30 April 2014

Mostly Wordless Wednesday ~ Better LATE than NEVER ~ CBA's Spirit Week ~

What's Elsie Mae's "Storybook" Theme?

Not a "Storybook Day" photo - but Elsie Mae with her teacher this year.
Our family is ALWAYS thankful when one of the kiddos gets Mrs. Dumont for a teacher.
Just ask Rebekah and Nadia!

29 April 2014

This one caught me by surprise ~ pleasantly so...

I like legal dramas... Grisham is one of my favorite authors and I totally did not expect this book, Water's Edge by Robert Whitlow, to live up to that sort of expectation. But it did.

Part of the reason was I started the book while still living overseas. Then life in W. Africa happened: a war next door started, internet died, hot season and tons of power outages exhausted, a kid graduated, we moved internationally, I dove back into that phenomenon of worse culture shock coming home than going there...

So I started the book, stopped when life happened - and couldn't get back into it because I couldn't find where I'd left off and was having a hard time wading through the vague familiarity of having already read the first several chapters. It finally took knowing that my review deadline date (or else I'd lose my status as a book reviewer) was rapidly approaching to motivate me to just sit down and read the book.

I'm so glad I did... and thinking I'm gonna go find another one of his action/suspense legal dramas and check it out. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

Tom Crane, an up and coming lawyer living the good life in the big city loses his dad, his job and his girl in relatively quick succession. Then, while back in the small town where he grew up attempting to close up and tie up all the loose ends from his father's law practice, he runs into curious circumstances: a mysterious trust fund without clear documentation, unexplained details concerning his father's accidental drowning while out fishing with a friend, an unexpected friend in the daughter of that other man who also died in the accident, an eccentric spiritual warrior uncle, uncomfortable situations with trusted and long time family friends... and last but not least, an unforeseen and lifechangingly powerful intimate encounter with God.

Tom Crane thinks he gets it all figured out and is ready to move on, ready for the next step accepting a great job offer from another big law firm in the big city. I was all set for the "drama" to predictably settle and for the last bit of the book to turn into a sappy Christian romance...

We were both surprised and survived! The last quarter of the book was much better than just good! I'm so glad that I stuck with it and finished this definite 4 star read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers 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 255. 

28 April 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ Why? (Part I)

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” (John 9.1-12)

Why does it surprise that this is the first question most littles begin to consistently ask... 

...when it is probably the most persistent, 
most common question we ask God?

curious giraffes hunt in packs ~ Harold Lloyd 

If God is really there, why on earth won't He prove it?

Why is there so much evil in the world?

Why is the church full of hypocrites?

Why is there suffering?

Why should I believe the Bible?

Why should I believe there's life after death?

If God is love, why would He send anyone to Hell?

Why does God say I'm not good when I really try to please Him?

Why is Christianity so exclusive? What about other religions?

Why would God kill His Son... for me?

We aren't alone as we ask those questions, either

Many great men of the Bible asked, "Why?" ~ David, Job, Moses, Elijah, the disciples, Peter, Jesus...

Why questions aren't necessarily bad. 

Sometimes they are an expression of curiosity and a desire to know. They often give voice to otherwise inexpressible suffering and anguish and every so often actually signify a turning to God for help and comfort. Other times, such questions identify a lack of faith and trust. At the very worst, they indicate rebellion and a desire to put Jesus on trial.

Was "Why?" what the disciples were really asking in this passage? 

I believe that is possible, particularly when I look at Jesus' answer. As I've been studying (slowly, very slowly) through John, there have been other instances where Jesus' response has surprised me: His answer hasn't been as gentle as what I would have expected or it hasn't seemed to answer the question that was actually asked.

photo credit: esbesb via photopin cc

But back to today's text. Here are some things that I note.

