31 January 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts

An abbreviated list this week ~ internet inconsistencies, but forever grateful

#760 Internet... Finally. Working. Again... or at least fast enough to be useful!

#761 user-friendly computer programs for the less tech savvy like myself

#762 get-togethers with lots of friends, fun and laughter

#763 forgiveness offered, apologies accepted

#764 evaporative coolers for 100'+ afternoons (and yes, this is still, hypothetically, "cool" season)

#765 pictures of snowy, winter scenes that friends are happy to share with us

#766 finding speech and language help for my little guy... here in Niger

#767 baby bed head, sleepy eyes and stumbling feet out to the kitchen table in the morning, looking for "butternjelly"

#768 puppies learning to sit and wait nicely for their food

#769 pizza pockets for breakfast

#770 raspberry, blackberry and strawberry tissane

#771 breakfast with our birthday girl and her daddy

#772 heirlooms passed to the next generation

#773 hearing about a new friend

#774 obstacle course competitions out by the Stade

#775 meditating on Psalm 23... trying to memorize it in Zarma... looking forward to ladies' Bible study this Saturday

"Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic"
- John Henry Jowett

29 January 2011

Hooo Dun It?

Oh no! A body! Some poor... and beautiful... young woman has had the life cruelly snuffed out of her!
Who could have done the dastardly deed?

Was it the butler? He looks like a shady character...

Or what about Mr. Green - have you ever seen a "man" with such evil eyes?
And then there is Mrs. Peacock - is she pulling the wool over everyone's eyes with her sweet, innocent appearance?

Last week, Anna and Nadia were invited to our friends (we were actually in language at the same time, so our girls are quite literally growing up together - well, except when we are on home assignment years) for a birthday party - and they played "Clue" - the LIFESIZE version! What a blast! Our girlies are STILL talking about it.

Believe it or not, it was Mrs. Peacock!
(at least in one of the episodes...)
She CLAIMS it was a genuine accident.
Do YOU believe her?

Why don't I ever come up with amazing birthday party ideas like that?!!!

28 January 2011

Cameleons REALLY are Cool!

Hope you enjoy this repost from the archives!
(And please don't remind me how much Rebekah has grown up since this video... these photos... Yikes!)

These photos and the video were taken early in the summer... the baby chameleons that hatched in our garden earlier in the spring.
Rebekah found one of them before we left for church Sunday morning. Look how it has grown!
This last photo was one Rebekah took of her "pet."

~original posting was September 16, 2008~

27 January 2011


We may come near, then,
with freedom
to the throne of the grace,
that we may receive kindness, and find grace
-- for seasonable help.

Hebrews 4:16
Young's Literal Translation

"...to me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Therefore I ask you not to lose heart... "

Ephesians 3:8-13
Young's Literal Translation

Many moons ago, when I headed off to college, I wanted to be a doctor... a neonatologist, in fact. I also figured someday I'd be a wife and mother.

It didn't take me too long (about 2 semesters) to realize that with my personality, I would never be able to do those two things together well (my husband loves to remind me- I'm too "driven," and easily consumed by whatever is the current driving force). I promptly changed my plan. Instead of declaring a pre-med major, my decision morphed me into the College of Education, specifically the field of special education. I did probably pray about it, but it wasn't one of those agonizing choices and so I can't say that I was following any clear or specific leading from the Lord. In hindsight, however, I can see evidence of His shepherding throughout that time.
It was about 35 seconds into my first class before I realized that a key word in the field of special education was "access." Equal access to a "free and appropriate education" meant that certain students needed specific accommodations - some quite basic and simple, others quite extensive and involved - so that they could have the same opportunity to learn and benefit from school and instruction that other students had. When explaining this concept, I like to use the following illustration: A child in a wheelchair is not going to have access to any of the classes on the second floor of his school building without a ramp, an elevator... someone or something to move him and his wheelchair from the first to the second floor of the building. Once there, he can probably navigate to his classes himself without much further assistance, but without that accommodation, not only would he have little hope of succeeding in those 2nd floor classes, but the material taught in those classes is not readily available to him. 

