"We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 1:3

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


(Jerusalem, amazing.)

I seem to find people all the time who are unlovable.  Sometimes they are immature, or selfish, other times they are just plain annoying.  What does that mean?  Shouldn’t we who call ourselves “Christians” be able to love all people at all times?

(donkey on the Mount of Olives, just like the one JESUS rode, I am sure.)

Listening to sermons on Palm Sunday, everyone was talking about Jesus, and rightly so.  But, they seemed to dwell on the “whole-God” side of Him, leaving out the “whole – human” side.  The preachers spoke of people laying down Palm braches, and clothes as Jesus rode victoriously into Jerusalem on the donkey.  The preachers said our God is so awesome that even if there had been no people to praise and worship Him, the Rocks would have cried out! How awesome. 

But, my favorite part of the story is right below the palm branch scene.  Luke 19:41-44 – “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it…”  He we wept because He knew the city was going to be destroyed.  He wept because Israel didn’t recognize Him, “because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

(Window of the church that marks the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, beautiful.)

Whole-human.  Jesus wept over unfaithful, selfish, unlovable people.  He wept over people who were plotting to kill Him.

Once inside Jerusalem, He prepared the “Last Supper” for the Passover meal.  He sat down with his best friends and most faithful followers, His disciples. 

There, He foretold Judas’ betrayal.  And Jesus loved Judas and invited him to eat anyway. 

Then, “A dispute arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” The night Jesus was going to be arrested and become a sacrifice as atonement for all of our sins, the very people Jesus was going to die for were selfish, prideful and ungrateful.  And Jesus loved them anyways, inviting them to eat and drink at His table.

Jesus foretold Peter’s denial, and Jesus loved Peter and ate dinner with Him anyway. 


And then Jesus gave His friends one last chance to show their faithfulness, asking them to pray for Him in Gethsemane.  And we all know what happened, they were too tired, or too lazy to be faithful, and they simply fell asleep when Jesus needed them most.

(Gethsemane again.)

And Jesus loved them anyway. 

Jesus endured mockery, slander, betrayal, brutal beatings and last the cross for them, and for us.  He showed perfect love, unconditional love, to an unlovable world.   We are unworthy of His sacrifice, even the disciples proved to be unworthy. 

If this is how God can love them, and how God can love me, as unlovable as I am, how much more should I try to love those who I find to be “unlovable” around me?

This morning, I was honored to have a chance to talk about Africa at a Jr. High School FCA meeting.  I challenged them to try to love the “unlovable people” in their lives.  I showed pictures of THE easiest people to love, the orphans at Beacon House.  These are people who are easy to love, but there are also people who make it really hard.  Though reading about Christ's example, I am challenged to put my pride and laziness or whatever to the side, so that I can love the unlovable.  Just as Christ loves unlovable me.

I spent the afternoon with Elizabeth, running errands and getting ready for Saturday! The Farm is starting to look really nice - they are setting up the tents and chairs already!  I have also spent hours trying to put pictures up on this!!! I don't know what is wrong - I will try to add some later.  I have some really cute ones of friends and the sisters!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Plague of Happiness and the JOY of family!

I think I watched 5 movies on the plane home, and had time to sleep and read and eat as well.  One of the movies, embarrassingly, brought me to tears!  It was called "Everybody's is fine," with Robert De Niro.  It might be a really old movie, I have no idea - but his character really just hit me.  He lives his life to "provide for" and "encourage" his family - asking each one of them "Are you HAPPY?"

Maybe it's just my family, and maybe its just southern culture, but so much of the time, we live to make each other "happy," and even more often we arrange our lives to give the appearance of being "happy."  What in the World does "happiness" even look like?  For so long, I believed "happiness" looked like health, busy-ness, success, having the right relationships, the cutest dress, or the the most awesome shoes.

I think people in the US perceive my decision to move to Africa as something I am doing to make myself "happy."  All the time, on phone conversations, emails, when I run into family and friend at church, they all ask, "Well, are you happy?"  And it's nice, I think.  I think everyone is trying to ask a nice question, but it is so hard for me to answer for them.  My move across the ocean had nothing to do with making me "happy," and had even less to do with making my family and friends "happy."  It was THE hardest decision I have ever made.

