Saturday, April 1, 2017

By Faith

Moses of the Bible is a man who I look up to as a great hero of the faith.  He has an amazing story so obviously designed and created by God alone.  It's too amazing to have been designed by any other means!  It couldn't just happen, there are too many incredible pieces to the puzzle.  But each event (good and hard) were planned out by the Creator of the universe to be in the right place, at the right time, and to do the task He called him to do for the glory of God!

There is another Moses I know.

This one was found in the bushes by a mother in our church when he was just a few hours old.  His mama wrapped him in a green cloth and gently laid him in the grass under a tree.  I am convinced that this woman wanted her child to be found, loved and cared for.  God put Mama Allen  in that garden at just the time to hear his tiny cry.  He was cold, premature and sickly, but his little life was so precious and beautiful to the One who created him.  The same God who led and used the Moses of the Bible is the One who is leading, protecting and using this little Moses too!  He has a plan and purpose and calling for this little man.  I am overwhelmed at God's blessing and goodness to me that I can be "mama" to this child of His.  I never expected to be a single mom.  My life is not the way I "planned' or thought it would be.  But it is so much more beautiful, hard, stretching and amazing than anything I could have dreamed up!  God's way is so much more beautiful!!

Being Moses's mother makes me think of his birth mother quite often.  So many can be angry with her for what she did.  It certainly wasn't right, but I also think of how desperate she must have been.  What made her desperate enough to leave him in the garden can only be speculated and we might never know.  It could have been to protect him from an abusive father, or she was a woman who hid her pregnancy and therefore didn't want to show up at home with a baby, or she knew she didn't have the resources to care for him?  Her act, however wrong it was, may have been done out of immense love for him.  Did she cry as she walked away from him?  Did she hide in the bushes until someone came for him, like Moses of the Bible's sister did?  Maybe she prays for him every day?  I pray for her.  I pray for this mother of my son who took care of him for the first months of his developing life, nestled right in there next to her heart.  He heard her voice, danced right along with her, felt pain when she was sad and was soothed when she sang.  This woman delivered him through excruciating pain, but I think the worst pain of all must have been when she last looked at his handsome face, stroked his cheek, released his tiny hand and walked away.

This difficult beginning shows that God has big plans for his life!  He could have easily died in that garden.  Dogs could have come, he could have died of hunger or the hail storm we had just hours after he was found.  He could have died even after we took him in, since he was so small and should have been in the NICU.  God has some big task he needs Moses here on earth for.  Something only he can do!  God chose one baby Moses from infancy to prepare and grow him for an important task and I believe He is growing this Moses for a purpose as well!

