Anytime someone returns from a trip they are quickly asked the inevitable question…
“How was your trip?”
The standard American response usually follows…
“It was great.”
“We had a lot of fun.”
“God did some wonderful things.”
The inquiring party then states…
and goes on their way.
Now there are those who truly want to know how the trip went and will prod for more details and information. However, our American society fosters an atmosphere of cordial, surface level relationships that do not go deep. Therefore, the simple “It was great” response is received and yet neither side of the relationship is deeply impacted or life changing.
Last Thursday night during dinner in Uganda, we had missionaries John and Bobbie, their two children, and Natalie as our guests. It was a time of Q&A to allow our team the opportunity to ask questions about life as a missionary in Uganda. It was a blessed and enlightening time. As our time came to a close, Natalie challenged us when we returned to the states to consider how we would answer the inevitable question, “How was your trip to Uganda?” She encouraged us to think about how we would respond and to do it in two sentences. Natalie stated that by answering the question in two sentences, some people would respond with the usual, “That’s great” and go on, but there would be others that would honestly want to know more based on our initial two-sentence response.
This was a tremendous challenge for all of us. For how do you put a two-week trip to a foreign country into two sentences? Yet, Natalie did have a point. How many times would we be asked that question and how many of us would have the time to answer it in more than two sentences? So for the last week, I have been pondering this challenge. While I look forward to sharing with you in the next couple of weeks the details about the trip, here is my feeble attempt to put two weeks into two sentences…
How was your trip to Uganda?
While we did the same things as we have in the past trips (hut to hut evangelism, visit schools and prisons, and played with the children at the orphanage), God moved on me in a way that He has never done before.
Because God had already broken me before I left this year instead of while I was in Uganda, I was able to see more clearly the work God was doing around me instead of just inside of me, allowing me to actually see the Holy Spirit move on the team members as well as the people of Uganda.
Some things are better said through journal entries.
April 16, 2015
“Oh Lord my God, Lover of my soul, the great Potter who takes this lump of clay and molds it into the vessel you desire to use and work through. Great God Almighty who causes me to humbly bow down and fall before You in awe and wonder at the great and mighty and magnificent work You have done for this child of Yours. Father God who loves and disciples me because of Your love for me and Your desire to see me walk in right relationship with You and with others.
Lord, forgive me for the unintentional sins I have committed. Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Keep me from willful sins and do not let them rule over me. (Psalm 19:12-13)
Lord thank you that your Word ministers and connects and resonates with my spirit and soul and mind and body as I enter Your presence and seek Your face. Lord, thank you for your faithfulness to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all my unrighteousness. Thank you for guiding me in the paths of righteousness not for my sake but for Yours alone. Lord, thank you. Thank you.
Forgive me for my ungratefulness. Forgive me for placing my priorities and schedule and to do list above Your divine works, wonders and will You so desire to manifest in my life.
Lord, take me and continue to spin me on Your potter’s wheel so that Your works begin to be seen through this vessel and not Alicia’s. Lord, may the works of my hands, the meditations of my heart, the words on my lips be holy and pleasing to you. May everything that I do or say be only what the Father has told me to say or do. May I be so in step with You Father God, that people would have no doubt, that my children and husband would have no doubt, that I am Your child and that I love You and desire to walk in obedience to Your commandments.
Lord, help me to pray more for my husband and children with tears so that I might reap shouts of joy at the answer to those prayers (Psalm 128:5). Lord, help me to pray more for those in my family and the church body. Lord, increase my love for Your children so that my heart becomes more in line with Your heart for them. Teach me and show me how and what to pray for them. Help me not to just mention their name and let the Holy Spirit pray the rest, but place Your words on my lips that I may join You in praying for all Your children.
Lord, Your word says, “Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves (Psalm 128:6). Lord, may each tear that is shed bring about shouts of joy for the salvation and work You bring about to glorify and honor Your name…the great I Am. God of Wonders beyond all galaxies, You are worthy. Thank you God. May you be exalted and lifted up Lord Jesus. Amen.
I know this might be a little old fashioned, but the truth is eternal. (Just put your boots on, grab your hoe and pitch fork, and dig in.) May we bring in the sheaves through the tears we shed on our knees before the Great God of the universe who seeks to save those who are lost as well as those who have strayed and lost their way.
