Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Closing a Chapter

 I paused outside the door for a few seconds. Tucking a few things under cover so they wouldn't get wet in the rain, I thought that after hundreds of times like this, this may be my last. I walked to my car amid the drops and the dark stillness. Most of Clatskanie was in bed, as they usually are when I leave work on late Tuesday nights or early Wednesday mornings.

  Today was my last day at The Clatskanie Chief, the local weekly newspaper where I have worked for almost 11 years, helping put together close to 560 editions. It seemed fitting that today (Tuesday), our deadline day, I worked on the last issue of 2009 and my final one for this chapter of my life.
 
 I remember back to the day in late July 1998 when I was interviewed for the job. I recall how nervous I was, what I was wearing and where I sat. Looking back, I admire my boss for hiring a pretty shy and very green young lady who was just beginning to emerge from her shell of shyness. Because of her patience and wonderful way of instruction, I have learned far more than a college journalism course or an internship at a larger newspaper could ever teach me.

 But, more importantly, God has used my job to stretch and grow me in ways I could not imagine. What I have gained personally, socially, emotionally and spiritually far outweighs the skills I have acquired professionally. God has used times of stress and seemingly insurmountable challenges, boring meetings, complicated school board budgets and tough stories to cause me to rely heavily on Him and in the process, strengthen my faith and character. It hasn't been all hard, though. There have also been times of joy, satisfaction, exhilaration and fun as I have worked with fun co-workers, interviewed interesting people, completed an engaging or informative piece and become acquainted with many in the communities The Chief covers.

 I am grateful for the skills and lessons I have learned at the newspaper and I believe they will prove useful in Uganda and wherever else God takes me in the future.

  Now that this week's paper has been put to bed, I believe I will head there, too. Good night, Chief, and thanks for the memories.


Monday, December 28, 2009

More Uganda Videos

  I have been trying to put my nose to the grindstone and really get ready for Uganda. It is interesting what you think about in trying to prepare to be gone for a year - taxes, absentee ballots, baggage sizes, what rechargeable batteries to take, whether or not to pack a French press coffee maker. These have been some of my thoughts and focuses today. : )

 Well, now to what this post is really about. It has been a bit since I shared some Uganda videos, so here are a few more from my first trip. Enjoy!

Praising the Lord in Church (Filmed during a Sunday morning worship service at Lingira Deliverance Church on Lingira Island.)


Praising the Lord, Part 2


The Children Sing


The Children of Siita Nest Mother's Love Home in Bugembe, near Jinja on the mainland.


Countdown to departure: 12 days and a wakeup! : )

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Amazed




 Lately I have been reading through some of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. These men foretold of Israel's imminent discipline, but also of the coming One who would rule righteously and serve as a Good Shepherd to the flock of Israel and ultimately the whole world.

  As I read the prophecies and imagine the expectant waiting of hundreds of years for this promised Messiah, I am amazed at the simplicity of the Christmas story. In fact, I really don't understand it - it is too simple and uncomplicated. Jesus' coming had been promised since Creation, yet when He arrived on the scene, He came as a helpless babe, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and born in a lowly stable - not the regal entrance a king deserves. And the welcoming committee consisted of hillside shepherds - not exactly the upper crust of society. I tell you, I just don't get it.
 
  The other day, a friend and I were discussing how we often put God in a box. We believe He will act according to our "logic" and what may make perfect sense to us. Or we try and pin Him to a pattern - He did it this way in this past, so we expect Him to repeat a specific mode of operation. It makes sense, doesn't it?

 But, if you review Biblical history, you see that God rarely repeated His miraculous works, choosing instead to work in ways that, in a sense, blew the minds of those involved. Why not show off His power, creativity and glory? Why not "wow" the onlookers with great displays of might? He is God, isn't He? And, as the Bible tells us, His ways and thoughts are far beyond ours.

 So, that brings me back to the birth of Jesus - why is it so simple? I certainly don't comprehend it, but I am amazed. Maybe this humble entrance was to show that Christ truly became one of us - flesh and blood - the Creator becoming like the creation. And that is perhaps the most remarkable miracle of all - our awesome, everlasting God choosing to enter our world, not as a triumphant stately king, but as a little infant. I am amazed at that thought.

 I am hoping that when we reach heaven, God will tell us the "rest of the story" for the many unanswered questions we have now. Did Adam have a bellybutton? ; ) What was the Garden of Eden like? What did Noah's ark look like? How did He get the pairs of animals there? Why did He choose people like Moses, David, Rahab, Peter? What did Jesus write in the dust in the story in John 8? Not that I expect God to "defend" why He did this or that, but I am just curious as to the behind-the-scenes production notes.

But in the meantime, we don't have to "understand" God's ways to truly appreciate them. And that is where faith comes in - believing and trusting even though we have don't have 20/20, 3-D vision of God's incredible acts and His sovereign purposes throughout history. That leaves us in the most appropriate posture for this time of year - kneeling in amazement before Immanuel, "God with us."

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Praise!!!

