Thursday, November 29, 2007

someone asked me the other day, "really? is it really as great as you make it sound?i could never do that! are you really happy?" for all of you who wonder, this is my response.

you know what i want sometimes? to go to the mall and spend a ridiculous amount of money on a cute new pair of shoes. i want to sit on my kitchen counter chatting with my girlfriends and eat a whole carton of cookie dough ice cream. i want to watch grey's anatomy, or any tv for that matter. i want to cuddle with my sweet boyfriend. i want to hop in my cute car, go to the grocery store, and pick up any kind of produce i want. i want to wake up in a house with my loving family, not all by myself. i want to go to blockbuster and pick out a movie to watch with my little brother and his friends and i want to cook for them at midnight. i want to spend mindless hours with my best friends talking about boys and fashion and school and life. i want to go to the gym. i want my hair to look nice. i want to wear cut off jean shorts. i want to be a normal teenager living in america. i do.

but. you know what i want more? ALL the time? i want to be spiritually and emotionally filled every day of my life. i want to be loved and cuddled by100 children and never go a day without laughing. i want to wake up to a rooster, my two africa dogs, and a splendid view of the nile river. i want to be challenged endlessly; i want to be learning and growing every minute. i want to be taught by those i teach. i want to share God's love with people who otherwise might not know it. i want to work so hard that i end every day filthy and too tired to move. i want to feel needed, important, used by the Lord. i want to make a differnce and i want to follow the calling that God has planted deep in my heart. i want to give my life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second. i want to be here. right here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Peter is the rock on which God built His church. But fist, Peter was probably the worst disciple ever. I am Peter.

Jesus tells Peter the Peter will deny Him 3 times; Peter says, "No! I love you, I could never deny you, Lord." Yet we all know that Peter does in fact deny Jesus 3 times. I know in my heart and my soul and the core of my being that I LOVE the Lord, that I would do anything for Him, go to the ends of the earth for Him, but how often do i forget to give the Glory back to His name? How often do I take compliments without giving Him the credit, without the honor and praise back to God who has given me this work? Do I, as Peter, deny Jesus the glory that is His?

Jesus told His disciples that it was God's will for Him to be arrested. He went willingly when the soldiers came to take Him, but enthusiastic, loving Peter raised his sword and cut off a soldier's ear. I'm sure Jesus chuckled and shook His head as He put the ear right back on the man. "put your sword away," Jesus commanded, "shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" I am Peter. I have my own time frame. When I don't see things happening, I try to make them happen. And Jesus says, "Put away your sword, put away your plans. Shall we not do what the Father has asked of us?" So like Peter, I put away my plans, my defenses, and watch as everything happens perfectly, in God's own timing.

After Jesus had risen, He appeared to His disciples while they were fishing. When Peter saw his beloved Savior, He excitedly jumped out of the boat and began swimming where Jesus stood. Needless to say, the boat probably reached the shore long before Peter. I am Peter. Excitedly jumping into things, and then standing, sopping wet, at the feet of the Lord, smiling at my stupidity. I get excited, forget to think things through, and end up doing them the long way. Every time, though, just as with Peter, Jesus welcomes my soaking wet self into His arms and is simply happy to see me.

I am Peter who made many mistakes, but I am Peter who God had great plans for, who God established to do His work. Peter is the rock on which Jesus built His church. The very night that Perter foolishly jumped out of the boat, Jesus reinstated Him in the presence of the other disciples. "Do you truly love me?" He asked. "Then feed my lambs." "Do you really love me? Take care of my lambs." "Peter, DO YOU LOVE me? Feed my sheep, and come. Come follow Me."

For each time that I deny God the Glory that is His, for each time I follow my will instead of listening to His, for each time I jump ahead without first consulting my Lord, He asks, “Daughter, do you truly love me?” and I do. “Feed my sheep.” And I will. And I do. “Come follow me.” And I am, or at least I am trying.

I am Peter. I mess up. I make mistakes, I am far from perfect, and God will use me. God will establish great things through me. You are Peter. God already knows that you will make a mess, but His plan for you is great. Go. Feed His sheep.

November 16, 2007

Sometimes people use the expression, "I have seen it all." They haven't. I have seen it all. All of Africa that is. Today I made the 7 hours drive from my home to a small village outside Masaka ( where i am working to support yet another orphanage). I literally drove across Uganda, and though it was long and very bumpy, I couldn't have been more thrilled. Beautiful is often the word I use to describe my life here, but honestly, beautiful doesn't begin to capture it. Rolling hillsides, lush green valleys, grassy plains that reach the horizon, and a single dirt road stretching as far as the eye can see. And that is my life. I can't see where the road leads, but I am so happy to be on this beautiful, uncertain road and though I am not sure where it is leading, I know that it is here, in Africa.

I am here now, being eaten alive by mosquitoes in the home of a family that I do not know. (Ugandan hospitality is wonderful.) I will admit I was nervous upon arriving, but as I entered their home, a sign caught my eye "if today you hear God's voice, harden not your heart." There is was again, as alway. "Daughter," He spoke, "do not be afraid; this is where i have called you."

The call came on Wednesday night when a dear friend, Patricia, phoned to let me know that one of the little girls at Nazareth, a children's home I had been involved with sponsoring but not yet visited, had passes away of an unknown cause. At the news my heart dropped into my stomach and I knew my only option was to go there. How does a beautiful, happy, 3 year old just suddenly die? Since Patricia is involved in supporting the orphanage back in the states, I was the only one who could really go and asses the situation, where the children not getting proper care? medical treatment? Again and again and again God's call is the same, "whom shall I send?" and again, "Here I am, Lord. Send me," is the only response.

I was apprehensive on the drive here, being truly alone in a land where I know no one, but the breeze whispered to me that this is home, and the bright sun took away all doubt. I am staying with the family that lives next door to the orphanage, which is actually two small brick houses with dirt floors, minimal food, and buckets of water for bathing. How gracious this family is to welcome me, a total stranger, into their home! The grandmother just came in with a bowl and a pitcher of water to wash my hands. She has prepared tea for me, and as a respected guest, I must stay here in the living room and take my tea while the rest of the family cleans and prepares the house. Around here, last minute guests are a welcome and wonderful surprise! I am constantly humbled by these people and their longing to serve.

The orphanage is in bad shape. It is dirty, there is little food and littler clothing, and absolutely no medical care. Sadly, it is not hard to image that a child died here just a few days ago. Ms. Josephine, the founder/owner/director of this home to 20 children is in her early 70s (an insane lifetime for any person in this country) and the only family these children have. Needless to say it is near impossible for a 70 year old woman to care for 20 children, but despite a devastating lack of resources and no outside help, she is doing alright. Tomorrow, I will take all the kids to the hospital to have check-ups and be treated for anything they have, as well as de-wormed. Then it will be off to the market to buy some more nutritious food and help them create a meal plan that will be healthy and affordable. I am hoping we can plant a vegetable garden- a great way to have inexpensive, nutritious food and a fun project for the kids. Ultimately I would love to put in a flushing toilet, as at the moment the children use a pit latrine that must be cleaned by hand. I know that God is moving in this place and He is constantly helping me and giving me new visions for these children and the resources to make them happen (huge thank you, once again, to Mr. Mike and all who have contributed!) Can you imagine, a God so large He could create the universe, yet so personal that He cares for each one of these children and meets their needs on an individual basis? How blessed I am to be a servant of such a Master.