What’s In a Name?

Most American names are difficult for African nationals to pronounce. Therefore,  on my first visit to Africa, Hamsetu christened me with the African name of Waseela. My sister was given the name Miriama which might be considered a version of the name “Mary” and another teammate was called Nadia or “delicate.” When I asked the meaning of Waseela, I was told it was a common name for a servant. My posture became rigid. “Servant?” I questioned. And she nodded.

Hamsetue

Later that evening, we were having dinner at the home of our host missionaries, and I met a kind man helping in the kitchen. His name is Hama. The missionaries we were visiting don’t have a household of servants, but there is desperate poverty, and they do their best to help others by giving them work. Hama’s face brightened when I said, “My name is Waseela.”

Hama clapped his hands together. “My sister’s name is Waseela.”

It shames me to tell you of my prideful heart. I was offended because I’d been given a common name for servants. Shame on me. Perhaps a better name would have been “Arrogant Ostrich.”

Through the week of working with children, God removed a few scales from my eyes as I played with children and cleaned their beautiful faces. One little girl, in particular, touched my heart. Her name is Nafeesa. If she said “Waseela” once, she said it a thousand times.

I had taken fingernail polish to paint the little girls’ nails in VBS. What I hadn’t realized is that nail polish won’t stick to dirty nails. Being the germaphobe I am, I’d carried an excess of hand sanitizing wipes. As I cleaned Nafeesa’s rough hands and calloused feet, I was reminded of Jesus cleaning the feet of his disciples. “Father, forgive me,” I prayed. I painted her nails a bright shade of orange, and the look of joy on her face will stay with me forever.

I believe one of the reasons God has burdened me to return to Africa time and again, is so that he can complete the work that’s necessary to change my prideful heart. At least He’s helped me understand that Hamsetu honored me when she called me, “Servant.” Please pray that I can live up to my African name in the coming days. My name is a Waseela, and I am a servant of the Lord.

#Africanmissions #Nigermissions

 

 

Do Your Own Thing

This weekend my community hosted our annual Garden Spot 5K walk/run. What I love most about this event is that I see many people I know, but with whom I rarely cross paths. It’s a time of fellowship and fun.

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I walk most days with my dogs, but I rarely push myself, so I knew winning was unlikely. But when the starting horn blared, my competitive nature kicked in, and I was in it to win it! At least for my age category.

When I crossed the first mile-marker, my head was up, and I was pushing forward, with everything I had, knowing that no one in my age bracket was ahead of me. Then an old schoolmate, Jane, passed me. I was huffing, but and Jane was smooth and in the groove. She was barely sweating. I called out to her, but she couldn’t hear me because she was listening to music. In fact, she couldn’t see me. She was focused on the road.

As the gap between us lengthened, I slowly deflated. I finished the race in good time, but I didn’t push myself after Jane passed me. After the race, my husband patted me on the back and said, “You finished great. You still had gas in the tank.”

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As I considered what he said, I was disappointed in myself. Not because I didn’t win. But because I didn’t do my best. I’d forgotten something important — to run my own race. Comparison is crippling.

I congratulated Jane for placing third and teased her about passing me. She was a gracious winner and said, “This morning, Mickey told me, ‘You’ve got this! Do your own thing.’” Mickey, Jane’s husband, gave her good advice.

Maybe next year, if God continues to bless me with the ability and health to be in the race, I’ll remember Mickey’s words. Perhaps, when I cross the finish line, no matter where I place, I’ll feel good because I’ve done my best.

Comparison is crippling. “Do your own thing.” Push yourself to do your best, and you can have a smile as bright as Jane’s.

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#doyourownthing, #runyourownrace, #doyourbest

The Benefits of Being Covered by Prayer

As I count down the final days before my mission trip to Africa, one might think I would be nervous. After all, earlier I started having panic attacks. I am definitely outside my comfort zone with this adventure for many reasons. Travelling in a huge truck over rough terrain is daunting. If it rains, the roads will become muddy. We are going to be camping. Many of the people we will meet have never seen a white person. The food will be unfamiliar. It is impossible for me to control the sanitation of the water or the food that will be packed for us. There are countless other things that have caused me to lose sleep. But I’m now in the period that I like to call “the period of prayer.” I feel confident, excited, and hopeful. And I know this is not because of my faith. It’s because of you and your prayers. Many of you have already started praying for us, and I am grateful.