1. The previous chapter ended with listeners picking up stones to stone Him... and Jesus hides Himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
2. There is no indication of the passage of time from the end of the last chapter to the beginning of this one - so seeing the blind man could happen as He is "slipping away," or it could happen later, as He passes through.
3. He sees a man blind from birth.
4. Obviously, His disciples either note that He sees this man, or they see the man and are curious themselves, but I love that the Bible reminds us that Jesus saw him first... and saw that he'd been blind from birth. Jesus always sees me before anyone else does... including both those who see me and want to help me, or those who see me and look to accuse or to blame me.
5. The disciples ask their question.
6. It really isn't a surprising question. According to Gill's Exposition of the Bible notes on this verse
"...the first of these questions, whether the man himself had sinned before he was born, which might be the occasion of his blindness, proceeds not upon the doctrine of original sin, though the Jews then believed that; since that was common to all men, and therefore could not admit of such a question; but either upon the notion of transmigration of souls into other bodies; and so the disciples might ask whether this man had sinned in a pre-existent state when in another body, which was the reason of this blindness, or of his being put into a blind body. This notion, Josephus says (a), was embraced by the Pharisees; though, according to him, it seems, that they only understood it of the souls of good men; and if so, this could lay no foundation for such a question, unless these disciples had given into the Pythagorean notion of a transmigration of all souls, which was to be known by defects, as blindness, &c. (b); or else this question proceeded upon a principle received by the Jews, that an infant might do that which was faulty and criminal, and actually sin in the womb: the second question proceeds upon the methods which sometimes God has taken with men, by visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children; or, as the above learned writer observes, upon a notion the Jews had, that a child might suffer for what the mother did whilst it was in the womb; or on another, which prevailed among them, that there should be neither merit nor demerit in the days of the Messiah; that is, that neither the good deeds, nor bad deeds of their parents, should be imputed to their children, neither the one to their advantage, nor the other to their disadvantage: and therefore since he the Messiah was come, they ask, how this blindness should come to pass? what should be the reason of it? 
7. The first word of Jesus' response:  "Neither..." 

Wouldn't it be nice if we could tie up all the suffering, all of the whys - and link it directly to someone's specific sin, and then lay the blame at a specific someone's feet?  The disciples try and do that in this situation. Jesus clearly tells us that THAT isn't always the case...

In fact, He continues by saying that the blind man's suffering had occurred for one reason: "...that the works of God might be displayed in him."

I wonder ~ Did the blind man hear Him? I wonder what he thought if he did... Jesus says that the blind man had suffered blindness since birth simply so that God could do His work. It doesn't seem very fair. At least that is the way I think many in our day, our time, our culture would interpret it. However to a first century Jewish man, who probably believed and accepted completely the absolute sovereignty of God... if he believed Jesus was the Messiah, as many were saying... that might have been the best news ever...

...that his suffering wasn't a result of a specific sin and it was because God had plans to do something amazingly special with him and his life...

(will continue with this passage next week)

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 4501 - 4523)
this quote by Bono: "“Stop asking God to bless what you're doing. Find out what God's doing. It's already blessed.”

colds getting better, we hope

a delightful opportunity to help with Easter breakfast, as a family, at our church

my daddy's continued improvement

afternoon naps with a snuggly sick one this past week

spring weather

trees budding

flowers in gardens beginning to bloom

fields of wild buttercups growing along the highway

figuring my way driving in and out of the Detroit airport for the first time, by myself!

Nadia and Anna both did really well at JR High MACS this past week

amazing to listen to Nadia recite the book of Jonah in KJV English to just a few minutes later recite her part in a reader's theater of Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss...

Brendan's acceptance at a college so much closer to home and his decision to transfer - he still loves Messiah and we recommend it without hesitation - expense and distance and missing his family have played enormously into this decision

finding my old cake stand and wondering how I'm going to first use it again


homemade chicken noodle soup for spring colds

History Day state competition

Vitamin C

clean house

finding old knickknacks and taking a trip down memory lane

knowing what we'll need to raise as far as support for future ministry in Québec

fun game nights... looking forward to more of them

friends packing up and getting ready to leave for the mission field - first time as a family!

Ten most recent posts in this series: 
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.

