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 Grief, Sorrow

Open Eyes

I cry ugly. There are some people who have the talent of crying and looking good at the same time. Both of my daughters, when they were very young, would practice crying in front of a mirror. They acquired the talent of crying and being pretty while crying. This is a talent I do not possess.

Not only do I cry ugly, when I cry there’s a chance (and a good one) that I might cry my contact lenses out of my eyes. It’s extremely unfortunate to lose a contact while crying – sometimes the lens can be recovered, but more often than not, I fail in any recovery effort, often finding the lost lens dried out on the bathroom countertop.

So, in addition to crying ugly, I risk suffering financial loss if I lose a contact lens while crying – I am therefore highly motivated to “hold it together” for the sake of vanity and finances!

Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, it’s impossible for me to avoid tears:

  • I cry when my young daughter gives me a drawing she made just for me.
  • I cry when I miss my older children and my grandson.
  • I cry when accidentally stubbing my toe in the middle of the night.
  • I cry when I see an animal rescue story.

Apart from these, there are life experiences that can move me to tears so intense I may have trouble seeing the path in front of me. Emotions can run so deep that my soul’s pain blurs my vision. Those are the kinds of tears no one wants to cry.

Psalm 6:6,7a NLT “I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief…”

When we go through those moments, it’s tempting to think that “no one” could ever understand our pain. There’s no one who has ever gone through what we are experiencing. This is true to an extent since pain is individual. What is not true, is believing our pain is so great and unique that there’s no one who can relate to us and help us.

In Genesis 21, after Abraham’s son of promise Isaac was born, his first son, Ishmael and his mother Hagar, faced a lot of hardship. Sarah, Isaac’s mother, understandably was protective of her only child. She wanted them both gone from the household. So, they were sent away into the wilderness.

Imagine being Ishmael’s mother, rejected by your son’s wealthy father, wandering in the wilderness with your son and running out of water. When the water did run out, she couldn’t bear watching her son die. She laid him under a bush and sat some distance away, waiting for what she thought was inevitable to happen.

Genesis 21:16 NLT “Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. ‘I don’t want to watch the boy die,’ she said, as she burst into tears.”

Tears at a seemingly impossible and intractable situation. Uncontrollable tears, for her son was going to die. She couldn’t see because of her tears, until her eyes were opened.

Genesis 21:19,20 NLT “ ‘Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.’ Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.”

Hagar thought she was in an impossible situation. However, what she thought wasn’t the truth. God had a plan for her son – He had a wonderful future in store. Her tears kept her from seeing straight; it wasn’t until God “opened” her eyes that she saw a well full of water.

Don’t allow pain and tears to close your eyes to the wells of water surrounding you. God has a wonderful plan in store for you and your loved ones – allow Him to open your eyes to see the well. That water will revive what you think is dying inside of you.