Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tongue update

As we visit with family and friends, I am often asked about how my tongue is doing. For those of you who might not know or remember, a few months before moving to Uganda, my dental hygienist found an abnormal spot on my tongue. It turned out to be pre-cancerous. We decided to watch it and see how it healed from the biopsy. Not long after moving to Uganda, we realized that the abnormal area was spreading. I came back to the US and had surgery to remove all abnormal cells and find clean margins which led to removing about 10% of my tongue along the right side.

It took quite some time after that surgery to recover. It took time for my speech to return to normal. It took time for the pain to decrease. And it took time to adjust to the fact that my tongue needs a break in the afternoon when I have been teaching all morning. God has taught me many things through these times, most importantly to trust Him with the future. I also have learned to see each year I get older as a gift. 

I had to modify the recommended follow up care and check-ups after my surgery. Obviously it was not going to be possible for me to fly back to the US every 3 months just to have someone look at my tongue. We found a good, American-trained dentist who was willing to look at my tongue and communicate with my doctor in the states. Since the surgery my follow up care has been a combination of check ups with my dentist in Uganda and with an otolaryngologist when I am back in the states. 

Early during our time in Georgia, I went in for a check up. The doctor said that everything looks great and he sees no sign of a recurrence of the abnormal cells! I was so relieved when I heard that news. (My blood pressure was a bit high at the beginning of the appointment.) I also asked about the ongoing burning sensation I have on the side of my tongue which gets more painful with use throughout the day. My doctor explained that in some cases the nerves do not heal properly after surgery and the burning feeling is a possible result of this. While it is disappointing that this pain probably won't go away, it is relieving to know that this pain is not an indication that something is wrong.

Thank you all for your prayers and concern for me and my health. I am blessed and encouraged by so many who care for me and my family! As we face each new day with unknown adventures around the bend, it is good for me to remember that God is with me through it all, and He has brought me into his family where so many have walked with me through trials and joys. We are thankful for your ongoing prayers for our family! I know that the days ahead still hold many joys as well as many challenges and it is a blessing to walk this road together with brothers and sisters in Christ!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Feeling Loved

Since my last post, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have "checked in" from both sides of the ocean. While it is hard to live in two different worlds, we are also blessed to have people who love and care for us both in Uganda and the United States. I have been encouraged and blessed by the many people who have read about our "furlough funk" and have been praying for us and have been gracious to us in many ways.

This week I posted on Facebook that we would like to borrow a car for a couple weeks. It wasn't a need, but would help simplify things as we all have appointments while we are here in Georgia. In one day we were offered three vehicles! Elijah suggested we hold out until someone offered a Lamborghini, but I thought we would gratefully accept the first offer. Yes, he is almost a teenage boy!

Another family wrote that same day and offered to bring us dinner one night. They insisted that they not stay to eat with us so that we could just have a quiet, relaxing evening. I felt so loved and understood! 

I received a message from a woman who has just joined our missionary team telling me that she is praying for me. She is the one who has just moved her family overseas and she is writing to encourage me!

We got a babysitter and stayed out late with some old friends, sitting on the tailgate of their pickup hours after the restaurant's closing time. It was a joy to have several hours of conversation with people we have known and loved for many years! 

The next night we were able to have dinner with other friends whose whole family is a blessing to our whole family. As you can see our boys love spending time with them!


Even though there are many hard things about our time here, God has shown me how blessed we are to be loved by the body of Christ! I am thankful for those of you who support us in prayer and who partner with us financially! I appreciate those who offer cars and meals and friendship! Thank you for loving us well and being God's hands and feet to minister to us as we live in two worlds! We thank God for you!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Furlough Funk

While it is wonderful to be with so many people we haven't seen in years and reconnect, David and I both have been in a bit of a funk. Living in two worlds brings many blessings, but also several challenges. Coming back to the US does not really feel like coming home.  Don't misunderstand. We love visiting with family and friends! We love driving on smooth roads. We love that we can run to the grocery store or go out to a restaurant so easily. But being in the US is not easy for us. If we tell you the same story multiple times or if we seem a bit confused it is probably because we are a bit out of sorts here.

