Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Reflections of Faithfulness

I love songs… they often mark a memory of a place, event, or season. Sometimes the lyrics move you (I listen to mostly Christian music so this is often true). Then when I hear that song again in a later season, the lyrics become an anchor and also as a monument to remind me of what God has done and what He is still doing (because He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore).

My ending months in Uganda one of my “anthem” songs was King of My Heart by Bethel.

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh-oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh he is my song
You are good, good, oh-ohh
You are good, good, oh-ohh…
You're never gonna let
Never gonna let me down…

But I have found that this song has carried value into my American life as well. Only what was once an anthem sung in faith, believing that God’s promises are true even in the unseen of what comes next, has become a proclamation of praise for His faithfulness displayed in my life (yet again).

Today makes one year that I have been able to serve as a staff member at my church.

There are moments that pass by and I praise them as they come but quickly move on and the amazement passes away. But when I take the moments to reflect, the story proves much bigger. God is SO faithful.

So let my boasts be in the Lord and of His unending faithfulness in my story. He is the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, and is faithful to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think. So may this recount be one that gives glory to the Lord. May it show His peace, intimacy, and intentionality.

It has been about 1.5 years since I left Uganda. It has surprised me that the most common question has been WHY did I leave? My answer is simple… obedience to the Lord. My decision to move back to the USA was hard. Saying goodbyes was SO hard. And my greatest lesson in this step of obedience has been that just because it is hard, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it because Jesus is worthy of my devotion. God’s peace rests in the hard when we are walking in obedience.

One of my greatest testimonies to summarize all my testimonies is that the Lord loves us each specifically. He shows all of us love generally, each and every day. But He is also a Good Father who knows each of us specifically in all of our uniqueness. He knows me specifically. What delights my heart is different than what delights your heart. And the Father knows and has showered me with His specific love for me!

With that said, as I came back to Texas, my parent’s house was my landing ground. They were beyond gracious to give me a space to process and adjust. I had a few months before I started pursuing anything career-wise to allow my head and heart to adjust to American life. I am so thankful for that gift of time.

I am always amazed at the connections and people that God brings along our path. Nothing is ever a coincidence. And so much of my story of resettling in America is around these divine connections.

The Resume
-       As I began to think about updating my resume I was overwhelmed completely. How in the world am I going to fit all the random responsibilities I had in Uganda into a one-page resume?! Thankfully, a few people I am connected with on FB generous offered their time and skills of resume writing. I met with a FB friend, who I had never actually met but had hosted her husband on one of the first Global Journey teams. With all my papers and ideas in hand, I hoped to summarize yet adequately explain and highlight all of my “professional” accomplishments. But when you say something like, “I planned for and hosted American teams,” that doesn’t fully capture the intricacies and details (and complications) of coordinating ALL the details- in Africa. (TIA. Simple things are not simple there).

BUT, the Lord knew the EXACT person that could help me because not only is Laura great at resume writing, she also spent some years living in Uganda and knew exactly how to articulate the complexities of accomplishing things in Uganda. What a blessing her help was! And how detailed and specific was this gift of resume help from someone who has done life in Uganda and can help define that in concise, purposeful sentences to fit onto a one-page resume?!

The Job
-       I am grateful for the first few months of transitioning to have been able to do some things that I enjoy doing. One of those was getting back in touch with my creative-side as I took two watercolor classes at an art studio on the Buchanan Dam. Towards the end of my second class, the teacher asked if I wanted to share my story with the other ladies in the class. After sharing my story and what type of job I was looking for in America, many of the ladies replied something of this sort, “Oh, well I think my church might need a …” But I didn’t consider those comments. Until the next day when I received a call from the lady who sat next to me during the art class. She told me that she had called her church in Austin and that they had a few open positions and I should call them. So I called and the rest is history in the making! One year, so far, at such a great job that I love!

The Housing
-       This story is probably the greatest example of God’s specific love! When I visited the church, before I was hired, I was introduced to a couple in the church that spends 6 months in Texas and 6 months in Ohio because they have grandkids in both places. When they heard that I was driving in from my parents for interviews they offered that whether I get the job at the church or not, I could stay at their apartment for 6 months while they were gone and that would help them to keep the place and help me to be in Austin. WHAT?! They offered a stranger to live in their house for 6 months!! But the best part is that this couple used to live in Jinja, Uganda for 3 years, so their apartment was decorated with Uganda paintings and crafts!!  I felt totally at home and my thought that I had decorated the place. They even have a map above their TV, that I have, that can only be bought in one store in the capital city in Uganda! Now, how sweet is that for the Lord to know this delight of my heart! Of all people to be generous enough to offer a place to stay and they are Ugandan friends and their apartment felt completely like home!! Now that is the specific love of the Lord!
-       The morning I drove in and was offered the apartment, I remember telling the Lord, “Sure I can put money down on an apartment, but I have zero furniture. College was long ago and my parents haven’t kept any of that furniture. I don’t even have a bed!” Well my own apartment is now beautifully furnished because of the huge generosity of two families in my church (and garage sales!)

The Daily Details
-       Going from living out your life dream to walking away, in obedience, from that dream is not easy. There are many fears that run through your head- how will anything ever be as meaningful? Is this a step backward? You are living your life dream, will God give me a new dream? As I thought about what I might want to do as a job in America, I thought to work in ministry at a church seemed obviously in line with my heart and experience. I also thought (and looked into) working with Samaritan’s Purse (disaster relief), a soup kitchen for the homeless, or working with inner city kids/youth. Amazingly, God answered all of those heart desires! Austin Disaster Relief Network has offered great training that I have been able to do and am certified to go and help. My church has two Mobile Loaves and Fishes trucks that serve food to the under-resourced in our city every single day. I have been able to lead and drive the truck for our young adult group. And though not inner city, I have the privilege to work with the youth group at our church every week.

The specificity of the Lord’s love is so beautiful. My heart is humbled. He knows every detail already and He is a good Father who delights to give His children good things. So as I held my hand open and gave back to Him my life in Uganda and at Lulwanda Children’s Home, he traded it for a new job/ministry at Lake Hills Church! 

From LCH to LHC - I didn’t even have to memorize new letters J


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