Posted in Choices, Missions, New Year, Thankful, Thanksgiving

Of Power Cuts and Enchiladas

The power is off again.

Does this surprise me? Of course not!

But I can hope for power, can’t I?

I’ve endured, since 1987, many weeks and months of electrical blackouts. Living in Africa it’s part of the deal; there will be many opportunities for us to go without power. Some years ago our family lived 3 months straight without electricity, I call this period of time in my life a “bad hair quarter.”

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I complained quite a bit in those days until one day while wrapping up things after a Sunday morning service I commented to someone in the congregation that the power had been off for some weeks. Their reply to my insensitive remark was, “Oh, we never have power at home.”

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The darker sections of the map designate areas with less power. Click here for more information.

A large part of the world’s population, about 1 billion, does not have access to electricity. I’m sure I’m not smart enough to grasp the reason why so many go without power; I simply have learned to be thankful for the power that I’m blessed to have, even when it goes off periodically.

I know Thanksgiving has passed, but I keep thinking of how shallow I allow my thinking to become from time to time in light of the suffering of those who have less than I do. On Thanksgiving day, our power was cut (I’m so thankful for my gas stove). We had invited our Burundian friends over to celebrate with us and took time to explain to them what the day was all about: giving thanks for all of our blessings together with family and friends. Family from the States called and it was one of the best Thanksgivings we’ve had overseas.

**On a side note to make this story interesting, we couldn’t find a turkey so we opted to make enchiladas instead. No, nothing was store bought, nothing came in a package – it all came from raw ingredients. That’s the whole enchilada (pun intended)!**

The power stayed off for nearly 5 days after Thanksgiving. Due to the fact that we don’t have a backup generator or solar system to help us during power cuts, we lost everything we had in the refrigerator and freezer; an expensive cut for sure. When power was restored, I gave thanks for having a clean refrigerator and freezer.

Knowing full well that the power might cut again quickly after being restored, I decided not to be in a hurry to restock the kitchen. Then last night about 10:00 pm, the power went off yet again. We do have a small battery backup that lasts some hours but the fans turned off around 4:00 this morning. Temperatures began to rise and sweat ran down my temples; my first thought was how glad I was to have waited to get groceries.

Even as I write this post, I’m using my battery power hoping that somehow this power outage won’t be as long as the last!

Checking my attitude at the door, I gave thanks for the running water (which is also known to be cut from time to time) and a roof that doesn’t leak. We’re at the onset of the rainy season and life could be a whole lot more miserable if I didn’t have a roof for shelter.

My husband is a preacher and he’s never afraid to address tough issues. One of my favorite quotes of his is, “No matter how bad you have it, there’s always someone who is worse off than you are.” It’s so true; the things we complain over rarely (if ever) are worthy of the energy we put into them by complaining.

I pray this coming year to have my eyes open to not only the blessings that I have but also to really see those who go without – and to do, give, and make whatever difference I can.

It may be little, it may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s my offering.

Still, a little power couldn’t hurt…

 

 

Posted in Despair, Destiny, Endurance, Faith, Family, God's call, Missions, Perspective, Rewards, Sacrifice, Thanksgiving, The Call of God

Always

I’m happy.

The fact that I can say that despite all of things that need attention around me makes my head spin. I have so many frying pans in the fire that I’m running out of firewood! Spreading myself thin has taken on a new meaning in the past few years. By no means is this a complaint – I wouldn’t live a life other than the one I am now living – but if I’m not careful I can quickly slip into feeling overwhelmed, sad, and helpless wondering about what I left behind in the wake of answering the call that lies before me.

I tried a few times in my lifetime to fit into the normal mold of what a Christian mother/wife/leader (whatever I am) is supposed to look like. The popular Bible studies and books meant to “better” my life all lined my bookshelves; they didn’t just line my bookshelves, I read them all and I learned, oh did I learn, that I am an enigma among my peers. This has caused me great frustration over the years; I would find myself wondering (and sometimes still do find myself wondering) what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be just like everyone else and be satisfied with what normal people are satisfied with?

I’ve long dreamt of a home of our own to settle down in. My husband and I have tried a couple of times to “settle down” and do what we thought was expected/needed from us. I lived in a house in the USA for just over 2 years that I loved. I thought this was to be the place where my grandchildren would visit me and I would finally be able to “nest.” I kept it well; I loved it so – but the tug for what waited for me on the other side of the horizon called my name every morning and evening.  I planted a garden and a hedge and it was beautiful but there came a time when a choice had to be made and we drove away from that home for the last time. We once again said goodbye and boarded a plane, looking for the place that kept calling our names from the other side of the world.

I’ve dreamt of being a normal mother and grandmother. Well, I know I’d never be normal in the classic sense of the word, but I have dreamt of being accessible, nearby, to see my grown children have children and watch their families grow. I pictured myself wearing bright red lipstick, driving with my grandchildren to buy toys and ice cream and feeling their little arms around my neck and telling them how much I love them. Seeing them through Snapchat, Instagram, and Facetime does little to soothe the ache that fills my chest whenever their names are uttered. Then, they resume living and I hear our names called from far and I have to answer.

