Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I am aware

Merry Christmas and I pray everyone has a safe and wonderful Happy New Year. This is usually the time John and I send out our "Scroll of Remembrance" but we are finding it hard to get to these details while enjoying family at the same time.
So, for now, just know that as John and I and our children become older I am aware of my desire to be a bit more bold about what I think and feel and I desire to stand a bit more firm on the convictions the Lord has led me to thus far. I believe more and more each day that Jesus died on the cross for me, personally, and I don't ever want Him to doubt my heart and lifestyle of that gratefulness.
I am aware of my own quickness to sin and am also able to "catch it" more and more as I realize a lot of my sin really does come from "You want something but don't get it" James 4:2. That little verse carries a lot of truth in it, doesn't it????
Anyway, gosh see, I cannot multi-task, I need to make my kids sandwiches as we head off to the NC zoo.
Just know that as we head into the New Year my prayer for my family and friends is that we will all become a bit more "Aware" this new year as to our actions and the impact they make on others.
God bless!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

interesting quote

Where you live shouldn't determine whether you live,
but it does.

This was sent to John and I this morning and we loved it because we have found it to be true in a raw sense. I know that Scripture states that our circumstances shouldn't effect our abundant living because we know that no matter where or how we live, the joy of Christ redeeming our lives stays the same. And yet, it sneaks in doesn't it? Living in Africa impacts our "living" for the good and for the bad. It can be easy to compare that the ease of living in the USA would make it so easy to "LIVE" while residing here. But, it can be just as easy to state that the simplicity of African living would make it so much easier to "LIVE" for what is important. Am I correct? The grass is always greener on the other side, right?
It is an eye opener for me because whether we live in the USA or in another country/continent, Christ has redeemed my life. So, as much as I see the rawness of this quote, I want to fight it so I let people truly see the redemption of Corrie by a Savior who loves her personally, no matter what she can contribute to wherever she may live. Cool, huh?

Monday, December 14, 2009

He never changes

Good Morning! I am just sitting in the house while it is super quiet and enjoying the moment of serenity. It continues to be a good visit back, seeing lots of family and friends. It amazes me how time shows itself to move forward quickly and then at other moments, things haven't really changed much at all. For example, people still work out and watch their money and their waistlines, they still desire to buy Christmas gifts for others and still want to connect in relationships. I am still the same in this as well. But then time has moved forward so much in what is out there..... music, shows, movies, gadgets, anything with the little "i" in front of it. Here, I am out of the loop completely and that is a weird sensation. I wouldn't have said I cared a ton about theses items before but not having a clue about it now seems so "old fashioned". Not sure what to do with that thought, but it is out there.
I cannot tell you how much I have grown to understand the significance of the Lord never changing. He is the same today, yesterday and forevermore. That was a good thing to "learn" when I was younger, but as I grow into someone different maybe than before and/or realize that I cannot keep up with how quickly things evolve, I truly take comfort in the idea that God never changes and He wants me to keep up with Him. He desires for me to look to Him when I feel old fashioned or when I am weary or discouraged. He will not change. He will not leave me nor will He forsake me. I won't be left behind, not by him. He will always run after me. There is comfort in that thought for me, as an insecure 37 1/2 year old. Will there ever be an age where there will not be some insecurity awaiting me around the corner? Will I ever feel caught up on technology and entertainment? Do I want to be caught up on all that? Maybe in some ways I do, but ultimately I want to be caught up with Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. The Alpha and Omega, my Savior and friend.
Have a great day! I need to go, I am meeting someone for coffee.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A family Reunion

It was so encouraging to see more than 100 people show up on a cold rainy evening to hear what God is doing in Jos, Nigeria. We had our first capital campaign on December 8th in Cincinnati and it felt a bit as if I was attending a family reunion. I think that is my favorite character trait about serving in this ministry. Thousands of people have gone to serve at different sites, different times, and for different purposes but many came together that evening and there was an underlying reality that even if I haven’t met you, I know you and a sliver of your heart. I was just reminded that ten years ago, Todd and Beth had their first fundraiser for Mexico in the same location we did for Nigeria, the Snyder Farm. Back 2 Back has been on quite a journey following the Lord and He has done so much that it can be overwhelming to think that He is still at work, moving and stirring and leading us now in Africa as well.

The vision was shared with everyone about where we feel the Lord is asking us to go and it was daunting seeing it unveiled to others. As we unfold the desire to build relationships in the Kisayhip Village and build a host village for us as staff to live next door, I am too aware that it is too big a project for mere man, so I get excited to see God work out the details in His time and in His way. Our desire is to just be obedient to it. We are so grateful for everyone who came a couple of nights ago and encouraged and supported us and are cheering us on. That is truly what family should feel like.

It reminds me that as John and I are traveling and seeing different family and friends, I want to encourage, support and cheer them on because after all, it is family.

Friday, December 4, 2009

i did it again

Look, I did it again, I could do this all night just because all three of these entries took literally 5 seconds in all.....
I am addicted

just real quick

Can I tell you how fun it is to post a blog with a picture and it just takes about 2 seconds instead of 5 minutes or more.....


we're home

Well, we have made it home, and have taken a couple of days to transition (it used to be enough, but John and I are getting older, ughhhh.... I think a few more days are needed) and have traveled up north to Cincinnati.
I am now sitting in a quiet home waiting for John to return from picking up his brother and family from the airport.  It is nice.
John and I have fallen immediately back into the life of the United States.  I am actually surprised at how easy it is to transition in between these two cultures.  I was waiting to be overwhelmed, and maybe I still will be, but at this point, the only thing we marvel at are the road conditions.  We are LOVING driving on nice roads with people who abide by driving laws (for the most part) and not feeling anxious about getting hit.  We actually have to remind ourselves that it is okay to go out at night.  Isn't that funny?  
We are also realizing how much our standards have dropped in a lot of areas.  I think that is really good for us and so we are really enjoying all the creation here and are super grateful for people who are helping us out while in town.  For example, someone has lent us their van for the entire six weeks (which includes driving from OH, NC and FL), people are letting a family of five stay with them while we are traveling (not as easy as you might think), borrowing of tooth brushes because I forgot or the lending of winter clothes because we don't need them outside of being here for these weeks.....  the list can go on, but it is truly in these moments we look around and feel extremely humbled by the body who has made choices alongside of us to support us through the "long distance" and the "up close and personal".  Thank you.  
Today as John and I were driving up North, I became so excited to see everyone!!   How fun, huh?  
The phone is ringing so I must go....
The picture on top is of an outreach with did with my family and the Munafo's at the village church where we attend.  It was just a gift that we wanted to bless the church members with for their harvest season.  It was great to see my parents serve.  I know they have a lifestyle of serving, but I have been out of the house for so long now, that it is just a joy to see my kids serve with them and absorb all our different personalities coming together to serve those around us.  Anyway, I really must go......

