The Year In Review That Facebook Never Saw

Facebook just asked if I wanted to see my Year in Review. As I looked through what they considered the highlights of my year (and truly, there were many), I thought how they couldn’t possibly know. They couldn’t really know the highs (can my highlights truly be determined by how many “likes” I’ve had?) and they really couldn’t know the lows.

It’s been eight months since I’ve written. Eight crazy months. Writing was once a stress reliever, something that I could pour my life and heart into. Then life became too crazy for words. Overwhelming circumstances paralyzed me, making me speechless – unable to put into words what was happening and how I was feeling. In this past year, my life has been thrown upside down and inside out. I’ve cried, questioned everything, felt lost and lonely. These last months have been some of the most stressful of my life; a rollercoaster that I thought would never end. It took me to the heights and depths. It’s a ride that I’m still trying to make sense of.

The year began with hope and anticipation with a dose of fear of the unknown. I was embarking on a huge task: building a boarding discipleship school. The unknowns were many but God had made it clear that He was with me. I had done administrative work for years and knew well how it drained me. I reluctantly put on my administrative hat again to build this school – happy that it was only for a season and then I could at long last do what I knew God had created me to do. I quickly became overwhelmed and drained – but kept pushing forward. Days. Nights. Weekends. The work couldn’t stop because there was just so much to do. I reached the end of my rope.

It all came crashing down on a Tuesday in August. One thing after another kept going wrong and more and more things kept being added to my already overflowing plate. Through sobs, I kept repeating, “I can’t do this”. My field leadership spoke wisdom into my life. They saw what I couldn’t see: that instead of decreasing, my administrative role would only increase. With that, they strongly advised me to put the school on hold and see how I could do what I’m passionate about, instead of what drained me. That sealed the deal.

The years of dreaming. The 8 months of intense planning. All gone. I left that meeting feeling two distinct emotions. First, grief. I was mourning the loss of a dream. The loss of months of work. I felt like I had been on a high speed train and it had just derailed. I was lost and confused. I had so many questions, many directed at God. Second, relief. I had multiple To-Do lists that had been weighing me down. The joy of walking back in my house and tearing those up? Ah-mazing. Knowing that I no longer had to do what completely drained me but could choose to do what filled me? Wow, who gets to do that? I still feel honored that God is letting me do just that. I feel like I dodged a bullet and am getting a second chance. Luckiest girl in the world, right here.

I remember when I was raising support to come back to Uganda, I excitedly told people that I was at last going to do what I felt God had created me to do. Realizing that I was headed in the opposite direction was shocking and eye-opening. It made me even more determined to discover what God has put in my heart to do.

I’ve been picking up the pieces of my life since August…and these past months have been a highlight that even Facebook can’t see. As I’ve stepped into a new unknown, God’s been opening doors in ways that I couldn’t have ever seen, in ways that I could have never opened on my own. He does that. A lot. As much as I know that, it’s stunning to watch Him put everything into place.

As I tried to make sense of what God was doing with this journey, I came up with one statement, a statement that was the deepest cry of my heart: simanyi, naye Katonda amanyi. It means: I don’t know, but God knows. This was no flippant “I don’t know”. It became a cry of surrender and a declaration of trust in the One True God who knows when I don’t, who is faithful and loving. My guide in the unknown.

So, 2014, here’s what I’m hoping for: a little less rollercoaster insanity (please?) but a year full of doing what I know God has created me for: discipling girls and living in relationship with people.

Excuse me while I throw away my administrative hat.

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Living in the Village: We Are Family

I know what you’re thinking: “for the love, Sarah, it took you 6 months to write about your month in the village? Honestly!?”. Oh wait, is that just me wondering that? At last, here it is. Also, could you please listen to Sister Sledge “We Are Family” while reading this? I think that’ll help it get out of my head. “Get up everybody and sing…”

It had been a long night. The kids hadn’t slept well the night before and I could see that Rose was exhausted. I had started a habit of spending a couple hours each day reading a cultural book that my agency requires.

Side note: If you are ever planning on visiting, working and/or living in Africa, you absolutely must read “African Friends and Money Matters” by David Maranz. No seriously, you have to or you’ll go insane.

