Thursday, June 30, 2011

No excuses

The fact that we insist on proving that we are right is almost always a clear indication that we have some point of disobedience
Oswald Chambers

I like to argue... for some of you who know me, that really doesn't come as much of a surprise. The sad thing is that my arguing knows no limits, where even a lot of times I find myself arguing with God. I am the queen of rationalization and I like to say that if I really try, I can talk myself into/out of anything. Well...lately I've been struggling with getting along with a certain person. In dealing with said person in talking to others, I like to clearly define why I'm right, why they are in the wrong, why it's ok that I'm not showing them grace, why they don't deserve forgiveness or for me to apologize in any way/shape/form. Well... the thing is that deep down I know how I'm supposed to deal with him I just was in a debating match with God for the past week or so over it.

It's funny because the book of James I think is one of the most read books of the Bible but even as I've read it/studied it time and time again God is faithful to stab that double edged sword in a new location to expose and remove another vile thing that I tolerate in my life. This morning I was in chapter two and at one point James brings things back to that one command that pretty much sums everything up, "love your neighbor as yourself". James is also good to mention that awesome little thing about "anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins". Yeah... ouch. So basically a couple of months ago, God was opening my eyes to the love 1 Corinthians 13 describes and He just keeps adding to it. The thing is no matter how hard I look, there's no caveat, there's no loop hole... it doesn't say "love your neighbor as long as he's not ticking you off" or "love is kind only when that person deserves it"... nope it's plain and simple. And here's the thing, like I mentioned before, if I know I should be showing love to those who it's hard to, if I know I need to forgive, show mercy, be kind to everyone no matter what... and then I don't do it, it's yet again that nasty three letter word, "SIN". Sin is missing the mark, it's not living the way or doing what God has called you to, it's disobedience and as Jesus says, "If you love me, obey my commandments". So needless to say, the quote given at the beginning of this post really just makes sure to plunge that sword in deeper than it was already. I need to love, I need to obey... no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A special case

In the past, when I've taken those spiritual gift inventories, the gifts of giving and compassion were pretty much in the negatives. I know it's terrible for a missionary to admit that, but it's true. My very common response is "I can't help you in a material sense but I can pray for you". I realize that many of you are thinking that verse in James right now, but you have to realize just how many requests we get, it's literally impossible to meet all of those needs that people seem to have. But sometimes there are those rare cases where God seriously breaks my heart for certain people and he lays the tracks to do something in their lives by orchestrating events and enabling us to help them.

On Thursday, we were with the team on an island doing ministry in a fishing village, including the school that's there. As I was trying out my Luganda with some of the older kids, one of them said that I needed to see their friend who had a hurt arm. I thought... oh great, your usual scabies, worms, infected cut, etc... Then this girl named Mariam was before me and her arm was super swollen and I looked closer and you could see the bone protruding from the skin and throughout the arm there were other old wounds. When I asked her how long it's been like that, she told me a year... I had to check my Luganda a minute to be sure I really got what she said. But after verifying things, she had in fact had that for about a year and she said she was in pain. She was super quiet, and I said I could pray for her to which her friends informed me that she was Muslim and I told them that God loves her too. So after praying for her and making a phone call realizing just how serious it was, it was decided we would bring her to Jinja to have surgery in order to keep her from dying from the infection. The one issue was getting the permission from her parents. At first her dad was ok with the plan but then he said he was afraid her arm would be cut off. We found out that he had spent about $500 at witch doctors to try and fix her... I couldn't believe that! It also turns out that the girls parents are divorced and she lives with her dad but her dad is married to a new wife and the girl doesn't even sleep in the same house as them. I just couldn't believe that someone could have that little care for someone who is his own flesh and blood! We finally had to get the LC1 (local leader) to convince him to have her come with us and tell him that she could die and this may be his last chance for her to get help.

After the doctor saw her and the x-rays and the tests. We found out that she has osteomyolitis (sp?) where her bone is infected and the infection is basically bursting the bone and making it come out the skin. The infection has no place to drain so it just breaks the bone. She will have to have the first surgery which will provide a way for the infection to get out but then other surgeries to hopefully repair the damage and save her arm. We also found that there's a good chance that she has sicle cell anemia as her blood count is at 7 which is really low.