This week our church body called for a one week period of prayer and fasting as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. This is not the first time for our church and yet it was a first for many in our church body as well as for this particular season of the year. Each member was encouraged to fast from whatever it was God was calling them to and then meet at the church at 6:30 p.m. for soup and 7:00 p.m. for prayer. Little did we know God was eagerly waiting to uncover the plans He wanted to share with us this week to demonstrate a taste of His power and might and name!! I wanted to share with you just a small glimpse of the mighty God we serve and His continued desire to draw people unto Himself.
My heart was not that prepared as I awoke on Monday to enter into a time of prayer and fasting. We attend a homeschool co-op on Mondays so my day is pretty preoccupied with teaching and making sure the children have everything they need for their classes. Well, right out of the starting blocks I pull into the parking lot and Dawson says he doesn’t feel good. I turn around and he is green!! I tell him to lay down in the back seat and call Scott who has to come pick him up. One of my first prayers is to cry out to God for healing and protection over the rest of the family not to get the stomach bug that is going around.
Later that afternoon some of the board members begin to follow closely on their computers and phones a high speed chase in the Spring area. We begin to make preparations for if we need to go into lockdown. Lord, protect us and protect all those innocent people he is driving so dangerously around.
And if that wasn’t enough to have to pray over and through I am headed home and right before I get to my subdivision I pass an abandoned gas station that I have passed a thousand times. The Lord turns my head just in time to see a young girl get turned out of a vehicle crying and clinching her pillow. As I drive away, my eyes move to my side mirror and then to the rearview mirror as I witness the vehicle drive away and the young girl walking aimlessly and hopelessly around. The Lord moves on my heart to see if she is okay, I tell the children I have to do something and I turn my vehicle around. I pull into the gas station and find her sitting on the curb. I ask her if she is okay and if she has a way to get home. She tells me her boyfriend just kicked her out and she has a house but doesn’t feel like walking. She is clenching her pillow and has a cigarette lighter in her hand along with a key chain. Her appearance makes it hard for me to feel safe that I can just load her up and take her with my children in the car, but I told her I would see what I could do. I get back into my car and call my mother-in-law to see what she thinks and she sends my father-in-law.
In the meantime, her boyfriend comes back and she screams profanity at him and then comes over to the driver side window as I am still on the phone. She tells me that she is going to make her boyfriend drive her home and never speak to him again. I told her I would be praying for her and asked her name…Brooke. She said thank you and then went and got in the car. The boyfriend pulled his vehicle up to the other side of the gas tanks and then got out of his car and began walking around the parking lot pretending he was looking for something. After a little bit he picks up a useless piece of wire (as if that is what he was missing) and then got back in his car and took off. At which time my father-in-law showed up.
Please note that my heart was beating out of my chest the whole entire time, while at the same time feeling like we were doing what we were suppose to be doing. Even though it was TOTALLY out of the norm for me to do such a thing, I believe God wanted that boyfriend to know that there are people watching him and that God will hold him accountable for his sin that he may think he is doing in secret. In addition, I feel Brooke needed to know that someone was watching out for her and that the God of the universe desires to love and protect her in a way that this world can not do. I have yet to pass the gas station without lifting Brooke and her boyfriend to the Lord and pleading for God to send salvation their way. What is even greater is that I will sometimes hear my children pray out loud for protection and salvation for Brooke and her boyfriend as we pass . Thank you Lord.
Already physically tired from the day at co-op and then to have this crazy encounter, I was really tempted not to go to church and join in the fellowship of soup and prayer. However, after seeing Dawson was doing better and quarantined at my in-laws, I loaded everyone up at the last minute and headed to church. What a blessing awaited us as we join with more people than we have ever had on a first day of fasting and prayer. The stories that were shared about how God worked in each individuals life point and give glory to a God that is not dead and still working. We left there refreshed and singing praises to the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I awoke Tuesday morning with my heart in a much better place to continue with the prayer and fasting. With a stomach bug going around and the long day we had yesterday, I allowed the children to sleep a little longer to rest their bodies while I spent a little more time in God’s Word. The rest of the day went pretty smooth and normal until about 12:30 p.m. at which time our internet went down. (You have to understand that over a week ago our internet went down and they had to temporarily fix it to allow us to have internet while they replaced a main underground cable that had been damaged.) So seeing that it was down I told the children the internet wasn’t working and decided I would not worry with it for now. However, God had other plans. Not 30-45 minutes later I received a text from Scott saying that AT&T would be at our home in 45 minutes. Now when was the last time your internet service went down and in less than 2 hours they come to your door WITHOUT a phone call!! Only God!!