 I have a wonderful praise of our Lord's generous provision! As of this past week, I am at 98.25% of my minimum monthly support level.  It is truly by the Lord's grace that He has provided in this way and I feel very unworthy of His blessings and the generosity of so many. Thank you so much to those who have given financially and to those who are praying - I greatly appreciate it!

  I really like the message of Luke 6:38.
  "Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."

 Again, many thanks to those who have given support, encouragment and their prayers - the above verse is my prayer for you. Many blessings to you at this special Christmas season!

BTW, I leave for Uganda on Jan. 9 - 19 days and a wake up. : )

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Placing Uganda in my heart


"God loves all the cultures of the world, but our human hearts can usually only handle one or two at a time. The ones He places in our hearts guide us to do His will among them. "
- From "The Missionary Call" by M. David Sills


The white "Muzungu" among little dark faces.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nail Bitin' Time

Legal Battle Emerges Over Stoplight Pedestrian Figure


Last weekend, I was in a "nail bitin' time." I don't bite my nails, so I mean this figuratively. I was in a place where I could see the dark tunnel, but not the light at the end of it.

Up until then things seemed to be clicking along as I continued making plans for Uganda. Then it came to buying the plane ticket.

I have wanted to travel with my good friends Andrew and Karina Smith and their little guy, David, whom I will be working with in Uganda. They called me a couple of weeks ago and said they were looking at flights, leaving the U.S. on Jan. 9, and wanted me to check and see if that would work for me. So, I began checking. I contacted the travel agency and the ticket prices seemed reasonable. Then I called Global Outreach International, my mission agency, and they were very hesistant to give me a "green light" because my financial support levels were not where they would like to have them. (Note: Global has certain financial goals they want their missionaries to meet. This is for the missionaries' protection, so they don't get out on the field and are not properly funded.)

I responded to this news with a rebounding faith and an inner joy, trusting God had something better in mind.....not. I wish I could say that was my response, but it wasn't. I slipped into a little pit of my own making, with walls of questions and doubts, held together by some depression, too. Faith is trusting when you can't see - and I realized how shortsighted my faith really is.

Today's selection in "Streams in the Desert" (one of my favorite devotional books) fit so well with this topic.

"'You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; He will also hand Moab over to you. (2 Kings 3:17-18

"To human reason, what God was promising seemed simply impossible, but nothing is too difficult for Him. Without any sound or sign and from sources invisible and seemingly impossible, the water flowed the entire night, and the 'next morning...there it was...! And the land was filled with water...The sun was shining on the water...[And it] looked red - like blood.' (vs. 20,22)

"Our unbelief is always desiring some outward sign, and the faith of many people is largely based on sensationalism. They are not convinved of the genuiness of God's promises without some visible manifestation. But the greatest trimuph of a person's faith is to 'be still, and know that [He is] God' (Psalm 46:10)

"The greatest victory of faith is to stand at the shore of the impassable Red Sea and to hear the Master say, 'Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today' (Ex. 14:13), and 'Move on' (Ex. 14:15). As we step out in faith, without any sign or sound, taking our first steps into the water, we will see the water divide. Continuing to march ahead, we will see a pathway open through the very midst of the sea."

 God did have me act on the bit of faith I had, doing some things on my part to press ahead. I knew that if God wanted to me leave later than Jan. 9, He would make that known. And, if He did indeed want me to travel with Andy and Karina, He would make a way.

And a way, He did make. In about a week, He raised my financial support enough that I received the "green light" from Global to go ahead and book my ticket. Yay! I was so excited! God made a way when there seemed to be no way.

Legal Battle Emerges Over Stoplight Pedestrian Figure


Now, back to "Streams in the Desert."

"Whenever I have seen God's wondrous work in the case of some miraculous healing or some extraordinary deliverance by His providence, the thing that has always impressed me most was the absolute quietness in which it was done. I have also been impressed by the absence of anything sensational and dramatic, and the utter sense of my own uselessness as I stood in the presence of this mighty God, realizing how easy all this was for Him to do without even the faintest effort on His part, or the slightest help from me.

"It is the role of faith not to question but to simply obey. In the above story from Scripture, the people were asked to 'make this valley full of ditches' (2 Kings 3:16). The people obeyed, and then water came pouring in from some supernatural source to fill them. What a lesson for our faith!

"Are you desiring some spiritual blessing? Then dig the ditches and God will fill them. But He will do this in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. May the Lord grant us the kind of faith that acts 'by faith, not by sight' (2 Cor. 5:7), and may we expect Him to work although we see no wind or rain." A.B. Simpson)

 I can attest to the fact that God does work in unexpected places and ways, for He did that for me last week. He provided the financial support I needed, but it wasn't how I had anticipated.

 I believe we serve a very creative God and I think He delights in doing things "out of the box," including answering our prayers. Why not? He can do anything He wants. : ) 

P.S. So, I am leaving Jan. 9 with Andy, Karina and little David. I would very much appreciate your prayers that God would guide my preparations in the next month, and for safe travels. Thank you!

Photos courtesy of http://www.picapp.com/