My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Buddies

I love books.

I love everything about them.

I love the smell of a new book.  The crinkle of the spine when you open it for the first time.  The untouched pages, begging to be read.

From the time I was a little girl, I have been enamored with books.  My mom always said that she never had to entertain me much.  Just sit me down with a stack of books or send me outside to sing about the trees, and I would be completely happy.

When I lived in the States, I think I read close to a hundred books every year.  I would go to the library every other week, load myself up with five or six new ones, and settle in for some fun entertainment over the course of those two weeks. 

Needless to say...I love to read.

So, when Holly Stewart (who taught with us for six months in 2012) suggested we institute book buddies every now and then on a Friday, I was all in!

Today, we did book buddies for the last thirty minutes of the day.  And honestly, it's a beautiful sight to see.  I love the children gathered around some of our older students, reading through a book, introducing them to the characters, encouraging them into the story.  It's rather glorious to behold!
Our newest student, Katie, reading to our second graders.
Gracie gathering her students around her to read "The Little Mermaid".
 It's my hope that our book buddies will encourage and inspire and perhaps draw out the reader in most of our children.  It's my hope that it will raise up leaders who can lead in confidence.  And it's my hope that the world will be opened up to our students, just a little bit more, as they tour it through the books available in our library.


This week, I have been extremely tired.

Bed at 8:00, trying to sleep in past my alarm, bone-weary...tired.

I'm at that point again today.


Thursday, May 30, 2013


It's rainy season and I love rainy season.

The humidity builds up and builds up in the air.  And then it seems like the clouds simply couldn't hold in the moisture anymore and it begins to rain.

And usually these rains don't just come with a mild pitter patter.  They come with waves of water, beating down loudly on our tin roofs.  School almost becomes impossible as the students can't hear over the booming thunder of rain.  The gutters pour rivers down from the rooftops, flooding the land.

And the air becomes cool.  As it if has given a sigh of relief.

And we breath a sigh of relief too.

There are days when the rain is just a drizzle.  A gradual release.  The pitter patter soothes the flustered soul and the humidity seems to disappear (as much as it can) for the day. 

It was like that today.  A slow, sleepy kind of day that makes you want to stay curled up in bed.  But instead, I was in the school, listening to the pitter patter on the roof in time to the pitter patter of little feet in the hallway.

