Easter Dresses

IMG_0772We had a tradition in my home growing up-Easter Dresses. It was a big deal and fun for us because we didn’t go shopping a lot but we knew that when Easter came we got to pick out our favorite dress to wear to church.

I saw Jesus at a very early age, about the age of my girls in the home in the form of an Easter Dress. My dad had lost his job and money was very tight. Actually, tight is not the word…money was not there. I remember my mom telling us that we would not be able to get Easter dresses that year and although it seems so silly now, my sister and I were so disappointed. I remember my parents telling us to pray. The weekend of Easter, a box was delivered to our house with mine and my sister’s name on it. My parents were as equally curious as to what the box held inside.

As a 7 year old little girl I saw inside of that box- Jesus. In a way that He could teach a young little girl that He provides through sending her an Easter dress. I learned faith. I have reflected back to that story so times, years later.

Today as I was handing out dresses and bows to my girls and giving the boys new shirts…I want them to see His heart. The heart of their Provider. I want their young hearts to capture His heart now so that they can look back and know that it was so much more than a cute dress and a nice shirt to wear to church. It was His heart for them.

One day they will tell their children of what Jesus did for them when they were 7 through women who sewed them dresses and a little girl that asked Santa for shoes for all of them. I want them to hear “I love you” through these who have given. I want them to in return give so that another can hear “I love you”.

Just as I heard it as a 7 year old girl.

 

 

My favorite things

My favorite things

One thing that was very important to me when I made the move to Uganda was that I was still going to be “me”. I knew He would change me from the inside out but there are just certain qualities that He gives you that make you, you. Mine is I love fashion. I believe it is one of the perks of being a girl. It’s a way to have fun and be unique.

So I have continued to find little things here that make me happy.

Many times when girls are coming over they ask, “what do I pack?” It is a completely different culture here so it is fun for me to find pieces that I love that I can wear here and back in the States. I believe it’s ok to dress up and feel like yourself no matter where you are serving, as long as you are respectful of the cultures and audiences around you. That our outer reflects our inner 🙂

What people don’t know is that I don’t wear scarves in Africa solely to be trendy. When I have to go into a place that does not have a pleasant smell the scarf shields my sensitive nose. At night when it gets chilly, the scarf becomes a shaw.

This PeaceLoveWorld scarf is one of my favorites. It is light weight and unique. This brand has many great items that I love. Check them out. http://peaceloveworld.com/index.php/peace-and-love-knotty-navy-scarf-PDPA.html

Agnes.

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      Agnes.

You never know what you are going to get with Agnes and that is why I love her so much. She has attitude, she can give it right back, yet she will jump up in your lap and snuggle. Her laugh is contagious. She has a way of saying “auntie dacia” in a very gruff voice that make me laugh every time I hear it.

Agnes was diagnosed with epilepsy several years back. She has been on very good medicine and has received great treatment from our doctor here in Jinja. The seizures have not been as frequent. Yesterday though we had quite the scare. Agnes was in school when her seizure came on and she fell and hit her head on the desk. The teacher took her immediately to the nurse and usually Agnes will come through it shortly after the seizure but yesterday her little body was not responding as usual. They brought her to the hospital late yesterday afternoon. She was not responding and I believe she had more than one seizure. She was not responsive and all of hearts were so worried.

The doctor assured us he would watch her carefully over night. I though, was so restless all night. I hate it when one of ours is so sick. I hate knowing that we cannot run a MRI to see what exactly is going on in her little brain and to know what the effects of the seizure would be. Instead we have an IV of glucose and penicillin to get through the night. This is where faith comes in. The type of faith that I don’t have to tap into very often at home. The faith that all I have really is Him. The faith that ultimately she doesn’t need a prestigious doctor or MRI’s but ultimately she just needs His hands. Hands to hold her in the night. Hands to welcome her to sit in His lap and know that His heart beats for those such as her, an orphan. When we can’t, He can.

