Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My very first blog award!!!

The Emblem of the Helping Hand award was created by Sojourner's Place as a symbol of help, support, and encouragement to 'up and coming' bloggers, and in appreciation for those who mentor those new to the blogosphere.

Laurie Ann at A Magnolia's Heart Beats gave me my very first blog award as an up and coming blogger...thank you so much, Laurie Ann! I am honored and touched. Bless you so much.

The Rules:
  1. Select 10 bloggers: 5 you consider your blogging Helping Hand then "Pay it Forward" by extending your "Helping Hand" to 5 additional bloggers in support and encouragement for their efforts.
  2. In passing on the Emblem, each recipient must provide the name of blog or blog author with a link for others to visit.
  3. Each recipient must show the Emblem and put the name and link to the blog that has given it to her or him.
  4. Link the Emblem to this post: Helping Hand: Much Obliged and Paying it Forward so that others will know it origin and impetus.
  5. If you have not already done so, show your recipients some love by adding them to your blog roll, Technorati Favorite list, or in any other way to further let them know that their blog voice is important to you and being heard.
  6. Add your name to The Helping Hand meme at my new blog entitled The Emblem of the Helping Hand and don't forget to leave a comment as a permanent record of all Helping Hand recipients.
  7. Display the rules
So, for the 5 blogging mentors who have inspired, helped and generally encouraged me...I give you the Emblem of the Helping Hand and a huge blogosphere HUG!!! You are truly amazing women of God!

Drum roll, please....

1. Esthermay at The Heart of a Pastor's Wife ... From the design of my blog to memes, Page Plus, Photobucket...the list goes on and on. You've really lifted me to a new level in blogging, and deserve many heartfelt thanks. Bless you, dear friend.

2. Michelle at Love Has a Face ...Your sacrificial love for the Savior is evident in all you do. You truly are an inspiration to me. XOXOXO

3. Miranda at Heathcote Safari ... Thank you for all your encouragement in my writing. You inspire me as a mother, writer, YWAMer, wife, friend, etc. etc. Thanks for walking this journey with me!

4. Jennie Joy at 'Til Kingdom Come ... Only having met you once, I've been impressed with your heart to follow God wherever He leads you, and am thankful for your ministry alongside Michelle. Looking forward to getting to know you better! Bless you, friend!

5. Nicole at Journey to Africa ... Your creative gift shines through in all you do, and inspires me to greater heights! Thanks for setting up the YWAM Arua blog, and for being free to be who you are. You rock, girlfriend.

Now for the 'up and coming' bloggers (sorry, I could only come up with 3)...they are more 'well-established' than 'up and coming', but I want to pay this award forward to them, and encourage any readers to visit their blogs and encourage them...

1. Otumidwa ...poetically inspiring, real in the face of challenges, sold-out for God. I miss you!

2. Billy and Joanna at Abiding in Africa ... you guys are amazing. Thanks for all the heart to hearts, White Castle dates, and washing machine uses! Love you!

3. Isunji at The "Quiet" One ... you make me laugh, and I appreciate that! I admire your heart for missions, and pray blessings on your up-coming mission trip to Zambia!

May God use you more and more as you give glory to Him through your writings.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Word-filled Wednesday

Then the King will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed
by my Father;
take your inheritance,
the kingdom
prepared for you
since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry

and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty
and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger
and you invited me in,

I needed clothes
and you clothed me,

I was sick
and you looked after me,
I was in prison
and you came to visit me.'
Matt 25:34 - 36

With a nervous smile, the man rose cautiously out of his seat. He turned to face the congregation, cleared his throat, and said, "Many of you do not know me, but some of you know me well. I was a prisoner at Giligil Prison, and some of you came there to visit me. I was released on 22 Dec., and came looking for this church today, but I was lost. Then I saw the vehicle of Madame Vikki, and I began to ride very fast following her. When she turned in here, I knew this was the place. Now I am pleased to be worshipping God together with you. May God bless you."

A huge lump formed in my throat as I watched this man, someone I had shared the love of God with, walk in freedom, not just physically outside the walls of the prison, but spiritually with the light of God shining in his eyes. The fruit of the prison ministry was there in front of me...and it blessed my soul.