It really isn't any different for other children with other types of disabilities or learning challenges. Students' learning barriers vary - they may have physical, learning, emotional or behavioral disabilities which, unaddressed and without accommodation, make academic progress difficult and school success nearly impossible. People often feel that making identified-as-necessary accommodations isn't fair - that somehow the presence of that aid gives them an advantage over other students or somehow waters down the material that they are required to learn. That makes about as much sense as saying it is unfair to allow a paraplegic to use his wheelchair. Accommodations do neither. They do not change what the student is expected to learn - they simply help put the student into a position where he has access to learn... or he has access to demonstrate his achievement. Thus material is presented orally or tactilely for a student who struggles to learn via visual stimuli. Additional time or less work when mastery can be demonstrated in fewer tasks can be a life-saver to those students who process information well as long as it is given to them in smaller, shorter chunks. It truly means individualizing learning goals and objectives, tailoring them to the specific needs of each student.
My kids seem to find any and everything about computers and little techie devices intuitive and automatic. Last winter, Rebekah had to read a Jules Verne novel for her English class - since we were in the States and French work is hard to come by on those home assignment years, I persuaded her teacher to let her read the novel in the original French... as long as she wrote her report in English! I downloaded several novels onto my Kindle, she picked one and began reading. One night, about 5 minutes after she'd collected the device and sat down to read, she hollers to me, "Mama, did you know you could check your email with your Kindle?"
No! I had no idea and would have NEVER just started pushing buttons without a set of directions in front of me telling me each step to take. I don't tend to mess around with my computer... exploring without a specific goal in mind (or an instruction booklet in front of me) or with really no idea what I might find. I understand that some of the difference between my girl and I that is learning styles and personality, but in general, I. DON"T. FIND. computers and techie devices user-friendly. I look at all the wires and all the alternatives and immediately am overwhelmed intimidated. I NEED all those help screens, direction booklets and tutoring sessions from my husband or my kids to help me make sense of all the buttons, to figure out the point of the game or to learn the tricks of navigating through a particular program. Those particular accommodations give me access to the power and potential in these often frustrating but wonderful tools that are such a key part of western life in this day and age. Otherwise, because I don't find electronic equipment user-friendly, I'd probably just give up and move on to something at which I could do well innately and spontaneously... and that inability to use computers, for example, would leave me very communication-challenged as email is our lifeline here in W. Africa.

 I've been thinking about that a lot lately... education, school, is just not user-friendly for some students. Is it any wonder they end up giving up or just putting in their time to graduation? Teachers, with all of our good intentions, can kill any seed that might eventually sprout and finally blossom into a love of life-long learning when we refuse to learn how to use accommodations that actually allow students to access not only the material presented, but the process of learning that should be occurring in our classrooms. 

Mulling over that truth brought to mind the passages in Hebrews and Ephesians highlighted earlier...
  • not just the joyful truth and reality that I can run boldly, freely and confidently into the presence of the Almighty One at any moment - an amazing "user-friendly" access that I have ONLY because Jesus made the ultimate accommodation, one that "inconvenienced" and challenged Him drastically.
  • but also this: as a teacher, one way I can allow my students (and their parents) to see Jesus (working gently in and through me) finding and using accommodations to better give each one access to a conducive, "user-friendly" learning environment, whether he or she has an "Individualized Education Plan" or not.


25 January 2011

What I'm humming and singing throughout the day these days...

...this modern day hymn!
I think it would fit perfectly at any missions conference...
I just LOVE the message in these words and now,
Tim is trying to learn the chords so he can play it on his guitar!
Nothing sweeter than listening to my little girls singing and humming this throughout the day, either!


By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation's grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God's own hand
A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight
(Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend) 

This amazing sunrise photo taken by Dick Stewart, Captured Memories Photography

12 years old today... but who's counting!

Is it just me? I absolutely adore this photo!!!
And I need to give credit where credit is due... Anna snapped this one!


Can't wait to celebrate in a few days...
lemon filled, powdered sugar donuts...
 here we come!

23 January 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ "What in the world is an onus?"

[Latin — more at onerous]
a : burden
b : a disagreeable necessity : obligation
c : blame
d : stigma

[New Latin onus (probandi), literally, burden of proving]
: burden of proof

blot, brand, burden, stain, slur, smirch, smudge, spot, stigma, taint

So, well... I can't exactly say I didn't know what an onus was - I knew burden was a synonym, but couldn't give you a dictionary definition; however, it was definitely one of those words that I understood quite well in context. Out of curiosity, I looked up the etymology of the word... I had no idea it was in the same family as "onerous~" hmmmmm... that it contained such negative connotations... but I'm "stream-of-conscious-ing," now.

