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May 27, 2011

A Week of Love

We started out last weekend with a trip to Vansant, VA! It was a long and curvy trip through the mountains of VA - but seeing these smiling faces made it all worth it!

Sunday was my dad's (Rock's) 50th bday - Ryleigh wore a big bow in honor (my dad completely dislikes the large bows I tend to like in my daughter's hair)

After visiting our friends, the Stark's, we came back to Richmond to find a few folks who wanted to love on Ryleigh for the rest of the week...
her Aunt Chesney
and her Lhi Lhi spent the week with us...
then her Rock showed up for the weekend!
and what's that you say?!?!
Aunt Alanna will be here tomorrow?!?!

Friday 5

1."And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."  Luke 12:11  What a precious promise from our Savior.  No matter where we are in this world, or to whom we are speaking - His words will flow from our mouths - Praise.Be.To.Him.

2. "...and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb...crying out with a loud voice,"Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"" Revelation 7:9-10  The joy that fills my heart when reading this passage - this is also a promise - it is a glimpse into the future - into the ultimate victory..."a great multitude that NO ONE could number" - seriously love :)

3. Question posed to my heart - "How many Christians are headed to hell?"  Meaning - there are a vast majority of people who will profess to be "christians", but can tell you nothing about a salvation through faith.  I cried.  11,700 people groups in the world today - 551 of those have absolutely no believers - as in not.a.single.one.  551 people groups have NO access to the gospel and of all the rest that do - there are still SO many who are headed to hell.  heart.breaking.  - it's been a emotionally heavy week.

4.  "The Soverign Lord has given men an instructed tongue to know the words that will sustain the weary.  He awakens me morning by morning, awakens my ear to listen as one being taught."  Isaiah 50:4 - the latter part of this verse has been a favorite for a while now...a prayer of mine really because I struggle so often with waking up for that daily time with my Lord - but this week, He really focused me on the first part.  He promises like He does in Luke that He will give me words.  I do not have to depend on my knowledge or vocabulary - He will instruct my tongue!!

5. Colossians 4:5 - "Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time."  The word - intentional - has been sort of a theme for my life the past few weeks.  The Lord has reminded me to be intentional in my time with Him and with my family.  All that we're learning here in VA revolves around being intentional in church planting - intentional in our walk -intentional in ministry.  The Lord just led me to this verse this afternoon.  Making the best use of time is exactly what I desire to do - to be intentional with every opportunity the Lord presents our family with...would love your prayers in this area of our lives!

May 22, 2011

Ryleigh's Week in Pictures

Saturday was my 1st plane ride!! 
It went well but ended in us needing to be rescued by Grandma and Grangran!!
Sunday, we had play time at Rock and Lhi Lhi's
Monday, was Aunt Alanna's graduation
Tuesday, I got to see my daddy - can we say daddy's girl?
Wednesday, I learned how to read :)
Thursday, Mom and Dad celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary
Friday, I found out I had a sinus infection and have to be on antibiotics - please say a prayer for me!!

May 20, 2011

Friday 5

1."Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored..." 2 Thessalonians 3:1  Learning to pray diligently for the rapid spread of the gospel among the Mahafaly - will you join us?
2.  I've done an entire post about people asking if Ryleigh is going with us - here is a quote that touched my heart from an adult who grew up as a missionary kid.
 "As an MK, if I learned nothing else, I learned to be flexible.  I learned that foreign is only a word.  Every culture in the world is foreign to someone.  At first, it's scary, then irritating, then maddening.  To survive, you have to grab it, fall in love with it, and make it yours.  God understands.  He did it too.  Kinship with Christ, is a special benefit of missionary life.  How must He have felt as He spoke to His own people who saw Him only as a misfit, not as an emissary from the throne of heaven?  Perhaps, this is the greatest benefit and gift of being an MK; the opportunity to gain a glimpse of God's world from His viewpoint."
3.  Something my accountability partner and I have been sharing with one another is the need to be bold for Christ.  Luke 10:16 stuck out this week in reference to that desire..."He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me..."  How refreshing to be reminded that it is not us that people need to accept but our Savior!!
4. Prayer, prayer, PRAYER...oh the things He is teaching us about our communication with Him!!!  "It is my strong conviction that prayer is the most critical component of (mission) strategy." - VP for Office of IMB Global Strategy - Just as the disciples asked Jesus - "How then should we pray?", this is what is on our hearts.  We are asking God to teach us how and what to pray.  We're asking to be shown what "praying continually" truly looks like in the life of one of His children.  We are seeking and standing in awe of what He's revealing.
5. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."  Isaiah 26:3  "In repentence and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15  Notice a theme?  These have been 2 of the verses I'm asking the Lord to write upon my heart while I'm here at FPO.  I once looked at peace as something that occurs only when there is a crisis.  I am now learning that peace from the Lord is a way of life.  Also, I tend to talk...a lot :)  The Lord has used this verse to remind me to simply be quiet sometimes.  To just sit with Him and to just sit in some situations or around certain people - I can learn a lot from doing so!!  Now, I'm not saying I'm a master at this - but it's something I'm working on!

