Monday, May 11, 2015

Bread Crumbs

Trena Ivy is a women who quietly lives a big life of real faith. She resides full time in Kenya where she is a mama to many, since she established His Cherished Ones ministry and oversees the daily operations of it. I asked her to share a little about her story and how she has allowed God to have His way in her life. Today just happens to be her birthday! And this picture – classic isn't it? Smile everyone!
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By Trena Ivy

Breadcrumbs. Small, seemingly insignificant little pieces left behind from something greater, tiny morsels intentionally leading to a specific place.

When God first brought me to Kenya full time, almost eight years ago, I was not sure where it all would lead. But God was leaving little breadcrumbs, dropped for me along the path of my daily journeys.

Where were these breadcrumbs leading? I had no idea at the time. Although, I thought I knew where I was going. But God had different plans, and they included doing exactly what I said I was not going to do in Kenya.

Instead, these breadcrumbs were leading me to the sweetspot of God’s will.  To a place where He would show Himself to me in new and real ways, showing His heart for His children. To a passion hidden inside my heart.

Family. God is passionate about His family. He created family for a reason. He modeled His entire relationship to us after family.

I learned something after living here for almost a year, a surprising, enlightening fact at the time. A breadcrumb. I learned that the majority of children living in children’s homes in Kenya actually have relatives, many of them being parents of the children. These children have family. And thus began the journey of His Cherished Ones that I am still walking.

My question became...if all these children have families, why are they not with them, and how can we get them back together?

I won’t begin to go into all the millions of thoughts and questions and answers from the millions of different views, but ultimately, we know a child is, in most cases, better with a family than in an “orphanage.” Granted, there are reasons why the child is not with their family....but that became the question. Why not? And was there something we could do to strengthen this family? Is there something we can do to help this family be able to care for their own child? Is there something we can do to help reunite the child with the family so that he doesn't have to grow up in a children’s home?

But I realized something else during this journey. (Breadcrumbs.) So many small babies are initially abandoned out of desperation.  A teen mom who sees her future stalemated with the ‘burden’ of a baby. A woman taken advantage of, fearing rejection from her community. A father who has no means to care for a newborn after its mother died in childbirth. An HIV+ mother who knows she cannot handle the physical strain of keeping herself and a child healthy. So many reasons why babies are abandoned.

And I also learned something else as I began exploring this situation. (More breadcrumbs.) In looking to move the infants in a struggling children’s home I was working with to a more suitable, capable place, I found that there are very few places in our area which will take in infants. The high cost of care, intensive physical care required, healthcare, feeding, leaves most children’s home in a restrictive state, unable to afford to take in babies.

Where were these breadcrumbs leading? I was still unsure. Yet, I knew I was getting closer to a part of God’s heart that I had not felt before.

I had come from the Evangelical Church of the Western World. I knew that “caring for orphans” was a good thing. Yet, I saw thousands of people, churches, ministries doing this...through opening orphanages, supporting orphanages, adopting orphans. But I still saw a gap. I wasn't even sure what the gap was, but I knew there was something. Something missing. Or something different. Or something else.

I saw breadcrumbs of things God had laid on my heart. The orphaned and abandoned. Babies. Families.

Over a period of time, God began to reveal the bigger picture, the bread from which some breadcrumbs had dropped. Placing orphaned and abandoned babies into families.

As I had been following breadcrumbs, God was leading me deeper into His will for my life. Finding the sweetspot of serving Him through a passion I never knew I had. Until I felt it. Until I saw it. Placing babies into families.

Suddenly, at a specific time in early 2009, it seemed so obvious to me, so clear. Why have we not been working to reunite families, rather than taking the children or providing a place for children outside of the family home? Granted, there is a place where children’s homes meet a need and are the right choice. There is a place where adoption might be right for a child. But God was laying a different plan on my heart, and that was to put babies back into local families, families from their own culture, their own home, perhaps even their own family.

Thus, began Haven of Hope Baby Center where are goal and vision is to promote the value of family and to offer the hope of a future to those in need, specifically the smallest, most vulnerable babies. We now take in orphaned and abandoned babies and work to place them into families. We take them in, offering them a family in our home, keeping low numbers and making sure our home is a home, rather than an institution as we work to find their families.  Our first goal is to reunite them with their biological families whenever possible. We work with families to ensure they have the ability to care for their child. We can see that a father has means to feed his child, or that a mother is well enough to care for her child, or that the family has a means of income to support their child. We work, first, through the biological family. Then, if that is not possible, adoption or long term foster care is an option.

Since we began, we have placed almost 40 babies into families. Seeing a child in a family is such an awesome picture of God’s grace and redemption! Taking them from a place of aloneness and placing them in the midst of a loving, caring, supportive family is an awesome privilege that God allows us to be a part of. Watching God’s handiwork of knitting a family together as one unit is indeed a miracle! It is the earthly personification of who we are in Christ. God takes us in, after we have been alone, and wraps his arms around us and loves us unconditionally. Isn't that what every child deserves?

I am eternally grateful to the Lord for laying out breadcrumbs for me to follow. What a humbling place it is, to sit in the midst of His work, soaking in the sweetness of being in His will.

Breadcrumbs are all around us. Look for them. Pick them up. Piece them together. And rest in the beauty of finding and doing His perfect will for your life.

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If you would like to find out more about this beautiful ministry,
here are some links.


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Trena and her daughters Julia and Josie  
I  love how God builds families. 
Thank you Trena for your beautiful life!


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