Thursday, January 30, 2014


We are here! As we landed, it was wonderful to look out the windows of the plane and see the beautiful, lush, green landscape. It is crazy that we drove to the airport in snow a few days ago and now we are back in our tropical climate here in Uganda. I did enjoy seeing the beautiful snow, but I am happy to be back in my sleeveless shirt and skirt. 

Well, it has been a long several days of travel, but the adventure is not quite over. When we landed we realized that our bags did not make it on the flight. I have been told that they will be on the next flight coming from Nairobi which arrives at 2:30 this afternoon. I hope that will be the case. As I filled out the forms, I thought I would go out quickly to find David and ask him if he was ok with sticking around for that. 

As I walked out I didn't see him anywhere. I had to figure out how to get my Ugandan SIM card back in my phone and buy airtime so I could call him. Finally I was able to call, but he did not answer. He called back a few minutes later and found that the van had broken down on his way to come get me. After getting himself and 3 kids out the door by 6am in order to pick us up, he then ended up stranded on the side of the road. He was able to get in touch with a mechanic and our friends, the Lawsons to borrow their van. I don't know how long he was stuck on the side of the road, but he is now working his way through Kampala in heavy traffic to come get us. 

When he arrives we will still have 3-4 more hours to wait until our bags arrive. Kampala traffic is notoriously bad on Friday afternoons, so we will probably have a long ride home too. 

But in the midst of all of this, I am thankful. Thankful to be back in this country that I love. Thankful that I don't have any more overnight flights scheduled for a long time! Thankful for this nice fan and a chance to sit and drink some cold water and for Ezra to have a Mirinda fruity again. Thankful that my family is safely on their way. Thankful to have a mechanic and friends who could help David out today. Thankful that I am able to get my phone working so quickly. Thankful for pain medicine as I am still healing. But mostly, thankful for my God who loves me, has made me his daughter, and is using these trials to teach me. 

Our "stuff"

Well, we have our boarding passes and are ready to board the Kenya Air flight to Nairobi and now there is a questions out our bags. British Air allowed us 3 bags each since we had a humanitarian ticket. But Kenya Air only allows one bag per passenger. So I am praying that they will accept our checked bags which are already checked, but I don't know if they are here being loaded or not. I apparently need to speak with Leah. So please pray.

 It is just stuff, but I brought back stuff for our school and our family and I really hope it arrives along with us. I feel like God has given us enough "growth opportunities" and I would love for this to be simple, but I am praying that I will glorify God in whatever situations arise. Here is Ezra resting while we wait. I took a nap in a similar situation earlier today. 

Lessons from a 5 year old

While it is true that both Ezra and I are short on sleep, he seems to be handling it a bit better than his mom. As we ate lunch together using a voucher from British Airways, he told me how wonderful it is to have this delicious food for free. Then he told me that the man at the ticket counter was "very generous to let us have an extra stop in a country that we have never been to before and still help us get home." I am thankful for his sweet enthusiastic reminders to see the blessings in the midst of every situation. 

For me it is a discipline to "rejoice always" and "give thanks in all circumstances." For Ezra's adventurous heart, it is just natural. I am so thankful to have such a joyful, sweet traveling partner. Each time I have begun to get a bit teary, this precious boy gives me a big hug and kiss. I do have much to be thankful for! He has his moments of difficulty, as we all do, but today I am reminded that "children are a blessing from The Lord!" 

Too late

Since our flight left Atlanta about an hour and a half later than scheduled, our transition here in London was going to be tight. We made up some time in the air, which still made catching the flight to Entebbe, Uganda theoretically possible. Toward the end of our flight from Atlanta I asked a flight attendant if there was anyway we could get out of the plane quickly in order to have time to catch our connection. For the last 20 minutes we were able to move up to Club World to sit near the exit. Yay!
When we landed there were ground crew members there to help us to our connection. Even with all of that, we missed the flight to Entebbe. So now we are here in London Heatheow for the day. We are going to catch an overnight flight to Nairobi, Kenya on Kenya Air, then have a short layover and flight to Entebbe, Uganda, also on Kenya Air. 

