In Which It All Makes Sense

I have never been on an overseas trip in my life. And for the last couple of years, even though I’ve been confronted over and over again with the enormity of people’s needs in other parts of the world, my reaction – though I’m not proud of it – has been to cross my arms, shake my head, close my eyes, and say, NOPE, NOT ME, NOT GOING, HAVE A PRESCHOOLER, STAYING HOME, THANK YOU.

Honestly, I have no idea why I wrestled so mightily with the idea of serving overseas or why I felt like it was an issue I needed to address rightthatverysecondplease. I mean, I wasn’t picking apart sections of Proverbs 31 and then stressing that I wasn’t MAKING MY OWN FLAX, for crying out loud. But the “go / make disciples / all nations” stuff confounded me; somehow I had gotten all bound up in some freaky legalism of my own making.

For the record: I do not recommend the freaky legalism. Because it will WEAR YOU SLAP OUT.

But at some point – probably around the beginning of 2007 – some of that resistant worry in my heart began to give way. I started to pray that God would help me to not be so closed off (and dare I say BITTER) about what I was or was not willing to do. And regardless of where He wanted me, I prayed that I would serve out of obedience, not obligation.

And yes. There is a mighty big difference.

On August 7th of last year I checked my email email right before Alex and I headed out for round two of what had turned into an Errand Day Extravaganza, and I found a note from Brian Seay (who is totally one of my heroes now, just in case you were wondering) waiting in my inbox. Brian told me that he worked with Compassion International, was looking to put together a bloggers’ trip to Africa, and wanted to know if I’d be interested in going.

Suffice it to say that I bawled my eyes out.

And to my complete and utter surprise, I knew that I was supposed to go. I knew I had to go. My husband knew it, too.

And I tell you all of that to tell you this: yesterday, at a restaurant in the middle of Kampala, Uganda, all the spiritual wrestling of the last two years suddenly made perfect sense.

Internets, meet Derrick.


He’s 11 years old. My brother and sister-in-law are sponsoring him through Compassion. They will be able to directly impact his life through their sponsorship until he reaches adulthood – and even on through college.

Today he sat beside me at lunch and spent at least 15 minutes looking at their names on a sheet of paper. I showed him pictures of my nephews and told him all about their family. His extended family. Even though they’ve never met.

And this is Sharon, our family’s Compassion child. She’s three. And I absolutely fell apart the second I saw her.


Sharon lives with her mother and three siblings in one room. She is very shy, very reserved; in fact, she was reluctant to even let me hold her when we first met.

But by the end of our lunch? She was asleep in my lap. It was one of the sweetest, most unforgettable moments of my whole life.

And because she’s so young, our family will have the opportunity to invest in her life for many years to come.

Two years of wrestling. Two years of questioning. And God used two precious children I’d never met – in a country I never dreamed I’d visit – to answer every single one of my prayers about what “serving globally” can look like in my life, in my family’s life.

In fact, it looks a little bit like this:


And I think that’s a mighty cool thing indeed.

This post was originally published on February 15, 2008.

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  1. Charlene says:


    I love your website. Carry on writing.


  2. Mighty cool thing indeed!

    It’s amazing how my baby was actually one of the compelling reasons for us to move here to Mozambique. God calls us all at different places and times . . .

  3. So, I know this has nothing to do with todays post.. but I just HAD to write. I went on your daily linky interwebby thing today and I was so excited. Not only did you have my favorite Matt Wertz song listed (5:19) BUT as I scroll further down, I realize that you have a love and an appreciation for Dr. Horrible.

    Are you my long lost sister?? Just kidding. I am forever sold on your blog because you are just like me! :) Keep up the great writing!

  4. When my husband approached me with going to Kenya to live, my first reaction was to cry, too. I was pregnant with our first child and was definitely in the “nesting stage.” God worked on me for a while, and I eventually felt that He was leading us there. We spent a wonderful 6 years there among a very hospitable, caring people. Our second daughter was born in a small 50 bed hospital.

    Multiplying ourselves in the Kenyans we worked with was probably minor compared with the growth God produced in me as well as giving us all a global mindset. We’ll never be the same, and I’m sure you won’t either! Aren’t you glad you had the courage to go? Good for you!

  5. Wow! Thank you for sharing that. What an awesome story of what God can do with our hearts when we step out in obedience.

  6. I’m so glad you’re reposting stories from Uganda. I could read them forever and ever.

  7. It’s 2:20 a.m. and I am sobbing. These stories tear me up.

    It’s not really related, but kind of. My best friend from high school is adopting from Ethiopia and he and his wife hope to travel in November to bring their daughter home. I have pictures of her on our bulletin board, and if I stop to look at her and think of the love that surrounds her, I start boohooing.

    Please keep posting these. I can always use a good cry in the middle of the night. I’d rather cry over something meaningful than being snored out of bed by the Sleestak my husband morphs into every night. (Actually, you’d think I’d cry over a snoring Sleestak, wouldn’t you? You can get used to a lot in nearly 14 years.)

    Enjoyable as always…sistuh!

  8. I love ya, chica! You are inspiring.

  9. Simply wonderful.


  10. Newbie here … loved your interview on Blog Talk Radio!

    Isn’t it such an amazing feeling when you hear God speak, listen, and then actually follow through! I have never been overseas on mission but have been in the US. My first one was last November … life changing!! If you are ever looking for a group to join up with in the states, check out Molly is the GREATEST!!

  11. I just absolutely love reading your blog. Your heart is so awesome…God Bless you!

  12. My best friend just got back from a mission trip to Africa (we met on a mission trip to Guatemala several years ago).

    This post brought back alot of memories. My husband had been on several mission trips (to Russia) and had really encouraged me to go on one (without him or our son). It was one of the greatest decisions of my life!

    Blessings to you!

  13. Okay this post made me cry. Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda that was the part of Africa I wanted to go to while I was in high school. Until I got pregnant shortly after graduation. Now I’m married with 2 kids and I feel God telling me it’s not to late. Thats exactly what I’m saying back to him is “I have babies that need me” We’ll wait and see what God says.. Hopefully my sign will be as clear as yours.