Exciting News From Our Family…

At the end of yesterday’s post I mentioned that today I would be sharing some very exciting news.  Before you skim to the bottom to see what it is, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee as I share my heart.  

Many of you have been hanging around our Place Called Simplicity for a long time – close to a decade!  Some of you go back before I started PlaceCalledSimplicity when I used to write on Journey to Me.

Depending on when you began stopping by, you’ve seen our family walk through a multitude of joys, heartaches, losses and celebrations.

In 2007 friends watched us bring Isaiah home and then as Elijah and Elizabeth arrived in 2008.  The year of 2009 was like none other in highs and lows as we lost our beloved log home to a fire, Tyler and Sarah got married and Jubilee came home.

In 2011 many fasted and prayed for dying and broken Ruby before she was even ours, Karl had his accident and was in a coma and eventually Emma and I went to Uganda to bring Ruby home.  You watched Emma, Ruby and I land in Phoenix after 7.5 long weeks and never go back to Colorado, but instead stay in Phoenix for Ruby’s many life-threatening medical needs.

You celebrated with us when Nehemiah came home in 2012, when Graham and Savannah married in July of 2014, as Emma and Josh married in March of 2015, and then as we brought Johnny and Birdie home last year.

We’ve openly and vulnerably shared our family.  Throughout the years you’ve read my heart and the three things that I am most passionate about: the orphan, special needs adoption, and always, always, always the astounding faithfulness of our great God.

As I’ve written some will remember in July of 2008 the first trip to Uganda made by Dw and Emma.  I shared how she had prayed that God would allow her to be a missionary to the orphan since she was just 6.5 years old!  Truthfully I couldn’t wait to see what she thought of working in an orphanage since that had been all I’d heard her talk about for years!


Daddy and Emma heading to Uganda for the first time.  Emma was just 14.  

In early July 2008 I wrote about Emma and Dw leaving for Uganda for the first time.  They were packed with 3 trumpets, 1 trombone, 204 Beanie Babies, 500 lollipops for the orphanages, fill-in-the-blank workbooks for the pastors conference Dw would be leading, teaching materials, Emma’s VBS supplies, crafts, dozen of Granola bars and some random snacks!

From that post in 2008 to 2013 bloggy friends watched as Emma went to Uganda 12 different times with either Dw or I.  On her 12th trip to Uganda, at the age of 19, she moved there permanently.


Emma and Graham (bffs and sibs) hug goodbye as she leaves for Uganda.

We never would have guessed she would only be home for 2 weeks in the last 5 years.  So glad I didn’t know that.  I probably would have wailed and flailed on the floor of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport!


Liberty and Emma.  Sisters and best friends.  

Before long Emma was doing mountains of paperwork to officially open a home for special needs orphans.  Knowing that this city of 3.5 million had no home for the most vulnerable of treasures  – the need was certainly enormous!

Emma felt the Lord whisper that it should be called The Gem Foundation as every child is a precious Gem from the heart of God!  Though the road was more than wearying, the discouragement palpable, the loneliness unprecedented, she never wavered – God had called her and she would diligently persevere – only someone who was determined to obey Christ would last! I don’t think I could have.  But she knew God had called her, she also knew that the need was too great to give up and come back home (in fact she has only been home for 2 weeks in the almost five years she has been gone to Africa).

You know guys – Emma’s the real deal.  She’s determined.  She loves fiercely.  She passionately fights for every broken body that she encounters.  She refuses to give up!  She’s a prayer warrior, rising early to spend time with Jesus.  There are many stories that cannot be shared publicly, but trust me, the need for special need orphan care is real.

In July of 2014 she welcomed her first 13 Gems to The Gem Foundation and her literal lifelong dream had now become a reality!  Not long after The Gem opened, God in His surprising ways and great mercy and grace brought her high school sweetheart back into her life.  I shared their love story here:  Emma’s Decision.  It is a pure love story that is so rare in our culture.  If you haven’t read it, please take the time to.  Purity is not often heard of these days, but it is possible!!  Let Emma’s decision be an example to all singles (young and old)! Emma and Josh are now partners in life and partners in ministry.  They make a dynamic team.  God certainly knew what He was doing when He brought them together.


Dw and I had been praying for Emma’s move to Uganda since she was six years old.  Although we didn’t know exactly what it all would look like, we knew God had called her at such a young age for a very specific purpose.  We also knew that with her diligent perseverance, God was going to do mighty things!

As the months moved into years, there are now 39 Gems that call The Gem Foundation home.  Over the years, I have shared the needs every now and then. Although asking for monetary help is not something I love to do, being the voice for the Gems is easy!!


Tonny arrived in a catatonic state.  Years of abuse had taken it’s toll.  He now smiles easily for Mama Emma.


I am thoroughly convinced that caring for the most vulnerable of humankind has God’s immeasurable blessings and His direct attention.  The broken-bodied Gems are so very loved by Him!

So what is the amazing news?

As you can imagine, watching God move on Emma’s heart since she was just 6.5 years old has been a rare and beautiful privilege.  To know that because of her obedience there are 39 Gems who are not only safe, but are loved, cared for and celebrated is a humble joy.  I have cried at times while at the Gem knowing that it is her obedient determination that allowed God to use her so.

