Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

So, we had another green cake this week. You may remember, we have had other green cakes in the past. (see this post) Tuesday of this week marked 6 months since Izzy’s surgery. This, also, meant that she has been 6 months free from infection. This is a very big deal in our house, and one wonderful gift from the Lord, that we thank him for daily. There are no words to explain the burden this has lifted from our shoulders, especially since coming back home, here, to the village. It has given us all a new lease on life.
So, as we turned the calendar on Tuesday morning, we thanked God together, and explained to Izzy how God had taken care of her over and over again. We told her of the many prayers that had been answered on her behalf. She took it all in, nodded in agreement, and then said: “Mama, I think then, we should probably bake a cake…and maybe it could be green.” (I think our daughter’s love language may be cake) So, as Danny set off to work on his lessons, I got out the pots and pans to celebrate the goodness of God to our little girl. It seemed both odd, and yet the right thing to do, to be making a cake. 
I have been challenged so much this past year by Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts.” I am also using her devotional book on the same subject right now, and I have these words pinned on the wall over my desk. 
“What initially sparks God’s anger? What is the root sin, the molten core of wickedness and godlessness…It’s right there in Romans 1. It’s not the sinfulness you’d think it’d be: It’s the thanklessness – that we do. It’s our thanklessness that first stirs the full wrath of God. The beginnings of Genesis and Romans 1 pivot on the same point: Eve’s thanklessness for all God does give, and her resentfulness of the one fruit He doesn’t give, this is the catalyst of the fall. Which Romans 1 confirms: “For though they knew God they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Our fall is always first a failure to give thanks. 

Mark Buchanan says “The heart of wickedness and godlessness is that: a refusal to glorify God. It’s the refusal to thank Him.”

I have a lot to ponder on each day as I read this over. I read and re-read many of the pages of these books, and I realized how far off I am from living a life of giving thanks to God. I have known verses my whole life on giving thanks, even taught on it a few times, but it is often an add  on to my prayers, the polite thing to do, it isn’t always a manner by which I live. To be aware of the presence of God, and our new life in Christ; this is the gift that everything is to be wrapped up into.  Yet, so often we get wrapped up in nothing but ourselves, and we fall empty. But gratitude; this is the very heartbeat of a soul who has been redeemed by God; a life fully alive to all His goodness.

So, this brings me to my every-day-Tuesday-morning in the jungle. And, though a cake is not really how I had planned to give thanks, it made perfect sense to our three year old. While we baked the cake together, we talked about Izzy’s time at the hospital.  She showed us her scar, again, and we thanked God for healing. Scars can remind us of so much; we chose this day to remember His Grace.  As I set the pots, and pans out on the table, my two little helpers climbed up on chairs and I arranged the bowls around them. We were nearly all ready, when I remembered I had to get the butter and a few other things from the next room. So, I left them at the table for just a few minutes, and when I walked back into the room, I literally stood still and just watched. 

My two little ones (as any toddlers would probably do) had turned their bowls and pots over and they were banging them with the wooden spoons for all they were worth. Judah was singing at the top of his lungs, and it was all a joyful noise.
And the thought that entered my mind was this: When we give thanks for the hard things in life, God flips it around and he turns our mourning into dancing, and our sorrow into joy; but first He wants our thanks. He wants our everyday hearts to beat with the gift of Eternal Life. 

I thanked the Lord for noisy little toddlers, making chaos on my table, that can remind me of such precious truths. Baking this cake was now something so much more; it was worship to the Lord, and we gave thanks. 
The green frosting was made (and then covered with multiple toppings), we are not real fancy about cakes at our house, and so we let the Miss Izzy help decorate it. There were no cake toppings saying; “Celebrating-6-months-free-from infection” out here in the jungle, and so we chose to write, “Grateful” instead. Izzy was thrilled, and Judah was hungry, so with a few of our friends gathered around the table, we cut the cake and Danny said grace, thanking God for His.

Not long after we were all done, another friend and her little girl dropped by the house. Izzy and Joy-Joy sat and shared cake sitting at the table together, just the two of them. Her mom and the rest of us  drank our coffee and sat on the floor. It was somewhere in the middle of all the chatting and laughing that I noticed Izzy returning to the table, and she had her Children’s Bible under her arm. While the ladies continue to chat, I watched as she flicked through the book until she found the picture of Jesus on the cross.  I think I may have been holding my breath, as I listened to her little voice, telling Joy Joy, that Jesus died for us on the cross, the men hurt Him very badly, and He died because He loved us, everybody in the world. I have never heard her say these words before, in fact I often wonder if she is even listening, as I read to her and she asks random questions about the pictures; and then this moment in this day – my heart was pounding. 
Somedays it is all so clear, and we see God’s hand written all over our lives. We can give thanks in all things, and this starts an endless cycle of God’s grace. It is unending, a gift given to us, to change us, so we can pass it on, for His Name’s sake.  
And suddenly this little offering of thanks, over a green cake, doesn’t seem so small; eternity is filled with moments like these, and I don’t want to forget. 
I had to share. 
With a grateful heart,
Philippa for us all.

         Thankful for the work of the Lord in this man’s life. Our good friend Augustine got baptized on           
         Sunday.

This boy loves all things food. The messier the better. 🙂

Hot season is here, which means long afternoons inside….unless we fill buckets of water and play on the deck! Always a much better option going by this little man’s face.

I came across this picture during the week of me with Lilibeth and Augustine’s two girls. This was taken not long after we moved here to the village….and then in the photo below, here we all are today. There are so many reasons to give thanks when I look at this photo, and think of all the things God has done in our lives, during this time. These girls have been raised in a home by parents who love the Lord and are free from fear. The gospel has turned their lives upside down…and we give thanks.

          And let’s not talk about how my arms may have thickened in these 8 years!

A video of Izzy’s and Judah making a joyful noise!
                             Izzy and Joy Joy at the table. A moment that will forever be etched into my heart. 
         The view behind our house this week. It stopped us all in our tracks. God’s marvelous handiwork. 
Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

4 thoughts on “Oh, for a heart that beats with thankfulness.

  1. Dapper Dave says:

    Thank you for continuing to post to your blog, always enjoy reading it and viewing the pictures. When thinking of your reference to Romans, it made me think about how we often focus too much on falling short due to our sin, something that we can't change – our nature in this life, and we often feel not eligible to give thanks due to our sin, but your post reminded me that regardless of our sin, God still wants us to express our thankfulness for his gift(s).

    Like

  2. Deb says:

    I almost have no words! I am so humbled by your insight and perspective. Such a necessary reminder – Lord, let the “heartbeat of my soul” be gratitude.

    Like

  3. Yes Dave, so grateful for forgiveness of sins. There is no greater gift we could receive. “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the cross….” A truth that changes our lives forever.

    Like

  4. Thank you Debbie, my constant encourager. You life have spoken many words to me. Love to you today. xx

    Like

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