Thursday, January 23, 2014


I am sure many of us have heard someone say "God has such a sense of humour!" As you chit chat over a latte at Starbucks or in the church foyer. It could be about how you accidentally bumped into someone that you haven't seen in years, who you had 'just been thinking about' and BAM there they were!  God is so fun like that eh?  Or the couple who are about to finish their adoption process to receive a child and BAM they get prego!  LOL! Don't worry...I am not pregnant...not sure how funny I would find that :). You know what I am talking about.  But then there are times, at least I find, that it's more of a 'hardy har...sooo funny' (insert thick sarcasm) or even an 'are you kidding me' (insert troubling gaze to the sky...)

Well, in case you are wondering where I am going with all of this-first go back and read my last blog post.  You know the one about "adjusting with Grace" then come back and start reading this post.  Ok, you done?  Let me start by quoting myself from that last blog...

"I am glad that I am starting the year with a long run that will make me practice what I preach that will lead me to His grace."

Little did I realize that it would be more than just a long run that would test me to practice what I preach!  Of course the passing of David has been a huge adjustment, but I can say that God has given us all grace and comfort to move forward. One of the reasons I was looking forward to being back in Liberia was to be with our SP team during this time of grieving.  Well, God's timetable was a little bit different than mine.  The first major adjustment was the amount of flight delays and cancellations due to weather that kept many of our staff arriving as planned.  At the time when we all just wanted to be together and see each other-we had to wait.  For some it was just a few days for Joni it was a whole week!  Yeah, I would give myself a 5/10 on gracefully dealing with all the delays. But finally, we were all together-now time to plan for our big run!

The reason for flight delays...

Or maybe running mate Alisa, came down with a terrible stomach bug-I mean this bug was having a party in her tummy!  She was down and out for two days-the week that we were supposed to attempt our 70km/44mile run from Voinjama to Foya.  The decision was easy, postpone the run until healthy.  This was probably the easiest adjustment-there was no way we were going to do this run with one of us not at 100%!  Still, we had to adjust-picking a new date that was not easy, we are both pretty busy people :) We also adjusted our training plan to add a few more weeks no prob bob.  New date: Feb 9th...pending any adjustments...  I would give myself a good 7/10 for this one.

Voijama to Foya road...we are still coming for you!

The last major adjustment (there are little ones everyday but I am used to those :) is the recent resignation of one of our program managers that works closely with me.  Rachel has been our CDF PM for the past two years and has done an incredible job-I am so thankful God brought her to us!  She has been offered a great job and we are proud to send her with our blessings.  But, we have to adjust again-to find someone to fill those big shoes and also adjust to not seeing a great co-worker everyday.  I would give myself a 9/10 on this one, mostly because we always encourage our staff that if they have an opportunity to further their career we want them to take it.  Also, I know Rachel has left the CDF program in great shape.

And then there is Kendell...with the London marathon 80 some days away-he has been suffering with plantar fasciitis.  So we have had to adjust his training program a bit.  It has been frustrating for him and trust me nothing is more frustrating to a runner than a nagging injury!  However, he is taking care of it and after taking a week off he is back running small small.  I think the adjustment has been harder for him than me-as I have been injured before and know that you can come back and still get the job done.  For that, I give myself a perfect 10/10 :)

Good point...

All of these big adjustments were in the first week of being back.  Isn't funny how God works that way? (again insert sarcasm).  The words I wrote in my previous blog seem to be 'slapping' me in the face and I will admit at times I forgot about that big bowl of grace. I have been drawn to a very simple verse- John 14:1.  Jesus is comforting His disciples, He has just told them about how He will be betrayed and denied by them and instead of getting mad at them or giving up on them He states:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.  TRUST in God, TRUST also in me." (John 14:1 NIV)

BAM! Simple truth, from the mouth of our Savior.  Trust that bowl of Grace, trust the One who fills that bowl everyday for you and I.  My heart was troubled, I won't lie, but this simple verse read over and over has once again has my heart soaked in His grace.  I either have to believe on this or stop writing blogs on practicing what I preach.  Isn't God funny that way? ;)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Adjusting with Grace...

As we enter into 2014 and look back on 2013, many of us have had to or will have to make some expected and unexpected adjustments. I had to adjust from running in +30C weather to -17C on snow covered trails (with the odd deer passing by!). Some of these adjustments were successful, some a little more painful-but if there is one thing that I have learned this past year-it is how to adjust with grace.  

My new running trail...sharing it with deer!

I have not always been willing to adjust with grace-no, at times I resist not wanting to adjust, "Why must I always be the one who has to adjust?", I whine.  In our projects we have to adjust to bad roads, unpredictable breakdowns, staff sickness and beneficiaries not always cooperating.  I am very proud of our staff for adjusting when we had to-many times exemplifying grace that only God can provide.  
Adjusting to running in the cold and snow...
However, the hardest adjustments came in the form of loss. In early Spring we lost one of our CDF's (Community Development Facilitators), suddenly to sickness.  James was a great worker, engaged with the community and had a true heart for his work and for Christ.  A couple months later, we as a family lost one of our security guards.  Our house has four security guards that have been with us since 2005 when we arrived.  David got really sick and passed after fighting a month of sickness.  He too was a strong man of faith-it was heartbreaking to tell my boys that their 'uncle' had died.  The final adjustment that I am still hard to adjust to-is the sudden loss of our finance officer David MacDonald-a fellow Canadian who died of a heart attack over Christmas holidays. Again, as a parent, the hardest thing to see is your kids try to deal with such devastating loss.

These blows to our heart are the hardest to adjust-never mind with grace.  I was reminded over the holidays (by my amazing sister-in law) that God gives grace to handle every day. I visualized it as a huge bowl brimming to the very top full of grace. Available for us to draw on at anytime. He knows exactly how much we need for that day-and it never runs out, the bowl is never empty. And if we use some of it-the next day it's full again. He soaks us with his grace when our tears flow, when we are angry and ask difficult questions and when we wonder how we can keep going on.

You see, it's easy to adjust to the good things, like a new plane this year that has made travel a lot easier for all of us, new families and staff that have joined our team and how God has faithfully supplied us with resources to keep doing what He wants us to do!  Oh yeah, grace is flowing easy when things are going smoothly, when everyone is healthy and when the roads are clear.  I am sure all of us look back at 2013 and remember the sudden adjustments that were great and those that were painful.  But God's grace is there, everyday, that big bowl full to the brim just waiting for us to dip our cups in.

2014 is starting with an adjustment without David our finance officer, our friend.  It is not going to be easy-but I know I need to adjust with grace, or it will be a long year!  Plus, I know David wouldn't want it any other way :)  We have three SP staff members training for the London Marathon-for Kendell and Joni it will be their first-trust me they will have to adjust!  And I know there will be plenty of unexpected adjustments that are just waiting to jump out of their boxes in the next 12 months.

Many people make resolutions, to adjust their lives for the better, to change.  But I want to challenge you that when those life altering adjustments come this year, dip into the bowl and let His grace adjust you.  In a few weeks I will run the farthest I ever have-and throughout that 70km/44miles there will be plenty of adjustments that I am going to have to make. I am glad that I am starting the year with a long run that will make me practice what I preach that will lead me to His grace.