Thanks be to God

While we were in the U.S. and traveling to many different places, I saw this sign at a friend’s house, and I took a photo because it captured my attention and hit my heart pretty hard…

We can all agree that 2020 was a big, huge mess! It was a year of change, frustration, change, adapting, change, flexibility, change, disappointment, change, fear, and more change. One of the biggest realizations I had about myself pre-COVID, was how I thought I could control my life by planning. And while I would say, “God is really the one in control”, I would still plan and expect things to go how I want them to go. I would get frustrated when things didn’t go my way. And I still do this. But this past year has opened my eyes to realize that I can still plan, but it needs to be with flexibility and with the understanding that God is ultimately in control and my life is in His hands, not my own.

The verse James 4:13-16 comes to mind: “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”

I find myself not even considering God’s plans but going on with my life as if it’s my own. I think that’s easy for all of us to do, but 2020 has reminded me that this world is not my home. People are divided, people are dying, people are hurting, people are angry. So what can we do in 2021? This year isn’t going to be our salvation. It’s not going to be the best year ever, when all things are great. I think many of us wish it would be, but in reality, there is still a lot of evil in this world and the fight isn’t going to be over until we go to our real home in Heaven. So what do we do?

I think a simple yet powerful reminder is to give thanks to God for what I have and trust in Him for what I need. He knows; I don’t. That’s the truth! So I reflect back on 2020 and think of the hardships, but I also think of the blessings. I think of the disappointments, but I also think of the many people I got to spend time with in true relationship.

Sometimes we have to look at a situation (or in this case 2020) and not only trust God in the hard times, but also look around and thank God for the blessings in the midst of the hard times. As you reflect on this past year, what were your good times and what were your bad times?

Happy Birthday Adalyn!

Adalyn has turned 8 years old. This is her first birthday in the U.S. since we left for Uganda when she had just turned 3 years old. We had the crazy realization that we traveled across the world with a toddler who was barely 3 years old! Wow! It has been a blessing to watch her grow and mature into the feisty, strong, caring and adventurous little girl. As another year has passed, here is another round of questions to see where she is this year…

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Missionary Merit Badges

This post is for our fellow missionaries and expats, trying to find humor and victories in the simple, mundane things of everyday life. Just like the Scouts, expatriates and missionaries should start collecting merit badges for the things we have accomplished. Here are a few that my friends and I thought about to get us started… Continue reading

To Obey or Not to Obey, That is the Question…

I read a devotional that hit me hard, and I want to share it with you as a way to commiserate with you about the Truth and the challenge in it…

“The issue is not that we can’t obey God – that we can’t forgive that parent who hurt us so deeply, that we can’t  love that colleague at work, that we can’t give thanks in the midst of the storm, or that we can’t be content with our one-bedroom apartment. The real issue is that we won’t forgive, we are unwilling to love, and we refuse to give thanks and to be content with what God has provided. Obedience is a choice made in dependence on the supernatural power of God. By the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to forgive, choose to let Him love others through us, choose to give thanks in every circumstance and choose to be content.”

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Gains and Losses

I don’t think any of us expected things to go the way they have over the past few months. We have learned new words and experienced new things: global pandemics, markets crashing, national lockdowns, social distancing, infection rates, and so much more. The world has drastically changed since we visited America in December. Many of you are aware that our family made the decision in late March that we would stay in Uganda, our home, during these unprecedented times. Through much prayer and discussion, we felt this is where we should be. So far, Uganda has still managed to prevent massive spread of Covid-19, and we are all so thankful for this! As with many people around the world, we are processing the gains and losses during this time. There are many blessings and things to be thankful for. But there are also everyday losses that we feel because life isn’t normal and it’s a bit more stressful with extra restrictions. Continue reading

Other Parts of the World…

It has been a struggle to watch this pandemic sweep across the world. It has been hard to watch my fellow Americans panic and become upset with one another for the different ways people are reacting to the lockdowns, isolation, and social distancing.

But it has been most difficult to balance the reality that the world is so much bigger than what’s posted on social media. Here in Uganda, we are less concerned with the virus itself (although the government has put some serious restrictions on movement and businesses to prevent rapid spread), and more concerned about the ramifications of all the closures and lack of movement. There is a good chance that in developing countries there will be more people effected by starvation than COVID-19. Continue reading

Encourage One Another…

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” This sounds simple, yet it’s not always easy. I see the importance of it, and I have seen how God uses my words to encourage, affirm, uplift another person who needed to hear what I had to say. God was using me to share with them. Continue reading

Grace Upon Us

Last year was a difficult one, and many of you have walked with us during the challenges, successes, emotions and frustrations. As I look back on our life in ministry, I see many of you walking alongside us through so many phases of our life, and I am humbled, honored and thankful for the people who have loved us, shown us grace, forgiven us, taught us, helped us, encouraged us, gave us advice, supported us and pointed us to Christ.

Leland and I were talking the other night about the many mistakes we have made in our life of ministry, both in our early years in Boulder, CO as well as our time in Belton, TX. And how we continue to make mistakes, but we are learning to be different, and hopefully more like Jesus. There are several times I can look back at my life and realize how stupid, stubborn and arrogant I was, and how frustrating it must have been for those around me. Continue reading

Spiritual Warfare is Real

I must confess: I am a skeptic when it comes to the unseen world and spiritual warfare. I have doubts and cynicism when I hear about about miracles or dreams. Don’t get me wrong: I know the spiritual battle is real. Scripture talks about it, and I have heard amazing experiences from people I know and trust. But my life experiences and “American-Christian Brain” cause me to still find it hard to wrap my mind around. Continue reading