Friday, March 29, 2013

Broken


Want to join our favorite free writing exercise of the week? It’s easy and open to anyone at 5 minute friday.
1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Broken” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.
OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:::

Broken…

Reading through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers....
animals sacrificed daily, yearly.  

On the Day of Atonement, a goat was to be slaughtered as a sin offering. Another goat with the sins of the people symbolically placed on its head and taken outside the camp was to be let loose....a scapegoat.

You, my Saviour, agonizing alone in the garden as you faced what lay ahead....the sins of the world being put upon your head and then being lead out of the city to be sacrificed.

You, who love me so, with my sins piled upon you.  Beaten, spit upon, a crown of thorns smashed down upon your forehead, mocked, forsaken by your disciples.  And I know in my heart I would not have been any better than that traitorous one or the fickle 11.

The animals sacrificed had to be perfect.  And You were because You'd never sinned. But your body was not a perfect specimen.  Your back had been beaten into a bloody piece of meat.  Blood ran down your face.  Exhaustion from a sleepless night caused you to stumble.

Your body was broken for me.  Yet not one of your bones was literally broken, in fulfillment of prophecy.  "This is my body, broken for you."

Am I broken?  Broken by my sin for which you paid?  Broken for a lost world?  "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Continuing the Picture a Day Experiment

I had planned to do this post last Saturday, but it didn't happen.  I need to get this up before it's time to post this week's pictures!
March 18:  We've had a couple of teams/individuals who have started the work of restoring our two campuses from the flood damage.  While they were at it, they decided to replace/raise the roof on one of the buildings.  Here's part of the ceiling, coming down in a cloud of dust.


March 19:  Every Tuesday we have morning tea or coffee break....what you call it depends on what part of the world you are from!  It was my turn to bring the cake, so I made a spice cake with brown sugar frosting and Easter-colored sprinkles.

 March 20:  John was preparing to head off to England.  He'd had a stressful week and was taking some time to decompress by playing the piano.  I never tire of hearing him play.


March 21:  John's suitcase packed and waiting by the door.  He's off to England for his yearly required time on site for his doctoral studies.


March 22:  There were guys on the cell tower several times this week.  It was fascinating to watch them move around while not even wearing safety harnesses.  Kind of scary!

 March 23:  Time for some spring cleaning.  I like to do this kind of work while John is gone.  For one thing, I don't have to ask him to move when he's in my way and for another, he's allergic to dust.  Another reason is that I can eat whenever I feel like it and don't have to interrupt what I'm doing to fix a meal.


March 24:  I love poking around on Pinterest, but I seldom pin anything to do with food. Cooking is not something I do to relax!  However, I saw this recipe and just had to try it.  Wow, is it delicious.  I get a lot of fruit, it's completely fat free because I use skim milk, and it's cold and refreshing.  It's perfect for these days when it's 108 in the shade!  You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Remember


 OK, I realize it's Sunday already......

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
Oh and Ahem, if you would take pity and turn off comment verification, it would make leaving some love on your post that much easier for folks!
OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on:::

Remember…

I've been reading through the Bible and am currently just finishing up Numbers.  It never ceases to amaze me the way the Israelites remembered Egypt.  They constantly complained about their current situation and remembered only the good things about their past situation.  They wanted to go back to the leeks and garlic, but they totally forgot they were essentially slaves there.

But this tendency isn't limited to the Israelites.  We do it, too, fondly remembering the "good old days" when everything was better.  In reality, there were hard times in our past, too.

And then there are those who look back and all they can remember are the bad times they've gone through and they forgot to look at how God carried them and helped them during those times.

This year has certainly brought on a lot of remembering at our two river-side campuses.  Remember when we had church in a building instead of a tent?  Remember when we had grass on the quad?  Remember when everyone came to school on the same campus instead of two different ones?  Remember when parents could talk to each other after school instead of driving up to the gate with a number to pick up their child as quickly as possible to keep the traffic moving?  Remember when our walls weren't dirty?  Remember when we didn't have to put in so much extra work?  Remember when our furniture wasn't gross?

And now that we're starting to clean up, we think:  Remember when we were wading around in putrid water?  Remember when we filled all these sandbags and then the water came in anyway?  Remember removing everything possible from the two campuses?  Remember the exhaustion of those days?

God is blessing us with people who are also remembering former visits to us and are now coming back to help us out.  Former dorm parents with their three kids came.  Our conference speaker from last year came. A former teacher came.  Four former short-termers came.  A young man who grew up here has made the trip to help .  Looking into the months ahead, most of the individuals or teams who are coming have some sort of connection in the past with one of our campuses or they are connected to somebody who has.

I think God uses our remembrances to remind us of His goodness, of the difficult times we've been through and of how He carried us, and of His blessings to us.  He also uses remembrances to motivate us to action.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pictures for the week


 Monday, March 11....started the day bright and early with an orientation meeting for a newly arrived team.  Yes, the clean-up has begun on both Sahel and CBN campuses!  Check in to SIM Niger's Niamey Flood blog for periodic updates on progress.

