Thursday, April 30, 2009

running growth

My running is getting stronger, I am still tired, but I am at a place that my three mile run is relatively easy in stride and breath, and I feel caught up I guess you could say from our transition here and travel, physically speaking....  Now bear with me, I have found running to be a major parallel with my spiritual growth.... they are similar in many ways.  I wrote an article in our Back 2 Back magazine a few years ago about running in a community and how it was a challenge to run with others, and I also found it a challenge to get used to others in a community and how we all function differently.  I grew from it physically and spiritually.  I praise the Lord for those years as they have helped develop me in a way that wouldn't have shown itself without those people.

BUT now, here I am again, this time without the larger community, just my smaller family, learning how to run again, physically and spiritually.  Let me try to explain as it is still coming together in my mind this morning.  So, the other day, I felt my running getting stronger, as I said, and I knew that if I didn't change something, I would become stagnant in a way in my physical health.  Which is true for all of us spiritually, if we are not moving forward after a season then we are ultimately moving backwards.  John had asked me to run with him early in the morning, which in the past, I have completely stayed clear from.  He and I, how can I put this, don't run well together.  It is tense as he breathes easily and is enjoying his leisure stroll, while I am frustrated feeling as if I am holding him back and breathing loudly and wanting to stop....He just runs faster.
Anyway, I thought maybe I would give it a try again and see what happens.  Well, a week or so has gone by and we are running together still.   Daily it is a struggle, but this time, I am realizing how amazing God is as he orchestrates every detail for his greater good.  
This morning, as we were running, he made a small comment, "Corrie, you are holding back, you have more in you to give"  I immediately thought he was talking spiritually (we were talking about the summer), and I was like, "really?" and he said, "Yes, I see it in you right now."  Me, being encouraged that he saw in me more than what was shown was so excited to let go and abandon all and give it all I got for the Lord, I mean, someone thinks it, right?  Even if it was my husband, he sees it....
Well, come to find out, he meant physically and was wanting me to pick up the pace...  I became so discouraged and frustrated with him and told him the run was not all about him....  Well, needless to say, our run was finished in silence...  We return and he kindly and humbly came up to me and said that my comment hurt him.  I was so busy making sure that if I ran with him, he would run at my pace, and run how long I wanted to, that ultimately I had made our runs not all about him, but all about me.  I love him for he corrected my thinking with a little gentle rebuke and I am learning he is wanting our runs to be about us, neither one of us in particular.  I sat in silence as I started thinking this over a bit.  
The truth is, I don't know how to do that.  In Mexico, we learned to work as a unit, but our "ministry" paths did not need to cross much, outside of the children.  We just played really different roles.  Here, we won't survive unless we function as "one".  and I am realizing that is a challenge for me, because it is easier for me to have the focus on one and then the other.  It is just easier, you know?  But, to learn to run next to him, considering both our thoughts and needs in the moment is new and different.  Yet, I am confident this is exactly what the Lord is teaching me in this season.  
I was needing a change in my running and as I am starting to do just that, I realize once again, that the Lord is calling me to a change in my spiritual being.  One that is able to compromise, continually looking to the interest of others.  Not be so consumed with my lack of ability but recognize that there is someone next to me who is running, sacrificing, serving and giving as well and we can learn together.
The truth is John is a much better runner than me and he is stronger, faster, etc... but isn't that what I need to move forward physically and spiritually?  Don't we all need someone like that to mature and grow?
And, John was right, I do have more to give and I am thankful he does see it and wants me too as well.  I guess I need to keep running with him...  

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Give Careful Thought to Your Ways

