Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lessons in Grace, Thanksgiving & Joy

I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp this past week and I was challenged. She had studied about giving thanks and its connection to joy in the scriptures, when God started to convince her that she needed to go a step further and act on her studies. It was at this point in time that she received a challenge from a friend to write a list of a thousand things that she loved. "To name a thousand blessings --one thousand gifts...". I am not one that embraces every fad or trend but there was something in her challenge that spoke to me (maybe God had been working on me through challenges of my own).  Her goal was not to become some Pollyanna that ignores the ugly and painful and can only see the bright side of life. I am not sure that she even had a really clear goal beyond writing the list. But in writing the list she found herself recognizing the minuscule gifts of grace that God places in our lives. The acknowledgement of that grace lead to thankfulness, and the thankfulness lead to joy and living more fully each moment of the day. I know that this sounds very Pollyanna-ish but what was compelling about Voskamp's book was the acknowledgement that fully living means being fully open to what God is doing in your life and recognizing both the joy and the pain of life because they are inseparable. 

So, I started a list this week. I don't know that I have noticed any radical changes in my life. I am not sure that we fully see the changes that happen within us (and what can I say, its hot season in Niger!) I don't know if I will be disciplined enough to make it to a thousand let alone a lifelong habit, but I am enjoying seeing God in the little moments of daily life. Maybe you will want to join me?

#23 A smile returned by a stranger

PS Please keep us in your prayers as hot season is in full swing and we are facing the pressures of the end of the school year. Dave is finally in the home stretch with his thesis and I think we are all feeling it, hopefully that burden will be relieved on Thursday. Please also pray that the building will be able to be completed by this summer. There have been bigger rains earlier than usual and that may have an affect. --please also pray that these rains won't be a problem for plant life here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Final revisions

Last week I had my thesis defence via skype. I had been anxious about what might happen since neither the power nor our internet service has been reliable for the last month. I had actually looked into getting a back up connection with a cell phone company in case our main connection went down. My stress levels went up a notch when four days before my defense my modem died altogether and took almost 48 hours get the connection up and running again. In the end I felt at peace and didn't bother with the back up. And even though the power went out momentarily and then later the internet connection came to a stand still, we were able to complete the process without serious interruption.

I had been told the defense would have four possible outcomes:
1) pass with no corrections necessary
2) pass with minor revisions
3) pass with major revisions
4) fail with no possibility of correction

At the end the committee decided on door number two and so I have until April 25th to complete the revisions they've asked for. I would appreciate your prayers as we are now in the height of hot season and the humidity is rising and my brain is starting to melt.

The construction is moving closer to the second floor as the builders work towards pouring the cement ceiling. Please pray that things go smoothly and according to plan.