30 October 2010

Captured, Captivated, Compelled, Charmed and Completely enChanted...

...by grace, God's amazing grace.

Pick whatever word you want to try and describe the effect grace has on a human heart... but because grace comes from God and reflects an important part of His character and personality, there is no "perfect" word. Dr. David Jeremiah chooses the word "captured" in the title of this book, and then proceeds to detail how God relentlessly pursued and then captured and forever changed two men: the apostle Paul and John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace."

This is one of those books that I'll share with friends and family and then place on the shelf to revisit ever so often, because how can we ever get enough of God's grace? Dr. Jeremiah doesn't write about any startling new revelations - instead he reminds of so many things about grace, things that after awhile we begin to take for granted, to forget or start to consider as rights and entitlements - when all along, what we deserve is so far from what God feely offers to all who will receive.

His treatment of the parable of the prodigal son was beautiful, helping me to look at the well-known story told by the Lord from a different perspective. He examines several passages of the Scriptures that show just how integral grace is to both faith and following Christ. The book is divided into three sections, designed to show just who all sufficient is the grace of God: we have grace for the past, grace for the present and grace for the future... for all eternity.

This is such an important and relevant topic for today (and really, for every day) and the world in which we live that tends to trivialize sin to make it less horrifying than it is. "It" (i.e. sin) isn't really all that bad, it is just a wrong or different "choice," represents the mentality of this day and age, and includes, unfortunately, many who claim to follow Christ. Without firstrecognizing the depth and completeness of our own depravity, there is no way to begin to comprehend the amazing-ness, the captivating-ness of God's grace.

There were so many amazing quotes from this book. However, the following, I think, sums of much of what Dr. Jeremiah was hoping the Holy Spirit would impress upon our hearts in reading this book:
"If love is the attribute that describes God the best, grace is the one that makes that love obtainable for us. Grace is the most radical concept ever to be introduced into theis world. It is counterintuitive to human nature, challenging every human tendency and providing the solution for every human problem. Grace changes people as nothing else can do. It cleanses the sins of the past. It enables the righteousness in the present. And one thing it does for certain: it constantly surprises us. For the essence of grace is surprise. There is nothing shocking about giving people exactly what they deserve. Grace subverts the rules and gives people what they don't deserve. It is motivated by the warmth of love..." (p. 171)
I highly recommend this book.. a 10 out of 5 possible stars. It is well worth the time and investment. I know I can never be reminded too often of the wonderous God I serve, of His amazing grace so abundantly showered upon me and my need to rest and trust in that grace with a humble and grateful heart.

Some other favorite quotes:
"Can we allow ourselves to be such total captives of His grace that we trust Him completely with life's most terrible moments." (p. 159)
"There is only on Giver, of course. It all comes from Him. The problem is that we are so burdened with good gifts that when anything at all comes our way that isn't pleasant -- so much as a traffic delay or a trip to the dentist -- we throw our arms toward the sky and ask, 'Why me?' ...We take all... the good gifts right in stride, as if we fully deserve them... Given the way we live our lives and the extent of our obedience to God, how many of these good things are we really earning? How many of the bad things are really unfair?" (p. 155)
"Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives alms most,...but it is he who is always thankful to God,... who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness and has aheart always ready to praise God for it." (quoting William Law, p. 189)
"Mercy withholds the knife from the heart of Isaac.
Grace provides a ram in the thicket.
Mercy runs to forgive the Prodigal Son.
Grace throws a party with every extravagance.
Mercy bandages the wounds of the man beaten by the robbers.
Grace covers the cost of his full recovery.
Mercy hears the cry of the thief on the cross.
Grace promises paradise that very day.
Mercy pays the penalty for our sin at the cross.
Grace substitutes the righteousness of Christ for our wickedness...
Mercy closes the door to hell.
Grace opens the door to heaven.
Mercy withholds what we have earned.
Grace provides blessings we have not earned." (p. 23)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Book Sneeze as a part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 244: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and and Testimonials in Advertising.”

29 October 2010

Spinning or Trusting, Part II

In what uncomfortable situations has the Lord placed you, and why are you thankful for it? How do you “lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him?”

Please join me over at Missionary Moms for the second part of "Spinning or Trusting," as I conclude sharing what God has taught me about living and working on the mission field as your larger than average family.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

Just Interesting ~ How big do you think Africa is?

