"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 10


Last night was our church's annual Room for a Baby concert.  It's a hometown concert that our community puts on as a fundraiser for the local pregnancy center.  While we are missing our Mbale community and the annual Christmas concert at the Reformation Book Room, we are working to establish and enjoy new traditions here.  We're working to make it home.

Monday, December 9, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 9


I went out biking today and spotted this lovely creature.  She eyed me suspiciously I abruptly stopped so I could watch her and take her picture.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 8

Today was the annual Christmas parade for Milledgeville.  It was a slightly nostalgic time for me that was fun to share with my kids.  Rebecca was on the Nutcracker float with her ballet class.  They are looking forward to this weekend's performances.






December Photo Project: Day 7

Yesterday was a cozy day at home.  We had a lovely time together making some treats to take to the Kappa Delta Sorority girls that live a couple doors down.  







Saturday, December 7, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 6





Last night we went to the Georgia College Music Department's Christmas concert.  It was a lovely night.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 5


"For he gives to his beloved sleep." Psalm 127:2

What? It's the end of the day and I haven't taken a picture yet?  Good thing there is a sweet little spirit so preciously tucked under her covers.  When I see her soft slumber, I see the last remnants of childhood wrapped up behind her cute little nose and precious dreaming mind still so filled with wonder.  One can't help but praise the Lord and thank him over and over again for his good gift.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 4


"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers...And day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2

Tonight we met with the elders in order to become members at our church here in Georgia.  This is partly done with a heavy heart as our welcome here is also a reminder of our loss in Uganda.  We miss our dear brothers and sisters at New Life Presbyterian Church in Mbale so so much.  But we are so thankful for the believers here who have welcomed us with open arms, encouraged us and supported us.  So we continue to march on living in paradox... the highs and the lows blended together, being crafted into a beautiful picture that as of yet, only God can see.  We put one foot in front of the other and embrace our new life and our new home and we are thankful for those who are reaching out to embrace us.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 3


"Every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17

Why not make January's bullet journal page out of Uganda coffee, a truly good and perfect gift?  Especially when the crafting of it includes sitting around the table with kids who are doing homework, coloring and playing games.  It makes for a cozy afternoon.

Monday, December 2, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 2


"All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord." Isaiah 66:2

I'm so thankful the Lord saw fit to create these beautiful beings.  Tonight we colored and did some reading.  They didn't want to give up their science and Bible textbooks or the novel that we had been reading when we switched from homeschooling to going to school.  So sometimes at night we cozy up and read about Mars, worldviews and the Fangs of Dang.  Sprawled out by the tree seemed like a fitting place to get lost in other worlds on this particular evening.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

December Photo Project: Day 1


"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind." Isaiah 65:17

"Mama, does that mean when we get to heaven that we'll forget everything that happened to us this year?"

And so began a discussion on holy forgetting.  There will be a day on the new earth that this year may be remembered, but the pain will be forgotten.  The hurt will be gone, but the memory of God's faithfulness will linger sweetly in our hearts into all of eternity. 

All our Christmas things are still not with us, but my parents have graciously let us decorate with their things.  Perched on the tree are soft memories of my own childhood Christmases' past.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Sacrifice of Thankfulness

We're six months in and things really aren't better yet.  I haven't written much on here because I don't have much new to say.  It still hurts.  It still is hard.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that in some respects it's even harder than 6 months ago simply because nothing has changed like I hoped that it would and I'm being forced to settle in for the long haul.  My new life still feels impossible.  And tears still fall most days.

Today is a day of thanksgiving.  I have so many memories of thanksgivings past that are full of joy and happiness, fellowship and family, love and tender closeness to my dearest ones.  The enemy has shown me, again and again, today how much I have lost.  He has repeatedly whispered in my ear how justified I would be to not participate in this holiday.  And I surely have seen how much my heart wants to say a big huge, "no thank you" to what God's sovereignty has brought.

Sacrifices are painful.  They are costly.  Life would be so much easier without them.   Perhaps the Israelite bringing his best lamb might have wondered some years, is this really necessary?  Does it really help?

