Friday, November 14, 2014

Holidays are so different here. I know, understatement of the year, right? But it’s true. There’s a part of me that after living with the extreme poverty and suffering of third-world Africa just cringes with the amount of consumerism and greed shown by our culture, especially around the holidays. Right now, the stores are filled with an odd mix of leftover Halloween costumes, turkeys, and Santa Claus figurines. They’re symbols of the frenzy of the American holiday season. 

But there’s also something really special about the hoopla around holidays, especially in the church.  Most churches really try to take advantage of the constant reminders of consumerism to focus on what the real value and point of the holidays is. Being in America you just can't get away from the reminders of the holidays, whereas in Uganda it's easier for one day to be just like another. This year, I'm cherishing the opportunity to savor the festivities, always remembering what is most important. I really love that we make such a point to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. After all, a feast to remember the goodness of God is totally biblical…way more than the extent we actually observe!! If we were really following the example set in Scripture, we would be having these kind of feasts many times a year! But the beauty of remembrance (at the very least on this one big day a year) is so special. 

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I’ve never known a year before that I had so many hardships and sufferings to be grateful for! I know most people think of all the good things, the blessings, the positives of the year to thank God for. But I have seen yet again this year how blessed I have been through the pain. How much joy and peace Jesus has afforded through the suffering. How many smiles have been born out of the tears. I wouldn’t have been able to see His face quite so clearly if it weren’t for the grief, or heard His voice so clearly if not for the pain. I think C.S. Lewis’ said it well in his book, The Problem of Pain. He said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” How true it is. If it weren’t for the darkness, we wouldn’t fully appreciate the light! Without the pain, we couldn’t fully enjoy the blessings. It is through the shattered glass of suffering that the light of grace can dance in all its colors!

This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank Jesus for each and every blessing: even the painful ones! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Invitation

This Tuesday evening, HUM is holding a super fun event for those in the Dallas area.  Come for your chance to win and bid on great prizes, enjoy fun (non-alcoholic) drinks, and yummy deserts. It is open invite, so if you're in the area, just let me know that you're planning on coming! And come with friends!



Monday, November 3, 2014

To Be Really Satisfied


Photo credit: Gap Adventures

They are the shopkeepers, the hawkers of wares, the sellers of everything imaginable. They call out, shout, demand for attention, thrusting their goods in my face. Demanding that I purchase. But it is money spent for that which is not bread. It is a purchase of that which cannot satisfy. 



Photo credit: Atlas


But deny them once, and they will pursue every louder. They are desperate for even just a piece of me. I must flee. I must get away. Back to the One who offers wine and bread without cost. I must drink deeply of His waters. I must incline my ear to His voice, running into His presence so that I might live. For He offers what they can only fake. Steadfast love. Change. Purpose. Joy. True peace. He is the only source of life. He is calling: “Come, be filled again.”





In the midst of the craziness that is travel and fundraising, Jesus brought me to Isaiah 55:1-3. This precious passage immediately summoned images of the Ugandan markets to mind, but even more, my everyday here too. Throughout each and every day so many people need something from me.  Emails, documents, budgets, time, encouragement, phone calls, texts, and more. They call out for their needs to be met. And I am tempted to just give in. With the subconscious belief that with this one phone call, I will purchase goodwill. With this one email, I will buy affection. With this one document, I will gain admiration. 

But Jesus says it is in vain. If I am looking to them to fill me up, I will only be drained of every resource I have, to buy what will never satisfy. But the beautiful thing is that when I actually stop to listen to the call of Jesus to come away and be filled up again, He does it! He pours His life back into me, refreshing and renewing me so that I in turn can go back out. This time, not to buy what everyone is pushing, but to instead offer back the sustenance that Jesus gives so freely.  It's amazing how so very much comes back to heart attitude and focus. 

It’s a daily struggle though. I’ve travelled to Baltimore, Denver, St Louis, Chicago, and will soon leave for Dallas and Austin. My road-legs are shaky, and there is so much more to be done. The struggle to keep my eyes and heart fixed on what is really important can be overwhelming….until I step back into Jesus’ presence. There He meets me and re-adjusts my heart attitudes, focusing my attention back on Himself. 

I have 2 more months before I’m back in Uganda again, and I’m so eager to be home. But I know there won’t be too much different from here. It will be the same inner battles (but more with the extra spiritual warfare!), the same struggles and efforts to rely not on myself but on Jesus. So will you please pray for me? Pray that I can continue to develop the patterns and habits that I so desperately need for godly, healthy living in Uganda. Most of which include running back to Jesus, in each moment seeking His heart and desires for me. J


Isaiah 55:1-3

Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.