30 April 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ "Learn till the soil gets in your ears"

We watched a movie the other night...

... about a really cool old guy from Kenya, named Kimani Maruge.

An 84 year old farmer living in a mud shack in poor village, former Mau Mau fighter, ex prisoner of war, lame widower... What he wanted most of all, though, was to be a student; he wanted to learn how to read. So he persuades a teacher at the local primary school to allow him join her class as a student.

One of the things that the movies only barely, whisperingly touches is that his longing to read is a craving to dive into God's Word for himself, no longer dependent on sermons or others to read for him.

Kimani Maruge died in 2009; 89 years old and in 6th grade. He certainly lived what he preached (at least according to the movie): "Learn till the soil gets in your ears."

I pray every day for a heart that is thankful that I still have opportunity to learn, that longs to study and grow, and one that remains gentle and teachable, even when the lessons I need to learn are long, hard and painful ones.

this week's gratitude list

(#s 2141 - 2167)

long, hard, painful lessons

the joy and challenge of teaching Algebra

watching kiddos figure out that fractions are friendlier than that first thought

electric and internet at the same time

pile of papers completely graded and recorded

chili dogs and movie night at the school

seeing a dear friend smile

first day of swim lessons

another accident, seeing God's hand of protection

giggles with big girls

Tuesday off

nems and rice delivered for dinner

Henri's sermons - he delivers some one-line zingers

the report that family is helping my recently widowed aunt

three hippos down by the bridge

pouring rain on one side of the river, nothing but a few scattered drops on the other... how does God cause that to happen

Saturday morning breakfast and shopping

m&m floating away and blowing bubbles in her tube

realizing that Bren taught the Jon-man to swim, Rebekah coached Elsie Mae and now Nadia's making fabulous progress working with the littlest tike

littlest tike's sparkly blue eyes and matching sparkly personality

continued progress at literacy class... the goal is in sight

my girls discovering The Little Princess

anticipating a birthday party this weekend

looking forward to Bible study coming up this weekend... and an actual day off to prepare!

halfway through our hottest time of the year... counting down the weeks until the rains should (hopefully) arrive

sleeping in

negative-for-infection lab results 

Tearing Down High Places, Part II

Recently, I shared how I came to realize that I had, in a very real sense, set myself and our marriage up as a “high place” for my husband. Although I never would have said it, nor probably even thought it, the Holy Spirit showed me that my hurt, angry and bitter response to my husband’s need for God – instead of turning to me – as he wandered through the home-going of his mother unequivocally confirmed that truth in my heart.

God Himself stated that it was not good for the man to be alone – and He made that statement in the perfection of the Garden where God served as Adam’s company and companion. In that perfect moment, a time before sin became a part of the equation, God not only gave Adam (and the rest of us) permission to desire and need human companionship… fellowship… community… with someone who was not God – He ordained it! Yet week after week, we sing beautiful, heart-stirring worship songs about intimacy and relationship with the Lord being our “all in all;” that He’s “more than enough.” How do we reconcile these two?

...and please join me over at Missionary Moms to read the rest...

28 April 2012

Am I my brother - or sister's keeper?

How's that for a Bible study question?

The women all yattered and chattered for a few minutes in Zarma; they were giving nonverbal signals making me think that their answer was about to be, "NO!" I wasn't surprised. :-) But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.

I had wanted to jump off a bit from where we'd finished in our previous study - on two counts: 
  1. We'd made the point that there were many Biblical principles that applied to marriage - but outside the commands to love, respect and stay married... marriage wasn't a simple (or even complicated) formula where we put in predetermined values for all the variables and the result was a God-honoring marriage.  Sometimes, the very best person to tell a wife how to be a good wife was the husband to whom she is married.
  2. In a round about way, this prompted a question from one of the ladies: What do you do when you try and give someome well-intentioned advice, teach them something that is just plain good sense... and your advice is rejected... or you are rejected as being judgmental?
So I started off today's study reminding the ladies of these two points and then asked- with those thoughts in mind, do you think it is really possible that a pastor, another woman, your mom, your father-in-law, etc., can give you good ideas about how to be a better wife to your husband? Their answer was an emphatic absolutely not!

