8.12.17

One year. 12 months. 365 days. 8,670 hours. 525,600 minutes. A lot can change in a year. There are times in every life that you can look back, pin point and say, “That day. That hour. It changed me.” August 12th, 2016 will forever be a time in my life, and in so many lives, that I will point to and say this changed me. I will never be able to forget the moment when I was first told their plane had crashed. In a moment of such shocking news, I think your mind just stops. It shuts down, because the reality is too much to comprehend. Such pain is too unbearable. It’s too much to grasp.

Now, one year later, that pain is still so great. You learn to live with the grief and the pain, but the grief never goes away. I will never stop hurting for the loss of Lisa, Luke, Emma, and Maren. There’s no remedy for that pain this side of heaven. Initially, it seemed that life would never again go on, but time doesn’t stop and life does go on and you learn to live a new normal. It’s crazy to look back at my posts after everything happened https://thenicarriedyou.com/2016/08/15/aching-heart/ and https://thenicarriedyou.com/2016/09/01/wrestling-heart/ At times, this feels like it was forever ago, and other times, the pain of that moment feels fresh enough to have happened yesterday.

It’s currently 3:52am on August 9th, my birthday, and I’m up in the middle of the night, writing this, because I couldn’t sleep. My heart has been so heavy this week. As I write, the song “Even When it Hurts” by Hillsong just came on. It took me back to just a few days after the crash. During that time, I had no words for the Lord. I couldn’t put together a single prayer, but this song became a lifeline for me. Every time I hear it since, I remember running on the treadmill in our basement with this song blaring.. the lyrics:

“Take this fainted heart. Take these tainted hands. Wash me in your love. Come like grace again. Even when my strength is lost. I’ll praise you. Even when I have no song, I’ll praise you. Even when it’s hard to find the words, louder then I’ll sing your praise. I will only sing your praise. Take this mountain weight. Take these ocean tears. Hold me through the trial. Come like hope again. Even when the fight seems lost, I’ll praise you. Even when it hurts like hell, I’ll praise you. Even when it makes no sense to sing, louder then I’ll sing your praise. I will only sing your praise”

and I was just crying/screaming out the verse of the song, with tears. Tonight, I find myself laying in bed with tears again falling down my cheeks, still holding onto the lines of this song. I remember creating an album on spotify just a week or so after the crash called “broken.” The only songs in there were Pieces by bethel, this song, and Here Now by Hillsong. Today this album has grown to 68 songs. It’s 6hours and 11minutes, and I listen to it every day. It was a reminder of how God grows things out of our brokenness. I’m still broken, but that brokenness allows His light to propagate through.

God woke me up around 2am by impressing upon my heart Psalm 27:13, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

As we reach the milestone of one year without our best friends, family, neighbor, or whatever Luke, Lisa, Emma, and Maren were in your life, I think what God wants us to hear is that He is in control, and not only that but He is restoring and bringing good. We will see the goodness of the Lord yet. That is His promise. That is our hope.

As the year has unfolded, it has amazed me to see the widespread reach Luke, Lisa, and Emma had during their short time on earth. At different times throughout the year, I would hear different people share about one of them and the impact they had on their life. All three of them touched countless lives and left a legacy that has challenged, sharpened, and impacted. I think my mom said it best, “Sometimes I think God’s greatest servants are either called to suffer greatly or get called home early. The Bible is dominated with people like that.”

Today is just another day, but it’s also a milestone, allow yourself to feel today. Give yourself grace and sit awhile remembering, but don’t linger too long. The best way that we can honor Luke, Lisa, and Emma is by following their legacy and reaching out to this lost and dying world by sharing the love of Christ and spreading the gospel.

Luke, Lisa, Emma, I miss you guys more than I can put into words, and I look forward to the day we will all be reunited, until then, I will try my best to honor your legacy of lives lived for Christ and Christ alone.

Kitchen Reveal!

As I prepare to move in (this Sunday!!!), I have been incredibly busy finishing up some last minute projects. I’ve purposefully waited to post pictures of the kitchen, because it has been the biggest transformation. I realize now that I don’t have very many good pictures of the kitchen. We are putting on the pulls today, and have a few other miscellaneous things, but for the most part, it’s done! This post is mainly just going to be pictures.

