Saturday, January 31, 2015

Genuine Grace

You know those moments in life that take your breath away? No not the ones like you see in the movies. The real moments. The times when you are so blown away by Gods grace, love, and mercy. It is also in those moments when you hit a low point and just feel like the walls are coming crashing down. Walls. Big fat brick walls. Sometimes I think we put up unnecessary walls all in good faith that we are protecting ourselves from being hurt. But sometimes. Those walls become a wedge from being wholly committed into something, into relationships, into community. In our Christian walk we have to take our walls down, put others before ourselves, and be completely vulnerable. Even if it means we get a few bruises along the way.

This week was a hard week. As many of you already know- I grew up in a 24/7 ministry home. Which means a fun night out was visiting someone at the hospital while dad prayed with them (while secretly I went to get a free soda pop out of the deal) or spending weekends at the church making photo copies or stacking chairs. I am pretty sure I have enough “community service hours” to cover the requirements of all the students at South Kitsap High School. We all know I am pretty skilled at these things. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It has taught me so much about service but also about just being genuine and putting others before yourself…or well MYself. ;)   

This week I was so challenged in so many different areas. Let’s just say I am so excited this week has finally come to an end. The beginning started out great! My birthday- I was awoken to the greatest gifts of a couple throw pillows and a sweet bracelet from Porsche. She even made me a chocolate cake with the number 20 on it. I am so thankful for her she really makes this place feel like home so much more! I was soaked with water and a ground nut sauce…it was war. We spent the day travelling around the city, getting some local juice, and then out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Fang Fang. Sweet and sour chicken for my birthday dinner. So worth it.

As I sat around the table at dinner and people shared their life experiences with me I felt totally blessed. Being the youngest Mzungu around the table is such an honor- I loved looking around and hearing about life and just different opportunities God has given me to be a blessing to others.

We had a combination of mis-communications, lack of planning, and unforeseen bumps in the road this week. The car breaking down and smashing 13 people into a 8 passenger van. It was an adventure to say the least. Even down to the gas station giving us too much fuel and causing a delay in the days events. Not to mention it is so HOT here right now. As I am writing this I am sitting on my bed in shorts and a tank top with the fan blasted and my water that has been in the freezer over night. There is no escape.

I was listening to a sermon by Francis Chan about joy and I was challenged by some of his words.

Do you live with joy? Is that what you are known for?

Philippians 4 talks about rejoicing in the Lord and begins with the women of the church who are fighting and Paul is telling them get a long because there are more important things to be thinking about. The small things that are distracting you from what you are meant to be focusing on. I want to be completely focused on Christ. It is easy to get into a routine and to start pointing fingers or getting upset with all the little details in ministry. God is so gracious to give us relationships with other believers to show us these things and to bring to light all the things that frustrate us. I think yesterday was the most challenging due to the close of a long week. I am so thankful for the challenges and the struggles (only now looking back at them) because they have taught me so much about myself. I want my walls to come down and I want to be back to being open and vulnerable with my faith. I want to be so bold and have courage like David when he Battled Goliath. At the same time I want to have gentleness and confidence like Esther. I want to be challenged like Ruth. I want to be moldable. That is my prayer.

I am a word girl. I really enjoy taken words a part and looking at the true meaning of something. I like to explain things and talk through what I am going through. That is probably why I enjoy the time I get to sit down and write a blog. My word for this blog and for this season I am going through is genuine:


possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real.


I think my favorite part of the definition is that is adds the opposite word in there. Counterfeit. What a great descriptive word. Our faith should not be a fake version of what scripture has called us to do. I want to be genuine. That’s how I want people to know my name by.




§  Absolute

§  Bona fide (Good faith)

§  Certain

§  Honest

§  Legitimate

§  Positive

§  Pure

§  Factual

§  Sound

1 Peter 1:6-9English Standard Version (ESV)

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”


Though I have not seen Him, I love him. I want to be found at the end of a week such as this one we just endured singing praises and giving all the glory to God.

