Monday, December 12, 2011

Don't look at me!!!

It has been a few days since I have written....I was torn. People have said, "Tabitha you are this or that" or have made other comments on my posts. I told John, maybe I should just journal and not blog. I don't like attention. I don't like to be center stage....or anywhere on stage! When people hear our story or read my blog, I don't want them to see me. I want them to see my Jesus!

Have you ever known a hypocritical Christian? How about someone who claimed to be Christian but lived a life contrary to how a believer should live...maybe it was a pastor or church leader. Maybe you have been hurt by a Christian...lied to by someone who named the name of Christ. Maybe you have shunned a life of faith because someone let you down. Can I tell you that I will let you down. I will fail you. I will disappoint you. But don't judge my Jesus by me. I will fail miserably!

Look at the CROSS! Look at how loving and merciful HE is. Look at that baby in a manger who left everything for you! He will never let you down. He will never fail you. Never hurt you. He will never disappoint you.

Our trials this last week have been heavy...and many. I am not a woman of great faith. I am simply a woman with a great God. Please don't look at us....look at our GREAT GOD!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Overwhelmed......but not consumed!

It's barely past 6am and before I even got out of bed....the tears came. I keep wondering, "Will today be the day that I cry no more?". Today is not to be that day. I know that GOD sees my heart. He knows that I am weak. He knows I have questions. He knows I don't understand. He knows I am humbled. He knows I am absolutely broken. He knows I hurt. He knows I am overwhelmed. But He has promised not to let me be consumed! My home was consumed....but I will NOT be!

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in HIM." Lam 3:21-24

I don't know who may read this, but if you do, would you please pray even now that I may rest in the Lord's mercies. I am so weak, broken, right now. My heart is heavy and the tears are over flowing. I am overwhelmed, but I will NOT be consumed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why did God watch our home burn?

Yesterday was hard. It started with the fire inspector and insurance adjuster assessing the scene. Then, we spent the rest of the day at the house digging through the remains...trying to find anything we could to salvage. Two precious men from our church stayed until past dark helping us.

It was humbling. The front door is open, the roof is gone.

The windows are all shattered. It seems so vulnerable. The place that gave me such security and warmth is no longer. It is open for all to see. The place that holds so many memories is gone.

As we dug through the rubble, I shed some tears and had some laughs. I found my container that held all the children's keepsakes. It was melted; the pictures and contents disintegrated. But there was a small area, where the kids baby blankets were, that I think I can salvage a small square piece of blanket for each child. They were stained with soot and reeked of smoke. But I was was something. John dug with his bare hands and found the girls' baby rings. And one of the church men found Aiden's dedication Bible!!! I found the hairbow that both girls wore at their 1st birthdays.

And I found a picture of all three kids in their dedication outfits. The dedication outfits are gone, but the Lord gave me the pictures! What a great God.

So many people say, "I don't know why the Lord let this happen to you." And I don't have the answers. At times, I ask the Lord the same question. I realize that the God in Heaven knew and watched from above as that heat lamp began to smolder. He watched as the kitchen began to burn.

I realize that at any moment He could have stopped the entire event from happening....but He didn't. He watched as John, Jeana, and the babies lie sleeping as the house burned. He allowed all my precious keepsakes and momentos to be taken from me. He saw my great-great grandmothers hutch go up in flames. He watched John's grandmother's china shatter as is fell when the ceiling collapsed under the flames. He allowed my childrens' artwork to be destroyed. He saw my beautiful wedding dress and our wedding portraits burn.

Why? I don't know. But I know that what I lost can never compare to what HE gave for us when He gave His Son to come to this world to die. Why did we lose our home? I don't know. Why did He give His Son? I DO know! He gave His Son for you and for me so that we could have an eternal home in Heaven with HIM.

I lost my earthly home to fire, but nothing can harm my eternal home in Heaven. Do you have that assurance? Do you know that you have a home in Heaven? What a wonderful time, at Christmas, to open your heart to Him!

So I ask, why did God sit back and watch our home burn? Why did this happen to us? Maybe it had nothing at all to do with us but with YOU. Maybe God knew it would take this for you to look at Him and see His love and mercy. Yesterday, I realized something; that if the Lord allowed this to happen so that just one person would come to Him, then that's okay with me. Standing in front of the remains of my home, I told the Lord that if this is the way He can use us, then let it be. I can honestly say, that if someone would open their heart to the LORD, then I would stand there on the road and watch it all burn again. My memories, my belongings...everything. I would give them up for just one soul.

