31 May 2011

Something a little wierd about this 8th grade class...

... there's four of 'em who have their birthday in a span of three days - so this year, they decided to get together an have a "class" party in honor of their birthdays! Rootbeer float cupcakes and other snacks, hanging out in the AC with friends, watching the movie "Tangled," playing games... and celebrating turning 14!


Afterwards, Rebekah Joy asked me, "Does life get any better?"

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Thanks to Carmen for the photos!

30 May 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ Joy in the Journey

One of my favorite music artists precisely because preaches through his music is Michael Card. I've enjoyed and appreciated his music since I was a student at Penn State University and college friends of mine hauled me off to a rural church nestled in the mountains of central Pennsylvania where he was performing an impromptu concert... just because he knew the pastor and just happened to be traveling through. There was no admission, no fancy stage lighting, no big production... just the man sitting at the piano or strumming his guitar, singing to His Lord while the rest of us were privileged to join him in this worship. 

Michael Card wrote a song called "Joy in the Journey" and I do believe it was that night that I heard the song for the first time:

"There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

To all who've been born in the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And freedom for those who obey..."

I've been humming that song, thinking of the words and their significance, quite a bit the past few days while reading a book entitled The Cruelest Journey by Kira Salak. On the surface, the book, sponsored by National Geographic, chronicles a woman's extreme and challenging "survival" journey, kayaking 600 miles of the Niger River, camping in villages and along the river bank, meeting people and experiencing the culture in both positive and negative ways, finally finishing her trip in fabled town of Timbuktu. The book intrigued me for obvious reasons - I love real life adventures, I've dreamed of going to Timbuktu since I was a kid, canoeing/kayaking is one of my favorite "sports," and taking a boat ride on the Niger is a delightful afternoon "get-away" (and has been) for me since Tim treated me to my first one as a birthday gift several years ago.

As Ms. Salak writes about trip, she reflects back to what it might have been for the famous Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who died in his second attempt to canoe the length of the Niger River. She marvels at how much life had probably not changed along the great river between the time of his fated trip and her present one, at how little one really needs to survive. She also considers of the metaphor of life as the compilation of many different journeys each teaching us, growing us IF allow them... these metaphor winding throughout her demanding journey just as she follows the winding course of the Niger River.

A self-avowed Buddhist, I was a bit hesitant to dive into the book. And there were sections I found difficult to read (some of the ugly encounters with villagers along the river or her pursuit of a witch doctor and marabout to tell her future), the journey metaphor I found fascinating and I loved the bits of history - the story of Mungo Park - woven throughout the narrative. Most of all, I was convicted by her focus on gratitude... even for the hard and cruel things we encounter in our journeys because their presence works good in all who will commit, not just to the arrival at a final destination, but to the actual process of getting there...

Take a look at some of the following excerpts from the book:

