Wednesday, June 24, 2009

it's been awhile

Hello everyone,
It has been awhile since I have been in touch and I am not sure why except maybe busyness or maybe no huge revelation or just bad internet connection so my patience with my blogging has narrowed.  Who knows except here I am now.  I cannot believe that we are already in our fourth week of summer (which it really is not summer here, more fallish probably) and we have two interns leaving at the end of next week because it is our mid summer break.  Weird huh?  
One thing that happened to me this morning..... I was on my way to go running with two of the interns and the other staff woman (3 months younger than me, mind you) when a security officer stops me to just check in (very common here and normal, no harm, just one of those Nigerian things).  I think I have entered that stage where people don't know my age exactly.  Kind of when you are a teenager and you kind of look 14 or maybe 19, who knows????  Now, I am either 30ish or maybe I am 50ish...... sad days for me.  Anyway, this officer is like, "Hey is this your family"  I am like, who????  you mean my cousins, friends, etc?   So, he proceeds to say, "No, your her there (the staff woman who is 3 months younger) and I marry her."  So as I am deflating (I mean come on, I am going to go run.....) he then proceeds to ask if Joe, one of the interns with me is my brother......  I only felt a bit of reconciliation at this point because "my brother" is quite a bit younger than me and it was at least going better.....  Anyway, everyone in the car said later that I misunderstood, but I guess we all choose to believe what we want to believe huh?
So, the Lord is doing lots of things lately in my heart and life.  Each day goes so quickly that I am realizing if I don't capture the heart of each lesson, it quickly gets forgotten and that, I do not want.
A couple of ideas that have been churning in my spirit:
1.  God does not work the same way twice, or at least not necessarily.  That is interesting because it means that He won't necessarily do to me what he has done for someone else or vice-versa.  Or how he has come through for me once doesn't necessarily mean that he will do the same thing next time for me.  He has plans for all of us and they are all unique.
2.  Our kids are in our possession for this short time to be trained up for a cause.  That they learn they are not the cause but will grow up with the idea of participating in causes that the Lord has proposed.  It is not all about them.  This is huge because if they are young thinking the world is about them, they grow up to be adults that think the world is about them.  We all can picture someone that has that view, can't we.  My three children that I love dearly are joining our family, they don't make our family.  
3.  A friend sent me an email about how God might ask us to sacrifice our God given passions and gifts for a season and even though it seems backwards to us, it is for His glory.  She mentioned Abraham and Isaac.  Abraham was passionate about Isaac and had waited for a long time to parent him and yet God asked for the sacrifice of Isaac's life.  Abraham loved God more than his passion.  I do love God more than any gifitings I can perform for him and I do love God more than my desires and relationships.  I think I just forgot for awhile.  I was thankful for my friends gentle reminder that God is who I want, not ministry.

Okay,  that was a quick spiritual update.  I hope you all are able to keep up with the lessons you are learning and that God is showing you.  These lessons are for a purpose.  Sometimes it is just easier for the lessons to come at me one at a time.  But, I will do the best I can.

One last note, the interns are amazing and I am blown away with their leadership, their sense of community, their compassion, etc...  If any parents are reading this, just know, they are doing well and I am so thankful for them.