And I asked the ladies to consider two perspectives: 
  • Pretend you are the person "sitting in the hot seat" (Hot seat is an English idiomatic expression - so we first had to develop the idea and vocabulary so I could use it. It actually worked quite well, as it is hot season -and all of these ladies had, at one time or another, sat on a metal chair that had been baking in the sun or heat, or they had climbed into a taxi/other vehicle with vinyl seats that had been cooking for awhile. Needless to say, they clearly grasped the idea that sitting in the hot seat meant being in a position that could range from being uncomfortable to being downright painful or even cause injury.) So, I asked the ladies to pretend they were the ones sitting in the hot seat - someone comes to them and essentially says, "You are doing this wrong," or "I believe you are making this mistake." Do you like it when someone comes to you to confront you - even if they do it gently? Why or why not? NO ONE DID - and their response was essentially - it isn't their business, because they can't understand what it is like to walk in my shoes, and they shouldn't be judging me.
  • Pretend you are the person doing the confronting. Do you like to go to someone and tell them that what they are doing is wrong, or doesn't make sense? EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE LADIES (a group of 6) FELT THAT WAS A GOOD PLACE TO BE, AND ENJOYED FILLING THAT ROLE OF CORRECTING SOMEONE ELSE. When I asked why, they said they liked to be seen as the person in authority or the one with the "know-how."

{While thankful for their transparent truthfulness, these responses almost left me speechless...
*as I wondered if they recognized the hypocrisy their replies exposed.
*as I wondered where in my life the same sort of hypocrisy is so glaringly evident to others
...but I didn't address any of that, at least not immediately.}

The next thing I said was, "Do you know that there is a person in the Bible that asks God a question very similar to what we are talking about right now? Am I supposed to look out for potential pitfalls, and then warn or prevent a brother or sister from falling in to them? Is that my responsibility?"

Then I said, "This person asked God, 'Am I my brother's keeper?"

After a few seconds of silence, I then asked: "Who knows what Bible character asked this question, and under what circumstances it was said?"

No one knew, so I turned to Genesis 4 (in my Zarma Bible - YAY!) and read them the story of Cain and Abel, and asked that question... you know, the one with which I started this post:

"What do you think? Are we the keepers of our brothers and sisters, particularly in the context of our church family and community?" They weren't sure what they thought.

So we went to an Old Testament passage that talks a bit about relationships within the Israelite community:

Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. ‘You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him.The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19.9-18)

As we slowly read through this passage and talked about it in little chunks, our  purpose was not a legalistic, to the letter obedience today of what the Lord gave as Old Testament law to the nation of Israel many years ago. Rather, we talked about it more generally:
- Why did He includ things like this in His instructions to His people?
- Why He would want us to learn about this today, in our time and our generation, since we know that all things written in His Word are there to help us?
- What in the world did He mean by some of these statements ("you are to judge your neighbor fairly" and "you may surely reprove your neighbor" in the same context of a passage that says "you shall love your neighbor as yourself")?
- How do we practically apply some of these prinicples in our relationships now... today, tomorrow and the next day?

Some really lovely thoughts came from this discussion. The ladies talked about
  1. leaving some for those who have less than themselves (remember we're talking about some of the poorest of the poor, in the entire world here);
  2. making sure we give others their due or what we've promised them promptly - any delay is injust;
  3. determining who is poor, who is an outsider - and targeting those people so that we can specifically share with them; and
  4. when a brother or sister is sinning, we do have responsibility to go to them... and as was said in the French... to "reknot" them back into the community.
I particularly found it interesting that slander and insult - or using words to injure - was in the same verse and context as acting in a way that would endanger another person's life. Slander is Satan's tool - he is the one who stands before the Lord accusing us and seeking to dirty the white robes the blood of Christ has earned for all who've trusted in Him. When I vilify, malign, smear or speak ill of another person, I imitate the Accuser.

