Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Missionary Spotlight Monday: (Sort of...Tuesday Edition)

I'm going to start by saying "you're welcome." Because that's what you will be thinking at the end of this when you recall that I could have combined this post with yesterday's post about the Brockinton's. So, you're welcome! :)

As stated in my post yesterday, I was able to spend time with some of my favorite people this weekend. And I'd like to introduce you to another one of them. Jesus really outdid Himself when He crossed our paths so many years ago. I'm going to do this a bit different. I'm just going to randomly list things about Staci that I remember, things I love about her, and things I've learned from her (serious or funny). I truly would not be the person I am today if it weren't for that trip to Kenya in 2002. Thank you, Jesus for my amazing friend!

Meet: Staci (Wells) Keter
AKA: swells.com

-She's great at writing cards. I still have all of them. Even the first one where she spelled my name wrong.

-During my Senior year, we met every Wednesday for lunch, and she dubbed it "Wacky Shirt Wednesday" just because she had enough shirts that fell in that category.

-Every interaction with Staci, WITHOUT FAIL, leaves me desiring more of Jesus and His Word.

-Once in Kenya, we were staying in a room with three beds but only needed two. It got cold most nights there, and we took turns using the door mat as extra covers until the last night, our friend Allison drew our attention to the clean covers on the third bed.

- When we were in Kenya, we were on a long van trip between ministry locations. I remember the members of our team being in the midst of a pretty serious conversation when suddenly, Staci interrupted by saying, "I love these jeans. They just fit well and I love the color. We only talk about deep things." The joke "We only talk about deep things" has since stuck.

-We used to make pizza together from scratch. And now every time I have pizza from scratch I think of her.

-I cannot empty the dishwasher without thinking of Staci. She once said it was her least favorite chore, so she made it a race. She always tried to see if she could do it faster than she did the last time.

-Staci has been the recipient of NUMEROUS "20 Questions" e-mails from me. And she has responded to every single one.

-Once, when we were in Kenya, as we were visiting a home for street boys, Staci said she wanted me to be the one to share with them if they asked someone to. God used that moment to alter the course of my life forever. I learned that day to "always be prepared...to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15)

-She was part of one of the funniest moments of my life, to date. Now, every time I see this picture, I go into the silent laugh almost instantly.

If you don't know the story, please ask. It may change your life. Or at least the way you view this piece of art.

-Staci has taught me a lot through the years about being obedient to Jesus. Regardless of what it costs. Regardless of your situation. No excuses. No holding back. Staci has taught me what it means to choose Jesus daily, every day, in every aspect of the day.

-Always a truth-teller. Even when it was difficult.

- Staci (with her husband Wycliff and two amazing boys) currently minister with the Africa Gospel Church Baby Center in Kenya. Her love for the least, last, and lost has changed me.

-One time, Staci and I planned to meet at a McDonald's on the Southside of Indy during one of her trips back to the states. I ended up at one McDonald's and she was at another. And really, I'm not sure either of us were surprised.

- I vaguely remember her saying that she "loved" the movie "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton" and "Bend it Like Beckham." At the time, I thought no one over the age of 13 and a half enjoyed these movies, but I watched both with Staci in one night. Haven't seen them since, but it still makes me laugh that she enjoyed the movies so much.

-Staci has walked with me through some pretty tough and dark things. And she has always pointed me to Jesus in the midst of them. She encouraged me to find Him in the midst of the darkness, and to cling to Him with all I had. And I would not be where I am today without it.

For those who don't know Staci, perhaps these are just words to you. And perhaps you have stopped reading. But even as I sit here, I feel as though I have only scratched the surface. I thank God for who He has created Staci Wells Keter to be, and for her obedience to be used as an agent of transformation in my life.

Perhaps these last two posts bring someone to your mind. Someone who has stepped into your life and left it forever changed. Someone whose words have been life to you. I would encourage you, if at all possible, to let them know. And as you reflect on the redemption that has come to you through Jesus' work in them, may you have the courage to step into someone else's life and do the same, in Jesus' name.

Missionary Spotlight Monday: (Sort of)

I have a confession to make. I dropped the ball. My five year college reunion was this weekend, and I forgot to think ahead to this week's blog. And I didn't realize it until yesterday on my way home. So, as a result, today's blog will be quite different. Different focus. Different challenge to you.

