20140815-Forney-RainAndMugs

I met her at the appointed spot on the road. She came on a boda-boda {motorcycle taxi}. Rain sprinkled our heads as we hurried back to my home. Rebecca the Seamstress, come to help the mzungu sew curtains for naked windows. We walked, and I took inventory of the beautiful woman next to me. Tall, with an impossible hourglass figure so common here in Uganda, a weathered but still young looking face framed by a short and well-maintained afro. Dressed in a long white skirt with a well-fitting blouse, she was a picture of elegance. Stunning. Regal.

Nearing my house, we discussed the weather and her grandchildren.

We arrived and measured windows and discussed fabric. My body present but my mind elsewhere, a mental checklist playing….dishes to wash, laundry to hang, dinner to prepare, kids to bathe. We finished and I was all too prepared to thank her and rush her out the door so I could get on with my important tasks.

And then. Then the heavens opened and poured down on us. With only her tiny umbrella I couldn’t send her into the downpour to ride a motorcycle. And with my car in the shop, I couldn’t offer to drive her. I sighed. She will have to sit and wait it out. Huff, huff. Sigh, sigh.

I smiled and offered her a seat. Would she like tea or coffee? I brought out steaming mugs of tea and biscuits, and that’s when Jesus schooled me. As we sat there, cozy and warm with the lull of rain just outside, we chatted. She began to talk.

And I listened. 

She spoke of living through the horror and terror of Idi Amin. She spoke of bodies piled up outside her house, listening desperately on the radio for any news of when it might end. She spoke of hiding her babies under the bed, of foraging for food, of wondering if her family would die of starvation. She spoke of her father being taken away by Idi Amin’s men to be beaten and interrogated because of his job as a prison warden, and a Christian. She told of slowly rebuilding her home, her life, her safety, and her family.

And she told of a faithful God that saw her through it all. Her face lit up when she said, “My God was faithful. He kept us safe, and gave us new life.”

I smiled through tears and whispered a grateful, “Thank you.”

I almost missed it. I almost missed this God-moment, this beauty right in front of me, because I was too caught up in my own story to hear someone else’s. But my God used a rain storm to slow me. He gave me a gift, a treasure, in a woman I barely knew.

I don’t want to miss moments of God-whispering in the threads of story. I want to make space and time to hear other’s stories of God and His faithfulness. I want to see His fingerprints in the hope that comes from unexpected places, to make time to hear His voice in my every day.

God gives us each other to encourage, build up, challenge, and savor. We must be willing to take time to listen to His voice through the people we meet.  The words of the saints who have gone before, the ones slogging it out beside us, and even those coming after us.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

So, just for today, let’s you and me slow down. Let’s listen with our whole hearts to the God-stories playing out all around us. 

That day, Rebecca became more than a seamstress….she became mentor and treasured friend.

With love from Uganda, Joy

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  • http://www.thechuppies.com Kara Chupp

    Just a beautiful pause and reminder Joy…
    Thank you.
    And can you guess which verse I wrote on my boards and cards and taped to mirrors this last Monday…? ;)
    Slow to speak.
    Slow to anger.
    Quick to hear.
    Mental circles of that mantra the last few days.
    That’s how I want to live…watching and waiting for each moment He wants me to take in.
    Thank you for the confirmation that He clearly wants to imprint this on my heart.
    Love, K

    • http://gracefullmama.com Joy Forney

      Thank you friend. I love that God speaks to us across the world, the same thing, imprinted on our hearts and minds.
      Love you, Joy

  • http://www.thehallahans.blogspot.com Kelly Hallahan

    So sweet. I love how He orchestrates our days and brings the ones we need and who need us. Praying for eyes to see every invitation and courage to accept!

    • http://joyforney.org Joy Forney

      Thanks friend for walking this journey with me!

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    Joy,
    Absolutely beautiful…and isn’t it just like our God to send a rain storm to slow us down so that we don’t miss the life giving words He wants us to hear from one of His faithful children?! God’s timing is always perfect. Thank you for sharing a snippet of your life and your/God’s story. I’m so glad I took the time to listen…thanks too for a much needed reminder to not be in such a rush that I’m not prepared to hear what God wants to say.
    Blessings,
    Bev
    ps. I hope that readers who are used to seeing me comment will join me at my blog to listen to what God is calling me (and perhaps them) to do in His Kingdom for the orphans, widows and the lost in Pakistan…thanks.

    • http://joyforney.org Joy Forney

      yes! God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect!!
      Thank you for your beautiful thoughts!

  • http://www.amrsamom.com tonya

    love this! needed this. breathing deeply now as i’m diving into a day with more tasks than minutes. sweet Lord, help me not miss the people you place in this day because of focusing on the jobs that need to be done.

    thanks, joy.

    • http://joyforney.org Joy Forney

      Yes. Beautiful words and thoughts. Breathing deep with you as we dive into days with more tasks than minutes. :)

  • http://www.myautumnyears.blogspot.com Renee

    This is a much needed reminder for our frantic paced world. And I certainly needed to hear that I need to listen to the stories of others…..not just share my own. Powerful, Joy. Thank you for being God’s voice today.

    • http://joyforney.org Joy Forney

      Thank you sweet Renee, for your kind words and thoughts.

  • Mandee

    Very special, God is so good even when we feel we don’t deserve it at all He’s always looking out for us :) God Bless You

  • http://jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com Jeanne Takenaka

    Just beautiful, Joy. As our family is in the final days before the official beginning of the school year, I intend to just listen to my boys’ stories. Listen to their hearts rather than rushing around trying to complete my to-do list. I soooo needed this reminder this morning. Thank you.

