Friday, May 31, 2013

Uganda or Bust

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So most of you, if not all, have heard that Chris & Taylor have the opportunity to go to Uganda this summer. Two whole weeks!! Which means I'll be without BOTH my helpers for TWO WHOLE WEEKS. When? In JULY. The month I want to pack up everything and move to anywhere but PHX, preferable CA or just spend thousand of dollars and put my kids in all sorts of camps so they'll stop driving me crazy. Of course that requires me to get into my 130 degree car so I'm back to moving. Needless to say I can't guarantee I won't have moved to a house on a beach, or put a second mortgage on my house and built a pool in my backyard with water slides when they return. BUT I can say, in all honesty, it was me pushing them to go. I was the first resounding, YES, you have to go and you have to take Taylor, when Chris first presented me with the opportunity. I. am. so. excited. for them! Below you can find our "support" letter which at this point has only been seen on Facebook and people in their amazing generosity are already giving to the fund!

We have a super easy way to donate coming up in about a week that hopefully some of you will love and get on board with! But even if you want to donate today you will still get that super awesome thing I'm talking about. Stay tuned!

Uganda was once famously described as 'the pearl of Africa' for its beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, many people live in absolute poverty. Dirt floors and mud soup are not uncommon in the slums and rural village areas. This is something that we may know in our heads, but it's really hard to fathom as prosperous Americans. As we've begun reading about Uganda, it's opened up our hearts to see the deep physical and spiritual needs of these people.

We've recently been connected with a ministry called Project Nanzala. The goal of this program is to reach out to children in the slums and rural areas who are unable to attend the public school systems due to lack of funds and supplies. These children are stuck in their desperate situations without hope of self-improvement through education because they can't afford it. The Uganda public school system itself is underfunded and supplies in the classroom are slim to none. The teachers have a good heart for the kids but are often untrained in how to run a classroom or effectively teach. This is where Project Nanzala comes in with a three-fold effort.

The first effort of Project Nanzala will be to provide those children without means of their own supplies and cost to attend school. This includes giving them books, paper, pens, and a pack to put their supplies in. It also includes the school uniform that must be worn by all the students. Incredibly, this can be achieved for approximately $10 per child per month.

The second effort of Project Nanzala will be to transform the public school system into one which is an environment that is equipped in all facets of education. Teachers will be trained to effectively put lesson plans together and conduct class in efficient and productive ways. Schools will be repaired and rebuilt. Classrooms will be equipped with blackboards and desks. It is often the simple things these schools are lacking that we take for granted in the States.

The third and most important effort of Project Nanzala is to share the gospel with the people of Uganda through the ministry and relationship we create through revitalizing their school system. Uganda is very open to Christian values and principles taught in their school system. Chris and Taylor have an opportunity to dramatically affect the future of this nation through the Word of God. We all could not be more excited!

Their plan is to travel to Uganda for two weeks in the summer to press forward these goals. They will be running a teachers conference where teachers from the states will be giving tools of success to the village teachers in Uganda. They will help repair a school building and meet with some of the children who have been enabled through Project Nanzala to attend school and given hope.

They will also be running a Vacation Bible School program for many of the children in the local villages. They need prayer in planning and executing this event as it can be a powerful tool for sharing the gospel with the young children as well as teaching them the solid principles of discipline, hard work, and relationship building. As a pastor, Chris will have unique opportunities to work with and train some of the local pastors, thereby strengthening their ministries. He's already planning to preach twice in the Uganda churches during the trip!

Taylor has had a heart for mission work every since she was introduced to World Vision in 2011. When she heard about the opportunity to go to Uganda, she was scared but also excited to join the team. She wants to help change lives, especially the children in Uganda. She is going to be serving in the VBS by acting in the morning skit and I am so pumped! She is also going to be working with many of the children, helping with music, Bible, crafts, and games.

We are asking for partners to invest in these goals. Here's how you can help:

Pray – Apart from prayer, Chris and Taylor's efforts will have minimal long-term effect. Please pray for their health, for their travel, for the finances, and for the ministry in Uganda. Also, pray that God continues to break our hearts for the Uganda people.

Give – We need to raise almost $7000 to cover the expenses of the trip, along with money to support the VBS initiative. We can't fund this all on our own, though we would if we could! We would be grateful for any amount of investment.

To give:
Please go to this link and select Mission Fund or mail gifts to 7825 W Deer Valley Rd, Peoria, AZ 85382. Please make any checks out to Grace Church with Mission Fund in the memo line. All giving is tax-deductible.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I don't care what you think of me! Or do I?



There I said it. It’s not true though. I want it to be. No offense. I just wish one day I could scream it out at the top of my lungs and be free from the self imposed pressure I put on myself to live up to some unrealistic fantasy in my head.

About two summers ago I did something crazy. Like capital “C” crazy! Chris had been “suggesting” about how cute he thought nose rings were and how he, you know, thought one would look super attractive on my little nose. We just happened to have an anniversary coming up and it seemed like such a fun thing to do. Spice things up a little after 11 years. And well I too thought they were cute on others. Like my super hot sister-in-law Danae.

Off I went with my new bff, Jamaila. Gosh how have I not blogged about Jamaila?!?! She was from Dubai and lived with us for a summer and was basically God’s gift to me wrapped up in a, “little sister I never had” perfect package. Got engaged while living here and is now a happy wife to James. Chris would come home from working into the night and find us on the floor dying of laughter. Here she is in one of the engagement photo's I took for them. She's gorgeous. James is ok. He kind of ruined my life when he had to marry her and she couldn't live with me anymore ;)

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Back to my story, she and I, already close in friendship, decided to take the plunge and join the nose ring community together. Can’t say I enjoyed getting THAT done. But it was a memory and Chris loved it on me as soon as we got home.