I am living in Africa, because that is where God has called me.  And yes, I have a great PEACE in my life, and I am able to REST because I know that I am inside of the Lord's will, and I praise Him everyday for that!  But I believe that "happiness" is an empty goal.  It doesn't mean anything.  We live in a fallen and sinful World, where God allows bad and sad stuff to happen all the time.  His goal for us on this Earth is our sanctification, our completion, our total dependence on Him, our ability to see through the temporary things of this world - to the eternal.  I have found that usually means Him ripping the stuff we see as important out of our lives, and it hurts.  But it creates in us a need for Him, and a better picture of His loving, merciful, and joyful character.

Yes, the Lord gives us JOY and He gives us PEACE.  The catch is, we have to CHOOSE it!  How do I choose JOY when I am looking face to face with a 9 lb one year old orphan?  Where is the "happiness" there?  We all have our battles we are facing and things that are being ripped away or out from under us - we are all part of this fallen world - but where will you choose to fall?   I choose to fall on my face at the feet of Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, the redeemer of my soul.

On a more easily joyful note this is what I have been doing the past few days:

I visited Elizabeth's class room!

She is doing an awesome job - the classroom was organized and colorful!

I got to do a little art project with them - we made "Letter bugs!"

Then, it was time to get ready for her shower! She wanted a Mexican theme - and everyone was required to wear fake mustaches!  Tracey was by far the best dressed.

Ha - mom and aunt Lee Alice had to wear mustaches too!

Me, Mom, Elizabeth, Lee Alice, and Tracey looking nice.

Dad even made an appearance!

Unicorn pinata at the end of the night - they are no where close to it!

It was such a blessing to go to American church today, I went to two services!  I'm trying to rest this afternoon, I have friends coming in town for dinner tonight and a list of wedding chores waiting for me!!

Friday, March 26, 2010


All day at school Tuesday - all I could think about was going HOME!  Once I was finished the intense planning for the next two weeks - All I had left was to countdown the moments until my departure!  I took the first grade class outside to play with sidewalk chalk - at that point I had 6 hours left until the airport!

Funny story: I had a lay over in Frankfurt Germany and I was getting through the airport and finally reached the the terminal for the flight to Atlanta, and I began to see several people with Auburn University shirts and hats on!  Of course, I ran over - "Are y'all from Auburn!?" It turns out it was a whole group from Opelika First Baptist Church returning home from Paul's travels in Greece and Turkey.  I knew several of them.  So crazy! War Eagle! 

When I got to Atlanta - I met my sweet dad at baggage claim and we headed to the mall! I got to run into Anthropologie and Nordstrom - my favorites!  Then, we stopped at Chick-fil-A for dinner MMMMmmmmm.

It is so good to come home.  It's funny how some things are exactly as you remember them, and some things and people seem so different.  It makes you wonder if it was you who changed or them?

“So we are always of good courage.  We know that while we are at HOME in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at HOME with the Lord.  So whether we are at HOME or away, we make it our aim to please Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-9

How comforting it is to know that our HOME is with the Lord.  Our home is in heaven.  We have already been “raised up” and He has “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 2:6)  As Christians, we have an eternal HOME, a place where we are known and welcomed.

How awesome it has been coming "HOME" from Africa.  It’s been rough the past few weeks, the heat and electricity and dealing with conflict and death in the community – it’s been hard.  I love how Beth Moore continues to remind us in her Bible study that “hard” is not the same as “bad.”  Difficult times change you, refine you, and they sanctify you.  Difficult times make the good times so much “gooder.”  It has been good coming HOME.   Not "easy" but good - and a good reminder of how much more awesome it will be to go to our eternal HOME.

My Dad fixed up my room in his house - It was the nicest most thoughtful thing ever.  He not only had a new bed and car waiting for me, he also unpacked lots of my pictures, and had them hanging on the wall.  I walked in, and it felt like HOME.  