  • Penny

    Your message Joy is one that I will take with me this morning and reflect upon throughout this day……Thank-you for bringing it to us………I know that sometimes all I need to be doing is listening & nothing more.

    Penny

  • http://thehealthyhappywoman.com Sally

    Thank you for this encouraging post, Joy! I definitely needed this reminder today, especially as a pastor’s wife. It’s so easy to overlook the ministry opportunities right in front me in pursuit of the “bigger” or more “official” ministries I think I should have. I’m reminded of Matthew 25:40, ” ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
    Thank you for this sweet, reminder!

  • Joy boryska

    Joy, Its stories like that help me lay at the feet of Jesus my own problems. My husband has muliple myeloma and there’s no cure. He was diagnosed at 58 and forced to retire so young. God has richly provided for us financially, spiritually and emotionally. He is 61 and according to the doctors will live 7 to 9 years. We have lived through 3 of those and only God will call him home when he’s ready. I have always wanted to be in ministry, a formal one, but my ministry is here for now. But I get to hear about others worries as we travel in our motorhome around the states. I have found others just like me. So I spend my time encouraging others to walk close to The Lord because that is the answer to our daily walk. Ps.34 is where I camp. Thanks Joy from Joy

  • http://janellsorensen.wordpress.com Janell Sorensen

    Joy!!!! I LOVED this! It’s all too easy to be wrapped up in our own stories. I often struggle with looking in, instead of looking out & up! Thank you for the challenge today. I’ll be listening with intention for those precious nuggets and unexpected moments. Time to slowww down ❤️ Love you friend!!! Xxoo

  • cindy

    Beautiful and so true.im in a home now for broken veterans,many of us are older and have been dumped by family.i sometimes speak my true honest feelings in our psychsocoal classes,because I won’t get laughed at,or bullied by others who’ve been thru similar circumstances.hearing their stories brings us all closer together, as I once told the class People on the outside don’t listen’ not even family.
    it’s so beautiful when we really connect

    • Beth Williams

      Prayers for you and the other veterans! Thank you for what you’ve done for us and this beautiful country God has given us!!

      Prayers for healing for each one of you! May God help others to listen to your stories and understand a little of what you’ve been through without judging you!

      Blessings :)

  • Jennifer

    I feel as though I need to be reminded of this daily and possibly hourly. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • Denise

    Thanks so much for that reminder!! As I sit on the porch not desiring to return to my job and looking for another one, I have to stop ad thank God for the job I do have. So many others don’t have and can’t get jobs! It’s all in His time. We all can get caught up.

    Thanks for the reminder!!

    In Christ,
    Denise

    • Beth Williams

      AMEN Denise! I’m right there with you! Both me and my hubby are not liking our job right now. I would love another one in a different field and he just wants out of the ER. For now we are thankful that neither of us is unemployed!

      Praise God for His goodness and timing! Prayers for you on your job hunt!

  • http://constanceannmorrison.com Constance Ann Morrison

    I’m thankful for a that the rain that poured down that day in Uganda and for the Spirit that poured out in Rebecca’s (and now your) story.

    • http://constanceannmorrison.com Constance Ann Morrison

      yikes! my typing! “I’m thankful for the rain that poured down . . .”

  • Paulette

    What an amazing story. We never know who God has put in our path to give us a glimpse of who God is. As in your story all in the name of the pouring rain. Thanks you so much for sharing.

  • http://martysmoosetracks.blogspot.com Marty

    This post made tears well up in my eyes. So much is always on my mind, and I feel like maybe I’ve missed many opportunities. Those times when I ‘ve chosen to stop and LISTEN…or those times that have been chosen for me by God…have been the best, most soul-refreshing times of my life. Thank you for this reminder. I need to keep this fresh in my mind and do it often. No “coincidences” in the Kingdom of God. :)

  • http://nellers.net Nellers

    Oh Joy, what a gift to live where you live and meet the people you get to meet and be touched by God in the way that He touches you. What a sacred and holy place you live!

    Nell

  • Semona E. Morton

    Such a refreshing article. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • http://hopehearthome.com Susan Shipe

    Just like I was in a hurry and almost didn’t read this. Such beauty in your story. Oh Lord, slow me down.

  • http://www.shellilittleton.blogspot.com/ Shelli Littleton

    I continually get those reminders to just be in the moment. Thank you!

  • Sheri

    Oh, thank you for this precious, strong reminder, beautiful Joy. Sometimes, often times (sigh), during all this crazy moving around, I get so focused on the tasks and my own little family. How despirately I want to listen! I don’t want to miss HIS story! Love ya bunches and prayers for more moments like that rainy day in Uganda.

  • Debbie

    Joy, you are such a blessing by telling your stories of how God is working in your life. Thank you!

  • Kunjumone George

    Joy,

    Have decided to give ‘quick to listen’ a chance and slow to speak million chances to come out of my troubles that I have caused in life!.

    Thanks for the beautiful story!.

  • Beth Williams

    I love how God orchestrates little storms to slow us down and teach us to “rest” and listen. Sure there will always be things to do & errands to run, but time with people is sooo valuable. Soon it will be gone or worse they are gone and you didn’t get the time to listen to their story.

    I have started making conversation with some co-workers. But I have also taken the time to hear them and the story of their lives. Makes you appreciate what you have so much more!

    Also take time weekly to speak with and listen to my dad. I made him a photo album of really old pictures and some days we go through it and he explains each one to me. I may be tired & want to get home, but I know he won’t be around long and he is by himself in an assisted living facility. He and others could use the company!

    Thanks for the reminder! Blessings :) :)

  • http://thisgalsjourney.wordpress.com Jennifer D.

    God has been whispering to my heart about this very thing. Thank you for the beauty of your words, your encouragement to my heart.