Thursday, October 24, 2019

Waiting on the Lord, and the Passport Office

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬
Soon after finishing my previous post, the immigration official notified me that the passport has not yet been printed. Since we paid the express fee, it should have been ready yesterday afternoon, which is why they told me to come pick it up today. Today he told me to come back tomorrow. I tried to gently explain that I do not live in Kampala and it would be very difficult for me to come back tomorrow. Then he told me that I should come back at 4pm today. I was supposed to be back at GSF at that time in a parent teacher conference, but I called the parents and they were very understanding about the change of plans.

So I rearranged my expectations of my plans for the day and asked again for God to direct my steps and help me trust in him while I wait. I’m now in Kampala doing a bit of shopping for my family and teammates at GSF. I want to make the most of a trip to the big city. I’m asking God to remind the person to print the passport today. And I’m also asking God to give my heart courage as I sit and wait. It is good to remember that I am not waiting on the passport guy. I’m waiting on the Lord. He loves me and my family and will provide what we need at just the right time. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

He Will Direct My Paths

Recently, I’ve been playing music for Evie at bedtime. While it has been helpful in settling her down at night and helping her to learn God’s Word, it has also been good for me. There is one particular song that keeps coming back to my mind. It is by Steve Green from the album, “Hide ‘Em in Your Heart.” 
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” (Prob.3:5)
Even as I type this, I am singing the tune in my mind. This is a verse I always need to remember.  You see, I like to lean on my own understanding and try to direct my own paths. At least I often try to until I realize that I don’t have the wisdom or the power to do so. Living overseas often feels like an intensive course of study in trusting the Lord. I often don’t realize how much I have relied on my own understanding in many situations until I see how much I do not understand. As I write I am sitting at the passport office waiting for them to find Evie’s passport. Once we receive the passport, we still need to apply for a visa and wait for an interview before we will know if we are free to travel on our Christmas holiday. Each step in this adoption process has been another opportunity to learn about trusting God with the future. I cannot say I have passed the course yet, but I am thankful that God is teaching me along the way. 

And here’s a photo of Evie dressed as Doc McStuffins. It is too cute not to share.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Day of Praise

My Monday morning began early. Evie woke at 3am crying and when I went to check on her, I found that she had a fever of 102. This was particularly scary for me because of her history of having a febrile seizure. The doctor told us that it could recur any time her fever was above 100.4, so I immediately began to do all the things I had learned to bring her fever down. It reduced to 101, and eventually she went back to sleep. After much prayer, I also returned to bed. 

The morning was busy as we were getting back into our routines after having week off from classes. We also had a government official coming to visit our campus to determine if the building permit would be approved and if we could begin building the additional classrooms we need to accommodate the students we are expecting for next school year. It is estimated to take 8-9 months, so we have been feeling a bit of a time crunch. The process of approval has also recently added several steps, so it was costing more and taking longer than we expected. 

I also had been waiting for the American dentist who has been doing check-ups on my tongue to return from the US because I had some questions and concerns. He has been doing my follow-up care since I had surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells almost 6 years ago. We had scheduled the appointment for Monday afternoon. Since our dentist and doctor are in the same building, we decided to take Evie for some bloodwork to determine the cause of her fevers at the same time. 

As I began the day, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the thought of juggling it all. I was planning to keep Evie in the back of my classroom in order to keep a close eye on her. I set up a place for her to rest and play next to my desk. The first blessing of the day was that when Evie woke, she did not have a fever! I was so very thankful! 

Soon after we started school, the government official arrived, earlier than expected, which is highly unusual here. Our builder and the GSF director of Education met with him and he approved the site for us to begin building! This second blessing was an answer to weeks of prayers! 

Since we were hoping for this result, we had planned a tentative ground breaking ceremony for lunch Monday so that the workers could begin on Tuesday. We had a time with our students to thank God for his provision both for the finances to begin the project and the approval to begin. We had to shift the prayer inside since it was raining at the time, but our Ugandan teacher reminded us that rain at the time of a ceremony was a reminder of God’s blessing. The rain was my third reminder of God’s blessing that day. After our time of prayer, the rain stopped for a brief time and we were able to go out and break ground. 


Soon after the ground breaking we headed to town for the dentist and doctor appointments. I saw our dentist first and he examined my tongue. He explained that all the changes I have experienced with my tongue are still completely normal. He does not see any reason for concern about abnormal cells. He said he is 0% concerned about that. He thinks that the changes I have noticed are probably more related to stress and anxiety. He encouraged me that I don’t need to worry about my tongue and also encouraged me with God’s Word about the other concerns in my life. It was the best possible outcome and my fourth answer to prayer and blessing from God.

After my check-up, Evie was seen by the doctor. We needed to do some bloodwork to check for malaria and other possible infections to determine the cause of her fever. She did not want to go to the lab because the last time we did that, they had difficulty getting a vein. It was a traumatic for both of us. Evie even said, “I don’t want to get better.” But this time, the nurse was able to draw blood quickly and without much pain. A fifth blessing and answer to prayer! 

While we were waiting for the results of the bloodwork, I received a phone call from our friend who is helping us with the paperwork for Evie’s passport. The printer had been repaired and the adoption certificate was finally printed! This was the final document we were told we need for our passport application. Our friend is going to pick up the certificate today and I am going to go to Kampala on Thursday to reapply for Evie’s passport. We had been waiting for this document for weeks! This was a sixth blessing and answer to prayer! 

After getting off the phone, the doctor had the results of the bloodwork. Evie had a bacterial infection and prescribed antibiotics. I was thankful that it was not malaria, which is so miserable, and it seemed like we caught the infection soon enough that it did not become too severe. Evie’s fever did not get very high again and she has not had a seizure! A seventh blessing and answer to prayer! 

As I returned home, I was overwhelmed with God’s many blessings to us on this day. I began the day overwhelmed with anxieties, but I ended the day overwhelmed by God’s gracious provision for us in so many ways! I was reminded that we are encouraged many times in God’s Word to recount God’s goodness and loving care for us. Counting my blessings in this post has reminded me to continue to be thankful. And in those times when I am asked to wait, I want to remember and rest in God’s provision in the past. This day was an “ebeneezer,” a stone of remembrance. Whether today is a day of being overwhelmed with many blessings or a day of just being overwhelmed, I hope that hearing about God’s provision on this day helps you to rejoice and remember! 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

When God Says Wait

Right now we are driving back from a trip to Kampala that ended with no progress on the passport. We are still waiting on one document from the National Identification and Registration Administration office in Kampala. Apparently the only printer that can print this certain document is not working. It hasn’t been working for a week now. The IT guy has been busy and so we have been asked again to “be patient.” At around 4pm, we were told that he will not get to it today so we should begin the journey home from Kampala. It is usually at least a 2 hour drive. We will see how traffic is this afternoon. Not too bad right now. 


