Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holy Interruptions

I was struck a few months ago by a sermon that talked about how God often interrupts our lives. We feel annoyed, angry, hurt, confused or bitter at the interruption. Might be the loss of a job. Might be a broken relationship. Might be a medical issue. Might be the death of a loved one. Might be a tragedy. 

Sometimes the interruption is good. Might the birth of a new baby. Might be a new job or promotion. Might be an unexpected gift. Whether the interruption is good or bad, easy or hard, it is often life changing. And God is always in the middle of it if we look for Him. 

This Christmas I was reading the Christmas story in the book of Luke. Zechariah's life was interrupted while he was in the temple serving The Lord. Mary's life was interrupted when an angel told her she would have a baby. The shepherds lives were interrupted when the angels came to them in the field to share the good news. These seem like good interruptions at first, but that is with the perspective of the whole story. In the moment of each I don't know that it felt that way.

Zechariah became mute. Talk about changing his lifestyle. Mary was engaged and would need to break it off to save Joseph from embarrassment as well as her family. The shepherds had sheep in the field that they were responsible for, they were in the middle of working, not a convenient time for an announcement. 

Yet with each interruption, God was there.  And He helped with the transition into the new normal. These interruptions did not catch Him by surprise. And neither will anything that has happened or will happen in our lives. He can see the big picture and we each need to trust that He will walk through it with us, just like He did for Zechariah, Mary and the shepherds. 

God wants our response to be like these three stories. Zechariah gave God glory and praise as soon as he was able with his tongue. Mary said, "May it be as you have said" even before she could understand the good. And the shepherds left their work and went to tell everyone the good news they had heard. So what is our response? Do we get angry at God? Do we take it out on our family and friends? Or do we praise the One who is in the middle of it with us? Do we say, "let Your will be done, not mine?" Do we go and tell everyone the good news that Christ has come and has changed our lives? Who knows what the next year will hold, only God does. But we are praying that as interruptions come, we will seek His face and His plan for 2014.

We are wishing you a Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Proclaim His Greatness

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.

Ps 105:1-2 NLT 
3 pp

We are so thankful for each of YOU! Those of you who faithfully pray for us. Those of you who support us financially. Those of you who encourage us. Those of you who open your homes to us. Wherever you fit in, we are thankful! 

This verse talks about letting the whole world know what God has done. We can't do that alone. But if each of us does our part to share what God has done, where He puts us, we will reach the world. God wants the Rambos in Congo declaring His good works there. And we will be there because you are playing a part. You will be helping reach the people of Beni, DRCongo!

This holiday season, we want to challenge you to proclaim God's greatness. Not just around the Thanksgiving table today. Not just in a thank you note for your Christmas presents. But each day, proclaim what God has done and is doing. Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds. His hand is at work. You might have to look for it. With all the busyness in life, it is hard to see. But He loves you and is at work in your life and those around you. Proclaim His greatness! Sing His praises!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Use What You Have

As we have been on the road we have learned to use what we have. We have been blessed with a house to use for about 6 weeks while we are visiting a church in MS. The house is unfurnished though. So some people from church helped with some things, but what we couldn't get, we just used what we had.

We didn't have a couch yet, but we made a sitting area for the first day.

We didn't have a mixing bowl, so we used a sauce pan to mix pancake batter.

We didn't have silverware, but plastic works just fine for a few weeks.

We didn't have a tv, but we can watch movies on our computer. 

As you look at your life, maybe you see the "we don't haves" more than what you do have. I want to challenge you to get creative. Jesus took spit to make mud to heal a blind man. Jesus took some fish and loaves and fed thousands. Peter and John didn't have money to give a beggar, but they healed his lameness. When God created the world, He started with nothing. 

So what do you have to use, and how will you use it to advance God's kingdom on earth?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Going Before the Board

As you or may not know, our family has been serving in Uganda with World Gospel Mission under the title "Missionary Disciples." The missionary disciple program was developed by WGM as a tool to help establish new missionaries in the area they have been called to serve. At the end of a two-year term on the field, missionary disciples and WGM decide whether or not to continue the relationship. If both agree, missionary disciples are approved to transition to "Career Missionary" status.

Earlier this year, we were approved to move on to career status. When we were approved, we were also told that the board of directors wanted to meet with us, as they do every newly appointed career missionary, to hear from our hearts about our calling and ministry over the past two years and to pray over our future ministries.

