Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Ugandan Road

Wow...just wow. Going back to work full time with a family has rocked my world!  Any full time job on top of a family would rock it, but teaching kindergarten?  (any teacher knows that this is like 3 full time jobs!) That story is a completely different SERIES of blogs based on how God led me back into this chaos and how He has met me there every single day and wiped away every tear...and there have been LOTS!  I'm not quite sure how His leading me back into the classroom fits into The Ugandan Road, but it sure has delayed my posts about my travels along that road!

For those of you who have followed (and I am overwhelmed by the following all across the globe), I am not sure where to pick up and carry on with this blog...but I'll do my best to cover the highlights of this past year and how God has woven a beautiful tapestry along the way.

Almost immediately upon agreeing to take a family mission trip to Uganda (see earlier posts) in January of this year, my husband's small business was hit HARD with machinery repairs and total costs reaching high in the tens of thousands!  Still we knew, if Uganda was on our road... God would provide.  We rested in our faith and  understanding that it is the enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy.  We were confident that Uganda was definitely in our future because of satan's relentless attacks!  We've walked with God long enough to know that satan leaves you alone if you are not a threat to the kingdom, so his feeble attempts (I laugh because on a monetary scale...they were huge, but on a Godly scale...minuscule!) would not stop us.  Aside from the roadblocks satan tried to throw up in Shawn's business, there were other delays in communication, in flight arrangements, and so on.  Over the past few months, neither Shawn nor I have had a burdened heart about  making sure everything was taken care of for our trip until it was down to the wire and we knew if passports were not secured...we would not be boarding a plane.  There was an unsettled feeling deep in my spirit, and as is common for me...I visited the closet floor!  (again, in earlier posts)  My cries to God were filled with a desire to do His will and not to take a step without Him.  The prayers continued for weeks for both Shawn and I...and then some things began to happen simultaneously.  I love THIS because all of these events have ALWAYS been on God's His time.  I don't always understand, and I SURE can't see it when I'm in the midst...but I absolutely LOVE looking back and seeing how He was all over my daily walk!

Our church has been walking through a series called 'Jesus on Money', and a particular part of it resonated with Shawn and I both.  We are managers of God's money...we own nothing.  We need to make the BEST decisions as we manage what God has trusted us with. Hang tight...I'll come back to this.

God began leading me to scriptures that I knew were important to the Ugandan road.  One day earlier this month, He spoke plainly to me through 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 which refers to and extraordinary day just ahead and God filling our good intentions and acts of faith with His own energy so that it all will amount to something.  Good intentions.  Hmmm...what were our intentions for this trip?  We began to re-evaluate.  From the very beginning, we wanted our own children to see a bigger picture.  We wanted their eyes to be open to what God has called us ALL care for orphans and the poor.  Instead of experiencing another Americanized Christmas, we wanted them to understand how incredibly blessed they are just in having a family, let alone all of the fluff they are allowed to enjoy!  We knew our lives would be wrecked by what we would see in our travels, and we welcomed that.  We wanted wreckage.  I have blogged earlier about being able to sew for the babies in the orphanage there in Uganda.  There were SO many ways we wanted to help and we felt incredibly blessed that God had placed us on this road!  Then, a couple of weeks later, God led me to Numbers 22...and I knew the roadblocks that had come about over the last few months delaying our ticket purchase and our passports were God slowing us down.  (If you aren't familiar with this story, read it!  God basically slows Balaam down so that his will is not accomplished, but God's IS.) All of our desires for Uganda were noble, our reasons for travels were with good intentions.  But God wanted more.  A few days later we were invited to listen to sweet Dacia Newton and her incredible fiance Josh Hamby speak their hearts about their ministry in Uganda  (Arise Africa International), which is the same ministry we'd be working with during our trip.  Dacia said something that evening that turned weeks of confusion into clarity.  She spoke of a time when God was calling her to do more, to be more.  She was living a wonderful single life here in the states and loving it.  She wasn't seeking out living in a remote village across the globe, and her parents weren't booking her on flights to go on Mission Trips. That's when He spoke deep into my spirit, and the tears flowed.  It was God who would have to call our children out to be more for His kingdom.  I could not control events and trips to 3rd world countries in order to make the Holy Spirit move in them.  How silly I have been, even if my intentions were good.   God simply showed me that I was trying to play the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives through this trip.  If God wants to do something in their lives, He doesn't need me to monkey it up!  He can do whatever He wants and needs me to do NONE of it. (I am incredibly blessed that He has allowed us to be a part of the Ugandan road...He doesn't need our family, but He has graciously allowed us to be a part of what He is doing there).  He is so good.  Thank you Jesus.

