When Is It Okay To Be A Hypocrite?

Right now I’m staring down situations that might cause me to make decisions in ways I never thought I would. Decisions regarding marriage, career, family, and making some choices that look a whole lot like things I’ve advised friends not to do. When I look back on myself even just a few years ago, I never imagined I would be in this place, in this season of life. And there’s a big part of me that really fears what my closest friends and family think of me, will they see me as hypocritical if I change my mind?

I’ve been considering this question just a little bit these days, somewhere in the back of my mind. But it jumped to the foreground the morning I was reading about Saul’s conversion in the book of Acts.

This man, Saul, was known and feared for arresting and imprisoning followers of Jesus. He was present and approving of the death of the first martyr, (Acts 8:1), and threatened to kill them himself (9:1) He was on his way to Damascus where he would get paperwork to further help him in arresting Christians the day his whole world was shaken. He heard the voice of Jesus in a light shining from heaven. And this voice called him by name. He fell to the ground and was blinded for three days. And who came along to heal him but a timid follower of Jesus, leading him to give his life over to the cause he had just been devoting himself to fighting against.

After Saul gave his life to Christ and began preaching, people were skeptical of him, questioning, “Isn’t this the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” (9:21)

People remembered who he was before. Maybe even those same people he threw in prison were sitting in the very cells he put them in, remembering his heartless demeanor as he persecuted them for this faith he is now claiming. This man was now preaching exactly what they had been arrested for believing. I bet you they were all confused and maybe even angry.

And his fellow Jewish pharisees were probably saying, “How could you turn your back on us? After all we’ve been through. Our people worked together to kill this Jesus guy, and now you say you believe He is the Son of God?” They saw him as a traitor.

But only Saul knew what happened that day Jesus spoke through light on that road to Damascus. Some men traveling with him were there but only Saul knew what it was like to be blind for three days and be healed by someone he would have seen as inferior to him just a few days earlier. Only Saul felt what that change in his heart was like. That change that Jesus said would make him the “chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” (9:15)

In my life I’ve never had such a dramatic experience as a light in the form of Jesus calling my name, blinding me and making me see I was on the wrong path in life. But I’ve had my share of unexpected turns of events.

Growing up I swore I would never live alone. I thought it would be too scary to even live in an apartment by myself somewhere in Michigan. Yet here I am, living by myself in East Africa.

My whole childhood I listened to my mom say she would never leave America, too many interesting places to see in our own country, why would she go elsewhere? Then just a month into my first trip to Uganda I receive word that she’s coming—completely unprovoked by me.

In college my heart was broken and I said I would never get married before I turned 30, little did I know, within three years I would be 24 and engaged to a man I met deep in an African village.

After my first three months in Uganda I told myself and others that I didn’t have an interest in teaching music anymore, I wanted to serve the poor. Lo and behold, God called me back to Uganda through a job as a high school music teacher for some of the most privileged children in the country.

Scripture and my own life have showed me that it’s okay to change your tune. You shouldn’t fear what others will say when you turn and go the opposite way you said you would. There is a need to apologize when you realize the decision you told all of your friends not to make seems to actually be the right one.

And these things are okay only as long as God is at the heart of the change.

It’s one thing to make up your mind and change it willy-nilly, whenever you please, but I’m starting to realize it’s okay to change your mind and maybe appear hypocritical, if it’s something God has done. When your heart and mind are changed because of something GOD DID, that is not an embarrassment. That is worth sharing.

I think it’s natural for us to worry what people will think of us when we do change our minds and admit we were wrong before. Saul himself hid in a basket to escape the threats of Jews wanting to kill him after his conversion. But he never stopped preaching his testimony of what God did inside him.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” —1 Timothy 1:15-16

God is in the business of changing hearts and when he brings us from darkness to light, from wrong to right, it is a testimony to Him. It’s not something to hide or be ashamed of because He deserves to be glorified.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” —Ezekiel 36:26 

“Sometimes His best work is not what he does for us but what He does inside us.”
—Priscilla Shirer

The Fly, The Dog, & The Open Door

For a while now I’ve been looking for doors. One door in particular.

I’ve felt God calling me to make a drastic change in my life and I’ve been searching for that one door He wants me to walk through: What He’s calling me to next.

A few days ago I was sitting on my couch, reading after work. I wanted to walk to the store but I was waiting to see if it was going to rain.

I had let in my dog, Simba, a dog who came to me from the street and somehow managed to house train himself…Simba began whining to go out, like normal house broken dogs usually do. So I got off the couch and walked over to the front door, only to realize it was already open— maybe six inches or so. Just enough for Simba to see where he would rather be. Maybe he didn’t think he could push it open the rest of the way? Maybe he was waiting for permission to go out? Who knows. But I swung the door wide and watched him run out. I returned to the couch and continued reading.