I am scheduled to arrive in Uganda around 9:15 am local time, which is 8 hours ahead of eastern time. Ezra and I are both pretty exhausted and I have started crying several different times in the airport here. Please pray that I will persevere and remember the truths that God is working for my good, even in this situation. I know that in my head, but I am still pretty discouraged right now. 

When I am sad or discouraged, I generally try to spend some time thanking God for things. So right now I am going to thank God for this playground at the airport. Ezra is playing and happy even though he has only had about 4-5 hours of sleep. I am also thankful that there is a way for me to get to Uganda tomorrow morning, so I do not have to wait another full day to be with my family. Well, I think we will try to go get some lunch even though it still feels like nighttime to me. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Adventures!

Yesterday afternoon snow began to fall in Athens, GA. Ezra and I were excited to see the beautiful snow, and Ezra enjoyed eating snow, making snow angels, having snowball fights and jumping on the snowy trampoline. His friends all got out of school early yesterday and today, so he has had playmates for all of this snowy fun! 

The downside of this snow storm is that the Atlanta area is not equipped to handle 2" of snow since it happens so infrequently. Many highways are completely closed, so getting to the airport may be a bit of an adventure. 

I have been staying with our dear friends, the Irwins this past week. Chris has a 4-wheel drive truck and knows many alternate routes around Atlanta because he grew up in that area. So this afternoon, around 2:30-3:00, Chris will attempt to get us to the airport. And if you know Chris, you know that he intends to win. 

As of right now, British airways says that my flight might be slightly delayed and we should be departing Atlanta around 9:26pm. The stated arrival time in London leaves me less than a 1 hour layover in London before we get on another plane to Entebbe, Uganda. If that is the case, I will not have time to post an update until we land in Uganda. Thank you for all of your prayers for our safe travel. I will keep you updated as much as possible. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fish Family GSF Video Update : January 8, 2014

In my last blog post I included this video at the end of my power point presentation, but I have heard that some may have had trouble viewing it. The video is of some of my students singing the song, "I have a Father." Claudia's daughters (on the left) have never had an earthly father, but they love to sing of their Heavenly Father. There is also a slide show of photos from our first six months in Uganda. Special thanks to Harvey Kirkpatrick for putting it all together. It is only 2 and a half minutes; I hope you enjoy and are encouraged!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Post-op meeting with the surgeon

Today I met with the surgeon to clarify the post-op report. He did confirm that at the end of the procedure there were clean margins and normal tissue. Praise God! But he also wanted me to know that the high-grade dysplasia (pre-cancer) was discontiguous, which means there were areas of normal tissue in between areas of high-grade dysplasia, which apparently means I am more likely to develop dysplasia again. I am supposed to have follow up care every 3 months in order watch for this. Obviously, that is not very convenient since I live in Uganda. So when I return to Uganda next week, David and I will discuss a plan to responsibly monitor my tongue while still doing the work that God has called us to do at Good Shepherd's Fold.

This morning I woke early and had some time to read some in  the book of 2 Corinthians. There were several passages that were particularly encouraging to me today. 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

I hope you are also encouraged today by things that are eternal. Today I am resting in the eternal love of Jesus Christ. His power is perfect in the midst of my weakness! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not such great news

