Category Archives: Trust

M’m! M’m! Monday 5/8/17

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10(NLT)

Container Problem

 I have a container problem!  It never fails! When I go to pick out a container for the left overs from dinner, I almost always come back with a dish that’s too big for the amount of food I have.  On top of that….I’ve usually picked up and put down three or four different sizes before deciding on the one that ultimately ends up being too big!  Nine times out of ten, I don’t have what it takes to fill the container I picked to do the job. 

You know? Sometimes I feel the same way about myself!  (Yes, I’m comparing my Rubbermaid and Tupperware to life, now!) Stay with me….There are times when I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to do something but I’m afraid I don’t have enough…enough wisdom, enough energy, enough courage, enough whatever to fill the position or to do the job and so I. Don’t. Do. It.  Ever been there?  

Just like digging in my container cupboard looking for the right fit, I sort through in my mind  sizing up all the other people who I think would be better able to fill the need. The problem is: no one has started that book study that I’ve felt compelled to start, the idea to provide a free lunch for those in need remains just that, an idea, and opening my house as a gathering place? A big dream waiting to be fulfilled. 

Here’s what I’m learning. It’s not about me! (I know, I know. You’ve heard this before.  You should know by now I’m a slow learner!) All throughout the Bible we find people who believe they aren’t at all suited to do what God asks them to do.  Some of them tell God He’s making a mistake, some tell Him to find someone else, and some even run in the opposite direction. Me? I sit in my chair and think about what God wants me to do.   God reassured those He chose that He’d be with them and would provide all they needed until they’d become a perfectly filled vessel for the job. 

“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.  We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3(NLV)

It’s the same for you and me.  We can be confident that if God is calling us to do something, He has chosen us because with Him we will be the right fit for the job.  We may have to step out of our comfort zone (talking to myself here). It may require more faith than we’re used to. It might just be plain scary! But, in the end when we open ourselves to God’s calling, trusting in Him to give us what we need; we may just find we are a match with what He’s prepared us to do…..just like the right lid for the perfect container!  Oh dear, don’t get me started on my problem finding the right lid……

Instead, let me share with you a delicious recipe where the bites are small and the flavor is big! A perfect combination to me! Hope it “fits” into your dinner menu soon! 

Steak Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. top sirloin steak
  • 1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbls. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbls. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients except steak in a Zip Lock Bag.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Cut steak into one inch pieces. Trim fat.
  • Drop steak in to bag and seal shut. Shake and squeeze gently to coat steak with marinade.
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 24.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until skillet is very hot.
  • Remove steak pieces from bag using a slotted spoon and place them in hot skillet.
  • Throw marinade away.
  • Cook steak according to your desired temperature. Stir occasionally. Medium is approximately 3 minutes. (I like mine well so cooked them 5-6 minutes)
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.myseaofthought.com/2017/05/08/mm-mm-monday-5817/

 

Ezekiel’s Journey

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Pixabay

Miracles of Living Hope

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya couldn’t happen without God.  She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows.  Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways when even she didn’t believe He would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us.  “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

Eziekiel’s Journey

Most of us cannot imagine living in the world that Ezekiel was living in during the post-election violence of 2007.  His whole country had erupted into tribal warfare, corruption was rampant, and no one could be trusted. At the time, Ezekiel’s parents were teaching their children the family business of preparing alcohol to sell to customers. It was a dangerous business, not one suited for children; but was the means of survival for them all.  Thankfully, Ezekiel’s parents also believed in the importance of school, so he had attended elementary classes and was excited to enter 7th grade with his friends, but… a brutal attack changed everything.

Ezekiel’s family lived in a mud and grass hut on land bordering another tribe.  It would be that tribe who would take everything from Ezekiel.  The tribal leaders decided they wanted the land the family owned and so in the dark of night, they surrounded the small home and set the roof on fire.  Ezekiel’s father was the first to confront the trespassers.  He was killed immediately.  His mother then ran from the home and Ezekiel watched in horror as she was dragged, screaming into the bush never to be seen again.  As the roof of the hut began to collapse, the children had no choice but to leave the “safety” of the hut, too.  Miraculously, the attacking tribesmen weren’t interested in the kids. With fear propelling them, they scattered into the pitch-black night.