This poor girl is in so much pain, and she's only 11! I can't help but think that God brought her into our path not to just get healed physically but that He's got something even more in store for her, her family, and even that village through this whole thing. It's just cool because it' all about Him because of the timing, circumstances, and you can just see His hand all over it. Please just pray for Mariam, that not only would God guide the hands of the surgeon but that He would also do a huge work in helping her to know that she has a heavenly Father who loves her so much and knows her pain and use this to do an awesome work in that little village.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What a week

So for the past couple of years I had somewhat shadowed Ryan as he helped organize this team who came every year. I would go to some of the outreaches and see kind of how it's done, little did I know just how much work it would be doing it solo this year. Before the team came, I was honestly struggling with having a really bad attitude about it. I even had a good friend of mine basically rebuke me (although it was done in a very encouraging way) about how bad my attitude was and that I need to look at it as an opportunity for ministry. After that conversation and a little more smack down that only the Holy Sprit can do, we went through one crazy hectic week where I was stretched more than I think I've ever been before as every single imaginable thing that could go wrong that was out of my control did.

In the end though, we ended up going to several slum areas, a fishing village, a few schools, a prison, and a village where we have one of our churches and quite a few people prayed to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That's really what makes all the stress, heart palpitations, and anxiety attacks (I may or may not be just kidding) worth it. If you tallied it up, there were over 1,000 people who heard the Gospel and the best thing about that was that in almost every area we did evangelism, we have a ministry that is directly involved with that area so we can plug them in to get some further discipleship.

I seriously cannot believe all that has gone down this past week... so so so many adventures, challenges, etc... but it really was a lot of fun. Yesterday in the midst of the worst chaos, I was just on the edge of loosing it and getting into the car with a few of my translators for the team and I was just warning them that I was having a really tough time, and one of them told me, "Don't worry, you have us". That seriously almost made me want to cry, because that one statement caused me to take a deep breath and just chill. My translators for this team were awesome, and even when the team wasn't running on time, they were. I could always count of them even when nothing else was going right. I love how God does a little glimmer of light in the midst of the storm - that glimmer was my translator team this week.

At the beginning of the week, the general counsel that was given to me was to just be flexible, which for me is not necessarily an easy feat. I was stretched so much this week in the realm of flexibility that I honestly feel a little like those cirque du soleil people who can basically make themselves into human pretzels. I think this week would have been tough for anyone, but for a girl whose life revolves around color-coded excel spread sheets, it was especially difficult. But God continuously proved Himself faithful in answering prayers and opening really sweet doors for ministry. God is definitely good!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A drama princess

You know that song that goes winey winey... I pretty much only know that one line (and I'm hoping you now have that song stuck in your head much like I do now googling the lyrics because it's driving you crazy not knowing the rest :) ). Well, these past 24 hours I've found that I took up the habit of whining for whining sake. I would complain even when there's really not a whole heck of a lot to complain about. I realized this tonight as I was trying to tell someone something and had someone near me who knew about the situation. I was kind of a reality check of, "oh wait, it's really not that bad". It's funny when you have that, it's like you build stuff up for the sake of drama and then when you have someone there who knows how much more is happening or that it's not all bad, that you realize the error of your ways...well, that was me tonight.

Drama is a funny thing isn't it? We get annoyed or even make fun of those who are what we would refer to as drama queens, or even in some cases kings when in reality we do the same things. You know... the whole world ends if something doesn't happen or you blow things totally out of proportion, or that even when things really aren't that bad, you try to make them sound that way just for a little extra attention? Well... I have come to point of where now I need to confess that although I can't bring myself to admit that I'm a drama queen, I can definitely be drama princess to say the least and I have a feeling my coronation could be coming very soon if I don't stop it. The Bible pinpoints that 1) don't be anxious and 2) do all things without complaining... you don't even want to know how many times I've violated those commands. To do both of those things is... wait....what... oh that's right, it's SIN. Ouch! Can you believe it?! And as much as we may want to pass things off as personality flaws or "I'm just a perfectionist", or blah blah blah... it's sin, it's sin, it's sin, it's sin, it's sin. In doing those two things you are doubting God's sovereignty, power, love, etc... and that's just bad ju ju.

