Dorothy has been diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH - a rare and serious lung disease) and most likely has Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease (PVOD - an extremely rare lung disease with no known treatment and doing a lung biopsy to confirm PVOD is dangerous to someone with PAH). Dorothy is on oxygen at all times and is unable to walk more than short distances. The Hazards are working with a specialist care center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. There are no plans for them to return to Africa or take on other overseas appointments for now.
Dwight is using his gifts and skills to minister in the SIM USA Office. He has joined the Information Systems group to assist in the setup of SIM USA's internal intranet, training returning missionaries in the risks and proper care in dealing with e-mail and Internet risks, documentation of policies and procedures and other duties while Dorothy's ongoing medical needs are being addressed. They are still on missionary support with SIM and plan to continue to minister through SIM as the Lord leads.
Our recent update:
AN INVITATION FOR ME, FOR YOU (2020-08-09)
I know I just wrote a few days ago, but I am compelled to share this with you!
I came to the end of my study of the book of Isaiah yesterday. I wasn’t looking forward to the end because I have really enjoyed this book. I felt like God was inviting me into His presence in almost every chapter. I could hear the longing of His heart to have a relationship with His people. Yes, it is also a book of judgment, and that judgment is real and is coming, but only for those that will not accept His invitation.
When I finish studying a book, I try to come up with a title that mean something to me, that will help me remember what I read, but more so, what God was saying to me. If you would like to see my list so far, just let me know! When I was about half way through Isaiah, I really thought my title would be ‘Justice and Righteousness.’ In fact, I had even written that at the end of the book before I finished it. I write my title in the front of the Bible, but also keep track of them in OneNote (my favorite computer program!).
But, then I knew that what I had written was not right. Yes, Isaiah is about justice and righteousness, but for me the heartbeat of the book was God’s invitation to COME! So, I erased what I had written, cut what I had typed and replaced it with just that one powerful and precious word, “COME!” (And if my daughter didn’t give me such a hard time about using two exclamation points, I would have put two instead of one!) I knew I had nailed the title of this book, what it meant to me.
Then I read Matthew Henry’s commentary on Isaiah 66. These were his final words on this book, “Come, ye blessed of my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” My heart sang. It was like hearing my Lord say, “Yes, that’s it! Come!!” (Sorry, Beka!)
But this doesn’t end here. As you know by what I wrote just a few days ago, I am studying the book of Esther with a friend. Fridays, we read Matthew Henry, and this is what he said about Esther 5: “She was not called, but we are. The Spirit says, ‘Come!’ and the Bride says, “Come!’
I tell you, my heart sang and my spirit soared at God’s goodness to me in revealing His Word!!
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.
CURTAINS UP! (2020-08-07)
From an early age, my parents fostered in me a love of theater. Minneapolis, Minnesota was a great place with the Peppermint Tent along the Mississippi, the Guthrie, Chanhassen Dinner Theater and other smaller theaters. When we lived overseas, I was able to be involved with school plays when our kids were in high school in Nigeria. I loved picking fabric for costumes and keeping things organized backstage. I love theater so much I dream about being able to work backstage in heaven!
Which leads me to the book of Esther. Just wait. . . I’ll connect it! I have used this book numerous times when teaching someone a Bible study method which involves using different colors for God, God’s people, God’s enemies (they are either one or the other!), time, place, object, action, connecting word and key verse. A friend wanted to learn this method and so I offered to do this book with her. I have to confess, when I first offered I was wondering what God would show me that He had not already showed me, but I prayed and knew He would be faithful. After all, His Word is alive!
I use this book for a couple of reasons. First, while the book never mentions God, not even once, every paragraph points to God sovereignty. Reading Esther makes me more and more aware of God’s sovereignty in my life and in my world. Second, this book is so very readable. It has drama, a good guy, a bad guy, a heroine. It has a definite beginning, conflict and resolution. In fact, this could almost read like the grandfather telling his grandson about the Princess Bride as he is about to read it him.
My friend and I decided to take the marking a bit slower. We only did two different colors each day, taking 5 days to do a chapter. It is HARD to make comments only based on the categories of the day – only the people one day, only time and places the second day, etc. But, it is so worth it.
I just have to share a few things. This book could so easily be a play. It has very few characters, but each one has been very well developed, so casting would be easy. Next, a crew could build the set with the details given. I can almost hear the prop master say, “Put those golden goblets there!” or “No, that isn’t the right color curtains!” And what fun to create the golden scepter. And it is almost like there are director’s cues given. I can hear him yelling, “Esther, enter, stage left!” “King, sit a little higher on your throne!” “Haman, look thoroughly disgusted!” “Mordecai, walk back and forth with purpose!”
