A call came from Jim Telman Wednesday night, March 29, and when he spoke we immediately knew something was very wrong.  Then he said the words I will never forget, “Pastor JJ was killed in a car accident last night.”  My heart sank to my stomach, waves of nausea filled my body, and utter shock took hold.  I prayed to the Lord that it wasn’t true, not Pastor JJ.  Not the man that loves Jesus with a passion I’ve seen in very few people, not the man that is the earthly father to five biological children, 80 orphans and countless street kids, not the man that protects others fiercely, not the man that leads so many people to Christ, not the man who’s laugh is contagious, not the man we call family, not Pastor JJ.  How could this be part of any plan?  This man was a father to so many orphans and now his own children are fatherless and the orphans have been left for a second time.

JJ was one of the most humble men you could ever meet and he served with his entire heart.  JJ was a part of everything as we prepare to move to Uganda to join GRACE Project, he was our person of peace.  I wrestled with the fact that he’s really gone; so many questions flooded my brain and so many dreams are forever changed.  Who will minister to the street kids?  Who will love everyone left behind?  Who will take care of Harriet and the kids?  Who will love the orphans through this hard time?  Who will protect us?  Who will guide us on our journey to a new country?  As I brought each and every question and tear to the Lord I received an almost audible response, “I AM!”

I had never truly understood why that was God’s response to Moses when he asked, “What is His name? ‘what should I tell them?” in Exodus 3 until He spoke the same words to me.  I AM is the answer to all of my questions, even the ones I haven’t asked yet.  I AM will go before us to prepare the way.  I AM will continue to walk with us along His path.  I AM has provided for His call.  I AM called JJ home and has a better plan that we cannot imagine.  We will not waiver from Him even though the terrain has changed and our hearts are saddened.  I am so thankful the Lord allowed me to know Pastor JJ and be a part of his vision.  I will cherish every conversation we had and every laugh we shared.  God is good, ALL of the time.  ALL of the time, God is good.

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When the Enemy Attacks

When God calls you to get out of the boat sometimes he’s telling you to step on to the plane (or into the car).  Going to Uganda is comfortable to me, it feels like home.  I’ve never once been nervous or anxious.  This trip was different, it was time to meet a new ministry, new people, and new kids.  Even with the enemy hitting hard before we left, by causing fear and changing plans, God still told us to go.  So we went…


The first two days were easy and fun, we spent it with friends.  The time came to leave, to venture out into the country on our own.  We were being picked up by someone we had never met that had been arranged by someone we’d only communicated with via email.  As fear kept me up that night and the enemy started whispering all of the “what ifs”, I was becoming anxious.  Anxiety and fear are not feelings I deal with often so this was new territory for me.  I prayed for peace and safety, over and over again (Isaiah 41:10).  Morning came, it was time.  Would I go or let the enemy win (it was a serious contemplation)?  As we met Ronald I felt peace come over me and thanked the Lord for the amazing gift of discernment.  We traveled far with Ronald, not having any idea of where we were and if we were going in the right direction but God had planned our path.  When I started hearing the whispers again, I had to go back to scripture, 2 Corinthians 10:5, taking every thought captive and making it obedient to the Lord.  He is not a God of fear.  Let me just tell you, God honors our prayers.  He not only gave me peace that surpasses understanding, Philippians 4:7, (you know, being in Africa with someone we don’t know driving us around, hopefully heading to the correct place…yikes), he provided an amazing person in Ronald.  Ronald took excellent care of us, went above and beyond for us.  I don’t know his story or if he’s been saved by the amazing love of Christ but I pray he saw Christ in us.

All that to say, when God calls, it’s our job to go.  Even when fear surrounds us and the enemy is hitting hard, God is stronger.  God’s plan is better.  Being obedient gives you the blessing God has laid out in advance.  It was  different trip this time and I’ve come away with a much bigger burden in my heart for the kids left behind or thrown out.  God sees them, He knows them, and He loves them.  I’m just lucky enough that he allows me to love them too.

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Car Wash

e7cf89aa4b542300fa54e22c1bd71aad  I ran the car through the car wash today.  It hadn’t been washed in a while and it was time, filthy inside and out.  It started on the inside: cheer shoes, straw wrappers, fallen french fries, etc.  Slowly, the outside was matching the inside.  It was covered in pollen and dirt.

As I exited, I noticed how clean the windshield was now.  I hadn’t realized how dirty it really was.  That’s when I saw it, a vision of what sin in our life looks like.  This isn’t the first time God has put this message in my heart but today, I paid attention.

The windshield was now clear: free from pollen, dirt, and bird droppings.  The filthiness didn’t happen over night or quickly.  It was a gradual, slow process from the inside out.  This is so much like the sin in our lives.  A little bit here, a little bit there.  Before you know it, you’re covered.  Sometimes we go days, weeks, months, or years without seeing it.  Most times we don’t notice it’s happening, we don’t notice that we’re not seeing things as clearly as we should.

There are times when we need a “quick wash”, not really a deep clean, just a surface clean.  These are the times we turn back to Jesus, repent, correct our course, and move on.  Other times we need to be scrubbed.  Scrubbing takes more effort and can be exhausting (you know, wiping the wheels, vacuuming, cleaning the hidden areas).  There’s usually breaking, pruning, rebuilding involved to get to restoration and returned to new.  Whichever wash we need, His gentle hand guides the process and directs our paths if we let Him.

What kind of wash do you need?

