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!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Landscape of summer

I just wanted to send a few pictures that characterized different aspects of the summer.  This one of the woman with the baby on her back, to me, it represents the burdens the nigerians daily carry.  Woman "backing their babies" while working in the fields or tending to the animals.  Daily living life and as a ministry trying to discern what needs can be met to "lighten their burdens" enough that they may hear and understand the gospel of Christ.I love the picture below.  It represents the longing of something out there.  It forces me to think, "what goes through their minds when they are not living their daily life".  I wonder what are their dreams, their aspirations?  Do they have any?  Do they even think, "what do I want to be when I grow up?"  I desire so much for our ministry to present opportunities to them that give them back their choices.  So many have no perceived choices in front of them and I want them to see that Christ is in front of them ready to fulfill all of their longings.
This picture represents fun.  The character of Jos's landscape are these big, beautiful boulders.  One thing that has always been important for John and I to pass on to our children is the beauty of nature and the amazing creativity of God to have so many views.  This picture reminds me of the fun in living and seeing kids hike through these boulders with flip flops and have no problems and they reach their hands to us.  It also reminds me of times our interns/staff/teams took moments to worship our Lord and Kind on top of these rock mountains as we "lift our eyes up".  
Anyway, I have been accused of sending no pictures.  SO, I am trying.  I hope you can see what we see everyday and I hope you can feel what fills our hearts daily.  God Bless you all for your ministry to us.

Monday, August 24, 2009

another snapshot of summer - just because

Okay, this picture had to go on the blog, just because it is John dancing and doing a nigerian jig at a market opening ceremony!!  The bummer is I missed it, but the Northstar Vineyard group that was serving with him that day caught it on video.  You have to love technology!  Go John Go, show them you have rhythm!!  Look at the faces of the men in the back of the picture.
It is customary while someone is dancing that if they are impressed they will put naira (the currency here in Nigeria) on your forehead and the money raised is used as a tip for the professional dancers brought in.  Well, let's just say these dancers had lots of tip money coming there way after John danced.  He had young and old, man and woman, tipping him!!  He is so cute.  Don't tell me you don't want to come to Nigeria to see this first hand!!  

Friday, August 21, 2009

One snapshot of summer

This woman here is named Binta.  The picture to the right of her is me with her assistant.  Both of these women are being persecuted for their belief in Christ.  Both of them shared stories with me that were beyond my belief that I felt I was listening to someone telling me stories of the new testament early church.  Binta was a woman who was muslim and converted to Christianity.  In the muslim faith I am learning that women are treated as property.  As she unfolds her story I am encouraged by her strength and confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ.  After her conversion she was immediately hunted and thrown in prison where she wrote a small booklet describing her journey from the muslim world to her faith in Christ.  I wish I had the space to tell you her whole story, but she, today, is a beacon of hope for many women who have left their old life and is seeking refuge in Christ.  We were with the Vineyard church in Cincinnati when we had the amazing opportunity to put a borehold in her small village where she and these other women reside.  Her assistant tells a story of all of these women sleeping in this big open room when in the middle of the night a group of men surrounded the house with the intent to kill them all and a "bright light and running water" is all they could see surrounding the house.  They immediately recognized it as the Lord and Savior, the true living water, and they repented of their sin and now follow Christ.  I am amazed at the great lengths the Lord will show himself as Shelter to these precious believers who the day we were there were able to receive a borehole of clean water, only a mere reflection of their relationship with the True Living Water.  What a privilege for me to pray and chat with them that day.
We spent the whole day as a team rejoicing with them as the process was underway of giving them clean water.  The last picture was just one of the ways we played with the village kids.  They LOVED the parachute!!  It was  a blessed day and I was so encouraged by them to be with them under the same Shelter and Lord.  Binta was found stating a lot, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes."  Romans 1:16
Amen Binta, Amen!
P.S.  The bottom two pictures were taken by one of our interns, Zak, thanks for the amazing photos Nate!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

