My wife lived in Ghana for a year before we met. She has some great photos and had some pretty unique experiences living without most of the modern conveniences we take for granted. She did without things like electricity and running water.* She has a pendant she bought there that she wears on a necklace. It is cut in the shape of the Adinkra symbol Gye Nyame. It means “except God” and represents the supremacy of God.
We’ve been married for over 11 years now, and I’ve always imagined that this was a local symbol peculiar to the village or region where she was living. Then last week I was looking at African Tees and saw it on a shirt. I did some digging, found the links I’ve put above, and others. I just started googling and following the links and it was a great time.** There are a quite a few Adinkra symbols and they have some great meanings. One that I found to be especially interesting is Funtunfunefu-Denkyemfunefu, Siamese crocodiles.
Siamese crocodiles have two heads, as shown in the symbol, but one stomach. It is in their best interest to cooperate yet they fight over food. This symbol represents the importance of democracy and unity in diversity. What an incredible picture of a concept that so few really grasp. That it comes out of Africa speaks volumes, in my mind, to the fact that even when humans can clearly see the right path, we are incapable of walking it on our own.

And of course on a smaller scale it makes me think about the Church and Christians. We are a diverse group, spread all over the world, called to one purpose. Yet often our greatest levels of conflict are with one another. This in the face of the fact that we are commanded to do the opposite and have been given the Holy Spirit to assist us in that regard. It seems in times of conflict and strife with one another that this ought to be a key indicator that has us stop and search our hearts and motives. Are we walking in the Spirit or in the flesh?

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
Ephesians 4:1-6(NLT)

Footnotes below the jump.
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Merry Christmas!

We pray that your Christmas is as wonderful and blessed.

Here at the Peck house we were up early, our bed surrounded by eager children. They were apparently completely unaware of the fact that it was still dark out and much too early. But there was no going back to sleep for that crew, and so no chance for us as well.

Last night we attended a wonderful service at church and came home to light the last candle of our advent wreath. We read together about what Christmas means. I’ll leave you with that.

“3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:3-11

The Two Crying Women

I had one of those mornings a couple weeks ago, the kind of morning where I woke up a bit late, the kids were running late, it took Rachel forever to eat her cereal, I was late getting my morning coffee, but finally, Rachel made it to safety patrol for the school and I got in the van to drive Eddie and Hannah to school.  As I was driving, I was pretty cranky, but managed not to yell at the kids which is a miracle in itself.  In my head I was throwing a pretty good pity party.  Fortunately, there were no crazy people in the car loop honking horns or taking forever to make the left into the school.  I dropped Eddie and Hannah off at the front of the school and as I was driving slowly in line leaving the school, that’s when I saw this first mom.

Lately, I have recalled the face frequently in my mind.  The cheeks on her face were red and splotched as tears spilled down her face.  Her hair was thrown back in a quick pony tail with hair coming out of it in many directions.  Three kids were in her car, two little ones in the back and one that was dressed for school.  She wiped her face several times as it was evident she was trying to put herself together.  Fortunately, she never noticed my stupid stare in the few seconds her image imprinted itself in my brain.  The child in the front seat had brown eyes and was staring openly at his mother with a face filled with concern.  I had never seen her before and I’m not sure if I will again.  I have been there before, in her situation.  The times where you are overwhelmed and the tears are hard to control.  My heart was filled with empathy.  After seeing her and then driving by her, my pity party vanished as I realized how good I have it.

That same night, my kids and I were riding bikes through the neighborhood delivering invitations to our neighbors for a cookie exchange we were having in our neighborhood.  As we rode our bikes by a particular townhome, a women stepped out holding a small child, most likely under the age of one.  We were a bit of a distance away from her, so we crossed the street and rode our bikes up to her.  The kids stayed on their bikes, and I got off of mine so I could give her the invitation.  As I approached it, I saw the tears on her face as well.  Tears were actually on her eyelashes and she quickly wiped her face as I drew nearer.  I invited her to the event and talked with her a bit.  She is new to the neighborhood and speaks excellent English, but profusely explains how she needs to learn English, when I don’t know but about 12 phrases in Spanish.  She explained to me her loneliness for others.

These 2 women in my mind represent so many people in our society that perhaps go unnoticed, but yet, they are hurting.  JR constantly reminds me, “People’s lives are usually worse than what we can imagine”  I’m not really sure why I am sharing this.  You see, I am reading this book called The Reason For God and I am so impressed at the authors ability to tell us, quote is mine because it’s how I interpret it “Hey, we’re all screwed up – the only goodness we get is simply an act of God’s grace – don’t think you are better than you are, don’t judge people, love them, be there for them, help them, reach out to them.  Don’t ignore them.”  So, I think of these 2 women.  I met the one woman, because she did come to the cookie exchange.  Join me in prayer for both of them.