I saw this several days back, and thought it was interesting. Developed by Kai Krause ("a small contribution in the fight against rampant 'immapancy' ...meaning isufficient geographical knowledge"), it provides perspective on just how large this continent truly is. When we know our radio programs' reach throughout the country of Niger and via short wave into several surrounding countries, we know God's Word is potentially being heard by many, many people.

Map has been placed in public domain, no rights reserved, by Creative Commons.

28 October 2010

How is it that I've never heard of HER?

I've been reading the book Captured by Grace (David Jeremiah) and in chapter 8 of the book, he writes the following words:
"Can we allow ourselves to be such total captives of His grace that we trust Him completely with life's most terrible moments?" (p. 159)
Dr. Jeremiah then continues with the story of a lady who did answer "Yes!" to that question.  Helen Roseveare...
...was a British medical missionary in the Congo. She stayed at her post during some of the worst turmoil in the country's history in 1964. Many Westerners fled, but Helen believed she should be willing to make any sacrifice for a Savior who had made the ultimate sacrifice for her.
Someone tried to poison her, but her dog at the food and the attempt fails. Still she stayed on.... Even when her house was looted of every item within it, she refused to leave her post.
It's not as if Helen had no fear. She rarely slept well, knowing that at any moment someone could enter her home and take her life. But she concentrated on learning to trust God more absolutely.
On Saturday, August 15, 1964, a truckload of soldiers commandeered her hospital. Helen would later recall, "They were brutal and coarse, rough and domineering. Their language was threatening and obscene. All of us were cowed. We did exactly what they demanded, mostly without argument." They caught the local chief, flayed him alive, and ate him.
Eventually, Helen Roseveare was beaten, raped, and humiliated. Barely alive, she finally had to be taken from the country. During her long and painful days of recovery, she found herself closer to God than she had ever been before. She even loved the Congo more deeply than ever. There was no bitterness within her, though Helen had experienced terrible, mindless evil. It would have been so easy to demand of God why He allowed these atrocities, when she had been so faithful to His service. But in her heart of hearts, she felt that God's question would be, "Can you thank me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?" (p. 159-160)


This video contains a small piece of her testimony as she responds to a question. She begins speaking about 35 seconds into the video and continues for about 5 minutes. It is worth a listen!

What do you think?
How would you answer this question:

"Can you allow yourself to be such a total captive of His grace that you trust Him completely with life's most terrible moments?"

25 October 2010

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts - When your Weekend Ends Up being a Wash…

much longer than the average post

Well… it is definitely more work, but you can try and choose thankfulness… and so I’m trying... I really did have high expectations for the weekend:

  • The beginning of vacation for our French school gang (which means some fun English learning activities together this week);
  • Friday night dinner date with Tim and friends;
  • A planned and much needed haircut from a friend I’ve not seen for a few months;
  • A clean house;
  • Saturday afternoon at the pool with the fam;
  • Watching some softball while drinking iced tea;
  • French fries and nachos;
  • Resting and getting ahead on some of next week’s school work;
  • Church with our friends at Harobanda; and
  • Finishing up with a time of worship and teaching at our English evening fellowship.
Some of those expectations were realized thanks to gracious kids, generous friends, gentle doctors and our always good all the time God… but nothing, except maybe Friday night’s dinner happened as we’d anticipated…

So, first I’ll give you the story – then I’ll share my gratitude list – but admittedly, this week’s list has required a bit more work from the Holy Spirit… first getting me to see… and then convincing me... that there was infinitely more for which to be thankful!

Friday night, Tim and I went to a local Chinese restaurant with friends for dinner. Rebekah babysat the littles… the other big kids all had parties and plans of their own. Our oldest girl really is a treasure because she had an awesome attitude and she could have easily picked a “poor little me” one instead. We had a yummy dinner, fun conversation and some nice adult time, and then came home to find that Rebekah had things well under control even though the power had been on and off several times! In fact, it promptly cut out once we were back through the door. But that is just life in Niger.

When the power went out, Mary Michelle (heretoafter referred to as the little peanut) snuck into the kitchen… in the dark… found the peanut butter jar… and started eating. I discovered this a few minutes later while trying to get candles lit and a peanut buttery face rubbed up against me. I cleaned her up, our other kids all arrived home from their respective places and we started the bedtime routines and night chores. I snuggled the little peanut down to sleep and was dropping off to dreamland myself when the croupy cough and cold she’d been fighting all week seemed to come back with a vengeance. So we did a steam treatment and things seemed a little better until around 1:30 in the morning. She started throwing up, several times – and all that was coming up was peanut butter. It was getting stuck in her throat; with that and her cold, she started having a harder time breathing and we began to suspect she’d consumed more peanut butter than we initially thought (we hadn’t verified because the power had been mostly out and that sort of thing is hard to determine via candlelight… and we hadn’t thought it was a priority – after all, she’d been known to pull a finger covered in peanut butter out of the jar before for a special treat). We tried some Benedryl, just in case she was having some sort of a reaction due to the amount of peanut butter, but she couldn’t swallow and ended up throwing up again. I decided to take her in to the ER.