The kids were napping and I excused myself to read, happy to give Rose the freedom to rest. I was in the middle of the chapter on the importance of visitors in African culture when I heard a knock on the door: a visitor had come.

When I heard the knock on the door, I groaned. I knew how tired Rose was but I also knew the cultural expectations. There was no way that she could ever turn any visitor away, no matter how she felt. There’s no pretending you’re not home here. The irony of reading the chapter while the reality played out in the next room did not escape me. When I came out from reading an hour later, the visitor was still there. Exhaustion covered Rose’s face as she dutifully made tea and served her valued visitor.

My goal in going to Masaka was to immerse myself in Luganda and while I was no doubt immersed in language, there was something more that I learned: culture. While every day brought new lessons and learning, there was something else that helped guide the discussions. As I daily read my cultural book, it gave me the opportunity to discuss these cultural revelations with Rose. We would discuss the chapter that I read and with that, learning on both sides happened.

Those cultural discussions helped me to see not only the diversity and complexity of Ugandan culture but also that we all have things about our culture that we love and things that we don’t. There were things that I had known about Ugandan culture but that month took that knowledge deeper inside of me as I saw the implications of it all. For example, it’s one thing to respectfully take your shoes off before entering a home and another to walk dusty roads and use a pit latrine for three weeks to know why.

While writing this entry, I received an e-mail from Rose that sums up well the result of my time at her house: “you will always be a member of our family even when you are far.” And, really, that’s what happened.

Side note: most of the e-mail was written in Luganda and I was able to translate all of it on my own without having to look anything up! For those of you who haven’t learned another language as an adult, you may be like, “Well, sheesh, Sarah, with all of your language classes, shouldn’t you be fluent by now?”. For those of you who have learned or are currently learning another language as an adult, you may be like, “you are AMAZING!”. I like the latter group better. Also, Rose said that baby Deborah now thinks every white person she meets is named “Sarah”. I kind of love that.

As I drove away from Masaka my last morning, I thought about how much I had gained in the last month. I didn’t only gain language skills; I also gained a family. Again and again, I was grateful, honored and humbled to have such a friend who was willing to be open and honest with me; sharing her culture, life, home and family. It was a time of learning language and culture, deepening friendships, celebrating our differences and learning from each other. We are now family.

(“I got all my sisters with me”…get it out of my head!)

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I have one more post that I’ll be putting up about my time in Masaka. I’ve had a draft for that one going for about two months now because, let’s be real, that’s how life has been lately. As they say here, “kijja” – it is coming.

There’s something that God’s been reminding me of lately and it seems more timely to verbally process it here and now. My WorldVenture team in Uganda just had a meeting where we discussed our theology on suffering. For a group of people that see and experience suffering on a daily basis, it was a pertinent topic for us all to wrestle with.

As we read verses detailing the physical suffering that Christ experienced, my mind was drawn to His emotional suffering. At some point in the meeting, someone remarked how Jesus knew Judas would betray Him and yet…still washed his feet.

When Jesus first looked Judas in the eye and said, “Come, follow me”, He knew. He began the relationship with the full knowledge of the hurt that was to come. Considering the shock of the other disciples at the thought of one of them betraying Christ, it wasn’t evident to them: Jesus hadn’t treated him any differently than the others. Jesus didn’t treat Judas like the betrayer that he was. In the same way, when Peter dropped his fishing net to follow Christ, He knew that there would be a day when Peter would say “I don’t know that man”.  And, in the same way, when I gave my life to Christ, He knew.

This punches me in the gut. I’ve been wrestling with this in my heart for awhile now. Once one experiences betrayal at a deep level, it wrecks you. It messes with your trust of others. It makes you question every relationship you have. The hurt is felt so deeply that it can become a wall for every current and future friendship.

The room was packed and the music was loud. It was my junior year in high school. During a visit to my brother in California, he took me to a conference for college students. It was the faces of these college students that took me back. It was as though God’s love was radiating off of them. In that moment, I knew. That’s what I wanted. I threw down my lukewarm ways and desired that God’s love would flow through me in such a way that those around me would only see Him, and not me.