The Lord has brought to mind the book of Haggai to both John and I recently, and we are recognizing a repeated phrase in this small book:  "Give careful thought to your ways."
Really, there have been two things going on here for the Guckenbergers:  one, prep our home and the ministry home for groups this summer and take care of leaks, breaks, furniture, maintenance that can seem unending... two, we desire and need to maintain and grow ministry relationships so when we are ministering this summer we are meeting the appropriate needs and building into them personally and collectively as a whole.  Constantly, we are feeling torn between the two, feeling as if one is always being ignored.
John and I have been praying for wisdom and discernment daily (still) and this book of the Bible keeps finding itself on the forefront of my mind.  As I was reading it, I came across the idea of investing into your own "home" while the Lord's house (temple) remains a ruin.... He was basically rebuking His people saying, "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"  He was telling them that the more they invested in their own "stuff" and neglecting what was more important (the rebuilding of his temple) He was making sure their fruit was little.  Now, I know it is not wrong to invest in what you have been given and it is good to be a good steward of your possessions, BUT not at the stake of disobedience.  So, then the question is what is God calling John and I to do daily, or in this season?  This is where "give careful thought to your ways" comes in, doesn't it?  
I am learning that none of my purposes (or any of ours I would imagine) will be fulfilled easily.  All of them will require the most difficult decisions I think I can make.  But, through these, am I not becoming the person I am supposed to be?  I wasn't called to an easy life, right?  But a purposeful one!  John and I need to give careful thought to our ways because we love the Lord and don't want to miss out on His ministry.  
Today, I pray that all of you will give careful thought to your ways and please pray for John and I to do what we need to be doing each day...
Yikes someone is here for bible study early, gotta go.
God Bless

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


People have asked us what does entertainment look like in Jos, Nigeria.  Or what maybe we do for fun as a family, or in the evenings...  I am hear to tell you that our time "out" has drastically changed and is becoming more simple and it is also becoming okay.
There are no movie theaters or shops that are created for the sole purpose to entertain people.  People here, for the most part, are busy with carrying on the daily tasks of living here.  To get gas, it can take up to one hour of waiting in a line before your car is to be filled.  I see at six in the morning, women with buckets on their heads walking quite a distance to get water for their families needs for the day (and this is in the town, not some remote village like one might picture).  In preparing a meal, most families prepare a fire pit and cook over it, especially if there is no power in the moment.  I just had a neighbor bring over an Easter cake as a "welcome to the neighborhood kind of thing" and she said she made it over a fire because there was no "light" when she was preparing it.  It was absolutely beautiful, like you would see at a wedding, I am not kidding.  I cannot even imagine what my cake would look like if I tried to cook it over a pit..... hehe.  But, a meal alone, takes time and is part of their daily living.
When we first moved here, I was overwhelmed with the daily living and lack of  "things to do" but the Lord honestly almost rebuked me in my heart as I looked around and saw hard working individuals who care for their families harder than I have ever had to care for mine, at least physically speaking.  I now see that we are extremely blessed to be able to have the means to buy a vehicle, have friends that have a washer and dryer (most hand wash and dry their clothes), own a stove and live in a place where we have two guards caring for the safety of our family and home.  It is as if the Lord has opened my eyes to a type of living that has always been around and I have been unaware.  Where have my eyes been?
Now, to get back to answering the question of what we do.....  we play a lot of games (sometimes by candlelight and the kids LOVE it), cards, we do occasionally watch a movie on our travel DVD player, we try to hike as much as we can in the area - we have so much to learn of this place, we took our kids kite flying the other day (a friend brought those for us as a gift), which was fun, our kids have learned and created lots of jokes (which I am about done with....), we work to help John (which I am sure he loves), and we just hang out.
Something that affects what John and I do as "dates" is there is a city wide curfew of 9pm.  This has been in place since the riots in November.  So, to go out in the evening is limited.  Just the other day, we went to the high school musical (we were so excited, it was our first time "out" as a family since we had been here, in the evening) and we saw "You are a Good Man, Charlie Brown".  The production was over by 8:30 and it was crazy seeing everyone rush out to get home by curfew.  I am not kidding, it was a silly experience as even John and I were like, "Get the kids, we gotta get out of here before it is too late."  The curfew is in place until 6am so it even affects our time in the morning of running.  No one leaves until 6am.....  Can you imagine living with a curfew as if you were living with your parents again.....  It has forced early bedtimes and lots of family time.  I guess as I answer this question I realize that overall, this is not a bad trade, huh?
Don't get me wrong, you will hear in our family, "What can I do?" and John and I have moments where hanging out just isn't cutting it, but again, we are learning and we are growing stronger as a couple and as a family, and just the other day, we realized that we are liking the fruit that is coming with our lack of entertainment.  Again, don't get me wrong, as soon as we go to the USA, I want to buy some clothes, see a movie and eat out..... but for now, we are in Nigeria and we will take the fruit of strength in the Lord and as a family.
I hope this helps answer some people's questions.  Thanks for your prayers.....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

not much to say, crazy huh?

