Monday, April 7, 2014

For the Days When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayers.....the Way You Think He Should

The day we headed for the doctor's office wondering if I was in labor, it was hot and muggy.
By the time we left the hospital with baby in tow, it was fall.

Granted, it was Michigan and the seasons move rather quickly there.......but still.
It wasn't what I'd prayed for.
I'd prayed for a healthy baby, and I hadn't received it.
Instead, I'd delivered a beautiful baby girl with a heart problem.

The doctor said that it should start closing on its own.
He said he'd check her at the six-week mark and was quite hopeful it would be closed by then.
It wasn't.
He said he'd check her at the three-month mark and was quite sure it would be completely healed by then.
It wasn't.
He wanted to see her at six-months, quite positive that it would be normal by then.
It wasn't.
He checked her at the eleven-month mark and it was still open allowing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix freely.
The pressure on her heart constant, hard.
Every time I'd prayed, I'd prayed for healing to come...
And it hadn't.

The doctor said her heart needed to be checked before she reached three years old.
If it was not healed by then, she would need surgery.
In March we went to the pediatrician.
We'd hoped and prayed for this day.
We'd prayed that when he put the stethoscope to her little chest that he would hear the strong pounding of blood flowing properly....
but he didn't.
Instead he heard the constant swishing of the "blue" and red blood swirling inside that tiny heart.
The murmur that told him everything was wrong.
I put on a happy face, but inside I was torn apart.
God had not answered my prayer.....
not the way I thought he should.
God is praised and glorified in miracles!
Why hadn't He done a miracle for me?

As we went quietly home, we wondered what He wanted the next step to be.
In the weeks that followed, we were dealt test after test, trial after trial.
They culminated in one of the hardest nights we've had in a long time.
We prayed for God to remove the problem....
but He didn't.
So we surrendered to Him.
And that night?
We saw Him walk us through the driving, pounding darkness, and come out on the other side at peace.

And that night, I learned a lesson that has been my hope these last few weeks.
He didn't answer my prayers that night the way I wanted Him to, because He knew what was best for me.
He walked through the valley with me.
His presence was felt.

And so we prepare again to enter a shadowy place.
On Thursday we will go to the hospital in the capital city.
We are praying that we will be able to see the heart doctor and get the test done that is needed.
With all my being, I hope he will say that she is healed.
He may.....
but he may not.
I don't want her to have to be cut open....
but he may say she needs it.

I want Him to answer my prayers my way,
but He doesn't have to.
And if He asks me to go through a hard place, a rocky place, a place where I'm completely at His mercy?
Then He'll go with me.
Of that, I am certain.

If you think of it, we would appreciate your prayers as our family heads to Accra this week.
Please pray that the heart doctor will be able to see Lili, that the machine for the test will be working, and that God will give us continued guidance and wisdom as to what should be done for her.
Thank you, friends.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Giving Birth to a Church

There are days when I feel filled to the brim and overflowing.
This day was one of those days.

Six years we've been preparing, and working, and investing, and praying.

And just like one waits in readiness and anticipation for the birth of a new baby, we've done the same for this baby church.

And now God has done it. He has brought forth a church for His glory.

And all I can do is thank the Lord for letting me have a part!

And for all those who've prayed with us these many years? A quick video of God's work here in Ghana....

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Welcome To Our Nest House Tour ~ My Kitchen

My Kitchen....
I never thought I'd think of a kitchen that way, but I do.
I really, really do.
Most days I love this place.
After having three tiny kitchens in the first three places John and I lived together, this kitchen was a blessing dropped right into my lap.
{By tiny I mean, having the-refrigerator-in-the-hall-and-pots-and-pans-piled-on-top-of-the-washing-machine tiny.}
But this kitchen, MY kitchen is a dream come true.
It has a pantry full of shelves for pots and pans and room for the other odds things we use regularly here like carrying baskets for taking food to sick people and a giant trash can full of water for when we run out and extra LP gas tanks since that is what we cook with and an extra door, because well, where would you put an extra door when you live in a place without garages?

I've collected Coca-Cola paraphernalia since I was young, and even though I don't drink Coke anymore, I love to use bits of my old collection and the odds and ends I've found here {like my curtains}.

The other reason it seems odd to think of this as MY kitchen is because I didn't like to cook when I was a young wife and mother.
I've learned that time and practice can change most anything, and now I enjoy {most days!} my time in this room.
It has been a bit hard with the newest babe, but I'm slowly finding my way back and making the most of my extra moments there.

