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Getting Ready!

I can hardly believe this trip is two weeks away! May I just say, I have been blown away by all of you. I am so incredibly humbled by the outpouring of support. Just a few short weeks ago I was in full blown pre-mission trip, pregnancy hormones, melt-down mode. I could not see how I would possibly raise the money in time. I was feeling defeated. Just a day or two after Zach and I made a plan for making the final payment, donations came pouring in. Isn’t that just like God’s right on time, down to the wire timing? I was fully funded in a matter of days. You would think that when time after time God has provided, I would stop doubting. Yet, I seem to always find myself relating to Peter. I am so eager to step out on the water with Christ, but once I see the waves, I start to sink. I am thankful though that despite my many faults, God never gives up on me and continues to offer opportunities for me to step out on the water.

So in two weeks, Nora and I will be getting on a plane to Africa! Can I ask you to pray for our team as we travel? Anyone who has flown much knows it’s a great time to work on strengthening your patience!  On 12/28 at 5:45 am I will be flying out of Indianapolis headed to Washington D.C. I’ll join up with the rest of the team then. We’ll hop on the plane for Uganda at 10:15 am. We’ll land in Ethiopia about 13.5 hours later for a quick 2 hour layover before getting on the plane for the last 2 hour flight to Uganda. Once we arrive in Uganda, we will hit the ground running until we fly home on January 6th. Please pray for strength and flexibility for all of us!

Our time will be packed full while we’re there. One fun thing we have planned is to do a photo booth with the kids! We have a couple of cameras we’re taking, along with some crazy props. Many of the kids have not seen a picture of themselves and most certainly don’t own a picture of themselves. One of the greatest gifts we can give, is an opportunity for kids to be kids and have fun! If you’d like to help us purchase film, it is available for purchase on Amazon here.

Another project I am so incredibly excited for involves us partnering with an organization called Days for Girls. We will be giving washable feminine hygiene kits to girls and educating them on how to use it. This is huge! If a family is choosing between food and feminine hygiene products, what would your choice be? Not having sanitary supplies means days without school, income, or leaving the house. According to Days for Girls, girls use leaves, mattress stuffing, newspaper, corn husks, rocks, anything they can find…but still miss up to 2 months of school every year. These kits help to change that.

We are taking baby supplies (formula, child tylenol, etc.) and school supplies (pens, notebooks, etc.) with us. For those of you have donated these items, THANK YOU!! You are amazing! I can’t wait to stuff my bag with all of your goodies. Trickiest thing is getting all of this to fit in my one 50 pound suitcase!

As far as pregnancy goes, I’m feeling great! Mentally, I had prepared to be giant and miserable by the time we left for Uganda, that way I would be pleasantly surprised if I wasn’t! I am not feeling giant or miserable. Besides typical pregnancy symptoms, I feel really good. I know that I will feel physically challenged at times and the plane ride will be far from comfortable, but really when does a flight that long ever feel comfortable?

As my team and I are preparing our hearts, please keep us in your prayers. I can’t wait to share all of the amazing God stories that are to come. We’ll be on our way soon!

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Why am I going?

I’ve already shared that I believe God has called me to Uganda, but I also wanted to share a bit more about why I believe that. I also thought there was no better time than now to share my thoughts about leading a short term mission trip. These are entirely my opinions that I’ve acquired from books on the subject, people I respect, and scripture I’ve read.

This may shock you, but I am not going on this trip to change the lives of the people of Uganda. I do not by any means believe that my few days interacting with someone there and providing a few donations will drastically improve a person’s life. It can be very easy to look down on someone living in a third world country with pity. Yes, living conditions are extremely bad and are worse than anything you can imagine, but in many ways the people I have met in Uganda are so much richer than I am. So, I am not leading a trip for them. I want to lead mission trips for the people on my team. It is so exciting to me to see someone experience their first mission trip. I love watching people find a passion they never knew they had and have their heart break for a place they knew little about. I want to lead people through that heartbreak, so that they can come home and DO SOMETHING. I was once told, “Compassion without action is simply pity.” I want to guide people through a door to finding God’s calling. Adoption, child sponsorship, long term mission work, raising awareness, raising funds…just something. What good is a mission trip, if you return the same as when you left?

