"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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Thursday, April 29, 2010

"But The Fruit of the Spirit is...






...against such things there is no law."

At the orphanage yesterday, we discussed the fruit of the Spirit.  The classroom was locked, so ALL of them were able to participate.  

It went surprisingly well.  The older kids were "helpers."  We drew baskets for our fruit, and used really cool foam stickers (which were like gold to them!) to make fruit/houses/crosses/anything colorful and fun they could think of.  They all worked really hard, and then they began to adorn themselves with the left over stickers!  It was really fun - until the stickers ran out, some tears were shed, and we had an opportunity to talk about the fruit of the Spirit again :)

Oh, and one precious little Kindergartener with no front teeth made me a crown!  And, no it's not my birthday - but it felt like it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The most wonderful sound in the World.

Birds chirping?   Rain pouring?  Praise songs with an acoustic guitar?

Nope, this sound comes only after hours of teaching in humid 90-something degree weather, with the AC not working, fans and lights flickering off and on, students and teachers glistening with sweat, everyone lethargically trying to teach or learn.  It’s only these past few weeks and months that I have learned to absolutely rejoice hearing the generator begin to roar.  Yes, the most wonderful sound in the World is the generator.   It brings light and life to our school, restoring energy to ourselves and our students.  Thank you, Jesus, for the generator.

This made me think about the worst sound in the World...which is the sound that comes from the rooster that climbs onto the wall right outside my bedroom at 4 am and yells at the top of his little lungs that he thinks it's time we get up.

Yesterday, while we were having our fridge "fixed" (again) Joyce - our Ghanaian friend that lives with us- came to get my keys to the house, so the repairman could get in the house.  For whatever reason, the whole fridge debacle made me so angry at that point.  Maybe it was just the heat and the rooster?  Maybe it was because she had disrupted my class to get them?  Maybe I was just irritable from not having any real food for days?  I don't know why - but I began to unload - "Ah - this is so ridiculous, how do they expect us to eat without a fridge?!?!" And, then I stopped, and realized that Joyce doesn't even have a fridge.  She doesn't have a fridge and she has two small children to feed.  

"How do you do it???" I asked.  
"I cook small small, one meal at a time." Joyce said. 
Oh, the things we take for granted.  

Writing all this made me question, "Why am I doing this, again?!"  And, then I got this:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Humble thy self in the sight of the Lord...

I LOVE having Ghanaians take our pictures! It is always so great - most of them have no idea how to work a camera - and then they never ever get everyone actually in the picture :)

Here is our camera-man, and tro-tro driver from yesterday. We were coming back from the bead factory.  I got some really fun beads!

Here are some of the kids playing with the beads this morning - too cute.

I made a few things myself last night - let me know what you think!

The necklace is on a strip of batik fabric - knotted between each bead - it kind of looks like straw in the picture - but it's nice in real life.

So, I have been reconsidering humility.  I always thought humility came because of something that God did to us to - like when we became too dependent of something in this Earth, or too proud of our position on this Earth - God grabs our attention by humbling us.  And, while this does happen, according to the Bible (and the song) - it does not have to be this way.  

"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God..."  - 1 Peter 5:5-6

The Bible commands that we humble ourselves.  I had never thought humility was something I had much control of.  I don't think it means that we should self-sabotage our next job interview or wear mix-matched shoes, just so that we make ourselves look bad and become "humbled."  I think it means realizing, and remembering the greatness of our God.  I think it means realizing, and remembering how tiny we are in relation to all of God's creation.  I think it means realizing, and remembering that we are human and only God is God.

"What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."  James 4:14-15

Monday, April 26, 2010


There are so many fears and phobias among us.  I found a whole list online - it is quite amusing - it's worth the time to read. http://phobialist.com/  I tried to condense it, so that you could see some of the fears we have in our society.  Each one of these actually has a name and therefore more than one person who falls in that category.  Some are all too real. Some are so sad.  Some of them I can simply not fathom.

