26 May 2012

Dissolved, Part II

Time passed; in the intervening months God graciously provided us with a new infrastructure. Most of our supporters did decide to stay with us and some surprising partners have generously provided since monies like future support, funds saved for education and plane tickets, etc., were all lost to us with the dissolution of our organization. Daily, our lives and ministries continue.

Yet in many ways, we are still stuck halfway across that high wire, very much in limbo. We keep things running here, waiting for the human powers that be to decide what will be… while we wait to hear all of the legal ramifications of this process back in the States, while we try and cling to the truth that God is sovereign.

I'm reading a book called The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions. One of my friends, hearing of our particular circumstances, wrote me and asked if she could get me this book. I’ve been very thankful for it as I’ve slowly worked my way through it. Today I read:

“At the beginning of the story, Abraham was asked to trust God by letting go of his past—by moving away from his people and his country. Now, near the end of his journey, Abraham is asked to trust God by letting go of his future—releasing his beloved son Isaac through whom the promised blessing is to be fulfilled.”

Please join me over at Missionary Moms this Memorial Day weekend as I share "Dissolved - Part II." If you have no clue what I'm talking about, and want to read "Dissolved- Part I," you will find it here!

25 May 2012

5 Minute Friday ~ Opportunity

Joining up, today, with Lisa-Jo over at Gypsy Mama for 5 Minute Friday ~

"Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.

We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to run when we were kids.

On Fridays we write with gusto, unselfconscious and flat out.

What can you write in five minutes flat?


  1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
  2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
  3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on..."



My big girl turns 15 today.
Wow! Hold on just a sec while I pause and catch my breath...
When and how did THAT happen?

Do you remember when you turned 15?

I do... and yet... I don't.

I'd begun my sophmore year of high school... and there was this guy I kinda liked, but he'd be graduating and heading off to an academy a long ways away.

My mom was the person who most drove me crazy - and yet? I so wanted her to be proud of me. I longed to make her and Daddy proud.

I thought I had the coolest Nana and Pop Pop in the whole world and I loved summer vacation when we'd visit their small town home.

At church, I had the "funnest," coolest youth group leaders in the world - Mr. and Mrs. C!

I'd moved into a new age group for swim competitions and I wondered if I'd be any good. I finally decided to quit competing in gymnastics, too - upon the recommendation of my coaches - so I could truly focus on one sport.

I was working as a swim instructor and a lifeguard at two different pools in town; that year I reluctantly began supervising when the Association of Retarded Citizens would come to the pool each week.

I would be learning to drive.

I loved my NASB - and was starting to really fall in love with God's Word. I remember "discovering..."

Thus saith the LORD, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.
 ...wishing I had some sort of rule book
that told me just how to live like that,

Over the years, I've come to find out that I did, all along.

I never felt particularly pretty and certainly wasn't "popular," but I was pretty comfortable as a scholar and an athlete.

I still had to go to school over at the old Sooner high school since the powers that were then had decided to combine the town's two high schools. I went to school with some pretty uppitty, well-to-do kids. I guess, in many senses, I was one of them, but I never felt that way. I road the bus (well, when I did) mostly with kids from the other side of the tracks. Those were the kids I actually thought were really cool and who had interesting lives... yet I was shy, not much of a conversationalist... and so I existed on the periphery of what I'd sorta call my circle of friends.

I didn't know how to walk as a confident Christ follower in that world, even though I wanted to.

That was me, when I turned 15.

Sometimes I think I know... other times I wonder if I have any clue... just who my now 15 year old is and who she wants to become... who the Lord wants her to be.

I particularly wonder if she sees all that beauty inside becoming, if she really has a clue of what all life is in front of her...???

... so many possibilities...

...so much opportunity...

all bundled into our beautiful "Baby ekah baby ekah baby!"

Happy 15th birthday, Rebekah Joy!


(Writing? 5 minutes. Adding all the pictures? Well... since internet in Niger has been moving like mud the past few days? Significantly longer. But she's worth it! :-)

24 May 2012

Dissolved - Part I

Missionaries… all who follow Christ… are told to count the cost. But what about when something unthinkable happens? How do you prepare for that?

Late at night, on August 24, 2011, we received the following in a letter from our sending organization:

“Following extensive objective assessment and the advice of legal counsel, we are beginning action to dissolve… The organization will be in the process of shutting down over the next week and a half. Funds to continue are not available… final payments of reimbursable expenses will be paid as of August 23rd..."

