaming, beautiful babies who are learning Bible songs and about a Father in Heaven when they have none on earth.

I’m not sure why God gives me a glimpse of Heaven and holiness, but I know He wants me to show you, too.

We started the day out before the sun, traveled hours on flooded, muddy roads to the home we hope to purchase. We dreamed and measured and thanked God for taking us one step closer to a future home for Mercy House.

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It’s another miracle and the list is getting so long. But we just keep counting His gifts and adding more pages.

While the new home will be smaller, it’s cozy and inviting and settled in the lush green of the countryside and big enough for our 11 girls and 11 (soon-to-be) babies and maybe one more…. And mostly, it will be ours without the risk of rising rent and in a less expensive area. You can check out our updated Wish List to see what we will be needing.

We returned to Mercy House just as the girls were finishing morning classes today while eight babies napped. If you don’t believe in miracles…

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And guess what happens when Grandma Welch comes to town?

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Matching outfits, of course.

Getting eight babies to sit still, just another miracle.

We had a wonderful lunch together, introduced a few new necklace and sewing ideas (YOU WILL LOVE) and Maureen led orientation for our new girls. Whew!

We also survived another morning without power and no water, but enjoyed a cool breeze, natural sunlight and bottled water. My photographer friend, Suzanne did portraits of each girl and her baby. It was so much fun for the girls!

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There are miracles even in these moments. Sometimes you just have to dig through the mud to find them.

And other times they simply surround you at every turn and when you stop to count them, life takes your breath away.

On Exhaustion, Desperation and Finding God

I’m functioning on less sleep in Kenya than I thought humanly possible. I’m emotional and weary and still scared.

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But I feel God’s presence so strongly with me. Maybe because I feel so inadequate and desperate for Him at the same time? Funny how that works.

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I spent the day trying to stay awake during the 2.5 hour church service, getting reacquainted with the girls, warming up to our three new ones and trying to convince the babies I wasn’t a scary white woman.

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The girls told me I’d really gotten fat since last seeing them (8 months ago). That’s a big compliment here (it means you’re healthy and have enough to eat), but never something a 40 year old woman longs to hear. So, I ate two plates of Kenyan food. Ha!

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Every time I cross the ocean, it’s a different experience. But every time, I end up needing more of God. And finding Him. I’m pretty sure He’s never moved…

It was a good first day/night/whatever-time-it-is start this week. I’m cramming about two weeks work into the next five days, keeping praying, okay?

I’m Still Not Brave

I have lists for my lists, a stocked pantry, a few meals in the freezer and a detailed schedule to help my hubby juggle the kids, home and school in-between working, while I’m in Kenya working at Mercy House.

I’ve had a lump in my throat for days.

This morning before I head to the airport, I’m hiding love notes for my family.

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We just added 3 new pregnant girls in the house, so that makes 11 girls, 8 babies and 3 on the way (one of the girls is 38 weeks pregnant!) It’s rainy season and traffic is at an all-time high and there hasn’t been power at the maternity home in 3 days. I have a layover in Turkey (the country) and will be missing 2 nights of sleep.

This is the 4th time I’ve traveled across the ocean to Africa and I still don’t feel brave.

[I’m about to get vulnerable. I hope that’s okay.]

As I went over a list with my husband yesterday morning, I stopped and I gave a voice to the struggle, “Will this ever get easier? In 5 years, will it still be this hard to go there, to stay here and do this work? Will my heart always be half-as-willing to follow God?”

Because y’all. I’m still just that little mom who said yes to a big dream.

Then he said something I didn’t expect, “Last night, I felt the same way.” He’s in the middle of gathering tax info for our accountant, being stretched paper thin, frustrated with computer issues, overwhelmed. “I want to help rescue girls, I want babies to be born, I want that good part, but the rest…”

His words, although raw, were comforting, because I want that part, too. But we both know as we’ve counted the cost these past 3 years, the good part doesn’t happen without the hard.

I carry anxiety pills in my pocket for traveling and I feel unqualified and overwhelmed at the task. I miss my family with every breath and sometimes I’m so scared I can’t stop shaking inside.

I’m good at organizing my family, carline pickup, making dinner (well, sort of). I’m good at mothering and helping moms, but running Mercy House continually stretches me further than I’ve ever been. As my husband held me, I whispered, “I just wish I was more brave.”

He said, “Maybe that’s why God called you, us. Because we’re not. But he is everything we’re not and everything we need.”

If I have learned anything in this journey, it’s this: the good  makes the hard worth it.

Meet our three newest girls at Mercy House:

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I’m thankful I’m not alone. Neither are you.

“What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” Gen. 28:15

I’m taking you with me. I pray you’re brave enough to go.