I started wondering because of a statement by well-known athiest, Richard Dawkins, mentioned towards the very end of Mark Mittelberg's book, The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask (with answers). Dawkins claims that the onus to explain Christian beliefs falls squarely on the shoulder of Christians. Sadly, instead of Jesus followers excited at this God-given occasion to share God's life-changing message with those who have questions or who don't believe, many Christians run from these encounters because it is to them an onus - a burden, a disagreeable necessity, an obligation. That is the very purpose of this book: to excite and encourage believers about this opportunit,y equiping them with information and then strategies for how to take hard questions and move from a defensive burden of proof stance to a compelling presentation of God's plan of salvation. After all, to quote one of my absolute favorite books, "...sometimes when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen."

Mittleberg is careful to make the point several times throughout the book  that we need not be afraid of seekers asking questions... that means things are happening and the Holy Spirit is working. Always being prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us is a biblical command, not something to avoid. So he tackles the perceived most difficult questions, as determined by The Barna Group in a national poll:
  • Why are Christians so judgemental?
  • Why trust the Bible? It's full of myths?
  • How could a good God allow so much suffering?
  • What makes you so sure God even exists?
  • Why do you condemn homosexuals?
  • Sure, Jesus was a good man. Why make him into the Son of God, too?
  • Why should I believe heaven and hell exist?
  • Christians are hypocrites - so why should I listen to you?
  • Why are Christians so obsessed with abortion?
  • Didn't evolution put God out of a job?
I appreciated Mittleberg's grace filled approach to talking with questionners, his ever-present focus on revealing Christ as the ONLY Way, Truth and Life and especially the fact that he doesn't shy away from the fact of naming sin as sin. The following two paragraphs I found very representative of the tone of the entire book:
   "...don't focus on trying to reform people from the outside in, but rather on sharing the life-changing gospel, which reforms us all from the inside out. People usually come to Christ by responding to the general message of God's love and Jesus' payment for their sins on the cross - then the Holy Spirit begins to indwell them, applying the teachings of the Bible and guiding them into his fuller truth and a lifestyle marked by purity. All of us must 'come to Christ as we are' - often with mistaken ideas and messed-up morals. But that's what grace is for! That's what the sanctification process is designed to deal with. What God looks for is a humble, contrite heart from a person who is willing to be made new."
   "We must not ignore or excuse sin. Equally, we must keep it in the right perspective - whatever it is, whether of a sexual nature or something else - knowing that 'when we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners' (Rom. 5:6). He 'justifies the widked' (Rom. 4:5, NIV), not the people who think they're all right without him. His specialty is dealing with rebels like us in order to root out the moral decay in our lives and to conform us to the image of Christ."
I highly recommend Questions... to all. With a focus on preparation, proximity and especially prayer as keys to sharing this message, Mittleberg emphasises that all efforts to communicate God's message to others are ultimately dependent on Him. Even if most of the information is already well-known to you, it is encouraging and challenging to see how gently moving from defense to offense gives amazing opportunity to openly share God's Word and His plan and then watch as the Holy Spirit acts in the lives of friends, seekers, and questionners. This book is sure to challenge any follower of Jesus as well.

I'd like to continue my gratitude journal this week with thankful thoughts based on ideas from this book that are presently encouraging and challenging me...

#740 God will be found by those who are truly seeking Him

#741 He makes no mistakes and hard things are good things designed to drive men to Him

#742 He makes no mistakes and hard things are good things designed to drive ME to Him

#743 I don't have to change on my own before I come to God to change me, or as I heard a comedian once say, "you don't have to get cleaned up to take a bath..."

#744 challenging reads

#745 God speaking in so many different love languages

#746 that no matter how many explanations we find, faith always involves a leap and a free fall

#747 and that free fall of faith always lands in the arms of the Savior

#748 truths seen in molecular genetics

#749 the complexities and fine balance seen in the force of gravity

#750 love draws  people... think of the proverb, "more flies are drawn to a drop of honey than a barrel of vinegar"

#751 in presenting God's truth, we don't have to destroy or insult others' deeply held beliefs... God's truth speaks powerfully for itself through the conviction of the Holy Spirit

#751 this quote: "Astronomer Robert Jastrow wrestled with the idea that time and space had a beginning - a truth taught in Genesis and accepted by Jews and Christians long before the scientific community came to the same conclusion in recent decades. He writes, 'For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians whohave been sitting there for centuries.'"