Thank you, Jesus, for that dear brother David. May there be many more to come. Amen.

For more Word-filled Wednesday, check out Amydeanne's meme over at the 160 Acre Woods.

Grand opening 'At the Well'...

Wow...this looks great! I found this link to At the Well...In Pursuit of Titus 2 on Laurie Ann's blog A Magnolia's Heart Beats and followed it to find exactly what I need...a place to meet with other Christian women and Be Real.

Living in Uganda rather limits my exposure to regular get-togethers where I would have a natural chance to meet other women and form friendships. Yes, I have fabulous friends out here (thank You Lord!) but sometimes they travel, or are busy for various reasons, so I'm grateful to find this Well where I hope to make new friends, encourage them and be encouraged myself.

And to kickstart this new blog, they are offering some great prizes!

Here is what you could win...

A brand new blog facelift valued at over $50
donated by Doodlebug Designs

A custom blog card (or mom card, if you don’t blog) design, valued at $30. You’ll receive a high quality .jpg, .png or .pdf file – you can do the printing yourself or have them printed online or locally – the options are endless. Print only as many as you need!
The file is yours to keep.
donated by Simply Amusing Designs

"Fill 'Em Up!" ... a "cookbook" for parents to use with kids which includes a devotional/Bible study that goes along with each recipe.
donated by Heavenly Homakers

A signed copy of the book "The Devil in Your Garden"
donated by Natalie Witcher from I AM (not)

A digital scapbook dowload package
donated by The Digital Scrapbook Place

A $25 Starbucks gift certificate
donated by At the Well

Head on over and check out this new gathering place! I'll see you there...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An inspiring friend

James Wio knows better than many of us just how far God has brought him. Up until seven years ago, James was a well-known witchdoctor in Sudan.

In 2001, James was sent with 2 other witchdoctors to ‘disorganize’ a Christian crusade
taking place in Yei, Southern Sudan. All their powers failed, however, and instead, the power of the Holy Spirit fell on James and he was thrown to the ground. One of the evangelists knelt over James and demanded, “Be free!”

James felt as if a hot coat that had been covering him from head to toe was removed. He collected all his charms and other witchcraft tools and burned them.

In 2004, James did the Discipleship Training School at the YWAM base in Yei, Sudan. During that time he developed a hunger to learn more about God’s character, and he was particularly touched by the teaching on families and relationships. Tragedy struck, however, when his 3 month old son died while James was on the DTS. This was the second time James lost a son…the first was while he was still practicing witchcraft.

As hard as it was, James
and his wife continued to trust in God’s goodness, and chose to pursue the burden God had put on their hearts for families.

“In my culture,” James said, “to qualify for leadership you must have at least 5 wives. It shows you are experienced in administration and can lead people.” But James saw that God’s plan was for one man to have a close relationship with one wife, and he wanted to learn more about how that worked.

In August 2008, James and his wife Grace and their 3 children headed to Jinja, Uganda to attend the Family Ministry School. On the second week of the school, however, tragedy struck again, and for the third time, James and Grace lost a son. The grief was unbearable. They could hardly eat; they couldn’t sleep. They didn’t know what to do.

In their pain, they cried out to God, and He answered them, saying, “Lay everything at my feet.” It was very difficult, but they knew how far God had brought them, and they didn’t want to turn their
backs on him. They felt the best thing they could do was go back to class and honour Him.

Nevertheless, James still wondered if he had made a mistake about coming to the school. After his 2-year-old son died, James began praying fervently for his family, but things kept going wrong. His daughter fell sick and was admitted into the hospital for 4 days. Not long after that, his wife got sick, and was admitted for 3 days. James was in and out of class; in and out of the hospital. In his misery, he even began to doubt his decision to come to Christ in the first place.

“I didn’t understand how I could be following Christ and doing what was right and still my boys die.”
Is this a curse following me from my days of practicing witchcraft? he wondered. Is this a generational curse passed down from my parents or in-laws? But as James prayed he heard God saying, “Look at Job’s suffering and see how he stood firm for me.” James went back to his Bible and studied the book of Job.

