Tuesday, May 31, 2011

14 days to go...

In exactly 14 days I will be back in a suit and heels. In exactly 14 days I will be back in staff and board meetings. In exactly 14 days, I will pull out of my drive way and travel to a full-time job where I will no longer be my own boss for the first time in nearly 4 years.

So how am I feeling?

Excited. Anxious. Eager to be obedient to my God.

I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think that this is 100% what God has planned for me. That doesn't mean however that I don't have reservations. I have many of those. I have already dealt with the naysayers, received the disapproving looks from other mothers, and I am sure many others will follow. I have my own worries about how my family will do with mommy back at work. Will my husband really be able to handle this change in our family, and most of all how will my sweet Owen whose had his mommy full-time since he was 7 months old, do?

I have to put that all in God's hands.

I have to cling to what is truth.

I to deny the enemy a foothold in my mind to shower me with lies.

I have to look ahead and remember that life is short. Some may say, "yes, life is short so why go back to work? Why not stay home with your kids?" I can't argue with that statement. But for me, right now, at this place in my life, life is too short to say no to an opportunity that will provide the resources we will need to fulfill our role in building God's kingdom. God is writing a story and is giving us all a part to play. Some of us simply have roles that are different than others.

I am honored to play my part. Will you?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A New Journey

It is finished. I had my big CBU interview and met with over 13 staff people, including the four Vice Presidents of the campus. Whew....it was a long day. I fell in love with the campus, the team has tremendous potential, and things started to add up.

The following week was the final big interview with the President of the University. The day was oddly cold and rainy for this time of year. I pulled out my navy blue suit, the same one I wore the last time I interviewed at UCR for my most recent position over four years ago. Somehow, miraculously, it fit like a glove.

My interview with the President was fairly short. All in all just about 20 minutes. After we were finished, I waited in the VP of Advancement's office while he debriefed with the President. That was an agonizing 15 minutes. I didn't know what was going to happen. I actually sat in his office and prayed outloud saying "God, if I am offered this job today, please let them offer me my salary goal so I don't have to negotiate in person! I will do anything for you!" All I have to say is, God answers prayers.

And there it was. I was offered the position, no need to negotiate. I sat there overjoyed yet feeling so undeserving. "God has to be in this" is all I could think. I have no idea where this journey will take me next, but I am excited to serve my King however he sees fit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Open Doors

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I am interviewing at Cal Baptist University for the position of Assistant Vice President of Major Gifts/Campaigns.

I thought I should write about what I am feeling this evening, because this opportunity could mark a tremendous milestone in my life, and I want to make sure that I document these memories.

I wasn't even considering going back to work full-time until 3 separate people told me about this position. All the obvious statements came in to my mind, "I am not ready to go back to work full-time." "My husband and my kids aren't ready for this kind of change either." But then I began to think about what God would want me to do. Was he opening a door for me and my family?

I called the VP of Advancement who was gracious enough to meet with me one-on-one to tell me more about the position and what was happening at CBU in terms of their giving. My interest peaked. CBU is as amazing institution. I was very clear with him and told him that my husband and I would be praying about whether or not I should apply.

I have learned through life though that sometimes God opens doors that we aren't sure we are supposed to walk through. He has done this over and over in my life. Every single time, I have been afraid to walk through that door, and every time he teaches me a lesson that makes it all worth it.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I don't know if I will be offered the position. All I know is that through a lot of prayer he has told me to venture through this door, and see what waits on the other side. All I know for sure is that I am truly humbled to even be considered for this position. If God chooses to bless me for his glory by having me serve him this way, than so be it. I will be obedient to whatever he asks of me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Broken Hearted

I have processed over and over where to begin to write about this. IF I should write about this. I came to the conclusion that I NEED to write about it. I need to "grieve this loss" as a good friend put it.

I have been living a state of utter spiritual confusion for the past two months. God has given me an enormous life changing gift through my experience with The Doctors, which has brought me to a place of humility as I look at how he beautifully crafted this gift for me. I am experiencing in moments the "highest of highs" as I realize how none of this experience is coincidence, and how it has ALL been a gift from my heavenly father.

Then...well then at the same time, the same week as my surgery, my world was shaken. My recent position with the ministry I had been working so hard for, was being laid off after a decision was made by our U.S. board to shut our office down. Even my new friend Pastor Martin was stepping down. While the decision left me feeling like my heart was being ripped out of my chest, it was exactly the right decision that needed to be made.

Morally and spiritually, the decision came down to lack of integrity in leadership of the ministry in Uganda. That's all I can really say. Although I agree that we could no longer support the decisions being made by the leadership there, it's been so hard to process through how I am supposed to now "move on." It feels like sin won. It feels like evil is prevailing.