Well, today I had my follow up appointment after my tongue surgery. I met with the Nurse Practitioner rather than the actual surgeon who did my procedure. As she was interpreting the pathology report, she said that places that appeared visually to be normal tissue were actually pre-cancer. She said that it was not just the one visible spot but several spots. The doctor removed all the visible high-grade dysplasia and some normal looking tissue that was also high grade dysplasia. I am unclear about whether or not the margins were clear. Hahaha I've got to laugh so I don't cry. So it sounds like I may need to watch and follow up more than I originally thought. And it sounds like there may be other parts of my tongue that are pre-cancerous, although we can not actually see anything abnormal. This is not the news I wanted to hear, but as I walked to use the restroom after my appointment, a beautiful song came to mind.
"This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."
Simple but profound truth. God made each day and knows and even ordains it. I can rejoice and be glad, not that the news is just what I was hoping for, but that God is in control!  Just a couple minutes after returning from Atlanta, I headed out to our community group where I was planning to share an update about our first six months in Uganda. I made this power point presentation a few weeks ago and have shared it several times, but tonight it was just what I needed to hear myself. I have converted it into a video so that those who I don't get to speak with in person can still see my photos and here these girls sing.  It is only 3 minutes. Enjoy!
Even though the news about my health isn't great, I am comforted by the love of my Heavenly Father!  I hope you are too!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Good news!

Since I am recovering from tongue surgery you are probably thinking that I am talking about good news in my healing. But really that was just my way of getting you to read some even better news.

Yesterday two of my dear friends had a baby shower. When we realized that I would be in town for this baby shower, I was asked if I would give some devotional thoughts. I was very excited about the opportunity! I love these women and was excited about the chance to encourage them as they move into this new season of life. Since my procedure, I have not been able to speak much, so I decided to write out my thoughts and ask another friend to read them aloud. Afterward many women mentioned how this was encouraging to them also, so I thought I would share it here on my blog. Here is the good news I wanted to share with them and with you:

As I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you as a devotional thought today, I kept coming back to the idea of relaxing, resting and rejoicing in Jesus. That may be because I am taking some serious narcotic pain medicine, but I hope it has more to do with the gospel. There is much good advice out there and many things to do to try to be a good mom, but ultimately the most important thing is that our children know and love Jesus.
Many of us try to live as if we don’t need Jesus in our everyday life. We think we can handle many situations on our own. We think we should be able to be the perfect parents always doing the right thing and teaching our children to do the right thing. If that were possible, we would not have needed a Savior. Jesus came to die, not because we needed a good example, but because we are desperate and lost without him. Be willing to admit your brokenness. 
For consider your calling, (sisters): not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 
I remember often feeling overwhelmed at the responsibility of caring for such a helpless little baby and fearing that each decision I would make would somehow ruin everything. I want to encourage you, that you will make bad decisions. You will even sin against your children. But God is bigger than all of that. He is sovereign and in control of all things. He can work for the good of His children even when their parents really mess up. He is the one who holds these little lives in His hands. Rest in the fact that He loves your children better than you ever could. Let Him be God and be free to just be their mom.
Over the years, I think the most important thing I have learned through parenting is to pray. Pray for your children, acknowledging that God is the only one who can change their hearts. Pray with your children confessing, showing them that you need Jesus just as much as they do. Pray with your children praising, remembering that every good gift is from the Lord. Pray with your children asking, reminding them and yourself, that we can always go to our Heavenly Father with every concern. It is ok to pray about diaper rash, sleep and the when and how of feeding babies. 
Remember that God has also given you the body of Christ to help you. Do not think that you need to figure everything out on your own. God has given you husbands. Ask them for help when you don’t know what to do. It is amazing how much clearer an answer is sometimes to a person who is not dealing with post-partum hormones and sleep deprivation. And ask other women who have walked down this road before you. You of course will receive differing advice, but God is sovereign in that too. Ask people for help. I know that you are both loved by your gospel community and your church family. There are many people who would like to help in some way. Let the body of Christ minister to you as you walk into this next season of life. Rest and let others cook for you, or watch your baby so you can have a date with your husband, or even just take a nap. Also, if you are up in the middle of the night with a crying baby and/or crying mommy, remember that it is morning in Uganda, and you can call me. J Give us older women a chance to do the things God has instructed us to do in the book of Titus. 
And remember that there is only One who is perfect and righteous, and that is Jesus. He is the only Perfect Parent. The rest of us are broken examples. Be willing to admit your failures to yourself, to God, to your husband, to your children, to your friends. It is ok. Your identity is not in your parenting or your child’s behavior, but it isin Jesus Christ. If you are His child, God has clothed you with His righteousness and He is the One who has your sons’ lives in His hands. Let Him be God and you can rest knowing that He has given you the privilege to love these little ones as just a small picture of His great love to them and to you! 
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)  
Elise and Julia, and all my dear friends, I hope you will rest and rejoice in the perfect love of your Heavenly Father for you and your families.
Here is a photo of me with my dear friend, Elise! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Many people have been asking how my recovery is going. My answer probably depends on when you ask. But I do have some good news. I have now moved beyond clear liquids on to blended thicker liquids. You know it is pretty sad when you wake dreaming about eating baby food. Today has been a better day. I have eaten cheese grits with water added and blended, applesauce, and broccoli cheese soup blended. You like how I am trying to get cheese while in America even though I can't chew any real food yet? Here is a photo after my first taste of cheese grits. Yay!
I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but my face and neck are a bit swollen and my tongue is still very swollen. I am beginning to be able to talk though. I can say a few jumbled words at a time. Mostly I am still communicating through notepads or whiteboards. It has been a good opportunity to work on Ezra's reading, although I can't help him sound anything out. 

