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The Master Artist

Recently we had a paint night at our church for the ladies - young and old.It was a simple but beautiful picture of a sunflower with a ladybug crawling on it.People ranged across the board in their confidence about painting something that looked like the one the teacher was doing.When we first started everyone was paying attention and trying to copy every move the artist in front of us was doing.Gradually, as we all got more comfortable, we got more bold in our choices - colors, design, patterns, shades, and textures were all different.By the end of the night we had 12 pieces that you could tell were the same picture, but had very different takes on it.It was beautiful and we all marveled at the way so many different things came from one original idea.


I like to think that this was the idea God had when he created us.As I looked around that roomI knew that I was surrounded by women who were made in the image of Him.Beautiful, creative, unique personalities - starting with a core of him…

Set Free

(This was originally published for theNortheastern District Alliance Women.)  
Corrie Ten Boom, one of my heroes of the faith, once said, "Only to those who have been in prison does freedom have such great meaning." I've only visited jail a couple times, and each time it was not a fun experience. I thought about how I have the ability to travel all over, to sit outside on my porch in the morning, to hop in the car and drive to see a friend for coffee, or to simply make the decision to sleep one hour later. I have the freedom to make choices about the way my day looks. 
I understand that losing those freedoms and being put in prison usually comes as a consequence from an action that a person did. Even in Corrie's case this is true - her family's decision to help save people was honorable and brave, but they understood there would be severe repercussions if they were caught. However, the people being put into the camps were made prisoners simply because of where they…

Google Maps Saves the Day

I have absolutely zero sense of direction.  Ask my husband - or any of my boys.  Unfortunately Anna seems to have inherited this trait, so she can't say anything! ;)



The other I decide to take a walk.  I have been trying to make sure I get all my steps in everyday, and this weather has been so fantastic that I couldn't resist.  So I threw some shopping bags in a backpack, because the plan was to stop at the grocery store on the way home, and headed out.  Shawn and I have done a lot of walking in this area, so I felt pretty confident, but I had my phone on me so if all else failed, I could pull out good old Google maps.  After being here almost three months, though, I felt like I should have a good feel for my neighborhood.

You can probably see where this is going.

I decided to take some streets that I hadn't taken before.  We live in a gorgeous neighborhood with many old houses that have been kept up beautifully.  It's not one of those areas where you have to worry ab…

Clinging to Good

There are some days that will forever be imprinted in our minds.  September 11, 2001 is one of those days for those of us around who were old enough to really remember.  You can probably list exactly where you were, who you were talking to, maybe even what you were doing or eating or drinking.

There are many days where it seems like evil is winning.

You cannot turn on the tv or scroll through any social media site without seeing destruction or hearing about lives being devastated.  Our hearts can only take so much, and often I find myself purposefully skipping over things or avoiding a certain email that I know contains hard news.  Fear starts to grip my heart and mind and I feel overwhelmed by the amount of brokenness in this world.

Romans 12:21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  This sounds like a fortune cookie saying if you read just the one verse.  A thought that makes you say, "Sure.  That sounds good.  But it's not possible.&qu…

Growth

I jumped out of the way as one of my blue fiesta ware type bowls slid out of the dish drainer and on to the floor right in front of my feet.  Stink!  Not only did I lose one of my favorite bowls, but I also had to immediately do one of my least favorite chores - sweeping.  I grabbed the broom and heard the boys debating in the next room about which bowl I broke.  It was done in a jesting way, and it got me thinking. 



Yesterday was a bad day for me emotionally.  I have found so much freedom from falling into the pit of self pity and despair, but every once in a while it hits me over the head and before I even understand what is happening I am in full-on self deprecation mode.  "I've failed my kids."  "I'm a terrible mom."  "If people knew the real me they would run the other direction."  "What a joke that I am in ministry when I can't even spiritually fight for myself. "  "I thought I was over this - that I had become more stead…

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops or checking off boxes.  One of those major hoops came when our mission told us that before we could go any further in the process, we had to have some counseling.  I was super annoyed because we have had regular counseling throughout our adult lives.  I didn't want to have to spill my secrets to yet another person and start from scratch - that gets old after a while.  God knew what he was doing though (duh), and lead us to a woman who really changed my life and brought healing to me in ways that had never happened before. 

One day while talking about a particularly traumatic thing in my past, I started to get frustrated.  I mentioned that this had been talked about over and over again, but here I was still - same place, same feelings, same bondage to shame.  It felt like groundhog day, but it was happening in real life for me with one of the harde…

Pruning

We've been living in DC for four weeks as of today.  While reflecting on this last night as a family, we realize that as far as transitions go, this has been a relatively easy one.  A big part of this is the church we have come to and the fact that my sister lives so close.  These are huge gifts to us.

