I’m back from the Amazon and so grateful for all of your prayers. It was an amazing trip as always. Though each trip is different I’m convinced that anytime we avail ourselves to those in need – and receive from them what we ourselves desperately lack – we are blessed. We were able to build a very large chicken coop for a village that desperately needed a sustainable food supply. And when I say “we” built a chicken coop, what I mean is that skilled people from Brazil and our team built it and I cheered them on from my hammock while sipping out of a chilled coconut. This may have happened once.
My hope is to write a book about how God has transformed my perception of the American Jungle we all navigate by visiting the one in Brazil, so I’ll save my stories for later. In the meantime, I want to highlight a couple unique opportunities for online Bible study this summer. Many of you already know that Beth Moore is taking her online community (open to anyone) through a study I wrote called Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break (details here). This begins Tues, June 26th on her blog. I love Beth’s heart and teaching so much I can barely take it, so this is an enormous blessing to me and I pray it is for you.
In other fun news (if slaying false gods is fun), I found out that Kelly Hancock from the blog Faithful Provisions will be leading her online community through my very first study called No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols (June 25-Aug 20). Kelly H. will do blog posts every Monday beginning on June 25 as well as live Facebook chats on Tuesdays. You can find more specific details here. This study is deeply personal to me since I wrote it during a difficult season of having to let go of what was taking the place of a vibrant relationship with Christ. Though quite painful (seriously kinda tough), the freedom, joy and fullness of His Presence has far exceeded anything I had to part with – there is no comparison. If you’re struggling with peace, joy or freedom, it’s possible that you’ve sold out a piece of yourself to someone or something other than Christ. If this is you, Kelly Hancock’s online group might be a help and encouragement. Regardless of your summer plans, check out her blog which has tons of practical advice on shopping, saving and budgeting. You’ll see why so many people follow her site religiously.
There are so many other studies to pick up this summer. My dear friend Lisa Harper just released a study on the book of Malachi. She happens to be one of my favorite people, and she brings me tomatoes from her garden so you can’t go wrong here. Another one of my favorites, Angela Thomas, has a great study out called Brave. Priscilla Shirer has several, most recently a study on Jonah. Tammie Head recently released her first study called Duty or Delight and I hear it’s great. Currently I’m going through Beth Moore’s study on James, and I’m loving it. There are so many to choose from. My encouragement this summer is to get into Scripture one way or another, simply because it contains words of life. And who doesn’t need some life?
Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about your summer study plans. I’d love to hear from you. Also, if any of you have any garden advice for sprawling tomatoes plants that are threatening to take over what I used to refer to as “my” backyard, please let me know.
***Ordering information for Nehemiah or No Other Gods. (If ordering the NOG study make sure you choose the one that says “study”).
I’m off to the Amazon Jungle tomorrow morning but had to post a garden progress pic before I left. (This growth is only over one month – I’m in awe on a daily basis.)
Oh, yes, you noticed the new fence. Well this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and now that I have tomatoes at stake (pun possibly intended), I decided to go for it. As you can see, I salvaged some bamboo on the side of the road and made a bean tepee – because I spent all my money on the new fence and am turning cheap. I used some of the branches growing around the old chain-link fence for another mini-trellis in the lower bed for soup beans. I also discovered some brick where my yard was torn up for the fence. This find was the perfect excuse for making another mini bed (not pictured) for another tomato plant along with purple bush beans. My friend April says I’m erring on the side of junky. My neighbors think I’m odd, and somewhat strange garden-y people are beginning to identify me as one of their own. More on this upon my return.
In the meantime, I would love your prayers as I seek to help build a garden of another sorts in a jungle village called Puru Puru. A few of you may have seen the interview from Session 4 of Nehemiah with the pastor of this village sharing about a soup kitchen he and his wife had built. A group of us will be working with Pastor and Mrs. Paiva to add onto this kitchen as well as build a sustainable chicken farm for their village. We’ll also be planting some vegetables, so I’m hoping my “vast” garden knowledge might come in handy.
More than anything, I am longing for Jesus to show Himself to us along the river this week. Please pray with me toward that end. Currently the Amazon river is at one of its highest flood points in all of recorded history. Many are starving and losing their homes. I truly wrestle with why I am able to live where I live, where gardening is more for fun than for livelihood, and where I get to put up things like privacy fences and use water that a timer turns on and off. It’s a mystery to me. One that I often don’t know what to do with.
In the meantime, I am going through Beth Moore’s study on the book of James, and I am comforted by the fact that in the first few verses James reminds us of how important the poor are to him – and should be to us. I am grateful the Bible reveals that riches are not lasting, but what we do through Christ will never fade away. Thank you for your prayers.