30 November 2010

A Girl and her Grandpa

I'd forgotten about these pictures.

I glanced out the window, wondering where our then almost-4-year-old had disappeared to... and spied Elsie Mae and her grandfather... up to something. What? I wasn't sure, but I decided to investigate.

So I snuck out... I don't think Grandpa ever realized I was there.

Elsie Mae did! They were enjoying listening to Grandpa's ipod... together...
(probably Chet Atkins or Susan Boyle)

I love these photos.

And it seems appropriate to share them now, as we are spending so much time of each day praying for Grandpa Gene and Grandma Betty... We know God is and will continue taking care of them.

Lord willing, Tim will be back home with us tonight... 

sometimes we wish we could be there to help...
or just to give and get a hug.

Brendan, Rebekah, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle would like to ask everyone to please keep praying for their Grandma Betty and Grandpa Gene.

Thank you, in advance,
for your prayers.

29 November 2010

Multitude Monday ~ 1000 Gifts: Thanksgiving Retrospection

We tend to forget
that happiness doesn't come
as a result of getting something we don't have,
but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have.

~ Fredrick Keonig ~

# 584 three gorgeous middler girls who peeled 16 pounds of potatoes with sweet attitudes so their mama didn't have to

#585 bandaids to cover resulting sore spots on those sweet little hands

#586 friends ~ the blessing of an abundance

#587 my dear friend who's been the best big sister for the last several years... something (since I was the big sister) I've wished for as long as I can remember

#588 clean floors

#589 falling asleep before 10 o'clock

#590 my favorite skirt, just perfect for autumn weather and Thanksgiving holidays

#591 the color green

#592 anticipating reunions

#593 skyping with friends and family, hearing their voices, their laughs... seeing their smiles, their tears, their love...

#594 hugs from teens who haven't grown too big to let their mama hold them still

#595 watching, hearing ~ boys becoming teen young men laugh as we read The Great Turkey Walk

#596 our littlest turning 2 - her stubborness, her giggles, her exploding vocabulary, her cuddles and snuggles, her amazing from birth and still uncontrollable hair

#597 pumpkin trifle from scratch... and with a little help that came in a care package from Michigan

#598 rice to rescue cell phones that have been inadvertently bathed

#599 new tires, and those who helped get them for us

#600 realizing that in the past few months, I've listed 600 things for which I'm thankful... and also realizing that I haven't even scratched the surface...

#601 seeing the words "Gotta say 'Bye.' My plane is boarding in about 10 minutes..." pop up on that computer screen. I so dislike goodbyes ~ but that one means my favorite hello is about en route...

27 November 2010

loving our new T. R. A. D. I. T. I. O. N. !!!

...and this is one we've decided we really like.

The last Saturday of the month, I get up early and start the donut making process for the gang. After having done plain old glazed several times, I decided to try something new: Boston Creme Donuts (the only part of this recipe that I used, however, was the creme filling).

The verdict?
You tell me what you think...
based on these pictures...

26 November 2010

It's Friday and Tim is scheduled to come home in just a few days...

Please continue to keep Tim, his parents and our family in your prayers. His mom was hospitalized again on Wednesday. Several organ systems are failing and she has a couple of infections.

Pray for wisdom for her doctors and family as they make decisions. Pray for grace and healing for her. Pray for strength and patience for all of us... and that our hearts remain grateful to God for the abundant grace He is showering upon us.

Thanks for your faithfulness as you intercede for our family.

25 November 2010

Mulling... Thoughts and Contrived Cider this Thanksgiving Day

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."
W.J. Cameron

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”
Edward Sandford Martin
"Some people complain because God put thorns on roses,
while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns."


Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.
William Faulkner

“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
 For health and food, for love and friends,
For EVERYTHING Thy goodness sends.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

23 November 2010

Multitude (oops) Tuesday - 1000 Gifts - Thankful His tireless grace never blows out...

Missed posting yesterday: one of the tires on the Land Cruiser blew apart... So I spent any free time I did have finding a spare that was at least partially reliable, talking to tire repair people and then waiting for them to change the tires around again... all with most or all of my gang + a few extras sitting in the car.

