Being a Bondslave of God the Father Almighty (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Dear Christian Sisters,

Before we move on to Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and Zacharias, let’s figure out what a bondslave is.

In the last blog post, Would You Have Been #BraveLikeMary, we ended with verse 38:

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

But what is a bondslave?

The first thing you need to know is that the word slave in the Bible does not include all the racial connotations that we Americans associate with slavery. Slaves in Jewish society were slaves because they could not afford to live otherwise. So Jews from Old Testament times and continuing through Jesus’ time would choose to be slaves for financial reasons.

Gentile slaves at the time of Jesus may have also chosen slavery for financial reasons, or they may be a race that was conquered by the Romans.

So, slaves were of many different colors, not just Africans. Most likely the percentage of slaves who were African would have been quite low.

But Mary was not a slave in society. She used this word to describe her relationship with God.

Mary used bondslave to express to the Lord God Almighty that she was not His servant because she was conquered nor because she was poor but that she was His servant by choice and that she would do whatever He wanted with humility.

Before I went to Uganda for the first time a year ago, I told the Lord in prayer that I would be His bondslave and promised that when I returned, I would make an outward sign of my commitment.

Based on Exodus 21:5-6, I pierced both of my ears with a second hole. Now, you wouldn’t know that my second piercing was showing my choice to be a bondslave, but I do!

It’s my reminder to myself that I will do whatever God wants with humility.

That doesn’t make me a Saint.

Trust me: daily I need to reach up and feel that second piercing to remind myself to listen and obey because telling all of you my story was never in my plan (see Faces of Abortion and Forgiveness and Peace that Passes All Understanding).

But I am trusting God that He is using my story to save women from the darkness of abortion and premarital sex (for sexual immorality is not like other sins, see 1 Corinthians 6:18 or all of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Being the Father’s bondslave is not easy, just like Mary’s choice was not easy, but God’s plans are always better than my own.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Off to Uganda December 26!

Dear Christian Sisters,

I am off to Uganda December 26th! It’s Giving Tuesday. Will you prayerfully consider supporting my trip to Uganda December 26-January 6?

It was this mission trip a year ago that compelled me to talk boldly about abortion and pre-marital sex. Please support me so that I can go back to serve the country that changed my life, resulting in this blog, speaking, and more.

I’ll be serving in Katwe, one of the largest slums in Africa, and in northern Uganda at a refugee camp.

You can donate online.

Thank you!

In Christ,

Cheryl

Faces of Abortions OR Call Me a Missionary to McDonald’s

Dear Christian Sisters,

People’s lives are messy.

The circumstances surrounding a woman’s decision to abort are messy.

We need to be the love of Christ to women in their messiness. We are responsible for the Great Commission, and we should think of these women as potential disciples.

Who I am Today

Because most of you don’t know me, let me paint a picture of who I am today. I am married to an evangelical Christian man, Russ, who helps support the airlines so their planes stay in the air and not on the ground—which I know you all appreciate.

I have 2 boys school-age boys—one with Aspergers and one with ADHD. They were in public school until recently, and now I homeschool them both.

I have a bachelors degree in technical communication, and I nearly finished my master’s degree in instructional technology. Before I decided to stay home to raise boys, I was a project manager leading teams to create web-based training for big corporations like Target, Northwest Airlines, and 3M.

A couple years ago, I went back into the workforce at our church until this year when I chose to stay home to homeschool my high schooler.

I am on the prayer team, I am in bible study class Sunday mornings, and I am in a special needs moms’ small group—although I have to admit that my kids’ special needs are so much easier than all my girlfriends’ kids.

But what I love about that group is that they understand that life is hard.

Because, you see, my home while in high school was not easy.

Well, it started easy. I am the spoiled youngest of three. My sister and brother are a bit older than me, so when I was done with 5th grade, they were both off at college, and I was the spoiled only child.

Living in a Home Tormented with Schizophrenia

But in the middle of 10th grade, my sister and her 6-month-old baby boy came home for Christmas and never left. Her husband had left her because she had a mental illness that he couldn’t handle.

Suddenly, I was the neglected middle child.

This situation led to a lot of arguing in my house. As some of you know, having three generations living in the same house is challenging because parents and grandparents don’t always agree on how to raise the child, so you have that natural tension.

