Where Would You Like To Go?

December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

We are celebrating Christmas Day 9 hours sooner than we ever have before!  Most of you are still wrapping up your Christmas Eve festivites and we are waking up getting ready for Church.  Rest assured Santa found Ryleigh all the way over here in Mada and we will have pictures up soon.  But for today, we wanted to leave you with one of our all time favorite songs.  Take a minute to listen to it today, share it with your family & friends that you may be visiting with, and dwell on the question "How Many Kings?" 
Know we are hoping you are having a wonderful day worshipping the King who has given His life for you.

December 22, 2011

A Father's Love

Our little Ryleigh is SUCH a daddy's girl. She searches for him when she enters a room and cries when he leaves. I simply adore watching the love of my life be a daddy. There are many things I find attractive about my husband and him loving on Ryleigh just might be in the top 5. It's such a sweet thing to watch him play with her, sing to her, read to her, and be protective of her
You know, I've been learning something about our Father's love by watching Ryleigh's earthly daddy.  Sometimes I can get caught up in the routine.  The daily quiet times, the worship with a body of believers, remembering what I'm not supposed to do, doing what I'm supposed to do...and I forget to just be His child.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  I mean, Steve is a dad...he has to tell Ryleigh "no mam" sometimes, he has to be firm, there has to be consequences, and believe it or not there are times when Ryleigh does indeed cry (shocker - I know).  But, you know what he spends the majority of his time doing?  Playing with her, talking to her, listening to her...just being with her.  Of course, he's here to protect her, guide her, instruct her, discipline her...but all of that is out of the overwhelming love he has for her.
How much more so does our Heavenly Father?!?!  He is LOVE.  I've had to stop and think about this.  I've had to ask myself...
When was the last time that I just wanted to be with my Daddy? 
When's the last time I've spent simply basking in His love? 
When's the last time nothing was on the agenda except to just sit and chat with Him? 
When's the last time I remembered that while He is lots of things (Savior, Rock, Prince of Peace, Creator) He is also my Father...my Daddy? 
When those times happen - they are my absolute favorite...if you know the times I'm talking about you know personally how they turn into a worship time.  How can you spend time with our Daddy and not worship?  Such. Sweet. Time.

I am prayerfully confident that the smiles that light up her face when Ryleigh sees Steve will one day be a small glimpse at the joy that surrounds her when she is daily walking hand in hand with her Heavenly Father.
.

December 20, 2011

Give Me Faith

Heard this song for the 1st time just this week via my beautiful (inside & out) friend, Sam Jones' blog...you can check it out the song & her blog here.  Anyway, the bridge is quite a reminder of my Savior's promises...I hope it serves as a prayer/reminder for you today as well.

I may be weak
Your spirit is strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

from "Give Me Faith" by Elevation Worship

December 19, 2011

To Do List

I am queen of "to do" lists.  There is something extremely satisfying about checking things off for me.  I've also been known to put things on a list that I've already done...simply because I know I can check them off.  It's okay you can think I'm lame, I won't hold it against you.  However, as I've been listening to Christmas songs, I've thought about the "to do" list that comes in the form of the lyrics of many of the songs.  I know you've probably officially thought that I've lost my mind now but bear with me.
Have you stopped and listened to what you have been singing or atleast hearing as you are going along with your December routine? 
How are you doing on your "Christmas Song To Do List?"
~Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, Hail the Son of Righteousness
~Let every heart prepare Him room
~Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our Heavenly Lord
~Repeat the sounding Joy
~Pray for peace, people everywhere
Oh and my personal favorite? 
Seriously, can not hear these words and not desire to fall to my knees in worship...
~Fall on your knees...Oh,hear the angels' voices!!

Wishing you and your family a Merry CHRISTmas and praying that you are indeed well on your way to checking off everything on this to do list!!

December 16, 2011

THANK YOU!!

