Joy and Peace

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”- Romans 15:13

“The plans have changed.”

The message was clear. He didn’t even have to say anything. My husband looked at me during dinner the other night surprised himself by the circumstances.

This was just a temporary type of change, not a life one, but I think I would handle both similarly.

My first thought was literally, “How does this affect our household and what’s the new plan?”

I remember in 2012 when our mission’s director shared that to be a missionary you needed to be “FAT”. Meaning, you need to be flexible, adaptable and teachable. While I have worked and prayed through all three trying to apply them to everyday life, there are times my need for order trumps the whole “FAT” concept, by screaming, “I need to know how, when, and where! Now!”

Unfortunately for me, the how’s, when’s and where’s aren’t always there. Sometimes God asks us to step (or jump) as an act of faith.

“Deep breath,” I told myself. “Order,” I thought. First, ask God for Holy Spirit intervention. I am not alone in this. Second, call for spiritual reinforcements by asking for prayer from those who are faithful to pray.

Thankfully, one friend was already ready with, “Kysia, I’m praying for you to have joy and peace as you serve in this opportunity.”

Joy and peace, huh? Ok. That sounds good. But… what about a plan?

Third, take another deep breath, pray some joy and peace as I serve and… step forward. Might as well step forward.

Because….

The new plan has already started.

I still don’t know the plan. Tonight, though, my husband wrapped his arms around my waist and whispered in my ear, “Life is an adventure. Thanks for traveling it with me.”

“We aren’t bored,” I said back to him planting a well-earned kiss.

“No,” he said. “We aren’t bored.”

Gracious God,
We long to serve you in our home, in our neighborhood, work and around the world. Please, give us joy and peace as we serve; believing and trusting in your plan as we go. May we be encouragers and hope givers as we go. In Jesus name, Amen.

Prayers Can Be Shared

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18

Last night I came home hoping to pour out my bad day all over my husband’s ears. He trumped me with a day that was way heavier. As we sat and shared with worn down faces we knew there was only one thing we could do. Bowing our heads and closing our eyes we gave our days to God and asked for directions on how to handle each of our different situations. Then we took a deep breath knowing tomorrow would be a new day.

God truly gifted my life when he placed my husband in it. Not only does he help on gray days, he is loads of fun on sunshiney ones, too. Always quick to make me smile by seeing the bright side of life, he is truly the silver lining on my rain cloud. He’s my favorite face to greet in the morning and the most welcomed smile I see each evening. His hand on mine is complete reassurance and his voice talking to Jesus is the most calming sound I’ve ever heard.

Since my children were small, we have prayed for their future spouses. Asking God to watch over them and help them grow closer to Him. Asking for joy to live in their future homes and friendship to be part of the bond that holds their marriage relationships together. Life has its challenges, it’s easier shared with a friend; especially when that friend is the other half of your marriage.

Last night as we sat in the den after praying together, I looked over at my husband. My heart filled with gratitude for even the heavy moment. It was a moment I hoped my children would one day experience. Life will be life and challenges will come, but when they do I dearly desire my children to have marriages where prayers can be shared, breaths can be breathed and new tomorrows can be dreamed together.

Thank you, God, for even the tough days lived next to my husband. Amen.

The Drive-In

drive in

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.  Rejoice in the wife of your youth.”  Proverbs 5:18

As we rounded the corner into the drive-in, my husband asked, “Where do you want me to park?” Chuckling at his question, knowing he knew I had an opinion, I suggested five rows in slightly off the center to the left side. The cars in front weren’t as tall; plus, the space was far away from the monster truck loaded with people sitting in lawn chairs on the truck bed.

Turning off the engine my husband went to adjust the radio. I started to give advice, but as my words came out I realized I didn’t know what I was talking about. The station was hard to find on the device we were using so we reverted back to the car radio. “Don’t worry, Kysia. It won’t drain the battery. If it does the office has jumper cables.”

Grabbing my pillow and blanket I made myself comfortable as I glanced over looking at my man.   His baby blues were already looking at me. I smiled taking his hand for a moment. He laughed. We were excited to be on a date in the open air ready to watch Batman vs. Superman, the movie we both wanted to see.

Then… the car in front of us toked up. I looked at my husband. “Do you want me to move the car?” he asked. “No,” I said disappointed. He smiled and reminded me, “We can move, but we may end up next to another one.” He was right and I knew it.

The movie started. The sound in the car was stellar.

Half way through, I told him the movie had a poor plot. He chuckled and told me it would improve. I apologized for talking in the movie. He smiled at me knowing I would do it again.

The movie didn’t get much better. I talked again. He did, too.

A couple of cars turned their lights on putting a glare on the screen. “Turn’m off,” I heard the whisper next to me, frustrated with others ignorance of drive-in etiquette.

