breathing deep

I stand at my laptop in its corner on the kitchen counter, stew bubbling, children playing, clock ticking. I stand here and I read the prayers of friends and strangers alike who love my family enough to spend their time whispering to Him on our behalf. Tears stream and I am blown away by this love and His grace. I look around and I type out words and layers of my heart peel back, bare on the screen. Yes, this… Read more

on earth as it is in heaven 2011-03-21 13:46:00

Wishing with all my heart right now that the internet was not the internet and was a safer place for me to share the specific cries of my heart.

Right now though, we are just asking for prayer.

I am so thankful for the Body of Christ who will lift us up during this especially difficult season.

I am so thankful for the Spirit who intercedes on my behalf before I even have the words to pray.

I am so thankful for God’s grace that never runs out and is enough for today and enough again tomorrow.







Wishing with all my heart right now that the internet was not the internet and was a safer place for me to share the specific cries of my heart. Right now though, we are just asking for prayer. I am so thankful for the Body of Christ who will lift us up during this especially difficult season. I am so thankful for the Spirit who intercedes on my behalf before I even have the words to pray. I am so… Read more

on earth as it is in heaven 2011-03-04 11:22:00

“I am so old. My whole body hurts. I have suffered much,” her eyes shine with joy as she speaks, “oh, I am suffering. But whatever He wants. Whatever God wants!” And she laughs and she laughs.

We sit in our circle in the dust of a slum and we share our hearts and our prayers. Jja Ja Maria, who looks to be a hundred years old and reaches no higher than my shoulders, is the last to share.

Her life, it has been hard. She is in Jinja because she had to flee from the war in the North that tore apart her life and her family. Her son was shot last week by a soldier on the border of Uganda and Sudan and frail, little Jja Ja had made the 13 hour bus ride in the stifling heat and watched as they had lowered her last living child into the ground. The journey had taken almost a week and when she came back she found her grandchildren sick and even though her whole body ached from travel she still took them to the clinic and continued bending over her work so that she could make enough money to put food on the table. Now she is back and we are happy to embrace her and ask about her journey and ask how we can pray for her.

“What ever He wants," she chuckles.

I look at the joy that is spilling out of her wrinkled face and I repeat the words that she has spoken in my head and that doesn’t make sense. She is hurt and she is suffering and she is laughing about it and sparkling with beauty and radiating Joy.

That doesn’t make sense. Not to me. Not yet.

But she already knows what I am just learning. That even this, it is from Him. Even this, it is Holy ground. This thing that I label suffering, it is really Joy.

“Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?” Amos 3:6

I live with these human eyes, and with these human eyes of mine I label. I label one thing as good and one thing as bad. I label moments as blessing or burden. And I forget that all this labeling, it is not my right, not my place, not mine to do. To declare what is a gift in my life and what is a curse is to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, to sit in the garden full of abundance and beauty and choose the forbidden. The knowledge of good and evil, that was never intended for me. Could I, like Jja Ja Maria just quit my labeling and say, "Whatever God wants. Whatever HE wants!"

Because God IS. “I AM.” He tells Moses and still today He IS. And if every good and perfect gift is from above, and a Good and Beautiful God can create only good and beauty then these moments that I choose to label as loss and suffering, they are really good and beautiful, perfect gifts?

“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and I who give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal.” Deuteronomy 32:29

Suffering, pain, loss, shame – all these things I have blamed on a broken world, Satan even. But can’t a broken world and even Satan only give what God allows? Suffering, pain loss and shame are only these things because I label them as such. Because I, a sinner, choose to eat from the tree, choose to turn away from nail-scarred hands and ignore the grace and miss the gift. He is beautiful and everything He creates is beautiful and if I choose to label it suffering I am choosing to miss the beauty that is freely offered me.

On Friday I got a call from Jane’s birth mom that she had gotten her leg stuck in the chain of a bicycle. Five hours later I walked into a hospital room where she lay sedated, her heel bleeding and her tendon exposed, but untouched. The nurse saw my appalled, grief twisted face and shook her head. “God is good,” she whispered. “God's grace...She could have lost that foot.”

“God’s grace,” I thought, and I wondered what if she had? What if the tendon had been ripped clean through and she never were to walk again? What of when she was ripped from my life and left with a woman who doesn’t even care to supervise her and so she lays here hurt and bleeding and so far, far away from me?

What if God’s grace is not when He saves us, but that He saved us.

“Surely, just as I have intended, so it has happened and just as I have planned so it will stand.” Isaiah 14:24

Just as He intended. Even this, planned by God.