There were some really old pictures - that made me smile - baby me with Mom and Dad.

Some new pictures that I had never seen.  Me and Mr. Gilmer at Easter - sitting on Deedee's porch.  What a great picture to remember him by, I will always remember the time I spent talking with him on that porch.

A brand new painting - signed by Trey Johnston! My dad made this at a charity thing and he hung it in my room! Amazing.

Last night, I got to go and eat with my sisters at Mellow Mushroom - MMMmmm.  Cheese. I love cheese.  I think everyone reading this knows, but cheese is a treat in Ghana - it is really expensive there.

I do love America, but it is definitely different this time. Wedding festivities are kicking off tonight - we have Elizabeth's first shower!  

Monday, March 22, 2010

Storms and tears.

This has been a sad weekend.   One of the missionaries here passed away Saturday afternoon.  Bob Reed was a counselor for conflict resolution, most recently dealing the conflict between Christians and Muslims in Jos, Nigeria.  Their family had moved to Accra from Liberia this Summer. They have two kids at AIS.  Our whole community is shaken up.  I spent more time praying and talking with classes today than teaching art today.

The skies opened up Saturday afternoon and it poured and thundered and there was lightening - that just almost never happens.  The storm so fit our mood.  Angry and sad.  Even now, there is some kind of haze in the sky - the Ghanaians keep saying harmattan has finally come - but it is months too late for that.  The sadness at school is heavy, the sky outside is heavy.

My little 2nd grader from school last year, with neuro-blastoma cancer had some bad scans this week.  I am broken hearted for their family.  They have hope, and we all know that God is good.  I guess it just takes the down times to appreciate the good.

I just got my passport today, Praise the Lord - the Ghanaian government has had it - waiting for the school to pay the bribe.  After weeks of letters and phone calls and by the grace of God, I finally got it this afternoon.  So, my spirits are lifting, I am so ready to be headed to America tomorrow.

I love plane rides.  I am so glad to be traveling.  I am so glad to be going home.  Please pray for safe travels - I will get on the plane at 11 PM here - 6 PM Auburn time, and then change planes in Frankfurt - and I have checked the weather, there is no snow predicted in Frankfurt!!! And then, I will arrive in Atlanta, Ga Wednesday evening.  Can't wait to see your faces.

I hope it's not too cold to wear sandals when I get off in Atlanta...that's all I have!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Ghanaian Family!

Somehow, I have forgotten to introduce you to several important people in my life in Ghana!  

This is Mary.

This is Jeff.

This is their mom, Joyce.  Joyce, Mary and Jeff live in our compound with us.  They are precious.   Joyce cleans the school during the day, and teaches me twi in the evenings!  

I affectionately call Jeff "Adjwi" - which is twi for monkey.  He is all the time climbing on something and eating bananas!!  They are both learning English in school now, and improving every day.

This is Micheal (and little Jeff).  Micheal is our guard.  We can all thank him for keeping me safe at night.  If any one of us are out later than usual, or sick in the bed, he always asks, or calls to make sure that we are ok.  Every night we come in and Micheal is reading his Bible on his little porch. 

These people I see everyday and feel like family.  They take care of me, and have become part of my "Ghanaian Family."

I went out to the garage last night to get my suitcase out to start packing to come home!!!! 6 days!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

God is good...

All the time.

Our circumstance often makes it hard to remember God's goodness - but in the midst of all our trials, God truly is GOOD ALL THE TIME.

And, the time change in America is great - we are only 5 hours away now! And... I will be flying home in one week from today - I can't believe it's time to go!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Don't pick the snails"

...was the topic of the sermon at church today.  "I stopped on my way to pick the snails.  They looked so delicious, I could not chose one, each one looked bigger and more delicious than the first.  After picking all the snails, I realized how much time had pasted.  I should not have looked to the side of the road to pick the snails.  Don't stop to pick the snails! Look past the snails and stay on the path we are called to run.  Paul and Joshua had the opportunity to stop and pick the snails, but they didn't...."