Back to the 'Jesus on Money' series.   Manage the owner's money wisely.  Steward His money for His benefit and not for my benefit.  Manage the money based on eternity and not the here and now.  Dacia and Josh were sharing that they needed to raise $60,000  to support them as missionaries in Uganda for this next year, and we were planning a trip for 7 to 10 days that was based on good intentions but would take a LOT of money just  for the 5 of us to board the plane! We wouldn't be going to spread the gospel to people groups who were unknowing.  We were going to help in an orphanage, ran by a Christian that OUR hearts would be wrecked. We wanted more of Him in our lives by going on this trip. Manage the money based on eternity, steward His money for His benefit.  It was clear what God was calling us to do.  As much as we wanted to go to Uganda, and we truly do want to help and we do want more for the people there and our hearts ARE burdened for them...we knew God was calling us to give what we would have spent on the airfare...which was all His that Josh and Dacia could continue to work in that mission field for months!

 It isn't about us.  Even our absolute best, apart from Christ, is described in scripture as filthy rags. Our hearts were "pure" in our decision to go to Uganda, but God wanted more out of This Road.  His ways are higher, His ways are perfect.  We are still on This Road, although it looks a bit different than we thought it would, we travel on...trying our best to walk in the prints He leaves for us.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Don't Live For God

This past week I read something that stuck with me and has been penetrating my soul ever since. Actually, God started planting this seed of new revelation many weeks ago. How many times have we heard "live your life for God", "living for the Lord" or any other variation with the same meaning.  I'm just gonna throw this one out there...I don't want to live for God nor do I want my children to live for God.

Living for God.  What does that mean anyway?  What does a life look like if one is living for God?  It could look a lot of ways, from one who is serving in the mission field to one that serves weekly in a local church.  Before you get your feathers ruffled, allow me to continue, and I pray that my heart is understood.  These things are not bad and are certainly necessary for the kingdom of God to advance.  However, satan loves nothing more than for us to be so caught up in doing and "living for" that we never bow a knee and spend time in true relationship with God.  We can "live for God" all day long, but our prayers are where His power is unleashed in our life.  If we spend our time running around "living for God" in our own power, how much can we actually do for HIS kingdom.  On the other hand, if we live our lives WITH God our efforts will have exponentially more effect because chances are they will be orchestrated by Him and not us. We will accomplish so much more for Him if we are in the center of His plans than if we are running around doing what is good and asking Him to show up.

 I have, as I am sure many of you have, spent a great deal of time doing...until recently.  A few years ago, my time with God...alone and in prayer...became very precious to me.  Oh I was still "doing" continuously, but the time I spent in prayer had become priority in my life.  The past few months have been difficult for me because I feel that God has had me in a holding pattern with no clear path of what I need to "do".  There is nothing on a weekly basis that He is leading me to jump into...and I am a jump into type of person.  Give me a goal, especially for the Lord, and I am all about it.  Nothing.  Each day I was walking away from my prayer time empty handed as far as what direction I should take in service or how I should spend my time. More than once He revealed to me that He wanted my focus to be outside of the walls of the church...which is different for me.  I've been very active in the childrens ministry for years at the churches we've attended.  Now? No, I knew God was saying No. O.k., then Lord...where?  I HAVE to serve somewhere, don't I? (I've reflected on our clear call to Uganda this Christmas...this is HUGE, but there are several months before we actually get to "DO" that.)   So what do I do in the meantime?