Yet, it’s not all about us either. So how can I be a part of short term mission work that is truly effective and does not end up causing more harm than good? I highly recommend reading “Helping Without Hurting” to learn more on this topic. This would quickly turn into a much longer blog post than you would want to read if I let it. One way I have tried to ensure that I do more good than harm is to travel with an organization called Visiting Orphans. Something that I love about Visiting Orphans, among many things, is that they establish relationships with the ministries we work with and are continuously monitoring those relationships. My team will not just visit a ministry for a few days only to leave never to return. There are teams constantly serving with these ministries and individuals supporting them. We will not go in with a savior mentality or hand out gifts like we are Santa. We are there to support and serve the leaders of the ministries we work with.

It’s such a fine line to walk when going on short term mission trips. It does feel good to hand out gifts and have kids immediately fall in love with you, but that can quickly become an idol. It has to be about God’s glory. I once was on a trip where I had an allergic reaction that caused me to break out in hives. My calling for that trip, was to sit in a room alone and pray for the rest of my team. God’s calling is not always glamorous.

I am such a teeny, tiny part of the big picture. I am no better because my calling sends me to Uganda. You see we are all called to care for the orphan and widow. Time and time again in scripture God lays out His heart for orphans and widows. And time and time again He calls His people to be His hands and feet. James 1:27 states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” There are things that are not necessarily laid out in black and white in scripture, but this is. It is perfectly clear that we are all called to care for the orphan and widow. It is just a matter of finding your place to do it.

Ask God to give you His heart, to break your heart. I absolutely believe He will answer that prayer. God will give you a passion for something.  And then, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive,” (Howard Thurman). Leading others to discover their passion, fighting against the injustices I have seen, and fighting for the orphan are what have kept me awake at night and consumed my thoughts. That is what makes me come alive, and until God changes my heart, that is what I will do.

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Bump Update…Weeks 15-21

Baby bump update! Sweet Nora is a growing girl. Here is a glimpse of what’s been happening the last few weeks…minus week 18 because in case you didn’t know it gets dark crazy early in Indiana, which is not conducive to our weekly belly shots!
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It’s so hard to believe we are over halfway there. I’ve started to see a few kicks from the outside. She’s most active from about 10 am to 12. So, don’t come in my office during that time or you may find me being completely unproductive and just staring at my belly!

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And here we are at 21 weeks. Zach and I love singing and talking to Nora. She is so incredibly loved by so many people already. We are so excited to meet this sweet girl, but I am enjoying this precious time while it lasts because I know it will be over far too quickly.

May I just say, I am so incredibly thankful for my husband. I have no doubt he will be an amazing daddy. I love hearing him talk to my belly. He has taken care of me so well over, going above and beyond to selflessly put my needs first. He challenges me in my faith and inspires me. I cannot imagine being on this journey with anyone but him.

*Don’t forget, Uganda trip is just over a month away! I would love your prayers for me and my team. And of course if you feel lead to donate to our trip there is a lovely button to the right to do that, you can purchase an Ugandan paper necklace, or there is a Premier Jewelry fundraiser happening right now! Between baby, the trip, and holidays these next two months are going to be busy!

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A hodgepodge of thoughts

So remember when I said I was back to blogging? Well, apparently I lied because I’ve been doing a terrible job! Here is a random assortment of updates.

Baby:

I am now 20 weeks pregnant. Halfway there! I cannot believe the first half of pregnancy has come and gone already. And in case you missed it, it’s a girl! You can watch our gender reveal video in the previous post. We went for our ultrasound Tuesday morning. It was so great to see our sweet baby again! Our last ultrasound was at 7 weeks which hardly looked like a baby at that point. They measured baby girl’s brain, kidneys, heart, etc. Everything looked perfect. We then had the ultrasound tech put the gender reveal photo in an envelope to give to our best friends.

We both were pretty sure it was a boy. Wrong! Our friends came over that night with gifts for us to open that would reveal the gender. They were perfect, and it was so much fun!

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Zach and I are so excited to meet Nora Evaline Skaggs! We chose the name Nora because we both absolutely loved it. Evaline (pronounced Ev-uh-leen) is a name created from both of my grandmothers’ names, Evelyn and Nadine. I love that Nora will always have a little bit of two women who I love dearly.
I can now feel Nora wiggling around. Her movements are not strong or consistent at this point, but I love feeling her move. I am feeling great and trying to savor each and every moment of pregnancy.