The blow-up/fight scenes came. Wonder woman rocked. The movie still stunk. We drove home.

As we pulled in the driveway we were both laughing poking fun at the film a bit. Walking in the door we greeted our daughter who had just returned from her evening out with a friend. We said good night to her and retreated for the evening.

Kissing my husband, I said, “I had a really good time tonight. I’m so glad we went.”  And I was glad. It wasn’t picture perfect, but we did get to see a movie we had wanted to see. More importantly, we got to see it together. Truthfully, I didn’t really care about the movie. I just wanted to be with my man. As he held me close, I knew he just wanted to be with me, too.

1 Run, 2 Charities, A World of Difference

“When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me.” – Jeremiah 29:12-13 CEB

9

This morning we woke before dawn.  We dressed, my husband stretched and we drove him to the designated drop of place, fifty kilometers from home. We smiled and prayed over my husband taking two items that symbolized the charities in which he was raising money and took a picture.

2

He began to run.  His goal was to raise five thousand dollars by getting people to sponsor him per kilometer dividing the funds between our two favorite charities.

6This goal didn’t happen overnight.  It actually started last year when he was making plans  for this year.  He had a dream of running a 50k and a desire to help vulnerable children. He prayed asking God to show him how to combine his dream with his passion and create a short term mission project by raising money for children who can not help themselves.

The first of the charities is a local organization he is involved with called the Children’s Safety Center.  This organization assists children who have been through the terrible atrocities of abuse, helping them get the help they need – like doctor examinations, police interviews and counseling in a safe environment.  They also continue counseling with the child and care providers to increase the odds of the child growing up healthy.

The second charity Help One Now, works with a mission project that began ten years 4ago out of Jinja, Uganda in conjunction with our church.   His Mercy School for Vulnerable Children helps impoverished children by feeding, educating and clothing them.  We’ve been trying to find ways of making this school self-sustainable by working on income project ideas that would provide funds to pay teachers, help with school materials and keep up the facility’s maintenance.  The children are covered through Help One Now child sponsorships. Currently, the idea of a mango orchard is on the table.

The run really took shape this past September, when we set the date.  My husband began training (he keeps up with his running, but training for a race takes extra work-outs).  We created a name and with the help of Pure Charity (purecharity.com) we set up an account to receive donations to be delivered directly to the charities of our choice.

Social media was our means of getting the word out.  Each week we would post how my husband’s training was going with a link to Pure Charity explaining our purpose for the run.

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We didn’t quite reach our goal, but we came mighty close.  And shortly after noon today…he crossed the finish line!

8 I was so proud!  He completed a goal using his love of running and blessed many children around the world.  He worked hard and now others will benefit.

Sometimes it is easy to think that the little things we do daily don’t matter.  However, they do.

My husband simply asked two questions.

  1. What am I passionate about?
  2. What do I enjoy doing?

He then prayed and God opened an opportunity to make a world of difference for some children in need.  A beautiful moment with an amazing impact.

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Prom

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” Ephesians 5: 25-26

Prom

Tonight as my daughter and I walked our dog, Sherlock, around the block, she asked me this simple question, “What did your prom dress look like?”

The pondering look on her face and dreamy eyes told me she’d been giving the subject some thought, especially after seeing her brother prepare for prom with his beautiful date.  In the fall she’ll be a freshman.  Ideas linger with the curiosity of dating, romantic notions and “the perfect date” along with high school’s night of all night’s – the prom are just around the corner, as she tiptoes around visions that begin with beautiful dresses.

I’m sure my answer to her question wasn’t quite what she expected.

Since I didn’t get asked to go to prom, I went with friends; but, I didn’t decide to go until the last minute – as in two days before when two of my good friends talked me into it. There wasn’t time for dress shopping with all the other end of the school year activities, so I borrowed a dress, a simple mint green tea length dress with a lace overlay to wear.

It was a lovely dress, but it wasn’t my “dream prom dress.”

Prom was the only dance I attended in high school. Honestly, I was just thrilled to go. However in going, it wasn’t the romantic bliss that is often created from magazine covers and Instagram. It was a dance with most of my classmates. It was what it was. Awkward and clumsy in very nice clothing, in a hall decorated with black and white streamers and a cover band playing loud music.

I also shared with my daughter another prom story.

Not getting asked to prom had bothered me a bit. Once I shared that with my husband. It was about a year or so after we had been married. One evening when I returned home after work, my husband had a corsage ready for me. Then he took me out to eat and we returned home to his arranging a dance floor in the middle of our den. He created a prom for just the two of us so we could dance through the night. It was extra dreamy and super romantic.