These are some contributing factors...
  •  We have slept in 7 different places since leaving our home in Uganda. (More if you count overnight flights, but we don't usually get much sleep on those.)
  • We have the same 2-5 minute conversation with a dozens of people and neither David nor I love "small talk." I do love getting together with a small group or an individual for an hour or more where we can really connect and learn more about each other's lives, but we don't have the time or ability to do that with everyone.  
  • Those who ask our children if they are happy to be "home" get very confused looks. Zeke was 2 years old when we moved to Uganda and has lived there for 4 years. This country does not feel like home to him even though that is what his passport says. 
  • We need to increase our monthly support as some donations drop off over time and we are having increased expenses, but talking about money is often awkward and uncomfortable.
  • We have paperwork that we need to get done while we are here, but computer challenges and other technical difficulties contribute to frustration. 
  • We have had too many long days in the car. Young boys, in particular, don't love being strapped into one position without exercise for hours on end. Neither do I. While our kids have done exceptionally well, it has still been challenging.
  • We use furlough as a time for counseling and addressing issues that might get ignored in the busyness of life and ministry in Uganda. Even though it is very beneficial, talking through our struggles can be emotionally exhausting. (Overall, I am so thankful for this opportunity, but some days it does contribute to our furlough funk.)
  • We don't have a regular routine. I find myself not making sufficient time for prayer, journaling, Bible reading and personal worship. 
While all of these challenges often lead to being in a bit of a funk, I know that God has good purposes for our time here in the states. I want to practice the habit of thankfulness, not only when I feel like everything is going smoothly for my family. I want to have patience and grace with my family as we all feel this funk at different times. Please pray for us. Pray that we will love each other well and be gracious to each other. Pray that we will know how to prioritize as our schedules fill quickly. Pray that I will not overschedule our family as we are not used to running around so much. 

Even as I share these challenges, I also want to say that we do want to spend time with you! I tend to try to squeeze two years of relationship into one month. (No wonder my introverted husband is so exhausted.) I still want to meet with friends and share with small groups about our ministry. I just might have to sometimes say that I can't get together because my family needs rest. 

We are very thankful that we are now staying in a missionary guesthouse where our family can relax a bit. It is a place we have stayed before, and we are able to stay for a month! Other than a quick trip to the Chattanooga area, we can be more settled than we have been for the past month and a half. 

I have so much for which to be thankful! God has provided for us in amazing ways... places to stay, delicious food to eat, a great vehicle to drive, relationships with friends who welcome us back, time with people who have visited us in Uganda, ministry supporters who have partnered with us in prayer and finances for years. God has provided faithfully and I trust that He will continue to do so. I want to draw near to Him in times when I am struggling. I want to remember that He loves us and is working for our good in the midst of all this transition. And I want to thank Him for his many gracious and abundant blessings! 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Driving Day

Today began with David picking up our two oldest children at our church sometime after midnight as they returned from a Braves game with the youth group. A few hours later Esther woke sick to her stomach probably from something she ate at the ballpark. Eventually she fell asleep on the couch and I slept in a recliner beside her. We got a few more hours of sleep before it was time to get up and pack for a day of driving. As expected, some of us were a bit cranky. (Yes, I have already apologized to my husband and my eldest who experienced the majority of my grumpiness.) 

As we were preparing to pull out, our good friend prayed for us to remember the joy we have as children of God. Honestly, I had been dreading today a bit. Another long day in the car with kids who want to move and run around. After the initial conflicts, we had several hours of good interactions, some naps, some movies, etc. As we began to near our destination, it all fell apart. Exhausted kids past bedtime, everyone tired of sitting in one place, and ready to be there. Thankfully, everyone could regain composure enough to greet their grandparents who they haven't seen in two years. We are now all snug in comfy beds in a hotel that my kids think is amazing! 

At the end of a challenging day and particularly after ending our drive with several conflicts, I know that it helps me to count my blessings and keep the perspective of the whole day. My children, some of whom began the day with not nearly enough sleep, got along in close quarters for many hours! Praise God! We even had some good conversation and enjoyed riddles and jokes together! (We also had DVD players and naps sprinkled in there.) There is much for which to be thankful, but right now I'm thankful that we all are falling asleep in comfortable beds! Good night! 
 

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.