After being out at a baby shower for the afternoon, my tongue has reached it's limit. I probably tried to talk too much. So now I am taking pain medicine and going to bed. I'm praying that the nausea won't come back and maybe later I will be able to drink something for dinner. But for now, good night. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


"Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, 'rejoice!'" Philippians 4:4
I have so much for which to be thankful. Admittedly, these past few days have been rough, but dwelling on the challenges is not helpful. Instead I want to take some time to count my blessings. I'm sure I will forget some since I am still on some pretty serious pain medicine, but I will at least get a start. This list is not in a particular order, I am just going to use bullets since my brain is thinking in that way right now.

  • I am thankful that I do not have cancer and the doctor was able to remove all the pre-cancerous tissue!
  • I am thankful that my mom has been able to be here with me for this procedure and recovery.
  • I am thankful that my parents-in-law are wonderful and loving and caring for me in their home.
  • I am thankful that I now have a pain medicine that reduces the pain enough for me to swallow. 
  • I am thankful that I was able to have beef broth and Gatorade today. It was my first "meal" since Monday night.
  • I am thankful for friends who are taking Ezra out for play dates.
  • I am thankful for people all over the world who have been praying for me.
  • I am thankful for friends who are checking in on me and offering help. 
  • I am thankful that I can text and email and write, even though I cannot talk. 
  • I am thankful that I have been able to say a few words when my meds are at their peak. 
  • I am thankful for frozen coke which feels soothing on my tongue. 
  • I am thankful for rest. Last night I slept well, only waking to take my pain medicine, and then I was able to fall back asleep before too long.  
  • I am thankful that the doctor was able to do this procedure so quickly so that I can have 2 full weeks to recover here before heading back to Uganda. 
  • I am thankful that I will be back with my family in less than 2 weeks now!
  • I am thankful for a comfy bed.
  • I am thankful that I have a good excuse to be inside in a robe on this ridiculously cold day. 
  • I am thankful for a blog and facebook that I can use to keep in touch with so many people. 
  • I am very thankful that my family and team in Uganda have electricity, after almost 4 weeks without.
  • I am thankful for God's Word which reminds us that this life is not all there is. I have heaven to look forward to, where there will be no more pain! (Rev. 21)
"Give thanks to  the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever!" Psalm 107:1

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What a night!

Well, I wrote the last blogpost on my way home from Emory. When we arrived in Athens, David's parents went out to get the liquid pain medicine that was prescribed by my doctor at Emory. Apparently that particular medicine is not commonly prescribed in Athens and none of the pharmacies here had it in stock. Of course they could have it in a few days, or we could have driven back toward Atlanta, but the pain was already getting pretty bad.