I like these kind of days.  Despite the busy-ness that surrounds me here, I am reminded of the gentle presence of the One who sent the rain.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Water is the driving force of all nature.
Leonardo da Vinci
A couple of days ago, our water was shut off, due to some repairs being done at the main line from the Akosombo Dam.  It has happened only rarely since we have moved to our Children's Village, so it was a concern for us when water stopped flowing, especially with over 50 people living here full-time, water is life for us. 
It brought me back to our time in Downtown Doryumu.  We moved from Tema, a fairly well-developed harbor city, to a village.  And despite all of our excitement to finally be closer to our projects here, we faced our fair share of challenges.  In Downtown, we only had running water every other week, and even then, since we lived at the far end of town and others had used up much of the water before reaching us, the water pressure was very little and only ran a few days of the week.  The days that the water did run, we used it to fill our large polytank outside of our house.  For a year, we did not have running water inside the house.  The weeks that water did not run at all, we had to track down these huge water tanker trucks and pay for water to come in and fill our tank, sometimes twice in a week.  I honestly don't know how we made ends meet as the cost of bringing water in was enormous.
Eventually, water was installed out here at our children's village, though we were not yet finished with construction and buildings were not ready to move into.  At that point, the tankers didn't bring us water anymore, but we would come out to the land everyday with our big yellow buckets (that used to hold our cooking oil and palm oil), and fill them up.  Occasionally, a bucket would sit for a couple of days before we were able to use the water inside, leaving a green film over the top of the water when it was finally used.  So, we'd heat up the water before taking our baths, but let's just say that the green slime didn't add to the feeling of being clean, no matter how much water we used.  It did add to the number of rashes and the "Ghana-itch" that pops up during the changing of seasons.  You can read more about our time in Downtown here and here.
When the water stopped here just a couple of days ago, I was reminded of that season.  I remember moving to our land with no electricity, but so happy to have running water.  I said over and over again how I would much rather have access to clean water than regular access to electricity. 
Despite the lack of water issue, we are certainly so blessed.  Uncle Nosa got the pump for our well up and running.  The well water has been unusable so far as it is pretty salty and sulfuric, so even though we are cooking and brushing our teeth with our purified water (another blessing), we can certainly use our well water to take our baths, wash dishes, and clean around the house.
Last night, Kathy and I went out to go get more water (along with our volunteers Jessica and Austin--they certainly are troopers with electricity outages and being without water their first few days!!) for baths.  The kids were walking back and forth from their houses to get more water from the well.  Kathy carried her bucket of water on her head (while Lucy, Tyna, and Lydia laughed at her), and I carried a couple buckets to the house for bath time.  Suddenly, the little inconvenience of being out of water wasn't that big of an issue to me, but an opportunity to laugh with Kathy, to feel just a little bit of the experience that most deal with here in Ghana everyday.  We walked along the path made by the children throughout the day, tall grasses brushing against us as we strolled along.  Water splashed down over the top of Kathy's bucket, coating her feet in a new layer of mud. 
Sometimes what we see as a major inconvenience, knowing that it will be turned back on at some point this week, can help bring perspective.  Last night, I actually felt privileged.  We are so blessed to have a well on our property.  We are blessed that water is only a little stroll away.  We are blessed that we have clean drinking water available to us here.  We are blessed.  We are privileged.  And I am grateful.
When I think of the hundreds of people that I have seen here in Ghana without access to clean drinking water...the children who walk for miles to fill large buckets to do even the smallest of things in their homes before school each day, there is no other response than gratitude.  We have been blessed.  And out of that blessing, we have to be a people willing to lay it all down for the sake of those without.
So, today, when I am carrying my buckets to take my bath, wash dishes, flush my toilet, I will be praying for those in this country that don't have access to water at all.  I will be praying for the children that have to fetch water from the muddy holes where rain has gathered.  I will be praying for those with water-borne illnesses, simply because they don't have clean drinking water.  I will be praying for the many enslaved children on Lake Volta who suffer from Bilharzia because of the polluted water of the lake.  
And when you, in the States, in Europe, in Australia, or wherever you are, turn on your tap water tonight, fill up your glasses, take your showers and baths, brush your teeth--will you also pray for the many who are without day in and day out here in Ghana and around the world? 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Made to Crave, Post #9

Yeah, there has been a reason I have been avoiding these posts...and this book...and these feelings.  Because it's hard.

This season, as I've expressed before, has been challenging for me.  I feel like God has asked me to withdraw so that I am able to find time with him, but I didn't know how to do that very well.  And my withdrawl led to some pretty significant laziness...way to much chocolate...and I look at how I look and I am extremely unhappy.  But, I struggle to find the energy to do anything about it.  Yet.

Today, as I read through a few chapters of Made to Crave (you'd think there would be an end in sight for this book...each chapter seems to rip my carefully layered band-aids over this particularly sore subject off quite painfully), I struggled.  I threw out about 15 different excuses for the way that I have been satisfied in living.  I argued with myself about the merits of my eating and exercising habits and when I finally came down to it, it is this...

I live in a place of fear.

I am afraid to change.  I am afraid of the work it will take to change.  I am afraid that I won't have enough help or encouragement or resources to change.  I am afraid that, even if I do change, the weight will just come right back on.  I am afraid that it will take me too long to do this and that I will just give up. 

But, I am most afraid of this...what happens if I do lose weight (and I have a lot to lose, at least 75 pounds) and my life doesn't look much different.

I was challenged by Lysa's words:

"I'm on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness."

In the end, what is my purpose for losing weight? 

To feel better.  Yes. 

To look better.  Sure.

But, if my purpose is purely those reasons, it's not enough. 

I packed on the pounds over the years as a way to protect myself from what I feared most--intimacy.  It allowed me to hide in so many ways.  And this journey has to be about just that--intimacy.

"Making the connection between my daily disciplines with food and my desire to pursue holiness is crucial.  Holiness doesn't just deal with my spiritual life; it very much deals with my physical life as well."

This journey has to be a journey of pursuing holiness. 

