Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Broken Front Tooth and Thankfulness

Early this afternoon, my front tooth felt a little weird...something wasn't right. So, I called my dentist and made an appointment for Wednesday afternoon. No problem. Then, I sat down to watch numb3rs. As I was watching, I was eating pretzel Combos with cheddar cheese. Mmmmm...until I felt a filling in my mouth instead of a pretzel. Now what? I called my dentist again, pleaded with the receptionist, called another doctor and rescheduled that appointment and finally made an appointment with my dentist at 1:30 Monday afternoon, and put the broken filling back in place. That leaves me with a loose filling in my front tooth that can come out again at any time. Agh! My Sunday School class is having breakfast for me on Sunday! I am with a compromised tooth for four days! Ugh!
Yet, I am thankful to God. I am thankful that I was able to replace the filling. I am thankful that I can see my dentist on Monday afternoon. I am thankful that I was able to call my friend, Tula, and whine for awhile. I am thankful that I don't have to travel 18 hours to a dentist. I am thankful that I was able to reschedule my other doctor appointment. Things didn't work out the way I wanted them to, they rarely do. But, I have a choice. Do I let the circumstances drag me down, or do I say, "Thank You, Jesus for this opportunity to trust You." and go on with my life. I choose to say, "Thank You!" in the midst of circumstances that I don't necessarily like. How about you? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Gift

Today is my birthday. I am 59 years old. It has been a very quiet day, spent with friends and just relaxing at home. I wish I were with my sister or with "my kids" in Ghana, but, that was not to be. Today I am thankful for the gift of life. That in itself is a miracle...I remember a time in my life when I questioned God on the reason for my birth...I didn't see the point of the suffering and pain. But, praise God! He has given me life. He has given me something to in Him! Thank You, Jesus!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving...just the word spoken at this time of year brings visions of turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and pies to mind. Oh, and don't forget the sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows on top! I can almost taste it now.

Where I live, most people are farmers. They barely raise enough crops to feed their families. The soil is rocky and full of clay. The sun beats down on it. There is no rain for six months. Most people don't even eat meat because they can't afford it. Maize flour and yam (similar to cassava) flour are the main ingredients in their local dish.
As you eat way too much food today, remember to thank God for your blessings...of being able to have today's feast...the blessing of food and clean water...the blessing of gathering in a place with family and friends...the blessing of His love, His grace and His mercy. And, pray for those who are struggling to find food to feed their families. Then, do something for them...

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,  for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
10 who struck Egypt through their firstborn, for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed famous kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to his servant Israel, for his steadfast love endures forever.
23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; 24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.
26 O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endure s forever.
Psalms 136:1-26 (NRSV)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Undisciplined...that about sums up the struggles in my life. I know I am not the only one who struggles with this. Monday, I had a dental implant. So, I basically didn't schedule much this week because I didn't know how I would feel. I had all day yesterday and today so far to do as I want. Did I take optimum time with God? No, but I did take some time. Did I eat properly. No...I found out that even after oral surgery, it didn't hurt to eat! Did I exercise? I even remember what that word means. Did I just rest and enjoy the day since my schedule has been so hectic? No, I did a little bit of everything. (Of course today, I regret it.) And so goes my story of woe...
I know what I should do. I don't do it, though. I'm not the only one with this issue. Romans 7 tells us about Paul, "What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. (v. 15) I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. (vs. 18-19) It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (vs.21-23)"
So, if Paul was undisciplined, what chance do I have? I have a pretty good chance of turning the tables, just like Paul had. Why? Because my God, and his, is bigger than anything else! I can turn the desires of my flesh, the way I spend my time, spend my money, even how I eat, exercise or what I think...God can change all of that. If I give my desires to Him, He will renew my life. I will once again live passionately for Him. How about you? How do you want to live?
Father God, I give to You my life, as undisciplined as it is, so that I can do all things through You. I know that with You I am able to overcome the areas of my life that do not glorify You. Change me, O God."


Are you suffering a thorn?It's probably safe to say that we all suffer a "thorn in the flesh" at some point in our lives. Scripture tells that Paul suffered a thorn. Three times he prayed to have it removed. Three times the answer was the same, "No." Why does God allow us to suffer with thorns? They hurt, they are painful, they are hard to remove...
Yet, we have them. I believe God allows us to have thorns in our lives to draw us closer to Him. I do believe that God does not give us these thorns, I believe that Satan uses them to take our eyes off of Jesus. I also believe that God can use these thorns to glorify Him. He uses them to build humility in us as we accept our thorns. As we place our trust in Him, others see He is our Comfort, our Fortress, our Shield, our All in All. People can see that His grace is sufficient for those who truly place their trust in Him.
Will our thorns ever be removed? Paul's wasn't. But, that doesn't mean that yours or mine won't be removed. God is the only One who can remove them, though. We can't do it ourselves. Will you trust him with the pain of your thorn today? I do!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Drainers and Gainers