#752 the historical undeniability of an "explosion of devotion" to Jesus Christ

#753 God's forgiveness when I struggle to live up to my own ideals

#754 Biblical truth is not to be used as a weapon or to build a wall; rather truth should be used to winsomely woo this world to a Savior who "delights in turning all kinds of sinners into beloved sons and daughters"

#755 sanctity of all human life as a gift from God

#756 His suffering that now gives me access to the very throne room of God, to approach and kneel before His feet

#757 that moment when the Holy Spirit speaks and a portion of God's Word becomes alive, real, relevant and life-altering

#758 wrestling with hard questions, just as Jacob wrestled with God... and limps and scars I carry as reminders...

#759 eternity set in the hearts of men


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale 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.”

22 January 2011

What does it mean to be racist?

You can't live and work in sub-Sahara Africa without running across this topic. Last year, while reading  Half the Sky, a medical worker in a rural hospital interviewed matter-of-factly reported that they don't test/screen blood for HIV before giving trransfusions... they only give transfusions if it is necessary to save the patient's life... and so even if the blood is tainted, at least the patient's life will be prolonged some years instead of immediate death... and I didn't know how to respond or what to think. But it has been one of those things that has stayed with me as I continue to think about that reality, especially for those living all across this continent and trapped in poverty.

Just this morning, I picked up another book discussing AIDS in Africa... its purpose is awareness, a goal of helping the rest of the world to see the very human face of this epidemic disease, to help mobilize a greater response from Europe and the West...

The author's own words:
"...When I talk to people at home about the pandemic, I get the sense that they feel a dying African is somehow different from a dying Canadian, American or German -- that Africans have lower expectations or place less value on their [own] lives. That to be an orphaned fifteen-year-old thrust into caring for four bewildered siblings, or a teacher thrown out of her house after she tells her husband she is infected -- that somehow this would be less terrifying or strange for aperson in Zambia or Mozambique than it would be for someone in the United States or Britian." Stephanie Nolen, p. 28 of 28 stories of AIDS in Africa

Could that be me? Could my words and actions... could my lack of words or lack of action... show my own racism and prejudice?  Do I demonstrate the belief that someone who is different than me can't understand the depth of my feeling because he or she different? Or that distance and the problems of a people an ocean away are less pressing because they don't touch me?

And can that line of thought begin to line up with Bible teachings such as:
  • we are all sinners in need of a Savior,
  • Christ died for each soul who has lived, lives, will ever live on this earth,
  • God is impartial
  • His Son understands the deepest cries of each human heart because He wore the cloak of humanity and has experienced the extremes of all that could touch us,
  • whatsoever I do unto the "least of these-" it is as if I have done that to/for my Lord Himself.

21 January 2011

Our January 2011 Prayer Letter

January 17, 2011
"…that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience…” (Col 1.9-11)

Four year olds are incredible! Their capacity to grasp spiritual truth surpasses that of many studied theology students – and they still have the innocence to share their new-found understanding is plain, simple, and straightforward language. Elsie Mae, our present resident four year old is awakening to all things spiritual, loves hearing Bible stories, talking and asking questions about Jesus and delights in praying, stopping many times throughout each morning to ask if she can talk to Jesus. One of her prayers earlier this week touched our hearts:

 “ Jesus, you came and died to save us from all the bad guys. Bad guys are people that sin and do bad things. Me sin sometimes, so that makes me a bad guy sometimes…
...Jesus, you help save me from me? ”

God really spoke… continues to speak… through the prayer of our sweet little girl. We really do need the Lord to help save us from ourselves, for often that is the harder enemy to battle. When we fight that which attacks from the outside, the enemy is clear. But when the enemy strikes from within, there is no victory success some loss or even self injury. When we war against our own flesh, sinful nature, and worldly desires, we want that part to lose… mostly, but it is often a choice and it usually involves some discomfort and/or pain. Most importantly, it is not a battle we can fight alone – just as Elsie Mae expressed, we need Jesus to lead us through, strengthen us in those battles as we learn to die to self so that we can follow Him, walking worthily, pleasing Him in all respects.

Beginning the foundation for the new office - right next to the studio!
It seems like so much has happened since our last letter just a few weeks ago. We’ve sold our office property and begun more construction on the studio property – Lord willing, this summer we will have a new office adjacent to the studio and two homes – one for us and one for our regional coordinator. 

