Where Would You Like To Go?

January 31, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

The Lord has been teaching me a lot lately about focusing my mind on Him alone - allowing Him to captivate every thought that I have.  I thought doing a purposeful blog post once a week that focuses on the blessings He has given me could only help!
I'm thankful for...
the glorious sunshine - yes it is HOT here but there's something about the sun that makes a day beautiful
Steve - he is a gift and I love that I get to live my life with my best friend
Ryleigh - what a joy she is, her personality brings a smile to my face on a daily basis
hummus - I wasn't the biggest fan in the States but my friend Christina can make some amazing hummus and I have throughly enjoyed snacking on it today and having it for supper!
aloe vera - after a day in the sun with not quite enough suntan lotion, it makes me quite happy!

January 29, 2013

Truths I Take for Granted

We’re in Madagascar to share the gospel.  We’re here because there are people here who have literally never heard about Jesus Christ.  However, there are times when I forget that the Christians I meet don’t have the knowledge base I do.  It slips my mind that when they say “I believe in Jesus and He is Lord of my life” they aren’t saying “I grew up in church, memorized lots of Bible verses, and know all the hymns”.  Does that make sense?  If it does, then keep reading J  So, the questions that come up later in conversation will catch me off guard.  Let me give you an example.
This past week, Ashley and I went to ESL class.  We started talking with the class about their hopes for the New Year.  A student had posed the question to us, and after answering we turned it back to the class.  We invited them to openly share their answers with us.  It proved to be a fun discussion but very insightful as well.  Some of the answers included:
To be a better English speaker
To have a new girlfriend
To be able to learn more about the Bible
To be a missionary
That Jesus would help her throughout the year
To do well in his studies
To memorize Scripture
To have Jesus near

Oh, how my heart broke to hear some of these answers – they were being transparent and honest with us…they truly longed for these hopes to become truths by the end of the year.  That night, I couldn't get their answers out of my head.  It saddened me that they only hoped that they could learn more about the Bible, only wished that Jesus would help them, only dreamed of having Jesus near...they didn't know that all of these are promises that God has already made to each of us.  
He tells us that He is always near, that we are never forgotten or forsaken. 
The Bible tells us that He is our Help and our stronghold. 
The Holy Spirit dwells within us to teach us and to interpret His word for us. 
All truths -yet all things these believers do not know yet.
Praying that I see these for the awe-inspiring truths that they are and do not take them for granted.

January 20, 2013

Clean Peas Mommy!

Last week, I thought that breaking out the finger paint would be fun.  When we did flour painting a few months ago, Ryleigh loved it and made a huge fun mess, which is what I thought would happen again...

Ryleigh was excited to see it all on the floor and immediately made the teacher in me proud by naming all of the colors correctly.  She was hesitant at first but I did finally coax her into touching the paint.
Then, I would get this face every time...she'd say "Clean peas Mommy!"  LOL  She did NOT like the paint on her hands at all.  I kept trying to convince her that it was okay to be messy and that bath time was right when we got finished.  But she would hear nothing of the sort.
Finally, I had the idea to show her how to make a handprint and she did like that idea - for about 2 minutes!  I was literally laughing out loud at how much she didn't want the paint on her hands.  I couldn't get her to understand that being messy was the whole point of finger paints!
And then, wouldn't you know it, the Lord started speaking to me.  What would my life look like if the moment the tip of my finger even "dipped" into a sin, I would turn to Him and ask Him to "Clean peas (please)?"  What if I didn't wait until my whole hand, arm, leg, and body was covered in sin before falling at His feet and asking for His cleansing?  Oh how convicting His Spirit is...praying that I am always sensitive to His conviction and His prompting of confessing sin, being cleansed by His blood, and being washed in His forgiveness and grace. 

January 16, 2013

The New Normal

Occasionaly, I realize that on most days I've accepted a new normal in my life here in Madagascar.  Some of them may be small, seemingly insignificant - others are huge (or seemed huge at some point and time) and now all of them are just "normal".  All of the differences between Madagascar and America - all of the "quirks" - are just...life.  Since starting to plan a trip back to the States for Chesney's wedding in May, I sometimes think about what might seem "abnormal" to me now...
"why?" you may ask - well, let me tell you some things that are our new "normal"...

