Monday, August 25, 2014

The War Against the Soul


I want to write about how I've finally finished decorating our master bedroom.
I'd like to share the color I chose to give the room a bit more......character.
And I'd like to post a picture of my chair that now actually has a covered seat cushion, and not a big hunk of foam.
But I can't.
Not today.
There are days that no matter how hard I try to think about something different, I cannot.
The days that I remember that we are at war.
And, no, I don't mean the fighting exploding all over the Middle East, the hatred pulsing in the Midwest, or the monster of Ebola that swallows up families in vicious gulps.
I mean the war I was called to fight here.....
right where I live....
in Ghana.

Sunday morning starts early,
much earlier than I desire to be awake.
The wind is still, the cars and trucks on the main road are not yet honking and screeching there way into town, the dawn is still graying.
My dim mind struggles to find the source of the sound that has called me out of slumber, not sweetly, but harshly, jarringly.
It is drums.
They are a common sound here, one I've learned to lived with many days of my life.
But these drums, *these* are the hardest ones for me.
Someone's soul now living somewhere for eternity.
They continue as I drag myself out of my bed and into the day.

Now babes are stirring, and roosters are crowing, and clock is ticking, and I have just a few minutes to prepare my mind for the war I am in.......
and the drums beat on.
They sound like war drums to me......
the war for souls.

A dear friend's niece has been staying with her for the last month, and I've been sharing the gospel with her.
She's young.... 
a thinker......
a religious person.
As I've shared with her God's freeing plan of redemption, I've seen the understanding slowly begin to glow in her eyes.
She hears the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac, the Passover Lamb, the Ten Commandments, and the Brasen Serpent.
As I tell them, the battle begins.
I can see the fear, sense the conviction, feel the push and pull in her soul.
Is what I'm telling her true?
Dare she believe it?
Can she really throw down her self-honed weapons of good works and twisted half-truths and surrender
or should she run away?

This is supposed to be my last day to meet with her.
My heart is heavy, my spirit troubled.
What if she doesn't come?
What if she flees from Truth?

When we arrive at our place of worship, the drums are pounding again.
The four "churches" within a few hundred yards of us are all beating out their calls.
They call it worship.
Worship it may be, but they do not worship the One we are gathering to praise and glorify.
Their drums are a cry to all those who want to dance until they are too tired to think of their troubles, and then sing them to sleep with visions of wealth and the destruction of their enemies.
These are war drums. 
The war against the soul.

I wait impatiently for her to arrive.
They are late.
The drums are incessant now: drilling into my thoughts, driving me to worry.
It is a constant fight to control my mind.

My friend steps around the corner......
but her niece does not.
"She said she had a headache......"
And at that moment, the beating stops.
The drums are quiet.
I've feel like Life has lost.



*The battle for souls never stops. I have one last chance to meet with N on Thursday. Would you please join us in prayer for her soul?



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lili


Take pictures.
Make time.
Play.
Read.
Hug.
Kiss.





Twirl.
Jump.
Run.
Giggle.
Make silly faces.






Teach.
Train.
Live.
Love.




Celebrate!



You never know what day will be your last.......or your child's last.
Rejoicing in God's mercy in giving us another year with our now 3 year old, Lili!

Friday, August 15, 2014

For the Days When the World & I are Overwhelmed




There are days...weeks, really, that are just too much.
As I check the news each morning, I feel the press, the weight, the burden pressing down on my mind and heart.
Gaza. Israel. ISIS. Iraq. Syria. Ukraine. Russia. Ferguson. Guinea. Sierra Leone. Liberia. Ebola.
And as I get out of bed each morning, I feel the press, too.
The World's Worst Teether. A 10 1/2 month old who has decided she doesn't need naps....ever.
An almost 3 year old who wants to "DO IT MYSELF!" {and yes, it is in all-caps, because she screams it at the top of her lungs every.single.time.she.says.it.}, except go to the potty, that is.
We are supposed to be on summer break, but I feel most days that I'm the one that's gonna break.





Life seems to be only an uphill climb these days....
a hike with a 40 lb. pack or a 20 lb. baby or maybe both on my back.

The day we head to Kintampo Falls starts the same.
My *oboshi-baby on back and an uphill climb ahead of me.
We go up and up, around some rocks, and over the ones that are too big to circumnavigate.
I do a fair amount of exercise on a regular basis living here, but I'm breathing heavy when I reach the top.
The view is nice, a small waterfall pouring over the lip of a cave carved in the ledge of a rock.
Worth the climb?
I'm not too convinced.




Where are the huge, beautiful falls I've been told about?
This doesn't look like the pictures I've seen.

We snap a few photos, smile a bit, wonder if we came all this way just for a Kodak moment.
The guide notices our quiet.
"This is only stage one," he says.

