Friday, June 16, 2017

Wanting to make my Father smile

As we were preparing to stay at my parents' house for a week, I was a little anxious about how things would go. I knew that my parents are used to living in a house with just two adults and one dog, not 8 people, 4 of the whom are children, 6 of whom are dealing with jet lag and the culture shock of re-entry. My dad and I emailed in advance about ways to prevent unnecessary conflicts, and he got bicycles for my children to have something familiar to go do and get out some of their energy. The kids loved going out and riding around the block. Unfortunately it rained most days so there were some times that we were stuck inside. 

While some of my anxiety was just wanting this visit with my parents to go well since we don't get to be together very often, I realized that a large part of it is my very strong desire for my father to be happy with me. Even when the issue isn't about me, I feel like I need to fix the situation so that my dad is happy.

I am very blessed to have a father who loves me, tells me that he is proud of me, and hugs me. I know that many other people do not have that blessing. My earthly father has loved me well. He has often been a picture of grace to me and comforted me in difficult times. One of my favorite memories is when I was in high school and extremely anxious about taking the SAT. My dad told me that no matter how I did on that test, nothing could make him love me more, and nothing could make him love me less. I remember feeling such a tangible sense of relief from my anxiety during that conversation. 

So why is it that I feel so anxious and such a great desire to make my dad happy even though I know he loves me? As I have taken some time to reflect on this, I realized that my anxiety is rooted in looking to my earthly father for the security, love and acceptance that only my Heavenly Father can ultimately provide. This is what my Heavenly Father has said to his children:
I have loved you with an everlasting love - Jeremiah 31:3
I rejoice over you with singing - Zephaniah 3:17
Nothing will separate you from my love for you in Jesus Christ - Romans 8: 38-39
There is no condemnation for you because you are in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1

These words do not come from a Father who doesn't see my faults. This comes from a Father who knows me completely, knows that even my righteous acts are like filthy rags, but still chose to love me and bring me into his family. I don't deserve this gracious, sacrificial love. But he has chosen to clothe me with the righteousness of Jesus! 

While you celebrate Fathers' Day, I want to remind you that no matter what your relationship with your earthly father is like, you can have this type of loving, joyous, fulfilling relationship with your Heavenly Father. Your father may be gone, he may be a lousy father, or he may be a very good, loving father like mine. But our Heavenly Father is the only One who will ever love us perfectly and forever. He is the Father described in Luke 15 who rejoices when the younger son returns home and goes out to the elder brother to invite him in to the party. He lavishes his love on his children! He smiles at you and me! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Our summer schedule

We have reached the states and are currently in South Florida staying with my parents. If you received our email, you might already have our schedule, but here it is again. 
Until June 9- South Florida
June 9-16 - Central Florida
June 17-24 -  Athens, GA
June 24 - July 1 - North Carolina coast with David's family
July 1-31 - Athens, GA area
Aug 1-8  - South Florida
August 10 land in Uganda! 

If you want to catch up and/or hear updates about our ministry, we would love to meet with you! We also have a few goals while we are here in the states and would love your prayer and partnership in accomplishing these goals! 
Goals: 
  • Reconnect with ministry partners and provide updates
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Help more people know about what God is doing in Buwundo, Uganda
  • Add financial partners to our monthly ministry support team
  • Find partners to help distribute Buwundo Beads and Crafts in the states.
If you are interested in partnering with us in our ministry, please go to: 

globaloutreach.org

If you are interested in getting together to just catch up or to hear more about our ministry, please contact us so we can set up a time to get together! We are so thankful for your prayers and support! 
 
πŸ™ˆAnd don't worry, we won't wear our Ugandan dress clothes to meet you at a coffee shop stateside. πŸ˜‰

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A mother's love

I am richly blessed to have grown up in a home with a mom who loved me well and helped me know God's love for me. She continues to be an amazing blessing in my life. But I know that not everyone is celebrating today. My grandmother passed away last December and this is my mom's first Mother's Day without her mom around. My mom also had the gift of many years with her loving mother, but some children never have experienced that blessing. We live and work at a children's home in a country with millions of orphaned and vulnerable children. There are so many children who do not have the blessing that I have had for 40 years now. 

I cannot imagine how my life would have been different without the love of my mom. She has always been an amazing support and encouragement to me. I never had to wonder if there was anyone who loved me. If I was sad, I had a mom who would comfort me. When I went through a particularly challenging time in my teenage years my mom sat by my bedside and rubbed my back and spoke words of truth to me for hours. She prayed with me and for me. She still does. I strive to be this kind of loving mother to my children. But as I look around, I cannot help but think about the many children right outside my home who do not have a mother's love.

On this Mother's Day, I want to remember to show the love of God to all the children I know. I pray that on this Mother's Day, I will not waste time thinking of how I want to be appreciated by my husband and children. Instead, I want to show God's love to the many children in my life. On my own, my love will run out, but I have a Heavenly Father whose well never runs dry. As my heart breaks at the many in need of love, I want to remember that God has given me the gift of serving as His hands and feet in the lives of those around me today. I pray that God will give me His grace to love others well as I come into contact with so many in need of love today. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Life without a phone

Last week my phone fell out of my pocket into the toilet. Until then I didn't realize how dependent upon that technology I had become. Even here in Uganda, where much of life is outdoors and interacting with people, I still check my phone many times every day. (Although, those who have tried to get in touch with me might say that I don't check it enough.) It is interesting that I feel out of sorts and disconnected when it means that I have a 2 minute walk to talk with someone rather than a quick phone call or text. I also have realized that my first tendency when something is on my mind is to communicate with a person rather than pray. I have been processing a lot recently and find myself wishing I could communicate with family and friends more easily. We already have the challenge of the time difference and the international phone call costs, but now I don't have a phone with me to easily make a call. (If you are trying to get in touch with me, you can call David or send me an email which I will check daily.)