Hey there all,
I hope this blog finds you well.  I have felt like I have had nothing to share lately, isn't that crazy?  John was like, "Go running or something".  He knows that is one avenue the Lord uses to speak to me about life.  So, as I am running, all these thoughts come in and I think the entire time, but no joke, as soon as I am done running, they are gone.  I try so hard to remember and there is nothing.  Isn't that amazing how quickly we, as humans, are prone to forget.  Forget what God has done, forget what lessons I have learned, forget the reason I chose to follow Christ.  Life creeps in and we get going in our own pattern of living and things to do and I forget.
Today, I had my third time with the bible study (yes, a rhythm is taking place with these women that I have found comforting and encouraging) and each week someone else shares their testimony.  Each week, we end up tearing up in some way as we force ourselves to recall the moment of choosing Christ as our Saviour.   We all agree it wasn't for fame or convenient living, it was because we recognized we couldn't do it (LIFE) without Him.  And yet, how quickly we forget and get bitter with the way things are or how things look....or we become frustrated when God does something that is not in our frame or box we have chosen to put him in.  Instead of breaking our box and choosing to recognize God is bigger than what we are willing to think, we become bitter because He hasn't "performed" in the way we thought He should or would.  These women are strong, fearless living women who have all had very hard circumstances in their lives and we were praying today that we won't forget in the midst of daily living that God has saved us from a wretched ending and we are thankful and He is good, even if we don't understand.
I don't know, I guess I just want to fight forgetting.  Can I do that even though I am getting older?  

Monday, April 20, 2009


Sami brought home an insect book from school the other day.  It had some true or false questions in several of the chapters.  We all really enjoyed one that went something like this one.
Answer: TRUE.  The Tumbu fly lives on the African continent (yes, this includes Nigeria) and is known primarily for its maggots that burrow and eat into human flesh.  These maggots are affectionately called mango worms.   I think Corrie has shared about the mango worms before, but we thought it was fun to know that all our moms were wrong when they said that,  " a little fly wont hurt you".  Now we know that here in Nigeria they can hurt you.  The most common way to get the mango worm is to wear clothes that are not fully dry.  So we are very careful to watch this when doing laundry.   We do know people who h
ave had to deal with these here, so we are really, really careful.

I wanted to give everyone an update on the property.  The EMI team that cam
e in March did a great job launching the design for the master plan of the property.   The team of engineers, surveyors and architects collected information from the site and from us to help design a host village that will work to serve visiting groups and our ministry here in Jos. 
 The preliminary site master plan really displays how Back2Back and SSE will utilize the property.  We are still in the early phases, but this team will continue to work on the design in the US.  Our hope is to have working drawings sometime this fall.  Please pray for these people as all 
of them are doing this on a volunteer basis and have daytime jobs as well.  We are so grateful for their ministry to us.  Also, please pray for wisdom as we take the design to the next level and begin to estimate the cost of the project.  
This photo is of the village where we are going to build.  The man in the black shirt is the "chairman" of the village.  The other two men work for SSE
 as security. 
I know this was not a deep running thought from Corrie, but I wanted to write something. Unlike Corrie's, my running experiences are spent dodging the achabas (motorcylce taxis) which consumes most of my thoughts.  We are so grateful to each of you for following this blog and continuing to pray for what God is doing here with us.  We are learning a ton.  We are looking diligently for a family vehicle and hope to get one soon.  This has been an experience to say the least.  Pray that we find one that meets the needs of our family.  Thanks, JOHN.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

