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February 28, 2013

Oh So Thankful

Today I am thankful for...
    …the Lord’s protection and provision through the cyclone this past week...
 ...a gas stove (our electricty was out for SIX days!)...

 …a healthy little girl who made the most out of those rainy days...
…a generator that the Lord provided to keep our food from spoiling and that allowed us to check in with family during the hurricane via internet...

...a child who did not inherit my fear of all animals :)  She LOVES being her daddy's helper with the chickens...

 …that our supervisors and friends the Wallers made it back to Madagascar safely after 5 months stateside – we LOVE having them back!!

February 27, 2013


living where there is a darknesss you can feel.
2 grandfathers in the hospital, countries away, a week a part.
a daughter with a 104 fever for 5 days.
a friend in the States going through difficult times.
the child who eats all the time - not eating.
realizing what a category 3 cyclone looks like.
getting out and seeing the devestation of our town.
seeing my Papaw in CCU (via skype).
hearing about precious souls losing their lives.
then, there He goes...speaking...teaching...in the midst of it all -
reminding me that He is OVERWHELMING -
He should overwhelm my heart, my mind, my soul, my life. 
He does overwhelm me -
 His grace, love, forgiveness, righteousness, all of Him
but, the fact is I don't even know all of it...
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."  1 Corinthians 10:12  
I won't fully know until we are face to face - He is SO OVERWHELMING that I can't know all of Him until then...
praying. asking. pleading.  needing Him to be what I am overwhelmed by today and everyday.


February 26, 2013

Cyclone Haruna

This past Thursday, Cyclone Haruna hit the Southwest coast of Madagascar.  The damage was great and the affects will be felt for months to come.  Please pray for His love to be felt through disaster relief efforts.  We are also asking for your prayers for His wisdom as we live and minister in this area.


February 20, 2013

A Sweet Fragrance

Steve and I were reading in Leviticus this past week and in case you aren’t aware, it starts out with God giving Moses the laws for every type of offering you can think of.  In the middle of very detailed laws, what kept speaking to my heart was this phrase, “…an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD…”  This phrase was repeated over and over again throughout the first few chapters. 
As we read the details of each type of offering, I was thankful in a new way for the Sacrifice that covers each of my sins.  At the same time, the Lord spoke to me about what is considered a “soothing aroma” to Him.  We are free from the laws of the offerings that were needed by the people who lived during the Old Testament times, however, I believe there is much to learn from them.  Now, I am not a seminary grad or a theological scholar but I do believe sacrifices by fire are still a pleasing aroma to our Savior. 
I think that when He leads us to refinement by fire it is an opportunity to walk closer, grow more intimate, and to “smell” better for Him.  Fire is hot and it burns – this much I know.  Think of all the items that are immersed in fire (by someone who knows what they are doing) and they come out far more beautiful than when they went in.  When we are in “the fire” there is no one for us to rely on, talk to, or counsel with except the One who is holding us while we are in it.  He won’t leave us in too long but He won’t take us out too early either.  Only when we are molded and shaped for His purposes…then we too shall be “…an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD…”
This reminded me of one of the first verses I memorized that was not a “typical” memorization verse (aka – John 3:16, Romans road, etc).  2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – my mom would write on notes or would verbally remind me to be “a sweet fragrance” throughout my day.  It has stuck with me my whole life and even now He is still teaching me about what that should look like.
 "But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?"
Be a sweet fragrance today!