Separated from what was left of his family and with no way to communicate with his brothers and sisters, Ezekiel decided to try and make it to his Uncle who lived on the family home place. It would be a long, hard journey.  Ezekiel was thirteen and his life had been violently ripped from him.  Getting to his Uncle was the only way he could see to start a new life and so he began to walk. He walked all day and hid himself along the road to sleep at night.  He walked and walked and walked some more all the while trying not to think about how hungry he was. Terrorized by the memories of what had happened to his family, exhausted, with no food, no money, he continued to put one foot in front of the other.  Ezekiel will tell you that he didn’t know Jesus at this time so he wasn’t praying, but hope still arrived in the form of a rumbling sound behind him.  He knew the approaching truck would take him into town.  In a split second, just as the truck passed by, Ezekiel leapt onto the back of the semi and held on for his very life!  Once on, he knew he couldn’t safely get off until the truck came to a stop; so there he was, a young boy, weak from hunger, clinging with all his might as the truck made its way over bumps and around curves in the small hope that he was on the final leg of his journey to a new life.When the truck finally arrived at its destination, Ezekiel literally fell off the back. He’d held on to the truck for so long he could hardly stand.  It had taken him two weeks to get to this point and he was exhausted, but from deep within, Ezekiel found his strength and finally made it to his Uncle’s home.

Ezekiel settled in and returned to school.  He was informed that he would have to repeat Grade 6 but he never gave up because he knew that education was important. Ezekiel moved on to High School.  He hadn’t been able to pay the fees but the teachers let him attend until he could get the money.  At the end of the second term Ezekiel still was unable to pay and so the school sent him home.

In the time Ezekiel had spent with his Uncle, he’d come to know and accept Jesus as his Savior.  As time passed and it looked like school wouldn’t be possible, Ezekiel’s Uncle reminded him not to worry, but rather to pray. And pray he did.  One evening Ezekiel’s Uncle went with friends to a wedding.  While traveling back and forth his Uncle learned of Living Hope High School and the help they provide for students who can’t afford an education.  Hearing this, Ezekiel’s prayers increased.  Waiting was hard but he knew his journey wasn’t over.  January turned into April and finally Ezekiel was asked to go to Living Hope for an interview. He soon received his admission letter and found himself a student at Living Hope High School. Ezekiel was dedicated to learning as much as he could both in his subjects and about the Bible, all the while thanking God for the miracle of continuing his education.

Ezekiel’s journey was difficult.  It was long.  It wasn’t the one he’d ever planned to take, and yet, he is right where he’s meant to be! He graduated from Living Hope High School and now is studying Dentistry at the University.  Ezekiel says he was lost, but God found him and step by step led him to his future. He now plans to use his skills as a dentist to give back to his community. More than that though, it is Ezekiel’s greatest hope to tell everyone he meets his story about God and all that He has done; inviting them (and now you) to join him on the miraculous journey that leads to everlasting life!

“So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’” Luke 15:3-6 (NLT)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org

Wise Wednesday 9/28/16

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It’s funny how different, members of the same family can be. Growing up, my mom, youngest sister and I loved to read.  My middle sister on the other hand wanted nothing to do with it and often tried to “rescue” us while we were lost in a book.  (Annoy us may be a better way to say it!) And in my own family, my better half, son, and I of course, love to read.  My daughter would rather do almost anything else than pick up a book.  The differences don’t stop there though….when my son and husband find a book they love, they’ll read it over and over until the cover is worn out.  I on the other hand, only want to read a story once……

Uhhhhh……unless of course, it’s the story of my life! Then, I want to immerse myself in those chapters which were set in my comfort zone and had happy endings. I long to linger with those characters who’ve meant so much to me.  I’ve survived all the adventures, challenges, disappointments, and triumphs that have been woven together to create my story. Rereading it is safe.  I like safe!