There are so many people who pour into each of our lives!  They shape and mold who we are.  I am thrilled and scared to death to have the honor of raising Moses.  I couldn't love him more if I had given birth to him!  Loving him doesn't mean I have all the answers and I know I will fail over and over again.  I know I will need help and encouragement from others.  I know Moses will need godly men to be examples and mentors.  I know many of the hurdles I have to face in the next few months through the adoption process... mountains will need to be moved!

~~~I also know Moses isn't mine... he is God's. ~~~
 He is God's precious child and nothing is too big for Him or out of His control!  I rest in knowing that.  He goes before us and will prepare the way if it is His will for Moses to be legally and forever my son!

Please join me in praying!!  The adoption process will be tiring, stressful and expensive, but completely worth it!!  Pray specifically that I will find a good and honest lawyer to walk me through the whole process, that the law against a single woman adopting a boy will be waived, that finances won't be an issue, that things will move swiftly and we will gain favor in the eyes of the court.  Pray that I won't get stressed out, but that Moses and I will treasure this process!
I am excited and intimidated all at the same time!  THRILLED that the life-long dream of adopting is coming true and so thrilled that this boy I love so much, will be my forever son!!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dropped the Ball... but trying to catch it again!

I have totally dropped the ball on this blogging thing!  I honestly have every intention to write, but with the busyness of life, the lack of faithful internet/power, the hard things as well as the beautiful things God is doing, it gets to be overwhelming to figure out how to put things into words and get caught up and wrapped up into a single blog post!

It's been a year and a half now since I first (and FINALLY) stepped foot and the beautiful, red Ugandan dirt!
I don't really know what my expectations were, but I know my heart was in a good place and was a completely open and empty page for God to write the story as He chose to.  Sadly, I can't always say I am surrendered to His plan for me.  Surrender continues to be a daily exercise as He is always leading and bringing new opportunities as well as drawing me away from others.  His plans are far better than my own!  He has done so much more than I ever dared to dream or pray for!

As before, my ministry here will take priority over blogging, but I do intend to keep it up and not allow it to become an overwhelming task.  As a teen I remember searching, reading and eating up any blog or information about Uganda.  I remember trying to imagine what life must be like here and I believe God used those blogs to further my desire to come to Uganda.  If God can use this one to grow that in someone else's heart, then I want to share!

While it is beautiful and amazing here, it is also tough and painful.  But that is also what life is like in America or Europe or anywhere else!  We are all learning and growing and serving where God has us.  This is just my life.  This is just one simple blog among millions.  But I want to be faithful to use the lessons and opportunities God brings my way, to bless and encourage others.

Friday, October 28, 2016

He Knows

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,"
even the darkness is not dark to You;
the night as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to You.

For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother's womb,
I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in Your book were written every one of them
the days that were formed for me
when as yet there were none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts O God!
How vast the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand
I awake and I am still with You!

Psalm 139
It's amazing, unfathomable and humbling to try and understand how much we matter to God!
Why He chooses to love us imperfect, sinful, wandering, helpless and needy humans, but He does!  
He does SO much!

He knows what we'll do before we do it.
He knows what we'll think before we think it.
He knows what we'll say before we say it.
He takes care of us.
He protects us.
Even if we run, we cannot get away from Him and His love for us!
He knew us even BEFORE we were born!
He knew us BEFORE our mothers knew we were there!
He knows the number of our days.
And He knows what will fill each and every one of them!

I have 9 children who I love and care for and even more who I work with weekly.  But they each have stories I have not been a part of.  Wounds and hurts, joys and triumphs that I will never know or get to be a part of.  God has seen each and every one of their days... even before they were born and breathed their first breath of air!  
This is just one small area, of one small town, in one small country, on one continent in the world.  
There are SO many children, with different hurts and struggles and stories and yet God knows each-and-every-human who ever has, is and ever will be on this planet.  
He knows us individually and intricately.

My precious little Moses, whom I love so, so very much already has a past and future that I don't know.

I don't know who gave birth to him.  
I don't know the circumstances she found herself in.  
I don't know why she chose that particular garden to place the child she had just delivered. 
I don't know if she was hoping he'd be picked up or die there. 
I don't know for sure that he was premature.  
I don't know if the man who fathered him knows of his existence.  
I don't know if she watches us from afar.  
I don't know if I will be able to adopt him. 
I don't know what friends he will make. 
I don't know what he will be when he grows up. 
I don't know if he'll be right handed or left handed or need braces or break an arm or...  
 I don't know if he will come to know the Lord as his Savior, even though I pray he will!!

 Of only one thing I do know...

PC: Christopher Mullen

I know that God knows!  
And that's enough for me.  
Because I know that God's way is perfect and He has everything under His control in the palm of His powerful hand!  And I praise the Lord for that comfort!

PC: Christopher Mullen

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Not My Own Understanding

I don't claim to know everything about raising a newborn. But I also am no stranger to them.  I know the sleepless nights and diaper changes, spit up and their general neediness/helplessness.  I am however, somewhat a stranger to "healthy" newborns since the ones I have cared for have always been drug babies and medically fragile ones.  I know they change your lifestyle and make life busier and us more tired.  But I also know the joy that comes from caring for God's precious little ones.  And for that reason, I know it is worth every second of lifestyle change.

