The difference between darkness and light is hard to describe without alluding to, well, dark and light, day and night. Perhaps because God has never made a more viscerally relatable theological concept. Being in a town in a underdeveloped part of Africa has illuminated this to me in a way that I might have never understand in my American life. You see, the dark of my suburban America, well, it just wasn't that dark. There were street lights every couple of yards. Entertainment options abounded after the sun went down. This was not a natural light, but it was a light nonetheless. The implications of that artificial light and it's false sense of security is a whole other blog post to itself, and one that I won't explore here. Right now, I'm in a place where, when it's dark, it's DARK. A world which I'm coming to know and find unique beauty in during the day is a world that, quite honestly, scares me in the dark. In the dark, you see, the bugs come out. In the dark, you must carry a flashlight everywhere to watch for snakes. In the dark, even though I know there is a wall around my house and there are no lions anymore in Togo, there is still a fear of what lurks in the utter blackness that engulfs you no more than a few feet past your eyes. In the dark, we've had our home broken into, twice, including once while we were asleep, oblivious to the danger. This stark contrast between my perception of my existence in the light of day versus the dark of night (and some insomnia, thank you, aging mind and body) has driven me into the scripture. It's led me to be reminded that I was once a child of the darkness, trapped in the fear and uncertainty and danger. Mortal danger, nay, IMMORTAL danger.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
And it's also shown me my greatest and only hope, that I have been saved out of the reach of that darkness. That I've been brought into the light, into the glorious brightness and transparency of never-ending day - through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
And, praise be to God, this is not just for me. It is for all who are called, for all who are chosen by the Father to be seekers of the Light. Because the Truth is the same, even in what appears to us to be blackest, deepest night. The War has been won. Darkness has been defeated; it is in its death throes. We must then labor faithfully at the task God has appointed us to, eagerly anticipating the glorious dawning of the perpetual Day that awaits us.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Thursday, November 8, 2018
I've been behaving like a spoiled brat lately. I've been pouting about being hot and sweaty but most of all, about not being able to observe all of my multitudinous holiday traditions. I've spent more than a little time poring over photos from Christmas's past on my phone and watching others holiday prep on social media. It's been making me cranky and irritable for the last few days. I prayed. I asked others to pray for me, to take away this unholy desire for security and comfort that gripped my heart. Thank the Lord I serve a God who answers prayer. And His answer came in the form of a prayer request for someone else, someone who doesn't even know me. A woman at the hospital just lost her seventh of eight children. After losing her husband earlier in the year. Her only surviving child is handicapped. Her grief is beyond measure. How can I dare to preach the goodness and grace of the God of the Bible to such as these? People who have experienced searing, brutal loss that puts missing Christmas trees and delayed moments with family (family that are still very much alive!) into its proper perspective. Missions work is HARD work. It will often leaved you drained and overwhelmed. But one of its blessings is the stories you hear and the way that God weaves those stories into my own life to change me just as much as the people we are evangelizing.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
There's nothing quite like Sunday, is there? The day is glorious, as it should be. My heart is just so full as I leave corporate worship. Recently, as I considered that, I wondered how I might make my own personal worship, bible reading, and study capture some of that. I quickly realized that an element that was missing from my personal time with God was music. And not just background music as I go about a task (although that's wonderful, and a way I bring a soothing spirit of peace into my home when tensions tend to run high, like during the morning getting-to-school rush or the "witching hour" right before dinner), but thoughtful singing where I reflect on the words. Have you incorporated music into your personal worship time? How do you do it? I can do something as simple as pick up the hymnal and play and sing, or I can use my phone and find a song on YouTube and use that (I admit, that works nice when the babies are napping). Lately, I've just been finding that Speak O Lord by the Gettys just puts me in the right orientation to God. What are your favorite personal worship songs?
Posted by The Merry Band of Fife at 9:05 AM
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Our precious eighth child and fourth son, Boaz Laurent, arrived on Friday, April 14th at 3:24 pm. He weighed in at 8lbs 3oz and was 20.5 inches long. His birth story began on Thursday evening. I finished up my last teaching appointment before starting my maternity leave at 7:30pm. At 8:30 I felt like I just needed to take a walk. It was getting dark and it was pretty cold, but I felt like it was a good idea. After a 30 minute walk, I felt restless but settled into bed and felt drowsy enough to put down my book and try to go to sleep. That wasn't happening though, and as 11:00 approached I felt increasingly restless and uncomfortable and decided to take a shower just in case. I felt like maybe this was going to be the night... And then I fell asleep. Well, that was disappointing. But around 4:00 I woke up again to some painful contractions. I woke James up at that point and the contractions persisted for a good hour, about 7-8 minutes apart. We called my doctor's answering service and they suggested going to Labor & Delivery, but shortly afterwards, the contractions fizzled back out. So, at 5:30 James and I headed out for another 30 minute walk in the neighborhood, this time in the light rain. That kept them going for a while, but again they faded out, so we got the kids ready for school and decided we could just head to my scheduled 9:20 appointment and speak to my OB. We packed up our hospital bags just in case and headed downtown. At our appointment, oh glorious news - I'd made progress from 2.5 centimeters dilated last week to 4 centimeters. That, combined with my sporadic contractions and bloody show, was enough for my OB to say the magic words "Why don't you head on over to Labor & Delivery and I'll meet you there during my lunch break?". We were SO excited - this was exactly how I hoped this baby's delivery would go, slow and controlled. So, we went across the street to the hospital, got checked in and the IV started (no 30 minute drama this time, she got it in right away, which was crucial if I was to get the epidural I so wanted this time) and moved from triage to our room. Contractions were sporadic