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…And the line up for this year’s Ayer Academy…

The Story God is writing is getting fuller, richer, more messy, and far more beautiful than I had ever imagined.  Thank you, Father, for these precious children.  Thank you for your work in their lives…make them arrows ready to fly far in this world!

 

THIS YEAR…we focus UP.

Here are our themes for the year…

WHATEVER IS TRUE, 

WHATEVER IS NOBLE,
WHATEVER IS RIGHT,
WHATEVER IS PURE,
WHATEVER IS LOVELY,
WHATEVER IS ADMIRABLE,
IF ANYTHING IS EXCELLENT OR PRAISEWORTHY,

THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS.  (Phil. 4:8)The littlest, and biggest personality under this roof…Isaiah!  He’s our nearly 2 year old.  Loud, hilarious, joyful, naughty, and strong!Here’s Selah Naomi…our sunshine -4 year old.  She is doing “real preschool” this year!  PRECIOUS, cuddly, SO cute, so so sweet, our encourager, and comic relief!Evelyn Faith…our Evie-Bear.  She’s beginning 3rd grade this year!  I can’t believe it!  Evie is so fun, such a strong and athletic girl, she is determined, full of faith, a great friend, and is very loyal to this momma!Sweet Riah Grace!! also a 3rd grader this year!! Riah is 9 years old and is excelling! She is kind, and compassionate, gentle and generous.  She loves all things about babies, dolls, and looking glamorous!! Maija Hope is 10!! She’s starting 5th grade this year! Maija is strong and confident, a leader, compassionate, and creative! She is moved by her faith and her love for others.  She is an encourager and incredible at back rubs!!Here’s our most recent “pre-teen”!  Caleb Matthew is entering 7th grade!  A Junior Higher!!  Caleb loves to talk, read, talk some more, play with GUYS, read some more.  Such a happy, faith-filled boy! he is growing into a young man with strong character and a strong mind.  We are excited to see what the Lord continues to do in him this year!And here is our FRESH WOMAN!!! Ella has persevered through a challenging season, but her character and faith have come forth like GOLD.  She is beautiful inside and out.  She is an amazing friend, student, sister and daughter…she loves to dance and sing and has an incredible gift of writing.  She is blessed this year to be attending the Amazima Missionary School.  She loves it and is thriving there!And I’m the blessed momma that gets to teach, play, disciple, discipline, laugh, read to and try keep up with all these incredible kids!Starting our second year here in Uganda has felt GOOD.  We rejoice in the roots God has given us, how He has grown and established us by His grace, and how He continues to call us to Himself and this life here.  Jesus, be glorified here.And over it all, through it all, IN it all… we are HELD TOGETHER.

Colossians 1:15-18

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,

whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,

so that in everything he might have the supremacy

new beginnings

The rain drops fell hard onto the dry and cracked soil. My Dad and I tilled the soil, watched as we uncovered new, soft black, ready for this rain. It’s how I felt. Since leaving Ethiopia, our roots had been pulled out of the bright orange mud and transplanted to this foreign place. The dry season has been long and I need the rain. I have stood in the beating intense sun of this beautiful place grieving where I used to be planted and wondering what God could grow in this new one.

 

In Ethiopia, I planted these giant sunflowers that grew and towered above me. Glorious and strong, they sang to my heart of His goodness and Life and promises in our lives. My husband worked hard in that small town in Southern Ethiopia, but even more, once a month he would climb aboard a helicopter, back pack strapped on tight. He would turn to wave and I was overcome with this reality… “He goes to the Nations…He draws them to Himself…He loves to the uttermost…” He had called us to the unreached and Dave would faithfully board this bird and fly south. His partners also were faithful and precious men called to these people and villages. The helicopter (a mission called helimission) would land in Soddo’s soccer field, attracting a crowd of patients in their gowns, people in wheelchairs and children from the nearby streets in town…they would perch on the cement walls around our compound, and find strong branches in trees. The blast from the helicopter would blow orange dust into eyes and we were all blinded for a moment. Then all would join in a wild cheer. Yes, we were cheering Him on. We all felt the thrill, even if not everyone knew what this powerful tool was doing for the Kingdom.

