Thursday, November 18, 2010

Feb 23, 2011!

I finally have a departure date!! I don't know if you could tell, but was definitely a joyful shout! :)

After meeting with the Tentmakers board on Monday, we have decided that I will be flying to Uganda with Morris and Aida Ogenga when they head back after their trip here in Jan/Feb. That means that I will be leaving the US on February 23, 2011!

Looking back on this past year that I've been on deputation, I see so many things that the Lord has taught me, and I'm so grateful for my time here. Every day I've longed for my ministry in Uganda to begin, but I've also learned so much about life, myself, and my God that I know will be invaluable to my life in Uganda. I know that the Lord's timing is perfect, and now with my departure in just over 3 months I'm starting to get really excited!

The number of things that I need to settle now that I know when I'm leaving is slightly overwhelming! Moving to a different country can sure be complicated, but I know it'll be worth every bit of it. I would so appreciate your renewed prayers for my diligence, patience, and perseverance as I finalize details such as health insurance, a will, an emergency evacuation plan, and my packing list.

I am also needing a remaining $550/month. I am buying my tickets in full trust and confidence that the Lord will bring this in in the coming months, but I would greatly cherish your prayers for the provision of the rest of my monthly budget. If the Lord should lay upon your heart the desire to participate in this ministry, donation information is listed to the side.

I cannot thank you each enough for your prayers for me throughout this year, and I look forward to the Lord continuing to demonstrate through my life and ministry the power of prayer in accomplishing His work.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Same song, another stanza

You know, I've been wondering if any of you would tire of my constant theme of God's provision, so I've been thinking about it quite a bit. Here are just a few of my thoughts: For one, The Lord's financial provision has been one of the main ways in this past year that He has assured me that He's caring for me in other ways as well. Financial and physical provision are just things that my finite mind has a easier time holding on to and remembering. Especially for those times that I doubt if He will care and provide for my emotional, or spiritual needs as well.
For two, when I think about this blog and why I'm even writing it, I've decided that its main purpose is to stand as a witness both to myself (see Joshua 4) and to others of the extraordinary work of God in the lives of ordinary people. I have a feeling there are times coming that I will be tempted to doubt God's goodness and concern for me personally, so I write this with the expectation of returning to it to read of God's faithfulness, and I hope you will too. So if His main theme in my life right now springs from His financial provision for me, then I'll continue to shout that refrain until He gives me a new verse of the song to sing.

So here's one more stanza for that refrain: For the past year I have been puzzled about the best way to make sure I have the medications I need in Uganda. Things become just a bit more complicated when you can't just call in a refill to your nearest Walgreens and pick it up on the way home from church! I'll be out of the country for 2 years straight, and without a completely reliable mail system, I'd better have a plan in place before I leave! While I was still on my Dad's insurance, the plan was to stock up on any medication I would need for the entirety of 2 years and take it all with me on the plane. But for a myriad of reasons, that didn't happen. And once again, the Lord shows His ways are even better then all my planning! I recently found out that all of my long term meds are listed on the Walgreens Prescription Savings Card. Basically the way it works is an individual pays $20/year and can get a 90 day supply of many generics meds for only $12! so basically I can get all the prescriptions I need for an entire year for only $70. Even under my dad's insurance, I would have had to pay over $250 for the same amount.
And then there's the little blessings along the way like the gift of a free pair of brand new shoes from a precious woman of God, or the friend that joyfully buys me a cup of coffee. Each time is the Lord's gentle whisper saying, "See Melanie, I care about all...the big, the small, the necessities, and just the little perks. Whether financial, emotional, spiritual, physical, I see every detail of your life and care about them all." So whether I face a totaled car, stinging heartbreak, or times that Bible reading seems like only that: reading, I can have confidence that my Abba cares and is watching out for every detail.

Things to keep praying for:

1. Transportation! Either that the last amount of monthly commitments would come in quickly so I don't have to buy a new car before I leave, or that I would find a new one quickly so I can continue to travel to raise support
2. Spiritual wisdom and sensitivity as I work on sinful thought patterns now, and for life!
3. Wisdom and growth in my relationships now, both with the people I am teaching, and the ones teaching me
4. Diligence in the everyday details required for deputation
5. Opportunities to share Jesus's love with those around me, especially in the office I go to for physical therapy