"Drainers and Gainers." Have you ever thought about them? If you are like most people, there are ever present in your life. I know they are in mine. "Drainers"...those things in my life that drain the energy from me, they sap away my strength. It seems as if I have a lot of those lately...a VERY hectic speaking schedule, constantly packing and unpacking, doctor's appointments, travel, a cluttered table, piles of stuff to pack for Ghana, homework...and there is always the stuff I should do, but haven't, like my newsletter and weekly team updates.
Praise God, there are also "Gainers" in my life...things that energize me. Things like worship in my heart language, lunch with a friend, quiet time with God, being with my sister, seeing the hand of God work in my life and in the lives of others, clearing a pile of "stuff' and finding a place for all of it, being able to sleep in "my own" bed, being thankful, making a card or scrap booking, a good Bible study, taking a Sabbath rest, walking...those things help me get motivated to do more, they revitalize my life.
But, what do we do when the drainers outnumber the gainers? I try to reduce my drainers by one or two each week. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Other times, I have to "just say 'no!'" to whatever is being asked of me. I also try to increase the gainers. I NEED to have my quiet time with the Lord. I NEED to thank God for my many blessings. I NEED to sleep! I NEED to be with my sister, in person, or on the phone. I NEED to make progress in de-cluttering my life.
In the end, the gainers have to outnumber the drainers. If not, exhaustion takes place. Then, what good am I? I thank God that He has given me the wisdom to discern what drains me and what doesn't. And, I am grateful to Him for those who help me see, when I am blind to the stresses in my life. I need to remain in Him and remember, He gave us the Sabbath for a reason!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


It has been awhile since I have used a Bible study book. Usually, I use Scripture and glean from what I read. Since I am in the land "flowing with Christian books and studies," I decided to see what was available. My first stop was in Chambersburg, at the Lifeway store. I was with friends of mine and they blessed me with books to take back to Ghana with me. Next, I stopped at my church to see what they had leftover from studies held there. I found this study, brave, honest questions women ask. And, I knew I found a study to work on during the remainder of my time here in the States.
The first lesson really described me. the question was, "Lord, do You know I am worn out...again?" That has been my life since I touched down in Pittsburgh on September 4. Worn out. Always on the road. Always packing and unpacking. Always speaking about my mission work in Lawra, Ghana. Always preparing for class  Always getting ready for the next thing. Always tired. Always exhausted. Always weary.
Since I am always doing the above, there is the opposite, too. Never sleeping in the same bed more than a few nights in a row. Never feeling settled. Never feeling finished with what has to be done. never saying, "no, I can't come and speak." Never finished with class. Never totally refreshed and renewed.
Enter brave. God knows I am weary. God knows this is a season of fund raising and speaking engagements. God also is my strength in my weariness. He says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and I will give you REST." Matthew 11:28 My rest is in Him.
Another point brought out in the study is that Jesus did not heal everyone who was sick, He did not minister to everyone who came to Him. He only did what the Father told Him to do. It's a lesson for me. It is perfectly acceptable to respond, "I'll pray about it." And, if God is showing me that I need to take a Sunday off to worship Him, then so be it! Being in His presence restores my soul, it restores me. That is the purpose of the Sabbath rest, isn't it?
So, for now, I will be open to what God has for me...His strength and His rest.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Who Are Your Saints?

Today, the Christian Church celebrates All Saints Day. Growing up Catholic, this was an important part of life. We would go to church and remember those who have gone before us in the faith. We would remember those who have walked this earth to the glory of God and have now received their heavenly reward. Many of the people we remembered gave their lives for their faith.
Now I am a lot older, and, hopefully, a bit wiser. All Saints Day has a different meaning for me. Well, maybe not different, maybe just expanded. I no longer stop at thinking of the apostles, matriarchs and patriarchs of the faith. Now, I can put faces to names. I have read about modern day "saints". My concept of "saint" has evolved over the years.
Webster's Dictionary defines "saint" as:  one officially recognized especially through canonization as preeminent for holiness; one of the spirits of the departed in heaven; one of God's chosen and usually Christian people; one eminent for piety or virtue; an illustrious predecessor.
One of the definitions I would like to add is a saint is a person, who has lived their life for the glory of God. Many saints suffer in this world because of their faith. When I think of "saints," I picture Patience, a woman who attends my church in Lawra. She comes to church every time it is open, walking more than a half hour, and she is there at 5 am for morning prayer! She has a family, a business, and her husband is a Traditionalist. She has had to endure many hardships because of her faith. I think of another woman, whose husband took a second wife. Yet, the first one remains faithful and is growing in her faith. I think of Beatrice's mother, who carries her disabled 12 year old on her back to town, to church, and never loses faith. I think of the single mothers that I know, who face immense odds every day, yet, they have instilled a holy fear and love of God in their children. I think of those, both living and dead, who have impacted my life. Saints...maybe not in the formal eyes in some denominations, but, in my eyes, they are saints. And, too, I think of those many children whose lives have been cut short because of disease. Saints, each and every one of them.
Who are the Saints in your life? Today, stop and thank God for the impact they have had on your life.