31 December 2016

stretch - word for 2017

last morning of 2016
first cup of coffee
not thinking much
brain hazy
yet the word was clear
sharp, unmistakable
stretch

I trust as I listen
this word will unfold

for now
let the springing forth
settle in

Enlarge the place of your tent, 
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; 
spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes

30 December 2016

Soaking

the rains have come
hard, continuous
what this land has long 
needed, nourishing 
and reviving

weary souls 
tilt faces up
to drink
echoing sweet hallelujahs

I will give you rain in due season, 
and the land shall yield her increase 
and the trees of the field yield their fruit.

 

19 October 2016

out of the cave

Morning quiet time with My Lord 
as I ponder stepping into something new and bold...

Ask of Me and I will show you 
things which you have not yet seen.
It is again and always about My plans
not the schemes of man
If I send you will I not equip you?
If the battle is not yours, 
the work is not yours either, but Mine
and I intend My work to prosper
Your part, as always, little one, is surrender
Surrender to My hand, My shaping, My pruning
even to My choice to promote you

Elijah could not remain in the cave
when that season was over
I called him out
So too with you, My child
so too with you

Call to Me and I will answer you 
and show you great and mighty things, 
fenced in and hidden, which you do not know
(do not distinguish and recognize, 
have knowledge of and understand)


 

25 September 2016

time slips

As time slips through our fingers
more quickly than sand
it often feels like madness
in attempts to grasp
what we are learning 
is not ours to hold. 

It is not without limit
days, even hours are numbered.

This then, is why we have returned
to the people and the work God has ordained for us
to not waste what is precious and fleeting

I remain willing
to be willing
a tool in His hand



 

26 August 2016

Swap

the time has come
and quickly
to once again
depart from Canada
to swap locations

tomorrow 
just after the clock strikes noon
we begin a series of flights
crossing land and sea
just after the clock strikes noon
on Monday
we will disembark
to a life now familiar
on Zambian soil

keep us in your prayers
as you ever remain in ours

 

30 July 2016

unhinged

August is upon us
our last weeks here
in what was
and heart deep
ever will be
home

keeping the rooms of the house
ready for showings
as we pray 
for God to send 
the buyers
of His choosing

nothing really in our hands
open again in surrender
doors to my emotions
swing wide

I am unhinged
in this space
between anchors
shifting
like the evening light
whispering "soon"

 

30 June 2016

sifting again

two years ago
we were sifting, sorting
tossing and donating 
pieces of our North American lives
preparing for our African journey
boxes of what we wanted to keep
stacked neatly in a basement room
of our once forever home

there is only one
forever
and it is not now
and it is not here

this house will be marketed
sold and left behind
as we return again
to Africa

today, the things
in those "save" boxes
are being sifted, sorted
tossed and donated
tears falling
as more pieces of our old lives
are stripped away

I stand here bare
trembling
as I wait for new skin

But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
 

14 June 2016

Yes - going back

I wish we had time to sit down face to face, to be better able to share our hearts for the people of Zambia and the work you are enabling us to do through your partnership.

I would show you pictures of maize grown using methods taught in Foundations for Farming that surpassed any natural expectation and how teaching those methods can transform lives and communities.

I would share the story of Lisa, a fifty year old widow in Makalulu, the largest slum compound of Zambia.  Community volunteers shared the good news of Christ while tending to her physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  Though her body was ravaged by HIV/AIDS when we visited, the joy of the Lord filled her tiny living space.

Not long after our visit, Lisa went home to meet Jesus. Saddened that we could no longer spend time with her we still rejoiced in her homecoming, a victory that would not have been possible without community outreach.

If we were sitting sharing a cup of coffee or tea you would be able to see the passion in our eyes and hear it in voices that don’t quite translate to paper. We know we have been chosen and we are returning to Zambia to continue the work we have been called to. The needs are enormous and our hands are small, but we serve a mighty God who can work wonders through our limitations.

We would love to have you standing with us again through this next leg of the journey as we are entering into exciting, busy and challenging times.

Our current needs include not only our personal support but funding of the Foundations for Farming ministry that Rick is establishing.  If you have any questions, please ask. We love talking about what God is doing.

More importantly, would you continue to pray with and for us?  It is the prayers of God’s people that make all things possible.



 

12 June 2016

no words

I have not words
but perhaps
there have already been 
too many spoken
or typed
sent flying 
via anti-social media

this may well be
a time for the silence
of mourning and regret

or the wailing lament
that goes beyond words
a weeping song
that only the Spirit knows

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. Romans 8:26 Amplified

 

08 June 2016

home where?

last night
as we drove 
towards our home
that isn't
home
but for a little while
a reminder of glory
filled the skies
as if He said
home here
home there
home only where I Am
and something settled
deep
new layers of
letting go

Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
 

28 May 2016

pre-spin prayers

from home
suitcases rest on the spare bed
almost packed
refrigerator is empty
our minds are buzzing
as last minute farewells
blessings and prayers
pour in via text 
Facebook and WhatsApp

life is about to spin
as we leave our home
to visit the home we left
to live in the house
that is still ours
to home
how familiar 
will those walls feel
now?
how unfamiliar
will we seem
to those waiting
to greet us?

help me remember
where to hold 
one hand only
provides my stability

the road is His
as am I

For I hold you by your right hand—
    I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
    ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.