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Some of the ways God has answered your prayers this week is by providing VBS material featuring people of Africa that included language written in Swahili. I’m a librarian with skilled researchers available, but I came up short. I’d given up and was resigned to using a children’s Bible written for children of color. On Monday evening, my sister reconnected with a friend who has travelled on many mission trips to Tanzania. She discover he had the material we needed. Lifeway discontinued a line of posters featuring people of Africa. However, they gave him the material in PDF format with permission to reproduce it for mission work in Africa. Talk about a needle in a haystack? The material is being printed on laminated posters for the team “Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!” Psalm 126:3

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Another resource God provided this week was language help. Our library recently subscribed to a service called Mango Languages. While reviewing the tutorial yesterday, I discovered it includes Swahili, and there’s an Ap. for my phone. I had a sheet of common greetings, but I wondered about the pronunciation.

I serve a God, who meets my every need. Thank you prayer warriors. God has answered your prayers. Please keep praying for our team. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive it, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22

Three Words

I’ve been working on my “Brand” and let me tell you, this is not an easy assignment. The task is to identify three words that will distinguish my writing from other writers. Three words or less that will give my audience an impression or expectation of how my stories will meet their needs.

Brand Branding Marketing Commercial Name Concept

This exercise prompted me to consider my mission. What do I want to accomplish through my writing? Who is my target audience? How will the reader benefit? What expectations have my readers already formed?

I write because I want to share God’s plan for salvation with sensitivity and grace, in a friendly, non-threatening manner. It’s my desire that everyone have hope because they have Christ.

I want my readers to feel as if they’ve spent time with friends.

Two girls are enjoying living room.

The setting for my stories will always be a rural community in the South because that’s what I know.

Coffee table with teacups and tasty pie in garden

What three words would you use to describe my stories and blogs? Why do you read my blog? What is your expectation?

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I’m anxious to see your opinions.

Until I post again,

Shelia

 

Do You Have a Super Power?

As we approach the leave date for our mission trip to Kenya, there are countless small details to nail down. On top of that, summer is the busiest season in the library where I work. Also, my agent is waiting for my polished proposal. I’m sure you too have countless tasks waiting for your attention. It seems we all lead busy lives.

The other night I tossed and turned as I mentally worked through my “To Do” list. Lord, Help me! I prayed.

On Thursday morning, I dressed in my super librarian t-shirt, added my boots and cape and couldn’t help but laugh at myself. As I considered how I’d started my day, I discovered the root of my problem, and it’s not that I have too many things to accomplish. My normal routine is to start the day in prayer and Bible study. But I’ve been skipping my “Daily Bread” and launching head-first into my writing work.

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When will I ever learn? “I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

I’m back to my normal routine of starting the day in His word, and the result is that I feel powerful. I feel like “I can do All things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.

Put God first and fill yourself with His “Super Power” and you can accomplish His will. And that is all that’s  important. Not my will, but His will be done.

 

Footsteps and Fingerprints

Allen County’s citizens celebrated their bicentennial this week, and I was honored to serve on the Scottsville Rotary Club’s time capsule committee. The container will be opened on July 3, 2065. I walked the streets of Scottsville and snapped pictures of people working in local businesses. It’s easy to forget that we are living history every day and leaving footprints.

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I can’t help but wonder if anyone will remember me when the container is opened. What will be the evidence of a life well lived?

Will the children who visit our library have a fond memory of Mrs. Shelia? If they do, I hope it is a sweet memory of discovering a lifelong love of reading. Perhaps one of them will be the library director.

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Will the children who attend my church remember me? Is it too much to dream that one of these children will develop a passion for African missions? Maybe Niger will be considered a Christian nation in fifty years.

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Last week I wrote about Camp Habitat’s five-year anniversary. Wouldn’t it be something if Camp Habitat has spread throughout the nation in fifty years?