Isn't it a wonder that after mentioning pain and loss, the Psalmist puts on a face of determination and says, "I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord." (Psalm 116:17)  Here is the truth that was shining at me today: sometimes life hurts so much that thanksgiving becomes a sacrifice and we have to choose to make it.  It can be painful to wake up in the midst of sorrow and say thank you.  It would be much easier to not.  One might wonder as the holiday marks a painful year like this one: is this really necessary? Does it really help?

Thanksgiving has a way of forcing our eyes to see Jesus.  Like the prayer of St. Patrick who cries, "Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise..." Thanksgiving forces us to look above, beneath, on our right, on our left, throughout the day and see Christ working on our behalf.  This thanksgiving sacrifice works for our good as it draws our eyes out of our pit and back to our Savior who is working all around us for our good.  Surely this kind of calling out to the Lord will open our hearts to an eternal joy even when there is very little earthly happiness. So yes, it is necessary and it does help.

So by God's grace, we made our green bean casserole, drank our Uganda coffee, carved our turkey, fashioned our pies, sang our hymns and went around the circle giving thanks like we always have.  And you know what?  My heart was soothed a bit.  God's grace has once again brought me to the end of what could have been a very hard day and I can see that he hemmed me in and held me tightly through it.  Thank you, Lord.  You truly are a gracious God.






Sunday, October 13, 2019

Firm in the Faith

This morning in church we sang the classic hymn "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus."

I haven't had much emotional energy to grieve leaving Uganda still.  But this morning my heart hurt with homesickness.  There is nothing like the voices of 300 plus children in Kikamba belting out the words to this great hymn.  They didn't always know all the words to the first half of the lines, but they would loudly echo "nothing but the blood of Jesus!" with a bold confidence that Americans...as we say in the south: bless their hearts...just can't do.  Oh, how I miss those little ones and their Sunday morning singing!

My pain was soothed slightly by the truth of the last verse:

Now by this, I'll overcome, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Now by this, I'll reach my home, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

That's just it, isn't it?  How does one overcome such homesickness when you're living in a place that is supposed to be home, but it's not, and you're missing a country that was home despite the fact that it wasn't your own home culture?  Only through resting in all the promises of what Christ has given us through his blood poured out on the cross.

How do you walk through unspeakable pain?  Only through the promises of Christ.
How do you find feet to walk again in a new place and a new life?  Only through the promises of Christ.
How do you survive hurt and betrayal? Only through the promises of Christ.

We've been reading Isaiah at the dinner table.  The great warning of chapter 7 verse 9 pierced my heart as we read, "If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all."

There is so much that is shifting sand these days.  My life is not settled.  I have no idea what this next year will look like.  I don't know if God will choose to bring happier days or more trials yet.  Anxiety tries so hard to be a constant companion of mine. 

Life has fallen apart to such an extent that I have been forced to learn that there is only one sure thing: Jesus died for me.  It's a small, four-word statement, with a larger-than-life reality.

 This one thing that remains makes me God's precious, beloved child and so it opens the door to all of God's promises for his children. Promises like in Psalm 71 where the psalmist tells me that God will revive me again, he will bring me up again and he will comfort me again.  Or Psalm 27, where the Psalmist says that we will look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

People have told me that I've been so strong in this trial. But I so much want everyone to know that it's not me that's been strong.  I feel the very opposite of that. I feel crushed, hurt and am often a hot mess of tears.  Any strength that might be seen is simply the strength of God that has kept my faith firm.  It is God who has made me know and remain sure that Christ died for me.  And through that, he has opened so many doors of hope: a hope that the sun will shine again one day, a hope that God will show me his goodness, a hope that God will use this pain for my good,

a hope that will overcome, a hope that will lead me home... not to Milledgeville or Uganda, but one day to my real home, where there will be no more tears and heartache.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Soothing Streams

Is it even possible to cry so many tears? Is it possible to not have enough tears to cry to match the pain?  Sometimes at night, I ask myself these questions.

I think of the Abrahams in this world that have wandered in desert wastelands, the Josephs that have sat in the dark prisons and in the shadows of death because fellow human flesh treated them so unfairly, the Miriams who suffered affliction because of their own foolishness, the Jonah's of the world who have nearly drowned in angry oceans.  So many people through history share a common thread of hurt. Many have surely known the rush of hot tears.  They have known intimately what it is like for their hearts to feel so broken, so helpless.  I surely should not be surprised by my need for so many tears.