Now add a mother who is not doing basic things for her child because she can’t think straight, because she is hearing voices that aren’t there.

It took two years for the doctors to diagnose my sister. She has paranoid schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is different than multiple personalities disorder. With schizophrenia, you hear voices and have hallucinations. For my sister, she had a “friend” that she talked to in gibberish while pacing. Evidently her “friend” was funny because she would talk and talk and talk, listen, and then laugh.

The priority in my parents’ house was my nephew. And rightly so.

But I didn’t get the attention that I needed as a teenage girl.

My parents missed a musical that I was in because of my sister. They made the best out of a difficult situation, but I was hurt, and my defenses went up.

My parents didn’t ask me about my day or what I was doing at school, so I stopped telling them.

My parents didn’t ask me why I was upset about friendships, so I didn’t share anything with them.

And then I met a guy.

Spending time with him was so much more peaceful than listening to my toddler nephew whine at the dinner table, my mom correct him, and my sister get upset about my mom “interfering” with her parenting—you know, the parenting that she wasn’t doing.

I was home for dinner, but only because my parents required it. I hated being at the dinner table.

But as soon as dinner was over, I took my homework to my boyfriend’s place.

Now, are any of you surprised that I got pregnant?

It was the end of my junior year in high school. Having lived with my nephew for a couple years and all the fighting that happened around parenting him, I had NO interest in raising a child.

I was busy with extracurriculars at school:

  • I was first chair alto saxophone player in the band.
  • I was editor of the high school newspaper.
  • I was a straight-A student.

I did not want the burden of a pregnancy and most especially did not want to see the disapproving looks or hear the disapproving comments of my classmates or my teachers. So I decided to have an abortion.

My mom was so stressed out about my sister and my nephew that my decision to have an abortion seemed like a relief to her.

My dad was distraught, but he never said anything to me until after the abortion. Then he realized that he needed counseling more than I did. I was fine.

My dad was the church choir director. He still is today. He just turned 80, and I’m certain that he will be the choir director until the day he dies.

My mom was a former church organist. She’s a preacher’s kid. She volunteered for everything at church, including leading the children’s choir and teaching Sunday school. Today, she plays handbells at her church.

I had been a leader in the church youth group. I could’ve been the president of the youth group the following year, but Mom and I convinced Dad to leave the church.

This was shortly before I got pregnant. We were so stressed out at home, and our pastor made our church work even more stressful. No one was helping us deal with my sister’s schizophrenia—or at least I didn’t think they were.

Church was a burden. So we left.

In the dozen years that followed, I—

  • lived with my boyfriend,
  • bought a house with him, and
  • married him–in that order. The wrong order.

It was a one-sided marriage in that I loved him, but he didn’t love me—but I didn’t believe in divorce.

I didn’t think that he believed in divorce, either, but after 13 years together, 9 of which we were married, he decided he wanted a divorce.

About a year and a half later, I found the love of Christ. My husband, Russ, is the hero in my salvation story.

We don’t have enough time for me to tell you all those details, but in short, when we met—

  • I was politically liberal,
  • pro-choice,
  • very skeptical of evangelicals, and
  • I was sure that my politically conservative, evangelical boyfriend would be scared away by my abortion.

He wasn’t. He loved me anyway. He showed me the love of Christ.

And it was because Russ showed me the love of Christ through his acceptance and love of me that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Faces of Abortion

Now, I want you to stop and think about how you picture the faces of women who have had abortions. Did you picture me?

The angry women that you see in the pro-choice movement are probably faces of abortion. They are faces of pain. They are faces of messy lives.

This last winter, I went on a mission trip through church to Uganda where I had a life-changing conversation with one of the pastors about abortion in Africa and in the United States.

Since returning, the Lord has made it clear that I am to change the conversation about abortion.

Knowing that I was going to go public with my abortion online, I began telling my family and friends so that they would hear about my abortion from me and not by reading it online.

In the process, I have found out that some of my friends have had abortions, too. Turns out that their lives have not been so perfect, either.

You don’t know how many of the faces you see every day belong to women who have had abortions. Have they experienced the love of Christ through you?

Or have they heard judgment as you comment on all the pro-choice mantra that comes from “liberal media” or the Women’s March?

