“An Opportunity to Make a Difference…”

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Andrea-M

Please go to this link and vote for this picture above

It is my honor to introduce you to 10 of the most wonderful children in the world.  They hold a special place in my heart.  Each child suffers from hydrocephalus or spina bifida….many cannot walk.  I met most of these children on a visit to CURE Hospital in Mbale in 2011 and 2012.  They have been treated at CURE and now live with my dear friend, Miriam.

miriam and me

Miriam is the Spiritual Director for CURE in Mbale.  She daily reaches out to women who visit the hospital and offer what doctors cannot…

An appointment with the Savior.

She leads many mommas to Jesus.

And for some of the mommas who cannot provide schooling and necessary medical care for these children…those on the ones that Miriam brings to HER house.  She provides shelter, food, medical care, schooling and love to these children.

She shares Jesus’ love to them.

And sometimes I think of her as Jesus with skin.

She calls her school “Overcomers”.  She speaks life to their hopes and dreams.

You have the opportunity to make a difference…

When you vote for the picture of the children, Miriam could win $750 for her school!  That’s a lot of shillings!!  You can vote everyday until October 15, 2013.

“The Dance….”

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I often share this message when I share my testimony.  And as I lay awake last night, I feel as if this story is for the world to hear.  It changed my life because it showed me the depths of God’s love for me.  I believe it can change someone else’s life who questions if God loves them.

The story of “The Dance” started like this….

For many years, I was a single mom to three little ones.  I was everything to my children.  During these years, it was often that I wondered if I would ever be married again.

There is nothing like being single.  However, I don’t think that I was the average single mom.  I didn’t desire to date anyone.  I really liked being by myself.  My previous life was chaotic and at the doorstep of Hell.  So, the quietness that I now experienced, was welcome.

However, there were days where I longed to have a man tell me that I am beautiful.  Or for someone to take me out to dinner.  I wanted to go for a walk with someone, and talk about life.  I wanted to stay up late on Christmas Eve and wrap presents.  I missed companionship.

There is a sting to being single.  I felt that most at any departure.  I wanted a husband to drop me off and pick me up at the door to the church….instead of lugging a baby on my hip across the church parking lot and telling my boys to stay by my side.  I felt the sting when I left other family’s homes and I wanted someone to drive us home.  I felt the sting most when I was tired of being everything.

I had claimed Isaiah 54 over my life….the Lord had showed me early on that He was my husband….and I claimed Him as that man.

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.

Don not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

For your Maker is your husband-

The Lord Almighty is his name-

The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

he is called the God of all the earth.

The Lord will call you back

as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit-

a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God.”

Isaiah 54: 4-6

How could I argue with this scripture?  It came to me one night when I felt the weakest.  I fell to my knees at the side of my bed with a handful of bills in my hands and my bible in the other.  “Who are you God?”  I wept.  And He showed me this.  I opened my bible up directly to this page.  I had to keep wiping tears from my eyes to be able to read the words.

When I said He was my husband, I felt like the warmest, softest blanket wrapped around me.  He, God Almighty, was my husband.  He loved me more than anyone.

Years later, I was laying in bed and I asked God to show me how much He loved me….and He showed me “The Dance….”

I saw myself in the most glorious dress my eyes had ever seen.  I sparkled and I was absolutely stunning.  I radiated, light shined all around me.  My hair was pulled back and my face was flawless.

I entered into a beautiful ballroom with windows from ceiling to floor.  Light beamed in through these intricate windows.  The room was empty.

And then there was God Almighty.  He was there to dance with me.  Just me.  No one else was there.

He was majestic and much too large to fully hold….I could not clearly see His face, and my hands could only rest right above His forearms.

He began to dance me around, faster than I had ever known.  He would twirl me and spin me and LAUGH.

It was His laughter that I will never forget.

His laughter was deep and SO FULL OF JOY!!!  He was laughing with delight in me.  I was His favorite.  He made me feel as if He could have danced with me all day.

Then a line of men showed up and they would ask God if they could “cut in”.

“NO!”   God’s voice boomed, His arm would come down between myself and each man…all the while He wouldn’t remove His eyes from mine.

Around and around we would go…..and the laughter never stopped.

For years, I have tried to describe this laughter.  I am fully convinced that if I could adequately describe this laughter, then there would be no more suicides.  People would know the jealous kind of love that He has for us.  They would know that only He can provide the love that we need.