Friday, January 23, 2015

In the belly of the whale

Well it has been almost a whole week since returning “home”

I often got the question when I was visiting Washington, Do you miss Uganda? How do you divide your time? How do you leave your family and everything you know for such a long period of time? How do you know it’s what God has called you to do? Aren’t you ever scared?

It was hard to originally leave my family. Hard to be the first child to move away and in a BIG way. Often times feeling like I was almost …separating the family by moving to Africa. It was even harder this last time, for some reason there was just an extra sense of closeness. Maybe it was all those nights getting to be that cool big sister: laying in bed late at night telling jokes, talking about boys, and how hard that test at school was going to be. Or waking up in the morning after my dad had left and crawling in bed with my mom just to share about life and catch her up on what I was going through. Asking advice. And just sharing our hearts. It was the moments when I was spending time with my older brother playing music and singing for countless hours at night in the garage together. Watching my dad come home after a long day at work and just being able to be there in person. And an occasional disagreement here or there.

How could I leave such a supportive family for the other side of the world? Wasn’t I scared? I was giving up yummy warm mom made meals for rice and potatoes, long uninterrupted conversations for choppy in and out Skype calls, and looooong hot showers for a bucket bath. Sure, there are moments where I would give anything to be with my family. During those school awards or holidays. But what I am more scared of. What I am more afraid of missing out on what God has obviously called me to do, to walk away in disobedience to where the Lord has provided for me.

This week Empower A Child was asked to attend an help lead a children’s conference. The theme of the week was ‘Fishers on Safari’. We were asked to lead the kids in the story of Jonah. We acted it out in a skit. The kids loved it. As we acted out I was hit with this idea that often times we are so much like Jonah and we run from what God has called is. My favorite part of the story of is when Jonah realizes what God was teaching him after being taken into the belly of the whale:

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Verse 8 is my absolute favorite because it doesn’t need to be re said any different way. It is just how we should read it. I can’t cling to earthly relationships, food, or the comforts of being home. God has loved me so passionately. So much so that He sent his son for me. How could I ignore his calling in my life?

My life should not be lived in the belly of the whale but in the streets of Nineveh!  

It’s easy to feel this way when things are going well but the real test is when I am discouraged or feeling overwhelmed by the business of the office and working/ living in ministry. Walking through the village of Zirobwe after a long month away. I was so challenged to start working towards my goal for 2015. God has called us to have deep intentional relationships with other believers and especially in a ministry organization. To take the extra time to see what God is doing in individuals lives. I want to be so intentional with my relationships this year and see how rewarding it is to invest in lives of others. Take the focus off of me and what God is allowing me to have and rejoice in what God is doing in the lives of those closest to me!

How can you pray for me?

·         I would love to go to school and I am praying about what to major in. I am hoping applying for FAFSA so I can do online classes. I would like to start working towards a communications degree and maybe being a high school counselor. I know I want to work with people.

·         Pray for the women empowerment program with the prostitutes and the street ministry. A budget is being drafted and the Lord is already providing.

·         For the youth in Zirobwe that they would see Godly counsel and follow the Lords leading in their lives.

·         For the EAC team and everything that we are implementing in this new year. For all of the volunteers the ones that are here and those who are preparing to come.

·         For my personal study time. That I will always make time for that quiet time with God.

·         For Jackie (16) and Dora (7) my sponsored kiddos to see an example of Christ in me and that I will be able to mentor them with so much of God’s love. <3


Thank you for your continued support!

If you would like to send me snail mail or a care package with some of my favorite snacks I would be forever grateful and I am sure the Lord will give you extra blessings. Things like peanut butter m&ms, peanut butter crackers, chocolate covered raisins, fruit snacks, hot chocolate with marshmallows, hand written letters, and anything else.  J
Shannen Kennedy
c/o Empower A Child
P.O. Box 33273
Kampala, Uganda