Where Would You Like To Go?

December 31, 2012

Your Everything


I love a really great song - one that brings memories to mind, tears to my eyes, or has to be played loudly with the windows rolled down - music is a gift and I'm thankful for it. My ipod has quite the collection and unless it's Christmas, I like to have it on shuffle. It never fails that even when on shuffle two songs always are played back to back. "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman and "The One You Need" by Shane & Shane. Listening to these songs as a mom can be somewhat heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. However, this past week, I was riding home with Steve from a day spent together at the beach (Ryleigh was at home being spoiled rotten by our awesome teammates) and God started using this song to speak to my heart.

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you need
Sometimes I’m gonna let you down
But there’s Someone if you just believe
Be your hero like He’s always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the one you need.

 I've heard "The One You Need" 100s of times, it is indeed a beautiful song about your children needing to know Christ and that no matter how much we (as parents) may love them - we simply can't be their everything. Only He can be their Savior. However, on this particular day, God struck me with how applicable it is to my own life. How even as an adult, a wife, a mother, I still struggle with allowing Him to be my everything. Even though I know His truths, I struggle.

 I am married to a fabulous man.  He is a lover of the One True God, incredibly handsome, amazingly thoughtful, my best friend, and the greatest picture of our Heavenly Father’s love to me, Ryleigh, and others – BUT he can’t be everything to me.  The thing is, sometimes, I expect him to be.  I put unfair expectations on him that only my Creator can fill. 

I also struggle with trying to be Steve’s everything.  I expect things from myself that only Christ can do for Steve.  I long to be all Steve needs but there is no way that I can be – that’s not what husbands/wifes/mothers/fathers/children/friends were created for.  We were created to be a representation of the gospel to all of those who are around us.  We were made to bring glory to the Father.

I am to exemplify the respect and submission of  the bride of Christ in our marriage.
Steve is to exemplify the love of Christ in our marriage.
Nothing more – nothing less –
We will fail, we will struggle…but if we find our source, our identity, our needs met – in Christ alone then we will ultimately have the victory and bring glory to Him.
 
 

December 27, 2012

Christmas in Mahafaly Land

Last week, Steve and Doug took a quick trip out to the 4 main villages.  They really enjoyed their trip and Steve wanted to share what it looked like...however, Doug has already done a blog about it so we're just going to let him tell you...
Doug's blog...
Last week we took a quick village tour in order to celebrate Christmas in each village. Nathan’s home church sent us some toys a while back in order for us to share with the kids in the bush. So in each village we shared about the story of Christ’s birth and gave those gifts to children and families of those who regularly meet with us to pray and study God’s Word. This was a very simple and practical way for the church to share Christ’s love with their fellow brothers and sisters who live thousands of miles away on the other side of the world.
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Seeing a slinky for the first time
 