Agateophobia - Fear of insanity.
Allodoxahobia - Fear of opinions.
Atychiphobia - Fear of failure.
Barophobia- Fear of gravity.
Bromidrosiphobia or Bromidrophobia- Fear of body smells.
Chaetophobia- Fear of hair.
Chromophobia or Chromatophobia- Fear of colors.
Consecotaleophobia- Fear of chopsticks.
Decidophobia- Fear of making decisions.
Dextrophobia- Fear of objects at the right side of the body.
Dutchphobia- Fear of the Dutch.
Ecclesiophobia- Fear of church.
Eleutherophobia- Fear of freedom.
Epistemophobia- Fear of knowledge.
Eremophobia- Fear of being oneself or of lonliness.
Euphobia- Fear of hearing good news.
Geliophobia- Fear of laughter.
Geumaphobia or Geumophobia- Fear of taste.
Heliophobia- Fear of the sun.
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words.
Homilophobia- Fear of sermons.
Ideophobia- Fear of ideas.
Kakorrhaphiophobia- Fear of failure or defeat.
Kathisophobia- Fear of sitting down.
Lachanophobia- Fear of vegetables.
Lutraphobia- Fear of otters.
Megalophobia- Fear of large things.
Metathesiophobia- Fear of changes.
Mycrophobia- Fear of small things.
Novercaphobia- Fear of your step-mother.
Obesophobia- Fear of gaining weight.(Pocrescophobia)
Ombrophobia- Fear of rain or of being rained on.
Ouranophobia or Uranophobia- Fear of heaven.
Panophobia or Pantophobia- Fear of everything.
Papaphobia- Fear of the Pope.Papyrophobia- Fear of paper.
Politicophobia- Fear or abnormal dislike of politicians.
Russophobia- Fear of Russians.
Sociophobia- Fear of society or people in general.
Somniphobia- Fear of sleep.
Sophophobia- Fear of learning.
Soteriophobia - Fear of dependence on others.

Theophobia- Fear of gods or religion.
Triskaidekaphobia- Fear of the number 13.
Vestiphobia- Fear of clothing.
Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.

Church on Sunday was about fears that we have - healthy fear that God gives to direct us vs. unhealthy fear that compromises what the Lord has called us to do.  The fears listed are overwhelming - how do these fears become part of our lives?? What fear do you have that is hindering you from living out your faith?  While mine is not the fear of politicians or sermons, or rain, or learning, I was certainly convicted of mine.  Fear can hold us captive, if we let it.  

The only "fear" the Bible calls us to have is the fear of God.   As in a respectful, awe-ing fear of who God is, of His goodness and His power.  This can only come from the acknowledgement of His supreme authority over everything and, applicably, all parts of our life.  Which will result in the complete surrender and submission to His will.

Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. - Psalm 2:11

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? - Psalm 27:1

Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fearhim lack nothing. - Psalm 34:9

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. -Psalm 86:11

Pray with me, for the Lord to show you your fears, then lay them back at His feet - don't let your fear of [long words or the color purple, or even of the great mole rat]  keep you from being obedient to the one who created you.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I love Saturday.

We had a cook out last night, it was quite enjoyable! A ton of the teachers and other internationals came.  Sara and I made the veggie kabobs .... MMMmmmmm.....don't they look good?!

This morning, I went to get fabric! The batik fabric here is so beautiful!

I took a nap while it rained this afternoon.  Then, this evening I made paper -- using a fufu pounder, batik dye, recycled paper, and flowers from the yard!  This is what I am really excited about teaching people here about, they will be able to make the paper with whatever resources available to them, and I am going to begin collecting all the paper that goes into the trash at school - which is a ton!!!

Good stuff.  I love Saturdays.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


"Lord, give me your words today.  Give me joy and please Lord, give me patience with the orphans today.  I pray that they may see you in my actions," was my half-thought of a prayer while walking over to the orphanage this afternoon to paint with the kids.  Prayer, like many things in my life, simply slips out of my mind.  This week alone, I have forgotten a faculty meeting and overslept for school.  I am typically absent minded - but this afternoon - I was prayerful, and later I was grateful.

"You have the power to change" - the orphan who painted this picture told me today.  "I have the power to change?" I asked.  She looked into my eyes, searching.  "You have the power to change people.  I want to change.  I want to be nice like my friend is.  I want to change." She said.

This little girl's past is warped with abuse.  Her wounds surface in violence and then she shuts down and withdraws.  She fights a bigger spiritual battle than I could ever imagine.

Today she told me she wanted to change.  She thought she would be able to change when she went to America with a new family.  She wanted to change her physical body.  Lord, give me words, I prayed.  I started paraphrasing the 139th Psalm - telling her that "God formed her inward parts, He wove her in her mother's womb...you are fearfully and wonderfully made."  She looked deep into my eyes, as we discussed that we are all suppose to change each day.  I told her that I ask the Lord to change me every day - to make me more like His Son, Jesus.  Our spirits are to be changed, but our physical bodies are perfect according to His plan.

Another child needed help, and when I turned back around to her, she had gotten my Bible out of my bag and was holding it out to me, "Read it to me," she said.  Moved almost to the point of shock, I thumbed to the center of my Bible and read the entire 139th Psalm to her, paraphrasing each part after I read.  All of her focus was on God's words coming out of my mouth.  When I finished, she asked me to read more.  There I was, in the middle of my painting lesson, where I rarely have two of the orphan's attention at the same time, and they were all listening to the Bible.  

Yes, God moves.  Yes, God changes lives.  Yes, God wants me to change today.  Yes, God wants you to change today.