It was frustrating because all of THOSE certainly weren't events listed in my dayplanner for the 22nd of November, 2010. But at the same time, God's hand was so very evident, in so many ways... and I'm thankful for the things He is teaching me about gently accepting the hard moments, because they are gifts from Him just as much as the moments we typically deem delightful.

#571 the tire didn't blow until I was right in front of the girls' school... I'd already picked Jonathan up (and that is important here because if you dally beyond the pick up time, you could very well find your children sitting outside a locked school yard, unsupervised, right along a very busy road, regardless of the child's age)

#572 the tire didn't blow as I was traveling at a good clip in the middle of heavy, crazy, developing world traffic patterns (or lack thereof) :-) ... or in the middle of the only bridge with a resulting traffic jam on both sides of the river (how embarrassing)

#573 the tire actually blew right as I just began to move again after having dropped Nadia off and sent her into the school yard to find her sisters, so it wasn't too dramatic

#574 there was a little tire shack not 200 yards down the road from where the tire fell apart

#575 the two young men at that tire shack changed my tire for me, and it only cost me $4

#576 right next to the tire shack was another boutique and I was able to buy credits for my cell phone, without having to drag all the kids on foot down the road with me

#577 missionary colleagues were able to loan me a safer spare tire than what we had... and then took the Land Cruiser today to replace all the tires while loaning me the mission vehicle

#578 every time I stopped at one of those tire shacks (4 stops in one day is more than normal)

#579 patient, mostly happy kids, even though they were stuck sitting in a car for over an hour in nearly 100' weather

#580 I'd packed a lunch for the kids - instead of planning on picking something up or making it once we got to the other school (where I'm working), so they were able to eat while waiting

An uncomfortable, generally unpleasant, time consuming and unplanned for episode... and yet I see God graciousness and provision. He was taking such good care of me and my littles... all of that time...

P.S... and just for fun: a few more additions, from today:

#582 laughter shared with a friend as the very next day, just after we started our grocery shopping, my shoe blew apart... oh the irony!

#583 the fact that you can get away with shopping barefoot in this country, even if people look at you strangely and one of the store owners laugh because it is the first time he'd seen Mary Michelle with shoes... and her mama wasn't wearing any. =D

holy experience

22 November 2010

Multitude Monday ~ 1000 Gifts

"Our Father, let the spirit of gratitude
so prevail in our hearts
that we may manifest thy Spirit in our lives."
W.B. Slack

Still counting reasons to be thankful...
So many filled even a long day filled with unexpected twists and surprises...
Still counting...
but the day is past and I'm tired, so I'll have to try and catch up tomorrow
with today's story.

20 November 2010

A Few Quick Glimpses of Field Day

GO Anna!

Three of my girls
 (Nadia didn't feel well, and did not end up staying for the whole competition. She's feeling just fine, now!)

Tori cheering

Teams parading across the field
Can you find Rebekah?

Bren racing

Jon-man and his buddies

~ More pics to come, as soon as I get them off the camera ~

All photos taken (and posted on FB) by Hope Johansson.

~ Revisiting an old, still very pertinent, lesson ~ I'm still learning ~

(Edited repost from August, 2007)