February 18, 2013


Only trust Him...only trust Him...only trust Him now...He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.
The Lord has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him lately and allowing Him to captivate every thought.  Last week, I read Romans 8:31,"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" and then, 2 Corinthians 4:18  "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  Through both of them I found myself brought back to the overarching theme of trust.  Do I trust Him every single day?  If I can't trust Him, if I'm not willing to give it all over to Him, it's probably because I like to think I have control.  I usually can't give things to Him because I'm holding too tightly to them myself.   I like being in control - but oh how mistaken I am...even if I don't give it to Him, even if I am scared of what trusting Him might look like - I'm still NOT in control...I still can't plan out how the days will fall and what will or won't happen - only He can!  How much more of a peaceful journey it would be if I allow myself to abide in Him, allowing myself to rest in His control, His soverignty, and His perfect plans. 
Mind you, never an easier journey but a peace filled one. 
 Trust and obey, trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

February 16, 2013

Known and Loved

2 Corinthians 12:9 - "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

*disclaimer - pretty lengthy post :)

My mom would remind me before every youth camp or conference that she was praying that I would grow and as I did, to know that's what it was - growth.   When I learned something new, it didn't mean that I didn't know Jesus - it just meant I was learning more about Him.  She'd tell me to never be scared of growth but also that I needed to recognize it for what it was. What wise words...I have often reflected on them during my life. I was saved at the age of 4. I know that is true and that from then forward if I died, I would indeed have eternal life with Jesus. However, the growth in my relationship with Him is far from over - I have much to learn, much to glean, much to apply...the list could go on and on. So from time to time inbetween the Ryleigh updates and ministry updates - you'll probably read about some of that growth. I just wanted to give you a glimpse into why I'm choosing to share it.

One of my weakest areas is vulnerability.  I've read Grace for the Good Girl (highly recommended by the way) and God used that book to show me how much I struggle with it.  He led me into a room that I've created full of "masks".  These masks aren't wild and crazy...they are the masks of a "good girl".  Someone who was brought up in church, did Bible Drills, youth choir, mission trips, VBS, and then even went to a Christian college, not to mention - all the while longing desperately to live in Africa.  Absolutely nothing in the world is wrong with any of these things...most of the time I was even praised for choosing them and the Lord used each of them to teach me more about Himself.  However, there were times I was doing the "right thing" to be who I thought people wanted or expected me to be.  The majority of these expectations were created in my mind and were no where near what people were truly thinking.  The bad part was that my heart was not ALWAYS in the right place and there were times that I did things out of selfish motives.  I honestly don't believe I was aware of this until the past few years, when He has been showing me strongholds in my life.  Maybe, I didn't want to be made aware but nonetheless, I'm trying my best to listen now. 

The biggest "mask" I wear is not letting others in.  Does that make sense?  I have told myself that I should be a "strong" person, when in reality showing others my weaknesses can only glorify the Lord more.  Some of you may not care to know who I really am - a weak, sinful, prideful, child of the strongest, most holy, selfish God.  But, I need to put it out there anyway.  I need to be vulnerable because then there's no room for pride.  I enjoy writing and this blog is often where some of my thoughts end up.  My prayer is that when you read things about my life and what's going on over here in Madagascar is that you see His glory.  That you truly understand how unqualified and unworthy I am.  It is through His power alone that I am here.  It is through His strength, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love that I make it through each day.  And frankly, that's how each of us should be, that's the only way each of us should ever make it through any given moment no matter where in this world we are.  Realizing this does not mean we have "arrived" and life from here on out is smooth sailing - ha - in reality it means that I try to be continually aware of the fact that I will drown if my eyes come off of Him (oh how much there is to learn from those childhood Bible stories).

It seems that I'm not the only one God is teaching this to.  Two very close friends of mine have recently commented the following...

"...the Lord is shedding light on my own heart & my own insecurities & my own fears. My fears of being known. Cause let me tell you friend...when you are truly known by someone, they get to see the good AND the bad & sometimes it hurts deep. But there's another side of being truly known & that is the side that allows the Lord's grace to be magnified, His strength to show itself as greater & His name to be lifted up. The side that allows for deep grace & community to form with people that you may never have dreamt would ever have been formed. The side that allows for hurts but also allows for joys & lots of laughter..."

"All of that to say, I now feel completely exposed with you. That scares me to death, but ultimately I know it will bring healing too. To be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to be known. I don't want you to love who I want you to think I am. I want you to love who I really am...and that takes being known."