The Psalmist in 107 has seen these people.  Through the Holy Spirit, he sees my heart too.  He knows the wanderers, the thirsty, those in darkness, those who see death come close, those who suffer because of their own foolishness, those that suffer from the ravages of a fallen creation.

And the Psalmist gives us hope.

He shows Love in perfect form.  Redeeming grace.  One who satisfies.  A Deliverer.  A mighty arm that shatters the impenetrable iron gates of sin-born prisons.  One who speaks words of healing.  One who commands fierce storms that would swallow our entire being, if they weren't actually storms of grace.

In short, he has the power to turn rivers into deserts and watery springs into thirsty ground.  And so for his enemies? They will thirst and be forsaken.

But for his children?  For me, his daughter? 

Unyielding love.

His power works for us.  That same power brings pure cool water to my desert.  Springs growing in my parched land.  Every time I feel the heat of my broken life, he soothes my aching heart.  Sometimes it's a text of Scripture, sometimes the love of my children, sometimes a text from a friend, mostly I think it's the prayers of multitudes of saints on my behalf.  On those days I haven't been able to walk, you've gently carried my stretcher, earnestly pulled the roof tiles away, and graciously lowered me to the feet of Jesus.

The Psalm ends by saying the upright see it and are glad...and if they are wise, they will also consider that this love is for them.

For you.

God's people are never beyond his love-filled grasp.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

God's Rescue Missions

Sometimes God rescues us when we didn't even know we needed rescuing.

There was a baby girl who was pushed into this world by a mother, who at sixteen, wasn't much more than a girl herself.  She was trying to make it on her own and didn't have too many options in life, so she kept that baby girl in a hotel room at night.  By day, she passed the baby girl around the truckers' arms, as she dished up their food at a truck stop across the street.  Without anyone teaching her to be a tender mom, she couldn't handle it when the baby girl cried, so she punished the tears with cigarette burns and spankings that were never meant for six-week-old baby soft skin.  And after trying hard to make it work, one night the words flew, the yelling got loud enough and the police were called.  God swooped in that night and rescued that baby girl, long before she knew she needed rescuing. 

But rescuing doesn't always feel good.  There is ripping and pulling that hurts.  The Great Gardener will rescue a little seedling by pulling it out of the plug tray and transplanting it to a pot, but as he pulls it the roots will rip and tear, the plant might even wither slightly; it sounds like death is coming at the hands of the Gardener.  But really, he is rescuing that plant.  He is putting it where it can grow, bloom, produce seedlings of its own and bring glory to the Gardener. 

Fast forward many years and that baby girl grew up.  She got married, had a truckload of kids and headed off to the mission field.  Life was humming along as she dished out plates of food, taught her kids school, and wrapped up skinned knees and wounded hearts.  And God looked down again and saw that his little girl was being hurt again in ways that were never meant for one of his children to endure.  She didn't know it.  But he rescued her again. Before she even knew that she needed rescuing, he swooped in and pulled her out.

The ripping hurts.
The pulling hurts.
There are days that she feels withered.
There are days that she feels like she just might die.

But she is in the hands of the Great Gardener.
He is putting her in a new place where she can grow, mature, and bring glory to the Gardener.

Oh God, thank you that your great rescue missions weren't only when I came to Christ... when you rescued me from my sin (though I surely thank you for that, as it was the greatest of all my rescues), but that you also rescue your people from pain and suffering even on this earth.  You truly are worthy of praise.  In all of the ripping, pulling, and withering, may my life bring you glory.  Even though I don't know my future, I know you.  Your character.  Your faithfulness.  Your love.  You truly are The Great Gardener.  Your hands are a soft place to rest my fragile heart.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Global Reunion

At the end of July/beginning of August, the kids and I were given the opportunity to go to Oklahoma to attend Global Reunion-- a re-entry/third culture kid camp organized broadly by the Church of Christ.  We had an amazing time.  It was such a great encouragement to us spiritually and emotionally.  We were able to start grieving our losses, begin to pursue some healing, receive tools that we can use as we travel these murky waters, and find a community of people that are also trying to readjust to life in America and children who are now a beautiful swirly pattern of many cultures.


On our way, we decided to drive through Texas.  We spent the weekends in Texas and visited the Dallas OPC for Sunday worship.