And if this is what He intended (and it is), then that means that every moment – the moment when my daughter’s tiny fingers were pried from around my neck, the moment in that hospital room, the moments when I hold babies and watch as they breathe their last and their mothers crumple to the floor and the moment when a dear grandmother hears that her son has been shot, and the moments when the laundry piles over my head and the children bicker and hurts from their past make them do the unspeakable and I don’t even know how to parent – every moment is His grace, a gift. Could I look and say, "whatever He wants, this is my gift for today."

God, who is Good and who is Beauty, and who saved us, even me undeserving, He can only give grace.

And I have a choice. I can let those wounded hands pull me close and I can choose to see the grace in this moment or I can again label, choosing to ignore the gift.

I see it deep in Jja Ja’s eyes, she knows. Even this suffering, He did this. He did this, not because He doesn’t know the ache – He does. He did this, a gift to me.

For the good of me. For the good of her. For the good of us, those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. For the good of all this world and the glory that is His.

And I know in that moment, I can choose to label the ripped open heel and the ripped open family or I can choose to count it as a gift, God’s grace. And the beauty is not in the circumstance or the label but the fact that in His graciousness He is here with me anyway, regardless of the circumstance or the way I choose to view it. The grace of being near to Him in trial, as long as I can chose to see it, is certainly the greatest grace of all.

This is what Jja Ja knows and this is what I am learning. God’s grace is not blessing, earthly reassure, our security or even the security of our children. God’s grace is not that all is “well” and right in my eyes. God’s grace is not when He saves us but that He saved us.

Here I am face to face with Jesus in the dirt and all I have to do is choose to see, accept the grace offered freely. His compassion and His mercy, this Grace, it never fails. Each moment each breath, is a gift simply and only because I get to spend it with Him.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Whatever He wants. And I am thankful.


** Ps. I am reading this FABULOUS book that is healing my heart and helping me to see more clearly. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. If you don't have a copy, you should get one, TODAY and prepare for your view of life to be forever altered - for the better.

“I am so old. My whole body hurts. I have suffered much,” her eyes shine with joy as she speaks, “oh, I am suffering. But whatever He wants. Whatever God wants!” And she laughs and she laughs. We sit in our circle in the dust of a slum and we share our hearts and our prayers. Jja Ja Maria, who looks to be a hundred years old and reaches no higher than my shoulders, is the last to share. Her… Read more

on earth as it is in heaven 2011-02-17 15:38:00


“Jesus! Mama, baby Jesus! I want to see! I want to see Jesus!,” shrieks my littlest darling.

How can I refuse? I lift her, for what seems like the hundredth time this morning, to the manger scene on the living room bookshelf. She gazes in wonder, oohs and ahs, gingerlyfingering the cornhusk baby in his twig and banana fiber trough.

“Jesus, Mama,” she whispers.

And so, the nativity scene that once was packed away each year after Christmas remains on the bookshelf still, because my darling baby, in all her wondrous excitement reminds me daily of who I want to be, the kind of life I want to live.

A wide-eyed, expectant child, gazing in wonder on a beautiful Savior.

In the middle of a broken, sin-crushed world, my soul cries out, “I want to see! I want to see Jesus!”

I want to see Jesus.

My darling Karimojong sister Maria, who is battling severe, gripping alcoholism, and her sweet baby are living with us still. People wonder, even gasp, that I would let her join us at our table. Isn’t she a poor example? Why would I subject my girls to that?

I want to see Jesus.

Newborn baby Noah snuggles to my chest as his mother lays dying in a hospital bed. He cried through the night and I feed him and kiss his pink toes and pray over his little life. Why do I do it? Don’t I have my hands full enough already?

I want to see Jesus.

Zulaika, her severely malnourished baby and her 8 year old daughter move into our home while we teach Zulaika how to care for her children and find her a job so she can continue to do so. They have lice. They do not bathe. Fear creeps up the back of my throat and I wonder, what if all my children get sick? But we have taken in sick people before, and each time He hedges us in protection. People ask, do I feel that I am being responsible?

I want to see Jesus.

Jane and her birth mom spend the weekend in our guest room. I figure if I cannot parent this my daughter, the least I can do is teach her mother about our Savior, invest time in their lives, pray over them while we love them. My heart breaks in two as her high pitched, breathy giggle once more fills my home and the pain threatens to paralyze me, but I won't let it.

I want to see Jesus.

Strangers eat at our table, bathe in our showers, sleep in our beds, share our everything. And I fleetingly wonder if it wouldn’t be better for my girls if I maintained some semblance of normal, but He shows me that HIS definition of family is not at all limited by my own.

I want to see Jesus.

I want to see Jesus and if I don’t step out, how can He come in? If I don’t give all of myself, my home, even my family, how will He be magnified?