I have been praying (and asking many of you to pray) that we would get this document today so that we could apply for the passport, which we need to then receive before we can apply for a visa to travel at our Christmas break. As you can see there are many steps. We were hoping to make progress on one of those steps today since we are on a break from school. The next two weeks are full with teaching during the day and parent teacher conferences after school. If the document is printed during that time, I will need to find some way to get back to Kampala to apply for the visa. I trust that God will work out those details when the time comes. 

As we explained to our children, who were all patiently waiting with us at a restaurant for over 4 hours after many hours in the van and much waiting at other places, one of my children said, “So this whole trip was a waste of time?” While I was feeling that way myself, it made me think about how we as a family can try to use this experience as an opportunity for growth rather than feeding off of one another’s frustrations. So as we were sitting in some traffic, I asked my children to think about what truths from God’s Word we can remember to encourage each other during this time. I usually turn to Romans chapter 8 for encouragement, but I also wanted my children to have a chance to share their own thoughts from God’s Word. Most of my children weren’t ready to say anything, but one of my children reminded us of the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 which says:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.” 
Some people might use this verse to say that God is going to always work things out in the way we want, but that was obviously not the case today. But I am learning to trust that God’s good plans sometimes are more about the things He is teaching me and the way He is shaping my character than about fixing the situation. So I will trust Him. Sometimes it easier and sometimes it is more difficult for me. But even when I don’t feel it, I will choose to remind myself that God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Counting the Cost

Lately, I have been struggling with living across the ocean from my family. My dad had double knee replacement surgery recently. My mom has been busy and sometimes overwhelmed with caring for him.  I am thankful that my brothers are both nearby and that my parents have a wonderful church community and other friends who have been there with them. I am also extremely thankful for technology which allows me to video chat with them often. But I wish I could be there and hug them. We do have a “fall break” right now in our school schedule, and David was willing to juggle things at home for a week with our 5 kids. As I discussed the possibility of going for a visit, my parents didn’t think it was worth the trouble and cost since in the end it would be less than a handful of days of me being there with them before I needed to fly back to teach again. (One other teacher is also currently away and finding a substitute for middle and high school mathematics isn’t easy.) 

While I have been sad about not being able to be with my parents at this time, I have also been hoping and praying that we would be able to visit them as a family around Christmas time. Evie’s adoption was finalized in August and I thought surely we would have the documents to be able to travel by December. It is now October and it feels like we have made very little progress in this process. It has been a bit discouraging. When we apply for any document we are told to wait weeks to months for it. The usual wording is “be patient.” In general I used to think of myself as a patient person, but lately it has been a struggle. We have time off school this week during which we could go to Kampala to apply for the passport if we had these two documents that we are still waiting to receive. When we start back to school next week we have parent teacher conferences every day for two weeks. It would be very difficult to get to the passport office in Kampala during those two weeks. By the time we reach the end of our conference schedule, it will be just a little over a month from the time we need to leave if we are going to travel. It will also take time to process the passport and then time to get a visa. All of this makes me think that we need to get these documents this week. 

Here is a picture of Evie and me from our Ugandan culture celebration last week. Don’t you think this beautiful little girl would bring some cheer to her grandparents? 

As I was talking with a Ugandan friend this morning, we were discussing how we often don’t know what God is doing in a situation and it can be a struggle to trust him in the midst of the unknowns. She shared about being deceived and the money she had worked hard to save, being stolen. I shared about my struggles with wanting to see my family, but the challenges of getting all the documents. I also told her that I am trying to choose to trust that God has a good plan whether or not we get these documents. I remembered the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Daniel chapter three. We talked about how these three men had to trust God with something much bigger than visiting their parents. They had refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol and were going to be thrown into a burning fiery furnace. And this is how they answered the king:
 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.” (Daniel 3: 16-18)

You may wonder, how does getting a passport relate to worshiping an idol? I am realizing that when I demand that God works when and how I want, I’m actually setting my desires up as the idol. It is a good thing to want my family to be able to travel together so that Evie can meet our family in the US. But when I get angry with God and irritable with others when it doesn’t happen, it reveals that this good desire has become an idol in my heart. I want to be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, saying that God is able to provide these documents so that we can travel, but even if he does not, I will still worship only him.

Please pray with me that God will provide these documents for our family to be able to travel together. But also pray with me that regardless of how he chooses to answer that request, I will trust in him knowing that his plans are best. 


Saturday, September 14, 2019

One Day at a Time

Have you ever felt like you don’t know how you are going to make it through an upcoming challenge? I’ve recently had a few conversations like this with friends. When my tongue is painful, I often reflect on the challenges I have beeen through and think, “I can’t go through that again.” And I begin to worry. It is so easy for fear to take over. 

But then I remember that I don’t need the strength for the entire upcoming challenge right now. I just need the strength for this moment. I don’t even need to have the strength for the whole day ahead of me. I just need God to strengthen me for the task at hand. I often borrow trouble and worry about how God is going to provide what we need weeks and months down the road, but Jesus teaches us to ask God for our “daily bread.” I would like to ask God to give me the month’s supply of bread up front so I can plan. But God wants me to depend on Him day by day, moment by moment. That is so contrary to my North American culture. We have been taught to plan, to save for the emergency situation, to have insurance for everything. And I’m not saying that planning is bad. But when my hope is in my plans instead of my Savior it is a problem. When things don’t go as I planned, or for some reason I’m not able to see the plan, that is when I realize where my trust is. It is gracious that God doesn’t always show me how He will provide for my needs. He knows that peace does not come from being prepared for every contingency, but in trusting in Him and His goodness in the midst of my struggles and fears. So today, I am asking God for the strength for today and I am choosing to trust Him with all my tomorrows. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Starting the Week Feeling Weak

This past weekend wiped me out. Friday was an emotionally exhausting day of rushing my daughter around after her seizure. We arrived home after dark and then needed to prepare for the next day. Saturday was Elijah’s first rugby tournament, a board meeting and a birthday party for a friend in town. We left Jinja for what is usually a 30 minute drive home at about 8pm. We saw terrible traffic due to an accident so we tried an alternate route. Since it has been very rainy lately and they have been working on this dirt road, we found many vehicles stuck in the mud. Our four wheel drive kept us from getting stuck, but the road was impassable due to all the other vehicles. So we turned around and headed back to sit in traffic on the main road. We arrived home at 11:45. 

Since Evie’s seizure we have been giving her medicine every four hours to make sure her fever did not spike again. This means that I’ve been processing and praying, taking some time to fall asleep and then getting 2-3 hours of sleep before waking again. Sunday was busier than usual with going into town for church, staying to celebrate some of my friends’ birthdays and then family church with the kids and families and housemoms here at GSF. I did squeeze in a run to give me a needed boost to make it through the day. 