So yes, all this to say, I have received another nice beating today by the Holy Spirit just going to town and scouring my heart to remove what's not of Him. It hurts...I'm embarrassed to admit I still haven't totally learned this lesson, but I'm rejoicing in the fact that we have a loving, faithful, and patient Father who although He may have to take out his "belt" so to speak from time to time, it's all worth it to make me holy as He is holy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

One sweet night

Tonight at youth group, things went on without really anything special... we played princess, knight, rider, had some worship (our boys are learning), and then I taught through Galatians. I'll be honest, it was tough, I know that Galatians is a great book, Martin Luther said it was even his favorite, but I just had a tough time getting into it. Praise God though that how He works is not dependent on how I "feel". At the end of the teaching, even though I ran a little over time, God seemed to be telling me to do an altar call. Now, I'm not necessarily one for altar calls, I've actually never done one before tonight, but as the kids heads were bowed I asked them if they had never accepted Jesus, but they wanted to for them to raise their hands and a ton of kids did. I was floored, I kept reiterating what it meant and making sure they never had done it before (you know how some people tend to get "saved" every Sunday), and the hands stayed up. Then I told them to make it public, and I really wanted to cry as kids who were just beginning to get involved in the youth group came up along with kids who had been coming for years. God knows the hearts of these kids and what they really understand of what they professed today, but the coolest thing was that it's not like I can look back on the evening and go "yup, well... that teaching was pretty sweet" or anything like that. I mean when I threw out the net so to speak I really did figure it would come back empty, but that's when God gets the most glory, because it wasn't anything about me, the teaching, etc... it was all about the work that God has been doing on the hearts of these kids, I just pray that they live the life now and that they really would allow God to rock their worlds!

Friday, June 17, 2011


We live in a world of procrastination. Homework, housework, deadlines, bills... we like to put it off until the last possible second. One thing you find a lot of people putting off is making a decision to follow Christ. They like to say, "After I'm done with school", "After I get married", "After I have some 'fun' that's when I'll give my life to Christ". Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, but there may not be an "after". I know this post is strangely morbid, but I've been surrounded by a lot of brushes with eternity lately in the world around me. Two great guys I know have suffered heart troubles that could of killed them and just yesterday at the market here in Jinja a truck lost control and crashed into a little booth killing a family. That last one really got me thinking... you really really never know. Sure we like to say we all want to die at the age of 96 in our sleep holding hands with our spouse (or whatever floats your boat), but when it really comes down to it, none of us is even guaranteed tomorrow. That family woke up yesterday, had some tea, got ready, and thought they were just going to go about their day as usual. Very few people wake up knowing they will die that day when you really think about it. We all think, "I'll never be that statistic of heart attacks/car wrecks/household accidents".

This is where you see the missionary in me... the Bible says "Today is the day of salvation". Eternity is a whole heck of a lot longer than this life. You may say that you don't believe in heaven, that when we die we're just worm food, and that's the end of the story. But what if you're wrong? What if you do become a statistic, what if you stand before Jesus with his nail pierced hands, and your knee bows before him realizing you denied the only one whoever truly loved you... more than that boyfriend who kept telling you "if you love me...", more than that bottle, more than that degree, more than that bank account, more than those friends who were with you on Friday night but come Saturday morning are nowhere to be found. What if...

If you've been living the life of "after's", if you've been living that life of running...running to anything and anyone to give you that peace and fulfillment only He can give... I ask, no wait, I beg you to really search your heart and ask yourself that cliche question, "Where WILL I go when I die?" And if you don't know but want to, please give your life to him right now. Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. If there were any other way to heaven, he wouldn't have had to come and go through what he did in order to bridge the gap between our sinful selves and a holy God.

The book of Romans says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Right now cry out to God, pray to him in your own words confessing you're a sinner, that without him you're nothing, that you believe he died on the cross for your sins, and rose from the dead so you could spend eternity with him, and that you want him to come into your life, change you, consume you, and save you. If you can pray that and truly believe it and you seek to know God and have a true relationship with him, then you my friend can rest easy tonight knowing that if you become a random statistic of ceilings collapsing (or whatever it may be) that you get to spend eternity with one amazing God!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In God We Trust

Over the years there have been various groups that have attempted to remove the "In God We Trust" from the US currency and the evangelical population has been up in arms about it. The ironic thing, is that many even evangelical Christians do not abide by that saying. Currently I'm reading the book called God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew. Each time I read it, God opens my eyes and challenges me in new areas as I read the true story of how God worked in the life of this missionary. Andrew attended a Bible college of sorts where over the entrance to the school there is the saying, "Have faith in God". Throughout his time in the school God continuously provided for him and the ministry he took part in and the lessons God taught him in faith would bring him through some of the most intense times for him both personally and in ministry.

