Feed the Soul

You know when I was in High School or Middle School,  I didn’t understand kids that had a physical disability. TO me it was awkward, scary, and just felt weird. I fully admit I stared, I laughed, but I didn’t understand. Nobody had ever explained it to me, nor had I ever met someone to help me understand.
When I had Joe he was most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t anything about him that wasn’t perfect. About 6 months later when my neighbor told me she thought I should bring him to the doctor I wasn’t worried. She was a physical therapist and volunteered at a center for the disabled. I still wasn’t scared. Because in my mind I knew he was perfect.

When the doctor said he had cerebral palsy I didn’t think any different. He’s still perfect. Sure I was scared, I didn’t understand, and I didn’t know what the future held.

Flash forward 13 years, Joe  is still perfect. Yes he does talk a little funny, his arm continues to get smaller or appear smaller as the rest of his body grows. He walks with a limp but he still perfect.

In the 13 years of his life he may have seen one person ad or on a TV show that looked just like him. We’ve seen a few hemiplegics in the store and he always lit up especially when he was young, and would say “mom, he looks just like me.”  We went to a camp one summer and all the kids where all the kids were hemiplegics, like Joe.  I never heard him talk louder, more confident, full of life as when he did when he was with the  kids. that weekend. There was no judging. There was no staring. There was no funny remarks or under the breath statements. Everyone was equal.

I think back to the years from when Joe was 4 till the time he was 13 and had he seen more kids like him in  print or advertising, would it have changed who he was. I don’t know. But what I do know is I think it’s time we find out. I think it’s time for all of us, including me & you, to see people just like us. To stand a little taller. Be a little more confident and love ourselves for exactly who we are.

I  think it is important to talk about it. Don’t freak out that you aren’t using “the right words.”   I get it.. ..  As I type this,  I’m constantly hoping I am not offending anyone. Constantly questioning myself.  As long as it is coming from the heart, it is good.


P.S. I know I haven’t blogged in a bit. But I am excited to start again and chat about Africa and Change the Face of Beauty. SO much great stuff to feed the soul.

Mama Hope

So … that was perfectly said!! And your Joe is the cutest thing ever. I didn’t notice that he talks funny …??? And he shook hands! And so confident. And so cute. So you have done it pretty perfectly, huh? But this campaign is ah-mazing … and so needed … just perfect!

Holly v

I am so happy that you are blogging again Denise! I really was missing it! Beautiful thoughts as usual 😉

Marla H.

Thanks for sharing your heart! I think it’s wonderful. 🙂 Our kids’ generation is going to be more sensitive and aware of how unique and amazing that God made each and every person!

Jen K

Love. I am endlessly inspired by your heart, Denise. Joe IS perfect….one of the kindest souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. The campaign turned out beautifully – can’t wait to hear more!


I was so sad to see you take a step back from Matilda Jane but to know that these are the projects you are working on fills my love cup again! Thank you for sharing a part of your journey so that others may open up and see that every child is beautiful and perfect!


Thank you for your touching words. I looked a bit different as a teen and always felt very self conscious. It has made me stronger in the long run, but I totally agree that we can support out young people by helping them see that everyone is beautiful! I love this campaign. Joe IS perfect!

Thank you thank you thank you. Beautiful words. Beautiful heart!

Karen Spillson

Joe is so lucky to have such wonderful parents! Some of my favorite old neighborhood memories was watching David playing ball with Joe in the front yard!
I raised two children with special needs. Sometimes it was challenging, trying to make sure they were given every opportunity to succeed in school. Hoping they weren’t being made fun of at school.
If you are blessed with healthy children please be thankful!
You do such wonderful things for so many people Denise!

Good Ole’ Folks

changeChanging the Face of Beauty.

I never have the right words as to why this campaign, Change the Face of Beauty means so much to me. I cannot explain why when I went to the first shoot back in the Spring I was so touched. Why I get so happy when Joe says “Mom, he’s just like me.” Why that makes me feel like “Wow, I’m not alone..” And even better, Joe feels the same.

So I am going to quote an older post of mine titled, My Brave Joe

The Brave One

“To become a real boy you must prove yourself brave, truthful and unselfish” Pinocchio


Can I just tell you how much I love this little boy.  He amazes me everyday. Today he got 5 teeth pulled and 2 of them were way up in his gums.  He sat in that chair, his eyes swelled up and he didn’t shed a tear. He was so darn brave.  Three hours later, he is up practicing his num’chucks, or whatever Power Ranger weapon it is. He says he’s getting pretty good at them.