Then….the page turns. A new chapter awaits. What’s a “play it safe, memory hoarding, stay on the sidewalk, status quo” kinda gal supposed to do?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 

 We know there are volumes of things that can go wrong….cliff hangers, plot twists, surprise endings….and they can make us want to slam the cover shut and demand a rewrite! But, I’m learning (slowly) it’s exactly those things that help develop OUR character and make our story richer.

 A chapter in my book of life came to an end yesterday.  Perhaps one is ending for you as well. It leaves us with a choice. Are we going to reread the pages we know so well or are we going to trust with all our heart, turn the page, and start discovering the paths that await us in our new chapter of life?

Looking for a Sign

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

Blurred vision. That’s what I dealt with yesterday, after my eyes were dilated at the Optometrist’s office. Note to self:  don’t plan to pick up a prescription after an eye appointment! Trying to decipher the small print proved to be a challenge.  I squinted, held it out as far as my arm would stretch away from me, and squinted again; it was still hazy.  Finally, the kind clerk read to me what I needed to know so I could move on. (We won’t talk about what my signature looked like as I checked out.)

It occurs to me that I was having trouble seeing clearly long before my eye exam. Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t like to make mistakes, let someone down, not measure up…as if you didn’t already know that.  So, when it comes time to make a big decision: change jobs? retire? take on a project?   I look at it up close, far away, and from many different angles. When the answer still seems obscured from my view, I want God to send me a sure sign I’m not making the wrong choice and clear the way for me to proceed. 

In the midst of all the house decisions we’ve needed to make, I’ve prayed for a sign. Not just ANY sign, mind you. Because our beautiful tree must come down; I’ve prayed:  “God, if tearing down our house and putting in this modular is what you want us to do, (1) while we’re not here, (2) create a wind so strong, (3) it knocks over the pine tree, (4) but don’t let it hurt anyone or set the house on fire!” 

Did you happen to notice that I didn’t just ask God to show me the way; I told Him where, when, what, and how! Wait! What? I TOLD HIM? Needless to say, our tree is still standing.  Tell me I’m not alone in wanting what I want, when I want it! Oh, I can be so short-sighted!

I believe that God sends us signs all the time; unfortunately, like me, we are often looking for something of our own making or understanding.

“But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;  He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 (NIV)

I’m pretty sure that those waiting for a sign that the Messiah had arrived, never expected it to be cloths covering an infant! In a manger yet!  They were watching for grandeur and might, kind of like a giant pine tree falling to the ground. Because of their “blurred vision”, many missed God’s greatest gift. How often are we too, blind to the signs that lead to His gifts for us? 

My sight returned to normal later the evening of my exam and I’m beginning to “see” a little more clearly today, too; that life is going to constantly be full of different kinds of decisions. We may not  always be able to perceive the way to go, but when we focus on the most important Sign: the Baby wrapped in swaddling cloths; we can trust, that with “20/20 vision” He’ll guide us to the cross, through life, and all the way home. 

Joining others looking for “Signs” this week at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com

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A Light in the Dark ~ A Living Hope Story

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:15 (NLT) Pixabay

This is the fourth in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

When Marilyn returned to her storage building classroom she found things much as she had left them. The teacher she’d hired before she left and her freshman class welcomed her back. She embraced her role of teacher again right away. They spent long days together in the dark shed using every moment of daylight they could for learning.  The students flourished academically and they developed a respect and admiration for Marilyn.

Because the students and Marilyn ate and slept at Rehema Orphanage, she encountered the Director regularly.  He was an influential man who flaunted his position, wearing suits while those around him wore meager clothing. He owned a car while others walked for miles. His quarters were equipped with running water while the children in his care had to haul theirs.  Marilyn suspected he’d been the one to take the money she’d donated instead of using it for firewood. As time passed, the Director couldn’t hide his jealousy of Marilyn’s success.  He also made it clear that he knew about her bank account and he coveted that money.  The situation became so unbearable she knew she had to find a way out!