We desperately need honesty in our lives.  There are so many trivial things that become huge things because of the masks that we wear.  Our SAVIOR - the only holy and perfect One...He knows us intimately and nothing can compare to the depth of which He loves us...

"O LORD, you have searched me and you known me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD." Psalms 139:1-4

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all Creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

February 15, 2013

My Favorite

Steve is my favorite.  I prayed for him for years before we had even met...and he is the answer to every one plus every one that I didn't know I should be praying, if that makes sense.  Living in a foreign country and having the job that we do - we spend a LOT of time together.  We knew that would be the case from the moment we started talking about getting married.  It never seemed like it would be a problem.  We worked well together, we enjoyed being around one another, and we have the same passion. 
Almost 6 years of marriage and 2 years of being in a foreign country...those things haven't changed.  The reality of our day to day has looked differently than we may have ever dreamed but the relationship that the Lord formed between us has continually grown closer.  However, I will be the first to admit that you can indeed spend lots of time with someone without ever "spending time with them".  We are busy (aren't we all?) and even when our bodies slow down, often our minds are still racing.  I began to realize lately that I may not be doing the greatest job of making sure he knew he was still my favorite.
"Forever can never be long enough for me to feel I've had long enough with you"
On Valentine's Day, we were able to get away for longer than just a supper together...we went and drove along a road we had never been all the way down...it proved to be just what we needed.  Just the two of us, on a beautiful drive with breath taking views (all the pictures you are seeing on this blog), singing along to some of our favorite songs...and then enjoyed dinner on the beach.   
"I want to keep it forever
Keep it close to my heart
Don't ever want to forget the good part
Don't need to know what's coming
Everything is alright right, right here
Just knowing you are my best friend"
Anyway, I just wanted to say - Steve you are my favorite here on this earth and you always will be.  You are such a gift to me and I love every moment of our life together.  I praise God for putting us together to serve Him and am beyond grateful for your leadership.  I love you.

February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day - Newlywed Game

My friend Joy, over at The Sowell Life, sent me the info for a fun Vday post!  So here's our blog version of  The Newlywed Game!

Where was your first date?

{MR}Ihop (this was actually the night we “remet”-sidenote from the MRS)

{MRS} Red Lobster in Meridian

Where was your first kiss?

{MR}on the couch at Nickolee’s house

{MRS}my parent’s living room

Who said "I Love You, first"?

{MR}I did

{MRS}he did of course!
Which of the following breakfast cereals best describes your wife's family's opinion of you when they first met you? Crazy Flakes, Just Right, Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, or Fruit Loops?

{MR}Lucky Charms – because I’m lucky to have their daughter

{MRS}Just Right – my mom had always told me that the right guy would make time to see me however he could and she saw that he was doing that

Your wife is waiting at the doctor's office. Which magazine will she read? Good Housekeeping, People, Glamour, or Coastal Living?

{MR}People – b/c she likes knowing random info

{MRS}People – I love the pictures ;)

If your wife were ordering drinks at a restaurant for dinner for both of you, what would sheorder?

{MR}Mada – coke  USA – if there’s good sweet tea – this for both, otherwise Dr Pepper

{MRS} Mada – coke bevata (large coke) USA – dr pepper (Mr) sweet tea or strawberry lemonade (Mrs)

Which of these does your husband have the most of: sense of humor, sense of time, or sense of adventure?

{MR}sense of time

{MRS} whichever I’m in the most need of that day – he’s very considerate

What is your husband's ultimate favorite movie?


{MRS}Gladiator, Braveheart, Gladiator,  Braveheart

Which one of you hogs the bed covers at night?

{MR}she does

{MRS}he does
Who is better at handling money?

{MR} she is

{MRS}it’s something we both do pretty well
If you could have a second honeymoon, where would your wife want you to take her?


{MRS} dream? Holy Land   reality? New York or on a cruise

What is the messiest room in your house?

