She’s up when
the stillness of 5:30 nudges me awake and I struggle to peel back heavy
eyelids. She’s up and she sings. I wonder how she can even tell that it’s
almost morning. I wonder why she sings yet. I tip-toe to the coffee pot and
flick on barely enough lights as to not wake my children, and this is my quiet time and I briefly just wish that
one little bird would be quiet.
“It’s not light yet. Shhhh. It’s not light yet.”
I lift my eyes from the worn pages of Isaiah and my gaze
falls on Sarah’s notebook, left haphazardly on the table after yesterday’s
writing assignment. She wrote that I was brave. That I had courage. But as I
sit there in the dark, I think that I am not.
I miss my friends. I know where they are, and that it is
better, by far, than suffering and sickness, but I wish they were here. I miss
Betty’s smile as I wiped her forehead and the way her weak hand felt in mine,
her fingernails hot-pink. I miss the still, quiet hours by her bedside and the
way her eyes understood even if her ears did not.I miss Katherine’s laugh, loud and audacious and when I see
her children smile, I see her, and I wish the ending had been different.
And I see Sarah’s words on the paper, “Our sick friend lived
with us for a long time and my mom was brave and took care of her. I saw her
praying for her and I know that she was loved and cared for. My mom kept her,
and she had courage.”
And I cry, because I do not feel courageous. I feel
downright defeated sometimes. Maybe courage is not at all about the absence of
fear but about obedience even when we are afraid. Courage is trusting when we
don’t know what is next, leaning into the hard and knowing that it will be hard, but more, God will be near.Maybe bravery is just looking fear in
the face and telling it that is dos not win because I have known The Lord here. I have known The Lord in the long, dark
The little bird sings loud in the dark. And slowly, the sun
peaks over the horizon.
At school I ask Joyce what her definition of courage is, and
she says, “to have faith.” Maybe that is just it. That we still tremble, but
more than that we have faith. That even though we feel uncertain, we press into
a God who is so certain, so sure, so steady. He carries us, He lifts our heads.
And His unfailing love and comfort becomes our courage and our hope.
It is days later and it is raining. The huge drops pelt our
tin roof so hard that we can hardly hear a thing, but as the rain slows, I make
out a familiar noise and I laugh. It is the same little bird that cannot
contain her song too early in the morning. I wonder where she is and how she
can keep singing in this storm. I wonder why she sings. But the rain slows to a
trickle and the sun peaks from behind the clouds and suddenly all I can hear is
her glorious song.
“To have faith, “I think. And I wonder, does she sing because she knows the sun is coming?
And I want to be just like that little bird.
Hope is a crazy thing, a courageous thing. That little bird,
she feels the sun coming, knows with certainty that it will come, even when she
can’t quite see it yet.
We live in a world where innocent people suffer and good
friends die and stories don’t have the endings we prayed for, and the pain and
the hurt, it is everywhere. But the Joy and the Hope that we find in our
Savior? It is everywhere, too.I
do not have all the answers; in fact, I don’t have many at all. But this is
what I know: God is who He says He is. And in the hurt and the pain and the
suffering, God is near, and He is good, even when the ending isn’t.
And I can sing, because I know what is coming. I can hope,
because I know Who is coming.
In the dark of the
night, I have seen His face, and I have known His promises to be true, and I
know the Light is coming.
And I want to be brave enough to hold out the hope of the
Gospel to a world that is hurting and alone and afraid. Not a hope that is the
absence of pain or heartache or suffering, not optimism disguised as hope that
waits for the best-case scenario or happy ending, but a Hope that is the
knowledge and full assurance that our Savior is on His way.
It’s not light yet, but I know Him, the One who is the
Eight-year-old Angela Amoiti lives deep in the Ugandan village of Buyizia. As we travel on the washed out roads, Angela informs us this is her first time in a motorcar. Winding roads and thick trees hide the home where this beautiful girl lives with her mother, father, and sister Sarah. Neighboring children meet us on the road and walk alongside the car to Angela’s home... read more about my friend Angela here
Last week, Amazima hosted our first support group for Amazima families affected by HIV and AIDS. It got off to a late start as here in Uganda, "9am" means "around noon." After everyone showed up, we began with a prayer and the workshop began!
Each person in attendance introduced themselves and shared how they are related to Amazima. Glory was given to God while discussing all of the ways he has carried our families. Through the hard times and the good times, everyone agreed that God is good- ALL the time!
Following introductions, we started the day by going over basic information about HIV and AIDS. Although basic facts are pretty well known among the Ugandan families, they are often times mixed with misinformation. This educational segment of the day provided us with a great opportunity to debunk any myths circling around the communities. Our favorite truth to promote? HIV is NOT a death sentence! Read more...
I know, I kind of abandoned ship here for a while. I didn’t
mean to leave you hanging.
Katherine’s death has taken me a lot longer to process than
most things usually do. Maybe because it felt like a big final loss after a
season of lots and lots of losses. Maybe because I have a tendency to want to
see redemption here and now, to want to tie it all up in a neat little package,
even though I know that His ways are not my ways and a “good ending” is not
always seen in this lifetime. Maybe because I feel that I should have some kind
of understanding before I bear my heart to the world.
