The top 5 things I learned from my 98 year old grandma…

One week ago today, I had the privilige to lead the celebration of life service for my grandma. It was definitley a bittersweet experience. As we celebrated the birth of Jesus yesterday, I couldnt help but reflect on my grandma’s amazing life. 

As I wrote down some thoughts I will be implmenting into my own life, I thought I would honor my grandma and share the wisdom 98 years of life brings. 

Counting down the top 5 things I learned from my 98 year old grandma:

5. Good hair is important 

Most people don’t have pictures of the person who cuts their hair in their memorial video, but my grandma did. My grandma always looked so classy and most people couldn’t believe she was 98. There is something about self care that keeps you young, and no hair out of place that keeps you looking good. 

4. Don’t be left out, when there is fun happening 

It was common to hear my grandma say, “If you are doing anything fun, come and get me, or don’t leave me out of the fun.” What I learned from her was, fun is presence. It wasn’t that she could always do everything we were doing, although that was very rare, but she enjoyed being around her family and friends who were living life to the fullest. And the reality is, her presence made things more fun. 

3. Die young, as late as possible 

My grandma and her good friend Lowell were still dancing 2 or 3 times a week before Covid. Along with dancing, they were still going to the races on Friday nights and Wii Bowling was a regular part of their schedule. The only thing that sounded old to me was them playing cribbage, ha ha. Being young for my grandma was a state of mind, and I think she is the youngest 98 year old I have ever known. 

Not many grandsons can say, I was at the races with my 98 year old Grandma

2. Choose Joy: Tomorrow will be better than today

​Despite the amazing life my grandma lived, it was not without pain and sorrow. She buried a son who was 25, a granddaughter who was 18, the wife of her grandson in her 20’s, her daughter and son in law amongst many other siblings and family members. Despite all the loss and troubled times, she always chose joy. As my Aunt Raine shared with me, regardless of how bad any given day was, my grandma would always say, tomorrow is going to be better. If anyone could have thrown in the towel, my grandma certainly had enough to warrant it, but instead, she chose joy. ​

1. No one ever cared for me like Jesus

​​I always knew my grandma had faith in Jesus, but I didn’t know the depth of her faith until I read over her instructions and choices of songs and scriptures for her memorial service, which she had already planned. There was a clear common denominator in what kept her young, choosing joy and loving people the way she did, it was Jesus. In all the good and bad, it was clear her faith and the assurance that no one cared for her like Jesus, was the driving force. And she made it clear, she wanted everyone to know the love, grace and forgiveness found in Jesus.

This past month has gone nothing like I imagined. Having to postpone my trip to Uganda, Covid going through our family, the loss of my grandma and a beloved great uncle on the same day, and then the loss of another one of my aunt’s was certainly not what I expected or wanted. 

So I am immediatley getting to implement what I have learned from my grandma, choosing joy in the midst of loss and setback. With the attitude of joy we look forward to what God has called us to do. In loving memory of my Grandma, Kathleen Boland.

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Cheering You On In Christ,

Eric Mills

President 

Faces With Names International

We’re getting the band back together…Faces With Names is Back!

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I have never actually been been in a band, but I have always wanted to say that line. And this seems like the most appropriate time as we are officially relaunching, Faces With Names. To say the last year and a half has been one of the craziest and most humbling times of my life, would be an understatement. I will share more details about my journey in the future. It all changed with an unexpected call from a king as I was out mowing my yard. Here is what I wrote about after the king came to visit our family:

