Today launches a very special spot in my heart. This is the first guest post on my blog site. The first God's Girl who said yes to my request. Let me share a few tidbits about Karen Hall. Karen is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, chicken mama, soon to be a grandmother and above all, she is a daughter of God. Karen and I attend the same church. Up until yesterday, Karen and I have never sat face-to-face to hold a conversation. However, Karen and I have known each other through God, friends and emailing each other back and forth. One of our dear friends called us "Pen-Pals". I suppose that is exactly what we have been. What I know about Karen is she is passionate for God and His calling. She has a beautiful smile that lights up a room. She is real and she is courageous for our Father. Please welcome Karen to Casual Conversations.
When God’s Girl says yes, why I said yes and how it changed me. I was beyond thrilled when Michele asked me to answer these questions specifically about saying yes to my journey to Sierra Leone, Africa. How hard could it be? I have written blogs before, anyone who knows me knows that Africa comes up in my everyday conversation. As I began to pray about writing the blog, it was revealed to me that there were a bunch of what seem to be small yes’s that were out of my comfort zone before the great big yes. So before you go getting the oh your so brave and I could never do that going, I’m here to tell you, yes you can. And not everyone’s big yes is the same. There is a woman at our church who has been in the nursery for years. I remember her coming up to me telling me how brave I was and I thought she must be out of her mind. She has agreed to sit in the nursery every Sunday and on some weekdays, plus she keeps children in her home. Now that’s brave.
The responses to these questions, why and how saying yes, are knitted so tight in my heart that it is hard to find words powerful enough to express the answers. The answers are woven into one story after another of heartbreak and beauty. Being stripped of all control every time in Africa, to the point where I only have God, is what has led me to know that I serve the same God here as I do there. The same God I cry out to in Africa is the same God I cried out to at our homeschool table. The same God I cry out to during a senseless death in Africa is the same God I cried out to when my friend’s son was beaten and left for dead and died a few short years later. The same God I cry out to in Africa is the same God I cried out to when my sister in law’s body was not healed physically from cancer. The same God I cry out to in Africa is the same God I cried out to when my friend Jen who was with me on a medical mission in 2013 passed away here in America less than a year later. For every story of heartbreak, there is a story of beauty woven in. If it were not for Africa, I am certain that I would still be blind to the power of God. If it were not for Africa I may try to put God in a box and say I know HIM and while I know HIM today I also know that HE continues to remove scales from my eyes to see things in HIS holy perspective. Every time I am given a revelation of who HE is, I am surprised that I had missed it before. Yet HE is patient with me when revealing Himself as sometimes I keep the blinders on thinking I am protecting myself or others. Forgetting that HE is our healer, physically and spiritually.
I said yes because I believe that I had no other choice. God was pushing and the idea of saying yes terrified me, however, the idea of saying no terrified me more. Despite my being unqualified, despite I have obligations here, despite every excuse I could think of, I do not believe I could turn away. I would be lying if I said I have not tried to run. Every time it is a very uncomfortable yes. I am called but scared out of my wits. Except this last time. My fourth journey. I had a rough couple of months before the trip and I was looking forward to reconnecting with old friends. This would be my first trip back to Sierra Leone after the Ebola crisis. I was joyful and full of hope. A dark place in my heart was being restored from a deep-hidden past wound and I prayed this trip would be about healing. It was about healing in every sense of the word.
Since I’ve been home I have decided not to go back to work. My youngest daughter is going back to public school I am getting a grandbaby in January that I am going to help care for. Saying yes to Africa has given me the courage to step away from what others think my life should look like. Saying yes to Africa reminds me that I am not my career, I am not my bank account, I am HIS. In between now and the time the baby comes I will be working on my writing. Each story I have mentioned is its own blog post. Initially, this post was 2500 words, I thought a blog post, not a book! My prayer is that the readers get at least a glimpse of the power of God in my life and know that while I am a mess, He has used and shown Himself in miraculous ways.