"...be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is
not in vain in the Lord."

22 July 2014

A river crossing blast from the past!!!

Many moons ago... prior to any of our children actually being enrolled in Sahel Academy, the school asked if they could borrow our horse, King, for a "Western Night." We were happy to loan them our critter, except for one huge obstacle: getting King from our side of the Niger River to their side. 

The two lane bridge, the only bridge - at that time, spanning the river often crammed three lanes of vehicular traffic plus pedestrians, camels, donkey carts, bikes and motorcycles into a very finite place. Adding a horse often spooked by close contact with anything on wheels into the equation just didn't seem to equal very good math.

Additionally, neither Tim nor I were accomplished or confident riders, so we weren't volunteering. In stepped Amber, one of our EBM colleagues would try just about anything, and - if I remember correctly, the dorm assistant at that time. 

She was asked. 

She succeeded.

As you can see, we had several "local" spectators (i.e. dorm students) who enjoyed watching, as well as two boatmen who helped show Amber the "best" path for traversing the river - shallow enough that the horse mostly walked, yet without any terribly fast flowing currents. What excitement!! 

We even believed King enjoyed his dips into the river, although he was totally exhausted by the time he returned home!

Something tells me that even though we'll be living close to another major river once we move to Quebec next summer, we won't be having anyone swim/ride a horse across that river! It will be too cold most of the year.

An edited repost
of a seriously ancient post
- from April, 2007.
(Yeah! Like over 7 years ago!)
This was actually the second post I
ever published on Our Wright-ing Pad.

21 July 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ Standing for Jesus ~

Or, another possible title??

~ There can be many ways to oppose the establishment ~ 
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” (John 9.25-27)
Remember those crowing Pharisees from last week's study in John 9? They'd only just gotten started when they summoned the man blind from birth... summoned him back for a second round of questioning.

As we looked at last week, they had a strategy. First, they tried to bully him into telling him "truth-" not "THE" truth but rather A "truth" but one that would be palatable to them. 

Have you ever noticed that when someone says something with which you agree - or that is palatable to you, you are more ready to identify those words as truth, even if you really might not know for sure? I know I do.

I love how the blind man refuses to "judge" or totally label Jesus and stuff Him in a box of his own design based off of the small amount (although very significant) of time he'd spent with Jesus. What he does do, however, is he states what he knows to be true:
  • He was blind.
  • Now he can see.
That's something anyone who's encountered Jesus can do, regardless of how many encounters, regardless of how much time, regardless of how spectacular those times might have been. When asked, when confronted, when put on the spot, I can always testify confidently of my personal experience with the Lord.

Then he makes it quite clear that he doesn't know if Jesus is a sinner or not... implying the impossibility of him being able to answer that question one way or another. In other words, he tries to sidestep or evade the question. He probably, for easily understandable reasons, wants to slide out of the spotlight and avoid further attention or confrontation.
Sometimes I hate it when looking in God's Word is like looking into a perfectly cleaned mirror with bright lights shining so that nothing... no imperfection or flaw or outright yuckiness... can be obscured.

The previously blind man's attempt to evade the question and deflect an inevitable confrontation was, personally, super convicting. As a person who prides (yeah... true confession there...) herself on her skill in using words, this was one of those zinger moments. How many times, how many subjects, have I sidestepped in conversations, have I blatantly tiptoed through without ever standing for Jesus and saying what I know to be clear truth because the conversation enters realms like:
  • homosexuality
  • same sex marriage
  • abortion and women's rights
  • that there is ONLY ONE Way, Truth, Life...
  • the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God - every jot and every tittle - and it applies regardless of person, race, culture, experience, perspective...
  • etc.

and I'm concerned with the repercussions of making such a stand.


I know I need to make those stands. Knowing isn't doing. And it will be uncomfortable, so I

The Pharisees continue to press the man. "What exactly did he do to you?" "How did he do it?" 

If they could just get this man to confess that there was some trick involved, something unholy or demonic, something that would prove that Jesus could not be from God - because they were absolutely convinced He couldn't be.

One thing I learned during in depth study of the Bible with women from another culture is that many times what seems obvious to me in Scripture is only so because it is colored by my the glasses of my perspective - and my perspective is a product of this Western, imperialistic, individualized and materialistic culture. 

When I read these next verses, I think, "The previously blind man must have had it. He's no longer passively accepting the insults and insinuations of the Pharisees. He attacks back!" for he immediately reminds them that he had described all of this earlier... during his first summons. He wasn't giving them any new information. He wasn't telling them anything different from what he'd already said. If they didn't accept his answer then and it nothing had changed, why would they accept his answer now? Matthew Henry writes "this sentence is equivalent to '...You had no ears, you took no heed. If you had already listened to the simple facts wherefore would ye hear it again? You will pay no more heed now than then. Or do ye want to transform it into a charge against me? Against [Jesus]?'" Next, he taunts them, asking them if they want to become disciples as well implying that he could never imagine them singing the praises of Jesus as the multitudes were wont to do. That being the case, why did it even matter. Why not just leave him alone rather than scapegoating him?

On the other hand, I can imagine sitting in the courtyard of our Eglise Evangelique de Harobanda, feel the sweat dripping down my back and rolling down the backs of my legs, register the sounds of goats in the street... sheep and chicken in the Pastor's courtyard while a few rabbits hop around near our group of ladies, and then hear, clear as a bell in my mind - Amina translating Mamata's impassioned response: "Look at how the previously blind man indirectly offered his authorities the opportunity of considering discipleship instead of remaining Jesus doubters of Jesus! What a wise man!"