On a far less serious note, I’ve dreamt of having a dishwasher, a SUPERMARKET with lunch meat, hairspray, shampoo, soap, and Ziplock bags, and a nice salon where I can get my hair done – ice cream would be amazing too.

In the distance, however, a people calls our names and where they are, I can’t find any of these things but what I do find in doing God’s will brings me deep joy that I can’t explain.

I suppose today’s blog is my Thanksgiving blog and I have so much for which to be thankful – and at the same time I find myself wishing that the traditional Thanksgiving turkey would be on our table tomorrow. I wish for the day to be surrounded by all those who are far, to hear a loud football game playing on TV for my husband, to pray a Thanksgiving prayer and tell each one how much I love them.

But a traditional Thanksgiving is not in the cards for us this year. We don’t have a turkey, no stuffing, no eggnog, no gravy, and no football game (although I’m quite sure my youngest son will find a way to send his dad a link to view the game). What is in the cards for our Thanksgiving is a day with those who are here with us. We will have, of all things, homemade enchiladas with salad and a cake for dessert. With those family members and friends we have here we will give thanks, thanks for all we have and for the opportunity to answer the call. Yes, I thank God for the opportunity to say yes, to obey Him, to grow enough in courage and faith to answer when He called.

The call took away so much of what we would consider “dear:” family, friends, culture, language, finance, and more. Things that you don’t think you would miss like toothpaste and your preferred brands of shampoo suddenly become a big deal when every day you are reminded of all that you have left to answer Heaven’s charge.

While all of this could sound bleak to one who’s never answered their call, those of us who have heard our names calling us from lands afar, “count it all joy.” (James 1:2-4)

Psalm 119:2 LB “Happy are all who search for God and always do His will.”

 

 

Posted in Christmas, Thanksgiving

Working With Tape and Wrapping Paper

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It’s almost here! Christmas! As a child, I was definitely the sneakiest child in our family. I was incurably curious. Always asking, always looking, peeking, and doing my level best to figure out what was in the boxes under the Christmas tree. One year in particular, my inquiring ventures landed me in a bit of trouble. I had been asking for the “in” toy that year: a talking Big Bird. Oh HOW I WANTED THIS BIG BIRD!

Now, in our family, we were never unaware when it was time to wrap Christmas presents. We kids would suddenly be banished to bed at a strange hour (maybe 6 pm) and there would be a sudden blast of the sound of wrapping paper, cutting, taping, and the occasional whispering of, “No, turn it this way!” Or, “I told you to buy a different colour!” Did they not realize we kids heard everything?

My curiosity became more than I could bear one Christmas when I was about 6 years old. When one is 6 years old, curiosity is nearly unbearable at any level. So late one night when everyone was asleep, I found myself behind the Christmas tree carefully working with the tape and wrapping paper on the packages in an attempt to find out what was in the boxes. I couldn’t contain myself when I saw the Big Bird peek out from behind the wrapping paper. What I didn’t predict very well was the tape losing its stickiness – the paper wouldn’t stay put! What to do? Alas, I was discovered not long after and in subsequent years, the hiding of gifts and taping of the boxes were taken more seriously.

Fast forward a few decades, I won’t say how many decades, I once again find myself working with tape and wrapping paper doing my best to conceal the gifts they are hiding. I wait with delight, imagining my daughter’s glee when she sees what we managed to find. You see where we live now, Blantyre, Malawi, there aren’t many stores to purchase gifts from; it takes a great imagination to get gifts under the tree. This year I did manage to find someone who was traveling to bring back a perfect gift for her – and I know we will get major points for this!  This was important to us this year as she’s missing her brothers and sisters far away in the USA. That God blessed her with something special this year just makes me smile.

Yet, as I look at the few presents I’ve wrapped, some (most of them actually) for her, others for some church friends, I can’t help but feel that there’s no way we can fully grasp the how wonderful the Gift was that was wrapped for us on that first Christmas. Some came to see this Gift, to take a sneak peek at what was coming but the Gift wasn’t fully unwrapped until some 33 years later when He surrendered His life in exchange for ours.

I also imagine the Father looking on His Son as He lived on earth those 33 years with the cross casting a long shadow into His future sacrifice. It was the Father Who sent this Gift in Christ and I cannot fathom what emotion must’ve gripped the His heart every day as Jesus drew nearer to His ultimate act of giving His life as a free gift to us.

The most amazing aspect of it all? Jesus came before we knew we needed Him and waits for us so He can give us this gift of life just at the right time. Imagine His glee when He gets to see us open this gift that was the sacrifice of His lifetime?

2 Corinthians 9:15 NCV “Thanks be to God for His gift that is too wonderful for words.”