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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Calm Before the Storm...

In a half an hour I am leaving for the airport and I must admit I'm feeling pretty good.  I feel so blessed and am glad to be organized.  Mom, Dad, and Rick are coming with me, to help check in 10 pieces of baggage before I board the plane for Amsterdam and then Entebbe.

Last week I was able to get away to Grand Rapids, MI for a few days - to fellowship and celebrate American Thanksgiving with some precious people... but I was also able to deliver over 300 pounds of books/journals/photo albums, etc that will be shipped over to Uganda.  A wonderful company is donating some space in a shipping crate that will take 2 months to arrive, and it really helped to get rid of some of my heavier items so I don't need to carry them on the plane.

Sunday was a wonderful day.  Bethel CRC in Newmarket was full as people - friends and relatives came from around the province to be a part of my Commissioning service.  The advent theme, of Jesus - Our Good News, totally fit with being sent to Uganda.  A large crowd of people came to the front of the church and laid hands on me as my niece and nephews tucked in close for some of their final good-byes.  (Hopefully pictures will follow) A potluck luncheon followed the service and then a relaxing Open House to greet a few more friends and family members.  Family dinner sealed the evening.

Yesterday I said farewell to my grandfather and ran a few more errands - all of my insurance and banking is set up.  Hopefully Dad will be able to sell my car soon... I actually ran out of time to deal with it.

Now - the bags are loaded in the van and my heart is extremely peaceful - as I have seen God work everything out in amazing ways.  I am a little bit tired, but I have 16 hours on a plane, with only a 2.5 hour layover in Amsterdam.  I think I'll buy some yummy cheese to take with me.  I am so excited to see my team-mates on the other side of the ocean!!  I know that I have been fairly chipper about leaving, but have no fear - I do get choked up every once in a while - for this amazing journey that I am embarking on. 

All is well... and this Ride in God's Palm is going to be incredible... I know the days ahead will be incredible, but they will be like a storm of light - that truly displays God's power and majesty.  May He receive the glory as I strive to serve Him when I hit African soil.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Writer's Nest Farewell

I just wanted to show you all what a special writer's group I belong to... please click on the attached link:

It has been a blessing to join other writers in a monthly event - of themed writing and great fellowship.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maranatha - Lord Come Quickly

This evening I attended my final meeting at "The Writer's Nest".  Tonight's theme was "Devotional" and I thought I would try write a devotional, which I've never really done before.  But here's my piece:

Revelation 22:7-9
’Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.’  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.  And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.  But he said to me, ‘Do not do it!  I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all all who keep the words of this book.  Worship God!”

While driving in my car the other day, I heard an old Tim McGraw song that says: “I went sky diving.  I went rocky mountain climbing.  I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.  And I loved deeper.  And I spoke sweeter.  And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying.  And he said someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.”  All those adventures sound like a great way to live.
Some of us may have lower expectations or excitements than what the world thinks is cool – I hope to have the house clean at the end of the day.  I want to give my child a hug every day.  I want to send a letter to a lonely friend.  I want to honestly pray for a friend when that friend has requested prayer.  Or I want to watch the sun set and thank God for another day.  These are all important ways to live.

Throughout the past 15 years, I often remember back to a college professor who used to end his class with a prayer that finished with the words “Maranatha, Lord come quickly!”   I pondered those words and placed them near to my heart.  I really do want to have the Lord come back quickly, but I also want to greet each day to the glory of God because I never know when my time on earth is done.
Now as I prepare for the mission field, I am excited that I can continue to worship God by sharing His Good News.  Even though I am ready to meet my Saviour today, there are many in this world who are not there yet.  It is a challenge to all of us as believers to recognize God’s calling on our lives, to understand the chief calling of man, as defined by the Westminster catechism, which is "to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."

Father God, may we never forget that you have called us your own.  I pray that we can strive to worship You each and every day and to share Your amazing love with those around us.  May we understand that our lives are just a twinkle in Your eyes, and that you deserve all the glory!  Amen.”