27 April 2014

What's it really mean? "Go..."

You know that moment when you read or hear something... and your only response is an emotional/mental, "Ouch!" ??

I had one of those moments the other day when I read: 
"One of the main reasons [insert your country... county... city... name here]'s churches are not ministering to a larger number of people is because they typically wait for people to come to them.... Many congregations seem to have become ends in themselves. They exist for each other and become preoccupied with themselves and their'way of 'doing'  religion. Lay ministry means nothing more than getting involved in running the church." (Dr. Reginald Bibby, Transforming Our Nation: Empowering the Canadian Church for a Greater Harvest, p. 302, 300-301)
I read that and started to wonder, "Could that be true? That even when we go as missionaries to far flung corners of the globe we still somehow wait for people to come in to find us instead of going out and sharing with them?"

I can only really speak to my own experience living, working and trying to minister in West Africa - but if I'm speaking honestly, spending most of my time with other expat friend and colleagues was certainly more comfortable. And there were times that it was needed and an integral ministry. Even after living in the same neighborhood for several years, stepping out into the community to visit with the ladies, trying to use my third language, seeking to understand a culture and way of thinking that was so completely foreign to me, always knowing that I was obviously a foreigner just because of the color of my skin.

I can also only really speak to my own experience living, working and trying to minister in Midland, Michigan - where my kids attend the Christian school that is a ministry of our sending church... where life seems to be consumed by school and church activities or by traveling and visiting with our partnering churches activities... and our little ones come to the "invite a friend to church" nights and realize they don't know anyone who doesn't already know Jesus or go to church regularly....

To read the rest, please join me over at More for Missionary Moms
where I was posting yesterday.

25 April 2014

Five Minute Friday ~ Friend ~

Did you know that the Bible contains the word friend 139 times... at least according to this online concordance search.

 Abraham e Isaac. Salterio de San Luis, siglo XIII (Biblioteca Nacional, París)
Many famous friendships are described within the pages of our holy book...
  • Ruth and Naomi
  • Jonathan and David
  • David and Hushai
  • Elijah and Elisha
  • Paul and Timothy
  • Jesus and His disciples
  • Moses spoke face to face with God, as with a friend
But I think my favorite has to be Abraham... for Abraham was called the friend of God. 

"The" particularly when used directly before a noun - "friend, in this case - specifies and identifies, particularly. It becomes part of a title and can mark a noun for the purpose of indicating the best-known, most approved, most important, most satisfying, etc. (Dictionary.com). Arabs and other Muslims, who consider Abraham to be one of their key ancestors, rarely use his name. Rather, they use the expression Khalil Allah, which means “Friend of God,” or El Khalil, “the Friend.” 

Thus, there was something about Abraham that first distinguished him from all the others. Look at the verbs that describe Abraham's responses to God: 
  • went forth, built an alter, pitched his tent, journeyed on... but then he went down to Egypt; 
  • went up, called on the name of the Lord, sought unity with Lot, gave preference to Lot, separated from one who lifted his eyes-saw-then chose for himself, settled in the land, lifted his eyes and saw what was given to him, rose up, walked the length, moved his tent, came and dwelt, built an altar;
  • lived in peace with his neighbors, listened to relevant information, heard that his nephew was taken captive, went in pursuit of his nephew, defeated his nephew's captor, returned him, received Melchizadek's blessing, honored God over the King of Sodom;
  • questioned God, reminded God of His promise, believed in the Lord, asked for confirmation, brought and prepared animals for sacrifice, received God's covenant - even through terrifying and dreadful moments;
  • gave Ishmael the name that means "God hears;"
  • fell on his face before God, allowed the Lord to change his name, allowed the Lord to change his wife's name, laughed when belief was hard, pleaded for Ishmael to live under God's blessing, believed and obeyed - Abraham, Ishmael and all males 13 and over were circumcised as a sign of God's covenant;
  • hospitable and honoring to holy guests, pleads for Sodom, returned home;**
  • returned to the place where he'd stood before the Lord and saw the smoke;
  • admitted responsibility to Abimelek and prayed for him and his family; 
  • named son Isaac, circumcised his son on the eighth day, listened to God in regards to Ishmael, planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, called upon the name of the Lord;
  • was tested by God, answered "Here I am" when God called, obeyed, willing to sacrifice his beloved son, took the knife to slay his son, answered "Here I am" when God called a second time, looked-saw-took-sacrificed the caught ram instead of his son, returned to servants, stayed in Beersheba;
  • mourned and wept for his wife, purchased land for Sarah's tomb; 
  • secured a wife for his son from his family; shared his trust in God wit those who worked with him - looking at Elimelech;
  • left everything he owned to his son, sent away the sons not of promise, left God to bless his son.
So many of these are powerful, but the one that jumps out: he "believed in the Lord." It doesn't say Abraham just believed the word of the Lord, or trusted what He said or hoped that He'd follow through on promises made. 