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Fifty years will pass in the blink of any eye. I am thankful for the reminder to consider the opportunities God has given me to leave fingerprints on the lives I touch today.

“So then neither the one who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against these things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23.

 

 

Do Something

I’ve spent the week working as a crew chief at a Christian youth service camp, Camp Habitat. A coworker asked me, “Are you ever going to do nothing?” My off the cuff reply was, “I’m looking forward to that day.” But I immediately regretted my thoughtless remark because I know that if I’m doing nothing, it will be because I am physically unable. I am thankful for my health and ability to serve.

Many people have disabilities and feel they can’t help. But the volunteers at Camp Habitat proved that most of us can do something. Two members of our Camp Operations staff were on oxygen, and another two have physical disabilities that require them to use a walker. In the weeks leading up to Camp Habitat, they made phone calls to recruit volunteers, solicited donations, and assembled first aid kits. During the camp, they monitored who entered and exited the building and gave minor first aid. If we arrived at a job site and needed additional supplies, all we had to do was call Camp Ops., and they would send someone with the requested item(s).

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I learned that one of our crew chiefs had to take the morning off for a dialysis appointment. Roy doesn’t make a big deal about his condition. When I asked him about his condition, he said, “When I was diagnosed with this illness, I was given a life sentence, not a death sentence. I decided to live my life each day to the best of my ability.” I appreciate Roy giving me permission to share his comments with you. In the picture below, Roy is the gentleman standing in the back wearing the green t-shirt. He and his crew repaired the steps for this homeowner.

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I pray I can appreciate each day, regardless of my circumstances, with the grace that Roy demonstrates daily. Anyone who spends any amount of time with Roy will see that Jesus Christ lives in his heart.

I’ve served with Camp Habitat for the past five years with each of the volunteers below and hope to be able to continue this activity. At the age of fifty-four, I was the youngest crew chief. I was blessed to be able to serve with Roy and other senior adults who could be home enjoying retirement and doing nothing. Instead, they’ve seen the value of living life to the best of their ability and serving others.

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Camp Habitat has a different theme each year and this year’s the motto was, Do Something. And the kids and volunteers lived up to the motto. There were eight crews comprised of four teens and one adult leader. We worked on projects such as painting, cleaning gutters, trimming shrubs, cleaning aluminum siding, caulking windows, building handrails, repairing steps, and washing windows. These eight crews worked on thirty-five home sites in our community and completed seventy-eight projects. The most important thing we did for each homeowner was to pray with them, and many of them prayed for us. I received blessings and more blessings.

I am thankful for the health and ability to participate in Camp Habitat. The homeowners were a joy to meet, the youth gave me hope for the future of our community, and the other volunteers inspired me to serve to the best of my ability. Each of us has a gift to offer, but if we don’t use our talents, sometimes we lose them. Please don’t squander your gifts. Look around and seek opportunities to “do something,” and you will be blessed.

#camphabitat #habitatforhumanity

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Be An Answer to Prayer

This week I’ll be working as a crew chief at a Christian youth service camp, Camp Habitat. http://hfh-ky-simp.huterra.com/content/camp-habitat.

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I am thankful to have been a part of Camp Habitat from the very beginning, five years ago. God inspired my sister to dream of Camp Habitat after she spent a week with World Changers. http://www.lifeway.com/worldchangers/.

The major difference between Camp Habitat and World Changers is that the youth don’t travel to distant communities to work on projects. Instead, they camp at our local high school campus.

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I’ll never forget the first elderly couple my crew served five years ago. We cleaned gutters and scrubbed the white vinyl siding on their home. As we loaded our equipment to leave, I looked at my ‘to do’ list and realized I hadn’t prayed with them. As we gathered to pray, the homeowner asked me if he could pray for us first. I’ll never forget the first words of his prayer. Thank you, Father, for answered prayer. I don’t know if I’d ever been an answer to someone’s prayer.

Please pray for me this week. Pray that that the youth will see the hands of Jesus in me. Pray that I will be physically able to complete the task assigned in the heat of the day with a smile on my face. Pray that I will have patience with unskilled workers. Pray God will protect each volunteer and their families. Pray that those who do not know Jesus will come to know him and accept Him into their hearts.

