Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Lights

As we are driving around we have gotten to see many Christmas lights. I love it; they bring such joy to my heart. Tim has gotten to the stage in life where he points at things and says, "eh?" It is his way of asking, "What?" Last Sunday I noticed how often he is pointing at light. He points out the window, then the chandelier, then to the desk lamp, to any source of light.

He is drawn to the light. Oh, how I wish my focus was like Tim's. I should be drawn to the Light and always looking to the Light -- Jesus. In John 8:12 Jesus says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Jeremiah 29:13 tells us, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

If I follow Him, He promises me that I will not walk in darkness. If I seek Him with all my heart He promises that I will find Him. Those are some amazing promises to hold onto this Christmas. So when you see Christmas lights this year, remember that Jesus is our Light. He desires that we seek and follow Him in this holiday season and the year to come.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Give a Gift that Makes a Difference

As I've been thinking about the upcoming Christmas season and all the gifts that will be given, I've been struck by the amount of "stuff" that fills most of our American lives. I'm struggling to think up gifts to give to people who already have most everything they need, and even most of what they want. This issue has been raised, in part, because Meg and I have been consciously trying to downsize our belongings in preparation for moving to Arua. But I have also been hit anew recently, especially in light of the recent drought and food shortage in Uganda, by how little others in the world have.

This Christmas, would you consider with me how we can give gifts that make a difference? I'm not just talking about giving another inspirational, feel-good book that "will change your life" though, I mean giving in such a way that could make the difference in someone thriving physically and spiritually.

I want to suggest an idea for us this year. Instead of buying someone in our lives one more thing to sit on a shelf or hang in the closet, why not use that money to make a difference in Uganda (or any part of the world that is on your heart)? World Gospel Mission publishes a resource entitled The Great Co-Mission Catalog that can assist in doing that very thing for the different fields they serve in.

Let me share a couple of concrete ways you could do this.
By choosing to give to someone in need, in honor of (and in place of) that "someone who has everything," you can make a world of difference for someone around the world and for the Kingdom of God. What better way to celebrate God's self-giving love and revelation of Himself than to give so that His love can be revealed anew this Christmas?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Working Together

This past Sunday we had the privilege of sharing at Richwood United Methodist. We shared the service with the Hallahans. It was amazing to see how interconnected everything with our ministries is. I (Meg) shared about how we are going to be training pastors to reach their communities. Josh shared about how they will be working with the students at Heritage Christian School to send them home to work with their communities. Kelly shared how they will also be working with the college students at Kampala International University who will in turn go back to be leaders in their countries and bring Christ with them, and how Richwood UMC has that same opportunity with nearby Rowan University. Finally, Scott closed with how we all, whether in Uganda or in the U.S., have the same challenge; making disciples. We are all called to mentor others in their faith so they can pass it on.

So we are trying to do that too. We want to help you in any way we can; especially helping you set up a mentor relationship with someone currently in your life. How is God working on your heart to help them grow? Who in your life could you approach and ask to mentor you? We all need to be giving to others and yet we also need to be trained and discipled, just like Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2. Let us know what God is doing in your life. How can we help and pray for you better?

Friday, October 9, 2009

It's a God Thing

Our God is God of relationships. Let me share with you one example of how I have seem this at work in my own life recently.

Some might say it is coincidence, I say that its a God thing. In the spring my sister Laura, and at-that-time husband-to-be Nate, were looking for a church where Nate could be hired on as the youth pastor. Through some connections they had (again, relationships) they got word that there was a pastor in West Lebanon, NH who was looking for someone he could mentor as an intern. Nate was quite excited about the possibility of being mentored by an experienced pastor and getting to learn from his experiences in a real-life ministry context. As they started to look into this opportunity, they found out the pastor was Eric Ramage. That name may not mean anything to you, but Pastor Eric was our pastor when we were kids in elementary school. It amazes me that God has brought us back into each others' lives.

Nate and Laura are now a part of West Lebanon Baptist Church and Nate is on staff at the church and we are excited to be connected with this body. They are currently actively supporting missions around the world and in their neighborhood.