Beloved, He is jealous for you.  

You.  

As is you are the only one He created.  

His delight is in you.  

You make Him spill over with laughter.  

You make His sides hurt from laughing.

God made such beauty out of this story in my life.  For this is how I met my husband, the greatest Man of God I have ever known.  The Lord told me that John was my husband.  At first, I acted like a child and put my fingers in my ears and made enough noise not to hear.  He told John that I was his wife, and that he was to lay his life down for me and my three children.  When John told me this, I heard the Lord again say that John was my husband…..and then the next thing that happened gave me chicken skin….

John began to laugh.

Loud and deep.  I gasped.  

My God, My God…..God had put His laughter in John’s belly.

“I will love you through John,” God said.

The laughter that I had tried to describe to people for so long was in John’s belly.

I was silent.  “What’s wrong?” John asked.

“What did you just do?”  I stumbled out.

“I laughed,”  he said.

“Do it again,” I smiled.

And I just listened.

This story never loses its power.  I cry now as I type this and marvel at His great love for us.  Don’t doubt God and the promises He has spoken to you.  He loves you…enough to dance with you.  Like you are the only one in the room.

And when you are too weak, be His little girl and let Him carry you.

Perhaps my favorite dancing feet.  Thank you Lord for Uganda.

“Thank You Lesu Love Supporters….”

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Before I left for Uganda, the Lord told me to bring new lesus to the women of Uganda.  He told me to share the message of ‘carrying your cross’….and to give the women new lesus with a declaration on their back that they will carry their cross….the story of their child and how Jesus met them.  Every time they would tie their new lesu on, they would be reminded that God Himself is wrapping His loving arms around them….and they are NOT alone.

I praised God for this unbelievable message and vision of these new lesus.  But to be quite honest, a week before I left, I only had about 6 lesus donated.

I remember asking God “how?” and “are You sure?”.  How in the world would I get enough money and fabric for all of these women of Gulu….and put the words on the back… cut them… finish them???

Finally, I quit trying to figure it out.  I had contacted fabric places for donations, and everywhere I turned, the door was closed.  I told the Lord, “If this is truly from You, You gotta make it happen….by the way Lord, I’m leaving in a week.”  I think I even rolled my eyes when I finished praying.

Well…..that week became amazing.  Out of no where people began to hand me cash and they would say, “The Lord told me to give this to you, not for your trip, but for blessing people, however you feel lead, use it…”

There were times when I would just laugh out loud in the joy of the Lord.  With each gift, my family went to the fabric stores and made purchases.  And every time, either my boys or my husband would tell the woman cutting the cloth how the fabric she was cutting would be used in Africa to save the life of the child.  I loved watching them tell a stranger that babies in Uganda were normally drowned in a river because of their illness.  My husband John would sometimes get loud, in his evangelistic way, and he would tell the clerk, “The curse is going to be broken!  My wife is going to tell these women that they have believed a lie!”

Sometimes the women would brim with tears as they cut the fabric.  Sometimes they were speechless.  I just stood there, usually crying myself.

I’m just Shannon.  I’m not a celebrity.   Sometimes I WANT to be the person that my children and husband are beaming about…..and then I realize it is me!

I’m simply Shannon, so in love with Jesus Christ, that everything in me wants to chase people down and tell them about His Great Love.  I want to tell them that they are His favorite.  And that He died for them.

The day that I left for Uganda, I worked the morning of and returned home to find my family working an assembly line of lesus.  Anderson and Avery would cut the words for the new lesus, then they would iron them, Ellie would tell everyone which fabric was her favorite and ask who it was going to….and John would delicately and precisely fold every lesu and pack them into a duffel bag (that couldn’t exceed 50 lbs) 🙂

John was in a zone though….I watched him for a few minutes and then realized what he was doing.  He prayed over every lesu.  All of the lesus were ready to go.  Then he pulled me aside and he had tears in his eyes.  He was holding one red lesu.  “Shanny, this red lesu is for somebody VERY special.  As I prayed for this lesu, the Spirit of God came over me, see I have chicken skin (our word for chills that we adopted from Kauai).  I don’t know who this is for, but I can’t stop crying over their situation.  God REALLY loves them.  I’m packing it on top, its the last one on top, so it will be the first one you pull out.”

I held the lesu and I said, “John, there are no words on this one.  It is the smallest one, and not even the nicest fabric.  But ok.”