The implications of that in relationship are steep. No relationship can survive without trust. In order to love, there has to be trust. Not opening your heart wide open to everyone who seeks it nor closing it off with a concrete wall. There’s a balance; with wisdom and discernment needed. God’s word often calls us to be wise and not foolish.

So, was Christ foolish? Trusting those that He knew would betray Him? Dying on a cross for who? For betrayers like you and me. Human love loves because of what others can do for us. It’s a selfish love. God’s love is eternal and unselfish. It’s downright crazy that He would love me, in all of my sin and failures knowing that I will not only betray Him once but again and again…

And yet.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

I need that love desperately. I need it for myself, to change me from the inside out. I need it to flow through me to others. I know that hurt and betrayal will continually be in my future but Christ’s love and forgiveness must also be there. I want that prayer from my junior year of high school to be true. Even through my broken and hurt heart, let His love be seen. Let Him be seen in me above all.

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Living in the Village: The Cooking Challenge

As Rose and I talked in anticipation of my coming, she mentioned that she would be taking her vacation time from work when I was there. As I wondered what we would spend our time doing, she mentioned that she wanted me to teach her how to bake cakes and cook other foods. “No problem”, I thought. If she’s asking about baking, she must have an oven…right?

I bought all sorts of baking supplies to bring; from measuring cups to baking powder and more. I was ready. Or so I thought.


Rose spooning out the no-bake cookies.

Cooking is one of my destressers. I love it. The monotonous act of chopping vegetables gives me time to process my day. Creating tastes from home with limited ingredients is a really fun challenge for me. However, cooking in Masaka took the challenge to a whole new level. One of the first things that I noticed was that there was no oven in Rose’s house. Everything was cooked over charcoal cookers. And, as I would come to find out, everything would be baked the same way. There is no convenient knob to control the temperature or to turn it up or down. Increasing the temperature required adding more charcoal and decreasing it meant adding ashes.

Our first cooking experiment was for no-bake cookies. We would be using some ingredients that were completely foreign to them: oatmeal, cocoa and peanut butter. Rose diligently took notes and was excited to see how easy it was. The final verdict: delicious but a little too sweet. Ugandans don’t have quite the sweet tooth that Americans do. We made these one other time in my stay there but without peanut butter (it’s quite expensive here) and with less sugar. We all preferred the last ones.

Rose mentioned that she also wanted to learn different muzungu (white people) dishes to cook. She had tried different muzungu foods before and would ask for them. One night she asked if I could make mashed potatoes. A few mornings she asked for oatmeal. It was fun showing them how easy it is to make such things but also nerve wracking: would they like it? Shammah, the son, was the pickiest eater. I had made spaghetti for some other Ugandan friends before and since they liked it, I crossed my fingers that Rose and her family would feel the same.

The process of making spaghetti in Masaka could be turned into a movie; a comedy at that. First: finding the ingredients. Ingredients that are commonly found in Kampala are not common or non-existent in Masaka. We at last found the one place that sells ground beef and it was frozen solid. It would still be that way when we started cooking hours later. I stocked up on a load of tomatoes, substituted for spices that we couldn’t find and the process began. As they chopped tomatoes, they kept laughing and saying, “surely, you can’t need all of these tomatoes!”, especially when I would tell them that we needed even more. They couldn’t believe how much water I needed to boil the pasta: “do you know how much water you are using? You can’t need that much”. In the back of my mind I kept wondering, “what if they hate this!?”. They must have been thinking the same because along with the spaghetti, they made matooke, a traditional mashed banana dish. Verdict: they LOVED it! To the point where they wanted to make it again the next day. We ended up making it one more time during my stay and this time, no matooke was made.

But the real challenge was ahead: baking. One of our friends, Juliet, had gone through a catering school and learned how to bake over a fire. My job was to get the ingredients, make the batter and take out the cake when it was done. My job was clearly the easier one.

Juliet’s fire making skills would shame any boy scout.


Instead of a charcoal cooker, we used a fire. In a sense, we were creating our own oven. First, Juliet started the fire. Then, sand went into a large saucepan over the fire.


We waited for the sand to heat or, in other words, we were pre-heating our oven. In the meantime, I got chocolate cake batter together.

IMG_3397Once the sand was heated well, we put the smaller saucepan with the batter in the sand and covered it.