Now we head down the trail.
The trees are beautiful.
A few more photo opportunities and then a stop at Stage Two.
Here we meet a small river working busily through the bush.
Some logs, some large stones, even less to see here than at Stage One.
And now the baby, and the bag, and the camera are pressing sore.
I'm pretty sure that I'll just take a breather at the trail side and not bother with Stage Three.
We've seen wild monkeys, clouds of butterflies, vicious army ants, ancient mahogany, and the intricate knots of the ficus vine that have lived long enough to become trees.
I'm satisfied.
I don't need to bother with the last of the hike.
Yes, I know it's all downhill, but do I want to bother with the uphill climb that follows it?





My curiosity gets the best of me
My ears prick as I hear the dull roar.
Down the 152 steps I go, hoping that the climb back up will be equal to whatever is at the bottom.
We reach the landing half-way down and catch our first glimpse of the falls.





I'm revived, energized, ready to get to the bottom and take in all the beauty awaiting me there.
Quickly down the steps, setting down heavy bundles, pulling off shoes, wading into the pool.
There is a wind blowing off the falls and I feel it washing away the weariness, the heat, the sweat.
Children are splashing, and baby is giggling, and I'm snapping pictures as fast as I can.
Drinking it all in.
Reveling in the glory that our Creator God  made....just because He could.




And these days,
these dark, hard days,
these days that feel like the burden is too great?

These are the days when our prayers, our tears, our reaching out to this broken world in big ways and little ways are like that last bit of the hike.....
Just waiting to reveal God to this thirsty, truth-starved, weary world.
Tumbling down in torrents of His amazing grace.


Only God brings life.
We are praying that many will find Christ in these crises.
We are clinging to the Hope that He is in these difficult days.

*oboshi ~ a Ga word that means chubby, and the nickname of my little chunker-baby, Mackay

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Facing Your Fears


I live in a land of walls.
Almost every business, almost every house, almost everywhere one looks......walls.
If there aren't walls, there are bars, and gates, and locks, and razor wire.
Things designed to keep people out.


When I first moved here, I felt like I lived in a prison.
I hated looking out every window and seeing bars.
I hated locking the key, and the deadbolt, and the gate, and the padlock on the door each night.
I hated the fear these things represented.


I grew up in a place where we never locked our house.
Before we left for a week's vacation each summer, we'd spend a few hours trying to find the door key so we could lock up while we were gone.
But as much as I laughed at the "safety precautions" when I moved here, I soon realized that I could do the same thing to my soul.


I found that it was easier to lock myself away than be hurt.
It was simpler to close the doors,
to hide behind barred windows,
to huddle away from people than to be misunderstood.

Knowing people and being known by people can only come when I step outside those walls.
Learning to speak a new language, whether of the tongue or the heart, takes work.
Understanding how someone thinks, whether in my own culture or another, takes patience.
Becoming part of a community, whether a familiar one or a foreign one, takes effort.


Being known outside the walls takes vulnerability.
And laying myself open to laughter, derision,  scorn is a fearful thing.
But stepping outside the walls is the only way I can find friendship, understanding, and a place to belong.
I get that choice.
So I choose to come out of hiding, unlock the doors, swing wide the gates, and step outside the walls...
Stepping into freedom.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Common Things



It's easy to think that the most important things in life are the BIG things.....
that my husband will remember the surprise date I put together for him.....
that my children will recall the pancakes shaped like teddy bears.....
that the grandparents will smile over the hand-made Christmas gifts....
that the people in our church will remember the Easter Monday picnic.



But I've been reminded of something recently.....
really important, but really simple:

People remember what is most common.




My husband might remember that I set up a surprise date for him, but he might not.
What he will remember is how I lived most days....
was I kind to him?
did I smile at him?
was my speech sharp, my tone harsh,
or did I speak lovingly?
Did I respect him?



My kiddos may remember the teddy bear pancakes, but they may not.
What they will remember was how I treated them....
did I get frustrated easily?
did I yell, fuss, nag, and complain?
did I ignore them for things I deemed "more important"?
did I take the time to look at them and smile?



Did they get to spend time outside, soaking up God's sunshine?
Did I read to them?
Did I let them pick flowers?
Did I allow them to play?



Did I teach them how to wash dishes, pick up after themselves, make biscuits?
Did I make them a daily priority?


The grandparents surely remember the hand-made Christmas gifts.....
but wouldn't they appreciate more...
a card regularly in the mail,
some new scribbly pictures,
a photo of their sweet grandbabies from this month instead of last year,
and a weekly phone call?


Yes, our church members probably remember the fun we had at the Easter Monday picnic,
but what is more important is how I treated them the last time we met.
Did I make sure and greet them at church on Sunday?
Was I well-prepared for our lesson when we met together?
Did I send a text or make a phone call when I heard their son was sick?
Did I encourage them the last time we saw each other?
Did I spend time praying for them?
Did I live out Christ's love for them this week?


Yes, big things are good.
But the common things.....
those are the most important.

For the common things make up our days,
the days make up our years,
and the years make up our lives.

And a life full of common, but beautiful things?
It is a beautiful life indeed.