Sunday, April 26, 2015


I was reading in Romans the other day and was struck by the following verses.

"For although they knew God (referring to mankind), they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." Romans 1: 21-23

I found it interesting to see where the change happened in these verses. It starts off by saying that "they knew God", but goes onto say that they "neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to Him". This is where the sin came into place. Because they did not glorify or give thanks to God, their "thinking became futile and their foolish hearts darkened".

These verses reminded me once again of the importance of gratitude. Gratitude and giving glory to God is what prevents us from giving into our own selfish desires and foolish thinking.

As I thought about these verses, I immediately knew this truth was the same in my life. When we first had to evacuate South Sudan, I slipped into "self-pity" mode. I was shell-shocked by how quickly everything happened and immediately starting having thoughts of, "Why would this happen to us?" and "What does this mean for our ministry in South Sudan for the long-term?". These thoughts in and of themselves are not sinful, but it is where my heart can wander after thinking them that pulls me away from gratitude and into self-pity land.

Although this has been an extremely challenging time for us as we are still in the "limbo" period of having to evacuate Mundri, we have a lot to be grateful for in the midst of it. Thinking of the blessings God has provided for us in hard times is not simply a way to ignore the struggle of what is going on or pretend the good things outweigh the bad. However, it is a way of acknowledging God's goodness and provision in the midst of our struggles. A way of realizing that He is caring for us well, even when we are going through storms in our lives.

There are many, many things that we have been blown away by in this time. Here are three things that have been huge blessings in the midst of our current situation.

Flowers outside of the house we get to
stay in while we are here in Kijabe
1. The school we are teaching at in Kijabe, Kenya is absolutely beautiful! One thing that was hard for me in Mundri was the town was not a naturally beautiful place. The people made it beautiful but I had to seek out beauty in God's creation each day because it wasn't something that was easy to find. This place is absolutely beautiful.  Everywhere you turn here, is a new angle of beautiful landscape. There are mountains completely surrounding the school compound. Everything on the campus is lush and green and there are many different types of flowers and plants. I am extremely grateful for the beauty here!
The Serge Kijabe Team while making pizzas together

2. While we are here in Kijabe, we are a part of the Serge team here. It is such a joy to be a part of this team for this time! We immediately felt welcomed and accepted into the Serge family here. What a blessing it is to have a team around us for this time and have such a great community here. We are so grateful for each person on this time and thankful to have this time in Kijabe with them!

3. If you know me, you know that I love to teach. Teaching students and being around children is my passion. The fact that we get to teach during this time of being out of South Sudan is amazing to me. I am grateful that we all get to do something in this time that is meaningful and lasting. We have the opportunity to pour into students' lives and teach them more about being children of God. We are grateful for the ability to teach and have a focus and purpose in this time.

My prayer is that we will continue to be grateful even in the midst of storms. I pray that we would see gratitude as a way of glorifying God and taking the focus off ourselves. May we trust in God's provision for us and see how abundantly He provides for His children. I pray that you, also, would have a grateful heart today and take time to acknowledge God's provision in your life.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Be Still

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; 
do not fret when men succeed in their ways, 
when they carry our their wicked schemes,
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; 
do not fret-it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace."
Psalm 37: 7-11

Since we evacuated, several verses have been on repeat in my heart. When I came across this verse the other day, it stuck with me immediately. It wasn't until then that I recognized a theme to all of the verses that God had placed my on heart. They all had to do with "being still" or "being at rest" and waiting on the Lord. "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you" (Psalm 116:7) has been a go- to verse in this season. 

I don't like "being still". It is not something that comes naturally to me. Some people enjoy being idle and sitting quietly with their own thoughts... I am not one of those people. I like to be busy. When I'm in a season that is not busy, I like to pretend I'm busy and find things to do so that I don't have to be alone with my thoughts and my fears. The above verses have been difficult to me for this reason. I would rather busy myself so that I don't have to face what is really going on in my heart. The problem with that (there are many) is that this doesn't solve anything. It actually only causes me to be more anxious and fearful because I'm not actually dealing with what is going on- I'm working around the issues, but not facing the issues. I'm learning that I would rather flippantly said, "I trust you, God" than actually process and pray through what I'm trusting Him with- or God forbid, deal with the reality that I'm actually struggling to trust Him in a certain area and admit that to Him. 

So, in this season, I'm trying to be intentional about being at rest with the Lord. I know how easy it is for me to busy myself so that I don't have to face my fears and feeling head-on, so I'm working to fight that tendency and actually allow the Lord to speak to my fears and my doubts. 

Look at the above verse again. Isn't that a beautiful promise?! This verse has become my prayer for Mundri over the past few weeks. I pray that I will not "fret when men succeed in their ways" and the same for the people of Mundri. I also pray that my beautiful Moru friends will one day "inherit the land and enjoy great peace". Peace from war. Peace from all fear. Peace the God provides and cares for them. I'm praying for the day when the wicked will truly "be no more" and when evil is overthrown completely. 

This is why I can be a rest. I can sit quietly before the Lord because I trust that these promises will come true one day. I trust that although we don't see complete evidence of it now, God is victorious over evil and His ways will prevail eternally. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

In Between

We have been out of South Sudan for 5 weeks now. During those five weeks, we have moved around 11 times. We have packed and re-packed suitcases countless times. We have cried, prayed and processed with multiple people (well, maybe the tears were just from me...). We have been hosted by many gracious, hospitable people and have had multiple delicious meals cooked for us.

We are now in Kijabe, Kenya, where we will be teaching for the next three months. Will, Justin and I will be teaching at Rift Valley Academy (RVA) for their last term of the school year. Justin will be teaching 11th grade English, Will is going to teach Elementary PE and I will be teaching Kindergarten. We have houses on the campus and are finally able to put our clothes (the little that we have with us) away in drawers and put our suitcases away for a while.

Will and I will all of our nieces and
nephews last September
Oh my, it is nice to be settled. It is nice knowing that we do not have to worry about where we will be sleeping tomorrow or if we have a place to cook dinner. It is a relief to have access to a washing machine (yes, a real washing machine... wahoo!) and a coffee pot.

What is interesting, however, is that right after getting settled in yesterday, I felt more homesick than I have felt in our entire 6th months here in Africa. My heart was longing to be with my family and hug my parents. I missed our sweet nieces and nephews and wanted to play and chat with them. I missed our siblings and the feeling of being deeply known by them and knowing that they "get me" and I don't have to explain my thought processes to them.

Will and Francis in Francis' shop before last January
At the exact same time, I felt homesick for the dirt roads in Mundri and the joy of our Moru friends. I miss the sights and smells (well, not the dry fish smell or the rotting meat smell, but maybe some of the other smells...) in the market. I miss being welcomed onto compounds with laughter and hugs and impressing my friends with my (very broken) attempts at Moru.

So here we are, in a place that I know is good and I know is of God for this season of our lives. However, I also feel stuck between my other two "homes". I am homesick for both my American and Moru families. We are feeling mixed about starting over again and meeting a new set of people. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity and overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. However, our hearts are stuck in the in between. We are tired from transition and missing so many different people while trying to create new relationships at the same time. In all of it, we know God is faithful and He has great purpose in this time. Please pray for our hearts in this transition. Please pray that we would be able to live fully here even though our hearts feel torn and divided.
A view from the RVA campus. It is beautiful here!