Not five minutes later I hear a whirring sound somewhere above my head. A loud buzzing fly had entered in through that same front entrance that had been left open. I let him be for a while, figuring he would find his way out on his own. But time went by and I continued to be distracted from my reading by this fly. I walked into the foyer and thought, maybe if I stood by his exit, Mr. Fly would find his way outside where he would rather be. But he couldn’t get it. Even hours later I could hear his drone following me around the house— and I’ve left the door wide open for him to find his way!

It’s a simple analogy but I started thinking, is this what I’m doing?

Am I this fly that feels stuck somewhere. I know the door exists to where I’m wanting and feel led to go but am I so busy freaking out and buzzing around that I can’t see that it’s wide open?

Or maybe I’m the dog and I’m doing so much whining and complaining that I can’t see that the door is already open, I just need to do my part?

Maybe because this post is so much shorter than my normal ones (Am I right?), but for a few reasons this blog entry feels unfinished. And I guess that would be because I still haven’t quite found my door.

But I believe I’m getting closer.

And today I’m thankful that when we try our best to focus ourselves on listening to God, He sends us ordinary creatures like an insect and our own pet to bring perspective.


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.         -Hebrews 10:23



Currently Reading: The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler

Currently Listening To: Seasons Change by United Pursuit

The Pictures I Don’t Take

Throughout the last year and even during my first trip to Uganda, there have been so many missed Kodak moments. Honestly, I apologize for those. I wish with my whole heart that everyone I know could experience the beauty, the simplicity, the confusion, the joy of Uganda. I wish I could photograph every experience and send it to you so you all could see why I love this place so much, and maybe even want to experience it for yourself.

I try my best to photograph moments I love, but some of them just get away from my camera.

In many cases, it’s not possible for me to take pictures. Sometimes, photographing certain scenes from people’s normal routines that are interesting to me but mundane to locals, could be insulting or confusing them.

Kennedy Odede, a man from the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya illustrates this point when he recalls his first memories of white people in his book, A Path Appears, “One day I saw something very strange, people walking around who looked like they had come directly from the grave, their skin was so pale. Mzungus. They carried black machines that flashed bright when they pointed it at me. I screamed. I thought the machine was going to harm me, and so I fled. Later I learned it was a camera. Its flash and their voices terrified me. We didn’t see them often, less than once in a year. But whenever I saw them, I ran and hid. I had many ideas about them; first, I did not expect them to be smart, because they loved to take pictures of silly things like chickens on the street, shanties and other things that were not interesting.”

Even today, my boyfriend, Michael, will tell me I’m being “so mzungu” when I do things like taking a picture of a goat standing proudly on top of a rock. (I took that photo anyway)

So for various reasons. There are many moments that go unphotographed:

When my neighbor kids ask me to pour for them water from my bottle and they all simultaneously take their shirts off so they don’t get them wet, and unfortunately my phone is dead.

When I’m in a taxi licensed for 14 passengers and I physically can’t take a picture because we’re carrying 31 people (some of them on my lap).

When I see ‘Barbie Savior’ printed on the back of a taxi while I’m in a traffic jam, but I know if I pull my phone out it will most likely be snatched out of my hand.

When I want to take a picture of the gigantic and terrifying Marabu Stork sitting on the roof directly outside my open classroom window, but I know it would disrupt my already rowdy class.

The day I saw a man sitting on a boda (motorcycle) holding a car door and sadly my phone was at home charging.

When I have a perfect shot of little Azza standing, looking out over the hill we live on with the words “Never Give Up” printed on the back of his shirt, but every time I take the camera out he spins around, smiles and yells, “Photo! Photo!”

When I’m sitting in a field in the village with a gaggle of children around me, laughing and staring off at the rolling green hills, and I don’t want to disrupt the moment by running down to the school to get my camera.

Often I’ve thought, “Oh, how the people at home would love to see this.” And I’ve really tried my best to give you images into what my life is actually like, when I can.

But over my last year in Uganda I’ve also come to this conclusion:

Some moments are just too good to photograph. 

Sometimes I really want to take a picture, but I feel it would disrupt the scene or change the atmosphere.

Sometimes I just want to enjoy. I don’t want to be a spectator in my life. I want to be fully immersed in what’s going on around me. Sometimes I have to tell myself to stop watching life through the screen on my phone and just watch it through my eyes.

I don’t want to video tape the kids running down the hill to welcome me home from work. I want to be free to accept those hugs with arms wide open.

I want to enjoy time face to face with a friend, rather than posting an image so everyone knows we were together for lunch.

I want to take in the sights of the many hills of Kampala as I wiz around them, rather than trying to capture them from the perfect angle.