As we concluded, we all agreed that at least in some context, we are charged to be keepers of our brothers and sisters - to help keep guard that those around us do not stray from following the Lord.

And, as the ladies all said, they like to be in that position...

So I asked them - Can anyone be in the position of keeper or restorer if there aren't others in the position of straying? In their language, from earlier in our discussion, to be the one correcting, there must also be someone in the proverbial hot seat.

I proposed to the ladies that the best "correctors" and restorers would be the ones who had first learned to humbly and graciously accept correction while sitting in that hot seat...

...they would be the ones inclined to approach humbly and brokenly instead of from  an elevated position with wagging fingers and furious words...

I believe we all left Bible study that afternoon with much to think and pray about ~

(Photo credit - I don't know... short term folks who travel through or serve for shorter time generously share their photos with us...  We've been going through old disks and the one containin these photos was only labeled "Assorted pictures, Niger - people"- but had some lovely photos of Nigerien women.)

27 April 2012

5 Minute Friday ~ Community

Joining up with Lisa Jo today, @ Gypsy Mama, for 5 Minute Friday.

In her words "...let’s spend our five minutes of writing today, sharing about community. Fight it, love it, hate it, hurt or healed by it, we were certainly built for it.

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

Go all in with your words.

Are you ready?"

  1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
  2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
  3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:



I've been thinking a lot about community lately.

It started when I started leading a Bible study on Biblical marriage a few months back and  these words jumped right off the page...

"It is not good for the man to be alone... there was not found a helper suitable for him."

Sure, the context is marriage - but even in the perfection of the Garden, when fellowship was sweet and unhindered before man sinned and separated himself from God, God declared that people would need people - first family and then in larger communities.

Did you know that the word translated community appears something like 200 times in the Bible?

Family is our first community... God chose Abraham and his family. Then God grew that family into a large community.

A community that worshipped together, ate together, wept together, laughed together, played together, grumbled together, sinned together, traveled together, witnessed together, covenented together, prayed together, sacrificed together, were forgiven together, were disciplined together, hurt together, hurt each other together, created together, built together. conquered together, fled together, gathered manna together, trusted together...

They were a marvelous, magnificent mess - impossible to live without, nearly impossible to live with - but together they were God's people

I think, in general, the Nigeriens I know "do" community better than we westerners do. We like our privacy and our individualism a bit too much.

A united community striving for the same goal is a pretty formidable thing to encounter. I found out first had when the teachers at the French school our mission runs decided to strike...

In Hebrew, the word translated community often refered to a specially convoked, or called together, congregation, assembly, horde, multitude, to learn and hear from God - isn't it kind of amazing to think that God places us in different communities because we all need to hear the same message... learn the same lesson

Before time runs out (oops... just looked... it already has - but I really wanna finish this thought!), you know what is one of my favorite "community" verses?

One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation,
and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you,
an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are,
so shall the stranger be before the LORD.
(Number 15.15)

...that verse is God reminding this introvert, who, while she appreciates community, can also find them exhausting and is way too quick to say, "Ok, that's enough!" Community, however should remain open, always ready, arms wide to accept whatever stranger longing to find a place, to become a part and enter in together...

God is bringing us along together, in community, on this journey ever closer to His heart.

STOP! (yes... I know... a bit late!)

(Photo was given to us several years ago by missionary friends here in Niger - it it one o my favorites!)

26 April 2012

This is just too much fun!

Wouldn't you just love to have one of these sitting in your living room?

Talk about your conversation piece!

Ok... well... it probably won't ever happen and it is a little frivolous
(Truly, it is probably a lot frivolous - I have no idea
how much something like this would cost,
but I can imagine).