I remember another time in my life when I couldn't talk to anyone else and realized how much I needed to pray. I had driven to Macon, Georgia from Athens to visit my grandmother, aunt and uncle. I had an almost one year old Elijah in the car with me and I was pregnant. We were very excited to be expecting our second child. While I was in Macon, I began cramping and bleeding. On the drive home I knew that I was having a miscarriage, but because of the lack of cellular service, I could not call David. I couldn't call my doctor. I couldn't call my mom or my close friends. That was when it occurred to me that I had my closest friend with me. No, not my baby in the car seat, but the God of the universe who loves me, gave up his life for me and works all things for my good. (Romans 8) He was with me in that time of grief when I felt all alone. I spent that two hour drive pouring out my heart to God, "casting all my anxieties on Him because He cares for me." (I Peter 5:7) That day was 12 years ago.

Since that day, I have had several other extended times of choosing to be alone to talk with God about struggles and joys. I know that I need that! But it is usually by choice. Recently, I have had a lot on my mind, and I am reminded that while it is good and healthy to talk with family and friends, I need to make sure that I am talking with God first. He is the One who cares the most about my concerns. He knows what I need and He is working for my good, even when my phone falls in the toilet!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday Reflections on a Day of Outreach

Our school's student government worked together with Good Shepherd's Fold's outreach social worker, Penelope, to organize a day of service to assist an elderly woman who has cancer and is currently caring for 4 of her grandchildren ages 9, 7, and 5 year old twins. This woman is a part of the GSF outreach program and is receiving some assistance and medical care through that program, but she has been too weak to dig in her garden or do much around the home. Penelope suggested some things that were needed and some work our students could do to help. Here we are at the home of the jjaja (grandmother) with some gifts. 

It was great to see our students take initiative and think of ways to earn money to assist this woman in need. They organized a Saturday morning bake sale and car wash and raised almost 700,000 shillings! 

This money was used to buy many things needed in her home and to build a cooking hut. During the rainy season, you cannot cook outdoors, but if you cook with firewood or charcoal inside your small hut there are many other problems that arise. For this reason many people have two separate structures, one for cooking and one for sleeping. 

During this day of service our students were able to assist with many different needs around her home. Some cleaned out her house. 

Others washed the clothes for the family.

Others washed dishes. 

Some began digging to prepare mud walls.

It quickly became apparent that fetching water for making the mud, and all the washing was going to be a BIG part of the day...



This first crew brought back a good amount of water that
was used in a matter of minutes. I went with the second crew, and was a bit overly ambitious. In my foolish pride, I decided that I could carry two 20 liter jugs (approximately 90 pounds). Of course I had no idea how far away the water was! It took about 5-10 minutes to walk there with empty jerry cans. It took 25-30 minutes to walk back uphill to reach the house. I would make myself walk 50 steps and then take a break. There were a few times that I was about to lose my grip so I only made it 40 steps. I am regretting my hardheadedness now as my whole body aches. I didn't sleep much last night because of the muscle pain every time I turned over. Apparently I still have some issues to work through...


Mixing the mud was the favorite part of the work day for several of our younger students!

The puppies that we found there were another highlight for the young ones.


We also took a lunch break to eat some chicken on a stick, chapati (the local flatbread), and gonja (roasted bananas).


By the end of the day, the hut was mostly built and the mud was on the walls. The local men, who we had hired with the money the students raised, were going to finish the building making sure it was strong, and then they were going to put on the roof.

I was very thankful for our hard-working students and their cheerful service. As we took this day to serve, I remember what Jesus did the night before he was crucified. He washed the feet of his disciples. He said that the Son of Man came to serve, not to be served, and to give His life as a ransom for many. When I feel this muscle soreness from just one day of service, I want to remember my Lord and Savior, Jesus, who came to earth and served others his whole life. On this Maundy Thursday, I remember that he gave us the command to love one another as He has loved us. We can only love as because He took our sin and selfishness and died for it. Then He rose from the dead on Resurrection Sunday so that we can have new life in Him! I am still flawed in my service, wanting to impress others with how much water I can carry (and paying for it later), but I am thankful that this week is not about me. It is about Jesus! He has loved you and me, broken people desperately in need, and shown us immeasurable grace, lavishing us with His love, and giving us new life in Him!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Celebrating Palm Sunday in Uganda

I love celebrating this special Sunday here in Uganda. We have palm branches that we can cut and bring to church and there is even a donkey on our campus! At church this morning, everyone got a few palm leaves to wave as we celebrated and worshiped together.
The children from our children's church class learned the song, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." They sang part in English and part in Luganda and did a great job!did a great job!
When the children were dismissed for children's church I counted 101 children in our small classroom. 
Of course anything can be made into a weapon...
These helpful young men stayed children's church to help sweep the area with some of the branches that were left behind. 
It was good to remember how Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people worshiped Him. We still worship Him today!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Celebrating the Mathematical Nature of God

For math nerds like me, March 14 (3.14) was an exciting day! in our school we celebrated the number pi and had fun doing all kinds of activities related to circles.
My students got to measure the circumference and diameter of many circles using some standard and some non-standard units of measurement. 
And since the elementary students were studying Ancient Greece and the olympics in history, they used Pi Day to draw Olympic Rings.
Of course we had to end the school day eating the tasty pies our students made at 3:14pm. Esther made a delicious lemon meringue pie that reminded me of my Granny's key lime pie. She would have been proud! 

Later in the week, I had the privilege of discussing an essay on the history and philosophy of mathematics with some of our high school students. It was a joy to celebrate the order and beauty of God's creation as we learned more about his mathematical nature last week!