"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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Monday, June 28, 2010

So, I drove back to Auburn from Destin today.  On the way down to the beach, I had one set of directions ready, and by God's grace - I made it down without any turning around.  You see, I am typically quite directionally challenged - and I still don't have a phone - so I have been a little anxious about making this drive.  Today, I got out two different sets of Mapquest directions, my aunt was telling me others, and I got my GPS geared up to head home.  I was comforted to have so many sets of directions telling me where to go, that way - anywhere I ended up - something would be able to get me back on the right path.

Then I realized, between all the shortcuts and side streets in and out of the different routes, there was probably 50 different ways I could get home.  Some ways (including the way I ended up driving) were "safer" - but took a little more time.    Other routes were much quicker, but included many more turns.  Some onto very slightly marked streets - and making a wrong turn there could lead you out into the middle of no-where!  Some were simply more scenic than others.

I was thinking how much like real life that is - of course, I am not always headed to Auburn - but I am always headed to Heaven.  It gives me great comfort to know that regardless of the choices I make and different paths that I choose - as long as I am seeking to please God - I am going to end up in the same place, with Him, for eternity.

"You put my feet in the stocksand watch all my paths; you set a limit for the soles of my feet." Job13:27

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." Psalm 119:32

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Someone once told me that, "God is not mean."

This is terribly simplistic and may possibly even seem counter-Christian, since we all know that "God is love."  But, the Lord has called that phrase to my mind several times recently.  It comes to mind when I am doubting what I am hearing the Lord say to me - and fearful of the consequences of choices.  My personality just tends to over analyze any decision that I am making.  I am also a "verbal thinker" and feel the need to talk out all my thoughts with patient friends and family the Lord has blessed me with :) I am always trying to figure out all my sub-conscience motives, where my "wounds" are hindering me, and checking my desires and thoughts with scripture and lifting them up to the Lord in prayer.  All of this to say -- I think most of the time it is much simpler.

While I am praying for guidance in my life, I am also continuing to read through 1 Samuel.  In Chapter 8, Israel demands the Lord to give them a king.  The Lord warns Israel, through the prophet Samuel against this desire of theirs.  Israel, against God's warning, demands a king anyways.  They change God's mind, and He answers their prayer.

In my first read of this passage, it seems like God is being a patronizing parent, saying "I know what's best for you, but have it your way - and learn for yourself to obey me."  Almost, as if He was leading them into "bad" consequences.  After all, He did create them and already knew everything that would happen.

But, when you go back and focus on the details and everything that happens after God appoints Israel a king, I think God just wanted to give His people the desires of their heart - out of love.  No, God is not a mean God.  I don't think He set a trap and watched Israel fall into it.  I think He wanted to bless them.  God appointed Saul as king, but it was Saul who fell from God's grace, because he did not obey God's commands in war.  And later, we know that the Lord hardened Saul's heart - when God had appointed a little red-headed shepherd boy named David his successor.

The scripture is clear, because God does later appoint David and others as king of Israel, that it was not their desire for a king that was "bad" or sinful - that God gave warning against.  It was the motivation from which Israel asked for a king that was.  1 Samuel 8:7 says "they (Israel) rejected me (God) from being king over them."  God wasn't displeased with their desire for a king, he was displeased with their rejection of Him as their king first.

Point being, God wants to bless us, and give us the desires of our heart.  We have choices, and we can glorify and obey God on any path we choose.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4

Saturday, June 26, 2010


“You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip;” 2 Samuel 22:37

So, I was just walking out to the porch to have some prayer time, and I tripped right over a chair.  I am embarrassed to say, it hurt pretty bad – I was thankful to still have my “Africa first aid” stuff handy – to clean it up quickly.   Anyways – it seems like God was saying – even though I was trying to find some really profound reason or sign from God for my next step…that I need to just look at what is right in front of me.

Yes, my life is pretty much back to the drawing board.  I am home from my time in Africa, open to heading anywhere else in the World.   My first week back has been busy with parties, visiting friends and family, and catching up on sleep from traveling. 

I am at the beach now, catching my breath and praying about my next step.  The beach is beautiful, I haven't seen any oil - just a little seaweed:)  They do have all these barriers out to keep the oil off shore, if it does come.