What the Great Commission Means

We seem to forget that the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) was told to us disciples, that we are responsible for the Great Commission. When we hear the Great Commission, we hear “go to all nations”…

…but we forget that “nations” means ethnic groups. We forget that Jesus, a Jew Himself, made the Great Commission while in Israel, talking to Jews. He was telling them to make disciples of all the Gentiles—us.

The U.S. is the melting pot of nations, of ethnic groups. The Great Commission is meant for us—as well as all other nations.

Yes, some people are called to go on mission trips. I am. You might not be. But all of us are called to think of every trip

  • to work,
  • to the grocery store,
  • to the drive thru

as a mission trip.

[For more on the Great Commission, read my blog post, “Abortion & the Great Commission.”]

Missionary to McDonald’s

For example, my Sunday morning routine includes going through the McDonald’s drive thru. Now, before you judge our eating habits, know that this quick breakfast allows me to do my prayer walk, take the dog for a run, and get everyone out the door for church without fighting.

There are two women who are usually working in the drive thru–Susan and Gloria. Susan is from India. Gloria is Hispanic. My goal every Sunday morning is to make them smile because I’m sure that they get many grumpy customers. Besides, they got up at 5 am to make breakfast so that I don’t have to.

One day, I hope to have a relationship that allows me to share the gospel. That’s my prayer.

Call me a missionary to McDonald’s!

Share the Love of Christ

So I urge you to share the love of Christ wherever you go. You have no idea what is going on behind those faces.

Your job is to make Christ appealing to them so that others want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior—even if those others are pro-choice.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

Part 3: Abortion & Our Words 

Dear Christian Sisters,

I wonder how often our words unintentionally tell young women to abort.

While on a short-term mission trip to Uganda over New Year’s, I met a man who is studying to be a pastor. He sat at the dinner table with our team as we discussed abortion in Uganda and in the U.S.

One of our pastors pointed out that when we tell our daughters not to come home pregnant, we are essentially telling them to go have abortions.

The Ugandan man realized that he had said that very thing to his daughters, so he went home to change the conversation.

A parent’s words are powerful.

That got me thinking. We need to have these same discussions in the U.S. as well as in Uganda about abortion and what we’re saying to women. The mission field is not just outside of the U.S. (See part 1 of this blog series, “Abortion & the Great Commission.”)

Changing the Way We Talk

As followers of Christ, we need to change the way that we talk and to encourage others to do the same because we are unintentionally telling women to have abortions.

changing-pt3-2-INSTAGRAM

When we pro-lifers talk about abortion, we typically talk about the babies who are dying. U.S. politics are so polarized on the abortion issue that pro-choicers hear everything we have to say as yelling.

When has yelling convinced anyone to accept Christ’s gift of eternal salvation?

From their perspective, all we seem to care about are saving babies, but what about the women?
Are we caring for them through the pregnancy?
Are we supporting them as single moms?
Are we walking alongside them through open adoption?

After all, who is making the decision to abort?

The women, of course!

So, let’s consider how we might be telling women to have abortions.

How We Unintentionally Tell Teens to Have Abortions

My best friend in high school got pregnant about the same time that I did. I was at the top of my high school class. My best friend who is smarter than me and graduated ahead of me chose life. I didn’t.

For her, standing up for her daughter was her ticket out of her parents’ house. She wasn’t going to let her daughter grow up in an abusive home. So, she moved out and into an apartment and finished high school by doing all her classes as dual enrollment at the local university. She advocated for herself and for her daughter.

Her high school counselor told her she had to go to the district’s alternative school—top of the class and they wanted to send her away. Let me ask you—How is that different than saying “If you want to stay here, you have to have an abortion”?

Want another example of sending the wrong message? Here’s one that’s more recent: “A Christian school banned a pregnant teen from graduation because she was immoral”:

“We teach our students about the beauty of marriage and that sex inside of marriage is one of the things that is beautiful about marriage,” he said.

But while the school reaffirmed its decision, antiabortion groups have rallied to support Runkles. They argue that by singling out a pregnant student, the school is making it more likely that young women will choose abortion rather than suffer embarrassment and punishment.

Yes, exactly that.

And then there’s the inequality:

“It’s because I’m pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake,” Runkles said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year.