missionary living

Good morning!  There have been lots of things going on in our family, lots of "firsts" and for the most part, it is all just missionary living things..... for example, John actually let me cut his hair for the first time in our 14 years of marriage.  Now, some of you might be thinking, "no biggie, my wife cuts mine and my children's hair all the time...."  And that might be true of most of you; however, you are talking about a man who is pretty particular and has a phobia of his wife cutting his hair and a woman who has a phobia of bending ears.... yes, I cannot bend my own, let alone trimming by my husband's ears.... It is worse than fingernails on a chalk board.  Yikes, I cringe just recalling the memory of having to bend his ears.... Anyway, I probably went too personal there, huh???
But, we have also had a "first" birthday for my son in Africa.  He turned 9, and so I brought one of my "firsts" homemade cakes into his classroom.... and I giggle when I think about his classmates eating it as it crumbled in their hands, before it reached their mouths.... all I can say is Gus was gracious with me and the rest of his 3rd grade class was as well.  We played a game on how well they knew Gus, being the new student and all, they did pretty well.    There are no toy stores around, and his birthday kind of creeped up on us so we did what we could to make his birthday special.  You know when there are moments that you look at your child, and you just feel proud of them.  That is how I felt about Gus and his birthday.  There was no complaining that it wasn't as fun as last year, and he even said that he loved that we got to spend all day together as a family.  I love him!
Another first was Easter here in Jos, Nigeria.  A missionary family invited us over for Easter lunch and it was great.  Good fellowship, and good food.  Actually, what I had to bring turned out horrible.  You can see a pattern of my "homemade" cooking, not going so well.  BUT, I can only get better.   Instead of green bean casserole, we had green bean soup.  My husband really loves me because as he realized how bad it turned out, he looked over at me and smiled and asked for seconds.... man, I love him too!!  The minister spoke on how we are Resurrection people.  Not people who live in the Friday, with fears and unknowns, but Sunday people who live and trust in a risen Christ, who controls all things.  It really ministered to John and I as we sometimes choose to live in the Friday with fears and unknowns.  Christ has risen indeed!
Overall, no big revelations, just living life as a missionary.  
Learning how to cook from scratch, learning how to cut hair and celebrate events differently than what was in the past.  Continued stretching of self to do things other than what comes natural.  The neat part of "firsts" is after that there are "seconds" and then life starts to maybe find a rhythm again and then unnaturals become naturals and bending of ears is no biggie, my food actually becomes good, birthdays become events that have nothing to do with gifts and we grow and learn and live.  
Speaking of seconds, I need to get ready for my second bible study on Esther with these women.  I am really looking forward to it.
God Bless!
P.S.  By the way, it has been fun for me to see my kids go to a missionary school.  They are meeting people who are, for example, born in Canada and have lived the last few years in Switzerland and now are in Africa.   Sarah, my oldest, said it feels normal to say we were born in the USA, have lived the last 4 years in Mexico and now are living here.  My kids are are truly becoming "Third Culture Kids" and it is in the Lord's hands.  I am learning and doing more and more research on it and there are pros and cons, but that comes with everything I guess.  Just more missionary living stuff....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

the dead squirrel

I have started the huge undertaking of praying for summer and all the ways ministry can and will take place here in Jos and I started thinking about how God will want all honor and glory to go to Him.  It took me back to walking with my kids in OH when they were real young, before MX, and oh gosh, before NC.  Anyway, Sami and Gus must have been in a double stroller as Sarah (now 10) and I were chatting about the things we were observing along the path we were strolling upon.  We came up to a dead squirrel that had been shoved to the side of the road.  It laid there, unmoving, between the road and the sidewalk.  Sarah, in desperation ran up to it and exclaimed, "We need to take this to daddy, he can fix anything!"  My first thought was how cute she was believing her dad can make all things better, even something dead didn't cast doubt on what her Father could do.  But, as I was looking at her, it took on a newer meaning for me.  If we went to our Father with the same lack of doubt, knowing, he would move the unmovable, how amazing life could look from our eyes.  She knew John could fix it.  Do I know my heavenly Father will take care of this summer?  Do I truly know my Father will take care of this summer?  Yes, I truly know God will take care of this summer.  He will fix the dead squirrel.....
What makes me even think, now, in a newer meaning still yet coming, if John would have fixed the dead squirrel, nothing in Sarah would have thought to have taken any credit for it.  It wouldn't have even crossed her mind that if she was playing with that squirrel later on to tell it how great she was at finding it dead and that she did a terrific job running to the Father.... it wouldn't have been a thought.  BUT, as I pray, I already know I am trying to find significance in it so I have something to share with others on the other side of summer.  Ultimately, I will because God always leaves stories for us to share, but not ones about me, but about Him.  Those are the stories I want to be communicating.....   I had nothing to do with the dead squirrel, all I did was happen upon it. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

