"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

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Dark Providence

I know that this blog has been quiet for some time.  Sometimes God's people walk through such dark valleys that it is hard to even know what to begin to say others...the dark is so dark, that you are tempted to not want others to see.  That has been true for our family in the past three weeks.

We have recently discovered some serious struggles and sin in our family that need to be addressed.  Because of that, we are taking at least a 6-month leave of absence from Uganda in order to fly to America and get some significant counseling and help.

Our hearts are broken.  Our kids' hearts are broken.  It's hard to even begin to make sense of it all.  We know that these things did not take God by surprise.  Our only landing place right now is to trust the sovereignty of God and know that he is working all things for our good.

Please pray for us.  We do not see America as home.  For our kids, America is a strange land on the far side of the sea.  This has been a time of chaos and unsettling events that are difficult to make sense of as an adult, let alone a child.

For now, our immediate plan is that we will be in Georgia at my parents, where God has graciously provided a house for us to stay in.  Eric is already there waiting for us to come this Wednesday. (The kids and I fly out Tuesday night) We are still in need of a good mode of transportation.  We have access to a van that we can borrow, but it is not large enough for all of us.

I read this blog post recently,  never imagining that it would soon apply to us.  But yes, we are coming back as broken people right now.  We are having to trust our hearts to our Christian brothers and sisters in America.  We need much prayer, support, and love.

Please pray:
:: Pray for our hearts.  For repentance, truth, and forgiveness.

:: Pray for our kids and ourselves as we transition to America for a while.  Unlike when we go on furlough, we are not mentally or emotionally prepared for this transition.  It came up quickly (we decided to go about 11 days ago and we leave in 2 days) and has been full of turmoil.  The kids and I are going to have some sense of closure here, but nothing close to what we wish it could be.

:: Pray for the church here and the mission.  Pray that God will protect the church and mission from Satan, who will surely try to use this to destroy the gospel work here.

:: Pray for my health and strength.  I am on a high level of steroids to protect my body from going into an Adrenal Crisis due to my Addison's disease.  But even still, I'm struggling physically with all the stress/lack of sleep over the past weeks and the stress that is to come.

Because of the nature of the situation, I won't be posting too much on here, although perhaps I will continue to post about any fun memories in America that God chooses in his grace to give us.

The song that has been on constant repeat in the past couple weeks is What E'er My God Ordains is Right:

What e'er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still what e'er He doth,
and follow where He guideth.
He is my God, though dark my road.
He holds me that I shall not fall.
And so to him, I leave it all.

What e'er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me.
He leads me by the proper path;
I know He will not leave me.
I take content, what he hath sent.
His hand can turn my griefs away,

and patiently I wait His day.

What e'er my God ordains is right, 

though now this cup I'm drinking.
May bitter seem to my faint heart, 

I take it all unshrinking.
My God is true each morn anew.
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart, 

and pain and sorrow shall depart.

What e'er my God ordains is right.
Here shall my stand be taken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine, 

yet I am not forsaken.
My father's care is round me there.
He holds me that I shall not fall, 

and so to Him, I leave it all.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Team Retreat

This past week, our family spent a few much needed days of spiritual and physical refreshment on our team retreat. We were blessed to hear from Jonathan Faulk and his wife, as he encouraged us through the book of 2 Corinthians. We are so thankful for this group of people and for all the people who support the work of the mission through prayer and offerings.  To God be the glory!