"If a journey doesn't have something to teach you about yourself, then what kind of journey is it? There is one thing I'm already certain of: Though we may think we choose our journeys, they choose us..." ~Kira Salak
"I wonder what we look for when we embark...[on a journey]. There is the pat answer that you tell the people you don't know: that your're intrested in seeing a place, learning about its people. But then the trip begins and the hardship comes and the hardship is more honest: it tells us that we don't have enough patience yet, nor humility, nor gratitude. And we thought that we did. Hardship brings us closer to truth, and thus is more difficult to bear, but from it along comes compassion. And so I've told the wold it can do what it wants with me during this trip if only by the end, I have learned something more. A bargain, then. The journey, my teacher." ~Kira Salak
"Homebound, finally.  I lean back in my seat, my flight to Bamako making a complete mockery of my kayak trip. From this height, all those weeks spent on the river have been reduced to mere seconds as we speed by. I look out of hte window. Park's majestic Niger appears as a feeble trail of gray, cutting through desert plains, winding around pale hils, and emerging in an unassuming puddle that is Lake Debo. It took me a day to cross that lake and another two days to battle around the northern buckle of the Niger tha empties from it, those days surrendered now to a shuddering passage at 15,000 feet." ~Kira Salak
and my favorite quote of all, from Mungo Park, a follower of Jesus:
"The melancholoy, who complain of the shortness of human life, and the voluptuous, who think the present only their own, strive to fill up every moment with sensual enjoyment; but the man whose soul has been enlightened by his Creator, and enabled, though dimly, to discern the wonders of salvation, will look upon the joys and afflictions of this life as equally the tokens of Divine love. He will walk through the world as one travelling to a better country, looking forward with wonder to the author and finisher of his faith." ~Mungo Park
As Salak discovers... as Park so elequently expresses ...and as Card lifts his voice in communicative worship - our journey (or journeys) in this life are not so much about the destination as what we learn and who we become en route.  For those of us choosing to trust Christ as Lord and Savior, the destination is sure. The even greater miracle is that we can be just as confident that our good God is orchestrating an amazing voyage, sometimes in spite of us. It is a voyage we will never regret - even the difficult, scary, miserable or impossible portions. Learning to choose gratitude and thankfulness for every step, for ever stutter and stumble, for every backtrack, for every "feels-like-a-mis-step," for every surprise, for every miracle, for every ray of beauty, for every leap along the way... 

Lord give me eyes to see and a heart to believe that all these are miraculous evidences of Your hand, Your ever-abiding presence.

this week's gratitude list:
(#s 1166 - 1200)

seven layer chip dip, even if it is a lot of work

breezy, cloudy days

musicals

puppets and marionettes making me laugh

watching my little guy at his "spectacle" Saturday night

safety on the road - I was nearly in one accident and got swiped by a taxi Saturday night (he didn't stop) - but except for a sore neck & back and a mangled bike, I think everyone was essentially uninjured

hanging out with Anna on a Sunday morning

9 days and counting

computer planted in front of a working AC when I have lots of work

2 Thursday mornings in a row with my friend - doesn't seem like that happens very often in our busy lives

lunch and laughter... and the fact that waiter was able to find some lemon flavored ice cream for me since I couldn't eat the really yummy looking stuff with chocolate in it

sitting in an air conditioned truck to talk and laugh, for much longer than we should have

swimming programs

cold showers on hot days helping to get rid of more heat rash on these kids than I've ever seen

school year endings

summer beginnings

checking things off the list

unexpected energy to work and keep checking more things off the list

really good books

large piles of laundry to fold - which means the kids have been doing their part... now, if I can just get it folded!

grapefruit flavored pop - and to think I never understood why my parents liked it, but now I do

ginger flavored pop on a sore throat

so many helpers at the elementary swim program

bridge open for traffic

planning on those peanut butter parfaits... second try

patient girl waiting on her birthday treat

new jeans, sky blue t-shirt bringing out the blue in her eyes

working together on algebra reviews

having enough sunscreen to share

listening to giggles as they try to "corkscrew" through the water

watching little ones conquer fear to jump, dive, even flip... off the 3 meter platform

bright pink hand-me-down crocks for my bright pink personality girl

indispensible husband helps on a Monday morning that found me "over-sleeping"

the peacefulness of a few moments with eyes closed and nothing but silence


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I checked this book out from my local library and was not asked to review it. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 244: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and and Testimonials in Advertising.”

29 May 2011

a thought and a prayer request

A friend recently posted this as a fb status - and it was too good not to repeat, to share:

This is God's universe.
He does things His way.
You may have a "better" way;
but you don't have a universe!
~J Vernon McGee

This quote caught my eye - because of its truth and also because of who said it: J Vernon McGee, the radio preacher well-known for Thru the Bible - 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, systematic study through the Bible over a period of 5 years...

Which brings me to a huge prayer request - We want to put this program, in French, on the air here in Niger. Tim started downloading Genesis and Matthew from the website, but before he finished, they'd been removed from the website. Now we are trying to get the programs on CD.