I know that this is  spiritual thing.  But, in all honesty, I don't know if I'm quite ready to make the sacrifice.  And even as I look down at all the body parts that are flabby and frustrating, I say this because this whole journey isn't easy.  It is a battle 100% of the time.  A battle of the mind.  A battle of the heart.  Victory doesn't come easy.  And sometimes I would rather give in to the temptation than battle it through again.

"Victory is when we pick something healthy over something not beneficial for us.  And we maintain our victories with each next choice."

How do I get the strength to make those choices?

"This place is found at the bottom of our excuses and rationalizations.  It's found when our efforts fail time and time again.  It's found in the humility of this admission: 'I need God to unsettle me.'"

I want to be there.  I want to ask for that.  I am scared to ask that of God.  I fear the results...how will it challenge and change my life.

I wish I could just give you a dialogue of what is literally going on inside my head right now as I write this post.  An enormous battle.  Because when I finally release this...when I ask God to unsettle me...I know that things will have to change.  Everything within me cries for it...and battles against it.

God, in YOUR strength, I ask you to unsettle me.  Walk me through this battle to a place of holiness.  As much as I fear it...I want you more.

Ghana Rock

Today is the concert that Ghana Rock has been planning for the past year.

Last year, they put together a concert with Shawn McDonald, raising $50,000 and giving us the opportunity to rescue and care for 17 new children here at the CORM Children's Village. 

This year, John and Stacy and their whole family are with them and tonight, Phil Wickham will lead a night of worship that will set more children free.

Oh, how I wish I could be there.

My sister is going.  And Kat and Isaiah and some of the youth from their church are headed out that way.

I want to be there, a witness to the lives that have been changed because of the work that Ghana Rock has done.  9 teenagers, passionate about the freedom of all children.

It's a powerful message. 

And while we continually strive to impact one life at a time, these 17 will forever be changed:


Forever changed. 

Now, we will see what comes out of this year's concert.  More lives freed.  More lives changed.  Moving forward into a better and brighter future.  Understanding they were chosen and loved by an all-powerful God. 

Kathy Turner (haha!)

When Kathy came to teach with us last September, I had labeled everything boldly with her name "Kathy Turner"...realizing later that her last name is Taylor.  I just had to label this post with "her name" just for the fun of it.

Kathy has been here since September and I have been incredibly blessed with her friendship, her love for the children, her support at the school, her encouragement, her healthy boundaries, and her desire to see each of these kids meet their full potential.  She is amazing.

This morning, I watched as she sat with Bismark for over an hour while he refused to complete an activity, adamantly stating, "I'm tired".  The patience that requires is astounding.

And time and time again, I have pulled her into classrooms to sub for me, even though it is not her favorite thing to do and she would rather work with her small groups of students.

Time and time again, I have been encouraged by her candor.  Challenged by her deep faith.  Brought to tears by the ways she has made me laugh.

Kathy is leaving in just a few more weeks.  Time has passed too quickly.  And I wonder how I am going to be able to cope without my "Kathy Turner" next academic year.

I celebrate her future, knowing she is going home to her dream job and knowing that she served her purpose here. 

But, I will miss her.  So much.

A Moment in Time

I came to Ghana in July 2010, almost three years ago.  (I can't believe it has been three years!!)  DK and Abigail had only been rescued the month before and WOW!  Abigail was incredibly challenging.  She struggled deeply not knowing the language and her strong will (which kept her alive in some very dangerous situations) made it difficult to lead and guide her.  At times, she would be overwhelmed with whatever was going on in her heart and her head and would sit outside for hours at a time, singing and crying, walls built up around her so that you couldn't even access her at all.  It was so very painful to witness.

At the time, I was enthralled with the little ones of City of Refuge.  Edwin and Portia were my daily sidekicks, climbing all over me, wanting me to be with them every waking minute of the day.  Most of you know my never-ending tales of Portia and Edwin and the time that I spent caring for Edwin was one of the toughest, but one of the most beautiful seasons of my life.

Abigail and DK both saw that time with the little ones and there were times when they would climb on my back or Johnbull's back, just like the little babies that were used to being backed all over the Freedom Center, for a little human touch.  It was hard sometimes to have the kids all over me and since Abigail and DK were so big, there were times when I almost tipped over when they started climbing on me. 