Because in the end, no matter how talented I could be at photography, I couldn’t capture these sights and these Ugandan moments as well as the eyes and the ears ca n. In order to get the real snapshots, you have to see it for yourself.

So please, enjoy the pictures I take, and forgive me for the ones I don’t.

Here are some of my favorite moments that I have caught in the past few months:

Currently Reading: The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers
Currently Listening To: Pieces by Bethel

The Growth Is In The Challenge

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —John 14:27

First Year Teacher.

Those words are enough to send a shiver down your spine. After the difficult and stressful year I had last academic year, it became obvious to me that I needed to develop the skill of being at peace in any situation. I wanted to grow in my ability to be at peace.

So here’s what happens when you decide you want to grow in peacefulness.

Annoying stuff starts popping up all the time.

Little irritating things show up that ruin your day or slow down your productivity or stress your relationships. It’s like you can’t get away from all these things that want to take AWAY your peace. And worry doesn’t just creep in, it BULLDOZES its way into you. All of a sudden these things show up in your life that you want to get away from.

I left Uganda in June after one of the hardest years of my life, looking forward to a summer of relaxation, going back to my simple job that feels like perfectly broken in shoes, in a place where I’m surrounded by the people that know me best. I loved how EASY my life suddenly was, in comparison to my life in Uganda, yet I wasn’t at total peace. I was being asked constantly what my plans were for after my contract was done—a year into the future! I was hurt by someone close to me. I had computer, phone, you name it, technology problems.

But quickly I started to learn how much control I had over whether I was at peace or not. I continued to pray for God to give me the “peace that surpasses understanding” and remove plots of the enemy that could throw me off track and cause me distress. But I slowly realized that, up until I arrived back in Michigan in late June, the way I viewed peace was not accurate. Peace is not a feeling that washes over you or a place you enter in to only when things in your life make sense, peace happens because of your choice to be still and accept what is happening to you because you trust God is in control.

Joyce Meyer points out in her book The Battlefield of the Mind that peace is not an emotion, it is a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22) that results only from abiding in the Father.

Like love, patience, self-control—being peaceful is not something that just happens to you. Sometimes it does come naturally, but usually, in real life, it is a daily, hourly, every moment decision. A fruit that results at the end of a growing process.

Even if you are not a follower of Christ, you are at peace because you trust the universe/fate/luck/etc. will work everything out eventually.

But I can have peace because I believe in a God who KNOWS me.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden form you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

—Psalm 139:13-16

I have peace because I believe in a God who protects me.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

—Isaiah 41:10

I have peace because God knows way more about the world, and the future, and what’s best for me than I do.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” —Hebrews 4:13

And that is a God who is worth trusting my life with.

Boom. Trustworthy God of the Universe = Eternal peace. Right?

But what about when those irritants are pounding at your door and you are struggling to even see God.

In comparison to the year I had as a first-year teacher, my first few weeks back home in Michigan were very easy and restful, but I was not just looking to BE at peace, I was looking to GROW in my capacity to remain at peace.

And that’s why God started letting stressors come into my path.

“Avoiding struggle is avoiding growth.” -The Archibald Project

Recently my eyes have been opened to the fact that God uses challenging situations to grow us. Never has my character or faith ever grown from a situation that was easy. In times of ease is when I notice God’s extreme blessings, but in times of struggle is when I search for Him more, question His plans, seek His purpose for the season I’m in, and look for the good work that He is doing in me.

It’s the same when you’re eager to become more patient. Your spirit can’t become more patient if you have nothing to wait on. Your muscles don’t get stronger if you don’t increase the weight you’re lifting. A child cannot become better at reading if he keeps flipping through the same picture book over and over again.

The growth is in the challenge.

Considering peace, I also started to realize I wasn’t being serious enough about attacking my worry.

I’m so thankful for the revelation God brings to me. One day, in my second week back in MIchigan, I was driving home from meeting with a friend who was also hoping to soon move to East Africa, when it suddenly occurred to me that when I worry, I’m telling God and everyone around me, that I don’t believe He’s as powerful as He says He is. When I worry about my future or the wellbeing of the people I love, I’m telling God I don’t trust Him. In those times I stop praying and thanking Him for His provision, and instead think about what I can do to fix the situation on my own, which is minimal compared to Him, and in the process just makes me miserable.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Birds do not know where there next meal is coming from. I have always known exactly where I will receive all my meals from, yet I still worry.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” —Matthew 6:27

I may not have anymore of my future figured out than I did back in June, but I have started to rest in the fact that in the past 24 years of my life, I’ve had what I thought were some pretty fantastic plans for myself, but I’ve seen God’s plans always, without a doubt, turn out beyond anything I ever could have imagined. And that has become the peace I was looking for.

Currently Reading: I Don’t Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton
Currently Listening To: Still and Small by The City Harmonic