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Well, we as a family, are sitting in the Frankfurt airport, waiting for our next flight.  We just flew 8 or so hours from Nigeria, over the Sahara Desert into Germany.  I found myself full of thought as we were leaving.  
This was the longest we have ever been away from the USA.  Even when living in MX, we would at least make a trip to TX.  It is a strange thing.  I actually found myself liking Africa more while flying away.  I bet that is pretty typical, it always looks better when you are not in it, right?
But, I was reminded that living in Africa is living my dream.  I think there have been three things that I have felt the Lord calling me to and living in Africa and touching the dirt was and is one of them.  So, flying away from it, I feel blessed and I think that is part of God's plan.  Reminding me of what He is doing there so I will desire to return in six weeks.
God is soooo wise.....
See hopefully some of you soon.
God Bless and Happy December.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"it" happened

SO, this morning, it finally happened.  I wake up and I see Sarah (my oldest) wearing my shirt to go to school.  Since when was she able to fit into my clothes???  So, she then proceeded to ask, "I wonder what other clothes would fit me mom?"  Ughhh.... She wouldn't have even known except my mom who is here visiting with us was folding our laundry (which I am grateful) and she thought the shirt was Sarah's so she put it into her pile.   I cannot believe I have a child old enough to wear my clothes.  Sami (my youngest) started taking my hair things about a year ago, but that was different, not clothing.... is anything sacred anymore to a mother?  As I write this though I think about how cute my two girls are and how much I love them and I just want to smile.
Also, today, we had four nigerians over for lunch and we just took some time to tell them how much they have become like second family to us and how grateful we are that their lives intertwined with ours.  It was our Christmas with them before we leave.  It brought such joy to have them sit with us at our table.  We laughed over Christmas traditions (one of the men's villages has a huge wrestling tornament) and told them we would miss them but will be glad to return in January.  It was just good and I am thankful.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow and a few of us as Americans are getting together and making a big Thanksgiving banquet.  My parents are here which will feel somewhat normal, but the rest of it will be "let's take it as it comes".  But, as we are packing up to go back home real soon, I cannot help but look back over the last ten months and feel every bit thankful for what God has done inside of me, to my family and our circumstances.  What we once took for granted are now special occasions and what we once overlooked we now see with new vision and appreciation.  It truly is a time to be thankful.  I pray for all of you to have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

village church

I wish there was an easy way to describe the village church we go to here in Jos.  It is neighboring to our future compound site and I just love it.  If there was no other reason to come to Africa (however, we really know there are several reasons to visit.....), worshiping with the village people on a Sunday morning, is reason enough.  It is amazing!
John and I first decided to attend there because that location and those people will be our focus as a ministry and sometimes if I don't create reasons to get out there and be with these villagers, I might not get there to the extent I need.  Anyway, so we started attending and our experiences only grow and increase in understanding, excitement, and overwhelmingness (I know, probably not a real word) of how many ways to worship God there are.  There are some pictures here that I have attached that show the humble exterior and interior of this precious church.  Oh, and the other picture is just of a squatty potty that was used by yours truly while at a borehole (clean water well) ceremony.  Someone else was with me and experienced the same thing, but SHE will remain that picture is just for fun!
Anyway, they have a youth choir, a children's choir and a woman's choir and they are all  how you imagine a village church being (lots of instruments, joy, lots of singing, standing and dancing, etc...).  The woman's choir just went to a women's fellowship retreat and there was a competition for worship and style of dance and our little humble church in the middle of Jos, won first prize (I told you they were good).  It has been a joy to worship alongside these men and women.  I really am gaining a deeper understanding of the culture by our Sunday service attendance, they translate the sermon for us, which is kind.  I have a richer context to pull from when the Old and New Testament talk about harvesting and borrowing/lending and the "Good Samaritan" with division within tribes and people groups.  I also have a deeper understanding of what my own prejudices have taught me to believe is right and wrong.  
I am growing to love and I am growing to hope for a people that I had no idea existed (in reality anyway) before moving here.  I like the idea of changing and internally growing, but it can be so frustrating at times.
Either way, my eyes are being opened and my vision is getting stronger and I am learning to use squatty pottys.  Can I hear an AMEN?!

Friday, November 20, 2009

too much going on in the background

These are some of the women in the bible study this past fall.  There are three ladies missing that I wish I could have in this picture, but it was a great study of the Psalms.  We have completed it and will resume in the spring or late winter.  I am already excited about the next study....
Today is John's birthday.  He is finally my age (we go through this every year, my oldness compared to his young spryness).  We have made his favorite chocolate chip cookies as his cake and we will celebrate tonight with the kids and my parents.
Here is the thing::::::  There is music going on in the background and my parents are talking to John and there is just too much for me to sit here and blog about something real.  The truth is I have been heavy of heart lately and I don't know why and I had lots to say about it, but another time.
Just know, we leave in a week to return to the States for about 5 weeks or so and there is much to do to prepare: kids homework assignments, ministry closings, hosting, cleaning, packing, lots of closure things basically.  We look forward to our time home, yet I cannot help but think it will be a "full" schedule, which is okay as long as the people I cherish feel the cherishment (is that even a word?) from me.  
Well, I must sign out, thanks for the listening mind....
God Bless,

Monday, November 16, 2009

it is a response

We do what we do because of what God has done for us, not out of our own sacrifice, but out of His initial sacrifice.  I think it is easy to get this backwards.....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

life keeps moving

So today John is in Abuja, he dropped off our friends, Mary and her dad and another new friend, Scott.  Now, he has picked up my parents and they are on their way home as I write this.  I haven't seen my parents for about 10 months or so and I cannot wait for them to see our life here, firsthand.  
This is the end of our first season of living here.  We leave with my parents for a short (or at least it is appearing shorter and shorter) trip home.  There is lots to do here and lots to do at home.  It can overwhelm me if I stop to think about it, but that is my nature....easy to become overwhelmed.  I am learning to just absorb today as it comes and then settle on tomorrow, tomorrow.  
I am starting to process (more than usual anyway) my first ten months here, and trying to really figure out what it is that God is doing in me and what He is doing in my family and what He is doing here in Nigeria.  I am starting to see a list forming of things learned, things pruned, things working through, etc...  I think it is good to truly debrief seasons and moments.  It is far too easy for me to move forward without learning what needed to be learned in that time.  I do want to become different because of living here in Jos.  I know I have, but I want to experience the change to the fullest.  Maybe when I see some of you when we get home, you will see it.  Maybe if you do see it, let me know, whether it is for the good or for the bad, because I want to be aware....
I can tell you one of the bad changes in me and I am not sure what to do with it.  My family, in general, growing up, has always enjoyed food.  I like to think about what the next meal is and what my friends are making for their meals, etc...   It has always been a focal point, to a fault.  Well, just thinking about going home, I am already forming a list of things I want to make sure I eat before returning back here.  I am not kidding you when I say food isn't easy or yummy here (ok, this is an exageration).  Isn't that crazy that I am even mentioning it on my blog?  It is, I know it is....  SOOOO, there you have it, my little secret about going back to the USA....  I am, as of right now, going to give it to the Lord and then keep giving it because I know gluttony is a sin.  Ughhhh.....
Anyway, I am excited for my parents to be here.  I must go because they will be here in about three hours.  YAHOO!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

are you weary

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galations 6:9


The other day, I woke up weary, went running weary, started bible study discouraged and weary and went to bed just as weary.  The Lord has shown me that lately, I have become weary in doing good.  I am learning that sometimes, and for me especially, the weariness of doing good comes in the hard decisions of what that “good” looks like.  Does that make sense at all?  I realize that the context of this verse comes in the idea of encouraging all believers, but even Jesus didn’t heal everybody.  If he didn’t though, it is because he had all humanities “good” in mind.  Maybe there was a lesson for us to glean from or maybe it is for a greater testimony later, but either way, He clearly was committed to this verse as much as we should be now.


