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.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vacation and God

Just a little thought about vacation and God...

We were in Mombasa (Kenya) on vacation last month, and I had gone out one morning to have a little time with God.

My scripture verse for that day talked about abiding in God, and I thought about it for a minute and said, "Yes, I abide in God."

"No you don't," He said.

Startled, I blurted out, "Yes I do! I'm here right now aren't I?"

"Yes," He said, "but how many days of vacation did it take before you came to have time with me?"

Gulp. "Ummm..."

"Yeah, that's what I'm talking about." He said. "Abide means remain...stay...don't 'go on vacation' from me."

Ouch. "Sorry, Dad."

Then I thought about all the times John and I have gone on furlough, and spent long nights catching up with friends and family...too tired to get up in the mornings for our usual quiet times with God; too busy during the day to fit it in; too tired at night to try to meet with Him before bed. We end up taking a vacation from God, as if meeting with Him is somehow linked to a routine, a school calendar, or whatever.

I thought about this a bit more this last couple weeks when I was in the States. Seems common and normal for most of the church activities to go on hold during the care groups, no youth groups, no Bible studies. Lots of churches combine services and cut others out altogether. Sure, there are Vacation Bible Schools, and Church camps, and New Wine, and Spring Harvest, and all those things are great, but the regular meeting with God as individuals and groups is often paused.

Why do we do this, I wonder? Is it the activities that we tire of, that we need a break from? Is it too much to expect from ourselves to press into God without ceasing? And yet the Bible is so clear that we must remain in Him for Him to remain in us. We all know how it feels to drift away from the Word and from time with the dry we get, how impatient and dissastisfied. Yet it's so easy to slip down that road.

What can we do to avoid this happening every summer...every furlough? Any ideas out there? I'm sure many of us would love to hear what others do to guard that special time with God.

Family is a gift from God

There is no doubt in my is a gift from God.

I like to describe my family as a patchwork quilt...we have lots of steps and halves...and yet God has chosen to knit all of our patches together into a unique collage that I call my family.

Coming home to see Granny has been a special blessing to me. I've gotten to spend lots of lots of quality time with not only her, but with my Dad and stepmom Jackie as well. We've laughed and cried and gone deeper than ever before.

Stepbrother Brad, Stepmom Jackie and Dad Lee

And sweet, sweet Granny. Today, my last day, she was smiling and chuckling...her eyes were bright and she looked more positive than I've seen her the whole time I've been home. I will always carry the memory of this last 2 weeks we had together, mostly just her and me, hanging out at the rehab center, just loving each other. What an amazing gift from my Father.

Whenever she does go, I believe He'll be meeting her with open arms and saying, "Welcome home, my child."

Me, Granny, Half brother Richard, Sister LeeAnn

What an amazing God we serve.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Scenes from the Foothills

I had the opportunity to visit our home church here in Spokane yesterday. This is Foothills Community Church, and it's name is descriptive in that it sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on the eastern side of Washington State.

The church is surrounded by farmland, mostly wheat and alfalfa. In the middle of acres and acres of crops you'll find a little oasis of green and brown...a farmhouse, barns and various bits of farm machinery.

As I was driving home yesterday after church, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape, and thought I'd show you all a bit of the scenery around here. All of these photos were taken within 2 miles of the church.

The second mountain top from the left is called Mt. Spokane...the mountain I learned to ski and snow board on. It's brown and bare now, but winter will change all that.

A combine harvester collecting all the wheat...

...and then transferring the grain to waiting trucks.

Hay is either baled in big rectangles and stacked...

...or rolled into balls that dot the land. (I'm sure there are other ways of baling and storing hay, but I'm a city girl!)

These are common sights in the front yards around this neck of the woods.

We're a patriotic bunch.

More yard decorations.

Driving through these fields brought to mind Jesus' words,
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
John 12:24

I've been thinking about death a lot this last 12 days as I've sat by my granny's side, holding her hand, praying with her. And it's given me a fresh desire to live this life fully and completely for the Lord. In order to do that, I've got to die daily to my own desires and plans that are not in line with God's plan. If I want to be fruitful, I've got to die to self. Death equals life, in God's kingdom, both now while we breathe, and later when we physically die.

It's all about surrender and falling into those loving arms that will catch us every time, and never let us go.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Me and Granny

Me and Granny

In the few days I've been home, Granny has improved dramatically. The rest of the family who saw her a week ago are amazed at how much better she's doing.

We had a great time together yesterday, just the two of us. I gave her a manicure and pedicure, and a nice long hand massage. Then we did a crossword puzzle (I gave the clues, she gave the answers).

The best part was reading Psalm 91 and talking about the faithfulness of God, and His protection to those who abide in Him. We prayed together and it was so sweet to hold hands and hear Granny give thanks to God for her loving family.

I'm really thankful to be able to be here and love on my Granny a little bit. I know she really appreciates it, and it's a blessing to me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Table for one

I’m not used to this.

I was just sitting here in Entebbe, having a little time with God, when the ladies from the guest house came and set up
my table
for dinner.

place setting, one chair…it just doesn’t look right.

I’m used to shoving lots of bodies into our big truck and driving for hours to get anywhere…

…with lots of pee breaks along the way

…and of course the necessary disinfecting with antibacterial gel after said pee breaks.