The majority of our Niger/Benin missionary team at the time of the dissolution.

Please head over to Missionary Moms, where last week I shared a little about our experience over the past several months as our sending agency had to close its doors.

22 May 2012

whispered prayers ~ dance of grace

I love dancing.

I love watching dancing.

I love teaching dancing.

I'm ever amazed by the cultural variety and beauty present in dance.

I love watching others learn to dance.

I love helping the hesitant begin to enjoy dancing.

I love that my children find the same joy in dancing that I do.

I love hearing music while seeing it come to life as it directs movement.

I love the precision and the rhythm.

I love the freedom - the twirling and spinning, flipping and flying.

I love figuring out new steps, hearing new beats, trying new patterns.

I particularly love the uniqueness of each member in a dance troup submitting themselves to the grace of unity.


I read this in a book recently: "to observe their family is to witness a dance of grace."

May those who see us also see that dance of grace in our family...

...THAT has become one of my daily prayers.

(All photos taken on Mother's Day, 2012, during a sandstorm here in Niamey.
Some of my gang could not resist dancing and playing in the wind and sand. Nothing like stating the obvious!)

[Manion, Jeff (2010-07-14). The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions (Kindle Location 776).
Zondervan. Kindle Edition.]

19 May 2012

The Real Hidalgo!

They ARE impressive.

Remember watching the movie Hidalgo? The scene where the man rides the horse, furiously gallopping to escape a huge sandstorm? Until I moved to Niger, I thought that sort of representation of a sandstorm was hugely exaggerated... except that we've had two sandstorms just this season (so far) that have looked remarkably like that scene from the movie....


...Ok, we know, this is supposed to be a blog page, not a "blague" (If you don't get it, check out the meaning of "blague" in French), so here are a few pictures we really took, still in their unaltered form, as the sandstorm moved in yesterday. What was super cool was that the storm moved in from the north, so we were able to sit on our terrace where the house sheltered us from the worst of the sand, dust and wind - and experience it as the storm moved right over and around us. What was super incredible is that the men working on cementing the 2nd floor and roof of the house they are building in the concession next to us continued to work right through the storm. The first two pics were taken yesterday morning. The third was taken as a storm rolled in off the desert from the east over one of the Niamey markets. Amazing, aren't they?

(photo by Brian Trutwin)

PS Richelle cannot take much credit for this blog entry - she was only the executor. Tim was the creative inspiration.

(mildly edited post from the archives,
in honor of the fact that it is THAT season of the year
yet once again!)

Bonus Question:
Who's riding the horse in the first picture?

18 May 2012

5 Minute Friday ~ Perspective

Once again, joining Lisa-Jo at Gypsy Mama for 5 Minute Friday...

"On Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

Your words. This shared feast.

If you have five minutes, we double dog dare you to spend it writing here.

  1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
  2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
  3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? The Gypsy Mama Facebook late night crew is my new muse come 10pm Thursday night, so please give me your best five minutes on their choice..."

Ready... Go!


"People only see what they are prepared to see." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Before criticizing a man, walk a mile in his shoes."
- Old English Proverb

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

"Bad is called good when worse happens."
- Norwegian Proverb

 "When others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king."
- Ray Boltz and Steve Millikan

"Is the glass half empty or half full?" (recently wrote about this myself)

Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.

"A flower is a weed seen through joyful eyes."
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

"When one door closes another opens.
But often we look so long, so regretfully, upon the closed door,
that we fail to see the one that is opened for us."
- Helen Keller

Perspective is one of those things I think about a lot - hence my collection of quotes above. These are my favorites and I could have included more, but recently I read a parable that says more better than I ever could, so let me simply retell, in my own words...

"A hurricane had ravished the island, leaving a monkey stranded watching the waves crash along the shore. While taking count of his situation and waiting for the waters to calm and recede, the monkey notices a fish struggling to swim against the current. Obviously, the fish was in need of help and so the monkey decided to take a risk and help his fellow creature.

One branch from the tree in which he was sitting extended out over the water, right above where the fish was thrashing and struggling to make way in the abusive surf. Even though it entailed danger and risk, the monkey inched far out on that limb and hanging down as far as he could stretch, snatched the fish from the thundering waves. The monkey then scampered back to safety, clutching the fish close to him so he wouldn't drop it. Well back from the raging waters, he delicately laid the fish on the beach. For several minutes, the fish seemed excited and delighted, flipping and flopping around, but soon it settled down and slipped into a restful sleep, probably for the first time since the storm began.
The monkey was pleased with himself, for he had helped another. That poor fish would've died without his intervention."
(5 and 1/2 minutes... I had to finish the story!)

