Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sad day

It's funny how attached you can get to an animal. Last July I was in a cast, two of my best friends left, and it was just not an easy time but in that time we got a new German Shepherd puppy, Kaabong. I loved him so much, he was the biggest bunch of fur out of the litter and was playful from the beginning and never really grew out of that. A year and a half later, as he continued to be my buddy and the one who if I was having a tough day feeling the "nobody likes me, everybody hates me" syndrom I would go and just hang out with him. Last night he was not 100% himself and was vomiting during the night. Even earlier this morning he was still hanging in there, but then during first service he passed away. It appears to be that he got into some rat poison and it acted so fast we didn't know what it was until it was too late. My family here tried to protect me from finding out until after the morning services because they knew how hard I would take it, but of course I found out and although I tried to hold it together I finally broke down. It's been one of those weeks anyway and I'm running on empty approaching furlough so this just came at a really tough time, and honestly it's in times like this that he was my default "go to" guy so that's what's really hard. I'm going to miss him so much!

These are pictures from when we first got him.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A long fuse

The Irish are known for telling stories, enjoying their "beverages", and wearing their emotions (including anger) on their sleeve. I definitely have the first and third one down. The command to be "slow to anger" is definitely on my list of top ten most difficult commands in the Bible. I would have what most would say a, "short fuse" it doesn't really take a lot to get me annoyed or angry, I typically get over it just as fast but still watch out. Part of growing up is learning to not have such a quick temper because basically, people will hurt you, annoy you, and upset you... that's life and you might as well get used to it.

As I read the Bible, I'm amazed at what a long fuse God has. Many think that the way He is shown in the Old Testament especially is that He's a rather harsh and angry God. But this morning I was reading 2 Chronicles 33 and about how what an evil king Manasseh was, and you read in verse one, he was allowed to be king for 55 years! God has been known to strike people down for a whole lot less than what Manasseh did. But then you get to verse 10 and how God laid the smack down on him, and then verse 12 about how he truly humbled himself before God and repented of his ways. And in verse 13, we see how God forgave him. After he made it back to Judah, he removed all the evil he had put into place before and really showed how he repented in his heart and didn't just say "sorry" to get out of being punished. You can't help but think of how God knew that's what he was going to do, and that's why he didn't just strike him down early in his reign. God is so unbelievably patient with us, it amazes me! To think of all He puts up with as we choose to ignore His warnings and commands, fail to thank Him for the amazing ways He works in our lives, and how we may even choose to turn our backs on Him completely, and yet He still is willing to welcome us back to Him with open arms just like the dad with the prodigal son. God's mercy and grace amaze me pretty much on a daily basis, and how I get irate when someone speaks to me badly or cuts me off... Our God is so good and how He treated Manasseh definitely laid some gnarly conviction on my heart on how I should be dealing with situations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Weekend's Teachings

From Friday to Sunday I end up teaching at least three separate times and it's amazing how each time God allows me to teach, He continues to lay on the lessons for me as well.

On Friday, we finished our study through Acts at Jinja SS. Studying Acts 27-28 and recognizing the truth of God's promise, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you" in how God was with Paul through the storm. In the storms of life, God is there, even when we don't see Him, when as it said in chapter 27, "all hope was lost". But God is there. That's a truth I constantly have to remind myself of. We are called to live by faith and not by sight, something we say so often yet very rarely put into practice.

On Saturday, the youth group made their way through chapters 17 and 18 in Revelation in our series Race to Revelation. God blew my mind as it had rained HARD right before youth group was to start and as I was sitting there with my worship team drinking tea and watching the rain praying for blue sky, I had no clue God would bring all of the student that He would. We had as many students last night as we do when we have a special event, it was really cool! As we studied those two chapters the emphasis was on the archetypal Biblical theme that God wants our complete devotion and us to depend on Him alone. We were challenged looking at our lives and what we spend our time and thoughts on to see what we really "worship" instead of the only One who truly deserves it.

Then today, with my students who I used to call kids but are now past that stage, we are in Leviticus 13:24-28 and Daniel chapter 3. We do Leviticus because my students are determined to make it verse by verse through the whole Bible (I promise it was their idea) and so we're trying to take it little by little through these more difficult to apply passages. Today's passage in Leviticus is about burns becoming infected and the lesson we will talk about is that the "uncleanness" came from something painful and for us in the same way, suffering may prove to be a temptation for sin to enter into our lives (gossip, bitterness, anger, etc...) but we have to look at what that suffering is there for and why God has allowed it. One thing I have tried to drill into my students heads is that WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR SIN, God ALWAYS provides a way out (1 Corinth 10:13). With Daniel chapter 3, we will look at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how they refused to worship anything/anyone else other that the one true God. We will discuss what things we may feel tempted to do that are against God, the ways people may try to make us do those things, and the way we should stay strong and be faithful to God, no matter what the consequences may be.

