Wednesday, November 1, 2017

God's Harvest


“Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.”

This song, written by Henry Alford in 1844 has always been one of my favorite Thanksgiving songs. It is quite fitting for cold climates like the US but even as a child in Africa, I loved the song and could relate to it.

There, Thanksgiving comes in the dry season at the beginning of Harmattan, a very dry and dusty season when the winds over the Sahara Desert blow southward, blowing dust down on countries like Nigeria, where I lived. Even there we worked hard in the summer and early fall rainy seasons to gather the harvest for use in the long dry season when nothing grew.

The song makes me feel sentimental and puts me in the holiday mood. But actually, a closer look at the words reveal a serious message. The third verse says:

“For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.”

God’s harvest will happen someday. Right now, we are still in the summer / rainy season of God’s harvest. We need to be faithfully working in His fields while we can. Mathew 9:37-38 says, “The harvest is plentiful but he laborers are few therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.”






Friday, October 6, 2017

Through my Window




I usually don’t write about current events on my blog. As a Christian writer, I try to use my writing to focus on the Lord or the things of the Lord. But last weeks’ horrendous tragedy ripped at my heart and I know it has deeply touched most of us.


A man, like the Las Vegas shooter, who would do such an unimaginable thing must have a heart filled with hate.

We have so much hate in our world today—people hating others who are different from them, or who hold apposing practices, beliefs, or political views. Sometimes we feel others’ hate for us and the things we hold dear, and we react in kind. (The people gunned down last week were at a Country music concert. I love Country music so this hits home for me. I feel that man’s hate against people like me and am tempted to hate back.)

There is a better way than to hate and to fill our minds with hateful thoughts. Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, think on these."
We can and should make a conscious effort to keep our minds focused on good things." Personally, I find that warm thoughts of people and things I love always makes me feel better too. Thinking on these make me want to smile at someone I meet in the grocery store instead of snarling at them.

For me good things might be fall scenery, a lit Christmas tree, laughter with family, or a fond memory. The Bible boils good down to an even more basic form in Micah 6:8 when it says, “He has shown Thee O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.”

Do yourself and your fellow man a favor … think good thoughts today!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Welcome Fall!

It's still pretty warm at my house but it's feeling like fall just the same. The temps have dipped a few times and will continue to do so in the days to come. Some of the leaves are starting to turn colors--looking out the window in front of my writing desk, I see the sun streaking through
yellow leaves on the tree across the street. And in order to see that tree, I must look past a small red maple in my own yard that is now a purplish-red.

I have always loved the fall. Even as a child growing up in a land that did not have fall as we know it, I loved it! Nigeria, the land of my birth and childhood, had only two seasons which most closely resemble late spring and late summer. But even back then, fall intrigued me. I remember looking at a Highlights magazine one fall in my house in Ogbomoso. I flipped pages and looked at one fall scene after another--bright orange pumpkins, corn stacks in a field with a fence around it, a black sky with a full harvest moon.

One autumn in my childhood my family traveled back to Ogbomoso after dark. The road we were on dipped into a valley just as a full moon was coming up. The face in the moon made it almost look like a Jack O' Lantern. Ever after that, my family called that spot on that road, "Jack O' Lantern Valley"

By the time I was in high school, my family had moved back to the states and those West Virginia high school days taught me to love football in the fall too.

These days when autumn creeps in, even as I say good bye to the carefree summer and get back into the busy schedule that fall brings to me, a part-time employee of the school system, I can't help but feel a since of excitement that comes with crisp Friday football games, hot apple cider, bright foliage, and the need to pull jackets back out of the closet.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Quotable Susan


Quotes on Prayer: 

“The most valuable thing we have on earth is not the Hope Diamond or the Mona Lisa, but the Bible you hold in your hand. Blood stained by martyrs and sweat stained by theologians and scholars.”
-Hayes Winkler

“If you don’t have God’s words rolling around in your head, you will start to believe your own words and that’s dangerous." -Tom Schriener (pastor of Clifton Baptist Church)


“Never forget whether you understand it or not, the Bible is pure truth; given by God, preserved by God, and has no errors in the original language and texts." -Kay Arthur


“I will take God at His word and trust Him to prove it to me.” -Jim Elliott (as recorded by Elizabeth Elliott in “Through Gates of Splendor”)

“God Himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh! Give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book!” -John Wesley











Monday, July 31, 2017

Baptism

Yesterday my grandson was baptized! What a day of rejoicing that was for our family. And the icing on the cake, he asked my son, his uncle, to baptize him.
He and his mother, my beautiful daughter, attend a small extension of a larger church they used to attend when they lived at a different location. My grandson loved his church and eagerly wanted to join the smaller extension when their new condo moved them too far away from his original church home. He sought out baptism and asked his pastor about it. My grandson is blessed to have people on both sides who love the Lord, support him in his young walk with God, and who rejoice in his decision to follow Jesus.  