Finally, through my prayer time, I began hearing him speak...clearly.  Family. During this season of my life, He wants my focus on my family.  They need my attention, my love, and my devotion...unlittered with the stresses of "doing" many other good things...and God has made this clear to me.   Would I have known this if I had been busy "living for God" as opposed to living WITH God, in prayer, seeking where He wanted me?  Probably not.  I shared how God was working in my heart with my husband, and he stopped me before I could finish.  He knew where I was going with my explanation because he had prayed a similar prayer and the answer he  Now, I cannot even explain to you how I LOVE when God speaks clearly...but when He speaks the same word over my husband and I both...I can't lift my hands high enough to praise him! Maybe this current directive is for my benefit, or perhaps one or all of them need me more than ever before.  Whatever the reasoning, I can rest assured in the fact that His timing in calling me to not "do" is perfect because He is capable of nothing less.  

We serve a God who created us for relationship with Him.  He wants to speak to us, and He desires for us to speak to Him. I want to live my life WITH Christ and not for Him, and I am teaching my children to do the same.  There is nothing that we can do FOR Christ that He cannot do for himself.  Teaching my kids to "live for" Christ is based on them and what they can do. While there will definitely be seasons of "doing", my desire is that they recognize God's voice.   I want them to grow up in a committed relationship WITH Christ, spending time everyday in prayer with Him and in turn unleashing His power in their own lives. I want them to know that their choice of service area is exactly where God is calling them because they are seeking Him daily and their ears are bent towards His voice.  I want them to see God at work, and hear His invitation to join Him instead of it being the other way around. I want them to live their lives WITH God and not for Him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Leagan's Laundry Across the Globe

When our oldest daughter, Leagan (lay' gun) was a year old, I began searching for unique clothing that captured the essence of being a little girl.  I took to the internet, specifically ebay.  There were some very talented seamstresses with some very high price tags on their creations!  Finally, one day, I took the plunge and ordered a sweet little chenille dress and bloomers only to open the package and think, "I can TOTALLY make this myself!!!".  Upon opening the package my nose was overcome with the smell I'd smelled many times.  I'm not even sure what it is, but my mind raced back to my childhood home and my mom's sewing room.  Watching her thread the bobbin, and then thread the needle...right down to the hum of the machine.  It was all so vivid to me.  Now, I'd never used a machine but I was sure I could do this!  I raced to Wal-Mart to buy my very first sewing machine.  It was very basic, but that was certainly all that I needed.  I spread out some paper sacks from the local grocery store, did some research via the internet, measured a few of my baby's outfits and within minutes had a pattern to create off of.  I wish I would have taken a picture of my first outfit.  I am sure I would laugh now, but was a dream!  Here are some of my favorites that I made in the years to follow.

When I initially began sewing, I did it for Leagan.  However, we were constantly stopped to ask where we found her outfits and so after little consideration and even a smaller amount of prayer...Leagan's Laundry was born in 2002. I decided as a stay at home mom it would be a great supplemental income for our little family! It found it's way into an upscale boutique here in town and was in the beginning of negotiations for another.  I was facing the downside to running a one man show, buying fabric at retail and not wholesale, more demand and less time to do it all since the Lord had added another beautiful daughter to our family among other challenges.  In the summer of 2005, I decided to pursue another at home career path that took me away from sewing except for my own girls for several years...until they were too old to want to wear the cutesy things their mommy made!  I dabbled in Leagan's Laundry a couple of years ago and it spread to other cities and states, not really with a purpose...just simply because I love to create the outfits. 

 Now...I am  relaunching the line for a purpose.  If you are familiar with my blog, you already know that my family is traveling to Uganda in December to help a sweet friend there at the orphanage in which she works.  Since I am still a stay at home mom, I feel like this is my way to help raise money for our trip and so the profits from every outfit I make will go towards our Uganda fund.  (I previously made donations to Breedlove, but that will no longer be the case...all of the profit will now go to either our travel expenses or to the orphanage itself.)