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Believers in Andremba opening their gifts
Starting in Andremba, we traveled from village to village asking the believers why we celebrate Christmas and sharing the story of the greatest gift that was ever given. Everything went so well and fell into place just perfectly. Each group in each village was available to meet, and very happy to receive their gifts from those in the states. We shared with them that the churches in the states were praying hard for them, which may have made them happier than when they received their gifts! Before giving the gifts to the leaders of each group, we explained that God had already given the greatest gift by sending His Son Jesus Christ into this world to free us from the curse of sin. We shared that we give because He gives.
Giving out the gifts was a funny experience. We didn’t actually distribute the gifts because they have their own cultural way of doing so, and we wanted the gifts to be distributed from the church group in each village. So when we opened each box to explain to the
Kalaha got his gun and hat for the picture. It's all about appearances.
Kalaha got his gun and hat for the picture. It's all about appearances.
leaders what the gifts were, the toy giraffe received some very strange looks. Obviously, villagers in the bush of Madagascar have never seen a giraffe before, but when they saw the toy, their first question was, “Is it mean?” which really means, “Would it hurt me if I came across it in a field?” Haha. We explained to them that it’s basically like a cow with a long neck that eats trees, I mean eats leaves. The other thing that caught them a little off guard were the candy bracelets. I had to explain to them that the string was not ok to eat, just the colorful things on the string! Haha.
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I told them to smile, but used the word for "laugh" by mistake
Our most interesting experience happened in Tanantsoa. When I asked them why we celebrated Christmas every year, we got an answer we didn’t expect. First, they said it was a time to get ready for the New Year. Nope. Secondly, they said that it was a time to thank God for the past year and look forward to the year to come. Wrong again. I asked them if there was any other reason that we celebrated, but they responded that those were the only two reasons. The people of Tanantsoa had never heard what the point of Christmas was or why we celebrated. So I was able to briefly share with them, for the first time, the reason we celebrate the day. I asked them if they remembered the story that we shared previously about the coming Savior and then emphasized that the reason we celebrate Christmas is because that Savior came. I shared that years later he died on a cross in order to free us from the curse of sin. When I broke down the word “Christmasy” in comparison to “Jesosy Christy” it definitely all came together in their minds! Haha. It hit me later on that coming from my little Bible-belt bubble, where everyone knows about or celebrates Christmas (some for the wrong reasons), that
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there are people in this world who have never heard about the true reason for Christmas, for there are many people in this world who have never heard about Jesus. If you have never heard about Jesus, then you don’t know that Jesus was born, or that he is the Savior of the world, or that he died on a cross in order to save humanity from their sins, or that he was resurrected and is alive and well today. Needless to say, this was a great time for the people of Tanantsoa and I’m just thankful that God used someone like me to be His mouthpiece. What amazing grace we receive from the Father, and what a great gift we have received in Jesus; the gift of salvation and eternal life.
So in light of that story and the Christmas season, I want to extend my thanks to all of you whose giving through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) allows me to work and live among the Mahafaly people. Your faithful giving allows me to share the story of Christ’s birth and the gospel that saves with those who have never heard. Let these stories encourage you to remain faithful in your financial giving as well as your prayers for missionaries around the world living as heralds of the gospel of God’s grace and peace to all peoples.
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Believers in Tanantsoa, just after discovering what Christmas is all about
So again thank you for your fragrant offering to God and may you all have a very Merry Christmas as you reflect on the gift of Jesus and the day that light ripped through the darkness in the form of a little baby boy, the Savior of the world.

December 24, 2012

Three Christmas Gifts


Three Christmas Presents

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one

who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is

righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the

devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of

God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of

the devil. —1 John 3:7–8

 

Ponder this remarkable situation with me. If the Son of God

came to help you stop sinning—to destroy the works of the

devil—and if he also came to die so that, when you do sin, there

is a propitiation, a removal of God’s wrath, then what does this

imply for living your life?

Three things.

And they are wonderful to have.

I give them to you briefly as Christmas presents.

 

1. A Clear Purpose for Living

It implies that you have a clear purpose for living. Negatively, it

is simply this: don’t sin. “I write these things to you so that you

may not sin” (1 John 2:1). “The Son of God appeared to destroy

the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Notice the singular “commandment”—“This is His commandment,

that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love

one another, just as He commanded us.” These two things are

so closely connected for John he calls them one commandment:

believe Jesus and love others. That is your purpose. That

is the sum of the Christian life. Trusting Jesus, loving people.

Trust Jesus, love people. There’s the first gift: a purpose to live.

 

2. Hope That Our Failures Will Be Forgiven

Now consider the second implication of the twofold truth that

Christ came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins. It’s

this: We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have

hope that our failures will be forgiven. If you don’t have hope

that God will forgive your failures, when you start fighting sin,

you give up.

Most of you want to fight sinful patterns in your life. And what God is saying to you

is this: Let the freedom to fail give you hope to fight. I write

this to you that you might not sin, but if you sin you have an

advocate, Jesus Christ.

 

3. Christ Will Help Us

Finally, the third implication of the double truth that Christ

came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins, is this:

Christ will really help us in our fight. He really will help you.

He is on your side. He didn’t come to destroy sin because sin

is fun. He came to destroy sin because it is fatal. It is a deceptive

work of the devil and will destroy us if we don’t fight it. He

came to help us, not hurt us.

So here’s your third Christmas gift: Christ will help overcome

sin in you. 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater

than he that is in the world.” Jesus is alive, Jesus is almighty,

Jesus lives in us by faith. And Jesus is for us, not against us. He

will help you. Trust him.
John Piper "Good News of Great Joy" December 25

As I, so you




 
From John Piper's "Good News of Great Joy"...


The Christmas Model for Missions

“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world" John 17:18


Christmas is a model for missions. Missions is a mirror of Christmas. As I, so you.