But, there was one day that I will never forget.  In fact, tears are filling my eyes right now thinking of it.  There was one day when the kids were all playing outside.  Portia and Edwin kept running up to me, lifting their arms up high and saying, "Carry me!".  So, I'd carry them around a bit and then set them down to play with the kids again.  And then Abigail came up to me, with arms lifted high and in her halting English said, "Carry me!".  I thought she was joking, so I kind of laughed it off and kept playing,  But, when she said it again, her eyes pleading, I picked her up and she wrapped her long legs around my waist, her arms around my neck, and rested her head on my shoulder, cuddling into that place that the little babies love.  And I stroked her back.  I whispered prayers of comfort and peace and healing into her ear.  I sang over her.  I rocked her back and forth.  I stroked her hair, as I would have Portia or Edwin.  When my back got tired from carrying her, I brought her inside and we sat on the couch, her head in my lap as I stroked her hair, her forehead, her arms. 

From that moment on, the times when she would cry inconsolably, singing songs off by herself...they slowed...and eventually, they stopped.  What Abigail needed, most of all, was love.  She needed to be carried.  She needed to be soothed like a small child.  She was 11 years old, but what she needed most was the love that a mother has for her newborn child.  The love that looks at their baby with wonder and grace.  The love that can't bare to parted.  A love that says, "I am not going anywhere."  That moment, that day, began the healing process for Abigail...one that has been incredibly difficult and challenging and filled with ups and downs, but also one that is beautiful and restorative.

There was a moment like that just the other day.  Many of you have heard the story of our little Florence.  You can read more about her: here.  Anyway, the day before John and Stacy left, we had a massive dance party at the house to spend time together as a family. At the end of the party, as per usual, we were starting a water fight and the kids took off racing towards the house, ending the party with a lot of laughter.  When I looked at our courtyard, Florence was still sitting in a chair, her head down, tears flowing down her face.  Rapheal helped translate my questions, asking what was wrong. 

Apparently, one of the songs reminded her of the family she used to live with.  As the memories flooded back, she was drawn to tears, missing the people that took care of her (even if she was enslaved).  So, I picked her up and we started our walk back to the house.

Unlike Abigail, who curled into me, Florence sat up straight in my arms, refusing the comfort that was there.  But, I still carried her home, wanting her to understand that she is loved and understood.  I carried her, praying into her ear, speaking over her God's promises for who she is, trusting that even if she didn't completely understand me, her spirit did.  And when we went inside, she sat on my lap and for the briefest second, she leaned into me as I kissed her head and prayed for her.  And that was enough.  Just a moment in time.

But a moment like that, guard down, heart open...it changes everything.

Our Greatest Need

At the start of this school term, I identified one of our biggest needs with the work that we do here at City of Refuge Ministries.

Some staff members called me the night before school started to have me come and help work out some problems they were having.  So, Nosa, Lydia, and I hopped in the car and drove over to the staff house and found two of our staff members literally at each other's throats.  It was a little scary to see anger rule in such a way.

The whole 2 hours that we sat there, counseling and talking and trying to figure out what to do next, I worried for the hearts of our staff members.  The problem was solved for the night, but definitely not completely finished.  It was deeper.  Anger rooted down.  Fear deeply seated.

And while we sat there, I was so overwhelmingly sad, knowing that they were both acting out of a place of hurt and pain, not fully understanding the love of Christ--if only they fully understood. 

I realized that one of our biggest needs here is DISCIPLESHIP.  It's not something that can just take place overnight, but the daily discipleship of these men and women and children must be our priority.  I can never bring complete change in someone's life.  In fact, I can't even bring change to my own life.  God alone can bring change.  And until that is understood, our staff and our children will continue to fight and see unchanged results.  They will continue to argue and get offended and be completely frustrated again and again and again.  Until they fully know how loved they are.  Until they fully understand the sacrifice that has been made for them.  Until what they understand in their heads transforms their hearts, there will never be change.

And I will fail.  I am not a perfect example.  John and Stacy lead in boldness, but they will fail.  Cayle and Dawn, who would love nothing more than to disciple our children and staff, will fail.  They are not a perfect example.  Our only hope is to do our best to reflect Jesus, to counsel and train as Jesus did his own disciples.