It's funny to think that the last time that I was at a beach, I was staying in a hut like this:

God is so faithful to give me comfort and peace about where I am going.  I drove down by myself in the evening, and had just the nicest drive talking to Jesus – the sun set just as I was getting into Destin, and my (yes, I am a nerd) book on CD finished just as I was pulling up to the gate here.  Yes, God is good.  He is giving me rest and preparing my heart for another transition – to the next phase of my life.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord; when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord establishes his way.” Psalm 37:23-24

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

So, now I am just trying to figure out what my heart wants…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good-bye Beacon House babies.  I was able to go by and see the little girl we were blessed to care for.  She is happy and healthy - 15 pounds - Praise God!

Bye-bye, my Ghanaian family.  I will miss you Joyce, Jeff, and Mary.

Bye Chicken and Rice - I am sure I will miss you in a month or two...

Bye-bye bumpy roads.

And taxi's, especially the ones with flat tires.

Good Bye, barred windows, and razor-wired fences.

Good Bye, "peace corps" sandals, I still have a blister from you, and don't think I will ever wear you again.

Bye, busy market places, and amazing women who can carry ANYthing on their heads.

Good bye, church under a grass hut on the beach - I will miss you every Sunday.

Good bye Sea turtles,

And elephants, and big bugs, and geckos.

And good bye precious international school kids.  I will miss you everyday.

"Hello" to American cell phones, fast internet, drive throughs, appointments, calendars, air conditioning, reliable running water and places that were once so familiar - but now feel foreign.  Hello to friends and family. Hello to American church - where you can understand all the songs and sermons. A BIG hello to salads and strawberries, broiled salmon, and cheese!  So many things are so different - I am praying to see the best of both of my "worlds."

Friday, June 18, 2010


So, the Lord has me reading the Old Testament some more.  I have studied Ruth - and her choice to follow God and God fearing people, even against their wishes and all human logic.  And now I am reading 1 Samuel. 

In the beginning of 1 Samuel, there is a series of misunderstandings.  Honest misunderstandings.  Hannah, being the one of Elkanah's two wives without children, desires to have children badly.  When her "rival (wife) used to provoke her grievously to irritate her," Hannah sought the Lord.  She went to the temple, "deeply distressed and praying to the Lord and wept bitterly."  She remained there praying, and Eli the priest was observing her.  But, "Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved and her voice was not heard.  Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman!!" 

Can you imagine? Pouring your heart out to God, only to have the priest confront you for being drunk in the temple?!

Then, there is Samuel, who misunderstands God! The Lord speaks audibly to him while he is sleeping one night, so Samuel wakes and runs to Eli saying "Here am I!" Confused, Eli says he didn't call him, so Samuel returns to bed.  Then the Lord called "Samuel" again - and again Samuel ran to Eli!  The third time God called Samuel - Eli percieved it was God calling, and so Samuel was able to answer the Lord.  How many times do we put God "in a box" - and think God can't be TALKING to ME!

There have been so many misunderstandings in my life the past few months.  I am fairly convinced that there probably always will be, as long as I am living to please God and not man.  God calls us often to do things that don't seem rational.  It dosen't make much "sense" to do some of the things God has commanded us - to just give money and things, or to love our enemies. 

And think about Jesus - he ate with the tax collectors and prostitutes, and didn't cohort with the pharisees.  He was misunderstood.  Even His desciples didn't understand why he would spend time talking to children instead of preaching to adults.  And Jesus is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come." Ephesians 1:21

So, God and God alone is our authority, even when following Him might look strange or cause misunderstandings.  God is bigger than what we see a situation to be.  He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

I'm in Auburn! I am tired and jetlagged and already miss Africa - but I am here!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just got back to Accra from...

47 Hours of travel by bus.

3 broken down buses.

1 ride in the back of a truck to get to Mole National Park.

Sustaining myself with 4 loaves of bread and
20 Ounces of peanut butter
on the journey.

One driving safari.

Wearing rubber boots for the walking portion of the safari.

Seeing 34 Baboons.

27 Warthogs.

173 Antelope (they were everywhere!)

and 11 elephants!

Floating with 4 new friends from France and Switzerland in a canoe down Mole River.

Choosing a few baskets to bring home from these 68 amazing Bolga baskets.