May 18, 2011

A Fantastic Four

The 19th marks our 4 year anniversary.  The Lord joined us together because He knew that we'd glorify Him more together than we would apart.  Every day I am made more aware of this fact. My husband continually teaches me more about Christ through the earthly example he is of our Saviour.  Steve is my best friend.  He knows me like no one else does.  He's always there with an encouraging word, a warm embrace, a listening ear, a challenging scripture, or a time of sweet prayer.  He is my accountability partner and helps me strive to  model Christlikeness in all I do.  The past 4 months, I've enjoyed falling even more in love with him as I watch him love on Ryleigh.  4 years ago, I knew that I was marrying the love of my life.  Today, I have come to a better realization that the love of my life is not Steve, but my Lord- my Creator with whom I have had a personal relationship for almost 21 years.  My relationship with Jesus is sweeter today than ever before and I know that has only enabled my and Steve's relationship to deepen.  Second in line is my husband.  Steve isn't perfect but he's perfect for me.  I am more in love with him today than I was yesterday.  I pray this continues for as long as the Lord chooses to glorify Himself through us here on this earth.

This is our family photo 4 years ago:
and we were headed here (Victoria, British Columbia)

Our present family photo:
and we're headed here (Tulear, Madagascar)!! 
By next year, we're hoping to extend our spiritual family with faces that look like these
(thank you for your continued prayers for the Mahafaly to come to know Christ!)
I love you Steve!

May 13, 2011

Friday 5

This week’s Friday Five are extremely important. These are 5 areas that we have learned about over the past week and that we know we need your prayers for!

1. To change our worldview – Worldview is the way that we interpret things that happen around us and we often believe that others perceive reality the same way that we do. We are praying that the Lord will make us ever aware of the worldviews that will surround us. We desire to live with a Biblical worldview instead of an American one. We need to be mindful that we are not there to “westernize” the Mahafaly but to evangelize the Mahafaly. One helpful tool – to remember that 90% of evangelism is LOVE.

2. To learn the heart language – We’ve been studying through Acts and in chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost, the Word says that each spoke in his mother tongue. We are praying that we will become fluent speakers of Malagasy to more efficiently communicate the gospel and His love for the nations.

3. To pray against temptation - We often pray in the middle of a crisis. Not that this is bad, but time after time in the Word we see the example of praying before the crisis/temptation comes. "Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil…" it's exactly how Jesus teaches us to pray! Wouldn't we live more victoriously if we prayed against the temptation before it arrived?!?!

4. To take every thought captive – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – Our minds are where so much takes place – Satan’s battle is being fought there. We should be renewing our minds (Romans 12:1-2), destroying speculation, and holding to His Truth, in order to "fight the good fight".

5. To not depend on our understanding - Isaiah talks about how high above our thoughts are the thoughts of God. He doesn’t say that they’re a few feet away – He says “as the heavens are from the earth” – that’s light years away! If everything in our life makes sense to us; then we are living according to our own thoughts! Proverbs 3:5-6 is verse that I memorized as a child, but often forget how radical it is. “Trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding…” O Lord, how we desire for this to be the theme of our life.

May 8, 2011

1st Mothers Day

The celebration started on Friday when we picked Ryleigh up from her classroom.
loved.it.  Do I care that it wasn't really made by Ryleigh? Nope, not at all - it was precious and I absolutely love looking at it.  It is currently PROUDLY being hung on our door :)

Saturday, Steve was gracious enough to let me sleep in and he took care of Ryleigh - last year at this time I would have no idea of what a precious gift that would be!

