Thursday, November 25, 2010
"Praise God. I want to thank God for keeping us safe."
"Praise the Lord. I want to thank God for our sponsors."
And another stands up and says,
"Praise God. I want to thank God for my life."
This is a typical scene during evening devotions at Camp El Har orphanage in Uganda. Children are so thankful for what they have - things we take for granted.
I thank God for my life.
In the US we designate one day a year for giving thanks. And every year people make a big deal about stretching it out longer than that. But how many of us actually do? I have to admit that I have difficulty with it.
Let's face it, in general, we're not a very thankful people. And it's not just us. It goes all the way back to the beginning of time. Adam and Eve had everything they needed in the Garden of Eden, but instead of giving thanks for all they had, they wanted more. In the desert, the Israelites had just walked through the Red Sea on dry land. God told them all they had to do was follow and obey Him and He would bring them into the Promised Land. He even lit the way for them and gave them food. After a while they started to feel like they were just walking in circles. And the manna God sent down every day, was getting a little old. They had everything they needed, but were they thankful?
Unfortunately, we're not often much different. God blesses every day of the year, not just the 4th Thursday of November. But in a few months (or more likely a few days - those Christmas ads have a tendancy to make us a bit greedy) the thanksgiving spirit will wear off and giving thanks will turn into asking for more.
I thank God for my life.
Every so often I hear those words in my mind, like a little reminder.
I thank God for my life.
Because even with the most difficult of pasts, we should all be able to say
I thank God for my life.
We all have so much to be thankful for. I know for me, I'm so thankful that God is continuing to improve my health. I'm thankful for the little things like being able to run the vacuum cleaner, not having to sleep during the day, and being able to start subbing again (my first full day was Friday!) But taking my cues from some sweet children in Uganda, I am most thankful for my life, because I know that God has written every page of it. The Bible says He has engraved us on the palm of His hands (Isaiah 49:16) and He has great plans for each and every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11).
And that gives me every reason to thank Him for my life.
When was the last time you thanked God for your life?
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
We met Timothy early on in our last adventure to Uganda. He's about 3 years old and was hanging around the center during the Saturday Program. His mother is the one who cooks the food for the children, and his father is a teacher at the school where the childcare center is located. He speaks English really well, which is not common for such a young child. But that's the benefit of having a teacher for a parent.
Isn't he so cute?!
You can probably guess it didn't take very long for him to get us wrapped around his little fingers.
He enjoyed his muzungu friends (muzungu means white person). He first met my dad, then my mom, and finally me. No matter what, he was always with one of us holding our hand, sitting on our laps, going here and there with us.
He was hanging out with my mom for a while in the office. She came around back to where I was talking with some of the kids and wanted me to show her where the bathroom was. So we walked off. When we came back, Timothy was no where in sight. So we went looking for him. We found him back inside the office playing with my dad.
"The muzungu is my friend!" He would say.
And, yes, that is a sock on his hand. He had it with him and we taught him how to make a sock puppet. He was too funny trying to get it to talk. "Hello!"
After spending only a few hours with him, Timothy stole our hearts.
And when we went to leave that day, we knew that if we saw him again it wouldn't be for a long time. I think Timothy knew too. When we got into the truck to leave, little Timothy cried. In a sad little voice he kept saying, "Don't go! Don't go!" And as our truck backed out of the center, he reached out his little hand to us and cried.
We still love you, Timothy. And we'll never forget you.
Friday, November 12, 2010
To be honest, it's because I've been hiding.
Things have been a little weird around here for me. When we first came home from Uganda I was doing really well. Surprisingly so. I mean I had the usual jet lag and overall exhaustion that comes with spending almost a month in a third world country. And then I started feeling lousy again.
But to be honest, I was kind of in denial.
I didn't want to be feeling sickly again. And I certainly didn't want people to get all up in my koolaid about it (sorry, I'm a product of the 90s). I saw my doctor again - actually a couple of doctors - just to see what to do because we were kind of at a loss. My primary care doctor had washed his hands of me back in May. So I turned to the homeopathic doctor I've been seeing. I love going there so much. There are only a few doctors that I feel actually care about seeing me get better, and she's one of them. And do you know what she told me? "It's going to take patience."
To be honest, I didn't like that. I'm not patient enough for patience.
Then I talked to my chiropractor, who is the one who gives me the best answers about anything. He said this virus is having a hard time leaving my body, and it may just take some more time.
But to be honest, they're both right. At the core of every problem we face in life, doesn't patience play a role? Are we not, by very nature, hurriers at heart? We make all these plans for our lives, so naturally when something happens don't we start to panic as we look for a way to get out of the mess we're in?
And do you notice that patience never travels alone? It always brings along trust. Because when you're being patient you often have to trust in God's bigger plan. And that's not easy. When we're putting trust in God and his timing, we're giving up control over our lives.
To be honest, that tends to make my stomach flop. Because at that moment what I'm saying is that what makes sense to me and what makes sense to the world around me no longer matters. I'm going to follow what God wants me to do.
And to be honest, when we do that people around us literally go nuts. You're in the middle of unchartered territory and suddenly everyone around you thinks they know exactly what you should or shouldn't be doing and start giving you advice about God's real calling on your life. (Because if you're facing struggles that must not be in God's plan for you, right? I hope you're picking up on the sarcasm there). It's happened to me more times than I can count over the last year. Maybe God made you sick so you would stop going to Uganda, keep the faith and still go to Uganda, get the perfect job, settle down and get married...
And oh my goodness to be honest, I sometimes imagine myself poking them in the eye. (I'm just being honest).
But seriously, isn't that what happens? (Not the eye poking, though if we're all being honest I think we might admit we've imagined the same thing at some point). We suddenly find ourselves in unexpected territory. We're facing this time of being patient, trusting God. As if that isn't hard enough, now we have to give up control of what the people around us think. And they're not always quiet about it. Which just sends us further into patience and trust. And so the cycle continues. And it wears on us.
But here's the thing:
When we're worn down to our thinnest, when we're trusting in God, waiting on Him, caring only about what He thinks - this is when He does His greatest work in us. This is when the Potter's clay is at its most moldable. And this is when He can form us into what He has created us to be.
And to be honest, that's exactly where I want my life to be - in the hands of the Potter.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Sorry about that.
We've been out speaking and sending out updates to our wonderful sponsors. And we're excited for what God has in store for us in the coming months! I hope you'll join us for this ride. We'll take you through some memories of trips past, show you more fun pictures, share what God's laid on my heart, and who knows what else!
And the best part is that
CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!!!!
Next to July/August (aka Uganda time), Christmas is my favorite time of the year. So I can't wait to share that time with all of you.
(That is, if you're still reading.)