His baptism brought back memories of my baptism long ago in a faraway land. I was eight years old when I made a profession of faith at the mission Vacation Bible School at the seminary building in Ogbomoso. My parents spoke Yoruba fluently so they/ we attended a Yoruba speaking church. Our pastor at the time had not yet been ordained (a high honor and achievement in Nigeria), so my father asked the hospital chaplain to baptize me. He wrote a letter to my dad shortly after my baptism.
In case you have trouble reading the letter it says:

11/12/67
Dear Dr. & Mrs. T. Keith Edwards,

The occasion of yesterday afternoon was one of those I will never forget in my life for the meaning it has for me and the course of Christ in this land.

Your daughter was the first American Baptist Missionary I had the privilege to baptize. The most important thing about it is this--that oneness in Christ you preach is practicalized. That is to prove to us that you do not say by mouth that you love the Nigerians but you demonstrate it. May the love of Christ continue to flow through you to many more in this land as you dedicate your lives for the service of our Lord. 

I am yours sincerely, 
D. A. Asju

Today, I have so much to be thankful for! 






Monday, July 3, 2017

Today's post is a repost from July, 2012. It was written by guest blogger Jane Ray Garrison, author of the "Tragedy's Ark"

Firecrackers and Mother’s Blue Dress

            Fireworks were a big deal in Nigeria. Every Christmas the stores offered a wide assortment of beautifully boxed Japanese explosives. Like sushi, their presentation – before being ignited was part of the experience. Picture a sturdily constructed red box with brightly wrapped objects of interesting shapes and sizes artfully arranged within its borders, and you will understand why many of the missionary kids, including our brother Chris, loved to receive fireworks as Christmas gifts. Of course, if we were going to celebrate the fourth of July, American style, such boxes had to be saved a long time, making the eventual show all the more spectacular.

One year, the hospital side of the Ogbomosho mission’s Fourth of July party was to be held at Rose Cottage, the home of nurse, Amanda Tinkle, whose huge body frame was matched only by her love for children. Hot dogs, marshmallows and a softball game would culminate with a grand fireworks display conducted in the center of the cottage’s roundabout. 

Rose Cottage was one of the few early mission houses left standing even in those days. Typical to its time, the steps leading up to its screened-in-porch were accented on either side by wide concrete banisters. The mothers would sit on the screened-in porch in rattan chairs, the smaller children would sit on the steps, but the older children would stand on the banisters feeling powerful and quite grown-up. The men were naturally in the roundabout hovering over the various colorful packages that each had come equipped to explode. 

That night things were going as expected, with the pajama-clad youngsters hitting each other with sparklers while our mothers chatted amicably. Every now and then, a loud cry would erupt from the little one’s cluster, and we would see the corresponding mom glare at the other child’s mother before quickly jerking her own child away from the duel. But mostly, our attention was focused on the roundabout and the beautiful sprays of green, red, and blue that shot across the sky with lightening speed. We looked in awe when one father held a Roman candle high above his head, and shrieked with delight when another dad lit a string of firecrackers. But the bottle rockets were the undisputed favorite of all! For these, our mother left the shelter of the screened-in porch and with two small children on either side, snuggled down on steps for a full, bigger-than-life view of the entertainment…and this is where I can’t remember. I can’t remember if it was Daddy or some other man who set the rocket in the glass coke bottle and lit it before quickly stepping out of the way.