We also need to secure funding for the program... we have 4.5 months committed - maybe a little more - but really feel we need 6 months before we can initiate actually purchasing the radio time.

Please pray ~

In this mostly illiterate, desert country where gravel washboard is a GREAT road - radio has been shown again and again as the most effective way to communicate with people, to make that initial introduction to Jesus and the message of a hope and a future...

28 May 2011

Cooking and Baking Chez Nadia

Simply put, I've got an amazing 12 year old chef-baker-extraordinaire-in-the-making! Some of our big home schooling goals for 6th grade include learning how to take care of a home and what to do in the kitchen (besides make messes and wash dishes)! Over the course of this year, Nadia has become quite the accomplished cook. She thinks nothing of whipping out 6 or 7 pizzas - making the dough, the pizza sauce from scratch and coming up with whatever is available for toppings that everyone will like, and pulls it off in 1.5 hours, by herself while watching 2 little ones. She can even light the pilot for the oven all by herself (which I recently found out!)


It has been such a delight to see this side of her emerge - her confidence, competence and creative problem solving skills. She is easy to work with, teachable and seems to take pride in what she is producing from the kitchen. And that is no small feat when your kitchen temps soar to over 110'F! It has also been wonderful to start to get to know my one daughter who has always been a bit of an enigma to me... to see what makes her tick and what motivates... to start to get a grasp of her skills as well and those areas we still need to work on. Having Nadia home with me this year has been a treat in every way and I will miss her when she heads back to the world of "real school" (as she calls it) in August. I thank God for every moment we've had... and for the ones that remain (in which we really need to focus in on some math and creative writing - otherwise, she's right on track to complete her home school curriculum this year!)

So, I wanted to take a few minutes today to brag on her... and show some of her recent kitchen efforts:



curry...



starting the rice...


preparing fresh pineapple...
(we like to top our curry with peanuts, raisins and fresh pineapple, when we can... if the pineapple makes it to the table prior to being inhaled by our crew who we lovingly refer to as vultures when food is present!)



Tsoureki
(thanks to our friend Lucia for this lovely recipe)


It tastes as heavenly as it looks!

... and these are just a few of the recipes in her continually growing repertoire!

Don't ask... she's not for loan
and still too young for her daddy to even think about a bride price!!
Think I'll keep her around just as long as I can.

27 May 2011

Mullings & Musings


"...a keeper. It meets all requirements, it's easy, low calorie, low fat, and it's pretty, to boot! You absolutely won't believe that this dessert is light."


"I whisper it soft:

When we break each other… we break Jesus.

We break Jesus..."


"From the head to the heart, from the heart to the mind
The Truth must make a journey if we ever hope to find
You can see it as a bridge on a narrow winding road
The fact is Truth must travel if it ever will be told"


"I struggle sometimes with that first-world, middle-class guilt. The one that says 'what did I ever do to deserve being born here, while another woman is born in Africa, fighting AIDS and watching her children die of starvation in the midst of a civil war?'

The answer? Nothing.

But somehow, for some reason, this is where our sovereign God has placed me. In a nation of wealth and resources and luxuries and comfort.

It is a weighty responsibility. "To whom much is given, much will be required..." (Luke 12:48)

...Living simply so we can give generously..."

  • "Tips for Bible Memory" (One of my favorite reasons for helping the kiddos memorize their verses? I memorize right along with them - even if I'm not as good at it as my 4 year old!)
"It’s easier to memorize a verse if you know what it means....It’s easier to memorize a verse if the verse is meaningful to you....It’s easier to memorize a verse if you use many of your senses to learn it. ...It’s easier to memorize a verse if you repeat it many, many times....It’s easier to memorize a verse if you say it with a “sing-songy” voice."

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Photo by AC.

26 May 2011

Expectations and the Refiner's Fire

Expectations...

Talk about a loaded word...

Over the past year, I've been much challenged about holding expectations loosely, especially when I've placed those expectations on others. No one could possibly meet them all.