Today his cousin, Micheal (who is the cutest thing ever), came over and he’s already walking at less than a year. Joe is ultra competitive and was begging me to say that he, Joe, walked first. I explained to Joe that we never knew for sure if he’d be able to walk.  I told him how when he was born he may have had a stroke, we are unsure. I told him how we didn’t know a lot of things.


But what we did know is that he did not use his right side much. David took him to Dr. and she simply said, “He has Cerebral Palsy” and then she walked out.  We had no clue what that meant. And so we begin therapy that seemed to never end. I can remember at one time I think we went 4 days a week, and 2 of those days 2x a day.  It was nuts. The best part for me and Joe was to see all the other kids and understand.

I was so mean to kids that were different when I was younger. I really was. I think it was because I did not understand.  When Joe was about 4 I was putting his brace on his hand and he said, “Mom, I do not want to wear it, people will know”. I could hardly believe it, kids start judging at 4?  Now, I simply tell kids, “just like some of you have glasses cuz your eyes don’t work, Joe has a brace cuz his leg/arm doesn’t work all that well.” and they seem to get it.


Okay, I am getting pretty long here. I need to get to the Cliff Notes.  As we watched him sit bravely at the dentist we talked about how amazing he was.  All but a few times that he’s gotten botox (yes, it’s used to treat muscles in CP kids), they’d roll him off in the little cart into the room and he’d look at us, but did not cry. All his long hours of therapy have made him so patient and determined.

So when he asked about Michael I told him, “Ya, Michael walks early but you could do puzzles like it was no one else’s business”. Julie, one of his physical therapists, once told me, every kid just needs one thing he can shine at.  I couldn’t figure out why she was teaching Joe to draw a traingle  and a square when he was 3. She said, “When he goes to school all the kids we be cutting. Joe may have a hard time, but darn it, he’ll be able to draw his shapes before anyone else. Kids need to have one thing to shine at”. Man, I love Julie. She was also the first one to tell me I spoil Joe rotten. Which I still do.


You know, Joe having these issues has almost been a good thing in a way. It has totally changed me. I am much more undersatnding of others. I now know what it feels like to have people stare, they used to all the time when he was little.  I remember one time I saw the sweetest baby and she had a huge birth defect on her face. She was so beautiful and I told the Mom how beautiful she was. The lady almost cried. I don’t think she had ever heard that. She had only felt the stares. It sucks. People always say, “Well, it could be worse” and ya it could be. That is really a sucky thing to say, cuz it could be a helluva lot better too for so many.

Okay, now you all know how much I love Joe. He has just made me such a better person. Yes, even if he pushes me to my limit now and then.

AH3A8206 copyFlash forward to today and some pretty amazing people have stepped into my life. Pretty amazing.

Those folks that you know are just GOOD FOLKS.

Changing the Face of Beauty.

Lots more to tell but Kelle and Katie sum it up pretty well!!

Say Hello to Celestine


Spirited. Smart. Sweet.

Celestine is the kind of girl that carries herself with pride and intelligence. She is so caring of others and never thinks of herself. She is going to do big things one day!1231669_396068037181762_593796916_n

Before moving into the orphanage  Celestine lived in the slums with her younger sister Bendetta. Both of her parents passed away so she was both mother and father to her siblings. She would skip school to earn money to buy food so they could eat for the day. The children stayed with an uncle who was verbally and physically abusive to Celestine. Her life was full of fear and hard labor instead of being a normal fifteen year old girl. Now Celestine is going to school and has dreams of becoming a teacher. She is happy and loves spending time with her friends. She is able to live a normal life and work on making her dreams come true!


What do you like most about being in the orphanage?

It is good because I get education

Do you miss anything about your life before?

I miss nothing, now that I love in the orphanage I have things like; clothes, books, pencils, a schoolbag, shoes, socks, and a bed

Do you feel different now that you are living at the orphanage?

When I lived in the slum we ate once a week and now you eat three times a day. That makes me feel good and cared for.

Name some things specifically you like about living in the orphanage.

Learning, I get all my basic needs, and that I get to read the word of God

If you could say anything to you sponsor what would you say?