I remember teaching ladies' Bible study, a few years back. I taught from the story of Job. It was so neat to see ladies who had never heard his story before - to watch their reactions and responses to some of the incredible things recounted in the book of Job. But it left me thinking much about suffering and why so many people do suffer. I believe the story of Job clearly teaches that God not only allowed Job's testing and suffering, but that He had specifically chosen Job for those difficult circumstances... [and those difficult circumstances were specifically tailored for Job] and in so doing, He demonstrated His love Job and countless others. How?
  • Throughout history, the story has encouraged many facing difficult and incomprehensible situations in their lives;
  • This account helps us to understand that suffering in our lives is not necessarily the result of chastisement nor a slip of God's attention toward us;
  • It is the testimony of a man who learns that when God ordains suffering, it is because He loves and part of His plan in suffering is to draw men closer to Himself, to make men more like Him, and when others see Him working through a particular life and changing men from the inside out, His name is glorified and renowned.
This being the case, I have needed to change my perspective some on the value of suffering in my life and in the lives of those I love. People suffer all over the world. It doesn't matter whether they are rich or poor, tall or short, intelligent or not. We can't reliably predict who will face difficult circumstances or when, but most of us face them at some point in our lives... at many points in our lives. Sometimes suffering is the consequence of our sinful actions or poor choices; but often it seems to fall on those who are, like Job, above reproach in the eyes of men. It often seems like there is neither rhyme nor reason. Then, we have the enemy who likes to take truth and subtly turn it. We know that God created a perfect world, a world which now only shadows of what God intended, because Adam and Eve chose sin. We know that suffering, sadness, tears and death are a consequence of sin, and part and parcel of living in this fallen world. But somewhere, we've fixed the idea in our heads and hearts that if God really loved us, He'd protect us from suffering... all suffering... perhaps because that is what we would choose to do for our own children.

Luke 11:11-12 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? We have a tendancy to ask God for blessings and what we see to be "good" things. We look at suffering the same way we'd look at a parent who handed us a stone instead of bread, a serpent instead of fish, or a scorpion instead of an egg. But slowly, God is teaching me that in the eternal scheme of things, suffering is nowhere near the equivalent of a stone, a serpent or a scorpion... Recently, I came across two quotes that deal precisely with this subject: "God actually gives us a great gift in suffering, because that's the closest we can come to agape-loving God, loving God without receiving the blessing we long for...." - Merry Marinello The other quote I didn't take the time to write down at the time, and I can't remember who wrote it or where I found it - so this is somewhat of a paraphrase. It has also provoked much meditation and prayer in my life during the past few weeks: "Our lives on earth will be the only opportunities we will have to worship God while in the midst of suffering and as such will be the best opportunity we have to live out our devotion. We will have an eternity to enjoy His infinite blessings."

One of the first things I remember learning about God, and one of the first things I've taught my own children is that man's chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Enmeshed within times of suffering are incredible opportunities to bring glory to His name. And one day, as we enter into His rest, we'll know that we have reached the time of enjoying Him forever. Psalm 31:7 "I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities-" In this verse, I see that David chooses to rejoice (present tense) in God's love because God already had seen and knew (past tense) ... and most definitely not because He removed affliction, immediately blessed David, or lightened the anguish he was feeling.

John 6:16-21 "When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, 'It is I; don't be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading." (NIV) Do you ever feel like you are in that boat, and you see Jesus in the process of doing something, something amazing and incredible, miraculous even - but you really aren't sure what His plans are, where He is taking you in your particular situation, and it terrifies you? Lately, I've been feeling like I'm in that boat - there are things going on that frighten me. Yet at the same time, I'm hearing those words whispered in my heart, "It is I; don't be afraid." It is not necessarily a discouraging place to be, but it is unsettling... and leaves me feeling, for lack of better words, a bit vulnerable and fragile.

 What do I notice in these few verses? First, I see that the disciples saw Jesus - they knew it was Him. They were seeing Him through the turmoil of their present situation: darkness, wind, rain, probably lightening flashing followed by loud rumblings of thunder, huge waves, the unsteady and shifting deck of their boat, a boat filled with others who were also terrified... They recognized Him - but most definitely had no clue as to what He was doing except that they'd not seen it before. They'd never experienced it, and they couldn't understand it ...thus they "terrored." What does Jesus do? He approaches and He speaks to them. He reassures them that He is, that He is in control and that they don't need to fear because He is in control and they already know Him, His love and care for them and therefore must accept His gracious gift and trust. In fact, He commands them to not be afraid.

You know what? That is really hard - to choose to not be afraid in obedience to the voice of the Lord, even when the present situation is overwhelmingly scary? It is an act of obedience that far surpasses my fleshly abilities. At that point that they are willing to bring Him into the boat with them - they decide to choose to trust Him. That word "willing" means "to determine, as an active option instead of a subjective impulse." I wonder if their impulsive response would have been to turn tail and run like mad (or row, as the case may be). I think it might have been mine. Instead, they chose to accept His entry into the boat; they "took Him up" into the boat (literally grabbed Him and pulled Him up and into the boat with them), ready to continue along His path, and the work that He was doing, regardless of how things looked, regardless of the storm.