And that isn't 100% true. There is One Who could... He doesn't always because He always does what He should... that which is right, that which is best. He even takes all strivings against Him, all efforts for the worst and works them for good.

Truth be known, my expectations are not only often misplaced... but also frequently qualify as mistaken hopes, sinful desires, aristocratic arrogance, unfounded dreams... for something that will not result in God's glory and eternal good...

Yet as wife, parent, friend, teacher, person... I do regularly set expectations - tossing the ceaselessly moving monkey burden onto the shoulders of another and then reacting when those expectations are not met.

I've been thinking about this a lot this hot season. It seems like our first hot season back after time in Michigan is nothing short of miserable in many ways. I struggle with my attitude as I read facebook comments moaning the never-ending cold of winter. It is hard to explain hot season to someone who has never experienced it: unreliable electricity, heat that suffocates, drains, exhausts, unmotivates. This conviction that someone has opened some enormous oven door after preheating it for pizza and that stifling air from within blows everywhere, carrying sand, depositing it on freshly swept and mopped floors and the only respite is that at least the air moves. Sleeping consists of tossing and turning, sleeping on wet sheets or running through the shower in your pjs as soon as you are somewhat dry once in the hopes that evaporation will bring a tiny measure of relief. As one friend wrote, you begin to wonder if it is a physical possiblity to actually drown in the lakes of sweat gathering around your feet while working in the kitchen, sweat running rivers down the back of your legs, worse than any leaky faucet dropping from your brow or trickling into your ears.

Earlier this week, I was conduting a swimming evaluation of the 70 plus elementary students at Sahel, in anticipation for their swimming physical education unit next week. After 2.5 hours in the pool in temperatures approaching 100'F/38'C, I was shivering... and loving every second of it! Maybe it is just me, but I prefer Michigan winters to this heat and waiting for the momentary relief of rain- any time, any day.

The heat is not only a physical trial - but it is also an emotional stress and involves intense spiritual battle. Grumpiness is always on hand... gentle grace is hard to find. Words have a sharp edge that cuts already tender and sensitive exteriors; normally generous people become stingy instead of offering patience and understanding. Instead of laying aside our rights, we demand more and become angry when those demands are not met.

 

This hot season has given me fresh opportunities to experience the Refiner's fire as I live with, work with, make requests, set expectations and respond to situations and others. When I see my requests unfulfilled, when my expectations go unmet with no attempt to do so... as I fail to fulfill other's demands of me or I cannot aspire to realize their expectations,  when I have no clue why God is doing what He is the way He is, it seems I have two possiblities:

...gentle grace or angry judgement?

Response does not have to be determined by others or circumstances.

It is, quite simply, my choice.

23 May 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts

Busy Monday... busy week staring us in the face... busy weekend from which it might take us all week to recover... but so much for which to be thankful today. First and foremost on my list, however, are my two biggest biggers... and how they really rose to the occasion yesterday...

Wanna hear the story? I so wish I had some pictures - I had the camera with me, but no time or opportunity to snap them.

Brendan and Rebekah have been teaching Sunday School at the African church service we attend throughout this school year. Sometimes we've had to encourage good attitudes and preparation with integrity, but for the most part, we've been pleased to see their willingness and the heart that they've developed for the kids with whom they've been spending their Sunday mornings. Let me clarify right from the beginning... when I say teaching I don't mean they've been assisting, helping the pastor's wife do the teaching. I mean they've been planning and choosing the lessons, preparing what they are going to say, figuring out any games to go along, leading singing and Bible verse memory time... I mean the whole kit and kaboodle while Tantie Amina (the pastor's wife) mentors, assists and translates... and even now, she is beginning to wean herself out of that role and her two children, Zacharie and Abigail are the primary assistants/teacher helpers/translators. Even Nadia has starting to help with coaching classmates on their Bible memory- when she isn't translating the lesson to English for Elsie Mae and some fellow mks that have been attending the church this year.