{MR}Ryleigh’s room

{MRS}Ryleigh’s room

What did you have for dinner the night you got married?


{MRS}leftovers from our reception and a 1am Whataburger run ;)

Which of the following Valentine's Gifts would your wife prefer the most: a beautiful bouquet of two dozen red roses, you offering to clean the house for a month, or a one hour massage given by you?

{MR} massage

{MRS}1 hour massage from him

Who is the most patient in your marriage?

{MR} she is

{MRS} there’s no contest – he is! 

What is your husband's favorite breakfast food?

{MR} French toast or Sonic’s breakfast burrito

{MRS}his momma’s chocolate gravy or French toast

On average, how long does it take your wife to get ready to go out?

{MR}Mada – 20 minutes, USA – 30 minutes

{MRS}Mada – 10 minutes, USA – 30 minutes

If you husband could only have one of the following desserts, which would he choose: cheesecake, apple pie, ice cream, chocolate pie?

{MR}ice cream

{MRS} ice cream  ummm... chocolate pie

Who gets along better with the in-laws?

{MR}we both do

{MRS} I think we’re both really blessed with great relationships
Who was the first person you told about your engagement?

{MR}her parents

{MRS} my parents

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am having a happy Valentine's Day here in Madagascar because this year I get to celebrate with both of my loves!  Last year, Steve was in the bush and Ryleigh and I celebrated on our own ( 2012 Vday ).

We started off with a special breakfast of strawberry cake and strawberry icing - YUMMY!
Then our little Valentine found a few fun gifts!
She LOVES bubbles!
We're going to spend the rest of the morning at the pool...I think someone is ready with her new goggles!
I got this sweet card thanks to my little artist
Then, thanks to Nathan & Doug, my Valentine and I are spending the afternoon/evening exploring and going to dinner!  Hard to believe he's been my Valentine for 9 years already!
 I love you Steve and am so thankful we can spend today together!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

February 12, 2013


A sweet & beautiful friend from my MC days, blogged about a singer named Christy Nockels and two of her songs the other day...seeing as I had never even heard of her, I had to look into it.  Found out that she's definitely a new favorite and her lyrics are beautiful...here's part of one of my favorites -
Already All I Need...
You're already all I need
Already everything that I could hope for
You're already all I need
You've already set me, already making me more like you
You're already all I need
Jesus, You're already all I need.

Walking through this life without your freedom in my heart
Is like holding onto shackles that You have torn apart
So remind me of your promises and all that You have done
In this world I will have trouble, but You have overcome

And every gift that I receive, You determined just for me
But nothing I desire compares to You

In your fullness, You're my all in all
In your healing, I'm forever made whole
In your freedom, Your love overflows and carries me
You carry me, yes You carry me, You carry me
Want to listen for yourself?  Click here 

February 11, 2013

Toddler iPad apps

Some of you were curious as to what the apps were that Ryleigh really enjoys ( and that her momma is really glad she's learning from ) from my previous post, so I thought I'd tell you about a few!
In no particular order:
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (all 3)
Elmo Loves ABC's
Mickey Mouse Count Along
Word World App
Memory Train
Toddler Teasers - Shapes
Some of these are free, some may have been $1-$2 - but all are fantastic.  If you have a toddler around Ryleigh's age I think they'd love them as well!

February 8, 2013

The Friday 5

Linking up with Joy again today for the FRIDAY 5!
1. Monday was "Team Meeting Day" here in Tulear.  It was a productive day and ended with everyone laughing as we played through several group games courtesty of our supervisors - the Wallers - we even had prizes from America!!
2.  We woke up to cloudy skies and rain on Tuesday morning - so we headed to the front porch for a picnic breakfast!
3. I started a new Bible study with Lusika on Tuesday.  She is truly excited about it and enjoyed looking up each Scripture in her Bible.  Please be praying over our time together each Tuesday at 9am as we study His word in Malagasy!
4. The deaf students (as a whole class) presented the story of Jesus' birth to me on Wednesday morning.  They had practiced this past week and were proud of their work!  I had one more Christmas craft thanks to the ladies at Midway and they enjoyed making their nativity scene ornaments!

