There’s a lot of forward motion in this beautiful Ladd life.
Chris and I have spent several years in South Africa, both separately and together. We have bounced down dirt roads, dug water wells, taught life skills, and built churches and homes. We’re not leaving South Africa, but we are preparing to travel new roads, dig different fountains, teach Life in a new way, and build the Church starting from our home. Becoming a church family is what we were made for.
God’s voice is moving us forward the way He likes to move the Ladds forward - like ain’t nobody got time to wait around. We are counting down the days until our next big step. (TWO DAYS TILL CAPE TOWN!!!!)
I’m getting ready for what lies ahead by counting the steps that brought me this far. Every dust-in-your-everything, family-forming, faith-stretching, spirit-strengthening day has prepared us for today and is making immeasurable space for tomorrow.
Markers and scrap paper.
An old bench and sticky hands.
Cornbread and 11th grade.
This is how I look back and move forward.
On September 12, we celebrated one year of being a family.
Lifa and I spent the weekend before making art projects for a beautiful dinner experience.
|Lifa painted a picture of our family seeing a hyena miracle at Kruger Park to decorate our banana braai station.|
While the crock-pot did the work, and with the table perfectly set for celebration, we sat outside together with the sunset, paper scraps and markers. The three of us wrote out our favorite moments of the year and hung them as a banner over our dinner table.
We laughed while we read them during dinner. They were our stones of remembrance and celebration - hung with clothes pins and sticky-tac. We could see a church family being born out of uno games, coffee dates, outdoor adventures, sharing our home, spreading tablecloths, sharing meals, giving away cars and cheering for Lifa that time he scored against his own soccer team… twice.
|My personal dream come true: Lifa and I made CHALKBOARD PLACEMATS.|
The moments we choose to hang up and hang on makes the mountain our family stands on and looks forward from. What we choose to remember is what writes our testimony and shapes our legacy.
This week, I went back to Dwaleni - one of the communities I poured my heart and soul into for my first six years in Africa. I went armed with stories to spread as a banner over that place and those people.
Angel and I never skipped a beat after a year apart. We sat on the same old bench, under the same little shelter we had prayed her dreams into existence week in and week out. Every kid that walked by shouted, “MAMA KACY!!!!” I waved and blew kisses instead of asking them why they weren’t in school. I scooped up the stickiest baby I could find and rocked him while Angel and I remembered. “We built this together Kacy. Every week you came, and you knew me. I always remember what you taught me, even when it’s very hard."
I gathered up the moments and miracles that brought her here so that she could see she is still moving forward. The pain in her face eased, and Angel said, “I do believe in my dreams again.” I told her that we were starting a church, and she remembered how much time I’d spent on that bench teaching her about the local church’s role as the family of God in community centers just like hers. Angel looked at me and said, “I think God has made you to teach South Africa about the church.”
I walked hand-in-hand to my car with Angel and said with more conviction than I had when I arrived, “Yes, I think God did make us for that too."
I couldn't leave without swinging by my most-frequented front porch in South Africa. I’ve pulled into Mama Charity’s patch of grass a thousand times, scooped up hers and Busi’s families, and driven to church and my house for Sunday Lunch. I stepped back onto that porch to tell those two mamas that it was all those years of making jumbo batches of beans, rice and cornbread for Sunday lunch… It was celebrating birthdays, spending Christmas Eves together, births, deaths, painting nails, teaching kids and moms how to eat together, giving everyone a lunch job, playing, and talking about Jesus on picnic blankets, completely covered in sunshine and babies… It was those years and those moments where God taught me that church works. And it works best with real lives lived together.
Their eyes filled with tears when I told them we were moving forward to start a new church. I told them we believe we will be a church with global impact, and they were part of my unwavering belief in the power of the church. That makes them a part of this church. That makes them world-changers.
I charged them with the charge of a world-changer: Live like you’re from heaven and not from earth. Love God; love your kids; and don’t do anything outside of that. Mama Charity has six kids and with no support. Busi is trying to pass 11th grade to make a better way for her baby. I reminded them they are not victims of circumstance, but they are part of a world-changing, global movement. Now they better act like it and never forget it.
When she was totally spent and totally out of words, Busi said, “Eish… That cornbread. I’m going to miss that cornbread.”
“Me too, Busi. I’m going to miss eating cornbread with you. But I’m going to keep making beans and rice and cornbread for Sunday Lunch wherever I am, whoever I’m with. And I’m going to keep having church with that cornbread. You do it too."
Sometimes our worlds are shaken and life changes dramatically in an instant, one moment turns everything around. And sometimes it happens one sticky hug and one piece of cornbread at a time.
Your life story may leap and bound, or it may just seems to saunter along. Whatever it looks like, it's the words you write it with and the pictures you illustrate it with that create both your history and your future. I almost can’t believe the characters, settings and events that make up my story. I feel humbled to have been entrusted with so much. I will do everything in my power to put words and pictures that point my heart and others toward what counts: the eternally ever after.
I have to work on my self-editing skills daily because I don’t always speak the way I want my story to sound, but that’s part of the beautiful journey we’re on with the God who always meets us where we are.
So here’s to one year of being married to my hero and a lifetime of cornbread church!