Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Fruitful Vine

Psalm 128:3 
"Thy wife shall be as 
a fruitful vine by the sides 
of thine house:"

A vine makes any building look beautiful.  Here in Thailand, I often see corrugated tin shacks that are completely covered with beautiful blooming vines.  Some pink, some white, some mauve, but all beautiful and sweetly scented.  Sometimes it's a cucumber vine or a bitter gourd vine.  I also see grand houses with bougainvillea crawling up the house in grand bursts of fuchsia and white.

No matter how grand or lowly the house, a beautiful vine makes an improvement.  A vine changes our perception of the building.  A vine covers imperfections.

What a beautiful picture of marriage.  My husband is the building - my life, the vine.  We have the opportunity as wives to beautify the lives and ministries of our husbands.  No matter how grand or lowly the man, we can be a help and a blessing to him.  No man is perfect, but we can help balance out and beautify those imperfections.  I'm not saying that we join in sin with our husbands as Sapphira did.  She became a partaker in sin while trying to cover it up.  I'm saying that we should be our husband's best friend and do our best to make him look good.  And let's face it - we do change people's perception of our husbands - either for the better or for the worse.  Now that reminds me of some promises that we all as wives have made .....

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Facing the Critics

Last month, I posted about Toppling the Pedestal.  What about when there is no pedestal?  What about the times when our critics are numerous and we feel like no matter what we do or say, it will be wrong?  We’ve all been there at one time or another.  These times can be especially painful for those of us who are in ministry. 

We give so much of ourselves to others.  We know we are not perfect, but sometimes the people that we serve expect us to be.  We know that we didn’t do what we are accused of doing. We know we didn’t say what we are accused of saying.  For those of us on foreign fields, we have literally “left all” to serve these people and at times the appreciation that we might long for just isn’t there.  

What do you do during these times?  In 1 Samuel 30 David faced this kind of a situation.  We are told that David “encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” There are several things we can do to encourage ourselves in the Lord during these times.

1.    Get our eyes off of the offense, accusation or sacrifices we are making and get them back on the Lord.  Last year, I was reminded by a retreat speaker that we serve an audience of One. God knows our heart.  He knows what our motivations are.  He knows what we did or what we said.  He is acquainted with all our ways. (Psalm 139)  In the grand scheme of things, this is what really matters. 

2.    This is the time to spend extra moments with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. Some of the most precious times I have had with the Lord have been during times of facing critics.  I remember several years ago going through a particularly difficult time.  The Lord gave me Psalm 31:19, 20.  “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.”  I have clung to these verses so many times since then.  When I am spending time in His presence, the harsh words, misunderstandings and false accusations seem to fade from view. 

3.    Guard against bitterness.  Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”  Bitterness can affect a whole family, ministry and beyond.  One thing the Lord has been teaching me is that it can affect so many areas of my life and health.  At the previous mentioned retreat, the speaker quoted someone that defined bitterness as “drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” That has stuck with me over the last several months.  I pray regularly that the Lord will help me choose not to drink the poison!!

4.    Remember the “Blessed.”  I have been spending some time in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 recently.  There is so much comfortencouragement, and conviction there.  I fall short in so many ways, but then I come to verses 11 and 12.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”  I know that I can’t compare myself to the prophets of old.  I haven’t endured anything even close to what many of them endured.  I can’t help but wonder if some of the things spoken against me falsely as I am trying my best to serve falls into this category.  If so, I am to rejoice and be exceeding glad because my reward is in heaven!!  That’s definitely something to encourage any heart!!

It is my prayer that these simple reminders will be a help to you as you face your critics. There will surely be some at some point in your ministry life.  May we each “turn [our] eyes upon Jesus” and “look full in His wonderful face.”  It is then that “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Taro Four Different Ways - With Video

Taro grows in tropical climates. It’s a root, with leaves like huge elephant ears.
Most of the time the people here, in Papua New Guinea, just boil taro root. But my family isn’t a huge fan. We’ve experimented, and experimented, and experimented. With the help of my brothers’ and dad’s honest opinions and helpful input we’ve come up with four ways to make taro that we actually enjoy! 