 

So here and now, I see what has had to die. I see what we had to lay down. I see some of what needed to be pruned or uprooted in our lives…the ground has laid barren and my heart has cried out for the lost, but also for our loss. But there in the garden, the first bright green shoots are rising up out of this new, black soil, and I smile. I know He is here. I know He is planting us. I know there are people who need to hear of His love here. We have left Ethiopia. The helicopter no longer flies over those beautiful people. But they received the Gospel. They heard and believed. There was a harvest, and it will spread and grow and bring LIFE. Because that is how his love works.   The work of the Holy Spirit blew through the T’ara tribe like a strong and life-changing wind. We were called to that season for that harvest…and now He has called us forward.

 

We fix our eyes…we dig deep and plant again. We are washed in His love and goodness. He truly makes all things new. I feel the dirt between my toes and know it is well with my soul.

 

Breaking the Silence

“Every valley made me lift my eyes up
Every burden only made me stronger
Every sorrow only made Your joy go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

Every mountain is making me a climber
Every giant is calling out a fighter
Every heartache only makes Your love go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

Thrown down but not defeated
I’m worn out but not giving up”

This. This is the song of my heart today…

I sit with a cool Ugandan breeze ministering to me. Reminding me of Your constant-ness and faithfulness, even when my eyes couldn’t see and my faith was so weak.

This past year was marked with many dark valleys, many steep mountains, and more joy than I’ve ever known.

There were times when I thought the joy had been sucked right out of me, or stolen, or lost as I climbed, but I begged, and You showed me again, your grace and your goodness, your mercy and kindness.

Again, Father, you’ve brought us this far. To a place of abundance, but where we’re different than before. For that I am so thankful. I don’t want to turn back, or regret, or come under fear. I want to live FULLY and obediently poured out to you. I want my soul to find REST in you among the waves, on the side of that steep mountain, and in the dark of those valleys. I want to learn to SEE you in it all.

This past year, was a quiet year again. A still year in my heart. When I can only pray and try to comprehend on my own and not put my thoughts even into words. When groans are what I can offer.

I feel we stand at the base of the next mountain. You our Guide. Always. I look up. Fix my eyes, and beg you to show up as you always have. Your faithfulness my Rod…your Mercy, my Staff…Your love, my anchor…Your salvation, my only Hope.

I take these first steps, anchored and trusting. I don’t want to slip back into fear. Keep my heart from failing, Jesus. I hear you calling upwards.

 

This little boy has captured our hearts. You have spoken that he is our joy-bringer. His life was purposed to enter our family by your grace and sovereignty.

My daughter, stands taller than me now—entered high school. Laughs and works diligently. She is marked by your healing grace.

My husband, forging the waters of Lake Victoria, passionate and vision-filled for the souls inhabiting these somewhat forgotten islands. I stand beside quiet and in awe.

Lord, let us climb and battle, and believe FOR YOU in all our lives.  We step into this next month with expectation.  You are GOOD.  Thank you for drawing us deeper.

Let this life…these nine lives BE FOR YOU.

See God’s heart for the islands…Let it be.

https://www.islandsofhopeuganda.org

Erin L - We love you! A beautiful picture of His work in the past year.

Advent…the coming.

Here it is. Again.  This season that seems to rush in just when this weary soul needs it.  A reminder, a reality–that HE IS COMING.

He comes in, consistently, powerfully, and changes me.  Every single year.

He is coming.

I am wandering.  Last year I was wondering.

I wondered as I set foot in a new country, surrounded by new people, a new culture and began making yet another new home. I wondered where He was in all my mess.  In all my uncertainty and in all my questions.  I wondered how I would see Him and know Him more through all of this.

This past year was hard.  One of the hardest.  We were broken and hurting.  Our kids were grieving and confused.  Some more than others. My heart was broken to release a people and a place that had grown so deep into me.  I missed Ethiopia.  I missed our friends and our home.  I missed the long drive through the vast, beautiful country.  I missed my friend Ayelech and her joyful worship of her Redeemer.  I missed watching my husband fly off on the helicopter to the unreached–the untouched.  I missed hearing his phone ring and watch him RUN to pour out.  I missed our garden, our community, watching my kids run free and climb trees.  I had to let it all grieve and hurt for awhile.  I had to watch two within my home be pulled up out of some deep pits by a strong and loving Savior.  I had to trust more than I ever have before–on behalf of my child.  I had to release and cry out.  I had to lay down what my hopes had been, and love Jesus above all of that. I had to ask him for new vision and renewed passion for what He’d called us to. HERE. and NOW.

This year was a year of Healing.  But the healing began with many, many broken pieces.  The healing began through tears and through valleys.  But HE WAS THERE.

And He IS COMING.  He always is.

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