God is really teaching me so much about what it means to truly trust in Him. We say we trust God, but when it really comes down to it do we? I would say that more often than not, we kind of trust in God but our weight is resting more on our bank accounts, our education, our careers, our friendships, our spouses, our family... We trust in God when those things are going the way we would like for them to. When we have that "nest egg", when we have that security of a job, when our parents are getting along trusting in God is a piece of cake. But how well do we pass the test of faith when we don't know how we're going to pay rent, when that lay off comes, when your parents sit you down and tell you they're getting a divorce. God is our heavenly Father who is with us through the calm and the storm, and even when you can't see/feel him we need to trust Him. We need to trust Him to provide as His son tells us that God provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, we need to trust him when he says "NEVER will I leave you", and we need to trust him when He tells us "do not be afraid".

Struggles, pain and loss WILL happen, it isn't just a question about "if you have enough faith". The patriarchs, prophets, and apostles all had "enough faith" yet they faced more trials than we could ever imagine. It's not about having faith in faith, but having faith in our sovereign, awesome, good, and holy God. We may not understand the pain we're experiencing at the time, but He is faithful as His ways are not our ways. So I guess as I'm trying to learn this lesson of faith the question I want to send out into this great void is do you truly really have faith and faith in God alone?

Sunday, June 12, 2011


"Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men" - Luke 5:10

God seems to be opening my eyes to how often he calls us in scripture to not be afraid. Most of the times that happens in the midst of or on the onset of some huge new groundbreaking chapter or event in someones lives... It was told to the patriarchs, to Joshua, to the prophets, to Mary, and the above verse was given to the Peter and co. when Jesus called them into ministry. Over the past month or so, God has continued to weave together a vision to seriously and effectively reach the youth around Uganda and to truly make the most out of EVERY opportunity He sends my way with the youth in my life right now. With this new drive and burden though comes a great sense of fear. I'm afraid of failing, I'm afraid of the opposition, I'm afraid of it being a "success". I know that sounds funny, but hey I'm just telling it like it is.

About a week ago I went on a little ka retreat to the mountains in eastern Uganda to kind of process a lot of what God's been showing me, and to lift specific people and issues up in prayer. This burden for the youth is what consumed most of those prayers and what God showed me through his Word. God's Word truly is living and active as He brought to light so many things and addressed so many of the excuses I had been trying to give as well as hurdles I felt I had to get over. When finally it just came down to faith... trusting Him, His plans, His voice, and taking that step where you honestly don't know what it could lead to but you know that God has called you to do it. It honestly scares the bejeebers out of me to even begin thinking about taking that step, but little by little I'm trying to wrap my mind around what He's calling me to do and what it's going to look like. I just ask for prayer that I would walk so closely with him that I would hear His voice directing me in what to do, and that there wouldn't be any other "noise" distracting me from hearing what He's trying to tell me. But it's not just about hearing, please pray that I also LISTEN to His voice when He calls me to do the things that my rational/planning/unflexible self bucks at and realize that it's His show and His plan and I just need to hang on and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

And here we have the big 2-5

Many of you have heard about what has been referred to as "love languages", some people need quality time, others gifts, others words of affirmation. For me, above everything else, for me to really "feel the love" I am hands down an "acts of service" kind of girl. Don't get me wrong, I love gifts and words spoken from the heart, but it blows my mind when people do stuff for me. Even the smallest things mean so much to me. Well, today... let's just say I felt the love in some very big ways! I wrote my last blog over 24 hours ago and was dreading turning twenty five, but because of today, I'll look at this birthday with some of the most amazing memories. I'm honestly still in shock about just how perfect it really was.