When a parting of ways must come between people for the “greater good” (amicably, but still a parting), that makes me weary.  When difficult conversations must happen, that makes me weary.  When hosting a bible study and people show up an hour late, that makes me weary.  When knowing obedience is calling me to a life that is not as easy as I probably wanted (even though I don’t REALLY want ease), I become weary. 


Now, I want to pause here because when the Lord showed me this verse, my weariness turned to a promise that is “in the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  That promise is real and I do believe that it can sustain me through the seasons of weariness.  So, today I don’t want to become weary in doing good, I want to know that sometimes doing good isn’t what I imagined, but either way, it is the Lord’s harvest that I will be reaping and with that comes another day of “doing good” and today the weariness is gone.  Yahoo!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stepping Up

Good Morning!
This morning I have 9 other ladies coming over for our 5th week of Bible study.  We are studying the bible study by Beth Moore, Stepping Up.  It is a study based on the 15 Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 - 134).  The truth is I wasn't looking forward to studying the Psalms but I had a shorter time frame to have this study since John and I and the kids are going home in Dec. and I needed a shorter one verses her traditional 10 week.  Anyway, so this was chosen.  At first I enjoyed it but wasn't "feeling" it.  But I tell you what these past couple of weeks have been amazing for me.  
The Lord is really revealing things to me and I am amazed at how I choose something out of convenience but the Lord was still guiding my ways.  OR, does it not matter when studying Scripture because Scripture is the Living Word and I will always have a ton to learn , no matter which "study" I choose.  I guess it doesn't really matter because what does matter is that I am moving forward with my intimacy and walk with Christ.  For that I am grateful.
Please pray, the ladies that are in this study, for the most part, are the same ones from the last one and I truly desire to walk through life with these ladies and go "a mile deep" verses a mile wide with lots of ladies.  There are years and generations of sin and misunderstandings brought to the table every week and it overwhelms me.  I think it is what the Lord wants and it brings him glory, but it is strange for me to be soooo out of my understanding.  It is like them bringing their stuff to the table ultimately ends up revealing my stuff and having it brought to the table as well.  All good and if there is any eternal change in any of us, it by God's grace and His alone.  I just know that I am learning that the more I am sooooo out of my understanding, the more opportunities for God to show up and be my Saviour.  I think it is so cool that He can work that way and yet so oddly strange that He does at the same time.
Anyway, please pray..... and thanks for your prayers.... they show up in one hour..... yikes!

Monday, November 2, 2009


So this morning, John and I got up to run, as usual, and it was absolutely beautiful outside.  On one side of us was the moon and on the other side of us was the sun coming up.  Absolutely breathtaking.  Rainy season is gone (which was declared at church on Sunday, which kind of makes me chuckle) and the Harmatan is upon us.  The Harmatan is the season where the Sahara desert winds come blowing into town, basically.  
Anyway, during this season, it is super windy and cloudless and just an overall good temperature.  At first, while running, it was nice, a cool breeze, cool temperatures and it was great.  Well, after awhile, that cool breeze felt like a ton of bricks and the cooler temperatures just felt clammy to me.  What started out as a taste of freedom ended up being a burden to run in.
It was funny to me as I was aware of this thought going on in my mind about how fickle I can be and how much it can parrallel our spiritual life.  What maybe feels like freedom at first, you know, being in a different decision-making mode - tired of the same old routine, so you choose to spice it up a bit with some wrong choices.... but it feels nice because the wind is in our hair, and this view is so beautiful....  Does this strike a chord with anybody?  BUT, the truth is, after awhile, that view becomes a burden and now there is sand in your teeth and you cannot breathe because your nose is clogged and you are tired and crabby because of this irritating Harmatan winds.... ughhh....  It never pays to go against God, even in the Christian sense, when He leads us somewhere but we really don't want to reach out to that person or take that much time for that commitment, etc...  I am sure all of us can name our area/s that we choose to go our own way.  
On one hand, the Harmatan winds intrigue me that I am actually experiencing the Sahara desert sands in my living room, on the other hand, I can get pretty annoyed, pretty quickly with the little sands everywhere.  Interesting, living in Africa with their different seasons verses Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.....

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I was looking through this booklet that someone gave to me this past week and it has this idea of presumption.  I want to share it with you because I have found it to be true of me, and I wonder if you would find it to be true of you, in some regard.

"Poverty and oppression in developing countries are met by a variety of presumptions.  Some who hear of the tragedy presume that the people have learned to live with the life they have always known, it's what they expect  (THIS IS WHERE I HAVE ALWAYS FALLEN SAD TO SAY).  Some when confronted with the suffering, turn away from the vastness of the problem and presume there is nothing they can do.  Both presumptions lead to inaction."  

This is so true of this nation.  The problem is so huge, more vast than my comprehension and it overwhelms me now that I am living here.  But, for John neither of these presumptions seem to be true of him.  I was learning about Nehemiah and how he was in a position of ease, power and safety.  He had a job and was doing it well.  But, he also heard about the remnant of Israel and how they were not doing well.  The Israelites had learned to withdraw and retreat when ridiculed about trying to rebuild the wall.  They were turning away because the problem seemed too big and there was nothing they could do.  Nehemiah left his good job and went to become a part of the solution.  He would not give in to either presumption.  He then motivated and worked alongside of the people to rebuild the wall, working with one hand and then defending with the other.  Do you think Nehemiah ever regretted his decision to leave his position of power for his position of serving?  I bet not.  I think John feels this enormous task yet wants to be a part of the solution.  One block at a time, trying to not give in to either of the ideas that poverty is a way of life nor there is nothing that can be done.  John wants to not see the enormity of the task as much as he wants to see the enormity of His God.  I am his wife, I know these things of him....

Psalm 74:21  "Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name."  

How cool that we, as a family, get to live here and be a part of living alongside a people who are learning, as we are, to praise the name of Jesus.  I am slowly adjusting my mindset to not give in to either presumption as well.  The problem is huge, but just because it is big doesn't mean these people are choosing it because they think it best and it is who they are.  No!  That is crazy, they have just been told that for decades.  It is also so big that I want to be a part of the solution, one person at a time.  Thank you for all of you who have also chosen that choice as well by your support of our family.  Thank you for also fighting off the presumption of the poor and oppressed.  I don't regret ever leaving the life we had known for this one, but I am realizing that my view of God has to change and it needs to become larger.  I know it will as He shows me bit by bit.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Multi Cultural Day in Nigeria

Can you see my children below?  Hehehe....