I spent yesterday reflecting how when I started Leagan's Laundry I wanted it to go nationwide, even contemplated sending some to hollywood to get the stars on board.  (BIG vision for this little line!)  Although I loved creating the dresses and outfits, I was mainly concerned with what kind of financial gain would accompany the clothing.  God has brought me full circle, and will be outdoing my goal of nationwide.  Through him, little girls in Uganda will be wearing Leagan's Laundry in December.  Not because they are from families who could afford it, but because they have a God who is a father to the fatherless...a God who stirred a heart set on banking some cash with the talent HE gave and shook that heart over the course of YEARS until it cried out for the orphans and wept for those who do not have a mommy to make clothes for them.  Incredible to see how Leagan's Laundry was also a part of This Road even before I knew it existed.  Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

From Injured to Abundant

Late last summer I began having severe heel pain.  Basically, the condition has gotten worse over the course of the past 8 months.  I struggled through my workouts in a fair amount of pain and thought many times my foot would feel better if it would just snap.  I apparently have plantar fasciitis, you know...the condition that you see ads for in Skymall?  Yip...have it.  The plantar fascia is the thick connective tissue that supports the arch on the bottom of the foot.  Because it has stayed pulled so tight, as if the pain from the condition was not bad enough...a spur has formed.  It is almost unbearable in the mornings when I get out of bed but I have been determined to get back into the gym pain or not.  Despite my focus on presence in the gym, I have only been able to give about 50% effort due to the pain.  My mental focus while there has also been lacking because of the pain. All in all, I usually walked out of the gym angry and disappointed.  This is going somewhere I assure you.

A little over a week ago, my husband suggested I use the muscle stimulator that we have.  Since he is a body competitor, he has to lift massive weights and therefore has suffered several injuries adding to our arsenal of rehab tools. Desperate for relief, I tried the little gadget.  To my surprise, the next morning at the gym my foot did not hurt..well it did a little, but compared to previous days I was basically pain free.  My mind was more focused and I was excited to feel the burn in my lungs because I was able to go full force.  I had to stop a few times, which was nothing new...only this time I was stopping because of my intensity level and not due to pain.  Then God revealed something to me deep in my spirit.

Due to my injury, I was only able to perform minimally during my workouts.  My mind would become overwhelmed with the pain, then the anger set in because I felt like I was wasting my time, and my body simply struggled to get through the workout. My injury was holding me back.  If you've read my blog in the last month, you know that I have also been struggling with a dependency on Lexapro.  I took the meds for years because I was injured...deep different ways.  As of January I have leaned on Christ and not taken the drug and I have finally reached days where I see and feel healing in Him.  Scripture states in John 10:10 that Jesus came so that we would have life...and that we would have ABUNDANT life.  Unpacking what exactly abundant life means could take a while, but I am just going to be very frank.  In most has NOTHING to do with finances even though the verse has been misused in many cases to support a drive for obtaining wealth. 

 No, my friends, the abundant life is more than riches.  We have EVERYTHING we need in Christ. He is our healer, our protector, our Prince of Peace, our counselor, our Deliverer (thank you Jesus), our portion...He is the Great I Am.  Our Abundance. He is the beginning and the end...satan knows this and you better believe that he will fight for you to stay injured.  Although John 10:10 speaks of abundant life, it also speaks of the enemy and his desire to steal, kill, and destroy.  Living injured, I was not performing optimally in Christ.  Just like my workouts, I was hindered...focused on the pain and held back.  The drug helped to hide the injuries, but they were there. Now, they are no longer demanding my energy.  Christ has taken His rightful place and ushered me into healing and life abundant.  I see it, I feel it...I am living it. Christ has more planned for me, but whatever it is I needed healing first. I could not do it injured and only 50%. He wants my lungs to burn with abundance, and he wants all of me.  This road just keeps getting better!!  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Golden Calf

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, traveling way back when I first started it, you know that I went through a lengthy description of seeing Jesus in the midst of financial and marital struggles.  I wrote the entries AFTER I had survived the season, so it was drenched in understanding and completion.  I feel like I am being led to share my current struggle, and to swallow some pride as I do so. O.k. ... maybe a LOT of pride.

