Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When You Peel Back Layers....


We all know who it comes from and that it's not circumstantial. I can choose joy in the midst of any one of the hundreds of trials life throws at me.  I can find joy in the small things...like a hummingbird at my window this morning.  I can choose joy when my kids are grumpy, when my husband did not meet my expectations, or the house is (once again) in need of cleaning.

But choosing joy is a lot harder than it seems.

I used to think it was easy. I think because back in America, if I ever began to have feelings of sadness, loneliness, what have you....I could easily "stuff it" or fill that hole by any number of things we Americans do: start a new hobby, go shopping and buy something to give a temporary satisfying "fill", visit a friend, take the kids out to eat so I don't have to face the pile of dishes at the end of cooking, sign up for another activity to keep me busy.  I never really ran out of options to temporarily give me joy. So choose joy? Sure. Easy. Let me plan something to do. Get a plan going for the day.

Here in Uganda, it's a whole different ballgame. I have been challenged with choosing joy.  There is no "shopping trip".  When the boredom of a day sets in and I have no car to go anywhere, I have to deal.  When my marriage starts to show signs of wear (not having the regular "Boog & Flo date nights" we are used to), we have to deal.  When sadness of not having family and friends close by to run and chat with, I have to deal. I have to deal with the unmet expectations, the loneliness, boredom, and all the other emotions that I don't like to deal with. There is no quick fix.  There is no filler.  You deal.

Being a "missionary family" this year has really highlighted our coping abilities. Mine, I decided, need some work.  But it's given me an incredible present. I have come face to face with my ugly.  I have peeled back layers in myself and the relationship with my husband and my children and it's exposed some areas where I really thought I had it DOWN!

How about that?  I'm 36 years old and learning some of my weaknesses actually are things I thought were my strengths in America.  That's a hard thing to look at....the ugly, the scars....and see beneath the layers upon layers of  "filler" through the years.

Psalm 16:11 has been on mine and Boog's heart now for over a year.
"You make known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand are pleasures forever."

It's no small note that it's absolutely one of the most challenging things for me here, personally. Finding joy in Him, regardless of circumstance, regardless of what I think I lack, regardless of my emotions.

Seeing our dear friend Pastor Earnest choose joy despite his circumstances is humbling. And it's in peeling back my own layers that I'm hopeful of growth and restoration and the promises of life more abundant.....the ability to see, feel, and know The Joy from a place so deep that knows the difference between yucky, preservative, fake filler and the real, life-giving Joy.

 My marriage is a beautiful journey. My children are my pleasure.  I have no doubt that this revelation and growth WILL be a blessing....for all of us.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Thunder is in the distance. It's the rainy season, and storms can brew at any given moment.  It's night and my mosquito net is tucked in the bed around me. The girls are asleep in their bunk beds, and Boog is off to the airport for a midnight arrival of a couple who will also become part of the 60 Feet team.

This is our life in Africa.

Every week, 60 Feet hums and churns like a well-oiled machine....with the occassional need for stops and repairs along the way.  The mobile medical team departs each morning for visits to the remand centers, staff flies off in ten different directions as they meet with different organizations or government officials to build the much needed relationships that make working in an international setting more fluid and manageable. And each week, something comes up that requires everyone to sit back and remember that amidst all this "U.S. style nose to the grindstone" work, the children we serve are not commodities. They are not "projects".  They are real people.  Vulnerable.  And desperate for someone to hear their story.

You could not dream up what those "somethings" are......lists handed down of 80+ children waiting to be resettled with their families, but languishing in prison until someone can provide the research, money, transportation, and people to make it happen. Horribly run orphanages, shut down by the government, and the children sent to the government's "drop off center", meaning 40+ new kids and mouths to feed (at an already maxed out center). Shortages of clothing in the prisons. A need for toothpaste/toothbrushes for 400 kids who have never owned a toothbrush of their own.....

The situations that arise seem to be endless.  But as our team is learning, it's not just about responding to each crisis.  It's about finding the wisdom to look beyond the problem in front of you and finding the root. To not just look at the kids on the list and find the quickest way to get them back to their families (although quick is good.) But to go to the family and return, and return again, to see why the child left or was sent away to begin with and start the counsel there.

Partnership is huge.  Finding other organizations to work with so that each area of need, along the long chain of need, is served well. Just last week, my hubs and other staff members attended a town hall discussion at the U.S. Embassy to get a glimpse of what the vision is and where it's headed.  And each week, there's a new meeting set up with an organization who may provide a link in the chain.

For the girls and I, we sit on the perimeter....with much of our time being spent volunteering at a babies' home, homeschooling, and working at Hope International School (where many of 60 Feet's sponsored children attend.)  But we listen to the staff's daily struggles and small victories.  We watch as our daddy puts on a tie and drives off to meet someone in the Ministry of Gender.  We pray for each situation that arises. And we remember that God is the source of this love-offering of service....

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34

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