Today was Multi Cultural Day at the Kids school.  I think it is their version of a fall festival.  No hayride or candy or dunking for apples or pumpkin patches or hot cocoa, but it was fun anyway.  It started off with all of the children wearing their home country's clothing (whether it be a president, sports figure, colors, etc...) and then their was a presentation of different songs and dramas representing all of the countries present.  Then afterwards we saw some Tiv dancers.  They are dancers that represent a specific tribe here in Nigeria.  There are a lot of tribes and villages within the Jos area.  At lunch, each child in each grade brought a food that represented their home country.  It was kind of fun because when I asked my kids what foods they wanted to bring, Samantha and Sarah immediately asked for Mexican foods.  By the way, both girls also chose to dress up in Mexican clothing too.  Gus, I guess is my only american boy.... Anyway, Sarah made Quesadillas, Samantha made Pica de Gallo with tostadas and Gus asked for Banana Bread.  They then had to explain how each one was made and why they chose it.  
Mary and I went and thoroughly enjoyed all the food options presented before us.  Imagine if you will, three grades we went to and at least 7 different countries represented.  We had pounded yam with egusi soup, Zaka, chocolate chip brownies, macaroni and cheese, banana bread, chips and salsa, cupcakes, maui maui wrapped in banana leaves and some other interesting items.  It was great, but I find it amazing that my children remember Mexico more than the USA.  I know I have mentioned this before, but it still surprises me when Sami tries to tell Mary that she misses the restaurant Subway (which isn't even a restaurant) but she then said that Mary doesn't know about it because it is only in Mexico.  Anyway, I guess with us moving there 5 years ago almost now, it is truly their memories of their earlier years.  There teachers were understanding and thought it was fun they wanted to represent Mexico.  I don't know if I am doing my children an injustice by not forcing them to claim the USA as their own.  I guess in time I will see how their views might change.  
Overall, it was a great morning/afternoon and I am really enjoying experiencing all the different cultures in one small city.  We have the UK, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Canada, USA, Nigeria, Mexico and I might be missing one more.  God is truly not boring and very creative.  But, just for the record.  I still think the USA has cornered the market on all things cheese and chocolate......

Monday, October 26, 2009

a fine line

Here is a picture of Mary and I in our "Nigerian wears"  
It is funny how a little effort goes along way.    The people in the village church were so thrilled that Mary was going Nigerian that there were lots of comments and congratulations and hand shaking, it was cute.  One small step towards them and yet leaps and bounds relationally.   

This has been something I have been struggling with a ton here in Jos.  There really is a gap, as in the USA also, between the younger generation and the older generation.  With that gap comes different ways to minister and reach out.  I struggle daily with the idea of this.  There are so many opinions out there, truly, you have the opinions of the older nigerians, the younger nigerians, the muslim nigerians, the christian nigerians, then you for sure cannot forget the opinions of the missionaries (those tend to be the most vocal), the missionaries from here, the missionaries from other countries and of course, you then have the voices of the Americans, who don't live here, but have a thought to it.  From every angle and side I hear of, I can see their "point of view."  It makes sense, but where does that leave me and the way I minister?  Being a foreigner,  the decisions I make are more "out there" for judgement and opinions.  I am learning to be okay with this, the idea of being above reproach in all circumstances so not to be a stumbling block to any is a huge concept.  But, the reality is that at some point those two thoughts might collide.

I am in a bible study right now studying the Beth Moore study of the Psalms of Ascent, basically, Psalms 120 through Psalms 134.  Anyway,  I am learning that so often we learn an idea and eat the seed of it instead of Sowing the seed and reaping a harvest.  Does this make sense?  Can you follow it?  She shares of a story in Africa (which I can relate to and I see it) that a man communicated to some americans that were there on a mission trip, "One of the most frustrating things is that in villages where they receive seed, they often eat the seed rather than planting it and bringing forth the harvest."  This happens all the time to us as followers of Christ.  We get excited about a biblical truth and even cry over it, but we don't take the time to make it a truth in our own lives.  We eat it, verses, sowing it.  This is huge for me.  I see this in my own life.  I have been really praying that the Lord shows me how to trust that He is my audience.  The whole concept of "Audience of One".  ANyway, if I have been praying for that, why wouldn't I be put in scenarios that show themselves to be "controversial" so that I learn to recognize God's voice in the midst of so many others.  It is not just clothing that I am talking about.... it is ministry, how can you truly help and serve the kids that are within your ministries reach?  Which direction do you go to further the ministry?  How many other ministries do you observe until you have hit the one you can glean from?  So many options.... in ministry, in relationships, in family and the list can go to every single aspect of my life.  

The Lord has a plan for me and He has a direction for me to go in, I think it is valuable and important to seek out the counseling of other Christ-centered followers, please don't hear me say that it is not important, but I have been truly praying that the Lord puts in my the trust to follow him, no matter the opposition.  I am guessing to learn trust, I might need to start sowing the seed of trust so that I may, down the road, after long hours of weariness, harvest and reap the fruit of trusting My Lord and My Saviour.

I know it is worth it, I just don't want to grow weary in the meanwhile, or if I do, not to give up hope that the harvest will indeed come.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

relationships and ministry

So as of lately, I have been feeling a little down about Nigerian living.  Nothing huge, but just feeling a bit dry, even in the midst of relationships and ministry.  There really has been a lot going on that is so good and I am grateful, but while life is moving forward I am finding it a struggle trying to "keep up" with things.  
We haven't had power for about a week and a half, and that really is not an exaggeration.  I don't remember it ever going this long in the past.  It just makes it a challenge to do laundry, etc...  Jason and Emilee have been super gracious but even after awhile I kind of feel that we are inconveniencing them as well.  It's not their fault we don't have power, you know.  I think this is a stretch for me, truly having to rely on the "community" for daily tasks.  It is one thing for me to choose to work together with others and it is another for me to rely on others to get things done.  I wish there were easier ways to learn reliance.  It really makes me wonder how much I truly rely on God?  Do I really?  Or do I rely only when I choose to because of the benefits.  I want to put myself in a place of need to rely.  Shoot, God is, isn't he by my no power.   Look I am answering my own thoughts.  Ughhh.....  It can be so uncomfortable for me to have to do that with others that it makes me think I am not in good practice of it.  If I relied on God more, would I start relying on others more?  Or will it always be an uncomfortable feeling "needing" others to get daily tasks done.  And really, who cares, right?  I am learning.......

Okay, the pictures I have pictured here are as follows:  
The top is of a couple who came to visit here for a week and they were in charge of games with the children at CLAPAI at a birthday party.  It was a lot of fun and we learned that "honesty" isn't always something that comes naturally when winning a game with kids.
The last picture is of our friend, Mary, and she is holding a baby that was dropped off at another children's home called OLA.  Her story is a sad one, but I am grateful for the moments we get to love on her and hold her and give her kisses.  Mary did a great job with all three of those while we were there.
The middle picture is our family having the pastor and his wife from the village church we attend, over for lunch.  It was a sweet time of fellowship as he and his wife shared their testimony of God "calling" them into the church ministry.  They are a wealth of knowledge of growing into the person who God has created you to be.   Anyway, there you have it.  
Please pray for our ministries and that our power would return.
God Bless.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gift of Pain

pain is used for several reasons:
1. to remove pride
2. more obedience to God's word
3. opportunities to forgive others
4. compassionate towards others
5. you become a model for others who suffer through pain
6. to depend on God, not others
7. kinship with Christ and his sufferings
8. restore us to correct strength

As a child runs to its mother when hurt; so should we run to our Father when we feel pain.