Saturday, April 6, 2019

A Long Week

Whew...what a time we've had lately.  Malaria season has kicked in...with the rains returning the mosquitos are also returning.  William and Benaiah had malaria first, then Katelyn came down with typhoid, then Talitha came down with malaria and some sort of bacterial thing going on, then Benaiah got malaria again, and Rebecca followed that with a tummy bug.  In the middle of all that, I ended up with a blocked kidney (but seemingly not from a stone) that left me in excruciating pain (way worse than childbirth) on Sunday and I spent the day in the hospital getting an Ultrasound and ultimately a CT scan.  On Monday, Talitha spiraled down further and we ended up in the clinic with her for IV antibiotics, antimalarials, and fluid.  Now Eric is playing catch up with the rest of us by coming down with malaria too.  In these seasons, we sure take comfort in God's mercy and compassion and also the prayers of very many saints.  I was listening to Paul Tripp's recent talk at the Gospel Coalition Conference on suffering.  His final point was that suffering happens in community as brothers and sisters in Christ pray for and support one another.  We really felt that last weekend as we walked through some difficult moments, but knew people around the world were praying for us.  



Towards the end of the week, the smiles finally came back out.  Praise God!

And the kids got a turtle as a gift. 

Today, I was able to run in a 5K for CURE hospital.  We have been very thankful for CURE hospital.  They specialize in pediatric brain surgeries...hydrocephalus, spina bifida, and brain tumors.  But they also have helped us out on more than one occasion with stitches, asthma attacks and this past weekend with my CT Scan.  (The radiographer even came back in after-hours from over an hour away to do the scan).  I was so thankful to be able to run today and support a great cause while I was at it.  And running in races here is just an overall great experience...late start times, dance party warm-ups, and dodging bodas and traffic... so much fun! I couldn't convince my family to join me this year, but it was a fun time to catch up with friends.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Saturday Science Silly


While students all over the world skipped school this past week in order to protest "climate change," my students were busy learning scientific truth via their Apologia science books.  I have been continually blessed by Apologia's God-centered, Christ-exalting, grace-filled teaching through all these many years.

I'm so blessed to be able to teach this crazy crew of mine.

Looks like my littles are gettin' smart.  haha!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Doctrine Class and Two Book Recommendations

::This past week Eric began teaching a Christian Doctrine class.  They are using Louis Berkhof's Summary of Christian Doctrine book.  Eric is really enjoying this class and it seems like the students are as well.  Please continue to pray for these students as they learn.


:: Recently, I have enjoyed two books that are worth a mention here.

The first was sent to us in the mail and unfortunately, my littles, in their eagerness to receive a package, threw out the wrapping before I figured out who sent it to us.  If that's you and you are reading this THANK YOU!!!

This book, Living Life Backwards by David Gibson, is a great explanation of the book of Ecclesiastes.  The first few chapters are quite depressing as they are a good kick in the pants. But just when you are ready to throw the book down, Gibson lifts you back up and pushes you forward as you learn what it means to live your life in light of the end of your life.  It is well worth reading.  Also, I think this would be a great book for a youth group study as well.


The second book is The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley.  This is a fabulous defense (you can tell he is a lawyer...haha!) of cultivating 8 habits into your life. First, Four Daily Habits... kneeling prayer 3 times a day, Scripture before phone, eating a meal together, and turning the phone off for an hour a day... then Four Weekly Habits...intentional conversation for one hour, sabbath rest, fasting, and curating media to a set amount of hours.  Lest you think this is another book on technology to make you feel guilty for hanging out on your phone again, please be assured it is not.  Whether you chose to use his ideas of habits or not, this book will change how you view your habits.  His arguments/logic/lines of reasoning are insightful and inspiring (not a guilt trip!) no matter what you end up putting into practice in the end.  I love how he brings in our love for God and love for neighbors and puts everything into an eternal perspective. So even if you have no desire to change how you do your media/technology/time, I still say read this book!!


Saturday, March 2, 2019

One Year RAversary

One year ago today, I woke up with a fever and almost every joint in my body hurting.  I had no idea that a year later I would still be waking up every morning with joint pain and stiffness.  Sudden Onset Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis....when your own immune system plays traitor and begins to attack your own body instead of foreign invaders.  It predominantly attacks the joints, but can also attack major organs like the heart, lungs or kidneys.  The fatigue, fevers, swelling, pain, depression, and anxiety have become constant companions of mine...some days aren't so bad...other days, they take almost everything from me.  And the frustration is that there seems to be very little rhyme or reason to it.   I'll be fine for part of a day and then suddenly I'm feverish.  Or one day the pain will predominantly be in my toes, the next in my knee and then my jaw.  Many mornings I wake up wondering "what part of me will hurt today?"  One day I'll be great all day and the next I'll be in bed most of the day.  It's so random!  The medicines (meant to weaken the immune system so that it stops fighting so hard) for it have definitely helped, but I'm nowhere near being in remission.