To start with, I woke up and right away got a call from my family who sang to me and were the first to really wish me happy birthday. From there, it was time for prayer with our staff and then Ryan and I went off to breakfast at Jude's which is a tradition for everyone's birthday. We then met up with Jen and Kenna and headed out to the place we now refer to as "the other side" which is seriously one of my most favorite places to go because it's so quiet and you can look out and see for miles and miles. We came back and headed out to Leo's for some Indian food for lunch and Bev was able to come and meet us so that was really cool. Then it was time to begin watching the new Pirates movie (wink wink). While I was watching it, I got the call that my birthday package from my mom arrived so I went to pick that up. Then Jen surprised me and took me to get a massage and a was glorious! When the pedi was over, we went to a restaurant called The Keep, and as I turned the corner, I saw tons of green balloons and an awesome collection of friends and friends who are more like family who had gathered for a surprise party. We had some killer cake and it was just so sweet for them all to come out and I honestly can't believe that nobody told me about it. I never get surprised but today was defined by surprises. There was a schedule that I had no control over, and it was absolutely beautiful! Everything about today was perfect!

You know, today I was thinking, that in my mind I don't know if I've ever experienced a more tangible representation of God's grace (aside from the obvious of what Jesus has done for me). Grace is defined as "unmerited favor" and the whole day I just couldn't believe that so many people who I care about were doing these things because it was my birthday. They chose to take time out of their day (some their whole day) in order to make this day special and not as painful for me. I don't deserve them doing that by any means. I know my faults, I know I'm not a cup of tea all the time, I know I'm a bit of a drama queen, I know I'm stubborn, sarcastic, and have major foot in mouth disease, and yet people still love me in spite of those things. God amazes me that He blesses us with such amazing people to surround us in order to encourage us and love us even though in our eyes we may seem unworthy of that. There's nothing I can ever do to earn God's grace, it's just something I need to bask in and be thankful for and that's where I'm at with the events of today. Again, for the special things that were done and what God showed me through them, I will NEVER forget my twenty fifth birthday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Right now it's 11:00 at night, the night before I turn 25. Wow...25.... I can't believe that I'm actually turning a quarter century in just a couple short hours. For those of you who have "been there and done that" with the big 2-5, I'm sure I'm not going to feel much sympathy from y'all. But I can honestly say that I'm not dealing with this whole 25 thing very well. To me, it's a lot like the end of childhood. I know for many people, they have been married and already had a couple of kids by the time they're 25, but considering those things haven't happened yet for me, I really do view turning 25 as the gateway into adult hood, and I don't know if I've ever been more scared in my entire life. Responsibility, maturity, and the like can no longer be excused by the fact that I'm just in my "early twenties", but I have to start really acting my age. But 25... wow.

Currently Switchfoot's song 24 is playing and I can think of no better song than that right now. "Life is not what I thought it was...", "Twenty four failures, twenty four tries", "I'm not who I thought I was", "twenty four reasons to admit that I'm wrong", "with all my excuses still twenty four strong". The cool thing is that Jon Foreman wrote this song as he was ending his twenty fourth year as well. Looking back on 24... well, let's just say it was hands down THE toughest year of my life, it was also one where I learned the most. I began the year with getting away and just preparing for what was coming because I just knew God was going to refine me over the year. Soon I broke my foot, I was then left to man the compound with Jess and Bev on furlough, Ryan moved as well as my other close friends, I took on the youth group as a solo act, I ended up with a cast on my left hand over Christmas, I lost two of my grandmas and a precious little girl, and I've cried more and hurt more over this past year than I ever have before. But with that pain, also came times of rejoicing as God brought new friends, shown me more fruit in ministry, brought awesome new opportunities, and taught me more in the shadows than I could have ever learned in the sunshine. He taught me about his faithfulness, sovereignty, grace, and mercy to a level I'd yet to experience. Like C.S. Lewis said, "God shouts in our pains". That's been this past year for me. Twenty four will definitely be one for the books and I just hope the lessons I learned will not be forgotten and the pain wasted.

One thing I'm amazed by is that God has it all taken care of. He knew that 24 was going to be a doozy for me. He knew what He wanted to teach me, and how He had to teach it to me since I'm way too stubborn and the only way I seem to learn things is through agonizing physical and emotional pain. I'm not "abnormal" or "behind schedule" in God's plan, He has me where he wants me. The thing I need to realize is that it's the best place to be when you don't know anything of what's going to happen down the road, but you're in a place where you have no choice but to trust Him and surrender completely to His plan and His timing in all areas of your life. And that's exactly what I need to do as I embark on this new year...SURRENDER.


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