I am also no stranger to having to say goodbye.  I am not good at them.  I hate them.  I don't look forward to them or look back on them with fond memories.  But I have had too much practice with them to not know what to expect or how to handle them.  All the babies I have helped raise have been foster babies and it becomes necessary at one point or another to let them go.

Being a mother is something I have wanted to be since I was as young as I can remember... and even these 30 years later, remains a great desire the Lord has yet to fulfill.  And it may never be.  I fully know that.  It remains something I have to continually surrender to the Lord.

I struggle as a single woman to know just what to do sometimes when the desire is so strong.  It's hard to hear mamas complaining about their children, neglecting them, giving up on them or even dumping them on the side of the road.  Some people are well intentioned and say "Enjoy your freedom", "You get to be around lots of kids... but it's even better because you can just send them home" "it's so much work" or my favorite... "You'll understand someday. Just you wait."

.. I am.

And I have been for a long time.  But I do think I've played enough of a "mothering role" to understand what I am missing out on.  I can get very jealous when I watch families interacting and mothers mothering. I know that is a sinful response of mine and I am working with the Lords help, to overcome that.  While I am thankful and blessed to be able to do what I do right now... it doesn't erase one of my deepest desires.  And that is to be a wife and mom.

Many older single girls struggle with feeling lesser or pitied or unwanted.  Often times we feel younger and are treated so simply because of the "single" status. It's almost as if adulthood isn't something to be attained until you're married.  It can be hard to feel treasured and precious in God's sight because we don't have that picture here on earth.  But it's true none the less and it's only Satan's way of making us feel worthless so we will give up on the callings God has on our lives.

You might be wondering where I am going with all this.  And you'll just have to wait.  ;)

I am not writing this to complain or seek affirmation.  I hope this isn't taken that way.  I'm not pining or hopeless.  It's taking a great amount of courage to share my inner heart so publicly.  But I am sharing because it is something I am learning and continuing to grow through.  I am seeing how all the things the Lord has brought me through in my life (the desires from a young age, caring for foster kids, the goodbyes and even singleness) have prepared me for life here in Uganda.  There have been and still are so many years of wondering "Why this, God?" And "Why don't you do it this way?", but it's so amazing to be able catch glimpses every now and then of God's bigger and more beautiful picture!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
Proverbs 3:5&6

Pray for me as I continue to follow the commands in this verse!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Overlooking His Gifts

There was an awesome lightning show last night! It was incredible to watch God's creativity and majesty so boldly on display! May we not overlook His gifts even in the normal every day things.  It took the beautiful storm to remind me of some things.  I have been convicted that I haven't stopped lately to enjoy these wonders and have been missing out on so many of His daily blessings.  These things come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, but it is often only the "big" ones I choose to praise God for and overlook the "little" ones that are just as deserving of thanksgiving and praise. 
A few days ago we climbed up 3 or 4 waterfalls and swung on vines with some half naked Ugandan kids who we couldn't communicate with, in a setting similar to how I imagine the Garden of Eden (snakes included!)...
I get to watch kids struggle and work hard to learn something.  And then find joy and pride when they finally understand...
 My hair gets braided, unbraided, pulled and snarled often by 4 or 5 sweet little hands at a time...
I played hymns on my flute with other instruments and people praising God on the day we remember Christ's resurrection and his greatest gift of salvation to us...
 We climbed Mt Wanale and dried off in the sun after splashing around in the water fall there...
Daily I am surrounded by kids who call my name in a cute accent who want/need love and attention, and I have the honor of giving it to them, but fail so often to do so...
 I get to hear laughter after something funny is said in a language I can't understand and still laugh along because laughter is just that contageous...
 I get to hold little babies and pray over their precious lives...
I love it when these faces appear at my windows and I hear their greetings...
I am encouraged and challenged by the ladies prayer group and look forward to that time of refreshment every week...
Dance parties in between football games where the kids laugh and make fun of my attempts to dance like them...
I love getting skype calls and silly voice messages on my phone in the middle of the night from my little loves Isaiah and Elysse...
 I am even learning to be thankful for the constantly dirty floors because it means my home has been filled with many feet and I am surrounded by God's children...
  I can even be thankful for the sick stomach I have right now that made me rest and think on these things!  So often I neglect being amazed at God's goodness, His blessings and the gifts (big and especially the small) that He sends.  It's easy to be distracted and overwhelmed by the great needs there are here.  It is in Him that we live and move and have our being and so often I forget to praise Him for that.  It can become habit to pray "Lord may we glorify you today in everything we do" and much less make a practice of it.  I can get so task focused and forget the important stuff.  I can worry so much about the state of things around me and before I know it, my own life is out of sync with God's will for my life and I have lost the joy He desires me to have in glorifying and serving Him.
Psalm 8:1 - O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens... when I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? ... O LORD our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Longer Term?

It's looking that way!
Originally I had signed up for 9 months-1 year to see if missions was something I felt called to do long term.  Even though I'm only 1/2 way through that, I cannot imagine being anywhere else than in Uganda!  I can see how the Lord had been preparing me all my life for something like this.
What I do here in Uganda will probably alter only a little bit.  I would love to keep the reading classes going, start the girls Bible study I have in the works, continue building friendships/relationships with the kids, etc... but!  I would like to add foster care to that.  As you all know, that is something I am very passionate about and love to do, but it is nearly impossible for me to do in the states. 