It doesn't say that Abraham believed the promise


He believed in the Promiser.

And God called Abraham, "Friend..."

"Friend" is, as Spurgeon said
  1. "...a title to be wondered at... Friendship cannot be all on one side. In this particular instance, it is intended that we should know that while God was Abraham’s friend, this was not all, but Abraham was God’s friend. He received and returned the friendship of God! From one point of view, Abraham was always the object of God’s pity and mercy, but, by His Grace, the Lord also lifted him into another condition in which he became the object of the Lord’s complacency and delight..."
  2. ...a title "vindicated [because]... Abraham’s trust in God was implicit...  joined [with] a practical confidence as to the accomplishment of everything that God had promised... unquestioning... [his] desire for God’s glory was uppermost at all times... [his] communion with God was constant."
  3. "...THE title to be sought after" after full reconciliation to God, including the "mutual exercise of choice - in that the God who has chosen [me] must be chosen by [me]..." characterized by a "conformity of heart" and "continual communion... that breeds mutual delight" as I "copartner with Him."
  4. "...THE title to be utilized for practical purposes... as a great encouragement to the people of God..." and as a warning to "delight in the responsibility... thirst[ing] to be well-pleasing... aspir[ing] to dwell in Him... willing to bear anything which will make [me] one with God!"  (A sermon titled The Friend of God, #1962 - delivered on Sunday, May 8, 1887 by CH Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.)

Genesis 15:6
Abram believed in the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

2 Chronicles 20:7
Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

Isaiah 41:8
"But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, 
you descendants of Abraham my friend...

James 2:22-26
You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, 
faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 
and he was called the friend of God. 
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 
In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works 
when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, 
so also faith without works is dead.

Technically, ** (in the text above) is where 5MF stopped, so this wasn't a genuine 5MF... Once I started looking at the topic, 
I wanted to study further than five short minutes would allow.

If you want to join in, head on over to Lisa-Jo's.

22 April 2014

Spring 2014 Prayer Letter ~ Answering Key Questions ~

“This will not end in death…”

Studying through the book of John during the weeks before Easter is a great way to prepare hearts and direct thoughts towards what Jesus came to this world to do. Reading through John 11 recently, the following sentences really jumped off the page:

“Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.”
When Jesus heard that, he said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. (John 11.3b-5)

Notice this: Jesus never said death wouldn't be part of the story... He just said that it wouldn't be the end of the story. The ESV version of the Bible translates it this way: “This illness does not lead to death.” He didn’t say it wouldn’t lead through death. How many times do we ask God to take something out of the story He is writing with our lives because we are afraid of following Him through death?

Death integrates into what it means to follow Jesus. If we aren’t willing to walk through that death, our death – whatever it may be or whatever form it may take, we might as well acknowledge that we aren’t willing to follow Jesus.

For though we may ask Him to take away that cup with such a difficult drink to swallow, He does not. Death remains an integral part of the story. Thankfully, He never means for it to be the end!

Jesus walked through death to save.

Will you walk through death to be His follower? 