God bless,

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Saturday, June 13, 2009

a speedy two weeks

Well, the first two weeks of summer have come and gone and once again I find John in Abuja taking people home.  It is strange how quickly time has moved.  I feel the interns that are here have always been here and I am amazed also how quickly they have transitioned and blessed this ministry.  Their first week, training week, we had lots of conversations about community living and shelter and how we can be that for one another and the ministry areas we work in and they have taken those conversations and made them a part of their lifestyle and to that I am grateful.  We also came up with words that were a part of our early makeup of what God's shelter to us might look like.  I will write them down later because the poster board is in the other house, where they all live and I am not there.  But, all of that to say, we have chosen words that we value and made them a part of our DNA of our Back2Back Nigeria team... words like "encouragement" or "believing the best in each other" or "short accounts" and "transparency" and I could go on, but I won't.  Another day...
But, so far, we have fed a children's home a couple of times, had a fun celebration dinner with dancers and all, made school photos for children, prayed and handed out food to a village, hiked up rocks, laughed and watched movies and played games, had bible study, taken communion, played soccer, landscaped a home, built benches and school desks, done lots of dishes, met new people, eaten out and shared a lot of life together and we have also made mistakes, cried, asked for forgiveness and realized our inadequacy for the task at hand (and this is not all, I just have a short memory).
SO, with all of that, I am excited to see what God has in store for the next 9 weeks.  Should be fun.  No matter what, I am thankful for those of you who have prayed for us, who have partnered with us, who have allowed their children to visit and be a part of our community for this time period and I am thankful for those of you who are just going through life like we are with the realization that there is something bigger and we don't want to miss out.  I am thankful because the idea of knowing there are others out there taking a day at a time as well brings a little bit of peace to my heart.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I have had a lot of people email me in regards to my broken word and it has been so kind.  My brokenness lies in the idea of this summer not turning out the way I had desired or expected.  It is funny, a big prayer of mine this summer was that the Lord would teach me about humility with confidence.  I know they can coexist, being confident in who Christ has made me while at the same time recognizing that I am fully His and willing to do what He wills, not me.
So as I have been praying for that, He has been teaching........  and I don't like it.  I even said to God  that I know if I pray this, I will be humbled, but I thought because I knew that and God knew that He would not do it.... because I was on to that little game....  (funny huh, what can really make sense in your mind).  But, to my dismay, I am being humbled and it is extremely challenging.  I am like, "Okay, how about the confidence part... let's not forget the second part of that prayer"  I guess I am not ready yet.
Here it is in a nut shell... I like relationships, and I find my time this summer being spent on details:  someone has to help with the errand running, work on the schedules, has to stay behind to care for a sick child, or realizing my sacrifice of an activity might better someone else's experience.  All good things, right?  Yet, I hear myself sounding like my youngest 7 year old...  "But, they all can do it" or "but that is what I enjoy, naturally talking to people" or "Why did my child have to get a horrible case of poison ivy" (the worst mothering thought a mother can feel).   I was a part of planning an outreach in our village and I was soooooo excited about going to it and experiencing going into their homes and praying for them and handing them some food, and the night before Gus gets poison ivy so bad that we had to take him to the hospital this morning and it was in his mouth, his eyes, etc...  When I see him and look at him, I don't think for a moment I want to be anywhere else but caring for him and helping feel more comfortable, but the moment I hear them talking about what happened I feel jealous, or I feel a loss of ministry....  
Okay, those are all real thoughts, I am not saying good thoughts, just real ones.... ones that I have been struggling with.  How did I describe humility above, "fully His and wanting to do what He wills, not me"  So I find this struggle of knowing in my mind I am doing things that need to get done and it is about time I recognize the art of true sacrifice.  It is one thing to sacrifice a nice home or good medical care or convenient food, but for me, it is another ballgame to sacrifice hearts desire for ministry for behind the scenes details.  
I need to grow up.  The truth is the interns are great!  I don't need to be doing all the things I want to be doing.  I just want to....  Again, my seven year old.
So, as I find myself broken, I know in the long term, I am gaining a knowledge of humility that hopefully will stick and a confidence that it doesn't have to be about my expectations or desires.  It is His will I want.  I think these new ideas of humility and confidence will piece me back together in a stronger way.  
On another note, Gus is doing better and he was doing horribly and it was so disheartening to see him wear a coat with a hoodie because he felt it would make people feel uncomfortable to look at his face.   Doesn't that make you want to hug him?  It does me!!!!  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

one word game

So one of the questions I ask groups during debriefing, is this:  If you could describe your relationship with the Lord right now in one word, what would it be...
So, today I ask myself this question and here is my response:


Saturday, June 6, 2009

a new day

I am sitting here in the front lawn of the Back2Back House and it is beautiful outside.  The interns are prepping the property for our first group shows up tomorrow, some college students from Eastern Kentucky University.   I am excited for them to arrive.  It has been a week with our interns and they are great!   They are ready to work hard, to die to themselves, to be a shelter to our ministry areas and to the groups and it is time!
This morning we have been talking about there are so many good things to want to tend to, but we won't tend to them all quite possibly and that example was first from Christ.  He didn't heal everyone because he had a purpose and a will to follow.   He knew it and was purposeful to reach it unto completion.  I wish it were that clear for me.  I think I have some ideas of where to spend some of my energy, but things have been a little backward for me here in Nigeria.

Not backward bad, just surprising... on what things I should invest in and what things I maybe don't need to.  What areas I am finding I enjoy and what areas I find I still don't enjoy but are necessary.   Just growing up stuff and taking a step at a time.  Something I am learning about myself is I  like to resolve.  I was slowing down this week and discerning lots of random emotions and different interactions and as I was running, it dawned on me, we need to resolve to stay in the battle.  I need to resolve to keep honesty and transparency with my fellow co-laborers a priority.  I want to resolve to stay alert for the enemy for he prowls around like a roaring lion.  I want to resolve to fight the good fight so that at the end of summer there are no regrets.  I want to resolve to follow Christ first, then follow His leading.  I want to resolve to encourage, be kind, to believe the best in someone in front of me and to love when it is hard, not just when it is easy.  
I left to go running in one mindset this morning and I returned with a different one and I think it was a matter of choice.  I chose to change my mindset.  Typing this out makes it sound easy and yet it really isn't, is it?  And as much as I type it out I recognize my resolve will become challenged, discouraged and worn out and yet I guess that is what makes it worth the fight.... knowing that if the resolve stands, the Lord is glorified and you feel more equipped the next time.....  Right, isn't that how it works?  Let's hope or my resolve will feel discouraged already and it has only a morning......

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

what am I doing?

