Saturday, September 28, 2013


Several Many home assignments ago we did a slide show (yeah, it was real slides and not power point!) on carrying burdens.  In the Songhai language, there is more than one word for "carry".  To carry on your back, to carry on your head,to carry in your arms or by hand, and to carry on some form of transportation are all separate words.  Here in Niger we see things being carried in ways that leaves us pretty amazed at both the strength, the dexterity, and the ingenuity of the carriers.

Recently I've been reading through Isaiah and came across two different kinds of "carry" as well.  Now, I'm no Hebrew scholar so I can't tell you if two different words are actually used or not.  But certainly the two pictures Isaiah paints are different!

In the first picture, Isaiah pokes some fun at those who worship idols.  First off, they have to make their own idols and then they have to carry the idol around from place to place.  Not only do they make the idol, they also are burdened by it.  What they created to help them out is really no help to them at all.  Isaiah says in chapter 46, verses one and two, "their idols are borne by beasts of burden.  The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary.  They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity."

The idols are dependent on the people who created them.  Even though it exhausts them to carry them around, they keep doing it.  They carry them on their heads, on their backs, in their arms, on a cart.  The work of it is a drudgery.  They are weary and exhausted, but they can't put down their idol.  

Then Isaiah paints another picture of "carry".  In this picture, God is carrying us!  We are weary, exhausted, and feeling like we can't go on.  Isaiah says in verses three and four, "Listen to me..., you whom I have upheld since you were conceived and have carried since your birth.  Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  

In one picture, we created the idol, so then we have to carry it.  But in the other, the God of the universe created us and He carries us!

Earlier Isaiah had told us in chapter 40 verse 11, "He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."  

And in chapter 40 verses 28 to 31, Isaiah told us, "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

So, it's easy to think how cool this is that God carries me like a shepherd carries a lamb or gives me strength like an eagle.  But the part about carrying around my idols? How does that relate to me? I don't worship idols.  

But do I have other things I insist on carrying around with me?  My problems, for example.  Often they become big in my mind as if I'm creating some kind of monster I have to carry around with me.  Or maybe I create ideas I have that aren't the greatest ideas, but I don't want to give them up.  Sometimes maybe it is something I think we should or shouldn't do and John doesn't agree and I really want to insist on my own way, carrying around an opinion and making everybody miserable.

What do you think might be idols?  What things do you carry around because you created it and you want it and for no other reason?  Things you insist on keeping even though they exhaust you?

I'm so glad I don't have to carry those things around!  I can lay them down, give them up.  I can hold up my arms to the Lord and let Him carry me.  How much easier that is!

(The pictures in this blog are all from that original slide show we did back in the early 1990's!)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Gardening and Composting

When we lived in the village there were few fresh fruits and vegetables available.  Every four to six weeks we'd shop in the big city and take back as much fresh stuff as we could.  But our fridge wasn't very big (gas fridge) so we were lucky if we could bring back two weeks worth of fresh food.  During that time John had a pretty good garden going so that at least for a couple months a year we'd have fresh stuff right at hand.  He had especially good luck with carrots and tomatoes.

Now that we live in the city and the vegetable stand is literally right around the corner, we don't need to garden.  But John, especially, enjoys doing it.  So we've got some tomatoes going and our Sunday night guard is a great gardener and we noticed he's put in some lettuce.  Me?  I'm the one who can't get anything to grow!  That is not an exaggeration, either!  I recently planted cilantro, parsley, and basil.  I'm proud to say the basil is going great guns.  One out of three isn't bad, right?

Putting ashes in the compost pit, with the pile of non-burnable stuff by the barrel.
We've also got a compost pit going.  We've pretty much just been dumping food garbage in there, but are trying to mix some other things in there, too.  We recently got a bag of manure to add and John emptied the burn barrel and put the ashes in there.  First he had to pick out all the metal and plastic stuff that somehow got into the burn barrel.  The guard recently swept all the leaves off the roof (we're going to have to have part of our roof replaced, but that's another story for another time), so those leaves were already half rotted and excellent for the compost.

I recently saw this infographic on Pinterest and thought it was helpful.  You'll have to click on it to be able to read it or just check it out here: There are some things we have realized we shouldn't put in the compost.  One of our missionaries who works for the agricultural project told us that "if it was once a living plant" it can go in the compost.  That would include all fruits, vegetables, leaves, grass, straw, etc.  If it's been processed, as chemicals on it, or is something that would attract animals (here, namely cats) don't put it in.

This past Saturday both John and I worked outside doing some weeding.
 I also transplanted some of my basil to other places since there were too many plants in the pot.  Two days later and they are still alive!!!

Let's see, what can we make with tomatoes, lettuce, and basil?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Remaking a Lampshade

We've had a little table lamp for a long time.  The shade that came with it broke once and we had somebody sew it together again.  When it broke a second time I figured it was beyond repair, but hoped to figure out a way to remake it, so I tossed it in the store room where it's been gathering dust for over a year. I just used it with the bare light bulb.

Then I saw this lampshade on Pinterest and thought, "I could do that!". (the website is hereMy shade only had a ring at the top and one at the bottom without the supporting wires in between.  So I just tied the torn strips of cloth between the top and bottom rings.

 The only thing is, is that the bottom ring has a larger circumference than the bottom ring, so it's not as filled in as I would have liked.

It softens the glare from the naked bulb and goes with my new quilt, so I'm happy with it.  Best of all, it took about 20 minutes to make.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Creative Kids' Play

We live on a shared compound.  There is a family house, then behind that a duplex and we live on one side of the duplex.  There is a wall between the duplex and the family house, but no gate....or at least not one that we keep shut.  And I like it that way.  So, that means that the neighbor kids play in our yard as well as theirs (neither of which is very big!).  And I like it that way.

This week, I've been watching the construction of a building of some sort on the corner near where we park our car.  The neighbor boy has turned a broken clay pot on its side and put some dirt inside.  It has a little fence in front of it and a tree planted to the side (not visible in this picture, but look for it in subsequent ones).  What do you think it is?

A day or two later I went out and more had been added.  Now there was some serious security going on!  There was a steep ramp up to the building, thorns at the bottom of the ramp as well as two thorny bars on a pulley system that can be lifted up and let down.  The building also got a door.  Now what do you think it is?

A few more days go by and the people and animals have moved in!  There is a guard at the bottom.  Horses have moved in to what appears to be a stable.  Soldiers are posted on top of the stable/clay pot. 

 Out of sight of the picture is a coral with more horses.

I get so much enjoyment from the creative play of kids and don't mind sharing the yard with them at all!

If you enjoyed this post, you'll enjoy a blog called kidswerehere.  The pictures featured show evidence that kids were there even though no kids appear in the photos.