Right now, it is the one big need that is greatest on my heart.

I know that we will only see Kingdom Culture here at CORM when our staff (sometimes even more than our children) see Jesus and are transformed by Him.

I am reminded of the physical way that we see our children transformed when they arrive.  The first month is so hard, living in anger and frustration, these children lash out in incredibly cruel ways.  And then, we see them soften.  They begin to understand how to communicate.  They begin to see that they are completely free here, taken care of, loved.  They see these things and they begin to melt.  But, the anger still resides there.  The pain is still there.  And in some moments, you will see the rawness of their heart.  Their desire to be with the ones that they love chafes. It hurts to remember what they've been through.  It makes them angry and sad and they grieve.  And there comes a time when they understand that even in the midst of their greatest hurts, Jesus comforts.  Even in the midst of their greatest anger, when their behavior is at its lowest, they see that our love for them does not change...that Christ's love for them does not change...then we begin to see glimpses of their true heart.

And that is my longing for each person that I work with here...that they understand those truths.  In the midst of it all, they would be free...knowing they are loved, forgiven, and walking in grace.  That is when we will see true Kingdom Culture take place in our homes, our school, our lives.

God, may it be so.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Time for a Facelift

Internet is not incredibly fast here in Ghana.  In fact, most times, we struggle to even get limited access out here at our Children's Village. 

The other day, I was looking over my blog and realizing that it's look hadn't been updated since around Easter last year. 

I'm not super quick on the "building websites" front and with the internet as it has been, I knew I would be lucky to even change the color and font of my blog.

So, I shot out an email to an incredibly talented friend of mine who is a blogger, artist, decorator, mom (of almost 2), and wife.  She agreed to update my sorry looking blog into something with a little more style.

And here we are, less than 24 hours later...a new facelift for Living the Free Life!

A great big thanks to Sarah Carter for giving in such a sweet way.  Check out more of her life and story on her blog at: www.cartersgroundswell.com.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fresh Bread

I made bread with Mary Osei today.  I love making bread.  There is just something about the smell of the rising dough, the feel of the dough between my fingers as I knead it down, the delicate crust that is created on the top of the risen loaf, the smell wafting from the oven, the golden brown tops...delicious in every way.  And I love making it with the girls...especially my chatty Mary.

Here is my favorite (and easy) bread recipe!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  And if possible, make it with your favorite little one.  Makes it just that much more tasty!

3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons butter or margarine (this is what makes it soft and tasty)
1/2 cup white sugar
8 cups bread flour

1. In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, salt, butter, sugar, and 4 cups flour.  Mix thoroughly, and let sponge rise until doubled in size.

2. Gradually add about 4 cups flour, kneading until smooth.  Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn several times to coat.  Cover with a damp cloth.  Allow to rise until doubled.

3. Punch down the dough, let it rest a few minutes.  Divide dough into equal parts.  Shape into loaves (or rolls as I like to do), and place into greased bread pans.  Let rise until almost doubled.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes.  The loaves may need to be covered with foil for the last few minutes with foil to prevent excess browning.

Eat up!

Thanks allrecipes.com for this delicious one!

Sitting Down

I'm sitting in my living room, the children outside watching Secondhand Lions for movie night.  The boys, especially, love it.  They're laughing so hard, it makes me wonder if one of them has fallen off their seat!  And Dora, our lovely loud-mouth, is heartily screaming when she finds something particularly hilarious.  Let's just say that our kids love, love, love physical comedy.

As I sit down here tonight, I am feeling as though I am in a quiet space tonight.  A quiet soul space. 

Today was incredibly busy.  I had interviews to do, wanted to prepare dinner for the fam tonight, and had a couple of meetings with people passing through.  I barely sat down today, had little time to myself, but tonight, I sit here feeling quiet and at peace.

The crickets chirp out the window, amazingly not overpowered by our kids raucous behavior.  A nice cool breeze is floating in from the window.

As I am sitting here, I just feel at rest.  I feel at peace.

This season of my life has been challenging, more about my lack of emotional control than anything else.  But right now, in this moment, I am perfectly at peace.