IMG_2691 2IMG_4177IMG_7560These are before pictures of my kitchen. The cabinets were different styles. The one over the microwave was a different wood than the others, the appliances were new, The floor was laminate (sitting on top of about 6 other floorings..ew), and the sink and counter were just kind of gross.

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So we started demolition!

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Which was followed by new floors (porcelain tile) and custom made cabinets that my mom painted a light grey! (We found a guy who builds cabinets on the side so we got a great deal).

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I found the granite countertop at Stone Spectrum! They were great to work with! I added a speckled black granite composite undermount sink! (Originally I had a grey farmhouse sink…that’s a saga for another day..)

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I will take better pictures of the whole kitchen SOON! I realize It’s a mess ha since we are still doing some finishing touches. I love love love how it turned out! I learned a lot through the process like how to lay and cut tile, that old homes provide tons of challenges. The walls aren’t square.. the walls aren’t even.. so many things haha. You’ll notice some of the tiles in the backsplash stick out more than others… thanks to the plaster wall.. I think it adds character 😉 P.S. The backsplash is the same tile as the floor and hearth. I purchased all of that through Miles in Castelton, and I loved working with them!

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Fire Check

Guys, so much transformation has been taking place at my little home! I’m so so excited! I was talking with my mom today. I think the biggest reason I’m excited to move in is just because I’m so excited about my house. My house. That’s just still so crazy. It’s been my empty canvas to design, and I’m just anxious with anticipation to see it finally come together.

Today was a BIG BIG day because the countertops were installed! I don’t want to post anything yet until the whole kitchen is complete, but stay tuned! The difference is immense and incredible, and I’m beyond pumped to share!

Today, I wanted to share just the fireplace transformation. I know I’ve shared some pictures, but it’s finally completed. It’s nice to say that. So many things are almost complete, but this is done and that feels great! Having a fireplace was a huge priority for me. I love fireplaces. They create a warm and inviting feel, plus I’m always cold so the additional warmth is a plus! Anyways, when I first bought this house, the fireplace really intrigued me! I saw sooo much potential. I immediately knew what I wanted to do, to give the fireplace a facelift. I love clean, modern/rustic design. The fireplace became my own personal project. While I needed some help putting the tile in for the hearth, and my dad had to wire up the gas logs, I completed everything else on my own.

Side note: we found the logs (I believe for free) from an older couple, and I was so pumped about them. I’ve always had a gas fireplace, and I wasn’t entirely pumped about having to constantly get firewood and deal with the messy ashes.

I took down the mirror and painted and put up wood with liquid nail. Liquid nail is amazing. I’m a huge promoter of that stuff! I primed and painted the brick. This took a surprisingly long time. Many coats later, I think it looks incredible. I scrubbed and scrubbed, and scrubbed the inside of the fireplace and cleaned out all the ashes. I pulled up the hearth tile and leveled out the area with a chisel – and then a hammer (After a few hours I got smart.. hammer took no time at all). Finally I measured the tile and helped my dad cut some of it. (My dad cut most of it and laid it in). Special guest, Kayla put on the first layer of grout sealer.

I love the finished product!

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Time Flys

Wow, it’s been awhile. Summers seem to be incredibly busy no matter what stage of life you find yourself. I thought my summers would look a lot different/be slower since I’m now a full-time working adult, but this summer I haven’t stopped.

My life has been consumed with work, free-lancing, renovating my new house, shopping for my house, helping plan weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, planning a mission trip/going on the mission trip, and spending a week in Colorado. Between all of that I have been pretty absent on the blog, but I’m ready to get back to posting.

Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough hours in your day? I guess I’ve been struggling with prioritizing and consistency. My life is a chaotic mess currently. I’ve always had an incredibly neat and tidy room, but the past few months, it looks like a tornado touched down. I used to be so diligent in my quiet time with the Lord..now I’m lucky to pick up my Bible once a week. I’ve become creative – praying and listening to music on my drives, workouts, etc, but I feel a distance from the Lord and I know I’ve chosen to put other things in front of my relationship with Him.