At times I find myself regretting it all. Regretting getting involved, regretting all the time I put into working since I took time away from my family. Even regretting going to Uganda. When I find myself thinking these thoughts, it only turns into depression...and that's the last place I want to be.

It is such a confusing time to journey through. In the beginning I felt like the best gift in the world was being taken from me. For the first time I had a job that I LOVED to do. I found my place in building God's kingdom. Now, its gone.

Then I realize that I have grown so much spiritually in the last year. God has revealed himself to me in so many ways through this chapter in my life. I have made great, life-long friends who have challenged me and supported me. I am now closely connected to my good friend Pastor Martin and his wife Hope. Those are gifts that cannot be measured.

I have also found my purpose in building God's kingdom, even if that meant finding it through heartbreak. I know now, what God's created me to do. Many people don't find "that" when they are in their mid-thirties and so I am thankful for blessing.

So for now I will battle and press on. For with this time of uncertainty comes a spiritual battleground that is trying to wreck havoc in my life. Satan has been at work all around me in the subdued form of creating dissention in relationships, speaking lies and confusion to me.

But God is good. God is more powerful than any attack Satan can attempt to afflict against me.

So where do I go now? I have no idea. I know that God is calling me to a time of rest and I am trying to be obedient to that. "Trying" is the key word there. He knows my heart is broken, so I am giving it to him to mend.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday

We spent Easter weekend trying to really sit in the magnitude of what those 3 days represented to our lives as Christians. On Good Friday, Micah and I decided to allow Ethan our oldest child to watch the movie "The Passion" with us. He is 10 1/2 years old and we thought that he was mature enough to handle what he was about to see. He has developed an interest in our faith that goes beyond just learning on Sunday, and I can see a spark light up inside of him when he hears mom and dad talk through biblical passages and stories. I also notice a small piece of me as a child inside of him. He has the same interests in history and humanitarian issues as I did as a child, and I am grateful for how my Dad took the time to cultivate that in me.

So the three of us watched the movie together and I couldn't help but glance over my 10 year old boy. He face was somber. Shear sadness enveloped his eyes and I could see that he was fighting back tears, as if he thought his tears would reveal that perhaps he was too young to watch this movie. Then as my boy (the boy who at this moment in his life has been struggling with respecting his momma) watched the poignant scene of Mary seeing her son carrying his cross and having flashbacks of Jesus as a child, I noticed a tear fall from his eye. He saw that I noticed this and he in turn quickly wiped it away. He snuggled up next to me and for a brief moment in his 10 year old life, my boy let me put his arms around him. In spite of his slightly rebellious behavior over the last year, my baby was telling me that he still loved me.

After the movie, we talked about how we needed to remember to grieve that night. I explained to him that we need to understand and remember the magnitude of the pain that Jesus went through. I told him that it was only through remembering that grief and feeling that heartache, that we could really understood the joy that would come on Easter Sunday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uganda-Part 5, Martin and Hope

One of the best things about this trip to Gulu, was the friendships that I was blessed with. Pastor Martin and his wife hosted us one evening with dinner at their home. It was so exciting to meet his sweet wife Hope and their children, after having the opportunity to get to know him while he was here in the U.S. last fall. Martin seemed so excited to have us in his home, and to have the opportunity to host us. Spending time with him and his wife felt just like being with family. I wish that my husband could have been there too, so I had Martin talk to him on the phone while I was there.

We sat and had dinner together and then just spend time in fellowship talking through some of life's difficult issues. I had the pleasure of holding Martin and Hope's new baby boy Josiah who was recovering from malaria. It was such comfort for my soul to hold that beautiful baby!

Sweet baby Josiah

The "kitchen" very humbling to see

Hope proudly showing us her kitchen and preparing dinner

Pastor Martin, Hope and Me

Uganda-Part 4, House of Hope Orphanage

This was the day I was waiting for. I was finally going to have the opportunity to meet the children that I was working to find support for in the U.S. I had heard stories from those who had traveled to Gulu about how amazing these kids were, so I was very excited to meet them. Most importantly, I was excited to meet the sweet girl that I was sponsoring!

When we arrived, the a few of the girls were sweet enough to give me a tour of the orphanage while I filmed. There was that feeling of confusion again. I couldn't help but think "this place isn't nice enough for these children, they need a better home, they need fans because of the heat, they need more clothes, bigger bedrooms..." The list went on and on in my head.

After seeing the two homes where the children currently live, we spent time in devotion with them. Seeeing how these children worship and love proclaim their love and gratitude to God was so inspiring. So heartwarming. I felt so much love in that small room and I was moved to tears watching God's children sing praises to him.

I was also able to see the construction for the new Children's Village that is being built for the children. They will have a lot more room in these new homes, and it's situated on a large property where they will have plenty of space to play. The water well in the picture below is the well that was built from funds raised by a team at Sandals Church!