I am praying for two different friends right now who are struggling through addiction.  While I love both of these girls dearly, one of them has been a lifelong friend and I have seen her fight and struggle her entire adult life with this thorn.  I realized a few weeks ago, that I myself was in bondage and while I am shelling out advice such as "be strong", "you can do this", "pray that God will change your thought process", and so on...I was not taking my own advice and was really being a hypocrite if you get right down to the nitty gritty.

Slavery comes disguised in many different packages and I assure you satan has carefully wrapped each and every one of them and finished them off with a bow in our favorite colors.  Some of the obvious ones that are more frowned upon by society is alcoholism and drug addiction, pornography, homosexuality, thievery, are just to name a few.  But are these any worse than someone who cannot give up smoking?  What about the man who turns to food as his comfort or the woman who shops to cover a deep seeded depression.  What about the mom who was put on medication for postpartum depression and has never gotten off for fear of the way she really feels?

I am that mom.  Let's back it up a bit and let yet another skeleton slide from the bottom of my closet.  During my early 20's I found myself in a full blown struggle with an eating that I was nearly hospitalized that even today tries to rear it's ugly head but thanks to the grace of God I am no longer a captive of the disease.  That is another blog entry, or complete blog, all in itself.  I share this because I have long struggled with who I am, what others think of me, low self-worth and almost self hatred at times.  Stress doesn't fair well on top of these other issues.  Fast forward to the birth of my second "baby" almost 10 years ago.  I suffered pretty severe postpartum depression, and was put on the lowest possible dosage of Lexapro.  Because the medicine made me feel better than I had felt in YEARS, I continued to take it until we decided to have another baby 3 years later.  During that pregnancy my oldest sister passed away and all of the marriage and financial stress I referred to in the Mostly Fingerprints series was actively battering my life.  So, after the birth my doctor once again put me on the drug...and I have taken it ever since.  Well, up until a couple of months ago.

A couple of months ago.  My pastor and leader of our home group shared with us that we would be reading and discussing the book Radical Together.  The book suggests "putting everything out on the table" and determining what can be done away with in order to better serve him and live out his commands for us.  Whether that was the way we were spending our time, our money, our thoughts...where could we make changes?  Every month I relinquished $160 for the bottle of my golden calf.  Let's be might of well had been.  At the time, I was being radical in order to free up the money to be better spent and was honestly thinking naively that I would just lean on Jesus and it would all be o.k.  Honestly, I guess I didn't give it a ton of thought.  But then, a few days hit me.  I had turned to that bottle of pills everyday for YEARS and depended upon it's contents in order to keep myself sane and avoid feeling all of the things I hated to feel.  I had made that tiny little, low dose morsel of pharmaceutical a god in my life.  OUCH!  It was no different than either of my friends turning to their addictions to escape their feelings.  I was no different, my vice was simply better accepted by society and one that was easily hidden.

So I am in the throws of the battle.  Satan is determined to scream his lies at me...I'll never feel good unless I take the medicine again, this withdrawal will never end, this isn't fair to my kids to see their mom just surviving, blah blah blah.  I am not going to sugar coat stinks!  I have wanted to refill that prescription SO many days, but PRAISE GOD I have a husband who supports me and I have been blessed way beyond I deserve with him.  I also have a God who is bigger than my need for a fix, a God who loves me fiercely and wants my freedom in Him and is waiting patiently to release me into that freedom.  But first, I must suffer so that I know exactly what He is freeing me from because only then will I be truly grateful.  And maybe someday I will be worthy of helping another to walk through letting go of their addiction, whatever that may look like...because I, too, have traveled This Road.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How do you know?

Last night, as we do every night, Shawn and I sat down with the kids and we all shared the best thing that happened to us during the day.  Then, just as every other night, we progressed onto prayers...but last night was different.  Instead of drawing sticks from the prayer pail to help the kids with ideas of who to pray for, we prayed over a box of shoes that Santa brought as requested by Addie Claire.  We prayed over a box of books that Leagan suggested her friends bring to her party last year in lieu of birthday gifts for her.  These special items are leaving for Uganda in a few days with our precious friend Dacia, and so we wanted to take time to ask God to bless the children who wear the shoes and read the books and prepare our hearts to meet these very children in just a few months!