As for me and my story, I was hard hearted. It was my decision. No one pressured me to have an abortion, but no one told me not to, either.

Accidental Words

So, let me ask you. What have you said to your children about abortion? You may not have children of your own, but you may have children by volunteering in the children’s ministry or with youth or young adults at your church—because your church is a family, right?

Maybe we are so rigid about “no sex before marriage” that our kids are afraid to tell us that they are pregnant.

Maybe we say, “Don’t ruin your life” by having children when you’re young as if being a mom or putting a child up for adoption is the end of your education and career—because it’s not! God’s strength in us is bigger!

How do we need to change the conversation in our homes and in our churches?

In order to change the conversation, we need to talk about our messy lives, shed light on them—get them out of the darkness and into the light. Take away the power of Satan.

Telling Our Stories to Our Children

Last spring on Good Friday, my husband and I sat down with our boys, ages 13 and 9, and told them our stories of choosing Jesus, including what our lives were like before and how we have changed. **And let me be clear: Abortion is my story, not my husband’s. My husband is the Christian hero in my story!**

Until that night, our boys only knew us as we are now and what we value today. Before we told them, they did not know that we were not always moral people.

It was hard. It was embarrassing. But they were very understanding and forgiving.

I told them that I felt like I had been keeping secrets from them and that I didn’t like that feeling. They both hugged me!

Now that it’s all out in the open, there’s no shame. We took our sins out of the darkness and brought them into the light where Satan no longer has power.

And guess what? Now our boys ask us more questions. We have frank conversations through our bible studies (because the Bible has a lot to say about sex!). Through our discussions of tough questions, we guide them into being the men whom God wants them to be.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

Abortion & _______ Series:

Abortion & the Great Commission | Abortion & the Church | Abortion & Our Words | Abortion & Politics | Abortion & the BibleAbortion & Revival

+20: What Does Our Future Have to Do with Our Obedience?

Why think ahead 20 years? Because the Lord has a plan and a purpose for every person’s life. Everyone’s. His plans are good, and they further His kingdom.

When I was in Uganda last December teaching the Bible to children, the Lord impressed on me that He envisions a different Uganda in 20 years and that those children were the ones who would make Uganda different and better.

I want to see that Uganda! I intend to be back in 20 years to take pictures–because I want the before and after photos!

You see, in Uganda, the average age is about 14. For comparison, the average age in the United States is about 38.

There are more children in Uganda than there are adults. Why? Because war and AIDS have killed a generation.

As a result,

  • there are about 85 students to 1 teacher in the classrooms.
  • Many, many grandmothers are raising their children's children.
  • Children are in orphanages.
  • Children are raising themselves while their parents are off working.

I want to see this different Uganda that the Lord envisions. I want to see what is now the slum of Katwe as a prosperous, beautiful place that makes the Lord smile both day and night.

So when I went to Uganda a few weeks ago to talk about purity, that is, abstinence before marriage, I started by asking the teens what they would be doing in 20 years. I told them to take their age and add 20. How old will you be? What will your life look like?

+20 What Will Life Be Like for You in 20 Years?

Why think ahead 20 years? Because the Lord has a plan and a purpose for every person's life.
Everyone's.
His plans are good, and they further His kingdom.

Question is: Will we seek His plan? Will we obey Him?

“For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV84

In the United States, we like to claim Jeremiah 29:11 as our very own prosperity gospel. As several bloggers have been writing recently, we are flawed in our thinking.

If you read the verse before ("When 70 years have been completed…"), then you know that God is telling His people that His plans are for the nation as a whole and that the next generation is who will see welfare.

Remember that Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, was in exile at this time (do you ever feel like you are in exile?), and the nation was in exile because of its disobedience to God (Jeremiah 25:4-5, 8-9).

Disobedience. Remember that. We'll return to the topic of obedience shortly.

If you read verses 12 and 13, then you know why God wants to provide prosperity, future, and hope:

“Then you (My people) will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:12-13 NIV84

There's always a God-glorifying reason why He wants you to do what He wants you to do. God wants you to seek Him. He wants you to find Him.

And if you're going to choose to stay in exile, then He wants your children. He wants your children to seek Him. He wants your children to find Him.

Remember–He is the great teacher:

  • The Father teaches (Isaiah 48:17)
  • The Son teaches (do you really need a citation here?)
  • The Holy Spirit teaches (John 14:26).