 

21 May 2016

damp eyed evening

I am soft
melted this evening
thoughts drifting north
across miles
and mindsets
eight more sleeps
until we take wing
nostalgia is thick
as I listen to
Oh Canada
with tears brimming
almost close enough
to taste maple on my tongue

three months from now
will I repeat this 
in reverse
facing our African return?

split lives
yet let my heart beat
an undivided rhythm
only His

Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
 

20 May 2016

day of work and water

We drove the dusty roads to Katuba village where smiling children and a broken bore hole awaited. Our water man got busy fixing the problem 
 while we joined the children gathering in one small classroom.  They were packed in close, for space is limited.  They listened quiet and wide eyed to the story of Jesus calming the storm, rescuing his friends and disciples who were certain they were perishing.  When asked who wanted Jesus to be their best friend, hands all over the room flew straight up into the air.
Back outside, water poured fast and clear from the repaired bore hole, so it was time to move on.
The trip to Chibanga village was slow over rutted and barely accessible roads, arriving later than we intended, both work and ministry began again.

Another school, desperately needing more classrooms and teachers, filled with young hearts who listened well.
The bore hole here hadn't functioned for more than a month, forcing a long trek to the stream to haul water.  Our worker not only skilfully solved the problem, but taught those helping him with a quiet patience rarely seen.
As the children prayed and surrendered their lives to Jesus, living water filled the overcrowded classroom.  They moved out with joy to scatter across the soccer field.

Close to sunset, the new pipes were set in the Chibanga bore hole. Almost afraid nothing would happen, the pump handle was moved, up and down numerous times until water flowed freely.

Packing up in the settling darkness, we rejoiced in another day of allowing ourselves to be Jesus in flesh, loving as He loves.

And He said to them, Why are you timid and afraid, O you of little faith? 
Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, 
and there was a great and wonderful calm (a perfect peaceableness). 
 

17 May 2016

walk softly

we ambled up the road today
from the house
to the nursery
to capture flora and fauna
in pixels
and I was captivated
by footprints
left in the sandy
impressionable dirt

was it perhaps 
our homeward journey
swiftly approaching
that alerted my eye?

a reminder 
to tread softly
to take each step 
with Kingdom purpose

I promise you what I promised Moses: 
‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you
 

04 May 2016

how I write

words
are slippery and
easily find places to hide
there is no magic
to conjure or
pull them out of a hat

my only secret
is release
and surrender
to His call
my hand moved by His

I am the goblet
not the wine
holding only what He provides
tilt me
pour me out

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
    as I recite my verses for the king;
    my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

03 May 2016

There Will Be Stars by Billy Coffey

Imagine waking to the same day each and every morning, knowing when the phone would ring, already knowing the words that would be spoken. The same day, day after day after day. Would you want such a life? How would you describe it? Heaven? Or hell? Or somewhere in-between?

In Billy Coffey’s newest novel There Will Be Stars, we step into the days and nights of a family of sorts that have to ask these questions.  Maddingly, a town that fans of Billy’s books know well doesn't feel the same as usual. Many of the people we've come to know and love are still there, but we meet others along the way.

In his unmistakable style, Billy grips our attention from page to page, making us more than a little uneasy with life as we know it.  We, as readers, are forced to stop and look at ourselves, much the same way the characters must.
"The Turn is a mirror, Bobby. It strips away everything but who we are deep down, and it leaves us naked and makes us look upon ourselves. That's the only way we can change." 
This is a book about faith, fear and family.  A book that twists and turns and challenges, but ultimately leaves me certain that only God can be God, no matter how hard others may try to fill His role.

This is another must read, but be warned, you will lose sleep, not wanting to put it down!

I was blessed to receive an advanced reader’s copy of There Will Be Stars. The opinions I have shared are mine and mine alone.


 

02 May 2016

a ministry day - part 2

The brick walls of the church provided shade from the midday sun as community volunteers gathered to worship, pray and talk.  After a short encouragement from Romans 8, there was a brief discussion about receiving funding for uniforms; t-shirts and chitenges for the ladies and trousers for the men. Bishop Mwambelo also announced an upcoming week of training. It was time to leave for home visits, time to be Jesus in flesh for the people of Makalulu.

Our first stop brought us to the one room home of Mike, a forty year old male who was once a mini bus driver. HIV+, his wife ran away when he became ill. He is living alone, fighting TB, relying solely on the goodness of neighbours to provide little bits of food. Though his hearing is impaired, we attempted to share words of hope. A visitor from Canada recalled Paul speaking to the Corinthian church about the thorn in his side - Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:8-9 As God’s presence filled the room, the rest of us were encouraged by the words, even if Mike couldn't quite hear them.


