Monday, March 25, 2013

Beautiful Things Out of Dust

"Beautiful Things"

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
Right about now you are probably saying to yourself, "Now, Beth, that doesn't look very beautiful!  In fact, it looks like it might have gone from bad to worse."  But what I see is a beautiful opportunity that has risen from the dust.  You see this is Sahel Academy's dining room.  Pre-flood it was
the lunchroom,
the snack shack,
the holder of assemblies,
the theater,
the music room,
the kitchen,
the dance floor,
the reception room,
the conference center, 
the church sanctuary
and the beginning and ending
of the school year room. 
Perhaps you could compare it to the heart of your home - a place where the family meets to participate in all the joys and sorrows of being a family.  Though it appears that it is in the process of being destroyed, what is actually happening is that the roof is being raised.  It's an opportunity that probably would never have been possible with a campus full of students - a beautiful thing that has risen from the dust.  It will make the heart of our school more comfortable as we
eat together,
snack together,
assemble together,
perform together,
make music together,
cook together,
dance together,
celebrate together,
confer together,
worship together,
greet one another for the first time
and say goodbye for the last time.
Thank you, God, that you make beautiful things out of dust!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Healing - it's one of those topics that makes me uncomfortable.  I don't fully understand it.  I don't understand why sometimes God's answer is "Yes" and other times it's "No."  I fear disappointment so wouldn't it just be easier to pray for strength and courage to make it through rather than praying for healing and then being disappointed when it doesn't come.  It was these precise thoughts that drew me to the book A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller.

In a chapter entitled Unanswered Prayer , Paul shares the story of his daughter Kim.  As Kim was growing in the womb, his wife was praying Psalm 121 over her, asking God to keep her baby from all harm.  When Kim was born, the doctor gave Paul's wife too much Pitocin, a labor inducing drug, after which the doctor left and never returned to the delivery room. Paul's wife was in agony during labor and when Kim was finally born she was blue.  Something was clearly wrong but it was unclear if Kim had been hurt at birth or if she had some kind of disorder.  The list of Kim's problems was overwhelming.  Paul writes,
"It was agony, especially for Jill.  She had prayed that God would keep Kim from harm, but we were holding a harmed child...It would have been easier for us if Jill had not prayed that Kim would be kept from harm.  The promise of God actually made it worse.  It hurt to hope."
I don't know about you but I find that God often weaves the threads of the things He is teaching me in from various corners.  So I shouldn't have been surprised when our church had a healing service last week.  Our Pastor has been focusing on the resurrection and felt God leading him to preach on the healing that is ours because of the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah 53:4 says of Jesus, "Surely he has borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows."  He not only took our physical brokenness but also our emotional brokenness.  I have to say that it was a powerful thing to see so many go forward presenting their physical and emotional areas of need and asking the one who went to the cross and conquered death to bring healing.  I was reminded that we all have deep needs that only Jesus can meet!
Today's sermon found us at the tomb of Lazarus in John 11:1-45.  The stage was set with this little comparison.
Our pastor gave us the following principals in regards to healing. 
1. The presence of God does not guarantee the absence of problems. John 11:6, 21,32,37
2. Healing miracles normally begin by encountering the love of God.  John 11: 3,5,36
3. Healing miracles are not about sensationalism or convenience but about the glory of God.  John 11:4,25,40,42
4. The supremacy of Jesus' name gives authority to heal physical bodies.
  • Authority to declare truth  John 11:25
  • Authority over circumstances John 11:39
  • Authority to give life John 11:43
  • Authority to set free John 11:44
5. True miracles don't simply resolve problems but strengthen our trust in God.  John 11:45
One of the Pastor's closing statements struck me.  "As great as healing is," he said, "It's but a foretaste of the life that Jesus brings when we enter into relationship with him."  It caught my attention because it is precisely what Paul and his wife discovered as they cared for their daughter Kim.  He writes,
"We had thought that the harm was a daughter with disabilities, but this was nothing compared to the danger of two proud and willful parents.  Because Kim was mute, Jill and I learned to listen.  Her helplessness taught us to become helpless, too.  Kim brought Jesus into our home.  Jill and I could no longer do life on our own.  We needed Jesus to get from one end of the day to the other.  We'd asked for a loaf of bread, and instead of giving us a stone, our Father had spread a feast for us in the wilderness."
Healing - Do I understand it any better?  I'm not sure.  But one thing I do understand is that whether the answer is "yes" or "no", my deep need is meant to draw me into relationship with Jesus, the only one who has the power to help me.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Clean Up, Clean Up! Everybody Clean Up!

Did you know that since the beginning of the new year work teams have been coming to help clean up the Sahel Academy campus from the devastation of the flood?  A transformation is taking place and it is a beautiful thing to see the changes that are happening.

This past month a team that included some former Sahel staff and students along with other willing servants spent two weeks at Sahel.  Despite the heat they accomplished an incredible amount of work!  Here's just a small taste of what they did in those two weeks.

Clearing Out Furniture
Dusting & Sweeping Out Dirt
(Yes, there is a reason the picture is so cloudy - the Niger River bed is being removed!)
Pressure Washing & Scrubbing Walls & Floors
Even one of my former First & Second Grade students was there putting his hand to the plow or shall we say scrub brush to the lockers!
Sorting Things Left Behind
Tearing Out Cupboards
(Because that's important too!)
Taking down rafters
Working on the irrigation system
Washing dishes

Insulating an attic
You talk about HUGE IMPACT - these guys had it!

I'm so thankful for each one of these servants who were willing to sweat and get really dirty for Jesus and for Sahel.  You have blessed and encouraged us!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Acquiring a New Skill Set

For the last four weeks, I've been working on acquiring a new skill set and it's of the creative variety.  I know you're shocked, right?  I was celebrating a birthday (not my own) with some friends of mine, one of whom is a masterful cake decorator.  She had, in fact, made the birthday cake for the meal.  As we chatted, I mentioned that I had been thinking about taking the Wilton Cake Decorating Course at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  She had taught the course before and offered to teach me the basics in four weeks.  So the last four weeks she's been teaching me how to make rosettes, shells, vines, leaves, SHELLS, balls, roses, SHELLS!  (Someone is a slow learner with the shells!)  Tonight we put it altogether and this is what came out.

Still not the best at making shells but in the end it's not that noticeable that I need to spend some more time at the beach!

Have to celebrate something!

It's amazing how great it looks when you put it altogether!
In the middle of our decorating session my amazing teacher said that if my cake didn't look good I wasn't to tell anyone where I picked up my "mad skills".  Ha!  The good news is I think she's claiming me because she took her picture with me!

Thanks bunches, Laura.  You are an amazing teacher!
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