After we prayed, Leagan and Addie Claire almost instantly and simultaneously expressed fear and doubt.

"How do you know God wants us to go?"
"I'm scared...that's a long way to fly on a plane."
"I got sick the last time I flew on a plane."
"Will there be spiders?"
"But what if we don't like the food there?"
"What if bugs crawl on us when we sleep?"

God immediately filled my mouth with scripture, "I did not give you a spirit of fear" and I went on to explain their doubt is coming from satan.  He doesn't want us to go and be used by God.  He would rather we doubt and fear ourselves right out of the trip...he would like nothing more than just that.  He is master of holding us back...only if we ALLOW him to.

Again, "But how do you know God wants us to go?".  These questions from my babies always cause pause.  Not because I don't have the answer necessarily, because in this case I do...I just want them to feel as confident as I do in the way that God speaks to us.  I want Him to speak to them through scripture and through prayer.  I want them to see for themselves His love and how He cares about these very feelings they are having.

The only way I could respond was, "I know because of scriptures God has led me to, I know because of Dacia and her prayers, I know because of my own prayers and the peace that God is giving me."  They seemed ok with the answer, and then Addie Claire began talking through a stream of tears that almost interrupted her speech.

"I am scared that we will make them feel bad because we have nice clothes and nice shoes and we have a family."  Oh that Addie Claire.  Her heart is as good as gold and she is THE most caring and intuitive child I have ever known.  She keeps me on my toes and on my knees because I have to be at the top of my Christian walk in order to answer her questions and lead her.  Sometimes, often times...she is the teacher in my journey.  She, in her carefree way, keeps me grounded.  She doesn't always come home with the highest scores on state mandated tests, she consistently needs to be encouraged to focus, she lives among chaos in her room and is content there, she is happiest when singing at the top of her lungs, her mind wanders and her heart lingers with those who are hurting and in need of Christ.  (now I am wiping away my own stream of tears)

After I cried with her and reassured her that we were going to do our best to be sensitive to their feelings and not wear our fancy clothes, the kids went off to bed.  It was at that moment that I remembered we had forgotten part of our nightly time together...reading the daily devotional in Jesus Calling for kids. I opened the page and this was waiting for me...waiting from even a time before I was born, before even the book was written.  God knew.  He showed up.  So I was once again overcome with tears, this time of joy, as I read...

There it was...God speaking to them!  Just as I so desired and wanted.  It wasn't me quoting scripture or sharing what I had found through was HIM speaking to THEM!  Now...the funny thing is, I didn't realize until after I had read the days devotional that I was actually reading for the 14th and not the 13th, but God knew I would look on this very page and so that is where His love for my kids was written...for them to hear on this very day, to calm their fears and remind them that He loves them and is in control of their destiny.  He not only wants us to be in Uganda, but he will be holding our hands!  My heart is so full, not only because He has spoken yet again into my life...but because He has shown up in a very obvious way for me as a parent and for my babies. I. LOVE. HIM.

This morning, as I sat quietly in prayer asking God only for what He has for me today...nothing more, nothing less...I opened my bible.  Psalm 91...again the very God that wakes the sun each morning and ushers in every season, the very God that shuts mouths of lions and raised the lame to walk again, the very God that hung on a cross clothed in MY sin and defeated death by rising 3 days later...He has shown love again with another reminder that He is protecting my family and I have every confidence that we will arrive safely in Uganda and return home unscathed but with a heart that is crushed, broken and rearranged in a beautiful and magnificent way that only the Father of the Fatherless could orchestrate.

I can't wait to show the girls when they get home from school!

 Further down in the scripture, in verses 11& 12 His words say, "For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.  They will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone.".  Even that far away on a plane in a place where we might not like the food and bugs may crawl on us.  He is there, He loves us, and He is protecting THIS road.  