And in the photo below, workers are beginning to level the ground for the foundation of our house! It is exciting to watch the work progress and we make daily trips by the property to see what is going on!

We also finally found a buyer for our last property holding in another city; Tim has been very busy finalizing details from these two sales.

We were privileged to participate in the spiritual life conference of a sister mission organization and thoroughly enjoyed the encouragement and challenge from God’s Word as well as the opportunity to meet and fellowship with other missionaries who live and work throughout our adopted homeland. We particularly enjoyed hearing this testimony, also posted on both our web site and our blog.

The kids and Richelle have all started back to school – it is hard to believe the school year is already half done. So, evenings are once again filled with homework and earlier bed times, much to their chagrin and disappointment.

We are looking forward to several upcoming visits:
·         The end of February begins our annual Tri-M and IBBS Spring modules. They will be taking place in the big recording studio because the new office won’t yet be ready for use. That means Tim and Richelle have some work to do over the next few weeks to make sure the studio is ready.
·         We also have a couple coming out from our home church, Calvary Baptist of Midland, to help with the audio wiring of the studio addition… and we’ll be getting ready for a grand opening celebration!
·         Super exciting to us… Tim’s dad, Grandpa Gene, is making plans to travel out the end of February with this couple. WE CAN’T WAIT! The kids are already praying for safety when he travels and that all the details work out for him to really be able to come hang out with our family for awhile.
·         We’ve been contacted by a pastor from another supporting church – he and his wife hope to come see the work here sometime in 2011.
·         We are hoping and praying to get a team out from our church to help teach an acting workshop to voice actors who help and minister through the studio and who are also wanting to transition from improvisational acting to scripted acting for video. These folks really have a vision for using audio visual tools to minister through evangelism and discipleship.
·         Our niece has begun the application process to spend the 2011-2012 school year here, ministering with us at Sahel Academy, in our church and Lord-willing, at a local orphanage.

Also upcoming – Tim is scheduled to begin the post dubbing work on an evangelistic film, and translators are already a little behind schedule. Please pray that this project moves forward. God continues to grow a hunger for His Word in the ladies’ Bible study group – the group is praying about several ideas: meeting as a Sunday School class, doing Zarma literacy, and discipling one of the ladies to begin preparing and teaching her own Bible studies. We are thankful that our colleague, Sarah Beckley, has begun teaching this great group of women, also one Saturday each month! Additionally, Richelle has much paperwork to complete for her work at Sahel Academy. We appreciate your prayers for 1) protection from distraction and 2) diligence in each of these areas.

We also want to thank all of you who have contacted us - emails, Facebook, blog comments, letters and cards… or who have called to express your sympathy and prayers for our family as we both grieve and celebrate the home going of Tim’s mother, Betty Wright. We sincerely appreciate your love, concern and many words of encouragement. It is so hard to be so far away when our hearts long to be with our family – but we can certainly attest to God’s faithfulness and strengthening, particularly as expressed through the love and care of His followers.

One final note: many of you may have seen news reports (search Niger on BBC, Reuters) the past few weeks detailing and discussing dramatic events here in our city.  We continue to feel safe, but we do appreciate your prayers for wisdom, discernment and safety during this time of heightened tensions and some uncertainty.

All because of Jesus,
Tim, Richelle,
Brendan, Rebekah Joy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle Wright

20 January 2011

Since we're on the subject of mail this week...

Tim came home from the post office the other day with a really, really interesting story...

He had stopped by the post office - to try and mail a letter for Brendan and to pick up mail for the mission and our EBM missionaries (one of the many little tasks that often falls as his responsibility).

He walked up to the window and asked the lady if he could purchase stamps to mail a letter to the United States...

"I'm sorry, you cannot mail a letter to the United States through the Niger Post any more," she responded.

"I'm sorry," he replied, not believing what he'd just heard. "Can you repeat that, Madame? I can't believe that I heard you correctly."

"I said that I cannot sell you stamps to mail a letter to the United States," she repeated once again.

"You mean," Tim continued, totally shocked at how a relatively simple task had suddenly become quite complicated. "You mean that I cannot purchase a stamp to place on this envelope to then be mailed from Niger to the USA?"

"That is exactly what I mean," said the lady with a bit of a grin. "If you need to mail a letter to the States, you will need to use DHL or Chronopost." (which would only cost about $90)

"Can you tell me why and when this changed?" Tim asked. "Or, is their a supervisor nearby to whom I can speak?"