"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me."
C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Asantewa's Inspiration

So, the Lord has laid some new ideas for ministry in Africa on my heart.  He has given me ideas, and whenever I have forgotten or doubted, He shows up and throws some new encouragement or a new contact my way.   The vision He has given me is to help  

Decrease poverty, support ministry and increase awareness of life struggles in Africa through the visual arts.

So, I am praying for God to shine light on ministries and groups of people in need here in Ghana.  I want to find groups of poeple that I can train to create unique and quality products, that I can sell to America to raise money for people and ministry  here, as well as encourage and create awareness for those of you at home in the States.

One of my students at AIS, and I traveled all over the Greater Accra Region of Ghana a few weekends ago.  We were on a search for awesome handmade beads.  The beads I love here in Ghana are the glass beads.  People recycle glass bottles, breaking them and melting the glass into molds.  I think we went to three or four different markets, finding our way via "tro-tro" - often going the wrong way!  So, it was an exciting day and we have plenty of awesome jewelry to show for it!

After bringing them home to see what would sell in the states, I was able to give back 300 Ghana Cedis to Asantewa and her mother's ministry "Children of the Light!"

Here we all are: Kwadjo Asantewa, Silas, Autie Jean, and myself.

Asantewa is busy making more jewelry for me to sell in the states on my next trip home - which will be sometime in mid June.  I was able to get a website up for contacts who may be interested in selling handmade goods from Ghana or organizations in Africa who could benefit from some encouragement in the visual arts.

Check it out and let me know what you think - www.inspiredbythecreator.org

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Last Week of Bible Study :(

This is how we watch Beth Moore each Monday night.  Since we don't have a TV, we borrow a projector so that we can all watch from a computer screen.  We have all just completed (although I still have a few worksheets left to do!) her study on the Fruit of the Spirit - "Living Beyond Yourself."  What a blessing the study has been and what a treat she is - full of energy - thank you, Beth Moore for always encouraging and challenging us.  It's funny, I really feel like we are going to miss her - I hope we can find another set of videos to watch next year!

Delicious snacks - it was so fun to share American treats.

Bible study girls - Meg, Emily, Liz, Faith, myself, Kim, Sara, and Elyse.  We missed you Simone and Melissa!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grace upon grace.


noun, verb, graced, grac·ing.
the freely given, unmerited favor and love of god.

At this point in my walk with Christ - even though I have a hard time comprehending grace, I feel monotonous writing about being saved through grace.  I know that "by grace (I) have been saved through faith.  And this is not (my) own doing, it is the gift of God..." Ephesians 2:8

This week, I read about grace in a new way: "... those who through grace had believed..."  Acts 18:27  I knew that it was by grace that I have been saved, but it is also through grace that we BELIEVE.   In a sense this is saying the same thing - but it is different because all of humanity has been offered the gift of salvation, yet we have all still been given freewill and it is still our choice to believe.  So, it is by grace that we "believe."

I have a really hard time understanding how God allows for only some people to believe.  It is clear that He knew not all would believe, when Christ prayed "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word..." John 17:20  Throughout the Bible, and especially in Revelation, it is clear that God desires for all to believe.  It is His compassion, agape love, and limitless grace that allows all of us second chances - He grants to all humanity chance after chance to choose to believe Him, and believe in Him.

The first person who "believed" God or "believed in" God in the Bible was Abram, when God told him his offspring would be numbered like the stars in the sky.  "And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness." -Genesis 15:6  We are Abram's offspring, we have adoption as Sons through Christ.  So, it is our heritage to believe, but now it is also our choice.

God has and will give us grace upon grace, but will we choose to accept God's grace and believe?

"And from the fullness we have all received; grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:16-17

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back to Ghana...

I seriously slept almost all day Saturday - which was glorious! I feel like I am finally caught up from jet-lag.  Then, we went and tried a new Indian restaurant - which was delicious!

Today, we went to Asbury Dunwell Methodist Church - love the worship there!  I tried to make my first video on my new Mac - I need Tracey to give me some lessons :)  I hope you can see it!

Back to Ghana...

Friday, April 16, 2010

God's sheet of paper.

"Almost certainly God is not in time. His life does not consist of moments one following another...Ten-thirty-- and every other moment from the beginning of the world--is always Present for Him. If you like to put it this way, He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second of prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

I always remembered this quote a little different, or maybe the sentence before this is what I remember, and I don't have the book here to look it up in!  I remember  C.S. Lewis saying something like: "While we see time as moving along a line, from point A to point B, to point C, and so on, imagine that line being drawn on a sheet of paper, and then realize that God IS the sheet of paper."

I have been thinking about that concept the past few days - praying and thinking about how God brought me to this point (maybe point E or so, I hope)  and I feel like I am already searching for the next point.  And it's awesome to realize or remember that my line on God's sheet of paper allows for God to know the in's and out's of my life, to completely contain, complete and hold my life together.  But today - something hit me about this  - -  there must be a whole lot of lines on God's sheet of paper.   And, maybe that is why we have a hard time seeing the points coming?  

