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!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Even Me

Here in Uganda if you say "even me" it's like saying "me too". 
Like, so and so says "My favorite color is pink" and another who shares the same favorite color says "Even me". 
Or if someone wants something another has they say "even me" because they want it too.
I have been here 2 months already.  In so many ways it has flown by like crazy!  So much for "Africa time"!  I thought life would be slower paced, but I think life is even busier here in many ways.  We just got back from a short trip to Nairobi Kenya and while it was fun and beautiful I couldn't wait to get back here. 
I missed the kids. 
 The familiar. 
The language. 
The culture. 
 The routine. 
Mainly the kids though. 
 I love it here and it feels like home for now. 
I am not someone who has a vast or well-versed skill set.  So the words that have been continually coming to my mind when I feel under qualified for a task have been "even me". 
God can even use me too.  He uses even me!
There are so many needs here and they are willing to take even someone like me to try and help fulfill the needs.  When I came here I knew there would be many opportunities and options of places to serve and I was praying that the Lord would direct me to where He could best use me.  I also knew that when my time comes to leave Uganda, I wanted to have made a difference somehow... no matter how small.  Giving money or food can solve a here and now problem, but I wanted to find a way to leave a long term blessing even if my time here might not be long term.  I didn't know how to do that though and was praying for the Lord to open those doors for me.  I am very excited about those doors! 
Soon after I got here, the Tuiningas told me that many of the kids in church need tutoring and help with reading.  The schools here have such big class sizes that many, many kids slip through the cracks.  So I started slowly with just one student.  Tomorrow I start a reading class that has 15 students from the church in it already and I also start tutoring one more!  I am just as excited as the kids are for them to be able to read their Bibles! 
Then I was approached by someone who works with the local neediest schools about helping with the special needs kids.  As you know, special needs kids hit a tender spot with me and I jumped at that opportunity. Although if I had known before hand just how many students I'd have, I might have not been brave enough. 
I still might not be brave enough, but I know with God working in me, He can use even me.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pinch Me!

I have been in Uganda a week now.
I can't believe I was just able to write those words!  I am IN Uganda! 
Is it real?  Yes, it very much is.  I've dreampt of coming here for over 20 years now.  It's strange to wrap my head around things sometimes because it'll hit me that I'm actually here and then at other times it seems totally natural and normal that I would be here.
 I have to be honest that I haven't had much culture shock at all.  What I have seen so far of Uganda is exactly as I had thought it'd be.  There are a couple things that have surprised me though.  Like the egg yolks being white (that's just the eggs from town because the hens aren't getting the proper nutrition), hearing Michael W. Smith (intermixed with Ugandan "pop") in the town's thrift store, the availability of some food items and "white girl shampoo" that I didn't think would be easily accessible and that banks actually do run out of money sometimes!  One other thing I didn't think to expect is how generally quiet most Ugandan voices are.  I also think it's hilarious to see familiar sights from the states now and then... like Duck Dynasty T-shirts!
I am so very thankful for the family I am here to help because they have taken so much time and energy to teach me many things like how to get around, use money, dos and don'ts of the culture etc.  Their example in how they serve the Lord by loving His people is something I am thankful to be able to witness first hand and learn from. 
 Even just having been here a short time, I can see so very many ways that even someone like me can serve.  There is so much need!  I am looking forward to seeing some different ministries first-hand to find where the Lord would have me serve in my free time (I have Mondays and Saturdays free).  There are so many open doors that it can be a bit overwhelming.  I think I will start tutoring some kids after school as well.  I've already been able to do and see quite a bit (city life, village life, hospital and an Introduction), but there is so much more to see and learn of the culture.
Thank you so much for your prayers!  I have felt them answered in countless ways.  I have not had a single headache or ever felt sick, I've been sleeping and eating very well, no jet lag or culture shock and am settling in and getting to know how things are run and done here!  It can only be the Lord's strength since I am weak an unable to do any of those things on my own.  It's been a beautiful whirlwind of a week that I am still processing and I'm thankful for all that the Lord is teaching me through it all!

Friday, September 4, 2015


Well I am just a few days away from going where I've always dreamed of going!  In a couple days I will hug and say a teary goodbye to my family and set off on a grand adventure to the land of red dirt!  I'm not sure exactly how I thought I'd feel right before leaving, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't this. 
I've already said many goodbyes to the dearest of friends who I am going to miss terribly... but I have yet to feel the emotion of leaving or shed the tears I have quite the talent of shedding.  *wink*
It's strange to hear of the upcoming happenings of my family and friends and realize that I won't be here for them.  Get-togethers, Dr appointments, upcoming sermon series, house projects etc.  There will be many changes and life will continue on here in the states without me.  My room is entirely packed up and mostly moved out.  My sister has wonderful plans as to how she will decorate the room after I'm gone.  My possessions for the next year have fit into 2 fifty pound bags... and that will be more than some of the people I will be living near in just a week.
The other day I realized that my "baby" sister will turn 4 while I'm gone and that fact made me remember that I won't be coming home to a baby, but a little girl!  She'll (hopefully) hit many milestones developmentally.  And while I want her to accomplish them, I'm also sad to not be around to experience and rejoice with her and the rest of my family. 
This certainly isn't a deep or well thought out blog post, but an honest one about what I'm feeling... or not feeling. 