eight is enough

Here is my bible study!!
We met for the first time this morning and as I hope you can see, there are eight of us total.  They are all, in some way, connected to the ministry and I feel so privileged to be leading them through the book of Esther.  I was nervous this morning in regards to this time, but the Lord was faithful in bringing about discussion.  As much as it really was quiet initially, a great discussion stemmed from Queen Vashti and her refusal to obey the king's command in being summoned before him.  One of the ladies brought up that she thinks sometimes women, when we get together, don't necessarily encourage biblical behavior in each other, but can instead, encourage stubbornness....    Do you think that is true????  I wish I could have a little discussion with all of you on that topic.   Our final thought was our
 behavior should be the same whether our husband holds a position of authority over other people or if it is just them and us.... however; we recognized that the repercussions of our behavior might be more longstanding if our husbands are in a position of authority.  I am not sure why I really went into all of that dialogue with you except to say, once we became familiar with each other, people's real thoughts and opinions came out.  Even the state of some marriages.   I love transparency in women.  Even if different opinions are held,  embraces are quick when tears and hard times are shared.  That is what I love about women - no matter what culture you are from.  I am looking forward to 
the next two months with them......

Quick afterthought:  a picture of Gus with one of the boys at the village.... boys are still just boys....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

and then it rained

"I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit." Leviticus 26:4

One minute it was hot and sunny, the next cold and raining and very BEAUTIFUL!!!  Some friends of our made us a mix CD with different songs on it that would deal with Africa or missions (thank you Jason and Julia), song number one is "I felt the rains down in Africa" I wish I could remember who it was written by (it is an oldie but goodie - maybe I even have the title wrong, oops?) but it has become a family favorite.  My kids are like, put on song number one.....  Anyway, so when it rained, we all went outside and experienced the first of our rains in Africa and every moment was unforgettable.  Thank you Lord for the nourishing rain.  Nourishing to both land and soul!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

a no girl

It is right now 11:45am and I am just waking up due to a horrible fever, head cold type of thing.  My son, Gus, just finished his sickness of fever, head cold type of thing.  It really knocks you out.  The group left yesterday, so John is letting me sleep while he is doing things around the house to get caught up on life.  I have been literally in bed since 7:00pm last night.  Lots of thoughts have gone through my mind over the last 16 plus hours and this is what I have decided upon.
By nature, something I have learned about myself is that I have a tendency to be a "no" girl.  You know what I am talking about?  Every single one of us is either a "no" girl/boy or a "yes" girl/boy.  "Hey, can you help me out on Friday night?"  "Let me check, I might have something going on"  "Hey, I know a group is coming, can you bring some items over for me?"  "No, I think everything is full."  It is that innate self-preservation.  I mean what if my life gets so busy I don't have time for things I enjoy....  Hopefully some of you are connecting with this.  If you are also a "no" person, you are thinking, it is okay to be that way....   If you are a "yes" person (my sister-in-law, Beth) you are thinking, bummer you could really have so many opportunities to serve, but you miss out by saying NO.  As I have been laying in bed thinking and doing nothing, I have been thinking about the last 24 hours.  I have had a few opportunities to say yes or no to something and I really tried saying yes, but was not able to fully.....  On one of the occasions, I said yes and now because of that my husband is watching Sami and a little friend from school all day.  I was supposed to but I am sick, so he is doing it, and you know what?  He doesn't mind.  He actually pushed it because I said I would call and tell her no....  We were able to help this woman out who needed someone to watch her child all day.  The other opportunity was someone wanting help with a luggage situation, I wanted to say yes, but I was not able to.  BUT, the point is I am changing.  I learned a lot from seeing other people say yes and try to serve, try to help others, try to no limit their schedule.  I am learning if I make myself available I am actually creating space in my own life to be a part of someone else's answered prayer.  Does that make sense?  By John and I saying yes to moving to Nigeria, we are answering someone else's prayer, I am sure of it.  By not looking out for myself, I am creating more and more space for others, and learning to say "yes" more often.  Now, this is not easy for me, I am still a "no" girl inside, but I am wanting to become a yes girl and will just have to learn to fight the temptation.  I just love the idea more of being available for what God is doing....
Life is good isn't it?
God Bless.