I immediately assumed a sarcastic and frustrated tone of voice as the man born blind responds to the Pharisees. In our world, our day and age, it is not hard to imagine an ordinary man responding to community leaders in such a way because we value individualism and freedom of speech. In the Biblical world, that day and age, I'm guessing it isn't so likely. In a culture that respects age, education and position as well as the consensus of the group, any type of pointed remark to someone in a traditionally respected position would be very indirectly given. 

Look at the original meaning of the Greek word translated as "want" in the Scripture text above:

There are many ways to make a stand for Jesus - and unless you are one of those who thrives on confrontation, none of them will ever be easily described as comfortable.

But making a stand for Jesus is always the right choice, no matter how the Spirit leads you to do it.

How are you making a stand for Jesus right where you are, right now?

photo credit: 
Denube via photopin cc

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 4658 - 4685)

visit with Uncle Tim

doughnut Saturday

great week of Triple C ball camps for Tori and Anna

Anna's five-on-five team won the end of week championship game

Brendan, Rebekah and Nadia all have driving permits

afternoon at the pool

freshly picked cherries

honest-to-goodness summer weather

looking forward to a visit from Joe and Andi

Daddy up at church - making a good recovery

beautiful flowers from last week's Farmers' Market

some really fun visits with friends last week

really encouraging things happening in the realm of partnership development

writing a letter to a friend I miss more than I can accurately describe

reading my kids' letters to that same friend - all written in French (Jonathan's and Tori's were awesome!)

speaking of Jonathan - he starts Triple C basketball this week. He's so excited to play AND see all his friends!

Upcoming registration at SVSU for our transfer student

watching the final episode of last season's The Mentalist, again!

late night grocery store run with hubby - almost like a date!

looking forward to reading a book where the "shock value" title has me totally intrigued

encouraging report from one of the churches we've visited recently

my kids playing with other kids right here in the neighborhood

hanging out with some new folks

falling asleep before 10:30 one night

watching Rebekah care for an injured red fox and a baby green heron while volunteering at the ARK last week

baby coons making me smile

hearing that we'll probably be able to release the baby turkeys back behind our house where we found the eggs

walking out late one night to see (and hear the clip clop on the concrete) a buck walking down the sidewalk in front of our house

  Ten most recent posts in this series: 
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.

19 July 2014

Five Minute Friday ~ Bloom

Wednesday is Farmer's Market day in our town.
This week, on an impulse, I asked if any of the kids wanted to go with me.

I was surprised when the two littlest ones squealed, "Yes!"

It was a cold Wednesday, too.

We had to park in the farthest parking lot, and both girls were shivering by the time we'd reached the market.

But they were troopers! 
Both tried quince jelly... and liked it!
 Then they helped carry
fresh and farm-grown cauliflower, kale, leaf lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries,
the quince jelly we bought, maple sugar candies...

...and sweetly asked if we could take some flowers home.

Softy that I am, I said sure.

Elsie Mae picked the enormous and bright yellow sunflowers - and was delighted to find that the lady selling them was a friend from church (she was very generous, too!)

Mary Michelle preferred the mix of colors and something bit smaller, more delicate and a lot less heavy!

Aren't they beautiful?

Flowers and "mes filles?"

No... we didn't NEED flowers.

But these blooms, this week, 
have blessed our family with fragrance, color and many smiles!

I'm a day late this weekend... but it's not to late to write your own 5mf inspired by the word "bloom" and then to link up with Lisa-Jo. Make sure to let me know if you do!

18 July 2014

"Why didn't they send a tractor?"

The idea that much is expected of those who have been given much had been drilled into me as a boy. I saw giving back as my duty – a responsibility I’d accepted from a young age. Feeling the duty to help others after graduating from college, I signed up for the Peace Corps and served two years in a small Peruvian village.

I arrived at my village at age twenty-one filled with nobility, pumped up with the idea of helping humankind. I was proud that I had something to offer these poor folks. But one day, after I’d finally learned enough Spanish to communicate, one of the farmers asked me a question that must have been on everyone’s mind but mine.

“Why did they send you?” he asked. “If they wanted to help us, why didn’t they send a tractor?”

I don’t remember my answer, but I never forgot his question.
Randy Lewis (best known for introducing an inclusive employment model as the Senior Vice President of Logistics at Walgreens – yes, I am a special educator by trade) recounts the above story in No Greatness without Goodness (p. 47), one of my summer reads.
I laughed when I first read it. That was, after all, part of his motivation for “ 'fessing up” and telling a funny but true story. But he also wanted to make an important point. It was a key part of his experience working with people from a totally different culture. His story perfectly captures how, as expats working around the world, we often arrive with an implicit but never spoken aloud (or maybe even consciously realized) intent of taking over rather than coming alongside.
In my experience, it goes something like this:
My many preconceived and sometimes set in stone ideas of how something should be done… or why it should always continue to be done how I’ve seen it work… immediately and unquestionably trump, in my mind, any local ideas and traditional practices, partly because I just can't see how they make sense. Then there’s that awkward, chin on the floor moment when the realization hits but then finally sinks in that maybe, just maybe, I. am. not.... God never sent me to be a mini-savior or God’s gift to a fledgling church, a poor community, struggling teachers, students with disabilities, a group of women who want to read...
We are God’s gift to each other… iron sharpening iron... a more resilient and robust three-fold cord.
I remember one of my such “coming of age” missionary moments...
To read the rest and maybe throw your two cents into the discussion, 
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