SO are you the reason God watched my home burn? If you are, please don't let this all be in vain. Give your heart to the LORD!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

To God be the Glory!

Nearly 48 hours ago, the Lord saw fit to take every material possession away from my family. I just read my last blog entry and am overwhelmed by the irony of it all. In His great plan, the Lord took care of all the things I worried with. There are no more floors on which to hear the pitter patter little feet. There are no more strollers to push and baby dolls to tuck in. No more cars and trucks and push around the house. No more legos to stack or footballs to be thrown. No more hairbows to wear or cowboy boys to wear. No more clothes to wash, socks to fold, or dishes to put away. No more windows to wash or bathrooms to clean. No more furniture to dust. No more pictures, no more "take home from the hospital outfits". No more baby blankets or dedication outfits. No more baby pictures or videos of first baths, first steps or first words. But nevertheless, we have more than we deserve. God is so good and we want to thank Him for His goodness.

I was at work in the ICU when I received a phone call. I answered the phone and did not recognize the name on the caller ID. The unfamiliar voice said, "You need to come home." "Excuse me?", I replied. Again, "you need to come home right now!" I still didn't understand, "Who is this? What is going on?". He replied, "This is your husband and our home is on fire." I heard something in his voice that made me realize it was my husband, John, on the phone. I was frantic, "The babies? Where are the babies?" He assured me they were outside with him and his sister who was visiting for Christmas. I was breathless, "Is the house gone?". "Almost", he was so strong. As I hung up the phone, I looked at my co-workers and said, "I have to go. My house is on fire." Even as I spoke the words, I didn't believe what was happening. A friend at work drove me home and a few blocks away we saw the flames and the smoke. As we turned into our neighborhood I saw the most horrific sight- our home, engulfed in flames surrounded by a dozen fire engines and countless amazing fire fighters.
I jumped out of the car and ran down the street screaming and asking anyone I could, "My babies?? My family? Please, where are they??" No one could answer. I kept running til I saw my sweet husband, my hero, standing on the side of the road barefoot and cold, watching our home burn. I collapsed at his feet. "The kids?" I was still hysterical. He pointed to a white vehicle and I ran. Inside I saw the most amazing site, my three beautiful babies, barefoot and in their pajamas sweetly waiting with their Aunt Jeana. "MOMMY!!!!", the sweetest sound I have ever heard. I grabbed all three of them. The warmth of their skin and smell of their hair at that moment was almost more than I could handle. They were okay. The Lord brought all 5 of them out of the house and protected them.
There was nothing the fire fighters could do other than try to control the fire. It was beyond saving. So we stood there and watched, as everything we owned burned. But even in that moment of realizing that the Lord had just taken everything away, I knew that He had again given me my family.
Right now, as they sleep nearby, and I listen to their soft rhythmic breathing, I realize that I could be sitting here alone. I realize that I could never again have heard Eliza say "You're my favorite mommy, Mommy." Or heard Olivia say, "Mommy, can you hold me?". Never again see Aiden's beautiful smile or touch his soft blonde curls. Or never again hold my sweet husband's hand or nestle into his neck and smell his cologne. The Lord, in His great mercy, saw fit to give me my family. I don't deserve them. But God is so good. Everything is gone, but I have too much to be unthankful.
Our prayer through all of this is that the LORD would be magnified. He has given us far more than we deserve. He has not only saved us from Hell, but given us an eternal home in Heaven....a home that will never burn! We don't understand. I have questions. Was I took materialistic? Did I worry to much about physical things? Were hair bows and clothes too important? God may never give me the answers, but we chose to trust Him! He has a plan. He has a purpose.
"Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God"
Isaiah 24:15

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Maybe I am not cut out to be a missionary

It's almost 1am and I can't mind is racing and tears are flowing. We had a great evening together as a family. I was excited because we stopped by TJ Maxx and I found several cute matching dresses for the girls for Togo. All the women and girls in Togo wear dresses and as stores start to mark down their summer clothes we are trying to buy things for Togo to last the kids a couple years. John found Aiden some nice shorts and shirts too. We also stopped by Lowe's to look for a few items we need to spruce up the house before we put it on the market. I was excited as the reality that we really are going back sets in...and now that is what I can't get off my mind.

