Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Leaping Over Walls

 "For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. "  Psalm 18:29

I have been thinking a lot recently about something I read last summer about anxiety:

Anxiety is a part of our lives, but we don't have to let it keep us living in a prison of fear or retreating in shame.  We have the opportunity to look it square in the face and allow God to use it to transform our lives.
Rhett Smith, the Anxious Christian, p. 33

I imagine anxiety like a wall.  I find myself bumping up against that wall more often than I care to admit.  I also imagine that the wall/ anxiety is an opportunity.  I am learning to check in with myself and identify what that wall is representing in my life, or what it is bringing up/ out in me.  Once identified I can speak truth into the situation.  As silly as it may sound, I literally say to myself, "Ok, this is what is going on and here is what God says about me, my situation, and who HE is in this."

I see that God is with me facing that wall, waiting for me on the other side of that wall, and walking THROUGH that wall with me.  God indeed lightens my darkness.  He is walking through (or leaping over) walls with me!  
(And giving me second chances when I don't make it the first time...or second...)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Never Once

Never Once, a song by Matt Redman, came on and I fell apart.  It has been over a year since my family and I were stuck in the middle of the terrorist attack at Westage Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.  I thought that those kinds of tears were finished.  I have found that I still get weak/ weepy when I think about that day, but I had no idea that there was a breakdown left in me. 

I was driving back down the mountain after dropping my oldest son off at boarding school.  This is the second to last 3-month term before he graduates.  I am sure that had nothing to do with it ;) .  I was talking to God and listening to music when the song came on.  You have to understand the way God used certain songs to minister to me during the time following Westgate.  I had been introduced to Oceans by a college roommate just before and He strengthened me, showing me that HE called me out upon the waters, HE took me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith was made stronger in the presence of my Savior.  He used Take Heart to remind me to let His love lead me through the night, to hold on to Hope, and take courage again.  There are others, but Never Once He used to take me BACK to the scene, back to Westgate and remember that HE. WAS. THERE.

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

My family had been separated during the initial explosions and gunfire.  My husband and oldest son were on the level above my four younger children and I.  We were rounding the corner when the blasts started.  We were inches away from the gunmen’s entry point. We turned and ran to the opposite corner of the mall.  We ended up in a storage area, kneeling between pallets of flour and shelves of toilet paper.  We were stuck there for several hours, stuck listening to screams, gunfire, and explosions.  The fear was that we would be found.  The fear was not knowing what would happen if we were found. I have always had a vivid imagination and it was taking me places I didn’t want to go with my little ones.  We had also “collected” two boys who had been separated from their mother.  My heart ached for them and for their mother, whom they were unable to reach by phone.

We were kneeling on a battleground. 

During one of the lulls between shooting we VERY quietly began talking about how God had provided for us.  He had kept us together, He had provided people to help us along the way, He used store employees to pass out water to us, and we had been able to contact my husband by phone and knew they were ok.  I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been separated in that sea of people, there were 5 of us.  I couldn’t believe we didn’t get trampled; the panic of the crowd was palpable. I couldn’t believe none of us had been shot; the gunfire was RIGHT behind us.

We were looking at just how far we’d come, knowing that every victory was HIS power in us.

The whole time we were hiding there was NEVER a doubt that God was there.  He was the strong tower we ran to – the flour and toilet paper that provided our shelter.  Remembering that as I kneeled uncomfortably, I laughed to myself.  His presence was so very real, so very sure.  He was, and is, the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is faithfully true to who He is.  He doesn’t change and He doesn’t lie.  I was able to rest in the truth of who HE is.  I knew that no matter what happened, He would be faithful, He would be there.

Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace

The days and weeks that followed the attack at Westgate were the kind of hard and wonderful that can only be explained by the presence of God walking through it with you.  The sweetness of that time is something I will always cherish.  God allowed me to see a part of Him in such a tangible way.  So, Westgate was a gift.  Would I ever WANT to do it again?  No!  Would I go there with Him again? … I humbly answer, “If He so led”.  God is gracious and He Himself is our peace.

In the year or so since Westgate there have been scars and struggles, but with joy my heart can say, “Never Once did we ever walk alone”.

So, back to the breakdown…

I am sad that I am still struggling over a year out.  Not all days are hard, but some sneak up and punch me in the gut when I’m not looking.  We ended up going back to the states for two months this summer for some counselling, which was SO helpful.  And I am back to meeting with a counselor now.  Westgate was traumatic but carrying the lie that I failed in healing has been worse. Every perceived failure since feels like another weight added.

I have a hard time accepting that “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7.  It is hard to be so fragile.  I would SO rather have my stuff together.  So I will put one foot in front of the other and embrace the hard, the humbling, the broken parts of me, and trust Him with the healing. 

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Inspirational Reading

"Are there many people in your country?" she asked.

"Hundreds!" said David.  "In fact, I think millions. Why?"

"Can they all read that Book?" demanded Lela.

"Yes, everyone can read in England," answered David proudly.

"Then why don't they come and tell us all?" cried Lela.  "What are they doing?  No one in our village knows anything about it."

This is a section from a book the kids and I just finished reading called  Three Go Searching  by Patricia St. John.  As I read this passage a lump rose in my throat and I almost could not go on.  WHY?  Why do we keep the Answer to the world's hurts, sorrows, troubles to ourselves?  There are people who have never even heard the name of Jesus.  There are people who are living in hopelessness and pain who do not know that there is a Refuge, a Friend, a Healer, and a Savior.

