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Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Thank You Note

This is from last year, but I read it as I was organizing my new book and decided to share:

As I sit coffee in hand, lazily taking in the surroundings of my newly Christmas-decorated home, I am thankful.  Thankful that Maslow’s theory is at work and we have the basic necessities to be comfortable, thankful that we have a little extra to make our home comfy cozy and probably way more clothes than 2 people need. I am thankful for a husband who loves me unconditionally and cheers me on as I run the race Christ has set before me.  I am thankful for parents who raised me to be compassionate and to give out of lack or abundance cheerfully.  I am thankful for a Father who sent His only Son to stand in propitiation for my sins so I may live a redemptive life.  I am thankful for Grace and Mercy and Love.   I am thankful that whether I have a good day or a bad day, I am content as I fall into the arms of refuge each and every night. 

This is all relative to what I see in the world.  Some by choice, most not, there are those that live on the streets, beg on the corners, are mentally incapable of living a normal life or choose drugs and alcohol over food.  There are those oppressed by government, threatened by rebels, soldiers and racists.  Many spend their lives suffering daily bombings, rape and picking through garbage to feed their children and offer them one more day of life.  Others experience affliction from drought and unhealthy environments.

I feel like I’ve seen it all; unfortunately, I know I have not. 
We have, however, been privileged to work with those that have. 

Each missionary God has given us the honor of meeting has seen a different side of sorrow; some within our country and some outside.  Whether they choose to minister in a local church, community, a country or nation of people, their hearts are not their own.  Field warriors bear an uncommon compassion.  The dictionary describes the word uncommon as rare, unusual, exceptional; used to emphasize the great extent of something; concern, consideration, empathy and kindness.  The word compassion in Hebrew is “raham” and means “to love from the womb”; the tender love of a mother for her own helpless child.

(God uses “raham” when He describes himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6.  ‘Then the LORD passed by in front of him (Moses) and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in (raham) lovingkindness and truth’.)

Those called to venture into a world many of us are unaware of, are rare and tender lovers of people. Abounding in ‘lovingkindness and truth’ they share the devotion of Christ with those that don’t know what a Christmas decoration looks like, who couldn’t dream of having food on the table every night or a change of clothes each day.   They hug the little children, wash feet with hidden tears and tell silly stories just to bring a laugh.

I’m thankful that my vision has been increased by these unique elite.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Deep-Breath Moment

It’s been a whirlwind month! We lost our 36-year-old parrot, Sylvester, which was devastating by itself but losing him in the middle of final packing for our yearly month in Kenya was really difficult. (I have to admit I forgot quite a few important items because of my lack of concentration.)  We have been moving so fast that there has been little time to process we are actually here in Kenya; 1 week and already 3 towns.

Today, I awoke in my own sweet home in Bungoma. The sounds of worship from the Bible School fill the yet-dark morning and I lay here in awe of the Father who chose to use me in this way. I don’t do much while I’m here…a little teaching, a little preaching; not like the team that just left after re-painting the Bible School and building Margaret real live cabinets for her kitchen! We visit other missionaries during the day, but come home each night to a comfortable dinner and relaxing evenings with our Kenyan brother and sister.

But, I know it’s where I am to be. The Lord planted this place in my very core as a child and now in the heart of my husband. It is truly a home to us. We live life with the people here. We know the bible students; they come over and hang with us to  share in the Word. Young and old working through living in this world, knowing we are from another. We wave at the kids coming and going past our window to pre-school. We have watched 15 of the kids at the Children’s Home grow from little boys to high school graduates and rejoice as more are welcomed in.

It’s different. The food is unique albeit tasty. Bottled water is used for everything, even the daily habits like brushing your teeth or making tea. Routines are shattered and though I will daily teach at the school it is admittedly more laid back in Africa. We are also spoiled. Hannah & Margaret do most of the cooking, cleaning and washing, though I have my small chores, as any eldest sister!

So, though I am used to a task-filled day when I am at home in the U.S., I find God has brought me here (at least this year) to regroup from a crazy change-filled year. Time to write.  Time to ponder. Time for conversations with Papa planning our upcoming season. It’s a deep- breath moment. Sometimes we just need those.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Cruel Taskmaster

Time can be a cruel taskmaster.  One hand of the timepiece stretching toward the riches of future joys and one holding tight to the memories of the past.  I see it even in the d├ęcor of my own home.  The Victorian stylishness of days gone by slowly replaced by African treasures, new technology grace our work spaces and beautiful gifts of paintings, quilts and furniture fill our rooms.

In all that shifting of time sits a lovely coleus plant and whimsical giraffe where a birdcage once reigned. I miss Sylvester’s little voice that brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. 36 years ago, he called to me from across a pet store floor. “Hedddddo There”.  I fell in love immediately and never once regretted the moment I took him home.  Oh he was precocious and ornery and sometimes hard to handle but we were partners in life. Through the good and bad, happy and sad we stuck together.  We moved across states together, mourned the loss of Phil and Georgana while rejoicing in the delight Roy’s love brought to our home.  We came to Christ together, watched Barney and sang every Frank Sinatra song we could remember.  He sang with all his little might like he did everything.  He was so proud to show off his tricks to everyone that came over. He loved little children and was tender while talking to them. He poo-pooed Alex and gave us the raspberries when he didn’t like something. He was his own personality. And spoiled rotten. But I didn’t care. He was my best friend, the child I never was able to have, my companion, our pride and joy.  Roy & I are both grieving our loss.

There were few quiet times in our house! Now there are way too many. Ouch.

But that ticking hand; moving through seconds, minutes, hours and eventually days, takes away the immensity of pain and reminds me to look up as God so lovingly massages my grief yet again. His Grace is so sufficient, so amazing, so unrelenting. Africa looms ahead just 2 short weeks away. Products still need shipped, missionaries still require resource hunting and fundraising for more still ensues. Fall is in the air and with it comes my favorite season of the year. Crisp weather, ground-soaking rain and the promise of holidays.

This year will not look the same as most of my past life. But that is the mercy of Papa. Joy comes in the morning – a fresh, clean fragrance of what is to be.  The air crackles with expectation. There is nothing holding us back. Nothing to keep our feet planted. Eden’s Song will flourish throughout the nations. Our hearts will heal; the place left void from Sylvester’s death will be open to more of God’s goodness and pleasure. Eyes, weary from stress, tears and mourning, will sparkle once again.

The simple chime of another hour passing reminds me there are things to do. Time to move on. Deep breath. Head up. The nations are calling and we are ready!