*sporatic electricty outages that range from 20 minutes to 16 hours - you have no warning, no idea how long it will last, and no one to call to come and "fix" it

*always needing change - the biggest bill here is equivalent to a $5 bill in the States...however if that's all you have, most of the time you'll walk away w/o the item you intended to buy or you'll have a seller who is bumfuzzled over the fact that you had nothing smaller

*ordering one coke at a time - there are no refills ;)

*no driving rules

*intending to order something off of a menu but then finding out they don't have it or the next of your two choices either

* it being as hot or hotter inside the house as it is outside

*being pulled over by the police simply so they can see your paperwork

*keeping anything/everything in the freezer that might have the possibility of melting or getting bugs (flour, sugar, chocolate, bread, crackers, etc)

*finding a substitute for atleast one item in every recipe

*talking in English and knowing no one can understand you

January 12, 2013

How Hot is HOT?

I know that we may talk about Tulear as being "hot" and some of you think, " Yall grew up in MS - shouldn't you be used to that?"  Well, it's a little different here - on those really hot days, it's hotter in my living room/kitchen than it is outside (and that's when I'm NOT cooking!).  One night last week, Steve asked if I could make some cookies.  I went and grabbed a pack of chocolate chip cookies and mixed them up.  As I put them on the pan, I realized they really didn't look quite normal.

My first thought was to see if the package was actually "chocolate" cookies instead of chocolate chip...nope, package says "chococlate chip".  My next thought was to check the date - hmmm, not expired.  I went to look more closely and I found the culprit - the chocolate chips were melted!!  Don't worry - they still tasted just fine, they just looked a little different than normal!

January 7, 2013

Thinking Outloud

Even after knowing Him as my Savior for 23 years, He still amazes me with how active and living His words are...
Sometimes I wonder if anyone wants to read through my thought processes but the fact is that writing them helps me work through them...and then a friend of mine reminded me that sharing with others what God is doing in our lives is glorifying to Him...SO, here's what I'm currently processing...

Let go of old ways - Cling to You - Be transformed
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Accept this journey is ever changing in my eyes but that you have already planned it out to the last detail - You know how to glorify Yourself best
"For we walk by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7

Know that your plans are perfect and they are to prosper and not to hurt
 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Rest in the fact that I can not go out from Your presence

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
Psalms 139:7-10
Love that You promise to watch your flock and even guide those who have children

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11

Go forth in joy and peace
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
Isaiah 55:12

Trust You in every circumstance, decision, though process, and emotion - for you have already overcome it all and You have the victory.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33


January 6, 2013

A Birthday in Pictures

We had fun celebrating Ryleigh's 2nd birthday all week long through trips to the ice cream shop, skype dates, swimming, and we ended it all with a princess party!  Here's some pictures from our week!  Hope you enjoy!
skyping with Rock & Lhi Lhi

headed to the pool

this girl LOVES bubbles
new beach ball

2 years old!
skyping & putting up Minnie clings with Grandma & Grangran

up until 2:30am the night before with a fever = a very tired bday girl

bowling with new friends
singing happy birthday
all the party guests
Our guard & housekeeper's family - we LOVE them and are so grateful for them
Happy Birthday Ryleigh!

January 4, 2013

Dear Ryleigh

Ryleigh Elizabeth, you are two years old today.  TWO!  I can't believe how the time has flown by...sometimes I catch myself just staring at you.  You can no longer be called a baby (except by me - you'll always be my baby girl!), because you are definitely a toddler.  You are 35 inches tall and weigh 29 lbs.

January 4, 2011
a few hours old
I love our little routines we have throughout the day and it always makes me smile when you remind me of what we need to be doing.  Hearing you ask to read your Bible story every morning, saying the blessing before you eat, remembering on your own to say "please" & "thank you", and wanting to give everyone hugs & kisses before bedtime - melts my heart. 
January 4, 2012
1 year old
You love being outside and around people.  God has created such a special personality in you, my sweet girl.  Your laughter is contagious and your smile seems to break down even the highest cultural walls that surround us.  There are times that I take for granted how patient you are when mommy is talking to someone in the market, or how your active little body can be so still when something important is taking place...it's like you know God is working around you.  But, don't worry silly girl, you have your "spotlight" moments too.  Most Sundays, it seems that you believe that you are there to lead worship - by singing and dancing to every song.  No matter where we are, people know you're there...you make sure of it, by going up, shaking their hand, and then proceeding to make sure everyone else greets them correctly too. 

January 4, 2013-2 years old
I truly treasure the days He has given to me to spend with you.  You are such a gift, Ryleigh.  There are so many things that I hope and pray for you but above all else it's that the One who created you will one day be the Lord of your life, that He will be the King & Ruler of your heart.  Until that day, and all the days that follow, I pray that I will always point you to Him.  That you will know unconditional love from Love Himself and that it flows through me in all that I say & do as your mommy.
January 4, 2013 - 2 years old