Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rolling in the Mud.

Written over the last few days.... 

My skin is still feeling the heat of the sun.  I've come inside propped my feet up on my bed and ensured enough pillows behind my back.  I have a cup of water to my right.... as well as a room temperature coca cola right next to it.  Music practice is underway out in the main room and I get to reap the sweet benefit of a rhythmic drum beating and voices echoing throughout the house.  It has been  a full, rich, and emotional reentry into Uganda for me.  I am coming to think that those three adjectives are part of my life.... part of who He made me to be.  Sometimes, (k, maybe often...) those adjectives switch from lower case to upper case.... and sometimes from normal font to bold.... and back to less bold, smaller case letters.  The ebbs and flows of life.   And it feels like there is a constant ebbing and flowing of life! 
Today, as I was reading my twitter feed, I came across this tweet.  
We do disservice when we go to service acting like we've never rolled in the mud. Someone at church needs to know we've been where they are.
9/27/15, 5:10 PM

And it somehow stopped me in my tracks.  I started a response on twitter and deleted it.  I was getting stuck on Semantics and Theology.  Neither are my gifting.  I know I love to write and I know I love my Jesus.  But the words don't always flow out smoothly and I'm not always the most articulate when it comes to theology.  

I feel like I am constantly rolling in mud.  Aren't we all?  And walking in it.  And picking it up and squeezing it between our fingers.  The mud of life is there.   It is here.  It is everywhere.  Earlier, when I went down to the farm, I picked up my snake stick and pushed it around in the dirt.  I found myself pushing hard against the dirt as tears burned my eyes.  There was something should I be so bold as to say.... therapeutic in acknowledging the dirt.  

But when I heard someone walking nearby.  
I could feel myself tighten.  
The freedom of the moment was lost by the awareness that it was no longer Jesus, me, and my dirt.  
It was now Jesus, me, my dirt, and someone else. 
And I didn't like that.  

And that is what has me thinking.  Dirt.  When it is all said and done.  Dirt is Dirt.  Yet, we categorize it.  We decide what is acceptable dirt and what is not.  We create rules and expectations.   I'm not convinced that all mud is bad.  Some mud is good.  Rich.  Full.  Life giving.  Some is wet and slimy hindered by too much water.   Life Hindering.  

In the dirt, life happens.  OR... it doesn't.  

I felt very free walking the path of muddiness with Ketty as she walked the cancer journey.  
It was as we walked the muddy path, that our own friendship took off.  

Digging out jiggers (larvae) from a kid?  Ok Mud (just ok.... truth be told, it's not my favorite thing to do...)  but in the end it's good..... the kid often walks away more smiley than frowny.  

Telling someone your day has been rough?  Slides off the tongue relatively easy.   Though truth said, "I am good" rolls off a lot smoother.  

Sharing the worst experience of your life?  Or even just something more personal?  Yep.... pretty much has to be a massive God nudge.  MASSIVE.  Even though the worst experience in the end proved to be a huge head turner towards my Jesus.  Yep, somehow still takes a massive God nudge to share.  

That's the truth. 

And at some level, there is wisdom.   But when God nudges and/or an open palm in sharing what God has done or is doing sometimes trumps.  

Sometimes, life calls for boldness... guts.... risk..... 

And I wish I had more guts...took more risks... didn't hold back.  

Please Help me Jesus.  

But somehow, since Ketty has gone home to heaven, I find myself holding back.  As if this patch of mud needs to be walked alone.  Somehow, I feel the responsibility to be able to walk it alone.  To not let others see the tears, the pain, the missing of a dear friend.  

And somehow I am believing a lie.  

Forgive me Jesus.  

Yesterday, I was driving back home and I saw three of Ketty's kids walking along the road.  I stopped and got out of the car.  I hugged each one.  As I embraced the oldest daughter, I asked her how she was doing.  She answered.  I told her that I missed her momma and still got teary.  And she seemed surprised.  And I wonder if in sharing a little bit of my own journey through the mud.... it somehow blessed her.  Her momma was missed.  Still.  Three weeks after she went home to heaven, she is still missed.  And will undoubtably be missed for years to come.  And somehow, the acknowledging of that..... seemed to soften her heart.  And it touched my own heart.  And somehow... in that pause, we shared our dirt.  And somehow as we shared that dirt, light dried up the life hindering part and the life giving part  emerged.  

And that's the part I appreciate.  Even in the mud.... there is life.  LOTS of Life.  And with Life... comes laughter, joy, contentment, and sweetness.  And even though there IS a lot of mud in life....there is also a whole lot of Life.... for sure! 

So for today, I'm lifting up my dirt stained soles.... and embracing the journey He has me on today.  
The laughter, the dirt, the tears, and the smiles.... and all that today holds.  