Lastly, we covered it all with a large saucepan. The “oven” was complete and now it was time to wait.

IMG_3403I had no idea how long it would take. What temperature was this “oven”? Would it take longer? Shorter? You’ll see that the top saucepan is smaller than the bottom. In order to check the cake to see if it was done, we had to force the (blazing hot) top off (which would get stuck and I would need to call for help to get it off), open the (blazing hot) lid of the cake and, with smoke billowing into my eyes and mouth, insert a fork. Oh, and there are no such things as pot holders here. I often grabbed a piece of paper or napkin to touch the pans. The Ugandans? Oh, they just used their bare hands. In those moments, I thought of the ease of checking to see if a cake is done in my oven and knew that I would never (ever ever) take that for granted again.

IMG_3418At last, the cake finished and it was time for testing. Luckily, there were some anxious taste testers close by.


Cake verdict? Let’s just say it was a tense moment when it came to the last piece. After the success of the chocolate cakes, we then baked banana bread the next day. I had a hard time convincing them that it was bread instead of cake.

They were so grateful and willing to learn which was downright humbling. Baking over a fire is no easy task and I knew that I’d be going back to my oven where I wouldn’t have to start a fire, create the oven and breathe in smoke. Since most Ugandans eat the same kinds of food every day, I was so impressed at Rose’s desire to learn and taste new things.

As much as I taught them, they taught me. They taught me the work and struggle that they go through daily to cook a meal. They taught me joy in tough circumstances. They taught me courage in trying new things. They taught me strength that I never knew people could possess. These women amazed me.

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Living in the Village: The Beginning

During the month of November, I packed up and lived just outside the small town of Masaka with a Ugandan family. Those three weeks were so action packed that I’m splitting everything up and making a series of it.

“But what will you feed her? Where will she sleep?”

Rose’s neighbor was baffled. She couldn’t believe that Rose was going to have a white girl living with her for three weeks. She was actually voicing questions that were ringing in the ears of both Rose and I. Though Rose had been around white people for years, she had never hosted one like this before. I had absolutely no idea what to expect (and we all know how well I do with the fear of the unknown). Neither of us did.

I met a gentleman on my drive to Masaka. He wasn't quite what I was looking for.

I met a gentleman on my drive to Masaka. He wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

It rained most of the drive to Masaka. The pothole filled roads became little rivers and as I concentrated on the road, I left my questions and expectations behind me. No answer would change reality.  Most of all, I was honored that Rose was willing to invite this crazy white girl into her home. The next three weeks would show that Rose didn’t just open up a bed in her house but also her life, culture and family.

Early in my return to Uganda, I decided that I wanted to spend time in Masaka as part of my language study. Whereas I can get around Kampala with English, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do so in Masaka where Luganda is almost solely spoken. Masaka, approximately two hours southwest of Kampala, is beautiful. The lush rolling hills remind me of Virginia and always make me feel at home. I had originally planned to stay in a hotel but that changed with an e-mail.

Part of my love of visiting Masaka in the past was Rose. Her integrity and character have always stood out and her friendship is deeply valued. When she e-mailed asking if I would stay with them during my language study, I knew that my answer would be “yes”. There were loads of unknowns, fears and questions for me but I knew that the absolute best way for me to not only learn Luganda but also more about Ugandan culture was to stay with Rose and her family.

I met baby Deborah for the first time. Let's be real: it was cute baby at first sight.

I met baby Deborah for the first time. Let’s be real: it was cute baby at first sight.

Rose and her husband Moses have two kids: Shammah and Deborah. Moses usually works an 8 hour bus ride away but would be taking his holiday during my time there.  It was going to be my first time meeting both Moses and Deborah.

I found out that there were many (hilarious) preconceived notions about how a white person lives. One of these came out my first day when Rose asked, “Is this meat too tough for you? We’ve heard that white people have weak teeth and can only eat soft foods”.  Conversations like this happened throughout my time there and always had me about on the floor laughing.

The three weeks ahead of me were going to teach me more about Ugandan culture than I had learned in the over two years I have been here. I would cook over a fire. I would even baked cakes over a fire. I would learn what to do when the only toilet was a hole outside that couldn’t be used after dark. I would experience God’s grace in ways that I never had before. In those three weeks, I also gained a new family. Rose and her family are no longer just friends: they’re now family.