A couple weeks after moving in we had a neighborhood open house to meet the people who live in this community.  Our wonderful friends and landlords set the whole thing up, so instead of taking months or years to meet the people living on the block, we had many of them in our house less than two weeks after moving.  To prepare for this we decide to do some yard work.  The front of the house has a large porch and a cute little yard, but many of the bushes had become overgrown and you couldn't even see the street when you were sitting on the porch.  Because Shawn is the expert gardener in our family, I listened to him when he said we needed to hack it all back and cut away any ext…

Tremble

Listening to music always speaks to my heart in ways that seem to break through even my most grumpy, tired, or distant flesh.  I have a current favorite right now that I could listen to non-stop, and whenever I hear it I feel like my emotions explode to the surface. 

"Peace, bring it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at your name..."

If you've listened to Christian radio or worship in a place in with contemporary music at all you've probably heard the song "Tremble."  It's not new.  Nor is it filled with a truth I have not heard before.  But something in these lyrics touches me deeply in this time of my life.

Right before we left Kenya I spoke at our church ladies retreat.  One of the things we talked about the first night was how we are in a battle.  We so often and so easily believe the lies that are whispered to us from Satan and shouted to us from the world about who we are, our worth, and our identity.  The longer we allow these l…

We're Not in Kenya Anymore, Toto.

Since getting back to the States from Kenya, there have been a few things that make me giggle every time they happen.  While our adjustment has been relatively seamless (home assignment last year helped this) there are still a few things that make me have to stop and think.  Here are some examples:

1.  Which side of the road should I be on when I turn on right on an unlined road?  For the most part I have not had to think twice about it.  But for some reason my right turns always confuse me.  I want to be in the lane closest to me rather than crossing the full road.  This could be dangerous if it was a busy road, but usually the confusion only happens on unlined country roads, thankfully!

2.  Stocking up for Kenya.  The last several times we have been back I would go into doomsday stocking mode.  If I saw good prices on parm, ranch packets, pepperoni, or something else we always took back to Kenya with us I would buy a huge load and take them home to pack in a bin.  Several times I h…

Kwaheri Kenya

It's my last night calling Africa home.

I feel like the last several weeks I have been on auto pilot - doing the things I needed to do to wrap up work well and get things in place.  This week we had a lot of goodbyes, however my eyes stayed dry and my emotions in check.

But today...

What a hard, beautiful, honoring, loving, joy and sorrow filled day.

I was standing and looking out the window tonight and feeling like this chapter has come to a close.  I don't just mean Kenya - though that is the immediate, in-your-face thing.  But this dream of living in Africa.  Ever since we spent the year in Malawi I have longed to come back and live.  We lived in the most rural you possibly could in South Sudan to the crazy chaos of Nairobi in Kenya, as well as the in-between in Blantyre.  I've seen poverty I could never have imagined, and money that I never knew existed.  I've lived on the brink of war and through insane elections.  And I've shown off this life I've loved …

Eating Crow

I hate eating crow.

For those not familiar with this expression because you are not a native English speaker (or simply because I am old and you are not) this means having to apologize for something after taking a strong stance.  Presumably eating crow would leave a bad taste in your mouth.  So does apologizing after you have been so stubborn.

I am a hothead. I am also a verbal processor.  These two things can be explosive together when I reach a point of frustration where I just let it out.  I can't tell you the number of times I have had to swallow my pride and reach out and apologize. It is an almost painful, and certainly humbling - sometimes humiliating- experience.

Over the years as I have grown up and matured (hopefully hah) I have learned better how to hold my tongue and can usually wait until the proper moment to approach a situation in a way that is more calm and reasonable.  However there are still times of stress and feeling overwhelmed when I don't do this in the…

Bookends of Beauty

I love the bride of Christ.

I know that many of you reading this have seen the ugly, the broken, the spiteful.  It has been aimed at you or someone you love and the hurt has caused so much pain that you ran.  Maybe you are still physically present, but your heart is not fully in.  I understand.  We've been in full time ministry for 23 years now.  You can't be in this type of life without experiencing some of that ugliness - or handing it our yourself. 

However, I have been reminded again recently how beautiful it can be when it is done as a picture of Him. 

