Bold Faith, Dream Fulfilled, and Arie’s 18th Birthday Epic Adventure

 In General, Stories From My Life

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To get started, I have to back up a bit. Arie was born in Costa Rica. We moved back to the States when she was about six months old. Jason passed when Arie was almost two and I was seven months pregnant with Sophia. When Arie was five and Sophia was two, I took them back to Costa Rica during his angel anniversary. What I didn’t know, until it was too late, was that Costa Rican officials like the presence of both parents to release a Costa Rican-born child from their borders (even if they have a US consular birth aboard birth certificate, the official death certificate, AND your child has a US passport). So we were stuck in Costa Rica for about three weeks until we had the proper paperwork done. Unnerving, but we still had a great time. Once we got back to the State, tt was such a concern, that even though we ADORE Costa Rica, I purposed to not bring Arie back until she turned 18 years old.

Every year Arie got older, from the age of about five, she talked of going back to Costa Rica when she turned 18.

So fast forward to March of 2022. Arie is so excited about planning to go to Costa Rica to fulfill her dream of spending her 18th birthday.

Except, as a ministry leader with a crowd-funded salary (which I so appreciate) a trip like this wasn’t at all in our budget.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

I could see in Arie’s eyes that if I said we couldn’t do this trip that she would understand but secretly she would be devastated.

So, I said, “God is your Heavenly Daddy, let’s ask Him to open doors, work at what we can do, and see what happens!”

“A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5-6

Does this include our wants as a widowed family for Arie’s 18th birthday?

Arie had saved some money for a car and asked if we could her savings to buy airline tickets. I said yes. Arie bought roundtrip tickets for her sister, Sophia, and me using Google flights. The least expensive flight we could find at that time was out of Orlando, FL. We would fly to Costa Rica just one day after her 18th birthday.

Arie really wanted her boyfriend of two years, Campbell, to join us. He is a wonderful, godly young man from a strong family and, although we have never brought anyone other than the three of us on an epic adventure out of the country, our families agreed.

Campbell also worked to earn the funds to join us. We now all had tickets! Then renewing our passports. At every step, we had to trust the Lord for provision.

Our longtime friends from Costa Rica were selling their home and graciously offered to allow us to stay there for free. It was empty. No furniture. No appliances. They did have a grill in the back, running water, and working bathrooms, it was in a lovely and safe neighborhood, had a community pool, and supplied air mattresses.

At least we had a place to stay!

We continued to step forward in faith and step-by-step God opened unexpected blessings until this trip is so EPIC, SO LAVISH, that Arie, Sophia, Campbell, and I are just BLOWN AWAY by God’s provision and LOVE for us!!

We couldn’t do it alone.

We are so thankful for our amazing tribe that supports Widow Strong and for our friends and family…but asking for a family vacation to Costa Rica was something that we asked God to provide. If He wanted it to happen, He would provide.

In this process, God called different people to share with us to help make Arie’s dream come true and this is a beautiful picture of what happens when communities walk alongside widowed families for years.

The solid, bold faith that’s being built in my daughters, Campbell, and even refreshed in me is so powerful that words cannot even touch what is happening. My daughters, though this widowed journey, have a strength of faith I never had at their age.

It takes a small village to allow us to fly like this. And I’m not talking about this vacation alone.

All of it. Our whole widowed journey.

This trip is a victory lap, a much-needed vacation, and a celebration of Arie’s rite of passage from childhood to beginning adulthood. Buckle up, because we’re about to take an epic adventure with the Lord and it lasts 20 days.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

This is James 1:27 lived out long-term…Incubating compassionate leaders for this generation and next…

And we did that.

Together.

Thank You from the bottom of my heart!!

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