no internet and I am dying

Hey all,
First, I want to make a comment about Chelsie who played a new game with me the last week of summer, called ERS, and she was really good so I had to bend her fingers back to put me at an advantage. I say this because I didn't comment on it earlier and I don't want her to feel hurt by it..... hehehe Love ya, mean it Chelsie
okay, secondly and really what this is all about.....
We currently do not have internet and I have checked three different spaces in town that host internet cafe types of things and no one at this moment seems to be having working internet.... It is weird how out of it and disconnected I can so quickly feel. But in this brief season of no internet, it is surprising how much I am not distracted by it. I feel present when I am with my kids, I feel more peaceful when I am doing other chores because I don't have the opportunity to check my blog or see if anyone has emailed me....
interesting isn't it????
You might be wondering how I am posting this aren't you, well, I happen to have a friend who has this special little thing IN his computer that allows him to do this and he is graciously allowing me a moment to connect with the North American world.... So hello world!! You are missed terribly.
I miss the Ramos family that served with us, I miss every single intern from both terms, I miss the groups who came with fresh energy and insight and maybe a few yummy goodies as well.
But, I am glad I am where I am and look forward to our visit home later on this year. There is still lots going on and as I am reconnecting with frienships that started prior to the summer and it is strange to realize that I missed those as well this summer and it is good to reconnect.
So, to end, if you don't here from us for a moment in email or something, it is just because we are experiencing some technical difficulties here in Africa and we will as soon as we can.
God bless.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"lighten her burden!"

Okay, so the house is quiet and I have so much I would love to write to you about this summer and I will, I promise.  Everyone is gone and it is weird.  But, at this very moment, I want to share with you something that happened to me this morning.
So, I was at this market area buying some food and as I was leaving, a woman approached me and asked me to buy some yams from her (She didn't speak english but she was carrying a huge load on her head and I knew that is what she was getting at).  I was like, "No"  this is a daily thing, actually a moment by moment thing here, people coming up to you and asking if you want what they are selling.  I didn't consider her any different than the usual market life.  But she walked off and I sensed a weird connection that maybe I should at least give her some money.  So, I looked at her walking away and she was sweating (I mean her load was huge of these huge yams) and her baby on her back was crying.  Not a horrible one, just a constant cry.
So, I get in my car and catch up to her and hand her a bit of naira.  Thinking that I had done what was necessary I drove away.  Well, after a good half mile, I sense the Lord was actually telling me, "Corrie, lighten her burden".  Ughhh, I don't know if you have had these moments when you really consider the thought.  I was way past her, would have to turn around in these crazy busy street and then would have to look for her and I was thinking, "if I don't respond, I am not obeying"  
So, I turned around.  
I am driving and thinking what does lighten her burden mean?
Is it more naira (cash), is it buying her yams?
Well, I finally found her and I asked her how much 5 yams would cost (which was a challenge because she and I don't speak the same language).  Eventually we work out a price that seemed high but, whatever, I want to help her with this huge load on her head and help her financially as well.  I am driving away and I am thankful that a little bit of inconvenience was absorbed in the thought of listening to the Lord's leading and hopefully in the future being more responsive to those moments.
Okay, so here is the thing.  I get home and find out (my guards helped me with this) that I was not only taken advantage of, but horribly taken advantage of, price wise.  I had never bought yams before so didn't really know how much they should cost.   So, what started out as obeying His leading became a bit of a frustration as I realize that I was "stooped".  So, I now just wonder what was it that was going on?  Did God really lead me to it?  Did he want me to fall for the oldest trick in the book.  Sell to a white woman, the highest price you can think of?  Or did I misunderstand her completely and just gave a bunch of money on accident?  
Who knows?
Well, I guess God knows.
I end with, and my hope and prayer is, that I followed his leading and I "lightened her burden" both physically and financially.  And I end with the idea that it is not about whether I got taken advantage of or not because it wasn't the thought of giving her that amount of money.  If I had made the choice, I would have done it.  It was the idea of being taken advantage of, right?  Well, that is just pride and it could probably be lessened anyway.  So, maybe this lesson was for obedience and pride.  Gosh, who knows?  
Well, I guess God knows.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

feeling giggly

Hey there all,
So today I am in one of those moods where I just feel like laughing.  In my mind, everything I say is funny and I just crack up.  I went to bed in one of these moods and am currently still there....
So, just so you know the inside scoop before the interns, I am meeting them at a restaurant for dinner tonight and I am going to go dressed up in one of the girl interns clothes, whole bit.... skirt, shirt, and hairband and I think I am even going to steal a pair of her awesome sunglasses and where them in.....  (don't worry, she has been doing this to me all summer... she will be okay with it -- she won't think I am a creeper).  
Ahhhh, it feels good to get that off of my chest... I like to tell people surprises, so this will allow me to tell all of you without telling her first.  Good.
Man, I am going to miss everyone.  I am loving community living!!!!  (I am sure they would all say the same thing too...)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where do I need to return?

Hey all,
As lots of you know John and I are in our last week of groups for a season and we have been having some great discussions in our time of debriefing.  Tonight we are going to look at Joel 2: 13.....

"Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity."