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They Call Me Mzungu

One of my favorite things about Uganda is the children we pass on the road. They excitedly wave and smile while yelling the word “Mzungu”. Mzungu is the Lugandan word for white people. As we communicate with the kids on the streets and in villages or the kids in the boarding school it is peppered throughout the conversation, not out of disrespect, but more out of curiosity.

There are so many things that are special or memorable while you’re on a mission trip but one day in particular will be forever in my heart. Our team was visiting the boarding school in Mbira one morning.   To our delight, some of the younger day school students were outside during their free time playing games. When they saw us coming the murmur of the word Mzungu could be heard among their conversations. One little girl in particular stared intently at me. At first she was shy, no smile, just staring. After a few minutes she gently took my hand into hers. This is when my heart swelled with love for this child I had just met. The Holy Spirit took over and Girades was forever imprinted on my heart.

She went over ever facet of my hands, turning them over and over, and rubbing her hands over mine very intentionally. Our hands together were a reflection of God. Although we spoke different languages and had different skin colors we were created and loved by God. As Girades continued to examine our hands together her teacher called them in, she finally let go. As I watched her go back to her desk she smelled the hand that she had been touching my hand. It was as if she wanted to remember every moment, every detail, and every essence of her time with the Mzungu. I don’t know for sure if she will remember our short time together but I know I will: every moment, every touch, every smile.

Proverbs 22:2 “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is Maker of them all. ”  SONY DSC

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Where I Wander

     In less than 11 days I will be heading out of the country to Uganda.  This is my first mission trip out of the country, so why not make it half way around the world?!  My brain is currently on overload: What do I pack?  What will I eat?  Can I take traveling for so long (I get tired of the car in 3 hours and we’re heading into 30+ hours)?  These are some of the minor things circling my mind.            

     Then I realized, my mind is wandering into much more dangerous territory.  At times during the day I find my self listening to the evil voice in my ear that doesn’t question my trip but brings up all of my insecurities.  Normally, I take these thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to God) but lately, without realizing, I’ve been listening.  I have no doubt that this is the enemy trying to steal my joy and kill my spirit for doing God’s work and going where God wants me.  Traveling to Uganda to care for God’s children is not where the enemy wants me, so why not wear me down before I go?  

     I’m currently in a bible study called “Duty or Delight” (which, honestly I can’t say without a little giggle).  As I sat in the study yesterday we were talking about what the enemy says to each of us.  To me he says, “Who are you to teach and lead these teenage girls?  You don’t know nearly enough about the bible and are struggling to remember the verses you are challenging the girls to memorize.”  Followed by, “You should be doing what she’s doing.  Look what she did with her girls.  You’ll never be that good.”  

     At that moment, a light dawned on me (no doubt THE Light).  God knows my heart.  He knows that I love Him and want to do whatever and go wherever he leads me.  He knows that I love all of “my girls” with all of my heart and want to share His love for them with them.  I don’t want them to wait until they’re 35 to “get it” like I did, it’s just too good to wait.  I may not know enough of the verses (always learning) but I do know each of my girls.  God cares about my heart, not my head knowledge and is teaching me something new every day.  So I thought, “What do the girls want from me?”.  They want a relationship.  They want someone who genuinely cares about them, who will be there for them when they think no one else will, and most of all, to show them the love of Jesus.  

What does God want from me?  The same thing!   He is all of those things and more for me and He wants me to rest there!  He wants a relationship!  Not my head knowledge.  He wants my heart to break for what breaks His.  He wants me to follow him with all of my heart.  There is nothing I can give God except me.  

So today I choose to follow Him, listen to Him, and go with Him.  I will not wander in the depths of the enemy but will walk in the lit path of my Savior. (Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.)


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Well Pleased

I’ve been following the Made to Crave devotional by Lysa Terkeurst.  Day 18 was an amazing day.  It encompassed the verse Matthew 3:17.

…and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

I changed the wording to speak about me.  “This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased.”  WOW, did that speak to me.  My daughter!  Whom I love!  Well pleased!  I was brought to tears when I reworded it to include me, personally.  My God loves me, not because I’ve done something to deserve it, not that I ever could. The Lord is well pleased with me.  My obedience pleases Him.

I needed those words this week.  Thankful for the blessings and love I don’t deserve.

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I bought bird seed and a feeder for the back yard.  (If you know me, you know that I have a passion for animals.  I wanted to have birds in the back yard, I love watching them).  I bought the cheapest bird seed that I could find, because why do they need the best?  About a week or so after watching the birds and scattering the seed for them weeds began to grow, they were surrounding the tree.  As I was looking at and pulling some of them the other night I knew God has a message for me there, I felt it.  After a few days of “pondering” here’s where I was led.

The tree represents me.  It needs nourishment, sunshine, and a healthy environment to thrive.  So do I!  My nourishment comes from the Lord and his Word.

The weeds represent sin.  They grow quickly, do not need nourishment, and spread to other areas.  

Like I said, I chose the cheapest seeds I could find.  How many times do I choose the cheapest “seed” in my own life?  I choose the things of the world instead of God’s best for me.  Why would I settle and be happy with anything but His best?

Pulling the weeds reminded me that I need to “pull” the sin out of my life, turn it over to God, and discard it or it will choke out all that is good…  it will choke out God.  God will never move from me but when sin is surrounding me it’s really hard to see His good and I lose focus on Him.  

I want my focus to be solely on God.  I want to depend on him for my nourishment.  I know there will be rough days but my God is never far from me.  

Psalm 16:8  “I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” 

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