I'd like to introduce you to three people (two today and one tomorrow) who have had a profound impact on my life. Each one has played a crucial role in helping me get to the place I am today. They have affected the life of this missionary. By no means are they the only ones, but after seeing each of them this weekend, I was reminded of the fact that I would not be on the journey I am without them. Dr. Dennis Kinlaw once said, "Everybody's redemption begins in somebody else." And I know this is true because of these people.

Meet: Joe B. and Willa-Sue Brockinton

I first met Joe B. and Willa at Asbury College in August 2000. They were the faculty advisers who were basically "parents" to our incoming freshman class. My first memory of Joe B. occurred shortly after my mom drove away, leaving me in a new place with people I did not know for the first time. I was walking to the dorm after having a class picture taken, and Joe B. was walking in the opposite direction. He called me by name, stopped, and took the time to find out how I was doing and what he could do to make the transition easier. As I walked away from that conversation, I had no idea that he and his wife would quickly become tremendous agents of transformation in my life.

Through countless conversations over dinner, over coffee, on the sidewalk, sitting in their home, meeting in their offices, in the cafeteria, at Fiesta Mexico, my life began to change. Both Joe B. and Willa continually challenged me to think BIG of God, that what He says is true, that He is faithful and can be trusted. They always prayed that His Agape, unconditional love would be a tangible reality in my life. They were relentless in helping me to discover (and ultimately believe) what Jesus says about me, and encouraged me to allow it to change how I view the world.

Throughout the years, Joe B. has become the father-figure I so desperately needed. His consistency, wisdom, and unconditional love has been life to me. Just as he did that first interaction on the sidewalk, he goes out of his way to make me feel loved and important. He has taught me so much about the character of God because he continuously seeks to become more like Him. On a less serious note, he can play the harmonica, takes a lot of pictures, and is a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan. (But I don't hold that against him.) And Willa-Sue is, quite possibly, one of the most authentic and genuine people I've ever met. Loves unconditionally, and lives to serve. She was one I knew I could trust with any confidence or question, a woman of integrity who walks in truth. I knew when she said she was praying for me that she actually was. Her love for Jesus and His word changed my life. (As did her strawberry shortcake, but I'm resisting the temptation to talk about it.)

The Brockinton's are people who may never win awards or accolades that make them known throughout the world. But, by simply living life, they have changed mine. And I am forever grateful. If "everybody's redemption begins in somebody else," I wonder...Whose redemption will I get to celebrate as a direct result of the redemption that started in me that started in them. And how about you? Someones redemption is beginning in you. Whose?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Episode 3

Today, there is much to be thankful for. Quite the random list, if I don't say so myself.

  • It's June 25th. That means it's exactly 6 months until Christmas day. Enough said. (And you're welcome for resisting the temptation to upload a "Countdown to Christmas" ticker. Because I thought about it.)
  • A phone call from my friend Becki R.
  • Getting to see an old friend from high school tonight who is in town from Boston.
  • An amazing dinner with my amazing brother on Sunday. Oh how I love him.
  • My mom, who has been in Alaska for 2 whole weeks, is coming home tomorrow.
  • My 5 year college reunion is this weekend. Weird.
  • Those who are partnering with me in prayer and financially to see God's vision for Uganda come to pass. If that's you, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
  • That Jesus calls us to do life with people. That what I experience, good or bad, does not have to be experienced alone.
  • Good truth-telling music. Like this and this.
  • That there are videos like this that make me go into the silent laugh EVERY TIME. It's just like a mini-mall. Ya'll.

And, as an added bonus, what I'm NOT thankful for...yet.

  • The chipmunk that refuses to leave my garage. And subsequently made me almost wet myself as I approached my car today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lessons learned while pushing a lawn mower at 9:15 PM

I think somewhere along the way, I missed the memo that Indianapolis now is on the "Rainy Season" plan. The question is no longer "if" it will rain, but "when."

Now, I'm no meteorologist. But when, on a daily basis, the radar looks like the Jolly Green Giant bled all over the screen (see picture below), it means rain. And probably lots of it.