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This past week, I had been talking with my friend and teacher, Dr. Nabeel Jabbour about the need for maturing believers to be learning how to identify their feelings, and then chose the correct attitudes. This is definitely something that I have been praying about and working on in the past couple of years, and this week the Lord decided to remind me of this truth and give me something to practice on! As soon as I got home from Nabeel's house, my dad was on the phone with the insurance company. Last week they were determining how much settlement they were going to give me for my car, and now they were calling dad to let us know. The news wasn't good. The total amount was only half of what I paid for the car initially and in repairs this past year. From the little bit of looking online that I had done, there was no way I would be able to get another car even close to comparable. I was so disappointed! I also felt a bit cheated since the accident was in no way my fault, and yet I would be paying for it. I went back to the quiet of my room and told the Lord what I was feeling. I never doubted that He would provide in the end, but the feelings of injustice weighed on me. I told Him how I was disappointed, confused, and angry at the insurance company for what was happening. Once I spilled out my heart to Him, I was then able to choose what my attitudes and feelings should be. I could then thank Jesus for this wonderful rental car that I've been able to enjoy the past 2 weeks. I thanked Him for keeping Melinda and me from serious injury, and for the resources to get any medical treatment if we need it. I thanked Him for allowing the accident to happen now, and not later. I thanked Him for the insurance company not giving me enough money, so now I get the chance to see Him work yet again to provide for me.

So many things this week have been reminders to me that I must not "stuff" my emotions, but rather acknowledge my feelings and ask the Lord to make my attitudes and emotions into what pleases Him. How much freedom and joy this brings! I keep thinking of David, and how often He did just that. So many of the Psalms are David pouring His heart out to God in anger, hurt, and confusion. But so many of those Psalms also end in David's proclamation of God's compassion, faithfulness, and loving-kindness. How wonderful it is to be able to freely acknowledge that things in this life sometimes really stink. That situations and people really hurt us and we just want things to be different. Then once we're all through confiding our woes to our Abba, He is the one to renew our faith, reminding us of His truth and promises, and changing our attitudes. Knowing what a compassionate Father I have makes me that much more eager to see what He'll do in me and for me with each new day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Today was just one more evidence that the Lord's hand is protecting and providing for me! After church this morning, I went to pick up my sister, Melinda, to get lunch. As I was just about to cross through an intersection, a Mountaineer made a left hand turn right in front of me. My brakes were unable to stop us in time and we crashed headlong into the right rear panel of the vehicle. Melinda and I watched as the hood of my car crumpled up in front of us, but even though we were badly shaken we were mostly unharmed. There were so many wonderful people surrounding us and helping the whole time! The Lord placed just the right people around us (including an off duty EMT) to help us physically and emotionally. Melinda did have some neck pain and tingling in her arms and legs, so after filling out all the paperwork, I went with her in the ambulance to the hospital just to make sure she was ok. She was kept for observation for a short while, but was released within the hour with just a prescription for pain medication. I'm sure both of us will be incredibly sore tomorrow and through the following week, but we're both so thankful to be alright!

I would ask for your prayers for limited whiplash and quick healing for both of us.
It appears that my car is totaled, but we'll decide for sure what to do in the coming week. Please also pray especially for wisdom, strength, and patience as we work out details with the insurance company (praise God the other driver was insured!!)

My God has never failed to provide for me and protect me, and now I have one more story as proof!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wondrous Love

This is just a little something I wrote over 2 years ago, but when I found it again, I was so encouraged by the truth of God's love for me all over again. I hope that you will be too!

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

O Love, that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be, may richer, fuller be,
May richer, fuller be!

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine's blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be, may brighter fairer be,
May brighter, fairer be!

O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain
that morn shall tearless be, that morn shall tearless be,
That morn shall tearless be!

O cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
from the ground the promise said
that life shall endless be, that life shall endless be,
That life shall endless be!

I think God's key word for me right now is love. Such a simple word to describe such a extraordinary action. I've grown up hearing over and over again, "God loves you!" I've said it time and time again, but do I know what it means? Not yet. I catch glimpses of the magnitude and brilliance of His love, and oh! I treasure the thought of exploring its depths for an eternity!

Isn't is amazing that the greatest understanding of God's love comes out of our sin and suffering? Until I felt the weight, hopelessness, and disgust in myself of habitual sin, I did not feel the ecstasy of the the enveloping warmth of God's unconditional love for me. ME. the chief of sinners. the one who has turned my back on Him time and time again to pursue my own desires and worldly pleasures. If only I knew the immensity of His love for me. If only that knowledge would keep me from turning from Him. And yet, He loves me. Every time I plug my ears to His gentle voice calling my name, and I reject His love yet again, still He pours forth gentle streams, then coursing currents, and crashing falls of all-consuming love.