When Marilyn heard of an empty building down the road, she planned to leave with the kids in the dark of  night to find it.  Once again, God had a better plan!  “Unexpectedly,” the Director was called away from the orphanage in the middle of the day.  Taking advantage of his absence, Marilyn packed everything she could and with her partner teacher, led their 25 students away from the only home they’d ever known. In the light of the afternoon sun the students and teachers walked four miles until they came upon a long, abandoned, mud building. Peering through one of the many doors that lined the hut, Marilyn discovered it was much like looking into a cave.  The inside was dark and the air was damp.  There were no windows, no electricity, no bathroom, no water of any kind, dirt floors, with small spears of light piercing the darkness through holes in the old, rusty metal roof. What was she going to do?  A kind looking gentleman and a gruff looking, wild-haired woman approached the worried teachers and their exhausted students. After some negotiation, the old man and his wife agreed to rent the dilapidated building to Marilyn at a reasonable price. Unpacking began and soon the two rooms on each end of the building were designated as the dormitory rooms, boys on one end, girls on the other. The two middle rooms became classrooms leaving only a small space for each teacher.  School was back in session.

All was not smooth sailing, however.  Marilyn was on her own in an unfamiliar place, conditions were primitive, and she was now a teacher/mother to 25 teenagers. She was also receiving threatening messages from the Director she’d left behind.  He found subtle ways to instill fear into the students and teachers.  He attacked her confidence and caused her to doubt her ability.  Finally, when he went as far as sending one of his workers to lie in wait for the opportunity to run Marilyn off the road; she’d had enough!  She rallied the students and together they began to pray as they never had before, asking God to put the “devil” behind them! Those dark days soon faded as their prayers were answered and the threats stopped. The challenges however, kept right on coming. Marilyn was quickly learning that starting a school literally from the dirt up entailed much more than just buying books.  Basic things like pots and pans, mattresses, food, and kerosene lamps needed to bring light to their dark rooms, were just the beginning. Her dwindling savings account was a reminder of the enormity of this undertaking.  On top of that, the landlord was unable to make the needed improvements so Marilyn found herself building a latrine, patching holes, AND teaching the students!  It soon became clear, that if she was truly going to establish a school she had to have more space! Marilyn didn’t know how she’d find her way; but God had been her light in the dark many times before and she had faith He’d show her the way this time, too.

~copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma Kenya

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

 

His Perfect Plan

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This is the third in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for him.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Marilyn knew that her answer to God’s call was back in Kenya, yet here she was on the other side of the world in Tennessee. Summer had ended and responsibilities forced her return.Her job at school, her house, her truck, and her beloved dog, Jesse, all things she was grateful for, had drawn her away from the children she loved and the make-shift high school she’d planted and cultivated.

Although others were skeptical about the voice Marilyn had heard in her kitchen, she didn’t waver in her conviction that God had spoken to her.She didn’t pretend to understand why He had chosen her or how He was going to use her; but she knew without a doubt that somehow He would be sending her back to Kenya.

As teachers often do, Marilyn began preparing in advance, both mentally and educationally for the new school year. A few days into her preparations she received an unexpected visit from the Superintendent of schools. Sitting in the same chair she’d been sitting in when she’d heard God’s call, she now listened to another voice; this time telling her that because of federal cutbacks there were no financial means to continue the Behavior Disorder Program Marilyn had been in charge of.The news didn’t stop there though.Marilyn was also the lowest on the seniority list and so not only was her program being terminated, so was she. A sense of panic began to take hold. She had house and truck payments to make! So, without much of a plan Marilyn embarked on a frantic job search.