Today, the Green Giant must have found some band aids, because the radar actually was clear. HOT as all get out, but clear. I came home from work and began planning my day off tomorrow. I'm leaving town for the weekend, so mowing the lawn was on the top of the list. After eating dinner and relaxing a bit, I decide to check the weather for tomorrow. Sure enough: RAIN. ALL DAY. And rain makes grass grow. And it had already grown because of all the rain before. You following all this?

So, at 8:20, I reluctantly put on my old shoes and fired up the lawn mower. Knowing it gets dark here at approximately 9:23, that gave me an hour and three minutes to mow the front and back yard. Needless to say, I was rushing. Generally, some of my best praying is done while mowing the grass. And I always pray for certain people when I get to certain places in the yard. (Weird, I know.) But not today. I was focused. I was on a mission. I had a job to do. Quickly. I HAD to beat the dark and finish before the rain comes tonight. And as I mowed, I feel like God was using something very simple to show me some very profound truths about life.

1. I could have decided it wasn't worth it. After all, I was relaxed, had JUST finished dinner. And, heaven forbid, it wasn't in my PLAN! How like us in life at times? God calls us to something. We think our PLAN is better. We are content, comfortable. We ask, "Is it really worth giving up those things?" I mean, does it really matter if I cut the grass today or in three days? But then I realized, if I didn't do it, it wouldn't get done. Period. Same goes for what God is calling you to. As a friend of mine once said, "If not you, then who?" The call is always worth the cost.

2. I mowed with a sense of urgency. Why? Because the dark was coming. Whether I mowed the grass or not, the sun would set and darkness would come. So, why not mow while there was still light? In life, God has called us to shine His light wherever we go. You don't have to look far to see that darkness is all around. Depression, hopelessness, disease, fear of tomorrow. Darkness is a reality. But I have to choose to believe that, as a child of God, the light of Christ within me has the power to defeat the impending darkness. Whether we choose to shine our light or not, the darkness is there, or at the very least, is coming. So, why not shine our light? What is at stake if we don't?

3. One hour and three minutes was EXACTLY the amount of time needed. I thought for a few minutes before actually putting on my shoes and starting to mow. If I had waited any longer, finishing the task would have become very difficult, if not impossible. I was reminded that the time to act was "now." As I step into this season of preparing for what Jesus has in Africa, there are many things that are unknown; many things that are somewhat scary. People are quick to come up with excuses or reasons for me not to go "NOW." I even told myself some of them for a while. But "now" takes obedience and faith. The circumstances will never be "just right" according to us. (That's a blog that can stand alone.) There is darkness out there that needs light NOW. Your light. Mine. Whether we obey and shine or not, the darkness is there. Why not use the time we have? Shine NOW. There are people waiting for Christ in you. At home, at work, across the street, across the ocean. If Jesus is calling, obey...today.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go check the status of the Jolly Green Giant's flesh wounds. Also known as the Indianapolis Doppler 6000.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Praying through your closet

As I was doing laundry the other day, I took particular notice of the tags on my clothes. Do you realize (unless you only by U.S products) that there is literally a world in your washing machine? I saw countries like Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia.

I began to think about the fact that in our global society, the world is LITERALLY at our fingertips. We often look at the problems of the world and think "it's just too much." But I have been challenged by just how easy it is to "pray through my closet." As I put my clothes on in the morning, I have begun praying for the church in these places. Some of the churches meet underground, some a persecuted. Some have few members. Some of these countries are dominated by other religions. Some are experiencing tremendous oppression. I pray for the government (as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 commands). I pray for peace, justice, and truth to reign.

Are you looking for a practical way to get involved in what Jesus is doing in the world while doing life exactly where you are? Perhaps you can join me in praying through your closet.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Missionary Spotlight Monday: Meet Lisa Fish