The young man, Joshua, came in and quickly discovered the issue. In the meantime, he mentioned how his grandparents use to garden as well as how he reads the bible to his 6 year old son every night. (He also has a 2 month old son.) After various conversations, my daughter asked him if he and his family had plans for Easter. He told us that he had to work. He proceeded to tell us that he has had to work every holiday with mandatory overtime. He said he was sorry to say that he had not been in church in 2 years, but that his mother takes his wife and children every Sunday. He has been with the company for 3 years and used to work for another company, but it required 70-80% traveling. One time he had to be gone for 7 months and only had 4 days out of that 7 months that he was home. He came home and his son immediately ran back to his mother. That is when he and his wife decided it would be better for them to take a pay cut than to have children that did not know their father.
Before he left I asked him if there was anything that we could pray for. He immediately said yes. His wife, Patricia and her mother, Liset, were having trouble in their relationship. Liset had come to stay with them to help with the new baby, but their relationship had become strained. Just that day, Liset left on the terms that they would never speak again. Joshua said his father had recently passed away on somewhat similar terms and that he was trying to tell both of them that it was not worth it. So my children and I gathered with him in a circle in our living room and my oldest son and I prayed for him. Afterwards he remarked that it had been a long time since a family had prayed for him and that that is what families should do. He was very thankful and I know God brought him to our house for such a time because He is the one that made the phone call!!
Ready to join the church body for soup and prayer the children and I head to the church. Again, a night of blessing awaited each person who walked through the door. Stories of God’s faithfulness in demonstrating His glory in the lives of His children abounded. After closing in prayer together, one of our church members called Scott and I over to meet someone. His name is George. George tells me, “You don’t remember me do you?” Unfortunately, I didn’t, as I have a hard time remembering things like that. He proceeds to tell me that back in December he was at Wal-mart and he saw me standing there talking to a lady about Silver Springs and somehow that encounter was impressed upon his heart. Crazy!! Earlier that night I had prayed with a lady that God would allow us to have such a presence of the Holy Spirit within us that even as we pass by people they would sense the power of God. As I went home, God reminded me that there is always someone watching you whether you realize it our not. The testimony of God’s love and character is demonstrated through us everywhere we go.
But that’s not the end of the story for George. Scott and several other people stayed and talked with him. And before they leave the church for the evening, George surrenders his life to Christ!! Come to find out he was the gunman who was at Tomball Regional recently. His son was on life support and they were about to pull the plug when he told them that his son squeezed his hand and that he was alive. His son is now home and still recovering from the stroke. All things are possible with God!! You can’t make these things up!!
Yesterday morning began with a text from a friend whose grandmother was headed to the emergency room because of a severe asthma attack. It was then followed by another text informing us that our former foster daughter was unconscious and being rushed to the ER with low blood sugar. That was to be followed by another phone call from a friend whose co-worker was headed to the ER for his 2nd seizure in a week. God was making it obvious it was going to be a day to pray for hospitals, doctors, physicians, nurses, families with loved ones who are sick, and individuals who are sick with no family.
Later that afternoon we received an e-mail from a dear missionary and his family who are having to make some really tough decisions and asked for prayer for wisdom, discernment, and direction.
Praise God that as we gathered once again for soup and prayer, God’s power and blessing was upon His people. We shared His miracles, praised Him for the great God Almighty that He is and joined our hearts in unison again as we cried out to Him. This time we had almost double the number of people praying with over 60 people there. Hallelujah!!
What an amazing three days it has been. As I reflect back upon the work God has done over the last three days something has just dawned on me. Just a few days before leading up to the fast, God laid on my heart a question I felt Him leading me to focus on during this particular fast. The question is: What does Jesus want me to ask God the Father for in Jesus name?
Oh how He has been faithful to answer. Each day He has brought an encounter before me that has brought me into His presence to seek His will for the situation and give Him the glory.
So Lord, today…
“What do you want me to ask God the Father for in Jesus name?”