Combining missions, a country I love and foster care sounds like a dream come true!  I am still looking into this opportunity, but it's something I feel very strongly about pursuing since I am passionate about it and I know it's a way I can hopefully make a deeper difference in a child's life.  While foster care is "easier" in Uganda than in the states as far as government restrictions and requirements go, I know it isn't "easy" at all... but quite the opposite.  I trust the Lord and know He will grant me strength to do what He has called me to and will make doors open if it is His will.

The special needs kids are very much looked down on and often completely rejected here.  Ideally, I'd love to help special needs kids get healthy physically, form good relationships with their birth families and help them learn to love and care for their children... all while sharing the love of Jesus and His salvation in a 24/7 possition!
I have a lot to do to prepare for all this.  Housing and funds namely.  I trust the Lord will provide, but I also believe I need to do my part in that and not just sit back waiting.  So I have created these t-shirts as a start.  They are available for purchase until Feb 22, 2016 and wil be shipped directly to you within 14 days after that!
I created them keeping versatility in mind.  These could be used for someone who just loves Africa or work for adoptions or adoption gift or mission teams heading anywhere in Africa.  There is absolutely no pressure at all to buy one of these shirts.  I know God will provide if this is what He wants me to do.  But I would appreciate your prayers as I walk this next part of the journey!


Monday, December 7, 2015

His Story for Me

I have never been asked to write out my testimony before, so I don't really know where to start.  Memorable testimonies are usually the powerful, tear-jerker ones when someone turns from a wild and sinful life to a life surrendured to Christ.  I might not have had a "hard" past before turning to Christ, but I certainly was (and still very much am) a sinner in need of Jesus' blood to save me.  I am a sinner saved by God's grace alone and there's nothing I have ever done to earn it.  I hope that as you read my testimony you don't see me, but the God who saved me and can see His directing my life to be used for His glory.
I have been blessed with many people in my life who have shaped who I am today.  I am the first born to my amazing parents, have 3 incredible siblings, was blessed with a sister in law just last year and have many friends who are encouraging and godly examples.   I was public schooled for the first few years and homeschooled for all the rest.  I asked Jesus into my heart sitting on the couch with my mom when I was just 4 years old, but I didn't fully grasp what that really meant until I was about 13 years old when I really took my faith on for myself. 
 My dream was and always has been, to be a wife, mommy and missionary.  This is probably due to a few different things.  I had a great example of marriage from my parents, saw my mom's joy in caring for us kids and for some reason always loved stories about missionaries and orphans and such.  My eyes and heart were opened at an early age to orphans when we had some kids from the African Children's Choir stay with us.  I decided sometime around then that I was going to go to Uganda someday.  There were a couple opportunities to go over the years, but they always seemed to fall through.  I just had to be patient and wait on God's perfect timing. 

 In my teens I was very into ballet and thought that was what I wanted to do with my life.  I considered joining and traveling with a Christian Dance group, danced many times a week, worked on technique at home, taught ballet, went to intensive summer programs around the country and opened a dance studio.  I gave it all my time and thoughts and I felt like it began to "be" me.  It consumed me.  Ballet is a beautiful thing, but I was convicted about the idol it had become in my life and decided I had to change that.  God really worked on my heart and began to show me that a life consumed by Him is the only thing meaningful and worthy.  I wanted to quit completely, but thanks to the wisdom of my parents and their reminder that it was a gift God had given me and to instead seek how He wanted me to use it.  So I quit dancing and went to teaching only.  I enjoyed teaching and praising the Lord with my little ladies, but I always felt like it was just a thing to do while I waited for God's timing for the "thing" He had for me...
which I was re-convinced was wife, mommy and missionary.
 Kids have always held my heart, hurting ones specifically, so I was all-in when my parents started doing foster care and finally felt like I was doing something the Lord wanted me to!  He brought some precious children into our lives and I am forever and ever changed because of each one of them!  Foster care, adoption and special needs are things I could talk about for days since they are a huge passion of mine.  Being a single girl makes it tricky to get involved in this kind of ministry.  I have had to learn (and am still learning) to trust in the Lord and His perfect plan and will for my life.  I would love to be able to care for or adopt whatever child needs a home, but I know I can't give these kids the home and family they need.  That's a super hard thing for me to be content with and something I continue to struggle with.
 The next few years held many lessons through some difficult circumstances.  I have learned that hard times bring blessings beyond anything we can imagine!  They are painful, but looking back on them brings unexplainable peace and thankfulness. 
 I am now living in Uganda (FINALLY!!!) for a year helping a missionary family, teaching reading to the local kids, forming relationships and seeking if the Lord would have me here longer term.  I am amazed at the way the Lord prepared the way for me to come here.  I had many lessons to learn in preparation for life here and I can now see how God's timing was perfect.  I don't know how the Lord is going to lead me in the future.  I have no clue what's next.  And I am learning that it's ok to not know and to simply have childlike faith and follow where He leads.  I trust Him and He will show me the next thing when it's time.  For now I am not supposed to know and that has actually been another good lesson in my life and a very relieving one at that.  Through all of those hard times I have learned that I can plan and plan all I want to, but it is God who is in control!  I know that He is soverign and I am learning to hold my days with open hands and to surrender my life to His control.  Surrenduring my life doesn't happen one single time, it is something I have to remember to do every single day.  

I still struggle all day every day and can't seem to do anything right most of the time, but I am perfect because my Heavenly Father is perfect.  I am loved by the most high King and want to give Him all the glory He deserves wherever in the world that is!