I still think it is super fun and quite creative!

Head on over to Freshome to see other fun or interesting -
depending on your perspective - artistic table creations.

24 April 2012

So what do you do when someone just won't listen to plain "good sense..."

Up until that question, our discussion, like on several previous Saturdays in the past 5 or 6 months, centered on marriage...
  • Marriage, created by God in the context of relationship because He knew we'd need each other - is all about glorifying and serving God and is also all about serving another.
  • The Bible gives key truths, commandments and principles that apply and we are to follow those.
  • There is no formula where we plug in all the variables... or prescription to follow... or one size fits all pagne... for a God-honoring marriage - and sometimes the other best person to tell us wives how to be a good wife to them is our husband.
Then, Mamata, a matriarch who has no problem wearing the shoes of matriarch, hi-jacked Bible study. No joke!

She's a delightul lady, mother of 11 and grandmother of many more. She's a dear-to-me almost 70 year old lady I've gotten to know over the past year as I've been teaching her to read? She is the only believer in her immediate family. Her husband refused to have anything to do with her after she decided to follow Jesus. Her sons left her home in a miserable state of disrepair for several years... a large hole in the roof where rains rushed in during Niger's short monsoon season and the rest of the year dust dumped large deposits that she'd have to sweep out several times daily was proof of her offense. She's been refused food for days at a time, been mocked and excluded... she's had more than a taste of real persecution. But she loves her Jesus, with all of her heart, and she'll exclaim time and time again that she'd do it all over again, time and time again. Her persistance has won her a reluctant acceptance, respect and place back in her family.

This special woman has an amazing memory... for things she's learned orally... she'll often take sermons she's heard, studies in which she's participated... and repreach or reteach them to her family and the other folks who frequent her courtyard.

When Mamata "holds Bible study hostage," I've learned to just roll with things as they happen and listen really hard for Holy Spirit whispers as far as where to go next.

Mamata hijacked Bible study that Saturday about a month ago by giving a very long description of what happens when she shares church or Bible related discussions... both at her concession and with younger women in the church who find it difficult to always make it to Bible study. Then she asked a seemingly simple question:

"So what am I supposed to do when these ladies just won't listen to plain 'good sense?' They tell me I'm judging them and I have no right to do so, that if they are sinning in what they are doing, I am too, in my judgment."

Amina, the pastor's wife and my translator, and the other three ladies sitting there all jerked their heads in my direction. They were all looked at me expectantly...

Yikes! Talk about in over my head. This question was laden with cultural faux pas I don't yet begin to understand... and hard biblical truth for believers much more grown up than I.

At the same time, I recognized this immediately as an opportunity from the Lord. It brought to the surface a huge problem, something I'd hereto avoided, "fearin' to tread" on any toes. This group of ladies is deeply divided. While everyone is polite, smiley, laughs lots and seems very friendly on the surface, much gossip, slanderous thinking, criticism, judging and unteachableness also characterizes them.

Their lives look so different from the outside, but they struggle with many of the same things, the same hateful spirit, that any group of women, anywhere in the world -at least in my experience- must also combat.

This spirit divides instead of unifying and edifying.

It stunts instead of stretching and growing.

It kills relationships instead of giving them life.

It blasphemes instead of honoring, serving and glorifying the name of Christ.

Thankfully, God had already given me a story... and this group of ladies loves a story...

...so I told one.
It wasn't particularly riveting or action packed or even funny,
but it was very personal...

I'd noticed for awhile that a friend of mine had been acting differently towards me, well at least that was how it seemed to me. I wasn't sure why - and I've been known to blow things like that out of proportion, so the first thing I did was search my heart and my memory, asking the Holy Spirit to tell me if I needed to go to that person and ask forgiveness - but He never brought anything to mind. I never was convicted of any sin on my part. All I'd get from the Lord was "Wait and pray." I decided that perhaps it was nothing more my imagination and my own relational insecurity, uncertainty and doubt. The perceived-by-me distance hurt my heart, but I was determined not to take offense, to trust my friend (who'd shown herself worthy of trust), and recognize that other people simply need space and time because of other things going on in their lives and wait.