The need in Uganda is so great for special need orphan care that The Gem Foundation quickly outgrew their rental which meant they needed land to build their permanent home!  So a couple of years ago we began fundraising for land for The Gem.  They desperately needed a place to call home – a place where they can expand and serve as many Gems as God will bring them.

God moved on many of you to generously give to help them purchase 88 acres just outside the city.  It is peaceful, far from the smog of the city, with gently rolling farmland and overflowing with all kinds of fruit trees!  I love it!

Architects and engineers from a ministry known as EMI (Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors) have now been to Uganda.  They have worked the Gem land and drawn up the infrastructure, the layout of Gem Village and the blueprints for the buildings!  This is something that I have prayed for (in a general sense) for years – long before Emma even moved to Africa – knowing that God was going to use her in a large way! 

#GivingTuesday1The cutest little construction crew ever.

The exciting news???

It’s time! It’s really, really time!  

You have watched Emma grow up.  You have read about her passion and you know her!  The Gem Foundation exists because of our astoundingly faithful God working through a very obedient young girl.

The Gem Foundation is a ministry you can invest in because you have known the Founder and Director since she was just 13 years old!  That, in itself, is pretty crazy! You’re not donating to some giant conglomerate and wondering what really happens to your money??

You are investing in the Gems who are Gems because a young girl heard God call at just 6.5 years old and you’ve watched her grow up, visit Uganda for the first time and all the 11 following times.  You watched her move there permanently at age 19.  You saw her open The Gem Foundation.  You then watched her marry.  You celebrated with us when she shocked us for a two week visit 2 years ago.  She’s authentic.


Emma and her maid-of-honor Liberty.

The first phase is to build three forever homes for The Gems.  The Gem Foundation website has a beautiful 30 second video which shows a bit of the land.  Further down the page there are some 3D drawings of the homes and a running total of donations to Gem Village.

During the month of December Emma and Josh will be sharing the details of the actual plans.  If you haven’t liked them on FaceBook or Instagram, please do, so you can stay up-to-date on the news!#GivingTuesday



Here’s how you can help:    

DONATE!  Although The Gem Foundation is a registered NGO in Uganda, it is not a 501c3 in the states.  Dw’s and my ministry, International Voice of the Orphan is a 501c3 and partners with The Gem to send all donations to them.  This means that your donations are tax deductible.  There is no one better to have Emma and Josh’s back then mom and dad!

DONATE in Canada here:  Help The Gems!

SHARE the need – be the voice for The Gems!  Share the exciting news with at least THREE friends! Tag them!

GO see The Gem Foundation yourself as part of a GO team!  I’m leading a GO team in March and would love you to join me!

PRAY with us for God’s provision!

Friends, I’m going to be really, really honest.  You can’t take your money with you.  Invest in what matters.  No gift is too small.  God will bless you over and over and over as you provide for the most vulnerable of all mankind.  

#GivingTuesday3And truthfully friends, this is the most exciting news for our family.  It’s really time.  We’ve all prayed, cried and cheered for Emma.  It’s finally really time! A little girl’s dream is finally coming to complete fruition.

9 thoughts on “Exciting News From Our Family…

  1. This is so exciting!!! I saw tony just weeks after he arrived at the Gem foundation! The transformation is astounding! Love emma dnd josh and their heart! Such a precious time!

    1. The change in all of the Gems is incredible – Tonny being one of the most profound. Look at his smile and he only shares it with Mama Emma. I believe with all my heart that he KNOWS that Emma rescued him that day when our mighty God blew the door of his home open. His family denied his existence, the door blew open and our little-wedding-dress-size-Petite-00 saw him and demanded, “Give him to me or I will call the authorities!” Look at him now – he is safe, loved and treasured!

  2. Praise God!!! Emma is truly amazing and an inspiration. She has a huge heart! I work with medically fragile special needs children and it is rewarding but very challenging work and she does it 24/7. Incredible! One day I will go with you and a team to the Gem. For now you have my prayers and support. I just love Emma’s story and her heart!

    1. The thing I’ve found with my own medically fragile is that it is ‘constant’. No matter what – and I love my treasures – they are so miraculous – but the work is long and hard!! And please, please, please GO with me one day!! I would love to hug your neck!! xoxo

  3. So proud of Emma and all she has done with the Lord’s help and guidance. She has been obedient even through hard things and now He is entrusting her with much more. What a wonderful ministry to support in prayer and financially. God bless and keep you all in this exciting time!

    1. Thank you for your gentle words of support, Autumn. It is so true, she has been so obedient – even in the midst of excruciating loneliness. I don’t think I could have done it. Thank you for praying too!

  4. Awww!! I’m so, so, so very happy for Emma and those children. How exciting!!!! Emma is certainly amazing, she looks so sweet. I too have been praying since I was 8 to be a missionary, and I would love to be a medical missionary. I just have to wait and see what the Lord has for me. <3 <3
    I'm going to email you about the GO team…I'd absolutely love to be on it. Whatever is the Lord's will though, it can just be so hard waiting!!

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