These words have ministered a lot to John and I this second half of this summer.  They are in a song we are loving by Shane and Shane and we probably listen to it at least 3 or 4 times a day (I think they are getting it from Psalm 145).  Anyway, as we have been living here in Nigeria we have become more aware of areas in our life that have assimilated somewhat to this world.  And we have been asking ourselves where would the Lord have us return?  On one hand, we are sooooo thankful he is slow to anger.  Gosh, we make mistakes all the time and I am just plain grateful that he does not anger the way I do at my children and that he loves me and is gracious.... on the other hand, I think, man, I want to return my entire heart to Him!!!!  He is amazing and I want to show thanks.
Just the other week, because of a decision I made, I put my husband in a very awkward and humbling position and he took it so gracefully and made amends where necessary and my heart hurt because of the undue burden I had placed on him and I thought to myself "I don't ever want to put John in a position like that again because he was soooo honoring to me in it even though I was the cause" and if I can feel that towards my husband, I want to express exponentially to my Lord and Savior who does that daily for me.
So, I hear and read, "Return to the Lord..." and I want to ask where have I left and how do I get back to Him?  I hope today you find yourself in a place of intimacy with Christ because you have not chosen to leave him.
God Bless.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

a goat eating party

We have a group here at the moment from Cincinnati and last night was the last night of school for a children's home we  minister alongside.  We decided to have a nice dinner for them and then a ceremony of sorts to celebrate another year of learning and then the interns who have been here all summer awarded each child a "superlative".  Something that might be a bit unique about them.  Anyway, Ibro, one of our nigerian staff men, thought it would be a nice treat for the kids to buy a goat and grill it.  As americans we are like, "cool, it would be fun to try goat", I have a feeling that nigerians might find it a bit everyday.
Well, we find out that the goat we bought was truly alive and well and on a string waiting until right before, so it remained fresh.  Just the thought of it "baaing" was a little too personal for me.  So our grilling for the evening (a man who does this for a living, no worries) was grilling it when it was time for us to serve the children.  As we stood in line, I marveled at the thought of the pieces that were randomly put on our plates - heart, "private parts", one child even had a jawbone thrown before him.  No one flinched at what part they were eating.  Now after they were all given food, it was our turn (yes, we truly acted like white people at this point).  We were like, "can I have a normal piece, please".  Then to hear us describe what normal was to our minds..... hehehe.  Anyway, it was quite the experience and I am glad for it.  I am learning that my children are so different.  Sami (our youngest) didn't think twice about what piece she received and ate it all and enjoyed it.  Gus, (middle child) decided he wasn't that hungry and Sarah (our oldest) was all show.  She totally took her piece, made a big deal about it and then later I find Sami eating it.....  
In the end, it was an adventure, the kids were encouraged and tears were shed as we had to say goodbye to them (this was the last night for the interns to spend time with them).  The evening hosted a lot of  varying emotions which I am learning here, for me, is becoming a norm.

Monday, August 3, 2009

a part of raising a baby

John and I were asked to write an article in the B2B magazine and here is what we submitted:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!”’  Psalm 91:1-2 

These verses are trying to come alive to John and I and our family.  Moving to Nigeria has not been one of convenience or ease or even comfort of any form and we are still recognizing this six months later.  One of our first blog entries about Shelter was this:

May 26

So, I want to learn of His shelter.  I want to learn of the fruit of rest that comes with it.  Can I pray my way into His shelter?  Is it a frame of mind?  I cannot imagine it being a tangible place, is it really just about relationship?  

Well, these are the questions I start this summer with and look to His Scriptures for answers and lean on the Holy Spirit for leading and ultimately look to God for it is Him that I am really seeking, ultimately, isn't it?

Two and a half months later, I find that Shelter is meaning more than what I originally thought.  Who I know God to be, THAT is my shelter!  So, the real question that comes to my mind is who is this God in whom I trust.  Who is He?  Do I know?  Does John know?  Is He a small and weak God therefore my shelter is puny and not providing much rest?  Or is God so large that I cannot get out from under his refuge?

 The last six months have been pretty interesting for us.  It has been humbling for John and I to be here and recognize how different the culture is.  We so desperately want to know how to communicate in a way that does not offend and want to build bridges that will lead into what Christ has already started here.  The Lord is moving here in Jos and at times it seems that everyone is on the same banner besides us and then at other times, I think how could we be anywhere else. 

 One thing we both have learned is it is not easy being on the beginning side of a ministry.  There is a lot of effort and energy put forth with very little return.  Like when you are raising a baby.  You are constantly working towards the growth of this little life in front of you, every decision is made for the betterment of the baby, but then you go to this seminar and you realize by decisions you just made “for their best interest” mind you, is now going to deter them from ever being able to make something of themselves.  Or at least that is how you feel.  Every thing seems to be instrumental and every perceived failure seems as if you have just stunted the growth of your child and you weep and feel sorrow because you love this baby, but now it will never go to college (I hope you are perceiving the sarcasm).