This was a sermon given to us at church on Sunday, and I wanted to send it out to my friend, and you know who you are, and know that my prayers are there beside you, even though I don't live through what you are living through.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The moon is blue

When John and I first started dating he would walk me home and say goodnight in front of my sorority house door and above the door hung a lit, blue, neon crescent moon.  It was the symbol of my sorority and he would look up and say, "Hey Corrie, the moon is blue" and then I, in return, would say, "No, I don't see a blue moon."  This went on for weeks and months.  It was just his way of seeing where I stood with him, emotionally.  Well, one day, John walked me home in the evening and he didn't say anything and I looked at him and all of a sudden I realized that he liked me.  I mean, HE REALLY LIKED ME and I could trust him to protect me in whatever circumstances may lie ahead for us.  So I said to him, "John, did you know the moon is blue."  He just smiled and said "Yes it is, isn't it."  Anyway, I probably went into too much detail about our little early romance, but we still use those words to describe where we are with each other, emotionally.  If I am frustrated, I just look at him and say that the moon isn't even close to being blue or if he is thinking I am not trusting him he might remind me that the moon is still blue, etc....  You understand what I am getting at, right????
Okay, here is the real story for you.  SO, the other day John and I were running in our neighboring area about 6:15 in the morning and a HUGE HERD of cattle (and when I say cattle, I mean big, gigantic longhorn cattle) came charging at us.  It is not abnormal for you to see a herd of cattle roaming down our neighborhood street or down any street in the city for that matter.  They kind of roam anywhere.  But, not often do they take up the entire street and the ditches on both sides and I have never seen them running before.  So, I look up ahead and I notice that these cattle are coming straight for us and I kind of panic and tell JOhn that I am going to run behind him because this is it, we are going to die or at least get some punctures.  I almost wanted to curl up in a ball and look big and strong (because I am sure the cattle would see me and be scared).  Anyway, John proceeds to run in front of me and he starts flailing his arms all about to scare them off our little path.  I was so scared.  Well, they run right by us and they didn't run into us, on us, over us or even knick us a bit.  And I looked at John and said to him, "You know what babe, the moon is blue" and I loved that moment.  He truly was going to take some cattle head on to protect me.    I wish there were some pictures for you to see, but of course, no camera while running.
As a few days have gone on, Mary and Emilee and I have gone to see the kids at CLAPAI.  This past week was their first week back from the break and I realized again about God's protection and his shelter over these kids, whom I have grown to love and desire to protect them as well.
There are times when you recognize God's protection over you and there are times when you don't always see it, but you know it is there.  But, in a huge way, I think one of the biggest lessons I am learning (in a small, slow but steady pace) while living here in Nigeria is that God protects.  He protects me, these small kids, my marriage, my family, my friendships, he protects me from sickness and death, he protects this ministry and its relationships.
He protects His family and no matter what form that takes, whether I see it or not, He is protecting.  I am so thankful that I can trust in it.  The bummer is I am the unfaithful one, not wanting to see God's moon for me as blue if I don't agree with Him. But Blue it is and blue it will always remain because of who He is, not who I am.  And for that I am glad this is the lesson being taught to me, even if it is cloudy and I don't even see a moon at all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


This past Sunday, we had some friends of ours celebrate their one year anniversary.  We truly have enjoyed and treasure their friendship.  The woman, Evelyn, is a part of the bible study I lead and the man, Daniel, works for a computer/website company that the ministry has used.  They both love the Lord and have come alongside of Back2Back in outreaches, helping in the translation but also have come alongside the ministry by their friendship.   Again, we feel blessed to call them friends.  They asked some close family and friends to come over and join them in a time of remembrance and prayer as they welcome in another year of marriage.  Here are some pictures that were taken that night.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I just wanted to see if anyone was out there?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

and the community grows....

 Can you believe it?  It is the official staff of Back2Back, Nigeria!!  This is Jason and Emilee, our directors, and Peyton their first baby.  They have been gone for pretty much the same amount of time we have been here because they were in the states growing their family.  They have returned and it is soooo nice having them here again.  
When they came they brought of friend of mine and John's with them, Mary.  I would put a photo of her in here as well, but the ones I have, I think she would kill me if I put them in without her knowledge.....  She is joining us for seven weeks and it is also so great having her here.  She is a blessing and my kids absolutely love her and she is kind, caring, super flexible and willing to live with my cooking for that long.  It must be unconditional love, huh?  Anyway, it is kind of neat to see our little community grow again.  We are eating together, enjoying children together and just overall, learning to do ministry together.   
Tomorrow is Independence Day here in Nigeria.  the county became free on Oct. 1st, 1960.  So, we are going to another missionary friends house with lots of other missionary families and having a bonfire and we are eating all american food on this Nigerian holiday.  I cannot wait.... pasta salad, hot dogs/buns, potatoes, brownies, cole slaw, veggie tray and more little snacky items, fun hun???  My kids today, at school, are celebrating with an all nigerian lunch, huge buffet.  I think it will be fun for them to see what it can look like, really, verses our american style... Sarah had to write a report on the first nigerian president and so we, as a family, are learning lots about this precious country that God created.  They are off on Thursday and everything shuts down, again.  Lots of little holidays they have here, I am noticing.
Anyway, I don't really have any deep insights for the day, just little information facts.  I guess that is good as well.  I want you to get somewhat a feel of life here and I am not always as good at communicating Jos life, so here is a bit of it.
For all of you who really are following our life here, you can pray, the bible study with the women starts up again next Wedesday.  We are doing Beth Moore's bible study called Stepping Up.  It is a study on the Psalms.  There are 10 of us this time.  It is the same women as last time, just two more americans added and one more nigerian.  I know it will be challenging at times, but I also get excited about the opportunities for growth for all of us.  Anyway, have a great day.
God Bless!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

it's a strange thing

It's a strange thing to me the way a life can turn out.  How people spend time in their day, how they choose to invest is ultimately what matters to them or is important.  For example, let's take a look at my morning shall we.
Woke up and  immediately started laundry because we had power.  So with that knowledge of power started a string of events that I felt had to happen because you don't know when it will take place again.  So, I quickly unmade beds and threw sheets in the washing machine (as my guards are hand washing their clothes in a bucket next to our machine).  Then started charging my ipod so it will have juice left in it when I run next.  Okay, power stuff underway.
Then, as the kids are making their breakfast, they noticed we have killed more mice (this is number 7 and 8 for us in the last two days), so they make sure they are appropriately not living before they throw them in the trash that gets taken out front and then burned (because that is what we do with our trash here).  With that desire for cleanliness, we have help cleaning off all of our store shelves (which is what they call the pantry here, store) to get rid of the mice droppings that are just hanging out next to my cereal.   Now, we have everything cleaned up, I realize that our flour had some worms in it so the flour gets sifted and restored.  Now let's stop here for a moment before people think to themselves "it is not safe to go there, it is unclean."  It is just some mice and some worms.  Majority of the world lives this way, and John and I make sure we keep our house clean and we take these type of precautions to assure the health of people that come visit.  Also, for the record, no one in my family has gotten real sick yet.  Colds, and a little poison ivy, but no stomach thing.... so stop with those thoughts, okay.
Next, we have a friend coming to live with us for about seven weeks, so we make some No-bake cookies, the kids and I and then clean up and wash up, etc....
Okay, so far, my time has been investing in my house, the health of my children and family and cooking.  It is a strange thing to me because really, I am extremely relational and I just got done reading a blog from a friend of mine talking about investing time and energy into people and the "eternal kingdom" and I cannot help but feel confused with the results of my morning.
I actually feel really productive, but if you were to look around, it doesn't look like I have accomplished much at all and I can almost guess our friend won't think our house is clean or that I spent much of the morning cleaning it.  Not because she is a bad friend, or even picky, just because so much of our work goes unnoticed from others eyes.... but my kids and I know the difference, we spent the energy being a part of the difference.  So, even though I wouldn't say that my home is that important to me, it is to my husband and so I guess it is becoming more important to me because he is important to me.  Does any of this make sense?  
I guess maybe I am learning that it's a strange thing, investing in something that you wouldn't really care about in the past, but you choose to invest and the caring naturally follows.  I wonder if this is true in the spiritual realm and choosing to invest in things that the Lord cares about because we care about Him and even if others don't notice our investment, we know because we took the time, therefore we care.  
I don't know, my thoughts are getting jumbled.  Either way, I guess I should invest in something so I don't become stale or complacent.   And maybe the next time I go into someone else's house, I should realize the time and energy they put forth in making it the way it is in order to help me feel safe and comfortable.  I wouldn't have thought my life would have turned out this way, living in Africa, but I am learning the Lord has things for me to do here so I will become different in the process.  It's still a strange thing to me. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

