Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Beyond Words...

Last night I experienced something I have only had the privilege of experiencing about three other times in my life.  One time was when we left on the mission field at Roosevelt Park Church, once when we left Mahula, Nigeria, once in Obule, Uganda and now speaking our last time at East Martin CRC.  What I experienced is overwhelming love and appreciation from lives changed by God. 

If I had any doubt that God would use our time of hardship and extended time in Michigan, my doubt is now gone.  I do not know how to put into words what I felt last night as the church expressed their appreciation for us and how God used us.  My heart wished I recorded what each person said, took pictures of us crying together, or wrote down the testimonies.  I feel a bit like Jesus' mother Mary who pondered/treasured it in her heart all that she saw and heard.  It all comes down to one word: joy.  There is no joy like the joy of seeing God work in peoples lives and knowing you were a part of it.  

About a year ago East Martin began asking Josh to come and preach because they were without a pastor.  Josh was preaching from the Freedom in Christ Grace Course many of those times.  People were touched by the messages and began to ask if Josh would be willing to come and lead a FIC Bible study.  At first Josh said no not knowing if we would be around long enough and he encouraged them to get the materials and do the Bible study together.  I was so impressed that the people at East Martin were open and wanting more and seeing we were not going back to Uganda soon, I encouraged Josh to teach there.  I knew the Holy Spirit was at work because East Martin was the only church that has ever welcomed Josh to teach the FIC Discipleship Course.  God was at work.

For three months last fall we went through the Discipleship Course with EM.  I was so impressed with the people opening up, trying new things, sharing, being willing to learn, grow and change.  God's Truth brought freedom to many people.  And because we went through it together, we grew close.  Josh has continued to preach at EM and met with people to find deeper freedom.

Sunday night was our last service there before going back to Uganda in July.  Josh was excited all week because he asked people if they were willing to give a testimony in church about prayer and  said each person said yes!  Do you know how hard it is to get people to share in church?  But nine people said yes and Josh knew God was at work and it was going to be powerful.  It was!  I could not believe the openness and tears from those who spoke and then from almost everyone.  (I wasn't the only one crying for once!)  It was beautiful and unifying.  Stories of God answering prayers of healing, the church praying for them, God saying no to prayers only to have a better plan, the church welcoming and loving them in their need, God there in the hardship of farming or in the death of a child, God reconciling families, learning to praise God in prayer...  When God's people testify, there is power.

After the service they had a goodbye for us.  I was blown away by their words:

-My life was changed.

-We have changed as a church.

-You were here for me.  Literally, God had you stay in Michigan longer for me.

-I am completely free now!

-You made us uncomfortable and had us do new things we've never done.  

-I was blocked.  I was walking the path of Christianity with my chains.  I loved my chains.  The chains are gone now.  I have joy.  The Holy Spirit is always in me.

-I serve 3 days a week because of Josh.

-Josh's gift is making the Word clear and understandable.

-We cheered when you announced you are going back but I wanted say boo.

-You are always welcome here.  There is always room for us. East Martin can be your plan B.

-Thank you for sharing yourselves and your family with us.

- Josh shared that to those with much, much will be demanded and then I knew it was ok, you need to go back to Uganda.

-Happy for you, crying for us.

-You changed this church.

-We love you guys!

Talk about being encouraged, empowered...and exhausted at the same time!  I felt like I received enough to keep me going for a year.  How blessed are we?!  I give God ALL the glory.  He did this.  He changes lives.  He loves them.  He speaks to them.  He frees people.  He is at work.  How gracious of Him to allow me to have a small part in it.  Humbled.

I want to add that our dear neighbor Mary also faithfully went with us to EM and did the FIC Discipleship Course.  Mary was in a low spot in life when we met and she says we saved her, but we know it was God.  As much as Mary has been touched by us, we have been blessed by her!  EM also welcomed and loved on Mary and it is obvious she is now part of the EM family.  It was beautiful watching the family of God accept her.  We are thankful to continue to hear Mary testify that God continues to do a healing work in her.  Our kids adore Mary!  They visit her, walk over and go right in, do crafts together... Makai loves Mary and often wakes from his nap to look out the window to see her.  Mary loves that we have given her purpose.  A two way unexpected blessing.  We thank God Mary is part of our Michigan story! 

So, I hate goodbyes, but they are so worth it.

Can't wait to see what God is at work doing next...

Bible Study

I want to share about two Bible studies that God uses in my life this year.  Below is a testimony I shared at the last ResLife Impact Bible study for this year.  

I also started going to a second Bible study in January called Heart 2 Heart Moms.  I was invited by someone at Impact and decided to give it a try.  I was so blessed by H2H Moms!  The mentor moms are so loving, encouraging and welcoming.  They asked me to speak on day and I shared my testimony.  Then they asked me to speak again on spiritual warfare in our homes.  I was so excited, nervous too, but felt God was open the door for me to speak.  It was empowering.  So thankful for the opportunity.  I felt valued and appreciated at H2H Moms.  It was a huge encouragement.  It was clear God was at work through our group of moms and after my testimony three others gave their testimonies.  The ladies were being real, open, and shared what they have never shared with others.  Through this, we grew close.  Sharing our pain and how God was at work allowed others to share.  Beautiful.  We also toured Life International and Omega House together.  A powerful, heavy, eye opening and hope filled experience.  I was proud of these ladies.  At our last Bible study of the year they asked my to lead the discussion on our tour.  I was honored.  I will miss these women God put in my life.  I know God used them to love on me and encouraged me to be used by Him right here, right now.  Grateful. 

