Franklin Five

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Worth it!

We have said a lot of good-byes this week. It is our last few days in Oakville and our time is spent in preparation for the move and meeting up with friends one last time. The good-byes are not easy and our hearts are full of emotion. One minute, I feel excited to get on the plane and head to Tennessee and the next, I feel sad to be leaving many precious friends.

As I reflect, I am so thankful we didn't hold back. We jumped right in. We met people, invited them over, shared ourselves. We joined a small group. We met our neighbors. We played in the snow. We drove all over the country exploring its scenery and beauty. We made friends, we loved, and we received love.

We gave and took and shared and opened up and loved. We needed our friends and they needed us. It was a give and take and in the end, everyone gains something when hearts are open to love.  Now, it hurts a little to leave but it was so worth it. Love is always worth it! Thank you, friends, for loving us well.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Saying Farewell to Canada

As I type this, there are two people in my home that Nissan has employed to pack all of our things in paper and boxes in hopes it will arrive safely to our new home in Tennessee.

The time has come for our move to take place, and I'm filled with a mix of emotions.  Yes, I'm so excited to return home, to be in a warmer climate, closer to family and surrounded by beautiful green hills (at least they'll be turning green in a month or so).  Yet, I am a bit sad to leave some wonderful friends we have made here, and my heart is thankful for so many things we have experienced during our time in Canada.

I'm thankful for the ways I got to share my faith.  I have never had so many opportunities to talk to people about Jesus and His love for them.  God brought ladies into my life that needed to hear His story.  I wasn't always elegant in my delivery or bold in my approach, but I shared simply how God worked in my life.  I prayed for a friend as she sat across from me in my kitchen asking does God really guide me.  I looked in another friend's eyes and told her God would bring her through the difficult situation she was in.  I stood beside another friend as she buried the tiny body of her infant daughter. I shared about the grace Christ offers to a Muslim friend after she told me she was just trying to be good enough to earn a place in Heaven.  I invited a friend to be a part of a women's Bible study at my church so she could practice her English and learn more about God.

I say all of this not to toot my own horn.  On my own, I am weak and cowardly and timid.  God brought these ladies into my life as they were each searching, broken, and in need.  They came to me for help or advice or just needed someone to listen, and so I found it easy to share my Hope when they were so desperate for Hope themselves.

The three years we have spent in Canada have been filled with ups and downs.  I've seen some beautiful places and I've had some really lonely days.  I've gotten really tired of looking across the dinner table to see an empty chair where my husband would sit. I can also see how God has provided some really good things in the middle of some really difficult times.

So, as we pack and leave, I want to have a heart of thankfulness for all of the blessings we've had here in Canada.  I am thankful for the friends, for our church, for the small group who loved us well, and for  the amazing scenery we have seen as we've traveled this land called Canada.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Green Grass

Winter seems to be pushing me out of the Canadian door, making it easy for me to say good bye to the Great White North.  It's been cold, windy, and harsh, and as the ground remains frozen and hard outside, my heart has struggled to find its warmth.  Tim has been working long days and hopping on planes to travel here and there for work.  With family far away and a feeling of being trapped inside, it's easy to get discouraged.

I've been looking at the calendar a lot, counting the days until our moving truck comes, hoping for greener grass in Tennessee.

As I've been struggling to keep a positive perspective, the Holy Spirit has been whispering His love and goodness to me.  Through the company of my friends from my small group, the encouraging words spoken by a good friend over the phone, an afternoon of sledding down a snow-covered hill with my family, and hearing the truth of God's word preached so powerfully at my church, God has been reminding me of some really good things in Canada.  Through a paragraph my son wrote at school telling of how he thinks his mom is great and through the love of my husband as he listens and cares, I am reminded of God's blessings that are all around me-right here, right now.

I think underneath all of the snow outside my window where I sit right now, there might just be some green grass.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Tender Tennessee Christmas

 Enjoying s'mores in our back yard around Tim's new fire pit


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

From this one place

Looking back over the last ten months, I am amazed at all that has happened.  We sold our house in Franklin, TN in only four days.  We decided to stay in Canada one more year.  We bought a house in Brentwood, TN without even stepping foot in it until after the offer was made.  We hosted Isabella and her group for five weeks.  Now we prepare for our move back to Tennessee.

We had the opportunity to spend a week in our new home in Tennessee over Christmas.  It was really nice to be back in the South where the air is warmer, the restaurants are a bit kid-friendlier, and our family welcomes us.  It was fun to dream and plan and prepare for our move back.  We hope to not have to move again for a long, long time, and we hope we can raise our children in this home.  I know better than to say "never" because I've seen how God works.  I'm trying to hold on lightly and trust deeply and take one day at a time.

Back in the Summer, we spent some stressful months looking at houses online and making a few trips to Nashville to walk through the ones that caught our attention.  The market was hot and houses were moving quickly, and we wondered if we were doing the right thing to try to buy a house from a far.  We also wondered if we should just wait until the Fall or Christmas to buy a house knowing we wouldn't be moving until March.  That made more sense, but I've also learned to lean not on my own understanding.  Now looking back, I can see how God provided just the right house at just the right time.