A Moment of Silence

The screen was lit up behind me as I stood in the centre of the gymnasium.  The room was dark and quiet as close to 500 students at Hamilton District Christian High School listened to me share stories of the LRA war in northern Uganda.  A few weeks ago, I received an email from a younger cousin - she was hoping I would come and share at the Remembrance Day assembly and I was completely honoured.  The theme of the morning was remembering the veterans of the past, but also to realize the wars that are going on around the world today and how that affects all people.  Since HDCHS sponsors former girl soldiers in getting them back into school they wanted to focus on the LRA and that's how I got tied into the assembly.  For fifteen minutes I was able to share about the work and ministry going on in northern Uganda right now and I'm grateful to have another school of kids out there praying for me!

As I was racing home - in time for my second last shift at the group home - I was listening to the radio.  The bugles blared just seconds before the silence began at 11:11 am.  At first I didn't think anything of it, but as the silence continued, the tears started to stream down my face.  I'm not sure what choked me up... it might have been remembering that Grandpa once fought in Indonesia for three years to help free Indonesia from the Japanese.  It could have been the scenes of corpses that I helped to dig up and collect to help build a mass grave just north of Soroti.  But I also think there was a sense of gratefulness for how blessed I am to live in Canada.  Freedom to love God, express my opinions, work hard, and so much more. 

I pray I never forget how much people have given up to fight for freedom and survival. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Preparing for Departure

Hello faithful readers,
I thought it was time to write some more and fill you in on what's happening in my world... the time changed this weekend, but instead of sleeping in, my body has decided to get up between 5:30-6:30 every morning.  Actually, it is probably more that my MIND won't stop running.  I am trying to get so much done because I am leaving for Uganda in 20 short days.  I-Yi-Yi!
Here is a glimpse into my mind:
Already been done:
  • saw the International doctor and got my immunization shots
  • got rid of most of my belongings in Canada (besides what I am taking with me - very little will go into storage)
  • spoke in Acton and Etobicoke churches, for support and encouragement
  • wired money to pay for my "new" vehicle - a Subaru Forester - in Uganda
  • called all credit and debit card companies to make sure the dates won't expire or the numbers get blocked while I live in East Africa
  • talked Home Hardware into giving me a deal on shipping totes and have started to pack three of them for the plane already.
  • recovered from my tonsillectomy
  • raised almost all of my needed funding for the long-term mission field.
  • have written tons of "thank you" cards... I think I am caught up.
What needs to be done:
  • pick up my malaria pills and other medications from the pharmacy.
  • confirm my flight details for a departure on Nov. 29th... landing Nov. 30th!!
  • visit a few friends and family members close to Lake Huron.
  • speak at Hamilton District Christian High on Friday - a 15 minute Remembrance day speech, focusing on former child soldiers and hope for Uganda.  Nov. 11th
  • work two more shifts at the group home - pray for peace, as I am saying good-bye to four special young adults in my life, and an amazing team of co-workers, after 6.5 years
  • speak in Williamsburg CRC for support on Sunday, November 13th.
  • finish knitting one more teddy bear.
  • write approximate 500 letters to supporters and friends.
  • still looking for supporters who are willing to sponsor me :)  Go to and I will thank God for you!!
  • put a stop on my OHIP because I am leaving the country - (Ontario Health Insurance Plan)
  • get my International Driver's license.
  • attend my last "Writer's Nest" meeting on Nov. 15th.
  • do some last minute shopping for: personal hygiene supplies, a digital recorder, a video/camera, sheets, scissors, first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray, iron tabs, and possibly a laptop... and more.
  • pack all of my belongings and make sure each piece of luggage is 23 kg.
  • have a Confirmation Service at my church in Newmarket on Nov. 27th, with a potluck to follow, Open House in the afternoon, and a intimate family dinner with my siblings, niece and nephews, parents, and grandparents.
  • try to visit people to say good-bye
Well, now you know how to pray and support me in the next 20 days... wow, what a ride!

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Here I am, Lord!"