As I shared both my proms with my daughter, she giggled a little at the idea of her parents dancing in the den and was a little surprised that I didn’t have a fancy prom dress for the first prom.  Then I shared with her a truth I learned from attending both. In the end, prom wasn’t really the dance of a lifetime. Choosing a great husband was and that came after high school. I shared that we as girls tend to fantasize about “perfect evenings” like prom and weddings, when what we are really looking for is long term, more complete and satisfying.  I encouraged her to look beyond dresses and decorations and seriously think about the partner aspect when it comes to romance, but also enjoy the fun events as they come along whether they are perfect or not.  Celebrations are great, but romance isn’t built in an evening.   Then I concluded with how grateful I was that her dad is a fantastic husband and how I was fortunate to end up with a years of fun instead of just one evening.

He

“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” Song of Songs 7:10

He

When he’s gone, I miss him. I miss pretty much everything about him. His smile, tender heart, chuckle when he thinks he’s being funny. I miss the coffee he makes and Saturday night meals. I miss the texts he sends to check on me throughout the day. I miss him griping about the dog being a villain and even his sweaty, stinky running clothes (They definitely inspire me to get the laundry done.). But the two things I miss most are hearing his prayers and his shoulder. They are two things I lean on heavily.

He left for Uganda. It was his ninth trip there. The whole family was excited for him to go, because he loves serving in Africa so much. He loves encouraging people, laughing and even dancing. He loves asking questions about their culture and attempting their different languages. He loves making the women laugh when he asks how they cooked something because he would like to cook it for his wife. He loves seeing the church that God built through e-mail and the children of His Mercy School.

Most of our sponsor children go to school at His Mercy School. He loves being able to hug them and see their smiles. Two of our sponsor children are siblings so we’ve kind of adopted the whole family. Now with each visit he buys a goat or something similar to help the family. Mama Jessica, their mother, loves him and celebrates with song, loud cries and dancing when he comes to visit. He loves her so. She sometimes sends gifts back with him. Last year she wove me a Ugandan floor mat. We’ve made the joke that I have the fanciest stretching mat in America.

I sometimes get scared when he is gone, but I know in my heart he is doing what God has asked him to do and has gone where he has been asked to go. I still worry. Which causes me to spend a lot of time in prayer. The time he spends in Uganda has become a time of amazing spiritual meditation and surrender, because I have to trust God to take care of one of the greatest treasures He has given me.

When he comes home from Africa, he is always so happy to see his family, but you can tell he feels so heartbroken for his hurting brothers and sisters in Christ on the other side of the world. He also knows that because of our church and his job here we are able to give so much to help there. To help in ways we wouldn’t be able to help if we lived there. So we stay.

Because we stay, God continually shows us ways we can pray and send aid there, while also showing us people here we can love and serve, as well. God did not call us to sit idly while we wait for visits every year. He called us to be present in all the places He has directed us. In the schools my kids attend, in our neighborhood, in the places we volunteer, in our church, in the bank where my husband works, in our family, in our extra-curricular activities, and of course, in Africa. There is a piece of us in each of these places. There is also a piece of God.

So yes, I miss him while he’s on his Ugandan adventures. But because of his work there we are blessed with the gifts of God’s goodness and being shown continuously how to distribute His love even further.

Soon I will hug his red dirt stained body and unshaven face from the days of travel. I will kiss him and make him a meal, while he shares all of his stories and laughs about misuses of foreign vocabulary. I will encourage him to take a long hot shower. I will watch him as he falls asleep on the pillow beside me while my words of life’s home adventures bring comfort and familiarity to his spirit. And I will once again pray with him as he arises the next morning and lean on his shoulder in relief that he is back with me once more.

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” – Winnie the Pooh

Evening Shadow

“My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass. But you Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.” Psalm 102: 11-12

The view from the porch.

The view from the porch.

Last night we sat together out on the screened in porch with candles shining around the edges watching the sun go down for the evening. The silhouettes of the trees faded into darkness as we swung back and forth on the porch swing discussing the events of the day. My husband had jazz music playing from his I-pad as I rested comfortable leaning my head onto his shoulder.

The weather warmed a bit this last weekend, making this possible. The last of the snow from the week before disappeared four days ago. The sudden warmth displayed the signs of spring as my daffodils began to open and the tulips poked their way up through the soil.

It’s easy to describe this moment as peaceful, and it was eventually. However, the weight of the world held us down briefly as we discussed the events of the last couple of days with decisions concerning our children, health concerns and job stresses. First we talked stopping only to breathe. Then we sat and listened. Listening to the moment.

We soaked up the stillness, breathing in the relief of slowing down. It was a moment that wouldn’t last; but, we took it releasing the day’s tension in preparation for rest.

Tomorrow is a new day the stillness whispered, you are not alone my husband’s shoulder beckoned. Questions will be answered and health will be restored called in the promise of days to come. Rest was the current action of surrender. And surrender we did.