If this were the only example like this that we could give you, it would be much easier to call this a coincidence. But over and over again God is bringing people back into our lives that we would never have expected and its amazing to see how He wants to use those relationships to further His cause. Our God is a relational God. He wants us to be connected; to Him, but also to one another.

Who has God put in your life for bigger purposes? Who are you connected with? Don't just appreciate them, use them! Who can you mentor or who could be mentoring you? We all have things that God has taught us, but we also have things to learn. Just like Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our New Home

We wanted to show you our new home. We are living in Dave and Laurie's (Scott's parents) basement. It is wonderful to spend this year on Homeland Ministry Assignment (HMA) with family. We have a full house with Scott, Meg, Tim, Dave, Laurie, Elisa (Scott's 17 year old sister) and Elsie (Scott's Grandmother) all living under the same roof. The basement is our space though. Let me give you a tour.

This is our room. It doubles as bedroom and living room.When we moved in the walls were painted but we added the curtains on the closets and the curtains on the windows.

We refinished the couches to match.

We decorated the walls with things from all over the world.

South America (Equador)

Pacific (Papua New Guinea)

Africa (Uganda, Sudan, Guinea)

Asia (Japan)

Our world map and collection of international money

You should see Tim's room too. But to do that you have to go to his blog :)

Soon we will be going to NH. We will be up there for about 3 weeks visiting my family and sharing at some churches. I am looking forward to spending time with my parents, getting to visit my sister in her new home, visiting friends in VT and hopefully seeing some beautiful leaves. So much to be thankful for and be looking forward to.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Growing in the Word

This week I was reminded of the importance of getting in the word regularly. I know its hard, and I know it takes time, but it is so worth it. A missionary friend of mine reminded me that as a mom I am more effective if I have first sought out the Lord. She shared how it is hard to be consistent and to faithfully follow through with discipline if we are empty. So true, but how do you find the time when you have 1, 2, or 6 little ones running around needing your attention?

For me, I needed someone to hold me accountable. I know that is a scary thing! No one wants to be called out or judged. I am not talking about that kind of accountable, I mean someone who is in the battle with you. A friend wants to rejoice when you are doing well and love you when you struggle. Kelly Hallahan, my sister-in-law, and I are doing that right now for each other. We each do a week of devotions from Women of the Harvest and then discus what God showed us. It is amazing to be growing and have a friend cheering me on.

No matter how you do it, try to spend time with Jesus each day. It really will make a difference. If you don't believe me, ask Scott. He will tell you that I am a different person when I spend time with Jesus, and I am not so pleasant when I don't. In John 15:5 Jesus tells us, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." I know that I want to bear much fruit, and I pray that for you also.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

As Tim has gotten older he has entered a phase where he wants to be just like me. This has become most clear in the way he wants and tries to imitate what I am doing. It doesn’t really matter what I’m doing - if I’m drinking coffee, he wants a cup; if I’m brushing my teeth, he wants his toothbrush.

This all started happening around the same time that I was planning my lessons for a class I was to teach to junior high kids on holiness at Delanco Camp. As all these thoughts were going on together I realized that the same thing should be true in our Christian lives. Since we have been brought into the family of God, He is our Father and as His children we have the privilege of imitating Him and even to become like Him.

So how does this happen? Just like it does for me and Tim, by imitating what He does. The first thing we need to do then, is to look for what God is doing and where He is working and then joining Him there. This can take many forms from partnering with missionaries as they head to the field to serving at the local food pantry; anywhere you are working with the lost you are imitating God (Mark 2:17).

But doing things by itself will never make us like God anymore than doing the things a dog does will make us a dog. We need God to give us His character if we are really going to be like Him and serving other only one avenue that God uses to impart His grace to us. We must do what He does, but we must also spend time getting to know who He is and letting Him shape us. It is only then that we can truly be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1), holy and loving.