The littles learned about the Bridge of Chaos, just like their older siblings did many years ago at MTI.  The Bridge of Chaos, starts with being "Settled" on one side, then moves to "unsettled" then "chaos" then "resettling" then "settled again."  And around the bridge of chaos, are the arms of God carrying us through.  It's been so helpful to be able to remind the kids when they are feeling the chaos, that the chaos won't last forever and that God is surrounding us as we travel across this bridge.

They also learned about Yay Ducks and Yuck Ducks!  Again, the older kids had learned this at MTI before we went to the field and the littles have grown up telling us what their yay ducks (things they like!) and yuck ducks (things they don't like!) were, but never really understood why.  The yay ducks and the yuck ducks always swim together and are never far apart.  Together they make a pair of ducks...or a paradox.  Teaching the kids to speak both is so helpful!

The teens had their own camp and I only saw them for a few brief moments during the week.  Global Reunion started as a camp for teenaged third culture kids.  Many teens come every year for camp.  There were over 80 this year!  Our kids had a blast and are already plotting how they can get back next year.  On the last day, we had a flag ceremony.  Timothy carried the Canada flag, Matthew carried the Netherlands' flag, Rebecca carried the Uganda flag and Katelyn carried the Kenyan flag.





We also got to visit with some very special people along the way.  First is my "half sister"...her adoptive parents were my foster parents.  It's been many years since we've seen each other.

We also got to hang out with my old Roomie from our Covenant College days.  We have just a "few" kids between us now.


I also recently started a Go Fund Me Page.  The Lord has opened doors for me to begin graduate school next week online.  I will be studying for a masters degree of mental health counseling with an emphasis in Christian counseling.  You can read all the details on the page.  Just click the gofundme icon below!


Thank you so much for your continued prayers!  Every day we feel God's sustaining grace and I know that he is hearing every one who continues to lift us up daily!  Thank you!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Into the Wilderness

The wilderness...an area that most humans don't choose to go to.  It's wild.  It's uncomfortable.  Pain and suffering are far too well known there.  Dry.  Empty. Threatening.

And yet God has chosen to have me walk there.

Why?  Because some things can only be learned in the wilderness.  

It is only in the wilderness, when I am completely parched and have no other hope, that I learn how deeply Christ can quench my thirst  Before the wilderness, a carbonated, sugary soda felt good on a hot day.  A chat with a friend, a nice quote on facebook, a hug from my husband.  Now, I'm desperately thirsty and Christ's fountains are full of living water that is beautiful, deep, clear and life-giving.  Nothing else will do.  It's a matter of life and death every morning when I wake up.  God's word. Study. Pray. Memorize. Read. Pray more. Meditate. Life or death. It must get deep into my heart. There is no other way to live through this moment, let alone this day. The fountain of Christ, full of living water, is the only hope I have.

It is only in the wilderness when I see my weakness and utter incapability to survive, that I learn of his strength and his willingness to carry me.  I cannot walk this road alone and in my own strength.  The pain is too deep.  The temptation to bitterness is too strong.  When the waves of sorrow overwhelm me, I cry again to my older brother, "Save me!  Rescue me from this pain, lest it drown me."  And time after time after time, I feel his strong arms grab my heart and pull me to safety. 

It is only in the wilderness that I can eat his heavenly food and I finally learn that I can be satisfied with manna.  The meat and cucumbers of Egypt have had such a strong grip on me.  Before the wilderness, the fine cuisine of my previous life drove my attitudes and actions.  It determined my level of happiness for the day.  Now my unhelpful cravings are dying down and are no longer having dominion over me.  I see God's faithful provision every day, one day at a time.  I see his care for me. I put the manna to my lips and I taste the steadfast love of God.

It is only in the wilderness that my faith stops depending on God answering all my prayers as I think he should and instead I start to lean on the character of God, his power, his sovereignty, his love.  One of the spiritual jolts that I experienced as I entered the wilderness, was seeing how many prayers for my family were not answered the way I wanted them.  I had been praying so faithfully and fervently for the one that I loved so deeply.  My faith wobbled as I poured tears over my prayer journal.  But in the wilderness, I have learned to look to the character of God, who he is, how he is working all things for my good, how he is still on the throne of the universe, he is still in control and he still loves me.  He is a faithful God.  When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

The wilderness is still hot, hard and not a place I would have wanted to go.  But I'm learning that under the rocks, there is life.  In the hidden crevices, there is beauty.  In the wasteland, there is strength.