Disclaimer: I'm not sure why the formatting wouldn't let the paragraphs show up. Sorry about that. I worked and worked at it, but to no avail.
I met Lisa Fish when I spent the summer of 2006 in Uganda. Strangely enough, I think she was only in the country for about 5 days while I was there, but I connected with her very quickly. Being an Asburian who is familiar with Indianapolis didn't hurt, I'm sure. :)
Lisa is originally from New Jersey, where she spent the first 10 years of her life. After completing her high school years in Pennsylvania, she attended a 1-year bible college in Colorado, and then went on to Asbury College in Kentucky. (Quite the traveler already! And she's only in college at this point!) When Lisa is in the states, she calls Zionsville, Indiana home.
While at Asbury, Lisa went to Kenya on a summer trip, where she met many World Gospel Mission missionaries serving on the field there. After this trip, she felt the Lord leading her to apply to become a missionary with WGM. Her first appointment was as a short term "Volunteer in Action" in Bolivia, where she taught Bible and social studies at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. She completed two four-year terms in Bolivia, and was then transferred to the Uganda field, where she is currently serving.
Lisa has a heart for youth. She desires to see them come to know in a real and personal way the freedom and life that Christ has to offer. Her work in Uganda pairs her gifts and her passions perfectly. She teaches history and Bible at Heritage International School (remember Josh and Kelly's story?) She also coordinates youth ministries at HIS, working with about 40 teens in grades 7-12 from about 17 nations.
When she is not at the school performing her duties there, Lisa also has been central in the training of youth pastors in the Africa Gospel Church congregations around Uganda. (The Africa Gospel Church is the network of churches WGM partners with in Uganda). They have about 30 youth pastors in the training program, being discipled as they lead the youth in their areas. Last year they were able to turn the leadership of this ministry over to an African, thus allowing Lisa to "work herself out of a job."
She has also recently taken on the role of Volunteer coordinator for the Uganda field. She plans ministry logistics for the volunteers who come for up to 2 years with the Volunteer in Action program, making sure they are plugged in and engaged for their entire time in Uganda.
It is Lisa's heart that in everything, every interaction, every relationship, every student, and every conversation, that she would minister truth and light in Jesus' name. She said, "I’m here for Jesus. If He chooses to call someone to His heart and salvation through something I can do, so be it." May we all have that same heart's cry wherever we find ourselves.
You can join Lisa and her ministry in Uganda by praying with her:
  • Her ministry at H.I.S- There are social issues like drugs and alcohol temptations as well as simple teen rebellion. Pray for the seeds being planted will take hold and grow as the faculty and staff minister there.
  • Staff needs at H.I.S- This is always a major prayer concern this time of year. Pray the open positions would be filled by those Jesus is calling. Pray for those raising support who are scheduled to arrive in August. Could Jesus be calling you to fill some of these needs?
  • Youth Pastor Training- Pray for faithful youth pastors to assist the main trainer. His name is Mugisha Emmy. Pray for wisdom and guidance for Mugisha as well. He has an amazing heart for the youth of Uganda.
  • Her family- Lisa's mom was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Pray for her surgery on June 25th. Pray for her siblings in the states, Randy and Abby. Pray for her sister Karen (and her family) who are missionaries in Cameroon.

If you'd like to read more about my friend Lisa, feel free to visit one of the following:

1. Her blog

2. Her home on the WGM website

3. Check out this video on YouTube.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Christians seem to have the amazing ability to say the most wonderful things without actually believing them...." -John Stuart Mill

I read the above quote in a blog a few weeks ago, and have not been able to escape the echo of it since. Because I have a hard time taking things at face value, and because I am surrounded by people affectionately known as “the Accuracy Police,” I did a little reading on Mill. Surprisingly, he was not a churchgoer. He was a British philosopher in the 1800s whom some called agnostic, while others dubbed him atheist. Regardless of his beliefs, I did find his observation of some Christians (including myself at times) to be quite accurate.

And then I got to thinking. Imagine what would happen if we actually believed what we say? How would we live differently if what we said was true actually became truth to us? Imagine if the words we read in Scripture really are true? How would our lives be different? And what’s more, how would the lives of those around us be different?

Imagine if, instead of just saying these things, we (no, let me make it personal, if I) actually believed:

-“the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” (Ps. 33:4)

-“my God turns my darkness into light.” (Ps. 18:28)

-“Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” (Ps. 68:20)

-“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

-“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)

-“Perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

-“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

-“the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations…” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

-“Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

-“he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

-"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8)

-“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)

-“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

-“we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…” (Romans 8:37)

And the list could go on and on. Imagine what would happen if we really believed God is who He says He is; that He really can do what he says He can do? What would we have faith for that we do not? What prayers would we pray that we do not? What conversations would we have that we do not? What forgiveness would we extend that we have not? What peace would we have that we do not? What freedom would we know that we do not? And what about those around us? What life would they see that they do not? What love would they know that they do not? What freedom would they experience that they have not?