For example, danger. Christ came to his own and his own
received him not. So you. They plotted against him. So you. He
had no permanent home. So you. They trumped up false charges
against him. So you. They whipped and mocked him. So you.
He died after three years of ministry. So you.
But there is a worse danger than any of these which Jesus escaped.
So you!
In the mid-16th century Francis Xavier (1506–1552), a Catholic
missionary, wrote to Father Perez of Malacca (today part
of Indonesia) about the perils of his mission to China. He said,

The danger of all dangers would be to lose trust and
confidence in the mercy of God… To distrust him would
be a far more terrible thing than any physical evil which
all the enemies of God put together could inflict on us, for
without God’s permission neither the devils nor their
human ministers could hinder us in the slightest degree.
The greatest danger a missionary faces is to distrust the mercyof God. If that danger is avoided, then all other dangers lose their sting.
God makes every dagger a scepter in our hand. As J.W.
Alexander says, “Each instant of present labor is to be graciously
repaid with a million ages of glory.”
Christ escaped the danger of distrust. Therefore God has
highly exalted him!
Remember this Advent that Christmas is a model for missions.As I, so youAnd that mission means danger. And thatthe greatest danger is distrusting God’s mercy. Succumb to
this, and all is lost. Conquer here, and nothing can harm you
for a million ages.
John Piper, "Good News of Great Joy", Tuesday Dec. 18th

December 23, 2012

Shadows or the Real Thing?

For the past few weeks, I have been daily reading through John Piper's
"Good News of Great Joy: Daily Advent Readings".  I've throughly enjoyed doing something a little different everyday in order to focus in on the expectation of my Savior's arrival and all that Christmas represents in regards to Christ.  I've shared various quotes and such on Facebook but really wanted to share a couple of days with you, that have spoken directly to my heart...
Replacing the Shadows

"Now the main point in what has been said is this: we
have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the
right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a
minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle,
which the Lord pitched, not man."
Hebrews 8:1-2


"The point of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ, God’s
Son, has not just come to fit into the earthly system of priestly
ministry as the best and final human priest, but he has come to
fulfill and put an end to that system and to orient all our attention
on himself ministering for us in heaven.
The Old Testament tabernacle and priests and sacrifices were
shadows. Now the reality has come, and the shadows pass away.
Here’s an Advent illustration for kids (and for those of us
who used to be kids and remember what it was like). Suppose
you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you
start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go,
and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to
cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that
looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you
feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the
shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and seeing
that it’s really her?
That’s the way it is when Jesus comes to be our High Priest.
That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows
with the real thing."
 
John Piper, "Good News of Great Joy", Thursday Dec. 13


 

December 22, 2012

Tulear Ministries

This past week was spent jumping back into our normal "routine" here in Tulear.  On Tuesday night Ashley, Ryleigh, & I went to the ESL class.  This was Ryleigh's first time to join me in going and she was such a sweet girl!  The students enjoyed meeting her and listening to her talk.
Ashley and I shared the story of the demon possesed man and asked the storying questions from ST4T.  The students did really well retelling the story but were a bit hesitant in answering the questions.  We're praying that as we do this every week, they will be more confident in answering the questions.
My home church, Midway, sent prayer cards to all of the students in the ESL class and they were SO excited to recieve them!
Please continue to pray for open hearts & minds as we share God's word with these students.
 
Wednesday morning, it was time to go to the deaf school.  I brought some Christmas pencils and puzzles as gifts from Jericho Baptist Youth group and the students were thrilled to recieve them!
I shared the Christmas story with them and used a fabric book from the GA's at Midway.  The students really enjoyed seeing a book that was created by other students their age and they were able to use it to retell the Christmas story in sign language!  I was very proud of them and they were pretty proud of themselves!
Please pray that this story would be more than just a story to them.  That they would know the reason for Christmas is Jesus Christ and that He came to save each of them!

December 20, 2012

In Case You Missed It...

 
The newest addition to our household was an early Christmas present for Ryleigh.  She adores cats of all shapes & sizes, but by the requet of her mother - this one had to start off in our house as a kitten!  There has been the occasional picking her up by her tail and telling her "no" while throwing her across a room...BUT for the most part she is smothered with hugs & kisses...which in some cases could be almost as painful.  However, Rella is a trooper and has survived her 1st week in our house and she is the 1st request by Ryleigh every morning.  "Ar u Rella?!?" is what we are greeted with when we get Ryleigh out of bed.  It's safe to say that she is a happy camper - even when Rella isn't!

