31 August 2010

"Lost" Photos ~ SIXTEEN ~ My Fave Kitchen Project throughout our Whole Furlough Year

Mini gingerbread houses that perch right on the edge of your coffee mug!

...but SO.MUCH.FUN!

I'll definitely do it again... maybe even this Christmas, but divide it into two sessions... and start much earlier, like in the afternoon!

30 August 2010

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts

When I look at the current events in this country that are surrounding me, it is impossible not to be thankful for the multitude of ways that I see God's blessings every day. But it is also impossible not to wonder if thankfulness would come so readily, if thankfulness would be my choice if I had to walk the tragedies that people just down the road are living, day in and day out. Should thankfulness overflow only when I can see by comparison that my life really isn't so bad? The obvious and resounding answer to that rhetorical question is "No!" But I wonder, if I had to traverse difficulties like these, could I... or perhaps more accurately, would I choose gratitude? So this week, I'm thanking the Lord for these many examples of others who've chosen gratitude, even in the midst of amazingly difficult, incomprehensible-to-me situations...

#366 a dear lady from our home church who's never had but encouraging words, smiles and hugs who grows weaker as she waits gently and patiently for the Lord to usher her into His presence

#367 our old neighbor, the donut lady, who's sweet little Zeinabou bears the marks of malaria, meningitis and hydrocephalus, but who always smiles and waves joy when we drive past and has so often shared her remaining donuts with my girls

#368 another family from our sending church who have watched and struggled, fighting for the life and health of their son through incomprehensible medical scenarios, yet who continue to thank and praise

#369 my Gourmantche grandma friend who watched her daughter die after giving birth to little Salamatou, and who has sacrificed so much, daily, to care for that sweet little girl

#370 friends who live with amazing amounts of chronic pain that touches almost every day of their lives, but who still seek to minister, encourage and smile at God and others, even while they beg the Lord for relief

#371 my dear friend Safana (she waited by the side of the road for 45 mintues the other day to see us... just because she knew every Saturday afternoon we pass that way) who's heart is back in her home country of Togo with her aging mother and extended family, but who chooses to remain in Niger to work and provide an education and the dream of a better life for her children... and I'm so sure God is keeping her here because He wants her to know and trust Him

#372 my grandparents who've seen so much, both joy and sorrow, and for whom every day brings the challenges of aging - but who still seek to love, encourage, serve and give to the best of their abilities even when it is hard, painful or costs them more than most would want to pay

#373 another friend here, who has gone far away to work... providing for her family but leaving her children with their father (she had no other choice in this society) who was abusive, mostly because he was just.so.angry with her... hoping and praying that her provision through her absence will help protect her children, trusting that God will continue to protect, care for and work in their hearts and lives

#374 the many I've seen and heard whisper the words, "It is well with my soul," or "God makes no mistake," even when humanly speaking, it sure looks and feels that way

#375 the hundreds... thousands... down the road who accept this unbelievable lot in life without anger or bitterness... but who strive daily to eek out a living, an existence for their family without complaint... who don't even have the grace of God to rely upon because they don't know Him... but who have learned God's eternal truth that we all, no matter how bad things seem, have many things for which we can be thankful - and thus show me what real joy looks like

May the Lord continually so open my eyes to this truth... and to the encouragement of examples such as those listed above.

holy experience

28 August 2010


This was just one of those books where I had my toes danced on... on almost every page. But what should I have expected from a book whose subtitle is: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?"

Rich in challenge and exhortation, it is not an easy read, but certainly worth the effort. Here are just a few quotes from the book that have either challenged, convicted, or encouraged (or done all three at the same time) me in some way.