Care packages are always awesome but coming at Christmas time pretty much rocks!  This past week we have been so blessed by so many!
Jack & Tedder - Ryleigh thinks you'd enjoy playing in the boxes with her!
Park Place Ladies Sunday School thank you again for such a sweet box filled with goodies!  Ryleigh has already been intently watching her BabyFaith DVD Jana!
Vansant Baptist - where do we even start?  We've decided to call your boxes "treasure chests" since they really couldn't just be labled "boxes"!! As you can see Ryleigh was anxious to see what was for her :)
Yah for beach towels from Grangran & Grandma (how did we forget to crate those?!?!)
Oh and mom/dad & Jana....Steve's a little concerned about Ryleigh's facination with HIS poptarts...
Thanks to each of you - friends and family - you have made sure that this season, that can be a little more prone to homesickness than usual,quite full of joy.
We look forward to seeing some of your faces over here in Mada soon!

December 14, 2011

Enough

What's enough?
I'd say that most people in the world today are looking for whatever "enough" is.  Sadly, this includes most Christians.  They want to know what God expects...what is enough for Him?
Going to church on the holdiays?
Going to church every Sunday?
Teaching a class at church?
Passing out tracks?
Going on a mission trip?
Chaperoning a youth trip?
Giving to missions?
Going overseas?
Surrendering to full time ministry?
Making sure to pray before every meal?

Are any of these things good enough?   Are they "enough"?

None of the above mentioned things are "enough", we will always fall short of Him.  Nothing we do will ever be good enough to deserve His love and nothing we do will ever be bad enough to keep Him from loving us. 

Moving to a 3rd world country does not make the Lord love me more than someone who never leaves the street they live on - we are each called to walk with Him - wherever that may lead! Moving here is not "enough". I can be just as much of a sinner in Mada as I can be in the States.

Thankfully, His forgiveness and grace are unending and know no boundaries.

Thankfully, it's not up to us to figure out...He spells it out pretty simply for us in Micah 6:8
"And what does the LORD require of you; but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

It's not up to me...I just have walk with Him...He'll take care of everything else.

December 12, 2011

Silent Night

I absolutely love Christmas music...I'd definitely listen to it year round if my husband approved!  We've come to an agreement that I can play it in the car as soon as Thanksgiving Day ends and it's something I definitely look forward to!  So, needless to say when we had our monthly evening English worship with the other M's here in Antsirabe, I was delighted when one suggested we  sing a Christmas song.  Probably one of the more popular ones was chosen and it's definitely a personal favorite - Silent Night.  No matter when this song comes into my head (even in June!) it calms my soul.  The words are beautiful and I feel like the Lord uses them to make me stop- to be still and be silent - simply dwelling in Who He is and what He has done.
However, that particular Sunday night, God used it to convict my heart.  With no disrespect to the song or the author of the lyrics, I totally get the song...I do - BUT this is what God was saying to my heart...

"A silent night...how does that make you feel?  Should the world have been silent as my Son was born?  Well, if you think not - then why are you so often silent?  How should you be reacting to the fact that I did indeed send my Son for you?  What's stopping you?  Fear? Pride? Apathy? Rise up my beloved!  Go forth and proclaim this Great News that I have given to you!  Stop focusing on the past today is a new day, forget the mistakes for they have been forgiven, my Son is alive today!  Reach out to those who are literally dying every day.  Go forth and tell!  Do not be SILENT!"

Hmmm...perhaps that's why since I was a little girl, my all time favorite has been "Go Tell it on the Mountain" :)

Those were His words not mine...how is He speaking to you during this special time of year?


December 10, 2011

Barriers

As we drove the 13 hours down to Tulear, my heart could not help but be overwhelmed with the vast lostness that surrounded us.  Literally hundreds of thousands of people who have never even heard the name of Jesus...how can that not break your heart?  We would drive through these gorgeous plains that would suddenly have a majestic mountain in the backdrop and all I wanted to do was climb the mountain and shout out for all to hear that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He desires to have a personal relationship with them.  However, so much is stopping me from doing that right now.  There are numerous language and cultural barriers here.  We know this is where we are called to and we are anxious to share about what the Lord has done in our lives with those around us.  But no matter how passionate I may be about wanting to share - I'm so very limited.  Even after months of language study, I still fall short of being able to effectively communicate the gospel. 


