Change, Faith, Fruit, Good Works, Growth, It's Up to Us, LIFE, Live It, Missions, Tansform, WALK

The Choice is Yours

New Podcast! (click here) Stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone!

I PRAY THAT EVERYONE HEARS THIS. Sadly, I will be canceling my Netflix subscription. They are the first major film industry to choose a side on the topic of abortion. As much as our family enjoys spending time watching our favorite TV shows, I cannot give money to a corporation that will turn around and spend it to support abortion.

This is where, as believers, our hearts and faith are really tested. Will we choose to stand up for what we believe in even if that means giving up something we enjoy? Will we choose self over helping others!!! The choice is yours.

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Introductions Are In Order

Transformed by Grace

I am so thankful to begin this new year as a part of this ministry.  Before I jump right in though, I think some introductions are in order.  I am a true believer in the fact that, for you to understand and get a deeper look into the heart of a message, you need a pretty good picture of where that person has been and what God has rescued them from.   A visibly transformed life can have a major impact on the world around you.

Ten years ago, if you would have asked someone to describe me, I’m afraid they would’ve used adjectives like angry, lost, empty, aggressive, broken, self-destructive… I’ll stop there, I’m sure you get the picture.

After moving around for a good part of my childhood as a military brat, we finally settled in Western Kentucky where most of our family was.  Within our home, there was…

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Change, Faith, Fruit, Good Works, It's Up to Us, Kindness, Live It, Missions, WALK

My Heart is In Uganda

I have been home from my last trip to Uganda and attempting to get back to life as it once was for almost a year now. I continue to find myself staring off into space, traveling back in my mind to a place where I have never felt the presence of God more clearly. Even in the midst of holding children that were orphans, little ones whose eyes have seen things and ears that have heard things reserved only for our darkest fears. I watched them smile and laugh while in the depths of what most would consider a hopeless situation.

A moment that I will forever be in my heart occurred the first day we arrived at Beyond Uganda’s Children’s Home in Bugiri. We stepped off the bus to be flooded with smiling faces, singing and dancing; being welcomed with open arms and hearts. There were a number of children of all ages, some very outgoing and others that were shy and
reserved. All of them, at one time or another, needing and longing for love. Amidst all of the excitement, I look over and notice one of the younger children had been knocked down accidentally. I ran over to her and picked her up, straightened her dust covered dress and held her. Swaying back and forth with her head on my shoulder I softly
sang, “Jesus loves me this I know…”. With every breath, she hummed quietly but never spoke a word. Tears streamed down my face as my heart melted for this child whose name I didn’t even know. I developed a sincere kind of love for her that can only be described as God-given.

Baby Mary Sing

I later found out that her name is Mary, but they call her “Baby-Mary”. At that time, she was three years old.  She is from a tribe called the Karimojong. Unfortunately, members of this tribe regularly encounter prejudice, discrimination and a wide variety of abuse from neighboring tribes. Words could not be found to describe what the missionaries working with Beyond Uganda felt when they encountered Mary and her family for the first time. Mary was nine months old, laying on the dirt floor of a hut, so underdeveloped, with a swollen stomach from malnutrition and barely enough energy to even cry. She weighed less than ten pounds. Her head and face looked as though she was injured, and they learned that the mother had been intoxicated and somehow poured boiling water on her.

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The missionaries with Beyond Uganda had experienced the same God-given love for her that I did. They took immediate action and went to extreme measures to help Baby-Mary. There was still little hope that she would make it due to her condition. But our God is a mighty God. Thanks to Him and Beyond Uganda, Mary is now thriving at the Children’s Home in Bugiri; growing stronger every day and being given real hope for her future.

Mary Before and After

As the news headlines and social media inundate us daily with all the ways our world is suffering and falling apart, it is so easy to become overwhelmed and think there is no way anyone or anything can change it. We see organization after organization come and go with little to no evidence of success. So we begin to ignore it, put our head in the
sand and hope someone else will take care of it. Unless we choose not to! It takes all of us to become the change we long to see in this world.  To take a stand and be obedient to God and change the world.   Even if we have to do it one little girl at a time.