I'm excited to see what the Lord teaches me over this next year.  There will be wonderful and joyful times, but I know without a doubt that there will also be times of struggle that God will use to draw me closer to Himself. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Uganda Details!

The application process is over and I can now share the details of what I'll be doing in Uganda with you!
I have wanted to go to Uganda since I was a little girl and we hosted the African Children's Choir.  There have been opportunities here and there and one time I had even finished the application process to work at an orphanage there and didn't feel like it was quite God's timing yet.  I'm thankful I didn't go, because Abbie ended up getting sick and I was able to be here with my family for that hard time in our lives.  When we were still in the hospital with Abbie, this family wrote with a need for a Missionary Associate (someone to help their family with homeschooling and other tasks).  I turned it down because I wanted to be here for my family.  Now, with Abbie doing much better and such, I contacted them again in June asking if they'd have a need for someone like me and they said yes!  They are in the process of adopting their 9th blessing and find themselves busy with many things for that.  So I fly out early September on a one way ticket because I want my time there to be open to be used however the Lord leads.  I am estimating a year or so in Uganda and will be able to use my extra time to see first hand many different ministries and orphanages to see if the Lord will lead somewhere like that for a more long term in the future. 
Most of all I want my life to be surrendered to what His will for me is, so I'm praying for direction and clarity as I follow His leading!  It's exciting and scary to take this next step!

Sunday, July 26, 2015


"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God"
- Corrie Ten Boom
This quote was on a birthday card I recently recieved from my brother and sister in law for my 30th birthday.  They had picked it out for me many weeks before having no idea that I would need to be reminded of just what it said on that day especially. 
30 is a hard age for many women to turn.  A big milestone.  Maybe not "old" quite yet, but it certainly is a stark reminder that you're not a kid anymore.  Birthdays tend to be the time of year that I take a good, hard look at my life over any other time of the year.  And this one was especially that way. 
Everyone wants their life to have meaning, purpose and a direction.  We all have dreams and plans for our lives and do our best to accomplish those.  Each one of us has God-given desires, passions and giftings that shouldn't be wasted, but should be used.  Looking at the direction of our lives can bring excitement, but there are times it can also bring lots of confusion and frustration.
Prov 16:9 The mind of a man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.
There are many desires of my heart.  Good desires!  Desires I believe are from God! 
But they are also desires that have yet to be fulfilled. 
My "dream" for as long as I can even remember has been to be a wife, mommy and missionary.  In a way I have been able to play a "mommy" role to some little ones through foster care and I can be a missionary wherever I am, so in a way those dreams have already been fulfilled...
they've just not been fulfilled in the way I pictured and I planned it would be.
  Sometimes the path of our lives can seem so certain.  You see what lies ahead and are looking forward to what you think your destination is, putting one foot in front of the other to reach it...
but there are also the sudden turns that can leave us reeling and somewhat lost for a bit. 
We have a choice as to what to do in those situations though. 
We can allow them to send us crashing down in despair or we can fix our eyes on our Maker - trusting Him - knowing that He knows what He's doing even if we can't see it. 
 He's got the map! 
 I am thankful to have twists and turns in my life because of the growth they bring even though they can be so painful and stretching and confusing. 
 They help me to see that I am not the one in control. 
That I can't fix anything. 
That I am weak. 
 That I am totally and completely lost without my Guide! 
 It puts me in a right position of full dependance on God alone.  More than anything, I want the desires of my heart to be GOD's desires for me!  I know that His perfect plans are for my good and for His glory!
 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. Prov 3:5
I admit that I don't understand some pieces of my life or why God has me where I am right now.
But I do trust Him.
Sometimes I am able to look back and see His merciful hand in my life and can see why some of those twists and turns were necessary and GOOD. 
He is molding me and shaping me.  I am dirty, muddy clay and He is the skilled craftsman - creating something that one day will be beautiful.  There are a great many things I don't understand... but I've realized that I don't have to. 
That's what trust is!
I simply need to rely completely on God alone and not on what I can understand!  Our joy and contentment does not count on the circumstances we find ourselves in.  I am still learning to be content and joyful and to let go of my own dreams.  This doesn't mean I can't still desire them, but it's the deliberate action of sacrifice, trusting God to do as He wills with my life, serving Him in whatever way will bring Him glory and desiring His plan above my own.   
I am embarking on a path that will "accomplish" one of those dreams.  Not to be a "check off the list", but something I think God has been preparing me for and directing my heart to for many many years.  I think it's finally the right time to go where I've always wanted to go and the Lord is opening doors!  I'm trusting Him as I step through each one and I pray I will be content and continue to trust Him when I come to a closed one. 
 ...Those closed doors are often hard to accept.
I know I will be scared, lonely, dirty, sometimes sick, lost and overwhelmed.  I can't say I'm ready for it, but who ever feels completely prepared? 
I am asking for prayers in these next months ahead.  I need wisdom and discernment to seek and find what the Lord has for me in Uganda.  I want to be used by Him in whatever way He wants!

I will share more information in the weeks ahead, but for now I just ask that you join me in prayer as I take this next step on the journey God has me on!