How do you get out of a groove so deep though? I’m committed to all these things and I’m getting less and less sleep and spending less and less time with Jesus. The funny thing is, this was a slow transition. It’s not like I just woke up one day and my life was 10x busier. I slowly added more and more things into my life – all good things, but too many things. How do we purge good things out of our life though? I’m seriously open to any suggestions. The good thing is, I’ve recognized the problem, now to find a solution. I miss those quiet times with Christ. I’ve noticed my fleshly desires have started to consume my mind more and more. I find myself more irritable or more “woe is me” or more selfish. Anyone else struggle in this way? Starting now, I’m going to make some changes. We were created to do life with Christ not bring Him into just some parts of our lives.

Transition

Sunday night we left Providence House and all our new friends for the YWAM base to join the youth group. 

We spent the morning at church with Taylor, Jake, their family, and the Minnesota team. The church service was awesome. Ugandans are so energetic with their worship and just their enthusiasm for Christ. After the service, we went to lunch with everyone and then hung out before basketball. Basketball is not big here. This may be one of the only places where you hear complaints if a team is all mzungus (because Americans are so much better). 

The drive to Otimms house (where basketball was taking place) was eventful. There aren’t road signs anywhere – especially in the villages. Directions are given based on landmarks but it’s so easy to get lost. Back in the villages, there aren’t a ton of people who speak English because there are fewer literate people. We kept stopping and asking for directions and nobody knew what we were saying. Finally a boda boda driver led us (first to the wrong place) to the correct house. 

Leaving Providence House and all our friends was really sad. Showing up at the YWAM base I wasn’t mentally prepared for the accommodation differences. In all honesty I didn’t have a great attitude. Essentially we are camping. We have a dormitory for all the girls and all the guys. There were no mosquito nets and no fans. There’s one toilet that constantly stops working and one squatty potty. There are two showers with ice cold water and one sink that ants frequent. We eat outside with the same plate and fork that we wash after in water buckets filled with drowning ants. I’m ashamed to say that I really struggled with the transition. We are kind of stuck on the YWAM base whereas before we were near town and could easily go to anything we wanted to (soccer, the Nile, downtown, etc). My breaking point came when I went to shower at my parents room and kayla found a rat! Mosquitos are more prevalent on base due to all the standing water, and everything on the YWAM base smells. However, the people are so kind and filled with interesting stories. 

After taking the time and changing my mindset I have come to appreciate things about the base. I had to remind myself about expectations and flexibility.  

The Ugandan People 

Eager to serve and always smiling, the Ugandan people are so friendly! Whether you’re walking down Main Street, driving on the back of a boda-boda, loving on kids in the village, or talking to the watchmen, everyone here is so friendly and servant hearted! It’s very different from Kenya. In Kenya many are just out for themselves and rude but here everyone is willing to help and longing to serve. I love that. It’s like everyone you meet has a piece of Jesus in them!

Muslim is a big religion here. We visited a village which is primarily Muslim. There’s a team working here with us from Minnesota, and one of them sponsors a boy there through Global Belief Project. So we picked him up from school and went to his home. His parents were so excited and the guys that sponsor him stayed and hung out with them. They’re a Muslim family but through this sponsorship program they are begging to wonder about Christianity and seek out truth.

While they were there, we went to a school and played games with the kids. Then we visited a few from the village who had been baptized last year at an outreach. As we were sitting on the porch one of the little girls came up to me. Her clothes were tattered and worn, her skin red from the dirt but her smile was wide and white. I had her climb up on my lap and we spoke the universal language of clapping and smiling. She was so sweet!! We sat like that for probably 15 minutes. I seriously just want to hug every single child and buy them new clothes. Some kids have no pants. Some kids clothing is so ripped them might as well not have clothes, etc etc.