and weak, so we walked the halls for an hour or so. After that, my OB popped in and asked if I was open to her breaking my water and I said absolutely. As soon as that happened (about 1:00), the contractions started almost immediately. I asked for and received a perfect epidural within 30 minutes of true labor starting (yay!). Unfortunately, at that point, my perfect labor took a bit of a detour. Baby wasn't responding favorably to my contractions. He showed serious decels through the duration of every contraction - his heart rate getting down into the 50s. His recovery after the contractions was good, but it was easy to see that, as shifting positions didn't help, the room was getting a bit tense. After about an hour and a half of this, I begin to feel real fear, something I've never experienced during a birth. I remember praying hard - promising God that I no longer cared if they had to do a c-section, even under general anesthesia, none of that mattered so long as my baby was fine. Fortunately, my doctor has a very calm personality, and prevented me from panicking too much. She did, however, want me to start pushing a bit prematurely (I was about 9 centimeters) and get the baby delivered. That's how I knew that, although the staff was all very reassuring, they were concerned. The pushing was intense, moreso than some other labors. I had to work really hard this time! After about 20 minutes, the OB called for the vacuum (baby was just super displeased about this whole process). But I was finally able to get him under the pelvic bone on my own, and pushed him out about 5 minutes later all on my own. The epidural did wear off during that phase, so I was so lucky (haha) to get to experience the whole ring of fire again. He came out much more purple than any of my other babies, and his apgar scores were the lowest too, a 7 and an 8. You could tell the whole process of labor and birth was difficult on him. He was born with a nuchal cord (cord wrapped around the neck), which is pretty common and usually not much of a problem, but in his case, it absolutely was a problem - it had been badly compressed during every contraction, especially as he moved down. I'm so grateful that this was not my first baby, because it would have ended in a true emergency c-section because I wouldn't have been able to have the fast labor that I had. I can see in all of this story so clearly the hand of the Lord. He ordained that I would have a weird labor pattern of fitful stops and starts that has never happened before. He knew that Boaz needed to be born now, and that he needed to be born in a controlled but fast manner. As I write this, I tear up a little still, one month later, out of gratitude for God's goodness that brought this much-loved baby into the world safe and sound. He is good, always.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Friday, March 3, 2017
|This is a paraphrase of Romans 12:13, but it's a good one, I think|
I feel a bit strange to be writing this, because I'm far from a master housekeeper. In fact, I would say I'm just very average. I prefer an organized, tidy space, but I'm not super fussy about details. But I've had people ask me before how I keep my house mostly clean, most of the time, and I finally decided that maybe an average person can be a good resource for most of us. First of all, routine is super important to having a clean house more often than not. If I get thrown out of my routine, my house is NOT going to stay tidy, and will require a more time and energy intensive cleaning at some point. And those days are not my favorite. So, I mostly try to do the same things on a rotating basis, especially during the weekdays, when my schedule is quite predictable. For me, there's a magical time when I'm most motivated and most productive. I think most of us probably have that period. Mine falls between when I get home from dropping the older kids off at school until lunch time (8:30-11:30). So, that's the time I have to tackle the house, baking, and most of my other chores/responsibilities. Many days I can just dive right in, but on the days I'm lacking discipline, I resort to ye old Timer method. It works for kids, and I think it works for adults too. I force myself to stop the "fun" stuff (whether that's being online or reading) and set my kitchen timer for just 10 minutes, and turn on some music. I start in one corner of my kitchen and work my way around. I can usually finish up the kitchen in that first 10 minutes, but there's something strange about at least getting started to me - more often than not I regain my motivation and finish up a full tidy of my lower level. I might just go for it all at once, or I might do a 10 and 10 minute mashup of rotating cleaning interspersed with 10 minutes of leisure time. And let me tell you, it feels SO good to have that clean-enough house. It's not pristine. With 9 (soon to be 10) people living in this home, and a busy and full life, that's just not even something I particularly desire. But it's homey and inviting, and I'm never ashamed to open my door to an unexpected visitor (which is such a biblical but unWestern concept). I'll share a few photos, taken just today after my morning sweep that shows what I mean in terms of "livable, hospitable tidiness". If I can do it, you can do it too!
Monday, January 30, 2017
Over my 38 years, I've grown to "know myself" a lot better. I know, I know, that sounds mighty corny. But bear with me for a moment. I am an empathetic "feeler". Being an introvert, people might not know that immediately, as I also place a high value on emotional modesty. And that's not all bad. In fact, I think it's often a beautiful thing, and I wouldn't trade it in order to feel less. But the flip side of that is that I'm easily prone to discouragement. And, I'll admit, January's been a month of struggle for me. The weather, the homeboundedness, the political climate, my partner in life being gone for two weeks. Probably the biggest struggle I've met with is spiritual discouragement. Not with the Lord or the Word, mercy no! But the pre-field ministry has been hard this month. I've seen so many great successes by fellow pre-fielders. And that's a glorious thing, praise God! I wouldn't begrudge them that in a heartbeat. But sometimes, in private moments, the smile slips and discouragement seeps into my heart. What are WE doing wrong? What could I do better that would more readily communicate the need to those around me? But that's the trouble right there. I'm spending too much time thinking about me. I must keep my eye on the prize, which is to run the race that's been marked out for me, the course that God mapped out specially for ME before the foundations of the earth were even layed. Although all followers of Jesus Christ share the same end goal of growing in holiness and Christlikeness, my race is not the same as anyone else's race, so why compare? As Teddy Roosevelt (or maybe Dwight Edwards, but that's neither here nor there) famously said, "Comparison is the thief of joy". And it's so true. Here's the best news of all, the antidote to all the discouragement, comparison, and sadness - I don't have to deal with that all on my own and neither do you! Jesus promised us a Comforter. The only true and perfect Counselor - the Holy Spirit.