In the last few churches that we have been at where Shawn has pastored we have had a point in our time there where we had to admit that we couldn't do it anymore.  These churches in the States were ones that were under redevelopment - meaning on the brink of closing for one reason or another - and we were brought in to see if there was any health left and to push it in that direction if the answer was yes.  That means …

The Beautiful Stories

This week we had our 4th annual International Festival at New City Fellowship.  Most of you who actually read this know that our church here in Nairobi is comprised of people from all over the world and several tribes here in Kenya.  It is messy and hard a lot of the time, but so beautiful when we all work at it together.  The international festival is one way that we celebrate the unique ways God made each of us.  As we have said before, we can come together under one roof and worship the One True God together because we were first reconciled with him through the blood of Jesus, and that reconciliation and peace overflows from us because of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  It's a glimpse of heaven when it's done right. 


Our church loves to party - one thing we do really well is celebrate!  This year was the fourth year of the festival, and though Shawn and I started it, we found that we weren't all that necessary this year.  It was such a wonderful surprise to see p…

Be Still

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”
As I sit here right now, I feel like every nerve is my body is on edge.  Anxiety is creeping in.  I just text a friend to say that anxiety was winning today.  I am reading these verses over and over again, yet all around me is NOISE! There is construction happening on three sides of us.  Construction in Africa means constant pounding all day long.  The guard is listening to music on his radio where he is sitting, which is right below my bedroom window.  Our kitchen sink is plugged so there are two plumbers talking and pounding away in the that room.  Cars are driving by – mufflers loud and spilling out noise, people are  walking by and chattering in one of their many languages that make no sense to me.  There’s an ibis outside making his loud and annoying sound over and over again.  The area out back of the flat, which is a slum area, is hopping with people hawking things, music blaring, dogs barking incessantly, and children laugh…

Welcome Back

Welcome back to my original blog!  With the fact that we are moving back to the US in April I wanted to get this one up and running again.  I have copied over some of the most popular blogs from wallacesinafrica.  Thanks for going along for the ride with us!  We look forward to more new adventures as we wander this crazy life God has given us together!
So no more wallacesinafrica.com.  This is where it's happening! ;)

The Wisdom of Pooh

You guys…loving people is hard.  Waiting is hard.  Goodbyes are hard.  Uncertainty is hard.  Living in the day – in the moment – it is all so hard. Yet this is where God has us right now. If you have not heard our news yet – we are finishing up our term here in Nairobi and planning to move back to the US at the end of April.  There are several reasons for this (See our recent e-letterHEREto get answers to all your FAQs).  We are currently living in a state of goodbye with no clear hello in front of us.  I have been paying that God would show us a glimpse of what is next for us in the States, but so far he has chosen to have us sit and wait.  We have our own ideas of what possibilities excite us and what seems like a great fit, but waiting on his timing and his plan is something that we have never done very patiently. So here we are. And grief – it’s a sneaky little thing.  I have found myself full of gratefulness and hope one moment and a sobbing puddle of sadness the next – for no logic…

God in the Curry

I don’t know when the smell of curries became a comfort smell for me. I don't know when the smell of curries became home for me. 

Today as I was walking through Diamond Plaza (Little India here in Nairobi) I instantly went to a place of feeling safe and at home when I caught a whiff of turmeric and cumin wafting through the air.  These warm spices automatically hit my senses and make me happy. It brings to mind pictures of English class with my ladies; Karogas (BBQ’s) with friends – laughing, eating, and visiting; cooking lessons with our neighbor when the interns were here; and henna with friends after taking chai together. Somewhere along the line India became home, and I’ve never even been there. This time back in Kenya has been a bit difficult for me.  Shawn and Anna are missing from everyday life.  (Shawn will be back this week!!) I came back to a whole new team, because our Nairobi team became two as we focus on more specific ministries.  We no longer live in the house we were …

Holding My Breath

Living in a developing country often has things to it that get me wondering what in the world I am doing.  I’ve noticed a common phrase coming out of my mouth as I am driving is, “I just don’t understand” meaning, “What in the world do you think you’re doing?!?”  Literally every time I am driving this phrase or some variation is said (ahem, yelled) at least once.  A little head shaking and maybe a glare if they look in their mirror (rarely) and then we move on.  (I’m such a good missionary…) Insane driving aside, I do love Kenya.  But there’s a certain feel here that I don’t experience in my home culture.  I am in the last minutes of getting things ready for our apprentices to come.  I will be teaching orientation for them for the first week.  We will talk about specific things in Kenya, how to not just survive, but to thrive and excel here.  We will talk about medical things, drinking water, cultural adjustments, what to do when the honeymoon phase wears off, etc.  I feel pretty prepa…