We had the opportunity this past week to travel to WGM headquarters in Marion, Indiana to be presented to the board. Not going to lie, it was a bit intimidating to stand before these men and women and share about the journey God has brought us on, even though we knew we were already approved! We were there with another WGM Uganda family, the Burkes, as well as Emily Henry (via Skype), who serves among the Navajo in the Southwest.

It was a sweet time though, as we shared about how God has led us up to this point and where He is leading us as we continue forward. And then the board gathered around us and Reuben Langat, our neighbor while we were in seminary and current WGM board member, lead them in praying a prayer commissioning us to the work God has called us to in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Africa.

What a privilege it is to work alongside men and women, like the board of directors and the WGM executive team, who have a passion for the world and a global vision of what God is doing and where we can join him. It is also a privilege to work alongside you, men and women who pray and give and go so that the Kingdom of God can be made a reality in this world. We're grateful to God that we are in this together with you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Verses that encourage

The last few weeks have been crazy getting settled in MS. Here are some verses that God has really used to calm my heart when things were happening that were out of my control. Each of these has also been put to music by Seeds Family Worship, which is how God used them in my life this week.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 
Matthew 7:7-8

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 
Ps 20:7

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. 
Ps 55:22

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome world. 
John 16:33

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. 
Jeremiah 33:3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Is 41:10

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Listen and Obey all the way to NC

The boys enjoying the swing at Hemlock Inn.
We have been praying for many things these days. We have prayed for people who want to champion our cause and connect us with other people. We have been praying to be fully funded by January 1st. We have been praying for teammates to go to Congo with us. We love to ask God for big things and watch Him provide.

On Wednesday the 14th, Scott got a call from a friend, Ron Smith. He said, "Hey, I know it's short notice but would you ever want to come to a retreat this Sunday in NC? I would love to connect you to some people." 

Scott and I chatted briefly as I ran out the door for an appointment and we said we'd pray about it. When I got back Scott said, "as I was praying Jesus said, 'you ask me for people who want to champion your cause, do you want my help or not?'"

So even though it took away time with Scott's family. Even though we had just got back from being on the road and will be traveling again after Labor Day. Even though it meant driving until 2am Sunday. We knew we needed to listen and obey. 

I think sometimes in our Christian walk we ask God for something big but then don't listen or don't obey when He tries to give it to us. Sometimes He just wants us to say "Yes Lord" and follow what He is asking.

We had a great time at the Francis Asbury Society Retreat. God did connect us with many other believers and He met with each of us there on the back porch of Hemlock Inn. My heart was changed to be more like Him and I was challenged to grow. God wanted to answer our requests and give us even more. He knew the requests we had not spoken.

So we are asking three big things right now:

  • People who want to champion our cause and connect us with other people
  • Be fully funded by January 1st, 2014
  • Teammates to go to Congo with us

Will you join us in these three specific requests? Will you also pray that we will listen and obey so that God can work? Stay in touch to hear more of how God is answering these prayers and others.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"How Do Your Kids Survive?"

"How do your kids survive?" This is a question we've gotten often since returning to the US. We have spent a lot of our time in the US traveling and we are becoming experienced travelers. We are on the road now, but here are our stats from March 25th (when we landed) to Mid-August when we are back in NJ. We will have driven 13,000 miles. We will have been traveling 84 days. We will have slept in 24 different beds. Made more potty breaks than we can count. And learned a lot. Here are some things that don't only help us survive, but help us enjoy our time in the car and on the road.

Divide Responsibilities:

For us we found that the strategy of divide and conquer works best. Scott is responsible for the driving and Meg is responsible for the kids. Sounds simple enough, but let me tell you some of the failures that lead to the statement of this rule. If Meg tries to "help" with directions while trying to keep the boys quiet, she usually fails at both. If Scott tries to "help" by packing the kid stuff in the car then Meg assumes Scott grabbed the kids sweatshirts, when he assumed she did, and we go on a 5 week trip with no sweatshirts. We each have our own job and focus on our job and let the other do their own.

Other than driving, Scott is responsible for the route we take, money for tolls, knowing where to stop for food and sleep. He is responsible for the gas and all car maintenance. This also means that Meg can't nag Scott about any of the above. :)

Meg is responsible for everything to keep everyone in the car happy. So snacks, movies, toys, change of clothes, ect.