"The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view, as we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator." ~ CJ Mahaney (p. 32)

"The first purpose in marriage... is to please God. The challenge, of course, is that it is utterly selfless living; rather than asking 'What will make me happy?' we are told that we must ask, 'What will make God happy?' And just in case we don't grasp it immediately, Paul underscores it...: 'Those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.'" (Gary Thomas, p. 33)

"Honor not expressed is not honor." (Betsy and Gary Ricucci, p. 63)

"When my respect slips into contempt, it is because I'm weak, not because my [spouse] is failing. If I were really mature, I would have the same compassion for his/her weaknesses as Christ does. Respect is a spiritual discipline, an obligation I owe my [spouse.] (Gary Thomas, p. 65)

"...reining in of my ambition is so very valuable spiritually. The truth is, God's kingdom can move forward without a single one of us. Our perceptions of indispensability are usually based more on our arrogance than on our desire to be faithful. Faithful participation in God's kingdom invites and encourages others as we serve; it doesn't diminish them. Biblical truth finds its basis in community and in serving the community -- and this community starts with teh marital relationship." (Gary Thomas, p. 77)

"The tongue can be cruel in two ways: by speaking evil, or by refraining from speaking good. We need to recognize the offensiveness of pervasive silence within marriage." (Gary Thomas, p. 233)

"It is spiritual fraud to enter marriage and then to live like a single man or woman." (Gary Thomas, p. 250)

"'God does not regard his servants according to the dignity of the office they exercise,'(Francis de Sales) but according to the faithfulness with which they exercise it." (Gary Thomas, p.250)

"...the multiplicity of these [daily] concerns actually feeds rather than empties our spiritual growth when we approach them with an attitude of continually dying to ourselves and rising to inner growth." (Gary Thomas, p. 251)

"If we view the marriage as an opportunity to excel in love, it doesn't matter how difficult the person is whom we are called to love; it doesn't matter even whether that love is ever returned. We can still excel at love. We can say 'Like it or not, I'm going to love you like nobody ever has.' This mirrors Christ's own love, a love without compare, a love that is infinitely deeper than any human love we could ever know. It is a love pregnant with the opportunity for spirtual birth and rebirth." (Gary Thomas, p. 266)

27 August 2010

Just for Fun... Work on the Studio Addition

* * * O * R * * *

Program for Study Abroad

Video shot, edited and produced by Tim Wright, starring Jonathan, of course!

26 August 2010

A Nigerien Wedding

* W * A * R * N * I * N * G *

If you've never seen a Nigerien wedding...
... well, it is a lot different.

Fun ~ but different!

Congratulations to Cephas (he helps at the studio) and his bride!

25 August 2010

Wordless Wednesday ~ "Nugglin' with Baaba"

~ Current Events Chez Nous ~

It is a difficult, challenging time for most Nigeriens right now, even more so than is typical in this country where on a good day, many barely find enough to eat... check out this link for some photos... and we pray that it helps you remember to pray...

  • that God shows Himself in a mighty way to all who are truly seeking Him;
  • that those serving here in His name tangibly, gently and compassionately show His love - that we truly are His hands, His feet... that demonstrate His heart.

23 August 2010

Multitude Monday ~ 1000 Gifts - Timeless Truth and Treasure

This week, I've been so thankful for specific truths that I've encountered in God's Word, His promises, His commands... each one a treasure printed there in black and white but also penetrating and alive... I love the fact that God speaks my love language...

#351 God, Who chooses to reaveal Himself with exquisite, enlightening, encouraging, sometimes excruciating and exhilirating words.

#352 Jesus, Who is the Living Word

#353 the Holy Spirit, Who reveals the meaning of all of those words, whispers into my heart, opens my mind and confirms through all that is around me the revelation He's given

#354 the many different men who allowed God to work through them to pen those words

#355 "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

#356 "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." Philippians 4:5

#357 "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…"1 Peter 3:15

#358 "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

#359 "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law." Psalm 119:18

#360 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..." 2 Timothy 3:16

#361 "Yours, O Lord,is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.O our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name!" 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

#362 "He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23

#363 "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:23-25

#364 "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1

#365 "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." Titus 1:9

holy experience

22 August 2010

August 2010 Prayer Update

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…
maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
~Psalm 23