Normally, there are around 30 kids in this Sunday School class, ranging in ages from Mary Michelle (2 yrs) to some older girls, close to, or maybe even a bit older than Rebekah (14 yrs this week). However, resulting from an evangelization campaign the church has run the past week or so... plus an incentive for regular attenders to bring visitors, particularly from the neighborhood, 70 children showed up for Sunday School yesterday morning. They couldn't all even fit into the tiny storage room they use as a classroom. It was hot (110ish/44ish or so - we've stopped verifying because it is too discouraging), and it was a wild, rambunctious, excited group. Rebekah's weekend to teach, she had prepared a lesson on the 10 Commandments - but that wasn't going to be the best choice for children who'd never heard the Gospel message before... nor for boys from this culture having a girl/peer in the position of teaching. So the class was quickly divided into two: Rebekah and Abigail took the regular attenders. Brendan and Zacharie taught the visitors. Tantie popped in and out of their classes and gathered as much as she could from the service going on inside the sanctuary. And I kept poking my head in the classroom and around the corner into the courtyard just to be sure my "babies" weren't totally overwhelmed.

In reality? I think they were overwhelmed. They both said it was very difficult, but they taught their lessons (Bren's was a lesson on the fly - he'd not prepared to teach at all yesterday), they both were able to help share God's wonderful news - the fact that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, that the Savior has come and paid the debt to set us free from the bondage of sin and to guarantee us an eternity together with Him. Many children heard the message - some for the first time. Amidst the silliness and confusion, there were some good questions and careful answers given... we do think some understood.

After last year's evangelization campaign (according to Tantie), the Sunday School class gained two faithful older girls who are slowly coming to believe and accept the truth presented in God's Word, plus several more who attend sporadically and show up for special events.

Would you please join us in praying for those seeds that were sown?
  • that God shows our two oldest how He works His mighty power with willing (even though they may be at times reluctant) servants who obey even when totally overwhelmed with the task before them.
  • that the seeds scattered have fallen on fertile soil and that the Holy Spirit is causing roots to spring forth and small shoots of faith to appear in young and tender hearts.
  • that those present will have seen something different, something that they want and something that they recognize they need.
  • that changes in children lead to changes in families - that mothers and fathers want to learn more about what their children have learned.
  • that our church is open, available and welcoming to these kids and their families as the Lord brings in His harvest!
this week's gratitude list
(#s 1136 - 1165)

an amazing experience for my two oldest

a hard, faith-growing experience for my two oldest

seeing once again that Brendan and Rebekah Joy do have a burden for their friends in our adopted homeland and are willing to work through seasons of discomfort and stretching to share the Gospel message and not just leave the "ministry" side of things to Dad and Mom

Zacharie and Abigail -- faithful "Jonathans" to our children as they seek to minister

Tantie and her faithful efforts mentoring these kids

God's grace to our family via proceeds from garage sales the past two weekends

serving as I translated for a lady trying to sell things at one of those garage sales

clutter that had accumulated passed on to those who can better use it

a friend returned from vacation

birthday parties galore

rootbeer float cupcakes

our one that used to be so afraid to venture out alone - delighted to attend a slumber party spa without any siblings present

20th anniversary celebration for Ecole Alliance

upcoming opportunity to minister via literacy work

hearing that my niece, Leandra, is making good progress in raising her support to come spend next year with us

looking forward to a roof on our house

3 weeks until we move to a second story apartment overlooking the river - and hopefully, prayerfully, we'll leave there and head directly into our new home

Evening Bible Institude classes these next two weeks

finding out that our sick kitty (Mickey) can be helped - if she's strong enough to survive the treatment

pieces falling into place

long holiday from school soon

students working hard for those challenging IGCSE exams

working internet, mostly working electricity

the Baneira church working towards organizing itself officially with the government here

safety for Tim and our friend Ayouba as they went out to the bush for the weekend

looking forward to and trusting we will continue to see God's hand in an infinite number of ways this week

packing suitcases as we begin to prepare to move

possible perfect sleeping solution for our girls when we move into our new home... we go check it out tonight

hearing good news regarding the medical situation of a sweet little girl back home - and the encouragement that brings to her mommy and daddy

the privilege of praying for friends facing challenging and overwhelming times - regardless of how big or small those situations may seem in the grand scheme of life



22 May 2011

Satisfied with Good...

