Saturday, January 27, 2018

Happy New Year

I just finished reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  A wonderful book!  He walks through the detailed process of justification and sanctification, as the Word of God directs.  His words were profound, yet merely a reflection of the Word of Truth.

2017 was a remarkably deep process of sanctification for me.  Towards the beginning of the year I titled it "The Great American Fast," which it was nonetheless.  However, by December 30th, as I was reflecting, it needed a new title.  All that came to mind was "A Spiritual Root Canal."  Ouch!  I've never even had a root canal, but know that it would be painful.

The American Association of Endodontists begins its description with a simple definition. "Endo" is the Greek word for "inside" and "odont" is Greek for "tooth."  Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.  They continue by stating that a root canal treatment is an often straightforward procedure to relieve dental pain and save your teeth.  Patients typically need a root canal when there is inflammation or infection in the roots of a tooth.  The endodontist will carefully remove the pulp inside the tooth, clean, disinfects and shapes the root canal, then places a filling to seal the space.

As I continued reading, my stomach was churning.  I hope I never have to go through a root canal procedure, nor do I wish it upon anyone.  However, the Lord has given me a Spirit of pure Joy as He has relieved my pain, saved me, cleared an infection of deep rooted sin, removed my heart of stone, disinfected the space, shaped a new soul, and continues to fill and seal the treated area (my entire being).

I once thought as a Christian, as a disciple of Christ, as a believer in the One True God, that justification and sanctification were one in the same and were complete in me.  Well, yes, BUT He has humbled me, as a "sent" disciple, as a "missionary," and has reminded me that He has actually only begun the process of sanctification.  Calling my family out, and sending us to Uganda has only laid foundation for Him to go deeper into the "tooth," deeper into my heart, deeper into the infection in order to redeem my life and reconcile my heart back to His.

2017 has not been easy. Actually, its been the most difficult year of my life.  Maybe for all of us.  I'm pretty sure the kids would say the same.  Yet, our wide faith has taken deep root.  The Spirit has given all of us a greater understanding and knowledge of Himself, firsthand.  Paul reminds me in 2 Corinthians that we are to "delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  So when James teaches me to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience," my life realizes this truth and draws nearer to the Father.  He beckons my focus by giving good gifts - these are not what the western world considers good, but what my heart rejoices in as I come to know Him with a deeper understanding.  He opens my eyes and causes me to gaze into His.

So, as I begin a new year, I take a deep breath and pray that time will develop even a greater love for Him.  I pray that I end even just this day with a revised hope, a new strategy, a deeper communion, and a passionate love for my savior like never before.  I also pray that He opens doors to use me and that I am obedient to walk through them all.

My prayer for you reading this are the same.  May He draw you near to himself.  I pray that you develop a heart and love for your King like you've never experienced before.  May He be with you, rest with you, and open your eyes to His glory all around you.  Father use my friends and family for your Kingdom's sake, for your Name's sake.

Happy 2018!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

How often have I said this aloud, sang this as worship, or repeated it in my head?  Too many to count.   Yet the Lord has shown me a depth to the word "rejoice" like I've never known before.  Thus far in my life, I have found it relatively easy to rejoice.  Life has brought some struggle, but never like this past year (and I'm not even Ugandan living in the pit of poverty).  I am convicted daily of "rejoicing" no matter what.  No matter how sick, tired, frustrated, fed-up, hungry, confused, irritated, nauseous, weak, or suffocated I can be; He commands my Spirit to rejoice!

Oh how grateful I am that He is the One to bring the rejoicing!  I cannot on my own rejoice. The rejoicing is His, by Him, for Him and through Him.  Lord help me rejoice!  I need you to rejoice!

Here are a few tangible items to rejoice over in the past year...good and bad, all for the Glory of God.
  • 6 project trips
  • 12 more projects in the office
  • 20 mission organizations assisted 
  • countless men & women, children discipled, supervised or mentored
  • 17 interns discipled professionally and spiritually from ? countries 
  • 7, 700 km traveled throughout Uganda to serve
  • 35 men & women baptized from EMI construction sites
  • and the immeasurable lives effected that will only be recognized on the day of Christ’s revelation
  • made 12 visits to Aggies Baby Home, holding abandoned babies left in toilets or ditches to die
  • taught over 300 middle schooler and high schooler to sew, making skirts and bags
  • hosted 12 “Marriage as Ministry” groups in our home, discipling young and old marriages…and being discipled 

This is my therapeutic post.  This is my Ebenezer.  This is my remembrance of what the Lord has brought us through.  This is so I never forget, the good and the bad.  This is so I can praise Him in the best and worst of times.  This is for when the kids grow up and ask what it was like to live life in Africa, because they were too young to remember the details (and for me when I’m too old to remember them as well).  This is what has been hard, draining, exhausting, almost debilitating at times.  This is the day to day.  

