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The two shall become one…

December 15th, 2017 5 comments

This foundational principle of marriage found in the very beginning of recorded history, between the first man and first woman, remains a mystery to me.  The idea that the two shall become one means something different than it did over 16 years ago, when I was joined to my wife.  In the beginning, and in my naivety, it only meant what I wanted it to mean.  As long is it was convenient and beneficial for us, then it applied.  There were so many things we didn’t understand.  As I write this, I continue to be amazed because there is still so much I am learning.

One thing that has been taught to me over our years together is that my wife is a discerner of hearts.  On countless occasions, she has advised me about the heart of of someone I work with, or for.  I can’t tell you how many times I have told her that she’s wrong… I know this guy!  There’s no way he’s like that!  Then (it never takes long) something happens that proves her gift.

Can I tell you how frustrating it is?  She’s always right, sometimes!!  Eventually, I have to examine myself and wonder why it is that her gift annoys me.  Why would I be offended by this?  If we were really joined together as one, doesn’t that mean that *I* have the gift of discernment through my wife?  So, logically, if we have this gift, why is it causing so much frustration in us both?

It’s also true that this gift is frustrating for my wife.  Why?  Surely she doesn’t hate being right all the time, right?  The problem for her, is that I don’t ever do anything with her discernment.  I laugh off her revelation, or ignore it completely.  Honestly, at times, I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do with the information.  I remember saying at times, “What, babe?  Should I just go fire this guy from our company because my wife got a bad vibe?”.  She’s left with the stress of knowing that something bad will happen, and I choose to run forward as fast as I can in the bliss of ignorance until we hit the proverbial wall.

After learning time and again to appreciate the fact that my wife likely is right.  I, in my own lack of discernment, decided the best thing for me to do was to follow my wife’s lead when she had one of these revelations.  While I may have my faults and lack of gifts in discernment, my wife isn’t exactly the perfection of all of God’s creation, either.  Somehow I became confused, and thought that if she had this discernment, she probably had the best solution, as well.  It only took a time or two of following her lead to see that the emotional response to her discernment were no more right than my lack of discernment.  It’s possible that things might have even been made worse!

It’s the moments of clarity that make me realize how very unmarried we are.  As we read together, pray together, and grow in our marriage; God also reveals these truths to us.  The fact is that God has made my wife to be my perfect help, and a giver of life for our family.  He has made me a leader, and a steward of her.  How miraculous would it be if God actually created her gift of discernment for my benefit?  What if He intentionally gave me this gift through my wife, intending that I would steward it?  What if I could lead her, and lead others through this gift?

Jarid & Staci                     Established 2001

So, we’ve learned something by the word of God.  If I choose to swallow my pride and listen, really listen to my wife, she brings me perspective that I could not have on my own.  She also gives me a very emotionally charged response of how to deal with the potential issue.  If I communicate to her an attitude of thankfulness, and gladly accept her discernment, she can feel loved and appreciated.  She has provided help to me, she has given life to my role as a leader.  It’s who God created her to be!

My job, then, is to lead in light of the information provided.  I may need some time to think about things, but this is now my area of gifting.  As I come back to my wife with my plan to steward her discernment, and to lead through it, I am a messenger of peace.  She no longer has to feel the emotional burden of what was revealed to her.  She can rest knowing that she has performed her role, and that it was accepted.  She trusts in me, and respects the wisdom I can bring through God’s gifting in me.

This seems so simple when I write it out, but this is an honest BREAK-THROUGH in our marriage.  My wife has made me such a better man.  She honors and respects me more than before.  On the other hand, I have brought peace.  I have protected her and provided a safe place for her to exercise her gift.

I wonder how we could have gone 16 years without some of these things being figured out by now.  I know that God has His timing.  I’m just feeling so encouraged, so amazed by His grace, and continually amazed at the depth of truth that I hold in my hands when I spend time with my God in His word.

I can’t wait until the next trial is brought to us, because I know how far we have to go.  Oh, how we will grow by the love of the Father.

Categories: Ministry, Staci Tags:

Musana Community Clinic

November 9th, 2017 1 comment

The last couple of months have flown by at Musana Camps, and I’m very happy to be at Kasana (Head Office for New Hope Uganda) where we can reset a bit and take the time to provide an update.

Since our last post, we have struggled through some Read more…

The first in Uganda, but 16 in total…

September 22nd, 2017 8 comments

What a beautiful day, and what a wonderful reason to praise God.

My wife and I woke early as we do every morning.  We pour our coffee in the living room where I join her for our morning prayers.  On Fridays we pray with a particular emphasis on those we love who have not yet come to the saving knowledge of Christ.  I’m not sure where the sovereignty of God and man’s free will intersect, but I know that my God is faithful and hears our prayers.  I’ve seen evidence of this time and again.  After our prayers, my wife and I sit at the table to listen through a lecture series, currently studying conflict management.  The material is somewhat dry, but I love this time with my wife.  We talk through all the conflict we currently face, and her discernment helps me to see things from another perspective.  God chose her for me, and the two of us really see things better together.

What a beautiful day, and what a wonderful reason to praise God.

We have a new routine for our Fridays, one that really seems to add a good variation to our schedule.  After getting breakfast made and enjoying our time together, it’s Staci who goes to work on Friday.  She takes my keys down to the camp office to get some quiet time to work on her lesson planning, and any administrative household items that need to be taken care of.  While she enjoys this time without the constant interruption of, “Mommy!”, I get the thrill of settling arguments, demanding that the chores get done, and trying to keep our house in order.  Today I spent this time applying a final coat of paint to a kitchen wall that has been neglected for years, dating back prior to our arrival.  While I cut in the trim, I listened to the light drizzle of rain against the tin roof, which didn’t prevent Benjamin and Isaac from exploring the forest to harvest a dying tree for firewood.  Kaiya stayed inside to practice her Luganda, since they will attend their class later today.