We were made in the image of God to be like Him and through the person and work of Jesus Christ we are invited and enabled to imitate God in the power of the Spirit. What we do flows out of who we are, but who we are is also shaped by what we do.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sweet Home Camp Delanco

We are at Delanco Camp in Tabernacle NJ for the summer. Our first week was Camp Meeting; a week where families can come to worship Jesus together. We made new friends and reconnected with old friends. Through the week we had an opportunity to challenge the youth. The theme for the youth program was Super Heroes. Monday we looked at Paul, a super missionary from the Bible. Tuesday we looked at William Carey another super missionary. Thursday got them thinking about the scriptural basis for missions (yes, that would be a class lead by Scott). On Friday we ended with Uganda Jeopardy. We also had a few minutes in each evening service to share our story and vision and God blessed our time.

The second week was Junior camp (going into grades 4-6). Rob Lewis was the dean and brought a great staff with him. We again played Jeopardy with the campers then we looked into Acts 1:8. I (Meg) challenged the campers to be witnesses like the verse says. First in Jerusalem (their home town), in all of Judea (to people who are like them), to Samaria (those people who they do not like and who do not like them), and to the ends of the earth (praying for and supporting missions around the world).

As I was teaching them I realized that going to Uganda is not that hard of a task. It is easy compared to loving people who I don't like, or who don't like me. Think of that jerk, that person who is mean to you and makes your life difficult. Not only does Jesus tell us to love them, but to witness to them. Wow. So as I was teaching junior campers God spoke to my heart also. I am excited to see what else God will show me this summer. I know that I still have so much more to learn.

So as you think of us, please be praying for the rest of the summer. Pray that we would build good relationships with campers and staff and that we are examples of God's love. Also pray that our family will be intentional about spending time together in the midst of the busy-ness of camp.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Wedding

On Saturday, June 13th at 3:33 my Meg's little sister Laura got married. I (Meg) am excited for her. Her new husband is Nathan Claggett; a man who loves her and loves Jesus. What more could I ask for my little sister. My prayer is that they will grow closer to each other as they seek Jesus each and every day. This picture is of them praying. After they lit the unity candle they each prayed. Such a special moment to share.

The ceremony was beautiful and everything was just as my sister wanted. I personally am glad she enjoyed it and I am VERY glad it is over. I don't do stress well. This is something I have been learning since I was in college. You would think that I would have learned not to let stress take over after I battled with it in student teaching. Or when I would procrastinate and barely make deadlines at work. Or when I got behind on chores around the house and didn't have dishes to serve company on. Isn't it funny how we have to learn the same lessons over and over before we get it.

So true about my spiritual life also. Each day I seem to be reminded of some sin that is still in my life. But Jesus is faithful and continues to purify me. So today I lay all of me on the alter and wait to see what God prunes away. What sin He will ask me to leave for His glory. I pray that what He convicts me of today I won't try to pick up again in a few weeks. I want to be more like my savior each day but that can't happen if I keep turning back to the same sins that Jesus already asked me to leave behind.

Tim was a champ all the way through. Scott did have to take him to the nursery for the ceremony but he did so well with all our friends and family loving on him. Tim decided to take a nap on Scott's shoulder between the ceremony and the reception. Who can blame him? With all the hellos, kisses and new faces. I wanted to take a nap too :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

HMA is Underway

Well, it's really starting to feel real. We've officially been on HMA (WGM speak for Homeland Ministry Assignment, or the part of our ministry we spend in the States) since the beginning of May, but it didn't really feel real until we left our home in Jackson, MS and moved back to the Northeast.

In the last two weeks we've had the privilege of connecting with two churches in different ways. Let me tell you about each of these experiences and maybe (as I process through them) some of what we've learned from each one.

First, we met with the missions committee at St. Peter's United Methodist Church in Ocean City, NJ. We were connected with them by our friends Michael and Albree Smith; Michael is the associate pastor there. Speaking with a small group (their miss. com. had 6 people there that night) is very different than speaking in front of an entire church and brings its own advantages and disadvantages. We love sharing with small groups because it allows us to connect with people more personally and have a more open dialogue because people can ask questions and interact with us.