Just some more information on taro.
If the taro has been freshly dug, the sap may sting your hands. I’m not sure why this is, but it burns. If the tarp is fresh just wear gloves. In the video, the taro I used was a couple days old. The sap had dried out a little, so it didn’t burn my hands. Another thing, taro has a sponge texture. The older it gets the more likely it’s gonna be to get moldy. If your taro has pink or green or brown spots, cut them out, if it goes pretty deep your taro is probably too old. 
If the taro does not get cooked all the way the sap may burn your mouth. Just make sure the taro is cooked through and you’ll be good to go! 

We have four different ways to cook taro in this video. 
1. Taro hash browns
2. Pita, type chips 
3. Thin chips
4. Sourdough wedges

The taro hash browns are so easy to make! Just shred the taro and cook it on a hot cast iron pan with a little bit of oil. Sprinkle taro with salt if desired. When underside has browned, flip, and let the other side brown. When both sides are browned, serve and enjoy! 
These have a slightly sweet flavor, but just barely. The texture is very similar to potatoes. 

Taro pita chips are a great alternative to pita bread chips. They are gluten free, and taste amazing! 
Just slice the taro to the shape and thickness desired. Then fry in hot oil until edges start to brown. 
Remove and serve with hummus or cream cheese or whatever you have on hand. 

Thin taro chips are a great alternative to potato chips. They have a great texture, and are firm enough to dip up French onion dip, ranch, or veggie dip. 
Using your box grater, thinly slice the taro, or if the power is on and you have an electric sliver, de that. 
Fry in hot oil until edges brown. Remove, drain, enjoy! 

Sourdough wedges are my personal favorite! We just dip the wedges in sourdough starter/batter and then fry in hot oil. The sourdough makes a nice crispy outside and has great flavor. 
I could eat those plain all day! My brother likes to smear chili paste on his. That also taste amazing! 

I hope you try some of these different ways to make taro. I’d love to hear what they call taro and how they cook it in your part of the world! 
Please comment below and let me know your thoughts! I’d love to read your ideas! If you would like a certain video, please feel free to comment below and let me know! 

Amber Wells 
Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Closer to the Source

We have been blessed thus far with two children and one on the way. It is amazing to me how different two children can be even though they have the same parents, upbringing, and looks. I mean, I know that everyone is different; but to see it in my two sons at a very young age is completely different. God is an awesome Creator!

My oldest son, Jude, is 3 years of age. He's mostly a social light, loves to play with trains, and likes to go see new places and things. He likes everything neat, clean and tidy and will avoid pain at all costs. He is extremely curious and has a bit of an engineering mind. Already he is picking up letters, in both languages, and is eager to read. However, you sit him down to a meal at the table, and he is TOTALLY disinterested. He eats to stay alive (because we make him eat, as any good parent of course) and not really for the enjoyment of it. - Unless it's ice cream!

My second son, Zachary, is not quite 2 years old. He is into everything so much that we tease we should have called him "Trouble". He goes from one "off limits" thing to the next. Yet, he has picked up language here in Georgia much better than his brother, has intense and genuine emotions, and loves to get dirty. Pain doesn't bother him. He also LOVES to eat. Though he's still having some lingering issues with food texture, he really can put food away! He already eats more than his brother, and if we get out snacks, he sidles up real close so he can sneak a bite.

When the boys go up to "Bebia's" house (a Georgian Grandma), Jude sits on the couch to watch cars or trains or some other multi-film cartoon while Zachary heads straight for the kitchen to look for any goodies left out on the table. These boys are as different as can be!

Yet to me, it is always amazing. If I get out crackers or chips, I give one to Zachary. Usually though, he's not satisfied with just one. He wants one for each hand. Then a handful. Then, he gives up trying to hold enough and attempts to climb on my lap or squeeze in next to me so that he can get to the bag of treats himself. He wants to get closer to the source.

It humbles me to watch him and reminds me of what my relationship with my Father should be. I shouldn't be satisfied with just one chapter in His Word, just one blessing that He sends, or just one service at church. I should be going for two, then a handful, then, why not? Just sit on His lap. After all, He is the source. The only way to get to the source of joy and blessings is to have a RELATIONSHIP with the Giver.