This line of thinking made me think about the past 26 years I have spent in the States.  Did I have this same passion to tell others about Him?  What stopped me?  Were there cultural barriers? Perhaps in certain situations.  Were there language barriers?  More than likely not.  So what was it?  I don't know that I have the answers, minus the fact that we have a powerful enemy who does everything in his power to keep the Truth from being spread.

So today, I want to ask you - are there barriers in your life that are keeping you from sharing who Christ is to those around you?  What's keeping you from making sure that He gets all of the glory He deserves?  Our Lord is worthy of every single person proclaming Him alone as God.  Are you doing your part?

December 8, 2011

Christmas Traffic

If I remember correctly, around this time of year, traffic seems to get a little out of control :)

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of your transportation options here in Madagascar...



and of course, if it won't crank then you can still push!

December 6, 2011

Living Water

Back in November during our 1/2 trip out to the bush, we crossed this bridge...
After I got over the shock of that there was such a nice bridge out in the middle of nowhere, my next thoughts were about how dry the riverbed was.  It seemed silly to cross a bridge when there was absolutely no water!  However, as I continued to dwell on this thought, the Holy Spirit started speaking to my heart.

We, as children of God, have the Holy Spirit in us.  We should have the Living Water flowing out of us at all times.  How often do I look like that dry riverbed?  How about when I encounter someone who doesn't know Christ...do they see a difference?  Is it enought to even get their feet wet?  Is that all that I desire?  For someone to just see enough Living Water in me to get their feet wet?  Honestly? Absolutely not.  I want to have the Living Water rushing out of me and sweeping people off their feet.  I desire for others to get so lost that they have no more control...only the River of Life is controlling them.  I pray the same for myself.  Why should I ever look like the riverbed pictured above? 
I have access to the Stream of Abundant Life...oh Lord, flow through me!!

December 4, 2011

11 months of JOY!

Miss Ryleigh Elizabeth...what joy you bring to our lives! Today you weigh 19 lbs and are 28 3/4 inches long!
This past month included lots of 1sts, some of which include...trip to the ocean, trying ice cream, playing in sand, tasting coke,giving a high five, and making us love you even more with your sweet kisses!
You also have gotten more adventurous with your walking. You love cruising around your room holding onto the furniture. You rarely play in the living room floor anymore because you're too busy walking around holding onto the furniture.  Going to church has become much more of an adventure now that you love walking around. You are anxious to see every person on every pew (and of course checking out those cool bugs on the floor!)!!
The rainy season has definitely started and you are a fan...it's like splashing in the pool every afternoon!
You eat all the time and love finger foods no matter if they are veggies or Graham cracker sticks. You are also more than willing to share your food! Speaking of sharing, you break out into a grin if you pass us a toy you may be playing with BUT you also ALWAYS expect to get it back immediately or that grin may disappear!!
Perhaps our favorite thing from this past month is how you have started singing with us and on your own. You make the sweetest little sounds in a different tone than when you're "talking". It melts our hearts every time!
and on top of all of this it was probably 90 degrees during this photo shoot so needless to say...you were quite happy when we took this next one!
You are loved baby girl!!

December 3, 2011

Still Learning

So, I guess I could have just told you why we didn't go out to the bush as planned but I decided to let you in on what was/is going on in my heart too.  My hope is that this may serve as an ever present reminder of how desperately we need you to be lifting us in prayer :)


Like I mentioned in my previous post, I've dreamt/thought/desired/wished/prayed/etc for this trip to happen for SO long.  2 days later, I'm still tearing up when I think about that we didn't make it out there.  That drive back to Tulear on Tuesday was one filled with extremely conflicting emotions. 

There are days since arriving here that are harder than others.  We know we are called to be right here but we do miss our family.  We miss things that we never knew we would miss, items that made life easier.  But, in many ways we were prepared for that part - we expected it.  We handle it through His strength. 