Friends, God is still good and God is still working. In a
season of much loss and much hardship, He whispers, “Look how far I have
carried you. And still I go before you.”
But trying to tell you where I am at right now feels a little
like trying to serve grape juice as wine. Words on a screen feel like a cheap
substitute, unable to capture the grace and the mercy that God has shown us
during this season, unable to explain the nearness I have felt and the new ways
the Father is revealing His heart to me.
There is joy in this place. There is peace in this place. It
is Jesus. He is very near to us. And I am writing it all down in hopes that one
day soon I will again feel that it is time to share it with the world.
But for now there is something very sacred about sharing my
heart with Jesus only.
Thank you for those of you who continue to check in on us
and who continue to pray. That you would sit before the Father on our behalf
means more to me than I could ever tell you here.
Betty is still living with us. She is a constant reminder of
God’s love to me. Health wise, she is recovering very slowly, but she knows the
Savior and she is a fighter. She is full of joy, and it is our joy to care for
Simon and his grandmother are also living with us while
Simon gains weight and gets ready for another surgery. Simon’s grandmother is
darling and extremely devoted to caring for Simon. It is always a bit
stretching to share our home with new people for an extended period of time,
but I am thankful for the way the Father grows us in community, the way that He
can turn strangers into family.
The girls are doing phenomenally well, growing like weeds
and doing great in school. Watching them grow in their knowledge and love of
the Lord is by far the best part of parenting. Without a doubt, parenting
reveals to me more of my own depravity and more of my loving Father’s heart
than anything else ever could. I am humbled and grateful.
To all who ask the question, "Are you ok?" The answer is a resounding "Yes." I am more in love with my Savior than I have ever been before. I pray that each day my love for Him would only grow. He is good to us, friends, and He doesn't ever, ever leave.
Thank you, again for your prayers and your love. I will be
back soon. You can continue to keep up with Amazima here in the mean time.
She reaches for my hand and smiles. I reach for hers and I
force a smile back, force myself to look truly joyful. I want her to know joy
here. I want to know joy here.
At 26 years old Betty is the beautiful mother of a 3 year
old little boy. She weighs 69 pounds and battles AIDS, tuberculosis and all the
complications that come with the two. We know the drill. She reaches out her
hand and it reminds me so much of a hand I held once, of a woman I loved hard,
of a friend who became a family member.
I fight the tears and I force a smile. After all, she might
live. She could live, and right now, I know she needs me to believe that she
will. How do you keep believing that when the last time you were wrong? When
the time before that, and the time before that you were wrong? I sit down on
the side of my couch that is now her bed and I ask her about her family. A hot feeling surges up in
the back of my throat as I feel my heart start to put up a wall. I know better.
I should know better.
After all, my job is to believe with out wavering. His job
is everything else.
Just then a having an
issue of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the edge of His
cloak. She said to herself, “If only I touch His cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter, “ He said, “Your faith has
healed you. And the woman was healed from that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22)
I resonate deeply with this woman. I can see her,
reaching out for his hem. I can feel the strain, that desperate reaching,
longing just to touch Him, just even the very edge. A longing for only Him.
I am the woman with the issue of blood. Except I am the
woman with the issue of doubt. I am the woman with the issue of sin, with the
issue of flesh, with the issue of forgetfulness. I am a woman who wants to snap
my arms shut and protect, fold my arms tight around this chest to guard my
heart that is still so raw and exposed from being broken. I want to gather
these children to myself and shelter them from the ugly hurt of this world.
But I can’t fold my arms and simultaneously reach out for my
Savior. I reach for Him and I have no choice but to fling my arms wide again. I
reach for Betty’s hand and I know, just like that woman, I must seek Him. I
must know Him. “If only I touch His cloak…”
And do you know what? He isn’t out of reach. I stretch out
my arm and I realize that He is right here, just two steps in front of me,
clearing the way. The sweet promises of Isaiah flood my mind, “His robe filled the temple.” I reach and I feel that His hem is wide, enough for me and for you
and today and tomorrow. Enough to fill and enough to overflow.
Some time last week in the too-early hours of the morning, I
asked God why He allowed me to believe so strongly that Katherine would live
when she wasn’t actually going to. I can usually get a pretty good sense for
those things. It is hard for me to think that My Father saw me in my hope, He knew I
was believing, and He simultaneously knew the ending. I think He answered that
He gave me the grace to believe that
she would live so that in her final days she would feel hope and high spirits
all around her, so that she would feel that she was fought for and that she was
worth the fight. She was worth it.
Its His message to us on the cross and it is His message to
the woman with the issue of blood as He stoops down to look into her eyes, to speak
to her, to meet her need: “You are worth it.” And I want it to be my message to
these hurting that He brings into our lives: You, you are worth it. We are for you. He is for you.