Or if we are traveling by plane, there are usually bags of toys and ‘keep the kids active’ stuff, that last time resulted in Noah decorating his window with play dough!

(By the way…don’t carry play dough in your hand luggage unless you want to be pulled aside and thoroughly searched by security. Apparently play dough exactly resembles bomb-making explosive plastic. We learned this the hard way.)

Needless to say, my travels are usually a lot more noisy, chaotic and full of hair-pulling frenzy. So why am I lamenting this solo travel experience…?

I have no idea! I should be reveling in the peace and quiet and luxury of time to myself.

But darned if I don’t miss that noisy bunch left behind in Arua.

Go ahead…tell me to get over it and just enjoy it. I’ll try, but it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Granny Margie

Noah and Granny Margie, taken 2008

Another difficult granny is sick and not handling it well. She's depressed and discouraged and just wants it all to end.

She took me in after my mother died when I was 15...she is like a mother to me, and hearing about her physical and emotional pain is very difficult for me.

I'm starting my journey back to Washington State to see her tomorrow. It will take me 3 days and 4 flights to get there, and I'm still tired from all the travelling we've been doing over the last couple of months.

Plus I'm going alone, which I find hard. I wish John could go with me, but it's not possible right now.

Please pray for safe journeys, strength and good health for me, and peace for my granny.

And may the name of the Lord be praised.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Communications update from Arusha Conference

The idea for a communication team for Africa was conceived in 2002, and with lots of hard work and prayer, Tim and Miranda Heathcote spearheaded what is known as YWAM AfriCom.

Over the last several years, the Heathcotes have travelled the world casting the vision to multiply YWAM Com Teams globally. The result has been the start-up of Com Teams in South America, Europe, India, and Asia Pacific.

Now it's our turn in East Africa!

A few months ago I posted an update from the CRIT consultation I attended in Jinja (see that post here).

One of the outcomes of that consultation was a commitment to build a communication team in East Africa that would compliment the work AfriCom has been doing from South Africa and join this growing global network of YWAM communicators. At the time, however, we felt we needed more representation from the region before starting the team, since the only delegates at the CRIT from East Africa were all with Uganda bases.

So we targeted the East Africa Regional Staff Conference in Arusha as the ideal place to spread the news about our heart for an East African com team, and to start identifying people in the region with a vision for communications in whatever form.

Miranda flew in from South Africa to introduce the whole idea of an East African Com Team during the staff conference, and then spent a large part of the conference in meetings with various leaders hashing out how the whole thing would work.

The result was the beginnings of AfriCom East!

Several people showed interest in being part of this team, including Sandra Merriman who will provide support and encouragement to the group in Jinja, Uganda who have already caught the vision for this com team.

My job will be to connect the various other people in the region with each other and with the AfriCom team in South Africa.

Our first big project will be to produce a magazine for YWAM's 50th anniversary celebrations next year, so we are excited to get going on that.

On my side, I'm excited about the new thing God is doing, and praying that I haven't bitten off more than I can chew! It's going to be a lot of work, but I believe this is part of what God has been preparing me for, and I'm thankful once again that He matches our dreams with His dreams.

Let the glory go back to Him.

For another perspective on the whole process, read Miranda's post here: YWAM AfriCom blog

The start of AfriCom East, from L - R:
John Mulongi, Antony Elliot, Sandra Merriman, Miranda Heathcote, Tom Sliep,
Rachel Spencer, Charles Syemi, Vikki Wright, and Robert Mazige

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back from Mombasa

We made it!! After 4 days on the road with 4 adults and 7 children in 1 truck...we finally reached Mombasa. It was a journey to remember, and a very special holiday. There were a lot of 'firsts' for all of us, my favorite of which was hand-feeding the giraffe in Haller Park...amazing.

It was a great blessing for us to be able to spend 2 weeks with this lovely family, and we would like to say thank you once again to everyone who contributed for the Orems to enjoy this holiday. May God bless you so much.

So, here are the pics!! (More info. about the staff conference in Arusha, Tanzania later!)

The Wrights and the Orems set out for Mombasa
(leaving YWAM base, Athi River, Kenya)

After 6 hours of non-stop travel, it was a huge blessing to find
a roadside restaurant with a bouncy castle...the first the Orems had seen.

Joanna kept boredom at bay on the journey by decorating herself

Once we arrived in Mombasa, the Orem kids got to
sample the ocean for the first time...and loved it!

Noah enjoyed searching the rock pools at low tide

We introduced the Orems to lots of new foods.
John taught Stephen how to make pancakes for us one morning...

...and the rest of us enjoyed them!

We bbq'd burgers one night...another first for the Orems

All the kids loved the burgers...Martha chows down

We taught the Orems how to make s'mores

Kezi and Joel getting sticky with their s'mores

Stephen enjoyed coconut milk a la naturale

Jane bought rainbow fish that looked hand-painted

We visited Haller Park north of Mombasa where
the highlight was definitely feeding the giraffe

Noah was the first...

Kezi's turn...

Jane got to feed two at once...

John bribed one with the whole bucket
and got to pet it...

The kids were amazed at these tortoises

The morning view outside our door

The Wrights and the Orems on their last day together in Mombasa

What a privilege to rest and play with our friends.
Thank you all.