I woke very early to make my way to the hospital and I was fearful of what I was going to find. I walked in and there she was sitting up. She didn’t respond to me but her eyes were open and she was sitting up. Grace. I went to get her food and after she ate she began to be more responsive. I was so relieved to see her use both of her arms, although the right is not moving as fast as it once was. I asked her for a “bongo” which is a fist bump and she gave me one. I breathed deeply of His presence that we begged to fill the room. He was there. He did heal.

I went back later to find her awake again. This time the doctor was there and he was explaining to me what the side effects are of her case. One is depression and sadness. As I looked into her eyes, her very young eyes and thought she is too young to have to deal with this. To deal with all of it. Not only epilepsy but to not have her momma there. I looked at the sweet Auntie that has stayed by her side faithfully and has held her hand even while she sleeps and I quietly say, “thank you”.

I reach for Aggi and bring her into my lap. She fights me. The doctor warns me that she might fight me due to the symptoms he just explained to me. Fighting or not- I am going to hold this child in my lap. That is what my momma would do. That is what my daddy would do. They have done so many times…when I don’t want to be held, they held me. Tightly. So i fought her and we sat there for awhile until she finally laid her head back up against my chest and I do not add this for dramatic effect, she smiled.

For the Lord, He is good to the weary. For the Lord, He is good. The Creator is living in her. She will do more than conquer…she will go and tell. Tell of His endless, furious, and boundless love for her.

Please continue to keep Agnes in your prayers.

Desperate.

Desperation it is the emotional state of despair in which a person feels a situation to be hopeless and without satisfactory options.

In a mud hut, mud floors with no empty crevice in the circle because 10 people call this home. Desperation.

A little girl named Sanyu, whose mom and dad both passed HIV down to her innocent body and decided not to treat her for six years. Desperation.

A lost man finds Jesus and starts a new life but what does he do with the three women he has made his wives with too many children to count. How does he provide for all? How does he spiritually lead when his past will forever have consequences of his sin? Desperation.

A little girl who has parents that do not want to worry about providing food for anymore so they send her away to lie. Tell a babies home that her parents have died and she has been abandoned. Does she believe anyone loves her? Desperation.

Women who are enslaved to sexual bondage. Only to be used for sex and producing children while their husbands depend on them to feed their mouths and the mouths of all those children. Could they be free? Could they see themselves as treasured beautiful gifts of God? That their bodies are not for the pleasures of others but as a beautiful temple where He dwells? Desperation.

A pastor who slept in the church for six days and six nights while he fasted and cried out to his God because He believed he would come through and provide food for his dying children. Desperation.

The manifest of His Holy Spirit seems to find only those in desperation. God is present in two different ways. He is omnipresence…everywhere in His fullness. God is here, just like He is in the farthest reaches of His universe. But there is Manifest Presence that is when God reveals His presence in such a way that His glory is made visible and is felt in our hearts and upon His arrival what is truly important is visible but what is not important is no longer important. He moves hearts, we feel small, He seems big…and this brings about joy. This is what King David is speaking of in Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon His beauty and to seek him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling. He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me upon a High Rock.”

It is not if trouble comes, it is when trouble comes. His shelter is there. I have found His shelter here in Uganda. The people here get desperation and they know there are few solutions. This they know- Jesus in the midst of desperation. That is why they can attend church all day, for hours, knowing that when they leave their situation may not be changed, but they found joy in the manifest of His presence that keeps their hearts in the position to press on.

So for the first time in my life, I am treading into the prayers of asking for desperation. I fear to pray those prayers. I fear to ask for it because truly He will give. But I know that in my desperation there can be a joy that overshadows my circumstance. A peace that I see in the eyes I serve. Behind my smile is the confidence in my Savior. And in the midst of my pain a refreshing breeze of His presence.

I love the Valley of Vision of the Puritans prayers…The Puritan Movement was a religious phenomenon of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, yet its influence continued at least to Spurgeon (one of my favorites).

This prayer is my prayer this year…the cry of my heart. Join me in praying- for the sake of our lives, for the sake of Uganda, for the sake of the countries that are still waiting for the Name Jesus, for America.