John Stuart Mill may have been right about the Christians of his day. But this is a new day. May we choose, this day, and every day, to live like we truly believe what we say we believe. It has the potential to change not only our lives, but the lives of those around us. Just imagine…

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Episode 2

So, I'm going to keep this short and sweet, and will elaborate more later when I actually have time to think clearly. Today, I am so very thankful for two groups of people. (And, no, these aren't the ONLY people I'm thankful for.)

On separate occasions this week, I have found myself thankful beyond words for:

Patricia, Caitlin, Julie, Kelsey, Mandy, and Emily. Also known as my Bible Study girls. There truly are no words. But, I will give it a feeble attempt soon.

And secondly:

For the amazing life, truth, grace, and love both groups have brought to me, I am forever thankful. My cup truly runs over.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Missionary Spotlight Monday: Meet Jara Sturdivant

Jara and her fiance, Kenley

I’m happy to introduce you to a dear friend of mine. I’m not even sure the circumstances surrounding the beginning of our friendship. I can assure you this: there was laughter. Jara is one of the funniest people I know. She taught me the art (and yes, it is an art) of how to pull off successful (and believable) run-ins with swinging doors, and how to trip and fall at a moment’s notice. We spent MANY hours doing prank phone calls that we still laugh about to this day. (They were harmless, of course.) For all the things she taught me while being total goofs in college, she has taught me so much about how to really love people. She has taught me about redemption. She has taught me about consistency. She has taught me about Jesus. I hope, as you read about my friend Jara that you will get to know this side of her.

Jara spent her early years in Indiana and Michigan but claims Franklin, TN as “home.” It was in Franklin that she accepted Christ at her local church. From elementary school to high school, Jara learned about Christ's love for others through mission trips, her family and church. At Asbury College, she learned more about Christ's love for the poor but she didn't know in what capacity she could serve Him. Jara graduated from Asbury in 2003 with a bachelor of arts in journalism, and went on to The University of Memphis to earn her master's degree in journalism.

In Memphis, Jara put the puzzle pieces of her life together. Through the university she worked with The Teen Appeal, a citywide high school newspaper for Memphis City Schools. It was through this opportunity that she realized that everyone needs the chance to show and know their potential and that no one should be looked down upon because of age, race, or affiliation. Jara received her master's degree in journalism in August. Jara is now the Advocacy Coordinator at Word Made Flesh headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

As Advocacy Coordinator, Jara, along with other staff members in the advocacy department, helps to amplify the voice of the world’s poor and most vulnerable. Jara firmly believes the poor have a voice, and makes sure their voices are heard through stories, pictures, sounds, and other outlets. Jara works very closely with The Cry, the quarterly journal put out by Word Made Flesh that contains stories and reflections from staff and overseas partners working in various fields with the organization. Her department also coordinates short term programs that connect participants with God’s heart for the poor as they minister to and build relationships with people in 10 different countries. Jara works heavily with The Cry, the Word Made Flesh website, and other print pieces that go out. She said, “I support our department through logistics and scheduling and general good laughter.” (See? Even SHE thinks she’s funny.)

Jara does what she does because she loves the power of a story and has a passion for working toward justice and awareness of issues that are across the street and around the world. She got her start on the missions journey as a child. She says God used her mom’s compassionate and servant heart for the poor to introduce her to God’s heart for the poor. In participating in various missions trips, Jara knew it was not about her providing anything to people, but being willing to participate in what God was already doing among these communities. I think Jara sums everything up when she said, “When I was in Sierra Leone a staff member reminded me that God will work with or without us...it would be nice if we would help.”

Now that you know more about Jara, how can you join her?
1. Pray

  • Pray for peace, clarity, and sustainability as she works with Word Made Flesh.
  • Her boss is currently on sabbatical, which means increased responsibility and the absence of a good friend.
  • Pray for restoration and renewal. She’s had a busy few months and is desperate for it.
  • She is getting married!!! Pray for her and Kenley as they plan, that they would be able to enjoy this part of the journey together.
  • Pray for her support account. Pray that Jesus would continue to provide consistent, committed supporters.