Baby-Mary’s story of hope is only one of SO many that I have experienced on mission trips to Uganda.  I witnessed and was blessed to experience miracles firsthand that genuinely change lives and people’s stories forever. It all begins in one place though…the only place it can. With love.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave
everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

You see, sincere, selfless love changes lives and can truly make a difference. This is the inexplicable love that Jesus Christ demonstrated to us.

I have left pieces of my heart in Uganda.  With Mary, with my sponsor child Winnie, and with all of the friends I have come to love.

Change, Faith, Fruit, Good Works, Growth, It's Up to Us, Kindness, Live It, Tansform, WALK

Tis The Season – For a Change of Heart

I should probably preface this post by saying it is not at all strange for me to be thinking or daydreaming about all things Christmas, no matter what time of year it is. You see, I am a Christmasaholic. Even as I sit in my rocking chair on my front porch enjoying this beautiful 72 degree May evening in Kentucky; I can’t help but wish it was almost Christmas again.

My mind was repeating, the song “Pretty Paper” by Randy Travis. If you’ve ever heard it, I’m sure the unique voice of Mr. Travis is ringing through your ears with those familiar words. I slowly rock back and forth as I watch the sunset over the horses in the field, humming the holiday tune. But the rocking stopped, and I felt myself scowling as I paused on the following lyrics:

“Crowded street, busy feet, hustle by him
Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh
There he sits all alone on the sidewalk
Hoping that you won’t pass him by
Should you stop? Better not, much too busy
You’re in a hurry, my how time does fly
In the distance the ringing of laughter
And in the midst of the laughter, he cries….”

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My feelings of holiday spirit quickly shifted to ones of concern and sadness. How often have I been guilty of that very thing? How many times have I been too busy or distracted to notice someone I could help? I’m flooded with conviction as I think of this morning’s drive to work. It was pouring rain; I could hardly see through the windshield. Through the rapid swiping of the wipers I could see a man riding his bike in the same direction I was headed. A raincoat synched around his face and wearing a backpack; I am confident he was doing what he could to get to the school that’s a few miles down the road. The next thing I know, I am looking at him through my rearview mirror as I drive on. I could’ve stopped. I could’ve put his bike in the back of my SUV and got him out of the rain. Yes, I would’ve gotten drenched, and I had no way of knowing if he was a good person or not (you know, all the excuses I let justify me not doing the right thing). But isn’t that the point? Sacrificing for someone else?

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2

My heart aches at the thought that our world, or should I say, the people in it, can be described much more accurately by the lyrics of that Christmas song than by the example set by our savior.

Think about the last time someone did something nice for you that was a complete surprise. Those moments in life when people go the extra mile to encourage and lift us up really makes us feel special. Why do their actions have that effect on us? I’m sorry to say that they probably stand out because it’s so different from what we experience the rest of the time. Day in and day out, most of us are forced to deal with people who care more about themselves than they care about others.

We have allowed ourselves to become a people who are no longer willing to carry the burden for someone else. We make every excuse in the world to justify our behavior. “I’ve got my own problems; I can’t worry about them right now.” “Someone else will do it; I just don’t have time.” Or my favorite, “I just don’t feel called to do that.” So engulfed in the business and worldly things we have worked so hard for; we are suffocating from our toxic self-centeredness as we choke God out of every aspect of our lives and effortlessly make those in need around us invisible. Just look away, don’t make eye contact…the second you are out of sight, they are out of your mind.

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These quotes from Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love are spot on:
“God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love.” – Chan isn’t referring to how we love our families and friends. And neither is God.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43

How are you doing in that area of life? How often do you find yourself showing love, compassion, and respect for those that aren’t your favorite people in the world? One of God’s greatest commandments is for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To regard their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own. THAT is what God measures our lives by…are we imitating the life of our savior and putting the needs of others above our own?

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”

Chan is reminding us that God didn’t create you and me to merely exist and make our goal in life to get as much money as possible so we can be as comfortable as possible. He puts us where we are because He has something for each of us to do at that very moment. I passed that man on his bike and FAILED! God’s plan was still fulfilled. Someone did stop to help him. I drove right past an opportunity to serve and glorify God and be used by Him out of complete and utter selfishness. So He used someone else. That shouldn’t be a relief to anyone. I want to stand before a Holy God and hear Him say, “Well Done Daughter, Well done.” Not, “Is this all you did with the time I gave you.”

“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” – I don’t think Mr. Chan needs my help explaining this one at all, do you?