Monday, April 30, 2018

Acorns


"In you is a great oak. Just be the tree God made you to be." Aunty Mary Jane read to the girls this morning from Max Lucado's "Little Acorn."  She smiled at them as she read to the acorns in front of her, girls who cannot imagine the powerful impact they are to have on their world as young women.
The ten girls who spent the night started attending Beautiful Me with their mothers in October 2016.  Friday night we had our finale, ending with a talent show, a showing of "One Night With the King," and a lot of giggling as they tried hard to keep each other awake late into the night.



I saw beautiful glimpses of the "oaks" in each of them as they presented our theme songs, enacted "Gertrude McFuzz" by Doctor Seuss, a dance to "Gold" by Brit Nicole, some original writing, and memory verses pertaining to our theme of true beauty. They sang the songs confidently, dancing, and shining all the way for the small group who had come to celebrate with them.  Most of this group came from our office, and they gathered around our little acorns, with their arms on their shoulders, like "sheltering trees" from the song, "We all need sheltering trees, friends in our lives who get down on their knees, lift us up before the king of kings...we all need sheltering trees." (Newsong)  As they prayed for them I sensed a great strength filling the room, and a revealed weakness in me, an acknowledgement that I cannot change, inspire, or fill these girls with what they need to grow into great oaks.  Only God can do that, and though he may use me and Aunty Mary Jane, they need many sheltering trees in their lives, including their mothers.

As we end Beautiful Me with this group, a program intended to bring mothers and daughters closer, I had hoped that the mothers would attend this optional talent show, but only one "mother" (actually a grandmother) came.  And oh, that one mother blesses me so. (See post She came to Beautiful Me  )





Please, be sheltering trees for these girls now, as you read.  Pray, pray that God will instill in them a desire to be His, that their mothers will learn to treasure them and hold them gently while training them to be strong. May these acorns become a "planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor" in this land.  (Isaiah 61:3)


Sunday, April 29, 2018

She Came to Beautiful Me

I didn't see her,
I didn't know,
My ignorance made me fear her,
Made my opinion low.
She was the grandma,
Maybe an aunt would be good,
I wanted to stand up,
Stomp my foot and be rude,
But she joined,
despite my protest,
I was annoyed,
I needed to focus.
The first meeting she came,
On time with her girl,
I wouldn't be the same,
She had entered my world.
Short, blunt, stuck in her ways,
The only prompt one,
Her laughter, dancing, the memory stays,
Of her having fun.
Every meeting, she came first,
At the end, ready to leave,
She's faithful to her girl, bring on the worst,
A significant thread she'll weave.
I've been humbled to see,
How she loves as she can, 
That strength is God's specialty,
He sees not like a man.
I pray they keep growing
Together day by day,
May they increase their knowing,
Of each other and the Way.




Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Smathering of Retreat Thoughts

"Your people will be my people, and your God my God" was read in 8 languages today at our annual retreat.  Not only this verse, but the whole book of Ruth was read aloud in small groups.  The anticipation  was exhilarating as people got up when their language was called to go outside in this beautiful environment. Almost everyone speaks English is our organization, but by the end of the calling of the optional language groups, only expatriates were left in the conference room.  Now that's practicing what we preach!

After we read in our language groups, the speaker talked about the days of Ruth.  The time of the judges, when everyone did what was right in their own eyes.  Sometimes our days feel very much like that.  In fact, the common phrase, "If it feels right to you..." or "Whatever works for you..." may be the equivalent of our day.  What is right?  What DOES work? For Ruth, it was choosing God, the God of Naomi.  It was choosing to join a people, the Israelites, who were chosen and loved by that God.  Choosing him even when evil men seemed to have their way, rejecting HIS way.

That is my choice too.  In a day when everyone wants to blame God for all the pain in the world, and ask, "Where is God?"  "He's right where he was when his Son hung on the cross," the speaker quoted someone today.  He's on the throne, always doing good and loving us to himself where we will be forever safe and healed. 

Sometimes I struggle to release my fear to God when I know he allows us to walk through fire.  I imagine Ruth, losing her husband, then leaving her home to go live among a people who would most likely reject her.  "When God breaks you, he will mend you," the speaker stated matter of factly.  Comforting? Only when it's coupled with the knowledge that the mending will be forever, for his glory, and for our good...and for the good of those we love.

Please pray for us at retreat as we study the book of Ruth, rest with our colleagues, and choose to follow our good God no matter the cost.

Our beautiful retreat notebooks painted by one of our colleagues.



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Broken World

I left Europe out completely, and then Mariama dropped this eggy world twice. I guess it's been broken, more than once. It seems appropriate on Easter...to talk about a broken world because we celebrate the One who came to heal it!  He often uses his body to make it happen.  Here are some healing memories from this Easter in Nigeria.


Seeking.  Such a super fun part of Easter for me growing up was the seeking.  Seeking my Easter basket, chocolate Easter bunny, seeking the eggs we died. Easter is also about seeking. Mary seeking Jesus at the tomb, Peter dashing in to find it empty, Thomas seeking for proof.  The great thing is, they find him, but not where or how they expected.  At our morning sunrise gathering at our house, we sought beautifully coloured eggs, but the most exciting thing is that we sought fellowship with one another, we sought to glorify God, we sought healing for ourselves and our country as we prayed together. 


Lydia had her first Easter.  God brings his healing through creating families.  May God bring healing to this broken world through his children, through our family. 


 In a world where the color of one's skin seems to matter so much, Mariama has made a dear friend in Pastor's daughter, Yekan.  As soon as Mariama enters the church compound, Yekan runs to her with her arms open wide, wrapping her up in a hug.  This Easter, they were excited that they both were wearing pink bows.  They pointed and giggled for a long time before chasing each other around the still empty back rows.

 When things needed to be calmer, they drew together.  Jesus has "made the two one". He has healed relationships and brought us close in Christ.

 About 15 children came to the house to decorate Easter eggs.  Zach showed some videos and we discussed them in Hausa and English.  One little girl said she wanted to ask Jesus to be her Savior. I love how Jesus heals our bias toward children as he says again and again how much he values them.  Here is another loved one, choosing to be his.  May she follow him all the days of her life.
 We enjoy a lot of laughter and joy from these neighborhood children who visit our compound.  This too is a healing.  We need their laughter, and they need our care.  Praise God for how his healing is shared by all of his people, big and little.
"Art" is not something these children get to do very often, yet their lives are very artful.  The way they sing, drum, move, tell stories, draw, create ways to extend the use of an object, and play shows God's creative heart in each of them.  God is still in the process of healing through creating beauty and shining beauty in his creation. 

We are thankful that God, through his Son, is bringing healing and making the world look more like this beautifully decorated egg. Whole. Everyone included.  (Compliments of Zach's geologically sound brain.)
  

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hear from Here!

I was just walking by,

I looked to my right,
They were at their work,
So closer I did lurk,
What did I see,
Yes, indeed,
It was the mighty Word
That will soon be heard,
In Margi land,
On truth to stand,
It blessed my heart,
To ponder the start,
And then the impact,
Of the amazing fact,
That "God speaks Margi,
And he know and sees me!"

We came to Nigeria to be part of the work of people knowing God loves them, hears them, speaks to them.  To walk home and see Nigerian, Margi speaking translators, along with a brother from the United States that came just to work with them, reminded me of that vision.  From right here is where the hearing begins! 

Please pray for these brothers as they check through Matthew this week. 

 

Translating the Bible without writing anything

 "We are hoping to translate the Bible into 1000 languages worldwide."   We sat in a circle under the mango trees behind the SIL o...