*All these pictures were taken by friends.... not me.  Not sure exactly who to give credit to.... but just know they were taken by some very talented friends.  ( :

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Earlier this year, I brought my fingers to a pen and wrote a letter.
It was a letter intended for one person.  And it was.  And it was received.  And I was thankful.
But I quickly realized even as I was writing it that there was another purpose.   Somehow,  my own heart took huge steps in processing a year that had been really hard.  Really stretching.  Really Good.  And everything in between.  A year of learning down to the core of my soul what true healing looks like.  And even more about my God.

It has been one of the richest and one of the hardest years of my life.  A mixture of two extremes.

There are no words to communicate the deep pain that comes in watching the injustice of unbalanced medical care.  Maybe it's the rawness of today or the haziness of jet lag, but my heart wants to share.    And just maybe, sharing the pain will only magnify His goodness.  Because even now, as the tears stream down my face and I find myself pausing to catch my breath, I want to do nothing more than assure you that my God is good.  He is personal.  And He is real.

So real.  So active.

He is so into healing.  And redeeming.  And pursuing.

Today, in the wee hours of the morning, Ketty Okothi left this world.  She took her last breath in the physical and her first breath in the eternal.  Her earthly eyes closed and she opened them looking directly into the eyes of her Jesus.  And I am quite confident that it was a delightful moment.

I received the news this morning.  And have spent much of the day absorbing it quietly in my heart.

It was probably in June when I went over to Ketty's house.  I had been avoiding her.  I sensed that her time was probably shorter than longer and I was fearful.  I had already said see you later to two other dear individuals.  Wizeye and my grams.  Fearful of saying see you later once again.  And as I spoke into a camera to a group of ladies thousands of miles away, my heart realized that was not what I wanted to do.  I wanted to love her well.  And not with fear or worry of saying goodbye... but with sweetness and assurance that if God was bringing her home... it was good.  And so I walked over.  And we sat in her room.   I told her my heart.   And together, we cried.   Deep pangs of pain.  We had walked many miles together.  A deep friendship had blossomed and bloomed.  Death is not easy.  And yet, we both knew where she was going.  After crying, we laughed.  And laughed some more.  I asked her to give Wizeye a big hug for me when she got to heaven.  And I just can't help but smile at knowing that she has.

Because right now, she is in heaven.

And she is healed.  God breathed Life into her on earth and today, He ushered her into LIFE.


And so tonight, I let the tears fall.
I remember a dear, dear friend who was spicy, determined, and committed.
She knew her Jesus was with her and she rested in that.

There were bumps in Ketty's medical care.
There was someone who pretended to be a doctor at the hospital.

A big bump.

The only radiation machine in the country was broken.

A really BIG BUMP.

By the time we reached Nairobi, the mass had doubled.

A massive BUMP.

Not good for any type of cancer.  Really not good for Esophageal Cancer.

And yet despite these huge obstacles, she received treatment at an amazing hospital in Nairobi funded by many individuals who joined along in both financial and prayer support.

And she had a scan that showed no evidence of tumor.

Only God.

Had there been a working radiation machine all along, we might have missed seeing the power of our God.

I don't know why God cleared her cancer and allowed it to come back such a short time later.

I don't.

I keep thinking of her children.  Her husband.

Please Jesus may this be a head turner towards You and not away from you.

And may we continue to trust you even when it's hard to understand.

Because truth be told.... it is hard to understand your ways in this.

But I'm choosing to trust.

And so Ketty Okothi... I suspect that you are quite busy right now.

You always talked about Jesus being in your boat.... and now, my friend, you have surely stepped into His boat.... FULLY.

You and I have said it a hundred times, "The story is NOT finished" and it's NOT friend.

A chapter is finished, but in many ways.... the book has JUST begun.

So I pray that you are running.... and laughing....

As I whispered into your ear weeks back... God's going to take of your family..... He will.  And your story here on earth isn't really finished.

You my friend, have left a legacy.

His legacy.

And to my many friends far and wide whose eyes fall upon this page....
Will you be willing to take a minute and pray for Ketty's family.

That their hearts would be drawn to Him and not away from Him?

Grams and I... a long
time ago....(  :
Wizeye and Me.  
 Thank you.  I leave you with several verses that has been pivotal for me personally in the last months.  As I said goodbye to Wizeye, my grams, and prepared my heart for the likely going home of Ketty, I have worked on standing in the truths of these verses. I've been working on memorizing them.... and am finding the peace of knowing that all of this has purpose.  That the times and locations of these dear individuals was never an oops wrong place/time by God.  It is all known and ordained by Him.  And today, as I say see you later to Ketty, I smile.  Because for Wizeye, my grams, and for Ketty.... I have seen these words come alive.  And seeing that has brought Life to my own heart.

By HIS grace,


Acts 17:24-28

24“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’b As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’c