December 18, 2012

Christmas Spirit

This was not a part of a planned photo shoot :)
Ryleigh just thought she needed to wear her Santa hat and her sunglasses all day long...even inside the house!  The image that day made me laugh, and I knew I had to capture it so that she can laugh at it one day too. 
Ryleigh will grow up, thinking this is normal -
100 degree days in December. 
A beach day on Christmas Eve.
A santa hat and a popsicle will go hand in hand.
A new bathing suit for Christmas instead of flannel pjs. 
So, on those days when I'm particularly missing the "normal" Christmas setting that I grew up with (70 degree days, 50 degree nights, Christmas decor all around, etc), this image will always bring a smile to my face.  It'll also help me keep my focus.
 I'll just remember that Christmas isn't about the weather anyway. 

December 16, 2012

Praying for the Villages

So many of you are faithful to pray for the Lord's work here in Madagascar.  I wanted to share with you a recent blog post from one of our jguys - Nathan.  He did a great job of summarizing the major prayer requests in each of the 4 main villages where they are meeting regularly to share stories from God's word.  Please prayerfully read about what's going on and how you can be an intricate part of lifting these people up to the Father...

Kilimary

You might remember my post about Kilimary going out and sharing the gospel (the Bible stories they first learned) with the neighboring village of Andohasatra. They are still continuing in that work and so we ask that you pray for their commitment to the task as they go out. It's really no different or any easier for these villagers to go over and start teaching about Jesus than it is for us to walk over to our neighbor. They are not always sure they want to and you can bet that every time we get ready to go other things start popping up to distract them. But being here makes it much easier to see the importance of carrying the message to the next person. If Kilimary doesn't take seriously their command to go and make other disciples then the good news will only go as far as we can go--which isn't very far. But if they take it and model for Andohasatra the love and commitment to tell others then they can both continue to go and tell and just with that the whole face of Southern Madagascar would change. In the end we know, of course, only God can bring about changes that big. That's why we ask that you talk with him, plead with him on behalf of Kilimary that they would stand strong in the faith, not falling back on the old ways of ancestral worship and continue marching headlong into the glorious calling of our Lord, shining like stars and spreading his light in this dark place.

Tanantsoa

Meeting with Tanantsoa is always an adventure. There is a dedicated few here that meet and have been visibly growing recently. Please pray that they continue to grow in faith and knowledge and they will continue to separate themselves from those around them. Not separating themselves from loving those around them but in practice of the good way of Jesus and the freedom which comes with it. This group of believers has not yet been baptized because of the water situation. Pray for the believers to understand the full cost and commitment of following Christ so that when the rains come and we have water they will be ready. On that note, Tanantsoa especially suffers from lack of water since there is no pump or well near them. If they want water they have to go and buy it at another town. Please pray for God's provision for them.

Besatra

There are many things you can pray about for Besatra but the most pressing one now would be for the pure faith and pure teaching. Recently another pastor, a Malagasy man we know from nearby, has moved to Besatra. While we count this as a gain right now we also cannot ignore that his denomination is notorious here in Southern Madagascar for preaching false doctrine and proclaiming salvation comes through baptism. While we have already done our best to prepare the believers we ask that you would pray for their strength and discernment. Also please pray for the pastor, Efiliarzony Jean Baptiste, that he would not be tempted into teaching anything other than Jesus. We have already seen God at work, guiding this situation but we covet your prayers as we try and walk this tightrope.

Andremba

There is a faithful group (three or four committed men and several women) who gather to hear the stories. They are really doing well hearing the stories and understanding them. It's clear to them that all the stories lead up to Jesus and salvation depends on him. Based on some of the questions they've been asking it's also clear that they are genuinely struggling with the decision to leave their ancestral worship and follow Jesus only. We thank God that they are struggling with this and ask you to pray for their conviction that Jesus really is the only way and forsaking all else to follow him is, in the end, no sacrifice. This group also has already approached us about baptism saying they are convinced and ready. It's very cool. Do pray that they would also be convinced of the necessity of sharing these stories with others, even within their own village. And their wells just recently dried up so pray also for rain to come their way.

December 14, 2012

LMCO - what is that?!?