When you find Him, you can learn the way you should go, His straight path for you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

In both the United States and Uganda, we have forgotten that "in all your ways acknowledge Him" and "seek Him" and "search for Him with all your heart" means obeying Him.

I mean, really–Why is it that we expect God to prosper us when we don't obey Him?

Obeying Him

Purity. Obedience.

Seems to me that when it comes to purity, to abstinence before marriage, and to adultery, we have followed the world's ways, not God's.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.
1 Corinthians 3:19a NASB

So, what does God say?

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled.
Hebrews 13:4 NASB

What does that mean?

It means PURE.
It means abstinence before marriage.
It means that the only person you should EVER have sex with is your husband or your wife. If you're not married, then you don't have a husband or a wife and therefore no sex.

As I told my teen just the other day, premarital sex is adultery. By having premarital sex, he would be cheating on his future wife.

The body is not for immorality but for the Lord and the Lord is for the body.
(Emphasis mine) 1 Corinthians 6:13b NASB

If you are married, then you have exactly ONE husband or ONE wife (Genesis 2:24)–and you will ONLY have sex with him or her (Exodus 20:14).

God does not want the pain of premarital or extramarital sex for you.
God does not want the pain of pregnancy outside of marriage for you.
God does not want the pain of abortion for you.

God wants you to trust Him with all your heart.
God wants you to seek Him with all your heart.
God wants you to acknowledge Him in all your ways.

God wants to make your path straight.
God wants to teach you to profit.
God wants to lead you in the way you should go.

Too Late–I've Already Disobeyed

Too late, you say? You've already had sex outside of marriage?

Me, too.

Don't be fooled into thinking that just because I am blogging and following the Lord now means that I have always followed the Lord. You're not that naive.

I am a GenX-er who has done what most others in our society have done. I am in my second marriage (and my last, just in case you were wondering!). I did have premarital sex. I am not perfect.

I will not preach from a "holier than thou" pedestal. I want you to have life better than me. I want you to learn from my mistakes. I want my children to have life better than me. I want my children to learn from my mistakes.

Let's work together to stop generational sins!

It's not too late. It's never too late to turn back to God.

It's Never Too Late to Turn Back to God

We can change the course of our lives, and we can teach our children so that they do not repeat our sins.

+20. What will your life be like in 20 years? What will your children's lives be like in 20 years?

The Lord has changed the course of my life, and I am teaching my children purity so that they do not repeat my sins. God's promises are not just for me and my children. They are for all of His church.

If you are having sex outside of marriage right now, stop. Do not continue in sin.

How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Romans 6:2b NASB

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.
Hebrews 10:26 NASB

For this is the will of God, that you be sanctified [separated and set apart from sin]: that you abstain and back away from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor [being available for God’s purpose and separated from things profane], not [to be used] in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God and are ignorant of His will; and that [in this matter of sexual misconduct] no man shall transgress and defraud his brother because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we have told you before and solemnly warned you.

For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness [to be dedicated, and set apart by behavior that pleases Him, whether in public or in private]. So whoever rejects and disregards this is not [merely] rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you [to dwell in you and empower you to overcome temptation].
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 AMP

God has a lot to say about sex. These are just a few verses.

But as we Christians know, we need only go to the throne of God in confession, true repentance, in order to be forgiven.

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren (that is, fellow Christians), that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
Acts 13:38 NASB

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
Proverbs 28:13 NASB

I have confessed my sins before the Lord. I have confessed my sins before my husband. I have confessed my sins before my children.

And I am free from guilt!

Let the wicked (that's me!) forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
Isaiah 55:7 NIV84

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Acts 3:19 NASB

It was for freedom that Christ set us free;

therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (to sin, sexual or otherwise).
Galatians 5:1 NASB

The Lord is calling you and your children to walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:12 NASB)

When we trust in the Lord with all our hearts
When we do not lean on our own understandings of the world
When we acknowledge Him in all our ways
He will make our paths straight.

God’s Perfect Plan or Sometimes God Just Likes to Show Off!

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
Isaiah‬ ‭55:8‬

I thought I had the perfect plan.
God had a different plan—a plan that brought Him more glory.