Here I am on Monday morning, feeling unprepared for the week ahead, not even knowing what happened in my classes on Friday, and having very little energy. The two things that keep coming to mind are the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour” and when the Lord tells the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) So as I start this week feeling weak, I am going to believe that God’s grace is sufficient for me. I am going to continue to pray remembering my need for His strength. (And I’m also going to look for a chance to get some rest.) 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Time to Practice

Yesterday morning, I woke early to finish writing my previous post about Isaiah 43 and my struggle with fear. Little did I know how I would need those truths in the day to come. On the previous day Evie had a fairly high fever, but no other obvious symptoms. We tested for malaria and it was negative. We assumed it was a viral fever that a friend had for about 24hours. When Evie woke and didn’t seem to have a fever we decided to go on to school and have Evie with the woman who cares for her while I teach in the mornings. At about 10am, while I was teaching my second class, our friend drove up to the school quickly. As I walked out of my classroom, I saw David running toward the clinic with Evie in his arms. As I ran to him, I saw that her eyes were rolled back and her body was limp. My heart nearly stopped. 

We quickly decided that we needed to take her to the clinic in town, so I went to get the van and returned to school. As I returned, I moved to sit in the back seat and David handed Evie to me. She was non-responsive and all I could do was hold her limp body and pray. David was driving us to the clinic as quickly as possible. I was alternating between praying for Evie and telling her how much I love her and God loves her when she began moaning and holding onto me a little bit. After a while she started saying, “Mama.” As we were on our way to town, the words of Isaiah 43 kept passing through my mind. 

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The clinic in Jinja did some bloodwork, and as we waited for the results I walked outside with Evie and sang Isaiah 43. By this time she had recovered significantly, but was hysterically crying from the several attempts to draw blood. The bloodwork did not show anything abnormal and the doctor referred us to Kampala. After another long drive and more tests, the doctor there determined that Evie had a febrile seizure brought on by a fever related to a throat infection. It was 8pm by the time we reached home. 

We certainly had a day that felt like passing through fire. I am thankful that God prepared my heart to survive that day by equipping me with the truths from the beginning of Isaiah 43. I can’t say that I went through the day without fear, but I can say that God was with me and He was my God and Savior in the midst of an extremely scary day. It occurs to me that the passage does not say, “if” you pass through the waters and “if” you walk through the fire. No, it and “when.”  Yesterday was one of those times for us. And my faithful God kept all of His promises. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Do Not Fear

Over the past month or so, I have been struggling more than usual with fear and worry. The occasion this time is my tongue. About a month ago, I noticed some minor changes in the appearance of my tongue. That may sound like a strange reason to worry if you don’t know my history. Five and a half years ago, I had surgery to remove some pre-cancerous areas on my tongue. In the end about 10% of my tongue was removed from the side. It was a very painful recovery and due to some nerve damage, I have had a burning sensation on that part of my tongue ever since. There is an American dentist here in Uganda who has done check-ups ever since the surgery, so I went in to ask him to look at the spot. He said that some changes in appearance are normal as we age and he was not concerned about the appearance of it. Then I started back to school and got a cold. Those sound fairly normal for a teacher at this time of year, and they are. The problem is that as I use my tongue more, the pain increases. This has been the case since my surgery five and a half years ago. When I have a cold, I use my tongue more to clear my throat and swallow. When I teach, I obviously am using my tongue more for talking. This combination has led to a significant increase in that burning sensation on the area of my tongue where I had surgery. These tongue troubles have been the occasion for many of my recent struggles with fear. 

I say that these tongue troubles are the occasion for my struggle because I know that they are not the reason for my struggle with fear. The reason has much more to do with heart issues and less to do with the situation. My heart wants to know what the future holds. My heart fears going through difficult, painful times again. And my heart often spends more time looking at my circumstances than looking to my God who has promised to be with me through it all. 

This is why Isaiah 43 has been on my mind so much recently. In this passage, God reminds us that when we go through difficult times (passing through waters, waves, fire), He will be with us and will be our Savior. There is no promise that difficult times will not come. On the contrary, many passsages in Scripture tell us that we will experience trials, difficulties and challenges in this life. Our hope is not in the absence of problems, but in the One who has promised to be with us. God, who created us, knows us, loves us and has called us by name, promises to be with us and to be our Savior in the midst of the difficult times that will come. 

The question that I have to ask myself is this? Will I look at the water, the waves and the fire and live in fear, or will I look to my Savior in faith? I continue to struggle with my natural tendency of fear, but God is strengthening my faith and teaching me to focus on who He is, and what He has promised in His Word. So today, I am asking God to give me faith to believe that the waves will not overcome me. I am asking him to help me not fear, for He is my Lord and is with me. 

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-3

Monday, August 19, 2019

Adoption!!!


(Above photo from our first day of school)

Today is the day! Evie is now permanently a member of our family! It is hard to believe it is finally true! For two years she has been our foster daughter and we have been working toward and looking forward to this day. The judge has granted our petition for adoption, but the written ruling had the wrong birthdate, so it feels a little anticlimactic right now. We are still waiting for the paperwork to get sorted, but we are celebrating!

I told Evie that she is now officially adopted. That doesn’t really mean anything to her, partly because she is only 2 years old and partly because she has been with our famil since she was 6 months old. As I was thinking about the significance of Evie’s adoption, I thought of some things that I want her to always know. First, I want her to know that she is completely loved by her parents and will always be a member of our family. Nothing will ever change that. Secondly, I want her to know that as our daughter, all we have is hers. She already calls our home “Evie’s House” and our van “Evie’s car.” Thirdly, I want her to know that her brothers and sister love her so much and she will always be one of the Fish kids. It is so beautiful to see the way they care for her and she has started calling Ezra and Zeke “my boys.” If they have gone to play with friends she will say, “Where are my boys?” Finally, I want her to know that she does not need to worry or fear because we will care for all of her needs. It is beautiful to see the way she trusts us. Sometimes it is a little scary, like when she climbs up high and then just dives, trusting me to catch her. 

It occurs to me that God wants me to trust Him in that way and know these same things about being adopted into His family. I want to remember that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) I have been adopted into God’s family and I have brothers and sisters who are committed to loving me. God has also said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."(Hebrews 13:5) There are some beautiful truths in Galatians that have even more meaning to me now. 