The monkey parable came from a book I'm currently reading titled Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility, by Duane Elmer

If a quote is not properly attributed, or there is no attribute and you can correct me, please do!

17 May 2012

"Nin no ga ti bora din!" or... "You ARE that man!"

about having others question the rightness or the wrongness of what we are doing...
of questioning the rightness or wrongness of what others are doing...
of judging...
of being judged...
of our liberty in Christ...

And it has been interesting.

After all these years, a Bible study topic where I don't feel like I have to literally drag participation out of these women. I keep praying that  a few more of the women would show up.

About a week and 1/2 ago, we met again, to continue our discussion and I did have my "notes" all written out, but we didn't end up following them.

The Lord had shown us something during our last Saturday afternoon together: He'd shown us our own hypocrisy as we realized, each lady present, that we much prefer to be in the position of the one correcting or confronting rather than sitting in the hot seat as the one being corrected or confronted - about anything. When asked, "Why?" each person agreed that the elevated position of teacher is preferred to the lowly position of learner needing to be corrected.

I did follow my notes long enough to ask the ladies to think about that "revelation," because it was not biblical, especially in the light of the following Scriptures. I'd  been meditating on them for two weeks already...

Then, I took the ladies to 2 Samuel 12 ~ the biblical account of Nathan, sent by God, to confront David with the reality of the sin he had committed towards Uriah the Hittite (and others), helping David see just how deeply he had offended God. I told the ladies I wanted them to know this story because it gives us a Biblical picture of confrontation both done and received well.

The rest of our study was spent with me reading the Zarma Biblical account (slowly and surely, one little step after another, my Zarma language abilities make minute advances) and then clarification of the events that took place in those verses.

We finished up Bible study with two questions, the same two questions I'd like to leave with you today:
  1. What did Nathan do well as he confronted David with his sin?
  2. What did David do well as he found himself sitting in the hot seat?

15 May 2012

of yogurt and competitions

Theses photos are about 6 months old... but they still make me smile

...every time I see them.

Our happy-go-lucky-mostly-always-sweet Elsie Mae so intent on her competition.

Most of her "events" that day, she spent more time smiling at her "fans" than watching the race track in front of her.

But not when it came to the hula hoop throwing contest.

It was a good sort of strange to see my girl concentrating and working hard to do her best AND still having lots of fun at the same time.

At the same time, it was hilarious to watch my generally-always-driven one acting super silly and goofy, just hoping to capture either big sis's or mom's attention by dramatically sipping her yogurt-in-a-baggie.

She obviously succeeded - at least with her mom - I snapped the photo, didn't I?

14 May 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;

for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness;

and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."

~ Audrey Hepburn

Sometimes, I think, the written words in and of themselves speak loudly enough...


this week's gratitude list:

(#'s 2194 - 2222)

zinger quotes where truth pierces... like the one above

rediscovered old photos that I think are just beautiful, even if they aren't technically superb

funny high school dramas

daughter acting the part of principal Medusa Crabneck

drama being finished so we don't have to worry about after school and Saturday morning practices any more

sand storms


God's grace to crazy motorcyclists who ignore the fact that high speed racing down the middle of a two lane bridge (with traffic moving in both lanes) is risky behavior

light and fluffy made from scratch biscuits for the very first time

good discussions

cheesy romantic flicks with super gorgeous music soundtracks

Sunday afternoon frolics at the pool

littlest girl really starting to swim

next to littlest girl turning into a full-fledged fish

shared french fries

power cuts making me thankful for the electricity

being able to turn the A/C's on, if we decide we need to... or want to

thankful when our A/C's cool the room down to 86' (and laughing over the fact that that is plenty hot enough for our Michigan friends to think they need to turn their A/C's on)

only 5 weeks left

enjoying swim classes at the military pool

seeing former students return and then shine in positions of responsibility

taco dinners that I don't have to make

creme on sale... and so another batch of homemade ice cream this week

Joe brought potato chips to share with the family for dinner tonight - I saved mine to eat on my ice cream!