( *estimated, but not exaggerated)

  • killed 2.5 million* ants
  • killed 14 millipedes 
  • killed 1 centipede
  • killed 4 snakes
  • killed 550* mosquitoes
  • killed 100* spiders
  • killed 30* geckos
  • killed 6 other bigger lizards 
  • killed just a few snails
  • experienced Yeti having a seizure
  • witnessed 1 “mob justice” - the beating of someone to death
  • hit 1 semi truck while driving
  • hit 1 mutatu (taxi) while driving
  • hit 5 bodas (motorcycle taxi) while driving
  • hit 1 wheelbarrow while driving
  • hit 1 man while driving, he was ok
  • piled 11 people in our 7 seat car
  • saw 4 people get run over by other cars
  • drove into a deep whole, then had to have 4 men lift our car out of it
  • drove our motorcycle into ditch
  • had 3 neighbors’ dogs poisoned and died
  • 60 days* of listening to our next door neighbors beat their puppies, training for guard dogs
  • 100 days* of listening to the village below slaughter a cow, goat or pig
  • 52 days of listening to praise and worship from the church down the road, from a megaphone!
  • had 3 attempts by thieves to break into our compound
  • experienced gun fire between police and thieves just outside our compound wall
  • 6 times running off people in the 2nd story of the unfinished house next door taking photos of our house, plotting to break in
  • spent over 300 days* breathing in smoke from burning trash
  • spent over 250 days* with one of us experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, headache 
  • 2 of us tested positive and treated for Bilharzia
  • All of us are dehydrated daily
  • dislocated 1 rib
  • broke 1 finger
  • 5 trips to the doctor for parasite testing (this is an all-day event)
  • eaten over 60 kilos of beans
  • experienced 100 days or nights without power and/or water
  • 2 marriage proposals (to Jo) from Ugandan men
  • 10 offers to buy my daughters
  • 2 occasions of the car not starting while in downtown Kampala
  • drove our car 3 km while three fan belts were completely shredded
  • watched Julia throw up in the cockpit of a MAF plane, at the craft market, and in the parking lot of dentist office
  • watch Allison completely pass out in doctors office
  • was only successful in having Julia poop in a cup to check for parasites, Bradley and Allison just couldn’t make it happen
  • tested 3 times for malaria, PTL all 3 were negative, despite the spiked fever and shakes
  • our guard, just since we’ve known him…in a boda accident that killed the driver, robbed twice, dad’s leg cut off, has stomach ulcers, had malaria, son possessed by demon; but beyond that he was shot in the leg when he was 14 by the LRA, left to die in the bush, rescued at 16 yrs, reunited with his mother who thought he was dead…and his story goes on and on and on
  • our first house help…is an orphan, raised by Compassion International, while working for us got pregnant with twin girls and miscarried them at 5 months
  • our second house help… was ironing a few years ago, had a seizure, and burned herself holding the iron on her neck and arm the entire time
So this is the list.  After reading, I praise the Lord.  How glorious are his ways!  I'm ever so thankful to Him for His covering, His strength, His compassion on us.  Our lives are but a blink of an eye.  They are no more than only a gift back to Him for His wondrous grace.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda
August 11-14, 2017
 Thank you Dad and Jenine!!
What a wonderful trip we will never forget!
 My favorite pic of all (giraffes at sunset)
...and Julia was the photographer!

 We saw 5 leopards!! Only 15 in the entire park. 

 Male Simba,
his mane is gone and he has a darker color due to old age. 

 The Ugandan Crane.. national bird

 Our Park Ranger checking out this recently shot
baby elephant.. tusks were gone :-(

 Riverboat tour, up the Nile to Murchison Falls

 Crazy Mzungu!!  Riding a moped through a national park
...the last we will se of him.