I drove across town the French military hospital (of course, you can’t drive directly because since the coup d’état last February, traffic is redirected away from key government buildings after dark) and waited with my lights shining by the gate for the guard to let me in; either no one saw my lights or heard me beep the horn… or the ER was closed… but after 5 minutes I headed towards another clinic (the one where Jonathan and Elsie Mae were born) because I knew they also staffed an ER. Their guard woke up, allowed me to enter, woke up the ER staff and they began examining her.

After a fairly thorough exam for here, the doctor told me that he didn’t think she was reacting, but that he did have three concerns: 1) She was obviously running a fever – I noticed she'd started feeling hot while I was driving her to the clinic. She didn’t have a fever when I left the house with her. 2) She was dehydrated from the heat, the fever and all the vomiting. 3) Because her abdomen had definite tender places, the doctor was concerned about possible excessive amounts of undiluted-with-other-food-peanut-butter in her system. He was feared a possible plug or blockage developing in her intestines as her body tried to recuperate liquids. His advice – keep her at least overnight on IV fluids or until it was evident her digestive system was back to normal, go ahead and take a blood sample from the IV port to run a few labs the next morning and immediately do something to lower her 104’ temperature.

I called Tim and told him we’d be staying and to call me in the morning.

The IV and blood was drawn quickly and easily (although little peanut protested mightily), she was given acetaminophen via the IV, her temp started descending, and the immediate fluids seemed to help loosen and then clear the congestion and peanut butter out of her throat by making her coughs more productive. Once she got over the IV trauma and settled down, she was obviously more at ease and I was relieved that we’d made the right decision in bringing her to the clinic. I irritated the doctors a little bit when I refused to let them give her aspirin… actually, I was astonished that I remembered the chemical name of aspirin and was able to confirm that that was what they were wanting to do because I’m drawing a blank on the chemical name now… via the IV. Sometimes, the French W. African medical protocols go against everything we are taught in the States – and giving a child aspirin is an example. (Although ~ I remember looking forward to taking those little pink children’s aspirins when I was a little tyke – they were yummy!) Sometimes, medical personal can become very angry, antagonistic and even refuse to treat or treat harshly patients whose parents go against their professional recommendations. As I said, these two doctors didn’t agree with my decision and weren’t happy with me, but they remained courteous and always acted in a professional and competent manner, a detail for which I was immediately thankful.

We were finally admitted and settled into our room around 4:30 in the morning and little peanut wasn’t immediately interested in sleeping, so we talked and cuddled and played until about 5:30ish, when I finally turned off the light and she dropped off to sleep. I cat-napped, but the doctors were back in to check on her and change her IV bag a little after 6 and at 6:30, they flipped off the AC, pulled back the curtain and opened the window... and Tim and I started texting back and forth to figure out our plan for the day.

Since we don’t have a house worker, Saturday morning the whole family usually pitches in and cleans the house. We were also supposed to attend a “baby presentation” for friends of ours. I had an appointment to get my hair cut by a friend I generally only get to see a few times a year. And, of course, there was our weekly Saturday afternoon at the Rec Center Pool. The kids pitched in and tried to get the house done while Tim and I were shuttling back and forth from the clinic and consulting with doctors. We missed the naming ceremony. The haircut and the pool? Thanks to friends, they happened, just not how originally planned.

Little peanut’s lab analyses was completed around 10 in the morning. By this time, Tim had come to the clinic, talked with the doctors and he was pretty sure she’d be there until at least Monday morning. She actually looked pretty good. She was sleepy, but well hydrated, eating cookies, sipping pineapple juice and fussing about her IV. Her temperature had not returned, she was alert and trying to communicate… particularly by telling the medical staff to "Go away!" and leave her alone. Her blood work came back with a positive malaria test, but no other indication of infection or problem. The daytime doctors wanted to immediately start her on an IV treatment for malaria with the strongest medication available… once again, their protocol for little ones (which I think does make sense considering their typical patients).