Do I want my children to be safe? Absolutely. Do I want them to have a “normal” family dinner sometimes and be healthy and not be subject to the rage of an alcoholic or the hurt of friends dying and siblings leaving? Of course. But more than that I want to take a cue from my baby girl.

I want to whisper to them excitedly each morning, “Look, Jesus.”

I want them to see Jesus. In my life. In my actions. Lifted High. Magnified. In our neighbors, no matter how sick or dirty. In our home.

I want the best for my children, I do. And I believe with all my heart what is best is for them to have a mother – a crazy mother even – wide-eyed in wonder, recklessly chasing after her Savior.

More of Him. We want to see Jesus.

“Jesus! Mama, baby Jesus! I want to see! I want to see Jesus!,” shrieks my littlest darling. How can I refuse? I lift her, for what seems like the hundredth time this morning, to the manger scene on the living room bookshelf. She gazes in wonder, oohs and ahs, gingerlyfingering the cornhusk baby in his twig and banana fiber trough. “Jesus, Mama,” she whispers. And so, the nativity scene that once was packed away each year after Christmas remains on… Read more

Today, we remember…

“Mommmyyyy!” I heard a yell as I bounced quickly along the pitted road that leads to our program in my 16-passenger van. I stopped quickly, turning the van around to go back for Prossy who had been walking home to get something. “How did you see her?” said my Dad who was visiting at the time. “I didn’t! I heard her yell, ‘Mommy’” I replied. “But everyone calls you Mommy. Even people we don’t know call you that around here,”… Read more

In 2010…


We loved a lot...



and we laughed a lot.



We had the privilege of teaching people about our Savior, Jesus!


Amazima began work on the new fellowship site. It is now complete with toilets, a kitchen, a chapel, and a playground where all our children laugh, eat, play and learn about Jesus!



Joyce turned 7. I love watching her grow and delight in her tender heart and sensitive, compassionate spirit!



We all had the chicken pox.



We made new friends


Margaret turned 12. JOY just shines out of this precious girl.



Hope came to live with us.



Tibita turned 9. Such an awesome helper and encourager of her sisters!


We tried some new things.


Sweet Jjajja Grace was getting sicker. So we moved her in next door so we could care for her better.


She had active tuberculosis. But that didn't stop my girls from wanting to love on her!


Patricia and I visited friends and family in America.




Zuula turned 11. Her gentle spirit is a blessing to all she meets.


Gwen came to visit, twice! And took her babies HOME!


Napongo and Alapea came to live with us for a bit while we nurse Napongo back to health.


We learned to fish.



Papa (Daddy to me) came to visit!


Scovia turned 8. This girl's spirit is CONTAGIOUS. When she laughs, she laughs with her entire body. She is a light.



Our dog had puppies.


Sarah turned 9. Her sweet spirit and her wildly creative imagination blow me away every day!


We started homeschool and LOVE every minute!




Sumini turned 7. To think she was once my baby! She is such a joy - always full of hugs and smiles and energy!


Sweet Jja jja Grace went to live with Jesus.


Agnes turned 12. I am so proud of the leader she is becoming. She reminds me so much of 12 year old me! Can't wait to see what God has in store for her!

We finally ALL know how to swim. This makes pool days much more relaxing for Mommy.


Hellen turned ten. She can make me laugh even on the hardest days.

Amazima continues to grow!


Our dog had puppies. again.

Jane and Grace turned 4. I know that God has marvelous plans for these two little angels!

We finished the playground!

Patricia turned 2. And was still as sassy as ever.




Prossy turned 15! So blessed by my oldest daughter! What a beautiful leader.

Maria and baby Agnes came to live with us


Auntie Shana was still the best baby sitter ever.

Jjaja came to visit. She is such a blessing to us!


Mary turned 10! Love her humble heart and her awesome faith in Jesus.

I had to upgrade to a bigger pot to cook the stew in... too many people living at our house! I'm so blessed to have lots of help in the kitchen.


Some things happened that we do not understand. We miss out sister every day.

Amazima kept right on growing. Awesome children and awesome staff, thank you Jesus!

baby Winnie came to stay for a while.

His love carries us through.


I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:1 - 9

In 2010…

We loved a lot…and we laughed a lot.We had the privilege of teaching people about our Savior, Jesus!Amazima began work on the new fellowship site. It is now complete with toilets, a kitchen, a chapel, and a playground where all our children laugh, eat, play and learn about Jesus!Joyce turned 7. I love watching her grow and delight in her tender heart and sensitive, compassionate spirit!We all had the chicken pox.We made new friendsMargaret turned 12. JOY just shines out… Read more

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