I wonder...

If I've become comfortable with what I perceive God presently doing in my life, am I really seeing Him work at all? Or have I simply become satisfied with my own efforts to merit the His favor?

19 November 2010

Pondering Prayer

Join me over at Missionary Moms, where we are pondering prayer, specifically for our young'uns... and not so young'uns!


is Sahel Academy's Field Day at the Stade! Lots of fun, lots of competition... a great day to hang out as a family! Pray for safety... Pictures tomorrow, I hope!

I've got kids competing on three of four teams... Elsie Mae, Mary Michelle and I will be watching, cheering and trying to not get sunburnt.

Brendan, Nadia and Jonathan will be competing as Red Ketchup. (Brendan says, "Don't ask...)

Rebekah and Anna are on the Gold Eagles.

Victoria is a Blue Angel.


18 November 2010

that word

~ amazing ~

I've been thinking about that word the past 5 or 6 days:
  • watching how my kiddos are working hard and pulling together to get everything done;
  • totally shocked by the consistency of the Internet since Tim left - our sevice, this term, has never been this dependable... regular... dependably regular... regularly dependable...;
  • a community of friends on both sides of the ocean and from many nations who do all they can to encourage and support us; and
  • my amazing God and Lord, who has organized, continues to orchestrate and will forever put into order all that takes place... nothing just happens to happen!
And so, a few my favorite praise and worship songs... one that I've probably mentioned before... continues playing in my mind whether soaring... skipping... striding... ambling... slip sliding... traipsing... even mucking... my way along through each individual day. I'm reminded that my meditations and mind meanderings don't have to be centered on circumstances, pleasant or difficult... but on the One who will work all things together for His glory and my good. His amazingness totally defies my capacities of expression... And although it is fun to try, He is ~ 

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

He is beautiful beyond description,
Too marvelous for words,
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard ~

Who can grasp His infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depths of His love?
He is beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above.

And I stand, I stand in awe of You.
I stand, I stand in awe of You.
Holy God to Whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You.   

"Indescribable" by Chris Tomlin
"I Stand in Awe of You" by Hillsong
And I just loved that card... because of the French... look closely!

16 November 2010

It is Fun to FLASHBACK: Turbanned Twosome

A repost from the archives...
due to injury recived during clulinary pursuits, typing is a painfully more difficult than usual...
Hope you enjoy this glimpse from a few years back!

Who could that masked man be??


...Just in case you ever wondered what Tim looked like in a turban...

Like father, like daughter

Any guesses who this "little Tuareg" might be?
Yep! It's Tori!

Tim &Tori, our turbanned twosome!

Thanks to Grandpa Stewart for taking these pictures when he and Grandma were out to visit,
way back in January, 2007!

15 November 2010

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts

~ breathless ~
~ blown away ~
~ bowled over ~
~ a bit bewildered ~
And that is only the tip of the iceberg of trying to describe how I'm feeling. My guy left late Friday night to spend some time with his family as his mom has been quite sick the past few months. It is hard to be apart. It is hard to try and keep up with these kids without his help. It is hard when little ones miss their daddy and don't understand why he suddenly can't snuggle them. But, hard does not have to equal bad... for hard is where I'm presently seeing God's presence, the evidence of His hand, everywhere my eyes land...
#560 frequent flyer miles... business class... for the best guy ever
#561 kids who pitch in and clean, cheerfully, like there is no tomorrow - and the resulting spic and span feel throughout the house
#562 pray-ers, care-ers, heart share-ers... we are blessed with so many of those in our lives, scattered all over the world
#563 big surprise for Grandma
#564 heartfelt wishes in homemade cards made with love and through tears
#565 getting hurt... therefore recognizing a danger I hadn't considered in my brain so scattered these days and thus removing it... so my precious ones don't also get hurt
#566 skype, yahoo messenger, computer to phone texting... such a myriad of ways we can communicate in this day and age
#567 the most consistent, reliable internet we've had in weeks
#568 hamburgers for breakfast from the bakery down the road
#569 beautiful testimony from a beautiful, inside and out, gal... and her well-timed reminder that teachers don't need to be afraid of hard or even unanswerable questions... and then my continuing from there thoughts upon that as followers of Jesus, we don't need to be afraid of hard times ~ when life reaches one of those hard places
holy experience