I recently read a short biography on Charles Spurgeon by John Piper (A Camaraderie of Confidence in his series "The Swans are Not Silent")  I learned that Spurgeon also had RA and Gout...and died from it at the age of 57.  One-third of the last 22 years of his ministry were spent out of the pulpit due to flares or rest or trying to take precautions to prevent his rheumatism from flaring.  I found it encouraging to see that God allowed him to continue his ministry even if it meant cutting back and resting a little more. (Mind you, his "walking pace" of ministry was probably more of a "sprinting pace" for the rest of us! haha!)  I also resonated with his view that RA has a marvelous mellowing effect on a person.  He writes, "I dare say the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness...If some men that I know could only be favored with a month of rheumatism, it would, by God's grace mellow them marvelously." 

But even more encouraging was his view that his affliction was designed by a loving God.  He writes, "It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity."  John Piper comments, "For Spurgeon, this view of God was not an argument for debate; it was a means of survival."  It's true.  How can one even begin to accept affliction if our affliction was sent to us by anyone but God himself and sent to us for our own good?

Spurgeon also saw the blessing of his suffering from RA and Gout.  He said, "I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny.  But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable...Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house.  It is the best book in a minister's library." 

Did you know that 13-42% of RA patients struggle with varying degrees of depression? Spurgeon was no exception.  But he saw three ways that God used his depression.  First, it kept him humble.  Second, it gave unexpected power to his ministry as he "heard his own chains clank while he tried to preach to his fellow prisoners in the dark."  And third, he often saw that the depression came just before a large blessing in his ministry... like a black cloud before it breaks into a rainstorm.  His depression became a sort of prophet to him that God was on the verge of doing great things. 

So many blessings can come through RA and sickness in general.  And I'm thankful that over the last year I have experienced much of that blessing also.  It's not a road I would have chosen, but my loving Father chose it for me.  I've been grateful for it's mellowing effect and how it has pushed me to more prayer and more dependence on Him.  I know that I'll praise him for all of eternity for how he has used it in my life for my good and his glory. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Updates and Visits

::First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for all your prayers after our break-in.  We still praise the Lord that no one was hurt and that we didn't lose any possessions.  The intruder has been in jail this whole time and will appear in court soon.  Eric will need to go to court also.  Please continue to pray that God's will be done.  It appears that this is not his first time in prison.  In the meantime, Eric has a student that is from the same tribe as the intruder and has gone a couple times to meet with him in jail.  He was able to share the gospel with him and pray with him.  It also appears that he was not alone in his plans to break into our house.  His cohort is not locked up at this time however, as the evidence against him is still technically considered "hear-say" and not enough to imprison someone for.    The kids have recovered quite well from all of the trauma.  The first few days were rough, but God carried us through.  To Him be the glory!  It was such an encouragement to know that so many were praying for us!  The Lord has also sustained me, particularly in regards to my adrenal insufficiency which really doesn't like stress (I took lots of extra steroids!) and I praise him for that.  It does seem, however, that the stress and busyness have thrown me into an RA flare and the past couple days have brought lots of joint pain.  I know it will pass soon though!

:: We were blessed this past week with a major distraction from the heaviness of the break-in, by a visit from Eric's mom.  Her timing couldn't have been more perfect as she was not here for the break-in, but was here right after!  We enjoyed introducing her to our friends, our church, the college, and our lives here.  We're eagerly anticipating her and Dad coming back one day soon!