Just another Ghanaian sermon I have a hard time relating abut kind of relates to the Bible.

So, I was thinking during church, instead of listening.  I have been stressed from conflict on our team this week, and stress always makes us revert to old patterns of behavior - and for me, I tried to become a "fixer" again.  Yes, I am a chronic fixer.  I relate well to the Coldplay song "Fix You"

When you try your best, but you don't succeed

When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you...

So, instead of listening, I began researching the role of "fixers" in the Bible, and it is most different from Coldplay's secular and failing attempts to fix.  Most references were to Pharaoh "fixing" rations of food or  God "fixing" the boundaries of the Earth during creation.  More interesting, every single verse that referenced any human being "fixing" anything, they were "fixing" their eyes Heavenward - on Christ's Word and Spirit.

Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.  - Psalm 119:6

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. - Psalm 119:15

Even the word help brought up references to crying out for help from the Lord, our help is in the Lord, and when the Bible mentions people helping, the help is from the Lord.  

Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers! For your God helps you. -  1 Chronicles 12:18

With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles. - 2 Chronicles 32:8

So, there is definitely a place to help others, but only when we are able to first accept help from God.  Trying to "fix" other people is trying to do God's job. 

Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. - Psalm 33:20

So, we are called to wait on the Lord, not trying to fix each other, but speaking the truth in love, keeping our eyes "fixed" on God, and by all means, not stopping to "pick the snails!"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Down the rabbit hole...

So, Alice in Wonderland has long been one of my favorite stories, and Tim Burton's is a master piece, YES, I am a Tim Burton fan - I love the way he sees stories, everything is so extremely exaggerated and equally creepy that you never know who to suspect as the villain - which is an interesting way to think about our perspectives on real life.  We seem to subconsciously categorize each other, often in the most trivial ways - i.e. - "emo" "the cheerleader" "the funny guy," when really we all are equally extreme in some way - so anyone could assume anyone else is "creepy" - based only on the degrees between their opposite extreme behaviors. hm.

I need to go back and watch the Disney version - but I found that I really relate to Alice in this movie - and I don't remember why I identified with her so much before.  In the new one, she loves people and wants to do the right thing, but her perspective on life is just very different from the people around her.  She has to go on her journey to Wonderland to face and conquer all sorts of battles, leading her to find who she is and all that she is capable of.  She is strong and independent, quirky and naive.

Great movie - I wish to own it, and I will go see it again - if anyone needs a movie buddy!

Our sweet baby girl is no longer in the house with us.  She is doing well and gaining weight. She has enough muscle to sit up and can almost pull herself up to stand!   I went to visit her at the orphanage today.  She was so smiley, until we got the camera out!

And, Praise the Lord!!!! The power is back on!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Too hot.

Here is the forecast in Accra this week.  The water and electricity have been out for more than 3 days.  One of my roommates, Sara (Her Blog), and myself decided to go to the movies last night at 8:30.  That is probably the best decision I have made in a long time.  Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Depp, pop corn, AIR CONDITIONING for two hours - great way to get out of the heat, at least for a moment.

DayWeatherMax. DayTemperature
Min. NightTemperature
Wind Direction and Speed
Thu Day weather
Heavy Rain Shower
Heavy Rain Shower
9381South South Westerly1257%1011mbGoodMore info for Thursday's weather
Fri Day weather
Heavy Rain Shower
Heavy Rain Shower
9381South South Westerly1056%1011mbGoodMore info for Friday's weather
Sat Day weather
Heavy Rain Shower
Heavy Rain Shower
9581South South Westerly1453%1011mbGoodMore info for Saturday's weather
Sun Day weather
Heavy Rain Shower
Heavy Rain Shower
9581South Westerly1553%1010mbGoodMore info for Sunday's weather
Mon Day weather
Heavy Rain Shower
Heavy Rain Shower
9581South Westerly1250%1010mbGood
...and there are no "Heavy Rain Showers" - clear skies as far as I can see!  I hope it will rain.