Pick Your Battles, in Advance:

The last thing you want in a long car ride is screaming terrible children. That being said, pretty close behind is the parent yelling, "If you do that one more time I'm gonna pull the car over. I mean it!" So set the rules you care about and enforce them early on. For us we don't allow screaming or hitting. We don't fight the battles of messiness or keeping clothes nice. As you can tell from this picture of Josiah after an ice cream sandwich. :)

Make it Fun:

Every car ride needs fun. There are tons of games to play in the car, just google it. Have a handful of things up your sleeve. Here are a few of the one we love.
- Don't smile/laugh
- I spy
- Would you rather?
- Simon says
- Can you find something (pick a color)

Movies. Shows. Something that will entertain and give you a break. We have an iPad that is loaded with lots of kids movies and shows. We also got headphones with a spliter so both big boys can listen. This also allows us to have adult time and some conversations in which we're not looking for little people's advice. A sanity saver for us.

BUT we limit this because we found with our kids that they NEED attention from each other and us. If we let them, they would watch movies all day and then be cranky and short with us and each other. So find that happy place of some screen time but not too much.

Not just while you are driving, make the stops fun too. Everyone wants something to look forward to. A hotel with a pool. A national park to drive through. Lunch with friends. Our favorite is catching a baseball game. 

Engage Your Kids:

Your kids need to know that you love them and they matter to you. For us that is reading books to our boys. If I will read for an hour, the boys will then play happy together for an hour. There is something to be said for filling up their love tank.
Along with that choose toys that can be used by multiple age groups. If you have 10 toys that can be traded among 3 kids that beats 30 toys with 10 for each kid specifically.

Take Time to Set Up Your Space:

Put things in the car in a way that you can reach what you need. You want to be able to grab toys, snacks, wet wipes but you don't need to have a change of clothes able to be reached while driving. You probably won't be changing anyone's clothes while the car is moving. I could be wrong... So from where you are sitting make sure you have what you need before you start driving.

Chose Good Snacks:

Whatever is good for your family. Some families value healthy foods. Others value connivence. Still others want the best value for their money. Chose what matters to you and make a plan. There is little worse than hungry, whiny kids when the next rest stop is 50 miles away. Be prepared. 
If we know we will be driving a few days in a row we will do one of our meals in the car. PB and J is cheap and easy on the road. 

Other Things That Help Us Survive:

E-Z Pass: takes some stress off
GPS: amazing, we love it
Wet Wipes: for so much more than diapers, did you see those messy faces?
Chick-Fil-A: good food, play place, changing tables in the bathroom, I could go on...
Audiobooks: some for the kids and some for adults during nap time

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Invited to Pray

God answers prayer. And He wants to invite you into what he is doing. Did you know that we have a God who chooses to include us?! Let me share a recent conversation I had.

Jen: Hey Meg, welcome back!
Me: Thanks!
Jen: Question for you, when you were driving to DRC in February, where were you at 3am EST?
Me: (trying to do the time zone change math) I'm not sure, why?
Jen: I was woken up and couldn't sleep. Knowing that I was awake for a reason, I prayed for everyone and everything I could think of. I still couldn't sleep and had no peace. So i got on the computer to email someone but got on Facebook and saw the post that you were driving and asking for prayer. So I prayed, and asked another friend who also couldn't sleep to pray. Then I felt peace and went back to sleep.
Me: Wow! I'll check with Scott, I am sure he would know.

I got home that night and asked Scott. He said at that time we were driving through the accident site. He said he was feeling anxious coming up to the site, but once we were through it he felt a peace and was ready to go on. WOW! Our God, could have just comforted us. He could have given us peace without being asked. But instead He woke our friend Jennifer and invited her into the work He wanted to do.

So, what is He inviting you to do?! Maybe pray about something specific. Maybe join in an outreach or mission project. Maybe He is inviting you to share the Good News with a friend or neighbor. Maybe He is asking you to support a ministry financially. Maybe He is asking you give someone an encouraging word.

Whatever He is asking you, He is probably whispering. He won't yell at you to get you involved. He won't guilt you into it. He invites you to be a part of His big plan. And that is a privilege you don't want to miss out on.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter in America

We are back! Well, back in the United States. We landed in Philadelphia on March 25th and spent the whole first week trying to unpack and adjust the family to the time change. We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and the boys seem to have adjusted well.

It was a blessing to be able to celebrate Easter here. It still doesn't feel like "home," but getting to do "normal" Easter stuff for me and Scott, like church, easter egg hunt, candy, and lamb and ham for dinner, helped our transition back to the States. It helped to be able to focus on the positive things we had missed about living here, instead of the things we are missing in Uganda.

