Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our humble loving Savior

The kids after their Christmas program at church.
This Christmas we have spent much time reflecting on the love and humility of Jesus to leave the rich perfection of heaven to come to earth and be born in a stable. He did this because He loves us enough to be willing to live on this sinful, broken earth among us, sinful, broken people. Jesus leaving heaven for us, sheds new light on Him calling us to leave our comfortable home and move to Uganda. Our "sacrifice" seems so little in light of His.
The Christmas carols that I have loved for so many years are now meaningful in a new way. As I think of the "tidings of comfort and joy," I am reminded that comfort and joy comes from remembering that "Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day, to save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray." That is true comfort and joy! The short term comforts and joys of consistent electricity, of the conveniences of America and even of being near to family and friends, cannot bring the lasting comfort and joy that we can have in Jesus.
For many years we have sung, "Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor, all for love's sake becamest poor." Now we are planning to move from one of the wealthiest countries in the world to one of the poorer countries, by human standards. While there will be some material sacrifices involved, it will be nothing in comparison the the sacrifice Jesus made, leaving the riches of heaven to come to earth as a man and die for us. Phillipians 2:5-11 says, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
It is my hope that this Christmas we all will remember the amazing love we have received through Jesus and will humbly serve others and follow wherever our Lord leads us in joy!
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good times with the Gwartneys

One of the families from Good Shepherd's Fold is on furlough right now. The Gwartney family was passing through Georgia, and we were so thankful to be able to spend Friday evening and Saturday morning together. David and I had the opportunity to get to know them when we were in Uganda last March/April, but our children had not yet met them. Our kids really enjoyed their company, and now they know friends who will be in Uganda when we move! Elijah, Ezra and Titus particularly enjoyed discussing the speed of cheetahs and peregrine falcons. With Ezra demonstrating, of course. I am so thankful for a wonderfully encouraging time together. We are so blessed to be joining their family this summer!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Home Improvement Serendipity

Since it is our plan to rent our Georgia home while we are in Uganda, we are fixing some things around the house. We are currently working on the kids' bathroom. We hope that by spacing these projects out over the next 6 months, we will avoid all the stress and financial strain of doing it all last minute. Anyway, while we were in Lowe's Home Improvement Store, a woman who I had never met before walked up up to me. She told me that she has been reading our blog and praying for our family. I nearly began crying in the hardware department. It was so encouraging to know that a sister in Christ who doesn't even know me is lifting our family in prayer. What a blessing! I am so thankful that our gracious Lord brought us together yesterday! And just for fun, here is a picture of our bathroom in progress. I really like the new tile.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Security and Hope

Since we have been clearing out and giving away many things we don't use, each of our children have a been processing this a little differently. Elijah (age 8) can understand the logic for downsizing. He will say things like, "I only wear these 5 shirts anyway." Esther(age 6) loves to give things to other people. If she can think of someone who would like it, she wants to give it. Zeke(age 2) is probably too young to notice. But Ezra (age 4) has been a bit concerned. When we were giving away a bag of clothes he said, "But what if I run out of clothes." My first response is to think about how absurd that is since we have so many. But I also realized that we all often find security in "things." We started talking with Ezra about trusting in God's provision for us rather than trusting in our extra stuff. We talked about how God has provided for us in the past. It was good for me also to remember to trust in God's provision. A passage that I often read is Matthew 6. Here are some verses that have been good for me to remember and to help Ezra remember too:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:19-21, 24-33 ESV)
I have also had this hymn in my mind since my conversation with Ezra, so I will share a few of the words here. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thanksgiving thoughts- a little late

During the holidays this year, I have had several thoughts about our family preparing for our move to Uganda. Thanksgiving has a new meaning after having experienced life in Uganda, even though we were only there for 10 days. As we thought of the many things we have for which to be thankful, it was interesting to think about the many things that we just expect, which we might not have next Thanksgiving. I have never thought to be thankful that we have electricity because, other than during a few tropical storms or snowstorms, I have not had to go without it much. I have not been thankful for clean water because I never experienced the challenges of living without it. But I also began to think of the things that I have which cannot ever be taken away. I am thankful that "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom.8:39   My loving Lord will be caring for my family wherever we are. On a silly side note, I was wondering if we would be able to eat turkey for thanksgiving in Uganda and I found this crazy photo. I think the preparation of the meal will be a bit different than what I am used to! (This picture is from Claudia Arrango. She is has been serving at Good Shepherd's Fold for 14 years.)