I sit in contentment with where I am.  I feel at home in my calling here right now.  And that has been hard for me this year so far.  But, I am trusting God's voice in calling me here for such a time as this. 

And so, I draw to the feet of his throne, allowing his peace...his love...his joy...to reign.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cheese and Spaghetti

It's amazing how little things can be taken for granted.

Here in Ghana, our access to dairy products is pretty close to nothing.  Cheese is so expensive, we can only purchase it about once every six months if we want to make burritos.  Milk can hardly be found in the form that we see in the States.  Instead, it is a boxed milk or powdered milk that is the only option for those thirsty for a little milk mustache. 

Every once in awhile, I take an afternoon to prepare spaghetti.  Yes, something that would normally take...oh, about 15-30 minutes, depending on the type, in the States, takes several hours...sometimes even days, to prepare.

So, today, I started with the cheese portion of our spaghetti meal.  My favorite way to prepare spaghetti here in Ghana is baked with ricotta cheese.  Yummm...

But, where to find the ricotta?

I take out the powdered milk we use for our teas and coffees and hot chocolates and prepare a pitcher of the milk.  I place it on the stove and add some salt and seasonings (today's flavors of the day were a little grilled garlic and onion and a few dashes of Italian seasoning).  When the milk comes to a boil, I pour in a couple tablespoons of distilled vinegar...and the base and acid separate, leaving a light and fluffy cheese.  The next step?  Straining the water from the cheese, wrapping it in a cloth and squeezing out all the water.  Are we done yet?  Nope!  We have to put it in the fridge, cover it in plastic and place something heavy on it overnight.  That squeezes out a little extra water and makes it ready for use the next day.  Then, I start all over again until I have enough cheese for the meal.  What a process, huh?

Today's cheese process took me about 2 1/2 hours.  For one meal...

Tomorrow, to make my sauce, I have to cut up all the veggies, let the tomatoes cook down, flavor, cook, flavor, cook...until it is just perfect.  Usually, we would use ground beef, but since it's hard to come by here, it's chicken pieces instead.  Boiled and cooked, shredded and added to the sauce.  It's a process too!

Then, prepare the noodles, get it all mixed together and into the oven.  Voila!  A delicious baked spaghetti dinner...

I think the meal is almost better because I had to work so hard to make it. 

Looking forward to our special meal tomorrow!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hungry Arms

One of my favorite things is the arms of a little guy. 

I love it when Malvin runs into my arms with a squeal of "Auntie Autumn"!

I love it when Joel literally runs into my legs, clinging on for deal life and then expecting the ride of his life while sitting on my foot.

I love Edwin's giggles when he sits on my lap, wrapping himself in my arms.

I love Gamali's snuggles as he buries himself in that little crook in my neck.

I just love that...



Life is full of differing perspectives.

Each person lives life from their own perspective.

It's been something that I've been learning about a lot lately.  My perspective is not THE perspective.

For some time, I have allowed my perspective to dictate my emotions.  Maybe someone has a bad day or isn't feeling well.  One misplaced word in my direction, and my mind starts whirring.  "What did I do wrong?"  "Why are they angry with me?"  And suddenly self-pity and doubt sets in.  My mind, my perspective, has completely destroyed our relationship.

Oh, the power of the mind.  The power of perspective.

I have been challenged recently by Sarah Young's words in Jesus Calling.

She says:

"Welcome problems as perspective-lifters.  My children tend to sleepwalk through their days until they bump into an obstacle that stymies them.  If you encounter a problem with no immediate solution, your response to that situation will take you either up or down.  You can lash out at the difficulty, resenting it and feeling sorry for yourself.  This will take you down into a pit of self-pity.  Alternately, the problem can be a ladder, enabling you to climb up and see your life from My perspective.  Viewed from above, the obstacle that frustrated you is only a light and momentary trouble.  Once your perspective has been heightened, you can look away from the problem altogether.  Turn toward Me, and see the Light of My Presence shining upon you."
--Jesus Calling, p. 121

Such good truth. 

So, I began to hold my perspective to the truth.

I was surprised with what I found out. 

My perspective, for months, has been defining my experiences and my perspective was completely wrong.  When I held it to the light of His Presence, I saw instead only love, care, and provision.