And even though God’s plan was harder, I continued to rejoice through the difficulties.

I was anxious for nothing. God knew my prayer requests. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarded my heart and mind. (read Philippians 4:4-7)

A Mother’s Cry Ministry

After returning from my first mission trip in January (to Uganda), I knew the Lord was asking me to speak boldly about abortion and purity—but I didn’t want to.

Cheryl in Uganda with beautiful orphans. Photo by Mike Kelly, PhotoEmagery
Cheryl in Uganda with beautiful orphans.
Photo by Mike Kelly, PhotoEmagery

I met Julie Mad-Bondo, founder of A Mother’s Cry ministry, which is all about stopping abortion one woman at a time, and at God’s prompting, I agreed to speak whenever she wanted me to.

Yay for Julie and her ministry! but a real challenge for me.

I wrestled with the Lord over this. When I figured out why I didn’t want to do what God was calling me to do and talked it over with several people, I got over my issues. I knew I was going to say “yes” to God, probably by the weekend of our church’s women’s conference the first weekend in March.

In the meantime, I felt Satan’s attacks—because, of course, he wants abortion, premarital sex, and adultery.

Whenever I feel Satan’s attacks, I know I’m on the path that the Lord chose for me. Although his attacks are exhausting, they actually motivate me to do what God asks because there’s nothing more peaceful than being in God’s will.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7b

Jennie Allen

At the McLean Bible Church women’s conference March 3-4 with keynote speaker Jennie Allen, founder of the IF:Gathering, I did fully submit to God’s will. At Jennie’s prompting and while at the conference, I took the first small step to doing God’s will.

Jennie Allen, Founder of IF:Gathering & Keynote Speaker at McLean Bible Church Women's Conference
Jennie Allen, Founder of IF:Gathering & Keynote Speaker at McLean Bible Church Women’s Conference

And then the second.
And then the third.
And then the doors of opportunity just started flying open.

Suddenly, I had a speaking engagement scheduled for the spring and two more tentative dates for the summer.

Uganda

Then Julie asked me to speak to teens and women at the end of June—in Uganda!

Of course I said, “Yes!” I love the people of Uganda and longed to see my new-found friends. What an incredible opportunity to encourage women and teens in Uganda and then return home to do the same in the United States.

Uganda in Africa

New “Employment”

Cry loudly. Do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet! Isaiah 58:1aA couple weeks later, my employer offered buyouts, which would be followed by layoffs if necessary, because they were reorganizing.

Oddly, I had an incredible peace about taking the buyout. I felt like the Lord wanted me to be home with my family while simultaneously speaking boldly about abortion and purity. So, I took the buyout.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Before my last day, we found out that my husband, Russ, needed to have his hip replaced. I thought the timing was perfect because I would be free from work to help him with recovery before going to Uganda.

But it was unclear as to how much of Russ’ pain was from his back and how much was from his hip, so he first tried injections to relieve pain. He seemed to be doing okay until the middle of May.

In May, the pain got progressively worse. He was miserable.

In early June, Russ called to get surgery scheduled and got a doctor appointment to discuss surgery for the day I was to return from Uganda. The doctor’s office was concerned about scheduling surgery so soon after injections. Evidently, there’s increased risk of bone infection when surgery is soon after an injection.

Russ is no wimp. The pain was bad. So, the doctor called him in for a new x-ray. We found out that the reason that he was suddenly in so much more pain is because he had avascular necrosis or AVN, a condition in which poor blood supply to an area of bone leads to bone death. Yes, the bone was dead.

That’s why he was in so much pain. They scheduled surgery for July 11.

I had been doing more and more nursing for Russ so that he would be more comfortable. I was conflicted. I wanted to be home for all of June to take care of him, but I also knew that God was sending me to Uganda. It wasn’t just that I wanted to go. I was convicted that the Lord was sending me.

But at the very least, I could shorten my trip by a day. I changed my flights so that I could leave Uganda as soon as my speaking obligations were complete. I’d be home Monday, June 26.

Flying Standby

When Julie had asked me to go to Uganda, the challenge was figuring out how to pay for the flight, which would’ve been about $1200 if I had purchased the tickets in March.

Then it occurred to me that I could fly standby.