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Around the Internet: New Years-ish Edition

I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions. Instead, ending a year makes me reflect on the year before:  the good, the hard, the highs, the lows. Every year, I look to the next year with a sort of anxious wondering. This year may beat them all as I embark on what seems to be the impossible. Kind of like the impossible of starting to write a blog at the beginning of January and finally finishing at the end. It’s still January so I’m sticking with a New Year’s theme. Work with me.

Another part of a new year? Interesting articles and bonus: new music! Yes, it’s that time again when I have so many interesting tabs on my internet browsers that I need to share them with you. I’ve also recently discovered some new music that I’m in love with. What better way to start the year than with thought provoking articles, funny articles, a video that’ll make you cry and good music to listen to?

Out on a Limb – Seth Godin
This might not work.
At some level, “this might not work” is at the heart of all important projects, of everything new and worth doing. And it can paralyze us into inaction, into watering down our art and into failing to ship.

Beyond Culture Shock: Culture Pain, Culture Stripping – Rachel Pieh Jones
I recently discovered A Life Overseas, a site for missionaries to discuss real struggles. This is an incredible resource for those living overseas. This particular article resonated deeply with me.
Culture stripping is the slow peeling back of layers and layers of self. You give up pork. You give up wearing blue jeans. You give up holidays with relatives. And those are the easy things. Your ideas about politics and faith and family, your sense of humor and taste in clothes, the books you read, evolve and change. Even, potentially, your outlook on spirituality.
You have little instinctive protective layers between you and the world. Buffers like fluency, shared history, family, no longer buoy you. You are learning, but you will never be local. And so you also are stripped of the idealized image of yourself as a local.

Inauguration and the Need for a King – Donald Miller
As I get older, my belief in Jesus is helping me realize what happens on earth is eternally important but it is not eternity. My fight to bring light into this darkness seems more important but my hope lies elsewhere.
Perhaps before we get too excited or too deflated about this week’s inauguration we can remember the One that is to come. This is not a terrible event, nor is it our hope. It is just people creating earthly governments in a life after and still before God. And I am grateful for those who serve in these capacities, flaws and all, on both sides of the ridiculous isle. I do wish more of them would bow before the King who made them.

Radi-Aid: Africa For Norway
A tongue-in-cheek way to change the way people look at Africa:
Africans unite to save Norwegians from dying of frostbite. You too can donate your radiator and spread some warmth!

If Downton Abbey Took Place On Facebook
This website is making hilarious Facebook renditions of each episode:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

Best Satire Reviews on Amazon – Kristen Howerton
One of my favorite bloggers condensed some of the best satirical Amazon reviewers in one place. Laugh away.

Sports Illustrated 2012 SportsKids of the Year: Conner and Cayden Long
Tears. All I had were tears.

Chelsea Moon: If Alison Krauss ever made a hymns album, it would sound like Chelsea Moon. Chelsea has two albums, one with The Franz Brothers and another with Uncle Daddy. I first heard her at a friend’s house where, upon hearing it, immediately asked who she was and bought her album the same day. There are classic hymns and some more obscure ones, all done in a unique and folksy way that makes me put her albums on repeat, singing along the whole time.

Act of Congress is quickly replacing John Mayer as my “music to listen to while I cook” and replacing everything else as my “music to listen to while I’m doing anything”. There are times when I think that they sound exactly like Nickel Creek and other times when I put them in more of a rock category but then just decided to put them in the “music that’s so good that I don’t have a category for it”. You can get some of their stuff for free on Noisetrade.

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Of The Time That I Cussed (in Luganda)

Living in a different culture and learning a language bring ample opportunity to make a fool of myself. All. The. Time. Like, for example, the time that I accidentally cussed in Luganda.

I had two Ugandan friends, a mother and son, over for dinner one night. They had been around “muzungu” food enough that I wasn’t afraid to make a Mexican soup for them.  When they came and asked what I would be serving, I told them the name: Taco Soup. The mother asked what was in it and I gave her the run down of meat, beans and such.