I drew these lines (during my second grade class, where we are discussing the different types of lines) to represent "God's sheet of paper." (His would, no doubt, be infinitely larger than this one)  When I look at it - I really want my line to be the yellow one in the middle.  Yea, the big yellow line with the really big points marked out.  But, I think my line is actually one of those crazy jagged lines that goes all over the page, you see, the ones where you could never predict where they would go next.

But, we all know that if all the lines were the same - this drawing wouldn't be very interesting, if it was all thin blue lines, it might be mistaken for a sheet of notebook paper.  If we were all jagged turquoise lines; or art teachers in Africa - we wouldn't ever be able to  learn about history or science or math in school, maybe not even have a school in the States, there wouldn't be restaurants to eat in, or even have food to eat!  It's fun to think about all the different lines we represent, and all the intersections that happen between us.  Sometimes the lines change each other's color, sometimes they resist each other, sometimes the lines go straight through each other, not changing either one of them.   Think of all the people we encounter each day, that God has planned it all out -  right there, on His sheet of paper.

"The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." Psalm 16:6

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Beacon House Orphanage

I just couldn't post this picture a few months ago when it was taken, it was just too sad.  I feel like I can now that I have seen her smiling again.  This is one of the orphans, on the day one of her friends in the orphanage was adopted and flew to his new home in the US.  The orphans become family for each other, and while it is bitter sweet for us to watch the children go home with loving families, the other orphans understand the separation much less.  There is sadness, jealousy, anger and loneliness felt by those left behind.  In a meager attempt to comfort her - I asked to "snap" her.  And she smiled when she saw the photograph on my digital camera.

Today when I went by, she was there smiling, and asked me to "snap" her, and she excitedly came around to see it.  Look at that smile!

Today, I went by to drop off some awesome kids clothes donated by an organization in Auburn.  The kids and staff were grateful.  They have a container full of kids clothes donated to the orphanage.  The kids here wear them, and they also send them out to surrounding orphanages who are also in need.  Pretty cool to see the sense of community here.

And yesterday I went over to paint with the kids!  The kids finger painted pictures of themselves.  I think they enjoyed it.  It's funny, they take much better care of the supplies than kids at our school.  It just means more to them to have paint to use.

And as I was leaving, I saw the baby we were blessed to care for for a few weeks, who is back at the orphanage now.  She was alone in the baby house, sitting on the floor.  She has lost weight since we had her - and it was really hard to see.  Please pray for this little baby.

Thank you for all your prayers and comments, it means so much to know that people back at home are reading and encouraged by life over here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bibles, class, HOME at last.

Last night I came home to see Mary reading to Jeff from the precious brand new children's Bible I was able to share with them.   I was so moved, going to pick these up from Brother Charles at AUMC.  The senior girl's discipleship group had taken the time to go through each one laminating the covers and signing their names and favorite Bible verses inside.   Thank you guys so much for making each one special.  I was able to bring Bibles back, given by the church, my aunt Dixie, my friend Jill, and my sweet sister Tracey.  I am going out to church at Pram Pram the first Sunday of May to deliver the rest of the Bibles there!

Today was back to art class as usual! The sixth grade has been discussing folk art - which is so much fun.  Artists are considered folk artists if they are not traditionally trained artist, and generally tend to be very spiritual people.   This is a painting by Sister Getrude Morgan - a very charismatic folk artist originally from Alabama.  She wrote a poem along with it, that I just think is absolutely amazing.

"Jesus is my air
Plane, you hold
the World in your hand, you
Guide me through the land
Jesus is my air Plane I
say Jesus is my air
Plane We're striving for
 that promise land.  Come
on, Join our Band let's make
 it in that Kingdom land."

But the folk art project we are doing is in the fashion of this Howard Finster sculpture of Paradise Gardens.  As a class we read through the prophecies in Zechariah 14.  We talked about all the characteristics of the New Jerusalem and all the ways the Bible describes it - and I challenged them - boys vs. girls (of course) to build their own found object/folk art sculptures inspired by the scriptures.  And it's been pretty cool.

They've been working hard for a while now, and we are getting down to the details - church pews and such, it looks really awesome!

We are also working on West African ceremonial costumes, in which the chiefs would spin and dance, creating wind believed to be blessings from the tribe's ancestors.

 And some Surrealist collages:

Which led me to do one of my own collages, in this one I am making a house.  Transition from "HOME" to my home now is so interesting.  There are so many differences and so many different things people choose to build their houses on and from.

The Bible tells us, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." Psalm 127:1

I am ever thankful for each part of my life that is built by the Lord.  As I continue to make mistakes, and feel constantly unworthy of the salvation I have been given, He allows me to fall right back into His forgiving arms, pouring out His grace and love over and over again.