Sunday morning, I woke up to my favorite...
yummy pigs in a blanket and a gerber daisy (also my favorite)
(oh and he did make enough for all the moms in our home church too!)
Then, the ladies in our quad went for a pedicure and our husbands had daddy/kiddo time!  It was fantastic!  Afterwards, Ryleigh and I spent 2 hours celebrating like this...
and then headed to Cross Cultural Worship - it was a WONDERFUL 1st mother's day!!
I hope you enjoyed your Mother's Day as much as I did!

May 7, 2011

May Flowers

It's been a beautiful week here in Virginia.  The weather has been in the 60's - 70's and we have enjoyed being outside whenever we have a chance.  Ryleigh even tried out her sunglasses!
Whenever a little rain did keep us indoors, Ryleigh kept us entertained with how fast she can roll over.  She can keep us laughing with her funny expressions - of which there seems to be no end.  I will do better about trying to capture them on camera!

Thank you for all of your prayers during this time of training.  See our blog post "Friday 5" for all that He has been teaching us this week.  Your interceding on our behalf to the Father is VITAL for physical and mental strength while we are here.  Please keep lifing us up!!

Ryleigh had her 4 month birthday on Wednesday...crazy that it's been 4 months already!  She weighed 14lbs 14 oz and was 25 inches long.  She's in the 65th percentile in weight and height. Thankful for a healthy baby!

Friday 5

1.   "The plans of God are revealed to the man/woman of God by the Spirit of God through the Word of God." Dr. Tom Elliff (IMB President) - conclusion?  Be in the WORD!

2.Love requires time alone together...this is truth no matter the relationship.  I think about my relationship with Steve.  I have a need to talk with him everyday, to spend time with him, and to just sit with him.  Why do I desire these things or have a need to do them?  It's because I love him and I want an intimate fellowship with him.  Shouldn't even more so be my desire to talk, spend time with, and just sit with the Creator?!?!?

3.Our needs are not evidence that God is not watching over us - they are a call to worship Him.  They are an invitation to trust Him more.  "This is the CONFIDENCE we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15  God already has the answer to our needs - we just need to ask Him.  Our needs are a platform of which God is going to prove how powerful and faithful He is.  A need is God's promise that He has the answer.

4. "...for we are not unaware of his (Satan's) schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11 - We should not be ignorant of His schemes - we are told that he is a liar, a deciever, and that he seeks those whom he may devour!  However, we are unaware of the obvious relaity of spiritual warfare because Satan IS deceptive.  His success is dependant upon his anonymitiy.  But, we can't be discouraged!  2 Peter 1:3 tells us that because of His (God's) divine power we have everything we need for life and godliness.

5. We should be living our lives so that if others choose to follow our example they would be imitating Christ.  "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1 - there's nothing to add to this one...it's pretty self explanatory - yet very challenging.

Moms for which I am thankful :)

Don't worry - this will not be a comprehensive list - just highlighting two of the best!

First and foremost is this amazing and beautiful (inside and out) woman, whom I have had the privilege of being the daughter of for almost 26 years ~

Words fail in trying to describe the mother she has been.  Her number one priority is for us to have a daily walk with our Savior.  She spends time praying for us daily...this is not actually a picture of her praying but it's sweet anyway :)
No matter what else is going on, she is going to have her family at the forefront of her mind.  My mom is an encourager, a prayer warrior,and a servant who serves the Lord by frequently serving others.  The best thing?  She'd probably say that she's none of the previously mentioned, but that she does desire to be.  One way you know she's always thinking of her girls?  Because she's the mom who will probably always buy cute things in "3s" :)
She has taught me not only to be a faithful daughter to the King, but also how to be a fantastic mom and a supportive wife. (aren't they cute even after almost 29 years?)
She's always taught me to not desire to be like her but to only long to model the Father.  For that I am thankful but I still greatly appreciate and admire her dedication to the Lord as my momma!  I love you!!

Now, this lady has only been in my life for the past 6 years.

  However, I'm very thankful for the past 30 years that she has spent as a mother to my husband.  I am aware of how influential moms are and thankful for the way she chose to raise hers. Karen raised a boy to grow in the Lord and I couldn't ask for a more perfect example of Christ's love for the church than I have in Steve.  I know that Steve follows as the Lord directs but am grateful for a mother that steered him in that direction!