The thing that caught me most off guard Tuesday was what seemed like a conflict of interest.  The Lord has clearly called me to be a mom and He has just as clearly called me to work with the Mahafaly people.  An unreached people group that live in isolated & not easily accessible areas.  The village we were traveling to is the closest one to Tulear.  We made it halfway.  Halfway.  Perhaps, we shouldn't have even gone that far - maybe I'm a horrible mom for asking my baby girl to endure it that far.  I don't know.

How can I be called to work among this people & tell them of His love if I can't even make it out there with my daughter whom I'm also called to work with and tell of His love?  It was a tough day.  My heart knew all the right answers.  My heart was resounding and overflowing with Scripture that He has written there..."I know the plans I have for you"..."He will give him perfect peace, who trusts in the Lord"..."He will give you the desires of your heart"..."Be strong and courageous, do not fear"...and on and on.  However, my heart was having a very difficult time communicating with my head (and my eyes which were pouring buckets of water).  I wish I could tell you now that everything is okay and that it is all resolved - but it's not.  I don't know the answers to all of the questions that ran through my head on Tuesday, but I know the One who does. 

One thing that never crossed my mind was coming home...I'm confident that He will see all things to completion that He has started.  I don't question His soverignity, even when I can't see the big picture. 

I also don't question the importance of your prayers - thank you for being faithful.

 If I knew all the answers, there wouldn't be any need for faith. 
If it wasn't difficult, then pride would take over and I would think I could do it in my own power. 
If there wasn't a way, He would not have designed it. 
Thankful that I serve a God who looks at me with all of my sin, questions, doubts, & fears - and still sees one who is able to be used for His glory.  Praise the Lord.

December 2, 2011

the bush trip that wasn't

Monday night it was hard to sleep...partly because Ryleigh has started some sort of seperation anxiety that only seems to occur at nighttime and partly because the next morning we were driving out to the bush.  If you ask my parents, they'll say they don't really remember a time that I didn't talk about going to a village in Africa to live & tell people about Jesus.  So this day was a day I had dreamed about for at least the past 20ish years.  Considering I'm only 26 that's saying something!  Tuesday morning we got up & dressed for the trip out to Besatra (Mahafaly village).  It was a bit surreal for me because I couldn't really wrap my mind around that this was really happening...it was even more amazing to me b/c I got to share this experience with my husband and daughter. 
The trip takes about 4 hours and we had been told that it would be a rough ride.  Ryleigh was strapped in her carseat when we hit the 1st bump (not really sure these could be classified as just bumps) and she didn't know quite what to think about it.  After about 5 minutes of the worst "road" I've ever been on (and this includes all the times I've been mud riding & 4 wheeler riding), it was obvious Ryleigh would be safer & more comfortable sitting in my lap.  We were only going about 20kmph so we figured it would be fine.  Over the next hour or so, Ryleigh would drift off to sleep until we would come to a really bad spot and she'd wake up screaming.  It was breaking our hearts to see the fear in her eyes.  She didn't understand why we were bouncing around so much or why we might suddenly have to slam on the brakes...
So 2 hours into the trip, we decided that this trip wasn't going to be able to happen.  No one in the IMB that we're aware of had ever tried to take a baby out to this village and it appeared that we weren't going to be the 1st.  We turned our car around and headed back down the rock & hole filled "road" to Tulear.  We went even slower going back to try and have as nice of a ride as possible.  Therefore, we even got in a few photos of Ryleigh's (and our) 1st 1/2 trip out to the bush :)

So that's the story of what happened on Tuesday...the next blog will be a more in depth look of how this mom actually handled it :)

December 1, 2011

Tsara Fantatro

Tsara = Good 
Fantatro = to know

We 1st heard this song the night before we flew out of MS to head to Madagascar. 
 It's easily in our top 5 favorite songs and I often listen to it just to remind myself of what I already know. 
We are never alone.
Mississippi - Madagascar or anywhere in between
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are going through...
You are not alone.
There was an error in this gadget