Rarely do I drink coffee, but yesterday morning I walked over to the serving window in the kitchen at church and poured myself a cup of java.  I strolled over to the small woman's Bible study group and assumed I would just melt into the crowd - But God had other plans.  One leader had the flu, another was at physiotherapy, and the only other leader who was present had lost her voice.  :)  Usually we start the meeting with singing and this morning was no exception - books were handed out and soon "Here I Am Lord" was chosen and I was quickly asked to lead.  Sure - no problem.  As we were singing the words I started getting choked up.... as I know I have told the Lord that I am willing to GO and now I know for sure HE is sending me.  That song brought a few testimonies - of how people were either willing to go or of how some were scared to even sing the chorus because they didn't want to make promises they couldn't keep.

Normally after a time of singing, the large group breaks into smaller groups, and then I noticed that my group didn't have a leader at all.  One of the older ladies leaned over and said, "Karen, will you lead the group today - you are always so good at it?"  Well, I haven't been leading at all this year - due to a crazy work/fundraising/surgery schedule and I didn't even own a book, but I felt the Spirit prompting me to say YES.  So I did! 
Upon arrival to the classroom in the basement of the church, I was handed a Study guide on Matthew and together we opened our Bibles to Matthew 4.  The next hour turned out to be one of the best discussions ever.  We talked about Jesus being led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.  Satan tried to tempt Jesus - with food, wealth, and authority, but Jesus was able to remain strong and quoted Scripture.  It was noted how important it is to hide God's Word in our hearts.  We also chatted about the differences between trials and temptations.  Trials are things that happen to you, while temptations are things you have chosen to allow happen.  Great explanation!
I also had one of those moments that sometimes baffles me in my faith.  I know God allowed Jesus to be tempted - so that we could see how human he was, but that he also came through the temptations without sinning!  He remained perfect, to be the Saviour of the world.  But why?  Why does God even allow Satan to test and tempt others?  He had a hay day with Job.  He slyly approached Eve to eat the fruit in the Garden of Eden.  We know that Satan is a created being, a fallen angel, but why does God still allow that evil to exist?  God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  God flooded the earth during the times of Noah.  And yet Satan and his dominions are always there, trying to get us to turn away from the most loving, kind, just, forgiving God there is.  Maybe it is to make sure we really CHOOSE life with Christ and PRAISE God in all of His amazing glory.

Week 6. Our Spiritual Future
Day 4: November 3

Read: Ephesians 3:14-19
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Today we pray for:
Growth in our love for each other - and for the weekend of Discovery - with starts this afternoon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

3 More Days = 40 Days for Bethel

Week 6. Our Spiritual Future
Day 3: November 2

Read: Matthew 22:34-40
"Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'  Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Today we pray:
That Bethel will be bold in showing Christ's love in and for our Community.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Prepping for Remembrance

Friend - this post is short - but I need prayer to write a speech for next week.  I have been asked to speak at a high school Remembrance Day assembly - talking about war, former child soldiers, and inspiring these teens to make a difference.  I am excited about this new project!!

Week 6. Our Spiritual Future
Day 2: November 1

Read: Revelation 4:9-11
"Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever.  They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'"

Today we pray for:
Bethel CRC to become Passionate about God.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Double Desserts

It's not to often that I go all out and follow my meals with desserts, but today I did.... and not just once.... TWICE!
This morning I gathered with my co-workers for my final team meeting at the group home where I have served for the past 6.5 years.  I started choking up as they prayed for me, wished me well, and made the most delicious Good Bye cake ever.... cream cheese, jam, home-made yumminess.  (I still have six shifts left, but it was nice to be with the whole gang.)
After purchasing six shipping totes, for packing, from a local hardware store, I drove into Newmarket to have dinner with a good friend from church.  After my flavourful Paella, we ordered dessert, but I think we ordered too much.  A colossal brownie on top of ice cream and peanut butter cups / skor on frozen yogurt... yum yum.  We kept reminding ourselves that I wasn't going to have these treats in a couple of weeks.  :)  I love getting together with friends and breaking bread together.

Week 6. Our Spiritual Future
Day 3: November 1

Read: Galatians 5:22-26
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."

Today we pray for:
That Bethel will be a friendly, warm, welcoming, generous and hospitable church in our community.