Chris and our team (another missionary, 2 2year workers, 4 4month workers- All American as well as 11 Kenyan students!) are currently sharing the Light of the world with those who are in darkness on the Kenyan coast.  I am so proud of them.  They are being bold witnesses in a  place where it isn't that easy to do so.  It is extremely hot and humid right now there (with no air conditioning to escape to) and this and other physical hardships make it difficult to even think straight sometimes.

Why don't we go?  In Ms. St. John's book David replies, "I suppose they are too busy doing other things."  May we not be guilty of this!  It is SO easy to be occupied with very busy lives.  May we not neglect the nearness of God and the listening to His voice, so that when He calls and says, "Go", we are ready!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. 
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.  
1 Samuel 16:7b

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Random news

YIKES! I guess you have realized that faithful blogging is not my strong suit. I am sorry. So, here is a bit of an update:

We are enjoying life in Nairobi but sensed the need for a break/ get away. The kids and I  traveled with Chris, the journeygirls on our team, and the students who went on the trip to the coast to pass out water filters and share their faith in April. We stayed with friends while the team went out. The kids had a fantastic time, we all did. We love it here, we know we are where we are suppose to be, but it was a good change of pace/ scenery.

One of my new jobs here in Nairobi is overseeing our education resource center on the compound. I have been able to help out homeschooling families in our company within our region as well as Kenyan homeschoolers! It has been a blessing and a joy. The job also comes with some stretching. Those who know me know I am not an administrator. It is a challenge to attend to the business side of the position. Please pray that I will have wisdom and strength. It has been exciting to see the growth in the homeschooling movement in Kenya. These parents are pioneers in their country. I am so thankful that we can help them in their journey.

Our visit stateside is coming up at the end of July. We will be in the states until the end of December. We will be doing quite a bit of traveling so I would ask that you pray that we will be refreshed in spite of all of the driving and sleeping in different beds ;) We are in the process of lining up our housing situation and transportation. I can't believe we will set foot on American soil in less than 4 months.

We have been enjoying front row seats at what God is doing here among students. Chris spoke to a young man a few weeks ago, sharing his testimony as well as how to experience new life in Christ. The guy couldn't wait to put his faith in Christ and insisted on praying that day. Afterward he said that he had to go tell his friends this wonderful news. Chris met with the guy and his friends to talk and answer questions about the Gospel. Long story short, after a couple of weeks or so, every one of the guys has counted the cost and chosen to follow Christ. The true joy is that they seem to be understanding that it isn't a religion they have joined, but a relationship. They are processing that their new faith isn't necessarily about what they do/ don't do, but what is in their hearts that matters.

Chris is meeting with the group of guys each week (most weeks they meet twice) so please pray for their roots to go deep, their foundation to be strong, and their love for and knowledge of Jesus to grow.

Also, one of the guys who went on the trip to the coast grew up in the "town" where we lived on the coast! He is from the people group we worked with! He and his parents are believers and he was able to go back to the area to tell about the change in his life to those who are very resistant to change. So cool.

In other news, we have been raising chickens. We have 50 layers who keep us and some friends in stock of eggs. We also raise broilers to eat. We slaughtered (what an awful word) our 98 chickens a few weeks ago.  I CANNOT believe I didn't get pictures. It was exhausting, but it is over and my freezer is stocked. Emma really enjoyed asking questions and helping in any way she was able. Zephan just wanted to keep a chicken head (gross).

The kids and I have been studying American History in preparation for our return to the states. I love homeschooling because I learn SO much that I just didn't really value when I was in school. Also, I am constantly reminded that the number one thing I can teach my children is to seek God first. I pray every day that they will love Him with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are doing a study right now using different stories from the Bible to show various character qualities.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

May the true Joy of Christmas be full in your hearts!

Jaden got a handmade journal from the J-girls

Showing off make up from Honey

Yes! DP!

Just a few pics for the grand parents ;)

Chris and I spent the day under the weather and on the couch but it didn't stop the celebrating! We read our final reading of Jotham's Journey (I cannot get the computer to let me underline the title!) and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I was reminded again of the true wonder of what God did. He sent His Perfect Son from the glories of Heaven to us. Unto us a child is born, a Son is given. I was blown away (again) that He loves me- in my good and bad moments, my ups and my downs. He knew the times I would be faithful and the times I would be completely rotten and He still came. Praise God for Emmanuel- God with us!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Naomi's Village

Today we received such a blessing! Our family, the J-girls, and some people from a local church loaded up in 2 vans and made our way to Naomi's Village to meet and visit with some special kids. Naomi's Village is a children's home with a vision to love and invest in Kenyan children with the hope that they will not only survive, but grab hold of the truth that they are valued by God and that He has a plan for each person.

Emily enjoys "Don't break the ice" with some expert players.

Avery especially enjoyed holding the babies!

Ester and Emma loving on the little ones.

Jaden holding a little guy who was so full of energy! He had us really laughing!

Emma, Gavin, and Avery in the dining hall between games. The pictures all around the wall are the attributes of God. They are visual reminders of the things the staff are teaching the children about God.

It was raining so we spent most of our time indoors. We played games, worked puzzles, held babies, visited with the workers about how we can pray and help, and just hung out with some special kids.

No pics of Z-man. He was way too busy playing in the play room with the little kids. He did not want to leave and is READY to go back!

One of the main reasons we visited today was because the founders want the children to have strong Kenyan role models. Our hope is that God will place orphans on the hearts of some of the students in Nairobi and that we can all visit regularly.

All of the staff at Naomi's Village were great. They have a special but tough job! Especially on my heart today is Jane, the worker in the baby room. She has a big job with 3 little babies! If you think of her, would you pray too?

If you want to know more about the special ministry of Naomi's Village I encourage you to click here!