“I felt something release ou
t of my heart,” he said. No longer did he doubt the rightness of following Christ. “Even if it means we die in Your presence,” James told God, “at least let us remain in Your presence.” Font size

And now, to their joy, Grace is pregnant again.

The pain lingers but hope rises, and with it grows a dream of running Family Life Seminars around Southern Sudan. “My wife and I want to go
back and teach our people how to talk to their children, how to communicate well between husband and wife, and how to raise children in love.” An echo of sadness shadows James’ smile, but his heart is steadfast. For James and his family, they will serve the Lord.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Meningitis update

It's so crazy sometimes. A lot of the time, it seems.

I spent several restless nights imagining Worst Case Scenario regarding my little girl, Kezi, and the meningitis epidemic. The day I finally laid it all at His feet, I got a message that a family in the UK had heard our plight and offered to pay for me to fly Kezi to Kampala to get the much-needed vaccine. Wow. The response of the Body of Christ to these situations is so humbling...

So I called the doctor's surgery in Kampala where I had ordered the first vaccine that was brought up by car and arrived warm, and which I was advised not to use. I told them what the vaccine had warmed up on the journey and was no longer any good, and that I wanted to come and get another one.

The nurse said, "Actually, those vaccines are very stable. They can sit on a shelf up to a week. It's still good. Go ahead and use it."

I was like, 'What?!!!!!!'

Sorry to be a doubting Thomas, but I had to get a second opinion. So I called an Australian pediatrician working in Jinja and told her what happened. "Oh, I'm sure it's fine," she said. "It's not a live vaccine. I'd go ahead and give it to her." So we did.

So, did God allow me to go through that weekend of agony to teach me another lesson in trusting Him, in letting Him be God and not trying to manipulate all the events of life? I don't know, but probably. At any rate, I've seen His faithfulness once again, and the measure of His provision continues to astound me.

He is God, and He is good.

Word-filled Wednesday

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
"Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Selah - Praise You in this stom

Praise You in This Storm

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away

I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

I'm in one of those places, spiritually, at the moment that is not really a storm, but a place of anxiety where I have to trust God and praise Him no matter what's going on around me.

You see, here in Arua, northern Uganda, we're in the middle of a Meningitis epidemic, and people are dying. My two sons were vaccinated a couple years ago, but my 3-year-old daughter has not been. There are no vaccines available in Arua, so I contacted various people in the capital city, Kampala, and set in place a complicated string of events to get a vaccine brought up to Arua yesterday. The vaccine arrived, but unfortunately it was warm, and after consulting with more doctors, I was advised not to use it.

So now I'm back to square one...there is a very dangerous epidemic near where we live; my daughter is not vaccinated against it; there are no vaccines available in town. What do I do?

Last night my overactive imagination was getting the best of me, and I was ready to board a plane and rush to Kampala with my daughter to get her vaccinated. But what of all her little friends at the YWAM base who can't afford to escape and seek treatment? Am I overreacting?

One of my regular struggles is the tension between trusting God and rushing ahead of Him to sort everything out for myself. I don't like not being in control, but that's right where I am at the moment. And I believe God uses those places to teach me about dependency on Him; about trusting Him in the face of the storm.

And last night, when there was nothing I could do, the words of this song ministered to my anxious heart and reminded me that God is still Who He is, no matter where I am, and He is with me. My help comes from Him. He knows me. He knows my daughter. And I believe He will guide me and my husband as we look at what to do next. He is faithful.

Saturday Selah hosted by Patricia is a time of encouraging one another with words that somehow touched our hearts or made a difference in our lives over the past week. Your post could be a Scripture passage, a devotional thought or the lyrics to a song that touched your heart. Your post can be brief. Your post can be long. Sometimes brevity speaks volumes. And sometimes God gives us much more to share!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Word Filled Wednesday

YWAM kids Mercy, Deborah and Keziah (my baby)

Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.' Matt 19:14

For more Word Filled Wednesday, see host Amydeanne's blog at the 160 acre woods

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Christmas in Uganda

All the signs of winter are here: dead leaves fall from the trees and crunch underfoot; the grass withers; the land lies fallow; my lips crack; a head cold sets in. It could be winter in my home state of Washington, except that it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit here in Arua, Uganda. Rather than cold and brittle, the wind is hot and dry. Instead of little piles of snow along the window ledges, we get piles of dust and cracked leaves. We sing Jingle Bells and dashing through the snow, but really we’re beating drums and splashing in the pool.