LOTTIE MOON CHRISTMAS OFFERING 2012
BE HIS HEART
BE HIS HANDS
BE HIS VOICE

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is an offering taken during the month of December.  Every penny goes to the International Mission Board missionaries serving around the world.  This money covers our salaries, rent, medical insurance, children's education, vechicles, and so much more.
 
The Average Cost to Support a Missionary
Per Year - $49,800
Per Month - $4,150
Per Week - $958
Per Day - $136
 
What has God been doing around the world this past year? 
The numbers from the IMB are as follows:
Missionaries on the field - about 5,000
Overseas Baptisms 2011 - 333,823
New Churches 2011 - 28,873
 
You can check out what's going on in SW Madagascar
by watching this video...Village of Storytellers
 
The LMCO goal for 2012 - 175 million 

December 12, 2012

Who is your gift for??

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I like to plan...this being said, I've been planning Ryleigh's 2nd bday party since before she was born.  Yes, I'm serious.  We needed to crate things to bring to the field and one day I saw the cutest Disney princess bedding with a matching play mat.  So, we bought them and I told Steve we would do a princess themed birthday for her when she turned 2!  As we have gotten closer, I've been surprised by the number of princess themed items that you can find in Madagascar and even Tulear!  One day I was shopping and saw cute princess pens and had to grab a few to hand out to her friends at her party.  While we were in Kenya, I found princess bubbles and wanted to purchase those to give to her friends as well...until I saw they were $7 a bottle!  Steve and I laughed about how crazy it would be to spend more money on "happies" for her friends than what we spent on her bday present itself.

While at our training in Kenya, we had a volunteer team come from NC.  The pastor of the church, Bro. Keith, led worship on 3 different days and always brought a powerful message from the Lord.  One morning, he started talking about the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.  He said that every year, he challenges his church members to not spend more on a gift for a family member than they are giving to Jesus.  Great thought right?  Great to live out?  It's a bit harder to swallow then, isn't it?  He said it's like spending more money on "happies" for the people coming to the party than the actual "birthday boy" so to speak. 

It definitely resonated with us, since we had just talked about that illustration with Ryleigh.  The Lord has used Bro.Keith to challenge us this year with our personal giving as well as our heart's focus.  Our attention should be soley focused on the Lord every single day of the year, and on a day set aside to celebrate the gift He has given - shouldn't it be even more so?

If you have heard about Lottie Moon but you're not quite sure what that means - stay tuned, the next blog update will be full of info!!

December 10, 2012

Happy Tears

There are a few verses and passages that I know by heart but I still love opening up His word and reading them no matter how many times I've done it before.  Often, I can feel it coming on - I know when I'm struggling with certain things, that the only thing that can give me peace are His words.  One passage that I've loved for many years is out of Zephaniah chapter 3.  Verse 17 is perhaps one of the more popular verses - I even have made up a song that I sing in the mornings to Ryleigh crafted out of this verse...but truly the whole passage is breathtaking. 
 
Last week, I found myself having such a heavy heart for the Mahafaly.  I was burdened by their lostness and I needed to throw all of the emotion and heartache at the foot of the cross.  The Lord led me back to Zephaniah 3 and I found myself reading it (for the first time with someone else in mind) & rejoicing even now for all of the Mahafaly brothers and sisters in Christ I will one day have.
"But I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD...Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion...The Lord has taken away His judgments against you,  He has cleared away your enemies.  The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more...I will save the lame and gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth." (Zephaniah 3:12-20(parts))

December 6, 2012

By Faith


“For we walk by faith and not by sight” – 2 Corinthians 5:7
Growing up, I always pictured Abraham when I heard the phrase – “to walk by faith”.  He was called to a land that had no name, he packed up his family, his help, his livestock, his everything, and started walking until the Lord told him to stop.  In my eyes, he truly walked by faith and not by sight.  There was nothing to see – he had no idea where the Lord was taking him.
However, walking by faith and not by sight isn’t just for when you literally can’t see what’s next.  I’m learning that it’s also for when you know the next step.  Walking by faith still applies even when He’s shown you exactly where to go. 
At this particular time in my life, I’ve been realizing that although I can see my surroundings, and although I know that I am in the center of where He has moved my family – I still have to walk by faith.  There are plenty of days that I look around and nothing looks the way I imagined it.  In my head, a year and a half after living here, I thought there would be bible studies – possibly more than one, that didn’t require me memorizing something in Malagasy or still needing my testimony typed out on paper to refer to when sharing.  In my mind, I saw our family living in a bush setting and being closer to our people.  However, when I look out, that’s not what I see – not with my limited sight anyway.  I have to choose to walk by faith.  To trust that, for now, we are where He needs us to be.  I have to choose to have faith that He is speaking through me with the Malagasy that I know and through the works He has set aside for me to do.  I have to choose to walk by faith and not by sight. 
“All your ways are good, all your ways are sure, I will trust in you alone,
higher than my sight, high above my life, I will trust in you alone
Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow you”
(Chris Tomlin)