So, we are working with Taylor Radovich and her husband Jake and their two kids Jamison and Ezekiel who work with Global Belief Project! They repair wells around the villages and share the love of Christ. They. Are. Awesome. !! Their love for Christ is overwhelming and their love for the Ugandan people is beautiful! I’m so enjoying getting to know them and working with them! They also work with two Ugandan guys, Shepherd and Geoff. Geoff was born in the village. He’s not sure how old he is, but he said he knows he’s older than 26. Anyways, he had talent in soccer and so he was sponsored through school and able to get out and go to university! He’s full of life and so goofy and fun! He and Shepherd work with the kids! Shepherd is also fun and just really great to talk to.

Geoff now coachs a club team of high school aged boys. They’re very competitive and jourdan and I have played with them the past two nights! They’re so aggressive hah, but they’re fast and have great touches. It’s hard to see their true talent because they play on a field that’s partial grass and partial dirt and gravel. It’s also incredibly uneven, and the goals have bets but they are so grateful for what they have!

All that to say, the people are incredible!!

Finally back 

After 2 years, I’ve finally arrived back in Africa. This time I’m with my entire family and we are in Uganda.

We arrived in entebbe around noon and then made the long trek to Jinja. We arrived at the providence house, where we are staying around 4:30. 

Upon arrival, we settled in and then walked to Main Street for dinner. We couldn’t find the place we planned to eat at, so we flagged down to boda bodas and drove to a different restaurant. Boda boda rides are definitely  my favorite form of travel!

Jake and Taylor Radovich and their two kids, Jameison and Ezekiel happened to be eating there as well! It was so cool to meet them. I’ve followed Taylor on Instagram for a long time (@ohappytay). They’re just the sweetest family and I cannot wait to work with them in these upcoming weeks.

After dinner we came back and just chilled. This morning Jourdan and I woke up at 6:40 to run with Joseph. Joseph is the sweetest guy. He’s the grounds keeper here. Jourdan wrote a whole blog post on him you can go check out. 

Side note, I’d say what most stands out about the Ugandan people and culture is their servants heart. Everyone works so so hard and aims to please! They are all so welcoming and kind hearted. 

We probably ran 4 miles (part of which was along Lake Victoria)! Joseph is definitely in shape. I had to ask him to walk up one of the hills. (It didn’t help that last nights meal wasn’t sitting well in my stomach.)

After we got home and showered, I napped because I did not feel good. Then we headed to the market where we exchanged money and bought some different goods!

When we got back, taylor took us and some of the team from Minnesota that arrived last night to this pool where you can feed the monkeys! Literally the monkeys just come out of nowhere and come eat out of your hand! Coolest experience!

Then we headed back and walked to the orphanage. We were there from about 4-6 and just got to play with the kids. Gosh they were all so cute and joyful and FULL OF ENERGY!!! This was definitely the highlight of my day. All of the kids just desire attention and love , and they need that so badly!

We came home to a Ugandan meal cooked for us! And then played some games. It’s 830 and I’m so exhausted I can’t keep my eyes open to type anymore. 

Abu Dhabi for a Day

Today we landed in Abu Dhabi, UAE! We have an overnight layover so we planned to get settled and then go out and see the city. After checking in, dad and I went to work out. As I played worship music out loud in the hotel “gymnasium”. I couldn’t help but think about the Middle East and the battle between Islam and Christianity. Here in Abu Dhabi, it’s the month of Ramadan. You cannot eat or drink in public until sundown. It’s so interesting to be in a middle eastern country during this time. 

Laying on the yoga mat doing abs, I just kept thinking how I wanted to shout about Christs love and freedom. Christianity is such a unique religion because instead of rules, one finds freedom and deliverance. It’s not about works but about grace.

Anyways, we came back and took the shuttle to Yaz Island. While riding, I really got a chance to observe the landscape. Abu Dhabi is very much the desert. All the trees have been imported from elsewhere. Basically it’s just a sandy island. The bulk of the infrastructure that comprises Abu Dhabi has been built up in the last 15-20years. 