The sunshine streams right into the windows as it is time to make supper.
My little loves help with the prep and the dishes from the day.
I've come to enjoy this room and the part it plays in making us a happy family.
Why wouldn't I be happy to call this MY kitchen?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

For the Days When You Don't Feel Like You Are Enough

I want to be SouleMama raising all my food and knitting all my own clothing
I want to be Isobel Kuhn pioneering missionary work in the mountains of China.
I want to be Rachel Pieh Jones grappling with culture and how it looks to cross into another one.
But I can't be.
I can only be me.
And some days that is hard.
Really, really hard.
Not because I don't like my life.
I love my life.
But often, I feel like it is not enough.
I know the facts.
Raising all my own food is impossible when you live on a completely concrete plot of land in an apartment in the middle of 2 million other people.
Knitting is another improbability as (a) I don't know how to knit, (b) we don't raise sheep for wool here, and (c) who needs wool sweaters when the average temperature year-round is 88 degrees F?
Pioneering in the mountains of China is not what God has called me to do.
Pioneering in Ghana? Somebody did that job long before I was born.
As for figuring out culture and being a foreigner and how it all mixes? Well, though I've certainly thought lots of those things through, that is not really what God has led me to write about regularly. Who knows? Maybe I'll surprise everybody {including myself!} and write out some of my thoughts on those issues....but not right now.
Some days it is hard to be me, because I feel guilty.
I feel like I have too much.
I've been too blessed.
God hasn't asked me to be a REAL missionary/parent/spouse/pioneer yet.
I've not lost a husband or a child to a dreaded sickness.
I've not slept in a mud hut in 100+ degree weather.
I've not climbed jagged mountains for days and forded swollen rivers for hours.
I've not slept with snakes and tarantulas over my head and lions prowling outside my windows. 
But is that the measure of things?
How HARD something is?
Would that change anything?
I don't think so.
As I mull on these thoughts, these vague impressions, I must come back to the same place.
I am called to glorify God, to shine His light wherever I am at.
To lift up His name in word, song, deed.
To praise Him in my home, and on the road, and in the market.
As a wife, AND a mama, AND a missionary.
To make Him known anywhere and everywhere in small ways and big ways.
That is the same for everybody.
So if God asks me to raise all my own food and sew all our clothes, I do it with a loving, thankful spirit.
And if God asks me to cook all our food from scratch and simply wash the clothes we've been blessed with?
I do that with a loving, thankful spirit, too.
If God tells me to climb mountains, cross rivers, and live in a bamboo hut as a pioneer missionary, I do it with a trusting, abiding heart and a courageous spirit.
And if God tells me to love my {many!} neighbors and reach out to those by the road, and in the market, and in town, and in community after community, and in the schools?
I do that with a trusting, abiding heart and a courageous spirit, too.
If God moves me to write about the joys and agonies of crossing cultures and ministering to those whose way of thinking seems so very different from mine, I do it with a humble heart and a willingness to learn.
And if God moves me to write about the joys and agonies of being a mama of littles and living 5,565 miles {as the crow flies!} from the place I used to call home and what it looks like to live out my Christianity here, I do it with a humble heart and a willingness to learn, too.
So today I choose to exalt Him as I knock down cobwebs and wipe away the layers of dirt that dry season brings.
I decide to worship Him as I sing through the sweeping, and the mopping, and the cooking, and the washing, and the feedings, and the diapers changes, and the lights off, and the water off, and the play-doh messes, and the closet clean-outs.
I learn to glorify Him as I pray in my heart for wisdom to guide my children, and I smile at a child when I want to fuss instead, and I talk siblings through conflicts when I want to send them outside and lock the door.
I let His light shine....
and that glorifies Him.
And that?
That is really all He's called me to do.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our Learning Rhythm

Since Mackay joined our family in September we've been struggling to find our rhythm.
In no area has it been more felt than in our schooling.
Our first term we determinedly slogged through most of our days, tossing out whatever wasn't most pressing.
{Some days we even skipped the really brain-taxing stuff, too!}

I was decided that second term would not be that way.
I'll admit, we did get a bit of a later start than I'd hoped, but all in all, I think we've started to find our way back to what works for us.

Since I am the kiddos sole teacher, and I happen to be a mama with a fair list of chores, we've found we have to be a bit creative to fit everything in.
But slowly, slowly, it is starting to come together.

It is starting to just....feel right.
Moving between reading and laundry and kitchen and hanging clothes and playing with littles and feeding baby, and nature study, and keeping this busy home running smoothly, we are finding our way.

And when we have a day that flows from one thing to the next to the next?
We all feel it, the rhythm of a day done well.