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (‭‭Galatians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭ESV)
Evie knows that her father loves her and has no fear to ask, “Daddy, can I have an ice cream?” Her father delights in giving her good gifts. How much more can I trust and freely approach my Heavenly Father? I hope and pray that Evie will be secure in her adoption and the love we have for her. I also pray that I will find that security, love, trust, joy and rest in the adoption I have from my Heavenly Father through Jesus. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Some answers

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬ ‭

Recently God has redirected our steps in several ways. We had plans about what we thought this school year would look like. We had a teacher we were expecting to join us and several fewer students in mind when we began our plans. But God has determined our steps and blessed us with many new families at our school. While we had no idea what God was doing, he was preparing the heart of teacher named Miss Blake to come to Uganda for the summer and eventually to visit GSF and agree to serve with us filling in our need for a teacher beginning in January. We are so excited to have Miss Blake join our teaching team, and she was already able to join us for our back-to school, team-building retreat! Below is a photo from a great trip! 
She has also committed to teaching with us for at least the following two school years. This week she will head back to the US to prepare to join us in January. This answer to our prayers is so much greater than we could have ever imagined!

Another thing we have been praying about is Evie’s adoption. This morning, as we were preparing for the first day of regular classes for our school year, David got a message from the clerk of the court asking if he could come in this morning. David came up with some ideas about how to get his upperclassmen started on a few assignments and then went to town with hopes of being back in time for his later classes. It all worked out and David was able to meet with the clerk about when we are coming to receive the adoption ruling, how many copies of the ruling will be needed, and to make sure the names on the ruling will match the passport, and a few other details. It was an encouraging meeting, and it sounds like we will likely have a positive adoption ruling on August 19. We aren’t celebrating yet, but we are hopeful. Please continue to pray with us! 

All of these unexpected and last-minute changes of our plans, have reminded me of this verse above. We had plans of what we thought this school year would look like, but God has determined our steps, and we are thankful! His ways are much better than our ways. It doesn't always feel that way, particularly when we need to scramble to reorganize things. But God has graciously shown us ways that He is working for our good as He determines our steps. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Ready or Not

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ in God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”‭‭  2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬
We start back to school in two days and people keep asking me, “Are you ready?” The honest answer is “no.” I’m excited about school and looking forward to starting back, but there are many things I was trying to get done this summer that I didn’t finish. I had a goal of focusing on potty training with Evie this summer, but we only made a little progress in that. My classroom is still not fully organized. Since we have been adding new students throughout the summer, I’m not even certain if we have all the curriculum and materials needed for this school year. (It is tricky getting heavy textbooks across the ocean and many of them are supposed to arrive on the day before school starts.) I also still need to print schedules for teachers and students, and work on lesson plans. But while all of these things can feel a bit overwhelming, there is something more that has been weighing on my mind.

It has always been our desire for our school to be a place of grace. A place where students know they are loved and safe and learn to live out the truths of the gospel in their daily lives. We certainly do not do this perfectly and our school is far from utopia, but this is our goal and what we are working toward with our students. We want them to have much more than knowledge when they leave our school. We want them to know Jesus more because of the relationships they have had at our school which demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus Christ. This goal is certainly not something that we can accomplish on our own. It feels overwhelming to try to create that type of school atmosphere, particularly when one third of our students will be new to our school. There will be new social dynamics, everyone trying to figure out where they fit, and all of this with kids who have experienced much more transition and sometimes trauma than the typical American kid. It is exciting to be able to love on and disciple these kids, but the task is definitely bigger than me.

This week the sermon in our church was on the passage above. I am not sufficient to the task of these upcoming challenges, but my "sufficiency is from God, who has made me us to be ministers of a new covenant." He made us teachers to be ministers to these students and He is sufficient to the task! One of my favorite worship songs that I learned many years ago is "He is Able."

He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today.
He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes my way.
He is able more than able, to do much more than I could ever dream.
He is able, more than able to make me what he wants me to be.
So today, as I see how I am not sufficient, I am going to remember that Christ in me is sufficient and He will accomplish His good purposes for today. So even if I am not "ready," God is and He will give us the strength and grace to do all He has called me to do today. He will do much more than we could ask or image. (Eph. 3:20)

Monday, July 1, 2019

When Yes Feels Like No

On Sunday, David preached a sermon on a section of second Corinthians that contained this verse
"For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (Jesus). That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (2 Corinthians 1:20)
While David preached about how all the promises of God find their Yes in Jesus, he also talked about what it looks like when  the yes we receive from God doesn't always feel like a yes to us. Our family got some opportunity to put this into practice when we found out on Monday that the judge who heard our petition for adoption has been called away to hear cases in Northern Uganda for a month. Apparently all his other cases are "on hold" for now. Later on Monday, we got word that the teacher is definitely not going to be joining us for this school year. David had taken time on Monday to pray specifically about these two things. That certainly seemed like two "no" answers to our prayers.

Going back to Sunday. Since David was preaching I had signed up to lead the Kids' Time. Sometimes that is a brief lesson before the sermon and sometimes it is incorporating the kids into the sermon. This week David and I had come up with a plan for the kids to read some of the promises of God that find their Yes in Jesus about halfway through his sermon. After one child would read a promise, all the children would shout "Amen!" Some of the toddlers even joined in with their "Amen." These are the promises of God that we affirmed at church:
Exodus 14:14 - “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 
Isaiah 40:29 - “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” 
Isaiah 41:10 - “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 
Deuteronomy 31:8 – “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 
Psalm 86:5 – “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” 
Isaiah 40:31- “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
 Psalm 84:11 - "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly."
 While these answers to our prayers on Monday felt like a "no" we remember that these promises of God are all Yes in Jesus. God is fighting for us. He will give us His strength and uphold us. He is our God! He goes before us into this coming school year and has plans for our good, to give us hope. Our good Lord is with us and loves us. He will enable me to do whatever He calls me to do this school year. He will give me the strength to wait for this next month and will go before us in our court ruling. And he will give us what is best.

In David's sermon, he referred to John Piper's sermon on this same passage in 2 Corinthians. One of the main points Piper made was that, "God will answer our prayers in the way we ask or in a way that is better than what we asked." I don't see how it is better for us to need to scramble this month to find a new teacher or reshuffle the schedule, but I am going to trust that God has something better for us. I don't understand why waiting another month for the judge's ruling on Evie's adoption is best, but God does. He is good, abounding in love, working for our good. And even though we don't see or understand the "better" plan that God has, we will walk by faith and not by sight. And when our faith is weak, we will pray like the father in Mark 9:24, "I believe; help my unbelief!" 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Still Waiting

Many people have written to let me know that they are praying and wanting to know if we have received our ruling from the court. We are grateful for all the prayers and support we have received while we wait. But we are still waiting. 

We have friends who waited 6 months or longer for their ruling, so I know that it can take a very long time here. When the judge told us that it would be ready in a week, I was a little shocked. This judge is known to be faster than some others at giving out his rulings. While I told myself that I would be happy even if we got the ruling in 2-3 weeks, when Friday afternoon came and the lawyer said that the clerk said it will be ready next week, I was very disappointed. 

In the evening, all the emotions of the past couple of weeks overwhelmed me and I sat on my bedroom floor and sobbed. This adoption process is very emotional. When I have been the only mama this little girl can remember, and I have loved her as my daughter for almost 2 years now and prayed for her for months before that, my heart is very vulnerable. I have been trying to go on with life, caring for my family and organizing and preparing for our school year. 