Russ is retired from an airline. As a retiree, he and his immediate family (that’s me!) fly standby for little or no cost. Because I’d be flying with a different airline, there was a cost, but the cost was less than $500, much better than $1200!

Although the money part of standby sounds wonderful, the unpredictability can be very unnerving. Choosing standby when I have to be in-country at a specific time ready to speak was a risky choice. But I had complete peace about it.

Peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Standby passengers get whatever empty seats have not been sold. Our names are on a standby list. We go to the airport and wait at the gate to find out whether we get on the plane.

Yes, that means we can pay for parking, check our bags, go through security, etc. and not get on the plane.

What if we don’t get on the plane? Then we check other flights to see if we can get on another plane. Sometimes we spend a whole day in the airport. Sometimes we get a hotel room and stay overnight because we’re stuck someplace that is not home. Sometimes you give up and drive the 10+ hours to Chicago instead.

I’ve done all those things for over 15 years with two boys in tow. It can be nerve wracking, but you have to remember that you don’t have control so there’s no point in worrying.

I have learned to create contingency plans, keep myself and the boys calm, and be ready to make last-minute decisions.

It can be fun, but it can also be nerve wracking. Many people don’t like to fly standby because it’s not predictable—including my husband! He remembers how much better it was to fly standby before 9/11, rising fuel prices, and airline consolidation. Planes used to go out with more empty seats than they do today.

But every empty seat is lost revenue. Airlines have changed so that they send out full flights. It saves them money and keeps them in business, which we appreciate because we have retirement benefits tied to their business!

So, I listed as a standby passenger on four flights:

  1. home to Amsterdam
  2. Amsterdam to Uganda
  3. Uganda to Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam home

KLM 777
Standby made Julie nervous—and understandably so. What if one of her speakers didn’t make it to Uganda? Not only would she have to punt, but it would affect her reputation.

But I had absolute peace—no worries at all.
I felt absolutely confident that I would get there on time.

Change in Plans

It was one week before I was to leave for Uganda. Russ was in so much pain that he wanted to change his surgery to an earlier date. Although I hated seeing him in pain, I did not like the risk of bone infection. Bone infection sounded like worse pain and worse consequences than AVN. So, we prayed.

After prayer, we both had peace about asking the doctor if he would reschedule the surgery for an earlier date.

Later that day, Russ texted me with a new surgery date: Tuesday, June 27.

I was scheduled to land on Monday, June 26—twenty-four hours earlier, as a standby passenger.

June & July 2017 calendar, showing events on 21st through 28th

I had a moment of panic. What if I didn’t get on that plane?

Then I realized that God had planned everything.

After just a moment of doubt,
I had peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Getting on the Plane

Getting on the first plane was the hardest thing to do. Not because there were no seats but because I was leaving my husband behind.

But I couldn’t prevent him from falling.
I couldn’t prevent him from getting into a car accident.
He was in God’s hands. I had to trust HIM.

Faith. The Lord was testing my faith.

At the gate, Julie wanted to know what the next option was if I were not to get on this flight. I didn’t know. I hadn’t looked up the next flight option.

I had unbelievable peace and said,
“I’m getting on the plane.”
And I did.

In Amsterdam, I had absolute peace, and I got on the second plane!

In Uganda

Julie had put together a speaking team of three: herself, the founder of A Mother’s Cry; Rhonda Darville, founder of the Bahamas GodParent Center, and me.

Cheryl Krichbaum, Julie Mad-Bondo, Rhonda Darville
Cheryl Krichbaum, Julie Mad-Bondo (A Mother’s Cry), Rhonda Darville (Bahamas GodParent Center)

We had a great time! We spoke to teens on Friday, women on Saturday, and churchgoers on Sunday. We encouraged one another, we learned more about Ugandan culture, and we laughed at ourselves!

I especially enjoyed hearing from people who were encouraged.

  • Encouraged to think 20 years ahead and to think about how pre-marital pregnancy would take them off the straight path that God has planned for them
  • Encouraged because they, too, are special needs parents (John 9) as we are
  • Encouraged with specifics on how to avoid the temptation of premarital sex
  • Encouraged to think that they are critical to the prosperous Uganda that God wants for them

Cheryl speaking to teens and tweens in Uganda

Going Home

Julie was just as concerned about my getting home as she was my getting to Uganda. I was going to the airport alonelate at night in a foreign country, a white woman traveling alone in Africa. What a dear friend!