I hate waiting...

...the ladies all laughed at that. They told me that women from the America are always impatient and very bad at waiting, that we'd be happier people if we learned to wait well.

That time of waiting was a continual mental battle... I really don't like it when I can intuitively sense that things aren't right but don't have a clue what to do about it... and like I said, I'm just not very good at waiting and praying.

That wait finally came to an end when this friend asked if we could get together.

She clarified that there were some things she wanted to talk to me about; I was nervous (who likes to sit in the "hot seat," eh?), but also relieved that at least I'd know what had been going on.

While we were together, my friend gently confronted me.

She told me about something very specific that she saw in my life...

something she was afraid would injure me, affect our friendship and potentially, eventually, hurt my family and ministry....

It concerned her, so much so that she'd been praying about it for a pretty long time.

She didn't call it sin, but in her mind, I was engaging in behavior that could prove dangerous or worse; it was clearly something that didn't make good sense. 

Remember Mamata's hijacking question?

I also disliked being in that position - being told I wasn't following good sense.

I knew I had disappointed. I knew I hadn't measured up. It is hard to know that someone feels like I've done it all wrong, especially when that someone is a person who's perception and wisdom I respect and value. The hardest part of all? The terrible fear that disagreeing will rupture relationship. I didn't want to lose my friend.

Beyond that, much of what my friend had said was true and clearly made good sense, at least most of the time. I wanted to agree with her...


as I then explained... I felt God had placed me right where I was, way in over my head, working beyond what I was capable of doing, serving without margin for this season...

God had asked me to walk this road for a time.

And what could she say?

My friend said as much. After all, how do you respond to someone who says, "I'm pretty confident I'm doing exactly what God wants me to do," especially if there isn't a clear condemnation of their action in the Bible. Who's going to argue with what God has told someone else to do?

She also listened, accepted and trusted. She still couldn't understand. I still don't know if she actually agrees that this might really be the path God wants me to walk for this season. But I felt she committed to support and encourage me during this time, as best as she could, even though...

I shared with the church ladies that I learned much that day-

about confrontation when a clear sin wasn't the issue
but good sense (or personal conviction) was.

And we decided that this was something we should all study together.

This past weekend, we embarked on that study - and I'll be writing about it in a few days.

Pray with me that
  • God uses this study to challenge and unify this group of women,
  • the power of His Word marks them with the immistakeable love of Jesus, and
  • as a result, they finally, mightily, impact their communities and see the power of the Gospel - not just in their own salvation, but working through them and bringing others to salvation.
(Photo credit - I don't know... short term folks who travel through or serve for shorter time generously share their photos with us... all I can remember is a young gal named Faith, working down towards the Burkina border, shared most -if not all- of these photos with us. The first photo was taken by my sister last summer at literacy class.) 

23 April 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~

by Mike Mason
The Gospel According to Job
(pp 37-38)

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart."
Job 1.21a

Job knew one of the great secrets of faith: the believer in God has no worldly rights. The true believer is someone who has abdicated all rights, freely accepting the status of a slave and no loner laying claim to any earthly chattel, whether it be 'houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields' (Matt.12.29). These are precisely the sort of things Job has just lost, and yet his initial response to their loss is not bitter complaint, nor even mere acquiescence, but adoration.

In many places in the world today we see people fighting and lobbying under the banner of Christianity for all sorts of human rights and freedoms, both personal and political. To what extent the Bible actually recognizes such rights is a complex question. But in terms of individual spirituality, at least, the mature Christian should know that he has no right even to the shirt on his back or to his next meal, let alone the right to vote, to have a pension, to enjoy good health, or to get eight hours of sleep every night. Strictly speaking the servant of Christ does not even have the right to his own private thoughts and feelings, be they good, bad or indifferent. As the Lord pointedly put it to a sulking Jonah, 'Have you any right to be angry?' (4.4).