The next day during my Luganda lesson, we were going over past tense. To practice, my teacher had me tell him what I had done the night before. I told him about having my friends over for dinner and that I cooked Taco Soup.

My teacher’s face froze…and then he smiled and said, “I don’t think you know what you’re saying”. I could tell that he was suppressing a laugh.

He went on to explain that “taco” in Luganda means “butt”…but not the proper word. No, the bad word.  I had cussed. In Luganda. In front of my teacher.

And I had told my friends that I made them butt soup.

And I’m not surprised that she asked me the ingredients directly after hearing the name.

I could feel my face heating up. I was mortified. My mind went racing through the past 2 ½ years thinking of every time that I had made tacos for my friends and/or talked about them. How had no one ever told me before!?

It made me wonder what other curse words (or other inappropriate words) that I’ve said. I’m sure there’s too many to count. I feel horrible about this but it’s lessened a bit. Why? Because of how often I hear Ugandans throwing out American curse words. The bummer of American entertainment coming across cultures is that there’s no cultural context for what people are hearing. They hear words being said in movies and music and they think that it’s ok to say them. Where I can hear those words and know that no God-fearing person should be saying such things, they don’t. There have been many eye-widening moments as I’ve heard friends unknowingly curse…followed by my, “umm do you know what that word means?”.

So, Ugandan friends, let’s make a deal: you tell me if I’m doing or saying something culturally offensive and I’ll return the favor.

How about we agree over a bowl of taco soup?

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Inadequate Leaders: We’re Not Alone

While rewatching “The King’s Speech” recently, there was a part that stood out to me in ways that hadn’t before.
Photo from
The movie is about Bertie, aka. King George VI, a stutterer who was confirmed as the new king and would be taking over from his brother who relinquished the throne. When it was official that he would becoming the king, the weight of responsibility was overwhelming and Bertie, crying, exclaims: “I’m not a king! I’m a naval officer, that’s all I know!”
Tears filled my eyes. I could relate. Sometimes God calls us to do some crazy things that we feel insanely inadequate to do. Positions that are far bigger than we feel capable. Opportunities that make us feel sorely inadequate.
When Joshua took over leadership from Moses, God had a message for him: “be strong and courageous”. The torch had been passed and Joshua’s fear was evident. I can imagine Joshua saying, “I’m not a leader of Israel! Sure, I’ve helped Moses and led in other ways but that’s all I know”.
And so, God has been saying the same to me. Before, I was a part of God’s vision for others but now, God has passed the torch to me. As much as I can cry out “I’m not a teacher! I’m not a school administrator! I have no idea how to start a school from the ground up! This is not what I know!”, God’s plans are greater and bigger than my own.
As I’ve told God how I don’t know what I doing, feelings of inadequacy rise along with insecurity. In my weakness, He is seen. My security and adequacy must be in Him alone. Anything else would result in arrogance or self-reliance.
In my fear and trembling, God has continually encouraged me to “be strong and courageous” but not in me. I can’t find my strength and courage in myself, because, well, it’s not there. I must look to Him to find strength and courage. My fears stem from seeing the challenge and only relying on my own limited resources when instead, I need to rely on the unlimited resources that God has. Easy to say and yet, so difficult to do. I’ve been discovering that the greater my trust in the Lord is, the less my fear is. He truly wipes away our fears.
When Joshua took over, God began to do miracles. With the Promised Land sprawling before them, God said to His people: “love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5). As they were setting up their new lives, they needed to live those lives with a focus on God.
As God started telling me “no” to jumping back into my old ministry here, I was confused but now can understand why. He has given me these months as a gift.  After years of wandering, God has brought me here, to this Promised Land.  As I look to live here all the days of my life, I need to live with that focus. This is a time to intensely learn language but also to intensely learn more about Him; a time to strengthen and deepen relationships here. This is a time of preparation that God knew I needed. As I set the foundation for all the days of my life here, it must be set so firmly in Him.
As I step into this huge vision from God, I have to rely solely on Him. What He has called me to is far bigger than I could ever dream of much less do on my own. On my own, I’m inadequate and incapable. It is my loving God who goes before me, is right by my side and who guides me along the way. 

Pray for me that I daily put this trust in Him and not myself. While you’re at it, pray for all of the leaders in your life. I have this odd feeling that I’m not the only one battling with this.