We arrived at Yaz Island and walked around the mall before exchanging our money and flagging a taxi. Our taxi driver, Mohammed, first took us to see The Grand Mosque. I don’t think I can put the structure of the mosque into words. It was regal and beautiful and ginormous. Standing in front of it, I just felt small. Up to 40,000 people can worship there at a time, and the sound that signals Muslims to pray is generated from the Grand Mosque. 

As our taxi driver drove us to the next destination, we learned that he migrated here from Pakistan and is also a Muslim. We talked about us being Christians for s little. That was my goal – that we bring up Christ somehow. We arrived at the Emirates palace. Unfortunately we were not allowed to enter since my dad was wearing shorts. However, if you stay there, you’re allowed to wear shorts..so it’s kind of a confusing policy.

Speaking of dress codes. Randomly, while walking around, you’ll see men dressed fully in white robe like attire with a white head covering. Women are dressed fully in black only showing their eyes. We asked Mohammed about it and he said the people who dress in this manner are the original citizens of Abu Dhabi – not immigrants.

Mohammed said that Abu Dhabi is so peaceful. At all hours of the night in all areas it’s safe. That’s pretty incredible and one of things that drew him to the city. 

Being Pakistani, Mohammed convinced us to eat Pakistani food. We could not eat until sundown – due to Ramadan, so dad and I walked around downtown. It is hot hot hot here! It was probably 105 degrees with no real wind. Needless to say we were ready to get inside to the air conditioning. 

I ordered chicken buryani which is a spicy rice and chicken dish. Dad ordered rice chicken and vegetables. We got a ton of food all for 14 dollars. 

Mohammed then drove us home where dad offered prayer but Mohammed said he was okay (you can always ask right?) and are now hanging out in the hotel before our 8:30am flight tomorrow to entebbe, Uganda! It will probably not belong before we both fall asleep due to travel and time change.  

Reunited with the Red Dirt Roads

In just 2 days, I’ll head out to Uganda. I’ve been anticipating this day since I left Kenya/Uganda 2 years ago. Missions changes you. It shapes you. I left a large piece of my heart with the people, red dirt, and slow paced life of the Kenyans. I cannot wait to join my sister and mom (along with my dad) and introduce them to the beautiful and painful realities of Uganda.

This missions trip is especially exciting because 7 years ago, the Lord placed a call on my sister’s heart for Uganda. Today for the first time, she’s stepping foot on the red dirt streets of Entebbe and making her way to Jinja. I am beyond excited to get to experience this with her. I cannot wait to see how God deepens her ties to this country.

I will be blogging about our trip here. You can also follow my sister’s blog/journey here: https://jourdan-lehman.squarespace.com/home-1/2017/6/11/the-wait-is-over?r=35303787

Your prayers and thoughts are appreciated!

Living Exposed

Yesterday morning I cut the outside of my right hand on a metal box. The pain was instantaneous and I was annoyed with myself for being careless and allowing the cut to happen. I went and found a bandaid and covered it up to stop the bleeding. Throughout the rest of the work day I forgot about my hand because the pain had subsided.

Later, that evening, I went to my new house to sand and mow the lawn. As I started mowing, the bandaid started to fall off so I peeled it all off. Immediately the pain resumed as the air stung my exposed flesh. I didn’t have another bandaid, so I pushed through the sting and continued my work. As I was driving back to my parents house my hand continued to sting. It wasn’t that the pain was overwhelming by any means. It was more just a nuisance – an annoyance. I began to think about how Paul was given a thorn in his side.

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.    – 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

I started to think about how whenever we are facing something painful or we are going through something hard, our focus shifts to lessening our pain and easing our life. With my cut, I instantly applied a bandaid so as to remove the sting from the air. However, wounds do not heal when they are covered up. In order to heal my cut, the wound needed to be fully exposed to the air – even though it was painful. It’s the same in our lives. Whenever we are facing a difficult time or we are struggling with a certain sin, or there’s something that’s tough, hiding it won’t help. We need to face things head on. We need to go to God and work through our problems. We need accountability partners. We need to be real, authentic and genuine in our faults, our struggles, and our hurts. Authenticity breeds relationship and freedom. It’s only once we are open that we can truly heal and help others to heal.