O FOUNTAIN OF ALL GOOD,

Destroy in me every lofty though, Break pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds, Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness. Implant in me true lowliness of spirit, Abase me to self-loathing and self-abhorrence. Open in me a found of penitential tears, Break me and then bind me up;

Thus will my heart be prepared dwelling for my God; Then can the Father take up his abode in me, then can the blessed Jesus come with healing in his touch, Then can the Holy Spirit descend in sanctifying grace.

O Holy Trinity, three Persons and one God, inhabit me, a temple consecrated to thy Glory. When Thou art present, evil cannot abide; In thy fellowship is fullness of JOY, Beneath thy smile is peace of conscience, by thy side no fears disturb, no apprehensions banish rest of mind, With Thee my heart shall bloom with fragrance.

Make me meet, through repentance, for thine indwelling.  Nothing exceeds thy power, nothing is too great for thee to do, nothing too good for thee to give.

Infinite is thy might, boundless thy love, limitless thy grace, glorious thy saving name.

Let angels sing for

Sinners repenting,

Prodigals restored,

Backsliders reclaimed,

Satan’s captives released,

Blind eyes opened,

Broken hearts bound up,

The despondent cheered,

The self-righteous stripped,

The formalist driven from a refuge of lies,

the ignorant enlightened,

and saint built up in their holy faith.

I ASK GREAT THINGS FROM A GREAT GOD.

In this prayer, I hear desperation. In this prayer I see all my friends spoken of above rescued in the song of the angels. In this prayer I see revival..that only comes from sacrifice and one of a lowliness of spirit. In this prayer I see the heavens rejoicing for His people have been stripped and they have been enlightened to the beautiful story of why He came, in His desperation, in His suffering..so that we might know Him.

Specific Prayer Request and Need

Many of you last year helped me raise money for a car for my sweet friend Susan by buying crafts that I brought home to sell. Her car has been such a blessing not only to her but to the ministry and myself. When we have cars here they are not our own, we share them 🙂 Depending on what mission we are going for…to the deep village, to the Babies Home, into town, picking up guest…we decide which cars we will use. I now am in the position where I will be needing my own car. My new job in Arise will have me going from here to there often and it will keep me from having to borrow Susan’s car all the time. Pastor Godfrey has found me a safe and reliable car that will take care of my needs but it will also help meet the needs of the ministry.

I have over half the money today and we are short $4,000.00. I am asking for prayer that He will provide the remaining balance so I can buy a car! 🙂 He has provided thus far and I know He will provide the rest. If you feel led to give you can give through the “Donation” button or you can contact me on where to send a check.

Thank you for standing with me and Arise as we are trusting God for a car!

IMG_3244                                                                                   Susan’s Ride…:)

 

IMG_0436 IMG_0435Sabbath. After a long three days, our spirits and bodies were in need of rest. I have made many a trips down the Nile on the boat and every time it is a “pinch yourself” moment but today was more than that, it was Holy. Beth, who I just met a week ago today as we were all preparing to come over to Uganda together, has now become a friend that will forever hold a special place in my heart. When we started the journey in the airport she said, ” I feel so unworthy to go on this trip. Look at all of you- Pastors, Pastor’s kids, stellar christians, a missionary…I am not any of those.” I looked at her and said, “because of that you are more qualified than all of us. ‘But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise…’ You will see. You are more than worthy to be on this team.”

I love Austin Christian Fellowship. It has truly been one of my greatest blessings in life to be sent forth from a church that believes in this calling that God has placed not only on my life but the lives of us all. They cultivate their people to be those that “go”. Ones that will be the ones to sacrifice for the revival. I have stood back and listened, watched, and been laborers in the vineyard with the pastors of ACF, and I am so thankful that they would call me one of theirs. It is humbling and I don’t feel worthy to be sent by the ones I have served with this week. So we have become family…closer than before. And as a family today we embraced what we knew He could do as He took the one that felt the least worthy and together we gathered around her as we celebrated what He did through her and in her just in 4 days. A new life. A new perspective. Change. It wasn’t her first baptism, she has been walking with Him for a long time, but she is now ready to “dive into Him and what He has done in Uganda has created purpose for her life that she has been looking for”. This is what we are looking for. Pouring ourselves out when we don’t think we have anything in us worth pouring out. Seeing that there is no greater treasure than to be found poor yet rich in knowing Him. Beth has discovered it…this is what makes my heart rejoice!