December 4, 2012

ST4T

Our conference in Kenya was such a blessing.  We spent the week in ST4T training.  ST4T is the method we use among the Mahafaly people to share God’s word.  It consists of 21 discipleship stories and 21 church stories – all from God’s word.  As a group, we learned and helped teach the 21 discipleship stories so that we would be familiar with them in English and could then return home to learn them in our local language.  This was exciting to be a part of, because although we’ve already been learning these stories in Mahafaly and Steve has been a part of sharing them out in Mahafaly Land – we had never been trained in the whole process.  We asked a lot of questions, memorized a lot of stories, and learned a great deal of how to be more effective personally in this method.
We are also very thankful for the volunteer team that came to take care of our kiddos.  They taught Bible stories, did crafts, played games, and sang songs - Ryleigh had a blast!  If I haven't mentioned this before - go and give your nursery workers a hug at your church!  They are a blessing, even if you haven't realized it!!!
 Please pray for us as we work (yes, it is indeed hard work) to memorize these first 21 stories in Mahafaly dialect.  The goal would be to share these orally and not read them from our papers!  Pray for the Mahafaly to be diligent in memorizing and hiding His word in their hearts.  Pray that we would be faithful in keeping those we share with accountable to sharing the stories as well.

December 2, 2012

The Pursuit

I've been overwhelmed by the pursuit of my Father this week.  It started during our training conference on Tuesday with the story of Adam & Eve.  After they choose to sin by eating of the tree that He told them not to...they hide out of shame.  What happens next?  For those of you familiar with the story, you know that God comes to them as He was in the habit of doing and asks where they are.  Now, I know that God indeed knew exactly where they were but He still asked, He still sought after them.  God already knew they had sinned, that they had broken this perfect relationship with their Creator, and yet He still wanted to find them, to talk with them, to pursue them.
As I sat and dwelt on that fact, perhaps a part of the story that I hadn't focused on before, I was humbled by His love for me.  He knows everything about me.  He knows how much I will mess up, how many times I will hurt Him and yet He still pursues me.  From the dawning of time, He pursued me.  His pursuit continues even today.  When I fail to spend daily time with Him - He pursues me.  When I struggle to see any evidence of His fruit in my life - He pursues me.  When I turn my back and try to hide - He pursues me.  Oh what marvelous, burden lifting, peace and joy His pursuit creates in my life. 
 Reflecting today on how He pursued us in human form here on this earth...oh how Mary must have felt...

Staring into the face of my Savior, my King & Creator
You could have left us alone but You’re here…
Looking at your hands, they’re still so small
One day you’ll stretch them out and save us all…
Noel, Noel, Immanuel
You’re here, Hallelujah, You’re here

November 30, 2012

Nairobi

I've decided that you know you live in a 3rd world country when...
you're asked what you're going to do on vacation and you answer with - search for playgrounds!
However funny this may sound - it is indeed true...and actually it's a whole lot of fun!!
Here's some snapshots of our time all around the Nairobi playgrounds!!



 
 

November 28, 2012

Earliest Decorating Ever

I love Jesus - just in case you didn't know.  I love Christmas time.  I cherish the real reason for the season and I also really enjoy Christmas decor.  So, when I realized that we wouldn't be back home from Kenya until after the 1st week of December...I decided we had to decorate before we left!  Granted, we don't have that many decorations here in Mada but we used all the ones that we had!!  On, November 10th (yes - I know how early it is) we decorated for Christmas at our house!  Which basically means we put up our tree.  It was fun watching Ryleigh with it all this year.  Last year, she was a bit too young to care too much for it but she was super helpful this time!
She even got a new ornament from Rock & Lhi Lhi!
Since the tree was up - she got to go ahead and open an early present from Uncle Tad & Aunt Laura!
And...we found decorations from last year from Nanna & Pop that we didn't use - these wall clings were perfect!  She'll love playing with them all through December!
I never took a shot of just the tree, but I'm glad I didn't because we got a package from Grangran & Grandma full of more fun decorations!  I'll take a pic when we get home!
 
