Monday, July 21, 2014

What To Do In the Middle of Chaos


Colossians has been a life-line for me in the past week as it brought me face to face with Jesus, the One and Only, the First and the Head!  He has been meeting me, as I know He has been meeting you.  He is truly enough in every circumstance we may find ourselves. As we review Colossians today, here are a few things to do when you’re in the middle of chaos:

Have faith in Him- As I read in the Amplified version, I found this beautiful definition of faith: the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness (Colossians 1:4 Amplified).  When you don’t know what to do or how you’re going to make it through just lean everything you are on Him!

Give thanks- No matter how bad your circumstance may be, there are always reasons to give thanks.  Paul rejoiced in his suffering for the gospel.  He challenged us to give thanks in everything we do.  We can always give thanks because He has made us heirs with Christ, and has rescued us from the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:12-13)!  Giving thanks is a practical way to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2 NKJV).

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly- as busy as these days have been for me, I am so grateful for this Soaking in the Son challenge.  It has placed me right where I need to be- in the Word!  As we seek Him in His Word, He can shift our perspective and give us a truth lens with which to view the chaos!  I love how it sounds in the Amplified version: Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness (Colossians 3:16 Amplified).

Continue earnestly in prayer… meanwhile praying also for us- Not only should we ask for God’s help in our own chaos, but one of the most helpful ways to survive the chaos is to look outside of yourself and pray for others!  Allow me to pray for you the beautiful prayer of Colossians: I ask, Father, that each reader would be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and understanding; that she may walk worthy of You, fully pleasing You, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in her knowledge of You; strengthened with all might, according to Your glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; and may she give thanks to You always (Colossians 1:9-12 NKJV). Thank you for rescuing us, for loving us, and for holding all things together (Colossians 1:17 NIV).  In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen
 
Extra Challenge-  As you devote yourselves to prayer,  please pray for us, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ… Pray that we may proclaim it clearly; that we may be wise in our interactions with others; making the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4: 2-6 paraphrased).  As you are led, please pray also for our extended family as they experience the paradox of transition: joy in their service to Jesus and grief in the long separation.   


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Here.

at the airport checking in
We are exhausted. And relieved. God has faithfully carried us to our home in Uganda.  All the work of the past year has paid off.  And we are here.

I can't wait to see how my One Word {here} will unfold and inspire me on this side of the ocean.

The kids all did great on the flights.  There was never a moment when we couldn't distract Elizabeth from launching into a full-blown meltdown.  She slept snug in the sling, so I even caught some rest without worrying that I would drop her.  The boys watched a million movies.  During our six-hour layover in London we busted out the Legos and the boys played happily, found the play place in Terminal 5 (near Gate A6 if you need to know~ also, bring socks for your kiddos in your carry-on so you don't have to "borrow" socks. gross. lesson learned), and Caleb finally slept.  Flight 2 was fine as well.  And all our luggage arrived in Entebbe!  We are so grateful.

Some things I'm thankful for right here:

here.

driving on the left side of the road.
scent of smoke lingering on the air
walking into my own home
a cool breeze rustling the curtain
hearing the birds outside my window
East African coffee, brewed in our french press
because the power was out.
warm welcome. big smiles shining from dark faces
baby taken up into the arms of our night guard.
she didn't cry.
the sunset over this city.
6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. miracle.
bouncy play gym. given by sweet friends.
boys happily reunited with toys

Friday, July 18, 2014

Preparing To Return

The question we hear a lot is "How do you pack for four years?"-and I will be the first to say, "You don't".  Our strategy is pack the things we love, that make it feel like home, and bring enough supplies to last until we can find a suitable replacement in Uganda.

One of our seasoned colleagues has been known to say "Let us know if you need anything... and we'll tell you how to survive without it."

We've already done our first term, so we know we can find shampoo, tooth paste, soy milk, cloth diapers, coffee (but not decaf), children's tylenol (but not oragel), etc...

Something that I've found helpful coming and going is my Expat Packing Planner {free download here}.  I'm a list girl.  When my brain is swirling in a million directions, I need a place to write all the things.  The Expat Packing Planner has space to organize your thoughts and be your brain on paper!

Step 1: Sort by like items
Something else that helps us (a trick we wouldn't have thought of before we left) is the two step packing process.  In our basement, we lined one room with all our action packers, and assigned each bin with a person/room- my bin, boys' bin, kitchen bin, food bin, etc. Then we filled each bin accordingly.  Sadly, this is only Step 1.  If you were to fly with the action packers sorted like this, and lost one person's things that would probably be the end of the world.

Here's where step two comes in.  Empty a few bins at a time and re-pack a variety of items (the more variety the better)!  A layer of books, then bulky items, small items, then pad with clothing.  Keep a running list that you can print, and have on the other side, so when you arrive at midnight you know where the boys' blankets are (not that we know anything about that).  Weigh.  And adjust to 49.9lbs.

**Warning** Step 2 looks like chaos.  Trust the process. You will get there!  

Step 2: Re-pack a variety of items  CHAOS

Stay tuned on Monday for a timely reminder from Colossians: What To Do in the Middle of Chaos.

Linking up with the Grove (if we have internet when we get to Uganda Friday) on the topic of "Prepare".

Friday, July 11, 2014

Enjoying Homeland Assignment

I'm linking up at the Grove- Enjoy today with thoughts from our Soaking in the Son Challenge in Philippians

Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:17-19

I can't begin to describe how different this Homeland Assignment is from our first one!  We feel sent, not just supported.  And I am definitely enjoying it!  

Here are some reasons why:

  • The pastor at our home church asked if we felt "sent" the first time, and resolved to make sure we did this time.
  • Our missions chair has attended some of our services at other churches just to be an encouragement. 
  • We led a small group during Advent, we felt connected and they prayed over us (during the holidays when we didn't have lots of speaking engagements)
  • Our sending church held an Ice Cream Social and prayed over us and donated sweet love gifts of craisins, and fruit snacks and other treats that taste like home.
  • 7 people from church came and helped us stuff newsletters- 600 newsletters in 1 1/2 hour!  
  • A girl from church came over and watched the baby so we could be productive yesterday. 
  • Our last Sunday here they will pray for us in church (this Sunday at both services for SUMC folks!)
  • We got word this week that a family from church is already working on a care package for us.  
So, like Paul, we rejoice that our sending church is abounding in fruit- they are growing in missions and seriously caring for their home-grown missionaries.  Their love and support is a sweet-smelling offering and worship that is well-pleasing to God.  And we pray daily that our God would supply all their needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  

If you're here from the Grove- how was your last Homeland Assignment?  Did you enjoy it?  And if you're a sender, know that we're grateful for you!  What do you appreciate about visiting missionaries at church?
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