Everyone is asleep, but I have been lying in bed thinking about having a yard sale to sell all of our belongings and selling our house. I am so sentimental- to a fault sometimes. I think sentimentality is a terrible trait for a missionary to have!! As I started thinking about selling the kids' stuff I became so sad. I guess it is the memories attached to those things. I picture the girls playing with their baby dolls and pushing their strollers around. I think of all the sweet times reading books to them. I think of Aiden playing with his little cars and the thought of selling those things seems so hard. As I think about selling the house, our home, I cry. This was the first home we owned. We spent countless hours placing each piece of hardwood flooring, the same floors that all three kids learned to walk on. I have walked these floors many nights craddling each child. The kids' pitter-patter as they run around the house warms my heart. We brought 2 babies home to this house. We poured ourselves into making this house a home. It is nothing grand, but it is our home.

As I laid in bed, thinking how difficult it will be to leave these things behind, the Lord brought these verses to mind. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Matthew 6:19-20 The Lord calls us to leave things behind in order to make an eternal difference!

I was also struck by the thought of Christ leaving His home in Heaven, for me. While I struggle over leaving something as simple as the floors in our home, I remember that He left streets of gold!

So now I pray that as we prepare to leave for Togo, that the Lord will help me keep an eternal focus rather than focusing on temporal things! I know I will cry. The kids may even cry as their things are sold, but I know the Lord will help us through this transition and use this time to prepare us to be used in a even greater way for Him! Yes, I am sentimental...that is my weakness. But 2 Corinthians reminded me, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

So if it takes a few sacrifices and shed tears for the Lord's strength to be made perfect in my weakness and that the power of Christ may rest upon me, then bring on the yard sales!

Monday, June 6, 2011

a small glimpse

You will have to be patient with me as I learn this new world of blogging.  My desire is to use this blog to show you what the Lord is doing in Togo, West Africa.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we fail to see the great things God is doing all over the world through missions.  That being said, I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about computers!  So, with the Lord's help, I hope this blog shows you just a small glimpse of our journey!

I wanted to post a few pictures of Togo just to give you an idea of where we will be going and what we will be doing.  These pictures are from our time in Togo from 2005 to 2007.

John with some of the children at the weekly Kids Club Bible Study

John & Bawa, a converted Muslim who speaks 5 tribal languages and has a burden to reach his own people for Christ!

One of the highlights of my time in Togo was this Bible study with some of the blind girls at the Center of Light Blind School. Madame Comfort translated from English to Ewe (the girls tribal langauge) and was a wonderful help to me!

John doing one of his weekly Bible Studies with some of the workers at the Blind Center.

The nursing students I was able to help train.

The young man's name was Soudji. He has such a joyful spirit and loved leading music for one of the local churches. Soudji always brought a smile to my face and was an encouragement to his fellow nursing students.

John and me working in the of the only air conditioned places on the hospital compound! I usually worked in the wards, which were not AC'd so working in the OR was a huge treat for me!

Hope you enjoyed seeing a few pictures. I will try to post some pics of the landscape soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How it all began....

Our first trip to Togo, West Africa was in 2001 while we were both still in college.  John and I went on on 2 week mission trip with a group of student nurses to visit Hopital Baptiste Biblique in the village of Tsiko.  At that time, John and were just really good friends, but the Lord put a love for the Togolese in both our hearts.  Just 2 years later, we would marry and begin preparations to return to Togo to serve a 2 year term (2005 -2007) working in the hospital,teaching in the nursing program, and leading Bible studies.

While there, the Lord continued to work in our hearts and cultivate a desire to serve Him through medical missions.  We returned home in 2007 with plans for John to attend school to become a Nurse Practitioner so that we could return to Togo to further be used of God. 

After returning home,  I struggled with going back to Togo.   In 2007, the Lord blessed us with our second daughter and then a third child, a son in 2009.  I did not have a peace about going back.   One side of my heart wanted to return to Togo, but the other side said, "No!!  You can't take small children to a village in Africa!!".  After much prayer, the Lord settled my heart and gave me (the mommy) the peace of God.  Am I scared?  Yes!  Am I nervous? Yes!  Do I lie awake at night thinking about taking 3 small children to Africa?  Yes!  But I know that God is faithful and His peace will sustain!

So here we are, preparing to go back to Togo for another 2 year term.  John has 3 semesters of his MSN program left and Lord willing he will graduate in August of 2012.  We are starting the process of raising both financial and prayer support.  We can not do this alone!  Right now, the task of raising such a large amount of money seems daunting, but we are claiming this promise.
         "Faithhful is He that calleth you, who will also do it ."       
                            It is not us, but God who will accomplish this great challenge!

My family

My family