More about Québec – June, 2015

Many of you have already heard by now – We do not believe that God is not directing our family to return to Niger. We’ve detailed our reasons in an earlier email update – however because of questions we receive and because we have several who receive our paper prayer letter and not our email version, we want to reiterate them here.

Our first and probably primary reason for not returning to Niger at this time is simple: Tim has trained local men and women, already actively ministering in their churches, to do the work he has been doing the past 13 years. We believe that if we continue to lead this ministry- instead of turning it over to local, qualified and excited leadership- we will deny our brothers and sisters this opportunity to serve, and end up doing more damage than good.

Our second reason has to do with the increasingly difficult security circumstances in Niger and the fact that we lived with the possibility of evacuation for much of our last two years. With a family our size and our ministries at the stages they were at, God convinced us that we needed to exit intentionally rather than try and hang on until the last minute.

Our third reason has to do with family – we believe we are to be more accessible and available to our children beginning to transition to college as well as to our extended family during this season of life.

Thus, we left Niger praying that the Lord would either open the door to ministry elsewhere or that if we were not understanding His leading, He would use our furlough time to clearly direct us back to Niger.

The result of that season of intently seeking His face and His will through much prayer and after seeking counsel from and the advice of our sending church and our mission board, we are convinced that God is leading us to the province of Québec. We have been so grateful for the kind and mostly positive responses to date from our current team of ministry, prayer and financial support partners.

However, we have had some ask a few key questions concerning this change, questions we would like to address specifically, and in no particular order of importance…

A question that plagued Tim’s heart? In a developed part of the world like Québec, is there really any need for a missionary to go and do this work when there are already many other equally qualified and capable individuals? We specifically posed this question to the leadership at the production studio/radio programming center where Tim is planning to serve. Their response was eye-opening. Yes, there are many with those skills and qualification. Yet in the post-modern, post-religious atmosphere of the province of Québec, there are few with a heart for such a ministry and the studio is currently inundated with opportunity but lacks sufficient personnel. They’d be happy for Tim’s assistance… starting from right after we visited and spoke with them last starting from right after we visited and spoke with them last December. Thus, the Québecois already ministering in this area are excited about and anxious for Tim’s help.

The second question ~ Why wait until 2015? We have chosen to wait for several reasons. One, we have a daughter who will be a senior in high school in 2014/15. Switching her to the French/Québecois system would complicate earning her high school diploma. Secondly, we have two younger children currently receiving much needed speech and language therapy. It only makes sense to correct articulation issues in English before immersing them in French. Thirdly, we believe we need to be closer to our extended family for a season. Finally, over the last term, with so many changes, economic challenges in the States, and with the dissolution of EBM, we lost financial support. Thankfully, most of our partners have been overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging – and we are so appreciative of how their support continues to confirm this new direction for our family. We are hoping that taking an additional year, back on deputation, will allow us to be at the full 100% before striking off into a new place.

A third question we often hear is “How do you really feel about not going back to Niger?" The short answer is we are both heartbroken and eagerly, excitedly anticipating this next step. The longer answer is that God gave us an amazing gift in allowing us join with Him and to be a part of what He was doing in Niger… Niger will forever feel like home and we’ve left a large part of our hearts in that desert place, regardless of where or how He leads in the future. On the other hand, we know that we can trust Him to give us another good gift as He leads us to minister in the province of Québec. It is different – there are so many unknowns as we will be opening Québec as a new field of ministry for Faith Baptist Missions. It will be a very different experience from walking into well-established and long running ministries as we did when we went to Niger. But we do believe that God has given us the time and experience to grow and prepare us for this next step.

Why not change mission boards and join up with an organization already present and working in Québec? This is the last commonly asked question; it is probably the easiest of all to answer. Just over two short years ago, we were forced, by circumstances beyond our control, to change mission boards. We’ve been so blessed to find a second board that we are growing to love and consider our new family. Thus, we are not anxious to make another change, particularly if we can see no compelling, overwhelming reason to do so.