Despite her best efforts, Marilyn’s job hunt came up empty. The only option now was to try to sell her house so she’d have a little money to live on until she knew what to do next. Not wanting to put off the inevitable, Marilyn began painting every room in her little house and laying down new flooring. Boxes began stacking up as she started packing her belongings. The improvements on the inside being almost finished, Marilyn headed out to her flower beds where she’d so often found respite. Weeding, working the soil, and planting colorful flowers brought a much needed peace to her soul. It also caught the attention of one of her friends who inquired about what was going on. Marilyn told her the whole story and before she had barely gotten the last word out, her friend excitedly exclaimed that she was looking for a new home and that Marilyn’s would be just perfect!

While the paperwork for the sale of her house progressed, Marilyn knew she couldn’t afford to keep her truck. She’d need something smaller, older, and more economical if she was going to get by on a tight budget. Soon after the “For Sale” sign was placed in the window, Marilyn was placing the keys into the hand of its new owner. No job, no house, no truck. It was just her and her faithful companion. Feeling restless, she called Jesse to follow her outside. She needed fresh air to clear her thoughts. Marilyn threw the frisbee. Jesse leaped into the air catching the disc before it hit the ground and returned it to Marilyn. The two continued this familiar game until suddenly Jesse jumped up but missed the frisbee and fell to the ground. He lay motionless cradled in Marilyn’s arms. Oh, how she loved this dog! He’d always been there for her even when people hadn’t. He’d listened to her, comforted her, accepted her. Now here they were sprawled in the grass: Jesse, unable to move physically and Marilyn, unable to move emotionally. Four days later, Jesse died.

Marilyn sat in her chair at the table straining to hear the voice that had once filled her kitchen. Somehow in the silence His message was clear. She’d lost her job and then she’d found a buyer for her house, sold her truck, and lost her precious dog all within one week. She heard Him speaking to her as only He could… through His perfect plan. He’d called her for His good purpose; the children in Kenya. What had once drawn her away was now gone. She would return to Kenya as she knew she would but, what would His plan be once she arrived?

Copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

One Word: Trust

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

It should be an exciting time. A time for looking toward the future. For planning and dreaming. So why is my stomach in knots, my throat tight with unspoken fears, and worry filling my nights? One word. Trust.

We’ve come to a place where our house isn’t able to be our place of refuge anymore.  Its age has caught up with it and the problems are too numerous to solve.  Those who know houses advise us to tear it down.  My reaction? You know me…..”Tear down the rooms where my children played and slept?” “Tear down the place where we’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations, anniversaries?” (Memory hoarder. Remember?) We’ve agonized. We’ve prayed. Talked to friends, family, and professionals. The answer has remained the same.

My husband gave me a “Wish Book” to encourage me to draw, write, and paste ideas that help create a new vision of home. And I have.  I’ll even admit it’s been fun.  But all the while, somewhere deep inside where I don’t like to go, a voice lists all the things that could go wrong. Chants the reasons it will never work.  Stirs up fears that lurk there.  The devil knows my weaknesses and he doesn’t hesitate to attack those vulnerable places.

So while our children are anxious for the work to begin and our friends are excited for this next adventure we are embarking on; I’ve dug in my heels and waited.  Waited for signs to move ahead.  Waited for signs to stop. Waited for clarity. Waited for peace. And in that waiting I’ve…..Failed. To. Trust.

Much to my dismay, I know that “Trust” is my word for 2016.  It challenges me.  How about you?  Are you like me?  Hesitant.. well more like desperate… not to let go of your own control? Reluctant to move forward? I hope not, but if you are; here’s the good news!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

I’m learning this lesson at an agonizingly slow pace but I’m sensing a shift.  A realization that I don’t have to “do” or “know”; but rather, I need to “be”. Be still. Be in His word. Be obedient. Be in His presence. Be loved. Change has never been easy for this ole gal, but to “be” all I can for Him, it’s vital.

Maybe you too, know exactly what I’m talking about.  You’re also facing a change, an illness, a death, a broken relationship, difficulties at work, a new baby, a longing for a baby, a wedding….good change or not so good, here is some encouragement I’ve found:

“Let’s face it-it can be challenging and sometimes scary to step out in faith, especially when we don’t know what lies ahead.  But when we trust God with our future and seek out His plans for our lives instead of our own, the blessings we receive will far exceed the things we think we are leaving behind.”