Are you ever amazed to read older books by men and women of faith... and find that the same stuggles in your life were addressed 100 years ago... 500 years ago... 2000 years ago...???

I'm reading Waiting on God by Andrew Murray, first printed in 1890 (I think). It is supposed to be a 31 day devotional - but I find myself stopping and chewing on a few paragraphs at a time. The Holy Spirit has stopped me cold in my tracks as I've been thinking, praying and meditating on these two verses (and some of Murray's corresponding remarks) for the last several days:

These wait all upon Thee,
That Thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
That Thou givest unto them, they gather;
Thou openest Thine hand, they are satisfied with good.
Psalm 104.27,28

"This Psalm... sums up the whole relation of all creation to its Creator, and its continuous and universal dependence upon Him.... Just as much as it was God's work to create, it is His work to maintain....The whole creation is ruled by the one unalterable law of -- waiting on God! [Waiting on God] is simply and truly our restoration to our original destiny and our highest nobility, to our true place and glory as creatures blessedly dependent on the All-Glorious God." 
If I believe God is good... that all that comes from His hand is good - I must make the choice to be satisfied... not "clogged with wishes" for different, for change, for other, for my choice...

21 May 2011

Saving Face for Another

Have you ever thought about what it means, protecting another's reputation... considering them before thinking about yourself?

Since moving to Niger, I have... a lot more... be it the reputation of my husband, one of my kids, my boss, an employee, a pastor or his wife, someone in the church with whom I might disagree...

Based on my observations and experience, in the "West," people tend to be more blunt - saying what they think or believe to be true without reservation, even if it means the discomfort or embarrassment of another.

In Niger, on the other hand, people avoid saying anything that will bring discomfort, embarrassment or even disappointment to the listener...

~including a shop owner saying he'll have an item in next week... even if that is far less than likely... because he might sincerly hope to have said product available, guaranteeing your pleasure and future patronage... next week.

~or perhaps the repair man who tells you that your electric piano can be fixed...  just have to find the pieces in the market and they are surely there... and he'll get right on it... yet several months later, the piano still sits.

~a vet guaranteeing the effectiveness of a certain medication to help your sick pet... and then the well-loved creature continues to fail and eventually needs to be put down.

I remember clearly on time. Safana, my friend and who used to be our house helper in earlier terms, was horribly uncomfortable when I put her in an awkward situation. Someone came to the door, asking for help. I couldn't understand the Hausa and asked her to translate. After hearing what the person "needed" (in these types of circumstances, it is often questionable whether it is a true need or a scam as someone looks for easy money), I asked her, in front of the person, if she thought it was true or not. She couldn't answer and begged off not being sure she understood everything the person was saying because: 1) Even if she knew the lady at the door was being untruthful, culturally, she couldn't directly confront her by saying she didn't believe her story in front of her, and 2) She didn't want to see me taken advantage of and subsequently embarrassed and frustrated by being taken in by yet another scam.

At first, I found this frustrating... angering (well, actually, sometimes, I still do). In my mindset, it was simply deceitful...

But, I'm slowly learning that it isn't deceitful... at least not in this world... any more than choosing not to say you don't like your friend's newest haircolor... or saying "Wow! That's a different color for you!" instead of "Yuck!" is untruthful back in Michigan. It is simply the local version of tact. When one of the ladies in church hears a response like what the shop owner I described above said, they don't hear, "That person promised to have that available for me next week." Instead, they hear, "That person wants to sell that item to me as soon as it is available. When it becomes available, she or he will set aside and let me know - and probably give me credit, too."

Words are funny, aren't they? The same words said by the same person but heard by two different people can mean two totally different things and can elicit two or more totally different responses.