Happy Mother's Day!!!

May 1, 2011

Friday 5 - On a Sunday

Going to revamp what our Friday 5 looks like during our time here in VA.  I'll still do an update on the weekends of what we've done the previous week (complete with pictures of Ryleigh of course!), but the Friday 5 will be 5 things the Lord is teaching us/thoughts for you to ponder as well!  Enjoy!!

1. Mark 3:14 - "He appointed twelve - designating them apostles - that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach..."  Thoughts - Yes, He is sending us out - but not away from Him, rather with Him...wherever He may be leading.  He is already at work in the world around us...He just wants us to join Him!

2. 1 Chronicles 16:11 - "Look to the LORD and his strength, seek his face always.  Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he pronounced."  Thoughts - 1st and foremost, seek Him always.  Not just on Sundays, not just at church, not just during your daily quiet time...ALWAYS.  Secondly, remember.  Remember what He has done!  Often, my doubt and trust issues stem from forgetting.  Forgetting His sacrifice, His love, His faithfulness...REMEMBER.

3.  Hebrews 13:17 - "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.  They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.  Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."  Thoughts - We want our goal to be that every leader, every supervisor can say it was a joy to have us under them.  That's not just a nice goal - it's a command from His word.  There are no clauses as to what type of leader or supervisor either...just sayin :)

4.  James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  Thoughts - Humbled.  To know that God will generously give us wisdom to handle every situation.  Lately, I have found myself experincing a range of emotions - one of them?  Guilt.  Why?  We're taking a 6 month old overseas.  I know that I'm so far from the perfect mother and I can not learn all I need to know by July 1st.  What will I do without a pediatrician 3 minutes from our home?  How will I know what works best without a quick phone call to my mom?  Questions and then more questions...however, He has continually provided ONE answer - Him.  He is our creator and He knows the answer to every question I have and beyond.  He even offers to provide wisdom...all I have to do?  Ask Him.

5.  Isaiah 6:8 - "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?"  And I said, "Here am I.  Send me!" Thoughts - This verse doesn't just appear out of thin air - it appears after Isaiah has been cleansed from being a man of unclean lips.  We are anxious to go and follow the Lord to Madagascar, however His timing is and always has been perfect.  We're here right now for a reason.  There is still much to learn.  I've been thinking along the lines of our people and the culture.  What He's shown me this past week is I'm far from learning those things.  First, He has to change, teach, and mold me.  I'm learning to just be with Him.  To sit in His presence and dwell in His sweet love, to think, to meditate, to journey, and to become who I was created to be.

Our VA Home

We've completed our 1st week of FPO and although a little tired, completely enthusastic about all the Lord is doing.  Several of you have sent texts and emails letting us know of your prayers - we appreciate them greatly!!  We're in sessions from around 8 every morning till about 4 in the afternoon.  These sessions are being led by incredible leadership and we have loved being under His teaching through each of them.  Our schedules are full with sessions, outside assignments, exercise, family time, and small group time!  We are living with families who will also be serving in the Sub Sahara Africa region of the world.  I'm sure the bonds we have already formed are just a glimpse of the friendships that will grow over the next few weeks and years.  We've had our share of some crazy weather here this past week, but have enjoyed a beautiful weekend.  Our campus is laid out with some great walking paths and we have taken full advantage of them!  Saturday greeted us with sunshine, wind, and a perfect 70 degree day.  Ryleigh is thoroughly enjoying all the trips in her stroller!!

Here's our view from the front door of our quad.

What's a quad you may ask?  It's our living arrangements while on campus.  The front door opens to a "great room".  There are then 5 individual doors that lead into small apartments of sorts.  We have a kitchenette/dining area, bedroom, bath, and laundry.  The campus is set up so that we really have no reason to leave during our stay, with the exception of an occasional trip to Wal-Mart!  Ryleigh's childcare, the cafeteria, gym, quads, and classrooms are all within walking distance of each other.

On Sundays, we are learning how to do a home church within our quads, since more than likely that's the type of church we'll have once overseas.  As you can tell, Ryleigh was very excited about this!

So although these posts may not come as regularly, please know that we value your prayers.  We'll be using this time to hopefully start some new routines that we will carry onto the field.  Please pray that we will be teachable and retain the knowledge He is giving us.  Love you guys!!