Tuesday, March 12...this is the place where motorcycles are parked at the office.  Motorcycles are everywhere here!  Some of them drive pretty crazy, too!

Wednesday, March 13....our Bible study group.  They are all students and every week we have a slightly different group, but it is usually eight to nine who show up.  The guy in the back on the left has a real evangelist's heart and was the force behind getting it started.  John and Beki co-lead it.


Thursday, March 14...cookies, cookies, and more cookies.  Crystal has been managing the meals for the teams but I try to help her out occasionally.  This team brought cake mixes and chocolate chips, so I made cake-mix cookies for them.

Friday, March 15...more clean-up.  I'm afraid these cupboards are beyond use.  I'll do a blog on some of the clean-up later this week.

Saturday, March 16...I often do some baking on Saturday.  I thought I wouldn't like using a bread machine since there's something therapeutic about kneading bread.  But it sure saves time and the loaves are delicious!  Interestingly, we saw this in World magazine (December 1, 2012):  WONDER DRUG...Looking for the secret to domestic peace and tranquility?  According to researchers writing in the Journal of Social Psychology, the answer could come from freshly baked bread.  Scientists at the University of Southern Brittany in France conducted experiments designed to test the theory that the sell of freshly baked bread can alter behavior in humans.  Their findings, published in an October issue of the scientific journal, reveal that the aroma of baking bread triggers a rising sense of altruism, increased happiness and other beneficial effects.

Sunday, March 17...this church service will require its own blog post as well!  This is a new bride and groom.  The choir was singing, people were dancing, gifts were given....it was a celebration of a new marriage and was full of joy!




Sunday, March 10, 2013

This Week's Photos for 2013 in Pictures

Suzanne, my amazing daughter and the  author of the fabulous blog Darza Go Irkoy Gaa (check it out, you'll see it isn't just my biased opinion) is working on taking a photo a day.  I thought it was a great idea, too.  I've been posting my pictures on Facebook, but thought I'd also do a weekly blog post of my pictures for that week.  I'm enjoying this challenge as it is helping me improve my photography skills and look at the world in new and fresh ways.

I'm not going to go back and try to upload all my pictures that I've taken since January 1st, but here are the ones for this week:

Monday:  I think this is a marigold?  Maybe somebody can set me straight if I'm wrong!

Tuesday:  This is my favorite skillet.  It is cast iron, extremely heavy, and I got it second-hand in 1982.  It cooks things evenly and browns everything perfectly.

Wednesday:  These fire finches were on the wall of our terrace.  They are fairly tame.  As you can guess, the male is the red one and the female is the brown one.  Here is more information on fire finches if you are interested.

Thursday:  I was in a hurry to get to work, but first I needed to hang out the laundry.  I looked up from my washing basket and saw this.  I love how the sun's rays are well defined through the dust in the air.

Friday:  I did a post earlier this week on ideas of how to do devotions.  Some days it's tough to fit in and I often feel rushed, but it's a vital part of my day.

Saturday:  We ate at our favorite river-side restaurant and watched the sun set over the river.

Sunday:  John is doing surveys of worship services for his research.  Nearly every church we've visited uses a jembe.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

ABC's


Suzanne borrowed this blog idea from somebody else, so I thought I'd join in the fun and use these prompts for my blog. Why don't you copy and join in the fun, too?
A -- available or married?
Married for 26 years. And this week we went to our first ever marriage seminar.

B-- book?
I'm currently reading Les Miserables. I wish I could say I'm reading it in French, but I'm not!

C--cake or pie?
I don't care as long as it's chocolate.

D--drink of choice?
Coke or Youki Ananas or Youki Grenadine (only one a day. I stick to water the rest of the day)

E--essential item?
My phone. Yep, some days it rings incessantly. Some days I would like to lose it! :) Although if I could only grab one thing, it would be my computer or my camera.

F--favorite color?
Purple

G--game to watch or play?
I play a lot of Scrabble on my computer, but I'm not sure I'd say it's my favorite game....it just fills in time while waiting for things to upload or download. I love Tripoley and Dutch Blitz.

H--hometown?
Do I have one? I was born in Jos, Nigeria and have lived in a lot of places. The place I've lived in most is Tera, Niger, and it definitely has a center spot in my heart.

I--Indulgence?
Chocolate. Especially Lindt.

J--job?
Personnel Director and I love it.

K--kids and their names?
Daniel, married to Kelly; and Suzanne, married to Theo

L--life is incomplete without?
God, of course, and next John, Daniel & Kelly, Suz & Theo

M--music group or singer?
NeedtoBreathe, country, especially Josh Turner, all sorts of worship music

N--number of siblings?
Three: two on earth and one in heaven I haven't gotten to meet yet.