My prayer for you this week is that God will allow you will be an answer to someone’s prayer.

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“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James: 2:18

“Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” James 2:20

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#camphabitat #habitatforhumanity #missions #dosomething #answertoprayer

 

 

 

 

Can I Trust Jesus with Bertie?

 

It’s been a week of peaks and valleys, and it’s only Thursday. We closed our VBS service last night on a high note, and then I returned home to find out my beloved Bertie is missing. Bertie showed up on our doorstep three years ago, flea infested, and severely malnourished. I posted flyers in our community, but no one claimed him. After an expensive treatment by the Veterinarian and weeks of tender care, Bertie turned into a beautiful little fur ball.

 

Bertie

Last August, my husband was working the garden, and Bertie wandered to a neighbor’s house about a mile down the road. That was the first place I visited last night. They hadn’t seen the little rascal, but they were kind enough to call other neighbors and travel down our road on their four-wheeler. I am thankful for good neighbors.

I’ve posted a notice on Facebook, and we are distributing flyers. That’s all I can do. As I was trying to go to sleep last night, I remembered my closing comments to the children at VBS. I reminded them that sometimes our lives get chaotic, and we face challenges, but we have to trust Jesus with everything, no matter what.

So now it’s time to “walk the talk.” I’m going to trust Jesus with Bertie. I’ve asked God to watch over my little dog. It’s a mystery to me, but not to Him. If someone took Bertie, I pray that the Lord will convict their heart to return him. If Bertie has wandered off, I pray that he will find his way home. Maybe there’s someone who needs Bertie more than I. If something terrible happened to him, I believe that all dogs go to heaven.

I wonder if this is how God feels, bruised and hurting, when we wander from the fold.  I’m sorry for the times I’ve let Him down. I’m thankful that God sent his Son, Jesus, to save me from my sins. I trust Jesus with everything, and I hope you do too.

 

 

Thank you Prayer Warriors

Thank you to those who prayed for me last month. A staff member commented that she’d noticed a difference in my behavior within the last two weeks. It was almost as if I didn’t have a care in the world when she knew I had many issues calling for my attention.

I felt overwhelmed on the last day of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers’ Conference. A very successful Kentucky author, Ann Gabhart, placed her hand on my shoulder and said, “Be still.” I am grateful for her wise words. In my frantic pace, I hadn’t taken the time to read my Bible and pray that morning. I felt foolish because I know that if I turn my worries over to God,  I can face the day with grace.

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While at the writers’ conference last month, I signed a contract with Books and Such Literary Agency. Mary Keeley is my literary agent. For someone who started taking writing seriously only three years ago, this is a miracle. Two years ago, Mary saw something she liked in my work, and she took the time to suggest changes in the manuscript when she could have simply said, “No Thank you.” I listened to Mary’s advice and put in countless hours to improve my writing. The road to publication is long, but signing with Books & Such Literary Agency is a major accomplishment and I am grateful.

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Thanks to the support of my church family, our Kenya mission team raised the funds we need for our trip. Thanks to the Friends of the Library, we had a successful used book sale. Thanks to my library staff, we had a successful petition drive to collect the signatures of 3,867 voters. God has blessed me with wonderful resources. He answered your prayers for me.

I’m not the only one who has busy days, and I feel a little selfish calling on my prayer warriors when there are so many who are facing more difficult situations. My struggles have been nothing compared to the storms friends have faced.

  • An old high school friend with whom I only see on Facebook lost her husband last month.
  • Another classmate lost his battle with cancer.
  • A friend suffered a stroke and spent her last days at a hospice.
  • A storm hit during Relay for Life, and a volunteer suffered a broken hip.
  • A young man from Haiti faced a second surgery yesterday at Vanderbilt. A volunteer from my community has worked tirelessly to arrange free treatment for Remulson.

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Please keep my friends and their families in your prayers.

Sometimes we face seasons of storms, and we feel overwhelmed. If you are experiencing stress, I urge you to follow Ann’s advice. “Be still,” and pray the prayer that never fails. “Thy will be done.”

 

#answeredprayers #thankyouprayerwarriors #bestill