transient community

So this morning, I get news that one of my closer women friends here is leaving for awhile on Oct. 25th.   It is strange, the community here, different than other ones I have been a part of...
In Mexico, the community was growing always, but deep, intimate friendships were made due to living so much of your life together (ministering, playing, families, church, etc...).  Then you have your community of your family and close friends, which is also more deep, yet more controlled, if you will.  You can make more choices of your own due to just less people being involved.  It is still good and the Lord grows different muscles in that environment than he does in the larger one.
But, living here in Nigeria, there is a different sort of community.  One that is completely connected and dependent on each other, yet completed separate and individualistic at the same time.  It is the "larger missionary community", where missionaries from Sweden, Ireland, Canada, Great Britain and the USA and others have this deep understanding about what it is to be a foreigner here, which isn't always easy.  People don't necessarily live by one another and we all focus on different areas of need here, ones that the Lord has individually called our ministries to be a part.   I have had to make more of an effort in this one because I find since I don't live right next door to them, it could be easy to think you are an island and "others" are just there for when you want them to be there.  But, through time, I have formed about three unique friendships that have ministered to me, encouraged me and helped me along my Nigerian path.  I really love these three women.  They are all different, all involved in different ministries from me and each other and all have drastically different personalities.  Yet we all get a long well.  
Something that is so unique about it is the idea of living life with these women and the larger community with my hands open.  No expectations and no walls because this community is completely transient.  People are always moving away or just beginning life here and you never know when it is time for people to go and follow what the Lord has next for them.  In some ways, I find myself at home here because my life has shown itself to move around a lot and you just get up and go, no questions asked.  Every missionary has that temperament, to some degree anyway.  But, what is new here, is I am used to being the one moving away, not others.  To become close to someone realizing that it is probably just a matter of time before one of you moves is strange.  Knowing that at the beginning, before you even start.  The desire to protect yourself could be there and your lack of effort to build into others could also be there, but surprisingly, as you move forward, it happens.  You knowingly walk into a friendship realizing it is temporary but the Lord has something for  you in it.  So you walk forward and enjoy the moment.
Now, I am not sitting here saying it is easy always and sad never.... but what I do realize is that one of my close friends is moving home for awhile (if not longer) and I might not ever see her again and it is okay because I have so thoroughly enjoyed her while we have had this time, and my hands being wide open will (I know and trust) grow me in ways that the Lord will continue to lead me down his path and this is just part of it.  Plus, she and I are shopping for new material for some cushions tomorrow morning before she moves because she just so happens to be my friend who has a lot of style.....  See, God always works the details out!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

playing in the dark

Okay, so this picture here to the left, has nothing to do with this blog, but you have to admit, it is kind of a cool picture.  Literally, this summer, we would purchase like 20 live chickens and then we would go pick them up once they have been cut and the feathers removed (which for the record, I know how to do that now -- ahhh, the things I am learning in Africa).  Anyway, I wanted to show you how gross it looks really.  But anyway, I digress from the purpose of this entry.

 Last night, the kids were playing in the living room (which by the way, we finally have a living room couch, yeah) and I was playing chess with one of them when John came in and started turning on the lights and saying that we have electricity (however they call it "light" when the power is on) so we should use it.  We kind of chuckled with the idea how much we have become used to not having lights or electricity or even necessarily warm water to shower in that when it is on, we aren't aware so we don't take advantage of the moment.  Instead, we just sit there in the dark, straining our eyes and dealing with the frustration of darkness.
John and I then started talking about how much we might live our life in the dark when God is there, waiting for us to call out to him and take advantage of his blessings and gifts that he has for us.  Or even think about certain sins in our life that we might not even call them that any more because we have lived a big part of our life in it, that we are used to it and have become numb to the "darkness" and not even know you are living in the dark vs. the light.
Anyway, interesting for us to see our family grow up here.  As much as this analogy shows it to be a bad thing, I am grateful that power and electricity don't make it on my kids wish list anymore.  They are off of school today due to a muslim holiday, today and tomorrow actually so they are outside trying to fly a kite with no wind, oops, so wind is today, on their wish list...  Oh well, we have a long way to go, but we are getting there -- wherever "there" is.
Have a good day with your light!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

a good day

I don't have a lot of time, so I will make this quick.  Yesterday was just a really good day, you want to know why?  I walk out in the morning and it was beautiful outside, a cool breeze, sun and our guards are laughing and carrying on about something.  So, I ask them what is going on, just being a bit nosey... and they tell me they are just going through Scriptures and they are just amazed at some of the things Jesus did during his life on Earth.  
Then, the man who asked me about "what do you have to do to be a christian?"  He shows up and he starts going on and on about the verses in Matthew and Acts he is reading and then he proceeds to tell me and our guards that God is good and that He was given a picture Bible a year ago and he is just starting to get it and so he brought it over for our guards to look at over the next few days.  Then, I walk back in my house and a woman who helps me in our home, Juliana, she proceeds to tell me that her older son (who is 20 and she and I have prayed for him for awhile because he had fallen away from the Lord) has returned to his faith and wants to go to baptist seminary school!  She just kept saying, "God is so good and I am so grateful for Him".
What a great day huh?  At that was the first hour of my day.  The Lord just doing his thing, person by person, and the rest of the day I had an extra bounce in my step and so much excitement and energy, I just wanted to be a part of ministry.  Whatever God is doing in the lives of these Nigerians, I want him to be doing in me too.  It is contagious, walking with the Lord.  How cool is that, huh?
Honestly, when was the last time I got together with a friend and laughed and just enjoyed the marvel of Jesus's life?  I am so grateful!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

in one moment

I have been reading a book called Hope Lives and it is a devotional type of book that goes into the issue of poverty and God’s views on it, the causes, the possible solutions and how we as Americans choose to or not to partake in it.  It is not by any means an all-inclusive book, but I am enjoying it because it goes into different stories of individuals whose lives have been impacted by one person. 

One of the main things I am personally learning about is that God does not care as much about our circumstances and symptoms as much as He cares about our person.  It can be a stumbling block to be too rich or too poor.  That isn’t the concern as much as how do we relate to each other within those outside forces.  When I really think about it, that is one of my favorite things about the ministry of Back2Back, they bring two different people groups together and something amazing happens when relationships are formed that cannot be predicted or put in a box.  I love to be a part of it each and every time.

Anyway, I was running this morning and I realized if I stared straight down at my next step of running, I felt sluggish and slow and wasn’t aware of what was going on around me and I kept thinking about how I could stop and rest, but if I looked out onto the trail/road ahead of me, my pace felt stronger and more reliable and I didn’t get messed up by the little potholes.  I immediately thought about the eternal vs. the “here and now”.  If I make choices to look toward the eternal with people, my pace is stronger and a bit more consistent in my everyday life.  BUT, if I look to the “here and now” with people, I tend to get caught up in the potholes of irritations and frustrations of silly things, and I can feel at times like giving up.