Slowly, I'm learning to appreciate the fact that culturally,  protecting someone's public image and reputation, as well as striving to please them, are almost always more important than declaring black and white truth.

I recently experienced a different, but somewhat similar situation. When Mary Michelle was sick with typhoid earlier this month, the doctor was having an exceedingly difficult time - first drawing blood (5 pokes later...) and then flushing the port so that they could get the IV meds started. After having experienced IV treatments several times at this point in my motherhood journey, I've learned to recognize just a bit about IVs. I could see exactly what the doctor was doing wrong. I could have said something immediately - but I chose to wait. I ended up restraining  a very upset, distressed little girl with a very sore arm for at least 10 minutes... which felt like forever... while the doctor and his assistant tried to get this IV going. I wanted to point out their error, but I felt the Holy Spirit quietly impressing on my heart that although this was uncomfortable for Mary Michelle, although it was frustrating for me... respecting the doctor's authority, education and position, especially with others around, was more important because in the eternal scheme of things, testimony and relationship were significantly larger issues than a few tears, irritation, discomfort and my desire that things be done just right for my/our convenience - and a head-on collision with the truth of the doctor's error might have damaged a lot more than just his pride. Protecting this doctor's reputation and not shaming him in front of other clients and colleagues was the bigger issue, even though it didn't feel that way in my heart as I held my very sick, sad and sore baby.

God slowly continues to teach me that grace, gentleness and laying aside what I consider to be my rights is more often the narrow path that He'd have me to follow than my "prophetic" desires to proclaim truth and confront error. That is not an easy truth for me to swallow... yet I'm so thankful that more often than not, that is how He deals with me.

What do you think?
What might you have done in a similar situation?

And, I must add, with the exception of those few moments, Mary Michelle received superb and caring medical attention throughout our most recent medical moments.

20 May 2011

Mullings & Musings

  • "Niger: Crisis, What Crisis?" (Can you even imagine? Definitely worth the read if you want to know a little more about this land and what so many face.)
"The evening meal will be stewed leaves tasting somewhat like spinach, which the women pick every morning, yet crops were standing tall before the leafhoppers flew into Zinder in Niger and devoured anything green. The official response to a region on the edge of survival has been slow, but then the women went to see the Prefect.

It is after 6.30 in the evening in sandy and hot Dan Gouchy Haoussa, a village about a 1,000km east of Niamey, capital of Niger, and about 20km from the border with Nigeria. Nine children - the youngest about four years old and the oldest a teenager doing his homework - sit around a pot that Salamatou, one of their two mothers, has placed on the fire.

The stewed leaves of a wild bush called leptadenia hastate will be served when the tenth child, who is queuing at the only tap in the village, returns with water. It will be the family's first meal of the day.

More than 200,000 people in the district of Magaria have been living on meals like this for almost six months, but aid agencies warn that the worst is yet to come."

"...I've fed this insidious notion that, in order to "do the work of the Lord," I must be overtly working in some sort of recognizable ministerial fashion.

How wrong I've been, how unknowingly I've looked down upon a "normal" career..."


"How do we know if we love something too much? Where is the line between a healthy enjoyment and an idol? Idolatry is often subtle. It can creep up on us in the form of good desires, like getting married or excelling in the work place. You may have created idols for yourself if..."

 
“Thousands and thousands of men have left to return to unemployment in Niger. We have no choice but to beg in the streets or to steal,” Abdelkadre Moussa, a returnee in Agadez in the centre of the country, told IRIN. “In Libya you face bombs, but in Niger you face death.”

"Aid is finally reaching tens of thousands of families in southern Niger who have survived mainly on wild leaves and fruit for the past six months.

The incoming civilian government has launched a cash-for-work programme covering 325 of the 354 affected villages in Magaria District (in the southern region of Zinder) to help the more than 200,000 people identified as food insecure, said Modibo Traoré, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Niger.

Villagers had been left with
almost nothing to eat after their sorghum and millet crops were devoured by leafhoppers in 2010."