But something went dreadfully wrong. Instead of shooting up into the sky, the shower of colorful sparks headed right into the small audience sitting on the higher spot. I pressed my body against the screen, hoping that it would bear my weight and that I wouldn’t fall backwards into something like the flowerpot. However, from my vantage point, I could see that not everyone was so lucky. In fact, I could tell that our mother, in her favorite blue dress, was a target just waiting to be hit. Sure enough, before I could even assimilate this information, her dress was ignited into brilliant golden flames that lapped and swirled amongst the ample folds of the garment’s full cut. Before anyone knew what was happening, all “so many hundred” pounds of Aunt Tink were on top of our mom rolling her over and over on the graveled driveway. Mother yelling all the time; “Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”

The near catastrophe called a halt to the fireworks display and we were soon all heading for home – Mother with a giant hole in her dress, the rest of us with downtrodden spirits and un-ignited fireworks under our arms. Sensing the gloom, I felt honor bound to do something to make things better. So, as we walked up our driveway, I sided up to Mother and put my arm around her. 

“Momma,” I said, “Aren’t you grateful for Aunt Tink’s saving your life?” You don’t seem happy.”  

Mother looked away. “Humph,” she said. “Amanda Tinkle didn’t save my life. She just rolled me around in the gravel.”

I didn’t reply. Even then, I knew this was just a show of spunk – a part of my mother, who had fiery red hair and a temper to match. At this point, there would be no convincing her of the peril she had just escaped. Instead, I rubbed a scuffed place on her elbow and silently wondered if she would ever know how glad I was that Aunt Tink did save her life!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Through My Kitchen Window

Image may contain: plant, food and nature

Maybe this post should actually be called through my back door window.

A mother bird made a nest in the plant that hangs on a stand right outside my back door. It has been so much fun to watch their daily progress and change. At first there were three eggs, then a day or two later, there were six.

I have observed that the mother bird sits on the nest all night and most of the morning. But by afternoon, especially late afternoon, she is nowhere to be found. I think she must know the eggs, and now baby birds, need her warmth in the cool night and morning hours but by the hot summer afternoons, they do not. Perhaps they are even better off without her warm body there in the heat of the afternoon. Whatever the reason, she leaves and I can peek in and see what's happening in the birds little world.

A few days ago, one egg hatched. By today there are four hatched, with one (the first one) significantly bigger than the other three.

What fun to see these tiny living creatures! And as I watch these baby birds hatch and then grow, I am reminded of God's tender love for them ...and me! To quote the old hymn:

"Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me..."





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Devotions


                                                                
This devotion was published in the Spring 2011 issue of The Secret Place

Changed in a Moment

Read: 1st Corinthians 15:50-58

Behold I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” 1st Corinthians 15:51 (NAS)

“Mom! I caught some tadpoles today! Can I keep them? Please, mom, please!!” My 12 year old son exclaimed these words as he ran through the front door of my house with a jar of murky creek water in his hands. My son had been playing in a nearby creek on this hot summer day and he had managed to catch five small grayish colored tadpoles. After researching the topic, I reluctantly agreed to let him keep his new found pets.


What fun we had that summer! We changed the tadpole water regularly, taking care to declorinate the new water and we fed them lettuce that had been boiled and then frozen. Over the course of a few weeks, our tadpoles grew first back legs and then front ones.  At long last, they lost their tails. Their color altered too as the tadpoles changed into small, bright green tree toads!

The scriptures tell us that if we are believers, we too will someday be changed. However, our change will not be slow like my son’s tadpoles were. No, our change will be quick, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. We will change from perishable to imperishable; from mortal to immortal. What exciting news! I wonder if God will have as much fun watching us change as my son and I had watching his tadpoles change?



Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are excited about spending eternity with You. Thank you for that glorious day when we change from perishable to imperishable, from mortal to immortal! Make us to live in a way that reflects our readiness for that day to come. In Jesus name, Amen.


Thought for the Day We have an eternal destination where we will be changed into the likeness of Jesus.



           


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mother’s Day


“Mothers who are hurting do not feel envious, spiteful, or resentful of other mothers who are hurting.” –Carol Kent, “Laying My Isaac Down”


The other evening I walked with a friend to the parking lot of a church where we had just participated in a community Bible study. As we walked, my sweet friend shared how she and her husband had made the painful decision to admit their young adult son into drug rehab. The son, legally an adult now, had agreed but it was not an easy decision for any of them.

My friend spoke of the knot in her stomach and ache in her heart. I understood. Though none of my children have ever had problems with drugs, there have been other types of problems which helped me earn my membership in that special club—the “Hurting Mothers Club.” As my friend told of her pain, the quote at the start of this blog came to my mind.