Two of my dear friends who are nurses came over to help me. After talking with the doctor on call, they decided that I should go to the ER to get an IV pain medicine and a Rx that could be filled here. Narcotics cannot be called in over the phone. As I arrived at the hospital, the combination of pain, no food and blood in my mouth and stomach, made me vomit. (I'm sorry if this post is TMI.) Of course as I arrived, several ambulances did to, so my treatment was put on the back burner. Eventually, I received an IV with pain meds and anti-nausea meds. I felt better very quickly, although I did vomit again. I cannot tell you how painful vomiting is when part of your tongue was just cut out. So finally a little after 1am, I was discharged and sent home with a prescription for the second time in less than 24 hrs. 
My pain is much less now that I am on pain medicine and I am going to try to go to sleep in just a minute, but I just wanted to say something first. 

I am so thankful and comforted by all the people who have shown the love of my Heavenly Father to me in very tangible ways recently. I have received so many messages from you all that you are praying for me. For those of you in the Athens and Atlanta areas, many have offered help in various ways. And I had family and friends caring for me at the hospital from 9am yesterday until 1am this morning, with only a brief break. I am blessed beyond words. (Especially since I cannot talk right now.) Well, I am going to try to sleep while my pain level is down, but I just wanted to say, "Thank you all!" 

Good news, bad news

I am on my way home from Emory and have so much to be thankful for! First, there was no cancer! So I did not have to have the neck dissection and lymph nodes removed. Additionally, the doctor was able to get completely clear margins with normal tissue! Praise God. And I got word that electricity was restored at Good Shepherd's Fold today! I am so happy for my family!!! David can have a fan running at night! And the food won't all spoil! This is great news! 

The bad news is that during the surgery, 5% of my tongue had to be removed and I am in a ridiculous amount of pain. I am having trouble even swallowing my own saliva while on pain medicine, and I certainly can't talk. So please pray for quick healing for me, but also thank God aloud and sing praises to his name on my behalf. ;) 

I am hoping that they took the 5% that does the complaining and arguing, but for somehow I don't think that can be surgically removed. Please pray for me to have a thankful, joyful heart as I persevere through the pain. And pray that God would be glorified through each step of my recovery. 

Thank you all for your prayers! Please continue to lift my family in prayer as we are apart. Praise The Lord! Let everything that has breath, praise The Lord! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Resting on the Promises

While I would like to say that I am always able to trust in God's loving, sovereign control over all things, honestly sometimes fear and anxiety take over. I am so very thankful that my procedure has been moved up so that I can recover and return to my family quickly, but that is not the only reason. I also am a bit anxious as I wait to find out whether I still have pre-cancer, or if it has become cancer. Last night I didn't get much sleep as all of that rolled over in my mind. My doctor thinks that it is likely still pre-cancer, but that is not my best comfort.

Every school day for the last several months, we began the day reciting two things that bring me great comfort. I have written about them both before, but it is good for me to write about this again. I hope it encourages some of you to read these things again too. 

The first is Psalm 23: 
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He resores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
For you are with me.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever!

It is so good to be reminded of this daily. Another thing we recited in the mornings was the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism. 

Q1. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. 
He has fully paid for all my sins and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head apart from the will of my Father in heaven. Indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. 
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of my salvation and makes me wholehearted willing and ready from now on to love for him. 
It is a joy to be able to live for him at Good Shepherd's Fold.

I typed these words from memory rather than cutting and pasting because I wanted to think through all of this. I am thankful for the comfort I have knowing that God is in control, that I belong to him, that He is with me, that I have eternal life in Christ, and that I have the privilege of living for Him. I pray that whatever happens tomorrow, I will cling to those promises and glorify Him! 