During this past year, I have asked on more than one occasion, God have you forgotten about me. There have been times during this year where doors were opening in very specific ways, and then in a moment, they were slammed shut. At the beginning of last week, I received an unexpected phone call that lead to a week I will never forget. A king from Uganda, who I met earlier this year, called me and asked if he could come and visit. First lesson, when the King calls, don’t turn him away. As my family and I had the opportunity to receive the king, I was privileged to spend a week with one of the most amazing men I have ever met. He first and foremost has a pastor’s heart and serves as the Bishop of over 300 churches in Uganda and surrounding countries. But he is also a king and rules over 105 clans and 4 million people in his kingdom. His testimony could come straight out of the Bible of how God called, saved, healed, ordained and appointed a young orphan boy to become a pastor and king. In his care are 1586 orphans and 1200 widows in his kingdom. But he also shares the Gospel with kings, prime ministers and presidents. With all these enormous responsibilities, I don’t think I have ever met a more humble man. He was gracious enough to go and talk to my wife’s 1st grade class, at my son’s school, eat with our family and also with some dear friends who were visiting, hold my 1 year old nephew, amongst many other meetings. Nobody was unimportant to him. I share all of this with you not to take notice of me for spending time with a king, but to give all glory, honor and praise to God. God sent a king to a lonely, uncertain servant to remind him that the King of Kings has not forgotten about him. Second lesson and encouragement. If you are going through a season where you are asking like I have, “God have you forgotten about me?” Don’t give up! God has not forgotten you. My song of ascent, I will praise you on the mountain and in the valleys all the same.

Over six months had passed since the king’s visit, and very unexpectedly the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart about working with the king. As I first shared this news with my wife Susan, she was open and supportive of moving forward to see what would happen. I then began to reach out to a list of people, God very specifically told me to talk with and the same support and encouragement continued. I then came across a ministry who was already supporting and working with the king, caring for the orphans and widows. My first thought was, well, somebody is already doing what I felt we were supposed to pursue, so that probably is the end of this story.

Nevertheless, I reached out to Chris Macklin with Revival Africa, who first met King John in 2006 and started Revival Africa in 2008 to help support the orphans and widows in King John’s care. When I shared the story with Chris of how God had been stirring my heart to possibly work with King John, it lead to a conversation that lasted 2 1/2 hours. You have to know, this is the first time Chris and I had ever met or spoken to each other. Two weeks later, our wives joined us to continue the conversation and get to hear each others stories. That video call lasted 4 hours. I don’t say this about many people I meet, but Chris very clearly was a kindred spirit and a great encouragement to me on so many levels. What you need to know about Chris is, he is a Residential Architect. After meeting King John in 2006, before he was a king, Chris and his wife Janice felt lead to start Revival Africa. Out of obedience, they have personally supported and given to the orphans and widows under King John’s care since 2006.

As our conversations continued, Chris and Janice were supportive of Faces With Names moving forward to help in the work of caring for these precious kids and widows. As we discussed the path forward, I began to work once again on obtaining our 501c3 for FWN. One of the hurdles we faced over a year and half ago and what in some ways lead to us having to stop our work with Faces With Names was an issue we had with the IRS, mistakenly classifying us as a 501c4. A 501c4 is designated as a political action group, and one in which donors do not receive a tax deduction. As I sought council on what to do with this situation, most told us to start over from the beginning to get our 501c3, because getting someone on the phone from the IRS is just next to impossible, and getting them to admit their mistake seemed definitely impossible. With the season of Covid, many were informing me it could be 12 – 18 months to get our 501c3.

All of these obstacles seemed a bit overwhelming, until Chris offered to allow Faces With Names to take over the 501c3 of Revival Africa, merging the heart of our ministries under the newly established name of, Faces With Names International. And as of Monday, September 14th, and in under three months, our attorney officially sent off the packet to the IRS to formalize this transition and allow us to continue to care for orphans and widows in Uganda and beyond. It all started from the obedience of Chris & Janice, and has been maintained by their faithfulness and generosity through Revival Africa, to now allow us to continue through Faces With Names International.

I look forward to sharing more details with you about how God has worked in my life and through amazing God ordained and directed relationships and circumstances to move forward. I also look forward to sharing opportunities of how you can partner with us and live out the call to care for orphans and widows in their distress.

If you would like to partner with us to build the foundation to serve over 1500 orphans and 1200 widows in Uganda, click the link below to give, or Text: Give, to 918-228-5200.

https://faceswithnames.reachapp.co

Cheering You On In Christ,
Eric Mills