I want my life to be found in chasing after Him and I want my arms to be filled, not just reaching for, but gathering in the hem of Jesus. His robe fills the temple. His glory fills the
earth. I want my arms to be filled with gathering His grace, His love, His
goodness. I want to follow Him wherever He is going and be so full of Him that He is overflowing out of my arms, out of my very life. Even when it means reaching out my hand with a smile to a situation that might hurt, will hurt. He gave me the grace to hope.And so I am
asking that He would give more grace, again, even if it is harder to grasp this
time. Grace to feel joy and grace to hope for life and grace to fight hard,
because people are worth the fight. Grace to have arms so filled with Him that they have to remain open, and that He spills out.
I look at Betty and my joy is real. We open our arms to her
because she is worth it.
And I wanted you to know today, that you are worth it. He fought for you. You reach, and He bends, He
cups your face in His hands and He says, “Take heart. Be healed. I am for you.” I pray we
would know deeply His love for us. I pray that we would fight for His love in
this world because we know. Keep reaching, friend, He’s right here. His hem is
wide. Let's fill our arms with gathering it.
I can’t believe
that it has been over a month now since I patted my sweet friend’s head as I
said goodnight to her small frame on my couch. I can’t believe it has been over
a month since I sat behind her in the hospital bed holding her body in the only
position that was comfortable in those final hours.
And truth be told, in the late night hours alone with the
Father on the cold, hard floor of my bathroom, I have beat my fists against the
smooth tile and against my strong Father’s chest and I have sobbed it until the
words won’t come, “I can’t believe she’s dead.”
We fought so hard.
It is her little boy’s sixth birthday. We had talked for
weeks about the party we would have, with a cake, but that was when they still
lived here, when his mother still lived. Instead, I drive across the bridge to
where he is now being raised by his aunt and a kind neighbor. We bring the
cake. We sing Happy Birthday and he is ok and the kids have fun and are happy.
And as we drive away and all smile and wave, I cry.
I didn’t want the story to end this way.
I wrote the ending in my head and it was the ending where my
friend gets better, becomes strong and healthy, and is able to move out with
her children. It was the ending where they get to sign their names on the
bottom of our table to be remembered as friends who lived here and
fellowshipped with us and we would all cry happy tears as we served them their
last meal before they headed out to their new life healthy and whole. In the
ending I wrote, I didn’t have to look 4 children under the age of ten in the
eyes and tell them that their mother died in the night as I bounce their baby
sister on my knee to keep her quiet. In my ending I didn’t spend every hour of
5 consecutive days fighting and fighting and fighting for a mother to get well
and end up clinging to my best friend as we lower a body into a casket.
But His voice comes strong, steady, clear, “Child, this is
not the end.”
And behold, some men
were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed and they were seeking to bring
him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they
went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the
midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith He said, “Man, your sins are
First, He forgave their sins. First, He secured the eternal.
Because really, what is a few more years of walking in comparison to an
eternity of worship and sins all forgiven?
Death is not the end. Then end was when He hung on a cross
and rose from a tomb and I asked for life, and Life is what He gave. Better,
glorious, eternal Life. In those final hours, I held my friend’s head, and I
watched her chest heave as her soul first laid eyes on His face and I could
nearly feel His breath on mine. And no, I do not know His ways, but I know Him.
I know Him. And I do not just lay my
friends before Jesus for physical healing but that they might know Him too,
that they might be saved. And Katherine, she knows Him.
We fought so hard. And
still we won. He won.
This week I take a two-month-old baby to the doctor to
confirm that he has a terminal skin condition that causes burn-like blisters to
cover his entire body and will ultimately lead to his death. There is no
treatment. I wrap and dress the wounds because I know how. Because keeping them
clean will prevent infection and anemia from blood loss and prolong his life.
But I recognize that prolonging his life will ultimately prolong his suffering.
I take a grandfather from our community in for a check-up.
Cancer. It is everywhere. They give him a few months, weeks maybe. We try to
make him comfortable, and keep him company. We tell stories of a Father who
would send a Son, the only sacrifice that could absolve all this sin, the only
blood that could wash us snow white. But part of me still wants to fight. Still
wants to research, still wants to explore other options, still will not believe
that this is it.
There is something so sacred about the fight for life. I
believe that God wants us to fight. There is a focus that comes from being so
close to death, a clarity, a purpose. My heart that still fought
for Katherine and believed for her healing even when my mind knew there were no more
options cries out that this can’t be it, this cannot be the end, there must be
This is the audacity of hope.
We fight and we wait and a watching world says, “Why hope
for life in a world of death?” And we know the answer. My heart
is right. This isn’t it, this is not
the end, and there is something else.
His life is better.
Our fight is not for this life, our fight is for eternity.
We wanted to let you know that our friend went to be with
her Maker. We wanted to thank you for praying. And we wanted to encourage you
that the fight on this side of heaven is not over yet. But we look at the pain
and the suffering all around us and strange as it is, our hope only grows. We
know Him and so we lift our heads to the Life-Giver and say, “We rejoice in the
hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing
that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character
produces hope, and our hope does not
disappoint us because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the
Here’s to hope, friends, a hope that does not disappoint.
Keep fighting for the Gospel, keep fighting for Life, because He has already