Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Train Tracks of Life

The Lord has been taking me through a special season of teaching me about choosing joy in the midst of stress, change, chaos and struggle. I say "special" because it's not enjoyable and yet it's so sweet. Whether it's Bible class with Joshua, my own personal devotions, quotes from books I'm reading, or a sermon I'm listening to, the theme of Joy In Suffering keeps coming up.

One book that I like to go to on this topic is called "Choose Joy" by Kay Warren. She gives a great illustration to demonstrate how joy is possible in the midst of trials. She says that we usually think of life as a series of ups and downs, mountains and valleys. Sometimes we're up on the mountain and things are going well/smoothly in life. Other times we're low in the valley, where our hearts are heavy and we might feel overwhelmed or defeated. But Kay says we need to think of life as train tracks instead.  One track represents joys and one represents suffering. So just like train tracks which run parallel to each other, joy and suffering run at the same time. We experience both at the same time. Even when we go through really tough times we can experience joy at the very same time because joy isn't a happy feeling dependent on our circumstances, but rather a state of our heart and mind. Kay Warren's beautiful definition of joy is:
"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life
the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right,
and the determined choice to praise God in all things."

1 Thessalonians 5:16:

Last week a young 46 year old pastor who lived a very active missional life in both Uganda and South Sudan, passed away suddenly. His family lives just down the road from us so we attended all of the funeral gatherings. During the big service held at their home a pastor from one of the churches here in Adjumani gave a heart boosting sermon in which he reminded all of us who were mourning that Pastor Juma John is in heaven now, rejoicing with the Lord. There is no where he'd rather be! And we, as believers, have the hope and joy of looking forward to that too! Though wailing and weeping continued throughout that whole day, immediately after his sermon, we sang a song. I don't even know what the words were but about 20 people danced to the front, many with their hands lifted to heaven and smiles on their faces and of course tears still in their eyes. And since I'd been "marinating" for a few days on this topic of joy in suffering I realized in that moment that I was seeing it being worked out right in front of me. That -
 Settled Assurance
Quiet Confidence
& Determined Choice

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Why is everything going wrong?

Quite the subject title right? But this is exactly how I've been feeling the last couple of weeks. I made a list of all my stressors to try to understand why I was feeling so heavy hearted and when I filled a whole page in my journal, I realized that a lot really has happened all at once.

In my Heavenly Father's special loving way, He led me to Psalm 20 this morning and it was exactly what I needed to hear. These are His promises:
In times of trouble may the Lord answer your cry.
May He send you help... And strengthen you
May He grant your heart's desires and make all your plans succeed.
May the Lord answer all your prayers

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Christmas to Remember

Our Exciting Adventure began by taking the overnight bus from Uganda to Kenya 

 Christmas 2019 will be a Christmas we never forget! For years we've been trying to get my sister Audrey and brother in law, David and their kids to Africa for Christmas. We decided it would be fun to do on the Kenyan coast because we have so many fond memories from vacationing there as a family when we were growing up in Uganda.

A common sight on the roads
We met up in Nairobi, Kenya and took a 6 hour train ride from Nairobi city to Mombasa where we'd stay in cottages on the beach for 6 nights.
We were quite the scene on the train with our large group :)

Cousins reuniting

We were so thankful for these strong boys and their help with all the luggage!

Poor jetlagged baby (and Dad)

The sight we got to enjoy every day!

One day the guys went snorkeling at the reef and the ladies stayed home with the babies and got pedicures.

We spent all day in the water

Someone really loved the beach!

One of our sand creations

(Possibly our last family photo as a family of 6!)

Breakfast in the Banda
 The meals were definitely a highlight! The place we stayed had a chef that cooked all our meals. We ate a LOT of seafood.

We ate a lot of meals in our swimsuits

Evan's breakfast plate

Afternoon coffee with my Mom

Waking up from his nap

Long awaited Sister Time

Fun in the waves

My youngest and my oldest

Swims with Mimo (Grandma)

My favorite view in the world!

Just chilling

My 4 year old nephew

Being silly with Mimo

Josh is forever our fish lover

 After 6 glorious days on the beach with family, it was time to head back to real life.

Carson's newest interest is drawing/scribbing

Josh fed the giraffe from his own mouth!
 We fit in a few more fun things in Nairobi before Audrey and David flew out. First stop: Giraffe Orphanage.

 We polished off our time together with a big lunch at a Brazilian Steakhouse for all-you-can-eat meat.

But that wasn't all! After the US crew flew back to CA and my parents flew back to Uganda we got to spend a day with our sister in law Heather, and our 3 beautiful nieces!

Dutch Blitz - always a must!

Lunch and ice cream

Cousin Abi wanted to carry Carson while we did some shopping

So thankful for these opportunities to see our loved ones!!!

Lastly we needed to drop Isaac and Evan off at school. It's not our happiest thing to do that's for sure but we got to spend the weekend at school and see a few more glimpses of their life there and get to know some of their friends a little better.  Since I missed getting both boys moved in at the beginning of the school year, I treasured getting to help each of them unpack and get moved back in to their dorm rooms. God is good.

So now we're back in Adjumani. Real life. Good Life. And sooo enjoying reflecting on these sweet times that God blessed us with! It always amazes me how often we get to see family, even being here in Africa - because so many of them are HERE!