What am I doing up?  It is about 2:20am my time and this is the second night I have spent awake...  I just finished my last day of Esther and tears are just strolling down my face.  I can get so caught up in a good study that I don't want to let it go.  I am amazed how the Lord has met me within these pages.  I have had to put the bible study down here and there because of circumstances, but when I have picked it up again, BAM!!!  I am met by the Spirit of God.  There is so much to learn and I have made so many mistakes that I get overwhelmed that some day my story will unfold before me and God and He will listen to it.  The creator of the entire universe, of everything, will listen to my story and care.  Actually, He will love it, right?  Can that possibly be that He would marvel in it?  And if He does, why don't I realize that now?  Daily, realize that?
   As I have shared about the theme being shelter, I have found myself putting everything I read or hear about within the context of that and Beth Moore makes a comment on her last day of the study about the temple of the jews was a marvelous structure to behold, nothing has ever compared to it, to this day.  Yet the "jews in the early first century did what most religious people do when they lack a fresh work of God.  They turned to legalism."  Their temple eventually became a shell because it lacked the divine presence and so it settled for profit.  She was referring to the time of Jesus when he went to the temple and found it a market for profit.  Well, I started thinking about my idea of shelter and where I have scewed it for profit.  Where have I lacked a fresh work of God that I have settled for my own imitation?  Settled for something immediate than HIS MIGHTY SHELTER (I type it in bold because that is how I am feeling at 2:25 this morning) that is eternal.  I know I have shared these similar thoughts before so then I wonder, "Oh man, why is God keeping with these thoughts.....?  Where is he wanting me to see something in my life that I currently don't see so he is keeping this thought fresh until I can put it before him???"
Then my thoughts went to fears again and hard seasons in life.  When I think about life's storms or really when I think about the hailstorm we just experienced here in Jos...  It is when it hurts to be outside that I enjoy and appreciate and experience the shelter of our home more than other moments.  SO, why can I not feel that same pleasure when life's storms come my way?  Run to His shelter and then fully experience it, not after the hard season, but during it?  Or maybe I have and do and don't even know it?  I think I would though....

UGHHH, so sorry to get rattled with my thoughts with you all so early in the morning!!  Maybe it is the busyness of the first week with the interns with training, figuring things out, etc... or maybe it is a little bit too much caffeine, or maybe and this is what I am going to believe in tonight as I go to bed, maybe the Lord wanted to just meet with me because He wants to and He likes to get me alone.  The Lord loves me!

Monday, June 1, 2009

thoughts from the kids

John and I took the interns to these large boulders yesterday to ultimately just keep them awake.  BUT, we handed them some journals for their summer and asked them to write down their initial thoughts....  any distractions they needed to let go of or any expectations that they needed to hand over to the Lord and any just beginning perceptions of this fine country and continent.  But, while I was working with them, John took our kids and told them about the theme of SHELTER and Psalm 91.  He asked them to take their journals and just write down any thoughts or prayers that make them think of shelter or what the summer has for them and our groups, etc...
I did receive permission to write down what they had in their journals.  Now, mind you, it is verbatim, so this is just an inside view into their minds and what they are thinking.  It amazes me the thoughts that truly do run through them:  Just for clarification.... Sami's was completely phonetic so I wrote down the word she was spelling but outside of that, verbatim....

Sarah (our oldest, 10 years old)
1. I want to be nice to family and friends
2. I would like to be a person people trust
3. I want to be a person who cares for others.
4 I wold like to get in the Word more often.
5. I would like to feel like I am part of the ministry.
6. I would like to trust God with the futre, past, and present
7. I would like to stop being picky, mean, cruel and bothersome.
I really feel that I was made for a reason and that I should fulfill that reason.  I am alive today.  So, I guess the question I have for myself is was I made for a very special reason?

Gus (our only boy, 9 years old)
1. I hope we have a great summer
2. that Ramo boys have fun here
3. Hope we can pay for Hillcrest for another year
4. This summer my mom and dad will be able to spend time with us.
5. That Ramos have a safe trip
6. That Emily has her baby safe.
7. Hope friends in Mexico are having fun.
8. Thank you for letting the Ramos come safely.
9. For letting me be in Nigeria with friends and parents.

Samantha (our youngest, 7 years old)
I wish thing were better in life so that I wouldn't be afraid anymore.  and that I can have your shelter.  and I could listen to you because I love you.  and I could be nicer to people.  I really don't mean the things I say about Africa.  and I really like my friends.  and I should always listen to my mother and father.  I love the Boulders here.  I love the beautiful view of the field.  It's so cool and fresh air. and I love it.  and it is so fun here.  I pray if this could ever happen but I pray if all of my whole life I want to always be good.

I hope all of you today find yourself pondering the idea of your summer and the Lord's shelter.  Have a blessed day.
God Bless!

summer begins

Just so everyone knows.... everyone has arrived safely and all luggage was accounted for... praise God.  Seriously, I am learning that all these details are a gift.  John is with the Ramos family (they are joining us for the summer from the main office in OH) and all the interns.  They are getting ready to drive to Jos (about 3 1/2 hours) from Abuja...  They will all be here by lunch and then it all begins...  
This summer is going to be amazing.  Now that it is here, I cannot help but feel excited and energized for what God is going to do.  My girls are creating signs for their "welcome to our campus hospitality" and Gus is with his dad.....
And we are as ready as we can be so here goes............