Uganda

I have had two yard sales. The first got rained out after just a couple of hours. We rescheduled for another Saturday. Woke up that Saturday and….it was raining. We postponed it again to the next day on Sunday. To say I was frustrated and discouraged would be an understatement. We ended up doing pretty well (thank you to all of you who donated items!). There were some great opportunities for me to share about my passion with our shoppers which is one of my favorite parts about fundraising. I just love hearing all of the reactions from people, the good and bad. People were able to see some of the pictures from my last trip. I absolutely love sharing stories about the sweet faces in the photos.

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I’ve got to tell you though. I have had a pretty stinky attitude. Fundraising, working, volunteering at church, and being pregnant is hard. Preparing to go to Africa while pregnant is hard and scary. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of wallowing in pity on more than one occasion lately. When fundraising isn’t going so well, and I am terrified at times to go on this trip, it’s easy to get discouraged and say, “That’s it! I’m not going!”

But here’s the thing, I believe God called me to do this. And where in scripture does He ever say the road would be easy or would not be scary? I am pretty sure I have never read that. Yet, while I know this, it is still easy to forget and decide to give up instead. I have to believe that if He has called me to co-lead a trip to Uganda, then He has perfectly equipped me with everything I need to do so. I have to remind myself that He will never leave me, that nothing is impossible with Him. (Please note: anyone who wants to keep reminding me of this is totally allowed.)

What excites me about all of this is that this feels like one of the biggest, scariest things He’s ever called me to. Which means this is one of the biggest opportunities I have ever had for growth. That’s exciting! I am learning a lot about giving up control and trusting in God. Pregnancy, mission trips, and motherhood are not things that control freaks always cope well with. I like to handle things myself, and I like having a plan. I feel like one by one God is prying my fingers back to open my hands to all that He has for me. He is so faithful even when I am so faithless.

Fundraising

All of our funds are due November 27th. I would love to tell you that I am 100% funded, but that’s not the case. In fact, I am still about $1,500 away right now. If you feel lead to support me, I can never express how much you bless me. Please do not ever feel like a donation is too small. When you are fundraising and preparing for a mission trip, just getting a word of encouragement from someone is huge.

If you are interested in supporting my trip there are a couple of fun ways to do that right now. You can simply make a donation via PayPal using the link on the top right.

I still have a few Ugandan paper necklaces for sell. They are $20 each and gorgeous!

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Until November 17th I have a Premier Jewelry Catalog fundraiser going on. You can go to http://nancyskaggs.mypremierdesigns.com/ and enter the password “nancy” to view the catalog. Then call or email my fabulous mother-in-law at 330-720-0929 or nlskaggs@gmail.com to order. Perfect for Christmas shopping!

Overall, life is beautifully hard right now. I feel challenged in every area. But the things that challenge me are such amazing blessings. I know that it is said all the time, but I could never have imagined this life for myself. It is so much better.

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Bump Update

Time for a baby update! For all of our friends and family near and far, here is what’s been happening the last few months…

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Baby belly from week 4 to week 12. Even though the changes have been minor, I love watching my belly grow. I think I look at it a thousand times a day. The bump is pretty undetectable most days, but I can assure you the pants are no where close to being buttoned.

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I also celebrated a second anniversary with this guy. I am so blessed by him, and this baby is so lucky to have him as a dad.

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And of course, the Uganda trip is quickly approaching! It seems so surreal to think that I get to love and serve in Uganda while pregnant. Praying that God would prepare my heart for all that is to come. I can only imagine how humbling of an experience this will be. I’m ready to be stretched, spiritually and physically!

Big thank you to each and every one of you who have purchased a t-shirt or necklace, donated to my yard sale, or made a monetary donation. I really cannot explain how much you are treasured. Speaking of yard sale, that’s coming up October 5th. I may freeze up here in Indiana, but I’m expecting God to do great things!

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Simply Love T-Shirts

Newest way to support our trip! Aren’t these shirts awesome?!

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There are youth sizes available. You choose the color. I’m kinda loving the green one! $20 for each. $3 for shipping if needed. Purchase using the PayPal link to the right. Indicate in the boxes provided what size and color you would like. Huge thank you in advance for all of your support!