Into this story comes our dear friends, Perry and Katie.  Perry and Tim went to grad school together over ten years ago and have been close friends ever since then.  Perry and Katie allowed us to live with them for several months eight  years ago when we were moving back to Nashville (the second time).  This Summer, they sold their house in TN and needed a place to leave while their new house was undergoing some major renovations.  So, it was perfect the way we bought our house at just the time when they needed a place.  I'm so thankful our house didn't sit empty for months but was a blessing to our friends who had blessed us in the same way many years before.

I also can see how God's timing was good in the purchase of our home when I look back at the craziness of our Fall.  Hosting the Ugandans was an amazing journey and one I will always be thankful for.  It was also all-consuming, and we would not have been able to shop for a home or travel to Tennessee while they were with us..

So, now I can see.  From this place, it all makes sense, but ten months ago, I was filled with questions and anxiety and doubt.  I'm so thankful God could see what I couldn't.  I'm thankful again for His perfect provisions.  I'm thankful to be reminded that He is God and I am not.

Again, I'm reminded of some lyrics by Sara Groves in her song, From this One Place:

From this one place I can't see very far
In this one moment I'm square in the dark
These are the things I will trust in my heart
You can see something else, something else

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holes in the Heart

Tonight our house seems very quiet.  No little feet are scampering around bringing me hugs and little toys.  No women are sitting by the fire crocheting their blankets.  My daughter is back in her own room sleeping comfortably in her bed. My heart feels very full and yet a little like there is an empty space in it.

After we got home from the airport, my family and I sat around the table eating bowls of ice cream and talking about what we will miss about our Ugandan friends.  No one will yell, "Welcome Home," every time we walk in the door.  I will miss seeing the excitement on Jean and Kellen's faces when they experience something new like seeing the falling snow.  Graham will miss playing with his little buddy, Isabella.  We will all miss their presence in our home.

Yes, there will be no little girls fighting over toys, no more extra dishes to wash (although they always washed the dishes for me), no extra people to tote to and from the store, but we will miss them so much.

Thinking of how we may never see them again makes my heart so heavy and sad, but then I recall what a privilege it was to be a part of their experience here in Canada.  A little girl is going back home with a heart restored to full health.  A mama can now send her daughter to school knowing her heart is strong enough to withstand the long walk to and from school.  A daddy can sleep a little easier every night with the sense that his little girl is not fighting another infection or struggling to get oxygen to all parts of her body.

Tonight, I said goodbye to Isabella with the assurance that the hole in her heart has been repaired.  Yet, at the same time, a hole is forming in my own heart because of the void left in her absence.  I will allow that empty space to remind me of three precious ladies that I love so much returning to Uganda.  I will pray for them and think of them often.  I hope Isabella will grow up sharing with her brothers and sister of how God worked a miracle in her heart.  She'll get out the photo book we gave her and she'll recall her adventure in Canada.  She will know that God most certainly has good plans for her life as she remembers when He filled the hole in her heart.

With the emptiness that I feel comes a longing for more and a gratefulness of what God allowed my family to be a part of.  I know the peace and joy that comes from being the hands and feet of Christ.  I've experienced being a part of something so much bigger than myself, and I do not want to be content to settle back into a life centered around me.

Tonight I will rest.  Tomorrow I will enjoy a quiet day with my family.  Next week, we will decorate our home for Christmas and go about the routine of school, work, and chores.  I will allow God to renew my spirit because I am tired, but I will long for another day when our home will be filled yet again with more mouths to be filled, more voices to be heard, and more hearts to be loved.

Sweet dreams, Isabella, as you soar above the clouds tonight.  Sweet hugs in the coming days as you greet your family.  May your spirit remain sweet as you recall the goodness of your Father and His love for you.  I'm so thankful I could be a part of your life.  I welcome the hole in my heart because of you.

Monday, November 11, 2013


The last few weeks at our house have been intense.  Isabella had her surgery and spent 6 days in the hospital. I will never forget the look on Kellen's face the night she returned to my home after her daughter's surgery.  Pure relief and joy.  Her daughter had been given another chance at life.  With tears in her eyes, she told me thank you.  I felt so humbled.  I had done nothing but offer a place for her to stay, and I was amazed once again that God had caused our lives to intersect at this very moment.  

"Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere."

To say being a host family has been all fun and no struggle is to be withholding the truth.  There have been moments when I have asked myself, "What was I thinking to sign up for this?"  Yet, God has given me many glimpses into why this is worth it.

One of those glimpses happened today at Isabella's follow-up appointment.  Kellen, Jean, Isabella, and I were waiting in one of the examining rooms after hearing some good news that Isabella's progress was where it should be.  Kellen looked at me and said, "I have nothing to give you but I want to thank you."  Again, I felt completely humbled and unworthy of her gratitude.  I told her what she has given me was in my heart.  I told her I would never forget her or Isabella and I started to cry.  She hugged me, and I wondered if she really understood all that she has given me.

She has given me the gift of being used, the gift of being clay in the Potter's hand, the gift of being an ordinary, broken piece of pottery.  Yet, when the clay pot is broken, the treasure that is inside can spill out and bless others.  She has given me the gift of perspective, the reminder of God's greatness and my plainness.  She has given me the chance to be the hands and feet of Christ, and for that gift, I am the one that is grateful.