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Photo by AC.

19 May 2011

Clogged wishes ~ and water from Bethlehem's well...

I've been rereading Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity... thinking I'm reading it to see if I think a few of my biggers are ready to read and discuss it as we do some of our home schooling over the summer months. The jury is still out on that decision - but it has been obvious that God has wanted me reading this book, as so much of what she shares, Scriptures to which she directs... it has all been directly applicable to present circumstances in my life. Let me share a few quotes - and these are just from the first few chapters...


"Steadfastness, that is holding on;
patience, that is holding back;
expectancy, that is holding the face up;
obedience, that is holding one's self in readiness to go or do;
listening, that is holding quiet and still so as to hear."

followed by this prayer written in her journal:
"How long, Lord, must I wait?
Never mind, child. Trust me..."
(Elliot was quoting SD Gordon, in his Quiet Talks on Prayer)


Can any of you
relate to any of these sentiments?

"What has been like water from the well of Bethlehem to you recently? Love, friendship, spiritual blessing? Then at the peril of  your soul you take it to satisfy yourself. If you do, you cannot pour it out before the Lord. How am I to pour out spiritual gifts, or natural friendship, or love? How can I give them to the Lord? In one way only - in the determination of the mind, and that takes about two seconds. If I hold spiritual blessings or friendship for myself they will corrupt me, no matter how beautiful they are., I have to pour them out before the Lord, give them to  Him in my mind., though it looks as if I am wasting them, even as David poured the water out on the sand, to be instantly sucked up." (quoting Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

" 'Clogged with wishes.' I was wishing that my wishes were what God wished, and if my wishes were not what God wished, I wished that I could wish that my wishes would go away, but the wishes were still there..."

17 May 2011

God works in strange and mysterious ways...

Just have a few moments ~ 

but I want to share a story from the most recent Bible study I taught at our church... I've shared before several times how one challenge is getting these women to open up and share... and that we've been making baby steps in that direction as they begin to believe that God does speak to them individually, within their hearts and that what He shares with them might be valid, encouraging, convicting... His words to other ladies in our group.

Blessed is the man
who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly
Nor standeth in the way of sinners
Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But...
his delight is in the law of the Lord
and in His law doth he meditate
day and night.

We were working our way through Psalm 1:1,2... word by word... a combination of French translated into Zarma, Hausa and even Gourmantché... when our pastor's wife (and my translator) had to leave. Visitors arrived to give their condolences for a cousin who had died the week before, and culturally, she had no choice but to go and visit with them. That left me with 4 ladies, one of whom knew a bit of French but was terrified to try and translate... and the rest who spoke and understood very little French... thus Zarma was the closest we had to a common language.

Amina looks at me with a smile as she leaves and says, essentially, "You'll have to muddle your way through...," and so I did the only thing I knew to do ~

We continued working through the passage word by word, in Zarma. As we came to each word, I'd say something to the effect of, "OK, explain to me what this word means. Teach me how to use it in your language and then why do you think God has it here in His Holy Book?" I understood very little of the discussion that would ensue... understanding rapid fire Zarma is definitely not a part of my skill set... yet... (and I've begged and pleaded with the Lord to open my ears to understand and learn it more rapidly), but the ladies certainly got excited over what they were discussing and from the bits and pieces I was able to comprehend, seemed to stay on subject. Between that, my limited Zarma, Mme Mattheiu's limited French and willingness to try and translate and, of course, lots of pantomime (which was a source of much laughter), we did in fact muddle our way through.

As I left Bible study that day, I was once again humbled by the fact that God doesn't need me to teach these ladies to love and live His Word, but it sure is my privilege to participate in whichever way He deems appropriate and best for that day.

Pray with me that God grows in these women an insatiable desire to meditate on His Word... day and night... and to seek counsel there first, meditating... listening for His still small voice... seeking and hearing Him above all the other avenues that are oft more easily accessible and available.

And if you wouldn't mind, pray that same prayer for me too...

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