seeing my Gourmantché grandma friend and Salamatou this past month - an answer to prayer since I've often wondered over the past 3 years... (Here's the link to a post where I shared a bit of their story - if you are interested. I'm praying much for safe travel back to their village in Burkina and health. Salamatou has already lost her pinky finger due to lack of medical care and food in their village.)

snuggling with Salamatou during the service this morning - until Rebekah stole her away for Sunday School

looking forward to ladies' Bible study this week

gorgeous gift of a dress - finally planning to head to the tailor this week to get it taken up to actually fit so I can wear it for grad this year

smiles and laughter that abounds

12 May 2012

Disney Didactics

I'm thankful my kids still enjoy building sand castles and settlements out in the front yard, dressing up and snuggling on the bed to watch a movie. Even my big kids still seem to enjoy the fact that they are just that... still young people... and act that way instead of "too big for their britches." Well, most of the time... but that is a different story!
One of my high school friends recently posted a fb status about loving the fact that her teen girl and her daughter's friends thought it great fun to get together and watch Disney movies. I agree completely: I love it when that very thing goes on with my girl teens and tweens. It is wonderful that they haven't become too grown up, sophisticated or jaded to dream of princes and princesses, beautiful horses and castles, and fairy tale endings.
That doesn't mean I like everything or accept unequivically all that happens in a Disney movie. We do talk them over and discuss what parts come from worldly thinking and what parts corresponds to Biblical truth; we look at choices and consequences and often these movies become great teaching tools.
It shouldn't surprise me when God uses them to teach me...

Recently, I was hurt by something someone I know did not do.
That sounds kinda funny, typing it out, doesn't it?
I try not to place a ton of expectations on others, really! God has been working on me with that lesson over the past few years... yet this time, I expected someone to act/respond in a certain way. When the person didn't, I was confused, didn't understand why, wondered if I'd offended in somehow and, as I already said, I was hurt. I spent more than a few hours (more truthfully, more than a couple of days) mulling it over, my feelings ranging from overreacting anger ("Never wanna talk to that one again!") to prayers begging God to help me forgive because I knew my response was unbiblical. Then I grew frustrated with myself, because it had become such a big deal in my heart and I couldn't seem to let it go...
Then Mulan filtered into my picture... you know the story, don't you?
...the young Chinese girl who disguises herself as a young man to take the place of her elderly father who had been conscripted into military service to fight the Huns. Taking the name Ping, she learns to fight, earns the camraderie of her fellow soldiers, even wins the respect and trust of her (very handsome) commanding officer, Shang. After Mulan/Ping daringly saves Shangs life, he says to her:
"Ping, you are the craziest man I've ever met,
and for that I owe you my life.
From now on, you have my trust."

Right after Shang makes this statement, literally, Mulan/Ping collapses due to injuries sustained in battle... and of course the doctor uncovers the truth. Ping isn't such a manly man. What's worse? Her masquerade and deception is shameful, and punishable by death. Her friends, her commander, everyone -they all turn their back on her, some more vehemently than others.

Shang chooses not kill her, but he does abandon her in the snowy mountains to find her own way home, on her own and in disgrace. In the process, she sees the Huns recover from what looked like certain destruction and regroup... then head towards the capital to finish what they'd come to China to do. She makes her own mad dash to the capital, to warn Shang and his men that another battle was imminent... so that they would be prepared.

It was the following conversation, when Mulan finally catches up with Shang, that God used - just like He used Nathan's story to confront David with his sin, thousands of years ago.

Mulan: Shang!
Shang: Mulan?
Mulan: The Huns are alive! They're in the city!
Shang: You don't belong here, Mulan. Go home.
Mulan: Shang, I saw them in the mountains. You have to believe me!
Shang: Why should I?
Mulan: Why else would I come back? You said you'd trust Ping. Why is Mulan any different?

The particular person with whom I was so frustrated had never, to my knowledge, previously done anything intentionally to hurt, harm or discourage me. So why would I assume that about this particular situation? Why wouldn't I trust what I already had experienced as true with this individual, even though I didn't understand? Instead of assuming evil motivations, why not simply assume that the person hadn't done something I normally would have expected him/her to do... nothing more, nothing less... and instead remember all the reasons to trust... the many kind, friendly and generous ways said person had interacted with me and my family in the past?


I guess if God chose to speak through a donkey, I shouldn't be surprised that He'd decide to speak a needed message to me and through a Disney movie, eh? 

How about you? How did God last speak to your heart about something in a way that caught you completely by surprise?


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