Driving up Mt. Wanale:


Visiting Eric's students at the college: (who's that cute little student right up front?! ;-) )


We also were able to visit some friends in the church.  Mama Evangeline is the oldest member of our church (past 90 years).  She broke her leg a couple months ago and has not been able to recover her mobility.  She's a precious dear sister in the Lord.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Last Nights Break In

Last night God carried us through some scary moments as we had someone break into our house.  It was about 11pm.  Everyone except Eric was sleeping.  If you look at this picture that I took today, Eric was sitting by the window where Jimmy is pictured reading a book.  If you look in front of the doors, you will see a hole in the ceiling.  That hole is the access point to our attic.  The perpetrator climbed onto our roof (we aren't sure if he did this during the day or just before the incident), broke through the clay tiles on the roof, into our attic and started to come through the hole.  Eric saw the door slowly close and thinking a child was perhaps hiding behind the door needing something, he watched, but then through the screen on top of the door he saw two feet start to come down.  


He immediately yelled and our security guard came to help.  The perpetrator went back into the attic.  In the process, I woke up and the Magalas (whom we share our compound with) also woke up.  Pastor Charles sounded an air horn to alert neighbors and we called in more security. (our security company responds more quickly than the police in situations like this)  In all the noise, our big kids woke up, but we also realized that we didn't know where the guy was, if he was alone or if he was armed.  So we also woke up the little kids and ushered them out to the van and locked them in the van, which was parked right by our water tower, which is close to the roof.  About 10 minutes passed of the men trying to look for him.  Suddenly, as Timothy (age 18) was starting to climb on top of the roof, the perpetrator came up onto the roof and Timothy chased him.  The kids in the car saw Timothy running after him and then he jumped from the roof to the water tower and down.  He started to run.  We all yelled.  Then Matthew (our 15 years old) rushed him from behind, grabbed him around the waist and threw him to the ground.  (His courage and strength amazed us all and I'm so proud of the man is becoming!  If it wasn't for his courage and quick thinking we probably would have lost the guy. When we asked him about it later, he said, "I just did what I have always seen them do in the movies." hahaha!)  Our security guard was about 20 feet away.  He came and jumped on him.  Then Eric was the next to the scene and jumped as well.  The three of them, after a short struggle, subdued him.  

We still didn't know at that point if he was the only one.  So while we were waiting for the police, we began to search the compound and stay on alert.  Then the police came and took him away.  

The kids were understandably upset and afraid to go back in the house and try to sleep, so I took them to the hotel while Eric and Timothy stayed in the house to make sure everything stayed calm.

The police hypothesized that his goal was to get into our house and unlock the doors for his friends to come in.  These guys almost never move alone, but we're quite certain his friends didn't actually make it into the house.  Once the alarm had been sounded they probably took off.  These bad guys need to realize that between us and the Magalas and all our children, we have a small army on this compound!  haha!

Please continue to pray for our safety, that none of these guys or their friends try to get revenge on us, and for the hearts of our kids that they will be full of peace.  While it was super important to get them out of the house and away from possible danger, it meant that they didn't blissfully sleep through the trauma (the little ones surely would have!) and instead they were alert to the fear and unknown of the situation for quite a while before the guy was arrested. 



Loading up on the police truck

Rehashing the nights events, encouraging small hearts, and answering many questions over a yummy breakfast at our local hotel.  Turning their eyes once again to the goodness of God to keep us safe, framing a practical theology of God's love, power, and sovereignty and our ever-guarding warrior angels that God sends to take care of us.



Saturday, January 26, 2019

Today's Happenings

Two fun things for today that have very little to do with each other...

First up, we got two guinea fowl.  We let them out of the coop for the first time today.  They are fun little birds with very little brain. 





And second, I took the church girls' volleyball team swimming.  Too fun!  Only downer was that we missed our former MA, Miss Paige who used to do so much with the girls' volleyball team. 