I woke up the next morning and thought…. No? Did I really? I felt sick to my stomach. Call it nose ring regret. Now it’s just a teeny tiny dot. A, ever so small, sparkle. But in my messed up mind it might as well covered my entire face, and been bright orange with black polka dots. When I looked in the mirror, there it was screaming at me.

I was convinced that it was the first thing people saw when they looked at me and instantly categorized me as apart of “that" group. I’m not sure exactly what "that" group is. I had never judged people up to that point who had nose rings. Like I said I thought they were super cute. But now I was apart of the rebel without a cause group, the “different” group. In my mind I had just entered into “that” part of society with one swift decision. How could I? I’m a pastor’s wife for goodness sake!!! A homeschool mom! What if people don’t come back to our church because of my nose ring?!?! I have issues I know.

Chris saw my agony. Granted he didn’t have much of a choice as I’m off sobbing in a corner. He gave me an out:

“Babe, take it out if you don’t like it. Don’t keep it in for me!”

"However," he said in all his wisdom, "it seems like God is doing something in you. Breaking you of some sort of legalism you’re holding on to. You might want to keep it in just to let some of this stuff get worked out in your heart."

He was right. He usually is. I should know that after 13 yrs. Because the truth is I just want people to like me and accept me and think I’m great. But I’m not great. I’m not perfect. I fail miserable at all my attempts to appear perfect. I’m not pinterest worthy or quote worthy. So the nose ring stays in. I hardly even notice it these days but when I do I say to myself, you are secure in Christ. Nothing can shake or take away your inheritance in Him. When God looks at me he doesn’t see a nose ring but his fully loved and justified by the blood of Christ child. It helps me care less about others opinions and live in freedom and being the slow learner I am, the nose ring will probably follow me to my grave.

*Now is Jamaila's still in you ask? Nope. She showed up at my house a year later as I was like "WHAT THE HECK!?!? Where did it go?!?" That's ok J- I still love you :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Best Chicken Ever

Seriously I just can't hold on to this amazing recipe anymore. I have to share. Of course now everyone will know how easy it is and that I didn't really slave for hours of this delectable dish. But that's ok. For the good of mankind I will share.

Lime Salsa Chicken

(adapted from pip & ebby)

Juice from one lime
1/4 Cup Cilantro
1.25 oz package of taco seasoning (or make your own so there's no MSG which is what I do. super easy!)
2 jalapeno peppers finely chopped (optional- haven't done this yet)
3 lbs boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 Chopped Red Pepper
1/2 Onion chopped

Now you can throw all this in a bag and freeze till your ready or throw it directly in the crockpot. Since I seem to be living a day at a time with meals as of late I do the later.

Mix in a slow cooker and add one 24 oz jar of salsa. I use a pineapple mango salsa but whatever floats your boat works too!

Cook on high for 3-4 hrs or low for 6-8.

Shred in crockpot and serve in tortillas or over rice. Add some guacamole, sour cream and pour yourself a nice glass of margarita, if your over 21 that is. Then invite all your friends over and listen to them rave.

Sorry no picture. It's so good it doesn't need a picture. Your welcome.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Climb


Today I made a choice to get my tired self out of bed early. Actually it was the sun shining into my poorly covered bedroom at 5:45am that left me with two options. Continue to lay there wishing it was still dark or start the day with a bang. I choose the bang. However after a few attempts at finding everything I needed to hike, I gave up and got back in bed. Great bang Tara. My attempts to fall back asleep fail. I hear our dog bark. On my way down the stairs I find the piece of what I'm missing for my hike. Settle the dog and off I go.

I started with a steep climb. Halfway up I questioned my poorly chosen start. Maybe I wanted to remind myself just how out of shape I truly am. Or maybe it was the lack of caffeine in my body not allowing my brain to function properly. Regardless I made it up the initial climb and began my journey. One tired limb in front of the other. Music going. Truths being sung.

“You will not abandon me”
“prone to wander Lord I feel it”
“I will call upon your name and keep my eyes above the waves”

It starts to get a little easier.

Along the climb I have to move aside for the runners. The crazy people who just aren’t challenged enough with the fact they have a mountain to climb. I grumble inside. I hate them. Not really. I just want to be them. After awhile I realize I don’t have water. Stupid Tara, who does a hike without water? Or coffee? Soon I’m envious of all the water bottles I see hanging on peoples hips and backs and hands. And I just want water. Everything would be easier with water. Then I start to take notice of who doesn’t have water. Who else can do this climb without water? Really Tara? You are going to turn a simple hike into this? Disgusted with myself I look down and continue to climb. I will get to the top I say. Eventually it doesn’t become quite as much work. Or maybe the work is overshadowed by the beauty of the ground below becoming smaller. Suddenly I remember how good it feels to have blood moving through my body.

Eventually I make it to the top. Along with the runners and those with water bottles and those without and I just soak in the view. Pray for grace to conquer the many mountains I feel that are too great to climb in life. The fight to want to go faster then my body will allow, the covetousness that creeps in when I see others have something that I want that would make my climb easier. The fight to just pull up the covers and not face the mountain of a day. Grace is waiting though as I climb. God is with me and I believe the view will be breathtaking and worth it when my climb is done. One day.