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Of The Time That I Got Locked Inside Of My Bedroom

A couple weekends ago I went out of town, planning for painters to come and paint my upstairs in my absence. I was excited to get that part of my house projects done and to return home to it completed.
Clearly, my expectations were too high. I came back to a poorly done and unfinished job as well as a rummaged through fridge (seriously guys!?). When I entered my room, I saw part of my door handle sitting on my nightstand. As I investigated the remaining handle on the door, I realized that the handle could no longer turn to open the door. Thus, if the door was closed and you were inside of the room, you couldn’t get out.
That’s a very important detail…
…and one that I didn’t remember until 11:00pm that night. When the door closed. And I was inside of the room.
Almost immediately after the door closed, I remembered. I tried in vain for 10 minutes to pry the door open with no success. At that point, panic entered.
I called my neighbor to see what my options were. Normally, no one else has a key to my place but luckily, another woman on our compound did thanks to her needing to open the door for the painters. My neighbor tried texting her and knocking on her door to no response.
I’m not one to get claustrophobic but…I’ve never felt more trapped in my life. I had no idea how long I would be stuck in my room. What if I needed to use the bathroom? Would I have to wait to be let out in the morning like a dog? The walls felt like they were closing in on me.
My mind was racing. I scanned my room, desperate to find something to help me get that door open. In that moment, I remembered an episode of Columbo when this woman was being held hostage by her stalker. He locked her into a room so she couldn’t get out but would come in to give her food. She used olive oil and a knife to pry the hinges off of the door.
I eyed the hinges. I had no olive oil or knife. Plus, I was pretty sure these hinges hadn’t been tampered with in 50 years.
I found masking tape and decided to MacGyver the handle back together in hopes that it would work again.
Yes, it’s true: in times of panic, I draw all of my heroic inspiration from 80’s sitcoms.
I channeled MacGyver’s mullet and taped that thing back together. Every time it didn’t work, I added more and more tape until finally…IT OPENED!
FREEDOM!! I can’t even tell you the relief! I almost cried.
I feel like I have a whole new appreciation for people in prison or animals in cages. It’s the knowledge that you can’t get out that’s most disturbing. 
Said from a girl who experienced a pansy 20 minutes of it.

Saying No To Say Yes

In order to say “yes” to God, we have to say “no” to something else. Actually, everything else. That’s seen in our lives from salvation on.
I’ve been battling with this for the past month. When I came back to Uganda, I wanted to jump right in where I left off. I was so anxious to see my kids and even more anxious to start up the Bible study with the girls again. I was doing all these things plus trying to settle and set up my house and focus on language studies and oh, don’t I still have 500 books to read for WorldVenture? and plan for the future and…and…and…
About three weeks ago, God said a very hard “no”. I kept trying to do the Bible study with the girls but had no peace about it in my heart. I attributed it to selfishness. I mean, why else would I not feel as though that’s what I should be doing? But then God made it clear. Through strangers, friends, His Word and more, He had a message for me:
Not now. The time will come when you will teach. For now, you just need to listen. I’ve given you this time as a gift; a time to fully focus on me. A time to dig deep in my Word. A time for us. Take all other distractions away. Now is the time to focus.
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. How could God say no to this? On my return, my girls expressed excitement for the study to start up again as it hadn’t been continued in my absence. These girls mean the world to me. I want to spend as much time with them as I can. 
I can do all these “good” things but if it’s not what God wants, then it’s not right. 
I had to surrender my girls into the hands of God. They’re not mine; they are His. What better hands to give them to?
Through the pain, I felt relief. I finally had clarity on the restlessness inside of me. I had direction on what God wanted me to be doing.  I now have more focus than I did before. I went on a solitude retreat this past weekend to listen. He reiterated what He had already been saying:
Focus, Sarah, focus. The task before you is big. You need to prepare yourself. Focus.
Since then, I’ve been looking at my life and asking God, “what else?”. God, what else is in the way of You right now? What else is distracting me from Your purpose?  God, help me strip all of that away and be completely focused on You. 
He hasn’t given clear answers on that yet but, here I wait: ear pressed closely to His mouth and waiting to hear.