So today she asked me to stand with her in the water as her “hero”. All the while I am looking to her and to those gathered around me as my heroes. He has sent me, that is for sure. But they and you are the ones that hold my arms up when they are tired. Beth is my hero. Pastor Will, Steve and John are heroes that I pray I have the legacy of the ministry that those men are leaving. My new friends…who have given everything they have this week and their whole lives. And we are all here, half-way across the World because we are serving mighty, great warriors…who are all of our heroes and mentors.

All standing in the Nile River…not only the Nile but the Source of the river! The Source. I will let that sink in.

What a beautiful Sabbath.

What are we doing wrong?

IMG_0218Sitting at a table tonight with my friends from home who are here on a short mission and our laughter quickly turned to tears as the heaviness filled the room. Heaviness of what our eyes have seen- naked children, starving babies, mothers who have their babies tied to their back as they hoe the field in the hot African sun, a truck full of women, children and pastors who traveled in the bed of a truck standing for four hours to come and sit and listen to the Word for 5 hours. We were led by the future of Uganda and it brought a hope like no other. I love experiencing over and over the silence that comes from no words with those who are seeing for the first time what God has done in our Secondary School. As Martha Judith, 16, led our voices in 10,000 Reasons we were all wiping tears from our eyes, including the one leading-her tears splashed the concrete. Now my friends try to find words to paint the picture and capture the spirit in that concrete room sitting on top of a hill in Uganda, filled with 141 students and pastors, with praises flowing from the lips of those who know pain.

The questions turned into “how can we not see it? How can we not get that this is better than our iPads, our new homes, our high paying jobs? How can we continue to add to ours when there are starving children?” No one could answer…the room was silent. We all felt the weight of the reality. Our hearts were literally broken and there were no single tears, there was a brokenness that came rushing in and through us. Will others see unless they see with their own eyes?

But we have this….our stories. The stories of how after being gone for 3 months I walked into our Babies Home to be greeted with a rush of children knocking me over to hug me…them leading me through the grass as tall as my head to tell me their desires for what they want this year, it is hearing high school students lead with choked up voices due to their passion for Him, it is how this world has changed me. Life is different. I pray that I would literally lose my life for the sake of His…for the sake of others to get it. “It”-a life that you could not fathom, when singing in the middle of a poverty-stricken country on a hill with no instruments brings you a peace and joy you have never experienced, when knowing that loving the least of these is truly loving my personal Savior Himself. When giving up the comforts of home to live like others will bring a fulfillment that I starve for in my comforts. I know how my heart aches tonight desiring that everyone could experience what we experienced today…it doesn’t have to be in Africa or some place far from your home, but that it will take you to a place you never thought you could go. How much more does our Father desire for us? How much more does our Father want to pour out on us? How much more love could He bestow?

Hands and feet. We are His hands. We are His feet. What are we doing wrong? We need more…

Smoked filled hut

Smoked filled hut

First day…head into Kilaro where there is only one well for the whole community. Although I am faced again with the reality of pain and suffering, just like I referred in my blog..it is here where I see Him. You can see it to, in the faces of these beautiful women who served us! Served me. Gathered in a small smoked filled hut, the laughter was even thicker. And the joy. And in this hut, surrounded by hunger and pain. I found Jesus. Feasting again…

The familiar

Stepped foot of the plane today after 36 hours of traveling and the second I breathed in the “Ugandan smell” my heart-felt at rest. How fun it is to be with others who do not have the “home ” feeling I have tonight but who are wrestling with not being over sensitized by everything they see and smell. It takes me back to my first time when I thought I was being brave by just agreeing to come for 10 days and the romantic love I quickly formed for this country and it’s people. It does my soul good to remember those feelings of excitement of not knowing what to expect and seeing through aware lenses opposed to mine, which tend to be clouded by familiar.