"Well, it is a recent change, but I'm not sure why. I'm not sure about a supervisor either. I'm really sorry, but I can't help you today. Have a good afternoon and evening," and the lady dismissed him so that she could moe on to her next customer.

As he was walking out of the building, a bit befuddled by this turn of events, he noticed an official looking lady in an office and popped his head in to ask her if she could explain why it was no longer permissable to mail letters from Niger to the United States.

"I'd be happy to explain," she said. "Just before Christmas, the US Post began rejecting all mail we sent. Apparently in the last bag they accepted, someone had mailed Tabaski meat to friends and/or family, and now Niger is on the 'bad' list with the US Postal Service." 
Um... ok... hopefully, the USPS changes its mind soon... or all of our friends just dying to receive a real letter with a real Niger stamp will be disappointed...

...but at least we had a good laugh.

19 January 2011

Sorta (but not really) Wordless Wednesday

~  Sometimes there's just nothing like a real, handwritten, bit of home
when you need a bit of encouragement.

18 January 2011

Really Junky Junk Mail

While we first came home on furlough... wow... over 1 1/2 years and what seems like a lifetime of experiences ago... we had a nasty little "housing" problem that sent me looking for a solution... and I stepped into one of the new chain "houseware" stores (is that what you call one of those stores where you can buy just about anything imaginable and then some for your kitchen, for your bathroom, for your windows, for your bedroom...???) for the first time ever.

I found the solution for our problem and a few other items I needed (I'd left mine stored in an action packer halfway around the world and they weren't to be found in the mission house where we were living). Impressed by the size of the store and variety of items within Relieved to have found what I needed, I then promptly caved to the gal at the register giving her sales pitch encouraging me to sign up for "regular, but not inundating, emails promoting sales, deals and often including coupons." I wrote down our email address, checked the box for text only emails, and within a few days, our inbox was regularly stuffed with electronic fliers promoting sales, deals and the occasional coupon.

For the most part, I ignored the emails unless something in the subject line caught my eye - deleting them as quickly as they arrived. It became a bit more complicated last summer when we returned to the slower pace of West African life... particularly crawling internet on top of frequent power outages and telephone lines that cut in and out as the wind blows which easily interrupt internet service - and those emails served absolutely no purpose (except maybe an envious longing for what was no longer available) as the nearest location of that particular retail store was at least a few thousand miles distant.

I finally decided to "unsubscribe." I've actually done so at least 4 or 5 times. Unfortunately, I'm still receiving advertisements and promotions although the frequency is slowly decreasing.

Then an advertisement arrived this morning. This time, however, the subject line literally screamed at me - not because it enticed me to see what they were offering, but because it promotes a message I abhor, a trap I've tripped over most of my life, something I'm hoping and praying my children don't, won't ever want to, buy into...

The message found in that subject line?

"Wouldn't you rather that people talked about your OUTER beauty, too?"
(their emphasis, not mine)


was my immediate response.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised." -Prov. 31:30

A few years back, Grandma and Grandpa Wright gave the kids a bunch of books and corresponding cassette tapes with catchy little songs, many based off the truths in the book of Proverbs. One of their favorites went something like this: 

Man looks on the outside. God looks on the heart.
People want us beautiful but God wants us smart!
You can wear those fancy hairstyles, be as gorgeous as can be.
But that's not what counts with God!
It's wisdom He wants to see.
Man looks on the outside. God looks on the heart.
People want us beautiful but God wants us smart!

Unfortunately, termites ate up the books and the cassette tapes, or I'd type out the entire lyrics... and they'd still be playing them, writing those truths in their hearts. For several years, I have loved listening to the kids singing biblical principles in songs like that! So when this subject line popped up in Outlook this morning, I was not only frustrated that I was still receiving notifications... I was also greatly disturbed by the message, its insidious pervasiveness as well as its insistent influence.