This spring and summer have been busy with meeting with several families who are inquiring whether their children can join our school. We have tried to accommodate as many families as possible without negatively impacting the quality of the education we can offer. Missionary families often do not have many educational options, so we want to serve and support as many of them as we are able. It has been exciting to see our school grow, but it has also been a lot of work. Since our students often come from a wide-range of educational backgrounds, we try to make an educational plan and class schedule that will meet each student’s needs. Trying to make sure we have ordered all the curriculum needed for each student, juggling the schedules with limited teachers and caring for the needs of my 5 children who are out of school for the summer has been a lot for me. We have reached the point where we do not have any more space in several of our classes, and telling friends that we cannot assist with the education of their children always makes me sad. 

Then this week we got news that the elementary school teacher who was planning to join us for the next two school years may not be coming. I am now trying to reorganize schedules and figure out how we are going to cover those classes. I have several ideas, but most of them include me teaching all day with no planning period and coming home as my toddler wakes from her nap ready to go. 😳 Since our school starts in one month, it is highly unlikely that someone else would be able to join us that quickly. Thankfully, a couple weeks before getting this news, we got word that our first graduate is going to come back to Uganda to assist us this year. She is not a teacher, but has worked with small groups of students in the past. She even taught Ezra to read while she was still a student. Now he can’t stop reading. I trust that God is at work even in this uncertainty about how our school year will work out. We should know for certain whether this teacher will be joining us next week.

Next week. It seems like all of this waiting for next week will never end. Even when we reach next week, I am sure there will be more questions and steps in this waiting process. Once the adoption is completed in Uganda, we still have to get a Ugandan passport for Evie and then apply for the US to recognize her adoption and grant her citizenship. That process now requires several months of waiting for an invitation to come to the US for the interview. We may need to apply for a visitor visa before that since we want to visit family, friends and partners in our ministry who are in the US. We will need to wait to see if that visa will be granted or denied before we can make any travel plans. 

So we wait and pray.... 

It isn’t easy. Sometimes, like last night, I sit on the floor and sob to let it all out. But I also try to get up early and take all of these concerns weighing on my mind to the Lord. He says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That rest often seems elusive to me, but it is often because I try to figure out how to solve all the worlds problems on my own. I need to let God be God and I can rest in Him. It is much easier said than done. As I struggle through this time of waiting, I used my Bible app to look up verses on waiting. It is easy for me to to think that I am waiting for a certain event or a challenge to be resolved. But as I looked up the word “wait” I realized that it is often used to remind us to “wait on the Lord.”  Knowing that we have a good and faithful Lord, waiting on Him has a very different feeling than simple waiting for a circumstantial change. Here are some of the Psalms that were encouraging to me this morning:
Psalm 27:14 - “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 130:5 - “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”
Psalm 33:20 - “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” 
Psalm 39:7 - “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” 
Knowing that my hope is in the Lord and not in a certain outcome helps me not worry while I wait. He is my help and my shield. Even though I struggle as I wait, I will continue to run to His Word for my hope. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Waiting and Remembering our Adoption

This week, on Tuesday, we went to court for Evie’s adoption. We arrived a little before 9am and waited until sometime around 11am when they told us that our case would be heard at 2:30pm. Since we were all tired of sitting quietly in our best clothes, we took a little break and went to lunch at a place with a playground for our younger children to get some of their energy out. Here is a picture of us waiting that morning outside the courtroom. 


When we came back at 2:00, the judge was ready to see us, so we gathered everyone involved in the case and spent the next 2 hours in the judges chambers in one of the most emotionally taxing situations I could imagine. Adoption is a beautiful thing, but if there was not brokenness, there wouldn’t be any reason for it. Rehashing that story is heartbreaking and painful. I won’t share any of those details here. That is Evie’s story to share or not when she gets older. There were also some unexpected challenges that arose legally.  Because Evie is two years old and was missing naptime and the judge needed to be able to hear each person speak, I was in and out of the room. As he was wrapping things up he asked if I wanted to come back in and had anything to add. I had been wanting to speak up at several points in the discussion, and now I had an opportunity. This is basically what I said:
“We love Evie Kisakye and want her to be a permanent part of our family. We live here in Uganda and we want her to know her birth family. But we also want her to be free to travel with us and to have all the rights and privileges of being fully our daughter.”
After I spoke the judge told us he would give us his ruling sometime next week. So now we wait. 

As I was speaking those words to the judge, it occurred to me that God has adopted me into his family and he wants me to experience all the rights and privileges of being his daughter. Sometimes I forget that the God of the universe has loved me. He went through something much more difficult than the adoption process here in Uganda to bring me into His family. He sacrificed his one and only Son in order to adopt you and me. We are fully his children, his heirs. Why is it that I so often feel like I need to take care of myself when God is my loving Father and wants to care for me? I am learning, slowly by slowly, to trust my Heavenly Father with all things. Right now, I am trusting Him with this adoption process. I’m trusting that He loves us and Evie more than we could ever imagine and is working for our good even through this time of waiting. And as we walk the challenging road of adoption, I thank God that He walked a much more difficult one in order to adopt me and you. Let’s live and enjoy the full rights of being His sons and daughters. 
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Don’t Lose Heart

Over the course of one month’s time I had two separate cases of malaria and then came down with a severe bacterial infection with a high fever and many body systems affected. From the end of April through the end of May there were very few days where I was well. Anyone who is a teacher in the American educational system knows that the month of May is often very busy. This May included a school play, wrapping up a semester, exams, an awards ceremony and graduation. We also have been working on plans for next school year as we have had several new families ask if we might have space for their children in our school. While the final stretch of the school year is always challenging, my sickness added additional obstacles. During exam week, I received IV fluids and antibiotics while administering an Algebra 2 exam. 

All teachers also know that when the students are done, the teachers are not. We still have grades to finalize and classrooms and textbooks to organize and things to order for next school year. So the first week of June was busy with many of those things along with having 5 children who are now on summer break. We decided that after this exhausting stretch, our family needed some time away for rest. 

We traveled east to the mountains on the border with Kenya to stay at a lodge near some beautiful waterfalls. We have enjoyed some quiet, peaceful time in nature, a beautiful hike,  nice picnic lunches and fun family game times. But in the midst of this beautiful, peaceful place I am still struggling to be at peace in my mind. Next week we are scheduled to have a court date for Evie’s adoption. I got word that another friend who was scheduled to see this same judge this week had her court date canceled. We also still need to get some documents and have been trying to coordinate that. 