Quick answer to prayer

Thank you to all who were praying for my surgery to be moved up. It is now scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon. This will now allow for 2 weeks of recovery before my scheduled flight back to Uganda! I am so thankful! Now please pray for the procedure. It is our hope and prayer that all the precancerous tissue will be able to be removed and it will not have progressed into cancer. I will write another update after the procedure when I am able. I am thankful for all of your prayers, encouragement and support! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Surgery schedule

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15 ESV)

I just spoke with the woman who is working on the scheduling of my tongue surgery. She said that she anticipates that the procedure will be on January 24th. I will also need a one week follow up appointment before I can leave for Uganda. This would postpone my scheduled departure for about a week. I have asked them to let me know if there are any openings or cancelations before that time, but it did not sound likely. 

Honestly, I am discouraged. I am really missing my family. I want to be back with them as soon as possible! When people ask me how long I am here or when I will have my surgery, it is hard for me to say, "I don't know." But even when we think we know, we really don't. Only God holds the future. We can make plans about what we think we will be doing, but we don't really know. I have learned to live with a great deal of uncertainty in Uganda, but I guess I am learning it again. 

The plans for my surgery are uncertain, but some things are certain. God loves me and is working for my good in the midst of all of this. I can trust in His loving care for me. And you can trust in Him in the midst of your circumstances too! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tongue update

I was able to see my doctor at Emory today and he recommends that we do a partial glossectomy, removing the portion of the tongue with high-grade dysplasia. It is an outpatient procedure, but if it has become cancer, they will also need to do a neck dissection to remove lymph nodes, which would then require a 3-4 day hospital stay and a more significant recovery time. 

The doctor has a very full operating schedule and does not know if I can have the procedure and a one week follow-up all before my scheduled flight on Jan.28th. Please pray with me that those working on the schedule will find a way! I am missing my family terribly and absolutely dread the thought of having to be apart longer. And please pray that it is still only dysplasia not cancer. I am trying to remember that God is working all things for my good, but I really hope that good is being healed and back with my family soon! Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thoughts about stuff

After living in Uganda for 6 months, my first trip to Walmart last week was a bit overwhelming. It was amazing how my mind and emotions went crazy. My first thought was, "I can't believe all this stuff. Who needs all of this?" Then in only a matter of seconds I began thinking, "I want this and that and I can't get that in Africa." So I moved from judgmentalism to coveting very quickly. Then I began thinking, "If I spend money on all of this stuff, it is less money that I can share with those in need." So my coveting led to guilty feelings. Then I finally decided that I just needed to leave the store.

I have been trying to think and pray about this experience, wondering what the most biblical response would look like. This morning I began reading Elise Fitzpatrick's book, Because He Loves Me. I have only begun the book, but it seems that her main point is that the love of God for us, demonstrated through the work of his Son, Jesus, is the source for all of life. I began to contemplate, "How would remembering the love of God for me in Jesus change the way I looked at my experience in Walmart?" I think that is probably a question I should be asking myself about many of life's experiences, but I will begin by thinking through my day at Walmart.

As I think about my tendency to focus on "things", I need to remember that I have everything I need in Jesus. I have eternal life. I have a friend who loves me at all times. I can have joy in this life because the God who is in control of all things is working for my good. I don't need "things" to bring me comfort and joy, I have the love of the God of the universe! In Philippians 4:20, the apostle Paul says, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." This verse does not mean that God has promised me great wealth, instead God has promised me the richness of life with him. The joy of walking with the God in this life is greater than the happiness that any material possessions could provide. 

While I still struggle with coveting when I walk into stores here in America, I also have realized that I do not regret anything that I have given away or sold to move to Uganda. We downsized our life to what we could fit into trunks that we took on an airplane, and honestly there are very few things that I have even thought twice about. God has also given us opportunities to share clothes and toys with those around us in need and we have probably cut our possessions in half again while in Uganda. There have been times when I have thought, "I wish I would have given this person this or that." But there has not been once that we wished we had kept more things for ourselves. It is just very freeing to think more about what I can give to those around me than I think about what I want. 