FYI - malls in Kenya are already decorated for Christmas (since there is no decor for Thanksgiving here!) and it's been so much fun to see and experience!  Ryleigh loves the lit up snowmen!!
 

November 26, 2012

Lhi Lhi

We enjoyed having Lhi Lhi here so much!!  Everyday provided some new adventure.  Ryleigh and I loved having her help out in our Tulear ministries (see previous blogs) and had lots of fun around the house too!  On any given day we might have been doing the following...
singing Bible songs while playing in the sandbox
or going for a stroller ride around the neighborhood!
Even though Lhi Lhi doesn't speak Malagasy, she enjoyed going to worship with us at Mahavatse.
And then all too soon it was time for the long drive up to Tana...this pic was for you Rock!
After our longest part of the drive, we woke up the next morning to celebrate Lhi Lhi's 50th birthday!!
We miss you already Lhi Lhi but are so thankful you came!!
We love you!!
 

November 22, 2012

a heart full of thanks

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!
We're enjoying a bit of cooler weather here in Nairobi, so it even feels a little like Thanksgiving!
My heart is full today for so many reasons and I'd like to share a few with you...

I hope that to anyone who knows me, they already know that the One whom I am most thankful for is Jesus Christ.  Without Him, I would truly be nothing.  He is who I long to reflect in everything I do, say, & even think.  Most days that goal seems very daunting but He promises through His strength all is possible.
 
The Sunday after Thanksgiving 8 years ago, I was introduced to the love of my life.  The world was say it was a random thing, that my friends and I needed one more person to play a card game that night and Steve was called to come play...I would say it was the divine intervention of the One who knew all things from the beginning of time.  I often watched movies growing up and hoped for a love like in the movies.  I've found that I'm beyond grateful for a God who is SO much bigger than that.  Our love is nothing like the movies.  There are more tears, deeper laughter, transparent feelings, true forgiveness, and a bond that only the Author of relationships could create.  I love him and he loves me - exactly as we are...the ugliness of our human nature covered by the gloriousness of His salvation.
Ryleigh - ha, some of you are rolling your eyes.  I know I blog about her all the time and fill your facebook feeds with random tidbits of info - but I love her.  My heart is overflowing with thankfulness for her and the gift of being her mother.  He has taught me and continues to teach me through being her mom, more and more about His love relationship with me as a daughter every single day.
I am grateful for the family He placed me in here on this earth and has allowed me to marry into.  We have so much fun when we are together and they are our greatest prayer supporters.  We love each of you!
 
Lastly, I am thankful for our friends and those that are practically extended family.  Some have been in our lives since we were children, new ones during college, and still others through seminary and now that we're on the field.  We are grateful for each of you and love you dearly!!
 
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

November 20, 2012

Manome Fisorana

The Wednesday before we left for our drive up to Tana, we spent the morning at the deaf school.  I prepared a devotional on Thanksgiving or "Manome Fisorana" which literally translates "to give thanks" and mom came up with an appropriate craft!  The children loved it and we "talked" about always giving God the thanks for everything in our lives.  We then proceeded to make handprints (feathers) and turkeys out of toilet paper rolls. 

 

They were pretty excited with the outcome and we had a great last visit with them!  I'm missing seeing them (because we're in Kenya) and look forward to getting a couple of visits in with them before their Christmas break!
 

November 9, 2012

Prayerwalk - Port of Tulear

Last week, we were near the port of Tulear...the first thing you'd notice if you were here would be the smell.  It's very...ummm...distinct.  There are lots of men and women who work around this area, waiting on boats to come in and catching fish.  The Lord really laid upon my heart that day to spend some time praying specifically for the people who work in this area -
 I thought I'd ask if you'd join me?
Pray:
That they would know the One who controls the wind & sea -
"And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"" - Mark 4:41
That they would know the Giver of Rest -
"Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your sevant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed." - Ex. 23:12
That they would worship the Maker of the sea -
"The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!" - Psalms 95:5-6
That they could become "fishers of men" -
"And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."" - Matt 4:19
 That they would trust the One who will always lead them -
"If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." - Psalms 139:9-10
 
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