So, when I saw Sarah Young's May 3rd writing, I was completely challenged and convicted.

"You cannot serve two masters.  If I am truly your Master, you will desire to please Me above all others.  If pleasing people is your goal, you will be enslaved to them.  People can be harsh taskmasters when you give them this power over you.
If I am the Master of your life, I will also be your First Love.  Your serving Me is rooted and grounded in My vast, unconditional Love for you.  The lower you bow down before Me, the higher I lift you up into intimate relationship with Me.  The joy of living in My Presence outshines all other pleasures.  I want you to reflect My joyous Light by living in increasing intimacy with Me."
--Jesus Calling, p. 130

My perspective has been based on people-pleasing rather than pleasing God.  I even sense it in myself today, the anxiety that comes when something doesn't go the way you planned and it effects other people. 

I am longing for the joyous light to be lived out in me, not the anxiety that comes with people pleasing or a perspective based on "what might be happening".

God, may your presence change my perspective.  May your opinion be the only one that I seek.


So, when I went home during the holidays this past year, I found that everyone in the US (or it seems like everyone) was obsessed with a certain British drama, Downton Abbey.  I have to admit, when I was home, I fell under its spell. 

 But, not just Downton.  I found that BBC has produced some pretty amazing mini-series which made me wonder, “What have I been missing out on all these years?”

 Most people know my love for Jane Austen.  My penchant for anything that brings me to a place of romance and grace.  Something about Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility...there's something to Jane Eyre...something even about Anne of Green Gables (though notably the wrong continent).
In any case, I became a little BBC-obsessed.  Downton Abbey.  Cranford.  Sherlock (oh, I love that one!).  The Call of the Midwife.  I love them all.
After watching The Call of the Midwife series when I was home, my friend Katie (who is obsessed with all things British at the moment) told me that it was based on a series of books.  So, you know me...I love to read...and I got all three books in the series, ready to read the stories that were so brilliantly acted in the TV series.
The books are memoirs, written by a nurse who worked in the East End of London in the mid-1900's.  Jennifer Worth wrote beautiful stories of lessons learned, families she was able to be a part of, lives that she witnessed coming into the world...and she mixed them all with a little history about London...the workhouses, the wars, the ups and downs of the human condition when poverty strikes.
I read all three books as if I was there myself, reading the Cockney English and walking (or cycling) the streets of the East End with the nuns and nurses of Nonnatus House.  Sometimes, her words were almost too vivid, making me want to turn away from the darkness that sometimes comes with poverty.  But, in many ways, it brought me joy...remembering the beautiful births of my friend's children, Brylie and Nasiah.  Celebrating the medical advances that allowed little Isabella to be born happy and healthy (and then Corbin two years later).  The beauty of the whole process.  Welcoming new life.  It's scary and it's messy and it's painful...but it sure is beautiful.  And somehow, the stories in Call of the Midwife were just that little bit more charming because of the accent and the different history and the different way of life.

Maybe someday I will able to visit the places these stories all took place.  England, with it's charm and fog and it's old romance.  One day...

Monday, May 6, 2013


Break is always an interesting time for me.  I have so many plans…only so much gets done.

 I remember this break last year.  I had a hundred plans.  Things I wanted to get accomplished before the next term was underway.  I wanted to get up early and work out in the mornings.  I wanted to spend more time with the kids doing different projects.  I had all kinds of things to get done for the school.  I spent the majority of my time sleeping, watching movies, reading books…frustrated that I didn’t get more done, but just so TIRED!

 This break has been a little bit more productive, though I have had my days where I just could not motivate myself enough to get anything done.  I have spent some time with the kids, like I wanted to.  I have gotten a few projects done that needed to get finished, like a yearbook that I procrastinated working on until the DAY it needed to be completed.  I have gotten to hang out with Stacy and Kathy and Emily like I would with anyone back home, unconcerned about the worries of the ministry and just being fully me.  I have watched some movies and TV shows and read books that I have wanted to get to for awhile.  It’s been good.

 This week starts my prep for getting ready to be back in school next week.  And, I suppose, like every school break…I wish I had just a little more time.  I’m not quite ready to be back in session yet, but the time is here, and so I’m getting prepared.

 Goodbye break.  Hello Term 3!