I think I may I rolled my eyes again.  We had run out of words to put on the back, so this was the only one without words.

In a rush of finishing last-minute things, in no time we were out the door and headed to the airport.  I forgot about the lesu, as I wouldn’t be in Gulu for another week.

When our team got to Gulu, midway through the trip, I located the duffel bag with the lesus and had Ashley and Sarah take the bag on the stage before I gave the message.  I did not want the mammas to know that at the end of my message they would be receiving a new lesu.  The lesus were for the mammas who answered the altar call and said “yes, I want to carry my cross.  I want to lead others to Jesus through the story of my child.”

I gave the message with the help of an outstanding interpreter.  At one point during the message, I shared with the congregation how I asked God to show me how much He loved me and how He gave me a vision of just He and I in a ballroom and He danced me around and LAUGHED with joy and delight in me.  Tears streamed down these single moms faces.  Many of them knew the pain of losing a husband either through abandonment or murdered by the LRA.  I shared about the loss of two of my late-term miscarriages and they cried some more.  But they saw me smile as I told them how God became my husband.

I asked them to close their eyes and ask God to show them how He loves them.  I hoped He would give them the vision of a dance.

My interpreter put his head down on the altar and began to cry out to God.  He was so moved that He was crying louder and louder.  I had no idea that He would participate too.  I was so blessed by his openness.

When I gave the altar call, one by one, the entire congregation came down front.  They raised their arms high in surrender to the Lord to be used by Him.  I couldn’t even speak.  I saw the past years of hell that I had endured and the vision of going to Uganda all pass through my mind.  It was overwhelming.  You can’t imagine the criticism I have received for obeying God and going to Uganda….people thought I was crazy to go as a single mom.  But in that moment, it was God making beauty for the ashes.  He showed me that everything I had endured had been for His purpose and His glory….and Yes! I do hear from Him!

I had Ashley and Sarah come on stage and help me distribute the lesus.  I was overwhelmed by the crowd and asking God, “are you sure we have enough?  Because I think I need the fishes and loaves moment right now.”  I remember seeing the red lesu on top and in a rush, didn’t think about what John had said.  Some lesus I had to exchange for bigger babies, some needed heavier fabric….but when it was all said and done, I had three lesus left and had Ashley run the bag to the storage room.  I was exhausted.

Pastor Nelson from CURE called me over to him and said in his beautiful Ugandan dialect, “We have a problem.”   He looked so sad.  Immediately I thought I had done something wrong.  He had been very hands on with my message.  He is a GREAT man of God, I thought maybe I had given the message wrong.

“Sister, we have a young woman here who heard your message and she cannot quit crying.  It is very odd that she is here, but our staff has been ministering to her because her son just died suddenly.  She is crying because she has no child to put in a lesu.”  Pastor had tears in his eyes.  Then mine did too.   He told me that it wasn’t my fault because she really shouldn’t be at a children’s clinic with no child.  He told me there was no way I would have known.

Instantly God brought the red lesu to mind.  I knew it was for her!  But there was no way I could still have it, it was the first one in the bag when I opened it.  I knew if it was one of the three left in the bag, then she was the woman who John had been praying for.  Ashley ran as only Ashley can do, and came back with the red lesu and a big smile.

Pastor pulled the distraught woman aside and translated my words to her in Acholi.  She is from Gulu.  I told her how before I left, John had prayed and wept for her.  I told her that God had her on His heart long before I ever came and that He loved her.  I gave her the red lesu with no words and wrote my own on it…

Isaiah 55:8-9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I told her that I didn’t understand, but God did.  She began to cry.

God’s purpose was fulfilled that day in Gulu.

Thank you so much to all of my supporters who donated to “Lesu Love”.  Thank you for being obedient when God just told you to “give”.  I pray His blessings are poured out on you.  Thank you for using me to touch these women’s lives.

These are all of my new sisters and some brothers :).  All of these attendees received new lesus and sang a song of praise to Jesus right after we took this picture at the front of Gulu Baptist Church.

While the new lesus are great, I LOVE THEIR SMILES!!!!!!

“The journey home….”

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We have just made a quick stop at CURE to say “goodbye” and are about to head to Jinja for a day of shopping and a boat ride on the Nile River. Everyone is doing great….except for our hearts a bit sad over leaving our friends here. Our hearts are tied to this staff and many patients. We will miss them greatly.

