Monday, March 10, 2014

God's Grace Upon Grace

Last Friday as I was holding the sleeping baby boy that I watch, I was looking out our windows and noticed a large moving truck. We must have new neighbors, I thought. I continued to watch as they unpacked and carried their things in. One item in particular caught my attention ---- a beautiful roll top secretarial desk. My thoughts flashed back to our antique roll top desk that we had in Africa that we had sold as we moved to the U.S.
Our old desk we had in Africa
I had loved that desk and was sad that we were not able to bring it with us. It is funny how grief can pop up its ugly head... I use to think the stages of grief was passed through in a linear fashion but I am discovering all too often you can hop around or sometimes take two steps forward then three steps back. I began to talk to God about my grief and bring my heart to Him.....then I heard a noise and saw they had set the desk off to the side as the movers began moving other items. I was able to get a closer look at the beautiful desk. It had been painted a soft mint green color with an antique finish. For a brief moment I thought, 'oh this would look perfect in my living room'...the seed of envy and coveting was beginning to take root. 

A few years ago a friend, author and women speaker Mimi Wilson had shared a story about how she had envied a beautiful scarf a women had on and as she continued to nurture and feed this sin she felt that it had separated her from her normal intimacy with God. This story and lesson that I had pondered in my heart was used by the Spirit to gently and quickly convict me of my coveting. 

I found myself verbally saying that I was sorry for not being thankful for all the pretty things that God had already given me for my living room and I expressed genuine joy that my neighbors had such a beautiful desk. I immediately felt God's forgiveness. I was so thankful for His grace and thought that was that.......

But the next morning to my amazement my husband came in the house and said ,"Looks like one of our neighbors have thrown out an old roll top desk in the trash, Do you want it?'' I knew the answer to my question before I asked it," Is is green?" --- "Yes' he said ..... Yes, it is mine, a gift from God beyond His grace... " For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" John 1:16
Our new rolled top desk

I am still overwhelmed by His goodness and grace as I look at this desk now sitting in my living room.... thanks also to the hard work of my husband and boys that carried it in. 

This desk will forever be a symbol of God's grace upon grace that He has poured into my life in the past, present and what is to come! May we all rest in His grace and lean into Him as we journey on.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Third Culture Kid's Ramblings Pt 1

My earliest childhood memories-- sharing chai with my sister, Keri and Leila Merritt ( my childhood friends) and Mama Joyce ...dipping blueband spread bread sandwiches in the tea! Feeling the warmth not only from the Kenya sun but the warmth from the love and kindness of my Africa home.
My sister and I 

....Yes, Kumba, Cameroon .... yes that is the country Cameroon in West Africa... no Africa is a continent  -- Cameroon is the country of my birth....frustrating conversation with U.S. postal worker when filling out forms....

From the not so nice "n" word that I was called in 3rd grade when ignorant Texas kids found out I was from some of the curious questions ....." Did you have loins as pets?" ....." Did you live in a mud hut?" struggling to find the words to explain my world or worlds that are all mashed up!

Am I African? Cameroonian? Kenyan? American? Some where in between......  

A child's perspective is an interesting thing. Children take things at face value...I knew my simple idyllic life was just how it was. I loved concrete red floors....not so much the mosquito net that to often slummed into my face during the night and made me feel claustrophobic.  I loved passion fruit juice for breakfast, imaginary play with my sister and friends, big sisters verses little sisters, and all the adventure that would always seem to find us...... from the crazy man coming up in our yard to seeing the big girls attack by a wild hawk( Ok that was a bit scary!). Loved going to the pool almost every day after school....oh the cool water felt so good after my feet were so hot from running around with such thin soles of Bata tennis shoes.  Fairy circles, Narnia, survival much fun even if we had to hide all our books so when the Merritt girls came over they would play with us and not read! 
Mom, my sister Debra,my brother Wade and me

I loved Sundays...although sometimes they were long days...the adventure of even the journey of getting to the rural church where my Dad would preach was exciting. We had a baby blue volkswagen  bug. I would often crawl back in to the 'back-back' and enjoy the journey from there. During the raining season we would get stuck in the mud but no problem several village folks would just push us out or sometimes even pick us up! When we arrived people would start to kids would run around ....beautiful green rolling hills and red dirt...goats, cows, and chickens to chase. Then we would gather for worship. Men would sit on one side and women and kids on the other...all on wooden benches under a tree or thatched roof enclosure with mud walls with splattered holes that the sun would shine through ---I often thought it looked like stars in the sky. A women in back would belt out a phrase of a song and we would all echo her with clapping and on some songs there was trilling! Then my mom would gather us kids up and we would go out side and sit on a
large mat. She would bring out her flannelgraph and tell the stories of the bible. This is my earliest memory of putting God's words in my heart. I loved the Noah story and Queen Easter.....the story of David and how God saw into his heart was my favorite. 

After church service we always went to one of the leader's home for lunch. Yummy chicken stew, greens and ugali ( corn meal mush) ...I can almost smell the charcoal infused food... which was enjoyed more because it was shared.  Then after the last pot of chai was consumed it was back in the blue bug for the long bumpy ride home....this time I would stretch out and sleep after we dropped off the few folks that squeezed in our car.

I have so many memories of my early growing up years in Kenya...but what stays with me the most is a sense of warmth, joy, adventure which all has given me the confidence to face life! And for that I am grateful!