Even as I am lying here cuddling with this precious girl during her nap time, my stomach is churning thinking about this upcoming court date. Evie has been with our family for almost 2 years now. While I have no logical reason to fear that the judge will rule against her being adopted into our family, that fear is sometimes overwhelming. I am trying to learn how to trust God with each moment and not worry about tomorrow. Honestly, I’m not doing a great job with that right now. 

Sometimes remembering how God has worked in the past and seeing his faithfulness gives me encouragement and hope about how He will continue to work. This year’s graduation was a real blessing to me. We had four seniors graduate who have all been in our school for the past 3 years. As they each gave speeches and reflected on their high school experience, I was reminded of how God has worked in each of their lives in amazing ways. They have grown into extraordinary young women who are “rooted and grounded” in the love of Jesus. (Ephesians 3:17) 



Galatians 6:9 reminds us “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not lose heart.”
I realize that after a rough month of illnesss and a lot of work, I have been growing weary. But seeing how God is at work in the lives of our students was an encouragement to me to not lose heart. This adoption process has also left me weary at times. We have been waiting for this court date for almost a year. But as I remember God’s faithful work in the lives of my students, I will also trust Him to be at work in this adoption process. Part of the harvest that we will reap is personal growth in patience and perseverance. While the process is not always fun, I am learning to trust that God is at work, and I just need to take the next step following where He leads me. And when I have the privilege of seeing the fruit of the harvest, I want to rejoice in the ways God is at work and allow His faithfulness to encourage me to persevere in those times when I am a bit weary. 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Mother’s Day Mahem

On Mother’s Day I was thankful that our family had the opportunity to love on some kids who are good friends of my older children. While I was blessed to be able to show a mother’s love to these kids, I also was grieving over the situations that lead to many children not being with their families. When we arrived at church, I needed a few minutes to just sit in the van and cry about the moms who can’t care for their children and the children who haven’t been able to receive their mother’s love. This life is such a mixture of grief and joy, brokenness and blessing. I’m thankful for a church family that also understands and walks together through these moments. Looking around the room in our church, where there are almost as many well-loved foster and adopted kids as there are biological ones, I was once again reminded that God brings beauty out of ashes. While I was waiting to hear from the social worker about how long these kids were going to be able to stay with our family, I asked my church friends to pray that I would trust God in the midst of challenging situations. 

As church went on I started feeling ill. After church we went out to lunch and my stomach just wasn’t feeling right. I thought it might be anxiety waiting to hear from the social worker and my concern for these kids that our family loves. We got word that they were allowed to stay with us for a week and we were thankful. As I told them, I wondered how to even process something like this. At least we had a plan for more than just today. 

By the time we reached home I was definitely not feeling well and my fever was high. I realized that I had malaria for the second time in less than a month. Ugh. Thankfully we caught it early and I only had a few days of feeling really lousy. 

One  morning recently as I woke early praying for these kids I love, I had a lot of questions for God. My heart was heavy and my mind was swirling with all the challenges of each situation. As I opened God’s Word I read Isaiah 40:28-31.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator or the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
As I read this passage, I knew it was exactly what I needed to hear. God opened my eyes to see how this passage spoke right to me. Below is my personalized paraphrase of this passage. 
“Lisa, did you forget Who I am? I am the God who created this whole world. I know exactly what these kids need and you don’t have to. I’ve got it. You don’t have the strength or wisdom to carry this situation, but I do. Trust me and I will give you the strength to love freely without feeling like it is up to you to fix things you are incapable of fixing. I am God and you are not.”
While I don’t know what tomorrow or even today will hold. I know that God is the Creator. He has all things in His hands and He is good. As a math teacher I love solving problems, but many of life’s problems are not for me to solve. I’m learning, slowly, that my job is less about trying to solve the problem and more about following my Lord and just loving the people he brings into my life, one day at a time. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Trusting God with My Teens

As my children grow, I realize even more that I need to trust God with them. I am not able to change their hearts. That is God’s job. I am not able to control circumstances and protect them from pain. When they need protecting God will do it, but He sometimes allows painful experiences in our lives to help us grow and know Him more deeply. I am learning that I often need to talk to God about my teenagers more than I need to talk to my teens. 

My children will tell you that I don’t have all this down yet. I want to control things and often speak too quickly or intervene when I should let them work something out. I’m not saying that I should no longer offer advice or even instruction, but I am learning that there are some things that they might learn better on their own. 

I have a particularly interesting challenge in being both mother and teacher to my teenagers. I see their interactions with their friends at school, their misunderstandings, their hurts and I often want to jump in and solve their problems. I wish I could, but I can’t always fix it. And what high school boy wants his mommy to intervene in all of his interactions? Would that boy ever learn to become a man if he was always protected from painful interactions and constantly instructed in how to handle each situation? 

As a math teacher, I know that students learn better if they are given opportunities to solve problems on their own without the teacher always jumping in. It is important to give students tools and skills, but they also need to learn to be able to work through problems, developing perseverance and independence. Sometimes that is a challenge for me as I see a student struggling. I want them to get the answer, but I know that it is more important for them to learn to do it on their own. When they ask questions I try to guide and advise. I often want to just grab the pencil and do it for them, which I sometimes do, but I know that it is usually better for me to just provide a small amount of assistance as they ask along the way. When I grab the pencil, it is often a lack of patience on my part. When I offer my kids too much unasked for advice or direction, it might be that same lack of patience. 

In math class, I sometimes choose not to answer questions because of how it will benefit my students. In parenting, I am learning to trust that God is working for good in my children’s lives through their struggles, and it isn’t always my job to step in the middle of that. I want God to develop perseverance and endurance in their lives and I want them to become mature. The hard part is that these things usually come through trials. It is one thing to experience personal trials, but it requires another level of faith to trust God when those we love are struggling. God is stretching and growing me as I am learning to trust that He is good and is working for good in the lives of my children, even when I see them struggle. 
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James‬ ‭1:2-4 NIV
I have seen the good work God has begun in their lives and I am trusting “that he who began a good work in (them) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
‭‭(Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NIV)‬‬ While I am sure I will still sometimes speak out of fear and a desire to fix things that are not mine to fix, I want to learn to walk with my teenagers in faith, trusting that God has them in His very capable hands and is faithfully at work in their lives. 

Here are our oldest two looking way too grown up as they go to our school Spring Formal. We were there as  teacher/chaperones. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Taking the Next Step

Today was my first chance to go for a run since I have been back in Uganda. It was rejuvenating! I do some of my best thinking when I am able to exercise and pray and process. Life has been very busy since I returned from my brief time in the states. We have a lot going on with our school as we wrap up the third quarter and prepare for parent-teacher conferences. We have also been in communication with some prospective students with one family visiting our school last week. On the adoption front, there has been some progress, but every step toward adoption is also a step that includes grieving over the losses that put Evie in need of a family.