He remained silent, but his eyes, prominent above shrunken cheeks, spoke volumes; pain and hunger reaching out for relief. When we presented our gifts of mealie meal and cooking oil those same eyes began to shine as tears filled them, threatening to pour. As we said our goodbyes, the image of his eyes remained with me, as I prayed that God would answer all the unspoken questions they were asking.


Rachel sat on the floor so that we, her guests, could be comfortable on an old sofa and chairs.  Family pictures brighten the dark walls of the small house she shares with one of her three children, the older two living in Ndola. Rachel’s husband, like so many others, ran away when she became sick two years ago. At age fifty and HIV+, she is being supported by relatives.  Selenium supplements have helped her gain some weight, allowing her to spend time moving about, not bedridden as she had been previously. We all rejoiced in the good report and prayed for continued strength and healing.

Our last visit was to Lisa, a widow with eight children, seven of whom live in the Congo where their father’s family is. Only her youngest child remains with her. With few seats in the tiny room, Lisa patted the end of her bed, asking me to sit beside her feet. I was almost afraid that her thin, brittle looking, illness ravaged body would snap.  She was barely able to sit up in bed – but her face was radiant with the joy of the Lord. 


At fifty, she looked more youthful than many younger women we met earlier. Words of healing and truth were declared in a house that was all at once a holy place.  Psalm 118:17  I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done and 2 Corinthians 4:16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day were proclaimed and declared over the life of this beautiful believer. We laughed, and sang the praises of Jesus, lifting our hands with Lisa as she rejoiced in Him.

As those who had come to simply serve, we ended our day filled beyond measure by the goodness of our God, and the wonder of His extravagant love.

names have been changed

 

01 May 2016

a ministry day - part 1

The cool of the morning was fading into another hot Zambian day. The back of the pick-up was packed with rations purchased with funds generously donated. Dust rose off the dry ground with each step as six of us devoted ourselves to being the hands and feet of Jesus in the Makwati community. Home visits to the sick and desperate are a regular part of the ministry of Christian Care Centre in Kabwe. 

Our first stop was to see Robert, an HIV+ double orphan who was left in his Auntie Elsa’s care while his grandmother went to do farm work.  At first glance he looked quite healthy, shining eyes watching our every move above chubby cheeks. His auntie’s daughter, a wiggling two year old sat with us also. She was just a bit bigger than Robert so we assumed they were close in age. Several of us gasped, shocked and saddened to learn that tiny Robert was already six years old.


The gifts of mealie-meal, soya pieces, cooking oil, sugar and salt would not sustain Robert and his grandmother for long, but we pray that the words of encouragement we shared, and the love of Christ displayed have a longer lasting impact.

Our next stop was to visit Mary, a widow of thirty-one years who looked both younger and older at the same time. A double orphan, she married so young she cannot recall the age. Now her five children also know how it feels to lose a parent as their father was killed in a car accident. The man responsible for the accident provided just enough money for Mary to build her tiny home. When she is well enough she does piecework, but is rarely able to provide enough food for her family. She recently accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. We prayed with her and explained that the gifts of food and a jacket we left were just a small measure of His great love.

Our last stop brought us to the small home of a sixty year old widow named Joyce who was supporting herself and three of her eleven grandchildren with a small stand where she sold tiny dried fish called kapenta. She squealed and ululated joyously as we unpacked dried beans, kapenta, onions and cabbages for her to add to her stand to increase her sales potential, empowering her to take steps towards success and self-sustainability. Instead of needing to rely on the kindness of others, now Joyce herself would be able to provide for her family. She could not stop praising God for His love and miraculous provision, lifting her hands to give Him all the glory. 

Her worship and adoration of our Lord and King was as refreshing as a cold cup of water to us weary but now filled servants who had simply followed His request. 

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:40 NIV

names have been changed

 

18 April 2016

Africa Study Bible

There are millions of English-speaking Africans that love and desire to follow Christ, but nearly every full evangelical study Bible is written from a US and UK perspective. As a Canadian living in Africa for almost two years now, I have seen first-hand how the lack of a resource that connects with African’s unique experience makes true understanding and discipleship difficult if not impossible. Yes, life really is that different here.

Oasis International along with major Christian organizations, have produced the first study Bible developed by Africans for Africans.

“Under the leadership of an 11-member editorial board of scholars from across Africa, we've brought together 350 writers and editors from over 40 African countries, representing 50 denominations. This is an unprecedented project that will impact the global church” says Dr. Matthew Elliott, president of Oasis.

Now that the editing work is almost complete, Oasis (and its partners), is inviting others to join with them to get this important bible into the hands of Africans. The goal is to raise one million dollars to print the first 100,000 copies. They are seeking private donors and have also launched Kickstarter campaign, which will run through June 16. Contributors to the Kickstarter campaign may choose incentives ranging from artwork prints to limited Italian leather editions of the new bible.  For top donors there are all-expense paid trips to the launch of the Africa Study Bible in both the United States and in Africa. You can check out the campaign here.

African needs this bible and the body of Christ needs Africa. Now is the time for us to see Africa rise up to fulfil her destiny and we all can play a part.

 
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