Testimony from Impact:

I came to Impact desperate to hear from Jesus.  My family and I are missionaries with Freedom in Christ in Uganda.  We have served in Africa for over 20 years now, but the last two years we have lived in Michigan facing the hardest battle of our lives.

Our daughter is struggling with a mental health sickness.  I was weary.  I wanted God to tell me why and when will it end and we can go back to Uganda.  My faith was struggling.  I knew who God was but wasn’t seeing Him at work in our situation.

Fall of 2021 I felt led to go to a new Bible Study and try something new.  I needed to be fed and I wanted to grow in new ways.  God led me to Impact through a friend.  I came broken.  I cried through every worship time.  I bathed in God’s presence and It was so good.  Every song seemed to speak the words I needed.  The teaching confirmed everything I knew is true and gave me courage to keep believing and claiming it.  I met people who allowed me to share my brokenness and spoke God’s Word into my life.  I was beginning to heal.

Three things God spoke to me and taught me through Impact:

1)      I can praise Him still in the storm – better yet I am to praise Him in the storm.  I found healing in worshipping God while I cried – not waiting for the end of the tears and hardship but in them.  It was a step of faith and trust in God.  He is still good, even when all is not good.  There is power in our praise.  Things change – I change – when I choose to worship Him.  I learned to surrender – the battle is His – I am to be still and praise Him.  It felt impossible to praise God in my situation, but it was when I thanked God that I saw hope, found joy, and victory was won in my heart.

2)      At Impact I was surrounded by people of faith and it renewed my faith even taking it to the next level.  I was inspired by people who didn’t only believe what God says but claimed it, acted on it and spoke it.  I love that God speaks to you and you speak it over one another.  I would come to Impact hoping God would speak to me through one of you.  My weary soul was encouraged to preserve with confidence.

3)      The summer before I began Impact God spoke to me gently and said, “Stop coming to me with all your questions and just come to Me wanting Me.  I am enough.”  When I came to Impact this message continued to be spoken.  I may never get my answers and I had to surrender to God even if my daughter didn’t get well or we don’t go back on the mission field.  It was through these times at Impact that instead of wrestling with God I received and trusted Him, You are all I need, enough.  Though this I was healing and growing.  And as I became well God began to use me again and use me here in Michigan.

I want to thank all of you at Impact.  One of my fears the past two years was that it was all a waste of time, but God showed me nothing is wasted by Him.  He led my broken heart here and restored my soul.  Thank you Impact for impacting me.


Monday, May 16, 2022

Some of What We've Been Up To...


Grace and Luka went with their youth group on a serve project to the bayou of Louisiana.
They were there to help with Hurricane Ida clean up.  Grace and Luka loved being in a new place, new culture, meeting new people, seeing new things...experiencing new things.  They worked hard and the community there was appreciative.  Some people bought them treats, a small shop let them buy anything half off, and a swap tour gave the group a free air boat tour.  They saw alligators almost everyday!  Thankfully, they all stayed safe and Luka didn't do anything he'd regret :).  Best of all the youth group grew very close.  They are almost inseparable now.  The unity that comes from serving together, seeking the Lord together and having fun together.  What a gift for our kids to be a part of that here.  Grace says she finally found somewhere in Michigan she fits in and belongs.   

We also traveled for spring break - minus 2 kids.
We went down to spend a few days with our FIC friends Howard and Aileen in South Carolina.
We stopped in W. Virginia on the way and enjoyed God's beautiful creation.

Howard and Aileen's Southern hospitality!

We also had the privilege of getting to know H&A's daughters and grandkids.
They grew up in Kenya so we naturally connect :)

Angel Oak!!!

A few days on Folly Beach!

We took a boat ride to Morris Lighthouse

Our personally tour guides in Charleston (Howard grew up near by).

Vacations are fun and tiring!

On our way home Lydia was able to spend a day with Abbie (fellow TCK) at Bob Jones!

Celebrating Josh's Birthday!

Egypt Day at School

Luka is on the praise team at school and learning the bass guitar.

Grace's Prom - Gorgeous!

Grace and her friends has supper at our house before prom,
so I got to make our house fancy for them!

50's Diner - a Youth Group fund raiser

So fun!  What a cute bunch!

Life walk as a family

Our dear neighbor Mary took our family bowling and for supper.
Ever since Makai asked every day if we can go "bowlin".
We are so thankful for Mary!

The girls and I were in a fashion show for a local second hand store.

Actually, Makai was in it too.

He LOVED it!

My mom turned 70! 
So we had a surprised party to celebrate with her.

Luka did track this Spring.  He got 1st place in shot put, 2nd in the 200 and 400!

Lydia, Grace and I went to a banquet together

Our Spring was cold so we moved right to summer the middle of May.

Too cute!