If you have additional questions you would like us to address, please WRITE and ASK. Give us a chance to respond to your concern – because we want to… we want to be accountable to our partners! We are thankful for each one of you, for your support and prayers, we consider you key members of our ministry team. 

  • Safety in traveling 
  • Great visits with great churches 
  • Calvary’s missionary home - for another year 
  • Neat missions opportunity for the girls this summer 
  • All the details – visas, health insurance, transfer fees – as we figure them out 
  • Brendan- school decisions for next year and a summer job 
  • Rebekah - making decisions regarding life after high school 
  • New contacts, new meetings, new ministry partners, new support – We hope to move to Québec in June, 2015. 
  • Both Tim’s father and Richelle’s father were recently hospitalized with significant and life altering medical needs. Both are currently stable, but follow-up is/still needs to occur.

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21 April 2014

“But it’s not [stamps foot] what I wanted!”

Remember being a kid and looking forward to birthday presents from Grandma and Grandpa?

Yes, you had to go through the long, drawn out process of taking forever to open and read the card, but afterward? Rip, tear and toss away, finally diving into a box of something sure to bring pure delight. After all, grandparents tend to give kids what they ask for. Moms and dads, on the other hand, might be more likely to give their kids something they think they need – something more like socks, a scientific calculator for school, or the dreaded-and-oh-so-humiliating-gift to open-when-in-mixed-company bra.

You can watch the drama unfold on a child’s face. Big smiles when they start to open the package, then hesitation. They confusedly lift an object from the box, uncovering the undesired or unexpected. Sometimes there are forced smiles… or tears… or confrontational questions and accusations… or even a full-fledged tantrum in discovering that the dreamed for prize is nowhere to be found in that box.  An inferior, unwanted something or other had replaced it.

We grown-ups… we missionaries… are not above this exact same type of behavior...

To read the rest, click here.

Image Credit ~ Handmade Gift Wrap by Erika G, on Flickr.

19 April 2014

Five Minute Friday ~ Glue

I knew she would be here, but I forgot.


My sis who lives on the West Coast while [for the last 14 years] I've been living in West Africa just happens to be in town and I knew and I got distracted with the busyness of life and this family and I forgot... until I talked to Mom...

Our plans rapidly changed.

We enjoyed a lovely evening and were heading home when on impulse, we decided to load up the van, drive to the "Big House" and hang out with Aunt Julie. It was 10:30... Yes, p.m...

Brendan was flying in on Friday morning - but we could just as easily drive to Detroit from Lansing as drive from Midland. So we did... and we've had a blast.

Talking, laughing, teasing, maybe a little gossiping, eating, enjoying the spring-ier weather, shoe shopping, Easter dinner eating (a little early), pie eating, kitchen cleaning, Qwirkling, Pictureka-ing.

But for my four big girls, the manicuring took the cake. Bright colors, crazy designs... even glue to fasten googly eyes.

Can you figure out each design... and then match each hand to either Rebekah, Nadia, Anna or Tori?

We've got a surprise for whoever comes closest.

Go ahead. Leave your best guess as a comment!

Joining Lisa-Jo for another Five Minute Friday!

11 April 2014

Five Minute Friday ~ Paint

My girls have discovered Pandora this year while we've been home.

And Disney just might be their very favorite "station."

If there were any Disney movie songs they didn't know, let's just say that THAT is now a thing of the past!

One song they really like to sing comes from Pocahantas... and for so many reasons, lines in this song pierce this expat-at heart's heart.Tthere is truth in some of those words, truth that might easily be dismissed just because you don't agree with the whole message ~

You think I'm an ignorant savage
And you've been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don't know?
You don't know ...

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew...

You can own the Earth and still
All you'll own is earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind.

There is only One Who paints with all the colors of the wind, 
     the same One Who crafts each West African sunset, 
          that One Who imagined -then spoke- and then the imagined spoken became, 
               the very One Who sacrificed all and Who is the only Way to the Father ~

~ the One and Only Who created all that is true, all that is noble, all that is right, all that is is pure, all that is lovely, all that is is admirable, all that is excellent, all that is praiseworthy because HE IS. 