I continue to be amazed that from Genesis to Revelation, God's Word is living and it's just so so cool to see students learn powerful biblical truths that can give them a strong foundation as they continue to grow and seek to live a life devoted to Him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"A man plans his ways..."

Ughh... one of the most obnoxious things is when you work and work on a project and then realize that basically you just wasted your time, that it won't work the way you hoped, and you have to start all over again. That's the story of my life when it comes to a lot of my plans for ministering to the youth here. I keep making plans, start making outlines of booklets, flyers, etc... and then I realize that the way I had set it all up won't work because of some reason or another (typically it's involving knowing their reading levels and time commitments).

Right now, the problem I'm facing is the desire to get my students into their Bibles. I've tried all sorts of ideas, and I do recognize that it's about them developing that hunger and not making it into something legalistic, but basically I'm just trying to give them as many tools as possible to make it as easy as possible so that they are without excuse for not delving into the riches that are in His word. I've tried to break books into bit-size chunks but then the goal-oriented girl that I am can't quite handle the idea of the book of Matthew taking 80 days for them to read. Ughhh.... I guess I just have to continue praying through it and recognizing that the important thing is not how fast they're going through it, but that they're in it at all and I need to try to encourage that as much as possible.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Use your words

To give you a little insight in my handling of small children, when they're crying more often than not the phrase "Use your words" comes out (and it doesn't matter if they're 6 mos or 6 years, the expectation is still there - I know I'm hopeless). Words, vocal chords, the ability to communicate verbally is such an awesome gift. One you sometimes forget about until your ability is taken away. Lately, my body's favorite way of handling a cold is to loose my voice (I'm sure much to the entertainment and relief of those around me). But as I've said, I'm learning what a gift it is God has given us to communicate. But as it's been said "with great privilege, comes great responsibility". I mean, when you think about it, at the end of the day what did the words that came out of your mouth accomplish? Did you encourage someone or tear them down? Did you let words slip out that you would blush if you heard your child repeat them? Did you tell someone how great you thought someone else was or gossip about them?

One of the verses that I sometimes wish I could blot out in my Bible is Proverbs 10:19, "Where words are many, sin is not absent" just because of how much it convicts me sometimes. Throughout Proverbs and even the book of James you read verse after verse about your mouth and the effect it can have on those around you. Isn't it funny that we hate to be talked about behind our backs, yet when we do it about someone else, it's ok because you were just "sharing a concern you were having about another brother/sister"? That saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me", is so many levels of not true. Now, of course sticks, stones, sidewalks, and doctors have broken my bones... but that's another story, but truthfully the greatest pain I have felt is the sting of certain words as they penetrate my heart and what's worse is that I know words I've said have hurt others. Sometimes I can really understand why monks partake in vows of silence, can you imagine how much less damage control we'd have to do and I'm sure for most of us our sin tally for the day would go down drastically if we weren't allowed to speak? So I guess what I need to continue telling myself is "use your words", and use 'em well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Special Announcement! Furlough Dates

Well, the time has come for me to head back to the States for a couple of months. I will be there from December 7th through February 6th. It's funny the thoughts that go through your head as you prepare to go back to the life that you left years before. And it's also interesting to compare this time to when I went home for the first time two years ago. It seems like the longer you stay away, the more you become content with things here, the food, you know where to find certain things, and you really just get into the swing of life more and more. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely jonesing for some Dion's pizza (ABQ people know what I'm talking about), and legit green chile, but over all, I'm really not dreaming of much as I anticipate going back in less than a month. This furlough, the only thing I'm really thinking about is spending time with my family. Two years is definitely a really long time to be away when you have a family as awesome mine. Other than that though, I don't really have many big plans except spending a couple of days in Arizona, So Cal, and Tennessee visiting friends and attending a youth worker's conference. My only real "agenda" is drinking LOTS of coffee and getting to share what God's doing here in Uganda both in me and through me. Two months may seem like a long time, but I know it will be over before I know it, I just pray I make the most of it.


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