Secondly, we had the opportunity to share at The River of Grace in Concord, NH. This is the church that Meg was a part of during high school and went to Hungary and Guinea with. We were given a few minutes to share in both of their morning services and to speak with the 4-6 grade Sunday school class. Sharing with a congregation is great because you get to broadcast your vision to a bigger group of people and see what God does in the people who come to meet you after the service. And speaking with kids is a great privilege because you have a chance to expand their view of the world and of God and what He is doing.

We're thankful for both of these churches and for their partnership with us in God's work in Uganda. We're currently looking for more churches and small groups and families and individuals to share with, please pray that God would open those doors for partnership, we can't do it alone. Pray also as we share this Sunday morning (6/21/09) at Countryside Community Church in Contoocook, NH and next Wednesday (6/24/09) with the missions committee at BEFree in Barrington, NH.

And now, since we all know this is the real reason you visit our blog:
Some pictures of Tim.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On the Road

Well, we moved from Mississippi. It was hard to leave the only place we have lived as a married couple. MS is the only place Tim has known as home. And MS will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Packing went well. We managed to fit everything we were keeping in a U-haul trailer that we pulled behind the Jeep. Most of it will go up in the attic at Scott's parents for storage.

Here is a sketch of our schedule for the next few months:

June 4th -25th in NH for Meg's sister's wedding
  • June 7th Sharing at River of Grace in Concord
  • June 14th Worshiping at BEFree in Barrington
  • June 21st Worshiping at Countryside Community Church in Contoocook
June 25th - August 22nd at Delanco Camp as missionaries in residence

After camp.... only God knows, and I don't mean that in a sarcastic way. God has our schedule in His hands and we are confident that He will provide. If you want us to share at your church or with your small group let us know! The fall is open and we would love to see you :)


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A new phase of life

Well, it has been a while since we've posted anything to this blog, but that's not without reason. The last month has been a whirlwind of activity. Particularly the last week, and even more so this past weekend. We've been busy transitioning into what will be the next phase of our life as a family. But let me go back a little bit before looking forward.

On Friday night (May 1) we, along with both sets of our parents and our dear friends Chuck and Fran, attended the WBS Senior Banquet held at River Hills Country Club. It was a very emotional time for me as I reflected back over the last three years and realized they were about to come to an end. I was privileged to be one of the Seniors who was asked to share a brief reflection on my time at Wesley. Here is what I shared:

"If you had told me 5 years ago tonight that I would be here speaking to you on the eve of my graduation from a seminary in Jackson, MS of all places, preparing to go to Uganda as a missionary, you would have gotten one of two responses. One, I would have laughed in your face, or two, I would have bet you a million dollars that you were wrong, and I'd be a much poorer man than I already am.

You see, 5 years ago I probably would have told you that I'd be doing something like sp
orts broadcasting or web development. In fact, my dear wife Meg, who was only my girlfriend at the that time, knew she was called to the mission field and almost broke up with me because she wasn't going to let anything get in the way of God's call on her life -- the fact that she didn't is proof to me that there is prevenient grace.

But then God got a hold of a part of my heart that I didn't even realize I was holding on to. I began to take little steps in the direction He was leading and as I did His voice became clearer, and clearer, and clearer. When I accepted His call to Uganda, I knew that I wasn't equipped for that ministry, which is what led me to WBS.

I came here to be equipped, to get tools in my hands to do ministry -- and I have, don't
 get me wrong -- but even more than that, I have been shaped for ministry. I am not the same person I was when I arrived at WBS. Through classes, chapels, discipleship groups, the abortion clinic ministry, helping to plant a church, and the friendships I've built, God has taught me so much about who He is and who we can be in Him.

I know that there is still so much for me to learn, but I thank God that He brought me to Wesley Biblical Seminary and used so many of you all to form the foundation in my life for that to happen. Thank you."

Saturday was the big day: Seminary Graduation. 

It's hard to believe that this day had finally arrived, but here it was in all its academic glory. We had a beautiful service and the great honor of hearing Dr. John Oswalt give the commencement address as he retires from service at WBS. 