What a beautiful day, and what a wonderful reason to praise God.

It’s hard to imagine what two kids had in mind when they were confessing their love for each other in front of family and friends sixteen years ago.  We had dreamt of many things, but never this.  I’m not sure if anything would have been further from our minds than being missionaries in Africa.  From IT and coffee shops, to tree farms and basketball; from car sales and a nutrition store, to the oilfields of North Dakota, God has been working on this marriage.  Through kids and health complications, foster care and adoption, God has been refining us.  In allergies and diet changes, God was preparing us.  In 8 places we have called home, God was showing us that we were foreigners in all of them.  God brought us early success, and challenged what it really was.  God humbled us and took away some of those provisions, and asked if He was really enough.  We called ourselves Christ followers, but God asked if that was by our definition or His.  Work and home would pull a husband and a wife apart, but God chose to intervene and become our place of unity.

What a beautiful day, and what a wonderful reason to praise God.

Today we celebrate those 16 years.  A year ago this meant dinner out at the finest restaurant, flowers and cards.  This year we will stay at home, since the rain makes our roads impassable.  We’ll see if the cloudy day allows us enough solar power for a movie tonight.  We’ll probably discuss our ministry, our work.  We’ll talk about where the clinic is headed, what conflict we face, and how many of our neighbors are having difficulty finding food.  We’ll continue to read a book together, discussing how we can help a struggling people to find hope in something other than money and material resources.  As we do, God will continue to bring our minds together.  He’ll continue the miracle and mystery of “the two shall become one”.  Today I thank God for my bride.  I thank him for 16 years of transformation.  We are not the same as we were, and I certainly thank Him for that.  We are centered in God’s will, pursuing Him like at no other time in our lives, and pursuing Him together.  On this anniversary of our marriage, there is no place I’d rather be, other than the home He will eventually call us to.

What a beautiful day, and what a wonderful reason to praise God.

Categories: Prayer, Rejoicing, Staci Tags:

Heroes

March 5th, 2017 13 comments

I can’t decide if it’s harder to believe that it has already been three weeks that we have been in our new home in Uganda, or that it has only been three weeks since we left our home in America.  Maybe it’s the weather that makes it seem like snowy and blustery North Dakota is years in the past.

I am writing this having just completed my first week at my new job.  For two weeks we took a look at our surroundings and tried to get accustomed to life at Musana Camps.  Not that we were necessarily ready, but this week I headed down to the office at 8am on Monday to see what adventures awaited me there.  I walked into all kinds of work.  We talked through relational issues in the community and amongst the staff and contractors, similar to the things that I managed at my previous job.  I worked on and produced a first draft of a church constitution for Musana Community Church, similar to what I had been a part of in our sending church.  We walked the boundary of the property at Musana Camps, and prayed over the issues that we currently face, issues not so different from those that we faced in our home church and business in the United States.  This week I learned of the struggles that some of the women of local villages face as they try to maintain Christlike behavior and submission in the home of an abusive or alcoholic husband.  Is it so different in the United States?

It was a busy week, and I finally started to dive into my job.  As I did, one thing really stood out to me.  Not one thing, but one person, I suppose.  While I moved to Uganda to pursue God’s mission for our family, I essentially just changed the location of everything I was already doing.  Life is different, maybe a little bit harder, but essentially my responsibility and functions are the same.

This week I was able to see who went through the most change and now faces the most challenge.  My wife is my hero.  I could face downsizing our lives, because so much of my life was spent at an office, anyhow.  She had to figure out what was necessary to stock her new classroom in Uganda.  She had to figure out lesson plans and structure for our children in a new country, and with a growing 4 year old who can be quite a distraction.  She is the one figuring out how to process new foods, and doing it without the help of the many electrical appliances we had in the U.S.

During the first week in Uganda, Cassava was our staple for food.  Staci had to figure out where to buy it, how to peel it, and different ways to cook it.  We ate amazing food, and invented meals that I don’t think have ever been seen in Uganda.

The second week, Matoke was the staple.  We purchased a huge bunch of them, and they became the mainstay of every meal.  Staci cooked up breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, all using this one base.  Once again she got local produce at a great price, helped us to form relationships with local farmers, learned how to process the fruit, and invented meals to satisfy every member of our family.

Staci preparing jack fruit.

As she was breaking down a jack fruit the other night, it occurred to me just how fully she has poured herself into our family.  She is tired from all of it, but carries no regrets.  The love she has for our new life is greater than her frustrations.  She gets up every morning to kill a dozen or so ants in the kitchen, check the floors and counters for lizard waste, look for bats in the rafters, and boil water for coffee.  She preps food while teaching so that meals will be prepared on time, and somehow she thinks ahead to have Sunday’s food ready so that it can be a day of rest.  We go to bed every night with flashlights so that we can watch our two favorite spiders catch lake flies on the ceiling.

This woman is amazing, and God knew what He was doing when He joined us as one.  I’m such a better person because of her.  On my own, none of this would have ever happened.  With her, and as God wills, we can do anything.

This woman is my hero.  I only hope that I can live up to half of the expectations placed on me to love her as Christ has loved me, and gave Himself up for me.  If I desire Godly children, and if I love her as I profess to love her, let me always honor her and serve her in disregard of any perception of authority I might possess.  I have so far to go, and so much to learn.

Malachi 2:15: Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?  And what was the one God seeking?  Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

 

Categories: Rejoicing, Staci Tags: