This post is part of the “Donning a Cape” mini-series, a series of posts about families who are making a difference for orphans around the world.
It took one toddler Mommy-and-me music class for me to fall in love with my forever friend Leia.
She was this adorable, passionate firecracker of a woman with a smile and a heart as big as her dreams … and her family.
As we rudely chatted through the instruction of our youngest children’s music teacher (sorry, Miss Susan, but not that sorry, because we might now “accidentally” start orphanages on the homefront of our husbands’ business trips because of this interrupted music class!), who introduced us and insisted “we needed to be friends,” I learned that Leia had five children and one on the way — from the same country Superhero 3 had come home from only one year earlier. As she shared her heart and the picture of her new superhero-to-be, this woman I had already decided I would need to friend stalk said something that will stick with me forever.
“People think we’re crazy for having such a big family and adopting four children,” she said. “But after traveling to these countries and seeing these children, we feel like our eyes have been unveiled. WE CAN’T JUST DO NOTHING.”
Even after bringing home three superheroes from two different countries while facing the challenges of military life and living apart from her husband for three straight years, this woman, who had the wisdom of a 75-year-old in the body of a 16-year-old (is chasing six superheroes the secret to a chiseled bod?!), felt like she could do more. Could give more. Could serve more.
And that’s exactly what she and her husband did.
After bringing home their fourth adopted angel, Leia and her husband started Sage Harvest, a company that sells the most incredible beef jerky on the face of the planet. (Please, America, no more gas station beef sticks for you!)
This is why:
“Over the years, we have been blessed with the opportunity to grow our family through several adoptions. We consider adopting to be one of the greatest privileges in our life. However, with each adoption has come an unanticipated sense of heartbreak for those children we must leave behind. We realize that we cannot provide a family and loving home for every orphan, but we can help provide resources that will increase quality of life, and, in many cases, save lives. Having the means to love the fatherless children we could not bring home has become our dream,” Leia’s family explains on their pamphlets and materials.
Sage Harvest is the way this precious family of eight achieves that dream. They beautifully love on orphans-no-more in the intimacy of their home, and they donate 10 percent of all their business profits to charities that benefit the orphans they had to leave behind.
But they don’t just donate — they invest. They choose specific children and specific causes, and they make a life-changing DIFFERENCE for superheroes-in-waiting all around the world.
They have fully funded the urgently needed heart surgery of one little boy in China.
Their donations provided a walker for one orphan in need.
Their donated gift baskets and jerky items have helped fundraise for families who boldly said “YES!” to bringing home the most medically fragile children — the ones the world sees as “the least of these.”
And they do it all while raising six joyful children in the middle of the chaos and unpredictability of military life.
So weekend after weekend, Leia, her husband and their intimate team of workers travel to festivals and fairs, where they haul totes of meat 25 times their bodyweight and sell jerky in a state of hypothermia to festival goers and bystanders (all of whom freely share their “how-I-make-my-own-jerky” stories … for hours on end …).
And as they do, they share these children’s stories. They share their pictures. They share their names. And they advocate for orphans in the sweetest and most precious of ways — with their hearts, with their hands, with their time, with their love, and now, with their jerky.
They “sling jerky” for orphans around the world.
So don your cape, sweet friends, because whether your family is big or small, whether you’ve already brought home superheroes-in-waiting or whether you’re not sure you can … whether you’re selling jerky or buying it, you can make a difference in the lives of orphans.