My God, my God, how can You love one such as I? When You know my every wicked thought, and every evil deed, How do You yet wrap me in Your tender arms? When You have felt the sting of my betrayal, and grieved over my rebellion, do You yet draw me close? Oh, what wondrous love is this! This Love that will not let me go!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The days have just been flying by like crazy!! The past month has contained so many blessings and challenges, it would be nearly impossible to list them all, but here a just a couple:

1st blessing: I need only 20% more of my monthly commitments before I can buy my ticket to Uganda! I have had several new families join my team, and each one is such an incredible encouragement to me.

2nd: Each of the churches I have visited have been uniquely encouraging. I have been so blessed by each individual's response to the work of God in Uganda and my life, and each pastor has blessed me both by his preaching and personal encouragement.

3rd: My brother, Matthew, returns tonight from a fruitful missions trip to Croatia. How exciting it is to me to see my siblings reaching out past their comfort zones to expand the Kingdom of God! With my passion for cross-cultural ministry, it's so exciting for me to watch them get involved with ministry overseas! It's a wonderful reminder to me to keep the goal in sight and not become discouraged along my own path to live in Uganda.

4th: I have been meeting regularly with several young women, and have been so blessed by their ministry to me, as well as the opportunity to speak into their lives. Since I am preparing for ministry in Uganda which will include leading and counseling young women, these opportunities Stateside are an incredible blessing as I learn how to communicate effectively, care deeply, and love practically with each of these precious gals.

1st challenge: Many members of my immediate and extended family have been under intense spiritual warfare. As I talk with them and pray for them, it becomes even more difficult for me to face the reality of leaving them. I know that when I am gone, I can still pray for them and talk to them, but I feel the burden that physical distance will put on our relationships. I so want to be here for them, to encourage them, pray for them, or even just offer that much needed hug. I know that I must even now surrender them to the One who heals and defends. Please pray that I would take advantage of every opportunity now to speak the Lord's healing truth to them while I am here, trusting that the Lord is their protector whether I am here to remind them or not.

2nd: With every person I talk to, and every church I visit, I see areas where I lack wisdom. I know that if this is the case here in my own culture among people who care about me, then when I'm in a foreign culture, I will have an even greater need for wisdom. Although I have been constantly clinging to God's promise that He will give wisdom to those who ask, I also need your prayers!!

3rd: For a long while I have been wanting to record some of my piano pieces before I leave the country. Since I may not have access to a fully functional piano in Uganda, I wanted to document where the Lord has brought me, before I lose a lot of my skill. I also desired to leave something that would provide encouragement and comfort to my family and close friends while I'm away. However, I have been unable to find the necessary resources to actually make this happen.

Prayer points:

1. For my spiritual sensitivity and wisdom and a growing passion for the Lord and His Word
2. For the the Lord to continue to teach and prepare me now for all He would have me to do here and in Uganda.
3. For the rest of my monthly commitments to come in quickly!
4. For the Lord to continue burdening the hearts of His people with this ministry, and drawing them to prayer.
5. For spiritual encouragement and victory for my family.
6. For guidance and provision for a piano recording.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A glimpse of the Cross

Just a tiny glimpse of the cross... and this life is all worth it. I, just like everyone else, have days of discouragement and doubt. But every now and then the Lord gives a glimpse of His cross that gives each day a special joy.

I sat in the chair, nervously watching the doctor take my small feet in his great big hands. The solution was clear: for me to have healing, I must endure this pain. The doctor took out a long needle and slowly inserted it into the top of my foot. Pain crashed through my foot as the needle made contact with the nerve. The doctor slowly released the cortisone into my foot and withdrew the needle. Tears stinging in my eyes, I looked down to see a stream of blood flowing from my foot. In that moment a picture flashed through my mind. My Lord Jesus, looking down on his feet as an iron nail is driven through, piercing flesh and nerve and pouring forth blood. And in that moment I felt in my body just the tiniest hint of the agony my Jesus suffered willingly for me. His pain for my healing.

This morning as I took communion, that picture once again flashed through my mind. His blood and body, offered for me. His pain for my healing. His agony for my joy. Such a precious glimpse of the Cross.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mysterious... and Marvelous... Ways

"The Lord works in mysterious ways...." Definitely not something I would expect to hear from the lips of a stranger in a gas station in Castle Rock. But let me start at the beginning.....