Tracie Miles, Faith Zone Challenge

Yesterday, we went to begin the final steps in ordering our new home.  We prayed before we left.  Boy, did we pray!  There were times I felt I couldn’t breathe. My nerves were on edge, but as soon as we pulled into the parking lot a peace seemed to come over me. And while we talked and planned excitement began to replace some of my fear. God is amazing like that!

I know that I’m not where I need to “be”….yet….there’ll still be worries, fears, and roadblocks to make me want to turn back. My plan? One word. Trust.  I’m determined to put my trust not in “my own understanding” but with God and to follow as He leads me on the path to not only my new home here, but someday to the home He’s prepared for me (and YOU) with Him.

 

Do you have a word for 2016? I’d love to hear what it is! Is there something I can pray about for you? Just leave either or both in the comments and I look forward to connecting with you!

 

 

 

 

The Call: A Living Hope Story

 

 

<a href="https://pixabay.com/users/OpenClipartVectors/">OpenClipartVectors</a> / Pixabay

“A dirt floor, no desks, two boxes of chalk, and four books”

This is the second in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

“And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:19-20

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” John 10:27

Still in awe of hearing God’s voice fill her tiny kitchen, the words echoed over and over as if they were a recording stuck on repeat;  “They went to bed hungry”, “Go”, and “I will provide”. Marilyn still wasn’t sure what they meant. At the close of the school year, thinking Uganda was where God would “provide” and wanted her to “go”, Marilyn pursued a return trip.  Much to her surprise, God had other plans!  At that very time Uganda was in the midst of intense violence. Rotary International wasn’t about to put Marilyn into the middle of it. They did however, offer to send her to a more peaceful area; Bungoma, Kenya. Without hesitation, off she went once again, seeds in tow, to plant gardens and tend souls.

Once in Kenya, Marilyn and other volunteers worked together to create community gardens where once there were only hard plots of ground.  As the small sprouts grew from the now fertile soil a longing grew in Marilyn.  Her teacher’s heart was restless. As Rehema Orphanage was nearby, she went in search of fertile minds.  It didn’t take Marilyn long to know that things weren’t right at the orphanage.  The small shelters housing the children leaked, they lacked basic supplies, and she was angered to find that the wood she’d just purchased was gone but hadn’t been used to provide heat for the children. The conditions weighed on Marilyn until she realized that just as God had told her months before…these children WERE “going to bed hungry”. She knew this was where God was calling her.

As the summer wore on Marilyn learned that there were twenty-five eighth graders who had lived at Rehema their entire lives and were about to be put out on the streets, alone, with no skills to help them survive. She agonized, lying awake at night trying to come up with a plan. She couldn’t stand by and watch as these children were discarded; and everything she knew about the life of Jesus convinced her that she had to do something.

Finding an old shed on the orphanage property, Marilyn approached the Director with an idea.  She’d prayed he would agree and reluctantly he allowed the students to stay.  She quickly began cleaning out the dark, dirty lean-to. It would no longer house unwanted items but instead become a high school classroom for students who were now unwanted themselves. Marilyn had no doubt she had the skills to teach these students, after all it was what she’d been doing year after year. So with a mud floor, no desks, two boxes of chalk, and four books; school was called into session. But, too soon the time came to return home and Marilyn reluctantly hired another teacher to fill her place.

Flying home felt wrong; like swimming against the current.  Questions swirled in Marilyn’s head. She knew without a doubt that Rehema was where she was meant to be but she had responsibilities: a job, a house, a truck, and a beloved dog.  She couldn’t leave those things behind. Or could she? The turmoil quieted and a peace enveloped Marilyn.  She knew that the kind of call she’d received from God was a call that demands a response.  Mary and Joseph recognized it. The disciples recognized it.  Marilyn recognized it too.  She would answer the call and follow Him. Where He would lead her?  She had no idea.

Copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

Hanging in Limbo

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“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:23

 

Have you ever found yourself hanging in limbo between “all that I am and all that I’m not”?  That’s where I find myself now, dangling, like Paul when he wrote in Romans 7:15  “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate.”

Starting my day in devotion with God, following through on the things He’s calling me to do, trusting His plan and not my own……all things I believe I’m to pursue, and some days I get it right. But then I swing off track and checking Facebook, lingering too long, worry, and so much more have me suspended in a place I don’t want to be.

I’ve been watching a hornets’ nest high in a tree outside my kitchen window. It sways like a pendent in the wind back and forth, back and forth…..just. like. me. Over time, all that mid-air action has caused rips and dents to form but the nest continues to holds fast. How can that be? Is there a lesson for me, perhaps? Maybe you can relate too. For as much as I don’t “understand myself” and waiver between what is right and what I hate, I’ve found this WE have to hold on to:

“This is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to Him and never stop trusting him.  This High priest of ours understands our weaknesses for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.”

Hebrews 5:14-16

Yes, hanging in limbo is a frustrating place to be. I know better.  I want better.  What a blessing it is that despite the bumps and bruises, the back and forth, the do and don’t do, a hornets’ nest reminds us that we are anchored in the grasp of God, who knows just where we are and where we’re going.  We can boldly leave limbo behind and embrace with certainty, that with His help, mercy and grace we’ll reach our destination.

I’m really enjoying writing posts as part of Suzanne Eller’s #livefreeThursday.  This week’s prompt as you might have guessed is “limbo”.  If you’d like to read more thoughts on being in limbo click here http://www.tsuzanneeller.com

 

A Baby Bottle Lesson

 

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 NIV

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 NIV

My baby bottle years have been way behind me, that is, until my grandson was recently born.  Now, I’m reveling in every moment of holding him close in my arms while he drinks from his bottle.  This precious time is a blessing and a joy and believe it or not it has reminded me of a truth about myself:  I am a planner. (That’s a nice way of saying I’m a control freak)  At home, when I was teaching school, on vacation, at church events, in retirement, and on and on; I’ve wanted things to go the way I thought they should go.  A lot of my energy has been spent organizing, designing, formulating, and figuring out how to navigate life with as few disappointments, unwelcome surprises, or bumps as possible along the way.  Now don’t get me wrong, in day to day life, my strategies have been useful in accomplishing many things that had to be done,  but being so wrapped up in doing things myself I believe has caused me to be missing out  in my relationship with God.  Here’s where a bottle feeding helped me see a little more clearly.

Being almost five months old, my grandson has started trying to help feed himself.  He clumsily brings his hands up and attempts to wrap them around the bottle,  In doing so, more times than not, his hands get in the way and the flow of milk stops or he pulls the bottle completely from his mouth.  The result is usually a leg kicking, arm flailing, red faced yell.   In my hand I have everything he requires to be nourished and to satisfy his needs.  I offer it to him freely and with love.   All my grand baby needs to do is open his mouth and accept the life giving gift.  Do you see where this is leading?  Here’s my ah-ha moment……

How often have my attempts at planning life out my way actually hindered my receiving what God was freely and lovingly offering me?  Thinking I know what’s best, have I pushed unseen blessings away?

Have I faced times of famine simply because I’ve strived to do things on my own? 

Watching Carson trying so hard to feed himself has caused me to pause and reflect.  I’m reminded that God has me, and he has you, cradled in His arms and He’s offering us His very best for our lives.  

Life certainly can cause us to kick and scream while teaching us that we’re not in control. It’s time for me to give up my clumsy attempts at directing my purpose and my path.  I need to do less planning and more praying.  Let go of my timelines and trust God to provide everything I need at just the right moment. Maybe you’re ready to give up your control too.  Together let’s loosen our grip and open ourselves  to “drink” in the life He has waiting for us.

I have written this post as part of #livefreeThursday.  The prompt was “I give up”. Want to read more? Go to http://www.tsuzanneeller.com