BUILDING AN ALTAR

Belo Horizonte, Brasil

1986

The living room is huge; big enough we had our daughter’s wedding in it, with over 100 guests – unforgettable as some of those guests shot off LOUD fireworks from outside the house, and others brought their own drinks to doctor the punch we were serving. (We only learned about that later. Different culture and different mores. This was not considered rude: rather, almost as a game.)

Tears during the ceremony, laughter afterward, as our guests mingled and conversed. A mixture of languages spoken: Portuguese, English, Spanish – possibly more- representing several different countries.

Our flower decorations were primarily small trees we’d cut; (the forest was about 5 miles away.)
We wired them upright in strategic places throughout the living after placing their trunks in the sand that was in buckets.  Then a few flowers were scattered throughout the room. It was simple and lovely.
The best decoration of all was the view from our verandah of the city below our mountain perch. The laughter and love that filled our home that night will never be forgotten.

 (The next day, I spent the whole day with a table knife in one hand and Bombril under my bare foot, as I went over that whole expanse of parquet floor digging out rice from between the cracks and using the Bombril to clean the floor of the food that had dropped and was then walked on. Don’t have a party serving food and throwing rice over a parquet floor!)

Then, there was the night we invited the Ice Capades skaters and crew to our home for snacks and conversation.  The show was closing unexpectedly, so that evening there were many tears and unanswered questions: but we were able to show them how much we loved them.

Bible studies, home church services – the varnished brick walls could tell many stories. However, tonight, all is quiet.  Rare.

A few moments ago, my husband left to visit some friends of his, and my children are downstairs in their rooms. Tonight, as is too common, my husband, Carlos, said some words that cut my heart before he left. He wanted to let me know he preferred the company of his other friends to mine, and his words were very clear

I am now sitting at one end of the living room, where you will find my “refuge”.

This end of the living room is separated from the rest by a large “see through” fireplace; open on both sides so the warmth fills the whole room. I love to sit here with all the lights out, the flames from the fireplace keeping me company as I look out over the lights of the city, the expanse of star-studded sky, and talk with God.

I’m sitting on a rustic sofa, made of white boards with a piece of foam rubber covered with a deep turquoise piece of material. Simple. I lean against the varnished outer brick wall, my hands around my pulled-up knees, looking out over the city and watching the flames.

I give my tears to God and sit quietly, absorbing the music coming from our improvised sound system.  The Gaither’s start singing “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all tears are gone. Because I know He holds tomorrow I can face uncertain days … because He lives …”

My heart becomes quiet as I sing the words with the Gaithers.  I will always remember this moment when, without realizing it, the “my refuge” area of our living room is transformed into an altar before the Lord where I can praise Him.  Not because everything is “right” – but, because He lives!

-Voni

Can you remember moments when the Holy Spirit helped you build an altar of praise before God?
Please share, as we learn different ways altars are built.

If you want God to laugh

Last week a friend asked: “What do you need to do to make God chuckle or laugh?”

Of course, I had no idea.

She smiled at me: “Make some plans.”

I burst into laughter.  I can certainly identify with that one!

The other day I sat down and counted how many times my plans have changed since Joe’s death.

1/ He and I planned for me to move back to Brazil to live.
 Not feasible: because of finances my first move had to be out of our apartment and into
 my daughter, Sheryl’s home. I then spent several months trying to sort things –   including my thoughts.  Only it wasn’t as simple as choosing which thoughts to keep and which ones to discard.  I discovered that things are easier to organize than thoughts. 🙂

2/ A few months later, I went to Georgia, to the welcoming home of another daughter. Lanae (– that was in September after several tries without success. Couldn’t get things sorted and packed as quickly as I’d planned Changed the tickets three times. ( Using mileage so no fees for changes.  Good thing!)  and my girls are an incredible help to me!

3/ Lanae and I – from Orlando to Natal, Brazil, to get my citizenship… mid Nov-1st part of Dec               
Only two tries to get those tickets.  20 days jam packed to get all documentation done plus other obligations. (God to teach at a couple of churches… love those people!)
Back to Orlando     

4/ At Lanae’s….one year after Joe went HOME… I’m beginning to think more clearly.                       
     

 2018 goes by in a blur.  Many tears. Much soul-searching. Part of the time with Lanae, part of the time with Sheryl  Medical exams – Sheryl and the doctor couldn’t think of more to give me … I come out of them quite well.  Weather affecting my pain level  Juggling supplements and medications.
My son-in-law is on kidney dialysis.  I need to stay longer at Sheryl’s than I’d planned.
(I was going to be in Brazil right after Easter).    Those changes of plans are rather big.

At least 4 ticket changes during the year with more mileage miles.

Now it is the end of April 2019  2 years and 2 months since Joe is gone.

I’m in Portland, unsure how much longer I’ll need to be here.
My friends in Brazil say my next arrival in Brazil can be compared to the 2nd coming of Christ.  No one knows the time nor the hour.


I’ve dealt with many questions about where I am supposed to be.
The answer at this time is: I don’t know the future.  I know where I am now.
I will be returning to Brazil when the Lord releases me from here.
While I am here, I have some things to do, even as I am learning more about teaching from a distance.     

And yes, I know that God is writing my itinerary.
Every time I try to put in the dates I want, He chuckles as He erases my handwriting and puts in the dates He has chosen.      

         “God writes straight with crooked lines.”  A Portuguese proverb

  • Voni Pottle