Local children at the new Children's Village Property

Mama Barbara (one of the HOH mama's) and me at the construction
of one of the new Children's Home.

My sponsored child Monica and me

My sister's sponsored son Emmanuel and me

This was written on the wall at the orphanage

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Uganda-Part 3, Gulu

Our first stop when we arrived in Gulu, was a trip to Favor of God's Primary School. Our visit was just a few hours, but the time we spent there would bring me so much joy. Our van pulled into the school and the children were at recess at the time. Our doors hadn't even opened yet when all of a sudden a group of children had surrounded our car!

These children were so sweet. So happy. I was overwhelmed by the vast differences between our American schools and what I was seeing in front of me. Their classrooms were not air conditioned, filled with books, computers or colorful decorations. They were simply rooms with chalkboards. The school couldn't afford textbooks yet, so these kids were having to handwrite the text book material in their notebooks. Some of the children had shoes, while others did not. Then there were other children that I made eye contact with who were undoubtedly sick or struggling with some kind of illness. That broke my heart since there I was struggling through this flu, but had a purse full of medication to treat my symptoms.

I think these pictures explain themselves:
Outside a building of with classrooms

Children demonstrating an assignment

A small village right next door to the school

Uganda-Part 2, The Road to Gulu

After adjusting to jet lag and finishing up the business we had to take care of in Kampala, we set out for our day trip to Gulu. It would be a 6 hour drive by van where I would get to see and experience what Ugandan villages and bush looked liked apart from the city life of Kampala.

I was still struggling with what I thought was just the flu I had contracted from traveling, but my dear friend Pastor Martin kindly corrected me by saying, "we don't have the flu in Africa. You have something evil attacking your body."

There it was. The truth spoken. Satan had tried to stop me from embarking on this trip by attacking me with nightmares, and when that didn't work, his last option was to attack me physically.

The road to Gulu was an emotional journey for me. As I tried to pass the time on the long
drive listening to God's voice and soaking in the beauty of this land around me, I began to cry. The reality of God bringing me to Africa was still as fresh as the first day that I arrived, and the excitement of beginning to understand my purpose there was overwhelming. Africa was quickly becoming a part of me even though I didn't know why. I felt God confirm to me that th
is was a country where my purpose as a builder of his kingdom would ultimately be revealed and completed.

My new friend Stacey and I at the Nile River

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Uganda-Part 1

On the morning of Friday, February 4, I hugged my husband and 3 year old son and set off for my first trip to Africa. I didn't have much time to prepare. Two weeks at most? I think the last minute nature of the trip was God's way of protecting me from over processing about what being in Africa would be like. After traveling from LA to Chicago, to Turkey, my co-worker and I finally landed in Entebbe, Uganda on Sunday morning, February 6. Culture shock had found a new victim to infect.

The reality that I was half-way around the world and not within arms reach of my husband, my protector, began to settle in. I wasn't immune to that feeling of desperation. I had experienced it before in the middle east. But that same sinking feeling began to settle in and so began my conversations with God.

God calmed my anxieties immediately and filled my spirit with excitement, anticipation, and a yearning to see his spirit move in the country he had brought me to. Since I was a little girl, I had felt this connection in my heart with Africa. I can't tell you why. But I know that I was right where God had wanted me. I was here to
represent his name, his kingdom, and experience his heart for the people of Uganda.

After spending our first two days in Kampala, I began to feel ill. I had flu-like symptoms, but something was wrong. I began to wonder if the illness that had come over me was not just physical, but an aggressive spiritual attack to weaken my body.

By our 3rd day in Kampala the illness had peaked. It was not a coincidence that I was so violently ill on what was the most important day of our business trip. A battle was raging in the spiritual realms and I was caught somewhere in between in at all.

Walking through the streets of Kampala, God showed me through his eyes what he wanted me to see. I thought I knew what poverty looked like. I had never come face to face with it before, and here I was in a country that seemed to be over taken by it.

I kept my sunglasses on but could not fight back the tears that came. Then a child about 4 years old who was holding the hand of a small toddler, pulled on my skirt crying. It was an experience that lasted seconds, but left my heart broken.

I am a Christian. How do I just walk away from them? Isn't that the definition of a hypocrite?

There was more hurting people just around the corner. A man missing both of his legs sat on the side of the rode crying for someone to stop and help him. And still...we walked by, because that's what you were supposed to do. That was Africa and this was everywhere.

I was confused. My faith was challenged. I began to feel guilty for the life I had been blessed with in America. I began to talk to God and ask him a lot of questions. He answered some of them and some he left for me to answer. I kept hearing him ask me "what ARE YOU going to do about what you are seeing?"