This One ~
  • laid the foundation of the earth, determined its measurements, laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.
  • shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, made clouds its garments and thick darkness its swaddling band, prescribed limits for those waves, saying, "Thus far shall you come, and no farther."
  • enters heavenly storehouses laden with snow, storehouses of the hail reserved for the time of trouble.
  • knows the way to the place where the light is distributed,and where the east wind is scattered upon the earth.
  • has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass.
  • fathers the rain, has begotten the drops of dew, gives birth to the frost of heaven.
  • binds the chains of the Pleiades, looses the cords of Orion, guides the Bear with its children.
  • knows when the mountain goats give birth.
  • has let the wild donkey go free, loosening the bonds of the swift donkey, gives it the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place.
  • gives the horse his might, clothes his neck with a mane, makes him leap like the locust.
  • His understanding allows the hawk to soar, He commands the eagle to mount up
  • and makes his nest on high.
Yes. It is my God, and only He, Who paints, Who ever will paint, with all the colors of the wind.

If you'd like to spend a few minutes writing on the topic of "paint,"  

09 April 2014

When it rains, it pours...

When it lightenings, it thunders...

When it snows, it blizzards...

AND in the Midwest... when it blows, it tornadoes...

We actually drove through some pretty wild weather last week as we were traveling... but cliché-ish statements like these describe how I've been feeling the past few days... weeks...

Let me be the very first to say ~ I don't think those clichés imply ALL bad... I love to play outside, singing and dancing away in a good downpour. In my opinion, watching a wild thunderstorm is better than any movie I've ever seen (and you should ask Tim sometime how July 4th fireworks compare to heavenly fireworks when you watch 'em from 30 000 feet!) Winter blizzards bring memories of silent white, snow days, and snow men. Maybe it is my Okie upbringing - but tornadoes mesmerize, thrill, horrify, terrify and fascinate all at the same time and that tornado warning beeping on the television starts a quick adrenalin rush, every time.

But those clichés CAN and, at this moment, DO imply a breathless "What's next?" questioning that I'm whispering after the past three weeks, which have included 
  • flurries to blizzards of activity, 
  • showers of obligations with downpours of miles in the van, 
  • whirlwinds of friends, faces and places... 
  • and too many thunderous strikes of loved ones seriously sick way too close for comfort... and seemingly all at once.
And so, yet once again, this blog has been sadly neglected.

To quickly summarize ~ We had an amazingly great trip to Iowa where we reported to and visited with an awesome and totally-spoiled-us-rotten group of partnering churches. We caught up with dear folks we had seen in a few years and the fellowship resumed like there'd never been any interruption. It was truly a delight in every which way.

Our way too brief day at the Omaha Zoo was a blast... more photos to come, very soon!

We briefly caught up with Niger friends in Illinois and then relaxed for a small chunk of time with family in SE Missouri before heading back to Michigan.

While we were traveling, we received word that both Tim's dad and Richelle's dad were quite seriously ill and hospitalized. Thankfully, Tim's dad is now out of the hospital, regaining strength and hopefully working on some good habits to prevent a similar occurrence in the near future.

Richelle's dad is still in the hospital. After major surgery and at least 3 major medical procedures in 4 days, he's got several weeks of the recovery road to travel before he'll be dancing with his granddaughters, again. We are thankful for talented doctors, surgeons, nurses, technicians and other hospital personnel who have not only done their jobs with expertise, but who have/are also gently, kindly, patiently and repeatedly explained/explaining what was/is happening: detailing problems, solutions and results, even when their words were sometimes hard to accept.

We are so thankful that the Lord has granted this good and perfect gift of nearness during this year, for this season. 

Even in the hard, it is a treasure.

And can we ask you to please keep praying for our dads?


We really appreciate it!

We knew we could count on you!


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