We have a pretty crazy schedule for the next few months, but are excited to see a lot of friends we have missed these past two years. PLEASE email us, Facebook us, or something! We want to see you. We will post our schedule on the blog soon.

A few funny cultural moments:

  • Walking around to the wrong side of the car to get in
  • Saying, "we need antibiotics, why not just pick some up later today?" because in Uganda, you can go to a pharmacy and get whatever you want without a prescription
  • Trying to explain what TV commercials are to boys who have mostly only watched movies or TV shows bought on iTunes
  • Going to the park to play in winter coats with the hoods buttoned, while the other family was there in sweatshirts. It was 50F a good ten degrees colder than the coldest it has been for us in two years
  • Tim being so excited that bath water is safe to drink (not a good idea, but not unsafe)
  • Toilets that flush themselves

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

DRCongo Trip - part 1

We had a great trip. My (Meg) first time in Congo! I have been wanting to write about it for a week now, but with three little boys, I have not found the time to sit, process and write. So, I will do a few installments as I am able :)
Let's start at the beginning. Here is a run down of what it takes to travel from Uganda to DRCongo. First going to the DRC Embassy in Kampala to get visas. We did this back in December and it took basically a day and a half. The day of travel we drove the 7 hours to the border.

At the border:

  • Police check: show passports
  • Police gate: show paperwork for the car
  • Uganda immigration: get passports stamped for exit
  • Uganda Revenue Authority: had to register the car for leaving the country
  • Border crossing gate: had to show passports and paperwork for the vehicle
Drive over the "River" (really just a small stream) 

  • Congo border gate: show passports and tell them where you are going
  • Congo immigration: show passports and get visas stamped
  • Congo vehicle registration: pay for a permit to use our car in the country and pay the permit to drive on the roads
  • Congo health check: we had to sow our yellow cards that showed our shots were up to date
  • Congo police check: they checked our passports and car paperwork, then we were free to go. 

Total time, about 2 hours. Each one of these things were located at a different place/building.

We then drove the 2+ hours to Beni on a single lane gravel road. Not the worst road I have seen, but certainly the longest I have ridden on a dirt road.
We were so glad to reach the UCBC guest house and be greeted by friends.
More to come later!

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Ministry, Last Week

People ask what a normal week looks like for us. And honestly, most weeks look different. Last week Billy and Joanna Coppedge were the speakers for a retreat here in Arua. So, our ministry was watching the big girls for the Coppedges. Our ministry freed them to do ministry. Many of YOU do that for us! Thank you.

Lunch with all 7 small members of team Arua

Science lesson: studying a toad

Story time before naps

Josiah just being happy for more kids to play with

So, last week I did not go out and evangelize. I did not preach a sermon for a church. I did not go to an orphanage and play with kids. Last week, I stayed in my home and shared Jesus with those who were with me. With the little ones, we did some Sunday School activities each day. With Regina, our house help, we did our weekly oral bible study together. With Rick and Janie, our missionary pastors, we had a meal and talked. I hope that after this week, every person who came into my home knows Jesus a little better.

Are you sharing Jesus with those you naturally do life with? Who do you "rub shoulders with?" Who would be a natural fit in your schedule? Be intentional! Share scripture. Tell what God is doing in your life. Or even just show extra acts of kindness and give God the credit. Let the Holy Spirit lead you.

There is a place for going out and doing but there is also a ministry with those around you. Don't miss your mission field, don't miss those who God wants to love through you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This Little Light of Mine

Our family has started singing "This Little Light of Mine" each night before bed. It has become a special thing for each of us. Here is how we sing it. Read through and let God speak to you.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel, NO! I'm gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, NO! I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Don't let Satan blow it out. I'm gonna let it shine.
Don't let Satan blow it out. I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Shine all over Congo, I'm gonna let it shine.
Shine all over Uganda, I'm gonna let it shine.
(Each night different places are said by our boys, generally includes America, South Sudan, Kampala, Jinja, Arua or any other place we have talked about recently)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Shine until Jesus comes, I'm gonna let it shine.
Shine until Jesus comes, I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

So we are trying to let our light shine even when it is not well received and we want to hide. We are trying to let our light shine even when Satan is blowing. We are trying to let our light shine in every place we can reach. And we will let our light shine until Jesus comes. Not by our strength, but by God's strength. We will keep shining and keep living for Jesus.