The fact is, Christians have abdicated one kingdom in favor of another. They have released their hold on this world's elaborate system of amenities and expectations, in order to embrace something infinitely higher. In practice this letting go can be a delicate process, for as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we certainly do have rights, but what we do not have is worldly rights. 'were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you,' advises Paul - though at the same time he hastens to add, 'I you can gain your freedom, do so' (1 Cor. 7.21). Worldly freedom, in other words, may be a good thing for the Christian, but it is not an entitlement. The children of God have the Lord's own promise that 'I will pay you whatever is right' (Matt. 20.4); yet what is right is to be calculated not in earthly terms but in heavenly. As Jesus taught, 'Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple' (Luke 14.33).

For a Christian to insist on having worldly rights and comforts is, plainly and simply, to be a grumbler. It is to be like the Israelites in the desert when they were continually murmuring against God. How often to we as believers waste precious time and energy trying to 'claim' things that, as those whose lot in this life is nothing more than to share the cross of Christ, we have no right to claim? The tragedy is that meanwhile we neglect to claim the spiritual rights that are properly ours. In our pursuit of worldly contentment, we forfeit spiritual joy and peace.

Already we have made the point that God not only loves believers, He likes them. But what about our feelings toward Him? Are we genuinely fond of the Lord? Do we like the way He does things? Do we approve of His methods of child-rearing? Or do we secretly resent Him whenever life does not go our way? Can we enjoy our God, and yet not enjoy the life He has given us, not bless our own unique incarnation in all its fantastic variety and unpredictability?

We Christians are people who know in our bones that we never had any right to be created in the first place, let alone redeemed. We know we have no more inherent title to life and its goodness than a dead man has. For us the coffin lid has already been nailed shut on all the natural joys and privileges that earth can offer. Knowing this, we are set free to bless the Lord in all circumstances, whether we find ourselves clothed or naked.

When Adam discovered he was naked, he hid from the Lord. But when Job was faced with his nakedness, he worshiped, and this is what sets the fallen man apart from the redeemed man. Even Christ, after all, when He came into the world, came naked. And He died naked too. The Gospels plainly state that soldiers divided Jesus' garments among them at the foot of the cross, including His undergarment. The pictures do not usually show this; it is almost as though the sight of God's nakedness would be somehow more appalling than His death. But in the full Biblical revelation it is clear that God became not only man, but man naked and helpless, and that both at the beginning and the end of the Lord's earthly life His bare flesh had to be wrapped in rags like that of any other poor wretch.

this week's gratitude list

(#s 2116 - 2140)

the kind of comfort that can only be found in God's Word

these words~ "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law." (1 Cor 15.54-56)

and these words~ "But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Selah" (Psalm 49.15)

even more words~ "He hath swallowed up death for ever; and the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth: for Jehovah hath spoken it." (Is 25.8)

slumber parties snuggles on the bathroom floor so they can breath the sorta cool, moist air

dr. friends who make housecalls and know just which hole in the wall place to look to find medicines that help

little girls with mostly restored health

ladies' Bible study on Saturday

chicken quesadillas for Sunday lunch

little boy falling asleep while reading his book

graded papers all caught up

oldest boy working as my pancake flipper

the book of Job

the opportunity, yet once again, to walk slowly and meditatively with Job

cold green apples

little girl who wants a bunny so bad she is willing to drive her parents crazy asking

trying to help math students see that fractions really can be learner friendly

student smiles and hugs

little girl stumbling out of bed after her nap, hair all mussed up, informing me that now was not the time to hug because the kids were home... now was the time to play

friendly debates with my guy

learning what it means to walk in another's shows

catching an obscure local cultural cue... in another language... and then being able to serve and encourage

little girls dressed up in costume clothes, snuggled in bed and talking with their daddy

daily bread ~ when so many around me don't...

one final passage of beautiful Bible words... for this week, at least~ "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.'"