5.  I woke up this morning to an email with a link to all of my sister's engagement pictures!!  They are BEAUTIFUL and I can't wait to be able to share some with you! They were taken by our friend Robby and you can check out his work here.  Chesney & Casey's pictures aren't up yet, but hopefully I can share my favorites on the blog soon.  Words can't descibe how excited we are to be able to go home in May for her wedding!! 
That's it for today - Steve will be heading home from the bush on Monday - please keep them in your prayers!  We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

February 7, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

I'm thankful for...
our family - I think living overseas would be entirely different without the support, love, and encouragement of our family back in the States.  We definitely miss them but also know they are thankful we're right where we're supposed to be.
the ice cream shop - it may sound trivial, but with the intense heat & truly only one other place (the pool) to take Ryleigh for a child friendly outing - it's a big blessing in our little town!
our vechicle - yes, it's nice to have air conditioning while being out in the summer air of Tulear, but it also makes traveling out to our people possible - especially during the rainy season - Thank you LOTTIE MOON!
iPad apps - I'm not the biggest promoter of having a child sit in front of a screen for long periods of time, BUT with that said - some of these apps that we have are truly awesome.  Ryleigh loves playing them and she is learning so much at the same time!

February 5, 2013

Down to My Toes

Linking up with Joy today because I really liked her post, My Happy,  and thought I'd do one in a similar fashion!
The things that make me smile all the way down to my toes...
~ waking up to the love of my life
~ sweet, quiet, early morning times with my Father
~ hearing my baby girl sing songs about Jesus
~ skype times with our family
~ snail mail from friends back at home
~ singing a worship song in Malagasy
~ packages
~ encouraging words that were unexpected

~ using my scentsy warmer from my Momma
~ being understood when speaking and understanding Malagasy
~ Ryleigh asking to pray for someone who is sick or hurt
~ date nights with Steve
~ watching Steve and Ryleigh dance, laugh, play, & read her Bible together

Hi Ho Hi Ho

it's off to the bush they go...
Steve, Nathan, Doug, & the Smiths are headed to Mahafaly Land for an extended bush trip today.  They'll be sharing stories in Besatra, Kilimary, Tanantsoa, & Andremba.  The Smiths will be working on some Community Development surveys for Kilimary and Andremba. 
Please be praying...
 over their safety as they travel over rough roads that have recently gotten rain
for the new CEIM pastor - Michele & his family
that deep relationships would form with Michele's family
for the villagers to have ears to hear the truths that are being shared
for wisdom to be gained through Community Development surveys
for the believers in Andremba & Tanantsoa as they prepare for baptisim
for our team's health as they are out

February 2, 2013

Feburary Newsletter

Here's our newsletter for Feburary - we send this along with a prayer calendar out at the beginning of every month.  If you'd like to be on our email list - just send me your email!

February 1, 2013

The Friday Five

I'm linking up today with my friend, Joy Sowell, and her Friday Five!
Here's a glimpse into our week!
1.  This week we have been thankful to see skies like these on occasion - such a rarity here in Tulear!


2. Tuesday was spent working on a new Bible study I'm starting with Lusika on Tuesday - my mind was tired about 10 minutes into it but about that time Ryleigh decided she needed to sit at the table to work with me and that made it more fun!
3. On Wednesday, we were able to enjoy a night at our friends - the Smith's - house for dinner and a game of Sequence.  We are grateful for their friendship and dinner was delicious!
So...this pic is from our day at the beach but it works!
4. Thursday was spent at the beach with our awesome team - not a cloud in sight!  It was a beautiful day and Ryleigh got to fly her 1st kite thanks to some help from Emma!
5. Friday (after a random "non meeting" day on Wednesday) we were able to teach at the deaf school and share a fun Christmas activity from some thoughtful ladies at Midway Baptist!