Sunday morning I was scheduled to speak at Fellowship Bible Church in Edgewater (just outside Dever). As I was driving from the Springs to Denver, my car started overheating, the windshield fogged up, and the cab was filled with steam/fumes. I "just happened" to be right near a Castle Rock exit, so I quickly pulled over into the nearest gas station. Distraught, I asked the attendant for help, and as we popped the hood, a man walked over and told me that he just "happened" to be a mechanic and exactly what the problem was. He and his wife then asked me where I was headed and it "just happened" that they were headed to Denver as well to pick up their daughter. DJ and Tesha kindly offered me a ride to the church, as they didn't have to be there until 2:00 ("just so happens") and could take me directly there! As my daddy was on the phone with a tow company arranging a tow for me later in the afternoon, I piled all of my display things into their car and hopped in. They explained to me that they had previously pulled into a different gas station that "just happened" to be closed, so they came over to the one I was in. (Are you seeing a theme yet?) We happily drove out to Edgwater, but found that we couldn't follow the directions I had to the church since several major streets were closed off for a marathon. Tesha "just happened" to have a phone with GPS (I don't and would have been helplessly lost!) and we managed to wind our way around backstreets until we finally reached the church. Since the service came after a Sunday School hour, I missed Sunday School but arrived in plenty of time to set up for the morning service! So Tesha's words were so very true and accurate... the Lord truly does work in mysterious ways. He set every detail perfectly into place to provide for taking care of me and getting me to the church in time! Praise Jesus!

After a wonderful time of sharing, Pastor Dave and his wife Linda drove me back down to Castle Rock to meet the tow truck which would take me and my sad little car back to the Springs. Apparently there were multiple problems that needed attention, so after all the work was done, and $900 later, I drove my car home today.

When I first heard the news about how much it would be to fix my car, I sat shocked, wondering where all of this money would come from. Then the Lord gently whispered, "Melanie, don't you remember what I did just on Sunday?" After seeing Him provide for me in such extraordinary ways throughout that day on Sunday, how could I possibly doubt even for a moment that He will continue to provide in extraordinary ways, now and forever? So then this becomes my plea: Lord, let me never forget your marvelous faithfulness in the past, nor your promised goodness in the future!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Apple a Day....

If only it were that simple! Unfortunately just an apple a day hasn't seemed to stave off the slew of doctors I've been seeing these past couple weeks.

A couple weeks ago, my dad's job ended. (yes, that is a whole prayer request in itself!) That meant that at the end of April, I would no longer have health insurance under my Dad, and it became imperative that I have all my "issues" checked out immediately. As many of you know, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic in 2008 and have been working to control, and hopefully reverse my diabetes. However, when I went in for this whole round of appointments my lab work revealed that my A1C test (a diagnosis tool for diabetes) was a bit worse than before, not better. It was decided then to treat me as a full diabetic, even though technically I'm still just pre. That meant a whole round of appointments with a diabetic nurse and dietitian, and new medication as well. I'm now on a strict diabetic diet, exercise, testing, and medication regimen. The good news that did come from this is that once I move to Uganda, many of these lifestyle points will most likely be easier for me (the only exception being maintaining testing and supplies).

I also just had to share this story too... today I went to a podiatrist for the foot pain I've had for 10+ years now. I found out that my foot is shaped so that the front is much wider than the back, and I also have moderately high arches. This means that anytime I wear shoes (mostly closed-toe ones) that squeeze over the ball of my foot, the nerves are being compressed, causing my chronic pain. The solution: 3 rounds of cortisone shots and sandals! Now comes the good news and the bad news... once I move to Africa, I will be wearing almost all sandals and open toed shoes! Great! I shouldn't have any long term problems then! The bad news: My insurance expires at the end of April... I don't have time to come back in 2 weeks and again 2 weeks after that for the steroid shots. Here's where my God story comes in.... It just "happens" that the podiatrist, Dr. Gremillion has known and worked with my Granddaddy from years before. He and Graddaddy really enjoyed each other, and he and I get along great too! So when I told him that I wouldn't have insurance to do the next rounds, he gave me the most amazing offer! He told me that he would do my last 2 rounds completely free, without worrying about insurance!! Wow! He told me to consider it his donation to my ministry, and a return favor for my Grandfather's help. Isn't God good??? He just happened to place me in the office with the perfect podiatrist and then provided the way for me to get the healing I need for my feet. I almost cried the whole way home! (Well, that was probably a mix between the incredible joy and the incredible pain Dr. Gremillion had to put me through.... :) )

So a couple incredible conclusions from all these dr. visits.. One, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and the Lord knew exactly what problems I would encounter. Two, the Lord has been so very good to call me to a place where it will actually be easier to care for several of my afflictions than it would be here in America (go figure, it'd be in Africa ;) ), and three, my God is faithful to provide for EVERY need, even before I am aware of them.