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Back to Blogging

As I gear up for another mission trip that can only mean one thing, time to dust off the ol’ blog again. This is a space for you to follow my ups and downs in this journey. If you are reading this you must either love me dearly or just want to sit back and enjoy my crazy! So enjoy! I can guarantee there will be lots of crazy along the way.

As December approaches, I feel the same emotions I do every time. I wrestle between excitement and fear, impatience and worry. And I have to believe that like every other time, God will be beside me, guiding me. Come December 27th I will be flying out with my two co-leaders and a group of people just as passionate about loving the orphan as I am to serve the people of Uganda. We will have days jam-packed full of adventure, joy, and sorrow. We will come home with our heads spinning and our hearts on fire. Oh yeah, and I will be 28 weeks pregnant.

What?! Yep! Zach and I could not be more excited about this sweet little one growing inside of me. I am utterly amazed that God would call me to this path. When I found out I was pregnant, in the midst of rejoicing, I also felt a surge of fear. My first thought, “Heck no, God! There is no way I can lead a team to Africa 28 weeks pregnant.” But God in His amazing ways gave confirmation, after confirmation that yes, this is His plan for me. And holy cow! What a crazy, amazing adventure this is going to be!

We are just under 4 months away from the trip. It’s game time! I am in full swing fundraising mode. So get ready. I would so greatly appreciate your prayers over the coming months for me and my team. This space will be a place to not only update all things Uganda , but update all of our friends and family on all things baby.

Above all, it is my prayer that for everyone reading this, you will find the place God is calling you to simply love.

P.S. I could not end this without a special thank you to my sweet husband. He is the voice cheering me on when I am filled with I can’ts. He encourages me and pushes me to do what I think is impossible. He tells me to jump when I am filled with fear. And he did a dang good job of setting up this blog for me!

 

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Waiting sucks

Sometimes it’s hard to be content. Sometimes my heart hurts. Like really hurts. Like hurts so badly that it feels like an actual physical pain in my chest. And when it hurts like that there are no tears, just longing. Longing for more. I kinda suck at just being content.

I know my fight for the orphan and abandoned isn’t over. I know God has just begun this work in me. I know there are so many more injustices that He’s just waiting to break my heart over. I think He’s just waiting for me to be ready. For now, He’s calling me to wait.
But here’s the thing, I HATE waiting. I want to do something NOW. I want to be planning a trip somewhere. Rocking a little one. Holding the hand of a big kid. I want to be actively DOING something. Yet, I keep feeling God urging me to just be content in Him. To stop making the cause bigger than He is. Because yes, it’s a wonderful cause to fight for, and fight for it we should, but God has to be my reason to fight.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” -Exodus 20:3
Guilty. It can be SO easy to make the orphan, the forgotten, the starving, the abandoned, etc. my god. To get so caught up in my heartbreak, that I forget to give it to God. My heart breaks and I immediately search out something I can do, but those are my plans. Believe me, I have plans.
God is asking me instead, for now, to pray and be content. But I can be a bit of a brat, and sometimes I just want to kick and scream that I don’t want to wait. My heart hurts and I want to do something now!
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” -Psalm 27:14
“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31
I’m learning, VERY slowly.
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Cookies for Caleb!

My awesome bloggy friend Melissa, is SO close to having her precious baby in her arms FOREVER! Melissa and her hubby are adding to their precious family by way of Ethiopia.
They began their journey to their son on March 31, 2010. Now 17 months later they are SO close! On July 21st they flew to meet their son, Caleb, for the very first time.








Now, they will FINALLY get to bring their baby boy home sometime in September!


To be fully funded the Masers still need $3000. Because of an awesome Lifesong grant, they only need to raise $1500 of that, and Lifesong will match the rest!


Caleb’s 1st birthday is August 28th. So to celebrate his birthday and his homecoming, the Masers are selling Africa cookie cutters! Cookies for Caleb!


How cute are these?!








For a minimum donation of $15 to Lifesong you will get a tax receipt, an awesome cookie cutter, and will be entered to win a $25 gift card from Amazon!


Click here to make your donation via Lifesong. In the comments be sure to put “Maser 2167” or they will not get credit for your donation. After you have made your donation, email Melissa at masermel@yahoo.com so she can ship you the cookie cutter.


Let’s bring Caleb home!!