2. Subscribe to The Cry

3. Read her blog

4. E-mail her at jara.sturdivant@wordmadeflesh.org. Be sure to ask her about Creek Road. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Episode 1

John Milton once said: "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life
and the world."

Everyday epiphanies. I love that. And as I begin to record things I'm thankful for, I hope I will allow the small things, the unexpected and "everyday" things to change how I experience life and the world in its fullness. So, without further ado:

Today I am thankful for:

-My upcoming visit with the Mayo's, fellow missionaries on a brief visit to the U.S from Uganda. What profound impact they have had on my life! (Pictured below are Jordan, Lisa, Ethan, and Lisa's Tea, which she rarely goes without. Lisa's husband is not pictured.)

-The fact that I smile EVERY TIME I think of sweet Ava saying, "Jamie...Africa...Move??"

-Movie channels that play Christmas movies on days that are rainy and when I need something to lift my mood.

-Pay day

-A coworker making me laugh hysterically before the work day even started.

-More work hours next week. A true answer to prayer!

-An unexpected phone call from my friend E-moon. LOVE her! I hope to see her in July!

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy "Thankful Thursday" Eve!

I know. Between "Missionary Spotlight Monday" and "Thankful Thursday," there's an awful lot of alliteration going on around here. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for alliteration.

So, I mentioned in this post that I would have two new "features" arrive to my blog this week. The first was Missionary Spotlight Monday. Tune in next week to meet one of the funniest people I know. She can read the newspaper and I would laugh hysterically. But as funny as she is, she is quite serious about her faith and about seeing justice come to the poor and broken.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes. Tomorrow, I am beginning a new weekly feature focusing on being thankful. Our young adult group has been challenged to really look at what we are thankful for, and to be sure to let others know about it. (I admit, Kel, I'm not great at it yet). But, I decided after reading my friend Julie's blog, I'd give it a whirl on my blog. Each day, Julie, her husband, and each of her 4 children report what they are thankful for. My answers won't be as cute as theirs, but at least I can give it a whirl.

So, in a world where:

-"the glass is always half-empty"
- "you can't have your cake and eat it too"
-"if it looks too good to be true, it probably is"
- "if it can go wrong, it will"
-"everything that goes up, must come down"
-we are prone to ask, "What's WRONG with this world??"

I plan to be more alert to what is going RIGHT in my world. To see the forest for the trees, not just as a dark place with a narrow trail that stands between me and the next town over. Beginning tomorrow, I will take Thursdays on my blog to just be thankful. And I will be specific. No cop-out "I'm thankful for nice weather," or "I'm thankful for a job" (not that those things are not good or true) but I plan to be specific because many times, it's the little things.

What are you thankful for? Perhaps you can join me in this.

And speaking of thanksgiving...The entire time I've been typing, this is what is going through my head. Again, I can't help it. I'm a sucker for alliteration and movie quotes. And Christmas.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Missionary Spotlight Monday: Meet the Hallahan's

I would like to take this first "Missionary Spotlight Monday" to introduce you to a family who has become very dear to me. The Hallahan's are Josh, Kelly, Caleb (2 1/2 years old), and Seth (1 year old). I went to college with Kelly, but did not really get to know her well until December of last year when we discovered we will be serving in Uganda together.

Currently living in New Jersey, Josh and Kelly (and their sweet boys) are on the same journey I am of building a team of supporters and prayer warriors in preparation for their time in Uganda. Kelly has always had a heart for missions. At 13, she said "yes" to Jesus' plan for her future. Josh, on the other hand had a longer journey to get to this point. He told his children's pastor at one point that he would do anything in the world except be a missionary. And, he said, if God did convince him to be a missionary, it would never be to Africa. Famous last words, right?

After graduating from Asbury, Kelly spent a year teaching at Heritage International School in Uganda. Josh was still in College back home, and God was beginning to really change his heart for missions. For their first five years together, Josh has been a youth pastor at a church in New Jersey. After getting a bit restless, they began to pray about what the next step would be for their family. It became quite clear that the next step would be to serve Jesus in Uganda with World Gospel Mission.