It was a wonderful time of celebration with our family and friends and mentors who had been with me along the way. A lot has changed in these 3 years of life in Mississippi, not the least of which is the addition of Tim to our family, which leads me to the next part of this great weekend.

Sunday morning we had Tim baptized in the midst of our church family at Bellwether. (We figured if our parents were coming down, we might as well make the miles count.) It was a precious thing for this step in the life of our family to take place among our Bellwether family that has loved us and become so dear to us in these past months. We're proud that Tim's baptism can forever bind us together with the beautiful body of Christ in Jackson, MS and look forward to their continued involvement in shaping him to be the man God desires, even if they do it across an ocean. 

All that to say, it was a wonderful weekend full of looking back at God's faithfulness to our family and looking ahead to that same reality being born out in the future. It's the end of one era in our life and the beginning of a new one, and so we go from here with a mixture of sadness and excitement; sadness, because Jackson, MS is the only place we've known as a family and has truly become home for us, but also excitement, because we know that we are in the center of God's will for us and there is no better place to be than in the palm of His hand.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Learning to be African in Jackson, MS

We have lived next door to the Langat family for almost three years now. The Langats (Reuben, Jane, Mercy and Brian) are Kenyans who came to study at the seminary. When we first came down, Jane introduced me to African Chai which is hot tea made with part milk. It was so good and I asked her to teach me how to make it. Well, I was not successful when I tried on my own and quickly gave up.

Recently I became interested in learning to make chai and other traditional African meals. Jane and Mercy had me over during spring break and taught me how to make mandazi. It is like fried dough. They eat it with stew or with chai. It didn't seem that hard. Mercy taught me how to make chai. Jane and Agnes (another student from Kenya) showed me how to make mandazi. The pictures in this blog come from this wonderful time of fellowship.

I want to be able to make mandazi to give to people who host us as we are on Homeland Ministry Assignment (HMA). It would be so fun to be able to make chai and a snack as we go into people's home to share our calling with others. My first time trying on my own was with our close friends, Phil and Kara. They are missionaries with Global Partners to Russia. I made stew (similar to our stew but with a seasoning called Royco), mandazi and chai. It turned out well.I know it was good because Jane and Rueben both said it was good when I brought some over for them to try.

God is showing me through little things that I will be able to make it in Uganda. There are times when the idea of entering a different culture is very scary. I am nervous about trying to cook when I don't have the things that I have available here. I am scared about not knowing the language and struggling to communicate. I am scared to be so far from family and friends. But the God we serve is bigger than all our fears. He will be with us every step of the way.

He calls us to step though. He will be with us, but we need to be faithful to move as He directs. Each of us will be scared at times and each of us will prefer to stay right where we are. But how will Jesus shape us into what He wants us to be? How will the gospel spread if we are too scared to leave our comfort zone. So be encouraged! Our God is a BIG God and has BIG plans for each of us.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting So Big ~ an update on Tim

Tim is growing so much so fast! We wanted to share some of the highlights up to this point.

First, Tim is now 4 months old. Having shots made for a rough evening but we made it through. He is now 16 lbs. and 26 in. long.

Tim has become a loyal Philadelphia fan thanks to Scott.

Sorry no new eagles pictures, the jersey was "put away" till next year right after the loss to the Cardinals.

He is not yet rolling, but we keep trying :) He is holding his head fine and is almost sitting on his own. When he sits in the bouncy seat he tries to sit up and often gets frustrated at not being able to.

Tim has become quite snuggly these days. A strange answer to prayer but I did ask the Lord for a snuggly baby for this first one. I may regret that request as he now doesn't want to be put down much, but I do love getting to take naps with him in my arms.

We have started cereal. Not for nutritional reasons... just to introduce texture. (Dr. Cathie encouraged us to)

Notice Meg's tongue sticking out. Clearly this is her first experience with baby food too :)

Tim has found his thumb/fingers. He still takes a pacifier but does enjoy his thumb/fingers regularly, especially when he is wanting something to teethe on. Keep checking back... we will try to post every other week. Feel free to e-mail us if we are getting behind!