While all those details are clear in my mind, God has shown me something just as clear, but a whole lot more important. In all my readings of Esther, I have never been led to drawing parallels between King Xerxes and King Jesus. But from chapter 1 through 5 (as far as we are as of today), the contrast seem blaringly obvious to me.
‘In the king’s presence’ is a recurring statement. It is a huge privilege and one coming into his presence without permission may be killed. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Hebrews 4.16 tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” And Jesus doesn’t hold a golden scepter out to us; He holds His hand out for us to grab!
Banquets are another recurring event. Here I found some similarities as well as contrasts. The food at the banquet was provided by the one giving the banquet to those invited – the king, Queen Vashti, Queen Esther. Our King will provide the food at the banquet for those He invites. But, unlike King Xerxes banquet, we will feast and drink in a manner that brings glory to our King. One had to be dressed appropriately to come to the banquet. Our King will dress us in robes of righteousness.
When the virgins were prepared to go into the king’s presence (there’s that phrase again), they were prepared for a whole year with all kinds of expensive perfumes and such and dressed in fine garments. Our King calls us and we can go immediately, just as we are. He is the One Who provides all we need.
Oh, there are so many more, but I think I will quit here. Maybe I have piqued your interest to go to the Bible and read God’s story of Esther. But remember, this isn’t just theater, it is history!
Exiting, stage right.
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good!
PUZZLES AND LIFE (2020-07-13)
I love doing jigsaw puzzles and apparently so do many others, if the empty shelves in stores and ‘SOLD OUT’ notice on websites are any indication! Dwight and I picked out this puzzle while at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the Outer Banks a few weeks ago. Yes, it is very cool, but it is also deceptively hard!
As I was working on the puzzle with varying degrees of frustration and success, I thought about the ways jigsaw puzzles are like my life and ways in which they are not. First, let me talk about similarities.
1. There is a whole bunch of pieces that seem overwhelming when looking at them as I dump them out of the box. It takes time to sort through them, turning them picture side up, finding edge pieces and generally trying to make some sense out of them. Life can seem like that as well. Just a whole lot of pieces that are overwhelming. Covid 19. Taxes. Poor health. Family member’s struggles. Friend’s problems.
2. When the pieces are sorted, and I start to put them in place, I usually start with the border. This border was difficult as there were really multiple borders. Just one border had the straight edges. I found myself just laying all the straight edges out and trying one after the other in order to find THE one that fit. It was very slow going. I can so easily think my life is very slow going. Not having a lot of energy, it takes me so much longer to accomplish a task. It very much feels like I try one strategy and then another, looking for THE one that works.
3. When there is a sea of pieces, it is hard to pick out the ones I am looking for. Note the blue and white of the borders. It took me a long time to realize that the outer border actually had a solid inner border. Once I figured that out, I was able to figure out which pieces attached to the outer border and which ones were the inner border. I need to take more time in my life to look for distinguishing characteristics which make it easier. For instance, I was watching a lot of murder mysteries. One of my favorite types of TV, but I finally realize that watching so many of them was skewing my thoughts. So, I switched to Little House on the Prairie. I am so enjoying watching a show that holds up truth and integrity and the Bible. My outlook is better because I have figured out my borders.
4. I can get a bit overwhelmed in putting a puzzle together. I KNOW it will come together, but it just doesn’t seem like it will happen any time soon. All the green pieces looked the same. All the sky looked the same. But, as I started to work on sections, I realized that there were so many variations in the pattern and colors within the green, making it easier. It was also easier when Dwight finished lighthouses and put them in place. Both of these things are about observation and getting perspective. Right now, I could easily focus on all the problems and how things don’t seem like they are ever going to improve, but instead I need to focus on God’s word and what He promises. I KNOW He is in control. The second point with this is that I just needed to start working. That is how I need to tackle tasks in life. Just start.
5. There is so much joy when you finish a particular section and even that joy is eclipsed by the joy of putting the last piece in place. I get great joy when I finish a task that God has given me. How much more joy will I have when I am standing, kneeling or falling on my face in His presence.
OK, now some big differences.
1. I choose what puzzles I will buy and put together. I choose the picture, the degree of difficulty and the number of pieces. I don’t get to choose my life. I don’t get to choose the individual pieces, nor do I get to choose the finished picture. But, I can trust the One that does.
2. When I finish a puzzle, it is left on the table for a day or so and then it is all taken apart, put back in the box, ready to do again another time. My life will never be taken apart. I don’t get to do the same thing again and again. Instead, I have to choose to live each hour of each day in the presence of God, under the authority of God and to the glory of God.
I recently read Isaiah 52.12, “For the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” What a promise. No matter what my pieces. No matter the degree of difficulty, He goes before me and He has my back!
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.