While in Uganda, their ministry will be focused on two areas. Josh will be the Campus Pastor at Heritage International School (where Kelly taught for a year after college). This is a school in Kampala (the capital of Uganda) that ministers to kids from around the world who call Kampala their home for awhile. As campus pastor, Josh will plan chapels, hang out with the students, and lead the youth group. Many kids at Heritage struggle with their identities and a sense of loneliness that is unique to their situation. People come in and out of their lives pretty quickly, and the Hallahan's will provide a sense of stability, and by doing so, will point them to Jesus. And as a cool by-product, they could potentially go back to their "home culture" as missionaries themselves!

Josh and Kelly will also be doing leadership training and discipleship at Kampala International University, challenging students in their walk with Christ- helping them to grow deeper in their knowledge of and relationship with Him. (The exciting thing about this ministry is only about 1% of Africans reach the university level- so they really have an incredible opportunity to minister to and influence the leaders of the next generation in Africa!)

So, now that you know a little about them, how can you join them in Uganda?

1. Pray! There are some specific things they have asked me to let you know about below:
  • They will move in with Josh's parents on June 22nd. There will be 4 generations under one roof, as Josh's grandmother will also be there. Pray for family dynamics, for peace, and patience.
  • Their support account. They hope to be 35% funded by end of June.
  • Faithfulness in their own relationship with God (prayer and Bible Study) so their hearts are filled continually.
  • Pray for their boys as they travel. That God would give them grace as they go from church nursery to church nursery as Josh and Kelly share God's heart for Uganda at various churches. Pray that this time draws their boys closer to the Lord, and that they would see the excitement that comes when you trust Jesus.

2. If you'd like to know more about the Hallahan's:
Blog: http://www.thehallahans.blogspot.com/
WGM website: www.wgm.org/hallahan

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You: Missionary Spotlight Mondays

So, I was doing some thinking this week about how to more effectively use my blog. I mean, it's great for me to tell you just how much a brownie can change your life, or tell you what my thoughts are on events from the day, but I kept thinking there could be more.

I've decided to do two things each week with my blog. I'll tell you about one today, as it begins tomorrow.

Missionary Spotlight Monday

Each Monday, I will take the time to introduce you to missionaries in all areas of life. Those who serve in foreign lands, those who serve in the states. Those who train pastors in Africa, and those who write books that make a difference. Missionaries who work with the poor, and those who advocate for them from Omaha, Nebraska. Missionaries who manage a baby center in Kenya, and those who stay home with their babies in the states. Pastors, business people, Vice Presidents of companies. You see, the thing I have heard a lot since pursuing the path of "full-time" missions is that some in the body of Christ tend to think the work of bringing light to darkness and hope to the hurting is set aside for those who uproot themselves and move to a foreign country. The reality is, each of us are called to make a difference where we are. Just because I'm going to Africa doesn't excuse me from being Christ's hands and feet in the meantime. And just because you may not be getting on a plane does not mean that your life cannot have profound impact on others around you here. So, I hope the stories of "real-life" missionaries will somehow reveal this truth to you. My friend Jara always said, "Grow where you're planted." And I will add, "Help others to grow while you grow where you're planted." I hope you will take some time to pray for each of these people on Mondays. We're all in this together.

Come back tomorrow and meet the Hallahan's, missionaries to Uganda.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One Year Ago Today

Exactly one year ago today, I was driving north on 65 with my car packed to the brim, relocating my life from Panama City to Indianapolis.

As I drove, I was pleasantly interrupted along the way with updates on the pending arrival of this little welcome home present:

Faith, who is the daughter of dear friends of mine (whom I consider family, really), was born exactly a year ago today as well. So, I guess you could say a new phase in our lives began on the same day. It sure made the 12.5 hour drive go by much quicker.
And this is Faith now. Oh how I love this baby so!

And, on a semi-related note, this is the first time I have officially lived in the same place for a full 365 days straight since I graduated from college in 2004. So, I guess Faith and I have hit another milestone on the same day. Happy Birthday Faithee! Happy live-in-one-place-for-a-year anniversary to me!

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1st

I have been anticipating this day for a while. Typically June doesn't hold much significance for me. But since I was at headquarters in January, it has been a month that holds some weight on my calendar. And not this June, but next June.

June 2010. A year away, I realize. But, on my official "WGM Schedule," it lists June 2010 as my departure for Uganda. There is no specific date attached to it, so essentially, that means I could (Lord willing) be getting on a plane a year from today. Wow.

That's all. Just "wow."