31 March 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Little Choir Director

A little Glimpse of the Reality of Life in Niger -

...and what, by God's grace, some friends of ours are trying to do about it.

I linked to their site today, on what is normally a "Wordless Wednesday," because of the great photos.

Please continue to pray for our friends. I linked to them earlier here, about their scary medical situation and as of the latest update on their blog, they still don't have any definitive answers. I know they continue to appreciate prayer.

29 March 2010

Heading Home

Please pray for our family today - we are driving back to Michigan from the west side of Iowa. It's a long trip... a long day... and we've been fighting a nasty virus almost the whole time we've been gone.

Thanks, in advance, for your prayers.

27 March 2010

Anyone Identify with THIS?

"Why am I so afraid of death?"

When I was a little boy I had quite a fright. My parents took me to visit a great-aunt, an elderly woman who lay dying in an upstairs bedroom.

The house was scary. Its wallpaper was musty and faded and the woodwork was dark. Creaking staircases led to spooky Victorian towers, and noises came from the cellar. But deciding to test my mettle, I sneaked away from the kitchen conversation and slowly climbed the stairs leading to a shadowy corridor through which I carefully crept.

Suddenly the old woman emerged from a dark doorway, ghostlike and terrifying. Her white hair flowed over the shoulders of a long white gown. Her yellowed eyes could not have been wider than my own. My m outh opened but I couldn't scream.

Startled, the woman froze in place until the hall clock chimed. That's when she leaned toward me and whispered, "David, I am so afraid of the G-R-A-V-E."

I bolted.

Thinkng back on it, I believe this may be why I'm afraid of dying and secretly clausterphobic. I can see the tight dirt walls closing in on me. I'm envious of those who have no such concerns. But as a Christian, I feel guilty for being afraid of anything, especially death. Where's my faith hiding?

I hope not in that old house because there's no way I'm going back!

Paul boldly wrote, "O death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15.55)

Good for Paul.

David wrote, "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me." (Psalm 23.4)

Good for David.

I'm still scared.

The fact is, unlike the very faithful, I do fear death and I have a hunch many others do too. The question is, why?

Well, why not?

We weren't made to die.

We were made to live eternally. So I don't buy the line that "death is natural." It isn't. God created the world to live. And so I abhor death. When those I love die, I cry. I weep when I bury my pets. When gazelles are torn to bits by lions on television, I'm saddened. The whole realm of death is dark and horrible.

Death is our enemy, and I think it is good to call it what it is.

But death is a fact of life, and there's no escaping it. So what do we do?

First, let's not feel ashamed. Fear of death seems pretty natural. Death is a great mystery from which no one I've ever met has recovered.

So we're left with three choices: we can deny our fears, rationalize them, or admit them.

I've decided to admit mine. That doesn't make me brave, but I've learned that it's often eaiser than the alternatives. Besides, I find it liberating.

Admitting something is like expelling poison.

And when we do it, we take in something quite different: relief.

Admissions like this are really confessions. After all, fear of death really is grounded in a lack of faith. The Bible makes it very plain that death has been overcome by Christ's Resurrection and that heaven is our destiny. But plain or not, some fears are hard to overcome, and confession is the first step in turning them over to God. It's a way of handing him our burdens -- which is exactly what he invites us to do.

Confession of fears helps replace them.

Why is that? "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4.18). God tells us earlier in that same chapter that life in Christ brings the promise of confidence, even confidence in death. Confessing to him fears of death allows his love to replace such fear with confidence.

So I will ask him to walk closer to me, to hear my confessions, to replace my fears with the confidence of his love. And in time, I hope to join Paul and David and lift my chin against death, reinforced by faith.

~ A few silly pics from our Iowa road trip ~

Thanks for the photos, Pastor Rick!

25 March 2010

A Girl and her Grandpa Gene

Hanging on to Grandpa is a pretty good place to be...

...especially when he comes up with scary propositions like this for Baaba and Mama!

**insert little girl belly laugh**

23 March 2010

We can't believe how quickly our furlough year is coming to an end, and Lord willing, we will be heading back in July. We wanted to share our presentation video, the one we share with friends and supporters as we travel around, for those people we won't **very sad face** have the opportunity to catch up with in person this year. Make sure the music in the side bar is paused before starting the video.

22 March 2010

I can't Believe it's the Whole Elementary School

And if you can find our three girls in that fuzzy mass of kids, you are doing tons better than I can. Don't they sound great?

20 March 2010

I knew we were in trouble the moment ~

~ with this "Look what I did!" expression on her face,

and sitting proudly on our bed.

Why was this troublesome?

She'd been hanging on to the covers and sliding down to get off our bed for a few months. I'd gotten used to that and was actually relieved that she knew how to get down without falling and hurting herself.

This, however, was the first "documented" time we found that she could also climb up and get onto the bed. I've still NO idea how she does it. I find this a scarier prospect: if she can climb up here... what other heights can she reach... and that I don't yet know about?

15 March 2010

Brendan's FOURTEEN!

Actually, he's been 14 for several months now. I'm just way behind in posting photos. But I'm trying to catch up... one of these days! (Thanks, Gammie, for the birthday cake... it was waiting for us on a Sunday afternoon after we drove home from a meeting with one of our supporting churches.)

Fwiw, Brendan had his Star Wars Lego gift from Gampy and Gammie finished before he went to bed that night... and I think the book might have been read before the end of the week. He's obviously into devouring things. Maybe that's why he keeps growing so fast!

We so thankful for the privilege of training up this particular young man!

12 March 2010

Our God is AMAZING...

...He works in mysterious ways that are so often so hard for me to understand... but I wouldn't even WANT to imagine following someone else.

Last night, I had the opportunity to share with a small group of ladies a little bit about our lives in Niger... I was so blessed by their interest... I am so blessed that God has allowed us the privilege so serve there, to raise our family there... and we truly can't wait to get back home...

A few memories...

~Elsie Mae helping Safana peel potatoes~

~Nadia and two of her three best friends: Anna and Zeinabou~

~Musician recording Scripture songs at the studio~

~A precious fellow missionary kid... her big sister and family needs lots of prayer right now (see below)~

~A photo from church, a delightful sister in Christ, a truly special grandma who literally does all she can for her little orphaned granddaughter - she's loved much by both her grandchild, Elsie Mae and Elsie Mae's mama!~

~Street food prepared by our neighbor, a dear friend with whom we hope to someday have the language skills and opportunity to share God's Gospel message. God allowed our family to minister to her and her family when their little girl was deathly ill... and now we have the privilege of rejoicing with her every step that little one takes!~

...and a few links from some of our friends in Niger, both walking through incredible circumstances clinging to our amazing God. Please take the time to check them out (I'm sure you'll be challenged and encouraged) and immediately take a moment to pray specifically for them...

Makalondi with Joy: "Blessing Others"


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