Thank you for what you have done in my life, may God bless you and the work of your hands

What is your favorite thing to do?

I like playing jump rope

What grade are you in?

Standard 6  age 14

What do you want to be when you get older?

Teacher in math

Favorite color?


Favorite food?

Chipati and chips

Who is your Best friend?

Deborah lokhoto 

Say Hello to Edith


 Sweet as pie. Smart like Einstein. More beautiful than anyone, both on the inside and outside!

Edith is a quite girl with big dreams. She is someone you are immediately drawn to. She is wise beyond her years and stronger than most people I know.


Before moving to the orphanage Edith lived in the slums with her 6 siblings. They all lived at her uncles house because her father past away and her mother left them after he had passed. Her uncle was very abusive to her and her siblings and felt as though they were burdens of him and his family. Edith hardly went to school because she could not pay for her school fees. She dreamed of becoming someone that could help other children that were in the same situation she was in but that dream seemed so far away. Now that she has moved into the orphanage she has become a girl who is reaching for her dreams and working hard in school to make sure that they come true. She is among the top students in her class and is thriving and happy! She knows that God has blessed her with a second chance and is so humbled to see God work through her.

photo (3)

What do you like most about being in the orphanage?

Learning and spending time with my friends.

Do you miss anything about your life before?

I miss my 3 brothers

Do you feel different now that you are living at the orphanage?

I get love and I have parents to live with and I get a chance to go to church and worship

Name some things specifically you like about living in the orphanage.

I like the food and my room  because I have a nice bed and a place to learn

If you could say anything to you sponsor what would you say?

Thank you for giving me a chance and  loving me, and accepting me to be one of their family

What is your favorite thing to do?

To learn English because you get to understand and its easy to answer the questions, I like to spend my time reading story books about the bible

What grade are you in?

Standard 6  age 15

What do you want to be when you get older?

I want to be a surgeon to deliver babies 

Favorite color?


Favorite food?

Chipati and Chips

Who is your Best friend?

Everline agiza 

My Haven

Life living in Kenya is very crazy. Then adding over 200 kids to live with is even MORE crazy! This is why I NEED some quiet time to relax and take some time to pour out all these emotions that I feel during the week. I spend Wednesdays and Thursdays at a little lodge away from the orphanage to find rest for my body, rest for my mind, and rest for my soul. I was hesitant taking those days off away from work because of all that I have to accomplish during the week, but the more and more I think about my last three months here the more and more I am so glad I took those two days off. I missed my kiddos while away but I seriously needed some alone time. klkkhlk

When I spend my time at the “Buni” my favorite thing to do is sit in the sun on the lawn, plug in my headphones with some praise and worship playing, and have some”quiet time” with God. Working with these amazing kids isn’t really physically tiring (who am I kidding it TOTALLY is!!) but mostly spiritually and emotionally tiring. We share stories, testimonies, have heart to heart conversations, I have had to witness traumatic situations when interviewing and getting photos of new kids to sponsor, and all this really weighs on your heart. Sometimes I don’t know what my heart is feeling because I have a thousand things that I am feeling all at once. But they all boil down to two things; extreme heartbreak for these children and love beyond compare for them as well. My heart feels so close to them I don’t think I can ever be the same. That’s why peace and quiet is a must. So many emotions is so draining.

I cherish my time at the Buni, but at the end of my two day stay I am SO ready to get back to all my little ones! I can’t imagine what it is going to be like to leave in two and a half weeks. All I can say is that I am nowhere NEAR ready to go home. I am going to be a complete and total MESS! I find comfort in the fact that this is NOT my last trip to Kitale, there will be many more after this I am sure;)

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Until next time! Love you all!


Amanda Clark

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of The Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garmet of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called OAKS of righteousness, a planting of The Lord for the display of His splendor.” ~ Isaiah 61:1-3

You’re doing it Kylee. His work. His timing. You are glorifying Him. He’s turning MiGhTy AcOrNs into “oaks of righteousness.” Enjoy those last 2 weeks. Remember we can’t be dis-appointed by our God. He appointed YOU there for this exact time to do HIS work. You are coming back in 2 weeks and He will appoint that time too! You’re rocking it girl. Keep it up 🙂 Praying for you… #kyleeBECAMEmighty

Carrie Gugger

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
—Psalm 32:8

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
—Jeremiah 29:13

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength.
—Isaiah 30:15