O--oranges or apples?
Until a few months ago I seldom ate oranges. Then one day I ate an orange and decided I like them better than apples.

P -- phobias/fears?
Throwing up. Deep water.

Q-- favorite quote?
In recent days: "My religious belief teaches me that I'm just as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bed. The Lord has already appointed the day of my death so I need not worry about that. I live my life and prepare myself so I will always be ready to meet y Lord, when death does overtake me." Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson 

R -- reason to smile?
Friday nights at home with John, a "TV dinner", and a movie

S -- season?
In Niger, definitely the cool season. In the USA, definitely summer.

T--tattoos?
I'm not a fan of detracting from natural beauty by putting something permanent on my body that I may later regret, so, no. Honestly, I don't understand why people think they look good with tattoos.  I know it's personal choice, so I don't like people less who have them, I just think they look better without them.

U -- Unknown fact about me?
I cut my own hair recently (just a trim really)

V -- vegetable you love?
Asparagus. Haven't had asparagus in about a year. Gonna eat asparagus in about six weeks.

W-- worst habit?
According to my husband, not getting ready on time. I think he's right.

X -- x-rays you've had?
We were staying at somebody's house and in the night I thought I'd reached the bathroom door, so I turned the corner, but it was the cement wall and I mashed my toe. It turned black and was painful, so I had it x-rayed, but it wasn't broken.

Y -- your favorite food?
chicken fixed just about any way.

Z -- zodiac?
I guess Taurus but I don't follow it. God's got my life in His hands!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Making a Daily Quiet Time work for You


Many missionaries struggle with having a daily time alone with God. But we are busy, there are so many needs around us, just daily living takes so much more time, and we find find our time with God is being pushed aside.   That may surprise you, but we're really just like every other Christian, be they missionary or not.  Coming to the edge of the desert didn't suddenly make us more spiritual, though there are days that certainly drive us to our knees!

In our recent orientation for new missionaries, the lady who led one of the groups brought in three other people in addition to herself to share how they do their daily devotional time.  They all varied in their age, gender, marital status, and number of years on the field.  I felt like they each had something valuable to share and that everybody could gain from their experiences.  So here we are:

MISSIONARY #1:  Female, married, mother to adult and young adult children, in her 1st term here, works full time.  This person cannot stand to sit still and must be busy all the time.  So for her it is most beneficial to:
1.  Read her Bible while working out on the eliptical
2.  Pray while walking 
3.  Study the Bible in a different language which sometimes adds a depth of meaning to a phrase or verse
4.  While working, listens to praise and worship music.

MISSIONARY #2:  Female, married, mother to four very young children, in her 2nd term here, works full time at home.
1.  For awhile, her husband took the kids for an hour so she could have some time to herself.
2.  Listens to sermons from her church back home.  This can be done while washing dishes or cooking meals.
3.  Skype with a pastor; provides mentoring and encouragement
4.  Appreciate times of corporate worship.  Don't just stay home because church is long or difficult.  Take turns with your spouse taking the kids out.
5.  Listens to an audio Bible; goes through it in a year.
6.  Use this time to nurture your kids spiritually, especially if you live where they don't have a Sunday School or youth group.
7.  Guard the Sabbath.
8.  Get help when you need it.
9.  Set goals.  Even if you don't reach them, you are aiming for something.

MISSIONARY #3:  Female, single, has spent at least 20 years here; likes to contemplate things and take her time; is an early riser
1.  Gets up early before people start knocking on the door.
2.  Has learned to not get upset by interruptions.  They happen and may be appointments from God.
3.  Devotionals are good, but don't read them only.  Make sure you are also spending time in the Word.
4.  Take time to meditate.  Following a read-thru-the-Bible in a year doesn't work so well for her because she likes to really think about each passage.  She may follow the program, but take two to three years to read through.
5.  Memorize Scripture.  Memorize in another language.  She likes to memorize while walking for exercise.

MISSIONARY #4:  Male, single, early 20's; thrives on habits and routines, is a voracious reader; is not an early riser
1.  When you first arrive the habits and routines you are used to are gone.  It takes time to establish new routines, but keep working on it.
2.  Because he loves to read, he needs lots of challenges to satisfy his appetite for books.  Reads commentaries, etc.
3.  Really likes a One Year Bible Plan.  Because we take siestas here, and because he's not a morning person, he reads part of it at siesta and part of it in the evening.
4.  As he reads, he journals, asking himself who?, what?, where?, when?, why? how?
5.  Finding time to pray is most challenging, so he uses his reading time to incorporate prayer.
6.  Has downloaded apps on his phone for prayer and Bible memory.  Sorry I can't provide links, but one was praying for missions and one was a way to test your memory on Bible passages.
7.  Plays the guitar and sings.
8.  Memorization is helpful.  He has a good big picture of the Bible so memorization helps him with details.

What are some ways you've found helpful to have time alone with God each day?  If you're struggling in this area, I hope you will find something here that will be useful to you.