Our spiritual appetite is just like our physical one: the more we give it of something, the more it wants. If you watch a lot of television, you tend to want to watch even more. If you eat a lot of junk food, you crave more. If you prefer carrot sticks, then they're your go-to food. If you grew up with meat and potatoes at every dinner meal, chances are, you still want that meat and potatoes. Yes, we can change our appetites. We can train them, curb them, sometimes yes, force them into a new habit.

It is the same spiritually. The more we read God's Word, the more we want. The more of Jesus we have, the closer we desire to be. The more we fill our lives with choices that are pleasing to God, the easier it is to do the next time... not because the choices will be easy, but because our spirits are strong, walking in the Spirit.

So, I strive to desire to be closer. I must schedule/choose/prioritize to make time for God. Whatever it takes. Not just for one nugget of feel-good booster, but for the whole bag! Even in a busy life and amid the craziness of little ones, I must not neglect the most important Person in my life. The Source is waiting. There's so much He has in store!

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
- Anonymous -

Friday, June 8, 2018

" Come Apart"

“My family is more important to me than the Tohono O’odham people are”.  That was a statement that slipped out of my mouth as our family was returning home from Sunday morning services recently.  It had been a great service and I felt like the Lord had been glorified in all our efforts that day.  But I was tired.  Actually, mentally and physically exhausted. In our long drive home that day I had been looking at the beautiful desert before me and talking to God in my heart.  It was pure accident that what was in my head had slipped from my mind onto my tongue before I could stop it.  I know many of you can relate when I say that from the time our family began deputation to the point of this outburst, our family had been in a constant work mode.  Our days filled with conducting church services, Bible Clubs, meetings and days with no appointments filled with preparing for the ones that do.  And while I adore every O’odham person we minister to, I must admit I was starting to feel jealous of the people God called us to.  They were getting more of my family than I was.  Likewise, they were getting more of me than my family was.  It’s not a fun place to be.  

In Mark 6, Jesus sent out His disciples with many things to accomplish for the kingdom of God.  The disciples did not slack in what Christ tasked them with but worked hard in all they did.  So much so that they didn’t even take time to eat.  They had seen great things happen, but they had also seen a lot of heartache.  In returning to Jesus to share what all they had done, He saw that mentally and physically they were tired.  But instead of telling them “get back out there” or even giving them strength to carry on, Jesus declared a time to rest.  

“And He said unto them, come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Mark 6:31

My declaration that Sunday morning did startle my husband and daughter but when I clarified my meaning, they agreed, and my husband declared a time of rest!  While we didn’t have the finances to take an awesome vacation, we do have camping equipment.  A few weeks later we took a few days to go camping and not do a lot but relax, enjoy each other, worship God and create ways for taking better care of ourselves 

God has been so kind to call and supply for each of us to minister to the people we serve.  He doesn’t want us short term, He wants us for the long haul.  It is our responsibility to not only take care of our ministry equipment, the people we serve but also ourselves to see this through.  Here are a few ways we can accomplish that:

           Schedule weekly “Us” time.  Whether it’s individually or as a family, there needs to be at least one  
        day each week on the calendar that work is not allowed.  A time to recreate, reflect or rest so that we
        can renew ourselves for the next week of ministry responsibilities.

.         Maintain a healthy lifestyle.  In our fast pace schedule, you may not be eating healthy, not exercising
       and not maintaining a healthy sleep pattern.  A healthy lifestyle will help not only physically but
       mentally.  Bottom line, if your body is not taken care of it will run down and you won’t be of much
       good to your ministry. 

       Maintain individual time with God.  Days can get fast paced and fly by.  Before you know it, the  
        day is over, and you haven’t had any time with God.  Jesus shared the importance of spending time
        at His feet in Luke 10:41 “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will
        not be taken away from her.” It’s a “needed” time. Working in a ministry and not having a healthy
        relationship with God will soon lead to a premature death of your ministry. 

Let us not ever forget that God loves us as much as He loves the people He called us to.  He called us to be servants not slaves.  Our family’s time off revived us and energized us to keep going.  I pray today each of you will take time for yourselves and your family so that God can work through you for many years to come!

BY: Julie Ford
Tohono O'odham Nation