Little peanut, however, is not a typical patient. She takes mefloquine as a weekly prophylactic to help prevent malaria and the medication the doctors were recommending can have serious heart-related side effects following mefloquine. We’d also discovered last summer that she has a heart murmur; thus, we wanted to avoid heart related side effects! We also learned that the normal medication we use for most in our family can also cause heart issues. Medications recommended by missionary medical personnel in W. Africa, as well as the WHO, are NOT an approved treatment protocol at this clinic and so the doctors could not prescribe or recommend it. This left Tim and I in the very uncomfortable position of nonmedical people deciding which professional medical advice to follow when dealing with a dangerous parasite plaguing our precious, precocious and very ornery just-about-two-year-old.

We chose to follow the WHO recommendations. I knew from my own negative experience that mefloquine has a long half-life… meaning that 1 week after the most recent dosing is not enough time to clear it from your system and side effects can have residual effects as long as 6 months later. The local doctors kept insisting that 3 days was sufficient – and it very well might have been for that particular side effect… we aren’t pharmacists… so we chose to follow guidelines put out by the World Health Organization.

We checked her out of the clinic against medical advice – again, a risky choice because if the folks at the clinic chose to be offended, we could have burned our bridges there, and that could impact future medical issues. But they weren’t. Instead, they were more than gracious and exceedingly kind and encouraging (I thank God and my hubby for that… God has gifted him with the ability to say hard things and/or to disagree without offending.), insisting that if she wasn’t better, the door was always open. They seemed to genuinely understand why we made the choice we did. I took little peanut home (once her IV was removed), Tim searched the pharmacies for the necessary meds… and found Mary some juice, me a Coke and him a Mountain Dew! I went and got my haircut while Tim and little peanut crashed; the rest of the kids continued working on the house. Later, Tim took the kids to the pool and I crashed with Mary (who was still sleeping). She is responding well to her treatment so far…

Now, without further ado...
This Week's Gratitude List

#501 Mary Michelle Elysabeth… our little peanut... even with her strong will, continual challenging and too-big-for-her-britches attitude, she is a treasure and her presence helps make our family who we are. God is using her to grow Tim and I as a couple and as parents.

#502 a lovely dinner together with Tim and friends before the craziness started

#503 a teenager with an amazing attitude - Rebekah could have chosen differently, but instead decided to willingly serve her parents even when all the other big kids were out having fun with their friends on a Friday night

#504 a closed first choice emergency room… because we ended up exactly where we needed to be as a result

#505 competent but not arrogant, kind and gracious medical personnel

#506 doctors who insert the IV perfectly the first time – that isn’t an easy task with a dehydrated little one

#507 hot tea and baguettes with butter served for breakfast

#508 missionary nurse and friend available and willing to answer all our questions and give advice over the phone, several times, in fact

#509 texting – it is the cheapest way to communicate, unless you count in person

#510 praying friends

#511 big kids babysitting and taking charge of cleaning the house

#512 littler kid who swept the whole living room, without being asked

#513 siblings praying for their sister

#514 cookies and pineapple juice to tempt the little sickie

#515 actually finding all of the treatment medications

#516 fast acting meds

#517 friends who share medicines when they are hard to find

#518 a weekend loan so that I could pay for that haircut

#519 delightfully long and snuggly nap for a sweet little one and her mama, both of whom had had very little sleep the night before

#520 french fries and nachos grande for dinner… that I didn’t have to fix… or clean up after...
holy experience

23 October 2010

Spinning or Trusting?

Are there areas in your life where you are “functionally godless?” …areas where you say you trust God but instead of waiting confidently on Him, you find you are spinning some sort of web?

Join me over at Missionary Moms as I share a bit of my struggle with this very question...

An "Official" Reader!

...because at our house, once you can read

you're well on you're way...
He is...
He's excited...
And best of all?
He loves reading!

22 October 2010

~ some great posts by friends (and fellow carpoolers) of ours ~

They aren't for the squeamish or the dinner table ~

~ But they are very applicable and relevant to life in Niger.

Our message is one of eternal life... but sometimes, first, it helps to improve quality of life so that people aren't so distracted just surviving that they never hear His Words of Life.

And so, we appreciate organizations who are here and helping to meet physical needs in this impoverished nation.

Go ahead... read if you dare...

21 October 2010

We've recently discovered...

...the movie Monsters vs Aliens.