Hanging out with 40 awesome kids at Mama Laadi’s Foster Home in Bolga.

A-mazing trip.  Ghana is awesome.  I love the people. I love the colorful culture. 

1 day left…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Just found this - our kids are so cool :)

"Good" good byes

How do you say a "good" goodbye to people that you know you won’t see again until you meet in heaven?  What are the words for that?  I feel like I don’t have enough words or hugs or tears for these good byes. 

Most of us promise each other that we will see each other – they will make the trip to visit Alabama – I will make the trip to Chicago and Michigan or meet someone in Atlanta or Orlando.  These are promises I have to make – because I want them to be true – I just can’t say “good-bye.”  I don’t want to say good-bye.

At the beginning of Acts, the apostles are “gazing” into the sky as Jesus ascends to Heaven.  Angels appear and ask, “Why do you stand looking to heaven?”  And then say, “This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go to heaven.”

(Mount of Olives, where Christ ascended)

When Christ ascended from the Earth, he promised to return, and He left part of Himself for all of us to have – His holy spirit.  I am having a really hard time saying goodbye to people, and I can’t even imagine saying goodbye to my savior.  What a wonderful time it must have been to walk and talk with Jesus on the Earth.  But just as He promises that we will spend eternity with him, we also will get to share that eternity with other Christians.

(Church of the Ascension)

Most people in our lives, we see and when we part ways we visit, but the goodbyes here are so different, so final – and I am left wondering – WILL I see them in heaven? People walk in and out of our lives everyday – do we talk about eternity? Are we sure of our friends and family – even our acquaintances’ salvation?

I feel like I am “gazing” into the sky, waiting for my Ghanaian “family” that have been taken to the airport, to come right back and go on with our lives here.  As they are leaving, I am praying for the time when we will meet in heaven.

(Mrs. Liz Huskey Layea and myself)

Today – I had the pleasure of attending a Ghanaian-American wedding! One of the teachers at AIS got married today.  Yesterday, they had the wedding at the court and in his village.  Today, they had a “blessing” at church and a reception afterwards.  It was so interesting to meet his family and friends and see a Ghanaian wedding in action!

(Their blessing at church)

(These are at the reception - the "MC" for the afternoon was calling people up to pop balloons on arches, and each balloon that they popped was money they gave to the newly wed couple - interesting tradition!)

(posing mid-dance with one of my students!)

There were many “good-byes” near the end of the wedding.  Most of us are leaving today or tomorrow.  It was a good time for most of us to spend some more time together before parting ways.

Tomorrow, I am traveling to Northern Ghana to (hopefully) see elephants and other exciting wild life!  The elephants usually come out during the dry season for water - but we are in the beginning of the rainy season - so please pray for our safe travel, for rest, and for elephants!!! 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

LAST week of SCHOOL!

I just got back into Accra from working with a group of disabled Ghanaians in Nswame.  They were awesome and totally inspiring!   I traveled with my friend from church, Emily.  Emily is from the UK, and the Ghanaians can understand her English far better than mine - they mocked my English quite a bit!  Here is a picture with Emily and the group's leader:

So, we all met outside of a church downtown.  The disabilities were varied, mostly physical disabilities, and one deaf woman.  Emily know sign language and could translate for her - - so, every step of the way my words were translated into the local tribal language, twi and also to sign language.  Side note: did you know that British sing language and American sign language are two totally different languages??

We worked for hours to get some nice paper! After our lunch break, we came back to find some of the women making these great leave papers - which can be parts of design for cards.  They were pressing real leaves into the paper pulp to get the texture of the veins on the paper - awesome.

We all ended up with green or yellow hands!

But we made some really nice paper.

At school, I have been hanging artwork - the kids were so excited to see each others up in the hall!

And, I gave some awards at the awards assembly on the last day! These kids were thrilled - even though they don't look it in this picture - I promise they were!

And then, we have all begun to say good bye. It has been sad - but just not real for me yet.  Leaving Ghana, I may/probably never see some of these people again ever.  That is hard to deal with. I am not just moving down the road or to the next city - but we are all moving across oceans and cultures and time zones from each other.  Please pray for safe travels the rest of my trip, and for "good" good-byes.  It's been awesome - but I am ready to be home for a while.