But, again, I had peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Emmanuel, our driver and protector, very kindly saw me all the way to the door and watched me go through security. (More on my dear friend Emmanuel later, but isn’t it appropriate that his name is Emmanuel?)

When I went to check my bag, I got my seat assignment—I was getting on the plane to Amsterdam!

Once in Amsterdam, I had a 7-hour layover, which provided opportunity to pray and reflect on the weekend.Just my hand and my purple pen as I write in my spiral-bound notebook

When I went to the gate, the gate agent told me that the flight was full and asked if I would take a jump seat. I had never been asked that before. It sounded exciting!

Again, I wasn’t nervous at all. There’s nothing I can do about the situation, remember? This was all in God’s hands.

On Facebook, I requested prayer. Then I went to get cleaned up.

When I returned to the gate, I watched person after person get on the plane. The gate agents were all very efficient.

I amended my request for prayer on Facebook, saying that if they hadn’t heard from me by 7:45 am, then assume I was on the plane.

It seemed like everyone was on the plane. The gate agent made a phone call. She was talking in Dutch, but I understood “Krichbaum”! I tried connecting to the WiFi so that I could quickly post on Facebook that I was getting on the plane, but I couldn’t connect to the Internet.

The flight attendant got off the phone and reached for my passport.

I was getting on the plane!

But Russ and my family and friends had to trust that “no news is good news.”

Boarding pass labeled
After I got settled in a seat meant for flight attendants, I started crying while singing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow” in my head. A flight attendant noticed and asked me what was wrong.

“Nothing! I’m just so grateful that you let me on the plane!”

Cheryl buckled into a seat meant for flight attendantsI explained to her that my husband was having surgery 24 hours after I landed, and I was so appreciative that they let me on the plane.

I really wish I had gotten a picture of the gate agent who asked the flight crew for permission for me to be in a jump seat and a picture of the flight crew who were so kind to me. Even though I don’t have pictures of them, I have prayed for them over and over!

Russ picked me up at the airport. When I got in the car, we lost it! I don’t think we’ve ever been so happy to see each other.

Surgery

Russ was the last surgery of the day. It was delayed by a couple hours. Russ asked if I was still okay with the surgery.  “After this past weekend, of course!”

Everything went perfectly.

After surgery, the nurses stopped Russ’ gurney a couple steps away from the bed and had him take the two steps to the bed.

Russ said, “That’s all? I want to walk to the door!”

The nurses looked surprised but led him across the room to the door and back.

It was late at night, so they kept him overnight. The next day, Russ did great with the physical therapy exercises and practice going up and down stairs and in and out of a pretend car, so they let him go home.

They say that hip replacement patients will have a walker for two weeks. Russ stopped using his the first day.

They expect Russ to be on a cane for two weeks after the walker, but he often walks without it.

Russ does use the cane when walking on our block, and it works really well for closing the back door after the dog comes back inside!

To God be the glory!

God’s Plan Brought HIM More Glory

Do you remember all the way back to the beginning of this story? I had a perfect plan. Russ could’ve had surgery in May and be fully recovered before my trip to Uganda.

But sometimes God likes to show off.

Do you remember the story of Joshua and the Israelite army conquering the city of Jericho (recorded in Joshua 6)? It made no sense that marching around the city for 7 days and yelling would make the walls of resistance to God’s plan fall down. But that’s what happened.

And God got the glory!

Do you remember the story of Gideon and the Israelite army (recorded in Judges 7)? God reduced the army to 300 so that Israel would not “become boastful, saying ‘My own power has delivered me'” (Judges 7:2b).

And God got the glory!

Let me not sound boastful. This trip was not about me. It was about obedience and faith.

To God be the glory!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Uganda Prayer Request Update

I decided to return to the states from Uganda a day earlier because of my husband’s hip and back pain, so I’ll be returning on Monday, June 26th. 

What a blessing to make that decision because just yesterday we found out that Russ’ hip replacement surgery could be moved up to Tuesday, the 27th! 

The whole trip will be June 21-26: I’ll be traveling Wednesday and Thursday; speaking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and traveling Sunday and Monday.
We covet your continued prayers. Thank you for praying along with us!