I miss the snow, but I love being warm. After 11 years, I’ve adapted to East African Christmases, and learned a thing or two about cooking from scratch. A roast turkey dinner takes on a whole new appreciation when you have to take the turkey from the clucking stage, to the non-clucking stage. Growing up, we used to pop into the supermarket, pick out a frozen turkey carcass, whack it in the oven and ta da! But here we select our turkey while it’s still ruffling its feathers and pecking insects from the ground. We take it home, feed it up, and when the big day comes, my husband and the watchman slaughter and prepare it for the oven. I can’t watch. After feeding it all those weeks, I’ve gotten a little attached to it, so it’s better I stay inside until it’s time for me to stuff it.

In the US, we go to a parking lot and pick out a Christmas tree from the many brought in from nearby farms. Here, we go and cut the top off someone’s pine hedge. This year we had to dodge a swarm of bees that had made a hive in the lower part of the tree, but we still managed to cut the top off without anyone getting stung.

The best part of Christmas, though, is gathering with our friends and neighbors,
(this year people representing Sudan, Uganda, Canada, England and America), and celebrating the gift of fellowship made possible through the incarnation of God in the form of Jesus. Without Jesus reconciling us to the Father, we could never sit together in such love and unity. It’s a small picture of what it will be like to feast around the banqueting table in Heaven with every tribe and tongue in attendance. How much more will we enjoy the fullness of the Body of Christ then!

But for now, let us continue to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth as we seek God’s will in our lives and relationships. Whether in snowy climes, or arid savannahs, may the joy of the Lord be our strength, and His will our desire.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Strenghten Yourself in the Lord - Pt. 3

The following excerpt is taken verbatim from Bill Johnson's book, p. 47.

The Frontlines of Battle...the Place of Greatest Safety

While each believer has a different assignment corresponding to his or her unique gifts and talents, these assignments work to accomplish one purpose - the establishment of the Kingdom "o
n earth as it is in Heaven." This Kingdom, as Scripture says, "forcefully advances" (see Matt. 11:12) - first to displace the attitudes of the carnal man in our own lives, and then to destroy the works of the devil around us. The violence of this process may seem overwhelming at times, but it is safer to stay in the midst of this conflict than to adopt a defensive, conservative approach to the Christian life.

The safest place for us to be at any point in our lives is passionately pursuing God and
the purposes to which He has called us. Passionate pursuit positions us for advancement. To live in the defensive posture protecting what we have is quite dangerous. Just ask the man who buried his one talent (see Matt. 25:18-28).

Our assignment and destiny is to advance the Kingdom, and comes with an umbrella of grace and favor that works to preserve our lives, no matter what's going on around us. The moment we take a back seat in our pursuit of the Kingdom is the moment we become exposed to fier
y darts of deception.

Wow...what a challenge. How often do I live in the defensive posture?

It reminds me of do it properly you have to lean downhill, into the 'danger', so to speak.

If you lean back, you'll surely fall on your bum.

To advance God's kingdom on this earth, we have to lean into the 'danger', fac
our giants head on. In snowboarding, leaning forward on the board gives you greater control over the direction of the board. Once you master that, the fear recedes and the exhilaration kicks in. It's a blast!

Do I have the right 'stance' in my position as a soldier in God's army? Am I in greater control over my thoughts, reactions and attitudes that direct my responses and choices? Do I live in fear of what God is leading me into, or do I experience the exhilaration of following Him in trustworthy abandonment?

And what am I doing with the talent God gave me? Am I stewarding it properly so as to multiply it, or have I buried it somewhere for whatever reason?

Tough questions that I'm still grappling with.

I don't want to take a backseat in God's kingdom, but sometimes it's scary following Him. I'm afraid of what I might have to give up...the perceived cost can seem too big a price.

Help me, Daddy, to trust You more, to know Your faithfulness, Your goodness, Your grace. Reconcile in me those parts in conflict...the one that fears total abandonment to You, and the one that desires it more than life itself. You know my innermost being, and I trust You to untangle the knotted bits without breaking the string.