NO, The chickens aren’t a souvenir….but we dropped these off too this morning for Miriam to feed her school!!  What fun we had as they got jumped out of the box and Ashley and Lauren caught them.  Go Girls!!

“I Saw God When….”

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Greetings from Lira!

We are on a medical mission stop here at the Lira Hospital, on our way back from Gulu,  and then travel the rest of the day back to Mbale. God truly moved in Gulu…pictures and updates to come…but in the meantime, I asked the team to answer this question with a picture and some thoughts….Read and enjoy!”

“I Saw God When…..”

Caroline….”I saw God in the laugh of this child. “We are unknown yet well known; dying yet, behold, we live; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; Having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

Anne….”I saw God in this glorious African morning sunlight! It placed on my heart, that His SON has brought His magnificent LIGHT here, to Uganda, to bring the beautiful African people His Hope in an otherwise dark and despairing place. I praise HIM with my whole heart for His LIGHT and I thank Him for bringing me here to share His hope with my brothers and sisters in Gulu.”


Payton….”I saw God while reading Romans 1 with my new school friends.  They were so hungry to hear the Word and overjoyed with each word.  I have never seen children so concentrated on every word.  I finally understand why Christ calls us in Mark 10 to come to Him like little children.  They are so precious and willing to hear truth.”


Ashley….”I saw God in the church field in the midst of 200 children for VBS. I had planned on 12-15 children, based on our need for a VBS in Mbarara last year. Who would have guessed that the church had a school right next to it? I prayed that morning for God to use us in a big way. And He answered!! The school teachers brought all of their children outside to participate with us. I really saw how 2 fish and 5 loaves worked that day….I NEVER RAN OUT OF SUPPLIES!! Every child had something to do. My favorite moment was watching the children sing and do the motions to ‘Jesus Loves Me’.”

Michelle….”I saw God when I heard the women in Gulu singing praise to our God.  It just amazed me that these women – some who traveled for unimaginable distance to the outreach – could be so joyful in the midst of heartache.  They truly taught me what it means to “pray continually and give thanks in all things”.

Staci…. “I saw God when I met Mary and Joy the first day in Gulu.  The language barrier makes things a little harder, but we still have a lot of fun together.  Mary (pictured above) has hydrocephalus and spina bifida, but she is still such a happy little girl.  God has blessed her with a grandma and a very protective cousin, Joy.  Her little smile and laugh always made my day much better.”

Sarah….”I saw God when I arrived at Miriam’s school.  All of the children were filled with so much happiness.  We became a part of it just by being in their presence.  This little boy, Anthony, has spina bifida, his legs are not properly aligned.  Yet, it did not stop him from walking with his wooden crutches and playing with the other children.  He had the sweetest smile, backed by happiness.  The amount of JOY he had touched my heart.  The presence of these children could just light up your world.  I believe God shines in his heart.  Mamma Miriam has opened up her heart and her home.  She gives these children the love that they desire.  I saw God when I witnessed how much love Miriam has for others, especially these children.  She has given them a future and a love for Christ.  I saw God in Uganda this day….with His love.”

Lauren….”I see God in holding this child from Miriam’s school.  These children are sick and their culture has made them outcasts.  Miriam and these children are teaching me to love deeply (like God) and to care for those around me.  Time seems to move slower in Africa.  People take time to speak to you and show you that they care.  This is why miracles happen in Africa.  Because they take time to be with God instead of rushing to the next activity.”


Shannon….”I saw God in this service. I was so overwhelmed at the altar call that I had to pause because I was so choked up. The entire sanctuary came down to the altar and raised their hands in surrender to the Lord to carry their cross. They made a commitment to God to allow Him to use the story of their child and the struggles they face to minister to other mommas and daddys, to CARRY THEIR CROSS….for this is where they found Jesus. In this moment, my call to Uganda and hearing the Lord say, “Go to Gulu” came to fruition. I could have stayed in this moment forever. Praise the holy living God. My life belongs to Him.”

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of god that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“In Gulu….”

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After an 11 hour drive, we safely made it to Gulu last night. All of us are safe, happy and healthy. We met some mammas last night who have traveled a very long distance. There was no power at the camp, but it was beautiful to worship with these mammas by candlelight. We cannot post pictures right now, but we will update when we return to Mbale. We send our love home!