Of course, I would still entreat each of your prayers for my healing, wisdom, and diligence in doing what it takes to be the best steward of my health for the short time the Lord has given me here on earth to do His work. All my love to you all!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Laughing at myself

I think this must be a record...2 posts in 1 week! But I was just thinking about how often when we ask God to do something in our lives... He sure does work quickly! As I was driving home from Parachute on Sunday I was thinking about the way that I tend to take myself too seriously, and how too often I'm most concerned about what others are thinking of me. So I asked God to help me learn to laugh at myself...when I make mistakes I'm prone to worry about them excessively and think about how those mistakes might affect someone else's opinion of me. Instead, I wanted to be able to laugh at myself, realizing that I'm an ordinary girl fraught with imperfections, and use the opportunity to praise God for using such a weak vessel as I am. So.....

Before I left this past weekend, I uploaded a file of my trifold brochure to a local copy center for reproduction. Earlier on I found a couple typos in the text and had fixed them, but for some reason the file I uploaded didn't contain the corrections. As I was headed out of town, I stopped at the copy store to approve the proofs, so I could pick up the copies when I got back this week. Not even thinking to check the corrections, I signed off on the proof and happily went on my way, relieved to have that accomplished. Imagine my dismay when I went back today only to discover that the typos were still in the brochures! I now had a choice: was I going to pay another $200 to have them redone, was I going to stress about my mistake and agonize over the implications (fear that this would reflect poorly on me and my ministry), or was I going to learn to laugh at my mistakes and pray that God's people would have the grace to overlook my imperfections. I thought and thought about it.... How could I justify spending another $200 just for a couple typos? The faces of the impoverished children I'm going to flashed through my mind. No, that wasn't an option. Well, fretting about the matter is certainly natural enough, I could do that quite easily. But no, that's not right or even effective! My only option became clear. I must use this opportunity to laugh and learn and live on. Thankfully I believe the Lord will still use me even though I neglected to double check a brochure that one fateful morning. And, thankfully His grace covers over so much more than just a couple typos! So lesson learned... be more careful next time, and in the mean time leave it in His hands to do with as He pleases. And if those of you reading this happen to go back and check that brochure for the typos, you're welcome to join me in a hearty laugh and use it to remember His grace that covers all, both great and small.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wow. That's all I can say after an incredible day! (Isn't it funny how often after people say that, they go on to say so much more?? :) ) I can definitely say that while this deputation trail can be intense, exhausting, and at times intimidating, it is incredibly rewarding! I was warmly welcomed into the home of Pastor Charlie and Sue Hornick last evening, and spent most of the day ministering, and mostly *being* ministered to at Grace Bible Church of Parachute. I was so incredibly blessed to share with the congregation the love and passion the Lord has given me for Uganda, and then was so blessed to hear their response and receive the encouragement and affirmation of so many people. All of this was topped off by an incredible afternoon with the youth group which included the *best* scavenger hunt ever, sharing some of my testimony with them, and amazing pizza :) So you can see the blessings just kept piling on throughout the day!
I was reading back through some of my earlier posts and remembering some of the trepidation I felt at the beginning of deputation. I think I still feel some of that trepidation when I'm on the phone with new pastors that I haven't met, but once I actually get into the church, I am constantly astounded and the kindness and graciousness of God's people. Even when I feel like I spoke poorly and my communication was completely ineffective, the Lord places just the right people to not only provide me with encouragement, but remind me of what's important. Hence my desperate prayer becomes that I would simply be the greatest encouragement and the most passionate minister of God's grace and love that I can possibly be to each person I meet. And praise the Lord, He keeps placing people along the way to do just that right back to me!! I really do serve such a great and awesome God!!!
I have been learning so much too!! Sometimes it's just learning about myself and being convicted at the way I respond in new situations, and sometimes it's under the gentle hand of instruction from the godly men and women I am meeting. Whatever the case, The Lord has been very good at gently showing me my weaknesses and flaws, and by His grace, He will continue to mold me and form me into the woman He wants me to be....a women fully equipped to do His work, whether here or in Africa.

Just a quick note: please pray for the short term team from my church that's in Uganda right now. Tomorrrow (well actully there tomorrow is today :) ) they start ministering in the villages preaching the gospel. Pray for their strength, boldness, and compassion for the people.