13 November 2010

Thankful God Always Knows What He is Doing

Sometime today, Tim should be touching down in Detroit. He's gone back to the States for a few weeks to spend some time with his parents... His mom's health has been very up and down since we returned to Niger, so after consulting with family and medical professionals, he felt now would be a good time to go... spend Thanksgiving with them, and hopefully encourage them.

Mary Michelle with her grandma at a 2009 Tiger's game.

We all need...  appreciate...  and feel the power... of your prayers.

12 November 2010

~ so my friends stop buggin' me ~

whose names remain unmentioned
are insisting

 "include a photo of you!"

much easier said than done
 when you are the one usually taking the photos,
when you aren't "in" to self-photography,
you know the kind
where you stick the camera
at arm's length
in front of your face
and then
 looking expectantly to see whatever
~out of focus~ 
~ ridiculous ~
~or humiliating~
image you haphazardly
may have captured

tim snagged this photo last week when he was taking photos
of one of the mission properties that we hope to sell
he was in the process of making a flier
to distribute
to let people know about the property

I'm not sure why
but since he took this photo

to please a few friends

a photo of me
(and my colleague diane)
surrounded by a bunch of
of words

because tonight
 i'm too tired to come up with something more creative

11 November 2010

~ Something from Psalms ~

The LORD is King! He is ruling with authority.
The LORD is ruling with great power.
Also, the world will not change.
Nobody will move it any more.

You LORD have been king for a very long time.
You were alive before the world started.

The rivers rose up, LORD,
the rivers rose up and made a loud noise.
The rivers rose up as a great storm.

But the LORD rules over everyone!
He is greater than all the noise of the waters,
stronger than the sea itself.

LORD, the rules that you make will remain.
Your house will always be beautiful because you are so good.

As I was preparing for Ladies' Bible Study last week, I came across a great on-line tool. I love my KJV bible - and it is my favorite text to memorize because the language is so beautiful. When I study, I prefer my NASB, probably because that was the bible I grew up using and it is as familiar to me as my own reflection in the mirror. But sometimes I struggle finding simple but accurate words to use when I know I'm teaching a study that will be translated into two, maybe three other languages. Last week, I stumbled into the EasyEnglish Translation (© 2001-2002, Wycliffe Associates, UK) with a vocabulary of about 1200 words, and it was a wonderful tool to use.
I've been enjoying reading through portions of this translation because with the more limited word choice, I'm finding that certain ideas just leap off the page, truths that I have missed in the past because I can easily become entranced by beautiful language or my familiarity with the passage results in skimming instead of careful reading. Studying Psalm 93 a bit the past week has been one of those "aha" moments.
In the on-line notes that went along with this psalm, I found the following treasure: 
In the Hebrew Bible, "The LORD is ruling" is "The LORD is wearing." He wears his authority and His power as clothes. Everyone can see them. The word "great" in Hebrew is really "belt." Nobody can take this power and authority away from God. This is because He has fastened the belt and nobody can undo it!
A few years back, the ladies and I worked through Colossians 3:12-14... talking about how God wants us to get dressed and one of the first things the ladies mentioned was that someone's clothing is often the first thing you notice about them. If that is the case, the first thing I need to notice or remember about my God is His authority over all and His belt of dynamic, unmatched power. Recognizing my absolute weakness compared to Him is the first step to entering a right relationship with Him and to maintaining a right relationship with Him. That shouldn't be hard to remember, but self-confidence and self-sufficiency - so prized in Western culture - are only a sliver away, if even that, from arrogance and pride and setting self on the throne... and somehow I think that when I try and do that, I look infinitely more ridiculously silly as little kids dressed up in their parents' clothes because I'm messing around with clothes that are custom made for Him alone.


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