How do I know?  Because the bible tells me so. Thank you Jesus.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


God's timing is always perfect, and always on time.  I know this, and was reminded of it a week or so ago.

We sponsor four children in Uganda.  $35 for one child, every month, pays for their clothing, food, education and housing.  It is probably just about the best way we have spent $35 in all of our lives!  Just after Christmas, we had received letters from the kids in Uganda as well as copies of their report cards.  I was in a rush when I opened the mail, sat it aside on the counter top... but fully planned to return to it later that day.  That never happened.  In a strange turn of events, I actually forgot about them altogether for a few weeks.  This is SO not like me, I LOVE things like this and I love the implications such mail always has on my life.  Nevertheless...they were forgotten.  Important little morsel...and I will return to the letters in a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, we had Addie Claire and Leagan's rooms repainted.  Leagan's room was very elaborate and VERY difficult to cover up.  Addie Claire's was very tranquil, just light pink.  (Odd, because if their personalities were reflected in their wall paint, they would've had to swap rooms!)

As awesome as this room was, and I LOVED the scriptures so bold in her room, Leagan was ready for a change.  Shawn and I both discussed and agreed upon simply painting their rooms a neutral color to where it wasn't such a big deal when they decided they wanted to change bedding.  We would decorate the walls with pictures, framed art...something other than having the decor PAINTED onto their walls.  Both of the girls were wanting their walls painted a color with possibly designs, but we have been very convicted lately of our spending habits as well as what our kids are learning about money through us.  So...neutral it would be.

Funny...although I told them their rooms were just going to be painted a neutral color, they still came home thinking that they would find the walls to their fortress covered with something other than a bland color of paint.  They were both visibly disappointed, even though they knew in their spirits that was a selfish reaction...and so they were able to conceal almost all of the setback their great anticipation of colorful beauty was suffering. my convictions of being good stewards of our money and raising children who are appreciative of what God has provided.  Their reaction and my convictions SO did not mesh.  My heart was wounded, and I (being me) didn't hide my disappointment well.   I think something like this spewed from my mouth, "if you have _______ in your piggy bank then you are welcome to paint the walls any way you'd like!  It cost _____ much to have the last paint job covered...COVERED. (those beautiful scriptures and elaborate zebra stripes were not covered with just a swipe of paint, and the black frame for the mirror... that was CAULKED on... did some damage to the sheetrock that had to be fixed. sigh.)  Otherwise, I suggest you be thankful that you no longer have the zebra and polka dots that clash with your new bedding!"  

After my vomiting of emotions, I sat down to read the letters for the sweet kids in Uganda.  The girls were both sitting on the couch in the living room with me, because as the good Lord would have it...the paint in their rooms was still drying.  So, they wanted me to read them aloud...and they were beautiful.  Even though the English was broken, their hearts were pure and it didn't take long for tears to stream. Sweet Esther wrote,  "Am also glad to get a pen and a book to write for you this letter appreciating you for what you have provided for me...".  Esther...the name itself draws an undeniable parallel to the biblical woman who was used by God to save the Jews from the despicable plans of Haman. Orphans.  Both our Esther and the Esther of the bible were orphans.  And just as Esther was used by God in a mighty way, half a world away...God has used another Esther in a life altering moment for the Wilsons.

As we set there crying, what a beautiful moment it was.  I knew immediately why God had saved those letters for this perfect time.  While my babies are worried about the silly paint in their rooms, this precious soul is appreciative that she has a pen and a book to be able to write to us.  Perspective.  Not only was I so thankful for God's timing, but how incredible that He has shown up in such a mighty way to help me parent and teach my kids His ways.  I am praying that God helps me to convey to Esther just how important her letter was to my family, the impact it had, and the way that she was used by a mighty God who is a father to the fatherless.

Thank you Jesus that you can still use an orphan named Esther.  Thank you Jesus that you love my family enough to allow us to know Esther.  Thank you Jesus for helping me to parent my gifts in your ways.  Thank you.