That is how we feel.  Every decision seems to be pivotal and we can feel as if we are making them blindly, and half of the time we are moving forward and the other half we are weeping because we just caused years of backsliding.

So, to see God in the midst of these “successes” and “failures” and recognize He is our shelter for the good and the bad, is really the only thing I know to cling to.  My view of God needs to increase and enlarge, and I believe by living here He is growing me in a deeper understanding of who He is in both the good and the bad parenting moments.  I do believe as John and I are making decisions we will mature and watch this ministry in Nigeria mature and realize that nothing can permanently stunt the growth of anything that God has already stamped his approval on.

 We would ask that as many of you as possible would consider visiting Jos, Nigeria and see first hand how God is moving here and growing up a field that is ready for harvest.  The need is great, but the workers are few.

At the beginning of this article we mentioned that there was nothing easy about living here, that is of course, not true, but as in raising a child, in the moment, you see the constant work but hindsight is beautiful.  We both know for a fact, this is where we need to be to be obedient.  We cannot lose sight of His shelter and He is the one growing this ministry.  John and I and our children might find that there is something deeper within us that he has created but we have never leaned on before.  Who knows, but I do know that our eyes will not look to the hardships or the adventurous moments, but our eyes will remain fixed on Him, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Hebrews 12:2).  And as we grow and mature, so will our family and so will this ministry and so will all of you who choose to come alongside something bigger than your perceived failures and successes and be a part of growing a life to a place where Christ is glorified and therefore you are changed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lip service?

So today we went to church in the village and one of the elders of the church sang a song about "Do you really know the Lord or are you just busy for him?"  I loved it and I was reminded to make sure I only am busy for Him if it is by his leading.  Not just to make me feel special or important.  

On another note, I have a horrible head/chest cold.  Tonight we have a superhero party for our final goodbye before the group shows up and our house has been purged and it looks less cluttered.  

That is all for now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


It is Saturday and it is so strange to be thinking we are having a group come in about 4 days.  Mexico's summer season of groups has finished and so mentally I find it crazy that they are done and we are still prepping for another group.  We have had a nanny for the last four weeks and she leaves Monday and the other staff family who has joined us for the summer leaves Tuesday....  Yet, John and I and the kids and the 6 interns that are left will be here until the middle of August, the 14th to be exact.
I have gotten used to the community here and it will be a challenge to revert back to how it was on May 31st.  I am learning that life here in Nigeria is consistent in its challenges.  You just know things are going to break down, or buying food and cooking it will take longer.  Or that there will be mistakes in your food order if you do choose to go out to eat because they are not understanding what you are thinking.  Those things have become a way of life.  I am still learning however that ministry is inconsistent with groups, interns and relationships with our ministry areas.  I am trying to learn how to function with consistency and inconsistency at the same time.  I guess that is what makes it inconsistent, huh?
John and I have learned lessons along the way this summer about relationship-building here in Nigeria.  I would like to share with you those, but at the moment, I do not want to consider this summer finished or complete yet.  I want to stay in the game, run the race, compete as to win the prize, etc... and love those around me here and now.... so my moment of reflecting over the summer will need to be postponed for another day.  
Please join our family in prayer as we want to minister to this group from Cincinnati and give them everything the Lord wants us to give.  We will be moving into the ministry house on Tuesday when the other family leaves.  So, we will be living out of suitcases for a week and a half.  Also pray with us as our kids start school on August 5th.  I think all three are excited about starting back but a little apprehensive at the same time about friendships mostly.  Anyway, these next three weeks will show themselves to be full of transition.  I am not always good in transition, I am awkward and weird with people.  Let's be honest, anyone who has been with me during any type of transition day knows this about me and hopefully loves me anyway.  Please pray (I know I keep saying this) because I don't want to miss out on what God has even if I am awkward and in the middle of transition. I wonder if He might minister more during transition because nothing circumstancially is familiar that I can "depend" on.  Maybe that is why my life has been full of transition. I grew up moving a lot as a child and John and I have always been around transition in life and ministry and family....maybe it is so we don't become comfortable?  anyway, I am getting long winded.  
See you later...
Hehe, guess what John is doing in the other room???  He is purging "junk" to throw it away.  He does this a lot and it makes me giggle because we honestly don't have much here, yet he still likes the idea of throwing things away, there is something cleansing in it for him, I think.  Anyway, I am off to join him in removing unnecessary items in our lives and going on to live more freely.