In American culture we are bombarded with advertisements that agree with our sinful nature that we always need more. It is so easy to get caught up in "wanting." But the apostle Paul says that we can be content whether "living in plenty or in want." I wonder how the world would be different if we (followers of Jesus) actually were willing to sell all we have, give to the poor and follow Jesus. (Matthew 19:21) Even if we were willing to sell only the extra stuff that we don't use that often and don't really need, but instead choose to sponsor a child with that money, imagine the difference that could make in the world. There are children that live next door to my family, who would have literally starved to death, but instead because of the ministry of Good Shepherd's Fold, these children are alive, are being loved and cared for, are receiving a good education, are hearing and responding to the gospel and are growing up into people who will impact Uganda for Christ. If you want to sell some of what you have and give to the poor, I would encourage you to consider whether you could downsize your life by $35 a month. Here is a link to the GSF sponsorship page. There is a brief video on that page with some of the kids in the sponsorship program. 

Whether you choose to sponsor a child or not, we all need to remember that that everything we have is from the Lord. Even if we have worked to earn that income, then it is God who gave us the ability and strength to do that work. "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it." Psalm 24:1. From the time my children were old enough to say the word "mine," we would respond, "No. Whose is it really?" And they would answer "God's." Then we would say,"And God has graciously shared it with you, so what does He want you to do with it?" "Share it."  I think we all need reminders at times of the things we learned as two year olds. 

I am sure that I will continue to struggle with this issue. You may run into me overeating at a restaurant, or stocking up on items I think I "need" to bring back with me. But I am thankful for the reminder that my God has met and will continue to meet "all my needs through his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil.4:20)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Medical and emotional update

As you probably know, the reason I am here in Georgia is to see a doctor about my tongue. When I scheduled my flight I had an appointment on January 2, but that had to be rescheduled to January 8th. At that appointment the doctor will determine the next step. At my appointment in June and through email we have discussed that the next step will probably be a Mohs procedure, in which they remove the abnormal tissue a little at a time until they get clear margins (normal healthy tissue around the edges.) The doctor won't schedule a procedure until he has seen me first, which sounds like good practice, but they will leave a spot for me in the OR (operating room) schedule so that things can move quickly after my initial visit. So in answer to the many questions about when I will have a procedure, "I don't know."

It has been interesting to talk with people here and realize that one way God has changed me over the last 6 months is that I am much more comfortable with not knowing. Life in Uganda is generally so unpredictable that plans are often irrelevant. When I heard that my appointment was bumped to 6 days later, it didn't actually bother me that much. My biggest anxiety about this whole thing with my tongue is that somehow the progression of this problem with my tongue would require me to move back to the states for an extended period of time, taking me away for the ministry, the people and the country that I have grown to love.

Please don't misunderstand, I am so thankful for the time that I have here with my family, friends and church family. I have been thanking God that this medical problem gives me the opportunity to spend time with so many of you! But these six months in Uganda have confirmed even more that the work at Good Shepherd's Fold was what I was created for. I absolutely love the children there and miss my toddler neighbors who braid my hair, aka tie my hair in knots, daily. I love teaching the missionary kids who have such an amazing perspective on life. I love holding and kissing the babies who don't have a mom to hold them. I love worshiping in the village with JaJas (grandmothers) who cannot talk to me, but love God with their whole heart and pray earnestly for me and my family in their own language. I love going to the hospital in Buikwe, and praying with those who are sick as we all learn that each moment of life is a gift from our Lord. I love to see my children's hearts growing in compassion for those in need. I love to see how God is working all things for the good of his children even when we don't understand it. I love living in a place where I feel the need to pray about everything because we realize that we are not the ones in control. I also love living in a place where everything is green and usually warm and there are monkeys in the trees and we can go on safari for family vacation, but that is a bit more of a selfish reason.

So as I was trying to explain to my community group friends my mixed emotions of wanting to be with my friends and family here and wanting to be in Uganda at GSF, one friend teased me saying, "So what you're saying is that you want us all to move to Uganda? Don't you think that is a little selfish?" Exactly. So when is everyone coming?