Friday, September 5, 2014

Teachable



“I think I am not teachable!” I exclaimed to my husband yesterday.  I just cannot keep things in my head! “I don’t think that’s true.”  I was feeling discouraged about how I have been taught by so many, but how little have retained. 
This conversation came out of the discussion of taking the comprehensive exams, which are in December, and will replace the need to write a thesis.  They are a lot of work, and you have to write what you have learned over the years in answer to three specific scenarios.

This morning the Lord surprised me with these encouraging words:  

Psalm 32:8-9
“You are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. “
Selah
“I will instruct you and teach in the way you should go; 
I will counsel you and watch over you. 
Do not be as a horse and mule,
which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle. 
Many woes come to the wicked,
but the LORD’S unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in
him.”

Working backwards…can I trust God and experience his enfolding love or am I more like a mule who doesn’t understand the way and must be forced into it?
God watches over me.  The same God who watched over Paul when the crowd in Jerusalem wanted to nab him in Acts 21, who powerfully cared for the Israelites by placing a pillar between them and the Egyptians, who said to Hagar in the desert, “I am the God who is here.”
When I trust him, God counsels me.  Like Hezekiah laying the letter from Senacherib before the Lord in the temple, I can lay before God every confusing situation, fear, and insecurity, and he will give me wise counsel.  I laid before God the decision to do a thesis and comprehensive exams despite my insecurities, and he made it clear that the comprehensive exams in December are the best option. 
When I trust God, he will teach me.  He’s the best teacher, the one who taught Moses to be a leader, who taught the disciples to plant a church and do missions, who taught them what to say when they were before kings and rulers, and who instructed them where they should go to share the Gospel of Jesus. 

In all these things, he sings songs of deliverance into my heart because when my heart condemns me, the Spirit of God affirms that I am his child!  I will be delivered from the lies of the enemy, and have victory as it looks in the eyes of the Most High!

The Most High protects me and hides me in Christ…I am hidden in Christ Jesus!
God has found me so teachable that he himself will instruct me, and he never wastes his time.  

Please pray that God will fill me with his wisdom as I prepare for the exams and  confident to know God finds me teachable, and will help me study the right things! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hospitality

My childhood friend, Heather in Hamilton, NY who always picks up right where we left off! 


My GIAL friend from 2010, Nikki in Bingamton, NY who opened her  heart to us though we called on the way to her house!

My Aunt Ruthie and Anna in Leonia, NJ who hosted us when we called the night before saying we were coming! 

I have always thought of Nigerians and Cameroonians as being especially hospital, but we have experienced incredible hospitality as we have traveled.  Anna once said, “I should come to New York more often, everyone is always feeding you!”  And it is true!  Everywhere we went, loving hearts expressed themselves with open arms, homes, and lots of food!  Those in New Life Church near Hamilton, NY, know me so well, and have invested themselves in loving my family for as long as I can remember!  What a joy to sit and fellowship with so many who have touched my life.      

Guiding People Somewhere

Zach, Nanshal, and Eti in December 2011 when I visited to see if this "thing" would work! 
Me and my sister, Eti


Grrrrrrr….is all I could say.  GRRRRRRRRRRR.  Another wrong turn.  Why did we even bother getting a GPS on our cell phone if it was going to constantly reroute us and frustrate us!  “We used to just enjoy our journey’s, even when we were lost, but now you’re getting all upset!”  Zach said to me, annoyed.  “Well, before we used maps, and we expected maps to lead us astray every now and then.”  Zach then said exactly what I was thinking, “That’s like our relationship with expatriates and Nigerians when we’re on the field.”

You see, when you go onto the mission field, you think you will get along swimmingly with the other missionaries because they have similar experiences to you.  The expectation is that they will be easier to understand and therefore when there are miscommunications, it is especially frustrating.  With Nigerians, however, you know there are cultural roads and byways that you just won’t know about.  Detours are inevitable and grace abounds.  Hmmmm…



Me and Rachel, my dear British friend, and colleague, in Nigeria.

As you Walk Along...

The campus where we live in Texas is full of exceptional people who have done all sorts of interesting things!  Over lunch we were having a discussion with a young woman who lived among the a Native American people for seven years teaching elementary school.
She mentioned that the adults wanted their children to learn their language, but unfortunately, they were not doing it.  Maybe, she explained, they expect them to learn it by being around the language.  Then my insightful husband said, "That's an interesting point," he began as he often does when he's going to say something brilliant, "...if I had a choice between transferring my language or my faith, I would want my children know God, for that is the most important thing. That reminds me of what we see in the church," he continued, "We expect our children to pick up our faith by being around us, but don't realize that we have to be intentional about teaching them to learn and know the most important things in life."
God knew this tendency in us to forget the eternal things, and get caught up in the daily walk.  That's why he said,  “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a]  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates...be careful not to forget the Lord...In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the Lord our God has commanded us to obey?’  (Deut. 6:4-8;20)

I know that I am so full of good intentions.  Every day, I wake up with goals of serving and loving God in different ways, with my whole being.  What a challenge to keep him at the forefront of my speech and actions.  Praise God I seem to have short term memory loss, and quickly forget how I blew it yesterday trying to serve him! Everyday is the time to walk and talk about all he's done, that those that follow us may know that they know, that they know who this LORD, our God, is!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Take the Plunge!



"Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment." -1 Timothy 6:17
It was one of those days where the sun has decidedly gone back to bed and the light drizzle makes the breeze feel unbearably chilly, but you came to the lake to have fun so one must try, though swimming is just not an option.  Anna Watkin, my 16-year-old courageous neice who agreed to travel with us to New York, climbed into her kyak next to mine.  She had exclaimed a few days prior “I love kayaking!”  I don’t think a day like today is what she had in mind because she also sat in any patch of sunshine she could find as we journeyed.  The sun was kind and warmed us slightly as we set off, lifting our adventurous spirits.   Half way across the lake, it started to rain again, however, and we turned our kyaks around, challenging each other to a race.  As we both sped through the water, our kayaks glided toward each other, and unfortunately (or fortunately for me), Anna’s kayak could not withstand the weight of my kayak’s passenger.  Over it went, and in she fell.  I deftly turned around to see her pop up to the surface.  Looking shocked, and in shockingly good spirits, she laughed.  She declared, “I would have been mad if it hadn’t been so warm.”

This reminded me of something that I continue to learn.  Neither of us wanted to dive into the water, considering it too cold.  We could only judge the temperature of the water by the temperature we were experiencing above the water.   So, we tried to have fun without taking a plunge.  Just as in our faith, we think that diving in completely will be a bit too much, so we skim the surface.  We pray prayers that we can answer without God's help and we volunteer to do tasks that are manageable and safe.   God has a way of helping us take the plunge, though.  He wants us to experience his warmth,  through various struggles and when we finally find ourselves in him, fully emersed, we find that the water was not as cold as it seemed.  We find we could instead laugh at the surprising turn of events that we were trying so hard to avoid.  I believe God gives us everything for our enjoyment. May we be ready to dive in willingly, enjoying the warmth of God’s purpose and will for us!  

Chosen Banquet

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.   God decided in advanc...