22 April 2012

The type of news we really never want to get...

My Uncle Carl died suddenly Saturday night.
This is a photo of him with his daughter, Gabrielle.

Please pray for my Aunt Donna and cousins, Gabrielle and Jared.

They've always been wonderful encouragers, prayers and partners with us in this ministry.
In fact, they were among the first to dive right in with us, head first.

We love him and we will miss Uncle Carl...

We love you too - Aunt Donna, Jared and Gabbie -
(and the rest of the family).
You are much in our thoughts and prayers.

20 April 2012

5 Minute Friday - Together

I love words. In particular, I find normal, everyday words that I use all of the time and that generally I take for granted, fascinating when I don't...

When, out of the blue, I really meditate and dwell on a word - considering its contexts and nuances, connotations and shades of meaning. Then a simple black chain of letters strung together and "printed" on a white screen metamorpheses into a rainbow and a kaleidescope, all at once!

Today's word? Together...

I've been thinking about that word this morning, ever since I saw Lisa-Jo had posted it for as the word for today's 5 Minute Friday.

Consider just some of its significance...
  • bringing or massing in a single place as one - "We gather together..." and I hear the notes to a favorite song of thanksgiving begin to play in my mind.
  • unifying, complementing and/or bringing into line one's resources to result in the the best possible effectiveness and efficiency - "Let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah..." and I'm smiling as I remember the duet Haley Mills sings with herself in the movie The Parent Trap, while she and her twin sister connive to bring their separated parents back together.
  • known by mutual and/or reciprocal relationship representing harmony or like-mindedness - "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3.3);
  • being in or coming into physical contact, sometimes resulting in significant change (i.e. two chemicals mixed together) for the final product - "...from whom the whole body, being fitly joined together and united, through the supply of every joint, according to the working in the measure of each single part, the increase of the body doth make for the building up of itself in love." (Eph 4.16);
  • regarded as a collection, where the unfied total is far more than the sum of the individual parts - "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mark 10.9);
  • emotionally stable and effective, performing coherently while truly aware of, understanding, coordinating and synthesizing events/opinions/circumstances in the surrounding world - "And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases." (Luke 9.1).

Togetherness is amazing...

I think the thing I love most about the word together, however, is a grammatical thing that shows its powerful signifcance. Take the following sentence, for example:

"The pastor" is a singular subject and thus the verb tense of the sentence is singular. Even though the subject is then described by a parenthetical clause, actually making it plural, the verb tense remains single.

Hand in hand, where two or more work, move, agree, and function unified... as one... together... it is as though only one is doing the doing.

So true... because when that happens, it is so clear...

the All Powerful One and Only is.

True confessions: The actual writing time of the text of this post was 5 minutes - give or take a little as sick little ones kept interrupting. Going back, double checking on verse and quote accuracy as well as finding the links I wanted to include... well, that definitely added time above and beyond.

19 April 2012

Turning 3 ~ Photos from M&M's birthday party, finally! (Yes, I know these are nearly 5 months late...)

almost literally, diving into her gift bag

wondering what she will find

squeals of delight (and can you believe Elsie Mae's hair is that long?)

Aren't you just dying to know what that expression means?

B. U. B. B. L. E. S!!!!!

the gift EVERY three year old loves

M&M's favorite friend - she goes and plays at Richelle's house every Wednesday morning.
(Yes... that really is her name!)

with Richelle and Richelle's little sister

my absolute favorite pic of the night
Isn't it amazing how something so simple, so every day, can bring so much pure pleasure?

If I were to title this last photo, I think I'd call it ~

Simply Delightfully Satisfying

How about you? What would you title this photo?


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