“Treasures in heaven” I think I have mostly thought of this verse with the mindset of eternal rewards, kind of…. Don’t judge me on my theology, come on, just honesty coming out.  But, if “storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven” was people, wow, this is kind of more valuable and more important to me now.  Can I be apart of the eternal with someone else?  Someone that God views as His treasures, such as the poor, the orphan?  How do I go about running my race, here on earth, in the “here and now” but look out ahead at the eternal. 

I don’t know.  But, I do want to run the race and try.  I want to live that life, the life that looks toward the eternal with every person in front of me, whether I am at the village or at the children’s home we work with or if I am staring at my children or cooking with my friends.  Not to get irritated because of decisions people have made or whatever, but look past that and look at eternity with the Lord and them and move forward because God, I think, likes it.

This morning a man asked me, point blank, “What does someone have to do to become a Christian?”  Hmmmm….. treasures in heaven, rich vs. poor, eternal vs. “here and now” --- I guess they can all come together in one moment, can’t they?

Friday, September 11, 2009

a farming tradition

John and I were invited by the Chairman of the village we work with to come experience and witness one of the farming/wedding traditions that they practice.  This video is about 1.31 minutes and shows it well.  We picked up the kids right after school and went to go "be a part" of traditional Africa.  

Upon arriving, we learned more.... when a man marries a woman from another village, the husband's village during the next year, has some responsibilities.  Three different times the village will come over to the wife's village and "farm" or till the land and then the two villages share a meal and celebrate.  It just so happened that the Chairman's youngest daughter was married this past year, and the man's village was finishing up their agreement and coming for the third and final time to "farm" the Chairman's land.  

It was actually really fun.  John got a try and I think within time, he would be great and his village can come farm my family's village within the next year.  So, mom and dad, get your garden ready, John's a coming for some weeds.....

No, seriously, it was amazing to be there firsthand and see the excitement and encouragement that both villages shared for one another.  The one came with about 60 men and within an hour tilled maybe 3 acres, but row after row after row of their corn.  They worked together like a machine.   As the men were working, the women and kids were either dancing and encouraging or they were cooking and preparing for the meal afterward.  Overall, I liked the gesture and thought it would be really cool if we could somehow put this practice into place in the States.  Maybe it is not tilling or farming, but maybe it is something different.  I don't know.... something to think about.  How sweet to see one people group take care of another people group.  Even though they didn't all get married, obviously, they all took part in the responsibilities of it.  I like it!

Okay, I just spent about an hour having this video download (and it wasn't finished) and our power went out.  SOOO, no video.  I will add a couple of pictures.  It won't do the scene justice because you need to see these men work with their tools and the women singing and dancing... but here are a few photos.  I hope you can catch the moment somewhat.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

weather is ever changing

Sami yesterday morning wished out loud that the weather would stay the same all day because it was beautiful in her eyes in the exact moment.  The day really was heavy with dark clouds and it looked like it could pour any moment.  Sami is very much like me in the way that we love dark, cloudy, rainy days.  There is something safe in it for me, I am not sure why.  Anyway, as she was saying that, I told her that weather is ever changing, and it just doesn't stay the same.  It wasn't created to remain the same.... it marks the change in seasons, years, temperatures, etc...  She was sad!  She exclaimed excitedly, "God doesn't change like the weather!"

Later that day, John and I were driving towards our village and I was kind of just in my own little world thinking about whatever came to my mind.  In that moment, I started marveling at the fact that I love this season of my life.  In this moment, John and I have three kids which are all in elementary school, they are independent enough to dress themselves, feed themselves if needed, work on their schoolwork (and John and I at this point can still help), but yet not independent enough to just go to a friends house real late and drive home by curfew, etc...  Not only are our kids at the perfect age but I love our two guards that are on our property.  They are Christian young men who just fit with us, and we are adjusting to Nigeria and life is content.

In the very next moment, I was reminded of Sami's comment about not wanting the weather to change.  I want that also, but this season.  It is hard because I know my kids will get older, and the parenting role will need to change as they change, our guards truly will not want to be with us forever, they have their whole lives ahead of them, ministry will always be rearranging as more staff and more groups come and I will be forced to change with them.  That is not bad, just I want "today" to last forever.  What is it in me that wants moments to last forever?  I know some of you reading this might wish your season to end this very moment so the next one can start fresh....  Isn't that funny?  We want to push forward, or we want to hold on to what just took place.  

God never changes, Sami was right, and I guess that is the one thing we can count on to remain the same today, yesterday and for sure, tomorrow.  So, I guess whether it is the weather, circumstances, seasons, etc...  I can for sure rely on the Lord to never change and I hope to always find peace and joy in that... that no matter what season I find myself, that part of me will never change.... the part that seeks God in the season in the moment.  

Hmmmm, God Bless,

P.S.  I had a youth pastor many, many years ago accuse me of never stopping with my thoughts and he asked me if I could just "put it on hold" for a moment to let him breathe.   I am realizing no, I cannot stop, my thoughts are always cluttered with these ideas and parallels.  I know it might be crazy and you might be tired of blog entries that are dealing with the thoughts in my head verses just about living in Africa.  It is just me realizing that it is okay.  It is good for me to get them out of my head and onto this version of paper... thanks for reading and helping me sleep better at night because of it....

Friday, September 4, 2009

a rhythm

I am sitting in my bed typing this at the end of a day of running errands, being at the school to help with Field Day (I am in charge of one of the teams), meeting with people re: future plans and I am overwhelmed with the normalness of all of it.  Living in Africa has become our life and as much as I never thought it would happen, John and Corrie have found a rhythm to being here, in Jos, Nigeria, AFrica.  Can you believe it?
I don't know if it is answered prayer for those of you who have gotten on your knees and prayed for our family, or if it has just been time, or maybe it was the challenges of summer and getting a "crash course" in Nigeria 101, I would imagine all three, but we are thankful.
I am realizing that us moving our family here and raising funds, and selling or giving away items of big or little importance, packing up into 15 or so suitcases was the beginning of the sacrifices.  I have such a desire to check it off of a list and then move on, but as living here has become our life, I realize that the move was nothing and the living life here is a daily commitment to sacrifice and choosing Christ over Corrie moment by moment.  The joy is the recognition that submission is good, holy, pure and pleasing to the Lord.  
There is need here so great, I can become overwhelmed.... but there is also hope and simplicity mixed with chaos and confusion....  yet I see Christ moving.  There are hungry kids at every corner, kids that need to know that God has not forgotten them and he has a plan for them specifically, discipleship necessary for true biblical conviction, relationships to be enjoyed and nurtured and as a friend recently reminded me, there is tension to be embraced and lived in my lack of understanding. 
I so much like our life here.  I don't want to move away (who would have thought that would come out of my mouth a few months ago, huh?).  Maybe the scales have been removed from my eyes, or maybe it was the little act of submission to working in the kitchen this week with my househelp and realizing it is good to be a part of a solution.....  But, I see a need and I want to be a part of the solution, whatever it may show itself to be.  
So, life moves forward for the Guckenberger family, I had a great time laughing in the kitchen this week with a couple of ladies, we had a family over for dinner for the first time this week, I ordered meat from a lady who kills a cow a week because that is how it is done and I find it a nice rhythm.  One I want to continue on and seek out and be a part of.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