I arrived to my Ugandan father (I have two here) and I felt like a little girl who was so thankful to be received by one she feels so comforted by. As I approached the Guest House my emotions take me by surprise as I feel a wave of relief, excitement, and yet still there is that overwhelming, lingering feeling of unbelief that I am here again. Greeted by smiles, embraces, and the smell of fish in the kitchen- it hit me. I am home. A home so so different from the one I just left- the home that has shaped me and prepared me to be embraced in this home today, half-way across the world.

The darkness I lay in right now, in my familiar room, takes me back to many restless and lonely nights. It also takes me back to nights of sleeplessness due to the overwhelming joy. There is a knot in my stomach for I have no idea what this year will bring but I am comforted in this-of this I am sure-He has never let me walk alone, He has gone before us to level the mountains in the distance, and I know what lies ahead is bigger than I could ever imagine. Humbled is my heart. Humbled that I have the privilege to serve Him in this capacity. Thankful that I have returned to the place where I feast on Him. Awaiting the suffering that knocks on your door here and anxiously awaiting to meet Him there in the midst of it all.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying. Thank you for being a part of this journey-for you are as much a part of it as I am. We are all “missionaries” doing this together, and where I am makes me no greater than where you are right now. Write your story…tell the World. Someone will listen and someone will be changed.

2013…what do the Orange Roads have for me this year?

Let’s go get our hands and feet dirty, live a lot, and laugh more. Increase Lord and decrease me.

 

Thankfulness

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My Dad’s Journal.

When I picture my dad in my head, I see him in his chair with a book, pen and journal. When I was graduating from High School my dad gave me his journal of the days leading up to my birth. I found them again while home and it brought me to tears, again. “Train a child in the way she should go and she will not depart from it.” This is the foundation that has been laid for me, before I was born, a father who was praying for me to know Him at an early age. Best gift I could ever receive from my dad.

 

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Daisha.

This little one is carrying on the name Dacia, which means “Divine Perspective”. Such a sweet honor and I can’t wait to get my hands around her 🙂

IMG_0067                                                                  Lunching with these fabulous women.

I was very honored to go and lunch with all of these beautiful ladies. Mrs. Sitton has the biggest heart and has committed to helping me fulfill the call that Jesus has placed on my life by helping me reach my personal financial goals. She has one of the biggest hearts I know and she graciously has done a lot for me over the last year, one being introducing me to such a sweet group of ladies. I loved sharing my stories and heart with them, as they engaged and asked many questions, and we laughed and had a few tears. The road is more enjoyable when you have people walking beside you and the road is full of every generation and color.

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Stories Unfolding.

My friend Sonya has been encouraging me via social network and since being home we have sat down together for lunch twice. Over lunch we have discussed what God is doing in her life to expand her heart and He is bringing her precious family alongside. They are praying about how this will look but they do know that the road is leading to Uganda, in some way. This is what keeps me going. To know that He is not just creating a story there but He is also cultivating and sewing seeds in hearts here through what He is teaching me. So humbling. You can read her story here…www.lifeonmywayhome.blogspot.com

Last But Not Least!!!

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If you were to ask me what I want most this year it would be that my family could come see me in Uganda. My mom has come before but it was before I was settled in my life there and it would mean the world to me to have my family see what my life is like there. I want them to meet their “grandkids” and see my dad sit and talk with the men that have gained my respect. To do ministry as a family.

Well, this might be possible! A sweet family friend of ours called me out of the blue and said that she wants to help raise money for my parents to come visit me in June! I am so blessed by parents who have touched many people along their journey, and I have no doubt that He is going to bless them in return.

Almost a week until I leave…I can’t believe it. Ready to get back to my kids, ready to kiss some babies, and eat some matoke. Thank you to all who make this possible!!