Monday, January 21, 2019

Visiting Swaib's Village

Today we had great fun visiting Swaib's village.  If you are new to our blog, Swaib is the young man that has been living with us for just over a year.  About a year and a half ago, he was in a severe accident that left him burned from the knees down.  Our church first met him in the hospital where his life was on the line due to severe infection, malnourishment, collapsed lungs and no oxygen or medicine available.  His burns and skin graft sites have just recently healed.  He now has one more surgery to go in order to correct his toes that healed incorrectly so that he can once again wear shoes.  That surgery will be February 8 in Kampala.  Please be in prayer for him for that. He's come so far though!  Last year, we went up to visit youth camp for a day and we were so happy because he was able to walk from the building to a nearby rock...he was so weak from his injuries, collapsed lungs, and tuberculosis, that the 50-yard walk was a huge accomplishment!  This year he attended youth camp with all the rest of the students in our church and kept up just fine!  God's healing hand has been so gracious!

In Ugandan culture, visitors are given food and drinks in the living room, but the hosts do not stay with them while they eat.  It's only after eating that fellowship takes place.



But we still have lots of neighbor kids peeking in the house to see the visiting Mzungu...haha!

Swaib with his mom, uncle and auntie.

Talitha found a puppy that was bounding through the compound.  All the neighbors were laughing when she chased it down and picked it up.

Lots of neighbors to visit...

They gave us a hen to take home. So kind! Talitha held it in her lap on the way back.  (An hour drive on dirt roads!)

Youth Camp Pictures

The kids had a great week at the PCU youth camp in Entebbe.  They brought home lots of fun stories, great memories and hopefully some good learning too.  Eric spent the week with them (as a speaker and counselor) and I'm told survived the late nights and early mornings on coke and biscuit crackers.  

Here are some pictures that I got from them!















Thursday, January 17, 2019

Birding

Last year when we were studying Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day book, we started a wall of pictures of all the birds seen on our compound.  That list has grown quite large over the past year.  It now includes over 30 species of birds.

The binoculars have found a permanent resting spot on the table during school time. 

Lately, our kitty has been a major distraction by climbing the trees to play with the birds.  haha!  So far the birds seem fairly content to ignore her since she can't really pounce in a prickly tree.

Here is our list of birds.  I've included links to their Wikipedia pages.
Barn Owl
Pearl Spotted Owlet (this little one makes the cutest call...it took us so long to identify it because we hardly ever saw it during the day, but we would laugh every time we heard it just after sunset or before sunrise.  Finally, we got enough of a glimpse of it to figure out who it was we were hearing)
Speckled Pigeon
White Browed Robin-Chat
Eastern Grey Plantain Eater
Pied Crow
Yellow Billed Kite
Piapiac
Ruppell's Long Tailed Starling
Ring-Necked Dove
Red Eyed Dove
Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu
Blue Headed Coucal
White Browed Coucal
Marabu Stork (we were pretty excited to be able to add this one to our list when it finally landed in our yard.  We see them in the area, but we had pretty strict rules that it had to found on our compound...haha! They are affectionately called "the ugly birds" by our kids, and they are absolutely huge in size...usually around 3-4 feet tall)
African Grey Woodpecker
Hadada Ibis (these birds come across elegant and beautiful...until they fly...then they are noisy, brash, honking things that one really doesn't care to hear from early in the morning)
Common Bulbul
Scarlet Chested Sunbird
Marico Sunbird (the sunbirds are so pretty to watch and they often distract us from school)
Muscovy Duck
Common Chicken (we couldn't forget our pet birds!)
Speckled Mouse Bird
Baglefecht Weaver
Bronze Mannikin
African Thrush
Black and White Casqued Hornbill (noisy but fascinating pairs come through our compound most afternoons)
Ross's Turaco (probably one of our favorite birds! Stunningly beautiful!)
Red Chested Cuckoo
Brown Parrot (These parrots hung out on our power pole and nearby tree for a season.  They were super fun to watch and we enjoyed their daily antics)
Woodland Kingfisher
African Palm Swift
African White Eye

We are so blessed to live in a place with such a wide variety of creatures sharing our little plot of earth.