a potato chip

When I was running this morning and I was struggling with a neck/shoulder cramp and I was thinking about the interns that lived here this summer in this small community the Lord reminded me of my high school running years.  I have mentioned in the past how I see a lot of parallels in my running disciplines and my spiritual disciplines and this morning showed itself again to be true.
When I was in high school, the cross country coach would ask us to occasionally run with a potato chip in our hands.  His goal was to get our muscles all working together in a way that is best for our body to run without underusing (being too loose) or overusing (cramping up) them.  As we began the practice of  "the potato chip" some of us were notorious for crushing the chip, others were commonly found letting the chip fall from our hands and to the ground.  
I started thinking about how I tend to do that to those living in the same community as me.  I am either crushing them by forcing things that they are not ready for or trying to push too hard in certain areas of their life.... or I am letting them fall from my hands and onto the ground by ignoring their needs and not pursuing them in their relationship with Christ enough out of fear or whatever other excuse I might have at the moment.  I want to learn the balance of every spiritual discipline in place so that I know when to hold firmly, but not too tightly and I know when to loosen up, but not too much that they flounder.  Does that make sense?
Well, I was thinking about how the interns were there in community with me and I relearned the art of balance with all the disciplines.  With them gone, I find myself in the same place as before with losing the sharpness and awareness of using all my muscles together in a way that shows Christ to those around me without shoving Christ in an environment that "do not throw pearls before swine."
Wow, community is really important.  I know that the Lord will grow me in this season by sharpening muscles I don't have to use as much in community, but I also know that there is a purpose for others in my life, always.  I want to ready!
As I finished my run and I tried to loosen up my muscles in a way that the cramp would diminish, I thanked the Lord that he has given me a community that will quickly show me my errors (sin) and want to work with me to correct them and continue running.

Monday, August 31, 2009


So, this morning John and I got into a little tiff.  I really am probably very frustrating for him at times with my stubbornness.  I would imagine any of my friends have also experienced my stubbornness at times and have also felt frustrated with me.  So, I want to say off the bat - thanks for being willing to remain faithful as a friend.
I am not good at managing people, nor do I want to become good at it.  I am also not good at cooking, nor do I want to become good at it.  So there is the background, here is the problem.  Today, it was decided that our househelp should step it up a notch and start cooking for us.  It will help me with time and it will help us fill her schedule.  BUT, for that to happen, it means me having to be in the kitchen with her for the next week or so to kind of show her "first time through" with recipes that we enjoy.  I would rather do anything else in the whole wide world than this.  It is me having to manage her tightly on top of being in the kitchen.  NOW, I know you are thinking, but it will help me in the long run not be in the kitchen.  I know, I know, but it doesn't mean that I still want this next week to happen.  I don't.   So, you can imagine John's frustration as he is exasperated with me (because I basically tell him he must be the one to do it since he wants it - I know it is ugly of me).  Because I can be like a cooked spaghetti noodle that you are trying to push uphill, in these scenarios.  For the record, it doesn't happen very often and my son, Gus, is just like this.  It doesn't work too well, does it.  
Anyway, as it is quiet in our car because "I just cannot talk to him anymore about it" I recall a sentence in a book I have just finished, "How we live our days is how we live our lives."  Ughhh...  conviction.  I, at times, just choose to not grow, not want to grow or even care that I don't want to grow.  That is an ugly trait.   If I know these next couple of weeks in the kitchen will improve our house, our househelp, etc... why wouldn't I be willing to do it?  I am way too convenient minded.  It is not convenient for me to be a part of the solution therefore, I don't want to be a part of the solution.  I have been really trying to listen and obey God and it is hard when it is way too easy for me to be comfortable.  You know what I mean?
Anyway, as I was getting ready for the morning (which by the way, it is absolutely beautiful outside - I want to go on a picnic and hike), I resolved to the idea of listening and obeying and doing it 100%.  I really don't want the character of my life to show itself by my stubborn days.
So, as my mind shifts towards submission (which is how it feels truly) I get this renewed energy to be a part of every aspect and run with it.  It was like a new life took over.  Man, why don't I choose submission more often.  This isn't so bad.  I all of a sudden had ideas for foods, I had ideas for other areas in my life as well that I had been struggling with and it was so cool.   Is this the abundant life?  Is this fruit to obedience?   I am guessing, not always, but this morning, it is right and I am thankful and I do want to not be a cooked spaghetti noodle (at least not always - hey it is a process right?).  ANyway, what started out as a little tiff between husband and wife ended with a spiritual lesson for me.   Stubbornness can be shifted and transformed and choosing obedience will always benefit the one who needs to obey.  Each and every time.  
"How we live our days, is our we live our lives."  I want my life to be lived with obedience and submission to Christ.   YAHOO!!  I say that with excitement!  Man, God is good.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Perfect in Christ

"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."  Colossians 1:28-29  
These verses were the theme of this morning's sermon at church.  I found them perfect in timing.  You see, I am getting ready to start up again the bible study with the same women that I was in one before.  As I have purchased the studies and have been praying about the time, people, that the Spirit would go before us, I found myself getting so nervous.  Asking lots of questions, like, "Why do I do this?", "There is so much discipling that really needs to be done, more than I can offer and more than I even know how to offer." or "Who am I to offer my thoughts on their such different culture and their such different life experiences...?"
  But, as the pastor started preaching on this he hit three points....

1.  Do the work of the Lord without grumbling
2.  Do the work of the Lord without being afraid
3.  Do the work of the Lord without shame

I was convicted by my thoughts and attitude as of late.  I had started allowing small grievances to enter my conversation and little complaints here and there to my husband.  Then the Spirit immediately took me to my thoughts on bible study.  I was afraid, I am afraid of failing at something I love, something I would say, "breathes life into me."  What if there is no change in these women, no stepping towards Christ.....  what if they think I am a silly white woman?  I was becoming embarrassed about being white because it immediately put me in a different category and it will nullify anything I might have to say.  You see what I am saying?  The pastor's three main points hit me on the head! 

 I was grumbling, I was afraid and I was living in shame at my differences.  But the key is in verse 28.  I live here and I desire to teach these women because I want to be a part of presenting everyone "perfect in Christ".  I mean really, isn't that my responsibility?  I am living life with them, alongside of them, participating in the same activities, shouldn't I be proclaiming Christ to them and teaching them????  Why?  So they may be presented as PERFECT!!  I want to be presented as perfect and I want my sisters on the other side of the world from my birthplace to be also presented as perfect. 

 I cannot do it!  But as I struggle, it will be "struggling with HIS energy" that is at work in me.  This is why I do a bible study.  To this end I labor in Christ.  I pray I don't forget it.  Lord, help me to remember! 

 So, as I move forward doing what I believe the Lord has called me to do, I will daily need to remember it is for the love that the Lord is growing in me for these women living here that I do it.  I will be living in eternity with them!  I am not ashamed God made me a white woman (even though the nigerians may see me as silly at times), I am not afraid to fail (even though by this world's standards I might) and I want to give my thoughts to the Lord so my desire to complain is brought to an end.  I pray all of you are doing your parts as well in these verses and that you might find yourself with the same resolve as I am finding myself.

God Bless!
Oh, and by the way, the picture on the top is of a group member and I liked it with this blog entry because I think Back2Back is here in Nigeria because we are following the leading of the Lord working here and wanting to join him in where he is working.  Kind of sweet, huh?  To be working where He is working!!