Mothers who are hurting are a select group. To have been a part of that group is a badge of honor. It’s like earning a purple heart in battle. It means you have fought in the trenches alongside your also hurting son or daughter. You have shared their burden and your pain has in some small way eased theirs. At least they knew they were not facing their problems alone. 

So, I was moved to write this post to encourage all the hurting mothers out there. I am blessed now to have enough distance between the situations that caused pain to me and my precious children (yes, I’ve been there more than one time with more than one child) to have seen God’s faithfulness, His power, and His healing hand.

Hang in there sweet, hurting mother; whoever you are. God hears your prayers. He loves your child more than you do. He loved them enough to give them you to hurt along with them. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This Biblical explanation of love perfectly describes the kind of love God has placed deep in the hearts of mothers.    

“The joy of being a mother is so closely linked to the sorrow of being a mother that it is holy ground.” –Stasi Eldredge from her book “Captivating”






Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Quotable Susan

Easter Quotes

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  2 Corinthians 5: 21 (NIV)


“Most of the descriptions of the victorious life do not match the reality of my own. Hyperbole, bloated rhetoric, and grandiose testimonies create the impression that once Jesus is acknowledged as Lord, the Christian life becomes a picnic on a green lawn; marriage blossoms into connubial bliss, physical health flourishes, acne disappears, sinking careers suddenly soar … The New Testament depicts another picture of the victorious life: Jesus on Calvary. The Biblical image of the victorious life reads more like the victorious limp." --Brennan Manning from his book, “The Ragamuffin Gospel”

“Grace is not cheap; it’s free. To us it is offered freely but it is not cheap. It cost Christ everything.” --John Michael (my husband)

“The cross is tiny physically but in the scope of the vastness of the universe, it dominates everything.  That is why the universe is so big –so that it can be a stage for the cross.” --Jack Miller World Harvest Missions, “Sonship” videos

“The foolishness of the cross means that ministry is essentially and irreducibly scandalous and there is nothing you can do about it. There is nothing you should try to do about it. We can’t manage scandal, we must bear it.” --Dr. Albert Mohler President of the Southern Baptist Seminary


Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Release

It's release day!!!! YAY!! My debut novel based on the lives, love, and calling of my parents is now available on Amazon. Woo-hoo! Amazon will eventually combine the paperback and kindle but for now there are two links. Both can be found on my author page

The two characters in the book, Kyle and Ali, are very like my parents, Keith and Alice, and many of their adventures come straight from my parent's lives. However, Ali and Kyle also have adventures of their own which came from my imagination rather than stories I've heard my parents tell.

When I embarked on writing their story, it soon became clear to me that it would be easier to write and make a livelier read if wrote it as fiction. Had I chosen nonfiction, I would have had to make sure every little detail was absolutely as it happened. In fiction, I had more leeway ... and well, I took it. I combined some characters into one in a couple of places and added made-up adventures in some places.

I sent the manuscript to my mother, chapter by chapter as I wrote it over the past couple of years and she loved it! She once called me up and choking back tears, she told me how much she liked the way I was writing her and Daddy's story She added, "It didn't all happen this way, but it could have."

This book was written from my heart for my parents and it has their stamp of approval.
😊




Friday, January 20, 2017

Through my Kitchen Window


Many years ago, when I was still in high school, my adopted African brother experienced his first U. S. presidential election.
My brother had so many questions. He asked, “So what happens now?” I explained that there would be a ceremony and after that the current president would step down and the new man would assume power.
He was astounded and continued his questions, “What? Will one man just walk out of the White House and another just walk in? No fighting? No guns? How can that be?”
I assured him that was exactly what was going to happen.
In his short life at that point, he had never experienced what we often take for granted—the peaceful transfer of power. He had seen transfers of power in his country but with them had come assignations, armed soldiers in trucks sometimes shooting randomly in the streets, a military coup d’état, and even a civil war; but never in his life had he witnessed one person just stepping down and another assuming power.
Having seen life through my brother’s eyes during that conversation so many years ago, I have never taken our peaceful transfer of power for granted since.
Today as I watched the inauguration, it is my hope that regardless of a person's political views, all Americans will realize what a treasure we have in this country we are blessed to call ours.
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18 (NIV)