This afternoon I found myself with so many questions about the future swirling in my head. The kids were all doing well and David was home, so I decided to go for a run. As I was running and praying about all theses questions, I reached a hill. I decided I was going to try to run the whole way up, and then did what I usually do. I put my head down looking only at the next step and asked God to give me the strength to make it up the hill. In my years of running, I have found that if I look at the whole hill, I sometimes get overwhelmed and might not make it to the top. With the uneven terrain of our village, it can also be a bit precarious to not look down considering where to place my next step. I have injured my knee, my ankle and my toe at various times when I was distracted and not looking where I was going. All this to say, I just try to focus on one step at a time.

As I was running up the hill, I remembered how much this can be like life. Sometimes when I think of all the challenges to come and questions I have about the future, I can get overwhelmed. But I am going to choose to ask God to give me the strength for today and take the next step. I don’t need to worry about the whole hill. Or tomorrow. Instead I will look where God has called me to serve today. To love my family well. To take the next step in the adoption process. To teach my students. To persevere in the things God has called me to do today. 

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:34‬ ‭

May God give us the strength for the next step and the ability to trust Him with all our tomorrows. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Airplane Reflections on My Final Destination



At almost every check-in counter and several security check-points in the various airports we have visited over the past two weeks, they often ask this question, “What is your final destination?”  It always strikes me as a funny question. On this trip, we travelled to one city, spent a week near there, to another city for another four days, then had an overnight layover in another city and are now on our way back home to Uganda. I understand that these security officers and airport staff are asking where we are headed to make sure they do their jobs properly in assisting us in getting to our destination safely. But every time I hear this question, I am reminded that my final destination is not any city on this earth. My final destination is eternity with my Savior. 

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:14-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I may be more keenly aware of this truth since I live in a country where I don’t look like I belong due to the color of my skin. And when I travel to the US, I don’t always feel like I belong since I have lived in Uganda for over 5 years now. While that can lead to some challenges, it also reminds me where I do belong. 

During my brief trip to the US, I was reminded about how comfortable life can be there. The comforts of great water pressure in hot showers, comfortable beds in temperature regulated homes, seat warmers, smooth roads, recliners, and delicious food always available within a few minutes can lull  us into thinking that life is all about us and our comfort. It can even give us a false sense that this world is my “final destination.” We can forget that God has so much better and more in store for us. We have a final destination, a heavenly city to come. I want to live today acknowledging that Jesus Christ has given me the gift of an eternal city. I can offer sacrifices of praise in this life whether I am comfortable or not, because of the hope I have through Jesus. And as I remember that I am looking forward to the city that is to come, I can share with those in need in my city, town or village, because God has already provided me with the thing I need most, a home with Him. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Overwhelmed by Generosity!

I have been in the US for almost a week now and every time I have gone into a restaurant or store, someone else has paid for me. The only exception is when I have taken Elijah out, without anyone else I know being around. I had plans to take him on a lunch date on my own dime, but first a friend offered us her gift certificate and then the owner of the store gave us a free meal! Another friend told me she had sold some eggs from her chickens and wanted to give us a gift to help us build our chicken coop in Uganda. David has been talking about this for years, but we haven’t yet set apart the time and money to make it happen. This one friend has given enough “egg money” to cover the expense. Another friend gave an extremely generous gift to Elijah. Our church family has taken care of all of our needs including help with computer problems and more. Our amazingly generous friends have let us drive their car, stay in their house, and eat their food. Friends have given us books and clothes and asked if there is anything else we want or need. It has been overwhelming!

As Elijah and I were talking about being recipients of such lavish generosity, he made a commitment that really struck me. He said, “Sometimes it is hard to receive all of this generosity, but these are just small examples of what we have been given every day.” I asked if he meant that because we live on the support, all of our life is a gift. He explained that what he meant was that everything is a gift from God, no matter how it comes to us. Whether it is through generous friends or a job that God has provided and given us the skills to do, all good gifts come from our Heavenly Father. Elijah also meant that God’s grace to us through Jesus, bringing us into His family and giving us eternal life, is also a daily gift. 

Our struggle with receiving so many gifts is that we feel like we need to do something to earn or deserve these things. But what could have I ever done to deserve forgiveness of all my sins, and God’s perfect love for me? Obviously, nothing. And what have I done to deserve these amazingly generous gifts? Nothing. God has chosen to show us a small tangible expression of his grace through these generous friends. And I want to receive all His good gifts with joy and a thankful heart. 

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Monday, February 25, 2019

Safely Stateside

Here I lie in a comfy bed unable to sleep because it is the middle of the day on the other side of the world, where I was just yesterday, or maybe it was two days ago, I’m not really sure in my jet lagged state. Most of my family is still over there, and I miss them. I’m here in the US for a brief time to connect with family, friends, and ministry partners. 
As I looked in the mirror this morning, I realized that in this place I look different. I feel tired and old. The bags under my eyes from travel and my wrinkles seem much more prominent than on my most tired days in Uganda. When I get up in the morning there, I am most concerned with having time alone with God to pray and read the Bible with a cup of coffee before the children need something. Here I woke and thought, “I look terrible, what will everyone at church think of me?” It is embarrassing to me that I came to speak about what God is doing, but am really more concerned with what everyone thinks of me. I wondered what to do to improve my appearance. I don’t usually wear make-up except when I get a chance to go on dates with my husband, and even then, nothing that covers wrinkles or bags. I don’t even own that kind of make-up. As I put on my sweater that I wear every morning in Uganda I now noticed holes that I never saw before. Why is it that every time I come back to the United States, the stains and holes in all my clothes become so obvious to me? I love that in my daily life in Uganda I don’t care about those things. I focus on the people God has given me to love, my family, my students, my neighbors and the children at GSF. I don’t worry about my clothes or appearance. Why should that be any different here? 

In Uganda, my children wear clothes with holes and I don’t care. That is normal. Here I begin to feel embarrassed. It is so strange living in these two very different worlds. It is tricky to learn to live with contentment in both of them. I recently read this post written by another missionary serving in East Africa and it really resonated with my experience. https://www.abwe.org/blog/awkward-missionary-%E2%80%98middle%E2%80%99-between-poverty-and-wealth?fbclid=IwAR1FUHQUIXVqMg2Q2-wwm5zn0Q5aMusP_FUozQtr4oAz41Uzys_UuuHJs8Y

I want to learn to live with contentment in both settings. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4 that he has “ learned the secret of being content in every situation... living in plenty and in want.” I want to live this life of contentment on both sides of the ocean. I thank God for the many ways He shows me His faithful loving care for me and those around me in both places. As I arrived in country, my dear friends had a pile of winter clothes and shoes for me that they either purchased for me or lent to me. It was so good to see God’s provision in something as basic as the clothes I needed in order to stay warm. It reminds me of Matthew 6.
“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?
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?
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew‬ ‭6:25, 28-30, 33‬ ‭ESV‬‬https://bible.com/59/mat.6.25,28-30,33.esv)
As I see God’s provision for each of my basic needs it reminds me that I can be content in each situation. I can choose to live in faith rather than in fear. And I remembering God’s faithful loving care and provision for me is an important part of shifting my focus. I pray that when fears and discontentment begin to take over, I will instead focus on God’s gracious loving care for me and how He has called me to show that love to those around me. Whether I am in Uganda, or in the United States or anywhere in the world, I am in the arms of my loving Savior.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

On my way

Today Elijah and I are on our way for a quick trip to the US. If you haven’t gotten details through our email, either it went to your spam folder or you are not on our mailing list. If you want to join the mailing list, let me know. If you are in the Athens, Georgia area you can come see us at Faith Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Feb.24. If you are near Boca Raton, FL you can find us at Advent Lutheran Church on Sunday, March 3. Please pray for David as he cares for the other four kids while I’m away. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

What a Start!