"Girl becomes monster, girl meets other monsters, monsters battle aliens to save the world. (I think that storyline was number five on the list.) Monsters vs. Aliens brims with colorfully animated action and enjoyable characters, as well as humorous winks at other well-known monster-movie moments. ...this 3-D adventure (on most screens) [does not] offer flawless family entertainment... The scriptwriters occasionally swerve around the star chart in their quest for stellar laughs.
As has often been the case with DreamWorks' other animated efforts (Madagascar, Shrek, Shark Tale), problem areas predictably involve mild toilet humor, suggestive sight gags and a smattering of knotty language—all of which could easily have been avoided. While Monsters vs. Aliens is probably as good as it gets from DreamWorks on that score, the film nevertheless falls just short of the modern-day animated standard set by Pixar with films such as Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Toy Story.
Still, Monsters vs. Aliens majors on solid lessons about friendship and self-sacrifice ... and even takes the time to treat audiences to a rendition of Purple People Eater as the credits roll. All of which should keep old and (not too) young alike (mostly) grinning for its 94-minute ride." (full review from Focus on the Family's Plugged-In)
I'd have to say I agree completely with this review. We have thoroughly enjoyed the movie, have been able to use the questionable moments as teaching opportunities with our children, and in general have loved the overall message of the movie.

But, I'm curious to know - if you've seen the movie, what do you think, and why?

19 October 2010

Picture Perfect... a "Sister Study," by Rebekah Joy

Sometimes, it is fun to see how siblings see each other. Rebekah snapped these photos of Mary Michelle a few months ago, while waiting for crazy parents to take care of canoeing logistics. I love Rebekah's attention to both light, little details and our little peanut's beautiful blue, blue eyes!

And... a couple of disclaimers/observations:
1. I don't know if the scrum on her face is dirt or oreo cookie remnants. It could be either. It could also be both.
2. Rebekah probably gets her fascination with baby hands from her mama...
3. These photos were taken in July - I can't believe how much she has already changed in three short months... yet at the same time, these pictures feel like they were taken a lifetime ago in diametrically different world.
4. That Nemo shirt has been a favorite of Jonathan, Elsie Mae and now Mary Michelle. It is hard to believe it will soon be permanently outgrown...

18 October 2010

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ "Grace, grace, God's grace..."

"...maybe it would be better to give back our Bibles
than to let them become frilly ornaments to unexamined lives.
 Help us to hear every eternal, inspired fragment of truth
 that issues from the revelation of the Word of God. "
~ David Jeremiah ~
#491 the pursuit of a just and holy God - those He has captured, He never lets go
#492 "the captivating presence of grace"
#493 empty hands, for "God always pours His grace into empty hands" (St. Augustine)
#494 grace... which happens, but it also acts
#495 that a moment of grace can change eternity
#496 "abundant grace for abundant sin"
#497 acknowledging "...the darkness within us and the light that comes only from God. Both are unrelenting, and both define every moment of our life. Every atom in our bodies is infected by the disease of sin, but every atom may likewise be covered by the grace of God. The vilest offender can reap the deepest joys of heaven. The only requirement comes in two supreme realizations: first, that we are totally contaminated; second, that we are totally forgiven only through the love and grace and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ." (p. 33)
#498 grace: apart from works, accepted by faith, available to all who believe, attained by justification, awarded freely, acquired through redemption, accomplished through propitiation
#499 revisiting again the parable of two lost sons... and their amazing father
#500 the spotlight of the Holy Spirit that shows my need for confession and repentence
This gratitude list all comes from a book I'm currently reading, well-known truths ...of which it never hurts to be reminded... of which I often need to be reminded. I'm only four chapters in, am reading it slowly, prayerfully and have been so richly blessed... Captured by Grace, by David Jeremiah.
holy experience

14 October 2010

"Radio" Silence - for a few days

Just want to let y'all know that we aren't dropping off the face of the earth or anything. We've been having serious Internet issues and until they are resolved, our posting frequency will decrease significantly. We'd appreciate prayers concerning our sketchy and unreliable Internet service, because much of our communication depends on it.

Thanks... and hope to be back on-line soon!

12 October 2010

THIRD Place!!

Tim's and Brendan's team lost their next game...
but they lost to the team that ended up winning the social division.

I think that fact and that they were undefeated otherwise means they ended up in third place for the tournament. It was a scorchingly hot, but wonderful weekend!

Great job, RAGING SUNS... 
and just look at how they rage! 


Related Posts with Thumbnails