Such familiar, comforting words… and just the kind of words we’ve needed for the process of transitioning our family back to “life in Niger.” It is good to be home… it really is… but even for returning missionaries, there’s always that period of culture shock where the conveniences of life in the States look really good compared to the frustrations of life in a developing country like Niger. Have you ever noticed the progression in this Psalm? David starts off saying “I shall not want…” Another translation says “I have just what I need,” a view that looks at the sufficiency of God’s present provision, but not an overabundance. By the end of the Psalm, however, David sings “My cup runneth over…” He’s no longer just recognizing God taking care of obvious needs; as he enumerates some of the ways the Great Shepherd cares for him, it seems as though his eyes are opened anew and afresh to the extravagant and lavish love of the Lord. His cup is running over and there’s no indication that this profusion spilling over is going to stop, ever, throughout eternity. These words remind and encourage us to try and name His infinite mercies, graces and blessings, consciously thanking the Lord for every drop that brims over. We can’t, and perspective quickly returns… So, we want to take this letter to thank and praise God.
  • His miraculous provision– far above and beyond what we had even dreamed – all through the generosity of His precious saints, throughout our last month in the States;
  • For the first time ever, we didn’t spend our last night in the States packing all night – which meant we treasured some wonderful moments with grandmas and grandpas;
  • Another first – stopping by our home office and having our colleagues there spend some time praying over us and for us, before heading back to the field. That was truly special, knowing we were leaving covered in prayer;
  • Receiving regular prayer updates from some of our supporting churches. They are important contributors to the ministry in Niger, and this allows us to remain a part of their local church ministry. Reaching the world for Jesus truly is a team effort;
  • Joyfully sweet reunions;
  • FINALLY catching up with Safana – our dear friend who has become more like family as she has worked in our home almost every day since arriving in Niger back in 2001;
  • A home, walk in ready, for this year;
  • Exciting dreams and plans for what our living situation will be after this year;
  • Breaking ground for the new studio addition;
  • Finally finishing unpacking all of our 26 checked bags and 18 carry-ons to find that almost everything made it safely to Niger;
  • Some delightfully cool days to help with our transition back to life on the backside of the desert;
  • Finding our waterbed… finding that it had not been consumed by termites… and being able to set it up and start using it;
  • Relearning again the valuable lesson that “stuff is only stuff” with no eternal value – and God has not called us to be hoarders of stuff, regardless of how important and/or necessary those things might be. Instead, He asks us to and then provides the opportunities for us to invest in lives and souls, which have infinite value;
  • Back to the routine of Saturday afternoons as a family at the pool, playing softball and eating “American” food;
  • Our Land Cruiser is back on the road and driving like a dream;
  • Relatively good health as we’ve been transitioning back to life in Niger;
  • An exciting beginning to a new school year for Richelle, Brendan and Rebekah. Nadia begins this week; Anna, Victoria and Jonathan start (or start back)… into French… on September 2;
  • Renewing fellowship with our local church;
  • Good long-term planning meeting for Tim with his team of radio pastors/program producers;
  • Celebrating the wedding of one of our studio helpers;
  • Safety as we travel around town. It takes awhile to get used to the donkey carts, herds of animals, wild and crazy taxi drivers, motorcycles whipping in, out and around traffic, large busses on narrow bridges, camels, street dogs, beggars, and unsupervised kids running around nearly everywhere. Add to that the “off-road” driving, large potholes and sand traps… we never take safety as we travel for granted, thanking the Lord each time we arrive home without incident;
  • The immediateness of Internet, communicating with family and friends both near and far away via texting, email, Yahoo messenger or Facebook allows us to continue investing in relationships on both sides of the ocean;
  • Knowing that we are serving our God and Savior. This fact alone makes all of the hard things more than worth it and adds brimming over joy to that which is already delightful!

Forever thanking and praising, all because of the Great Shepherd, Tim, Richelle, Brendan, Rebekah Joy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle Wright

21 August 2010

"Lost" Photos ~ FOURTEEN ~ Chinese Chicken and Dumplings

The other night, I made pizza pockets for dinner... the next day was the first day of school and I figured they'd be a handy school lunch, so I doubled the recipe. As I was making them, with several of the munchkins watching the process (and asking how soon they'd be ready 'cause they were "S.T.A.R.V.I.N.G.")the kids reminded me of the night our International Friends came over to make us authentic Chinese dumplings.

It was a ton of fun, super delicious and an awesome opportunity to expose our children to a very different culture.


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