And if walking into the wilderness means that I find more of Christ, then God, give me the grace to run.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Seven Years and Now this Call

Today marks 7 years since we first moved to Uganda.  Our "Ugandaversary" has always been a point of celebration, even if only in my heart, simply because every year marked God's faithfulness to us in what was sometimes a difficult post that the Lord had called us to. 

This past Sunday in church we sang the Kristin Getty song "What Grace is Mine?"  The chorus sings,

"So I will go where ever He is calling me.  
I lose my life to find my life in Him  
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies; 
I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him." 

Seven years ago, I would have sung this with gusto.  The missional thought of going where ever He called me, stirred in me a sense of purpose and joy as Eric and I boarded the plane with 8 small children in tow.  I was willing to lose my life, to give my all and to take up my cross as I served him in Uganda.

Last Sunday I sat in church in America, with 9 growing children in tow and our home in Uganda so very far away.  Our dream of serving Christ there for many years to come has died a painful, horrible death and the tears flow every day still.  The first time we sang the chorus through, this glorious missional song felt like sandpaper on the open wounds of my heart.

Then the Holy Spirit, the Great Helper, began to prod...

"Am I not the one that has sent you to this new place?"
     "But God, we don't want to be here and not like this!"

"But will you still go where ever I call you? Just like you did 7 years ago?"
     "But God, Uganda seemed to have a purpose, but here all I see is how we failed."

"Will you lose your life in this place because you want to find it in me?"
     "Lord, I was willing to give up so many comforts in Uganda...water, power, safety... but I don't want to lose my life in this way and in this place, it's too much Lord!"

"Are you willing to take up your cross and follow me?"
     "In this place and way, Lord? I don't see anything beautiful about it."
   

But deeper still The Great Helper searched me and tried me, "Well, actually God, if it is you that is doing the calling, then I am willing...a thousand times my answer will be yes...if only you will give me more of yourself.  If you really will fill me with more of you, I'll follow you here.  If I really will find myself in You, I'll lose my life in this painful way.  Lord, I went to Uganda in obedience to your call.  I will now come back from Uganda in obedience to your call.  If you want me here, then in truth, I don't want to be anywhere else.  Lord, it is a big, heavy, rough, burdensome cross that I never in million years wanted to carry.  I don't like how it feels. I wish it would be taken away.  But I'll do it for you."

"God, I believe.  But please, Lord, I beg you... help my unbelief."

Monday, June 17, 2019

Blessings!

God has blessed us in so many ways this past month!

The biggest gift we were so thankful to receive is our van.  For our first few weeks in the US, all we had was a minivan.  So anywhere we all wanted to go required two trips.  haha...it was quite a juggling feat!  An anonymous donor gifted us a 12 passenger van, that has a nice cargo space in back.  Redeemer OPC in Atlanta did all the leg work to find it and purchase it.  My dad and I went and picked it up last week. Whoever you are, thank you so so much...many tears of joy were spilled when I heard about this gift.


Another great blessing was getting a new puppy.  We had so much loss when we flew back from Uganda, including all our animals...dogs, cat, rabbits, chickens, Guinea fowl, and ducks.  This sweet one, who we named Louisa May, has been a soothing balm to our hearts.  She's a St. Dane...half St Benard and half Great Dane.  She's still a puppy, but oh so sweet.  She comes running with me in the morning and is pretty spoiled the rest of the day.  




 We also were treated to a day at a waterpark.  We had a great time! 






Timothy is now in Oregon for the summer/fall working at an organic dairy farm.  Before he left, he managed to finish his 40 hours of driving time and get his full permit.

The Lord blessed us with a few weeks for the chaos of our move to settle down and then he blessed us with a week of Vacation Bible School at our new church.  This, of course, is a very new experience...my kids were the ones who kept running barefoot and complaining about the air conditioning being too cold. haha!  The kids had a blast though...the three littles as participants and the older ones as helpers.  On the last evening, they had a feast for the kids.  They dressed up like royalty and had a grand time.  The greatest blessing of the week was that it gave my kids a chance to make some new friends.