The start of 2019 has been crazy! I wrote about the incident with the bees attacking some of our neighbors. Since then, so much has happened. One week contained the death of the son of one of our friends, the burial of that child, another friend's child having a strange sickness that caused a temporary total shutdown of her metal faculties, the death of a family friend of many of our students, several families inquiring about our school which led to 4 new students, a home study to prepare for Evie's adoption, a transition in leadership of the Buwundo Beads and Crafts group, working on hiring someone to assist us with cleaning at school and another person to help with caring for Evie while I'm teaching, the death of an elderly neighbor and assisting with details for his burial, and finally, an attack on our ministry by a dozen thieves who entered the homes of two of our missionary families at Good Shepherd's Fold. In the midst of all of this, I have seen God at work in many ways.

I recently listened to a sermon about suffering. This quote caught my attention. "God will graciously give you suffering and faith, so that you might enjoy making much of Him through the fearlessness of faith and the humility of love... In small ways and large ways, you will suffer... The design of this double gift of suffering and grace is humility, love and fearlessness." (John Piper's sermon on Philippians 1) God is graciously giving suffering and faith during this season. I am finding myself less anxious these days in the midst of many challenges. God is growing my faith. I'm sure my struggle with anxiety and fear is not over completely, but God is showing me that I can trust Him to sustain and even grow us through difficulties.

Last week another missionary couple came to visit us here at GSF. They have been connected with the ministry here for many years. As they led our time of team devotions and they shared some words of encouragement  with us. One thing the woman shared was the image of our Lord going before us, preparing the way  for us. It was a good reminder that these struggles are not a surprise to God. He has intended these challenges for our good and gently leads us in and through them. It seems silly for me to be anxious as I walk down the path following my Lord, who loves me, is all-powerful, and is working for my good. Instead I will trust where He leads. I thought I would share this photo Elijah took as a visual representation of that.

We have also seen God provide above and beyond what was needed to replace the things that were stolen. This additional provision will enable GSF to improve our campus security. We also hope and pray that many people are strengthened in their faith through as they hear of the ways God is at work here. And during the week following the theft, some of the GSF staff went to share the love of Christ at a local hospital. They provided some necessary supplies for the hospital and shared the gospel. It was so encouraging to hear that some people put their faith in Jesus Christ as a result of that outreach!

We are thankful that God has given us little glimpses of what He is doing in the midst of this challenging season. Sometimes we just move forward in faith, and sometimes God provides us with a little picture of his good purposes in the midst of it all. Either way, God is good, all the time. And all the time God is good!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bees

On Friday morning I woke hearing wailing coming from the village. David and I assumed someone had died. Soon afterward a neighbor came to ask us for help as some of our elderly neighbors had a swarm of bees enter their home. David went with a can of Doom (the local bug spray) and found several people trying to get the bees away from them. Once the bees were gone we found that the woman was covered with stingers, hundreds of them. Her husband had dozens. We decided that David would go to school and I would drive them and a few other neighbors to the hospital. Esther asked me what to write on the board for my students to do until I returned. She is so helpful and responsible and such a blessing to our family. 

The women who were coming with me to the hospital to help care for them told me to tie something over my hair in case some of the bees followed us into the van. While I drove to the hospital I could hear that the couple was in a great deal of pain. When we arrived at the hospital the nurse quickly gave them injections of cortisone and pain medicine. The woman kept telling us that she was dying. They are elderly and not in great health in general, so I didn’t know if she would survive this attack. As the nurse took care of these medicines and set up an IV drip, she asked the other caregivers and me to remove the stingers. We read Psalm 23 as we began removing the stingers. The woman knew parts of it by heart and was able to even recite some of it with me and help me with the pronunciation of some of the Luganda words. I was so thankful that the pain medicine had started helping. Her face and head had the most stings, although they were all over her body. Just from her lip to her nose I removed over 20 stingers. That is such a sensitive area that it was difficult to convince her to let me remove them, but the nurse said that it was important. I stayed long enough to help remove all of the stingers, to get her cleaned and dressed in a hospital robe and to apply a topical cream. We arranged for their care because at hospitals here it is the responsibility of the family and friends to provide food and any care other than the medical needs.

 I needed to get back to the school to teach my Pre-Calculus and Algebra 1 and 2 classes.  I was a bit frazzled, but I returned to find that my Pre-Calculus students had already worked together to understand the lesson. I’m thankful for my hard-working, cooperative students. 

After school, David decided to suit up in the bee suit he had gotten from someone who had kept bees here. He wanted to go and make sure our neighbor’s house was safe and bee free before we brought them back from the hospital. He only found about 50 bees near a pile of rubbish, but earlier in the day there had been thousands. 


When the the elderly couple had finished receiving treatment at the hospital that evening, I took two of my boys with me to pick them up. I was amazed that the woman was up and able to walk out of the hospital. I had carried her in that morning while she was telling us that she was dying. Her face was still very swollen, but she was significantly improved. I thank God that he has provided us with a vehicle  to use in these emergency situations. I also thank God for the medicines that were available and quickly administered at a nearby hospital. And I thank God for the many neighbors who came to help these two. When I arrived that morning, I found four other neighbors all working to try to get the bees off this couple. I love the way so many came to their aid, even putting themselves in danger. I thank God for providing us with a bee suit months in advance so that David could go and make certain that their house was clear for them to return home. 

While this Friday did not go at all as I had thought or planned, it was a good reminder that God has all our days in His plans. My years in Uganda have taught me that things rarely go as I expected, and that is fine. Since God has my life in his hands, I don’t need to worry so much about the details. I’m thankful for the way He worked things out for the day and provided for this couple. This day reminds me of Psalm 139:16
“All the days ordained for me, were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I’m glad I didn’t know what Friday was going to hold, otherwise I would have worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it all. But God provided just what we needed! I pray that these suprisingly unusual days will teach me to trust Him with each day that He has ordained for me.