With ~ 
  • 6 girls growing up in this home,
  • the almost exclusive emphasis the world places on physical attractiveness, desirability and beauty for selfish goals and purposes, 
  • and the challenge it is to not only talk the truth but also walk the truth - that real beauty comes from God's Spirit within and it is forever lasting, infinitely more striking, and most importantly, more pleasing to God than surface, outward beauty,
...I really don't need extra sources promoting this train of thought, for trying to get our children to believe a message that is so counter-cultural (both in the States and in Niger)... when the opposite is so totally integrated into almost every aspect of our lives... seems well-nigh impossible! Our girls-becoming-young-woman do notice that so many (especially those boys in whom they claim they aren't interested) pay attention to the outward and seemingly neglect the inward. These girls see that often facebook praise for a new hairdo overwhelms Mom's and Dad's response to faithful help offered and household chores completed with a sweet and gentle spirit. Sporting a new dress receives numerous "Ohs!!!!" and "Ahs!!!!" followed by all sorts of compliments and questions about the tailor while teaching Sunday School results in sweaty clothes, a headache and sore throat from singing songs for 45 minutes when the sermon continues longer than what they'd prepared.

And more often than I care to admit, those girls see me spending more time fussing with my own hair, make-up and head scarf while barking orders at them to get ready or pick things up... or not so gently brushing and fixing their hair... and NOT quietly preparing my heart for the upcoming church service or sweetly serving my family as we get ready to begin a new day.

What do you do to gently live and teach this truth to your children?

How do you not only talk but walk this truth in your daily life?

Luann comic strip "Shiny on the Outside" by  Greg Evans.

17 January 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts: A paradox? Really?

A lie that locks up and leads to so much loss... such clever confusion... this idea that God's amazing love...

...that His gentle grace once accepted and then by His grace, shared abundantly with others...

...cannot include, does not insist upon, a radical and relentless race after holiness...

...a joyful, willing separation from anything that displeases Him or diminishes His honor and glory in the eyes of this watching world.

God's holiness and grace complete each other. His holiness - His absolute apartness and differentness from all that complies with human logic and sense - makes His bewildering grace  almost seem a foregone conclusion. His grace then compels me to joyfully grow in personal holiness, to pray for and gently encourage a worthy walk in others while never losing sight of the One Who is Holiness and Grace.

There it is... that word gentle... yet once again...

This week's gratitude list ~

#715 seeing that the passionate pursuit of and hope for holiness must mesh inextricably with gratitude for grace... they can be neither exluded nor ignored, otherwise we lose ourselves in the extremes of license and legalism

#716 seeing for the very first time how the books of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians all dovetail so beautifully together

#717 Paul's prayer becoming my heart's cry, for myself and for those I love ~ "that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

#718 hiding the book of Colossians in my heart

#719 seeing in #716 a very human side to Paul, a side with which I can identify: when God was teaching or impressing something on his heart, it spilled over into many aspects of his life... and bubbled out into his letters and communications with the people he loved

#720 Friday night praise and worship with some really fun folks

#721 seeing humor where we could choose to find none

#722 that moment of realization where I saw God had responded to my fear, provoked a change and opened our eyes thus answering a cry of my heart with a tiny glimpse of His hand... He didn't have to, by His grace I was already choosing to trust and wait... nothing changed except the flooding within of peace like a river

#723 omelettes, capuccino, hot chocolate, thé au lait conversation and laughter Saturday morning with my sweet, funny girl and my lovely friend

#724 softball at the Rec

#725 puppies with corresponding pink and blue collar & leash sets

#726 teens teaching those toddler pups to behave

#727 cheering children as I declared a dusting ban until the harmattan "Sahara blizzards" let off a little bit... no point in maintaining that exercise in futility!

#728 hilarious stories about mail coming to the States from majority world countries ~ even when the consequences make life a little inconvenient

#729 coffee with vanilla caramel creamer and corn flakes for breakfast

#730 toddler voice singing "Baby Mine" to her baby doll

#731 ground broken... anticipation...

#732 friends from our church coming to help in not too many weeks

#733 Grandpa's coming, too!!!!!

#734 my friend Amina who almost always makes me laugh, wants to fight me for my brand-new-just-given-to-me-from-another-friend-clothes, who (though I'm not sure she realizes it) is discipling my two oldest, who loves my tribe and loves to tease and play with them

#735 that the ladies' Bible study group is growing hungrier to study God's Word together

#736 testimonies like this one... sometimes they are the knot at the end of the rope those days and weeks when we are just hanging on

#737 reconnecting with old friends, finding that Jesus is their first love, too

#738 fingernails, for the first time ever... since my wedding (even tho' it is making typing a bit more of a challenge, m&m loves the back scratches and begs for them!)

#739 seeing his hunger to learn... to read... and to snuggle during the English Evening service



Related Posts with Thumbnails